Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Tenement Living and Bootstraps
Bookworm comments on 19th/early 20th century NY tenement living, and wonders why most of those residents escaped their surroundings in a generation, when so many other people in other bad surroundings do not.
No one simple answer to her questions - but here's one idea. Those tenements were just too awful to be endured for more than a generation. People did whatever they had to do to get out - and were able to because of the freedoms of this country. The slums of New Orleans were not as bad as the tenements. People had more square footage and plumbing. I've been in the projects in France, and while they are yucky, again they are not anywhere as awful as those old NY tenements. So I think that people have less motivation in these latter examples to do the extremely hard work necessary to get out.
Then, in some parts of the world living conditions are indeed horrific, but they do not have the economic and political freedoms we do here.
Along the same lines, I frequently ponder on the enigma of run-down trailer parks and their plethora of mini-satellite dishes. Does the escapism of cable or satellite TV give the residents enough pleasure to lessen their motivation for self-improvement?