Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Fully Employed

Homeless At Nintendo

I belong to a dating site that has quizzes about various things in order to match up their members. When I'm bored, I sometimes take more of the quizzes. This morning I ran into an interesting question about the cause of homelessness. It asked what do you believe the cause of homelessness is? and gave two possible answers a) lazyness and b) incredible odds. I don't think it's lazyness or incredible odds at all. There are many fully employed homeless people. It's not lazyness and it's very common.

The primary causes of homelessness are the lack of affordable housing, the lack of living wage jobs or sufficient income, and the lack of adequate health and supportive services. There are homeless people that live not far from my home that have full time jobs at the Nintendo warehouse in North Bend, WA. They work as warehouse help right along side robots for minimum wage.

But nevertheless, they cannot afford to live near the town they work in. They depend on the food bank for their food. They thrift their clothes. The attached picture is the tent of a homeless woman that works at Nintendo. She does not earn enough money with her full time job to pay for rent, so she lives in a tent not far from my home.

Meanwhile, the company, Nintendo, is making record profits from selling its video games. And some of their workers (who all must pass a drug screening) are homeless. I don't think that corporate goodwill or free market economics has solved (or is going to solve) this problem. Perhaps it's time to raise the minimum wage so people like this woman can have a living wage. Employers should bear more of the burden
of the welfare of their employees. Working full time, she should be able to live in an apartment or small home, clothe and feed herself without subsidy.

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