Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tent Cities Sprouting in Sacramento and Seattle

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Good Morning, it's Depression Tuesday....

I rarely get a chance to watch the national nightly news reports anymore, and after taking them in yesterday I think it is better to abstain. This is the sort of stuff that is going to simply frighten the masses, creating a self reinforcing pattern. I don't know if this is heading for "Depression" (with modern day safety nets) but it sure is depressing. After you look at videos and pictures alone you have to wonder how $170 some billion of aid to AIG (alone) would help normal people in America.

We were early on this story (as we normally are) as we highlighted (with help from Mish) the tent cities sprouting up in Southern California last summer [Jun 19: Tent Cities Sprout Up Across Southern California] - those were in the Los Angeles/Ontario airport area.

Now we have reports of this spreading to Sacramento, Reno, Nashville and indeed - even quite well off Seattle. Poverty has never left the country, it has just been hidden under the covers - but now people who look like "average Joe" are showing up in these situations (2 minutes)



A follow up story in The Daily Mail (UK)
  • A century and a half ago it was at the centre of the Californian gold rush, with hopeful prospectors pitching their tents along the banks of the American River. Today, tents are once again springing up in the city of Sacramento. But this time it is for people with no hope and no prospects.

  • Those who have lost their jobs and homes and have nowhere else to go are constructing makeshift shelters on the site, which covers several acres. As many as 50 people a week are turning up and the authorities estimate that the tent city is now home to more than 1,200 people.

  • In a state more known for its fantastic wealth and the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, the images have shocked many Americans. Conditions are primitive, with no water supply or proper sanitation. Many residents have to walk up to three miles to buy bottled water from petrol stations or convenience stores.


Apparently it took Oprah highlighting it for people to become aware on a national scale (7 minutes)



I'd also like to point out (again) just how bad things are getting in Japan. Each time someone talks about the coming rebound in China, with an economy so dependent on export I mentally list the US, Japan, and Europe as the 3 major trading partners with China and try to figure out how this illusion has come to be; it is nothing but grasping for straws/thesis in my book. (2 minutes) [Feb 26: NYT - When Consumers Cut Back - An Object Lesson from Japan] [Oct 27, 2008: Japan's Lost Quarter Century] [Oct 28, 2008: Pooring of Japan Too?] [Nov 17, 2008: Poverty, Pension Fears Drive Japan's Elderly Citizens to Crime]



Once more as awful as this is... and will be, the first part of addressing things is to stop denying them. We, as a country, have been in denial. We say we are not Japan and then follow so many of the same steps they took. We say it's not a recession, until so many facts overwhelm us that our leadership can no longer deny it. The social safety net is going to need to be reinforced for what is happening and will happen in the future. While there is no right to a 3000 sq foot home - there definitely needs to be the basic right to shelter and food in the "richest country on Earth". Unfortunately, from this vantage point, 1 year from now we will be in more dire straights on many measures than we are now - so hopefully recognition at the highest levels begins in earnest.

Last video - 1 janitor job paying $15/hour with benefits in a Ohio School district = 700-800 applicants.


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