Sunday, October 26, 2008

UN Cites 'Dire Warning' For Social Inequity in The United States.

When I think of New York, I like to imagine it as a city that stands analagous to no other. Is there any other place in the world quite like it?

Well according to a report by The United Nations, New York does have a few commonalities, and they're not what you'd expect--Nairobi, Kenya Abidjan and Ivory Coast.

In a survey of 120 major cities, New York was found to be the ninth most unequal in the world and Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington, and Miami had similar inequality levels to those of Nairobi, Kenya Abidjan and Ivory Coast. Many were above an internationally recognised acceptable "alert" line used to warn governments.

"High levels of inequality can lead to negative social, economic and political consequences that have a destabilising effect on societies," said the report. "[They] create social and political fractures that can develop into social unrest and insecurity."

According to the annual State of the World's cities report from UN-Habitat, race is one of the most important factors determining levels of inequality in the US and Canada.

"In western New York state nearly 40% of the black, Hispanic and mixed-race households earned less than $15,000 compared with 15% of white households. The
life expectancy of African-Americans in the US is about the same as that of people living in China and some states of India, despite the fact that the US is far richer than the other two countries," it said.

Disparities of wealth were measured on the "Gini co-efficient", an internationally recognised measure usually only applied to the wealth of countries. The higher the level, the more wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer people.

"It is clear that social tension comes from inequality. The trickle down theory [that wealth starts with the rich] has not delivered. Inequality is not good for anybody," said Anna Tibaijuka, head of UN-Habitat, in London yesterday.

I love the jab at Reaganomics. I was raised a strong fiscal and religious conservative, so I find it amusing how over and over again the free market proves not to be what Milton Friedman promised. I love Capitalism, but not what has happened here in America.