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March 26, 2009

Comments

I am recalling (but not finding) an interview with a mayor in CA who has these shantytowns popping up in his city (it may well be Fresno). He wanted to make sure that they didn't improve the conditions/permanence of the impromptu settlement because they didn't want to attract homeless from around the state.

Why do I see these pictures and think, welcome to the Third World? I think attracting the homeless should be the least of our worries if this become commonplace.

I saw an article saying that the Govinator has opened the Fairgrounds to the homeless in Sacramento....so sad.

Fraud Guy, it doesn't seem to be the story you're thinking of, so far as I can tell (as the mayor isn't quoted being nasty, and is portrayed as trying to improve rather than degrade the tent city), but there is another California Tent City story in today's New York Times, this one in Sacramento:

Residents of Sacramento’s Tent City to Move to Fairground

After weeks in the national spotlight, the tent city in Sacramento is closing its run.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mayor Kevin Johnson said Wednesday that they would move the riverside encampment’s 125 residents — down from a peak of 200 — to the state‘s fairground until at least July. The move, according to the governor, will give the homeless a “dry shelter, reliable health care and warm meals.”

The same Times writer wrote both California Tent City stories published the same day, for whatever that means about how much further effort the Times intends to spend on these stories.

There was also a story a week ago on CNN, apparently:

Tent city becomes home in tough times

Residents call it Nickelsville. The name takes a page from the infamous "Hooverville" shantytowns of the Great Depression that were named for a president many thought did not care about their economic hardships.

Some residents here say they blame Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and a system they believe makes it difficult to escape homelessness.

Nickels, for those not familiar with him, is seen as a reasonable competent and soulless fellow completely in the thrall of the developers and the Chamber Of Commerce. Doing a quick search, it looks like there are a lot of people speaking out about "Nickelsville", including (as the first result) an eponymous website that publicizes the resident's plight, seeks to coordinate donations and political appeals, and that incidentally dubs the camp's residents "Nickolodeans". Although it looks like the site is about six months out of date, and it was a cold, snowy winter in Seattle.

Why do I see these pictures and think, welcome to the Third World?

Depends on how big they get, and how long they last. If they become actual refugee camps - thousands of people in each one, living there for upwards of 2 years - then yes, we will have become a Third World nation.

I remember homelessness growing like this in the late 1980s. Back then, social workers noted it was the first time they saw entire families living on the streets. Now it's the sheer numbers and ubiquitousness that are new.

F*ck. F*ck. F*ck. F*ck.

repeat.

This is the nation we've become? When Brett wants to leave, and it's because of efforts made to alleviate this situation, what has happened to us?

Warren,

The line about drugs, prostitution, and violence threw me off, as I recalled that from the interview.

However, based on the photo at your link, it was Sacramento, and the mayor came off much worse in the interview than the story. IIRC, another of his quips was stating that people want to be able to walk along the river without seeing the tents.

I can't imagine what a Hooverville would look like nowadays had the scheme to privatize social security gone through in 2005.

CaseyL

I am recalling a trip to Mexico a few years back, and comparing the two persons in an 80 square foot shed in the story to what I saw there. We're still ahead on space per person, but not by much.

Then I compare this to some homes, no, mcmansions; actually, real mansions--multi-million dollar, 25,000 square feet, with an average of 3 occupants per home.

Then I think about how these modern homes are designed integrally, compared to the old mansions which were very compartmentalized. Picture the classic Victorian home with it's little boxy rooms, but many, and how they were converted in down times to multi-unit dwellings. Now try to picture the same with our modern high end homes, with their vaulted ceilings, open floor plans (although the baths to bedroom ratio is better). It almost as if modern architects and planners don't want any thought about conversion to multi-unit dwellings to be on the table with these homes.

However, if they are left open, and unsold/abandoned (if the Great Recession gets bad enough), what will happen to them? The gutting/stripping of the empty subdivisions? What a colossal waste of resources if they couldn't otherwise be used--unlike those homes of old that could be adapted to diminished circumstances.

Fraud Guy,
I am completely unfamiliar with Sacramento, so I have no idea where these sites are - for example, how close the current tent city location and the fairgrounds each are to the center of the city and to the service providers and perhaps even potential employers there (and of course how close each site is to the eyeballs of the comfortable). And the author of the short piece I linked to didn't say anything about the issue.
On reflection, I should have been more cynical, and especially given that you say the mayor seemed unsympathetic in interviews then (given what I know of typical mayoral behavior) I should have been less willing to automatically accept the nice and friendly explanation of the decision to move the homeless to the fairgrounds that the story I linked to unquestioningly repeated.

Housing affordability at the moment is pretty good. So, the Fresno homelessness must be due to unemployment. How can we fix unemployment?

Let's turn to the dem playbook:
a) Raise minimum wage (thereby reducing the number of jobs)
b) Push for unionization (which will raise wages and thereby reduce the number of jobs.)
c) Reduce or eliminate farm subsidies (which will reduce jobs in the agricultural based economy of Fresno).
d) Blame it on Bush and the republicans (which won't solve anything at all).
e) Increase taxes on people earning over $250k who tend to be business owners and employers (thereby reducing the money they have to reinvest in job creating activities).
f) Artificially increase the cost of energy through a cap and trade tax program (which will raise the cost of agricultural products that depend on refrigeration and transport and therefore reduce demand and jobs).

laxel
//I can't imagine what a Hooverville would look like nowadays had the scheme to privatize social security gone through in 2005.//

It would have had no effect as that plan was for persons who were 20+ years away from retirement. What's more persons using that plan were free to invest in inflation adjusted US treasuries which are more secure than SS admin promises and provide a better return.

It's nice that these people are being noticed, but they aren't solely an artifact of the current economic downturn, they've been around for decades.

Used to be there were a couple people sleeping in the park at the end of the street. Now there are a couple dozen.

Hard times, but the people sleeping there a year ago weren't invisible, so why did people pretend not to be able to see them?

But yeah, now its a big deal. Alla the sudden.

Whatever.

To the park dwelling class of 2007, you were ahead of your time. And if I had known ahead of time that you would be sleeping outside under my stairs, I woulda left a bottle of beer out for ya.

//soulless fellow completely in the thrall of the developers//

cite? There was nothing in those links about developers.

I'm trying to figure out how people who create housing (developers) are responsible for the lack of housing in Seattle.

D'd'd'dave,

Addressing your points as they appear:
(a) You do know that people have done actual studies looking into this, right? And that the minimum wage hikes that have occurred have had negligible effects on jobs, probably because the hikes have been modest and the minimum wage is still lower than it was when it was created, if you measure it in inflation-adjusted dollars?
(b) It's at least somewhat true that unionization kills jobs, because employers seize the excuse to move plants to China, or (as in the California Supermarkets) suffer huge losses for months rather than continue to pay a living wage. Other than the jobs lost in these sorts of power struggles, I'm not aware that there's good evidence that unionization actually kills jobs by increasing employers' expenses, but I'm not well read in the area; can you prove your assertion?
(c) Are you actually opposed to reducing farm subsidies, as a matter of policy? Do you think the Tent City urban homeless do a lot of farm work? Do you think that a lot of your grocery budget goes to farmworker labor?
(d) I wasn't aware that this was a policy goal, although I guess the Dems might make the argument that their policies are better (one hopes each side believes their policies are better), and that they could therefore honestly attempt to lay blame at the feet of their opponents, both because they feel it is just and because doing so might empower them to implement their own (superior) policies. Still, this point is a bit silly.
(e) I seem to remember a days-long argument with you in one of these comment threads about this very question, the which I have no overwhelming desire to revisit, but suffice it to say that I and a lot of other people are wholly unconvinced by your assertions of this nature, with at least one rebuttal being that payroll and other business expenses are deductible and therefore are not taxed at any rate, let alone the higher one.
(f) It is true that taxing energy consumption more will distort the marketplace. It's also true that the marketplace is already distorted by the subsidies that currently exist for some forms of energy consumption (say, highways). The plan so far as I'm aware is to tax energy (because we have a global need to encourage greater energy efficiency), and to use a significant part of the revenue to alleviate the burden this tax places on the less fortunate. I don't know whether this energy-tax-funded spending will completely alleviate the burden for these people, and I worry that it won't (and I am almost certain that it won't for some, for example for the rural poor). Still, there is a serious threat of Global Warming confronting the whole world; do you have a painless suggestion for confronting it?

D'd'd'dave I was describing the impression I get of Nickels from family and friends who still live there and from occasionally reading Seattle papers, not from the cites. I wasn't trying to blame the housing shortages on developers.

// What a colossal waste of resources if they couldn't otherwise be used--unlike those homes of old that could be adapted to diminished circumstances.//

'if they couldn't otherwise be used'. Yes, IF. Which is the case with anything. IF anything can't be used for it's primary purpose or otherwise then it's a colossal waste of resources. But that is not the case here. It is relatively simple and cheap to build walls to divide a large open space. But acknowledging that would've spoiled the dark tearful mood you were trying to evoke.

Absolute fantasy. You had to really stretch on that one.

This probably isn't worth it, but ....

a) Labor market =/= widget market. The effect of minimum wage on employment is hotly disputed. And since the Fed pretty much sets interest rates to achieve NAIRU, our government chooses to set un- and under-employment in the marketplace. Which means that the market-clearing price for labor is pretty much zero. Great. The 13th amendment may prohibit the badges and incidences of slavery, but republicans would love to bring back indentured servitude.

b) Corporate income is shared between labor, management and shareholders. Spend about 10 seconds googling the success of management over the last 30 years in putting the screws to labor, then come back.

c) ? Farm subsidies largely go to management.

d) Blame is deserved.

e) The trickle-down stream since 1980 has been yellow and full of urea. If you really want to cut taxes on the wealthy, then we need to cut spending on the military and on prisons, 'cause the middle class ain't giving their tax cuts back.

f) Global warming is already (highly likely) adversely affecting California agriculture. Detailed explanations available on demand. It'd be nice to preserve some aspects of our 20th century lifestyle. Straight carbon taxes, we were told, were unacceptable to republicans; hence cap and trade proposals.

//(e) I seem to remember a days-long argument with you in one of these comment threads about this very question, the which I have no overwhelming desire to revisit, but suffice it to say that I and a lot of other people are wholly unconvinced by your assertions of this nature, with at least one rebuttal being that payroll and other business expenses are deductible and therefore are not taxed at any rate, let alone the higher one.//

Capital seeks profits. Taxes reduce profits. When profits are reduced capital looks elsewhere for returns. Jobs are created by the investment of capital. When capital looks elsewhere, jobs are not created here.

Simple, basic, even axiomatic.

ddd: It would have had no effect as that plan was for persons who were 20+ years away from retirement.

Are you saying the social security privatization scheme, as rolled out in 2005, would never have allowed (had it been implemented) current retirees the 'opportunity' to invest some portion of their fixed income in the market? Maybe I'm misremembering how ye old bamboozapalooza went down, so I think I'll ask for a cite on that.

Capital seeks profits. Taxes reduce profits. When profits are reduced capital looks elsewhere for returns. Jobs are created by the investment of capital. When capital looks elsewhere, jobs are not created here.

Simple, basic, even axiomatic.

This is perhaps true, but there is surely a dose-response curve involved - everything else being equal, 0% tax is a great incentive to invest and 100% tax is a complete disincentive; but this is the real world, and we're not dealing with such absolutes. Given a fairly modest tax increase (to the confiscatory rates last seen in the bleak communist 1990s! Quelle horror!), will so very much investment really be driven away?

laxel
//so I think I'll ask for a cite on that.//

www.google.com key words: 2005 social security privatization scheme

Warren

//Given a fairly modest tax increase (to the confiscatory rates last seen in the bleak communist 1990s! Quelle horror!), will so very much investment really be driven away?//

Yes. My friend owns a bank. He has found that if he needs new deposits to fund a good loan opportunity all he has to do is advertise CD rates 0.02% above the other local banks and he gets all the deposits he can use. Small differences in yields can move capital - even more so in these times of international markets and trade.

That's two hundredths of one percent not two percent.

//(c) Are you actually opposed to reducing farm subsidies, as a matter of policy? Do you think the Tent City urban homeless do a lot of farm work? Do you think that a lot of your grocery budget goes to farmworker labor?//

I'm actually for reducing farms subsidies. But i'm bnot blind to the harm it will do to agricultural economies like Fresno's. The Fresno tent city folks may not do alot of farm work. But Fresno is farms, farm equipment, packing houses, transportation outfits, food processing plants, etc. AGRICULTURAL BASED ECONOMY. Most of the cost of food is processing and transport which are all very energy dependent.

It would have had no effect as that plan was for persons who were 20+ years away from retirement.

Wrong. It was all about setting up accounts for people that far away from retirement, but the plan would most certainly have affected those closer. The big problem with it, which Bush never even bothered to try to solve, was that it set up those accounts by taking money out of the system. Less money collected from the payroll tax would have gone to pay current retirees and fill the trust fund. Given the hostility those pushing the plan had to the idea of the trust fund, I think we can wipe that out, too. Very shortly, there wouldn't have been enough money coming into the system to pay current retirees.

Which would have meant cuts in the benefit checks. Unless you have some secret plan to fill the $2 trillion hole in the plan, you're wrong.

This story means that we must pay the AIG bonuses.

(and if it wasn't clear, my meaning is screw you Jerry DeSantis, you sanctimonious prick.)

Good god!

Anecdotal DDDDave has a "friend" in every freaking industry one could name.

Me, I'm an former astronaut who now plays lead guitar in a fabulously popular pop group on tour in Europe.

Next week I plan to be a wildly successful dentist in Yuma Arizona.

Ya gotta love the internet.

"Less money collected from the payroll tax would have gone to pay current retirees and fill the trust fund."

There is no trust fund. If there were actually a trust fund, then you could have paid current retirees out of it, and somebody deciding to put part of their SS taxes into a different investment vehicle could have no impact on other retirees.

Instead the money is either sent to current retirees, or immediately spent by other parts of the government, and an accounting notation made that the government owes SS the money. So all the program would have done was to accelerate the arrival of SS going net-negative, something which is inevitable anyway, and which defenders of SS as it is keep assuring us is of no consequence because of the trust fund.

Can't have it both ways: Either SS going net negative today is no big deal, or the desire to change over to real investments in a real retirement fund makes sense.

As it is, SS will create problems before it ever goes net-negative, because before it does that, it will stop subsidizing the rest of government, and the missing revenue will have to be made up from tax increases or (Unlikely!) spending cuts.

Capital seeks profits. Taxes reduce profits. When profits are reduced capital looks elsewhere for returns. Jobs are created by the investment of capital. When capital looks elsewhere, jobs are not created here.

Simple, basic, even axiomatic.

Totally oversimplified.
Taxes are just one factor when investments are considered. Any sane investor also looks at education, infrastructure and law-enforcement. Just to name a few. All paid for by taxes.

Good old DDDDD. We've tried his preferred policies of massive wealth transfers to the rich at the expense of the middle class for the last 30 years, and the result is people jobless and living in tents. Evidently, we haven't been trying these policies hard enough.

(c) Are you actually opposed to reducing farm subsidies, as a matter of policy?

Yes, he is. That money goes to cracker agri-moguls out in the Valley, who, in d'd'd'dave's world comprise 'the deserving poor'.

// Unless you have some secret plan to fill the $2 trillion hole in the plan, you're wrong.//

That's not stopping Obama and the dem congress now. Obama is offering a plan that will burn $9.3 trillion over then next 10 years without even trying to fix social security.

Davebo

Why does it seem strange that a real estate developer has a friend who owns a bank? Real estate developers borrow continually to finance projects; we are constantly courting bankers.

if they couldn't otherwise be used'. Yes, IF. Which is the case with anything. IF anything can't be used for it's primary purpose or otherwise then it's a colossal waste of resources. But that is not the case here.

A significant amount of empty housing stock is degrading irreversibly right now. Stick a house in the middle of the desert or in the middle of a Florida swamp, don't air condition it or clean it, let the vegetation go wild, and don't patrol it to make it easy pickings for vandals and squatters. Six months and it won't be worth saving.

"Colossal waste of resources" pretty much defines the last two decades of economic activity.

I guess there is something about the sight of raw human suffering that drives people in one of two directions - compassion and at least a general impulse to do something about it, or resentment at how the "undeserving" are annoying us with their plight and their desire for relief. Interesting. Mr. DeSanis and his friends, clearly, rank among the truly needy and deserving, according to the latter view.

Bushvilles. Schumervilles.

Summersvilles. DeLayvilles.


Leave President Hoover alooooooone!!

Since when did you have to be a member of some officially sanctioned 'victim' class, to expect contracts to be enforcible? The rule of law shouldn't be just for the poor, any more than it should be just for the wealthy. It should be for everybody.

Kill that principle off, and I assure you that 9 times out of 10, it's going to be the poor who are the ones getting screwed.

Grammvilles. Genslervilles.

Of course, that's expecting that in those 9 in 10 cases, the poor were able to afford a lawyer to help them defend their contractural rights.

If you exclude the unlawyered poor from your 9 in 10, you are probably looking at .5 in 10 additionaly being affected.

Brett, shouldn't you be packing? Or does going Galt mean that your stuff gets magically packed for you?

The rich get their contracts enforced, the poor or the middling sorts don't (see last year's screw-the-auto-union-contracts scenario). If I believed in even-handed enforcement of negotiated agrements along with sufficient provision for those suffering from economic dislocation, I'd be at the barricades with Brett. I notice, however, that those who are better off under the current system seem to benefit disproportionately from the "fair" system of enforcement that Brett so ardently defends. Perhaps that's why I look with a bit of a jaundiced eye when we urge UAW members to give up their "sweetheart deals" in the public interest while insisting on the sanctity of contract for those at the top of the economic food chain (ie, $740000.00 bonuses for folks at AIG). Color me unimpressed about how the slogan of "rule of law" blithely invoked actually works to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted.

Good god!

Anecdotal DDDDave has a "friend" in every freaking industry one could name.

Me, I'm an former astronaut who now plays lead guitar in a fabulously popular pop group on tour in Europe.

Next week I plan to be a wildly successful dentist in Yuma Arizona.

Ya gotta love the internet.

Posted by: Davebo

Not to disagree with you - and I agree that the d-ster has some very convenient first-hand examples - but I've had this same charge leveled at me(even if my tales weren't quite as convenient). Here's the deal. I'm putting on weight around the middle. I'm balding. A lot of the hair I have left is going gray. My beloved teen-age daughter says my wrinkles and the excess hair that has mysteriously sprouted to make up for what's lacking on top is 'gross'. My knees, lower back, and right shoulder ache almost continuously. My memory definitely isn't what it used to be, and all the older movies are better. As is the older music.

Given all that, please don't take away my stories :-) If d'..'d'dave is an old coot, it's quite possible that his stories bear some approximation to the truth. You do pick up these sorts of things over the course of a lifetime, you know. Even if you have to put up with your wife rolling your eyes and telling company that he's going to tell that one again.

Where the davester is lacking, I would suggest, is that his stories reflect a lifelong immersion in a monoculture. If you spend your life living in a middle-class suburb composed of white, protestant, mid-level professionals, don't be surprised that you aren't able to tell personalized stories about black, single, working-class mothers, peripatetic journeymen, or seriously disturbed iconoclastic writers long past the ever popular tortured artist effect instead of what you heard through the friend of a friend of a friend.

Guys! I haven't been president for SEVENTY-SIX YEARS! Leave me ALOOOOONE!

I'm very glad you got yours Brett. And who cares about these guys living in sheds, you don't know any of them? It's the Jerry Desanis's of the world who provide the real economic impetus, otherwise, we'd all be living like that. Oh, wait, we all seemed to get along just fine before CMOs and the like.

I can get behind a certain degree of raw, short-sighted and narrowly focused self-interest, its just the level of entitlement to the disproportionate spoils of same which is bothersome.

"Simple, basic, even axiomatic."

IN other words: article of faith, like the tenet of a relgion.

To make more jobs we need to have more people with money who can go out and buy stuff. more conmsumers. If you have more consumers looking for things to consume then the potential market is expanding. That creates opportunities to start up or expand businesses which create more jpobs. You have your conceptual framwork upside down

About Nickols and develpoment in Seattle; I'm no expert on Seattle politics but the effecgt of development on homelessness is related pretty directly to the type of develp,memt. Seattle has experienced a great deal of high end expensive (probably over priced) housing development in areas that used to have cheap partments.

I guess there is something about the sight of raw human suffering that drives people in one of two directions - compassion and at least a general impulse to do something about it, or resentment at how the "undeserving" are annoying us with their plight and their desire for relief. Interesting. Mr. DeSanis and his friends, clearly, rank among the truly needy and deserving, according to the latter view.

Mr. DeSantis is not "truly needy and deserving" of anything other than simple fairness, which he is not getting. Including from you.

The folks portrayed in this story are "truly needy and deserving" of our compassion and support. (That said, there has to be more to the story of Doug Brown.)

"I'm very glad you got yours Brett."

Sheesh. I got laid off last summer with my wife 5 months pregnant with our first child.

Got cheated out of most of my severance pay, and my scumbag employer even retroactively cut my pay for time I'd already worked, but hadn't been paid for yet, (DeSantis, I feel your pain!) just to base the few weeks severance he did give me on a phony, lower wage. And I couldn't do squat about it because I needed the reference, because I hadn't worked anywhere else in 23 years.

Cobra and mortgage payments emptied my bank account, which only had money in it because I'd borrowed half my 401-K plan to make needed repairs to the house, and canceled 'em when I lost the job. I finally found work in another state after having to beg a loan from relatives to put food on the table.

The hospital ate my signing bonus when the wife needed a C-section. I had resigned myself to letting my home, which I built with my own hands on land I grew up on, go into forclosure, when I finally found a tenant, and it took several months to get current on my bills again.

No, I Could see myself in a Hooterville. But you know what? That doesn't stop me from seeing injustice when it happens to somebody better off than me.

DeSantis and his like got screwed. They got screwed even if they're not too bad off compared to somebody else.

You know your city has made it when it's featured in an article in the Times. Sigh.

d'd'd'dave: in your first comment to this post you ask the question, "How can we fix unemployment?"

But instead of answering this question with a few helpful suggestions, you chose to take some Democratic policies and sneer at them using simplistic distortions of the supposed results to "prove" how stupid we are.

You appear to support the wonderful thing we call American capitalism which has been in place since the Reagan administration. The results have probably been a delight to you and your friends, but they pretty much suck for the rest of us.

How nice for you. You get to look at the homeless and those who are struggling and feel all superior.

There's a lot of that going around today, more than when I was a kid in the 50s. So be it.

But what you don't seem to get is that there are Americans who don't accept the current American capitalism model that has made the wealthy even wealthier, shrunk the middle class and created a pool of marginally employed workers who are desperate for employment but are viewed by the wealthy elites as lazy or irresponsible.

So, please, mosey on along and enjoy the fruits of your labor and your brilliance. Let the rest of us bleed for the unfortunate and ponder how we can fix our ailing economy.

I Could see myself in a Hooterville.

Hey Brett, it sounds like you have had a very crappy year. I'm sorry to hear all of that. Here's hoping your new situation is a better one.

That said, there has to be more to the story of Doug Brown.

Why? I think lots of folks are no more than one or two steps ahead of being Doug Brown.

Anecdotal DDDDave has a "friend" in every freaking industry one could name.

I disagree with dave about a lot of things, but to be honest I've always found the personal stuff he includes in his comments to be perfectly credible.

And anecdota, particularly in the form of relating things that you, personally, know or have experienced, is IMO a useful antidote to 'I read it in a book' theorizing.

If we're going to exclude anecdota, I'm going to have to find a new hobby. :)

Not saying dave's comments shouldn't be challenged on their merits, just that I don't see any reason to think they're not based in actual personal experience.

Some people lead interesting lives.

Just my two cents.

I Could see myself in a Hooterville.

These people live in "Hoovervilles." I suspect a "Hooterville" i s something else entirely.

My addiction to old TV shows stands revealed.

Brett, I'm sorry about your crappy year.

It's nice that these people are being noticed, but they aren't solely an artifact of the current economic downturn, they've been around for decades.

Used to be there were a couple people sleeping in the park at the end of the street. Now there are a couple dozen.

Hard times, but the people sleeping there a year ago weren't invisible, so why did people pretend not to be able to see them?

But yeah, now its a big deal. Alla the sudden.

Well, yeah. Because numbers and scale matter. When you increase by an order of magnitude the number of people affected by a thing, it affects both the seriousness and the visibility of the thing. This is such a self-evident truth that I can't believe I actually have to explain it to another adult.

Could have been worse; Got me out of a dead end job, and a dead end state. And I'm a new dad, with a new job, and quite happy for all that money is tight.

The point is, though, you can't just note that somebody is defending a person who's well off, and assume that they themselves are well off.

Might be a class traitor, instead. ;)

Following on Catsy @ 3:14, it's been my impression (correct or not) that a significant proportion of the homeless population up until recently has included people with mental illness and/or addiction issues -- people who cannot hold down a job and for whom sufficient social services are not available.

The sudden increase seems to be made up of people who would be right back on track if they could find a job ... but they can't.

Brett,

As I noted over in Goat Trap, we have had a crappy three years, and are in danger of our fourth and more. I commiserate with you on your situation, and I'm not trying to get into a pissing contest on how bad it is, as people in this story have it worse. I do know, however, that losing our current home will destroy our marriage.

However, DeSantis was working under a contract that basically turned his bonus into his compensation, which apparently has been a popular way to avoid some taxes on financial firm employee compensation for years. In other words, his payout was gaming the system, in a contract created prior to the AIG bailout, to save his company money and cut our government off from what should have been tax income.

He also has been reaping outsized rewards as part of a company that has been gaming our regulatory system for several years.

He and others at various financial institutions are in the same boat, and the NYT is publishing stories about how they have to cut back on their mistresses, and $20 martinis, and trips to the spa because they have it bad. That $20 martini is enough money to supposedly feed someone like us in bankruptcy for over 3 days ($2/meal).

They are not feeling our pain; they are feeling the pain of losing status, and privilege. You and I are losing homes, livelihood, and our ability to provide basics to our families.

What is happening to Desantis may be unjust in the immediate sense; however, my feeling of that injustice is more than offset by the fact that the injustice of what you and I and bedtime and friends and families on our end of the economic spectrum have gone through.

They played a game that they thought they couldn't lose, and didn't get out of the game soon enough (a la Mozillo) to avoid immediate repercussions. You and I were hoping to win a little or get ahead and lost when someone stole the gameboard out from under us. We're left with whatever we had left in our hands, while they just happened to be sitting on the bank when the game was called. Funny, that.

Brett, sorry for your sh_tty year.

I suspect a "Hooterville" i s something else entirely.

There's a little hotel called the Shady Rest at the junction.

My regrets to both Fraud Guy and Brett for their very unforunate years. But I think there are important differences between them and Mr. DeSantis, which FG points out very well and I can't improve upon. In an absolute sense, I do feel sorry that Mr. DeSantis has encountered very real difficulties this year. I just think that Brett, FG, and the residents of Hooverville are much more deserving of our compassion and our concrete support as a society than Mr. DeSantis, who made bets on the expectation that he'd ride high that haven't paid off. On the list of folks who need our help, he's way down the list, and I resent the disproportionate solicitude extended to guys like him who have the money and the connections to make their sufferings (relatively speaking) take center stage in the NYT and the MSM. Others don't have that megaphone, even though they deserve it way more than he does. I think that sucks. Period.

I think Fraud Guy may be more deserving of compassion than DeSantis, (Or maybe not, who knows what having a year of income snatched away after the fact has done to his circumstances?) but DeSantis isn't complaining about a lack of compassion. He's complaining that he's being crucified as part of a PR spectacle that's got nothing to do with him being guilty of anything.

Even if you don't have a speck of compassion for anybody who earns more than you do, that's something you should care about. You're being deliberately distracted. You ought to turn around and take a close look at the people egging the lynch mob on, they might be more deserving of it's ire than the convenient targets they've chosen for it.

d' Obama is offering a plan that will burn $9.3 trillion over then next 10 years without even trying to fix social security.

Obligatory: Social Security's not broken.

Brett and FG: that sounds really tough. I hope things turn around.

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