Thursday, September 22, 2011

One in Five New York City Residents Living in Poverty

This just in!

Poverty grew nationwide last year, but the increase was even greater in New York City, the Census Bureau will report on Thursday, suggesting that New York was being particularly hard hit by the aftermath of the recession.

From 2009 to 2010, 75,000 city residents were pushed into poverty, increasing the poor population to more than 1.6 million and raising the percentage of New Yorkers living below the official federal poverty line to 20.1 percent, the highest level since 2000. The 1.4-percentage-point annual increase in the poverty rate appeared to be the largest jump in nearly two decades.

Many New Yorkers were spared the worst of the recession, but the median household income has since shriveled to levels last seen in 1980, adjusted for inflation. Household income declined among almost all groups — by 5 percent over all since the beginning of the recession in 2007, to $48,743 in 2010.

Manhattan continued to have the biggest income gap of any county in the country, with the top fifth of earners (with an average income of $371,754) making nearly 38 times as much as the bottom fifth ($9,845).

At top: a particularly dank stretch of the Bronx as seen from the 6 train, as it passes Whitlock Avenue Station.
When things are bad in Manhattan, they are invariably worse in the Bronx. In no particular order: according to USA Today newspaper, Americans at the lower income levels are having trouble paying for funerals for dead relatives. So bodies have been dumped... here and there, across the nation. Is there anything more demeaning than being so poor that you can't afford to bury your dead?

There was a by-election here last week: the congressional seat in the House, Democratic since 1920, voted for the Republican this time. But, it should be noted: 20 percent of eligible voters actually voted. Does that seem like a real victory?

Republican Presidential candidates debated last night... one great proposal came up: abolishing the Department of Education! Again I have to ask the question: if you believe, as they all do, in smaller government, why are they running for office?

I Was Shocked That The Aliens Who Abducted Me Hadn't Upgraded To Vista

Of mild interest to a few people last week, was Microsoft's launch of its latest Windows 8, which the corporation released as a version running on a tablet (see above). The tablet is being demonstrated in the photo by Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky. 

Sinofsky, it has to be said, sort of resembles an extra from a Star Trek episode. And so it was most unfortunate that the above photo appeared in AM New York newspaper right next to an article about the death of Charles Hickson, "the Mississippi man who said he was abducted by aliens" in 1973, because for the rest of the day, when I thought of Hickson's bizarre yet consistent retelling of his abduction, Sinofsky's smug visage would float into my mind...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The American South: Don't You Mean the Middle East of the USA?

The New York Times puzzles with its juxtapositions... Today, the Sunday Review section profiles Andre Leon Talley (above left), fashionista, formerly of gentil black poverty, Durham, N.C., now portly and courtly of Westchester County, NY.

Then below, or rather... SOUTH... of the fold, another story, about the Dixification of reality TV (I never watch TV, so bear with my clumsy critique). Apparently, there are a lot of reality TV shows at the moment which are using the American South, Dixieland, as their location -- including the Dukes of Hazzard (above right) -- is that a reality TV show? Something seems wrong with the universe if that is the case.

The American South bothers me, ever since I first understood it to mean not really the South, but somewhere that approximates with the United States' Middle East. The South of America, surely, geographically, is... is places like Florida, Texas, California, given that they are closest to Central and South America.

Obviously that's not the only thing that bothers me about the So-called South. I guess the juxtaposition of Mr. Talley and those Dixie TV shows made me think that the Times is subliminally letting (gay) black people know that the underground railroad is still open, while somehow mollifying redneck white Southerners... Or something.

UPDATE: a friend of mine rolled his eyes at my mention of Mr. Talley, and I said that I'd never heard of him before I read today's article. "If you met him today and told him that you've never heard of him before, he'd probably collapse on the ground with convulsions," he said. 

ANOTHER UPDATE: From the New York Times, Monday, September 26th, 2011 -- The once-booming South, which entered the recession with the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, is now struggling with some of the highest rates, recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show.

Several Southern states — including South Carolina, whose 11.1 percent unemployment rate is the fourth highest in the nation — have higher unemployment rates than they did a year ago. Unemployment in the South is now higher than it is in the Northeast and the Midwest, which include Rust Belt states that were struggling even before the recession.