“The standoff between the two sides—one angry, impatient, demanding redress, the other unyielding, bureaucratic, and impassive—was an apt representation of the dynamics that have roiled this city, and spread into Saint Louis, since August 9th, when the police officer Darren Wilson encountered Michael Brown on Canfield Drive and fired his gun. During the two months since, an amorphous anger has evolved into a structured, organized response to an array of concerns that extend beyond the shooting itself. Ferguson October drew supporters from New York, Georgia, New Jersey, Chicago, and California. At least one activist had come from Hawaii to participate in the weekend of civil disobedience. The visitors joined local activists who created the umbrella organization to sustain protests and others who have moved to the area to work full time until the case here is resolved. What began as a protest in the corridor of West Florissant Road, which intersects with Canfield Drive, has spread into unpredictable outbreaks of uncontained discontent.”—Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker
“And we studied what Gandhi attempted to do in South Africa, what he accomplished in India. We studied Thoreau and civil disobedience. We studied the great religions of the world. We studied what Dr. King was all about in Montgomery. And in the fall and winter of 1959, we had what we called test sit-ins at the lunch counters and restaurants. And then by February after the sit-ins started in Greensboro, N.C., Feb. 1, 1960, we started sitting in on a regular basis.”— Congressman John Lewis, former Nashville Movement leader
“You can’t demand that poor folks get a job to receive government assistance and then get angry because they have their hair styled and wear decent clothes. Appearance matters in most work environments …. In 2014, is a cell phone really an extravagance? Or is it a lifeline to safety and employability? This question is especially salient when one considers that many Detroiters have ditched home phones altogether in favor of cell phones. Would these critics feel better if poor people were incommunicado?”—Kim Trent on judging poor people who have their water turned off
“Institutions have the pathetic megalomania of the computer whose whole vision of the world is its own program. For us, the intellectual independence is to resist, and the necessary first step in resistance is to discover how the institutional grip is laid upon our mind.”—Mary Douglas, How Institutions Think (p. 92)
“Even as presidents, generals, and editors turned deaf ears, black folk were celebrating the way they had stood together to support one another in the harsh struggles for land, to hear each other in the town meetings and prayer meetings, in the legislatures on the Sea Islands and in the mass meetings in the big churches of Norfolk, Charleston, and Nashville. While white men and women rose up again to deny them their freedom, while representatives in Congress discussed their freedom, black families rejoiced in the night, recognizing the life-long mixture of bitter and sweet, of birth and death, determined not to be turned back, refusing to lose hope. For they were celebrating themselves.”—Rest in peace, Vincent Harding (quote from There is a River: The Black Struggle for Freedom in America)
“More and more realms of work are now supposed to resemble spontaneous activity done for its own sake — such that, as Astra Taylor has remarked, ‘we are encouraged to think of ourselves as artists no matter what our line of work’ — and yet our spontaneous activity is increasingly the source of corporate profits.”—Geoff Shullenberger, The Rise of the Voluntariat
“To advance their legal argument, the three players describe the life of a typical minor leaguer as one of constant ‘exploitation.’ They contend the exploitation begins at the start of a player’s career, where teams have allegedly agreed to not negotiate salaries or inform players of salary data. Players then earn meager wages while purportedly working between 60 and 70 hours per week. This range of work includes playing in six or seven games a week and doing conditioning and other work to keep their skills and bodies sharp. Players are also unpaid for participating in the instructional league and extended spring training. The players believe that they, and other current and former minor leaguers, are owed back wages for uncompensated and under-compensated labor.”—Sports Illustrated on lawsuit filed by Minor League Baseball players against the league
“Mass transportation is not a choice offered on the market. If I want to go home today, the market does offer me a choice between a Ford and a Toyota, but not between a car and a subway. That’s just not one of the choices available in market systems, and this is not a small point. Choices that involve common effort and solidarity and mutual support and concern for others — those are out of the market system. The market system is based on maximization of individual consumption, and that is highly destructive in itself.”—Noam Chomsky
“Not only are citizens excluded from political power, they are also kept in a state of ignorance as to the true state of public opinion. There is growing international concern about the massive US double deficit affecting trade and the budget. But both are closely linked to a third deficit, the democratic deficit that is constantly growing, not only in the US but all over the western world.”—Noam Chomsky (via noam-chomsky)
“All I want is what President Obama promised – my liberty, and fair treatment for others. I have been cleared for five years, and I have been force-fed for seven years. This is not a life worth living, it is a life of constant pain and suffering. While I do not want to die, it is surely my right to protest peacefully without being degraded and abused every day”—
He is the plaintiff in a landmark lawsuit challenging the practice of force-feeding at the US military prison camp. The case represents the first time a US court will hear allegations of detainee abuse at Gitmo.
“We are losing millions of our children to inferior schools and catastrophically misguided and ineffective so-called education reforms. Our schools are being destroyed by politics, profit, greed and lies….Instead of evidence-based practices, money has become the engine of education policy, and our schools are being hijacked by politicians, non-educators and for-profit operators. Parents, teachers, citizens and community elders must arm ourselves with the best evidence and take back control of our children’s public education before it is too late. We all must work together to improve our public schools, not on the basis of profit or politics, but on the basis of evidence, and on the basis of love for America’s children.”—James Meredith
“It took no courage to do what I did. Jackie had the courage. If it had been me, a white man, trying to be the only one in the black leagues, I couldn’t have done it. What he had to endure, the criticism, the catcalls — I wouldn’t have had the courage.”—Former Brooklyn Dodger shortstop Pee Wee Reese to a reporter when asked about his public support of Jackie Robinson
Obama's "Promise Zones" help the wealthy before the impoverished
Old-school Democrats used to declare war on poverty and bring the powers of the state against it. New-school Democrats merely retread Republican deregulatory delusions and cloak them in “anti-poverty” language. Take President Obama’s latest anti-poverty program:
Crucially, no new federal money will be allocated.
It should come as no surprise that what might be Obama’s most significant second-term anti-poverty strategy operates through deregulation and tax breaks rather than real redistribution of wealth. The policy itself is couched in the language of individual uplift and self-reform. The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s FAQ on the policy reminds us that “there’s a basic bargain in America … no matter who you are or where you’re from, if you’re willing to work hard and play by the rules you should be able to find a good job, feel secure in your community, and support a family.”
The burden for social mobility lies firmly with the residents of the zones and, to a lesser extent, on charity and businesses. The implicit diagnosis is one of over-regulation and over-taxation, rather than structural unemployment, racism, and a hollowed-out welfare state.
Call me old-school, but I will take a weak dose of LBJ any day over a strong dose of BO.
“America and most of its newspapers applauded me in Montgomery. And I stood before thousands of Negroes getting ready to riot when my home was bombed and said, ‘We can’t do it this way.’ They applauded us in the sit-in movement–we non-violently decided to sit in at lunch counters. They applauded us on the Freedom Rides when we accepted blows without retaliation. They praised us in Albany and Birmingham and Selma, Alabama. Oh, the press was so noble in its applause, and so noble in its praise when I was saying, ‘Be non-violent toward Bull Connor’ …. There’s something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that will praise you when you say, ‘Be non-violent toward [southern segregationists],’ but will curse and damn you when you say, ‘Be non-violent toward little brown Vietnamese children.’”—Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The discourse of entitlement is a discourse of rights, of human agents claiming what’s theirs instead of asking permission from the powerful. It’s a tradition that regards paternalism and noblesse oblige as pejoratives. Dignity, not charity, is the animating principle. People earn access to the rudiments of life (food, healthcare, shelter) by virtue of their humanity. Rights language invites the beggar to rise from his knees and, without equivocation or supplication, demand his humanity be recognized. Workers are entitled to a living wage. Children are entitled to grow up free from poverty. Homeless people are entitled to a home.”—Sean Gude, In Defense of ‘Entitlements’
“Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: ‘You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.”—Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“A new sports venue presents no guarantee of urban renewal. If you doubt that, look at the scarred neighborhoods surrounding the Georgia Dome and Turner Field. That’s why the contention by [Mayor Kasim] Reed…that a new Falcons stadium will turn around the area comes off as such bunk. If the city really wanted to commit millions to develop new businesses and mixed-use development around the Georgia Dome, it could have done so without a new football stadium.”—Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“A theatrical performance or a staged confidence game requires a thorough scripting of the spoken content of the routine; but the vast part involving “expression given off” is often determined by meager stage direction …. the details of the expressions and movements used do not come from a script but from command of an idiom, a command that is exercised from moment to moment with little calculation or forethought.”—Erving Goffman, The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life, pp. 73-74
“The mantras of neoliberalism are now well known: Government is the problem; Society is a fiction; Sovereignty is market-driven; Deregulation and commodification are vehicles for freedom; and Higher education should serve corporate interests rather than the public good. In addition, the yardstick of profit has become the only viable measure of the good life, while civic engagement and public spheres devoted to the common good are viewed by many politicians and their publics as either a hindrance to the goals of a market-driven society or alibis for government inefficiency and waste.”—Henry A. Giroux
“Typically, we blame developers. And god knows, they have much to answer for. But it’s time we take a closer look at their handmaids at City Hall: the planners. They are the real experts.”—How Toronto planners ensure mediocrity
“Residents that want to close their street for a block party are required to get a permit that requires the approvals of their Community Board and police precinct. A live performance on a residential street should be permitted in the same way. By leveraging the capabilities and structure of a Community Board, neighbors’ concerns are more likely to be anticipated and their interests protected. Although it’s a touchier subject, thought must also be given to how residents should participate in the economic side of a for-profit production like the Video Music Awards. They are, after all, being asked to make a sacrifice for a private business, and have a right to be compensated, even if indirectly (for instance, through the producers funding a community project).”—Gib Veconi, A Tale of Two Shindigs (re: impact of VMAs on Brooklyn neighborhoods)
“Because they are mostly free to do what they want, mega-foundations threaten democratic governance and civil society (defined as the associational life of people outside the market and independent of the state). When a foundation project fails—when, say, high-yield seeds end up forcing farmers off the land or privately operated charter schools displace and then underperform traditional public schools—the subjects of the experiment suffer, as does the general public. Yet the do-gooders can simply move on to their next project. Without countervailing forces, wealth in capitalist societies already translates into political power; big philanthropy reinforces this tendency.”—Joanne Barkan
“Few persons can bear to be outdone in reasoning or declamation or wit, or sarcasm or repartee or satire, and all these things are very apt to grow out of public debate. In this way in a course of years, a nation becomes full of a man’s enemies, or at least of such as have been galled in some controversy, and take a secret pleasure in assisting to humble and mortify him.”—John Adams (as quoted by Jon Meacham)
“Like all significant causes, education reform bears the mark of its time. These days we trust markets and mistrust institutions, especially of the state, so education reform proposes to take apart the main structures of schooling in America—a network of districted public schools and a unionized teaching corps. It proposes, as an urgently necessary national project, to replace them with a school system governed by metrics, choice, incentive compensation, and personnel reductions. It is roughly the same prescription that activist investors would apply to an industrial corporation of the same vintage as the education system. And this is no coincidence: many of the leaders of education reform are activist investors. The proselytizing and structure-building proclivities of the social reformers of a century ago are nowhere to be seen in education reform.”—Nicholas Lemann
“if you look at the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) there has been overall an increase in student achievement over the past four decades …. But if you listen to the constant drumbeat from the people promoting Common Core, you would think we were living in an age of educational failure. That’s simply not the case. If we want more people going to college, then we should reinforce the availability of college to people, and make it more affordable. Instead we’re focusing on tests, as if tests are going to somehow magically transform our landscape.”—Anthony Cody
“For the neoliberal camp, the future of the American city is clear: In the coming decade, mayors, business elites, philanthropists and university presidents must build metropolitan economies based on innovation, competitiveness and growth. Unfortunately, something is missing from this picture: working people, and the labor unions and grassroots community groups that advocate for them. This omission is consequential. Absent their voices, the chances are slim of creating urban growth whose benefits are broadly shared.”—Amy Dean, A Top-Down Urban Revolution
“I’ll tell thee what, Prince: a college of wit-crackers cannot
flout me out of my humor. Dost thou think I care for a satire
or an epigram? No. If a man will be beaten with brains, he
shall wear nothing handsome about him. In brief, since I do
purpose to marry, I will think nothing to any purpose that
the world can say against it, and therefore never flout at me
for what I have said against it. For man is a giddy thing, and
this is my conclusion.”—Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, Act 5, Scene 4
“In city after city, [Teach For America] has largely abandoned its earlier mission of staffing hard-to-fill positions in public schools, serving instead as a placement agency for urban charters. In Chicago, however, TFA’s role appears to go far beyond providing labor for the fast-growing charter sector. An internal TFA document indicates that the organization has a plan to dramatically expand the number of charter schools in the city.”—Jennifer Berkshire (a.k.a., “EduShyster”)
How is the post-Reagan, neo-liberal agenda of deregulation and giving more power to businesses working out for you?
According to the bureau, more U.S. workers are getting fewer paid vacation days than they were 20 years ago.
But there has been some compensation: While fewer workers enjoy paid vacations, employers are increasingly providing access to sick leave, personal leave, and family leave, according to the study.
So, essentially we are getting less time off to do things we enjoy, but we are getting more time off to be sick, which we are more because we work more, because the deregulated products businesses sell are making us sicker and because we have less access to preventive health care.
Wow. Thanks, business. Thanks, government, which is controlled by business.
“The assault on teachers unions and on teachers’ competence and caring (gender is a key element of the attack) should be seen in light of education being the final sector of the economy that is public and unionized. Education is being restructured in a global project to ‘marketize’ schooling, using the rhetoric of ‘modernization’ and ‘putting students first.’ Throughout the world we see the same footprint of reform, which includes privatization and loss of democratic oversight; use of standardized testing to control what is taught and turn teachers into contract labor; increasing costs to ‘users’ while simultaneously limiting access.”—This Labor Day, thank a teacher