Der Spiegel on Why America is So Awful

A bit beyond the usual fare, but this is so overwrought, the pure essence of the “America is bad” reporting that Der Spiegel takes such delight in, “Crisis Plunges US Middle Class into Poverty“:

The financial crisis in the US has triggered a social crisis of historic dimensions. Soup kitchens are suddenly in great demand and tent cities are popping up in the shadow of glistening office towers. Even drug dealers are feeling the pinch.

Business is poor in the New York banking district around Wall Street these days, even for drug dealers. In the good old days, they used to supply America’s moneyed elite with cocaine and crack. But now, with the good times gone, they spend their days in the Bowery Mission, a homeless shelter with a dining hall and a chapel.

Alvin, 47, is one of them. His customers are gone, as is the money he earned during better times.

That’s right. As its first illustration of America’s collapse, the German news magazine cites a coke dealer’s new impoverishment. Then there’s this:

The crisis is also making itself felt in posh Georgetown, a historic residential neighborhood in Washington D.C. which is home to many politicians, lobbyists and attorneys. Anyone who forgets to lock his car at night can expect to see unwanted guests sleeping in it by the next morning.

When one local woman, who works at a Middle Eastern embassy in Washington, opened her car door one morning, she was astonished to find a woman holding a purse and wearing a pearl necklace sitting on the seat. The humiliated woman covered her face, apologized politely and quickly left her sleeping quarters.

News to German reporters: That’s a drunk woman who found a place to sleep it off, not evidence of the newly homeless wealthy.

The whole story, translated from the German, includes the standard cliches: America as a land of economic extremes, riven by gun violence. But the story is over the top, it’s worth a read and a thought about how the United States is portrayed in the foreign media. (See Davidsmedienkritik for more on Der Spiegel’s quatsch.)

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