Linking to a photo of a sleeping transient, Architecture And Morality’s “Corbusier” writes that if it’s not one thing, it’s another in France:
I found this image via the Drudge report. The reuters caption reads as follows:
People walk past as a homeless person takes cover from the cold on a Paris sidewalk November 28, 2005, as six homeless have died in France since the arrival of winter temperatures. French authorities have raised their weather alert in 31 departments and asked for increased vigilance to the homeless in Paris.
If it’s not a major heatwaves that kills the elderly in France, it’s now an extreme coldspell that kills the homeless in France. The message is clear: If you are on the fringe of helplessness don’t expect your government to save you from the whims of nature. We hear constantly of the great French social model, but I must admit my ignorance on how this system is supposed to protect its most vulnerable. I get the feeling that this system favours the vast middle, who go about their lives taking care of few things on their own while letting the state make the most important decisions for them. As for those who are unable, either by age or by mental incapacity, to take charge of their own lot, they’re rather seen as an inconvenience for the happy middle. The photograph clearly illustrates the nature of the French happy middle, going about their day to day lives in their gently pleasant ho-hum way, willfully ignoring the few that are not part of their content state of being.
This picture is not unique to France, nor is the idea of society’s weakest being more vulnerable to neglect and death all that new. Such a scene can be found all over the world, and almost makes one wonder whether it is a natural state of affairs within human society. But for a country that loves to boast to everyone who will listen about its culture of humanity and of equality, such scenes of homelessness belie the rhetoric.
Not to mention the many scenes of nocturnal automobile immolations that have dotted the Parisian landscape this fall. Of course, 13 years ago French pundits assured themselves that they’d never have to face anything like the L.A. riots, “mainly because France is a more humane, less racist place with a much stronger commitment to social welfare programs.”