Lost in all the hub-bub today about other things was a pretty good story in this morning's Inquirer that looked at income by census tracts within the city of Philadelphia. You'll be shocked, shocked to learn that very few Philly neighborhoods stayed the same. Already affluent areas like Center City and a few gentrfying neighborhoods that are close by -- Fishtown and the area just south of South Street, for example -- saw decent increases, but most poor and working-class neighborhoods saw incomes drop.
The article used Poplar Street as a device to show the economic bifurcation of Philadelphia, but we might as well call it Ronald Reagan Boulevard:
Terry Bellamy, 42, a customer at Floyd & Diann's Tires & Wheels, 27th and Poplar Streets, is familiar with the city's extremes.
"Money's tight everywhere. But it's flowing better down that end," he said, pointing east toward the end of Poplar that plunges into Northern Liberties near the Standard Tap Room, a popular hangout.
Another tire shop customer, Vanessa Jackson, 59, lives in Northeast Philadelphia, off Cottman Avenue, where incomes at best have remained flat since 2000. She and Bellamy, her mechanic, had come a long way to get a good deal on badly needed tires, which Jackson said she could only afford because her son was paying.
In Italy or Greece, folks would probably be rioting in the street over growing economic disparity. But here in the United States, despite all evidence that our economic and tax policies are failing miserably, our lawmakers extend them -- highlighted by more giveaways to the top 2 percent of earners, to place in their Swiss bank accounts, far away from America's job-deprived streets.
That's exceptional, America.
The gap between the rich and poor in this country has become obscenely large since the early 1980s, or around the time that Ronald Reagan became president. But despite growing proof that trickle-down voodoo economics does not work, Reaganomics flourishes in 2010, ripping apart our social fabric. Maybe it's something that the GOP presidential hopefuls can discuss at their first debate, at the Ronald Reagan Library.
UPDATE: Robert Reich cruises down Ronald Reagan Boulevard:
Will lower taxes on the rich spur them to create more jobs? Not a chance. Since 1980, Reagan's supply-siders have said lower taxes on the rich will trickle down to everyone else. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Look at history.
During the almost three decade spanning 1951 to 1980, when the top rate was between 70 and 92 percent, the average annual growth in the American economy was 3.7 percent.
Between 1983 and the start of the Great Recession, when the top rate ranged between 35 percent and 39 percent, average growth was 3 percent.
It's amazing the extent that Reagan remains in the news -- and just wait until his 100th birthday in less than two months. If only someone had written a good book on the topic!