Tag Archives: economic conditions

(1146) This might be kinda cool!

Strong Towns is such a wonderful blog, always interesting.  Like this piece about the possibilities for artists and makers in places where:
”…the next Mecca of the creative class is most likely to emerge. This is the kind of rapidly declining suburban landscape that is in evidence all across North America. It isn’t leafy and tranquil like the better suburbs. The schools are crap. But it isn’t vibrant like the best urban locations either. This spot is too far from the city to easily access good jobs, but it’s just close enough to receive the undesirable overflows from the greater metroplex. Tax revenues are evaporating just as legacy public obligations really start to roll in. Property values are dropping like a stone. The authorities are already quietly withdrawing in an attempt to maintain the better parts of town. Perfect!”
The future of unlikely places
On the other hand, this is also Kensington:

For these Philly librarians, drug tourists and overdose drills are part of the job
philly.com

image: Marc-Anthony Macon via Flickr/CC

(1138) USA shopocalypse


Macy’s, Sears, Payless Shoes.  America’s favourite merchandise outlets melt into air.  Retail here in the greater Toronto Area has been overbuilt for a while now but nobody is calling it an apocalypse quite yet.  Unlike in the United States, where ‘retail apocalypse’ is a Wikipedia entry and daily reality.  While retail jobs were nothing special they were readily available, especially to women and youth.  Many an immigrant to North America held things together with mall employment, too.
Wikipedia: Retail Apocalypse
The retail apocalypse is suburban.  Cities will weather this concentrated downturn becasue they went through it 50 years ago. Their neighbours may not be so lucky
slate.com
What caused the retail apocalypse?
theweek.com
See also: (352) Mall living
image: Sarah Martin via Flickr/CC

(1109) Worker burnout

News from the United States these days is pretty grim for working people and many a  town there is long in need of greatness.  Something tells us, when we read about what seems like a burned out working class or ex-working class, that a lot more than protectionism, reserve bank gyrations and interest rate fiddlings will be required to restore a general prosperity to America.  Public health seems a bigger part of the story than is generally accepted.  To wit, a couple of recent features:
Maybe the economy isn’t the reason why so many American men aren’t working. Many experts have blamed a poor job market, but new research indicates that an overlooked cause may be poor health
theatlantic.com/business
An intractable problem. For the last half-century, Milwaukee has been caught in a relentless social and economic spiral
http://projects.jsonline.com
Even healthy looking suburbs are dying from drugs. Some communities are sicker than they look, according to our analysis of CDC data and the Robert Wood Johnson foundation’s new county health rankings
citylab.com

(1107) Up from underground


From time-to-time, we do give some thought to who gets what in this economy.  There are worse places when it comes to inequality and the general discourse on status than Toronto and area.  Still, some more thought could be directed to where the wealth comes from, Toronto’s role in a global economy.  This feature brings our eyes and minds to one of our most important economic inputs: mining.  An input that helps make Toronto what it is but which remains obscure, unconsidered.

Toronto’s buried history: the dark story of how mining built a city. Even most residents don’t know Toronto is the global headquarters of the mining industry – but scratch the surface and some uncomfortable truths are revealed
theguardian.com

(1076) Two versus 11 million: Canada WTF?


Well, it’s a wonder anyone can see Canada as a prosperous, progressive nation after findings like this come to light.  It’s a wonder anyone can say work pays and will protect us from poverty here.
This kinda money and you could take a cab to work every day and eat at Red Lobster any time you wanted.  What comes after this, Canada?
Either way, Happy Monday.
2 richest Canadians have wealth equal to 11 million poorest. David Thomson and Galen Weston Sr. as wealthy as poorest 30 per cent of the country combined, Oxfam calculates
cbc.ca/news

image: angela N. via Flickr/CC

(1096) CEO victory day [CCPA report]


Today is the day when Canada’s chief corporate executives blow past the rest of us in earnings for the year.  They must be a very talented, special gang making between 3 and 183 million dollars a year. Wow.
Top CEOs earn more by today than average Canadian does all year: report
ctvnews.ca (video 3:38)
Throwing money at the problem: ten years of executive compensation
policyalternatives.ca
Canada’s top 100 paid CEOs: Canada’s top paid CEOs now take home 193 times what an average Canadian worker does. That’s not the only wage gap visible in this ranking
canadianbusiness.com
image: Flickr/CC

(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.
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 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 cynical 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 younote readers can mail to the one percent.
Buy Subdivided for your unnerved urban affairs shelf.