Tag Archives: rich

What happened to my America?

By Edith Morgan

Where is the America I knew? I came here in 1941; this was the only country still taking in refugees, and we got in at the last minute (two months before Pearl Harbor). The U.S. quotas were full, and we were saved only because FDR established a special quota for “political refugees.”

The America I found was still struggling to recover from the crash of 1929, which finally ended when we entered World War II and the government went into full war production.
At that time, the America I knew was governed by two kinds of people: the usual politicians, beholden to various pressure groups, and the statesmen, the REAL public servants who truly wanted to work to better the lot of all people.

It was a time when “the customer was always right”, when banks were a service (not a business) as was the U.S. Post Office, and he teachers, policemen, and firemen were all public servants whose jobs were not expected to make a profit, but were legitimate expense that taxes were used to support. Most Americans agreed that an education was a valuable asset, and all of us looked up to our teachers and learned what we were expected to learn….

The airwaves were the property of the public, and stations were required to renew their licenses every three years, after consulting their publics as to how satisfied they were with the offerings.

Corporations were creatures of the state, chartered to do business according to certain rules and charters could be revoked under certain conditions. And under Teddy Roosevelt, the antitrust laws were rigorously enforced, so that no corporations could become big enough to sink the economy again.

How did were change so much that money is now everything? That “we know the price of everything and the value of nothing”? That lying has become an accepted national art (as advertising becomes more and more ubiquitous and more exaggerated), and that even freedom has a price? How have we come to accept the idea that government, which is usually all that stands between the individual and depredations of those who seek power over us, is blamed for our ills.

There is not a rule or law that has been passed that was not the RESULT of some citizens’ request for protection. Maybe we overdid it, passing laws to respond to single cases (which could be reversed if needed), but at least the individual in America could always expect his government to respond to him (unlike his employer), and to protect him overseas.

Now we are subject to the whims and greed and power mad urges of the very rich, many of whom inherited their money from parents who actually earned their money. Not one of them has invented anything, as all the inventors I know of began with hunches and ideas, often tinkering for a long time in garages and studies or labs, surviving on government grants, the support of the family or schools until they invented something that succeeded in making them rich (like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs).

Where did this vagrant notion originate that if we throw more money at those who already have too much they will suddenly become creative and inventive? There is no evidence that they will do anything except to squirrel away more money, buy more expensive “toys” and such more assets out of smaller businesses, while overcharging the taxpayers for their services.

It is high time that the American people stop to think, reverse the deadly course we are on, and once again become the America that was once a beacon to other nations. The preamble to our constitution begins with the words: “We the people”, not “We the states” nor “we the corporations.”

Worcester’s “better class of people” housing report

By Rosalie Tirella

We eagerly anticipate the housing study that the City of Worcester is about to share with the rest of us Woo-ites. As you may recall, 10 years ago a consulting group came in and studied Worcester (for a pretty penny) in all its gore/glory and made recommendations as to how we might improve our, um, image.

One of its conclusions: Worcester has enough low-income housing and needs more market-rate housing. Around town the idea was poo pooed and jokingly referred to as the “Worcester needs a better class of people” report. I was one of the many poo pooers. I felt the report was telling us to:

* eject poor Latinos, blacks, poor people in general, from our city to …

* lure more upper-middle class empty nesters with lots of time and money on their hands. (You know the type, BORING people in their early 60s/late 50s who have seen their kids graduate from college and leave home only to realize that living in their big (childless) house in the suburbs is a drag, besides being a tad lonely. So … to Worcester they must flock! To live and have fun (i. e. spend lots of their disposable income!). To eat and drink at our bistros! To watch plays in our playhouses! To do all the things that people with money want to do – but not at home in the suburbs.

Many of our city poo baas, lead by City Manager Mike O’Brien, feel this was/ is the way to bring money into our cash-strapped city to pay for … all our $100,000+ year city cops and our $100,000 a year city high school principals and our other grossly over paid “public servants.” And our city pension plan which pays these folks 80% of their salaries for the REST OF THEIR LIVES after they retire from the city at a very spry 62.

One way to save money (instead of sticking it to the city’s working poor): Why doesn’t the City of Worcester keep more of its money by raising the age which city workers can receive a pension? Raise it to 66/65 years. This move would save us millions of dollars! Another solution: What about hiring flag men and women instead of city cops to hover over Worcester construction sites/road work? The Worcester policemen do next to nothing at these sites! Every time I see one, he or she is on his/her personal cell phone – it looks glued to the side of his/her face! Most of the policeman I’ve watched seem totally uninterested in DOING THEIR JOB. So why keep giving them the LUCRATIVE work? Massachusetts is one of the two states in the country that still hires its cops to direct traffic at road work sites. Why can’t we be like the 48 other states in the union and hire flag men and women?! This move would CREATE JOBS and save the city a ton of money.

But no. We must treat the new housing report as some kind of talisman … the answer to the city’s need for millions of tax dollars to keep our bloated ship of City Government afloat.

So out with the CDCs and their apartments that rent for $650. In with the real estate developers who will charge market rate – about $900 for a 3-bedroom apartment.

Where do our poorer folks go?

Weston? Nahant?! Poorer folks come to cities because of the more affordable housing and all the support services they find here, in Lowell, Lawrence and … Boston. This is what America is! A country of immigrants bringing new ideas, new passions, new traditions to a new land where everything gets all mixed together and WONDERFUL things happen! Like jazz or the blues or Tin Pan Alley or Frank Capra movies! Why do we want to take the America out of Worcester?

I am all for making our neighborhoods more attractive, rehabbing foreclosed homes, etc but we are going to lose good people – people who have family and friends in Worcester. People whose kids attend Worcester public schools. People who may not have the money to own a car and count on the city buses to get them to work or supermarket, etc. People who have ideas, knowledge, passion, art … .

Witness the Canal District.

The Canal District is the new name for a once great urban, ethnic working class neighborhood, Green Island. Look at it today! With all its bars that cater to college kids looking to get laid/drink a lot, you wouldn’t have guessed that the neighborhood is loaded with a proud history, fine memories – or poor people. That’s because these days all the poor folks live conveniently across Kelley Square – on/off Millbury Street. Away from the “Canal District” part.

Is this the “better class of people” we want to move to Worcester? Boozy woozy young males with boners? We have pretty much gentrified one side of Kelley Square.

Before it all happened, I was watching my old neighborhood (I grew up in Green Island) transition to something more interesting … a Vietnamese neighborhood. Maybe Worcester’s version of Boston’s Chinatown. My mom and sister still lived in the neighborhood. My sister did some of her grocery shopping at a Vietnamese grocery store on Millbury Street. Green Street had – still has – a Vietnamese soup/noodle shop. Other Vietnamese stores were popping up on Green Street. My mom, who attended St. John’s Church on nearby Temple Street (off Green Street), told me the church had “hired” a Vietnamese priest because there were so many Vietnamese folks who attended Mass at St. John’s. The priest said the Mass in Vietnamese.

Did the city take the lead on this interesting urban seed that was sprouting roots? Did anyone offer any Vietnamese family or business any grants, federal loans? Probably not. Because the money guys/gals and connected folks hustled in and … took over.

Let’s talk about another Canal District option.

Eleven years ago, when I first began InCity Times, there was a fledgling gay scene on Water Street. Vibes, Rage Club, the Gay Pride Celebration – all on Water Street. I thought: COOL! This is gonna be great! I put some of the leaders on the cover of ICT and ran a cover story. We attended the gay pride celebrations and took photos galore. But what happened? The Canal Fest folks didn’t want the gay folks to piggyback their event onto Canal Fest. Irish Catholics got a little homophobic and basically turned a cool shoulder to good folks who should have been their brothers in arms. So … there went the gay flavor. Yes, there are still a few spots on Water Street that are gay venues but they are overwhelmend by the Irish frat boy contingent.

Was this the best way to go about reviving a WONDERFUL old industrial neighborhood like Green Island?

No.

But hey, the area brings in money for the city.

Do we need to further gentrify Worcester’s inner city neighborhoods, using the soon to be released housing report as “proof” that this move is a great idea?

Let’s try this instead – a great way to bring in money to the city and lift up the folks alreay in our urban core: Let’s do what New Bedford is doing and LURE LIGHT INDUSTRY TO OUR INNERCITY Neighborhoods. $12 or $14 an hour (full-time) jobs are better than $8 an hour (part-time) jobs at WalMart, CVS the Canal District restaurants and wherever else our working poor are toiling these days.

I grew up working poor – my mom raised her family on a minimum wage paycheck – and it was brutal, even though, back then, the minimum wage was tied more closely to the cost of living. Now?! Forget about it! You cannot work full time at a minimum wage job and support a family. Desperation sets in … .

SO… let’s revitalize our inner-city neighborhoods and help poorer families by bringing in LIGHT INDUSTRY/factory jobs. Let’s give these companies whatever they want, tax credits, brown field clean up help! You name it! Anything to get the underskilled working for good wages again (the way our factories did years ago).

By increasing the wages of the working poor, you make them less a strain on the system and give them more buying power. Power to buy stuff and goods in their inner city neighborhoods. That was what Green Island, Quinsig Village, Vernon Hill were all about in the 1930s and 1940s. These neighborhoods sprung up around Worcester’s mills and factories. The neighborhood stores catered to the neighborhood people.

This is the “class” of people I want to see in my neighborhoods. These people need $12/hour jobs. These folks don’t need to be told they are not the right class of people. They do not need to be not so subtly removed by City Manager Mike O’Brien and his cheerleaders, housing developers with their eye on the buck/game. Let’s not build inner-city monuments to the gargantuan egos of a few men who do not even live in the city or live part time in the urban core! Let’s build neighborhoods where our families can flourish!

The last people we need to make our medium-sized city sizzle is a bunch of rich old fucks. We need youth! and conflict! and alliances! and posses (but without the knives/guns). All the great art that has come out of America was born from people who were most definitely not of a “better class,” whether that be blues, jazz, rock n roll, tin pan alley, THE GREAT AMERICAN SONG BOOK. The sons and daughters of immigrants – poor Jews, Italians, blacks, Latinos have given America her American-ness. They were part of the lower classes, even the under class … and yet, the music Irving Berlin, the movies of Frank Capra, the sound of Frank Sinatra will live on forever.

Does a really great meal at a bistro = Frank Sinatra or “You’re a Grand Old Flag”?

Hardly.

Let’s keep our city a real AMERICAN city. Full of sweat, labor, dreams, desires, ambitions, traditons from countries all over the planet! Worcester needs to support/respect the people who are here/who want to come here. The city’s CDC’s do just that – respect inner-city folks, create places and spaces that Worcesterites can enjoy… and thrive in.

We don’t need a better class of people, Worcester. We need a better class of city leaders.

Five things you won’t hear Scott Brown say (i.e. the truth) about his tax record

By Jason A. Stephany, MassUniting

At a noon press conference in Randolph on Tuesday, US Senator Scott Brown delivered what his office claimed would be a “major policy speech” on taxes. To the surprise of few in Massachusetts, Brown’s remarks turned out to be nothing more than the stereotypical, failed tax rhetoric of his Republican colleagues in Washington. More telling were the facts Brown failed to mention about his voting record on taxes. Here are five true statements we didn’t hear from the junior senator in Randolph:

1. “I voted to give tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas.”

Scott Brown voted to filibuster the Creating American Jobs & Ending Offshoring Act, a bill would have ended tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs or build plants and offices offshore to replace American facilities. The vote came as thousands of American workers face impending layoffs while training their replacements from China, India, and elsewhere. (US Senate roll call vote #242, 9/28/10)

 

2. “I gave $24 billion of your tax dollars to Big Oil.”

In the face of drastic budget cuts, Scott Brown voted three times to give more than $24 billion in taxpayer funds to the oil industry over the next decade. The top five Big Oil companies – BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell – are amongst the most profitable corporations in the world, posting $137 billion in profits in 2011 alone. (US Senate roll call votes #187 6/15/10; #72, 5/17/11; #63, 3/29/12)

 

3. “I’d really like to take more money out of your paycheck.”

Scott Brown voted to filibuster legislation to extend the payroll tax cut for working families – holding low and middle income workers hostage to shield the wealthiest Americans from a small surtax on income over $1 million. In effect, Brown cast a deciding vote to raise taxes on 113 million working families. In Massachusetts, the surtax would have affected just 0.6% of taxpayers with an average income of more than $2 million. (US Senate roll call vote #219, 12/1/11)

4. “I support tax breaks for millionaires…just not middle class or low-income families.”

Three times in 2010 and again in 2012, Scott Brown voted to kill measures that would extend tax cuts for the middle class. Like his vote for payroll tax hikes, Brown used the same rationale to justify his votes to raise taxes on middle and low-income families: those making $250,000 to $1 million or more each year shouldn’t have to pay their fair share like the rest of his Massachusetts constituents. (US Senate roll call votes #258 & #259, 12/4/10; #275, 12/15/10; #184, 7/25/12)

 

5. “I filibustered tax credits and loans that help small businesses grow and create jobs.”

Despite his claims of supporting job creators, Scott Brown repeatedly filibustered and opposed major legislation that helps small businesses grown and create jobs. Brown twice voted to filibuster the Small Business Jobs & Credit Act – a bill that connected growing small businesses to credit through community banks and offered significant tax credits to small firms that create American jobs. When his filibuster failed, Brown voted again to kill the legislation. The Massachusetts Bankers Association stated that failure to act on the bill “would be a missed opportunity that our struggling economy cannot afford.” (US Senate roll call votes #218 & #221, 7/29/10; #237, 9/14/10)

 

Per usual, Senator Brown took no questions from constituents or reporters, ducking out a back door immediately following his speech. But anyone who takes issue with Brown’s out-of-step voting record on taxes – or any other issue, for that matter – may contact his office at (617) 565-3170.

The T & G editorials: let the sliming begin!

By Rosalie Tirella

Well, we all know that the Telegram and Gazette has always been a Republican paper – from its inception, when the tight-assed Booths and Stoddards ruled its pages – to the present, where its true colors show most blatantly on its op-ed pages, specifically its editorials. New editorial writer Chris Sinocola is much more conservative than Robert French (and not as good a writer). So, of course, the Obama-bashing is beginning in earnest.

Take this morning’s T & G editorial, the writer (Sinocola, I presume) starts the fear mongering. Oh my! President Barack Obama MAY begin to tax the middle class! We watched a few Sunday talk shows and a few guys answered a few questions re: taxes rather nebulously. Mon Dieu! Call the guards! Call the exorcist! Here we go! TAX TIME! Beware all you regular folks – Obama is out to screw you!

Not so fast, dink-puss Sinocola! In your op/ed piece there is NOT ONE IOTA of proof that President Obama is going to shift the $ burden on America’s middle class – the folks that make $40,000 – $100,000 a year. Obama himself has said so! Again and again and again. He hasn’t even rolled back the Bush tax cuts for the rich! He should have put the kibosh on the Bush law that gives big tax breaks to people who make over $250,000. Instead, he is going to let that law fade: in 2010 he will not re-sign that STUPID Bush law. InCity Times is asking Obama to reinstate the President Bill Clinton tax brackets. Continue reading The T & G editorials: let the sliming begin!