[Marxism] Hardship Makes a New Home in the Suburbs - NYTimes.com

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat May 10 07:54:43 MDT 2014

NY Times, May 10 2014
Hardship Makes a New Home in the Suburbs

MORENO VALLEY, Calif. — The freeway exits around here are dotted with 
people asking for money, holding cardboard signs to tell their stories. 
The details vary only slightly and almost invariably include: Laid off. 
Need food. Young children.

Mary Carmen Acosta often passes the silent beggars as she enters parking 
lots to sell homemade ice pops, known as paletas, in an effort to make 
enough money to get food for her family of four. On a good day she can 
make $100, about double what she spends on ingredients. On a really good 
day, she pockets $120, the extra money offering some assurance that she 
will be able to pay the $800 monthly rent for her family’s three-bedroom 
apartment. Sometimes, usually on mornings too cold to sell icy treats, 
she imagines what it would be like to stand on an exit ramp herself.

“Everyone here knows they might have to be like that,” said Ms. Acosta, 
40, neatly dressed in slacks and a chiffon blouse, as she waited for 
help from a local charity in this city an hour’s drive east of Los 
Angeles. Both she and her husband, Sebastian Plancarte, lost their jobs 
nearly three years ago. “Each time I see them I thank God for what we do 
have. We used to have a different kind of life, where we had nice things 
and did nice things. Now we just worry.”

Five decades after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on 
poverty, the nation’s poor are more likely to be found in suburbs like 
this one than in cities or rural areas, and poverty in suburbs is rising 
faster than in any other setting in the country. By 2011, there were 
three million more people living in poverty in suburbs than in inner 
cities, according to a study released last year by the Brookings 
Institution. As a result, suburbs are grappling with problems that once 
seemed alien, issues compounded by a shortage of institutions helping 
the poor and distances that make it difficult for people to get to jobs 
and social services even if they can find them.

In no place is that more true than California, synonymous with the 
suburban good life and long a magnet for restless newcomers with big 
dreams. When taking into account the cost of living, including housing, 
child care and medical expenses, California has the highest poverty rate 
in the nation, according to a measure introduced by the Census Bureau in 
2011 that considers both government benefits and living costs in 
different parts of the country. By that measure, roughly nine million 
people — nearly a quarter of the state’s residents — live in poverty.


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