(183) Qatar to the rescue

The super elites of France, the EU’s second-largest economy, may have found a way to rest a little easier.  Money!  Rivers of it!  The sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, the gas-rich and Sharia-ruled Persian Gulf state, is set to make major investments in France’s troubled suburban areas.  The banlieue frequently erupt in rioting, are chronically short of jobs and can’t be said to represent the best of French life in really any way at all.  Politicians to the right and the left seem to find reason to question to this new potentiality as many, not all but many, residents of the banlieue are muslim.  Certainly there are many problems that can be solved by throwing money at them.  Keeping people well housed and educated and healthy, for example.  Economic opportunity might be a little trickier but if we are talking about the very character of a country perhaps this nuee ardente of Qatari cash will be just what the docteur ordered!

…who is your Daddy now, France?

Qatar pours cash into France’s troubled suburbs France 24

(181) Working poor in Toronto [Report]

Flag of Toronto
T is for Toronto

T is for ten dollars and twenty-five cents an hour
T is for “totally sucks”

…which it does when you try and get by on that, the minimum wage, there.  The fact Canada is a lucky country in many ways is all very nice but that should not be used  to dismiss the need to improve wages, reduce inequality, crack down on slum landlords and build better public transit in Toronto.

Metcalf Foundation study: working poor numbers way up in Toronto

photo: alexindigo via Wikimedia Commons

(179) Automobituary

Where's the gas gone?If an alternative means of powering private motor cars is distributed widely and quickly it might stave off the disappearance of mass fleets of them and the communities designed around them.  For many, it seems, the arrival of such a means is nothing more than the continued unfolding of the story of industrial humanity.  Electric cars and hydrogen cars and cars powered by ethanol or some totally new discovery are widely assumed to be just around the corner.  Others beg to differ.  The cost and sustainability arguments demonstrating the end of vast automobility are tough to contradict when laid out in detail, …as is done in the item below.  This posting also introduces suburban-poverty.com readers to PeakProsperity: a blog, by one Chris Martenson, designed to examine social and financial assumptions about a changing world.

Demise of the car: doomed by escalating oil and infrastrucure costs

(178) Faux cities?

We’d rather live in a faux city than a genuine, certified, authentic suburb.  But then, that’s just us.  The author of this piece on Salon.com takes a critical look at new approaches to placemaking.  The ones that distinghuish themselves with a recognition of the need for improvements to liveability and atmosphere over traditional suburbia through walkability, higher densities, access to transit, sustainability, less car dependence and better aesthetics.  Many jurisdictions in North America have adopted such approaches, or at least the language of New Urbanism or Smart Growth.  Will Doig calls out recent attempts at placemaking as simply a gussied up version of the original exodus to the suburbs after 1945.  He looks past the pleasant-sounding, positivism of contemporary urban planning and placemaking and finds “shiny new cities, set in the suburbs.”  Seems a little harsh,  …but this discussion is extremely important.

Invasion of the faux cities

(177) Is growth a necessity?

Currency from a time of hyperinflation.After the 80s crash, again in 1992 and after the dot-com crash of 2000 or so there was reason to question the sustainability and necessity for returning to high-levels of global economic growth. The persistance of the Great Recession sees reasoned arguments emerging again for managing advanced economies on behalf of something other than whacky, destructive boom-and-bust cycles.  If capitalism is to be the dominant economic structure a new approach will be adopted in some form, sooner or later.  Why not take it on now by choice, when there are still some resources and some leeway left?  Thoughts from Germany…

Germany’s ‘post-growth’ movement: prompted by concerns for the environment and secure in their prosperity, many Germans are questioning the value of growth

photo: Adam Crowe via Flickr

(176) Good for Greg!

We mean that headline without any sarcasm.  None at all.  Who would but admire the current mayor of Phoenix, Arizona for trying to feed himself on barely thirty bucks for a week?  That’s the food stamp budget for a single person.  Out of a population of six and a half million just over one million Arizonans are in poverty and using food stamps.  Mayor Greg Stanton recorded the experience on a Facebook page and, as you might expect, it wasn’t easy.  But you know what?  A mayor should show solidarity with his people, especially those in hard times.  That is what Mr. Stanton is trying to do.  Good for him.  There are some interesting links in this piece if you are curious about the US food stamp program.  The program is actually in serious jeopardy as deals cut between Obama and the Republicans will strike at keystone social programs in January.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton Lives On Food Stamp Budget For A Week
Huffington Post

see also:
(45) Dollartrauma at Dollarama

How Do You Take Your Poison? Chris Hedges on Truthdig re January

(175) Oh Canada!

Canada GooseWe found it convenient to ignore most of the editorial content that surfaced in the media early this month in connection to Labour Day.  Too much of it was pious and nostalgic.  We’ll make a belated exception for this piece from Sid Ryan, a fixture in Canada’s labour circles for decades.  Mr Ryan calls attention to what a joke it is here for many working people.  We may be better off than workers elsewhere, particularly in America, but this is scant relief to those in low wage service sector jobs where security and benefits appear to be evaporating.  Case-in-point, the treatment of Zellers workers after the takeover of the chain by American retailer Target.  To this picture Mr. Ryan reminds us to add a new federal program for fast-tracking temporary foreign workers who can be paid up to fifteen percent lower wages.  Just what we need in Ontario as the condo/real estate boom begins to stutter.  Soon, there will hardly be a job left for anyone in this province.  One of our editorial interns asked us to point out that in decades of working dead end jobs no union ever came anywhere near them.

Labour Day: spare a thought for Canada’s new underclass

Ontario Federation of Labour