Home > Fisks, Life in General, Slightly Off-Topic > Why living in a California Tent-City is not living in Third-World Conditions.

Why living in a California Tent-City is not living in Third-World Conditions.

20 July 2010

I still plan on writing one or two follow-up articles on the Franklinton Bicycle Kitchen, but my thoughts have gravitated towards one commenter’s remarks about the existence of Third-World living conditions in a Southern California tent-city, seen in this Youtube video.  My contention has been, and is, that there is very little in common between Third-World living conditions, and those in a tent city within the US.

Here are several reasons why I make this assertion. - Please note that I am comparing semi-urban conditions – that is, communities that cannot be described as rural, suburban, or ‘big-city,’ but are more aptly described as villages  :

1) Because we consider it as a low standard of living, whereas in a Third-World country, it would simply be acceptable, or even better than many other people.

2) Because our justice system protects us from crime and corruption much better than the average Third-World country.  I really cannot overstate this reality. 

3) Because the people in the tent-city have better health care and better access to health care, than people in a Third-World country.

4) No bedbugs. I’m going by what the you-tube video reported, and it did not report bedbugs. People in Third-World countries complain about bedbugs when they won’t complain about other austere conditions; so either the people in the tent-city have bedbugs, and the videographer failed to speak with them, or the people there do not suffer from bedbugs….   I’ll give the videographer the benefit of the doubt though, and assume the latter.  ;)

5) Because the residents are not cold in the winter, and in the summer they have access to relief from the weather at their public library. In a Third-World country, if it’s hot and you don’t have air-conditioning, then there are times when you are pretty much at the mercy of the elements, with no relief in sight.

6) Because the porta-potties are serviced periodically. Because they have to be.. because they’re porta-potties.

7) Because the garden-hoses carrying clean water are better than what passes for access to clean water in many Third-World countries.

8 ) Because California suffers from what locals call, “homeless professionals.” This happens when white-collar workers do not make enough money to meet California’s high costs for housing. Therefore, the problem in California is with the cost-of-living, not the standard of living. The problems in a Third-World country stem from other things.

9) Because we have access to myriads of private and government programs to help us in dire economic times, whereas in Third World countries, there are less safety nets available.

10) Because you wouldn’t park your shiny new car, motor home, or pickup truck in a Third-World village.  What?  You like getting rolled?

11) Note the food line later in the video (about 3:17). My guess is that this is either charity, or something modestly priced. In either case, gratitude is an appropriate response. In a Third-World country, you would see smaller food lines when your friend has a celebration, and shares their largess with their friends, and sometimes their community. 

12) Because people in the Third-World country don’t feel sorry for themselves for living in more austere conditions, and they have a quicker turn-around time when they suffer genuine hardship.

13) Because in a Third-World country, this is Mom and Dad’s lifelong home, and they aspire to have their children or grandchildren be better off than they were. In America, we would expect the hardship of living in a tent-city to be rectified within less than one generation.

14) Because in America, having lived in a tent-city carries bragging rights with it. In a Third-World country, that’s simply where you grew up (if you moved) or where you still live.

15) Because demonic activity (e.g., possession) is either absent or unnoticeable in the US, whereas in a Third-World country, it’s .. noticeable.

16) Because not having access to electricity has different effects in either situation. In a Third-World country, not having electrically powered creature-comforts brings less relief. In the US, it brings your cost of living down, and it may be a blessing in disguise (e.g., you might be reading books instead of watching cable TV).

17) Because in a Third-World country, you form ties to the place, the people, your friends, and your family who live there. You regret leaving and you visit and send gifts when you can.  It is doubtful whether the people in the tent-city are similarly bound. 

18)  Because people in a Third-World village would point to people who sleep on the ground, to orphans without any family whatsoever, to handicapped and elderly forced to beg for a living; and not to themselves, as examples of the truly destitute.

19)  Because in the tent-city, if you are worried about safety while you’re traveling, then you use the buddy-system.  In a Third-World situation, there are plenty of places where the buddy-system doesn’t impact safety;  and in fact, you’re better off not wandering ten miles down the road, period. 

Folks, these are not Third-World living conditions.  To assert as such is to propagate a lie from the Father of Lies.  I don’t think it matters to those living in austere conditions in Third-World countries;  but for our own who are struggling in our economy, embracing the notion about Third-World living conditions only cripples them. 

The people in the tent-city are rich

- Elder

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  1. M
    20 July 2010 at 7:54 AM

    No, I’m sorry, but this is farcical. You, who have a home, stability, do not have to take any of these things for granted, are going to prop up the excuses for why it’s acceptable to ignore homelessness and suffering of America’s poor, because darn it, they just aren’t suffering to the extent that those in the third world are. Tell me, now that you’re approaching the type of disconnect and uncharitable attitudes of third world elites, who simply don’t care about the poor in their backyards, how does it feel to be part of the problem?

    Instead of caring about the poor in your own country, you want to dither about the poor in other countries. Not that you’re helping the poor in those other countries, you’re funnelling money that ends up in the hands of the despotic rulers and elites, and helping them to avoid having to be called to account for the poverty they allow, ensuring it will always be the status quo.

    You’re also desensitizing yourself, and in fact your children from ever caring about your poor fellow citizens. In short, you are embracing that third world status quo as well. Has it ever crossed your mind, that the affluent in those third world countries live more luxuriously than you, not to mention more than the homeless here? Perhaps demanding that they be willing to tax themselves, instead of demanding that we tax ourselves more, to pay for their poor? The 18 billion we give India each year, doesn’t go to the poor as we’ve been told it would, it goes to the government, and it’s wealthiest friends.

    India has large, sparkling cities, major hospitals, all the mod cons. They also have a culture of selfishness, societal racism that is condoned, a desensitization towards human suffering, and that is what you’re embracing.

    Have you read about the homeless woman who died of dehydration and heat exhaustion in Ohio the other week? She was in an urban setting, in a parking lot, she collapsed by someone’s car. Are you aware that it’s not always easy for a homeless person to get water? That there are times they are in places even in cities where there is no entry for them to any facility that will allow them to use a bathroom even? Are you aware that large portions of our country to experience winter, with the cold and freezing snow, or is that fact inconvenient to you? I’ve read enough stories in the news about homeless people freezing to death in winter, there are people who target and abuse homeless people, in NYC there have been numerous instances of people setting them alight. It might seem like just an adventure to someone who has never had to deal with homelessness, but it isn’t. It’s a nightmare. It’s exhaustion, homeless women, will at times walk all night long, because they are afraid of falling asleep and being raped or killed. It’s demeaning, you are looked at like filth, like a less than. Do you have any concept of what that does to human beings? Hunger and thirst are terrible, and there aren’t places that provide help, always easily accessible, and there aren’t enough shelters. Nor do homeless people in America get enough access to health care. Have you ever stopped to consider how they are looked upon in even public hospitals? How frightening it can be for them, if they’re exhausted, bone tired, hungry, feeling confused, how they are in many cases chased out of towns and neighborhoods or parks by police, and might feel that the hospital won’t treat them, or might call the police, or think they are mentally ill and lock them up. Have you thought about the homeless parent of children, who gets sick, the fear from knowing if they get sick, their kids will be taken away. Have you ever thought about the homeless parents who have to give their kids away, some actually do because they want to get their kids off the streets. Is that fair to you? Is it somehow acceptable to down play US citizen homelessness and suffering, merely because you want to consider it better than the third world? You don’t happen to believe that Christ might consider your attitude selfish?

    The downward spiraling mindset you’re embracing is what the left want you to embrace. Know this, things in the third world will get even worse, when there is no more America, no good and decent America left, because people like you are so willing to embrace the decay of the left wing mindset, especially when it’s left wing radicals posing as sheep, and exploiting a veneer of Christ, while subverting his teachings for their own agenda. Why not actually go out to tent cities in your area, and actually spend some serious time there. Why not try living in one, so you can see how easy it is.

    BTW, those tent cities from Southern California that were in places like Sacramento in 2008, when Obama’s friend, basketball star Kevin Johnson was elected mayor, when he wasn’t stealing from charity programs for poor kids, had the police shut down those tent cities. They collapsed the little shacks the people had put up, had the city haul away their tents and meager possessions, while most of the homeless were away trying to find work, get help, if they had their kids in school. They’ve all learned that their kids now have to carry a suitcase with everything to school, so they don’t lose anything. Can you imagine what that does to a child?

    In all candor, I think your the one who has it too good, and hasn’t had to walk in the shoes of those you want to dismiss as having it too good, being homeless in America.

    Frankly, it’s not your place to ignore your poor neighbors, and demand others do so, by feigning concern for poor foreigners. It’s a noble thing to care about the poor the world over, but when you ignore your own poor, it illustrates that you aren’t so much caring about the poor in those foreign countries.

    Ultimately, what you’re working to achieve is a time when our poor will have it far worse, and will suffer as much as the third world..

  2. M
    20 July 2010 at 8:04 AM

    This occurred to me after posting my previous comment, so I wanted to add this message to you. If you have deluded yourself into believing that you’re somehow truer to Christ’s teachings than the disease mindsets in TEC, you are wrong. You have abandoned him, as surely as they have. Your heart is cold and cruel. Elder Oyster, eh? You aren’t nurturing a pearl, but a festering core that will devour you.

  3. Rob Eaton
    20 July 2010 at 8:46 AM

    I am always amazed at the string of presumptions that flow when someone such as the previous commenter gets pushed into a tizzy. There are so many important points that the commenter could be making if addressed to the appropriate persons, but get lost and simply sound like wet noodle snapping when their hyper-sensitivity (for what reason is unknown) mistakingly presumes that one set of comments and observations must equal another, where A does not equal B.
    “In all candor” turns out to be unjust fear-driven judgmentalism, and thus no longer candor.

    I can only surmise, “M”, that for some reason you have taken offense for those who are classified as “the homeless”, whatever it is that has delivered them on that doorstep.

    But really, by what means do you presume that “the Elder” does not spend daily quality time bringing some measure of relief to those who might live in a tent, or in a shack, or in some economic situation over their heads? What tells you that?

    How in the heck do you know that the “Elder” has not himself lived in a tent, and thus does not simply take for granted the home that he (might now) lives in?

    How do you know that “the Elder” doesn’t have a business that makes itself and its facilities open and available to the public including those that present themselves as homeless?

    And I’m a little confused about the application of political agendas to “the Elder” being a pawn of “the Left”, when it is exactly “the Left” who take such archetypal national descriptive terms, such as Third World, and apply them to local situations which pale in comparison, and primarily do so in order to be manipulative through inappropriate guilt inducement to, and this in itself a presumption of the condition, the intention, and the state of the soul of the person living in the tent.

    Again, I am admonishing you for your vindictive presumptuousness. May I encourage you to simply state your objection to Elder’s objection, and perhaps challenge Elder to state further, if the application of “third world” is not helpful, what in his opinion would be helpful to those living in tents in and around cities in First World countries?

  4. Elder Oyster
    20 July 2010 at 4:37 PM

    RE: “Tell me, now that you’re approaching the type of disconnect and uncharitable attitudes of third world elites, who simply don’t care about the poor in their backyards, how does it feel to be part of the problem?”

    Naturally I’m part of the problem; Since I view people in America who are less financially fortunate as I as strong, and their resources around them plentiful. Were I more like you, I would see them as they ought to be seen, weak and helpless.

    It’s too bad that people living in Third World Countries are so deluded that they do not see themselves as even more weak and helpless. I suppose that’s my fault, too.

    Hahahahahahaha. :D

  5. Elder Oyster
    20 July 2010 at 4:41 PM

    RE: “If you have deluded yourself into believing that you’re somehow truer to Christ’s teachings than the disease mindsets in TEC, you are wrong. You have abandoned him, as surely as they have.”

    Fortunately, I have a priest to keep me in line in such matters. What’s even better, I have a Savior who isn’t capricious.

    Thanks for playing.

  6. Elder Oyster
    21 July 2010 at 3:39 AM

    Yeah. Having done a more thorough reading than I did during my lunch break, I’d have to agree with Fr. Eaton’s diagnosis regarding presumptiveness. I’m embarrassed, and I would be far less embarrassed if one of these wild haymakers connected.

    My concern is with the ideas that they are being fed. Money gets spent, and food and drink are more or less rented, and charity has its limits as well. But an idea that leads to encouragement (based on truth) will go a lot further. And an idea that leads to despair, that is not completely based on truth, will also go a lot further.

    The ideas we believe tend to have a greater effect on us, under these conditions.

    Those who have the mental toughness, stand a better chance. Those who don’t, are probably in for a worse time of it. I do not like that it is this way, and you may not like it, but the reality persists in spite of anyone’s distaste. In light of that, it’s best to taylor oneself to the reality.

    So, were I living in the tent city (and I may well find myself and my family in one at some point in my life), I’d rather spend my free time thinking about how people less fortunate than I, live with their heads held high. And I certainly wouldn’t be listening to the violin music, or the stranger rambling on about my broken heart.

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