Sunday, September 12, 2021


 The Alien C.W. and I were walking about the farm talking, he in his best impression of Albert Einstein and I as, well, I'm stuck with myself. We were taking bets on whether we could solve the pressing crisis in the availability of affordable housing.

He had been silent for a spell, but then turned and began to speak. “Someone once said that ‘the poor will be with us always.’ Is this not true?”

“What? That someone said it or that we are stuck with the poor and huddled masses that Lady Liberty welcomes with such graciousness?”

“This is no time for levity,” he said. “Did someone say that?”

“Yes,” I said, “the Galilean is credited with that bit of wisdom.”

“Was he correct?”

“I don’t know. Maybe he missed it this time. Or maybe he’s changed his mind during the last two thousand years.”

“You are familiar with this Abraham Maslow and his so-called ‘hierarchy of needs’ are you not?”

“A passing acquaintance,” I said. “We’re not joined at the hips, or anything like that.” I forgot about his beloved shape of Lefty and Lucky, the conjoined twins.

“You know… you are still being pissy.”

“I think you mean ‘pithy’ don’t you?”

His Galactic Universal Translator hummed. “I’ll stand by what I said.”

“You always trust your Gut, then?”

“Consider the need for basic shelter,” he said. “That was one of Herr Maslow’s most basic needs, am I right?”

“So far so good.”

“I’ve done some research,” he said.

Oh hell. I hate it when he does this to me. “And?”

“The places that currently have affordable housing available are those where many people do not want to live.”

“To a large extent. Some neighborhoods in pre-Katrina New Orleans broke the pattern, and ‘pre-gentrification Greenwich Village. A few still exist.”

“And the places that need affordable housing are the places where many want to live.”

“One might say so.”

“Ostensimately in order to have homes that appreciate in value along with basic retail and services?”

I think you mean ‘ostensibly’ but yes.”

He consulted his GUT. “Ostensibly, they want services, but don’t want the service workers nearby.”

“One might say so.”

“ And if we could  build affordable housing in those very places to which people are fleeing in such droves …,”

“That’s not a likely prospect.”


“Another day. Another walk.”

“If we could place said affordable housing there on the free market, experience indicates that it will not remain affordable for long.”

“That seems to be the case.”

“Then why does a new study indicate that if we just made it easier to build low-cost housing in high-growth cities, the problem would solve itself?”

“Because the study was done by east-coast grads of ‘Ivy-League Schools’ and not by people who need basic shelter or those who profit from housing.”

He stroked his chin and drew on his pipe. After exhaling a dense, choking cloud of smoke he said, “That doesn’t make any sense. Helping the poor from a comfortable room on a full stomach doesn’t actually scream empathy, now does it? Clichés will not solve the affordable housing crisis, only bold action that has, to this point been only voiced by prophets, philosophers, and penniless preachers. Am I correct?”

“Let me get back to you on that.” He was on a roll but I was wearying of our talk.

“I mean, wouldn’t that be like appointing a group of women to create laws addressing this sexual addiction among the males of your species? Is this how you seek the truth?”

I turned to look at him. “Hey,” I said. “Let’s go check on the football scores.”

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