We have gone from the days when people could be told “you can’t sit at this lunch counter” to “you can’t sit on this sidewalk.” We’ve gone from from “you’re on the wrong side of the tracks” to “it is illegal to hang out” on this street or corner.
Despite the self-congratulatory myths of city officials, Berkeley is not generous toward the poor, nor is it a haven for free speech. Systematically destroying low-income housing and creating inventive ways to target the poor is mean-spirited, not generous. And it is a simple recipe for homelessness and hardship.
“Our report on executive compensation will only fuel the outrage over corporate greed,” said Forbes. Most Americans are left out of the nation’s economic growth because 93 percent of the income growth went to the richest 1 percent. The bottom 90 percent of Americans got none.
The Olympics have intensified the effects of the poisonous cocktail of corporate power and authoritarian government that has been building in Britain and across the world. It began with landlords evicting tenants to make way for Olympic lets, prompting a wider housing crisis and rent increases, followed by evictions.
We know we’re one paycheck away, one injury away from being that homeless person our policymakers wish would leave town if we can’t keep up with exorbitant rents. Why do our political and planning representatives continue to build unaffordable housing instead of addressing the most pressing housing needs?
Many Berkeley citizens have come out against this egregious attack on the civil rights of homeless people. Berkeley City Councilmembers Kriss Worthington, Max Anderson and Jesse Arreguin have shown us that not all members of the council have been corrupted by the baleful lure of big-time developers and their filthy lucre.
J.C. Orton, the new director of the Street Spirit vendor program, received this letter from a female vendor on Father’s Day. It is a testimony to the caring spirit behind Orton’s work with the vendors, and the way he has revitalized the program to better serve the homeless community.
Growing up I didn’t have the privilege of going to a dentist. My parents couldn’t afford it and my parent’s employers would never offer us dental coverage, nor would I ever qualify for help under a public program. Now, my oral hygiene is in poor health because I couldn’t afford dental care.
In voting to place this discriminatory sitting ban on the November ballot, the Berkeley City Council has betrayed the very concept of equal rights for all. Laws that banish certain groups of people from public spaces — whether based on appearance, economic class, or race — are modern-day segregation decrees, plain and simple.
Violent action will not panic the power-holders, but it will push away the general populace. Power-holders, in fact, love it, because it gives them an excuse to destroy movements. Social change depends not on creating chaos and social disorder, but on mobilizing the power of the people for change.
Both Sweden and Norway suffered horrendous poverty when the 1 percent was in charge. Under the leadership of the working class, however, both countries nearly eliminated poverty, expanded free university education, abolished slums, provided excellent health care available to all as a right, and created a system of full employment.
The federal government is about to remove the cap that limits the amount of rent that can be charged to the poorest of the poor. Yet, there are no caps on how much money the executives in the so-called affordable housing industry can grab for their often excessively high salaries and wage compensation.