san francisco homelessness

There were two things that struck me about San Francisco streets, in comparison to the UK. A fear of those carrying concealed handguns (SF has fairly tough gun laws but failed to get a total ban on them – at least SF only has one gun store now) : and the huge homeless population.

North America is not the land of the free, it’s a divided entity where the haves and have-nots live cheek by jowl, same as any third-world shanty town on the edge of a central business district selling cheap call centre services. We simply do not understand this scenario in the UK, where health and welfare is available to all.

We often in the UK take these social services completely for granted; some even complain vociferously about them. We haven’t a clue – if you have no money in the US, you’re in big trouble.

Yet even here in Big Rock Candy Mountain UK, homelessness obviously exists. This time of year is probably the only occasion many give to essential charities like the Salvation Army or Centrepoint.

But it’s a year-round issue for any first-world city, let alone the 2/3rds of the worlds’ population who live in poverty as a matter of course. Only the size of the problem changes. Why is this? I think because mental health is at the core of whether someone survives or not. One of the saddest sights in SF was war veterans reduced to pushing shopping trolleys full of their pathetic possessions in an aimless lifeless ramble through busy streets. We are so complex and so misunderstood, our technology and our weapons pale in comparison.