Friday, September 19, 2008


OK, it's official. This is the Depression.

A major characteristic of the Great Depression were the "Hoovervilles", which Wikipedia defines as "a shanty town built by homeless men in the depression years." The term was also used to define tent cities that sprang up on empty land across the country. "Hoover", of course, was President Hoover, who was in charge, more or less, when the economy fell apart after the 1929 stock market crash.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports today that locales all over the country are seeing tent cities spring up, in parking lots and parks, full of people who often have no job as well as no place to live. No one knows how many of these people are homeless due to foreclosure. No one really knows how many there are; the last data on homelessness from HUD dates from early 2007, and this has all happened in the last few months.

So what shall we call these encampments? Bushvilles? Or are these people just "Bushed"? How about "Crawford camps"?


  1. Well, why should the Repugs care about these people? With no fixed addresses, it's not like they're eligible to vote.

    Apparently that's the latest trend in vote suppression: poll watchers armed with foreclosure list vigilanly protecting the electroral process from fraudulent acts by the newly disenfranchised.

    Word Verification Word: uuuub

  2. I used to run into people on the road living in "camp" lots. They're officially travel stops for people on vacation, but if you looked closely, you noticed that many of them had set up permanent (albeit shifting) residences. The same for public campgrounds in national parks.

    In Berkeley, there are a number of "storage" facilities. When I rented one for a couple of years, I noticed that some people were living in their cars. They'd wait for the storage facility to open, so they could get to their "bathrooms and kitchens" inside the storage unit. They couldn't afford an apartment, but they could afford a storage unit for a couple hundred a month. These were actually homeless people.

    We're a far cry from the Hoovervilles of the Depression. The unemployment rate during the Depression was about 25% in 1933. Though many--myself included--doubt the government "statistics" on employment--and believe that the true (hidden) unemployment rate today is probably as high as 10 or 12%, it's still a far cry from that.

    Were we to have a real 1930's style Depression today, with our population many times greater than 75 years ago, you'd see widespread devastation. Maybe that's why those gaited communities have guard houses. There'd be roving bands of people marauding for food and shelter. "It Can't Happen Here."