- edit: I just want to add the experience nearly broke me, to the point friends and family barely recognized me and the looks I remember in their faces still haunt me. That transition after graduating and starting to make money to being a person who could interact with others who never got so close to total disaster was just as hard.
Please be kind. You just don’t know what someone has been through.
> I got back into housing a few weeks after I made my last student loan payment.
I graduated undergrad with $4k in student loans. The fact that there are people becoming homeless due to student loan debt is insane.
Just mentioning because I was very surprised when I discovered it, and it offers an interesting alternative on how student loans could work.
In countries like the Netherlands, there is tuition, but heavily subsidised. Fees are about 2k per year, and low (and partially to middle-income) households get a government stipend that is more than double that fee per year.
In short, people in these countries have to pay living expenses, tuition is pretty much covered. And a lot of these countries are quite small and have people living near the university, with decent public transportation, which is often free for students as well. As such lots of students live at home instead of on-campus, moving out for lifestyle reasons as soon as they can (often taking out loans to supplement a parttime job), rather than for the logistics of having to move to a place near the university.
In the US there's a lot of subsidies, state programs, scholarships etc as well. But many people still end up paying way more, especially if they're going out of state. And there's lots of people who end up having to move city to study somewhere, which means paying for room and board are very much a requisite part of their studies.
As such the loan amounts are nowhere near as large. Second, loans tend to be government issued, the cost-of-capital essentially tracking the interest on state bonds (e.g. treasury bills in the US) with a cap of 0%. This means in the Netherlands for example interest rates for student loans have been 0% for years and will likely remain at 0% for many years. This presents a wildly different outlook for students because borrowing $30k today isn't going to turn into having to pay back $100k over the course of the loan the coming decades, but just $30k, which is depreciating due to inflation in real terms over time.
This works this way for most social programs in most countries. E.g. to can't migrate to a country and then claim unemployment benefits. That doesn't mean the statement "the country has an unemployment program" is false.
There are dozens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of people paying for universities in the European countries with public schools (most of paying students are of second/third-world background in a country that is acting passively aggressively to them because of their non-resident/non-citizen status [that causes issues e. g. with banking services], btw), and many of them in Sweden, that's why I feel the statement is false. Also note that I'm not judging, merely stating a fact; I don't see anything wrong with both funding approaches, and think they should be combined (like in Czechia).
I know a lot of working class/blue-collar families here, and talking with them, it really becomes clear how incredibly selfish and unreasonable it is to expect their taxes to buy someone wealthier than them an education that they themselves are denied by virtue of being raised in harsher circumstances.
* You only pay it when you are in employment and earning money (with a minimum salary for repayments to be taken);
* The repayments are calculated as a function of your taxable income;
* The balance isn't discharged by bankruptcy;
* The balance isn't considered by lenders when assessing your suitability to take on "real" debt.
As far as I can tell, it's a graduate tax (on those who took a loan) for all intents and purposes.
I see comments from students talking about being "crushed by debt" as a result of taking an SLC loan, and I just can't work out where this perception comes from: yes, it decreases your take-home pay, but since there's a minimum salary threshold for payments to be taken, it's never going to leave you destitute.
But. The repayment thresholds and the loan forgiveness period do massively reduce the onerousness, especially on those in lower paid roles who would otherwise never repay. My main complaint about the system is really how it drags on the middle.
The successful graduates pay off their loans in 6-7 years, or less. If you're earning 40-50k, you'll take more like 20 years to pay off the loan which feels like a long hard slog. I still think graduate tax would have been the right call.
On £40k you'd end up with them cancelled and likely repay less than you borrowed (45k typical borrowing, £38k repaid over 30 years).
2. Your salary will (is expected to) inflate; the repayment threshold currently does not, so the "time value of money" has something to say about how much you repay. Someone whose salary remains constant on the equivalent of £40k will find their repayments an increasing burden.
The amount you borrow is not a fake number, whether it is related to the course cost or not, just as the price of a car is not a fake number even if it was cheaper to produce. It also includes literal cash payments to you.
Meanwhile, I know plenty of working class/blue-collar families who believe that debt is an unmanageable risk that they should reject if at all possible.
Their children take that to mean that they absolutely shouldn't go to university, no matter how capable they are.
Back of envelope calculation is definitely wrong.
I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you, I'm just saying that £50 figure is definitely not right, without doing any calculation. (OK sure - 50/0.2 = £250 taxed at basic rate above personal allowance. Which this year I think is £12k5, and median household income is surely above £12k75.)
“ What £ of tax would the working class family contribute towards university education”
Is not really fair to the issue. It’s not a cost for university education, because it’s not open to all - there are gatekeepers - and those from underprivileged backgrounds have very little chance of being accepted to the most prestigious institutions, so it’s unfair to expect them to pay for it, is essentially my point.
To repeat myself: "Their children take [accruing debt] to mean that they absolutely shouldn't go to university, no matter how capable they are."
Tax pays for plenty of things that working class people don't use; it also pays for plenty of things that working class people do use, that other people are paying for - and the latter category should include university education. Tax is an agreement that we find these things valuable to pay for, as a society. Not everything paid for in taxes has a direct benefit to everybody.
But we don't agree. A lot of people are affronted that as they see it they're being asked to, in essence, fund a high quality education for wealthier people's kids that their own kids can never have access to.
Whether they're right or wrong (and I've yet to see evidence that they're wrong), that's their view. And there are a lot of them. Which is why Clegg could never sell it to the electorate back in the coalition days.
I think this is an issue of right-wing media spin, rather than beliefs that working-class families innately hold. (Also since my experience of working-class families' views is generally the opposite of your claim.)
There is a lot more egregious government spending distribution problems than this one, which get ignored. In general, government spending benefits the middle classes (and upper classes) far more than it does the working class, and that's true in other areas more than it is in education.
From https://www.tutor2u.net/economics/blog/does-uk-government-sp... e.g. "The wealthy also drive three times as many miles as the poor. This makes them big beneficiaries of spending on roads, worth £8 billion a year. Poor people make up ground elsewhere: they use buses twice as much. But bus subsidies are smaller."
Thanks to this system, I got the opportunity to do what I wanted, and society gets another well-paid software engineer that can pay lots of taxes. Win-win!
(Edit: corrected debt from 300 000 SEK to 250 000 after checking)
With reasonable preparation, college is very affordable. Scholarships are easily obtained with a good ACT or SAT score. Both of these are well documented, a few months of self-study practically guarantees a good score.
My experience has been that good preparation puts out of pocket costs below $10k per year. (I think that's actually on the high side.)
For the children of people that read Hacker News, I could see that. For normal American kids? No way. Not even close.
The average american kid is not going to be able to get an SAT or ACT score good enough to get a scholarship. It's just not going to happen. You're vastly overestimating how smart and committed they are.
How much effort do you expect a kid to put into something that has no immediate benefit and no guarantee it'll ever pay off? To get to that level of delayed gratification requires a very special sort of upbringing.
It's a form of privilege, but I don't feel guilty about it. We take part in programs that help other kids outside the family (including after-school homework help for ELS kids). IMHO, we all should become 'privilege factories', helping first our own kids and then other kids. It advances quality of life for everyone involved.
Consider however that college has historically been an important vehicle for families and kids without the same time, means, and educated family like yours to achieve social mobility.
Here in Canada, I paid $15k CAD (a lower amount in USD of course) out of pocket per year for my engineering degree without having to do...any of that preparation. Of course, I did well academically in high school, which helped me do ok in the program. But my specific family circumstances during that period of my life didn’t determine whether I was financially able to even consider the prospect of going to university.
To put it another way, I didn’t work hard in high school so that I could put university within financial reach. I worked hard so I could focus on actually preparing for the program I was going into.
Perhaps there are issues with how higher education is run in the US that make heavily subsidized college education for everyone less of a bang for your taxpayer buck. But in Canada, practically every reputable university is public and heavily subsidized, and many of my brilliant peers simply wouldn’t have been there at all if they had to have a supportive family and an excellent high school education to be able to afford the scholarships to attend.
Ha ha ha. Having gone to college and recalling some folks I met, and listening to some stories from a friend who is a high school teacher at a public school, I laughed hard at that
"The price of Monthly rent for a 45 m2 (480 Sqft) furnished studio in NORMAL area in Leipzig is €352" i.e. slightly over $5,000 per year.
Now, actual studio apartments command a premium here, and anything that small is hard to find, you'll more likely find an 80m2/800 sqft converted space in the basement of someone's house for that price. Also, housing is cheaper the farther you go from downtown, and I'm not sure how good public transit is in Leipzig, but it's pretty car-centric here. We have a bus system, but that basically means an extra hour anywhere you want to go, which is a massive pain when you're already working 2 30-hour-per-week jobs.
In general public transport in cities in Germany is good. You may have pockets of town where you can't get from one side to the other without going to the center first but if you're in a reasonably small city even that doesn't take you forever. And if you have to cross town you can do it easily because the transit system is not only made for rush hour traffic to the center in the morning and out in the evening. You can go either direction at all times, even on weekends. Not all jobs are downtown either (though many are). You have offices all over the place too. In Frankfurt for example I would take the train (5min walk) to central station (maybe 20 min ride) then take the "S-Bahn" out to the other end (another 10 min or so) of the center to an office building right in the middle of lots of apartment buildings (3-4 storey max).
Goes fron $300-$1000 a month for a shared flat to a single flat.
Everyone keeps repeating this, but it's not true. Switzerland beats America by mean net worth. And look at median... whoa 22.
By government deficit (and likely household, corporate, etc), I bet we're #1 in all categories. The truth is, America is great at spending money. That doesn't make it wealthy, quite the opposite.
re: be kind.
Sorry, I don't mean to be mean or pick on you personally. That experience must have been terrible. Normally I'd let the data speak for itself, but I will reveal my reason for posting it is because I don't think we give a fair shake to people like yourself.
Edit: GDP is more like income than wealth, and not per-capita makes no sense because the expense of welfare programs would be on a per-person basis.
I agree that looking at it that way is meaningless for the purposes of figuring out whose populace is the financially healthiest, but... that's what people do, for some reason.
We've squandered our wealth for ever-increasing cash flow, and by the time we're done I'm worried that the country will be a empty hulk.
For your meaning other terms would be used, e.g. saying India has a larger economy than Switzerland, or a larger market.
I'm not going to pretend this "solved the problems" but I am told a number of the less intractable cases got put into a better situation,simply having secure shelter helped get them off drug dependency, or back into medication for treatable problems, or away from self harm situations.
Now covid is closing out, the "experiment" is partially unwinding again and this makes me very sad. People will be put back into considerably less suitable housing. People will return to a life led off the rails.
Sure, some want something rough sleeping provides (I really suspect few do but let's not pretend everyone can handle housing up front) and some will continue to be drug affected and crazy will break out.
But for nine months we reduced homelessness and structural health problems to single digit or less and it almost certainly saved money.
That's the truly amazing thing: the net budget effect on federal and state funded interventions was probably better, and they STILL unwound the programmes.
Collective failure of imagination.
Homelessness exists because we let it.
> Collective failure of imagination.
> Homelessness exists because we let it.
You're listening to the words and not understanding the actual motivation. Budgets are a convenient objection but not actually important. Like you observe there are people who would gladly spend more money to make the problem worse.
What you unfortunately need to realize is that there are far too many people who need to know that there are others suffering "because they deserve it".
You will never understand the debate around homelessness as long as you assume everyone agrees it should be solved or that people just haven't discovered the right way to allocate resources.
: You can swap out homelessness with a few other political hotbutton issues as well. I'll leave those to your imagination.
Those people also think that some people being homeless is acceptable trade off given the motivational value of the threat and cost of paying for everyone's accommodation.
It's an opinion of significant percentage of american voters.
In the US, we have many more vacant houses than we have homeless people. The market system is incapable of solving this very simple problem.
Do you have any data on this? This doesn't really pass the smell test for me, even though it potentially sounds like a satisfying explanation of part of the problem.
Right now, homeless people are not customers, meaning they are not making money off of those people, when they could be if those people were actually renters.
Not necessarily physically visible. Just mentally visible.
Do you really believe business owners, and landlords are sitting in some smokey room plotting to keep people homeless so people will pay their rent?
Really, that is your honest held belief of the situation?
That is a ridiculous and moronic position. People can have good faith disagreements on how to solve social problems, and if you believe government is not the right avenue for that solution it does not mean you want or desire people to be homeless.
Indeed, there are always people who are looking to cut public services, but the discussion was about the motive for doing that.
Ironically (or not), the title of this overall thread is "This is Real, That's Not". The content of the discussions is a fine reflection of the very phenomenon that Doreen is talking about, and I suspect a plausible demonstration of why humanity can't sort its shit out, decade after decade: an inability (or unwillingness) to acknowledge the self-delusional nature of the human mind.
> What is the motive there?
The motives are complex, and unknown (the necessary callable public interfaces to obtain such knowledge do not exist - and yet, observe the number of people in this thread who perceive that they have knowledge of the contents of other people's minds. Is this not an extremely interesting phenomenon? Might this phenomenon have consequences in a complex system, especially if it exists but is completely unrealized?
I suspect that a specific, conscious motivation to bring about the specific end state that we are experiencing (inequality, homelessness, human suffering in general) also does not actually exist. Rather, I reckon the mess we are living in is more like some sort of a cosmic demonstration of the law unintended consequences, due to an unwillingness to acknowledge the complexities inherent in reality. A religious person may consider this punishment from God for disobedience. A comedian (or a schizophrenic) may consider it to be comedy at its finest. Each individual perceives reality through a custom lens, and comes to vastly different conclusions.
I could be wrong of course, but it's a fun way to look at it. Part of the fun is observing how people react to crazy ideas like this, that may actually have a fair amount of validity to them (how might we know, for sure, if they do, or do not?).
I don't doubt that there are some people who want this, but the idea that there's a giant, organized, shadowy group out there... that's something out of a very bad spy movie.
The full spectrum of causation is often (strongly) asserted to be very specific things, but rarely does one encounter any person or organization asserting that the problem is complex and not fully understood. It does not seem unreasonable at all to me that some wrongdoing may indeed be happening here and there.
That said, the highly inconsistent (other than confidence levels of assertions) approach to conspiracy theories is indeed wonderfully ironic.
Today is a good example of this...one one hand we have a thread about the abstract notion of CIA deception:
When discussing this sort of topic abstractly, it seems the HN hivememind has no problem whatsoever conceptualizing it.
However, if one changes the topic to a specific, object level news event (Jimmy Wales & Wikipedia), the ability (to conceptualize deceit) seems to vanish, as ~always:
Landlords don’t “prefer” homelessness to exist. Their position, as capitalists, ends with their interests.
Many (not all!) landlord are quite simple: “Pay rent or I will evict you and find someone else”. That’s it.
After an eviction, they don’t care whether the person moves elsewhere or is homeless. In fact I’d argue that most people are probably on the gooder side of good and would prefer their former tenant move elsewhere and live a nice comfortable life and someone else can deal with their poorness.
What they do absolutely want is the ability to enforce that eviction. That’s key. But I doubt they care so much about the looming threat of homelessness.
Landlords "prefer" homelessness exist because that the surplus demand over the supply that they provide.
Yes, rents going down is not what a landlord wants. Just like salary going down (all things being equal). But it's not as if all landlords are conspiring to keep people homeless to increase their rents.
Yes they would accuse/blame the homelessness solver of decreasing their rents and they would be correct. I'm not a landlord and I would 'blame' or point out the same thing. That doesn't mean that I think it's wrong while at the same time correctly identifying it as the cause...
I don't know why but this seems to be the primary psychic barrier to doing this thing we know works and which can in some cases even be cheaper than services first aid.
Everything else is bad for real estate investors.
I've often been obliged to pay for something I've seen others acquire freely and I say good for them. I wouldn't exchange places with them for a moment. It seems the pettiest of all things to begrudge someone whose life is a disater, even in the rare cases when it is of their own making.
I'm concerned about outcomes. Let's stop for a minute and assume that I'm an unfeeling, non-empathetic person who doesn't care about anyone but himself. Even then, I would advocate to allocate more money to homeless services, regardless of how that money is used, because doing so would benefit me: I don't want to see human feces on the sidewalk, or used syringes, or disease-carrying rats running around near tent encampments, or mentally-ill people screaming at me as I walk by.
People who adopt the attitude that we shouldn't give people a generous safety net because they haven't done anything to "deserve" a handout are quite simply cutting off their noses to spite their faces. They're making their lives actively worse just to "teach a lesson" to those "undeserving" homeless people.
If you want clean streets, ban vagrancy and street living.
You can’t save everyone. Savior complex is self serving. At some point, you have to cut damaging/damaged people lose.
The sanctimonious savior complex is frankly nauseating ..especially when it achieves nothing but create noise that is pleasing only to the one practicing the virtue-signaling sounds.
I attended al-anon meetings for three months to support a friend and continued going to them because I found it helpful to understand the effect addiction(of all kinds) has on the normal people around them. We have to be kind. Yes. But we are not our ‘brothers’ keepers’, as it were.. we need social boundaries when it comes to taking over the burden of those over whom/whose actions we have no control.
The last US election showed us that there are a LOT of these kind of people.
Most of them call themselves religious, too.
But they don't, because that's not what the voters want, apparently. They'd rather see the city drown in a sewer than give money to people who don't "deserve it".
If we don't provide adequate public loos, or addiction treatment, or injection rooms, or mental health care, we should expect to experience the problems that are caused.
I think the real reason America fails the homeless is not a lack of empathy, but a "it's your fault because you touched it last" mentality. Housing first requires people who work with social workers. These people already draw a lot of ire when they fail or deemed as too harsh.
Addicts, by definition, take drugs. They continue to take drugs when they know it harms them. Why do you think the potential risk of going to prison for a few days will have a deterrent effect when the very real health consequences they're currently going through isn't a deterrent?
I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are simply ignorant of what jail or prison does to a person. Because I cannot see otherwise how you can possibly believe your right to a clean sidewalk should be enforced at the expense of another person's rights and freedom.
But the persistent pattern has been to use prisons and jails for the homeless until there is an outcry. Then there is a cessation of incarceration and a turning into the streets. This is followed by conflict from homeless and homes cohabitating. Once frustration builds to a fever we return to authoritarian treatment of the homeless.
All the while it remains unacceptable to try any other remedy because they might engender moral hazard or encourage immoral behavior.
Our society is like the man who repeatedly trips over his shoe laces because he cannot learn to tie his shoes but who refuses velcro on the principle that he ought to be able to learn to tie them.
If you're a cook who wants to take a break from your 6 flatmates by taking a walk outside, a clean sidewalk is a much bigger deal. When you hear liberals are spending more money every year on the homeless and you see more needles on ground. Of course, you're going to harbor some resentment towards the homeless, even if you rationally know it's not their fault. It's not that they're simply ignorant or lack empathy.
You raise a good point about the cycle of homelessness policy though.
Really? Should be fairly easy to understand, for a Middle Class Family that is living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to save for retirement, the kids collage fund, maybe help pay for a aging parent, save for home repair, and provide daily expenses seeing a good chunk of their earnings being stolen errr "taxed" away from them, money that they could use to provide for their own needs is a large part of it.
That doesn't mean it's going super great. There are still a lot of people on the streets, obviously, and depending on where you look, either it's getting worse, or at best it's like they're treading water.
But it turns out combating homeless is just expensive, even though arguably it can be cheaper than just doing nothing (taxpayers end up paying for those 911 calls and unpaid emergency room visits after all), but there are a lot of people who have an aversion to "just giving away money to people who don't deserve it". They'd rather pay to clean up after a homeless person, year after year, than pay to make that person not homeless, even if the latter would cost less. So funding is hard to fight for, and funding levels are never enough to fix things.
San Francisco's allocation for this is a single-digit percentage of the city budget (your assertion that their budget is "huge" is incorrect; here it's a few hundred million on a $5B budget), and yet it is one of the biggest, most obviously visible problems the city is facing. Sure, simply throwing more money at a problem doesn't make it go away, but insufficient funding -- as is currently the case -- is going to ensure the problem remains.
And what is overlooked/unrealized is not just the missing data (that which exists, but is not perceived by the individual), but also all the "forces" at play, like complex causation, individual preferences (many of which are highly illogical), behind the scenes string-pulling, randomness/chaos, and so forth and so on.
If we could somehow find a way to get even a few people to realize (and honestly acknowledge) that we all live within a complex, interconnected and interactive system, full of uncertainty and illusion, could we perhaps start to come up with some solutions that take this complexity into consideration (and therefore are more resistant to being derailed by simple rhetoric and propaganda)?
While yes it is cheaper in some ways, the problem is people will be less likely to be creative or lean on personal support networks (i.e couch surfing, live with family, etc) if the government through the taxpayer will just hand you a key to an apartment no questions asked....
There were a couple of times we were technically homeless as a child, I slept many nights on the floor of my grandparents home, or an uncle, etc. so I am not unsympathetic to being in this condition. However I also do not believe government handouts are a solution to the problem
I believe in Handups, but not handouts.
There are a lot of poor people who work very hard to provide for their family. I don't know what should we do for them.
I'm tired of hearing how people think it will go. Pre-critics and naysayers. I want action, drastic action that has never been done before to solve problems that have never been solved before. Offer a solution or go back to work.
> That's the truly amazing thing: the net budget effect on federal and state funded interventions was probably better, and they STILL unwound the programmes.
According to the treasurer of Victoria, they allocated $150 million budget to provide this accommodation for 2000 people. That comes out to $75,000 per person. According to the University of Queensland, taking a homeless person off the street saves about $13,000 in additional medical and policing costs. So the covid measures certainly didn't save money. Normal state provided housing comes a lot closer to the $13,000 mark if you take a look at how much those programs costs, but they tend to be at 100% capacity all of the time. It's also worth noting that while Victoria reports providing 2000 homeless people with housing during the pandemic, the state is reported to have somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 homeless.
If some sort of safety net is available, then some people who'd otherwise find some solution to pay rent - whether it's going over their heads in payday loans or getting into petty crime or resorting to prostitution or some other way - some of them will choose to actually use that safety net instead. So the demand for that safety net if it's available should be expected to be larger than the number of people who "fell through" in the absence of it.
Meaning if you want to keep those people from sleeping out in public places, then you really do need to provide all of them with housing, and also that you certainly can’t provide only 2000 of them with temporary housing and then claim that you’ve solved homelessness (even only temporarily).
There should be no room for thought processes that pretend that we can solve homelessness by any other means than just give people a home.
Just build high density villages with basic facilities so a place exists for people to take stock before figuring out their lives. Maybe they can be there till they finish education. Maybe till they recuperate from illness or use it as rehab. Or live there till they get a better job. Short lease, minimal rent. A breathing space.
Since you mention that some people in your area have managed to get themselves into a better situation just because they'd been housed for a bit, I wonder if that's true for any number of people here. But I'm also afraid that any gains will be quickly erased with our new lockdown that's going into effect Sunday night (which essentially winds us back to March with most businesses closed0, which could take away any newly-found jobs.
That's an important distinction.
The working class is in no position to take care of homeless ppl.
I object to this though:
"Collective failure of imagination"
There is so much wrong with that statement, I barely know where to start.
Government is a collection of individuals. Individuals do have imagination. But in this case, no imagination is even required - as you point out there is the previous 9 months of data.
What we find is no interest in improving the situation of those in the worst position. Have you considered the possibility, that it is government that creates these situations in the first place?
More broadly, I object to the commonly held idea that government is there to help us at all, despite that being what we are taught in its schools. It is there to rule us.
You can confirm this if you can break down the word 'government'. 'Govern' (has root as kyberenetes) means rule with authority. '-ment' means relating to minds, like 'mental'. The word literally means 'rule minds'.
Generally speaking, you can't get at the meaning of a word by decomposing it into its etymological roots, even if you're lucky or educated enough to pick the correct roots.
For a nice (heh) example of why, look up the etymology of the word "nice", for example, here:
As I was watching @lisper's movie "grace of god" and heard the phrase "convince myself that it could never happen to me" (becoming homeless), I started thinking, is this a more American-centric problem?
What I mean by that is, can the lack of a social safety net in the US cause a much higher rate of homelessness than in other countries? Or at least, it seems the experience of homelessness in the US is worse than in other countries.
I wonder how much culture also plays a part in that. In Romania for example, the idea of becoming homeless in the same way as in the US seems so remote and unlikely that most people don't ever think about it and I'm sure you would have a hard time finding people who ever think they would get into that situation. Is the government just doing a great job at hiding these people or exporting them? Is the culture of having a close family saving people from ever hitting rock bottom?
I have a lot of questions with few answers and I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts on the culture/US-centric view on this type of homeless.
There is a strong selection bias here: homeless people who are addicts or suffer from mental health issues are significantly less likely to be on a computer writing interesting articles of their experience.
I volunteered at a soup kitchen in SF a number of years ago. At the orientation meeting, the director said nearly all homeless fit into one of these categories:
1. Mentally ill
2. Addicted to drugs
3. Veterans (Gulf War, Vietnam)
4. Down-on-their-luck families (debt, sudden medical bills, lost job, eviction, etc.)
He said #4 category was the smallest, and these families typically got out of the situation within a year or two at most. A 'Pursuit of Happyness' type situation.
The other problems are much less tractable. The distribution of time spent on the streets was strongly bimodal: people were either on the streets for <2 years, or for decades.
>There is a strong selection bias here: homeless people who are addicts or suffer from mental health issues are significantly less likely to be on a computer writing interesting articles of their experience.
One interesting thing also is #3, why are veterans homeless? PTSD?
These places are long gone in the US, because of fire code reasons, local regulations, etc. The minimum housing in many areas that have the hardest hit homeless populations is probably closer to $1500 a month.
What’s more cruel, having people live in tenement housing our having none available at all?
However, I don't know how good of an indicator debt is for one's circumstances, or for the consequences of indebtedness. I suspect not very.
But our cult of individualism says that your successes belong to your boss, and your failures are your own damn fault. So you can die in the gutter and you'll deserve it.
Maybe it’s different in India now. But my generation remembers ‘family’(and I use the term loosely) walking in and leaving through a revolving door for a break from the condition what most people in America call ‘unhoused’.
You feed the guests, house them, pull connections..find a job, heal them, fight for them..whatever until they can leave. If someone can’t manage it, they’d at least duct tape them and drop them off with the next relative with more resources. Keep in mind..’resources’ doesn’t necessarily mean money..it could be pulling a favour or even just giving sane advice.
It boggles my mind that anyone could go hungry in the USA..one of the richest countries in the world. Having said that, a bag of rice, lentils and throwing in some vegetables is cheap. And it is easy to keep people well fed and housed so they can function, recover and revive. The social contract also insists upon reciprocal favors when the time is right. The entire society works on ‘you scratch my back, I will scratch yours’. Together..everyone survives.
Anytime someone has to leave their home town to travel for work or study or vacation or a break from the rat race, the social net will be activated and word will go from one end of the country to another. Also multi generational families were the norm and that’s how wealth..even middle class wealth..accrued.
I knew a girl whose family was from mainland China or Hk ..or maybe Taiwan whose extended family had a restaurant. Everyone worked at the restaurant and she was also working at HSBC. We found out from her that she handed over every paycheck to the family’s head. And he gave her back a monthly stipend. She worked weekends at the restaurant without pay. When she finally decided to marry her boyfriend, the family gifted her a house. Fully paid off. And now she had a family unit of her own and an asset that was hers and hers alone.
Now...everyone who wasn’t a first generation immigrant was shocked by this system. I could grok it. That’s what I think of as a social net. It could be known as ‘co dependent’ in the west, but most people from Asia get it. Because there is no govt ‘welfare social net’ or Medicare or whatever. It took me a while to understand what ‘social safety net’ meant in the United states.
In America, everything is translated in the language of money and what someone else owes to every individual. It’s different. Entirely different world. Clearly.
What we have now in the Western world is not families, it is millions of single independent autonomous actors. They have close friends, but loose families. They have teenage crisis where they try to gain independence from their family. They have work relationships. When they fall, they can’t come back home, they have no place called home. They may say « I’m from Minnesota » but their grandfather was from Belgium. Even in France or Germany, people are unrooted, and a good 15% of them are total migrants, as in, people who fled/left their home country, often in a state of war. Some would raise the flag of a Muslim country and fly there every year. And yet, they are more French than foreign.
This may be a difference with India. We’ve thrown tradition to the bin while inventing modernity, but what we’ve really done is cut through all the ties between people, made them move cities and countries, made them leave their home land with carrots that had grown from the ground for centuries into worker factories where all they owned was a bed (on rental) and a place in the factory, we told them family was a contractual relationship, and shred their sense of belonging to a place. « So why would you help your next of kin? He doesn’t come from here. »
Similarly the results of diversity can be positive or negative. The people who slip through the cracks are those who don’t have enough glue on them to stick to any group that will embrace them as their own out of empathy.
I have been woolgathering and I also think the main reason is the young age of America. It simply leapfrogged into prosperous existence after minor dramas in its relatively short timeline. The only collectively experienced trauma is the civil war and that’s just a memory now. And it doesn’t even apply to everyone in the small population dataset. Weak small magnets.
America is also a nation of immigrants. We have never had any kings or queens. We have never deferred to authority ever and have no notion of social contracts. We believe in our ‘vote’.
There is always a reverse reciprocality to responsibility. If you borrow money from me, you will feel obligated to pay me back. Because my face will keep floating in front of your eyes or I will knock on your door loudly. It is easier to deny this with a govt. Perhaps that will lead to life changes.
During the tougher times of my life, I didn’t have time to lose myself with drugs or alcohol. I fretted about failing my parents, grandparents, teachers, ancestors, community...if I hadn’t been a wannabe atheist dickhead during my ill spent youth, I guess the thought of failing my faith would have been a weight upon me too.
Recently, I have been exploring ways to re enter my universe of religious/spiritual faith. In my wool gathering, I wondered if communism, socialism, capitalism are all religions too.
it’s the same with relationships between a person and institutions. You have faith in the institution of marriage, the institution of law, the institutions of education, the institutions of trade and commerce etc. No relationship is consummated without a voluntary vesting of power.
Another big one is military and armed forces. I am anti-war and I don’t want to say anything that will even indirectly glorify war connected concepts. But conformity and shared social responsibility is a big thing with people from countries with mandatory draft. We don’t have that either. Most positive behaviours come from negative inputs. I am just pinning it here. It is not something I like to delve into...but to be fair, that we have never had any major wars or mandatory conscription also contributes to the weak social glue.
Faith in government is a form of religion too. The people who pray to the elected god of politics are disappointed when they are not rescued.
The suffering faithful cry out to their gods... why won’t you rescue me? The others wonder how the unblessed have sinned. Some others are smug in their own worship of the gods. Some create new gods. Cults emerge.
When you start thinking of faith in govt as no different from faith in a god/higher power, it won’t be too long before you realize that it is US who have vested power in that institition.
And then there is the issue of contracts. Every relationship is based on an understood contract. Be it a mother/child or a bank/customer.
In most countries..let’s take Scandinavian countries because they are the America’s favourite...the contract is between govt and tax payers. These countries were monarchies initially. The notion of economic social net is a very old one. As is social contracts. They go hand in hand. That America had never had a functioning monarchy and has a diverse expanding population with weak glue could also be a reason.
I agree with you. I phrase it this way: In the 1500 in Europe, people believed the origin of universal public good came from God, now people believe the state represents public good. It is very dangerous, as in both cases it is reified by humans who clearly don’t only have positive intentions.
I've no doubt that, for every person who ends up rough sleeping in the US there are 1000 who move back in with their parents. Or sleep on a friend's couch. Or get gifted a few hundred bucks from a loved one to tide them over. Or move in with a partner when otherwise they wouldn't have.
But there will always be some people who don't have any social connections left to spend - if your parents have died, or were abusive, or you're a first generation immigrant, moving back in with them might not be an option. Maybe you've had $300 from grandpa several times before, and lost it to your gambling addiction. Maybe you've stayed with your sister before and scared them with your untreated mental illness.
None of which is common - but if a million people are struggling to make rent it's a simple numbers game: some of them won't have any social connections to fall back on.
Perhaps the problem is that there IS a govt welfare program. The complaint currently is that what’s being done is not enough. The truth is that it will never be enough. The govt and tax payers can shovel mountains of dollars into the maw of the problem and it will never be enough.
The way American welfare programs are designed is like sticking a band aid for cancer and hoping rosy health will return.
If we stop relying on govt, perhaps our tribal instincts to care for each other will return ...perhaps it will finally dawn on us that we rely on our kith and kin...that we come from other people like us and it was not the govt that birthed us.
I don't think that's true. Welfare as commonly understood doesn't really exist any more in the US. The closest is TANF (temporary assistance for needy families) but that requires you to have children and is time limited. SNAP gives you food benefits but that is limited to 3 months unless you have a job or are in workforce training. For the most part, your random homeless person on the street isn't eligible for these and doesn't get benefits. The loophole is disability but that's a pretty tough process to go through. Not likely that many homeless can muster it.
If you get Section 8 housing assistance in the US, it is illegal to house that relative who needs a hand without an extensive paperwork and approval, which you probably won't get. It is especially difficult if that relative has a drug charge in their past, including "smoking a joint at age 16". (If that relative has a felony drug charge in their past, they also can't get federal student loans ever.)
Many of the things people do to help their families have been made to have bad consequences for poor people in the US. To me, it feels as if there has been a systematic effort to break poor families, take away their ability to help each other, and ensure that they continue to be embroiled in "the system" in the US.
Isn’t section 8 itself a welfare program?
‘Help’ here should flow down from the haves to have nots. For the have nots to help each other is counter intuitive and counter productive. No solid results. And can be detrimental to the original goal of social welfare.
It dilutes the notion of section 8. If the goal is feeding someone with a bowl of soup so he can be strong enough to start working, then splitting the bowl of soup between three people defeats the purpose. Everyone is still hungry, everyone is too weak to work and nobody achieved their goal. It is a waste of resources.
If one needs to get out of debt, do they go to someone who is debt free or to someone who also needs to get out of debt?
> Many of the things people do to help their families have been made to have bad consequences for poor people in the US. To me, it feels as if there has been a systematic effort to break poor families, take away their ability to help each other, and ensure that they continue to be embroiled in "the system" in the US.[..]
Can you give an example?
Homeless crisis and affordable home crisis will never be solved without robust transport networks.
Yes, we can house a lot of people who need help. No, we can’t house them in San Francisco. Or in other expensive metros.
As an aside, when prefab house builder from mare island offered to build units for the homeless, the unions protested and SF mayor, London Breed had to acquiesce to build them in the city and use Union labour only.
So it was decided in 2014..maybe 2016..that after they find lots to build in SF, funds would go to build homeless units(not pre fab because Union labour was a condition).
After that, the whole thing is hanging in limbo. Because..as if..there will be land in SF to build homes for the homeless. Daft..laughable if it weren’t so tragic.
But there are also homeless Germans, despite of safety nets existing in theory. I think it is often associated with mental illness and addiction, making it difficult for people to master the bureaucracy to get access to social services.
In Germany, I've only seen homelessness due to mental illness, because the bureaucracy in the social programs causes too much friction for them to use it with decent success. There are organizations that help people navigate the mazes and paperwork, but it's still too much friction.
In America, it's both, but primarily economic. The levels of economic inequality in America is something I'd only seen in third world countries before. TBH I'm surprised at how low the corruption level in government jobs is given how dire peoples circumstances have become. It is much worse than in other first world countries, but not as bad as in places like Mexico or India. The higher the inequality, the more the proportion pushed towards mental illness in the homeless people living there. San Francisco was particularly bleak...
In Japan, it's also primarily economic, but I suspect that's mainly due to their tendency to hide mental illness away since it's a source of shame. The "tent cities" in the parks were a sight to behold...
this myth gets repeated and has no basis in reality. people in every city that offer any kind of service for the poor think that this attracts poor people. i guess it’s easier to believe that people are choosing to cheat society than society failed to provide for them
From the charts in your article it still doesn't seem unlikely that many homeless people migrated there for the jobs, a ka money - 30% in the "1 to 4 years" bracket, 48% if you go to "up to 9 years".
In my city (Berlin) it certainly seems to be the case that it is often immigrants who end up homeless, presumably because the social net for citizens doesn't fully apply to them.
That's a poor choice of words that betrays your lack of knowledge on the subject. Instead of guesses about what is happening backed up with with "why else" reasoning, why not just do a little research on your own first? Or at least start with a question instead of a claim?
If you would apply the principle of charity, you would have been able to read my comment correctly.
> homeless people flock to places with spare money and mild climate.
Here is what it would look like as a question:
Do homeless people move to places with spare money and mild climate?
The "why else" construction is not a literal question. It's rhetoric device used to make a claim about reasoning. It implies that you've thought through all the possible reasons and you've come up with the obvious answer.
But if you were really making a sincere question, the answer to "why else" is: that is where they lived when they became homeless.
"It implies that you've thought through all the possible reasons and you've come up with the obvious answer."
No, me writing "MIGHT" literally implies the opposite of that.
It is also an aspect to consider, in any case - it is a valid question of why there are many homeless in a rich place. Merely claiming "inequality" is not actually an answer. In theory, the rich place should offer more job opportunities than poor places elsewhere.
Which theory? Because trickle down doesn't have much support in terms of evidence. Often it's actually the wealth that causes the homelessness. As wealthy people move into an area and rents skyrocket, people who once could afford to live there end up on the street.
And where are homeless people getting all this money to relocate a thousand miles away based on the hopes that they might get a job in a city with a much higher cost of living? None of this even passes a quick common sense test.
Are there no renter protections in the USA, anyway?
The theory is simple that where the area is rich, there are more jobs - catering to the rich people, but also the jobs that make the rich people rich.
As for relocating, in the old days, you could hitchhike or jump on trains.
Plenty of it, it is one of the primary causes. But just to put it in concrete terms that should scare anyone, the average rent in San Francisco in 1994 was about $1000. By 2001 the average rent was $2300. 
Consider that other living costs go up along with rent.
> Are there no renter protections in the USA, anyway?
Sometimes. But what happens when you lose your job, and then lose your apartment as a result? How are you going to afford the much higher rents now at a new apartment even if you can find a new job? At minimum wage?
If you ever decide to work with homeless people (you should) you'll hear two types of stories over and over: 1. Diseases such as mental illness and addiction. 2. People who are pretty much just like you and me. And then something unexpected happened. These stories are humbling, because after hearing enough of them you realize that a lot of what's keeping a roof over your own head is luck. Add medical bankruptcy to the mix and you've got the USA.
> The theory is simple that where the area is rich, there are more jobs - catering to the rich people.
So your theory is that rich people hire homeless people off the street to cater to them? NYC has loads of rich people - the most in the world . NYC also has a huge homelessness problem. Maybe that will get solved when and if NYC gets just a few more billionaires?
NY state itself has the highest per capita homelessness rate in the USA . Trickle down doesn't work.
> but also the jobs that make the rich people rich.
This is along the lines of saying "stop being poor, just get one of those jobs that the rich people have".
I would encourage you just read up on the subject instead of inventing theories that sound good to you. Homelessness is a well researched topic, and there is no lack of studies and data around it.
"what happens when you lose your job, and then lose your apartment as a result?"
Then losing your job is the cause, not the rising rents.
"So your theory is that rich people hire homeless people off the street to cater to them?"
I could imagine many people migrate to those places to try to make their luck, because there are many opportunities. Many people trying their luck means also many people failing.
Pretty sure that a couple of dozen Billionaires do NOT cause homelessness.
"Trickle down doesn't work."
People living in New York are probably quite well off in general. A bunch of homeless people don't contradict the trickle down effect. You yourself mentioned mental illness, addiction, and unforeseen events as major causes of homelessness. Notice how rising rents and high paying jobs are not on the list.
"> but also the jobs that make the rich people rich.
This is along the lines of saying "stop being poor, just get one of those jobs that the rich people have"."
Not at all, and this is becoming silly. All I said is that there are presumably the jobs that made the rich people rich, which will usually be a lot of jobs, because rich people will usually have sold a lot of things. Building lots of things requires many workers.
"I would encourage you just read up on the subject instead of inventing theories that sound good to you."
If you are so well read, then provide some convincing evidence for your claims. None of the three links you provided tell us anything about the cause of homelessness. I noticed in the last one that California has very low youth homelessness, though.
Frankly, your "well researched" theories about homeless sound mostly like leftist anti capitalist propaganda to me.
Yes, that's the entire problem I've been encouraging you to stop doing. You don't need to imagine. It's an extremely well researched subject.
I was sincerely hoping you'd put a little work into the research yourself (like I asked you to) instead of continuing to create mental fantasies about why homelessness might happen. We already know why it happens. Without any cherry picking on my part, here are the top five search results from "causes of homelessness". Is it really going to surprise you that "lack of affordable housing" shows up over and over? When average rents goes from $1000 to $2300 in a few years, that's a specific example of "lack of affordable housing" isn't it? It's plain common sense that skyrocketing rents are going to put some people on the street. If you don't believe the articles, talk to some real homeless people, like I have during my volunteer work to help them.
> If you are so well read, then provide some convincing evidence for your claims. None of the three links you provided tell us anything about the cause of homelessness.
I gave you five articles listing the causes of homelessness. Now you're claiming the articles aren't enough.
> If you could give everybody a free house, there would probably be less homeless people.
In many cities they have in fact done this and it works pretty well. It's significantly cheaper than the hospital visits and the extra burden on the police force.
You want to keep inventing theories out of your own imagination, while I have actual experience working with homeless people, in several major cities around the world. If you don't want to believe that gentrification in general and specifically rents going from $1000 to $2300 in a few years causes homelessness for those who were barely able to afford rent in the first place, that's certainly your choice. You can have the last word as I don't see this going in a useful direction.
Um yeah, because they are not? They don't say anything about rising rents causing homelessness, they only mention the same correlation you also mentioned (rich city has many homeless), which doesn't provide any causation. In fact most of them don't provide any evidence at all. Some web site claiming "x causes y" is not actually evidence for anything.
"In many cities they have in fact done this and it works pretty well. It's significantly cheaper than the hospital visits and the extra burden on the police force."
Sure, but that was not what we are discussing. We are discussing the claim that rising wealth increases homelessness. That's an entirely different question. In fact wealthy regions would probably be better able to provide free housing for homeless people than poor places.
If you have actual experience working with homeless people, give us some real information.
I've concluded that the best way to understand America is as the top first world country and a Latin American third world country still struggling with the effects of colonization - in the same physical location. You can see bits of both next to each other, and the ugly coexistence of pretending not to see the problems.
Trump surprised a lot of people by suddenly manifesting the politics of the Latin American country - he's a lot more like Peron than GWB. He's a sort of "business generalissimo": rather than going around in a uniform with a bunch of unearned medals, he talks about his business "successes" (inherited or bankrupt) endlessly.
But there was also a man who was bullied out of the company where he had worked for 21 years. I guess he didn't see homelessness coming for him. Also there was an older woman who lived in her car because she was forced out of the apartment where she lived for her whole life and she refused to accept moving to a different apartment. She had a reputable job, it was after she retired that all these issues came up. So I guess that even here there is no absolute guarantee that one wouldn't end up homeless.
Most homeless in western european countries come either from losing their job and having drug problems, or losing their wifes and thereby homes. The many eastern homeless cross the borders because they can live much better by begging on the streets here than in the east. But there are plenty of homeless, squatters there also. Eg nost of the abandoned village houses in the east were subsequently squatted by gypsies. The city center in Bucuresti is also full of homeless. When writing a book about homeless over the world in the US and Russia, the problems were the same, just that in the USA there's a homeless shipping industry to get them out of the city, but they still prefer the warm south where it's easy to survive. Who wouldn't. Even the rich old folks prefer Florida over NY. Just politicians and police are more inhuman there.
To me it’s always seemed like mostly a way to regulate begging, and also to let both parties pretend it isn’t begging. And in the best case maybe it’s therapeutic for people to write for them.
But it doesn’t seem like anyone reads these, and I wonder, are the other effects worth the cost / effort?
They have to buy all the papers they are distributing in advance. It's a financial risk. But a good income, if you've got a good location.
I vividly remember that just across the Romanian border, there are numerous Roma villages that look quite like Skid Row.
I can't compare European homelessness to its American variant, but I can say it certainly exists. Safety nets have holes in them, particularly for those who aren't in the system. Freelancers are not that well-protected either.
I thought that was widely understood as a contributing factor, yes.
other contributing factors: poor minimum wage laws, at will employment, lack of regulation around housing.
health system problems I put in the social safety net category.
These things mean that there is more of a chance that something goes wrong, and you need the social safety net, which isn't there.
My thoughts on the matter, after living in the SF Bay Area for a decade, conclude that for the average person and those that have limited earning potential, Western European or Scandinavian countries can offer a better life to those people, on average.
If you have a high earning potential, then the US is a great place to grow your wealth, pay for your children's expensive education and purchase all the consumerist-centric things your family desires, at a fairly low price.
Additionally, I believe that for people who are seriously mentally ill, it's more difficult to section them in the US. In the UK, it takes a GP and social worker to section someone; I believe in the US it's not that simple.
Of course, cost of living is a big factor anyway. In asian countries, government provided safety nets are rare but since everything is so cheap, at worst you can still manage to eke out a living and find, say, a single room in not-so-great locality.
While it’s not as crazy as in SF or LA, the problem is quite visible throughout the city, as are the homeless people themselves.
For my own homeless experiences (~5 years), I was able to jump back because of work history and experience that would not have existed if my life had started out otherwise.
More cross-the-tracks experiences would undoubtedly make the world a more tolerant, understanding, and uplifting place to live. Though I can’t say I’d wish my personal trauma on any specific person. I’m thankful for the perspective gained, but it would be easier to prescribe if there were less long-term-costly means of gaining it.
My homeless experience was incredibly brief (4-5 months) compared to the struggles of so many people I met during that time, but it had profound, permanent effects on my level of empathy I feel towards people still going through it. If you are struggling in your own life, dealing with depression or anxiety despite your white collar and comfortable financial situation, it can be a humbling and powerful experience to meet people who have no money, no friends, no family, and no support, not even from their own minds. Helping serve food at a shelter or something in that ballpark can be incredible for learning more about yourself as well as those folks, and you both gain from that relationship.
So you can just watch that.
Thank you for making it and for sharing it here—I watched it based on this recommendation, and it was well worth the watch.
It tells the stories of homeless women and was written by a man dying of cancer who decided to spend his last days doing something more meaningful to him than punching a clock.
On this site I have received legitimately profound and sometimes life changing advice and insights from a wider variety of people than I have interacted with in any other format: schizophrenics, the homeless, people from a wide variety of cultures (wealthy and impoverished), and industry rock stars.
There have been disagreements and occasionally arguments. Some of them have made me a little more aware of my own bubble and allowed me to recognize aspects of my world view that were ignorant or that at least failed to consider different points of view.
Much of this was possible because its a place that values the participation of everyone. Articles like this excellent piece of writing shine a light on how important it is.
Edit: I figured some shadow banned people would respond. I was actually talking about at least one person that ended up getting permanently banned that happened to be an influential person to me. Part of what makes this community great is that while we can have heated disagreements we largely do it more civilly than many other online communities. While its an accurate assessment that Hacker News has a liberal bias there are lots of conservatives here that freely share their opinions civilly. They might feel outnumbered and they might sometimes be unjustly downvoted by people that don't understand what a downvote button should be used for, but they are largely able to participate because they keep it civil. I'm pretty politically moderate myself. By no stretch of the imagination could I be considered a "SJW" or a person with a typical San Francisco political outlook (only mentioning these phrases because that was what was alleged to be the only type of person that can exist here). Out of curiosity I took a look at jrcii's account and they were indeed needlessly toxic on a large number of occasions before being banned and yet was still told if they email the admin and promise to be civil they can be reinstated. Instead of taking them up they decided be even less civil. A community can be open to everyone and still ban people that are not acting in good faith.
But I've had it on for a while now and I usually read a few of the dead comments. I see a lot of incivility, inanity, very little in the way of a politely expressed, well-thought out but unpopular opinion.
Do you have an example of someone being banned simply because they shared an unpopular opinion?
Also "not true in general" implies that you seem to think that its a widespread problem and banning people simply for having an alternative opinion is one of the more common reasons people are banned. On HN that is something I find hard to believe.
To get back to the parent posters, that's why I keep coming back to HN despite the unfortunately-now-expected friction of, well, comments like the one above me. (And timeeater, to be really clear, I don't care your position on feminism or socialism. The friction is that you label me talking a "political topic".) The conversation here is overall good enough to outweigh that, and I have learned a lot from conservatives/Julia programmers/people who've experienced homelessness/infosec people/homebrewers on HN.
Women in tech is political when it comes along with the unfounded claim that there are so few women in tech because of sexism.
I didn't label you anything, I wasn't even aware of your username appearing in the comment thread. I only answered to comments, not to people.
You as a "woman in tech" could become political if you started claiming special rights or special insights or demand special treatment because of your status as woman in tech.
In this thread, I'm responding to timeeater's claim that it's censorship, not incivility, that results in banning. As evidence, timeeater says that criticising feminism is 'not allowed' or suppressed. But I would argue that it's not criticism of feminism that gets timeeater in trouble, but instead the tendentious supposition that discussing women at all is "political" (to quote, "But there are political topics on HN all the time (women in tech, worker unions at Amazon, and so on and so on)."). Then timeeater goes on to make some statements about special treatment and special insights. Now that's the rabbithole of wasted pixels that Paul Graham is getting at in his essay -- it's really not germane to the discussion, and it's all bound up in an identity that is indeed chosen.
If you don't do any of those things, your person is not a political issue.
Also I didn't say you shouldn't be allowed to post political things like "women in tech". Hacker News policy says that, and bans people for commenting on such threads under the pretense of the policy.
Stop misinterpreting my comments.
And nobody is forcing you to use your body for politics. You don't have to identify as a feminist, either. Feminism is not synonymous with women.
Always remember that "money doesn't buy happiness" is the shibboleth for people who always had money. Bring that up next time someone says it. Fun reaction guaranteed.
I like to follow it up with my favorite slavic saying: "Sure money won't make you happy, but crying in a Ferrari is much nicer than on the bus"
Years later when a met someone else struggling to find safe housing, I told them 'always stay positive, attitude' is bullshit. Allow yourself to be upset.
Money buys security.
Security means one less thing to worry about.
I'm very grateful for the career I have now. Started with trying to copy Unity scripts from youtube videos and I'm a senior level dev now. Paying my rent early gives me an endorphin rush
I make sure to never repeat this crap to other people.
In hindsight the eviction did get me out of a very bad home life, still was a solid year of hell
While I agree that "money doesn't buy happiness" is over simplistic. The opposite - "money buys happiness" - also is. An expat in Angola recently told me that what surprised him the most was how happy poor people were. People without nothing (material) not even the certainty of having a dinner everyday.
A less simplistic (but still simplistic) take on this is: "Comparison is the thief of joy".
"but poverty can ensure misery"
Going from no money to some money is everything. From some money to a lot of money does not help anyone.
I always thought people who take issue with this saying never had a lot of money.
Being able to buy whatever you want at the super market is probably a top 25% of the US perspective if not more.
On the other end of the spectrum, 50-70% of US families were living paycheck to paycheck even before covid, so I'd be moderately surprised if the top 25% could afford whatever they wanted at the supermarket.
> The minimum net worth of the top 1% was roughly $10.4 million, according to Forbes. The top 10%, on the other hand, has a net worth of about $1.2 million.
Obviously. But if the figure is exclusive of their primary residence their return on investments isn't especially impressive-- e.g. it's sub index fund rates even assuming they have no other income than gains. :)
I wouldn't expect 'given' year effects to be relevant, as it's averaging over a large number of people. Taxable is a better argument, since as you reach the highest marginal tax rates there is a lot of reasons to find ways to indefinitely defer paying taxes (e.g. die with it and pass it with stepped up cost basis).
The author is partly right that reconciling what ought to be and what is... is a powerful part of navigating the way out. But part of that reconciliation for me is also recognizing that what is doesn’t reflect what should be. And that the people most at the whims of what is are not often equipped to do more than escape, “rescue” or not.
A couple years back I was admitted into a government rehab. At the time I was a fresh college grad, and I couldn’t help but feel that I was somehow smarter/better/more “upper class” than all of the other patients on the unit because of my upbringing. That is, even completely broke, strung out and institutionalized, I still felt as if I was somehow more “chosen” than anybody else. It took a lot of learning to realize that this attitude was a major part in what lead my drug addiction being unaddressed for so long that I wound up in such a gnarly place. That said, I am doing fine now, but I often think how the others I was with could possibly be doing.
> I will suggest that repeating all the things you believe about how life is supposed to work will not magically make them true and thereby fix your problems.
I recently realized I would frame some of my wants/desires as “I just want $x.” There is no natural order of fairness and by shifting my internal phrasing to “I want $x,” it helped shift my mental model to what concrete actions I need to take instead of a complaint.
And back to the main content of the post. Yes, most people are living on an edge they can’t see that could upturn their whole apple cart of world views and expectations. Growing up poor and now being well off, I have an expectation in the back of my head that this is all temporary and can be lost at anytime. It affects how you approach many, many things.
I also grew up relatively poor (we had food, but couldn't afford e.g. school books) and am currently pretty well off (saving more than half of my salary while enjoying a decent quality of life).
Such an upbringing leaves a mark. The other day I was thinking how it's been going too well for too long and I probably have, I don't know, ball cancer which is going to bring my situation to a more familiar level of misery.
I've lived my life having a plan B, C and often also D for every situation.
When you're not used to the good stuff, you become suspicious to the good stuff once it comes along.
And secondly, the author points she is "upper class"? How can upper class family or individual ever need to borrow loans and also not have assets? I only ask to gain some social context. For example, our social context, a middle class family wouldn't take education loans and would have assets, in general (even the many thousands of students who immigrate to US to study, the middle class student do not take loans to fund their education in US university - This is what always surprises me when I see posts/comments similar to this)
In the US, economic class and social class are often used interchangeably, which is wrong. Social classes are cultures, and while ever-increasing amounts of money are needed to perform the rites and shibboleths of the classes, you can still be upper class while being dirt poor. It's a set of values, not a figure in your bank account.
> For example, our social context, a middle class family wouldn't take education loans and would have assets, in general
With the way tuition costs have snowballed in the US, I would imagine that even upper-middle class families are starting to struggle to put together college funds for their kids.
Thank you for saying that.
While my late father had more money at one time than I really understood as a child, my mother's "upper class expectations" referenced in this piece are mostly not about money per se. They are rooted in the fact that her mother came from a low level noble family (my mother is a German immigrant).
They sold the title when the family fell on hard times financially, thus I'm not actually nobility myself. But I believe my grandmother was (or perhaps her parents were -- I'm not sure where the cut off is there).
My mother sewed a lot of my clothes when I was growing up. It was a cost effective means to dress me "properly" and it's only recently that I realized that my mother's ideas of "proper" attire are somewhat like the dress codes of British Royalty that you read about in gossip rags. (Not too much skin showing, no cleavage on display, don't let your bra straps show, etc.)
She didn't spend a lot of money on sewing for me, but I can't sew and I can't afford to buy the style of clothing to which I was accustomed growing up. In fact, I mostly can't even find it in the US at any price and I am so frustrated by that fact that I toy with the idea of creating my own clothing line so I can dress "properly."
This sounds like a level of old-world elitism that is intended to completely alienate one from the rest of the world. Do you think that had anything to do with your situation? How did the rest of the family take being poor?
This is an even more bizarre comment than TFA to me. Your idea of 'upper class' and the royal family is... curious. You certainly don't have to be royal not to want to wear (or your daughter to wear) a tracksuit with cash and a phone hanging out of visible 'under'wear..!
A thing to remember though is that the further away from a social class you are, the less you know about its culture. I suspect that the styling cues she's talking about would be instantly noticeable to other people from the same class, whereas lowly plebs like you and me would never notice, or care.
Exactly what I quoted above:
> (Not too much skin showing, no cleavage on display, don't let your bra straps show, etc.)
Because student loans, at most points, have has extremely favorable rates at initiation (substantially below, e.g., long-run average S&P 500 returns), an upper or middle class family might well choose to take them to maximize net expected returns.
If that family then experienced financial ruin for some reason, they might be left with the debt without any longer being upper/middle class (or, an individual who becomes cutoff from the family and it's assets might be in similar straits to what would happen has the family bien ruined.)
It's also possible that the author has confused a relatively high income (or high value of non-productive assets) working or middle class existence with “upper class”; it's worth noting that the “upper class” understanding of the previous cicumstance was an epiphany reached through homelessness.