Category Archives: link

(116) F-35s, inequality & Ed Broadbent

Look at this stupid thing!  They call that a fighter plane?  For starters, it looks like a toy carved from a dirty bar of soap with a set of bus wheels stuck underneath.  Naming this glorified laptop after the American P-38 Lightning of the Second World War shows just how desperate the military industrial complex has become.  The cost overruns are not even really the problem, they are apparently quite normal where this type of project is concerned.  The lack of competitive bidding is also secondary to suburban-poverty.com.  There will even be jobs if the purchase goes through, always a good thing, and Canada needs defence gear in a dangerous, resource-hungry world.  What pisses us off, besides how lame looking this thing is when put up against the diversity of flying machines the world has come up with over the last hundred years, is the relationship between this weapon system and poverty and inequality.  How can we have the money for this and precious little else?  If we have Yankee wars, Yankee ghettos and Yankee justice then we might as well have Yankee fighter planes screaming through the skies protecting the glory of it all, yah, is that it?
Linda McQuaig mentioned the F-35s today in her column in the Toronto Star.  She seems dead against them across the board and she mentioned how the $10bn in cost overruns (so far!) have left the Tories blubbering despite their projection of an image of fiscal sensibility.  The latter is a ticket Tories and Reformers and Republicans have been cashing at election time for decades now.  We’ll forever wonder why.
Ms McQuaig, a lefty, also mentioned the Tories’ recent demolition of a modest program of financial support to a partly volunteer-run initiative that maintains internet access in public libraries.  This was done in the name of austerity and financial sensibility.
Not only were the Super Hornet, SAAB and Eurofighter products left out of consideration but their planes are totally hot looking and some of them have two engines!!  The latter is somewhat important when you are flying over the second largest country in the world.  The toy above only has one.  What happens when you are thousands of kilometers from a runway and you lose an engine?  Goodbye zillion dollar killing machine, that’s what.  Certainly, suburban-poverty.com finds itself mostly in agreement with Ms. McQuaig, who established herself as a package of intelligence, wit and truthfulness in our books some time ago.
Reaching even further back in time was an article on the very same page of the same newspaper, Canada’s largest, from Ed Broadbent.  We remember our childhood when Mr. Broadbent was leader of the opposition and our working class Scottish parents would nod approvingly whenever he was on the news and would vote for him.  He never got to be PM, perhaps back then the people felt they were still going somewhere and didn’t really need him.  Either way, Mr. Broadbent came out swinging at economic inequality in Canada.  His take is backed up by public opinion research.  It seems inequality has begun to worry Canadians on a number of levels.  It seems they are sober about realizing they have to remain willing to pay taxes to preserve fairness and the quality of life. Like Ms McQuaig’s piece it makes for interesting reading.  Does it take a genius, or a Toronto Star editor, to place inequality and F-35 Lightnings on the same page?

(114) New England

One of the principal authors of Brookings Institution material on suburban poverty, Elizabeth Kneebone, wrote the piece Poverty In New England: It’s a Suburban Thing for an online publication belonging to the Boston Federal Reserve Bank last year.  Normally we wouldn’t expect to find them particularly in touch with the realities of poverty so perhaps this indicates the seriousness of the matter?  We’ve been hearing talk about recovery from the United States but the reality might be no more than election-related palaver and gasoline prices are on the rise again.  The latter is now fully associated with recessionary activity and the continued blooming of suburban poverty.
Poverty In New England

(113) Economic Inequality forum at Metropolitan United

Economic Inequality held another public forum yesterday at Metropolitan United Church.  Three speakers weighed in on the matter, Jim Stanford, an economist with the Canadian Auto Workers was first with an early highlight in which he referred to FOX-style business “journalist” Kevin O’Leary as an asshole.  John Ralston Saul, president of PEN International and author made being a serious, history-minded public intellectual look so easy that even we are thinking of applying for such a position.

Tanya Zakrison, a surgeon from Doctors for Fair Taxation also weighed in on the realities of inequality.  Her phrase, “trauma is a political disease” will remain with us among our impressions of the two hour event. John Sewell and Liz Rykoff were there to act as hosts and are from the organzation’s steering committee.  Mike Ford handled the music.

Suburban-poverty.com attended the last forum, in Etobicoke.  Monday’s forum involved a larger crowd and there was less audience participation.  We found it educational and were heartened by the brain power on display and by the calibre of the arguments made against the aging bromides of neo-conservatism.  John Ralston Saul’s sense of Canadian history and the value he places on the relationship between democracy and the intelligence of the people is so nice to hear.

Metropolitan United Church was a good choice of venue.  Its community services efforts in the basement include a drop-in and meal program.  Open that day, it fed the homeless, provided referrals and other services to those in deep social difficulty, facing low income, personal problems, social exclusion …the very effects of inequality.

Doctors for Fair Taxation
Economic Inequality
nb: expired links 🙁

image: Metropolitan Methodist Church, (United), Toronto, 1896

(112) Wool hat

How cool is this dear readers?  One of suburban-poverty.com’s fine, talented, fans has knitted us a hat with our URL on it!!!  We were truly touched, charmed and delighted to behold this hand knit, funky wonder hat.

(111) Suburban poverty & the next US election

Like most Canadians, we at suburban-poverty.com watch developments south of the border with more than a little interest, alternating between horror, fascination, jealousy and disgust frequently, sometimes by the hour.  With the election cycle grinding into gear and lumbering forward like some First World War tank we have been on the watch for evidence that the social phenomenon of suburban poverty is on any candidate’s radar.  No luck with the various Republican critters at large and Obama is biding his time it would seem.
Still, we were pleased to see an item yesterday on the New York Times opinion page called The New Suburban Poverty.  A nice piece it is, from the author of a book called, steady yourselves dear readers, Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right.  With historical elements and some thought for the the new suburban poverty and its effect on America’s political life the author can see change coming.

It is not likely that the 2012 election will be the terrain of the bold, although President Obama’s proposal for tax increases on the wealthy is a step in the right direction. At this point, the festering pain in suburbia may not translate into suburban support for increased public revenues and spending. But as suburbs redefine themselves to grapple with the reality of poverty in their midst, public solutions will likely find growing appeal in places whose voters have historically favored fiscal conservatism.”

The New Suburban Poverty by Lisa McGirr

(110) Inequality forum

LAMP has been a social services presence in Etobicoke for some time now and so it makes sense that they would help bring an Economic Inequality forum to Toronto’s west end.  The forum, one of three so far, is designed to get dialogue and action going in regard to the way societies like this one have just become giant machines for making the rich richer.  This is the considered, brainy, indoors, post-Occupy response I think a lot of us have been looking forward to seeing for a while now.   The suburban character of poverty, everything from aging highrises to the need for public transit spending, was fully acknowledged. Kay Blair, John Sewell and David Hulchanski spoke on behalf of the need to develop a broad popular agenda in favour of changing inequality.  The event was quite audience friendly and the reasonable array of ideas, the well-considered social awareness in evidence was a lovely contrast to the kind of reactive nonsense we hear from right wing critters in public office and in the media too often.
We told them so on their Facebook page!  They gave out some literature about inequality, gathered suggestions and the Etobicoke Guardian covered the event.  Hopefully this is going somewhere.

The next related event is at Metropolitan United Church on March 26.

Economic Inequality home page
Economic Inequality Facebook

(109) Aging suburbia: assume the crash position!

One of suburban-poverty’s interns came to the office looking rather the worse for the wear today.  Apparently they could not sleep because of a night terror.  She was being driven across the suburbs by an octogenarian relative with very poor eyesight in a twenty-year-old old Nissan Pathfinder with a rusted out frame.  The driver couldn’t remember where anything was, and began mashing the gas and brakes on his V-6 engined nag in equal parts frustration with himself and rage at the price of gas.  Pothole after pothole  battered our poor intern into a queasy terror as the Pathfinder caromed off rotting curbs, felled a rusty lamp post and mangled a disused mailbox before arriving at the half dead mall beside the tent city.

What are we all to do when this nightmare becames reality?  Getting around is among the top one or two issues for suburbanites.  How old age improves on that issue we don’t know.  Readers may share our intern’s concern about the future of motorized suburban living.  Indeed, right now, a threat to the ability to drive about at whim would undermine the entire quality of life of possibly tens of millions of North Americans.  Particularly for the elderly, we worry about the future of car-dependent living arrangements.

On top of the weird economics of suburbia and the shortage of public transit out there in Toofartowalkland comes the aging of physical infrastructure interacting with the aging human bodily infrastructure of suburbia.   …assume the crash position, people!

Aging in the American suburbs: a changing population Aging Well Magazine

photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

(107) New Metropolis

A two-part film documentary about America`s aging “inner ring” or “first” suburbs as they are called was released recently.  The piece is called The New Metropolis and was intended to get dialogue going about the future of these places.  A lot of these older suburbs have been losing population and economic viability at a time when the economy is not great and their physical infrastructure, public and private alike, is aging and in need of major investment, or even outright replacement.  The link below provides more information on the film and supporting video from its website.  Well worth a look.  The second and third links are from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area where the older suburbs are experiencing exactly the kind of change described in the movie.
New Metropolis site 
Declining suburbs: Twin Cities-area project focuses on how to revitalize these communities 
Daily Planet
Twin Cities suburb growth becomes thing of the past StarTribune Local