Monday, August 07, 2023

America's legacy of poverty - The injustice of place.

Having moved back into the house in which I grew up in Austin Texas, and watching the city inexorably move towards becoming a dystopian metroplex, the analysis of Edin, Schaefer and Nelson makes me feel like returning to the Midwest, where I spent most of my adult life as a professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. They paint the most clear and focused explanation for the roots of inequality in America that I have read, concluding that the upper Midwest is the best place to live in America. Here is the concluding paragraph of their piece in the The Atlantic, titled “What the Best Places in America Have in Common.” It is a summary of the message of their new book “The Injustice of Place: Uncovering the legacy of poverty in America.”
The lesson is that people seem to thrive—not always in high salaries but in health and life chances—when inequality is low; when landownership is widespread; when social connection is high; and when corruption and violence are rare. The social leveling that is characteristic of communities in the upper Midwest is more than just a quaint cultural feature. It is the foundation of a community’s well-being. Until these regions’ virtues are shared nationwide, poverty and disadvantage will continue to haunt America.

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