Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Show Me the Money

I think I have to stop reading blogs before I write my own, because as soon as I do, all my semi-coherent ideas for blogging skip merrily out of my pretty little head.

Ah! Now I remember. I have been doing quite a bit of reading lately about socioeconomics – not hardcore theory, but layperson articles about the stuff that impacts all of us, and I have to say, it’s freaking my shit out.

I’ve already mentioned think tank Brookings Institution’s recent report on the shrinking middle class in America, and the scary news that Los Angeles ranks last among 100 metro areas in its percentage of middle-class neighborhoods. Truly here, the rich get richer and the poor get fucked. Conventional wisdom has long held that communities need a solid middle class to be stable and sound, an opinion which certainly resonates with me as smacking of good old common sense.

Recent articles on the war against the homeless have made me bug out a little too: the LA Weekly’s “Dying to Get Off Skid Row” and Salon’s “Skid Row Makeover”, coincidentally posted within a few days of each other, detail exactly how nasty it’s gotten to live in a city of, well, Haves and Have Mores (to borrow a phrase from, yecccch, George Dubya).

I don’t know about you, but first I get pissed, and then I try to find out: is anyone doing anything about it? Well, some L.A. City Council members are trying to pass a moratorium on condo conversions to buy some time to address the thorny issue of affordable housing. And our esteemed mayor, along with the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, in April of this year unveiled a comprehensive “$100-million plan to reduce the concentration of homeless services in skid row by establishing five centers across the county that would provide temporary shelter and social services for transients.” (Clicking here brings you to LA’s homeless blog, with detailed coverage of the plan.) And the Economic Roundtable has some ideas, among them “Hey! How about a living wage? And maybe some unions? And hey, let’s try and regulate the informal economy – how about them apples?”

You know, I’ve been poor, and I’ve been not so poor, and not so poor is definitely easier on the stomach lining. Now, to avoid being poor once more, let me get back to work (working from home today, does it show?).

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