From The Tent City Project: Buddy, can you spare a jail cell?

Crossposted from The Tent City Project:

Brian Eastman wanted to spend the night in jail; instead, he faces a fine for drinking in public and still must find away to deal with the cold.

As reported by nj.com, police approached the 46-year-old Eastman as he was “drinking a 24-ounce can of Mike’s Hard Iced Tea in front of Macho Nacho restaurant at 66 Morris St. at about 2:12 a.m. Wednesday, police said.”

As O’Brien approached Eastman, the homeless man put down the can, police said.

“You got me. I’ll take the ticket. I want to go to jail because it is getting cold out here,” Eastman told O’Brien, according to the police report.

Instead of arresting Eastman, O’Brien gave him a ticket for drinking in public and threw out the alcoholic beverage without incident, police said.

The incident — presented as a brief item in a police blotter — offers a glimpse into our failed economy and the lack of seriousness with which we are approaching its natural byproduct.

The American economy has been rigged to generate massive wealth for a small subset of the population, who has managed to take the profits off the top while pushing the cost of the economic byproduct (as in a chemical equation) onto the public. Se we have homelessness and poverty and economic instability, pollution and health problems, shattered urban areas and devastated rural towns — all created by the actions of corporate America, but ameliorated through the auspices of federal, state and local governments with the cost being shared by each and everyone of us.

Perhaps, this is logical. We get some of the benefits, so why shouldn’t we share in the cost? The problem is that we are paying on both ends: We pay in higher prices and waning workplace power on the one side and then again through our taxes — and rising crime, dirtier air and water, etc. — on the other side. And people like Brian Eastman remain on the streets, and going so far as to commit a petty offense to get himself a warm space for the night.

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