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.
Econometrics don’t fully account for the quality of life in a country. For many years there has been a strong desire to have other benchmarks for assessing the big picture that include imponderables, things like cultural participation, personal happiness, stress and security, working hours, crime, family life, environmental quality, levels of harm associated with economic acitivity, volunteer activity and so on. We suspect suburban poverty, a complex and underreported phenomenon, might be easier to understand (and then fix) with more socially conscious benchmarking tools. The article linked below describes a good effort in this direction. New Canadian Index of Wellbeing reveals how Canadians are really faring Toronto Star
Worrisome reading about Las Vegas, Nevada and poverty. Probably the ultimate in suburban statements in its day, one has to wonder what kind of future this desert city has. A near total dependency on motor vehicles, air conditioning and water from far away makes for some hair-raising possible futures. Does it seem like the economy there is recovering in any way? Will real estate values go up again? Is it a matter of just waiting around for the next real estate boom?
If gargoyles could vomit with disgust somebody would be hanging up buckets at Humber College’s Lakeshore campus next week. The college, located in a converted Edwardian psychiatric hospital on the shore of Lake Ontario in Toronto, is hosting two eating contests. This is a place of education that trains social service workers and community service workers. Suburban-poverty.com thinks this is wrong in so many ways. There are food banks in every corner of the GTA now and there are people experiencing starvation in the world beyond. What kind of signal does this send to low income students or young women experiencing eating disorders and to the world at large about Humber? Why does the Humber Student Federation think it’s okay to put on this kind of event, supported by student fees? This is just more evidence, written in all caps in a font called Frat Boy Idiot, of just how low the level of mindfulness, social consciousness, and general discussion of poverty and other issues can be. Shame on you Humber if you go ahead with this. A growing number of students object to the eating contests and hopefully they will be heard by management in time to kill them stone dead. Even a gargoyle can figure this one out.
I was driving through Philly the other day and …blah, blah, blah, …poor people.
We thought it good form to find some content from the interwebs that contradicted our own take on the issue at hand lest we be judged smug, dismissive. A semi-anonymous blog post from this summer fits the bill nicely and is linked to below. It employs the relativity argument. Not derived from Einstein’s view of the universe this is a technique beloved of those politically to the right. A cross-comparison to global poverty is usually involved. It is designed to shut down arguments about social policy in a developed country and is, in our experience, driven by fear, loathing and the lack of experience of life though it is usually presented as highly rational and objective. Such positions on social matters remind us that the battle against poverty need be waged as much in middle and upper class brains as in government offices, clothing banks, soup kitchens and shelters. Suburban poverty?The Burning Platform