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Versailles vs Paris

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Homelessness in DC

There always have been poor here, living in sharp contrast to the well-to-do political world of the city. But the homeless, during DC's recent history, appeared with Reagan's inauguration in 1981. They are testament to the first wave of conservative cuts in social welfare programmes, which, among other things, resulted in Reagan's famed "welfare queens'', along with the supposed malingerers who turned out to be mentally ill, being forced onto the street.

Administrations have come and gone but the homeless have become a permanent fixture in the city's life – a reminder that the conservative era launched by Reagan has little in common with Roosevelt's New Deal. There are now some 16,000 people who live on the streets of Washington in any one year, with at least 1,000 families among them. This city of 600,000, which considers itself progressive, young and hip, and where whites have now replaced blacks as a majority of the city's inhabitants, has sought to help homeless people with shelters, social programmes and housing. But there is not enough low-cost housing to make a serious dent.

Now, the new mayor, Vincent Gray, like officials elsewhere in the nation, has been faced with the hard choice of either increasing taxes or cutting the municipal budget. And as elsewhere, he has chosen to cut – and those cuts come down on the poor. Gray projects a need to pare $322m from the city's budget. That leaves a shortfall of $20.5m for homeless services in fiscal year 2012.

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jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

The poor and the homeless deserve new hospitals, new public housing, new jobs, and a cleaner, more elegant city to live in. Washington should showcase the best of America, not the worst as it currently does. That our rulers can live in this city and not bleed for the suffering around them testifies to their fundamental cruelty.

Submitted by jawbone on

and rotting away. Maybe it was never silver to begin with, merely cheaply coated and easily rusted iron....

Our nation suffering from Empire In Decline syndrome.

And refusing to learn from any other empires which declined. Britain at least installed national health care. The US, under Obama? A national private for-profit insurance company profit protection plan. Trillions to rescue banksters, while providing cover for them to continue to financially destroy their non-wealthy customers and mortgage payers, even offering a protection plan, HAMP, which was a racket for the banks to push homeowners further into debt and misery. Wow.

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

There's so much pretty marble there! (Another analogy to Rome?)