I am staying at the very fashionable Clift Hotel in San Francisco. But as I come out of this hotel I find hundreds of homeless people, many of them begging and I have a hard time enjoying my walks. I lived in NYC for many years and there were as many beggars in NYC as they are here or more but now that I have spent 12 years in Madrid where I am hardly every approached by a beggar I cannot but wonder why begging is so common in the large cities of America. Think of it. This is a country who spent half a trillion dollars invading Iraq, some say with the best of intentions, others are not so sure. But even if the intentions were good I find it very hard to understand how the people who run this country do not see more fit spending half a trillion dollars providing health care and in general treating the bottom 20% of the population better.  To me the richest countries in the world are not the countries in which the rich live better but the countries in which the bottom 20% lives better as if the botton 20% is not doing that badly then everyone else is doing very well.  Many people in America and some in Europe criticize taxation in Europe but taxation in Spain is similar to that of USA and because we don´t spend so much money in the military we have so much more to spend in more reasonable endeavors.

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DomPierre on June 24, 2007  · 

The US doesn’t have a representative government for the people anymore; only for corporations, of which a significant number are defense industry.

As people around the world may have noticed, even when “control” changes from one party to the other, nothing ever really changes; that’s why the Iraq adventure still got funded.

The irony is that this is what the US wants to spread across the Mideast as “democracy”; in reality, it’s corporate welfare.

3.0 rating

Wessel on June 24, 2007  · 

You should see Southpark episode Night of the Living Homeless, season 11, episode no # 160.

3.0 rating

David on June 24, 2007  · 

I grew up in the bay area, but have been living in Holland for a couple years. Whenever we go back to SF, Berkeley, or LA; I am similarly (reminded and) shocked with the juxtaposition of those who “have” and “have not”. I agree with the above comments, but think it is also because of the idea of “the American dream”. Since everyone is able, so the theory goes, to go from rags to riches, the general attitude of homeless people is that they simply aren’t trying hard enough – it’s their own fault. Here in Europe, I get the sense that there is less social mobility and because of that people are more sympathetic of those less fortunate – it’s not their fault.

I’m reminded of a conversation I overheard once while sitting at a starbucks in Los Angeles. Two homeless guys talking about how they had it so much better than the homeless on the East coast… even they didn’t seem very sympathetic of those less fortunate.

3.0 rating

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