Capitalist America

June 20, 2018 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , United States

Reuters photo



Nasir Soomro



I have noticed countless beggars and old people on the streets of America. They crave for a dollar or cents to eat some food. People in wheelchairs, people outside hotels, shops, restaurants, most of the nomads having all their luggage with them, homeless and headless.


The gravest problem in the USA I have seen is homelessness, which is considered a crime and general people are brainwashed as homeless as lazy, druggists with bad character without realizing the fact that there is huge housing problem in the country. Millions of people work in the USA under the minimum wage (eg. cashier, sales person in Walmart, McDonalds, large corporations who make huge profits yet they pay less than US$10 per hour to their workers); these wages are not enough for anyone one to rent a house.


I happened to meet Peter Hyen on June 15, around 6:30 pm in the Goodwill Shop in Austin Texas. We exchanged smiles and when I asked what he does for a living, he said that he works with his son in a construction business. As I observed him, his clothes were seared with a daily dust, a packet of cigarettes in his pocket was nodding that it was his only luxury, his boots as old as a drooping ageing skin.


When we discussed the suffering of humankind around the world, he was highly optimistic that peace would prevail, as well as the co-existence with other fellow humans, despite race and religion. I asked how does he see the USA and he responded by talking about Austin only. As many as 5 to 6 black people are killed by Austin Police every year. I asked him if he cried, to which he retorted that he cried every day, which brought relief to him.


He lives alone, owns his own small home, his only asset. He doesn’t have any health insurance, he has to work to enact his health insurance policy otherwise he is in peril.


I asked him if he read JD Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye”, my favorite book, and he said,” yes I have read his book.” I asked about JD Salinger because he was sick of the American phony life, hating fame and the limelight. He retired to the countryside, never to return to city life, completely abandoning public life. Then we discussed other authors like Mark Twain, Hemingway, etc.





I asked him if he was given any social security or any old age package, and he said that the government gives him 1,000 dollars a month which is not sufficient in comparison to the cost of living. He can’t meet expenses; he has to earn a living through labour. His favorite drink was High Miller Beer and goes to a bar every Tuesday to drink and enjoy.


It was not long before we both had to bid farwell to one another. I gave him a tight hug and his eyes welled up with tears. That’s how we ended our conversation. I hope to one day bump into Peter again as he does not keep any mobile.


That’s the true face of capitalist America.





Nasir Soomro

Nasir Soomro is from Pakistan, he is working with the Energy Department, at the Government of Sindh, Pakistan. He is author of the book, ‘Peaks and Perils of Life’ (English Poetry) and is currently working on his semi-autobiographical novel in English.

Editor review

1 Comment

  1. Ron Larson June 23, at 03:11

    I think Salinger felt that to be famous in America is a disgrace, but that it's not due to capitalism. It's due to the lack of common sense among the elite.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.