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Barry Crimmins

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Abandonment Issues Sunday, May 11, 2008

Abandonment Issues
I went out for a drive Sunday morning but thanks to the slime that's managed to turn every gas pump in the nation into an ambush for the Avengers of Enron, I didn't go too far. On the bright side, gas would be a lot more expensive if the dollar still had any value.

These are difficult days in America, the cost of most everything is zooming, the value of most everything is plummeting. We are starting to pay the long term cost for decades of short term solutions.

Have you noticed that our country is filling with abandoned house trailers? They're everywhere around where I live. Left to rot unoccupied in the middle of nowhere or fled en masse in what were once active communities of affordable housing, these decommissioned domiciles are clunking up a lot of neighborhoods and ruining many otherwise delightful vistas. Too often, as these semi-permanent edifices fall into disrepair, their rotting husks are left in close proximity to other trailers, still full of people. I've seen kids playing in and around some of these rusty, jagged heaps of metal. Where do the children come from? The still active portion of a trailer park. (NOTE: Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of perfectly fine mobile homes, kept in good repair and surrounded by tidy properties. In my freewheeling days when I traveled by thumb I was shown hospitality by kindly folks in trailers much more frequently than by the idle rich.)
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Home is where you hang your hat and if that's a trailer, fine by me. It just seems to me that when a home is no longer a home and rotting hazardously away, something needs to be done about it. In this age when both scrap metal and housing are at a premium, owners of these public health hazard/eyesores should be given a chance to put them back into service or get what they can for them. If they let them continue to be a blot on our communities, then the decaying structures should be claimed and either renovated or sold for scrap. This goes for every rotting car and truck decomposing in driveways and yards, as well.
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And no, I am not a libertarian. The common good comes first. Communities should provide opportunity and incentive to clean up dangerous junk heaps but if such fair policies are rejected or ignored by those responsible for these blights on the landscape, then send in the cleanup crews -- decently paid Civilian Conservation Corps-type cleanup crews.

And if these challenged properties are owned by those too old and/or infirm and/or impoverished to deal with the problems, then they are rectified at cost or gratis by municipalities.
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Please don't tell me there's no work in this country. There's work everywhere. If we are so proud of the USA  then why don't we take more pride in it? Why squander our resources laying waste to other nations when our communities are going to waste before our very eyes? Let's stop averting our gaze from the collapse of our own communities. Let's do something about it. Together we can cleanup, recycle and rebuild this country. Prosperity is not around the corner if a de facto junkyard is.

I'm just floating ideas here because I'm disgusted with watching our surroundings grow uglier. Depressed people let  things go to seed. We need to find a way to bring real hope to those people or their despair will surely come to us. The restoration of our communities and their infrastructures would go a long way toward bringing some hope to our homes at a time when few of us can afford to travel  to more pleasant surroundings.

Look at these photos (all from within a few miles of my home) and tell me what you think. I certainly don't have many, or any, answers. But how would you feel if you saw your kids running around in playing among these junkheaps? And what, if anything, would you suggest we do about them?
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If I could get away with it, I'd put on some work duds and start cleaning up these messes. I know many locals would view me as a Johnny-come-lately interloper but I grew up among the debris of upstate NY and it's only gotten worse. Much worse. There's something to be said for grabbing the horse by the tail and facing the situation. What do you think?

updated: 14 years ago