We Thank You Herbert Hoover

Here is the hardy perrennial of any US-recession: the "human interest" story about the "modern Hoover-ville" of tent cities and shanty town's that are "springing up" "nationwide." Cities Deal With a Surge in Shantytowns

Like a dozen or so other cities across the nation, Fresno is dealing with an unhappy déjà vu: the arrival of modern-day Hoovervilles, illegal encampments of homeless people that are reminiscent, on a far smaller scale, of Depression-era shantytowns. At his news conference on Tuesday night,President Obama was asked directly about the tent cities and responded by saying that it was “not acceptable for children and families to be without a roof over their heads in a country as wealthy as ours.”
Hey! It's not acceptable! Move along!

Although the Times purports to document a "nationwide" trend, most, if not all of these tent cities are located in California. And, despite the Times best efforts, it is clear that these are not reg'lar folks suffering from the destruction of illusory Bush-era wealth.
On a recent afternoon, nobody seemed thrilled to be living in New Jack City, a filthy collection of rain- and wind-battered tents in a garbage-strewn lot. Several weary-looking residents sat on decaying sofas as a pair of pit bulls chained to a fence howled.
The truth is, if these were middle class people thrown out of work, they would not be living in conditions like this. There would at least be a modicum of comfort and dignity.
Doug Brown, a freelance electrical engineer, said he had discovered the Village of Hope while unemployed a few years back and had returned after losing his job in October.
This guy sounds like he was living on the margins even in the best of times.

That mix is already evident in a walk around Taco Flats, where Sean Langer, 42, who lost a trucking job in December and could pass for a soccer dad, lives in his car in front of a sturdy shanty that is home to Barbara Smith, 41, a crack addict with a wild cackle for a laugh.

“This is a one-bedroom house,” said Ms. Smith, proudly taking a visitor through her home built with scrap wood and scavenged two-by-fours. “We got a roof, and it does not leak.”

Other than the crack addiction, she's jes' folks!

Daniel Kent, a clean-shaven 27-year-old from Oregon, has been living in Taco Flats for three months after running out of money on a planned hitchhiking trip to Florida. He did manage to earn $35 a day holding up a going-out-of-business sign for Mervyn’s until the department store actually went of out business.

Mr. Kent planned to attend a job fair soon, but said he did not completely mind living outdoors.

A hitchhiker from Oregon?! That could be me!

The Times goes out of its way to avoid saying it, but it's clear that many of the residents in CA's tent cities are migrant workers and illegal immigrants from Mexico. The names of some of these "Hoovervilles" - "Taco Flats" and "Little Tijuana," for example - pretty much says it all.

The problem in Fresno is different in that it is both chronic and largely outside the national limelight. Homelessness here has long been fed by the ups and downs in seasonal and subsistence jobs in agriculture, but now the recession has cast a wider net and drawn in hundreds of the newly homeless — from hitchhikers to truck drivers to electricians.

“These are able-bodied folks that did day labor, at minimum wage or better, who were previously able to house themselves based on their income,” said Michael Stoops, the executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy group based in Washington.

I'm sorry, but that just doesn't strike me as being representative of what is happening to Americans, nor does it deserve much in the way of hard wringing.
Interestingly, the Times ran a good article a couple months ago about families in Orange County living in motels after losing their homes. That was a much more realistic portrait of the struggles that Americans may be having now. But, specious stories about "tent cities" and "Obama-villes" are little more than Pessimism Porn for the poorly informed.

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