When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

19 November 2008

Worst case scenario: Suddenly homeless and broke

The cheerful econogeeks at Freakonomics Blog are dabbling in worst-case scenarios, and commenters are getting in on the act, too:
Imagine you just lost all your possessions and money, and you were suddenly living in the streets.
1. What’s the first move you would make?
2. What’s the first organization you would turn to?
3. What would your extended plan look like?
My answers:

(1) The Campbells travel as a family, so I hope I'd have my wife with me, even in those dire circumstances. The thought of being separated from her while living in luxury is much more disturbing than the thought of being together in abject poverty.

Assuming that I was in full possession of my faculties (big assumption) I would start at the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy of needs (food and water, clothing, shelter, personal safety) and start clawing my way up from zero: priority one is find a job, any job, ideally one that paid cash but I'd work for food cheerfully at first. I would do whatever was necessary to not be *living* on the street.

If I had friends or family that I could reach--and hadn't alienated in the process of losing all my money and possessions, such as with a drug habit or highly offensive behavior caused by the sudden onset of severe mental illness--I am confident that enough members of my social network would step up to give me some kind of boost.

(2) First organization I'd reach out to: A church (synagogue, mosque, Hare Krishna temple, etc.) I don't think my religious beliefs (Deist/New Mysterian with heavy Judeo-Christian traditional overtones) would qualify me as a believer under anyone's system, but just because I don't believe in their concept of God, doesn't mean I don't believe in the goodness of some *people who believe in God.* Close second would be to throw myself to the mercy of whatever social welfare programs I could locate.

(3) Extended plan: Leverage my network, if any remains (see #1 above) and work hard on extending it. Get the job that will get me the job that will get me the job that I want. Work like a bastard for long hours at whatever pay I can get. Take every opportunity to learn, and teach, and contribute however I can.

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