Some time ago I was discussing funding for professional travel with a friend. My travel money is fine; his is flat out lavish. He explained that in his college fraternity this was called "movie money." When potential members were being interviewed, the really obnoxious brothers were given money to go to the movies--or anywhere off the premises.
When I went to Von's this morning to buy cat food there were two beggars at the door: one at a card table, soliciting for a bogus charity, with a crudely lettered sign leaning against a coffee can; another just begging. I would happily pay movie money to get them out of sight.
I think I'd pay $5 per supermarket trip to avoid having these guys hanging around the entrance. I'd probably pay $1 a pop to avoid beggars at freeway exits. I don't think I'm atypical: people are prepared to pay movie money to keep beggars and other offensive nuisances out of sight, even if there are differences in how much. They pay a hefty premium to live where the streets are free of prostitutes walking their beat, lower class youths hanging around, piles of rotting trash, boarded up buildings and burnt out cars.
Bush dropped the rhetoric of "compassionate conservativism" soon after his selection and no one missed it because no one, liberal or conservative, is seriously motivated by compassion. An occasional human interest story may make sentimentalists sniffle and pictures of starving children will squeeze out a few bucks, but no one is willing to make serious outlays, particularly in the form of taxes, to improve the lot of people who are badly off.
Maybe Democrats should appeal to Americans' baser instincts. My fellow Americans: your taxes go for movie money to get these people cleaned up or, failing that, out of sight.