Thursday, June 07, 2012

Income Inequality...In Space!

Ok, so technically it's not in space, but rather viewed from space, but that doesn't make for nearly as good a title...

Turns out income inequality is so bad in this country that you can see it from satellite images.

This really isn't surprising to anyone who's paid minimal attention to such things, but does serve as another striking example of the horrid inequalities we continue to nurture in this nation. And the bigger point is that it's not just the difference in size of houses or how close together they are that makes it the most obvious which is a poor and which is a rich neighborhood, but instead it's the presence of trees and other plant life.

And this foliage is about much more than simply aesthetics (though poor people deserve aesthetically pleasing neighborhoods as well), because it serves as a powerful symbol of the health differences between high and low income neighborhoods. I was instantly reminded of an article from the Journal of Health and Social Behavior a few years ago (citation not looked for), which found that pregnant women living near highway on and off ramps experienced far higher rates of complications and birth defects.

But when the researchers disaggregated the data by income level, they found the proximity to freeway ramps only effected the pregnancies of women from upper income brackets. Unfortunately this doesn't happen because poor women are magically immune to pollution, but instead because the neighborhoods they live in are already so polluted and toxic that the addition of CO2 and the various other harmful components of auto exhaust are just a drop in the bucket.

But hey, if we weren't poisoning poor people with our waste, they wouldn't have any encouragement to work, right? They would just be lazy and live off their $5 of welfare every month in the lap of luxury. Quick! Someone get them a copy of Atlas Shrugged!

No comments: