Thank you Mr. Obama

In scenes reminiscent of the Great Depression these are the ramshackle homes of the desperate and destitute U.S. families who have set up their own 'Tent City' only an hour from Manhattan. More than 50 homeless people have joined the community within New Jersey's forests as the economic crisis has wrecked their American dream.

And as politicians in Washington trade blows over their country's £8.8 trillion debt, the prospect of more souls joining this rag tag group grows by the day.

Building their own tarpaulin tents, Native American teepees and makeshift balsa wood homes, every one of the Tent City residents has lost their job.

These people have been reduced to living on handouts from the local church and friendly restaurants and the community is a sad look at troubles caused as the world's most powerful country struggles with its finances.

'We have been in and out of the camp for a year,' said ex-hotel worker Burt Haut, 43, who lives with his wife, ex-teacher Barbara, 48 in a tent styled like a teepee from the Old West. 'Our financial difficulties since the credit crisis three years ago have caused us to camp on public ground, at the back of churches and down the backs of closed down stores. 'We have had help from our friends and family, but we have run that well dry.

'We are trying to get back on our feet and with help from the camp leadership we hope to get back onto a social security scheme or help with some assisted housing.'

Ravaged by the loss of their jobs and their homes, the residents of Tent City struggle to get by without day-to-day luxuries that we take for granted such as food on the table and a roof over their heads. Ex-minister Steve Brigham, 50, runs Tent City, which consists of a dirt road running through a two-acre encampment which has flowerpots laid out front of proud tents and homes.

Functioning as near to a normal town as possible, Tent City is governed by democratic rules agreed by all the residents.



  1. Ok, I'm not a big fan of President Obama's actions since he was voted in but blaming this on him is a bit of a stretch.

    From quotes in your own article:

    "Our financial difficulties since the credit crisis three years ago have caused us to camp on public ground, at the back of churches and down the backs of closed down stores. 'We have had help from our friends and family, but we have run that well dry." - three years ago would be 2008, the year Obama was voted into office. Unless you are suggesting that his appointment to President was the trigger for the whole economic downturn you are projecting all prior history on to a single individual.

    "We are trying to get back on our feet and with help from the camp leadership we hope to get back onto a social security scheme or help with some assisted housing." - these are exactly the programs that are going to be gutted by the recent agreement to raise the debt ceiling. This will leave the people you seem to be so concerned about worse off (in terms of options available to them) than what they were.

    The current economic situation in the US is the result of bad decisions on both sides of the political divide - Democrat and Republican. Each side seems to be happy to draw an arbitrary line in the sand and say this is all 'the other groups' fault without doing anything to change it. In reality the problem is an accumulation of policies from JFK onwards - with each President propagating the errors the their predecessor and adding to the general malaise.

    For someone who prides themselves on their 'intellectual' background and studies in psychology you seem to have an exceedingly narrow (and politically biased) outlook JR.

  2. Unemployment was roughly half what it now is when Obama took office. The buck stops with him

  3. You seem to be associating more power to the office of POTUS than actually exists. A President may sign or veto bills that are passed up from Congress and the Senate (and there are restrictions - so called 'veto proof' bills). A President may set goals or a direction to Congress or Senate representatives (who are members of the same party as the President) but there seems to be nothing similar to the ALP caucus in the US political system - individual members are not required to follow the instructions of the President.

    The POTUS certainly has more influence than a general member of government but they don't have the overall responsibility for every action taken by that government. Blaming (or praising) Obama for every government decision since 2008 is as futile and pointless as blaming (or praising) George W Bush for every government decision taken during his tenure as President.

    Unemployment, a factor of the economy, is hard to lay at the feet of the President. There are so many factors in play - an interaction between government policies and spending, corporate policies and spending and the external effects of the global economy. The President can influence (but not control - something that became obviously clear in the recent debt ceiling negotiations) government spending, he may even have some influence over policies that effect corporate choices in terms of developing new production facilities. To imply that the POTUS is in charge of such decisions ('the buck stops here') is nonsensical.

    The current state of the US economy seems to imply that the theories underlying it are false or, at the very least, do not result in a robust and sustainable system (without major swings between excellent and disastrous). If economics is in fact a science at this stage those who propose the underlying theories should be re-evaluating them based on the new evidence.

    Trickle-Down economics does not work (or at least, does not work on a local scale). Providing a corporation with an influx of funds (from the taxpayer) does not necessarily mean they will invest those funds locally. They will invest them in the place they get the most 'bang for the buck'. If that means hiring people in third world countries to manufacture goods that is where they will invest - it will do nothing for the local labour market (and not reduce local unemployment at all).

    The vibrancy of an economy depends on the amount of cash that is flowing between the most participants. A stimulus package that bestows large amounts of cash to corporations is doomed to failure - the corporation will (and is obligated to) distribute that new found wealth to it's most profitable markets (to meet the legally required obligation to maximise it's shareholders value). Distributing cash to individuals (even if it is a statistically minimal amount) will boost the retail sector, reduce personal debt and generate more optimism (generally it excites the economy because more money is flowing from A to B, more people with less bonus money has far more an influence than less people with large amounts of money).

    End result? The American economy now seems to be in free-fall, the Australian economy seems to have weathered the GFC quite well and is in a good position to deal with GFC2 (we maintain our AAA rating and the $AU is worth about $US 1.10). Admittedly much of this is due to the abundance of natural resources that we have and the prices people are willing to pay for them.

    At the top of the page you say you are a libertarian/conservative blog. Modern conservatism is at distinct odds to libertarian thinking. Libertarian thinking wants to omit government from personal choices, modern conservatism seems to want to control religious thought, social behavior and completely ignore the ability of those without previous familial experience of the above.

    These are not the beliefs of a libertarian JR, these are the beliefs of a social conservative.

  4. A libertarian conservative is a conservative who finds some libertarian analyses useful


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