The Nation: . . . And the City's

Agronomists have managed to calculate and predict crop disasters, but when it comes to urban blights, no one has devised a coherent method for measuring them, let alone overcoming them. Poverty, crime, narcotics, pollution and sheer physical decay are the new locusts, as terrifyingly confusing as Egypt's plagues.

Last week in a letter to the New York Times, a reader named Richard Shramko made an engaging if wistful suggestion: the creation of a "Quality of Life Index." Like a weather service temperature-humidity index, the Q.L.I. would take into account "air and water pollution, the...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!