January 19, 2010

San Diego



I have been in San Diego for a few days now.  San Diego will experience what will likely be its worst week for weather all year.  Temperatures in the sixties and and rain all week. What an Edmontonian could expect for the first weeks of autumn.  I am tough, I can take it.

On Thursday I will be boarding the cruise ship Zaandam with my mother and brother and his wife.  Zaandam is the name of the town in Holland where my father, brothers and yours truly were born, along with many ancestors, so this is kind of cool.  I have arranged to deposit the KTM in a storage facility, 29.95 for the first month, I doubt I could get parking for that, and it will be locked in its own little compartment.

San Diego is a very nice city, Canadian clean, lots of trees (green leafy trees), and it does not look like it just came out of a crate.  There is a good mixture of old and new buildings, most of the new buildings are as attractive as the old.  My cheap motel is within walking distance of downtown, including the 'gas light' district, where all the downtown amusements are to be found.  My room is great, I have large windows on two walls, I finally made it to the corner office!

One thing that strikes me is the large number of homeless men here.  I suspect this is more a reflection of San Diego's mild climate than on the local economy.  Most of the ones I see are either 50 plus or in their 20's.  

I have been seeing lots of homeless in my travels.  Outside of El Centro I had a smoke with a guy who has all his stuff on a bicycle and a makeshift trailer.  Listening to him I learn that he has been living this way for a long time, hoboing around the country, picking fruit and similar work, he tells me he is 63.  Although he claims to only have a grade five education, he is obviously intelligent and very well spoken.  He was reading a Tom Clancy novel, one of the fat ones.  He called it his poor man's TV. 

He hands me a photocopy of a tract of sorts that he typed.  On one side is the declaration of Independence, and on the other his analysis of how the US got off the rails.  According to his essay, it all started with Reaganomics.  It gets a little confusing where he suggests that communists are behind it all, but for that, it contains some interesting insights.  It ends with in invitation to make copies or put it on the internet.  The title is "WAKE UP America, BEFORE we all end up Homeless! and it is signed John E Freedom, AKA John E Forbauer;  I will take John's invitation, and include this excerpt (caps and punctuation as found);

"There's 4 basic categories in the economy of a Country.  (1) Providers; Farmers, Manufacturers, Etc.  ANYONE with a Product, or the ability to bring foreign capital INTO America (To increase the value of OUR money).  (2) USERS; Those who use our capital, and keep it in circulation, where everyone can use it.  (3) HOARDERS; Those who hoard our capital, for various reasons.  (4) DRAINS; Those draining OUR capital, by way sending it OUT to other Countries.
 As long as 2, 3, & 4 stay within what has been Provided by 1, there's a stabile economy that can steadily grow..." 

John goes on to suggest that capitalists believe they are more important than those who provided the capital (presumably the 'providers', and that workers are more concerned with wages than their rights.  He goes on to say he can't tell if America's problems are being caused by the 'ego and greed' of the capitalist or by the communists who have snuck socialism into the American way of life.  If John had gone to college, he might realize that he sounds an awful lot like Karl Marx :-), but reading his essay, I suspect it would have received a better than C grade in a first year college economics class.

I also suspect that John's lifestyle choice was his own, but still there is an awful of lot of these guys roaming the country.  If they are like John, that is a lot of latent talent that is going to waste if you believe that we exist in order to make things better. 

I am less sure of that now then I was when I was younger.

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