Tag Archives: solutions

(1068) Subdivided. City Building in an Age of Hyper-Diversity [Book review]

Subdivided. City Building In An Age of Hyper-Diversity
Jay Pitter & John Lorinc, editors
2016. Coach House Books, Toronto
279 pages. $20.95 CAN
This collection of essays was much tougher reading than we expected.  After nearly six years blogging about social difficulty in the suburbs we don’t expect to be unnerved by our topic.  Subdivided unnerved us.
The good old days of multiculturalism, in which eastern and southern Europeans (and maybe a few other groups), found Toronto adjusting to, and eventually welcoming, them are long gone.  In its place, we now see an ever bigger and richer Toronto home to newcomers in a living arrangement of hyper-diversity.  This infinitely more complex Toronto is by turns depressing, ugly, unjust and unequal despite recurrent commentary about its peacefulness, high socio-cultural potential and general awesomeness.
Subdivided delivers unto us many a less-than-comfortable truth.  There’s too many people here in isolated lives centred on a combination of shit jobs and lacklustre housing.  Reading Subdivided made us feel like Toronto’s diversity is the stuff of an Adam Curtis documentary, another nightmarish expression of the global economic machine and its operating system, neoliberalism.
That toughness of presentation is what makes this collection of essays so amazing, so real.  It’s hard to think of any other such wellspring of direct, sustained observation of what it is really like to live here.  A chapter on Brampton, for example, brings forth a wave of nausea faster than a jar of expired mayonnaise.  ‘Browntown’ is next door to suburban-poverty.com’s backyard, we can attest to the truth of what is said here about Brampton.  Same for another entry on Mississauga, which is literally our backyard.  You’d almost wonder why Canada bothers attracting new residents to its Sprawlvilles.  Except perhaps as a cycnical ploy to increase domestic markets and the tax base and to fulfill some corporate/ideological role in the global economy.
What to do?  Good transit, a strong social safety net, higher wages, police reform, and affordable housing would help us toward a healthy, cross-connected society according to the essays in Subdivided.  None of these things will be achieved quickly or cheaply, though.
We better get busy before something really awful comes of the present lame and indifferent regime of city building in greater Toronto.  Stress is not good for the indivdual or the community.  Stress and reaction brought us Rob Ford, the scale model mock up of Donald Trump.  Who knows what the stresses of race and class we are leaving in place will inflict on us?  We aren’t Milwaukee yet but how much longer will we sleepwalk into this?

We suggest future editions of Subdivided include a stamped, pre-addressed thank you card readers can mail to the one percent.

Buy Subdivided for your unnerved urban affairs shelf.

(1066) Food security & basic income

shopping-cart-in-the-snow
Good news, even as winter approaches: in 2017 Ontario can expect to see a basic income pilot project.  Hopefully that means that Canada’s largest province is on the path to adopting a benefit regime that will truly secure its people against poverty.  We’ve been sold on the idea of a universal right to an income for as long as we can remember.  It seems to us that nearly every form of social difficulty could be improved upon if nobody in this society was below a certain level.  On the other hand, we could indeed be looking at yet another ‘cycle of consultation’.  You know, another rationalised round of reportage, fact gathering and public hearings that  kick the issue of poverty down the road and toward the next election.  Public pressure might make all the difference, though.
Extra bonus: it would seem a good way to innoculate our society against the rise of Trumpist-style influences, a comprehensive ticket to change for the better.  This winter thoughts of a basic income will be keeping the staff at suburban-poverty.com feeling warm inside.
Basic income pilot consultation
ontario.ca
Basic income can reduce food insecurity and improve health
University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine

image: chuddlesworth via Flickr/CC

(1038) Busways can help

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While busways may not be as cool as LRT and HSR lines, regional rail networks or subways they certainly seem to have a place in addressing suburban poverty.  How so?  By helping carless/low income workers get around better.  At any rate, here is a specific US example of the busway benefit.

How Montgomery County’s bus rapid transit can alleviate suburban poverty
streetsblog.net

image: BeyondDC via Flickr/CC

(1037) Love basic income

Une affiche qui mesure 8000m2 et pese sept tonne a ete posee, ce samedi 14 mai 2016, sur la Plaine de Plainpalais a Geneve par une centaine de benevoles. La plus grande question du monde y est posee: WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOUR INCOME WERE TAKEN CARE OF? concernant la mise en place d un revenu de base inconditionnel qui sera l objet des prochaines votations du 5 juin prochain. Cette affiche bat le record actuel du livre Guiness des records pour la plus grande affiche du monde. (KEYSTONE/Magali Girardin)

It must be love, the way we keep on coming back to basic income on this blog.  Expecting a deeper discussion of the matter in the near future.
To wit:
A new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: A policy maker’s guide to basic income
(link to 42-page .pdf file)

A second CCPA report:
Basic income: rethinking social policy
(link to 62-page .pdf file)

An item from the Summer 2016 edition of Canadian Dimension which was devoted to the topic of basic income:
More smoke than substance in Canadian plans. Ontario wants pilot project, Quebec advocates tiny steps
Canada: please imitate:
GERMANY: single-issue political party founded to promote UBI

(1031) Basic income & automation

robotHere’s a discussion on National Public Radio of something with which we are totally down: basic income.  Automation is coming, yes.  Robots, too.  Just the other day one of our interns was in a very well-known Scottish restaurant chain and reported back that they have these new oversized iPod things on which you order your burgers instead of telling an employee what you want.
As our jobs are automated, some say we’ll need a guaranteed basic income (audio 4:18 & URLs)
KQED/NPR

image: Ellie Myers via Flickr/CC

(1006) A little help has big impact on homelessness [Study]

Help
A US study finds tactical, one-time cash assistance in the amount of $1000 has a really good influence on the lives of those about to tip  into homelessness.  Even the crudest cost/benefit analysis of keeping one person out of homelessness, let alone many, ought to reveal the good common sense of this kind of social spending.  An ounce of prevention…
A bit of cash can keep a person off the streets for 2 years or more
sciencemag.com

image: duncan c via Flickr/CC

(997) Helicopter money: an open letter from economists

helicopterHelicopter money sounds like just plain fun after decades of neoconservative misery.  A glib prescription for monetary policy from a senior economist made years ago: toss money out of helicopters over major cities to stimulate the economy.  He was only partly kidding.  It’s a more fun name for basic income.
Cash handouts are best way to boost growth, say economists. In letter to the Guardian, 35 economists state that providing money directly to households would be most effective policy