If Baltimoreans don’t rise up to challenge the plutocratic cabal—and its sycophantic Non-Profit Industrial Complex—that runs our government and influences the allocation of resources, if we don’t out-organize and out-vote the political surrogates that are pimping city residents, then we will continue to receive the same results that we have always received: naked handouts for greedy corporate capitalist and cutbacks for hard-working everyday people.
Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.
G. K. Chesterton
In 1949, a delegation of Native Americans went to Capitol Hill to discuss their conditions with lawmakers. After meeting with Vice President Alben Barkley, the Sioux leader Chief Ben American Horse said to the Barkley, "Be careful with your immigration policies; we were careless with ours."
While media pundits proclaim that our economic system is based on the "free market," in reality that "free market" is a fiction. The American system is regulated and controlled to assure a continued flow of wealth into the accounts of a small elite. Cooperatives work against that to redistribute wealth more equitably to the working population. And yes, very powerful forces oppose the work of cooperatives, not always openly. The financial system quietly starves cooperatives.
On Friday, June 21, the Marc Steiner Show featured Lawrence Brown as he discussed his Indyreader essay entitled, "Avarice and Avatar in Charm City: Stepping Up the Fight Against Displacement and Dispossession." The discussion covered the historical antecedents of displacement and dispossession and turned to recent gentrification and displacement efforts in the Middle East and Greenmount West communities in Baltimore. The participants discussed strategies for confronting displacement and dispossession, including community organizing, anti-displacement as a fundamental principle, and changing the city charter from a strong mayor system to a council manager form of government to increase community voice and participation.
Every Monday in the Park Heights neighborhood of Northwest Baltimore, groups of between two and fifteen residents meet to talk about one thing in particular: housing. Most are people who face eviction, foreclosure, forced home sales due to redevelopment, or unsafe or unhealthy conditions. Some have no problems at all; they just come to support others. What they are finding is that the housing situations they each face are not unique to them.
October 14 of 2010 was a monumental day. On that day, the Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU), Local 340 of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), voted down the contract which had been put before us by so-called labor-management cooperation. After some shenanigans, the contract passed in a re-vote, and workers in Baltimore schools have been suffering under the pseudo-merit-pay system for three years. Now, negotiations are back open.
As the Flood vs Kuhn case turns forty-one years old this week, one of the Supreme Court's most celebrated ruling in the world of sports is also one of its most controversial. The 5-3 decision impacted more than baseball—it raised questions about the court's viability, whether sports are monopolies, and it addressed the issue of labor. However, it also ended the age of innocence for athletes and ushered in a new era of scandals, as well as an arms race for high contracts.
Throughout American history, landjacking has often been accompanied by violence, whether physical or structural. The James Cameron blockbuster movie Avatar illustrated how corporate interests use naked force as they attempted to landjack the home of the Na’vi, the indigenous population on the planet Pandora. What Avatar masterfully depicts are the methods that avaricious developers or corporation interests will use in order to extract resources and maximize profits.
In recent weeks, a parcel of land that had been vacant for two decades in the southern portion of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was seized by New York City environmental direct action group Time’s Up, and converted into what the collective called the “Nothing Yet Community Garden.” It was an action that fell within the group’s quarter-century history, recalling collaborative work to defend community gardens similarly establi