Tuesday, July 25, 2006

It's Okay to Be Squeezed (So Smile)

Cities Shed Middle Class, and Are Richer and Poorer for It

But it's really not all bad:
Firefighters who want to live in high-priced cities can work two jobs, said W. Michael Cox, chief economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “I think it’s great,” he said. “It gives you portfolio diversification in your income.” Pay for essential workers like plumbers and cabdrivers will tend to go up, he said.
Two jobs to get by = "portfolio diversification in your income"--did he think it was a Daily Show interview?

Though cities can certainly get by dominated by haves and never-gonna-haves and the middle class that teach in clasrooms, arrest rapists, put out fires and hold your hand while the anesthetic takes effect can live in the suburbs with "remarkably cheap housing, fast commutes, decent public services and incredibly cheap products available in big box stores." (Oh, really?) What suffers is education for the poor and the middle class holding on as tightly as they can--middle class parents agitate for improvements, rich people have the money and clout to get things changed or at least provide the tax base to fund change and poorer students reap the benefits. With a shrunken or driven-out middle class, it is harder for the poor to transition out of poverty--it's possible to sneak your way onto the edge of a good middle-class neighborhood, eventually, to get into a decent school but it is impossible when the cheapest house is half a million dollars or pointless when the public schools have been abandoned for $10-15K/year private schools.

With a dwindling middle class, rich and poor become more separate. Alan Berube, an author of the Brookings study, said a two-tiered marketplace can develop: Whole Foods for the upper classes, bodegas for the lower, with no competition from stores courting the middle. “If the two models are check cashers on the one hand and major national financial institutions on the other, who’s thinking about how to hold down costs for the basic consumer?” he asked.
New Orleans is following and will follow the trend. Some of the middle class are selling high and getting the fuck out. The exodus will stop by summer's end. The weekend Times-Pic story about the 20-somethings settling in NO or sticking with it, those who have no children and/or the 5+ years it'll take, it seems, to pull things together is great for the city and those people; when you're 40 or just over, or in your 60s or older . . . the thoughts come slowly, with guilt and pain. Decisions, though, must be made.

4 Comments:

Blogger credo said...

Enjoy reading your blog. This week I've noticed a few homeless people sleeping or just exhausted from the heat on benches. Those with little money have few choices in making decisions.

Wed Jul 26, 12:01:00 PM  
Anonymous ashley said...

Remember when some woman told W that she was working 3 jobs, and chimpy talked about how great that was, only in Amerikkka, blah blah blah.

These guys have never *worked* a day in their lives. Never had to worry about making a house payment.

Portfolio diversification my ass.

Wed Jul 26, 09:04:00 PM  
Blogger G Bitch said...

Only someone who's never worked a day in his life would think working 3 jobs was "great."

Thu Jul 27, 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

I don't get here enough (need another 3 hours in my day, but who doesn't?), I am always glad when I do. Your writing and thoughts always hit the critical issues right on the head. Thanks for giving voice to some many issues that don't get heard enough.

Thu Aug 10, 04:08:00 PM  

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