near the beach where we stayed in LA – probably even more in San Francisco.
I know they are common in Sydney, especially towards Central Railway where I
used to work, but Narrelle and I are pretty sure we're correct in saying they were
much more numerous in LA and San Fran.
You don't see them much in the smaller cities. We have been told that the number in
Cali is inflated by the fact that the homeless tend to gravitate there from other regions.
Better to be homeless in balmy Santa Monica than in Chicago or
Detroit, I guess...
Also, the culture in California is more liberal and tolerant than some places. I think in
more conservative areas the local government makes life quite difficult for them. The
other thing that struck us as different is that many do not seem intoxicated or drug
affected. In Sydney, if you see a homeless person, they're usually hammered. Maybe
it's easier for a person to become homeless here as the welfare system is not as
comprehensive, so you get a 'better class of derelict' - I don't know, but for whatever
reason many seem quite lucid, and you could have a sensible conversation with them.
Speaking of the poor, USA
Today has a big article this morning (June 8, 2004) on the
plight of the ‘working poor.’ Seems many millions of Americans are below or barely
above the poverty line, despite working full-time. This has been covered recently in
It does seem that, contrary to some overseas opinion, America's most fundamental
problems are in fact acknowledged: books are written about them, the issue debated in
the mainstream press etc. Some say the problem is more that the political process has
become corrupted and controlled by the vested interests and is unable to resolve these
sorts of issues. The apathy of the people we're talking about doesn't help either – they
rarely vote - so it's a circular problem.
We should acknowledge that Australia has its fair share of poor people too – many
thousands live in caravan (trailer) parks or public housing and subsist for years on
‘the dole’, punctuated perhaps with periods of low-paid casual work now and again.
That said, it’s probably true that there is a greater difference between rich and poor in
the US than there is at