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