I have spent the last few weeks enjoying the Californian sunshine on a driving holiday taking in the sights in LA, Las Vegas, Sequoia National Forest and Santa Monica. Having booked flights using air miles some nine months ago it was a holiday planned to precision and it didn’t disappoint.
One of the things I most enjoy about visiting America is comparing the different aspects of our society, the good and the bad, because usually on the whole there is a lot to like about America. Probably as I spent my early childhood living in Alaska I do find America familiar and enjoy the get up and go of the people and the endless levels of enthusiasm. It is definitely easier being a business owner in America with lower levels of red tape and positive encouragement for being successful, rather than our more negative view.
My visit to LA however was somewhat marred by the high levels of homeless people living in and around the city and the general disregard by the residents about their fellow citizens. It seems surprising in a country such as America and a state like California, which by itself just as a state has a GDP that would put it number eight in the world economies, which so many people are falling through the cracks of society. Take a drive around LA and every street corner or beach sees people forced to live on the street with a society disinterested in helping or rehoming residents.
It seems to have become such a common site that existing charities are not making an obvious impact and government policy is such that the safety net is not there. Obviously the number of people made homeless has been accelerated due to the recession but what surprised me were the different walks of life and that it was not just drug abusers or alcoholics but once well-heeled members of society making their bed on the beach.
While I am no expert on the differences in our welfare state compared to America, it is apparent theirs doesn’t work very well or that ours must be somehow better. While I agree ours needs reform and is abused by many I know which country I would prefer to live in if I was up against it.