This month the Centre for the Study of Living Standards issued a new report all about income gaps, inequality, job quality and other such things that determine much of daily life in Canada. Among the findings: what looks like a slackening of the connection between advanced education and higher income. Canada’s lowest income brackets have seen an increase in the number of PhD holders therein. This may be evidence of something many of us have observed casually over the years? More study is needed to understand the depth and meaning of these particular findings but if they are true this isn’t really good news. We are supposed to be living and working in a society that needs and respects education and rewards strivers. Maybe that proposition has changed?
Low-wage earners with graduate degrees on rise, new study shows
Trends in low wage employment in Canada: incidence, gap, intensity 1997-2014 66-page .pdf file
Journalist Frances Bula starts a summer-long Globe and Mail series on renter’s issues. In terms of cost alone renting has become a horror show for many Canadians. This could be such a rich topic for media outlets of almost any size and format. I mean, we are talking about a form of second-class citizenship in one of the richest countries in the world.
No Vacancy: high rents and low vacancy are squeezing renters in Canada’s largest cities
Will the housing crisis finally make someone pay attention to renter issues?
image: Curly via Flickr/CC
New work from University or Toronto indicates a not inconsiderable peril for the health of the GTA’s children.
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
We do seem to be coming back to Atlanta on a regular basis.
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
Will this new book change the national debate on poverty?
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.
image: Eugenia Loli via Flickr/CC
Did we say this blog was here to cheer you up?
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