Well, Don, I think it is definitely nice that you say something about homeless people, and not only people without a home, but how to put it?

People who really suffer, who have trouble coping with everyday life.

In a sense, of course, everyone has trouble, but this is maybe another story.

It is quite right what you say, that many of those who are “at the bottom” of society have mental problems, problems which would probably…well, a little more likely would have been dealt with, if the people who have such problems had been somewhere higher up.

But these problems can’t be new, like you say.

They didn’t come two years ago or something.

They must have been there all the time.

This problem exists more or less everywhere.

But the US is kind of famous for things like that, also, poor people living on the street, the lack of social welfare.

America is famous for many other things too, friendliness, for instance, but also poverty.

Sorry, this is in a way pub talk, and I must admit I don’t know to what extent it is true.

I could find that out.

I read Jacob Holdt’s book American Pictures many years ago, which is a photo reportage book, made by a Dane who travelled among poor people in the States, I think sometimes in the 70s.

He travelled with very little money and obviously with a very open mind and a peaceful attitude.

It is a beautiful book, even if it describes a lot of suffering.

Anyway…you talk about the impression that such things make on foreigners, maybe, visitors, that it is bad for your country to see those things.

You think marketing.

I mean, this sounds like a remark from the marketing department.

That is nonsense, sorry.

One thing, a country is not a company.

Not your company, either.

A country belongs to you, to your neighbours, the USA would belong to me too if I lived there.

The impression of poverty in the US has already been made on us all, and it must be right to a certain extent.

You can’t hide that fact, it’s been out in the open as long as I can remember.

Everyone, I think, in the world, has a notion of poverty as an important part of American society, be it more or less right or wrong.

I think I’m fairly right in saying this.

Some see it as a backside of…maybe too much emphasis on free enterprise.

I am aware that charity plays a much bigger role in USA than here in Norway, for instance, when it comes to social issues.

But still.

All health care is not free here in Norway either, but a lot of it is.

You pay like 18$ for going to the doctor, so if you’re poor, that is a real problem.

Remember that the salaries are higher here than in your country, and what you get when you get social money, too, must be more.

For staying in a hospital you basically pay nothing, but I think they sometimes charge you for some of the bandages etc which have been used.

I hope that you don’t see the problem of poverty just as an aesthetic one.

Cosmetics.

Poverty stinks sometimes…but what are the reasons?

Anatole France, the French writer, is famously quoted for saying that the law prohibits, both for the poor and the rich, to steal a bread.

I think everyone understands the immediate meaning of that sentence.

It could be a problem for a shop owner.

But it depends.

I know one shop owner who gives something to anyone who asks. Food.

As long as it doesn’t grow really big, this is not a problem.

At least he seems to cope with it.

So that’s one way of dealing with poverty, illness, economic problems.

He is a Muslim, by the way.

Don’t judge people on the bottom too hard, either.

As you say, some of them have problems that would maybe be dealt with…in a normal world, when it exists. I mean, pretty often, mental problems of some kind.

Some have so much trouble it is sometimes difficult for them to…you know, behave.

If someone squeezes you real hard, and you can’t get away from it…you scream, don’t you?

In one way or another, you usually do that.

Sometimes what is needed for people is also, well, one friendly word, everybody knows that, I think.

Or maybe several words, even over time, delivered with a little compassion and maybe even some knowledge about problems.

I mean, everyone has problems.

If someone helps you in this way, it may give you a new start in coping, finding yourself again, being someone, not being…no one.

To be ignored.

But getting back on track takes time, of course.

If you feel you have never been really on track it probably takes even more time.

You don’t have to follow everyone to the end of the world, unless this is your job, if you’re only a neighbour or a passer-by, but a little of the way.

Yeah, well, this is some people’s work too.

But a word or a dime is also something.

I need to be in my own world too, but I feel sorry for people sometimes, people I see on the street.

In a neighbourhood, on a street, treat everyone like they’re one of us, to the extent that is…natural, and to the extent that you can manage.

Normal…to be treated…normal.

Hm.

To be treated…in a reasonable way.

To have a certain amount of privacy on the street is, I think, a right we have. But to be social is also a possibility, for those who want to.

The days that you manage to do such things. When you have the energy to say something or give something to a beggar.

If you were treated badly yourself, by someone, on some point…sometimes, the people you make friends with…sort of makes up for what happened to you.

They may not know, but it may still happen.

A sunny side of life, when it happens.

I hope that when you talk about filth, you mean concrete filth on the street, not people.

No man or woman is filth.

Everyone is capable of producing…filth. Making trouble.

Sometimes you make trouble for yourself. You turn it inwards instead of outwards.

Self-destruction.

Difficult thing.

So…

I guess I’m saying too much.

None of these things are easy to cope with.

But if you start realising that they are difficult, you have maybe started to solve them.

By ignoring problems…they often grow.

And of course, as a politician, you have loads of other possibilities.

Private solutions are important, as I said, public ones also necessary.