(123) Housing voucher shifts in America

The pair of commentators making up the Freakonomics franchise have enjoyed quite a bit of success and a high profile for a while now.  They made people a little uneasy with the assertion in their last book that prostitution is a clever career choice for women as long as they remember to go about it in some kind of nice middle-class kind of way.  Yeah, whatever.  Suburban-poverty.com thought they’d have made more effort to apply their quirky perspectives to the matter at hand.  This item from last fall citing Brookings Institution work seems to be about it, at least since the 2007-2008 crash.  You can confirm suburban poverty in the United States by looking at where housing vouchers are being spent.
The suburb as the slum: housing voucher shifts in America

(122) Goodbye National Council of Welfare

A lot of the coverage of the last Canadian federal budget focussed on government layoffs and cuts to the CBC.  Less attention has gone to the axing of what is called the National Council of Welfare.  This is a small government advisory body that concerns itself with “any matter relating to social development.”  With a broad, progressive mandate like that you know you are dealing with something created before the present age of neoconservative ignorance.  Since 1969 the council has communicated with ministers about:

  • income security programs
  • child benefits
  • the tax system
  • income adequacy
  • employment programs
  • the justice system
  • social services, such as child care and child welfare
  • the cost of poverty
  • specific populations such as children, lone-parent families and seniors

You’d have to wonder why such a focus is so offensive to the present government that they’d ditch an agency that provided them with insight into these areas.  Can we assume that the Harper Tories, therefore, don’t care much about these things?

The second last item on the list above should be a bit of an eye catcher: the cost of poverty.  NCW has published findings that show spending to reduce poverty would be expensive but would save Canada money because of the costs associated with poverty. This includes everything from crime to healthcare for mental illnesses caused by poverty.  Duh!   The neoconservatives project this image of being sensible, businesslike, no-nonsense types.  If there were any truth in such imagery they would be all over NCW’s findings and doing everything they can to reinforce the council, not shut it down.

The dollars and sense of solving poverty

(121) Scotland

If I told you about a country with beautiful scenery composed of mountains and coastlines, surrounded by oceans on three sides and blessed with oil wealth you could pick Scotland or Canada …and be right with either!  Liking a drink, Celtic place names and a middle class under pressure and at risk of evaporating are other things these two countries have in common. 

Reporting on Glasgow is this blog posting from the Socialist Courier.  The really funny part is how this item is from the archives, having been published in 1981! 
Getting the blues in suburbia

(120) No brakes!!!

With poverty, the fun just never stops.  Now, the automobile in North American popular culture is viewed as a great cultural leveller and class unifier.  Montreal’s Department of Public Health just spent four years looking at motor vehicle accidents and guess what they came up with?  The poorer your neighbourhood the more vehicular, pedestrian and cycling accidents take place and the more serious the nature of them.

“Gentlemen, start your engines!”

Wealth and traffic accidents: study shows poorer people many times more likely to be hurt

(119) Ed Broadbent on inequality

It’s quite heartening to see Ed Broadbent reemerging into Canada’s public realm through the creation of an institute with a major focus on economic inequality.  Even those adhering to neo-conservative thought must surely find it refreshing to come across perspectives other than their own.  Of course, that may be asking too much but  Mr. Broadbent appears intent on backing up his take on inequality, and the harm it does, with strong arguments, research and statistical evidence.  Not just the right has a tradition of vehemence, argumentativeness and truthfulness don’t you know!

At suburban-poverty.com we have high hopes that Mr. Broadbent will be successful getting the word out.  A reversal of the brain-washing, the opinions-disguised-as-the-truth, the elistist contmept and laissez-faire social policy that have been so much a part of the national life for the last three decades is long overdue.  Indeed, we remember in our teens some three decades ago, that in Canada Scandinavia-style social democracy was viewed as a perfectly rational option for the nation by a great many people.  Things turned out rather differently it would seem.  The inequality we have here now and, above all, the way it is viewed as inevitable by so many tells us that.

But efforts like that of economicinequality.ca and now Mr. Broadbent, however, show us that perhaps Canada is not a complete write off yet?  “Ready, aye ready …already!”

Broadbent Institute

(118) A word from HUD

Since suburban-poverty.com takes a global view of its namesake issue it is a little surprising we have not mentioned H.U.D.  Apparently the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development has had, shall we say, its ups and downs over the years.  Either way they have made themselves felt and been a factor shaping urban and suburban life in America for some time now.  In the winter of 2012 their Policy Development & Research people produced this item called Meeting the Challenges of Suburban Poverty. 

HUD  [Evidence Matters]

(117) Across America’s neighbourhoods: sprawl & income inequality

Dating from 2006 but still worth a mention for our purposes is this working paper from the research division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.  Yeah, you guessed it, the more cities sprawl, the worse the income inequality gets.  We are glad you have been paying attention…

Urban decentralization and income inequality: is sprawl associated with rising income segregation across neighbourhoods?

Photo: Richgellis via Wikimedia Commons

(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