Almost every day I drive around the Northwest Indiana area, and while most of the area is filled with used housing and busy businesses, Gary is a town well on the way down, with many empty houses and empty storefronts.
What’s really sad about all this is watching all the houses slowly stripped and gutted. Wherever theres’ aluminum siding, it gets stripped off a few rows at a time. Sometimes you see the stuff underneath it, other times there’s nothing but the original material sheltering the house from the outside; and sometimes you see the stuff that’s supposed to be the protection underneath (let’s say there’s worse stuff to put up than chip board; I’ve seen it).
And when buildings of any sort are abandoned, the windows get busted and the insides get gutted. Plumbing and wiring are stripped, porcelain and kitchen items are carted out of the house, and the walls are knocked down in search of hidden treasure. Eventually the building burns down, or collapses under its own weight and decay.
I remember back in the seventies there was this one house in our neighborhood that was pretty much uninhabited throughout much of the seventies. I even remember walking through it a couple times, both times finding it both intact and with pickles stored in the cupboards. In the early eighties I toured through the neighborhood and saw that the house was rehabbed and reinhabited.
Try doing that with a house in Gary nowadays. Nowadays you’d be better off letting the house burn down and rebuild a house with vinyl siding, PVC plumbing and chip board for walls. At least you can put up multiple layers of insulation so you won’t get too cool in the winter (or too warm in the summer, as long as you use trees to shade you).
Of course, that’s not the only stuff getting pilfered. That’s right, Catalytic Converters are being stolen for money. People are crawling underneath your car, cutting a few nuts or connections, and running off with the thing that makes your car’s exhaust cleaner.
Why? Because there’s some rare metals in the Catalytic Converters; stuff that can bring lots of money for someone desperate enough to stuck themselves under your car (or SUV, which is easier than people think). So a lot of Meth heads, crack heads and other druggies go underneath and start sawing stuff apart to get at the converters.
Now, ask yourself: When stuff can’t stand around anymore without it getting gutted and ruined, what does that mean for our nation? What is meant when we’re now stuck with a quickly-developing scavenger class?
I’ll tell you what it means: We’re on the quick path to third-world status. No longer can the United States consider itself fully first-world, as first-world nations are wealthy enough to not need to tear itself apart for money.
Yes, there were scavengers around even back in the seventies. When non-returnable bottles and cans became the standard for pop and beer drinking, people would leave them things all along the side of the road; people would collect them and get a few cents out of them. Occasionally you’d hear of people who scavenged for a living and ended up paying their kid’s way through college, but they were always myths everyone had heard but never knew about.
Now they’re around, looking for the next tweekend’s high and not letting usage or ownership get in their way. And our currency and system has gotten so bad that metals now cost enough for the scavengers to profit.
It’s getting ugly.