Paul Ryan and Obama on Urban Poverty

Real quick, read Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s piece on Jacobin.

Unlike Ryan, Obama has always coupled his condemnations of the black poor with quick nods to discrimination in the nation’s past, but the overwhelming emphasis is in sync with a broad and bipartisan agreement that a culture of poverty and lapsed personal responsibility are ultimately to blame for the disproportionate rates of African American poverty.

The reduction of the real issues confronting black and brown people in America’s inner cities to culture or an absence of “personal responsibility” is a well-worn trope in American politics. It is a logic that is deeply embedded in the more hopeful rhetoric of the American Dream and the false notion that hard work and “playing by the rules” can lead to success and financial fulfillment in our country.

I’ve written the same thought here, but by no means as effectively.

New Edition of a Classic

The University Press of Kansas is releasing the third edition of Dreier, Mollenkopf and Swanstrom’s Place Matters: Metropolitics for the 21st Century.

I’m eager to see how this edition addresses the neoliberal moment of Obama’s (mostly notional) urban policy, the ongoing neocon culture war against cities, and of course, secession movements.

I find it a bit curious that the promotional text heavily emphasizes the role of boundaries in reproducing class divisions while downplaying the kind of racial conflicts that I argue are highly relevant to boundary politics.

The problem of rising inequality is at the center of Place Matters. During the past several decades, the standard of living for the American middle class has stagnated, the number of poor people has reached its highest level since the 1960s, and the super-rich have dramatically increased their share of the nation’s wealth and income. At the same time, Americans have grown further apart in terms of where they live, work, and play. This trend—economic segregation—no longer simply reflects the racial segregation between white suburbs and minority cities.  In cities and suburbs alike, poor, middle class, and wealthy Americans now live in separate geographic spaces.

Prior editions of the work do stress the intersectionality of class stratification, racial segregation and metropolitan space, so I wonder if this is a press’s marketing strategy for our post-racial age? I’ll try to develop a metropolitics topics course next year to justify ordering an exam copy and get back to you..


I have occasionally written about the more risible claims of urban transformation advanced by the TechBro elite. But this piece by David Noriega (with a big nod to Nathan Newman) examines the deeper political economy of Silicon Valley as an artifact of the technologically enabled speculation that has driven up housing values for decades. Since Prop 13’s limits on upward reassessment and tax rates took effect in 1979, valley cities have modeled an entrepreneurial neoliberal governance model whose fruits are familiar: an ungodly expensive city without adequate basic services.

Read the whole series, starting with the introduction