Part of Silicon Valley's original magic was that it was just farmland and affordable to live there. Now it's a terribly expensive place to live. Imagine how conducive to startups it would be (on top of existing success) if people could actually afford to rent a place. Right now all $1000/mo gets you is a BUNK BED! https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/134016 In other places in the US $1000/mo would get you a newly constructed apartment with all amenities and granite counter-tops.
This could be the ultimate startup: just build housing and correct the supply/demand balance!
I really hate this thinking, do you really believe that earthquakes is such a trivial issue that no one is working on it? What the hell do you think the architects/structural engineers are doing at MIT/Berkeley/every university on the planet? They aren't trying to build Instagram for Skyscrapers, I'll tell you that much.
"the average American CEO now earns 319 times as much as the average American worker"
Japanese Business leaders are making way less then American CEOs around 16 times as much as an average worker.
If the average worker makes, say, 30K. I can see someone making 10x, maybe 50x that. But really 300x ??
Making decisions at the top is no doubt difficult and requires experience and expertise etc. But can you really say a CEOs time is worth 300x?
Like everything else, the pay at the top affects the pay scale at the entire management tier.
The average CEO is running a business that won't exist in ten years, and doesn't earn more than six figures.
You're talking about an extreme minority business group, a few hundred individuals are used to skew that stat to the moon. It'd be like comparing Single A baseball players to the top 100 paid players in the MLB; or NBA vs the development league. And even that doesn't get you close to the real exaggeration in the CEO stat.
There are over 20 million businesses in the US, none of which are Fortune 500 companies that always are used to abuse that CEO stat.
The average CEO is not earning $15 million per year (median income is $50k+, mean is over $55k (was $60k in 2004)). Indeed, how can the average CEO earn that much, when only a few dozen in the entire country earn that much?
My theory; It isn't about difficulty or experience. It is about impact. Apple's revenue last year was $36B, and net was $8B. A CEO who increases their revenues by just 5% would thus immediately justify his or her salary, up to $400M, as he or she increased profits by $400M.
Bottom-rung employees don't have that kind of scope of impact.
Of course, this isn't always what happens- not every CEO can boost revenues, let alone stop them from falling- but it is why you see such high salaries, why they are even on the table.
The CEO of Apple or Google has an inordinate effect on the net worth of a number of wealthy individuals. It is impossible to predict whether that effect will be positive or negative, yet people have a strong incentive to ensure it will be positive.
Thus, a number of people who would do perfectly fine at running these companies are disqualified immediately, simply because they've never had experience at running a large company before. Nobody will take a chance at a random unknown when billions of dollars are on the line. And this artificially restricts the supply of CEO candidates, while the amount of money available to pay them remains high, artificially driving up wages.
How much did the last 5 CEOs of Yahoo take home? HP?
If you own stock in such a company, consider selling.
for more info on Power Distance and other variables that can broadly define a society.
I think that companies like Exec, Lyft and TaskRabbit provide a window into what lower class jobs are in the future.
However I don't think that this is a foregone conclusion. With such high unemployment I would have expected services to have gotten worse due to business being understaffed. In fact the opposite seems to have happened, I can access services and products much more easily and conveniently than ever before. Apart from essentials like energy and housing which have become proprietorially more expensive.
I'm not even sure programmers are safe, salaries at SV startups may be high now but I wonder how much of that is because of companies desperately making a landgrab for digital space.
For developers not wanting to play the high stakes game and simply wanting a middle class income from writing enterprise java code it's going to become increasingly hard to compete with growing numbers of skilled developers in countries with lower costs of living.
This argument has been made for a very long time, and I don't think it's any closer to being true today.
Overcoming the 1) time differential, 2) language barriers, and 3) culture differences of working overseas takes a very special kind of person. They absolutely do exist, and in my experience they tend to simply move to the US where they can command hefty salaries.
Just my opinion, but I think skilled developers in countries with lower costs of living might be propping up the salaries of stateside devs. The higher you pay stateside devs, the more money you're "saving" in comparison by hiring a team somewhere else.
Time differential can be easily overcome if developers simply move their sleep schedule around. I've developed software for people in different timezones and it's not a problem if the software is clearly specified. Since I can just send an progress report email and wait for them to pick it up.
I agree that the best developers will probably seek to emigrate but at some point immigration will be tightened up and more talented devs will stay in their home country.
And out sourcing is just one piece of the pie. With more people being encouraged to learn to code (which I think is great) programming jobs will face more competition.
Every very-large business I know of has offices and teams in other countries, and it works best when they're "just" another office. Branch in SF, branch in NYC, branch in London, branch in Chennai, branch in...
When you turn to other countries to grow your business, you can win; when you turn to other countries to replace the workers you built your company with you usually lose. IMO, YMMV, etc.
The point is that this stuff (global working) is going to get easier , not harder in the future as is eliminating the needs for some jobs entirely.
What we need is a new industry that requires a lot of workers and can pay a middle class salary. Otherwise we risk having a global proletariat fighting over an increasingly shrinking slice of pie.
I think the truly best developers will stay in their countries while earning States-level wages via telecommuting. Why pay $1500/mo in rent when you can pay $300?
Either there is enough wealth in total, and taxes can fix the problem , or there is not enough wealth, and everyone is doomed.
If by "middle-class jobs" you mean a job that pays 1) enough to keep you off the government dole and 2) not enough to pay for a new mercedes, I can think of a lot of them:
-Knowledge worker (programmer, project manager, analyst, etc)
-Some retail, e.g., middle-management of most large retail stores.
-Energy worker, as population grows demand for energy increases
-Housing work & maintenance (plumbers, electricians - the work is blue collar but those guys make great wages)
-Healthcare worker, again as population grows demand increases. Nurses make great money.
edit: wow, almost forgot these:
-Law enforcement/park ranger
I'd head for the mountains.
A number of people in Santa Cruz are in a bit of an uproar due to an uptick in crimes; as well as needles littering parks, beaches, and other public spaces.
In the 20+ years I've been here, it certainly at a low point over that span of years.
Actually, for the most part, they really don't care. Particularly so if you do not build any permanent structures or have a permanent camp. They cite people from time to time, but that is the extent of it the vast majority of the time.
Let's start with a little history. We once had mental institutions, but those became evil. The solution was really to take those people in institutions and move them to residential programs. Well, it seems many residents don't what mentally ill people in their neighborhood. So, along came in-home and out patient programs. None of which actually worked as well as a well run institution.
Both political parties did their own damage to get us here.
No amount of social justice can cure someone's schizophrenia. Some treatment is available to homeless people, but again the vast majority are not willing to participate (the drugs have very unpleasant effects, so this is unfortunate but you can empathize with someone not wanting to experience those side effects).
If someone becomes an alcoholic, loses a job because of it, becomes alienated from their family and social support network, and ends up deciding, under the influence of that addiction, that they prefer to drink at the expense of everything else, even housing, what can social justice do to help them?
There are ways to improve the situation. Decriminalization of drugs, more research into how to treat people with mental health issues and addictions, more resources smartly applied to treatment.
TLDR; People don't become homeless because of poverty or a regressive tax code, they become and stay destitute because of mental illness and addiction. Finding ways to intervene is important, but the existence of homeless people does not imply social injustice. There may be social injustice in the US, but this is not a symptom of it or proof of it.
Quoting from that last link:
> In addition, approximately half of people experiencing homelessness suffer from mental health issues. At a given point in time, 45 percent of homeless report indicators of mental health problems during the past year, and 57 percent report having had a mental health problem during their lifetime. About 25 percent of the homelessness population has serious mental illness, including such diagnoses as chronic depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorders, and severe personality disorders.
> Substance use is also prevalent among homeless populations. In a 1996 survey, 46 percent of the homeless respondents had an alcohol use problem during the past year, and 62 percent had an alcohol use problem at some point in their lifetime. Thirty-eight percent had a problem with drug use during the past year, and 58 percent had a drug use problem during their lifetime.
By the numbers, the children of wealth who happen to be alcoholics or who have mental health problems, do not end up on the streets.
By the numbers, those that end up on the street are from lesser means. If they could afford a roof over their head they would have one.
If you were a rich man, and it was your child that couldn't hold a job, you would spend whatever it took to house him, to find him treatment, to make sure he's at least safe at night.
We're a rich nation, these are our people on the streets, not some "other" that somehow deserves a different set of standards.
> No amount of social justice can cure someone's schizophrenia.
I think one of the issues here is that mental illness carries so much stigma. It's hard to even get help at times due to this, and social change about the way we discuss and treat mental illness would be incredibly helpful.
I posted a link to a new startup here a few hours ago specifically designed to help people diagnosed with schizophrenia deal with their symptoms, and it got no upvotes. (for anyone interested, it's https://copingtutor.com/ Not mine, but a friend's)
We ourselves have a member of the community who's living with schizophrenia, and they're shadowbanned due to their illness. It's probably for the best, but it's a really shitty way of dealing with it.
I'm going to come off like an arrogant ass, and perhaps I am, but... source?
It's been my experience -- a whitebread, middle-class American in liberal California experience, granted -- that seeking treatment for mental health issues is met with waves of support and encouragement. Therapy and Prozac are ubiquitous in our pop culture.
I will spare you the Foucault/etc discussion about how 'mental illness' is even defined in the first place, and just assume the mainstream narrative on this. But that's one avenue for this discussion.
Let's talk about that. I know someone who was diagnosed with a mental illness. They got medical care for their condition, but due to the way we discuss mental illness, it harmed more than it hurt. They gave me an account of how, once they started working with a different doctor, the change in language was revelatory towards resolving their symptoms. The first doctor (and the most 'normal' one) used language such as "You are a schizophrenic." This defines the person by the disease, and begins from a place where they are already limited. It's as though it's a life sentence, and they're just making time until they die. Even the small shift to "You are living with schizophrenia" did wonders for their condition: instead of being limited by the disease, they were just another person, working to limit a negative aspect of their life. The relationship was turned upside down.
(to be clear, I am obscuring details to protect their identity.)
Secondly, you are absolutely right that therapy and Prozac are ubiquitous. But the _representation_ of them is the issue. Therapy is for someone who's _crazy_. Someone who can't deal with life. Someone who's deviant. Nobody wants to admit that they are mentally ill. The image of someone who pops Prozac and goes to therapy is not a positive image; it's a profoundly negative one. Rather than celebrate taking steps to overcome a disease, they're just another drug-addicted loser who 'needs help.' The Protestant ideal is still quite alive in our culture.
I'll also leave the issue about if drugs are even the best way to treat every instance of mental illness, and if doctors are too quick to write a 'script.
Anyway, that's the TL;DR from my current understanding around this issue, both from study and discussion with people close to the issue.
Separating the action from the actor seems to make us a lot more willing to quit/change our questionable actions.
I guess my own upbringing (which is irrelevant from a cultural perspective, I suppose) colored me differently on this. I see therapy as being on the same level as going to your family doctor -- when something is malfunctioning, go take care of it.
And honestly, I don't see a lot of characterizations of therapy as "for the crazies", except from people who say we need to fight it. That could just be because of the way my sensors are tuned, I guess.
Try this: pay attention to the things you say, and make a note every time you say one of these things:
- That's nuts!
- That's so crazy.
- That's retarded.
- She's hysterical! (double whammy: sexist and abelist!)
- Wow, that schedule is insane.
- That code is idiotic.
- You're an imbecile.
- You're a lunatic.
- This place is a madhouse!
- He's a psycho.
- What a spaz.
It might be my age or my speech patterns, but I say these things a lot. Working on it. But all of these phrases being common and acceptable is part of this issue. (abelism, if you're curious. Some of these bleed into mental capacity as well as health, I figured I'd include them anyway.)
Good on you. Spread the healthy attitude to all your friends.
If you google "psychiatric stigma" you'll get plenty of peer reviewed research on the topic dating back at least 50 years. Prior to that stigma was less of a concern because we simply locked these people up, outside of our collective view and societal awareness. Better than being burned at the stake I suppose (we also used to do that).
Here's a good place to start:
My impression is that if the condition involves quiet angst, everyone will sympathize -- but if it's about real heavy duty craziness, no one wants to hear about it (or look at it or think about it, etc.).
Try having a casual office conversation about how you were sick last week. Compare the tenor of the conversation when the sickness is 'the flu' versus 'depressive episode'.
Every mental illness is stigmatised, it's just that some are more stigmatised than others because they're 'louder'. Part of this is due to mental illness being really hard to understand if you've never been exposed to it (as a sufferer or a loved one of a sufferer).
Stigma is almost entirely a cultural thing: I know of someone who's first manifestation of mania (bipolar disorder, type 1) was in a religious setting... so when she said she heard God talking to her, they were reportedly thrilled. It didn't come out that it was a problem until she was on the plane home and was blessing the passengers (edit: details slightly obscured/changed).
That really got me thinking about how deeply "aggresive confrontational competition" infects our intuition about the world, even in supposedly collaborative environments.
I'll see if I can dig up any journal articles or research on this.
But does someone with no job, assets, or home face a stigma that discourages him from getting care?
I suppose the foolish pride we all have is a factor-- not wanting to admit you are broken. But that isn't a social stigma , it is a personal stigma. But social, um, "anti-stigma" could perhaps help?
If a country takes harm-reduction more seriously, results improve. The anti-homeless program here in Copenhagen is much more successful than the one in San Francisco, in part because it assigns case workers to specific people, and gives them fairly wide authority to take action as needed, including things such as renting people small apartments, setting them up with counseling, or enrolling them in skills-training programs. This gets many people off the streets. Not everyone, but the success rate is much higher than in SF's case. Not coincidentally, Copenhagen is a lot nicer (and safer) to live in than San Francisco, so the results even benefit us well-off people.
This just in: renting homeless people small apartments (and paying rent for them) decreases homelessness.
Denmark's safety net is not all roses. A nice article about it: http://www.humanityinaction.org/knowledgebase/9-homelessness...
And yes, the solution is not particularly complex: if you want to get people off the streets, you need to make a credible effort to get them off the streets. Apartments are a good step, partly because they do literally get people off the streets, and partly because they vastly increase the odds of the person getting into some kind of routine: they have an address, regular access to a shower, a place to store possessions with less risk of them being stolen, etc. I'm not arguing it's any kind of magic.
I think the goal should be to get people living healthy, satisfying lives, not a simple 'get them off the street'.
Some homeless in SF choose to be homeless, and they're explicit about that fact (there was an article about the kids in the park here on HN a few weeks back, I can't find it). The goal of getting homeless off the streets does nothing for that population.
So if the goal is to increase the happiness of the well-off folks in a city, then by all means, get people off the streets by renting them apartments. But if the goal is to help the homeless find meaning in their lives by participating in society, that's a whole different ballgame that nobody has solved yet.
I agree helping homeless find meaning in their lives is different from helping well-off folks. I don't suggest that anyone should be forced into apartments against their will. But I'd make the option available. I would be surprised if SF's homeless are, on the whole, actually happier and more fulfilled than Copenhagen's ex-homeless. So I suspect making the option available to them would benefit them in addition to the rest of us, certainly relative to the status quo, which is bad for everyone.
In general, we see the US as a place even the bottom tier of society can get by without dieing outright in the streets. We produce so much consumable garbage even the non-homeless go dumpster diving (freegans.) Cities such as Detroit are bulldozing thousands of homes that fell apart because they were simply abandoned. In this sense, the US has excess capacity.
The second issue becomes one of autonomy. Do we force the homeless out of public parks? As pointed out above a lot of homeless people have mental illness issues (arguably all long term homeless do.) Deinstitutionalization means we just don't lock people away in insane asylums anymore.
One thing I've learned from running a business is that its ok for things to be broken some of the time. What we need to be aware of is the little broken things that turn in to big broken things.
Homelessness could grow out of control. The monetary and economic growth policies governments pursue can force people out of their homes (legal and extra-legal private property) and in to urban slums. My concern is what happens when "normal" people can no longer afford the cost of living in a wide geographic region.
I am a big advocate of deflation, being driving prices lower rather than up. We recognize and expect this in technology. Indeed, that is the very basis of our growth. On the contrary, pretty much the entirety of government policies globally the past 50 years has been optimized solely around growth in annual GDP records.
These policies can create big problems as wealth from the working class is re-allocated to the business class through lower interest rates, property forfeiture for development, low bank lending standards, and outright subsidies. Ultimately they have to re-balance but the process is not pretty or enjoyable.
I saw a recent claim that there are 22 empty houses for every homeless person, though the citation was one like "National homeless association" and not incredibly specific.
I think what you mean is that cost of living should drop each year, and that is a good idea.
Which is about the community aspects of current day youth homeless in Haight-Ashbury district of SF. This sort of homelessness is different than the Tenderloin .
The video mentioned that many middle-class families are one paycheck away from financial ruin. That is, rent and expenses in the city are so high in relation to wages, that missing a single paycheck or being out of work for just one week will result in a family losing their apartment and possibly being homeless.
As an outcome of the disparity between incomes and housing costs, low-income families are living 2- and 4- families to an apartment. 40x rent for a 3-bedroom (family) apartment in SF is $120,000 a year - a wage that is more than double the median household income in the US.
This is the more pressing of the problems the video addressed, and I think we would benefit more from discussing solutions for this than we would from wringing our hands about the myriad causes of persistent homelessness.
Is it harsh? Not really. People move all the time for economic reasons, there is no basic human right to live in a neighborhood you can't afford, even if you are used to living there.
San Francisco is going to be expensive when the economy is up. It's very geographically constrained, and earthquakes drastically limit the kinds and density of housing you can build. We can pretend that there is some silver bullet, but any program that artificially subsidizes or restricts the cost of housing just displaces someone else who would live there and be able to afford it better. It produces a drastically inefficient and expensive mess.
I guess what I'm saying is, it's far better to help people adapt by finding a place they can afford and where their family can thrive without assistance.
So you are displaced out of SF - great, where to? You still need to be able to get to work in the city - after all, it'd be pointless to move somewhere cheaper just to end up out of work.
So, let's head south. Oops, due to the overflow of demand in SF, as well as the sheer number of tech workers looking to straddle the peninsula and the city, prices down there are only slightly less insane than in the city proper.
Okay, let's head north - well, nope, Marin is not exactly poor man's territory.
West is water. Humans float, but not that well.
Let's head east - Oakland is rapidly being gentrified and colonized by tech workers also. On a relatively low income you can probably still scrape by - but not for long, in a year or two you'll be priced out yet again.
Further out? How do you get to work? The toll on the Bay Bridge is ridiculous, and it's not like you can afford parking in the city so you can work anyways. Your only options are along the BART, but park and rides are few and far between, and properties within non-driving distance of BART are all rising rapidly in price. Not to mention, BART fares are distance-based (rather than flat on, say, MUNI) so the further away you move the more expensive your commute gets! For a tech person making six figures a year the price difference isn't even noticeable - but for someone scraping by?
This whole problem has played out this way because San Francisco (or really, the Bay Area in general) is the most frustratingly myopic place I've ever lived when it comes to transportation. Unlike cities like Chicago or New York (or even Seattle, which is primarily bus-based), the transportation network is in such poor shape that it actively penalizes the poor. The well-heeled, like ourselves, can afford cabs and Ubers to bridge the gaps where the transportation grid fails. The poor cannot.
At bottom, the problem is that the people who are in the most tenuous economic position are the least likely to have the skills and resources needed to just up and move somewhere else. It's true that subsidies do display other people who would like to move to SF and could afford it better, but they don't have any right to move there either. In general I'm strongly in favor of efficiency, but I think you're over-discounting the economic value of cohesive communities and internal economic diversity. Also, you're overlooking another alternative, which is to loosen constraints on development and allow the city to build upward more. Earthquakes are not that big of a limiting factor, considering that large parts of SF consist of two-story housing...a great deal of which is seismically unsafe compared to more modern apartment buildings of 3-6 floors.
As a couple talking points, in western North Dakota there are jobs but there is no place to live. Oil field workers live in their cars in the Walmart parking lot in the dead of winter. In Atlanta, there are inexpensive houses but there are no jobs.
Most of America is somewhere in between - not a lot of work to be had and not inexpensive, either.
I think your opinion here is too paternalistic and fatalistic. People can and do adapt when the incentives become strong enough.
It's certainly possible, but it also helps to be young and healthy; not to have any particular life obligations; to be a bit alienated from your native environment in the first place; and to have a somewhat unrealistic view of your own capabilities :) It also helps if you're moving from lesser to greater opportunities. If you're moving from SF (for example) to somewhere much cheaper, you're likely also facing a narrowing of your available economic, academic and other options.
So although I share your views to a certain extent, I think you're also taking a rather rosy view of things. It is certainly possible to move and adapt, but there are significant costs involved and it's not equally easy to move in any direction.
Is the argument that SF's homeless have it too good, and if we made their condition worse (i.e., increased the "incentives"), that would solve the problem? Which incentives exactly do you have in mind? They are already subject to shockingly high levels of violence, which the police appear incapable of protecting them from. Do the levels of violence need to be even higher?
None of these things are true for low-income people today.
It also helps that they are willing to take almost any job and work their asses off. It will keep you from being homeless.
> It will keep you from being homeless.
It does help, but it will not always keep you from homelessness. There simply aren't enough jobs.
Seriously though, 'there aren't enough jobs' is just a weird thing to say. Aren't enough jobs for what? For everyone to not be homeless?
Let me paint you a picture. You are homeless. At night, when it rains, you get wet. After a day of panhandling, you have $30.
1. Buy a meal (loaf of bread and coffee, $4) and save as much as possible for bus fare.
2. Buy a tent, so at least you can stay dry and avoid illness.
3. Buy 2 fifths of rotgut vodka and drink it on the sidewalk.
The problem has absolutely nothing to do with jobs. If you had 5 open jobs for every person in the country, the same people would still be homeless.
Yes, I am saying that the way that we treat people who have mental health issues discourages them even further.
> Aren't enough jobs for what?
I have friends from college who had to move back in with their parents because they literally could not find a job. They applied everywhere, even McDonalds. No work.
> If you had 5 open jobs for every person in the country, the same people would still be homeless.
No, they wouldn't. _Some_ people would be, there's always the travel punk kids. But even your hypothetical is giving me a decision between rational choices. You left off the 'the voices from your paranoid schizophrenia are so loud that all you can do is lie there in a ball' option.
I have another anecdote to counter your anecdote. I have a friend just arrived a couple of weeks ago. In the first week she was able to find two jobs. One in a hotel in the buffet area and another in a clothing factory.
I know plenty of families (with kids) who live in 1-bedroom apartments (in Poland). 3-bedroom apartment are considered lavish.
There's the really problem: 2 underemployed adults producing 3 or 5 underemployed-to-be children, while resourcr-ful adults shower their resources on 1 or 2 children.
These must be the kinds of rationalizations that allow the upper class to sleep at night.
* unemployment is 53%?
* There is no shared vocabulary to describe "homelessness"
"Because research studies GAO reviewed often used different definitions of homelessness, relied on data collected at a point-in-time, and focused narrowly on unique populations over limited geographical areas, the studies cannot be compared or compiled to further an understanding of which factors are associated with experiencing homelessness."
* The Reagan administration closed mental institutions, gamed the system, and homelessness became the new normal for the mentally ill:
"Combined with a sharp rise in homelessness during the 1980s, Ronald Reagan pursued a policy toward the treatment of mental illness that satisfied special interest groups and the demands of the business community, but failed to address the issue: the treatment of mental illness "
"June 1986 The Supreme Court upholds a finding that Social Security officials had a 'fixed clandestine policy' to deny disability benefits to people with mental illness. "
How much have a worker's real wages dropped? Minimum wage should be around $20 an hour, $10 for context of this clip:
And stats about US's horrible mental.health care undermine your claim that mental illness doesn't drive homelessness.
While we do have sub-par healthcare for it, I personally think part of it is that people still don't "get" that mental illness is an illness. Even my wife, who recently started treatment for depression, finds herself "explaining" to her family "why" she was depressed, instead of really understanding that what makes it an illness is that it lacks an explanation. You aren't expected to have a reason for your flu. But for some reason in this country you are expected to have a reason for your depression (or insomnia, or psychosis, or whatever).
Exposure is a relatively small percentage of the CoD among homeless people in Scandinavia. Homeless people can get food and shelter here. Alcohol-abuse related illnesses are by far the major killer.
However, the lack of a universal healthcare system isn't social injustice either.
Even if something universally good, efficient, wise, and improves everyone's life, that doesn't imply that it's unjust to not have that thing. Decisions can be foolish without being unjust.
Also, 16% of homeless are vetrans: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/04/01/report-finds-vete...
If you're right the 20 percent increase in homelessness over the last two years (according to the article) should correspond to a similar increase in mental illness and addiction. I highly doubt the data would support that.
It's not like homeless/mental-illness has a lobby before congress or even a local level and is not exactly a strong voting block, so it's an easy target to axe.
(I really didn't think of this, but when googling up, there actually seems to be an Android application called Sarcasm-O-Meter...)
For area companies, the problem can also be seen as an opportunity: CSR (corporate social responsibility) programs can be leveraged to make an difference by supporting the best organizations (shelters, recovery programs, and worker training programs) which I believe will more than pay for itself by gained goodwill through social innovation and impact.
A good starting point for thinking about approaches to social innovation programs on a higher level can be found in this Stanford Social Innovation Review article:
Rediscovering Social Innovation
Anyone have a cache of the content?