A major guarantor of future suburban poverty (and of every other kind of poverty) is contemporary student debt. It must be getting pretty bad because during the last provincial election the Ontario Public Service Employees Union put up a bright red website all about it with the catchy name How Screwed Are You? This was downright feisty and the media are still taking notice of some of the harrowing stories of serfdom-at-twenty-five. With the Tories ascendant federally it only makes sense that Canadian politics and labour relations get amped up a bit. In the past Canadians were known as nice people who were ‘happy for no apparent reason.’ Think that’ll last another generation? Think there’s enough money in the tar sands to fix this one? Students! Find out how screwed you really are
Is it too much a statement of the obvious to cross connect the decline of manufacturing in western countries with suburban poverty? Buffalo, NY, which is now the third poorest city in the United States, would seem to be a case in point. An economy dominated by financial services seems to act as a vast wealth collector for the super elites. A manufacturing economy does the same but required inputs of labour which in turn required wages be paid out to the wider community. It could also be said that there was an integrity, a moral good to be had in making the things one uses.
This image is from the Facebook icon of Global No Banking Week. Its organizers are asking the world not to go to the bank during the first week of December. The idea is to give the banks a warning in the form of reduced transaction fees and business volume.
Along with Bank Transfer Daythis effort is rooted in the ideas that gave birth to the occuppy demonstrations. Neither GNBW or BTD are associated with the various occupy groups (or with each other) yet they are an opportunity for those who cannot, or will not, camp out to show their feelings about the world financial system.
GNBW is not affiliated with any political organization of any kind, requires no signatures or anything other than a little bit of planning ahead and yet is an enormously huge potential source of power – if enough people support it. As of this blog post GNBW has all of 4 Facebook “likes” and a bare bones web presence. Given the seriousness of events in the global economy since 2007-2008 this number can only grow.
Today, November 5th, is Bank Transfer Day. It will be interesting to see what kind of media coverage it gets and how many Americans will walk through the doors of how many banks and do the deed, move their money to non TARP banks, small ocal banks and credit unions. Interesting days, indeed.
Doesn’t take much for the dissonance to emerge from discussions of poverty and social conditions. Why in Canada, or elsewhere, is a big banker like Ed Clark so hard to find? Why is he the lone rebel, the challenger, the man sought out by high end business schools looking for nervy opinions and outside-the-box ideas about social issues? Goar: Business elite gets a reality checkToronto Star
American state and municipal governments have seen their finances pounded since 2007. That’s a bad development for everyone because those are the levels of government the most number of people are the closest to. When we read items like the one below from Governing we get a detailed sense of how tough things can be. Again, the communication difficulties and costs associated with doing business in the suburbs make the delivery of health and social services all the more problematic. There’s also a cultural dimension that goes underappreciated. It seems that people with middle class assumptions often adjust poorly to hard times and lack even basic knowledge of where to go to get help when they hit the skids. Poverty comes to the suburbs: poverty is encroaching on suburban enclaves — even the most affluent of them. Many are ill-equipped to meet the new social-service needs.
While consuming an overpriced coffee product this morning we accidentally read part of today’s Globe & Mail. It was left behind on a table in a Barstuck’s coffee shop in Toronto’s financial district. The usual doom-and-gloom and consumerism filled the paper but we were heartened to see one article: a double pager with no ads about food bank use in every province. Maps and graphics made for factually solid reading. At suburban-poverty.com we are torn by media coverage of poverty. We are glad to see it and we hate to see it.
Ironically, we were on our way to Metropolitan United Church Community Services where participation in the Out-of-the-Cold program is under way. Thusly aligning the reality of the Globe piece with our own, however fleetingly. Curiously, we were chatting with several of suburban-poverty.com’s board of governors the other day and we remarked that when we were in Grade 8 there were no food banks, but there was this Prime Minister named Mulroney…
Here’s a recent feature from the Toronto Star about inequality. Written by J David Hulchanski, a university of Toronto social work academic, it notably takes up the language of the occupy movement. That movement may fade a little as winter weather sets in but suburban-poverty.com feels it is now a full contributor to the general discourse in the United States and the United Kingdom. In Canada it is not as developed. Mixed feelings about the banks do exist here but there is a genuine sense that the regulatory environment and the corporate culture in banks here deserve some moral credit for keeping us a little more secure than elsewhere.
Don’t get us wrong, the fact Canadian banks didn’t deliver us unto a foreclosure crisis or help themselves to even more of our money in the form of direct bailouts should probably not be viewed as a major favour. That goes double when you consider two more things. Firstly, “our” banks have been drawing on a major piece of real estate, the second largest country in the world for two hundred years so they can afford to be well regulated and like it along the way. Second, we bail them out indirectly every day in the form of transaction fees. Suburban-poverty.com’s treasurer was aghast the other day to have an ATM screen inform him of a new $1 charge for printing a statement the size of a modest convenience store receipt. All those “tips” add up, people.
Hulchanski’s article elaborates on an established concept, the emergence of three cities in the Greater Toronto Area. Basically it’s about the death of the middle class. Statistics, a graph and a map indicate the reality of suburban poverty in the fifth largest city in North America, Canada’s business capital and a vast area increasingly defined by, and living off of the avails of, suburban sprawl. The 99% know all about inequality
[statistics for 1970 & 2005 – projections for 2025]
When we started up this blog we told ourselves to never, ever use the schoolyard phrase “told ya so” in regard to suburban poverty. Oh well, looks like we let it get to us after reading this item and just broke our promise.
All these years we’ve had a funny little feeling about just what’s behind some of the crazy shit we’ve seen propping up in the global economy. Now, from, of all places, The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich comes an answer. The 147 do not form a fully coscious collusion but this is something to be concerned about regardless of the economic dogma you adhere to.