This post outlines how many hours individuals must work to secure housing in the US. It launches a series of posts on wealth inequality and on options cities have to create more sustainable housing, transit, and employment bases. Also included is a 2-minute video describing US imperialism’s global impact that is well worth sharing.
Economic Injustice at Home & Abroad
The map at left is telling, and is more easily viewed in the original article, so if you want to examine the map in more detail, go to the article. In brief, the map shows that people living in the dark blue states must earn $20 an hour (or just under the 3 times the $7.25 national minimum wage) to rent a 2-bedroom apartment. In states shaded light blue, people must earn between $15-20 an hour to rent a 2-bedroom. In the map included in the Atlantic article you can see that in California and New York residents must earn more than $25 an hour. In New Mexico, we barely made it into the grey by $.16 as here one must earn $14.84 or pretty close to double the state minimum wage of $7.50. New Mexico’s minimum wage would have risen to $9 per hour, but our Governor vetoed that and almost everything else on the planet, including all funds for our college and university systems. Charming Governor we have….but I digress.
Click here for the full Atlantic report. It includes links to reports from the Pew Foundation and the National Low Income Housing Coalition that go into even more depth in examining the affordable housing crisis in this country. A brief excerpt from the Atlantic report:
A new report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition examines how these opposite trends play out regionally. The work maps how much an American worker needs to earn per hour in each state to rent a two-bedroom apartment. It finds that in no state can a person earning minimum wage afford such an apartment at market rent.”
In a separate and even more disturbing map, the report also highlights how many hours a person would have to work to secure a one-bedroom unit if they were working at minimum wage. In the states shaded dark blue a person would have to work over 80 hours a week, and in states shaded light blue a person would have to work 61-80 hours, and in the grey 40-59. The state with the fewest hours needed is South Dakota at 49 hours. In New York, you would have to work 98 hours a week, in New Jersey 100, in California 94 and in New Mexico 64. This is bordering on indentured servitude.
Is there any hope for reforming this system, even after the Trump era? Truthout (increasingly my go-to source for information), posted an article in which two Swedish analysts, Enrique Guerrero-López and Adam Weaver, interviewed Gabriel Kuhn, an Austrian-born author living in Sweden and involved in radical labor and migrant solidarity efforts, about his analysis and experience with social democracy. The interview examines the challenges America faces in achieving anything like an egalitarian society. It begins on an optimistic note by acknowledging that currently 49% of Americans ages 18-29 prefer socialism to capitalism.
Kuhn’s first observation is that while it is nice that the US is looking to Europe for models of social democracy, “like any type of government in the “First World,” these models rest on an imperialist system that is everything but social, egalitarian and civil.” And later in the interview Kuhn returns to this theme with “The combination of economic growth and relative social justice that characterizes European social democracy rests on the exploitation of colonized peoples and cannot be reproduced globally. Global justice requires a very different setting.” Retake provides a tremendous 2-minute video at the bottom of this post that details how we “First-Worlders” continue to enjoy our lifestyle at the expense of the rest of the world.
When asked about the prospects of the US developing a social democratic model of government, Kuhn noted that “there are other historical factors to consider in the US — for example, what J. Sakai calls “settlerism,” notions such as “American exceptionalism” and a deep mistrust of government, both on the left and the right. So I think that if the left in the US wants to make mitigating capitalism’s worst effects a priority — which is, basically, what social democracy has been doing in Europe throughout the 20th century — it needs to develop its own visions and strategies.” The interview closes with this observation:
“As far as building a party of the left is concerned, I’m not really sure how that would play out in the US. I’m mainly thinking of the electoral system. Basically, in most European countries, you enter parliament if you gather more than 4 or 5 percent of the popular vote. A similar percentage gets you into regional parliaments and city councils. This is why Die Linke in Germany — to continue with this example — is able to provide important infrastructure to extra-parliamentary movements, even if its nationwide support hovers at no more than around 10 percent. The party also receives plenty of media attention, participates in all relevant television debates, has members in federal committees, and the like. In view of the electoral system in the US, it doesn’t seem likely that you reach that level of influence unless you can seriously challenge the two big parties. Under such circumstances, I’m not sure whether building a party is a useful tool to advance the socialist cause, even if you are open [to] broader coalitions. I have heard theories that the Democratic Party could be turned into a left-wing player of sorts. I have a hard time imagining this, considering both the history and composition of the party and the dynamics of US politics, but that’s just my impression from across the pond.” Click here for the full and fascinating, if sobering, report.
We highly recommend the video below.
Paul & Roxanne
One of the Best 2-Minute Videos I’ve Seen–Imperialism: How We Create Most of the World’s Misery OR The True Cost of Your iPhone