Monday, August 13, 2012

Soup Kitchens, the Homeless and Hedge Fund Managers

I stumbled upon this article recently about soup kitchens and the homeless. I must confess that is one of the most delusionally hilarious things I have ever read. Before I witter on here is the link for yourselves to read.

Do Soup Kitchens Help the Homeless?

It is not so much the subject matter but the logic contained in it that is so inherently ridiculous.

For example (my italics) let me quote this

"A government drive to reduce homelessness has helped bring down the numbers sleeping rough by around two thirds, but recent bad economic news - notably the slide in house prices - has rung alarm bells. The homeless charity Crisis, whose Christmas centres open this weekend, warns that homelessness can affect anyone. It warns that even if you have a good job, things can go wrong quickly. A recent survey showed one in five people said it would only take a month for an unexpected drop in income to have a knock-on effect on their housing. "

Now at what point in this whole process is the author or anyone else in the UK going to dare to utter the truth that dare not bear its shame. When is someone going to point out that a good reason why there are so many homeless people is precisely because house prices are too high. Somehow the logic is twisted into this sick idea that high house prices are good for the economy and therefore good for the homeless.

Perhaps the reasoning is that if bankers and real estate speculators are celebrating their new found wealth by moving on from cream of mushroom and are now tasting the delights of lobster bisque, the trickle down effect will kick in and the homeless will now be enjoying more conventionally acceptable fungi in their soup?

But the nonsense doesn't stop there. My italics again.

Former rough sleeper Mark Johnson says it really can happen to any one of us: "We're all prone to that - you know all of us - a breakdown in a relationship, or some sort of trauma or a death or a tragic event - we're all there, much closer than we care to realise." He remembers hearing a very similar view from a city hedge fund manager: "He said in a very quiet conversation we had: 'Do you know what, I know that I'm only ever a couple of bad decisions away from being on the street myself,' and I thought that was a really good insight into being in this world because everyone is."

At which point Mark Johnson (name sounds a bit too generic so my bullshit radar is bleeping already) was entitled to respond to this sterling 'insight' with the comment 'Ok then let me pop in your office and do a couple of futures trades and with a bit of luck I too could be earning huge sums of money and be set for a life of privilege just for convincing someone at an asset management firm that I know what I am doing'.  

Now given that hedge fund managers do make bad decisions. More than a couple of them. All the time. It should be somewhat surprising to the author of that article that not more soup kitchens had little corners in them where the community of recently homeless hedge fund managers might get together and plan their latest arbitrage situation.

No matter, there is in fact a deep insight in this article. It's not in the content of it but rather the underlying assumptions that she makes safe in the knowledge that they exist within the unchallenged and pervading social concensus within London.

In other words, high house prices are good for everyone at all times, including those who can't afford their own home. We do live in a meritocracy where outcomes are distributed based on ability and all that bailing out of the bankers after they made hundreds of bad decisions was really just a way of reducing the numbers of the homeless. Now I get it!

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