Soapbox (political)

Just want to say that this kind of thing happens ALL THE TIME to good people who get stuck in the enormous cracks of our vicious, uncaring machine. This is how people end up homeless, and then there’s all this whining about how many homeless people there are. If you were willing to contribute here, I guarantee you there are people in your immediate area in the same situation who need a helping hand today and aren’t getting it. Find a local group that helps people when they go through rough patches and donate there.
/gets off soapbox/


Amanda, fully second, concur and agree. US needs to reach EU standards of welfare, for her good.

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.



I need your soap box for a sec.

In Alberta, Canada, we are seeing more homeless than we have ever seen (the politicians call them “unsheltered” now – appalling attempt to divert the seriousness of the situation). People, young and old, panhandling. Tent cities popping up where none had existed before. It’s heartbreaking. You see fairly well-dressed people on the streets now; newly homeless (some dressed better than myself).

Goodwill and Value Village have raised their prices because of the increased popularity (need). 2 years ago, most items were half the price. Though clothing has remained relatively the same, shoes have doubled. The items remain on the shelves for weeks now and are thrown out more often because the prices are too high; items used to clear out fast. My wife and I frequent thrift stores quite often because, not only do we have to, we want to. Nice clothes for work are hard to come by and a good book is still a great read, even if it’s a little worn.

We grocery shop at 4 different stores to get the best prices and stock up on non-perishables when they’re on sale. Out pantry looks like were ready for the apocalypse. Food costs have gone up 50% in the last couple of years. We haven’t gone on vacation in over 8 years. We don’t eat out more than twice a month, if that. We hang our clothes in front of a fan because the dryer is beyond repair. Our son is loved and well taken care of. He starts college soon.

I don’t say these things because I’m looking for sympathy; far from it. I say these things because this is the reality most live in… and it’s going to get worse, I fear. I feel fortunate that I still have my home. Everyday, I feel fortunate because I recognize what 2 months without a paycheck looks like everyday I commute… and even when I look out the window of my home.

Pinkunz, it was not an easy thing you did with this topic, but you did the right thing… and so did this community. I’m so impressed with those who answered the call. It’s very heartwarming and that’s a feeling that needs to happen more often. I got choked up a little just reading this thread. This is truly an amazing community. Thanks for helping Pinkunz. That was no small accomplishment. It was a truly beautiful thing.


If the issue of increasing costs, lowering wages and rise of homeless has reached Canada, things can easily start to became dangerous. I’m realist, if this wave of collapse of socio-economical standing reach Paris, the resulting conflagration will surpass in magnitude the 1789 and 1917 combined. and I guess than everyone agree that the last thing the world needs now is Le Quatreme Grande Révolution… (the fourth Great Revolution), but if the elbow space for serious & effective socioeconomical reforms is shrinking faster than I estimate, I must recognise the contingency…

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.


@moderators Could the “soapbox” stuff in this thread be split to a seperate one? I mostly agree with the sentiments being shared here but feel uncomfortable that this thread becomes “political”.


I was unaware that exhorting people to be helpful to their neighbors in need was a political topic.

Edit: This came out grumpier than I intended. I’m having a hard week and my tone might reflect that, but I’m not peeved about it. I considered deleting this response, but decided to use more words instead.


Social change is political, by definition. (What it’s not is partisan; at least it shouldn’t be.)

There’s no rule against political discussion here. But I agree that the social topic should not hijack Pinkunz’s original thread, which is personal and (according to Pinkunz) now dealt with.


I agree, plus it allows something that is a difficult thing for Pinkunz to come to a closure. A separate thread is in order. Good call.



Soapboxes are great, just keep the discussion civil - especially if you delve into politics. Any major sparks that contribute to a flamewar will result in thread lock.


Does that make me Princess Buttercup?

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I visited Spain recently, which was my first experience outside of the US as an adult. I talked to a few people about the economy there and contrasted it with America. They were most upset about guns and school shootings, of course (although the Vox party seems to be advocating for US-like gun laws on Twitter). I was impressed talking to one guy about how much vacation he gets and the confidence he had in the medical system. I’ve had lots of times I couldn’t afford medical care in the US, so it was interesting to hear.

There were still homeless people, both sleeping on the streets and asking for money. While there was a stronger safety net for people who need it most, he said that a lot of people would still prefer to move to America to make more money, because wages are low and jobs are hard to come by (in this specific area of north-central Spain), and there’s more chance to get wealthy in the US.

This was just a few small observations in one week in the EU talking to a couple of people. How well does it match with your experience?


Sounds like “the grass is always greener” scenario. Sometimes it’s greener over the septic tank though. :wink:

Speaking about the vacation time. I have to be in touch with a company in Italy and it’s difficult because people are always on vacation there. It makes it really challenging to coordinate anything over a long term. 6 weeks of paid vacation time sounds like a dream though, but only if you’re on the inside of that.

I’m interested in how places, like Sweden, Denmark and Norway, do it. I keep hearing about higher taxes, but better safety nets. I’m curious about the reality of it though. What we’re fed and what really happens are two different things. I think it was the movie, Bowling for Columbine, where Moore visited Canada and talked about how no one locks their doors. That is a total lie. He found the most absolute, extreme minority and made it seem like it was common place. I don’t like lies, even well-meaning ones.

I think there are three types of homeless; the ones where mental illness and drug addiction destroyed their lives, children from extremely dysfunctional homes (runaways) and then there are those that were financially burdened beyond their capacity. All need forgiveness and help in different ways.

Sometimes, I wish there was a simple line drawn in the sand. We all have to live together somewhat so… if you are not concerned about people having their basic needs met (regardless of the effort they put forth), stand on that side. If you’re willing to have less in order to help others, stand on the other side. Then we can live peacefully on opposite sides of the island. :wink:

Edit: I just realized that I didn’t make the two hypothetical sides very clear. Fixed.

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Only if you’re gonna tumble down the hill after me.

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I’m more of a mutton, lettuce and tomato kind of guy. :wink:

That’s only one line you can draw. “Those who are willing to give up something, versus those will give up nothing” is rarely the real political dichotomy.

And we also have to be willing to face the fact that some people will slip through even the perfect safety net.

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This already happens. It’s called living in two different locations with two different socioeconomic systems, but still on one planet, and it doesn’t tend to work because someone will get born somewhere that decides not to have these safety nets in place, and then gets trapped and screwed when those nets are needed but unavailable, because the local occupation doesn’t want “those people” to stick around (live).

Also the idea of segregated living areas doesn’t work for many reasons, but the main one is this planet is a closed system, so even if a group walls off a region because they don’t agree with how those people want to live (even if that means “want to live at all”), then they’re not in a separate reality or anything. They’re still on the same planet, which has a finite (and shared!) pool of resources to work with, and interactions flowing in and out of locations. Segregation also usually shows one of the two sides of the “island” tending to be more opportunistic and apathetic towards their victims, which leaves the other side to slowly starve (“we deserve their land! why should they have it??” etc). Or a third party just plays both sides to bleed them both dry.

Or one side arbitrarily realizes that it’s all the same island and decides the other should die a bit faster.

Etc, etc.

We’ve seen this sort of thing attempted many times throughout history.

Heck, I am writing this to you from a different country, complete with different socioeconomic systems. My country does trade with yours, so our resources are being shared. Events in my local economy affect events in yours. This is quite a serious line between you and I, but we are not completely separated. We are, in fact, still coexisting. Trying to do this on a scale as small as a hypothetical island would make the line even more meaningless.

Also you cannot just keep drawing more lines to create smaller groups to reduce conflict, because eventually efforts and resources get spread so thin that people just die off, no matter where they are or how they think things should work. Meanwhile, the opportunists (who don’t care either way) just reap the leftovers and instigate more problems to benefit from.

Okay so I happened to minimize the edit window on mobile to work on something else for a sec, and an edit was made:

This still has the same core issue. It’s all the same resources. The line in the sand doesn’t mean anything, and no hypothetical situation could be put into practice that would mean anything.

This only set me off because this is so similar to the argument I kept hearing in grade school. “Just put all the gays somewhere else, then it’s not an issue.” Different victim, but the same basic structure.

The problem isn’t that the people are somehow carrying this curse. Victims can appear anywhere. You can’t just jettison them somewhere else until only those that fit the “desired profile” remain.

Gosh, there really is an interesting phenomenon that happens whenever I ingest energy drinks and go on the forum. Hm.



Seems like a dichotomy on the surface, but you’re right about how there are many lines and there definitely is a political spectrum. It was more about what would the societies look like with that hypothetical line in the sand. I suppose it’s a silly thought exercise though.


I wasn’t meaning I wish we actually lived in segregated areas. That’s not a healthy doctrine. I simply meant separating issues and seeing how one mode of thought played out over the other. I should have been more clear about that. It was just a hypothetical. Honestly!

Joey, put down the knife. :wink:

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That’s a silly way to spell “energy drink”.


I hear this often, but some of these people have a wrong impression about the way health insurance works in the US.

In Spain, private health insurance benefits heavily from the existence of a public, kind-of-universal system. Your case will be derived to the public system if it gets expensive, so you’ll pay like 60 euros a month and have your visits and small interventions covered without extra charge.

Deductibles do not exist here, that’s why certain people have the idea that in the US a monthly rate of less than 100 eur will have you fully covered, too. These people simply don’t understand how someone with insurance can need GoFundMe or end up losing their home. I once told my mom about one of these stories and she really could not believe it.


Hal, I don’t hide that Italy is the most proverbial laidback country, but OTOH, in general things are done in time, budget and spec, the secret is no haste. as a Japanese visitor noted, “in Italy what matters isn’t that the train is late, but that arrives”. when in Italy, take your time. as in the saying, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

More generally, EU catholic countries have a thicker welfare & safety net, thanks to the intrinsic coordination of a centralised charity organisation, whose strenghtens, without wasteful overlap, the public welfare.

In Italy, the public welfare is weakened by too many tax-dodgers, but the surprising success in dealing with COVID shows again that when needed, Italians works above and beyond duties & contracts.

another important detail is that in Italy, and other EU countries, people don’t seek success and/or competition, but a quiet and comfortable life (“aurea mediocritas”), of course this life attitude strenghten the importance of EU welfare.

(DISCLAIMER: everyone here know that I’m deaf, but what isn’t known is that I receive every month € 1,000 from Italian welfare because of this deafness, and this, together with other incomes, form my “aurea mediocritas”…)

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.