The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

30 July 2006

A hole in the middle

Janny Scott's article in last Sunday's New York Times, about the "vanishing middle class" in American cities, got some play in blogdom, by no means all of it weepy wails for government intervention.

But the last paragraph bothers me no end:

"This trend toward living and interacting with people who are like you is intensifying a lot," said Professor [Joseph] Gyourko [of Wharton], who lives in the affluent suburb of Swarthmore, Pa. "I do not meet the full range of incomes and social classes within my neighborhood. Well, think about what happens if metropolitan areas like New York, San Francisco and the like turn into my suburb. You’ll have even less interaction. The most interesting and potentially foreboding implication of this sorting is that it changes the way we view life."

Well, if it's such a tragedy that you don't get to "meet the full range of incomes and social classes within my neighborhood," Dr Gyourko, why the hell don't you move?

It has long been an American practice to move to get away from certain segments of society and cut down on such "interaction." Today, of course, our professional classes teach us that doing so is just so wrong: how are the drug dealers and the layabouts and the common pond scum supposed to thrive without ordinary citizens to exploit?

And the good Professor misses another point:

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the percentage of households earning more than $100,000 a year rose to over 30 percent in 2000 from approximately 7 percent in 1970, [said Gyourko]. "Is that area worse off?" he asked. "At least so far, there’s a lot of evidence that economically they’re better off. Land prices are really high, lots of people want to move there."

Supply and demand, right? Nothing wrong with that. But then there's this:

Thanks to inflation, $100,000 in 1970 is not the same as $100,000 in 2000. So the fact that there are many more people making that amount compared to 30 years ago does nothing to help illuminate the issue. Once again, we're seeing the results of a writer who skipped taking math in college.

If there's a lesson here, it's simply this: Reporters for The New York Times should quit when they're ahead, if by chance they're ever ahead.

Posted at 11:33 AM to Dyssynergy

With you on this! I love diversity, too, but I choose to live somewhere that includes many types of people, therefore. Isn't that the whole point?

When did the water at the Times start being laced with LCD?

Posted by: anne at 1:04 PM on 30 July 2006