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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/18541/suburbia-where-the-poor-are/

Suburbia: Where the poor are

September 26, 2011 by

The U.S. government has done all it can to promote home ownership, clustering over-indebted Americans together out in the lush green suburbs behind white picket fences. But, what was once the American dream is now where 15.4 million people living below the poverty level reside, according to the Brookings Institute.

Those living in poverty in America’s cities totaled 12.7 million last year. “We think of poverty as a really urban or ultra-rural phenomenon, but it’s not,” said Elizabeth Kneebone, senior research associate at Brookings. “It’s increasingly a suburban issue.”

The housing crash brought poverty to suburbia like never before. “The collapse of the housing market caused the ranks of the poor to spike in Sun Belt communities, such as those surrounding Lakeland, Fla., and Riverside, Calif,” writes Tami Luhby for CNNMoney. “Many low-income people had moved there during the boom to make money building and caring for homes or working in the retailers and restaurants that cropped up to service the new residents.”

Suburban housing tracts don’t look like slums yet, “But behind closed doors, there are increasing numbers of people who don’t have jobs, their retirement nest eggs are gone and they can’t meet their mortgage payments,” says Donna Cooper, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

But the poverty will burst out into the open when hundreds of municipalities go broke and the next financial meltdown shoe drops.

{ 26 comments }

John P. September 26, 2011 at 9:04 pm

I live around Lakeland, Fl. What a coincidence! But seriously, I can tell you from anecdotal observation that it’s true. After the crash, I noticed that more and more people have started riding their bikes and walking to places. Where I live I see people with lower incomes starting to move in.

About 6 months ago I started to look at houses in Orlando. They are still building. Seriously in this turn down with such a high rate of foreclosure they are still building. If that isn’t a sign of things to come, I don’t know what is.

Rick September 27, 2011 at 1:12 am

Riding a bike or walking means you’re poor? I ride my bike and walk a lot, it’s how I stay fit and sometimes get around locally. And my bike wasn’t some cheap Craigslist special. I also have a car, a gun, an iPad2, savings and very little debt. I also live in the suburbs. Don’t be so presumptuous.

Where I live bicycling is growing in popularity across income levels because it’s fun and people are discovering it’s a suitable way to get around locally. Exchange and association with other cyclists is part of the appeal. There is bicycle related entrepreneurship too. People have more time to do it because technology has made their work hours more efficient. And yes, for some it’s a lower cost transportation alternative but many of those cyclists I know are
employed and just choose to spend their money differently. Don’t believe the anti-bicycle hyperbole going around.

Part of what is making people poor is the false notion that being well-off or appearing successful means financing two expensive new cars that depreciate in value and require a lot of money to fuel, maintain, and insure. All so they can sit in lousy traffic on government subsidized roads (another endless money pit) commuting to sedentary jobs that probably aren’t that productive and could probably be done from home anyway at less cost to employer and employee.

John P. September 27, 2011 at 7:49 am

I’m sorry, I guess you know more about the people here than I do. I guess I am too presumptuous to know what a slum looks like as well. Maybe I am too presumptuous to know what someone who is poor looks like as well.

When people are walking to the store and riding to the store barefoot. When the houses in the surrounding area are falling apart. When the closest dealership is full of used cars falling apart. Let me revise it then, these people must be hiding their two cars. Also, you can tell them how their unemployment is just sedentary job that they can do from home. /end sarcasm

I understand that not everyone who bikes is poor. I never said that. You took what I applied to the poorer area of my city and decided that I applied it all across the country. That isn’t the case. When the article talks about poverty in my city, one can assume anything I mention after the article is about poor people as well. Please don’t presume to know about the area around where I live. If you still think that these people are really just buying more than they need, well come down here and live a week in the neighborhoods I am describing.

Rick September 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm

“Applied to the poorer area of my city”, “walking around barefoot”, “houses falling apart”, etc. Maybe you should have written that specifically in the first place. You shoudn’t get upset with me just because I can’t extract nuance from your generalizations.

Morey September 28, 2011 at 4:37 am

Come on john, Rick has a bicycle. (and not just some cheap Craigslist special.) He also has a gun and an iPad2. This makes Rick a qualified bicycle economist. I hope you’ve learned your lesson John. Don’t bring up bicycles in any discussion on the internet! It just brings out the weirdos.

Ohhh Henry September 26, 2011 at 10:32 pm

more and more people have started riding their bikes and walking to places

That reminds me, I’ve heard ads on a northern NY state radio station lately which are seriously promoting golf carts as an everyday, drive-around-town vehicle.

Thank you, Obama, Bush, Bernanke and Greenspan. Honorable mention to the Keynesian Klown, Professor Paul “I never said I wanted a bubble when I asked for a bubble” Krugman.

Here in Canada, municipal services are going out the window. They would rather turn the cities into impoverished wastelands than cut back on a single dime of retired municipal employees’ indexed pension paychecks.

In the end they will have their ghettos, *and* they will get out of paying pensions through the magic of currency destruction. The western world is now going the way of the old USSR.

John P. September 26, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that as well. A lot of the older, retired people are driving golf carts.

Rick September 27, 2011 at 1:28 am

Seniors getting around locally in golf carts is nothing new. Old folks do it all the time in places like Leisure World and its surrounding shopping centers and have been for a long time. It’s probably easier for some old people to drive a golf cart and get in/out of it for physical reasons that shouldn’t require explaining (if they are the targeted group of the advertisement you mention).

If an old timer with problems walking lives in a retirement home just a block from a grocery store or park then a golf cart seems a fine way to get around for him. It’s probably okay in a more dense and slow small town Main St environment too. Obviously it’s not a serious tool for driving on highways and I doubt it’s being advertised as such.

I’m no fan of the previous or current regime and their policies. But I’m not sure they can be blamed for a salesman pitching golf carts to a demographic that could use them.

John P. September 27, 2011 at 7:50 am

True. I don’t have TV or listen to the radio, so I am not up on any advertisements that might come across for that.

Greg September 27, 2011 at 8:21 am

Back in high school, a friend put a V6 engine on a golf cart. It could do 65 MPH before it started to shake too badly. It was a serious tool for driving on highways.

Sione September 27, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Awesome!

J. Murray September 27, 2011 at 8:26 am

It’s not being promoted for the elderly, it’s being promoted for everyone. As a “drop your kids off at school then go pick up the groceries” kind of thing. It may make sense for some people, but to push it for everyone – this is how bubbles and busts start. It’s just an extra expense that makes no sense since the fuel saved in those situations doesn’t counter-act the initial buying cost.

Rick September 27, 2011 at 12:43 pm

That is strange. But it’s still just a salesman pitching golf carts. Besides, who is to say that golf carts wouldn’t work for some people in a truly free market? Isn’t transportation fascism something people here are against? Like you say it’s not a tool for everyone but I see no reason to slam this business and blame Obama & Co for it.

Gil September 26, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Surburbia = where the relatively-poor by U.S. standards live. Haiti = where truly abjectly-poor live.

John P. September 26, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Whenever you compare extremes, yes, the best at its worst will still look better than the worst at its worst.

That doesn’t change the fact of what is happening and that it is preventable.

Mitch Kordonowy September 27, 2011 at 12:07 am

What’s your point Gil?

J. Murray September 27, 2011 at 8:27 am

Probably along the lines of “tax rich people and give our not really all that poor people more money”.

Albert September 27, 2011 at 8:29 am

This blog has lost any credibility. It has become just another outlet that posts whatever statistics seem to support their dogma. In this case, poverty expressed as percentages of the population. Which is about as useful as claiming that the US doesn’t really spend a lot in weapons, cause hey! It’s only 5% of the GDP!

Of course, the US could become Heaven on Earth and still there would be people with significantly less income, wealth, or assets than the median. On the contrary, it could regress into the Stone Age but “poverty” could still diminish if income distribution became more even.

So what? It would be more useful to look at the poor and the poor alone, not comparing them with the median or any other cooked up statistic. How the US poor really live? What do they own? How much do they spend?

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/1998/09/the-myth-of-widespread-american-poverty

“Seventy percent of “poor” households own a car; 27 percent own two or more cars.”

……..and that was 13 years ago! How many “poor” people owned cars in Ford’s era?

It turns out that almost nobody in the US is poor. The US poor have a living standard higher than that of most countries on Earth. There are really poor people, of course: destitutes, homeless, drug addicts. But they cannot constitute more than 1% of the population.

Why do you have to lie? Why do you have to post this extremely misleading stuff? Is it an attempt to shore up traffic and pageviews? If so, then you’re just another obnoxious blog crying for attention.

Rick September 27, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Some comment posts here have no credibility (not talking about you right now). But this is true on a lot of websites and blogs. Unfortunately some of the blog posts here play to the LCD of their following. Again, this is true elsewhere. In my opinion it’s caused in part when people seek media simplicity and the publisher must refresh content everyday for a medium that demands it, not that these are bad things. But I think what you criticize just goes with the online territory.

Most of the time I just come here for the literature.

billwald September 27, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Thanks to increased productivity the nature of poverty in civilized nations has changed. The poor people have every sort of consumer good the rich do but at a much lower quality. Poor people don’t have financial security, servants, and have to stand in lines to get/buy their stuff.

Poverty has become less visible because government issued debit cards have replaced soup lines and food stamps. The food chain and the pecking order is still there. The poor know they are poor and the rich know they are rich. If free energy was discovered and all work was done by robots there would still be a social pecking order.

Franklin September 27, 2011 at 7:38 pm

“Poor people don’t have financial security, servants, and have to stand in lines to get/buy their stuff…”
Holy crap! All this time I thought I was managing okay, when actually I’m poor!

Albert September 27, 2011 at 8:30 am

Poverty expressed as percentages of the population. This is about as useful as claiming that the US doesn’t really spend a lot in weapons, cause hey! It’s only 5% of the GDP!

Of course, the US could become Heaven on Earth and still there would be people with significantly less income, wealth, or assets than the median. On the contrary, it could regress into the Stone Age but “poverty” could still diminish if income distribution became more even.

So what? It would be more useful to look at the poor and the poor alone, not comparing them with the median or any other cooked up statistic. How the US poor really live? What do they own? How much do they spend?

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/1998/09/the-myth-of-widespread-american-poverty

“Seventy percent of “poor” households own a car; 27 percent own two or more cars.”

……..and that was 13 years ago! How many “poor” people owned cars in Ford’s era?

It turns out that almost nobody in the US is poor. The US poor have a living standard higher than that of most countries on Earth. There are really poor people, of course: destitutes, homeless, drug addicts. But they cannot constitute more than 1% of the population.

PS: while trying to post, I repeatedly got a message that I had already posted this. Not quite.

I removed the most open criticism to this blog, including the words “credibility”, “lie”, “extremeledy misleading”, and “obnoxious”. Now it works. But it’s still interesting that you seem to have a word filter.

Ross Edwards September 27, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Pet Shop Boys – “Suburbia”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VCqAjYO3NM&ob=av2e
These slums of the future?
suburbia
where the suburbs met utopia
suburbia

Jer Harlacker September 27, 2011 at 4:13 pm

The basis of the article may be true, but I object to the use of the word poor. Poor people do not have single homes, cars, plasma TVs, cable television, personal computers, xboxes, stainless steel grills, etc. They may be people with diminishing income, or people living way above their means, but I refuse to recognize most of them as poor. Poor people, by definition, have no money, GOODS, or means of support. There are very few poor people in this country.

billwald September 27, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Suburban housing tracts have all the disadvantages and none of the advantages of living in a city. They were probably invented because of the post WW2 housing shortage, Levittown on Long Island was probably the first. see http://www.capitalcentury.com/1951.html

The second big push was “white flight” after the Civil Rights Act of ’64. “Burb” living is no longer safer than city living. At least in the city I know where NOT to go.

Thanks to many reasons the big cities are being re-civilized. City life is first class for young adults and old people.

HL September 28, 2011 at 12:52 am

“City planners” and zoning board clowns are among the dumbest and most arrogant subhumans clamoring for a first class ticket to hell.

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