Survival in a Capitalist City - Show #2

Survival in a Capitalist City presents Sam Richards, author of the article, "Powerful Mobile Phone Surveillance Tools Operate in Obscurity Across the Country." Sam Richards and Robert Dannin discuss Cell Hawk, an application from Hawk Analytics that collects data from cell towers and sells the information to police departments across the country. It's not just the NSA any longer. 


Another Year

2020, another year that I didn't write like Hemingway; sing with Sade, or paint like Miro.
A year like all the past years, unaccomplished.
What matters is that I will try all over again to do those things this year.
Every year people make resolutions to do whatever, forgetting about the year before and all of the things they never did.
What is most important is that you be yourself and be kind to those you love. Beyond the resolutions, we must find ourselves. Do we really want to write like Hemingway and sing with Sade? For me, that answer is yes. So I will try all over again.
Happy New Year!


Dreams Cut Short by Homelessness

The United States is the wealthiest country ever known. So why are there more than half-a-million homeless in the country? And how did it happen? What has the government done to prevent homelessness? How is the government protecting the homeless during the current pandemic? A pandemic that is spreading throughout the homeless population. These are questions that must be answered to find a solution to homelessness in America.

Abraham Lincoln saw government as the mechanism to do what individuals could not do independently. Unfortunately, our government is failing in that respect! The government is meant to protect its citizens' well-being, and it is not doing that right now. Government officials take an oath of office when they promise to uphold the Constitution..." insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare...". The welfare of the people doesn't seem to enter the political leader's minds these days. This past fall, Nancy Pelosi's goal was to prevent Donald Trump from signing his name to another $1200 check. That childish behavior was more important to her than helping those in need, a seriously wrongful act from our country's leadership. Both political parties taunt each other to gain points with the public; instead of producing a functioning government, they push the people further away from the political system.

The recent pandemic's devastating impact on families that have lost loved ones is tragic. And the financial shock to the economy and the government's insufficient actions are bringing millions to the point of eviction. Thousands have lost businesses leaving local economies with vacant stores and lost jobs. All while government does nothing of substance to help. Congress was eager to give big business billions of dollars while giving only $1200 to the average citizen begrudgingly to cover months of expenses. Considering a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn is $3,216 a month, how does that $1200 help families? Without assistance to pay rents, 30 million people could be thrown out of their homes by the end of this month.

You may be thinking that the government has already set up shelters and spent millions on the homeless before the pandemic. So what is your point? My point is that the government is not solving the reasons people become homeless. 

There are four main reasons people become homeless.

  • Lack of good-paying jobs
  • Unaffordable housing
  • Mental illness
  • Drug addiction

Lack of good-paying jobs: You don't need to be a Marxist to realize that capitalism looks to exploit workers. And to accomplish that exploitation, capitalists look for the cheapest labor markets to produce their goods. Since the 1970s, net productivity rose 69.6 percent, while worker wages grew, only 11.6 percent. Instead of protecting American workers, Washington signed trade agreements that have caused American workers to lose their jobs.

While Congress has helped big corporations move their businesses overseas, there has been little thought of protecting the workers affected by these changes. Because we live in a Capitalist Utopia and have a free market economy, the government cannot stop corporations from moving production to other countries. However, the government can create laws to make moving production more difficult and less beneficial to big business, but it has not done so.

When factories are closed, companies should be ordered by law to sell the operation to workers, and monies should be made easier to help workers obtain the business site. Corporate tax rates should increase on those corporations too. Trump has applied tariffs on products in some markets, but it was only to bully foreign governments into a more favorable treaty. In the long run, tariffs hurt American buyers more.

In another area that impacts workers is the use of technology. Car manufacturers began using robots in the 80s, but now they are everywhere. You can't go to a store and not run into a scanner in place of a real person. And now, Google and other tech companies have given us robotic conversations. Banks and many other companies make use of artificial intelligence to reduce head-counts. Utility companies have installed smart meters in homes to read meter usage and reduce reader employees'. In addition to forcing workers out of jobs, these smart meters transmit microwaves into the air around your home. Studies have shown a connection to an increase in Autism due to increased microwave transmissions. Just wait until 5G is fully implemented.

Andrew Yang has been the only candidate talking about AI and the use of hi-tech in business today. Congress and our City Council must begin to address these kinds of issues.

Trade unions have proven themselves lately to be unable to muster enough strength to frighten companies into submission. There is a video on this site:

of Chris Shelton, President of Communications Workers of America. Chris gets fired up at a rally in Manhattan and says, "companies want them gone, but we're not gonna let them." A few days after I shot that video, the strike came to an end. Two hundred jobs were saved from being outsourced to India. Good job, Chris. No! Six months later, Verizon fired one hundred workers. Did the union go back out to strike again? No!

If we are ever to grow jobs in this country, unions must regain the strength they once had. Below is a massive issue that unions must fight:

Autonomous trucks are in their infancy but are not far from filling highways. Here is an article from boston.com you might find interesting:

"UPS has been testing self-driving tractor-trailers since last year through a partnership with autonomous driving company TuSimple. The 10,000 Arrival electric delivery trucks will be delivered to UPS starting in the second half of this year through 2025."Mar 22, 2020

Those of us in Red Hook must be sure that these trucks never operate here.

Currently, there are 600,000 long haul truckers in America. Overall there are 3.5 million truck drivers in this country. These are good-paying jobs for drivers with little education. What will they do? 

Unaffordable Housing: Like everything else, when prices go up, so do rents. But rents go up for many reasons. For one, the rents go up because of a lack of housing. Populations in cities have been climbing, forcing a need for more housing, thus creating higher rents. The Real Estate industry has added to increased rents by moving into neighborhoods to build luxury hi-rise buildings for a wealthy population. All of which helped to push middle and lower-income families out of the community. Even if families can hold on to their apartments, the cost of living becomes too much for them. To satisfy these more affluent people and make more money in their developments, real estate creates space for high-end stores. Industry City's rezoning proposal was one of those events. The Barclay Center was another development. One that pushed out 1200 families and businesses to build a stadium that made developers very rich. Communities, not unelected city officials, must decide to build these real estate projects, and not by a single council member's vote either. Too many times, council members have denied the community the right to make those decisions. Say good-bye to Laurie Cumbo.

To change this dilemma, a disconnect between politicians and real estate developers must occur. Communities must take back control of their land.

Rodrigo Camarena, a candidate for City Council District 38, has laid out a well-conceived plan to correct the housing situation in New York City. You must read his plan: 

Housing for All

 

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, mental illness estimates that untreated mental illness costs the country up to $300 billion every year due to productivity losses. As many as 90 percent of cases of suicide are attributed to mental illness. The stress of life puts many on edge. Life experiences, such as stress or a history of abuse, are significant for mental health episodes. In a society where so much emphasis is applied to wants, stress is bound to occur. Children growing up in families without fathers or parents who have abuse issues is too much for children to endure. Mothers living in a shelter with their kids has to be stressful. You must consider the impact on those kids. An estimated 24,000 kids go to NYC schools every day. Why are these people living in shelters and not in homes? Never has there been a time when we've needed public housing more, but Mayor de Blasio wants to privatize public housing, and we cannot allow him to do it. Fight for NYCHA, a group of activists fighting to protect public housing in New York City has created the People's Budget: https://fightfornycha.org/peoples-budget/ The budget, if put into effect, will generate enough money to prevent the privatization of NYCHA. 

Drug Addiction: The biological mechanism that is the source of addiction is a rewarding brain system. Positive feelings rush through the brain with feel-good chemicals rewarding the substance use. This process also impacts the area of the brain that is responsible for stress and self-control. Many with high levels of dopamine in the brain are more prone to addictive behavior. If you have had to deal with any of the situations mentioned above, it is not surprising that you might want a drug to make you feel better. According to Drug war facts, these were the monies spent in 2015 for Drug Prevention, treatment, and law enforcement:

 

Treatment: $9.55 billion (36.9% of total)

Prevention: $1.34 billion (5.2% of total)

Domestic Law Enforcement: $9.4 billion (36.3% of total)

Interdiction: $3.96 billion (15.3% of total)

International: $1.64 billion (6.3% of total)

Total: $25.89 billion

As you can see, there are almost equal amounts spent on treatment versus law enforcement. If Congress were to give up its war on drugs and move to more treatment, we might be more helpful to the addict. This past week Congress voted to decriminalize the use of pot. We may be coming to the end of the war on drugs. This ridiculous war has destroyed too many people's lives.

 

Failed Government.

A failed government is the main reason for homelessness in America. A government that should be investing in the lives of its citizen with free education, paid healthcare, improved job creation, and building a sound green infrastructure. Instead, we piss away hundreds of billions of dollars on the military to enrich the 1%. They have taken the wrong path, and we have allowed it.

Have you ever considered the dreams homeless people might have had before becoming homeless? Things they wanted in their lives but had to put on hold because of homelessness. Just like you, they have hopes and dreams. But with each day, their dreams fade deeper into a cloud of bureaucracy, becoming only another number in a graph. Our government must stop building weapons of destruction and start improving the lives of its citizens. And we must force them.


City Planning has Broken the Law

Brooklyn activist Alicia Boyd and others filed a lawsuit yesterday to prevent The Department of City Planning from certifying 960 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn. The Department of City Planning (DCP), on November 16, 2020, is scheduled to approve and begin the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) for 960 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn. This action is in direct violation of the New City Charter Reform passed into law on November 3, 2019.

The Department of City Planning violated this law by refusing to submit a “detailed summary” of the application to be certified 30 days before it is approved. These actions violate the public’s due process rights, which is the right to review public records and influence the outcome of this rezoning before it is certified.


Greed: A Reason for My Change in Philosophy

At one point in my life, I was a Capitalist, climbing my corporate ladder. Year after year, I did my best to be a good employee, worked long hours, and cut costs wherever I could. I created budgets that saved the company loads of money while cutting deeply into the vendor's revenues.

At first, the budgets allowed 15% profit for the company, but by the end of my capitalist game, the yields rose to more than 30%. It all ended when Corporate sent a VP from Chicago to tell me that I was no longer needed. The group I managed then reported to someone in Kansas. A year later, the staff was gone, and the work was transferred to Kansas.

So the forty years I spent being a good employee taught me that capitalism was never my friend. Capitalism thrives on greed, and hungry employees wanting to climb their ladder. Since that time, I have been immersing myself in issues of greed, unfairness, and outright class shafting. Shafting, we must stop!

Three years ago, I was in London with my wife and youngest daughter. While there, we met with a friend that works for the Socialist Worker. For those that are unfamiliar, it is a newspaper that focuses on socialist issues. Our friend was covering a story about the Grenfell Towers. The towers were the site of a massive fire that killed 72 people. Hundreds of people attended a rally in Trafalgar Square park, pleading for answers to why it happened. Developers decided to use the cheapest materials when building the towers. So the cladding of the building was inferior and helped to spread the fire to all 24 floors.

After all, this time that has pasted, the information is only now coming out. You must read the article above. Click on the photo, and it will bring you to the story.

 


My Right to Vote

If you consider yourself a Progressive, think about this, the Green New Deal originally came from the Green Party, the most Progressive Party in New York State. And voting Green, this election is essential to help the Green Party retain its ballot line in New York.

The ballot access requirements for the Green Party and other third parties were substantially increased in New York this spring as part of Governor Cuomo's state budget.

Governor Cuomo's actions are a form of voter suppression, preventing voters from voting for candidates that may better suit their values and ideals—the very voters that support demilitarizing the police, increasing public housing, free healthcare, support for Black Lives Matter, and a commitment to ending poverty.


The latest poll numbers in New York State indicate that Biden leads Trump, 61% to 29%. So New Yorkers who support having more choices on the ballot can vote for Howie Hawkins on the Green Party line and not worry that they are adding to a Trump victory.
If you value more Progressive political choices, then vote Green Party if you live in New York.


Residents Prevail in Sunset Park

The residents of Sunset Park celebrate their victory in preventing the rezoning of their community.

Those of you that follow the stories and videos on this site, know that for several years now, many residents, many of them immigrants, have fought to prevent the rezoning of Sunset Park. A community of 72% of whom are immigrants, Sunset Park has united in this battle to fight the gentrification that has flooded this city. 


Green Party Candidate Calls for Financial Transaction Tax

 

Green Party Candidate discusses Financial Transaction Tax at a press conference on Friday, September 18, 2020. Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for President, stood in front of the Stock Exchange and announced his plan to tax financial transactions. Hawkins called on state lawmakers to stop rebating $13 billion annually to Wall Street speculators from the state stock transfer tax that has existed for more than a century.

And at City Hall Howie Continues his plan.

 


Rodrigo Camarena Running for City Council, District 38

Rodrigo has been fighting for the people for years, and now he wants your support as he continues to fight for the rights of the people in Sunset Park, and Red Hook.

For an in-depth interview, please check out The Sunset Park Podcast, with our friend Rob Aguilar: 

 


City Councilman, Carlos Menchaca, Stands with Community

Sunset Park, Brooklyn, has been fighting against the rezoning of Industry City, for 4 years, and today, Councilman Carlos Menchaca, stood outside City Hall with the residents to say no to the rezoning. Meanwhile, Speaker Corey Johnson is eager to pass the rezoning.