Canadian Thanksgiving weekend comes upon us and we do find plenty to be thankful for. The country remains blessed and peaceful. All the more reason to question the kind of poverty found even where the banks are apparently sensible and the tar sands melt into money. There is always a flip side to a resources boom, always. Vibrant Communities Calgary, a non-profit agency addressing poverty, details the nature of the problem in a blog and through other resources and intiatives in areas from wages to free transit on election days.
…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.
photo: alexindigo via Wikimedia Commons
Just around the corner from the site of Mitt Romney’s recent public suicide we find Tampa, Florida. Like many a town in that flat and sunny state, the one so beloved by Canadians, Tampa bought into the sprawl-based economy and now finds itself paying a price. Reports of enormous struggle for working people and the poor made it into the Huffington Post recently. As we’ve discovered elsewhere, the lack of public transit in the suburbs makes things tough. Thonotosassa, just northeast of Tampa near I-75 could almost be the sunbelt poster child of America’s new suburban poverty. A link within this piece to a Tampa Bay Times article from last year tells us of an increase in those in poverty from fifteen percent of the community to forty percent! It doesn’t sound like the sunny weather makes up for it.
photo: Tampa CIty Hall: TampAGS via Wikimedia Commons
Okay, let’s see if we got this straight. A couple of US academics just issued a report on research indicating that the level of economic inequality in the United States right now is worse than it was in 1774.
Time to use the F-word. WHAT THE FUCK is with that?
People, please now, …the steam engine and the Model T were not even on the drawing board then. In 1774, the drawing board hadn’t been invented. Slavery was legal …and would be in America for another hundred years.
Not worse in the Great Depression of the 1930s but in the 1770s.
For fuck’s sake, America.
U.S. Income Inequality Worse Now Than In 1774: Study
Hopefully suburban-poverty.com’s readership had a restful, thoughtful long weekend. We gave the Research Department their day off and spent some time online ourselves looking into all things suburban. Curiously, we found a Wikipedia page we knew would be of interest from the title alone: List of Largest Suburbs by Population. Alas, the entry lacks references which made us a little wary. A quick check via Google and the numbers seem roughly correct, just a little out of date.
So, looking through the list of incorporated exurbs with at least 700,000 people a couple of things stand out. First, we recognized only four or five of thirty-seven places. All but one of the largest suburbs are in fast-growing Third World countries, with the exception of Japan and South Korea. Only a single place on the list was in a First World, English-speaking country: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. …this also being home turf for suburban-poverty.com!!!
Labour Day long weekend is upon us and most of the population of the province of Ontario will pile onto the 400-series highways. A crush of motor vehicles bookends the final days of summer for those with access to lakes, cottages, boating and so forth. Such privileges are meant to be enjoyed and Ontario, especially its densely populated southern parts, has been a busy province these past six or so decades. The economic statistics for Canada’s largest province are staggering, 12.8 million people crank it out to the tune of over 600 billion dollars a year. A shade more GDP than Sweden. That makes Ontario the 25th largest economic unit by GDP in the world and the source of 40% of the Canadian economy. All the more depressing then to come across another negative report about poverty and inequality and threats to the standard of living in Ontario. A place that built 2.1 million automobiles in 2011, many for export all over the world.
A couple of days ago Ontario Common Front (see their Facebook page) released a report placing Ontario at the bottom of the list for social program spending, access to programs and support for public services. Education, health care and the affordability of housing are also examined and found problematic. We can’t think of anything directly related to the standard of living and quality of life of the population here that has been left out. Something like 100 labour groups are part of this organization and the report is dense with worrisome statistics. In turn, we fear it will get too little media attention as Ontarians enjoy their last weekend of the summer, and begin to think about sending children back to school. Nonetheless, an election is coming. One in which a reasonable centrist government will come under attack by eager neo-conservative/neo-liberal forces. Perhaps this report will be a wake up call to all concerned? National news outlets and most provincial newspapers with an online presence have picked it up.
image: Wikimedia Commons
Money doesn’t grow on trees but it sure doesn’t mind having them around. That’s what some recent research into the relationship between tree cover and income has determined. The relationship appears to be reliable and is demonstrable numerically: the richer you are the more tree cover around you. This is visible from space, people.
Income inequality can be seen from space boingboing.net
photo: Wikimedia Commons
One of the editorial interns at suburban-poverty.com came across a fantastic resource today: The Atlas of Suburbanisms from Waterloo University. Just getting to say a word like suburbanisms brings a joy to our hearts, …let alone the content!
The content is, of course, what’s important and as a tool for literacy in Canadian suburbia this site is powerful stuff. The focus is Canada’s three largest urban-suburban agglomerations: Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. Other communities are also examined. The information is timely, well presented. The more we read, the more we look at the maps and tables and analysis the more impressed we are with this site. Part of the problem of understanding suburban life lies in the difficulty of agreeing to the language to apply to it. The Atlas of Suburbanisms takes us beyond this initial confusion, shows us what is there, …shows us ourselves!
This week in suburban poverty has seen multiple versions of a headline roughly like this: “US poverty at highest levels since 1960s”. Media outlets, mainstream and alternative alike, appear to be acknowledging there is a problem more than ever. So they should, and doubly so as there is an election on in the United States. The data in this coverage is from an Associated Press survey done in anticipation of this fall’s 2011 US census data.
For many, the sixties are ancient history and yet others recall in some fashion a decade when social issues, including poverty, were seen to be in the realm of resolvable problems. There was even talk of a “war on poverty” and a Great Society under Lyndon Johnson. It looks like the gains made in the era of Kennedy photo ops in Appalachia are in danger if one in six Americans are now in poverty!