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Our Chess Champion Has a Home (nytimes.com)
131 points by diego_moita 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 85 comments



I cant remember the exact years, but I won two state championships in Idaho somewhere between 12-14 years of age (so early 2000’s I think. I would love to find some correlating information about this, but it seems the online records don’t go back that far). I even tied a game with a master who was 30-40 years older than me in a rated tournament. From what I remember I was the only one younger than 25 in many tournaments during those times. Nothing really happened though, it was mostly ignored, no school scholarships, no apartment, no money. I did get alot of offers for free lessons from high rated players, people who wanted to be able to say they taught the kid that won state. Truth was I was raised by a single mother who never had money enough to be able to afford things like chess lessons. I actually learned by playing “Chessmaster” on the original play station, sitting home alone in a trailer in Texas. No one including my mother found out that I knew how to play until a year or two later. I quite playing after moving to a different state, around 14 or 15 years old. We continued to live in near homeless circumstances until I was 18. “Near” is important here, as I grew older I learned about many of the small kindnesses of strangers and friends that kept us a float in times of turmoil.

[In response to another comment here:]

America is a place where we care a lot for a short period of time about one kid in one state winning one tournament. We really enjoy what are essentially lotteries, and their winners (this is not to imply that chess is some sort of crap shoot, but that simply from the perspective of the outside observer, so many circumstances are unseen, and that which rises to the level of public conciseness is absolutely due to luck). However, the thing in my humble anecdotal story that knows no country borders; The thing we (in my opinion) should be far more concerned with are the small kindnesses. The $200 dollars loaned for refinancing, to help a single mother leave a job that holds a car note over her head, for a better one (one that can pay for the rent and food and a good Christmas for a son), never asking to be paid back. I really loved this story. I would wish this kid and his family the best, but I have a feeling they don’t need my well wishes. They will be just fine, same as me and my mother, who both now live in infinity better circumstances.


You are right.

One person's action to improve the life of another without any preconception of glamor is far greater than the fulfillment of donating to a heartwarming story, or hearing about a successful fundraiser.

Our (American) attention is too easily focused on the next shiny thing and we pat ourselves on the back for cheering a worthy cause, without consideration of those left out of the spotlight.

This story was amazing to witness, though not unexpected. We love to lift those who embody our virtues, without reflection as to where our backs are turned.

We could all do to learn from the lesson of Tani's family and "spread the wealth" that which we receive, or send, to those in need who do not fit such a story book narrative.


I can give a little perspectives from someone who was traditionally successful and is kind of near the homeless thing, and experienced extreme adult bullying, stalking, and abuse.

I don't mean to disagree with your ideas about spreading the wealth for children which need help.

Personally I would just say I dont ever want any money from someone, but that one place maybe our backs are turned is I would say we need more public accountability ensuring people's rights, opportunities or freedoms are not being violated. It seems like the ACLU and IJ are barely able to mend just some of the really egregious, blatant abuses.


> The $200 dollars loaned for refinancing, to help a single mother leave a job that holds a car note over her head, for a better one (one that can pay for the rent and food and a good Christmas for a son), never asking to be paid back.

If someone would like to help with this sort of thing, one opportunity is r/Food_Pantry/ or /r/Need on Reddit. There are plenty of people in a bind with simple needs like $20 of food or paying a late bill due to unexpected expenses.


The $200 dollars loaned for refinancing, to help a single mother leave a job that holds a car note over her head

This is like helping that small cafe down the street with their rent or some machinery vs that hot startup in the garage. The second one has a chance of hitting it big, however slim. The first one has a chance of supporting a small family business (and by extension, the local economy), but that is the max potential there. Since most people are interested in glory and multiple returns of their money, they are interested in the startup and not the mom and pop shop.

This isn't how it should be, but that is how it is :(


The takeaway from this story for me is the amazing loyalty of the family. To turn down scholarships at other 'better' schools and stick with the one that gave Tani free membership to the chess club and where the teacher that taught him how to play works.

Plus the fact that they are donating the entire GoFundMe (which I donated a tiny amount to last week) to helping other kids from Africa to migrate to the US. That is 'paying it forward' in spades.


That struck me - they're promising to form a small foundation to help other immigrants with the all the cash they're receiving (minus ten percent going to the church that helped them when they were homeless), and have only really accepted material necessities instead. A year paid for in a new apartment, furnishings, books, a car, other necessities that would improve their life by a huge margin.

They seem like a family who appreciates hard work, and this way they can become self-sufficient again far easier and without most of the temptations that come with receiving huge lump sumps of money suddenly.

I'm happy that people have rallied to help them, and even happier that they're already wanting to help others in their former situation.


Staying close to the kid's current school seems like good sense. They have media attention and donations now but the chances are that will dry up after some fairly short period. Using that money to put themselves in a sustainable position can be better than trying to leverage it into the most prestigious position.

There's a long history of child actors, homeless who do heroic deeds and similar media-darlings later being dropped by the media and the public and winding up in terrible situations (especially given that "people are people" and media attention may one minute show a person's awesome side and the next minute show their despicable side).


> To turn down scholarships at other 'better' schools and stick with the one that gave Tani free membership to the chess club and where the teacher that taught him how to play works.

Reminds me of this joke (I'm sure there's better renditions)

https://truthbook.com/stories/funny-god/the-drowning-man


The real tragedy, in all of this, is the feeling of compulsion that these economically disadvantaged kids face to use their intellect to improve their financial situation.

There was a kid in my statistical theory class who blew my mind with his raw brain power. Came from Nigeria, could have easily pursued a PhD from a top program. Perhaps gone on to do some great research.

Where did he end up..? An actuary. Why? The economic stability and progression in the profession.

For me this is the real tragedy.

I hope this kid gets to use his gift to do something more than afford an expensive bottle of wine some day.


Why are you assuming that academic research is necessarily more valuable and/or interesting than being an actuary (which can involve some really sophisticated stats)?

The big downside of the academy is that it's basically a zero-sum game. There's a limited pot of money, decided by the politics of the day, and all geniuses and near-geniuses are fighting for it. The added benefit of another smart person entering research is therefore limited.

However, in industry, including the insurance industry, a smart person can create more growth than existed before he/she entered. The added economic stability is not in conflict to this.


On the other hand, his kids might have a better chance at using their gifts better. Not that failing a PhD program will put you in a bad place economically (I'd say it will put you in a worse place though) but having a stable job and enjoying other aspects of life is good too.


A tidbit about the kid's work ethic:

> “The average kids do 50 to 100 puzzles a week. (Tani) does like 500 puzzles a week,” [his chess coach] Martinez said.

https://fox4kc.com/2019/03/22/homeless-8-year-old-who-learne...

Pretty amazed at that effort. Far outstrips anything I did when I was 8 years old, I believe I watched a lot of cartoons.


Tani’s family has an apartment, near his current school, paid for one year by an anonymous donor. They will be donating 10% of the GoFundMe to their church and the remaining 90% will become a trust to help African migrants seeking asylum in the United States.

While Tani has been offered scholarships by several elite private schools in NYC, his family has decided to stay loyal to the school Tani is currently attending until the middle school transition.

Tani was asked if he wanted any single material item and he replied, “Maybe a computer”.


> “Maybe a computer”.

Whereupon, sadly, he will discover social media, and all his progress will come to a screeching halt due to FANG PhDs gaming his dopamine cycles for a buck. I wish I was wrong, but looking at my 15 year old, I'm not hopeful. He used to be pretty good at chess, too, before he started spending all his time watching bullshit on Youtube.


The irony of this post complaining about BS Youtube videos when the next comment down posts the Youtube vid of the game itself along. The comment seems relevant:

agadmator is one of the few YT chess channels that I enjoy watching on a daily basis. Love his analysis, and it has helped to improve my chess thinking and strategy.[1]

(I say this as someone who was banned from watching TV, and ended up wasting lots of time reading trash novels as a teenager instead)

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19479225


As far as the bullshit goes, chess is probably the pinnacle of it. Perfect game of grind for pretense of intelligence. Chess doesn't solve half as much problems as YouTube videos.

Your 15 year old is more likely to grow up making living off making YouTube videos than playing chess anyway.


Yes, the real economy is making and watching Youtube videos in a virtuous circle.


It's unbelievable this is getting downvoted, because it's 100% true and a very major problem in society. I've taught lots of young players and success or failure has 0 to do with intelligence. It's a matter of who can stay focused and actually do the work it takes to improve (which at that age/level is tactics tactics tactics). The second they "discover" social media or the endless stream or inanity on e.g. YouTube, it's game over.

It's a big part of the reason I stopped teaching. It's so disappointing to see somebody make such rapid progress, start getting distracted by digital entertainment including social media, and then see all their potential (alongside extensive wasted effort on my part) just flushed down the toilet.

---

A sharp but, in my opinion, very related tangent is the Flynn Effect [1]. It was the observation that IQs were increasing over time. IQ tests are always normalized such that the mean is 100 with a standard deviation of about 15. However, Flynn observed that the absolute score of a 100 in e.g. 1950 was higher than it was in 1920 and similarly on forward. Until the 1990s.

Sometime in the 1990s this all changed. In numerous developed nations the Flynn Effect has reversed. Now, for the first time ever, a 100 IQ score would be less today than in e.g. 1985 in many developed nations. And the declines have been quite dramatic reducing on the order of 1-2 points per decade. Keep in mind that 1/15 = 0.07. Somebody who is at the average of 100 would be ahead of about 50% of people. Reduce that by just 1 point he's dropped 0.07 sigmas and is now only ahead of 47% of people. And that's a population level event recurring each and every decade!

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect


I stopped teaching piano for much the same reason. The level of focus just isn't there any more (obviously there are exceptions.) Not that I blame the students, If I'd grown up in this day and age, I certainly would rather be gaming or jacked into social media than practicing.


I don't think there's a strong research-based link between the Flynn effect reversal and Internet usage, social media, or videogames; in fact, (correlative) evidence implies it's something else, because the Flynn effect reversal actually started in the mid-70s in some countries, long before videogames or the Internet (or its precursors) were widespread enough to cause mass societal impact. "Kids today" have always been the bane of the kids yesterday; I don't think their behavior or culture is the source of stagnation, and the timelines don't line up.

The Flynn effect dropoff correlates decently well with the increasing rise of wealth inequality in developed nations; given the fairly strong link between IQ and wealth, I wonder if that might be a cause.


Please do share what you're talking about regarding some sort of a reversal in the 70s. To my knowledge all declines, and certainly anything that could fairly be called widespread, began around the mid 90s. There was some isolated stagnation prior to then, but I'm not aware of any consistent and clear declines - the like of which we're now seeing.

As for wealth inequality, some of the first places the decline was clearly measured in are throughout Scandinavia. There is compulsory military service in various nations such as Finland and Norway, which also entails IQ testing with public data available - provides a nice massive sample. It goes without saying that these are some of the most egalitarian nations in the world by most metrics people strive for today, including wealth distribution. There has been no clear reversal of the Flynn effect in developing nations which, by contrast, tend to have dramatic levels of wealth (and other) inequality.

For another hypothesis that some may be thinking but not want to say, immigration is also controlled for in these studies. It's quite an interesting phenomena that may shape the future of our species far more than many of the issues we consider of otherwise critical importance.


In Denmark, the Flynn effect began declining (although didn't yet start reversing) as early as the 70s:

> Teasdale and Owen (2005) examined the results of IQ tests given to Danish male conscripts. Between 1959 and 1979 the gains were 3 points per decade. Between 1979 and 1989 the increase approached 2 IQ points. Between 1989 and 1998 the gain was about 1.3 points.

I don't think that trend of declining growth, shifting into the negatives recently, has much to do with something in the 90s; the decline started much earlier and has been fairly linear and consistent over time.

Edit: In addition, most of these measurements have been taken from people in their mid-to-late teens — meaning that whatever caused the decline presumably started at least a decade before the decline was measured. TL;DR: I'm not convinced that social media or any reasonably-modern changes are to blame: this dates back to the Boomers or perhaps even earlier.


Also, an article from Slate noting that in Norway, IQ scores began declining in 1975:

> What they found is that for Norwegians born between 1962 and 1975, IQs increased within each family by 0.26 points per year: Younger brothers had slightly higher scores than their older siblings, relative to expectations. (The researchers had to control for the more general fact that older siblings tend to have higher IQs than younger ones.) From 1975 until 1991, this tendency reversed, with test scores dropping by 0.33 points per year within each family.

https://slate.com/technology/2018/09/iq-scores-going-down-re...


As your quote says, that study is talking about birth years, not the year they were tested. Since it's based on conscription it's around age 19-20, so the decline was measured between ~1994 and 2011. Your lead paragraph also states as much:

"...At some point in the mid-1990s, IQ scores in these countries tipped into decay, losing roughly one-fifth to one-quarter of a point per year..."


This is misunderstanding the point. The issue is not IQ scores are not increasing less rapidly - they are now decreasing!

Increases asymptotically approaching something near 0 would be completely expected. To understand why think about something like developmental malnutrition. Developmental malnutrition causes reduced IQ. As this form of malnutrition was reduced in a previously very poor area you'd see a substantial increase in average IQ. But then as future generations also have stable supplies of food, this increase would disappear as the stable food supply would no longer provide a relative increase compared to past generations. Make sense?

IQs getting literally lower is something very different than IQs growing less slowly.


Needless to say, I agree that it's a major problem, and one the full extent of which we will only experience 10-15 years in the future. One thing is for sure: something _has_ to be done now.


Learning how to use chess engines and making use of them for training is actually a huge tool for chess players.


Don't write this about your kid man. We all wasted our time as teenagers, it's part of growing up.


I wouldn't equate all wastes. Most forms of play have some derivative benefits. Social media and trash content on YouTube seems to have no benefit whatsoever. Of course we had TV whereupon the same critique of unbeneficial waste applies, but I think one big difference is that it became boring quickly. By contrast things such as social media and YouTube provide practically endless entertainment.

Even video games have lost their benefit. When 'we' were younger, games tended to be difficult which instilled perseverance and required the development of skill. That or you got frustrated and went and did something else. Now games, and by this I mostly mean AAA type stuff, have become far more passive forms of entertainment with most of all challenge removed.

This feels like a 'back in my day' rant, but one major difference is that there is quantifiable data to indicate ongoing negative changes in society such, as mentioned in a peer post, the contemporary reversal of the Flynn Effect. [1]

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect


I mean, I wasted hundreds of hours playing online games as a middle-schooler. Got so addicted that I decided I wanted to learn to make one, so I taught myself C, then C++, then Java when it came out. One thing led to another, I got a few internships, then a job, a CS major, another job, and 15 years later I was one of those Google engineers gaming dopamine cycles for a buck. And the cycle completes!


Unfortunately you are the exception, not the rule. I know a few truly addicted computer gamers. They are in their 30-40s now, still sitting in their little room playing all day. Lonely, no friends, no social life. Like drug addiction, it is not pretty to see.

But lucky you, you will never meet them on the Google Campus. FANG is Tobacco industry, V2.0.


... Or he will learn to code and become the next Dijkstra.


One of Dijkstra's complaints was that American computer scientists, with all their wealth and non-WWII-bombed cities (vs Europeans) , spent too much time and money playing with computers instead of doing computer science.


That play time seems to have been more valuable than what the defunct European computer industry focused its energies on.


I'm all for a clever snark, but you're posting this using the medium invented by an European computer scientist, Tim Berners Lee. Whatever they were doing turned out to be pretty valuable, too. Like "the backbone of the information age" grade valuable.


Some US computer scientists managed to avoid it, with great effort:

Clearly the game was potentially addictive, so I forced myself to stop playing — reasoning that it was great fun, sure, but traditional computer science research is great fun too, possibly even more so.

— Donald Knuth



Good for the kid, but the fact that he has to earn not being homeless is a disgrace.

Not an uplifting story.


If anyone is interested here's the game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3QMrf-Rfeo


agadmator is one of the few YT chess channels that I enjoy watching on a daily basis. Love his analysis, and it has helped to improve my chess thinking and strategy.

* Legend has it that if adagmator ever says "Goodbye Everyone!" the world will end.


Whoa.. such complicated hoodie rules.


It's interesting to me how no one knows or is talking about the kid who lost to the champ. He is perhaps equally good but lost in this game.


it's because the feat of winning K-3 NY State isn't that impressive. It's all the things he had to overcome/persevere through to get to that moment. The top players in the country that are his age are 2000+.


>It's all the things he had to overcome/persevere through to get to that moment.

You're demonstrating the OC's point: No one has any context around the kid who lost, it seems; so, for example, did he (or she) come from an equally disadvantaged position? If so, isn't he (or she) worthy of the same accolades and/or help simply for getting to that point, as well?


it seems unlikely that second place came from an equally or more disadvantaged background. chess in general is a pretty exclusionary. sure the kid (tani?) might not have been the worst off kid at the tournament but kids from higher income schools or private schools might have an easier time dedicating time to the study of chess. what's significant to me is the difficulty of being homeless and dedicating time to studying anything, especially something extracurricular like chess. it's possible that second place came from the same place but if so you're kinda calling into question the entire premise of champions right? like caruana and carlsen are essentially the same strength so whats the use of calling carlsen the champion and giving him all the prize money?


Does he have a Wikipedia page?


What about all the people that need a home and aren't chess champions..


What sucks is that this amazing story is being exploited by all kinds of people to get attention and further their own agenda, including some who should really know better.

Two days ago we had Garry Kasparov adding his two cents in the Washington Post, including this choice paragraph:

"This heart-warming tale is also a quintessentially American one. Despite his family’s conditions, Tani learned to play at a good chess program in an excellent Manhattan public school. His mother took the initiative of getting him into the school chess club, reminding any true chess fan of a similar letter written by the mother of future U.S. world champion Bobby Fischer. (All praise to assertive chess mothers like my own!)" (1)

With all due respect to Mr. Kasparov (or more likely, to his ghostwriter, Mig Greengard), linking Bobby Fischer to Tani does a disservice to both players and to the larger chess community.

First, there is nothing about Fischer’s story that is “heartwarming”. Fischer grew up not just without a father but without even knowing who his real father was. He struggled from the very beginning, getting expelled from school before finally dropping out, then becoming one of the greatest chess players of all time, captivating the world for a few years before cracking under the pressure and descending into paranoia and anti-Semitic delusions. Fischer’s story is a straight up tragedy. Chess players should stop using it as a shining example of the transformative positive power of chess.

Second, to praise Fischer’s mother Regina as an “assertive chess mother” is just wrong. A more appropriate term would be “absent”. She literally moved out of the home and left Fischer alone at age 16, writing the following to a friend: ““It sounds terrible to leave a 16-year-old to his own devices, but he is probably happier that way” (2)

Yes, the chess community can make good things happen in the world, as proven by Tani getting a home. We should celebrate this. But it can also take in vulnerable people, simultaneously glorify them and drive them towards madness, and cast them aside. If we want more of the good, we need to stop pretending that the bad things didn’t happen. And we really shouldn’t be rewriting one of the greatest tragedies in chess history as a heroic tale of success, just to cash in on all the excitement about the most positive thing to happen in the chess world in years.

1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-heart-warming-ta...

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Fischer#Drops_out_of_sch...


Bobby Fischer started playing chess before age 16, and thanks to his mother, and by age 16 we was well established in the community.

Blaming someone for his mental illness instead of acknowledging that illness is often the dark shadow genius, the other side of the same coin in the brain, is unreasonable and unfair.


“And by age 16 was well established in the community” Are you arguing that it’s totally cool to leave a kid on his own, as long as he’s “well established” in some community? That seems like a rather odd position on parenting. Not that I haven’t seen worse from chess parents.

“Blaming someone for his mental illness... is unreasonable and unfair”

First, I never mentioned mental illness. Second, I didn’t blame anyone. Merely pointed out that there are might be some environmental factors contributing to a bright kid ending up with with socialization + behavioral issues, like, you know, literally having to fend for himself by age 16.

But yeah, rather than see that kind of environment as traumatic in any way, we could totally just point to some imagined place in his brain as the real source of his troubles. Makes sense. /s


Pure JOY! I admire the sterling character that the Adewumi family has so beautifully exhibited. It's so refreshing after the recent news about rich kids cheating to get into college. (And shall I mention Trump's Foundation, used to buy himself portraits of himself? ) Anyway, Tani, I see you have a very large heart and an incredibly bright future ahead!


Say what you want about our country's current state but stories like this is what makes America great (minus the fact the kid and his family was homeless to begin with). It's not who you know but your talent (and some luck) that get's you recognized and can change your life. Sure, this sounds naive and a lot times, this doesn't play out. But these stories are still aspiring and reminds me of the American dream we once had.

E: I kind of enjoy watching the fluctuation of the rating on this post between positive and negative. Shows the drastic difference in mentality here.

Am I saying the US is perfect? No. There is a lot we can improve, and my political (social or economic) tendency leans pretty left to begin with. But you are very wrong if you think there is no mobility or opportunity here in the US, even with the current political environment. I am an anecdotal data point, but as a first generation immigrant that grew up in poverty here, I am pretty certain I would not be in the lower middle class if it wasn't for the American dream. Every single relative within my generation that immigrated to the US are now heavily educated and work decent jobs to provide for our families.

There is a lot of social policies we can borrow from other countries to improve our social justice within our country. But the fact that many people here are not even reflective with the possible opportunities here currently is kind if of saddening to me.


In what Western democracies are the right combinations of luck and talent not potentially life changing? The only uniquely American part of this story is that the boy was homeless in the first place.


I think the GP should have left luck out of the question.

Real question to ask is: In which countries can you succeed with talent, hard work and perseverance without luck?

Meritocracy is strong in USA just as it is in a lot of western democracies.

I have friends that grew up in India, Italy, Mexico, China - where meritocracy takes a backseat.


>Real question to ask is: In which countries can you succeed with talent, hard work and perseverance without luck?

None. Pure meritocracy is an illusion; there's just too much stuff going on so that your success is attributable to your work alone, and inversely there is no place in the world where hard work guarantees success.

>Meritocracy is strong in USA just as it is in a lot of western democracies. I have friends that grew up in India, Italy, Mexico, China - where meritocracy takes a backseat.

See e.g. https://www.oecd.org/centrodemexico/medios/44582910.pdf . USA has a similar level of intergenerational income correlation has Italy (that is, one of the highest among OECD countries).


> None. Pure meritocracy is an illusion; there's just too much stuff going on so that your success is attributable to your work alone, and inversely there is no place in the world where hard work guarantees success.

I think you missed my point. I wasn't looking for an answer. You're right, luck is always involved in serendipitous opportunities and discovery. My point was to correct the parent comment and ask the question in reverse.

Even better is to raise the question: "In which countries can you succeed with talent, hard work and perseverance with least amount of luck?"


My simplistic Googling shows a claim that the US social mobility actually is low for nations among the OECD - but Italy indeed (slightly) lower.

https://www.epi.org/publication/usa-lags-peer-countries-mobi...

The economist claims Americans overestimate social mobility in their country while Europeans tend to underestimate it.

https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2018/02/14/american...


He was homeless because his family came over as refugees. That’s uniquely American because, for the most part, the rest of the developed world hasn’t accepted refugees and economic migrants at the rates the US has taken them. (Very recently that’s changed in places like Sweden, but it’s already causing those countries to go into right-wing coniptions.)

But this kid was in a homeless shelter. That’s how most countries, including Sweden, house their homeless population. (Fun fact, rates of homelessness are lower in the US than in Germany, Sweden, or the UK.) It’s not like you show up to say Germany as a refugee and they put you in an apartment. (There are 400,000 homeless refugees in Germany, comprising half of Germany’s homeless population.) You stay in a camp for a period, than are transferred to the municipal housing assistance programs, which in Germany are a bit more generous than Section 8, but not fundamentally dissimilar (being structured as subsidy where the state pays part of the rent).


>the rest of the developed world hasn’t accepted refugees and economic migrants at the rates the US has taken them

https://www.pewglobal.org/interactives/international-migrant...

The U.S. is ~14% foreign born, as of 2017. That's below Norway, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Austria, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Switzerland (and that's just the first world countries). It's one percentage point above the U.K. Expanding beyond the first world, Jordan (with population 6 million and some of the highest water prices in the world) took in approx. 1.5 million Syrian refugees. In America, we took in 15479 in 2016, 3024 in 2017, and 11 in 2018. That's with a population of 327 million.


I said “refugees and economic migrants.” A quarter of the foreign born in Ireland are from the UK. 2/3 are from the rest of Europe (mostly the EU). I’m going to guess that these are mostly not refugees and economic migrants. Half of Sweden’s foreign born population, likewise, is European (with Finns being the largest group). And much of the balance is very recent—after Finns, the next two largest groups are Iraq and Syria (so likely they came here in the last 20 years). Contrast this to the US, where many people whose families came here as refugees and economic migrants are not “foreign born” because we’ve been accepting such immigration at high levels for more than a century.


  changed in places like Sweden
Sweden is rejecting almost 70% of refugees after their first case review (2018 stat) [0]

[0] https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php...


The boy is a refugee from Nigeria, so obviously his problems aren't uniquely American.


The fact that, in the wealthiest country in human history, a homeless kid had to: be a chess prodigy, win a championship, happen to receive major media attention, all on order to have access to basic food and shelter, that to me is no cause for pride.


To join the other repliers crapping on you, what about the other homeless kids who aren't chess champions?

A greater country wouldn't even have homeless kids, because they'd be taking care of them regardless of whether they have talent or not, because they're human beings, goddamnit.


This country spends a lot helping people, particularly kids in general. This might be NY state laws but we provide shelter, food, and subsidized utility for family with kids in poverty. I have friends who grew up in high risk area and poverty and they were provided with catered education and free college for upward mobility, Though to be honest I am not entirely sure what this family's situation was given the fact they were refugees and been here for a year and I am not sure what the US provide for social assistance.


>This might be NY state laws but we provide shelter, food, and subsidized utility for family with kids in poverty.

It seems that way. I have friends in the Bible Belt who receive nowhere near anything like that because those programs, simply, do not exist.

We could go into long diatribes of social policies versus the "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" mentality but, at the end of the day, it only prolongs the problems that continue to plight the poor/disadvantaged; case in-point: The family that was homeless.


I guess in pretty much every country on earth you will get an apartment and more if you are a chess champion.


> if you are a chess champion.

who also gets written about in that nation's premier newspaper, and that story inspires a successful crowdfunding campaign.


What about the countries where kids aren't even given the opportunity to compete?


But what of the second best chess player in his position? What if he doesn't become famous? This "gofundme" model of social welfare is terrible. A few people get coverage and have their prayers answered. Everybody else starves. That's not sustainable.


Do people who have "talent (and some luck)" deserve a better live than other people?


And if he had a cold the day of the competition, came second, didn’t become the subject of a news article and remained homeless?

The article itself points out this exact problem. We’ve replaced the American Dream with the American Lottery, where only the truly lucky get to change their circumstance. Otherwise, any study will tell you American has way lower levels of social mobility than Europe. If you want talent to be rewarded, the European Reality beats the American Dream very time.


Or if he wasn't picked up (or should I say, editorialized) by the New York Times? Or if how we treat our "refugees" that are homeless vs. our own citizens who are also homeless wasn't a highly-politicized issue du jour?

GoFundMe isn't a social safety net. Overly wealthy donors dolling out six-figure handouts and spare prime-Manhattan bedrooms as pocket change at their own discretion to this kid isn't scalable either.

We shouldn't treat one-off's like this that tug at our heart strings as social progress. Just take a walk down Market Street and realize that there is still a mountainous amount of work to be done.

And it can be done. In modern, developed countries like South Korea, there is not a single homeless person. Come on, America!

I am very privileged; I didn't have to become a state chess champion against all odds in order to have basic shelter.


South Korea, as of last count, has 11,400 homeless people.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_homeles...

It is a tiny fraction of the total population, and an achievement, so why bullshit about it? As for “our own kind” I’m not going to touch that for love or money.


Maybe the parent comment was thinking of North Korea.

https://www.upi.com/North-Korean-defector-says-no-homelessne...


That’s even worse, akin to countries that claim there are no gay people there because it’s ideologically inconvenient to admit otherwise, or anyone “out” is summarily executed. Having said that the previous poster specified “modern developed countries like...” so I doubt it was meant to be DRPK rather than the claimed ROK.


Not to mention all the other kids out there who don’t play chess but could make amazing contributions to society if they had access to the education they needed.


Great point. This is also the reason we can't pass meaningful taxes on the wealthy - including cap gains. Because everyone in the US believes they'll one day be a millionaire.


I don't find that to be true from my conversations about this topic. The people I've talked to are afraid of increasing taxes on the wealthy because they're afraid that the wealthy will just choose to relocate to another country, potentially even taking businesses with them.


It’s worth bearing in mind this is literally a talking point thought up and promoted by the rich. There have been studies in this. They suggest the exact opposite: there just aren’t many Saverins in the world.

Equally, business location seems to have very little to do with personal taxation.

This all funnels down to a fundamental misunderstanding of the source of wealth: it starts with a working economy where people buy stuff and work. The rich, like it or not, don’t do much of either relative to their wealth.


Different circles! I think the line of thinking you've brought up is a method of control to never enact meaningful tax policy; but I understand the thinking.


typo: s/very/every/


Meh, sadly too late to correct.


Large amounts of charitable giving are evidence that the state has failed in its duty of care.

Still, I do think that it's what makes America great. Instead of funding homes for poor people, I can just keep the money to myself and let others spend theirs.




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