Proudly afflicting the comfortable [and collecting shiny things] since March 2003

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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

If you like, you can send Magpie an email!



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Saturday, November 15, 2003

The haves and the have-nots.

We're embarassed not to have noticed this story, given that it involves the state next door to where Magpie lives, so we're really glad that the UK blog also not found in nature casts such a wide net.

The San Juan Islands are an island chain lying between the mainland of Washington State and BC's Vancouver Island. They're one of the most beautiful places we've ever seen and (obviously) a very desirable place to live. That desirability has led to an influx of extremely well-to-do residents has driven up the cost of land and housing. Coupled with the typical prevalence of low-wage jobs in a largely tourism-based economy, many long-term residents are barely getting by, and some find themselves with no choice but to leave for the mainland.

Anti-poverty activists see a national trend playing out under a microscope in San Juan County: The rich get richer; the poor poorer; and the middle class continues to shrink.

The contrasts are stark.

Fourteen percent of San Juan County's children live below the poverty level -- with their parents working full time.

Public schools on the islands report growing numbers of students in subsidized lunch programs, including about 40 percent to 45 percent on Lopez Island. Almost half the babies in the county are born on Medicaid.

But even as lines at food banks lengthen, a new class of megarich install helicopter pads and computer-controlled trout streams, build $1 million caretaker homes for caretakers and manse-sized garages to house collections of Ferraris and Audis.

One islander describes how he was hired by a Microsoft Corp. executive to mow the lawn 24 hours a day, just because his client hated to get his feet wet.


Via Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

| | Posted by Magpie at 11:54 PM | Get permalink




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