Tag Archives: economic aspects

(1129) May Day: pizzas & pink slips


May Day perhaps offers us a moment or two for thinking about the future of work and wages in years to come.
Also, robots.
The next big thing in construction robotics is building big.
Automation has revolutionized factory work. Now researchers have their sights set on construction
cbc.ca/news
Domino’s turns to robots to deliver pizza
robotics.news
Where machines could replace humans – and where they can’t (yet)
mckinsey.com

(1044) The G-word

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Oh dear, we admit we’ve dodged directly addressing gentrification at suburban-poverty.com for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, it’s more  often attached to the core of a given city than its suburbs.  Also, the g-word seems to shut conversation down because of its controversial dimension.  These two items might help us unpack things, at least a bit.
Gentrification and the suburbs.  Tear-downs and McMansions in inner ring suburban neighbourhoods
Simon Fraser University Urban Studies talk
(video 1:32:06)
Beware the vibrant, emerging, misleading language of gentrification
theguardian.com
(see other items under left hand link gentrification)

image: What What via Flickr/CC

(1019) Making stuff

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We see that one feature of deindustrialization is the idealization of manufacturing as a source of employment at good wages and for good purposes.  Taking raw materials and adding value to them by transforming them into cars, musical instruments, Christmas ornaments, kitchen appliances and so forth is upheld by most as a good thing.  Known as a font of pride and prosperity for many communities in the past, we often hear lamentations at the loss of industrial jobs and detect a fear at the spread of precarious work in its place.  Others nurture their nostalgia for the industrial past, wishing to make America great again, for example.
With such things in mind, we came across a couple of features recently.  One looks into the economics of returning the United States to a manufacturing-based economy (not gonna happen).  The second pays a visit to a city in China that churns out a vast daily tonnage of plastic crap for consumption via dollar stores in formerly industrial places (Merry Christmas!).  The third takes a position on Donald Trump’s neocon nihilism (not pretty).
Can we bring back many factory jobs? Let’s do the math
counterpunch.org
The Chinese city bursting with tchotchkes
citylab.com (see embedded links)

Why Trump won’t save the rust belt
nytimes.com

image: aNto via Flickr/CC

(1007) Bantustanada 2040

Vancouver MapCounterfactual propositions are most times best avoided.  We all are hungry for glimpses of the future, sure.  That part is okay.  There’s just too much risk of distraction in many a creative “what if” scenario, too much room for wild swings of positive or negative projection.  Let’s make an exception today for this dystopic reflection on an imagined socioeconomic existence for Vancouver, BC.  Yikes!  This can’t be a future anybody wants a part of.

How Vancouver’s housing segregation became policy: a 2040 look back. Decades from now, researchers reflect with shock, pity on what led to creation of regional, economically unequal ‘bantustans’
thetyee.ca

image: via basementgeographer.com – CC

 

 

(1003) San Francisco’s scavenging economics tighten up

aluminium cansScavenging is one of the oldest continuous forms of industry found in human settlements.  Never romanticized,
it nonetheless seems to be always with us.  The value of aluminium cans and other recyclables travels up and down much like that of say oil.  When the price is good scavengers get busy creating a commodity from rejected material and earn some minor income for themselves.  Spend any time in a built-up area and you eventually spot scavengers.  That bastion of high priced housing and advanced technology, San Francisco, is no exception.  Lately, though, the cities network of businesses where pop cans and such are redeemed has begun to thin out.  This is tough on the scavengers.

Collecting cans to survive: a ‘dark future’ as California recycling centers vanish. Poor and homeless San Franciscans rely on income earned by trading cans for cash, but their subsistence is under threat as hundreds of centers close down
theguardian.com

See also:
(128) Scrapping the suburbs
(375) Scavenging

image: Ken Ishikawa via Flickr/CC

(1001) Who’s city is this?

street scene
The world economy soars into the trillions these days with much of the focus on cities, on real estate.  We found reading this pair of items with our morning coffee in hand aided and abetted some understanding of the picture at high levels.  Wow, just imagine two hundred and seventy billion dollars worth of anything, then try and imagine a quadrillion dollars worth!
Investment in urban land is on the rise. We need to know who owns our cities
theconversation.com
Time to pay for the city we want
thestar.com

image: glassghost via Flickr/CC

(879) Awful UK

Cropped-CMEC_1_009Awful signals from Britain these days as third and fourth generation neocons keep doing what they do.

This is the day we say farewell to everything that was good about Britain
taxresearch.org

‘Conscious cruelty’: Ken Loach’s shock at benefit sanctions and food banks.‘ Hunger is being used as a weapon,’ says veteran director, calling for public rage over situation he says is worse than when he made Cathy Come Home in 1966
theguardian.com

image: Willwal via Wikimedia Commons/CC

(808) The New Urban Agenda [Book review]

nuaThe New Urban Agenda: The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area
Bill Freeman
$21.99 trade paperback
Dundurn Press: 2015.  240 pages

Have you been thinking that a post-Rob Ford Toronto is ready for sane voices in dialogue on the difficult issues of the day?  Voices for reform?

We certainly have been. That made our discovery of The New Urban Agenda: The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area such a nice thing we knew we had to share it. Bill Freeman is looking to construct a reasonable vision of a well-managed city moving forward with democratic, humane, reasonable responses to popular needs. Freeman is a sociologist with a long record of publishing on urban and other issues. The voice of a calm and rational adult considering complex socio-economic and socio-political issues of place without resort to a crack pipe, and from a bicycle or bus rather than a Cadillac Escalade, ought to be the preferred manner of discussion. So much is at stake for Toronto in an unbalanced world that the failure to be grown up about our city is to ask for disaster.

For obvious reasons, suburban-poverty.com went ahead to the second chapter, devoted to inequality. Chapter seven came next, the one dealing with Toronto’s affordability, or rather its big-and-increasing lack thereof. The GTHA cannot continue to let things slide on either file. The author fully recognizes suburban poverty as one of the GTHA’s issues, distinguishing between the older inner suburbs and the sprawling outer suburbs. Transit, politics, the environment, and the planning process make up the rest of the book’s content. Freeman mixes solutions and positive examples into his descriptions of problematic situations. All of it is well handled.

Freeman obviously cares. He made his way to the company of a series of experts for insight when writing the book. More in the way of maps and infographics would have been nice. These things lend themselves so well to the topics at hand, even if they add to the cost of the book, that they are really obligatory. The jacket on this book, with its map that chops off part of Hamilton is kinda ugly, giving zero encouragement to bookstore browsers to think there might be a topic of enormous material importance between its covers.

Millions are directly affected by the problems and potentialities described in The New Urban Agenda. After the twisted and depressing Ford years with their lies, anger and general sickness there is a big need for Freeman’s brand of brainy yet warmhearted good sense. Professionals, elected officials, journalists and interested citizens as well as teachers and students in this broad area can journey into this book and find many things of interest. Hopefully that will happen to good effect for Canada’s biggest urban area.

As we say when we like one: “buy this book.”