Welp, that’s a bullet dodged.
Contemplating a move to the District from my current home of Arlington, Virginia, I decided to see a house some of my (male) friends are moving into. I had to walk an alternate route from the NoMa metro due to construction. On the way, I asked a building security guard if he’d recommend moving to the address I provided. His answer was an unqualified no, between the soup kitchen and liquor store it was situated near.
I pressed on, ready to see for myself. On the way, I passed the D.C. Housing Authority and what appeared to be a homeless shelter. To find out, I Googled it. The first result was entitled, “Despite shootings and mice…” Then I saw the run-down rowhouse, which appeared unoccupied. I walked to the liquor store, exactly one rowhouse away, and then to the convenience store beside it. As I approach the cashier with a Diet 7UP I don’t want, I notice a pack of dice hanging above his head, packaged like a toy.
I tell him I’m thinking of moving in next door, and ask his opinion. He tells me he’s been robbed at gunpoint twice. He tells me the people who hang out in and outside his store are completely crazy. I’m missing most of the details because he’s got a very thick accent. But the upshot is, “I would never let my wife or daughter live here. It may be $200 more to live somewhere else. But you need to.”
I’m so angry and sad right now. Why in the everloving fuck does anyone have to live like this? You best believe my yuppie white ass is going right back to fucking Virginia. Because, as I suspected, in the district I cannot afford to live both near a metro and where I am unlikely to be a victim of violent crime.
Jesus said the poor would always be among us. But you know what doesn’t need to be among us? Licensure laws whose purpose is to prevent new employment in protected industries. Laws which require government-issued identification for legal employment. Housing policies which make housing artificially expensive. Laws against feeding hungry people without a permit. Minimum wage laws which increase unemployment. A war on drugs which incentivizes police to raid homes, confiscate cars and cash and shoot dogs while ignoring property and violent crime. A regressive payroll tax which takes 15% of every American’s income no matter how low it is, but excludes income over $113,700. Farm subsidies which benefit big agribusiness while subsidizing the food most likely to sicken us. Laws requiring Americans put food in our gas tanks, raising the cost of feeding ourselves. Trade tariffs which increase the price of imported goods. Monetary inflation which erodes wealth and savings. And “solutions” like government housing, which concentrate crime and poverty, exacerbating intergeneration destitution.
So I’ll be continuing to commute to Mordor from VA to fight all this shit. But I’ll never be as well-funded as the myriad industries who benefit by keeping prices high while excluding people from mutually beneficial economic exchange. And That. Just. Sucks.