Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Welcome to the Recovery

Soothed, fortified and frankly vindicated by the cheerful effluvium that the recession is indeed over, I set out for a walk on this Saturday morning. No doomsayer, I’ll refute, if not taser outright, all unpatriotic spoilsports who would point to crumbling factories, empty malls and capsized mortgages as evidences that we’re eternally shafted. Our elevators are still yoyoing, thank you, except for those in aforesaid factories. Speaking of shafts, is that a foot sticking out of the frozen puddle?

At the corner of 9th and Washington, there’s a quaint sign, “AVOID FORECLOSURE—215 543-4941.” At the corner of 7th and Washington, “WE BUY HOUSES FOR CASH—NO BANK NEEDED.” Strutting towards Philadelphia’s brand new casino, Sugar House, I pass a billboard promising me, personally, 23 million bucks if only I had the juju and stamina to outfox the Pennsylvania Lottery Board, Jesus and Satan. Luck favors the righteous, and that’s us, all right. Soon, every bum diddling settlement from sea to shining sea will have its own casinos. Do bet on it. There will be more certified dealers than playas.

Speaking of bums, there are more idlers than ever. What’s up with that? According to these gaseous experts, the recession has been over since last June, yet dazed loafers keep sprawling all over town, all over the country, actually. Just look around you. The newly homeless are easily identifiable by all the stuff they’re trying to hang on to. They pull wheeled luggage, push carts with way too much on them. They’re relatively clean, for now. Soon, they’ll let go of everything. On the median of Delaware Avenue, a man walks back and forth with the classic sign, “HOMELESS AND HUNGRY. PLEASE HELP. GOD BLESS YOU.” Poverty isn’t very original, is it? But I’ve also seen “FREE ADVICE. DONATIONS ACCEPTED,” “HELP SUPPORT MY MARIJUANA HABIT” and “NEED MONEY TO GET DRUNK SO 2 WOMEN CAN TAKE ME HOME AND MOLEST ME.” It’s not cool that jokers are mixing with genuine beggars, but we don’t have beggars anyway. That’s so Third World. We
only have panhandlers.

A couple months ago, a visibly messed up old man in Detroit said to me, “I need $9.50 for my prescription, Mister. I beg you,” but he wasn’t a beggar. That’s so Third World. Actually, he wasn’t even a panhandler. I started the conversation. On freeway ramps into downtown, people stood with signs, begging, like they do all over America. Just look around you. In Richmond, I talked to a Vincent who grew up in Syracuse, then studied at Penn State. Divorced, with children 22, 16 and 12 years old, he had worked as a registered nurse most of his life. His last job was as a waiter at Red Lobster. Business was bad, so they cut his hours, then let him go. Taking out a title loan, he lost his car, then apartment. Vincent had been on the streets six weeks. His oldest kid was in college, the younger ones had been living with him, until everything fell apart and they had to go to their mom. This last fact humiliated him more than anything else, he said.

I’ve been broke many times, but I’ve never been homeless. More than once, I’ve gone to the supermarket with 26 pennies, the exact price for a packet of instant noodles. I waited until there was no line, so I could brave the cashier alone. Once, getting uppity, I counted out 159 pennies for a can of SPAM. As I added up, a line formed behind me. Once, down to two bucks, I bought a loaf of bread and stick of butter and survived for several days. I’ve made ketchup soup. Thankfully, those days are long gone. I’ve moved to the upper reaches of poverty. Never say never, however, which is, incidentally, the slogan of a new GMC ad. Bumper sticker in Detroit, “OUT OF A JOB YET? KEEP BUYING FOREIGN.” On license plate of the same car, “I WORK FOR FORD. I DRIVE A FORD.”

After a three-mile-hike, here we are, finally, inside Sugar House. Serving up drinks and cleavages, slim waitresses weave through the lardy crowd, made jiggly by decades of transfat and fizzy corn syrup. Baby boomers, most of them. Judging by weight per rear end, we’re not yet a poor country. In the semi dark, gamers are fixated, like dumb infants, by the cartoon characters, blinking lights and bright colors of the slot machines. GOLD RUSH. AFRICAN DIAMOND. FORTUNE COOKIES. CASH FEVER. CASH FOR LIFE. CASH INFERNO. Tired of being mugged, folks can take a breather by glancing up at a football game on TV. From an unseen corner, a live band plays classic rock, evoking nostalgia for less desperate times.

Ads for casinos are always filled with perfect, straight teeth smiles. White, black or beige, they are all tickled stupid by serial windfalls. For mere pocket change, they get to climax over and over, it seems, until Kingdom Come, at least. By contrast, real life chumps are uniformly grim. Suckers only laugh as they walk in, if that. Bored with this spectacle, I head back downtown. On the way home, I would pass a group of “Israelites” railing that the white man is the devil, and that God hates faggots. Next to them, a white guy holds a sign, “FUCK THESE ASSHOLES.” I would chance upon a man evacuating himself on Market Street, one of city’s two main arteries. By City Hall, I would see a woman coughing so violently that she may not make it through this winter, should she remain on the streets.

This is your America, America, but don’t worry, the recession is over.

LINH DINH is the author of two books of stories and five of poems, and the recently published novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, State of the Union.

More articles by:

Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, State of the Union.

Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Cesar Chelala
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
October 18, 2018
Erik Molvar
The Ten Big Lies of Traditional Western Politics
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail