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Archive for the ‘Economic Justice’ Category

The War on Terror

In Afghanistan, Children and Youth, civil, Civil Liberties, class warfare, Culture of Corruption, Disaster Relief, Economic Justice, Election 2008, Environment, Freedom of Speech, Global War On Terror, Housing, Immigration, International politics, Iraq War, Media Criticism, Misc., New York City, Progressive Politics, Terrorism, US Politics on March 21, 2013 at 11:36 am

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Growing up in Virginia, I have fond memories of the shooting range.  My father even gave me a turn with his .44 magnum which did in fact kick like a mule.  The violence followed me to New York with 9/11, and where I was fortunate to try to give blood and wait things out in my dorm, many others who I’d grown up with or befriended back in VA were suiting up to go and fight, first in Afghanistan, then to Iraq.  A couple days ago, I caught this letter on a friend’s Facebook Feed – which is starting to make the rounds – and at first, I couldn’t read it.  It had been comforting in a way to forget about Bush and the Axis of Evil, of all the squandered potential we poured into the sand.  But as we’re reminded so often in this endless war, we must never forget.  We cannot hide unpleasant things in the shadows.

And yet, for two years after the attack and ten more after our invasion – the two defining moments of our time – we seem content to do just that.  My relationship to guns came into focus in Millbrook, NY where – eating lunch with my band after playing our first funeral – we saw the horrors of gun violence laid bare on the diner’s TV screen.  CNN’s coverage of Sandy Hook still fresh,  our waitress remarking, “That’s a half-hour from here.”  A member of the jazz community in NYC lost their daughter and even Joe Biden says nothing will be the same.

Except it is.  Exactly the same.  After hearings and meetings and press conferences and statements, there will be no assault weapons ban, no reduction in the capacity of magazines, no new safegaurds against the armed-and-mentally ill.  21 children are dead for absolutely no reason, and for all our wails of grief and shock, no one is willing to really do anything about it.  The 1.4% of us who are NRA members must be fairly satisfied by this.

Immigration is looking a little more hopeful, with real-ish players talking about real-ish solutions – path to citizenship, guest worker visas, living wages?? – but if the current legislative process holds true, which it will, we can expect exactly none of these to make it to any real legislation, no leadership or dialogue will take place.  Just as we have come to expect, as we have chosen to remember.  So on we go with stopping people for their papers, exploiting them with unscrupulous employers and siphoning resources away from the state without putting any tax revenue into – or getting any real value from – the community they’re living in.

The current tally on this War on Terror is coming in to around $6 trillion, with about $4 trillion of that going towards the Iraq war, which I think is over at this point.    No further attacks have been made on the home front, and aside from a few pesky revolutions throughout the region, we haven’t had World War III yet, so, mission accomplished.  But this war isn’t being fought by “America,” it’s being fought by less than 1% of America.  The backlash and destruction caused by what we want is being felt by them, not by us, which makes it easier to saber rattle as the threats continue to pop up in far-flung places all over this hostile world.  It is easy to hide the unpleasantness of war, and that much better to remember all the glory and victory, when only a few have to bleed.

We were lied to.  We were lied to and believed in it so much that we lied to the world.  We remember the attack, the victimization we felt at that moment, but we choose to forget – every day – the reaction that has set us on this path.  Something horrible happens, but the real cause is too scary, too political, too much to bear, so we lie to each other, we lie to ourselves, and talk really loud about something else.  Something that makes us feel good, or empowered and that lasts just long enough for the next crisis to come, and the next cycle to start, and nothing, nothing, nothing is ever really done.

But this is politics, this is Washington, this is Gridlock and Sequester and Special Interests and this is out of our control.  It is also quite uncanny to a nervous breakdown.  As a country, we first experienced trauma then threw ourselves into deeper and deeper trauma’s with no discernible solution or responsibility, which eventually lead us to unearth, then ignore, all the skeletons we’ve amassed inside our closet.  Guns, war, immigrants, health care, economy, housing, the list goes on.

But you can’t make guns safer by talking by talking about “freedom.”  Nor can you keep healthcare prices low by invoking “liberty” or create jobs by claiming to be the victims of “class warfare.”  We can’t claim to be a “nation of immigrants” while installing xenophobic laws, nor can we claim to be “pro-life” and fight against affordable health care.  These are things both the right and left have been guilty of doing – or are at the very least both complicit in – and the apathy/isolation of the electorate has enabled these madmen to hijack trillions of dollars every year and immense power around the globe with little accountability.  We are lied to every day and believe the lie so much, we lie to each other, we lie to ourselves.

During the campaign in 2008, I was reading The Argument by Matt Bai and the quote I wrote with then still rings true now:

The story of modern politics was the story of popular movements molding their candidates, not the other way around. Roosevelt didn’t create progressive government; the progressives of the early twentieth century created him. Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy, while they despised eachother, both derived their essential arguments about social justice from the equality movements of the late fifties and early sixties. Ronald Regan would not have existed without the movement conservatives who offered him a philosophical anchor. These were great and preternaturally talented leaders, men who had the charisma and the intellect to synthesize the arguments that each of these movements had made, to persuade voters of their urgency, and to adapt them to the realm of policy making. But they were merely conduits for change, and they would never have emerged as public visionaries had others not laid the intellectual foundations for their arguments.

There is no magical elected official or working group someplace that will be able to fix all of this shit, but this does not divorce government – federal, state and local – from their responsibility in implementing solutions.  We have to decide, all of us, what the fuck we want, what the alternative is going to be.  We have to build it, prove it works, then demand, in no uncertain terms, that it be given to us better, faster and cheaper by those with the money and resources – e.g. government, business, that guy you know – to do so.  Occupy Wall Street accomplished exactly none of it’s goals, BECAUSE IT HAD NONE – and no, press coverage/raising awareness isn’t enough on the world stage.  We have to be able to confront all of those demons on that list, turn the lights on and get right with everything in honesty before we can expect respect from the dilettantes we’ve been ruled by.

Until then, the government will have no problem treating us the way in which we’ve grown accustomed, and we’ll have no problem taking it.  Never forget what we’ve been through.  Never forget that we deserved – and still deserve – so much better.

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New Politics

In Civil Liberties, class warfare, Criminal Justice / Prison Reform, Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Election 2008, Freedom of Speech, Global War On Terror, International politics, Iraq War, Laws & Regulation, Misc., Progressive Politics, Race, religion & politics, Terrorism, The War On Drugs, US Politics on March 26, 2008 at 12:32 pm

People usually can’t tell what I am by looking at me. My skin is white, like my mom’s, but some tints of my dad’s Filipino heritage peek through, making me look equally Cuban, Puerto Rican, Italian, anything but Asian. I’m lucky enough to have never really had any allegiance to a certain race or identified with any specific notions of it. I often joke with my friends about these things, usually bringing up all kinds of offensive, inappropriate comments about certain groups to get a cheap laugh, most probably because it’s more complicated for me to get the same treatment. But being a man without a team – a free-lance race(er), if you will – I have few preconceived notions about them myself, allowing me to find a lot of humor and joy in the differences we have and how they effect our interactions and shape our perceptions. I kid because I love. I love diversity, I love that my children will have roots on 3 different continents and I love this country for giving me, my family and countless others like them a place in the sun. Obama’s speech last Tuesday was given from this perspective, which is probably why it inspired and impressed me more than anything I’ve seen in politics. That something has finally spoken to me in this way has also engendered quite a bit of resentment towards the reaction to it.

He is a politician, one trying to contain a damaging scandal that speaks to the very heart of his campaign, a scandal so grievous that it caused Hillary Clinton to overtake him in national polling for the first time in months. He is a candidate who often gets by on looks and charm, his silver tongue paving the way through a rather charmed candidacy. The allegiance to Wright and Trinity were undeniably instrumental in Obama’s acceptance in the black community of Chicago and subsequently by the national black community – a voting block that has been crucial in many of his primary victories over a white woman. These are all things we knew before he stepped to that podium and it was impossible to forget while listening to his words. Perhaps it is because I support him, because I am a racial mutt same as he, because I have been seduced by that aforementioned silver tongue, but I didn’t care about any of it.

If my Catholic upbringing has taught me anything, it’s that if you look hard enough at anyone, you will see faults, you will see sin – they even make you apologize for it first thing Sunday morning. All any of us can do is mitigate these as best we can through good works and faith in eachother, neither of which come easy or without failure. Barack didn’t hide behind his press secretary or some other surrogate, he didn’t throw out some half-baked sound-byte of appeasement in hopes things would blow over by the next news cycle, he stood there for 30 minutes and talked to us like adults. He told us things we all know, but never hear. He made no accusations, but rather placed responsibility equally among all of us, himself included. He asked us to stop raising our voices and start listening to eachother. If you don’t believe me, watch the speech or read the transcript in its entirety. The motivations behind these words are unimportant to me. Sure, he could’ve been trying to divert our attention to save his own ass, but I don’t care. I don’t care why he said what he said, just that someone finally did so.

A black man running for President put his campaign on the line, stepped up to the plate and spoke about race in a way no other politician has ever done, but you would have never guessed by reading about it. A great deal of reaction and coverage was spent haggling over details. He didn’t go far enough to denounce a man who baptized his children, he didn’t explain how many times he heard these statements or the ways in which he tried to stop a preacher from preaching, he made us feel guilty for slavery and that was mean. It is as if we are at a beautiful restaurant in front of a gourmet meal but no one is eating because they don’t like the fold of the napkins. Obama’s mistake wasn’t that he stood by his preacher, it was that he assumed people would actually pay attention.

Politics is a dangerous game, not just for the candidate but for those who support them. We pin our hopes and dreams on certain people every couple of years and when they fall by the wayside, so does our resolve. We allow these candidates to paint themselves as the magic bullet, as the only answer to our problems; and so in their defeat lies ours. The one thing that really made me jump into this campaign was that Obama asked us, the people, to work for what we wanted, to help him reach our goals. Part of this is obviously tactical. You can’t fight the Clintons with the establishment, they are the establishment. The most powerful political machine cannot be undone from within, so he was forced to look elsewhere for his support. His relative inexperience and lack of accomplishments give him less to run on by himself, so he needs more help and faith from the outside. He has no record, so he forgoes specific policy items in favor of meta-themes. It is also, though, an undeniable return to history.

In his incredible book, The Argument, Matt Bai put much of the focus on the Democrat’s search for a post-Clinton identity. But he also provided amazing insight into political movements at large:

The story of modern politics was the story of popular movements molding their candidates, not the other way around. Roosevelt didn’t create progressive government; the progressives of the early twentieth century created him. Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy, while they despised eachother, both derived their essential arguments about social justice from the equality movements of the late fifties and early sixties. Ronald Regan would not have existed without the movement conservatives who offered him a philosophical anchor. These were great and preternaturally talented leaders, men who had the charisma and the intellect to synthesize the arguments that each of these movements had made, to persuade voters of their urgency, and to adapt them to the realm of policy making. But they were merely conduits for change, and they would never have emerged as public visionaries had others not laid the intellectual foundations for their arguments.

Barack has often been chastised for a lack of clarity, rhetoric instead of results. But perhaps this is because his movement, his base, has not yet codified their beliefs or their goals. Regardless of why, Obama has caused a progressive awakening in a generation that faces monumental challenges, my generation. One who has grown to see the prosperity of the 90’s – our formative years – become destroyed by forces outside our control: fanatical terrorism, global warming, economic instability. Those in power attempting to fix these problems are not the ones who live with the consequences. It is my friends who are getting laid off, who go to the emergency room for physicals, who are sent off to fight in the desert. We are the most diverse, best educated and technologically advanced generation this nation has ever seen and we must begin to take ownership of it. We can’t afford to be distracted by the horse race, but rather be enlightened by the message. Say what you want about Barack, but you cannot deny that his calls for a recognition of shared responsibility speaks to the best in us, that a house divided against itself cannot stand. If it takes inflammatory remarks by a preacher for us to take stock of our treatment of one another, so be it. If an opportunistic, ambitious politician can dupe us all into working for eachother instead of against, we are the better for it.

But we cannot expect one man to do it all. Elections are not the realization of change, they are the beginning of it. If he loses the nomination, if he loses the general election, we cannot retreat into the background in defeat. If he becomes our President, it is our responsibility to hold him accountable and help to fulfill the promises of his potential and our own. Obama has outed us. The success of his platform and the goals he has set will only be met through the efforts we make. The themes he has brought to bear since his introduction of Senator Kerry in 2004 cannot be ignored, especially as we descend into an ever bloodier campaign season. Hillary – an impressive public servant in her own right – has undoubtedly inspired many young women to pursue ambitious careers. John McCain has given credence to sacrifice and centrism in a party that has been known for anything but. Obama’s message challenges us to recognize the nobility in our foes, to respect differences and approach challenges with optimistic pragmatism instead of cynical ideology. His candidacy might fade, but these ideas must not.

Many have belittled the thinking man in these times, but the consequences of looking tough and acting stupid are keeping us from what we can become. Harsh crime legislation and unyielding drug policy have stopped neither and added non-violent, first time offenders to the ranks of the incarcerated, now accounting for 1 out of every 100 of our citizens. Elliot Spitzer’s demise at the hands of a call girl might have been cheered by the Wall Street firms he savaged as Attorney General, but considering the greed and deception they perpetuated to bring down our economy – with no jail time in sight – one wonders who really got off and who got screwed. If we could have seen the facts in Iraq for what they were, free from agenda, fear or spin, we would have $1.3 Trillion more in our pockets, we would be without 29,000 wounds and be able to hold over 4,000 of our sons and daughters that have been lost to ignorance. We are waging war against an ideology instead of a nation, so it must be considered that our ideas and culture can and must fight as effectively as our military. If we continue to distill these complex issues down to sound bytes and slogans, deny the due process of debate and discussion and pigeon-hole the myriad points of view into mere black and white we run the risk of turning into the same fanatics that seek to destroy us. If we cannot decide the proper course of action through argument, we must find a way to do so through conversation. Obama or Hillary, Democratic or Republican, we all share the same fate. If there is one thing I hope this Presidential race will teach us, it is that there are more important things than winning elections.

A victory for Hip Hop’s birthplace

In Economic Justice, Housing, Music, New York City, Urban Planning / Space on March 4, 2008 at 11:38 am

2 posts in one day???  It’s been a while since i’ve done that……

Anyway, good news for housing activists and hip hop historians today.  Allhiphop reports the following:

Efforts to save the birthplace of Hip-Hop culture proved successful as the New York Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) rejected a proposed sale of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue to a developer Mark Karasick. According to Sen. Charles Schumer, the HPD cited the fact that current rents could not be sustained if the sale of the property had gone through. The decision is the latest chapter in the struggle for Sedgwick Avenue tenants to preserve their building. Tenants enlisted Hip-Hop co-founder DJ Kool Herc last year to help save the property after word got out that the 100-unit apartment building’s owner planned to leave an affordable housing program. The building has also been deemed eligible to be listed on national and state registers of historic sites.

article appears here.

A 7 Mile March to the Polls in Texas (2008)

In Children and Youth, civil, Civil Liberties, class warfare, Culture of Corruption, Direct action, Economic Justice, Election 2008, Freedom of Speech, Laws & Regulation, New York City, Progressive Politics, Race, religion & politics, US Politics on February 20, 2008 at 4:05 pm

An incredible story popped up on Crooks and Liars today describing a beautiful answer to a disgusting act in an escalating primary battle:

Early voting starts today in Texas. In Waller County, a primarily rural county about 60 miles outside Houston, the county made the decision to offer only one early voting location: at the County Courthouse in Hempstead, TX, the county seat.

Prairie View A&M students organized to protest the decision, because they felt it hindered their ability to vote. For background, Prairie View A&M is one of Texas’ historically Black universities. It has a very different demographic feel than the rest of the county. There has been a long history of dispute over what the students feel is disenfranchisement. There was a lot of outrage in 2006, when students felt they were unfairly denied the right to vote when their registrations somehow did not get processed.

1000 students, along with an additional 1000 friends and supporters, are this morning walking the 7.3 miles between Prairie View and Hempstead in order to vote today. According to the piece I saw on the news (there’s no video up, so I can’t link to it), the students plan to all vote today. There are only 2 machines available at the courthouse for early voting, so they hope to tie them up all day and into the night.

Yes, we’re talking about this election – 2008 – where black students are forced to these lengths to exercise their rights and draw attention to these abuses. This is early voting in a primary, mind you, I can’t wait to see what these kids will do for the general election. By the way, don’t think Yankees are invulnerable to this, either. A little publicized story in the New York Times has uncovered a drastic underreporting of Obama votes in several counties in New York’s primary – in some cases, not registering a single ballot cast in his favor. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m an Obama man, but these are problems that have persisted since the clusterfuck of the 2000 election. No matter who you’re voting for, your vote deserves to be counted and no one – not Obama, not Clinton, not McCain and certainly not appointees to local election boards – should be allowed to destroy or steal them. Federalism has its place, but shouldn’t there be some sort of standard in national voting and election oversight? Shouldn’t we at least use the same machines and meet the same requirements to use them? How can the world’s most successful democracy tolerate these kinds of problems? If there are aspects I am ignoring, please, educate me.

Iraq and Immigration Meet in Mass.

In Children and Youth, civil, Civil Liberties, Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Global War On Terror, Immigration, Iraq War, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Misc., US Politics on March 8, 2007 at 7:35 pm

Two festering cancers of America’s policy collided yesterday at a New Bedford, MA manufacturing plant. A small army of Immigrations and Customs Enforcements agents (ICE) executed a massive raid at a Michael Bianco, Inc., netting 327 illegal workers – out of 500 overall – and the company’s management. Though they are now prosecuting the company, our government had also awarded Bianco in the neighborhood of $90-$100 Million in contracts to manufacture quality goods for our troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan; this includes around $8.5 Million and $36.1 Million for backpacks and portage equipment in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Many words came to mind when I first read about this, and it will probably take a few paragraphs to get to them all, so please, bear with me.

There are many victims in this story, but I’d like to start with the innocent ones. The majority of the workers at Bianco were women, and while they were being handcuffed a rounded up with helicopters for working a $7 an hour job, their children were left stranded. From the Boston Globe:

About 100 children were stuck with baby sitters, caretakers and others, said Corinn Williams, director of the Community Economic Development Center of Southeastern Massachusetts. The state Department of Social Services found at least 35 children whose families were affected, authorities said.

“We’re continuing to get stories today about infants that were left behind,” she said. “It’s been a widespread humanitarian crisis here in New Bedford.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that no children were stranded and that authorities released 60 detainees for humanitarian reasons, most related to child care issues. Spokesman Marc Raimondi said that the agency coordinated with the state officials Monday afternoon, and that those still in custody were given the option of letting their children stay with a guardian or putting them in state care.

“We had an agreement in place,” he said. “We are not aware of anyone who had any children that weren’t being cared for.”

Social service officials said they were working with local authorities and community activists to help families.

Since their parents – all but the 60 the ICE mercifully released – spent the night detained in a nearby Army Base, one wonders just exactly where these children were and what kind of care they were given. It is important to note that most of these children are, by birth, American citizens, and as such, are entitled to care in this country. Despite this, a majority of deportees choose to leave with their children, preferring to keep the family together in uncertain poverty rather than burden the state and tear their lives in two. The former, though, will most likely be difficult if not impossible to accomplish given that these workers are now in custody and caught in the unrelenting tide of bureaucracy on their way out of the country. Just what kinds of rights they are granted during processing – most specifically phone calls to loved ones and legal consel – is also suspect:

At Fort Devens, federal agents began a second round of interviews with detainees, ICE spokesman Richard Rocha said.

He said the majority will be flown to detention facilities outside of Massachusetts, where they will appear before an immigration court judge for deportation proceedings.

Depending on the judge’s decision, the detainees will either be deported to their home countries or allowed to return to New Bedford, he said.

The length of stay at the detention facilities depends on where the immigrants are from, Mr. Rocha said. Deportation to Mexico is quicker than those to other countries such as El Salvador and Honduras, he said.

This effectively puts these estimated 100 children in indefinite limbo for doing absolutely nothing. Give me one Minute Man who says this is justice, this is American values, and I’ll write in George Bush on my next Presidential ballot.

The second tier are the workers themselves. Whatever, your opinions on immigration are, it is important to understand the conditions in which these people work:

Investigators said the workers toiled in dingy conditions and faced onerous fines, such as a $20 charge for talking while working and spending more than two minutes in the bathroom.

“The whole story will come out, and at that point it will be a very different scenario,” said Insolia’s lawyer, Inga Bernstein.

I’m sure it will, Inga. The pay they received – $7 an hour – and lack of benefits is, unfortunately, not that much different than many low-skilled jobs US citizens are forced into these days. But the simple fact that these people are without rights negates any inkling of fair, honest, and even humane treatment by their employers as they risk imprisonment and deportation for reporting mistreatment. I say again, whatever your thoughts on this issue, the plain fact is that these people risk life and limb to come here and be exploited all so that their children can escape the burdens they endure. We are also led to believe, over and over, that these people come to this country to do the jobs American’s won’t. An excellent Op-Ed piece from a local paper stated that the raid happened “on the same day that the state reported that the city’s unemployment rate was the highest in the commonwealth and just one day after a historic copper company founded by patriot Paul Revere announced it will close its historic plant in New Bedford” When a big time factory can beat it’s competitors while still keeping it’s local work-force in unemployment, it’s a Red-Letter day for American business. With the closing of any plant, fingers start pointing all over the place over who is responsible for the lost jobs. Is it the fault of the immigrant for working the sub-standard wage, or the employer for offering it?

The most unnerving thing, in my opinion, is that all this was done with the full knowledge, if not complicit action of the government. Not just the Department of Defense, who awarded them the contract, but several government agencies turned the other way to continue the flow of cheap goods Bianco dolled out to our troops. From the Op-Ed piece:

As early as February 2002, the Social Security Administration found that there were problems with the paperwork of nearly one in four of Bianco’s 83 employees. Over the next several years, state and city police stops turned up Bianco employees who said they had purchased fraudulent documents.

And report after report, filed over a four-year period, to Social Security found wholesale problems with Bianco Inc.’s work force, including Social Security cards whose numbers matched those of dead people.

And yet, the company was awarded more than $100 million in federal contracts to manufacture gear for U.S. soldiers. To meet the demands of the federal contracts, Bianco quadrupled its work force from 151 in February 2005 to 646. The company even received tens of thousands of dollars from Massachusetts, apparently to train illegal immigrants how to do taxpayer-supported jobs for the U.S. military that should have gone to U.S. citizens.

Most of what we eat, be it livestock or produce, has been given off the back of illegal labor for years, so I guess it was only a matter of time before the government stopped riding shotgun and started actively working to engorge American business with cheap labor. While we were being pummelled with the “debate” on these issues going on throughout the halls of government, while walls and fences were being built to keep these dastardly illegals out of our country and rhetoric flew like electrons from our elected officials, hundreds of workers – just counting Bianco, mind you – were being ignored if not encouraged to keep quiet and meet their quotas. The Senate felt it appropriate to demonize these workers while ignoring the employers that brought them here in the first place; these captains of industry who supplied Mexicans, Brazilians, Guatemalans and Jamaicans – just to name a few – with false identification and denied them any rights whatsoever in order to avoid the labor laws and civil rights that come with a legitimate workforce. But hey, that crap’s expensive and we live in a global economy. However encouraging it is to see Francesco Insolia, Bianco’s owner, and the rest of the company’s management being led away in the same cars as the their victims, it is merely window dressing when compared to monumental task at hand. It will take much more than raids to cure the culture of corruption we have let infect our economy through lax oversight and an unwillingness to face the issues at hand. It will be curious to see if the new Democratic leadership will be able to cut the bullshit and find a solution, be it amnesty or prosecution, to this festering problem. There are many who believe that they would rather wait out this supposed lame-duck administration and deal with the problem on their own terms come ’08 instead of working with Bush to solve it, thereby reinvigorating his languishing term. How many millions of workers will be prosecuted from now until then? What will be the human cost of all of this useless politcal posturing?

The fact that many of our troops are now equipped with the products made by this company is nothing short of poetic irony. At the very least, corners have been cut and rules have been bent in countless ways to keep this war afloat. The complete and total lack of responsible oversight and accountability that has been so well documented in Iraq has finally been revealed to us at home, and one can only wonder how much more of our military is being supported by these illegal and unethical companies. We have been told that we wage this war for the people of Iraq to have a taste of the freedom we take for granted here, that it is our job to cast away the darkness of oppression with the enduring light of liberty. Yet here we are, oppressing our own people with unemployment and foreigners with much worse, supplanting the equipment our troops deserve with that which is cheapest and orphaning scores of children without any consideration to their future, all in the broad daylight of this liberty we take for granted. My mother was born of Polish and Czech immigrants who arrived here at the turn of the century and my father came here from the Philippines in his twenties, which makes immigration a very personal issue for me, and probably why I’ve written more of a manifesto than a post. Most immigrants don’t come here for themselves, they do so for their families and their children, seeking to spread the apparent overflow of prosperity upon those they love. This was the founding principal of our nation, it was the reason why George Washington didn’t want to pay his taxes and why Jose’ worked 3 jobs with no insurance, they both wanted to be citizens of the United States. Should people come here legally? Yes. Regulating this, though, must start within our own borders by prosecuting the companies perpetuating it. The fact remains that there are millions of people who have spent year after year toiling in sheer exploitation that deserve, if not the name, at least some of the rights guaranteed by citizenship. By instead putting them in shackles and tearing apart their families, we relive another notorious and shamefull period of our history. If we cannot enforce our laws equally across tax brackets, guarantee the well being of our citizens and the humane treatment of those who are not, we scar the traditions that built this country. If we can’t fulfill our promises here, how are we supposed to fight and die to fulfill them elsewhere?

“Overactivism” is a Beautiful Phrase

In Consumerism, Economic Justice, Housing, Land rights, Urban Planning / Space, US Politics on March 8, 2007 at 4:26 pm

“Overactivism” is a beautiful phrase that is being lobbed from the lobbyists towards consumer advocates, fair lending advocates, and economic justice activists becausethe “subprime” or “nonprime” mortgage market.  Subprime loans are made to borrowers with lower than average credit; the loans, largely due to historical barriers to credit, are made disproportianatly to low-income, non-white, and female borrowers.

 

The subprime lending market has made years of irresponsible and predatory mortgage loans to these borrowers and now the cat is out of the bag beyond the activist community — the loans are unsuitable and unaffordable to many borrowers. The Center for Responsible Lending estimates that 20%, or one of every five, subprime loan made in recent years will end in foreclosure, a process thta not only causes the homeowner to lose their home, but also causes neighborhood instability in terms of abandonment and gentrification.

 

The “overactivism” they refer to is the push by these advocates and activists to ensure that common sense regulations are in place requiring lenders to simple ensure that loans are suitable and affordable to the borrower through the life of the loan.

Countrywide, the biggest U.S. mortgage lender, originated $468.2 billion in home loans last year, including $40.6 billion in “nonprime” products to the riskiest borrowers. Regulators, including the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, on Friday issued proposed guidance to encourage tighter standards by lenders facing a sudden surge in delinquencies. Loan quality is falling because borrowers, perhaps ill-informed about how fast and far their payments can rise on a 2-28 loan, sustain a “payment shock” and can no longer meet the obligation, the regulators said.

But Countrywide and industry lobbying groups, including the Mortgage Bankers Association, said the guidance would restrict lending to the portion of the economy that need it most… Half of the hybrid ARMs issued by Countrywide are for purchasing a home, he said. Half of those borrowers refinance into prime loans, showing that customers are improving their credit scores and not “hitting the end of the road,” he said.

“The worst thing would be over-activism,” Sieracki said. “There is a market here that needs to be served.”

Bush Continues Anti-Regulatory Efforts with Industry Nominee to CPSC

In Civil Liberties, Consumerism, Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Election 2008, International Trade, Laws & Regulation, Misc., US Politics on March 7, 2007 at 11:37 am

Just another re-post

In nominating Michael E. Baroody Mar. 1 to be chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), President Bush demonstrated yet another example since the 2006 elections of his efforts to slow down or roll back government regulation. CPSC is the independent regulatory agency charged with protecting the public against injury and death from a wide range of consumer products.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Baroody currently serves as the executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), an industry trade group which often works to ease regulations on manufacturers of consumer products. Baroody has been at NAM since 1990, except for a year when he worked for the Republican National Policy Forum. While at NAM, Baroody built a powerful lobbying and communications arm, which has had a very strong anti-regulatory agenda. He appeared to be next in line to get the top job at NAM until former Michigan governor John Engler was appointed president and CEO…

The Los Angeles Times reports that, for example, Baroody fought against ergonomic standards that the Occupational Health and Safety Administration recommended in 2000, and he spoke on behalf of NAM when the Supreme Court ruled the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acted constitutionally when it issued air pollution limits in 2001. Baroody’s nomination goes to the Senate Commerce Committee where Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has vowed to scrutinize the nominee…

As we watch our nation’s inability to respond to a range of challenges, whether it’s regarding the quality of our national parks, our veterans’ health care quality, the readiness of the National Guard, Hurricane Katrina, or the regulation of our food supply, Bush continues to nominate people not to govern the country, but to achieve ideological ends and protect corporate interests.

Nationwide Katrina Clap

In class warfare, Economic Justice, Election 2008, Labor, US Politics on February 28, 2007 at 3:38 pm

A lot of the images America saw in the aftermath ofHurricane Katrina have faded away from the public consciousness, BUT the underlying problem is still very much present  The article below, originally published by the Independent UK,  is a good description of the poverty situation in America.  If you didn’t already know, this is real serious.

The number of Americans living in severe poverty has expanded dramatically under the Bush administration, with nearly 16 million people now living on an individual income of less than $5,000 (£2,500) a year or a family income of less than $10,000, according to an analysis of 2005 official census data.

The analysis, by the McClatchy group of newspapers, showed that the number of people living in extreme poverty had grown by 26 per cent since 2000. Poverty as a whole has worsened, too, but the number of severe poor is growing 56 per cent faster than the overall segment of the population characterised as poor – about 37 million people in all according to the census data. That represents more than 10 per cent of the US population, which recently surpassed the 300 million mark.

The widening of the income gap between haves and have-nots is nothing new in America – it has been going on steadily since the late 1970s. What is new, though, is the rapid increase in numbers at the bottom of the socio-economic pile. The numbers of severely poor have increased faster than any other segment of the population.

“That was the exact opposite of what we anticipated when we began,” one of the McClatchy study’s co-authors, Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, said. “We’re not seeing as much moderate poverty as a proportion of the population. What we’re seeing is a dramatic growth of severe poverty.”

The causes of the problem are no mystery to sociologists and political scientists. The share of national income going to corporate profits has far outstripped the share going to wages and salaries. Manufacturing jobs with benefits and union protection have vanished and been supplanted by low-wage, low-security service-sector work. The richest fifth of US households enjoys more than 50 per cent of the national income, while the poorest fifth gets by on an estimated 3.5 per cent.

The average after-tax income of the top 1 per cent is 63 times larger than the average for the bottom 20 per cent – both because the rich have grown richer and also because the poor have grown poorer; about 19 per cent poorer since the late 1970s. The middle class, too, has been squeezed ever tighter. Every income group except for the top 20 per cent has lost ground in the past 30 years, regardless of whether the economy has boomed or tanked.

These figures are rarely discussed in political forums in America in part because the economy has, in large part, ceased to be regarded as a political issue – John Edwards’ “two Americas” theme in his presidential campaign being a rare exception – and because the right-wing think-tanks that have sprouted and thrived since the Reagan administration have done a good job of minimising the importance of the trends.

They have argued, in fact, that the poverty statistics are misleading because of the mobility of US society. A small number of left-wing think-tanks, such as the Economic Policy Institute, meanwhile, argue that the census figures are almost certainly lower than the real picture because many people living in extreme poverty do not answer census questionnaires.

United States poverty league: States with the most people in severe poverty

California 1.9m

Texas 1.6m

New York 1.2m

Florida 943,670

Illinois 681,786

Ohio 657,415

Pennsylvania 618,229

Michigan 576,428

Georgia 562,014

North Carolina 523,511

Source: US Census Bureau

Income Inequality: Income of 1.2m on top = Income of 45.5m on bottom

In class warfare, Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Election 2008, Laws & Regulation, Progressive Politics, US Politics on February 28, 2007 at 10:39 am

In case you need a good pick-me-up with your cup o’ joe, here are some tid-bits the Wall Street Journal pulled out from a recent CBO report. Nothing too new, but good to stay motivated:

…Before taxes, the bottom 40% of U.S. households got 13% of the nation’s income in 2004; after federal taxes of all sorts they got about 15%, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s latest estimates. Because of the Earned Income Tax Credit, a cash bonus the government offers low-wage workers, many Americans at the bottom get money from the government, rather than having to pay income taxes; they still face payroll taxes on their wages.

Before taxes, the top 1% got about 16% of income; after taxes they ended up with 14%. (Yes, you read that right: The 1.2 million best-off households got about as much income, even after taxes, as the 45.5 million worst-off.) That top 1%, by the way, pays about a quarter of all federal taxes.

…The Treasury benefits more when CEOs get bigger raises than when ordinary workers gain, and that, along with the buoyant economy, is a big reason for today’s surge in federal revenue.

Immigration Detention Centers Privatize Food (PS: Food’s top reason for rioting)

In Civil Liberties, Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Food Justice, Global War On Terror, Immigration, International politics, International Public Health, Laws & Regulation, Race, Terrorism, US Politics on February 28, 2007 at 10:26 am

Whew… Could turn into an underreported mess

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau has decided to hire an Alaska Native corporation to take over detention center food service work currently performed by dozens of federal employees.

Fifty-six ICE food service employees at detention centers in Miami; Los Angeles; Los Fresnos and El Paso, Texas; Florence, Ariz.; and El Centro, Calif., will be replaced by ANC workers, according to a notice posted earlier this month on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site. The decision was made after the agency conducted a streamlined public-private job competition, in which officials decided after completing market research that it would be best to outsource the work.

Officials then announced in the notice early this month that, rather than soliciting proposals from all interested private sector companies, they would give the work to an Alaska Native firm. These companies are considered disadvantaged and allowed to bypass some of the normal competitive procedures required to win federal contracts.

…”ICE is not required to even show that this type of contractor is cheaper or better than federal employees, so the results of the … competition don’t matter, much less the way it was conducted,” said one person at the Homeland Security Department, who spoke under the condition of anonymity. ICE is part of DHS.

…A separate agency source predicted that officials may have a difficult time making a smooth transition to a contract workforce.

“I foresee disturbances likely to occur after the new contractors take over,” said the source, who also spoke under the condition of anonymity. “One of the primary reasons inmates [and] detainees riot is the quality of the food service. Contract employees will be held to strict time limits, [and] the quality and quantity will surely suffer as a result.”

World Bank, Caribbean Nations to Discuss Natural Disaster Insurance Fund

In Disaster Relief, Economic Justice, Hurricane Katrina, International politics, International Public Health, International Trade, Land rights, US Politics on February 27, 2007 at 4:00 pm

The World Bank and Caribbean nations are exploring the creation of a new fund to insure island nations against hurricanes and other natural disasters. Representatives from 18 Caribbean countries gathered Monday in Washington to discuss the bank’s first program to offer the insurance, which would provide countries with immediate liquidity in the event of a natural disaster. Each participating country will pay $1 million (euro760,000) annually in exchange for up to $30 million (euro22.8 million) in coverage, according to World Bank officials.

The World Bank hopes to collect some $50 million (euro38 million) from donors, including the European Union, France and Canada, which will send representatives to the conference. World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz [1] [2] will preside over the talks. The bank aims to make the insurance available for the upcoming hurricane season, which starts in June.

Today’s Cartoon

In Civil Liberties, class warfare, Direct action, Economic Justice, Freedom of Information, Freedom of Speech, Global War On Terror, Habeas Corpus, Immigration, International politics, Laws & Regulation, Policing, political cartoons, Progressive Politics, Race, religion & politics, Sexuality, Terrorism, The War On Drugs, US Politics on February 15, 2007 at 10:45 am

FTC Let’s Industry Write The Rules (Sounds Like Bush’s Energy and Banking Regulators)

In Consumerism, Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Food Justice, Freedom of Speech, International politics, International Public Health, Laws & Regulation, Media Criticism, Misc., US Politics on February 12, 2007 at 10:21 am

Subject matter may be a bit odd to some, but it’s just another example of Bush Administration letting industry “self-police.” Banking and energy are two very clear parallels where the Administration has let industry police itself by turnig a collective blind eye to its own misgivings.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has written to the Federal Trade Commission asking the agency to ban cheese advertising during children’s TV shows… Cheddar cheese gets 73% of its calories from fat, the PCRM claims, and thus is not an acceptable food to be promoted to kids during the obesity epidemic… The PCRM wants the FTC to copy the United Kingdom, which has recently banned cheese and other fatty foods from British kids TV. Kellogg and Kraft in the U.S. in November became part of a coalition of food marketers who pledged to devote 50% of their advertising targeting kids to only healthful products… In a recent interview with Brandweek (Feb. 5), FTC chief Deborah Platt Majoras said she would rather see the industry regulate itself than force the FTC to act.

Picture the Homeless, Longest Night of the Year

In class warfare, Direct action, Economic Justice, Land rights, Misc., Music, New York City, Progressive Politics, Race, Urban Planning / Space, US Politics on December 20, 2006 at 6:16 pm

NYC’s Picture the Homeless will be hosting a great event tomorrow night.

We wanted to remind you that tomorrow, on the longest night of the year, we will be holding our annual Homeless Memorial Service, to come together to remember homeless New Yorkers who passed away in 2006–and stand together to promote justice for homeless New Yorkers still living! This is a powerful, deeply moving event, and we encourage all friends and allies to come join us!
Thursday, December 21 at 6 p.m.

Judson Memorial Church

55 Washington Square South (SW corner of Washington Sq Park)

After this amazing event readers are welcome to join two of LiftWhileClimbing’s moderators and many of our allies at downtown’s M1-5 for a party, which will be collecting food for NYC’s City Harvest.

Vilsack Scolds Chertoff

In Economic Justice, Election 2008, Immigration, Laws & Regulation, Policing, US Politics on December 20, 2006 at 5:32 pm

Sure, Vilsack wrote it with more than one eye on the primaries only 13 months away, but it needed to be written anyway:

In a blunt and stinging letter, the governor and the top officer of the Iowa National Guard on Tuesday called federal immigration officials’ actions in the Swift raids “completely unacceptable,” saying agents undermined the public’s trust in government, potentially jeopardized the safety of law enforcement personnel in Iowa and could have compromised undercover operations.

Gov. Tom Vilsack and Maj. Gen. Ron Dardis, in a letter Tuesday to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, said they will not cooperate with federal immigration officials in the future unless they act more responsibly and provide better coordination with state officials.

by the way, am i the only one that thinks Chertoff looks like the Grim Reeper 

Brookings’ 10 Noteworthy Trends for 2006

In Economic Justice, HIV/SIDA, Housing, Immigration, Labor, New York City, Progressive Politics, Race, Urban Planning / Space, US Politics on December 20, 2006 at 10:06 am

Brookings Inst:

  • For the first time in 2005 there are more poor residents of suburbs than central cities.
  • Six percent of the population of large U.S. metropolitan areas lives in exurbs.
  • More than one-third of the nation’s loss of manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2005 occurred in seven Great Lakes states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
  • America’s older, inner-ring first suburbs make up 20 percent of the nation’s population and are more diverse and older than the nation as a whole.
  • The average U.S. household spends 19 percent of its budget on transportation, rendering household location a key component of housing affordability.
  • Nationwide, more than 4.2 million lower income homeowners pay a higher than average APR for their mortgage.
  • The leading refugee destination metro areas have shifted away from traditional immigrant gateways, like New York and Los Angeles, over the past two decades to newer gateways—such as Atlanta, Seattle, and Portland.
  • The fastest growing metropolitan areas for minority populations from 2000 to 2004 now closely parallel the fastest growing areas in the nation.
  • Middle-income neighborhoods as a proportion of all metropolitan neighborhoods declined from 58 percent in 1970 to 41 percent in 2000, disappearing faster than the share of middle class households in these metro areas.
  • Of the $109 billion in federal appropriations dedicated to Gulf Coast funding In the first year after Hurricane Katrina, only $35 billion, approximately, went toward the long-term recovery of the region.
  • Targeted for their Appearance, ‘Wilson Four’ Immigration Case Tossed Out

    In Civil Liberties, Economic Justice, Immigration, International politics, Laws & Regulation, Misc., Race, US Politics on December 13, 2006 at 4:46 pm

    Bout time this crap got thrown out…

    It looks like the long court saga against the Wilson Four is over. A federal immigration appeals board on Nov. 29 concluded that the former Wilson Charter High School students in Phoenix had been wrongly targeted by immigration officials at the Canadian border because of their Hispanic appearance.

    As a result, a federal immigration judge in July, 2005, was right to throw out the deportation cases against them, the board concluded in a statement rejecting the government’s appeal.

    […]

    A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the government hasn’t decided whether to pursue the case further. In June, 2002, the students traveled to upstate New York to participate in a solar-powered boat competition. During a side trip to Niagara Falls, immigration officials at the Canadian border interrogated the students for nine hours, and after determining they were in the country illegally, began deportation proceedings.

    NYC’s domestic partners face unfair choice – be cold or be alone

    In Civil Liberties, Economic Justice, Housing, Laws & Regulation, New York City, Progressive Politics, religion & politics, Sexuality, Urban Planning / Space, US Politics on December 13, 2006 at 12:27 pm

    Send an e-postcard to NYC Dept. of Homeless Services because Commissioner Hess can change this.

    Selling Candy: The Urban Job Market of Tomorrow

    In Blogs we like, class warfare, Economic Justice, International Trade, Labor, New York City, Urban Planning / Space, US Politics on December 8, 2006 at 4:36 pm

    From Working Life:

    More than a month ago, I posted a short item about the mad scrum that erupted in Times Square when a few thousands people lined up for 65 jobs–at M&M’s new store. Well, actually, it turns out I underestimated the insanity. According to the Daily News yesterday, 12,800 people filled out applications for the 198 jobs (beats me why the difference in numbers on the jobs…I’ll chalk it up to bad reporting but I also didn’t check up on this independently so bad on me, too).

    Anyway, these jobs pay $10.75 an hour “plus health and other benefits,” according to the article–but there’s no description of the health benefits. Mark me down as skeptical that the benefits are anything more than a bare-bones plan with high deductibles and skimpy coverage. As for the store:

    M&M’s World offers themed clothing, dishware, piggy banks, watches and of course, chocolate. New York’s largest candy store has a two-story wall of M&M’s with 22 different color choices.

    Hey, I have a real bad sweet tooth so I’m not dissing the great societal benefit that M&M represents. But, these are the jobs that thousands of people are going bonkers to grab.  This is the great economic miracle we can look forward to.

    Hey, what happened to the food theme?

    In Economic Justice, Food Justice, Immigration, Laws & Regulation, New York City, Urban Planning / Space on December 6, 2006 at 11:30 am

    This month we originally planned on bringing you articles about food justice, access to food, and healthy eating. However, certain incidents (1, 2, 3)  have slightly shifted our direction over recent weeks.

    While that other stuff is more important, and very worthy of the distraction that it brings, I thought I could lighten the mood a little this morning by returning to food for a minute.

    I found the following article in the NYTimes about a food market that I never knew existed on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Based on what I learned from this article, it sounds similar to the Chelsea Market in that it rents space to small independent vendors, including farmers from upstate NY. It is also interesting due to the fact that it is quite large (15,000 square feet) compared to most stores in the area, and that it caters to people from a variety of social backgrounds (not just to the gentrifying population). Here is some of the article:

    Some months ago, a friend told me about the Essex Street Market, the 15,000-square-foot enclosed food hall on the lower East Side of Manhattan, and I felt as if I were a soprano hearing the name Donizetti for the first time.

    The market has been in continual operation for the past 66 years. But it is thriving today as it never did, making available both the world of the bodega and the universe of the gourmand…That the market itself is shaped like a giant shoebox only adds to the sense that it has become a diorama of the city in demographic miniature. Hasidic men and Latina women come, as they always have, and they are joined now by young people of indeterminate sexuality, vocation or coiffure.

    Five years ago the market was only 60 percent full, said Jose Figuereo, one of its overseers. But because of low rents and an influx of more prosperous neighbors, 26 vendors now occupy every square foot of selling space.

    The city’s Economic Development Corporation, which runs the market, receives applications for new tenants on a weekly basis and, in a change from the past, will now rent only to food vendors. It leases space to vendors at $27 a square foot on average, less than a third the standard price food retailers pay in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn….

    While the market has welcomed purveyors like Ms. Saxelby, it has not given itself over entirely to epicurean gentrification. The indoor stalls are a good place to encounter yautia, a root vegetable that looks like the love child of a soup can and a coconut.

    In addition to yautia, and its cousins batata and apio — all root vegetables used in Hispanic cooking — it is still possible to find kosher wine here, at Schapiro’s, which has kept a presence on the Lower East Side since 1899.

    “There are people from the housing projects across Delancey who come in for milk religiously,” she said. (Ms. Saxelby’s comes from a small dairy in upstate New York and she sells it for $2.99 a quart.) “This tosses out all your assumptions about who people are and what they are going to like,” she added. “You don’t know who anyone is, really. Some people who you’d think are young hipsters, artist types, show up with E.B.T. cards,” she said. Ms. Saxelby sells Trillium, a Vermont cheese made from hand-ladled goat curd for $24.99 a pound, and she advertises her acceptance of electronic benefits transfer cards, the replacement for food stamps.

    The Essex Street Market exists as an urban planner’s vision of commercial utopia — the sort of retail space now all but non-existent in New York, where increasingly segregated social classes come together to share if not the actual experience of affluence, then the readily purchasable signifiers of it….

    While the market has welcomed purveyors like Ms. Saxelby, it has not given itself over entirely to epicurean gentrification. The indoor stalls are a good place to encounter yautia, a root vegetable that looks like the love child of a soup can and a coconut….

    In addition to yautia, and its cousins batata and apio — all root vegetables used in Hispanic cooking — it is still possible to find kosher wine here, at Schapiro’s, which has kept a presence on the Lower East Side since 1899….

    If Fiorello La Guardia arrived at the market today though, one imagines he would be quite pleased with what greeted him. Mayor La Guardia established the enclosed market — along with La Marqueta in East Harlem and the Arthur Avenue market in the Bronx, both still running — to eliminate the street peddler culture he found so odious. About half the pushcarts in the city were on the Lower East Side, said Suzanne Wasserman, director of the Gotham Center at the CUNY Graduate Center and a scholar of lower Manhattan history.

    La Guardia sought to regulate the markets rigorously. Among the rules stipulated by the Department of Markets, in the 1930s, was a ban on shouting, hawking and the “use of abusive and lewd language.”

    The point of the markets, Ms. Wasserman explained, was to sanitize mercantile life in New York and divorce it from immigrant folkways.

    “La Guardia was half Italian and half Jewish, and he had a thing about explicit displays of ethnicity,” she said…..

    The Essex Street Market opened on January 10, 1940 with 475 stalls and 1,000 applications for them. Initially it did not do well because the Jewish and Italian immigrants to whom it catered preferred to shop on the street. It began to thrive as pushcarts disappeared and flourished in the 1950s with the arrival of a Puerto Rican population to the Lower East Side. For years before the current real estate boom though, the market was largely derelict.

    Jeffrey Ruhalter is a fourth-generation butcher who has spent the better part of the last four decades observing the changes in the market and the shifting demographics of the neighborhood surrounding the intersection of Essex and Delancey Streets. Mr. Ruhalter’s great-grandfather Aaron Ruhalter opened a butcher shop on Orchard Street in 1923, one his grandfather moved to Essex Street Market when it opened….

    His father, he said, used to buy pigs’ feet in 100-pound buckets. “We were a poor man’s butcher for a very long time, because this was a very poor neighborhood,” he said. “In the ’80s if it had not been for food stamps we would have been out of business.”

    Though Mr. Ruhalter carries some hormone-free beef now, and strip steak and duck sausages to cater to customers who come to him from all over the city, he makes his living, he said, from the less glamorous offerings of a carnivore’s table: chicken, sirloin, stew meat.

    While I can’t say that I agree with LaGuardia’s sentiments of “Sanitizing mercantile life in New York and divorce it from immigrant folkways,” I must say that it’s great to see places like the Essex Street Market in existance. Not only are they interesting in terms of urban planning, they also provide great economic opportunities and access to good quality food, both of which are increasingly lacking (at least for those that can’t afford high priced grocers or don’t have grocery options available in their neighborhood).

    Read the entire article here.