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    Why the homeless are still in us

    It’s a conversation I’ve had in Washington, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and three times in San Francisco. Someone in the area apologizes for the homeless problem, guessing I’m not. I tweet that it’s certainly tragic, but I saw it bad elsewhere. (In OECD countries, I don’t.)

    After a while, it becomes unnaturally clear that we are beyond our purpose.It is the sleepers that afflict others here.. The city is a soft touch and therefore a beacon to them. If you’re lucky, someone will hide all the tarpaulin villages. The existence of a more universal answer that starts with a “w” and ends with an “elfare state” is that I’m a guest too good to push so far.

    Such a cold heart. Such a desire. But many of these interlocutors give me more time and money for philanthropy than ever before. Some are progressive to moderate in most of the questions at that time. Some are my friends and wouldn’t be the case if I thought they were barbarians or stingy.

    The problem is not malicious. Innocent. They are a sincere belief in the market as a more or less pay-for-performance system. In other words, work ethic and personality audits. So, whatever the consequences, it’s sad, but a kind of revealed truth.

    If you believe that there is a strong connection between the desert and the reward, you must believe that the sleepers will come — you must. You do not leave yourself room for a role of luck in affairs, such as mental illness, the birth of a desperate family, miserable education, or the middle-aged being in trouble. You are guilty of epic, almost opera-like naivety. But you are unconvincing, As such.. You are not selfish. You are frank, not scrooge.

    This difference is not academic. The Left will never build support for the welfare state until it is in the holdout’s mind. Now it has the idea of ​​a cartoon villain about what drives Congressional Republicans, libertarian millionaires, or even the middle class whose sleepers are the “ass”. If it were just apathetic self-interest, these people would, in my opinion, support a social safety net. The per capita tax increase to cover that would be small. The prizes — no need to run syringes or fecal gauntlets in major cities — are enormous. You don’t need to know John Rawls to know that the selfish claim to the higher economic minimum is as strong as the right one.

    No, they resist because they think it’s wrong in principle.. They think it’s tampering with the consequences (rather than income), but it’s unequal and just born. What they put on the market is unthinkable but deep, that certain generations of Britain may put them in “our court”, or those who make confused spiritual moves may put them in “karma”. Trust. Good intentions are ideas. These people do not suffer from the poor from their counting homes. They “just” underestimate how much of life results in inheritance and other forms of randomness. Their failure is not a conscience, but an imagination.

    This attitude is ubiquitous. However, republics founded on the idea that their lives are completely self-made tend to be unusual. If the European homeless aren’t too serious (and still too many), it’s not because the people there are kind. It is certainly not a doctrinal attachment to “socialism.” Centuries of feudalism may have left a basic people’s perception of the whims of birth.

    The Enlightenment thoughts of individuals who were English, Dutch, and French before becoming Americans are filtered through the sieve of their realism. Political scientist Eileen McDonough has shown that monarchies are often the pioneers of welfare. Many social reformers were blue blood who saw pay for performance through the eyes of jaundice. Think of Bismarck and Shaftsbury. For that, think of Franklin Roosevelt.

    In the winter of 2018 raw DC, when our Uber overtook him with sludge, my companions at night nodded worried about begging. Then he wondered how one could make such a “choice” of self-defeat in a way that was more like anger than sadness. It is the depth of the bone marrow, this belief, and a rare feature of the New World that I cannot overlook.

    Email Janan janan.ganesh@ft.com

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    Why the homeless are still in us

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