New work from University or Toronto indicates a not inconsiderable peril for the health of the GTA’s children.
Toronto’s growing food insecurity crisis. With the latest research showing one in eight households in the city experiencing food insecurity, food banks are busier than ever
image: Toronto archives via Flickr/CC
York Region continues to find itself beset by a growing economic precariousness according to United Way findings from last year updated this week. Most of us still consider York Region well off but some forty percent of jobs there are weakly held ones that don’t pay enough.
Linkage via this United Way blog page: imagineacity.ca
Suburban poverty: Atlanta’s hidden epidemic
NPR – news.wabe.org (feature & audio 4:35)
Evicted. Poverty and Profit in the American City
Crown Publishers, NY
CAN $37.00 hardcover
What a knockout. The more we think about this book the more we have to admire it. Matthew Desmond took on his subject in a way that very few authors can: by going and living it bodily for an extended period of time.
Ethnography is a discipline within anthropology and sociology that involves direct observation of social interaction from within, or very close to, that interaction. Milwaukee’s slum apartments and a large, dumpy (yet lucrative) trailer park are the settings at hand. They are representative ones, unfortunately, in an America still longing for recovery.
Evicted reads often like a novel. Desmond’s presentation of a brace of poor people, and those who make a living off of them, with historical background and socioeconomic data is nearly seamless. Without this phenomenon Evicted would have been pretty tough going. There’s a lot of serious bullshit and misery in America these days.
Indeed, the constant churn of misfortune in this book is awful. Bouncing from one crap apartment in some bad neighbourhood to the next, the individuals Desmond lived beside are constantly stertched by fighting to stay ahead of total disaster. Eviction is something of a new force acting on the lives of America’s poor, falling particularly hard on top of African American lives. Desmond describes eviction as something of a handmaiden to mass incarceration. The worst part of it all is just how lucrative the poor are for landlords, property owners, moving-and-storage companies.
Eviction’s depressing panorama is contemporary America for a lot of people. Desmond tells us that nearly one third of Milwaukee’s evicted population are black females even though they are only nine percent of the general population (page 98). Stuff like this is crazy. It makes for quite depressing reading.
To be truthful, we nearly gave up a couple of times on all the rough apartments and dodgy building owners that are encountered here. What do you think having your personal effects piled on the curb feels like because you fell behind on the rent? Evicted is important, though. Much of its reality remains unstudied, undocumented and ignored by society at large. This is not good, Americans deserve better.
As optimistic Canadians we would have liked it if half of Evicted had been like the twenty-page epilogue: stronger on solutions and positive statements rather than the narrative of bad luck and systemic grief. We could urge the proactive adoption of specific policies to protect Canada’s post-industrial communities.
Desmond believes an expanded housing voucher program would liberate people like those he wrote about. If such a program were large enough and well-funded it would probably function almost like a universal basic income, helping to reinforce a socio-economic level that nobody need fall below.
Hard reading on an important topic for anyone interested in contemporary American life. Almost made easy by the author’s level of commitment and writing skills. Buy this book.
evictedbook.com for the book trailer, photos, links and other features
Found yourself that soul mate online yet? Maybe you aren’t trying hard enough at your assortative dating. From cardboard license plates to ATM desserts: there’s no end to the ways material circumstance and economic standing affects pretty much every second of every day.
The inequality of online dating
image: Eugenia Loli via Flickr/CC
Why the poor pay more for toilet paper – and just about everything else
Children in poverty more likely to have problems with friendships, study shows. Children who live in poverty are more likely to be solitary and to fall out with friends or be bullied, the National Children’s Bureau says
image: ktbuffy via Flickr/CC
Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America by Tim Wise
City Lights Books Open Media Series
San Francisco, CA
Writing about poverty isn’t the easiest task. We know from our own modest efforts around here that the topic can leave you feeling wound up and put down at the same time. Scale that to the level of social difficulty in the United States right now and you get an idea of the challenge before Tim Wise when he set out to produce Under the Affluence.
What this book unpacks is a layered and ridiculously well entrenched set of social conditions. A damaging racialization of US poverty is one of several really nasty things emanating from a set of mainstream social values that serve to uphold a very troubling level of inequality described and analyzed in detail. Much of the book is about the beat down job done on the behaviour of poor Americans and the adoration bestowed on the winners in the world’s largest economy for their behaviour.
Yes, the so-called one percent and their privileges appear early and often in Under the Affluence. So does the so-called culture of poverty which has given so much mileage to right-wing economics from the late seventies right through to the crash of 2008. It is nothing less than crazy, the levels of righteousness, resentment and sheer magic thinking that accompany that new class of super elites shaping our neighbour’s life. Wise looks for the reality and documents his positions like a scholar. Wise’s book is a lucid and commendable piece of work on the topic of social conditions and social attitudes. It’s powerful, as good a work as any reader in this area could wish for or humble blogger like ourselves hope to emulate.
Like we say when we find quality of thought and effort in a piece of writing on poverty and social difficulty: buy this book!
New Berlin Now talked anonymously to a family about how they cope with their difficulties in the suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
…and suburban poverty at the national level from Elizabeth Kneebone.