(84) Mind the gap

When Arianna Huffington sold her news aggregation site to Yahoo! we were concerned about what looked like another sell out of a smaller, interesting, independent entity to a mass media conglomerate.  The jury is still out on that one but we think we all agree that socially conscious reportage certainly doesn’t hurt anybody’s image.  Mind the Gap is a new ongoing feature on HuffPost’s Canada page.  Among other poverty-enhancing things, it turns out that the increase in income inequality has jacked up the cost of housing for all income groups.

Mind the Gap Huffington Post

(83) 1 MILLIONth TOWER

We don’t know if there are a million towers out there but certainly the reinforced concrete high rise apartment or condominium building is one of the most readily encountered artefacts of humanity and home to many, many people.  An example of one was used as the banner image for this blog.  The Toronto area alone is said to have about 2,000 large residential towers.  Although it is remarkably easy to come up with critiques of such buildings and their effect on human communities it is kinda tough to find anyone doing anything really meaningful to imagine better for them and their residents.  The documentary linked below, from Canada’s National Film Board, steps into the gap and asks a small group of high rise residents to imagine better.  You’d have to be one hard hearted human being not to feel something while watching this six minute documentary.

Also see (61) Flemo!

(82) Work, weapons, wars…

On, of all days, Remembrance Day, we came across a chart of the unemployment rate for US veterans under the age of 34 (i.e. Iraq & Afghanistan).  The chart is from Business Week online but suburban-poverty.com came across it on a blog called Global Guerrillas.  The latter concerns itself with geopolitical developments and the future of armed conflict.  How do we connect all that to suburban poverty?
The author at Global Guerrillas finds much to ponder as to how this unemployment may influence domestic conditions in the United States.  Is there reason to think these unemployed individuals may act in ways that are genuinely threatening to civil society?  Will they be exploited in a semiparalyzed, financially discombobulated political arena also increasingly full of incoherence and vehemence?  Even those only moderately literate in history find the mind racing to compare this prospect to the story of Weimar Germany, the short lived parliamentary republic (1919-1933) in which German totalitariansim was born.  Add Global Guerrillas to your blog reading list as you watch this part of the way things are developing in the United States.
Global Guerrillas:
Resilient communities and networked economies.  Open source insurgency and systems disruption.

(81) Death of the liberal class [Book review]

Suburbia could be said to have been a product of liberal values like redistribution of wealth, upward mobility, technological progress, public education, a merit-based system of economic rewards and rising standards of living.  Will it then die in the unfolding of the world as seen by Chris Hedges?  It’s a grim picture dear readers.  Hedges has given us a long, well written goodbye to liberals and their institutions.  What little is left of liberal values is seen as nothing more than a mask hiding corporate power and abuse.  We are two thirds finished this book and find it so powerful we decided to waste no time recommending it.  You have to be tough to make it through this one, though.  Hedges is describing a world gone to hell.  Politics and government, the arts, war, business, mass media, education, …nothing escapes.  Moral critique at its best, truly Hedges is a super-brained, seminary-schooled, war reporting version of Michael Moore.
All the more shame to CBC pseudo-journalist Kevin O’leary for his attempt to denigrate Hedges in October during an interview about the Occupy movement.  Imagine referring to a well-educated, heavily-published, Pulitzer-winning writer with a powerful sense of morality as someone who sounds like a “left wing nut job.”

(78) Students! Find out how screwed you are

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

(77) Buffalo

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.

Suburban plight for poor BuffaloNews.com

(76) Bank Transfer Day & Global No Banking Week [December 1st – 7th]

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 Day this 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.

(75) At least one banker has it figured out… [Ed Clark of Canada’s TD Bank]

 fancy bank regulated

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 check Toronto Star