Just Getting Rid of the Homeless Camps in NYC is Not Enough

I think it is pretty safe to say that the homeless issue is a worldwide problem. Though the solutions seem simple enough to execute, the reality is that it comes down to deeds, not words.

Over the last couple of weeks, New York City Mayor Eric Adams decided that the way for the city to solve the problem in regard to homeless citizens was to purge the streets of encampments that have popped up in various locations.

While I understand that aggressive action is needed, this is nothing more than kicking the can down the road. The issues that contribute to someone living on the streets seem enormous: mental health, drug addiction, structural racism, lack of affordable housing, unsafe shelters, etc.

The truth is that while they are daunting, they are not impossible to solve. Now granted, I’m not an expert, but simple logic seems to be the cure for what ails us. If we (by we I mean both the government and the individual citizen) deal with the respective issues that contribute to the overall problem, then it goes away. But if continue to say we are going to do something and not follow through, then the outcome remains the same.

Thoughts On the Latest Health/Political News: The Fourth Covid Shot, Insulin Prices, and NYC Celebrities Vaccine Mandate Exception

At the end of the day, our health is our most important asset. Without it, nothing else matters.

Last week, one of the bills that Congress was scheduled to vote on was the possible reduction of the price of insulin. Americans living with diabetes can potentially spend up to $1,000 a month on the drug. If the bill had passed, the cost would have been capped at $35 a month. As expected, some members of the Republican party voted against it.

I hate to use the word “hypocrite” because it is overused when it comes to the GOP. But there is no other way to describe them. We are not talking about a bottle of aspirin that is opened occasionally due to a headache. The choice between taking lifesaving medication and keeping a roof over your head/food on the table should not be necessary. Anyone with even a modicum of human decency would recognize that.

In Covid-19 news, the CDC has announced a new recommendation for a fourth shot. At this point, the priority is people over the age of fifty or anyone of any age who is immunocompromised. But we should all get it eventually. I get it, this virus is still new. But a fourth shot? Does this mean that we will have to get one every six months for the rest of our lives?

In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams announced two weeks ago that performers and athletes are exempt from the vaccine mandate. While I understand the economic benefits, it feels like it is half-finished. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The basketball player making the winning jump shot at Madison Square Garden and/or the actor taking the final bow at the end of the Broadway show should have the same status as a member of the cleaning crew. It just creates a bad taste in the proverbial mouth and reinforces the class status.

We forget that our health is paramount, until, for many of us, it is too late. Unfortunately, it took a pandemic to remind us of this fact. It is a reminder that we can never forget.

I’m Torn About the Mask Removal Mandate in NY

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am so tired of Covid-19. I want to take off the mask, throw open the doors, and live life to the fullest.

With Omicron numbers declining, a number of local and federal officials across the United States have announced that mask mandates will either be downgraded or removed completely. In New York State, the mask or vaccinate requirement for indoor businesses will expire on Thursday, February 17th.

For now, the masks must be worn while in schools, child care programs, medical facilities (nursing homes included), and while riding on public transportation. The removal of masks while attending class is pending the numbers after the upcoming winter break. In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams announced that individual business owners can decide for themselves if masks are still needed to enter the premises.

I have mixed feelings about this. To be perfectly honest, this piece of cloth that is supposed to keep us alive is a pain in the behind. We have to make sure that we have one on us when we leave the house, we have to make sure it fits properly, etc. As someone with glasses, I stopped counting the number of times that the lenses have fogged up.

But, at the same time, we know enough about this virus to understand that it is not done with us. It may be just a matter of time before we get hit by the next wave or variant. I think the best way to describe this moment is to be cautiously optimistic. For now, we can take a breath. But the question I feel we have to ask is how long will that breath last?

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P.S.: Randy Rainbow’s new video, THE TANGO: VACCINE – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody is right on target as usual. Based on the song Tango Maureen from the musical Rent, it’s the release we all need right now.

The State of American Politics: The Democrats Messaging Problem and the Republicans Attack on Big Bird

When it comes down to it, politics is about two things: messages and action. One can say the right things, but without acting on what has been said, nothing gets done.

I am a lifelong Democrat. My first major election was the 2000 Presidential election in which George W. Bush ran against former Vice President Al Gore. For the last twenty-ish years, I have voted mostly along party lines. But that does not mean that I can’t or won’t speak when I feel the need. The problem with today’s Democratic Party is not the message. They just finally passed the Infrastructure Bill, for G-d sake. The problem is how the message is being presented. Instead of hearing that our young children will be educated, our seniors will be provided for, and our roads will be maintained, the only thing we are being told is the cost.

There were three recent elections that exemplified this issue. In my hometown of New York City, former police officer, and current Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams won handily against activist Curtis Sliwa in the Mayoral election. Truth be told, Adam’s win was not a complete given, but generally accepted that it was the obvious outcome. NYC is, for the most part, politically blue. It was not a surprise that Sliwa lost.

Across the river, current New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy won his Gubernatorial election against Jack Ciattarelli, but only by a narrow margin. Down south, the shock that Republican Glenn Youngkin was proclaimed the winner in the Virginia Gubernatorial election rippled across the nation. His opponent, Terry McAuliffe lost because instead of focusing on kitchen table issues, he spent his time on you know who. Youngkin won because he mostly repudiated the former President and spoke to the everyday problems that voters are dealing with.

While this is happening, the Republicans are making mountains of out molehills. With the announcement that children ages 5-11 are now eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine, the powers that be reached out to the people at Sesame Street. Via Twitter, Big Bird is encouraging young children to get the shot.

Ted Cruz, in his usual unhelpful way, decided to attack this most beloved of characters. Instead of remembering the 760,000 Americans who have died from the virus, he is opening the door for even more of us to lose our lives. When will he get it through his extra thick skull that the only way to stay alive and return to normal is to be vaccinated?

There is no doubt that the American political scene is nothing short of a shit-show. Until we get our heads out of our asses and do what needs to be done, it will continue to be a shit show.

P.S. How is Paul Gosar still in Congress when he posted a video in which AOC is killed and the President is attacked? He doesn’t have to agree with her, but he crossed the line with the suggestion of violence.

Thoughts on Eric Adams’ Telling Non-Native New Yorkers to Go Back to Ohio and Iowa

If you know nothing about New York City, you know that it is an expensive place to live. For the same price of renting or buying a home in New York City, one can buy a home with a large piece of land in another part of the country.

Last Monday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams stated the following during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech.

“Go back to Iowa, you go back to Ohio,” he said during a speech in Harlem.

“New York City belongs to the people that was here and made New York City what it is.”

To be fair, the point he is making is not exactly a lie. Living in New York City is not cheap. In many neighborhoods that were once considered to be untouchable, gentrification is causing rent and home prices to rise. An unfortunate side effect of this is that long time residents of these neighborhoods (many of whom who are people of color), cannot afford to stay in their homes.

However, the blame does not lie on the feet of those who come from states like Iowa and Ohio. I have many friends who are not native New Yorkers. Their contribution to this city is just as important as those of us who were born here. The blame lies on the building owners and the developers who charge prices for homes that is unreasonable for most of America. The blame also lies with the city and the state who do not step in to make sure that the homeless population is not increasing because of rising rent and home buying prices.

New York City has always welcome newcomers. It is what makes this city so vibrant and so beautiful. If this city is to thrive in the future, we must continue to welcome newcomers. We must also ensure that those who live here can continue to live here. But that does not mean we blame those newcomers for being able to afford to live here.

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