Posted by: Martin Scherer | 04/06/2011

Sarasota – Terrible poverty and the meanest city on earth?

Sarasota – Terrible poverty and the meanest city of earth?

I am very disappointed to find the Economist, a news journal I respect, use such exaggerated and inaccurate headlines.

The Economist is a British based journal that rightly claims to present an international, liberal voice, on economic issues. I am a Brit, who lives in Sarasota through the winter months. On this issue, the Economist does not speak for me.

Sarasotans are not the meanest people on earth. In my experience, they are amongst the most generous, giving of their time, skills, goods, and even money to help the disadvantaged of their city. They even ask me, a tourist, to help!

Please, show me the ‘terrible’ poverty of Sarasota. In ten years of visits, I’ve not seen ‘terrible’ poverty. I know of homeless people sleeping amongst the trees of undeveloped lots in residential neighbourhoods. Is that such a ‘terrible’ hardship? I visit Sarasota because its winter’s days are warmer and dryer than British summer days and it’s a delight to sleep out amongst the trees on a summer night. I know such behaviour causes anxieties to local residents, but heck, if they keep themselves to themselves and clean up after – what’s the harm?

I am well aware of the homeless and addicts who hang about the library and on the adjacent park bench. Not a good sight to thrust under the noses of tourists, whose visits create the jobs these people might take. Please show me the ‘terrible’ poverty of Sarasota and I’ll show you the streets of London on a really cold winters night, that will make you change your mind.

Those benches were provided by the taxpayers of Sarasota for those who want to sit in the centre of the city enjoying the passing presence of others. Especially, the disabled and elderly who have the greatest need. Please tell me, who is defending their rights?

Why do the homeless and addicts hang around Sarasota’s ‘central park’ and its library? There are dozens of other places they could hang about. The library and park are the best places to make a silent protest and beg.

Begging can be very lucrative. There is one guy, dressed as a vet, with no legs, on a trolley. I’ve watched him. When his day is finished, he wheels himself around the corner to his gleaming 4 track. Good luck to him. If he made that sacrifice for his country, he deserves every penny he gets. Every penny I give him, makes me feel better. So why not give the homeless and addicts a banjo and tell them to cheer-up, and cheer us up. That is what Sarasotan’s do. They help people who help themselves.

In contrast, the UK government puts its hand in our pockets and takes the money. We never know where that money is going or how efficiently it is used. If that is a more effective system, please tell me why there are proportionately more dependent people in the UK than the USA. Feeding dependency destroys self-respect and creates dependency, helplessness, and addiction. Those who shout loudest for state provision, are often those who want the comfortable secure jobs of handing out that provision. Above all, The Economist must know that.

Sarasotans are not mean. Florida is a paradise in which to be homeless. There is no terrible poverty in Sarasota. Those who shout such falsehoods to the press are at risk of deterring visitors and thereby increasing the probability of poverty in Sarasota. On this issue, The Economist should get itself out of the gutter, or risk damaging its reputation.



  1. I am surprised this post has become one of the most frequently visited on this Blog and now ranks amongst it top five. .

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