Apologies for the long delay between posts. I was waiting for #CIR.
All kidding aside, I’m going to try and post more regularly, sparked into (re)action by some of the voices claiming to be forging the future. This post is not about that. At least not directly.
While for many the future rests in the growth of huge online entities like Google and Facebook, living in the shadows of Silicon Valley are people whose lives exemplify the growing gap between rich and poor.
The clip below from Bill Moyers shares some individual stories painting what that widening gap looks like.
One of the things I was thinking about as I watched the clip is how the debate around immigration reform and who should be deemed the “worthy” ones to get a chance to “ganar la verde”, is how that sort of framework does more to increase that chasm between the affluent and the poor and working class. If visas and legal work permits end up limited to those few with certain technological skills, what happens to everyone else? Are they left to enter the US how ever they need to in order to eke out an existence? Have we really left people any other choice with free trade agreements that push down wages and rights in favor of profits?
Also, watching the clip and thinking about the statistics and images presented I had to stop and think about how much more that loss of personal income was felt by women of color, who experience much greater levels of income disparity. The roaring twenties, the post World War II boom, and today’s so-called economic recovery have not been felt in people of color communities, who bear the brunt of cuts in the social “safety net” i.e. health care, food programs, public education.
Also when you watch below catch how one of those big silicon valley companies avoided paying billions in taxes bu taking advantage of the colonial status of Puerto Rico.
All of these things really are interconnected. The sources of inequality cannot be countered unless we recognize how they work together.
One of the biggest excuses given for why the undocumented are so bad is that “they” are bad for the economy. They take resources in disproportionate amounts compared to their population. A report released tells a much different story for the 25 largest urban areas in the United States.
In the 25 largest metropolitan areas combined – comprising more than half of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, and two thirds of all immigrants – foreign-born workers are responsible for 20 percent of economic output and make up 20 percent of the population. The same basic relationship holds true, with slight variation, for each of the 25 areas, from metro Pittsburgh, where immigrants represent 3 percent of population and 4 percent of GDP, to metro Miami, where immigrants make up 37 percent of the population and 38 percent of GDP. The report for the first time estimates immigrant share of Gross Domestic Product in metro areas, based on wage and salary earnings plus proprietors’ income.
Breaking news right now is that Bernard Madoff, the same guy who started the current economic downturn the U.S. is in by creating all sorts of economic schemes, was just sentenced to 150 years on prison.
When asked by the judge whether he had anything to say, Madoff slowly stood, leaned forward on the defense table and spoke in a monotone for about 10 minutes. At various times, he referred to his historic fraud as a “problem,” “an error of judgment” and “a tragic mistake.”
He claimed he and his wife were tormented, saying she “cries herself to sleep every night, knowing all the pain and suffering I have caused,” he said. “That’s something I live with, as well.”
He then finally looked at the victims lining the first row of the gallery.
“I will turn and face you,” he said. “I’m sorry. I know that doesn’t help you.”
Afterward, Ruth Madoff _ often a target of victims’ scorn since her husband’s arrest _ broke her silence by issuing a statement through her lawyer. She said she, too, had been misled.
“I am embarrassed and ashamed,” she said. “Like everyone else, I feel betrayed and confused. The man who committed this horrible fraud is not the man whom I have known for all these years.”
At first, I was really happy to read the sentence–but then I read about all these different interactions–and now I’m just sad. We’ve all been screwed so badly. And for some reason that I can’t really explain, it seems wrong that one man is taking responsibility for how fucked the economic system we all live under has screwed us all.
“We have seen a significant increase in the number of money transfers made from the D.R. to the U.S.,” confirmed Reny Pena, supervisor of customer services and transfers at the company’s office [La Nacional] in the Upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights.
Pena said that the volume of transfers from the Dominican Republic to the U.S. grew from between 80 and 120 monthly transfers in 2006 to the current rate of about 150 transfers a day. The increase has prompted the agency to expand the department that deals with U.S.-bound remittances from one to five employees.
As somebody who lives in the Midwest, it’s been pretty upsetting and horrifying (yes, horrifying) to see what is going on with the auto industry and the economy. While banks can feel free to suck money from taxpayers so that they can then *loan* taxpayers that same money back to us–the auto industry (which provides actual jobs by which taxpayers can feed our kids and pay banks money so banks can loan it back to us), is being whipped like a dead horse.
Obama just pressured the GM CEO to resign–a sign of stregnth, yes, except that the person replacing the CEO is another GM guy.
Are you interested in live, up-to-date coverage? Head over to Al Giordano’s blog over at Narco News (which also has amazing coverage of how the “war on drugs” is treating South America).
Update 8:04 p.m. ET: Making it clear that he stands by his economic recovery pilot, he mentions Secretary Geithner’s work in the first two minutes of his opening statement. (I hear the exploding of various heads out there somewhere.)
It’s really refreshing to see a U.S. President address the country in a medium that resonates with the regular citizen: late night TV. Refusing just to stand behind a podium and stick to talking points, President Obama sat down with Jay Leno to chat about the country’s biggest issue: the economy. If nothing else, he has guts like no other president has ever had with regard to facing the public. Check out the video:
Another really good sign? His opening of doors to the people and the government of Iran. Obama recorded a special New Years video message which was distributed through the Voice of America network, and which you can watch after the jump. (more…)
Democracy Now! has a really good show today–the first segment in particular was really good. We all know that communities of color are hit hardest by economic recessions–generally, we all are surviving on a day to day basis, so when something harder hits, we go into tailspin. The DN interview showed very clearly how this crisis is not just hitting communities of color hardest, but how the stimulus package may continue the downfall of our communities.
MAYA WILEY: But the other is, we’re going to stimulate jobs through the recent stimulus act through construction, right? I mean, a big part of that is “shovel ready,” projects that are ready to start digging in order to get those construction jobs going, to get people working, to get money flowing into the economy. Well, blacks and women of all races are deeply underrepresented in the construction trades. So if we’re stimulating those jobs, we’re not actually stimulating jobs for the communities that have the highest unemployment rates, unless—unless—unless we learn from some of the lessons of cities like Los Angeles, where both the city and the unions really took leadership in making sure that they got tracked people of color, women into apprenticeship programs, so that when those construction contracts came, there were real community benefits. That’s the model that’s very important, and our implementers, our public officials that are going to be looking at stimulus implementation, should also be taking the leadership to demand, for example, that 30 percent of the jobs that are part of the construction jobs that are stimulated go to people who are living at poverty level at the time that they’re hired.
AMY GOODMAN: I’m always amazed when we hear unemployment numbers. They say they could hit double digits, when the
unemployment figures for African Americans that are over 12.6 percent—in some communities, young black men at 50 percent.
MAYA WILEY: Correct. If you look at the demographic, particularly for black and Latino males between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, those statistics can get as high as 50 percent in some communities. And I think nationally it’s in the high twenties. So we’re talking about communities where you literally have no economy that is supporting those communities.
Above is a video of artist Above’s recent work in Portugal. Here’s how he explains it:
“These new stencil works are universally understood and free from language barriers that often get lost in translation. When I was in Lisbon, Portugal 3 months ago I would walk by this homeless lady who was begging for money everyday. I found it sadly ironic that just 6 feet away there was an ATM machine where people were literally lining up to withdraw money. With an obvious visual clash of “Rich” and “Poor” being in such a close proximity evoked me to make this stencil “Stealing from the rich, and giving to the poor.”
Above says in that spirit he is selling prints of piece and donating all the proceeds to homeless shelters. Via Wooster.
Since the segment didn’t more closely examine the woman’s profession as it connected to her foreclosure status, it gives the viewer an easy way to explain her foreclosure status: she’s just a bad business woman (and a slightly comical one at that). Or, on other words, it’s not that foreclosures could happen to anybody and we all should be worried about it–it’s that people in foreclosure didn’t read their papers closely enough and somehow thought they were above making mistakes.
Well, look at what I came across on the CNN site today:
Interestingly enough, the CNN follow up offers no mention of the fact that they were the ones that *broke* this woman’s story or that hm, that simple online search of public records should have revealed the problems with this woman’s story enough to make it into their first broadcast. CNN did not present the follow up story as a follow up story or as an update–but as a brand new story about some woman they’d never heard of before!
I wonder why that is? I wonder if it links back to my original thought–that this sort of coverage makes it very easy for the viewer to blame the victims of foreclosure rather than the banks that are profiting off of the foreclosures?