Income inequality has been growing since the 2008 self-inflicted bank chaos, indeed that banking stupidity from 2008 accelerated the growing gap. The inequity was so obvious that the Occupy Wall Street protests took the streets and the public consciousness of “the 1%” grew out of it. Sadly, politicians failed to address the root causes of the 2008 crisis. Not all hope is lost, we know what to do fight inequality – we just need to do it.
The New York Times took a look into the debate around inequality and set out to bust some myths about what works and what doesn’t.
No, It’s Not Trade
A rise in international trade — as a share of G.D.P., measured as either imports or exports using data from the Penn World Tables — is associated with equality, not inequality. The United States imports only a small fraction of the value of its total economy, whereas Denmark and the Netherlands are highly dependent on imports.
Or the Rise of Information Technology
Countries with higher rates of invention — as measured by patent applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, an indicator of patent quality — exhibit lower inequality than those with less inventive activity. As it happens, tech industries in the United States have contributed just a tiny bit to the rise of the 1 percent, and the salaries of engineers and software developers rarely reach the 1 percent threshold of an annual income of $390,000.
There’s a lot of misconceptions about how to make cities a better place to live that need to be cleared up. A popular belief is that adding more lanes for cars will help curb traffic jams – when the opposite it true. Some backwards-looking individuals think that adding bike lanes is bad for business when multiple studies have proven otherwise. These myths have bothered a columnist over at Metro paper enough that they wrote an article focussed on busting these urban planning myths that hold back better cities.
A common political argument is that bike and transit riders should “pay their own way.” A study in Vancouver however suggested that for every dollar we individually spend on walking, society pays just 1 cent. For biking, it’s eight cents, and for bus-riding, $1.50. But for every personal dollar spent driving, society pays a whopping $9.20! Such math makes clear where the big subsidies are, without even starting to count the broader environmental, economic, spatial and quality-of-life consequences of our movement choices. The less people need to drive in our cities, the less we all pay, in more ways than one.
Want more examples? There’s math showing that replacing on-street parking with safe, separated bike-lanes is good for street-fronting businesses. That crime goes down as density goes up. That providing housing for the homeless actually saves public money. That you can move more people on a street when car lanes are replaced by well-designed space for walking, biking and transit.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has done a study on the real cost of building a green home and they have busted the myth that building green is too costly. The bank has concluded that building green doesn’t break the bank, so to speak.
The intuitive view of most people might be that building green is going to be vastly more expensive and complex than building to the most basic standards required by local code. It follows that we assume affordable housing probably isn’t going to be green. But a recent article in the Communities and Banking magazine published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (FSB) this spring busts the myth that affordable housing and green housing are opposite and mutually exclusive concepts.
The myth doesn’t hold up locally either. We’ve looked at a study of green housing and the energy savings it creates for residents of the Seattle Housing Authority. And in Portland the Housing Authority built its first HOPE VI project green as well. We’ve also looked at the study of housing and health where there is growing evidence that along with materials the location of housing can have an effect on resident’s health – and health care costs. And we’ve considered the savings that building green can create for schools and their communities.