*Preface: As always, anything that has to do with Main Street (or in this case a patch of grass) is for entertainment purposes and has little to do with Wall Street, which believes in green shoots no matter what.

Tent cities were all the rage as the stock market crashed for the 2nd time in half a year, but remember as long as the stock market is up, all is right in the world. Main Street = Wall Street after all. [Mar 10, 2009: Tent Cities Sprouting Up in Sacramento and Seattle] [Jun 19, 2008 : Tent Cities Sprout Up Across Southern California] Of course stories like this are anecdotal and just a tiny sliver of society as the rest of the bottom half prosper in the new age service economy.

An interesting story in the Christian Science Monitor (I don't know if that is considered a liberal or conservative outlet) about how many of these former ... well non nomads forced temporarily into such enclaves are now living their permanently. Standards of living are slip sliding away for many ... Pooring of America 101. I wonder what the tent cities are like in Sweden or Denmark. [May 18, 2008: Economic Woes Reveal a Long-Felt Unease & Denmark is the Happiest Place on Earth?]

  • As cities from Sacramento, Calif., to Tampa, Fla., debate the merits of tent cities to house newly homeless people (many of them young families), this recession is starting to yield scenes that evoke the Great Depression, especially at places like Timberline Campground in Lebanon, Tenn.
  • Living in well-worn campers and tent compounds overstretched with 20-foot-long tarps, 85 percent of residents here are permanent, a good chunk of them “economic refugees.”
  • It’s an increasingly familiar scene across the country as campgrounds, RV parks, national parks, and city-owned pockets become inundated with permanent campers, and as entire tent cities spring up and expand, with some hinting at permanence by voting on village bylaws.
  • “It’s not quite Hoovervilles, but it’s getting there,” says Leonard Heumann, a housing policy professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, referencing the massive tent cities and shantytowns erected during the Great Depression.

Hold on, this is where I tell you America is the richest country on Earth*

*excluding debt

Anyhow, they are making the best of it and trying to rationalize how they got here in the land of opportunity where anyone with a little elbow grease can become Bill Gates (source: dogma). All it takes is some hard work and you too can appear on MTV's cribs. Unfortunately with the bell curve in the economic structure, for every Bill Gates there are 100s of folks in tent cities.

  • But for many, like Tammy Renault, who lives in a tent with a husband and four kids, there’s virtue to be found even in a muddy tent floor. “This tells you what you’re made of,” says Ms. Renault, a devout Christian whose faith has been steeled, not diminished, by her family’s crisis.
  • Her story is a snapshot of the American edge: After the family moved to Tennessee, her husband Troy’s contracting business failed. The choice soon became paying the rent or the electric bill. They set up camp here nearly four months ago. The first week of August, three of the four kids started school, with one of them, Ty, waiting at the front of the campground for the school bus.

Tammy, sorry to hear your plight. I think the best solution is rather than let housing values fall to a natural place supply and demand would cross - allowing MORE Americans to buy homes at affordable prices (and driving rents down for non home owners) - it is far better to rip up those musty economic textbooks. After all inflation is a good thing (especially when created out of thin air by powers that be) - we need it, and deserve it, and it benefits us as peasants.

Here is the new plan Tammy: if we inflate home values via a process of spending hundreds of billions of money we don't have to create low mortgage rates (which artificially drive prices up), and then hand out money we don't have to a portion of society so they buy homes they would otherwise not be able to (which artificially drives prices up) - we all win. Can't you see that? Granted, these programs of prosperity makes it more unaffordable for people like you to own a home or rent - but please save your stories of woe for the realtors group who just made $3 billion from just one program of government handouts. I don't want to hear any complaining from you until you have attempted to create a lobbyist group and at least TRIED to outflank the financial and home builder lobbyists.

What's that Tammy? There is a cost to each benefit in a society? When we give cash for clunkers and destroy them, than that is 750,000 less cars for the bottom third to buy at reasonable prices? Driving up the prices of the remaining cars - gosh darn those laws of supply and demand. Sorry.... I was distracted by the stock market going up day after day by said government & central bank solutions. Anyhow, what were we talking about again Tammy? Something about prosperity?

  • While many seem to find romance and even liberation in paring life down to the barest necessities, the prospect of muddy campgrounds, inclement weather, and sparse toilet facilities is, in fact, disheartening, especially to families who are enduring it against their will, says Mr. Heumann.
  • With the jobless rate at a 30-year high and a foreclosure wave still sweeping the nation, wait lists for shelters are expanding and laid-off Americans are looking for other options. The rise in long-term tenting and camping is a sign that people’s options are running out, says Nan Roman, president of NAPH.
  • In March, Sac­ra­mento closed a large tent city, even as officials in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area face a proposal to set aside city land for a major homeless tenting area. A group in Champaign is lobbying the city to put up a 60-tent facility.
  • In early August, advocates fought in court to keep open two tent cities – Camp Runamuck II and Hope City – in Rhode Island, but their effort failed. Campers now have an early September deadline to pull up stakes.

  • States are also responding. Alabama recently opened its two largest state campgrounds to permanent campers, partly in response to the poor economy.

Let me be the first to cheer the positive GDP we are currently experiencing this quarter. I will send the news via carrier pigeon to these folks so they too, can know how well things are going as green shoots are sprouting like weeds... in a campground.