Not directly on the topic of this year’s election issues, but in my estimation, it should be near or at the top of the list. The “it” is the massive amount of gentrification which over the last 30 — 60 years has transformed New York and many other major cities from mighty industrial centers into white collar havens for solidly middle and upper class residents, along with sharply reduced numbers of lower middle class, working class, and poor people. Those that remain largely have lower paying jobs, many in the service industry. Rents are sky high, with many of the new residents being younger single people that can manage to pay half their wages for rent, but may also be forced out if they can’t graduate to higher paying jobs.
Repeating the Roaring 1920s?
This has led to the record numbers of imported industrial products, the decline of the industrial unions, and millions of evictions of low income families to make space for the new gentry. There has been a record bull market on Wall Street, in some ways comparable to the roaring 1920s. But it is an expansive bubble making paper profits, as our infrastructure, roads, railroads, and former industrial capacities crumble. Alongside an economy boosted by the construction of many thousands of homes and buildings that may be under water in 50 to 100 years. The bigger the bubble, the bigger the burst that is to come.
If Marx was right about anything, he was correct in his observations that wealth in a country does not come from printed paper or gold, but from labor and industrial labor and manufacturing capacity. It helped win both WW I and WWII. An economy is healthiest when there are lots of people working in wealth producing jobs. Our national manufacturing capacity has dropped dramatically, and our imports have risen proportionately.
So gentrification at this late stage has to now be viewed as a national economic policy, one which has never been voted on or sufficiently publicly discussed. And one which has been led by Wall Street and decidedly bipartisan (eg: both Republican Mayor Bloomberg and now Mayor de Blasio in NYC have allowed an insane amount of construction of pencil shaped skyscrapers and expensive residences. Such has been true in other cities as well).
Why Gentrification can be equated with Genocide
Gentrification (sold as Urban Renewal) has also a decidedly racist and anti poor aspect. Which has become so wide spread that it has indeed become a public national policy, but one which neither party has much to say about. The very survival of millions of working class and poor people is now threatened by the policy, and they do not appear to be in America’s plans for the future. Neither Party currently has a national policy, plan, or program to address the aftermath of gentrification or the massive numbers of Americans still living at or under the poverty level poverty. Or the two million mostly poor people in America’s prisons, mainly for crimes emanating from the conditions of poverty. Or the disproportionate and racist way poverty effects those considered to be non-whites.
Poverty: A Word Most Politicians Can’t Speak
Since America has no national policy to address poverty or unemployment (the current rate is real fake news), the threat posed by having a defacto bipartisan policy in favor of gentrification leads one to fear for the very lives of the poor. And a policy which fails to consider its consequences for the poor it displaces has to raise fears of a genocidal result. Whether intended or not.
We all want Trump out of the White House and to save our Republic. But it must be admitted that what is happening in many of our major cities as a result of gentrification is also consistent with his racist, white supremacist, and anti poor sentiments, and will still be going on even if we succeed in evicting him.