We often overlook just how many ways there are in which the way our society is structured serves to keep the poor poor. Growing up very poor in Detroit, I'm closely acquainted with these. One in particular has bothered me since I was young, and that has been the car-centric design of our infrastructure. In Detroit, at least, it is nearly impossible to participate fully in the economy without access to a car.This affects the poor in many ways, but I was reminded of one while surfing the net today:http://www.infrastructurist.com/2009/05/14/car-damage-from-p...In Los Angeles, poorly maintained roads cost the average driver $700 per year. In Detroit, it's $525. I'm sure there is some progressive effect caused by wealthier drivers having cars that are more expensive to repair, but I have little doubt that the net effect is regressive. This is just one way our dependence on cars negatively impacts the poor. License fees are regressive. Insurance costs more if you live in a bad neighborhood, and can even cost more if your credit is bad. And someone finding themselves unable to pay this insurance but depending on a car to get them to work, experiences a pressure to drive without insurance that the non-poor do not experience. If they get caught driving without having paid all of these regressive fees, they are then incarcerated and enter the criminal justice system.The end result is an institution (our transit system) that works against class mobility and against the poor.
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