Defining the Family Down

Taranto links, with some irony, a NYTimes article emphasizing one aspect of census news, an increased percentage of black children live within a family:

Demographers said such a trend might be partly attributable to the growing proportion of immigrants in the nation’s black population. It may have been driven, too, by the values of an emerging black middle class, a trend that could be jeopardized by the current economic meltdown.
The Census Bureau attributed an indeterminate amount of the increase to revised definitions adopted in 2007, which identify as parents any man and woman living together, whether or not they are married or the child’s biological parents.

We suspect the third “indeterminate” reason is key and the news may not be all that great. But how do we know? Taranto has fun with this, but it has serious implications. It appears a combination of “political correctness” (ah, he says he loves the child; isn’t that the same as being a father – even better, perhaps?) and post modernism (words can mean whatever the hell we want them to, so can traditions, so can biology).

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Gentrification… and the Lie of History

In the NY Times this weekend they had an article about a one man show by Danny Hoch. The topic of his show was gentrification, and how it impacted natives of New York City. In the article they reviewed him and he had the following quote:

“I did a lot of community arts work through the 90’s, really believing that we were making a difference socially…. Within the last 10 or 15 years, those communities have virtually been erased.”

On a seemingly unrelated line, there is a history of the neighborhood that I live in, the River North neighborhood in Chicago. Here is a link to a document summarizing River North history, notably its time as a manufacturing area called “Smokey Hollow”. This article summarizes the demographic changes in the Near North neighborhood of Chicago by decade.

These types of documents talk about the history of a neighborhood as if it was continuous, with links between each era. However, the reality of urban areas like River North (and the New York of Mr.Hoch) is really quite different. Aside from some projects just north of Chicago Avenue near Cabrini Green, the neighborhood has turned over to a degree that most US residents would find astounding. There are literally no individuals living in River North that were even here ten to fifteen years ago.

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Leverage and the Housing Bubble

The housing bust has been well chronicled elsewhere and I won’t add much to it by summarizing it; let’s assume that readers of this blog know the outlines (and details) of the story. But while everyone has learned the (often bitter) lesson that housing doesn’t always go up, it also comes down, they haven’t fully digested other elements of the financial picture. High LEVERAGE on a flat or declining investment makes the “buy” vs. “rent” even more skewed away from “buying”.

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