There's No Place like Home: Anthropological Perspectives on Housing and Homelessness in the United States

By Anna Lou Dehavenon | Go to book overview

Epilogue: A Perilous Bridge

Marvin Harris (With apologies to Thornton Wilder)

Imagine a bridge that spans a deep gorge. Thousands walk across the bridge every day and cross over safely. But the bridge has been constructed with a special device that prevents it from becoming overloaded. Every so often trap doors in the roadway drop open, and a number of people fall through and are dashed to pieces on the rocks below. Then the doors automatically swing up, and traffic resumes. Although everyone knows that the bridge has this defect, they do nothing to correct its design but continue to use it. They have been told that the doors drop open only when stepped on by people who have just never learned to walk right. Indeed, whenever someone falls through, the crowd shouts insults as the miscreants hurtle downward: "Don't ever try to use this bridge again!" In reality, however, the doors drop open at random intervals, regardless of who steps on them.

I contend that there is a great deal of resemblance between this nightmarish bridge and the circumstances that create and perpetuate homelessness and poverty in the USA. Our social engineers have in fact built an economy that depends on dumping millions of people through the trap door of unemployment onto the rocks of homelessness and poverty. The standard explanation for this punitive system is that if there is no unemployment, the labor market becomes too tight, the prices of goods and services rise without corresponding increments in productivity, and inflation rates soar to dangerous, runaway levels. Crucial to an etic analysis of the causes of poverty and homelessness is the fact that the government regularly manipulates the unemployment rate to prevent inflation. It does this through the authority vested in the Federal Reserve System to raise or lower interest rates (high interest rates, less investment, more unemployment).

At the end of World War II, the achievement of "full employment" was accorded the highest priority among the goals of democratic societies. It was written into the United Nations Charter and was implicit in Franklin Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms," as "Freedom from Want." But during the 1970s and 1980s the goal of

-175-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
There's No Place like Home: Anthropological Perspectives on Housing and Homelessness in the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 208

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.