picture of the day

Homeless man

59 Comments

A businessman walks past a homeless man lying on a bench in Tokyo.

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Dead men walking and sleeping

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It has always surprised me how lenient the authorities are with the homeless here, seemingly allowing them to squat/hang out in prime locations. Turning a blind eye just like the bozozoku I guess.

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The way the economy is going, I think there won't be enough benches to go round.

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I don't believe in Ghost World, but this pic may change my thinking pretty soon.

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That guy isn't homeless, that's an eikaiwa worker on his lunch break.

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Did you see the umbrella a suit next to the sleeping fellow? Chances are he used to be the other chap's boss. I don't see how the authorities can be accused of leniency against the homeless when it's the fault of the authorities that there isn't a sufficient welfare system that provides universal accommodation.

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This is the World we live in, get used to it now, there will be more before there is less.

I’m looking forward to the day I come across a few bankers I know sleeping (uncomfortably) on benches.

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Hilarity, but I don't think you'll see eikaiwa teachers struggling in the upcoming months. Job adverts are still plentiful. It's more likely that the homeless westerner you see was some scumbag finance worker who enjoyed a living moving other people's money around and getting paid for it.

Insults aside, it's a cold season to be sleeping on a bench. Tokyo seems warmer than Kansai when I look at the news reports, but I wouldn't like to spend a night outside in either place.

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I have my corner staked out, not that I plan to be using it any day soon now.

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It's sad to see that.

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What ever happened to "Papa was a rollin stone wherever he laid his hat was his home" attitude in this world? Aint' so sad.

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flammenwerfer: Mate you need to rethink your empathy for the homeless. In this economy no one is 100% secure from ending up on a bench.

You can't sweep the homeless under a rug somewhere so they don't disturb your societal sensibilities. These are real people facing real problems. And a lot of them were hard working people with normal lives not long ago.

So lenient? Maybe. But not nearly responsible enough for helping these people. Try a little empathy on for size. You may find yourself wishing for it yourself some day.

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The authorities are usually a little more crafty in harassing the homeless. For example, they will install a metal divider in the middle of the bench to prevent people lying down, fence off areas under bridges etc.

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sleeping like that in winter...so sad.

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Every morning in Tokyo station I walk past a few tens (hundred perhaps) homeless people on my way to work. Exactly the same people are in exactly the same places on my way back from work. Now - I would surely do something if I would suddenly become homeless. Sell "The Big Issue", of gather aluminium cans or ANYTHING to earn enough yen to allow me to work the next day as well... Not sleep like a VEGETABLE the whole day in the same spot in Tokyo station.

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What a pity sight. But it's good for me to see such a sight, to remind me that life is not always at the top....

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thanks JT!

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You might be next whether you like it or not. This is a good example of capitalism.

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That's why I saved a lot of money....:)

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...and planned my future well.

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Recycling the themes are we? They had a similar picture a few weeks back. I do agree with the comment about the leniency of how they are treated here. This was also debated a few months back on here. I think public places like parks and park benches shoudl be out in terms of setting up home. I pay taxes and pay for the upkeep. I certainly can't use that bench while someone sleeps on it.

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I agree with you tmarie. But in times like this, we have to compromise...I guess.:)

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Nice boots.

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I pay taxes and pay for the upkeep. I certainly can't use that bench while someone sleeps on it.

Poor thing - maybe you can suggest having separate benches for taxpayers only? Kick the tourists off them too?

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What makes JT so sure that the guy passing by is a businessman?

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The saddest thing is that the Japanese Government turns a blind eye to people like this, and does nothing for them.

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Tourist pay taxes.

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What makes JT so sure that the guy passing by is a businessman?

Cuz that simplifies the pictures "message" of dichotomy by having an inherently wealthy "businessman" walking by a homeless person. Methinks Yuriko-chan spent some time there waiting for such a "businessman" to walk by to get the shot she wanted.

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The saddest thing is that the Japanese Government turns a blind eye to people like this, and does nothing for them.

Apparently "taxpayers" don't either.

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How do we know this guy is homeless? Did they wake him up and ask him? Maybe he just had a bad night out and missed his train.

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All the bags at his feet, are they his or just gomi? When I see something like this I feel a compassion toward that person and not in the very least worry about my tax dollars for the bench...it is no fun to be homeless.

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"I pay taxes and pay for the upkeep. I certainly can't use that bench while someone sleeps on it."

How can somebody look at another human being reduced to sleeping on a bench in the cold with all he owns in the world in some bags at his feet and think "I pay tax, I should have first refusal on that bench"? What a truly egotistical, emotionally stunted response.

Tmarie, if you ever need help some day, I hope you are around people who are kinder than you are. If you find that you are not, don't be surprised.

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Tmarie. Another shining light of empathy and humanitarian purity. Well done.

Chances are that poor guy on the bench paid his taxes too. But when his job disappreared and he had no income, he couldn't carry on doing so. See not everyone is fortunate today to have a job to complain about the use of their taxes that they pay.

So you can sit at your PC that you can pay the electric bill for, you can go to your warm house and point your long insensitive tax paying finger to complain about the bench you would most likely never sit on anyway and be all content in the security of your place in the food chain.

We'll I've seen a lot of smug people have the smirk knocked off their faces in the last six months. Some having their world pulled out from under them. Sadly most didn't deserve it. But some certainly had it coming from all their years of smug selfrighteous priviledge.

You may be safe today, but in this economy you cannot be certain. Maybe you will find you need that bench some day.

See society, especially here does not have a strong net for people who fall. So our tax money should be going to builing programs that assure that no one ever ends up on the street. That would be the humane and moral thing to do.

But societies don't so those who falter fall without protection to end up on benches. And any one of us could be in that place with the right combination of problems.

I pay taxes too and that man is welcome to be there and I feel for him. If it were up to me he would not have to be there. And I'd tax you ane me both, exspecially the smug priviledged class to help make sure another human being would safe from spending a night on a bench somewhere.

Get a conscience!

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You can see he has his salaryman trench coat on underneath the dirty yellow jacket. He also has some nice travel bags.

Sad! However...if you are that desperate, you should take a job at a combini or McD's....or something to keep some cash flowing.

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I still think he's a middle manager and he won all that stuff from drinking games at the shinnenkai and he's just sleeping it off.

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A businessman walks past a homeless man lying on a bench in Tokyo.

SOP in Japan.

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tkoind2 -

"point your long insensitive tax paying finger"

Thanks for making me laugh; I needed it after reading tmaries's post!

And I absolutely agree: with the right combination of problems, any one of us could be on that bench.

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namabiru4me -

If you haven't got an address, it's very difficult to get a job.

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Obviously this is a false tagline. There are no homeless, mentally derranged or handicapped people in Japan. They are just people that are completely ignored by the taxpaying-overworked-undersexed normal people of Japan.

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Here we go. What do you with hearts suggest we do? Free homes, food and medical for all? Everyone deserves all this right? Ok. Now where does this money come from? Would you like your taxes to be raised? Are you personally giving money to charity to help support these people? Are you buying "The Big Issue" like I often do? Do you donated food and clothing?? Be honest because if as many folks on here actually (percetange wise claiming some of us have no soul) did this stuff I don't think there would be such a large problem like we have today.

Do you think the government can afford to look after the homeless, look after schools, hospitals, government staff.... on the amount of tax money we pay? Heck, add in the pension as well. I certainly think schools and medical care come before some down on his luck homeless man who probably has family somewhere willing to help him. But please, continue to point your fingers at some of us here with a realistic view. I'm all ears to your tax hike suggestions and how the government should reform its budget.

And I guess I am different from this fellow as I have family and friends who would indeed help me if I were to ever lose my job. Lord knows I've helped family memebers and would do so at a drop of a hat if anyone found themselves in a similar situation. Family relationships is the be all and end all as far as I'm concerned. Help out your friends and family when they are in need and they'll repay the favour if able to. A lot of these folks are not from the city they are homeless in. To lose a job is very sad indeed and I don't wish it on anyway. However, instead of going home and being helped out by family, many decide to stay in the city they are in and try their luck. I've said it before and I'll say it again but pride really is the down fall for many Japanese.

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What do I suggest we do? There is a lot we can do. And yes some of it means we pay for free homes and medical care for people during rough patches.

What else do we do? We make education a human right and we educate anyone who is willing to learn. That includes re-education for people losing jobs in one field to prepare them for new opportunities.

Yes we should have socialized medical care. Another human right.

Where does the money come from? Taxes. I know the right wingers hate this word, but we see socialized health and stronger social welfare security nets in a lot of countries where people still make good money and go on living nice cozy lives. It is a matter of priorities. Including diverting some of the massive military outlays to socially responsible programs.

Do I think government can do all this on our current taxes? No. Am I willing to pay more to enable these programs. Yes. Start by taxing incomes over a certain level. You don't need a million dollar bonus. And let's redistribute wealth. And before you call me Red. I'll save you the trouble. I believe that a flatter economic curve makes sense. There is no justification for a worker to make 50K a year while the CEO makes 150million a year.

We, normal working people do all the sweating and bleeding to keep the wheels of production moving. We also pay a heck of a lot of the taxes. Our consumption keeps these companies making money. It all depends upon workers. Remove labor and our contribution to the global economy from the picture and your CEO is the most useless creature on earth. Yet we are the first to lose our jobs when your profit margins don't look so great, we are the first to lose insurance and health care, and we are the first to end up on the streets.

If we take some of those millions of dollars and put them into our society we can enact programs that create jobs and lead to the creation of more tax paying workers. We can education and improve our people. And we can reduce costs by making a healthier society.

It is time for greater economic equality. And time for workers and consumers to demand a more balanced share. If that comes at the cost of the current crop of priviledged then so be it. There are great minds and leaders out there who would work for less and achieve the same successes. Go back a few years to when Japan's gap between worker and CEO was more rational for an example.

As for you being different. Lucky you. But not everyone has a family to fall back on. Some are the sole bread winners. Not everyone has options. And not every receives the sympathy and charity they need.

It is easy to dictate ideas to the homeless from your self assured spot where you can afford to want to kick someone off a bench. Your pride enables your smug position. But you would demand that the homeless give up his or her pride. Well, maybe that person has only his or her pride left. And maybe he is sleeping on that bench before going on to spend the day trying to get back on his feet here, in the place he wishes to live.

One more point. You don't even know if the home towns have jobs. But you are willing to demand these people get off the bench you'll never use to take their sorrow and eyesore role out of your pretty little world.

Last. I donate time, food, money and my personal energy to helping others. And not just here but in countries where things are worst than here. I am active in politics to press change. And I attack insensitive people here to try to help them find a little empathy.

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tmarie -

Why didn't you just say all of that instead making an extremely petty prior claim on the bench? Nobody suggested free homes or free food. We suggested not being so cold-hearted as to begrudge a homeless man a bench, for goodness' sake. How is your view that you pay for (actually you contribute to) the upkeep of the parks and therefore have first dibs on benches any more "realistic" than showing compassion? Buying the Big Issue from time to time doesn't mean you can be smug and dismissive.

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I am really enjoying this thread...I just wonder how come Shiuu is not here...too...:)

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Mayuki, why should I have? I stand by what I said about the bench. However, that comment alone doesn't express my whole opinion on the issue. Now why don't you suggest a way to look after these people with the tax money we have instead of making snide comments?

tk, maybe you don't believe that these folks deserve to make millions of dollars but some of them have worked their butts off to get that kind of money - and have given up family and health to get there. Why should they not make that money just because you think it is a crazy sum? Seems some people disagree with you.

Just because you are ok with a tax hike doesn't mean the rest of the population is. I am certainly not. I would like my money to go towards things that I need - health care, schools, pension... I pay for these things and I would like those improved.

As it stands it is law for people to be in school until 16. I think that IS an education. Or are you suggesting university and senmon for all? be realistic. Society is haves and have nots. I certainly don't agree with the extent of the haves and have nots but if you want a communist society where everyone and everything is "equal" you've living in a dream.

Yes, maybe that person only has their preide left but that could be what is keeping them from their family, a warm bed and food. Seems like a rather high price to pay.

And if anyone here is being "smug" I suggest you look in the mirror. You're "smug" comments to me suggest that you believe yourself to be better than I - merely because I don't agree with your opinion - and yet, I help out.

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tmarie. I don't care how much of your but you have worked off, you don't need an 150million dollar salary. And a society that thinks that is ok is sick. How can you justify having one person make 150million a year while tens of millions live on just a few dollars a day and will never earn even a 10,000 a year?

And society does not have to be haves and have nots. Just because that is how it has been, does not mean it should continue to be so. We have entered a new age, one with econological and economic limitations that will require difficult changes to address. We cannot go on feeding an ultra-wealthy tiny class while the masses of the world go without. It is immoral and it can no longer be tolerated.

Societies must address our collective global problems. Poverty is one of the issues at the top of that list. The wealth to improve the world, address hunger, disease etc... exists. But it exists in the hands of a tiny few. When it should exist in the hands of societies where it can be used for change.

Our environment will not allow us to keep making mass year on year profits in a viral consumer culture. So get used to and plan for change. We are seeing more and more people fall through societies cracks. As those numbers grow they will find the voice to demand change. It will begin with a plea, but left unheeded it will become a roar that will be a lot harder to ignor and lot more consequential to calm.

Tmarie it begins with empathy for a homeless man on a bench. From here we can address problems and allow you to keep much of your priviledged world in tact. But then that one becomes hundreds of thousands, the risks will be far greater than paying a little more tax today.

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One more thing. There is a moral right and moral wrong. A person in need should be helped. This is a moral right. Whether your morality is secular or religiously motivated, helping others is the right thing to do.

Ignoring or dismissing the suffering of others is equal to supporting it. If we fail to help those who need help, the how can we face ourselves?

I don't feel superior to you or to anyone. But I know a moral right from a moral wrong when I see it. And tossing a homeless person off a bench because you pay taxes for it is a moral wrong. As is societies failure to assure he didn't end up there in the first place.

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I am not justifying it. I am merely pointing out that many of thise who make that much money didn't get to that point just by sitting on their butts.

Soceity does "need" to have the haves and have nots. Darwinism if you want to call it that. I am not saying it is fair but this is how society (and the animal kingdom) works.

Please don't get me a lecture on empathy. I certainly don't need any sort of lecture from someone who fails to understand the workings of society. Again, I'm not saying I agree with it and I would indeed like to change it and make it better (I think I do indeed do my part and probably a heck of a lot more than those pointing their fingers at me feeling smug about themsleves) but you will never create a classless, equal society. It isn't the way we work.

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Empathy cannot be explained to a heartless person. It is like describing colors to the blind.

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Are you really playing a Darwinism card?

Once upon a time the tribe with the best capacity to kill the other tribe had more to eat. Is that what you think a modern society should be?

As for understanding how society works. I know very well how society works. Let's talk about an increasingly common reality model shall we?

I know a woman in her 30's who could not afford to go to college. Despite that she's worked her but off learning new skills and spending the last 12 years working long unpaid OT hours to help make a big company profits so their investors would be happy. When the company's poor investments tanked she was dropped off to fend for herself.

Out of a job she got right to work trying to find a new one. But you know what? She's now in competition with a lot of other unemployed people. Many of whom are younger or have higher degrees of education. She has not even been able to get some low paying part time work because even those jobs are highly competitive today.

So she swalled her pride and moved home with parents to run a small restaurant and have done so for 40 years. But they are suffering too. Their customers are also losing jobs and worried about money so they don't come in and the family is on the brink of losing everything.

But it extends beyond them too. The guy they buy produce from is on the brink, the mean shop, the supplier for restarant goods. All are suffering.

Meanwhile back at the company where this hard working woman spent so many years, the top brass are still raking in millions every year.

So this is your Darwanism at work. This is your perfect ideal world? One where empathy is out and live and let die is the way things work? Without regard for downstream consequences?

That is how we've ruined the planet. And that is what led to the collapse of the current economy. This kind of narrow thinking is why we need change and why someone has to explain empathy to someone like you.

We can and are evolving beyond the laws of the animal Kingdom. We have to if we are to survive as a human race. You say I don't know how things work. But I have a strong deep grasp of history and I can demonstrate just how long cycles work. And they do not bode well for your thinking. Human beings adapt and change. Most often with painful lurches back and forth before taking a step forward. Most often in violent upheaval.

My wish is that we can take a step with choice and direction to care for all of the people in society and not just for the few. The reality that history shows us is this. If we fail to address our problems. They will come back and address us, usually in a violent and deadly way.

You may be right, there may never be a classless equal society. But there must be a better more equal society and we must work towards one. Maybe it isn't they way you work. But it is the way more and more people globally are demanding that it work. And that voice will become more and more difficult for you to ignore. Count on it!

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One more note. It would be far better for us all to pay more and sacrifice more to create the required improvements in social welfare, education and healthcare needs, than to suffer decades of an divided society or to wait for angered masses to erupt in war, revolution and social conflict.

If we live by your Darwin rules, then the poor should rise up and take what they need from you. Afterall they have the numbers on their side. And isn't that how your world works?

Better to give and to build by choice. Don't you think? Let's retire the animal kingdom and move on to a better and more just human world.

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tkoind2 - bravo/brava!

tmarie - "And if anyone here is being "smug" I suggest you look in the mirror. You're "smug" comments to me suggest that you believe yourself to be better than I - merely because I don't agree with your opinion - and yet, I help out."

How is it exactly that you know I don't help others? There is no possible way for you to know what kind of contribution I make. There was nothing snide about earlier my comments. Nothing snide at all. I was merely asking some questions about your attitude, because I found it astonishing.

Oh, and P.S. "Your smug comments" not "You're smug comments". (That might have been a bit snide, but I couldn't resist, sorry.)

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tkoind2 - well said! Tmarie's comments really highlight the petite in petite bourgeoisie

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I agree with tkoind2, Mayuki and UnagiDon: The comments made by the aforementioned poster would lead to them being called a snob in my manor.

If you don't have sympathy in your heart , then you aren't a real happy human being yourself like. NOBODY dseserves to sleep on a bench these days, strewth, there is plenty of money in this world, some is need to help the real needy.

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The man on the bench was a burglar that was released from prison about six weeks ago. The crimes he committed were extremely violent, he has also been extremely violent towards his own family, possibly because he is a heavy drinker & drug user. Help has been offered in the past & been abused &/or refused. It can of course be reasoned that this man has some very serious mental health problems, but under the law he cannot be forced to accept treatment & when offered help & treatment he has always reacted aggressively & rejected any help. If you really believe that you can help man & feel that you can get through to him I would warn you to be careful about trying to talk with him, he has an irrational temper & can be dangerous.

How do I know all this? I don’t. None of the above is true. But it equally fits with all the other above posts that have this man a poor unemployed soul deserving of our empathy. It is just as likely to be true.

Some people live in a very black & white world.

Yes, there but for the grace of what-not go any one of us. But let us not get carried away to the point of seeing a social revolution on the horizon because there are some people that sleep on park benches, because there will always be some people that sleep on park benches. They are social misfits that society does not want & cannot accommodate.

tkoind2

The picture is really so much bigger than the one you want to blackmail us with. The CEO on 150mil a year should be a thing of the past, but not because of this man on the bench, but because such people have brought our economy to the edge of ruin & brought us all that much closer to that bench. THAT we agree on. What we cannot ever agree on is this naïve idea of a safety net for the poor, safety nets create more “victims” than they rescue & somebody (you, tmarie & I) has to pay for them. Ask the wise old Alf (above) for some of his wisdom about how the UK is doing with its safety net. I think he will give you a very depressing picture of what happens when the state starts to take care of everyone.

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seesaw: how much do you need to save up to feel secure?

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I would like my money to go towards things that I need - health care, schools, pension... I pay for these things and I would like those improved.

tmarie, the taxes you pay aren't just for YOU and the things YOU need. We all pay taxes for some services we don't use (and services that we hope we'll never need).

Hopefully this crisis will mark the start of a new way of living where we all become more caring towards each other. The ever-growing gap between the rich and poor is creating no end of social problems. It's clear that the kind of divided society we have now doesn't work. We need to create an inclusive society which cares for everybody.

In many countries it has become more lucrative for people on live on unemployment benefit than work for low wages. If we create a more equal society with more equal wages, people will want to work and they will regain their dignity. We will all be better off for it.

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rurika at 03:48 AM JST - 1st February

“Hopefully this crisis will mark the start of a new way of living where we all become more caring towards each other.”

That’s a nice thought, but totally out of keeping with what is known of human nature. Given any crisis humans are just not nice people, the ME in me becomes all that is important. People have been killed for their park benches before now.

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bishamonten: No one is asking for a welfare state. Now you are being black and white.

Just because one program failed, does not mean all such programs will fail. If democracy fails in one place, do you abandon it as futile and flawed for all places? This is not rational thinking.

We need to evolve the concepts of social welfare so that they are providing a net to catch the falling, but then taking it a second step to have programs to get those people back on independent ground. This can be done through retraining programs, goverment work programs and micro-economic loan programs that have built strong micro economies in other nations.

There are many potential solutions. And it is not naive to see the programs that do work.

I'm a product of a working program. My father died when I was very young and my stay at home mom had a hard time in the years following. But through programs that helped empower her, we managed. Later those same programs gave me my first job that taught me responsibility and self reliance. And educational benefits allowed me to obtain a degree and start a respectable career.

Now I can give back through taxes, volunteer work and support for social program. If someone had used your logic, maybe these opportunities would have been lost.

We need to have more faith in people. That is one of our greatest social failings. And we need to be more charitable in how we work with those less fortunate than ourselves.

Programs can and do work. Some don't. But we don't toss them all out because some fail. We find better programs and better ways to achieve the necessary goals for a humane and caring society. It is our moral, and should be our humanitairan, duty to do so.

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you know.. might be hard to imagine but some people just prefer to live on the streets and stay poor all their life.

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