Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Labor day

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Yesterday morning, the anarchist collective INDECLINE unveiled life-size statues of Donald Trump—in the nude, without a scrotum—in public spaces in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Seattle.

According to Josh Dawsey,

NYC parks department on naked Trump statue: “NYC Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small.”


I know all about how corrupt a city can by. I live in Chicago, the “Capital of Corruption.”

And I hear all the time about all those other corrupt cities, most of them located in countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, which often fall low in the corruption perceptions indices like the one produced by Transparency International.

But for all the talk about transparency and the need to tackle corruption at the 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit in London, the host country itself may be the most corrupt in the world.

As Joel Benjamin [ht: ja] explains, the indices produced and disseminated by groups like Transparency International “only measure perceived corruption based upon the abuse of public office for private gain, i.e. the payment of bribes.” What they don’t account for is the fact that “While nepotism and subservience to finance capital is rife in Britain and its overseas dependencies, it is not illegal.”

At least Chicago’s corruption is transparent. Donate to the mayor’s campaign chest and you get a city contract or assistance with a development project. In the city of London (and other such financial centers in Britain, the United States, and Western Europe), corruption is based on money laundering and financial secrecy.


And if we measure those forms of corruption, then (as with the Financial Secrecy Index developed by the Tax Justice Network) the tables (so to speak) are turned: Switzerland ends up at the top, the United States rises to number 3, and the United Kingdom rounds out the top 15.

If anything, the bribing of public officials in Chicago, Lagos, Bogotá, and Bangalore is quite transparent—and often involves the siphoning-off of some of the surplus from the initial appropriators to their friends in high places in order to keep doing business. The corruption in Geneva, London, and New York is something quite different and even more pernicious: it involves the laundering of the surplus captured from the entire world so that the economic and political elites who capture it get to keep it and accumulate even more wealth, for themselves and their friends in high places.

All of it legal—and fundamentally corrupt.


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Map of the day

Posted: 30 October 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,



Yes, it’s pretty clear, as Thomas Edsall argues, when it came to the Democratic mayoral primary in New York City, class trumped most other identities. Bloomberg’s chosen successor, Christine Quinn, won big over all other challengers, including Bill de Blasio, in areas where household incomes surpassed $214,876.

But I was wrong: having just spent a long weekend in Manhattan, I had the distinct impression I was walking around the inner sanctum of the 1 percent. As it turns out, it’s more like the top 10 percent, as the map below shows:



$100K may be “zilch in Manhattan” but, as is clear in the map below, most New Yorkers are struggling to get by on less than that—and they voted overwhelmingly for de Blasio in the Democratic primary.



In the end, that’s the choice that will have to be faced by de Blasio: after he wins the mayoral election next Tuesday, is he going to represent the top 10 percent or the other 90 percent?


Who would want to live in the city New York has become?

The New York City where good food is plentiful but increasing numbers of people simply can’t afford it:

The New York City Coalition Against Hunger estimates that these cuts would amount to $205 million in New York City alone, with a family of four, for instance, potentially receiving $36 less a month to spend on food. The cuts essentially scale back SNAP benefits to levels set before the recession. The 2009 Recovery Act provided the program with an increase, which expires next month.

The irony of course, is that in a place like the Bronx, evidence of recovery is not altogether obvious. Although 15,000 jobs were added in the borough between 2007 and 2012, according to a recent report by the state comptroller’s office, the average unemployment rate for the year so far stands at 12.7 percent; in 2009 it was 11.9 percent.

These hardships are easily observed at the city’s SNAP offices near Yankee Stadium, where lines are long (and where, in contrast to the Bloomberg administration’s health-above-all-things ethos, the building housing the offices also hosts an outpost of Checkers, purveyor of burgers, cheese steaks and a cheesecake-layered sundae). . .

As his days in office dwindle, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has been reminding us of his unimpeachable faith in the value of attracting the very rich to the city. The more of them there are, he believes, the better off those in the lower rungs will be, a claim challenged by the fact that although more wealthy people moved to New York during his tenure, the poverty rate did not decline. It is doubtful that among the friends helping Carmen are any of the billionaires the mayor calls such a “godsend.”

Most people would rather live in the New York city David Byrne envisions:

One would expect that the 1% would have a vested interest in keeping the civic body healthy at least – that they’d want green parks, museums and symphony halls for themselves and their friends, if not everyone. Those, indeed, are institutions to which they habitually contribute. But it’s like funding your own clubhouse. It doesn’t exactly do much for the rest of us or for the general health of the city. At least, we might sigh, they do that, as they don’t pay taxes – that we know.

Many of the wealthy don’t even live here. In the neighborhood where I live (near the art galleries in Chelsea), I can see three large condos from my window that are pretty much empty all the time. What the fuck!? Apparently, rich folks buy the apartments, but might only stay in them a few weeks out of a year. So why should they have an incentive to maintain or improve the general health of the city? They’re never here.

This real estate situation – a topic New Yorkers love to complain about over dinner – doesn’t help the future health of the city. If young, emerging talent of all types can’t find a foothold in this city, then it will be a city closer to Hong Kong or Abu Dhabi than to the rich fertile place it has historically been. Those places might have museums, but they don’t have culture. Ugh. If New York goes there – more than it already has – I’m leaving.

But where will I go? Join the expat hipsters upstate in Hudson?

Can New York change its trajectory a little bit, become more inclusive and financially egalitarian? Is that possible? I think it is. It’s still the most stimulating and exciting place in the world to live and work, but it’s in danger of walking away from its greatest strengths. The physical improvements are happening – though much of the crumbling infrastructure still needs fixing. If the social and economic situation can be addressed, we’re halfway there. It really could be a model of how to make a large, economically sustainable and creatively energetic city. I want to live in that city.


Hundreds of fast-food-industry workers in New York City went on strike on Thursday, which was the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.