Sunday, October 7, 2018

"... money doesn't talk, it swears ..."

For more detail about the Opportunity Atlas, read here.

For more detail about the blue-red map, read here.

When I listen to John Prine sing "Caravan of Fools," I can't help but think of the red states and those senators who voted for the new supreme court justice.

When I enter "Redwood City, California" into the Opportunity Atlas, I am given a much more detailed view of the currently mostly exceedingly high-income part of California where my family lived from 1957-1974 in a middle class neighborhood built during the post-WWI baby boom.  A detailed view of nearby cities shows East Palo Alto standing out today as a low income area.  East Palo Alto has a population of African Americans, Latinos and Pacific Islanders and was a low-income area when I was growing up.

In 1973, I left California and settled in a small town in Washington State, 25 miles from the Canadian border.  My youngest sister came to live in Washington State soon after.  My middle sister lived in California until the 1990s, at which time her job moved her to a series of refineries on the East Coast and in the South and Southwest.  She currently lives in Mississippi not far from the Chevron refinery in Pascagoula, in one of the poorest states in the U.S.  Checking the Opportunity Atlas, I see that she lives in a pocket where the income averages $36,000, substantially higher than the surrounding area.

My parents arrived in Southern California from Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota in the 1930s.  My sisters and I were born on the San Francisco Peninsula during the late 1940s and early 1950s, when the population there was mostly middle-class and white.  The middle class neighborhood where I grew up is not far from Silicon Valley.  The cost of living there now is in the category of highest in the U.S. and the population is much more diverse than it was in the 1950s.  Young people of all races who are now growing up where I grew up are seen by the Opportunity Atlas as having nearly unlimited opportunity.

Although I am living on my $948 Social Security check, my tiny low-end condominium is in a neighborhood near the top of the income scale presented in the Opportunity Atlas map.  Although the Opportunity Atlas map above shows Washington State to be at the top of the income scale, when one looks more deeply into the map via the function that allows a closer look, there are pockets at the bottom of income scale all along Interstate 5 at the points where there are Indian Reservations.  Among the lowest income areas outside of the South are Indian Reservations.  In the Midwest, they are in the midst of the wealthiest section of the U.S.

Adjacent to Bellingham is the Lummi Nation, where the average income is at the bottom of the scale.

Given what is at stake in the coming elections, I am choosing to believe in the sanity of enough of the American people.  All we need is enough.  A landslide would be heartening, but enough is going to be good enough for now.   Except for Minnesota, the states that voted Democratic are not the states that present a picture of having a high average income, although each has areas with incomes at the top of the scale and at the bottom of the scale.

May voices of the poor, the voices of the declining numbers in the middle class, and the voices of those of us who are comparatively rich, and the voices of those who are financially rich and rich in compassion throughout the U.S. rise up and say, "No," to the Republican administration in November.

And a note from Velveteen Rabbi

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