Are the Grapes of Wrath Growing in California's Vineyards?
When I read reports of huge numbers of ordinary Americans pushed into homelessness, I ask myself if the grapes of wrath once again growing in California's Vineyards. The classic John Steinbeck novel, The Grapes of Wrath was a must study in my highschool English classes. We read and wondered at how a society could let hardworking citizens fall to such dire circumstances. It looks from an outsider's point of view that many that have helped make California the Golden State have been abandoned by their fellow citizens.
Vineyards heavy with table grapes and raisins stretched across the horizon, along with vast orchards of almond, pistachio and fig trees.
"We're standing in the richest farm belt in the world," Arax said, "And yet the poverty here is overwhelming."
"Fresno has the most concentrated poverty of any city in the country. New Orleans is second. So there is a paradox to this place - this bounty side by side, cheek by jowl with the poverty.
Our usual picture of homeless people is that they are living outside by choice or mental illness. This has changed with the sudden decline in the U.S. economy. People who held regular jobs, paying their taxes and hoping for a little piece of the golden dream are now finding themselves homeless and living in modern day Hoovervilles.
Homeless camps like this one have formed in several places around California.
People here have formed a kind of community, complete with a "town council" of elders who meet nightly.
Many of those living in the camps are chronically homeless men with mental issues or drug and alcohol problems. But many others are former members of the working or middle classes who have fallen off the economic ladder.
Those that have been pushed into poverty through no fault of their own, must be looking at the Golden state and wondering if it was all Fool's Gold.
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Clearlake, California, United States