When I was arrested in Arizona in the middle of a psychotic breakdown, I was immediately taken to jail, rather than a mental hospital, which is where I should have gone. A month later I was arrested in Ohio, and in that case I was taken to a mental hospital. In the first case, I did not get better. In the second case, I was finally able to get the help I needed, my condition began to stabilize and I was able to remain stable from that point forward. What I didn’t understand at the time was that for a majority of the country, jail has become the de facto housing facility for the mentally ill. Cuts to mental health budgets throughout the country have created a status quo where not only are millions of people in the United States in jail, but the majority of them suffer from a mental illness. In a study released in 2006, the Department of Justice estimated that fully 64 percent of local jail inmates have some form of mental illness. In reality the number is probably higher. This is all the result of policies that have weakened or even removed large parts of the mental health commitment system, enacted primarily in the 1970s and 1980s, largely during the Ronald Reagan presidency. The consequences for this are far reaching. Higher murder and assault rates, higher property crime rates, higher rates of drug abuse, and lost productivity of the many people whose lives are destroyed by mental illness.
It seems my country is in a downward trajectory.
The United States of America is still in an economic depression. Our nation’s economy has still not recovered the millions of jobs lost since the collapse in 2007-08. A huge percentage of the population is either unemployed or under-employed, working on a job making at or near the minimum-wage. Working part-time with no benefits. Paying taxes on income, on property, on purchases. A permanent underclass has been formed, oppressed, and controlled in service of the upper classes. The wealthiest, during this trying economic time, have simply managed to amass even more wealth, while unemployed Americans across the country struggle to make ends meet. The stories of the excess and abuses carried out by the banking class on the economy and the people are many. The bankers who created this mess demanded to be bailed out by the taxpayer for the good of the country, allegedly. This bailout did not fix the economic crisis. The gap between rich and poor is widening more and more as each year passes. The wealthy in this country are almost all completely out of touch with the struggles of the poorest Americans.