“Battle of Worcester”
Years ago, in college, I had to read an interesting book, THE MISMEASURE OF MAN, for one of my classes.
Written by a Harvard guy, it showed how through the centuries science has really not been so scientific, even though it was up to its eyeballs in the “facts” and fancy experiments of the day. The author (Gould) showed us readers scientists had been using cold hard “facts,” the latest scientific phenomena of the day, to support their racist or sexist beliefs.
For example, in the 1800s lots of people believed men were genetically superior to women. God just made them smarter, women’s intellectual superiors.
And the science of the day backed them up. The scientists of the day were big on measuring head sizes, in all sorts of very sophisticated ways. The methods involved numbers, careful calibrations, charts, sophisticated mathematics and scientific measurements galore to prove … Guys had bigger heads, therefore they had big brains, therefore they were smarter than gals.
We now know this is the bunk. But back then it was science.
Fast forward to Worcester 2012. We dismiss the sorry state of our economy, our pitiful state minimum wage, our loss of all (or most of) Worcester’s factories that guaranteed immigrants and the undereducated a decent pay check (and lower-middle class life), and decide … SCREW ‘EM! We, the people, see too many poor people in our blue collar neighborhoods – Green Island, Piedmont, South Worcester, Main South … . So we’re throwing them out! Or: Lowering the gate so more poor people don’t settle in town via affordable hosuing stock built by our CDCs – and drag this city into the pit. We have reached our MAGIC NUMBER – our poor people quota – and it is 10%.
HERE! We have a report (to support our biases)! We have FACTS to support this move! Such as: More and more poor people are living in Worcester, fewer people are buying homes here, the school system has to meet the needs of many poor kids and kids whose primary language is not English.
So. There are the facts! Get rid of these people and we will get rid of the problem! The numbers (facts) will change! Get better! As written in the housing report commissioned by the city of Worcester – and the direction CM Mike O’Brien is heading – we are supposed to cut the cord.Cap affordable housing in the City of Worcester at 10%. If you have just come from Albania believing in the American Dream – coming to Worcester to work hard (at shit jobs) and send your kids to (very good) Worcester Public Schools so they can have a better life than you do – well forget about it! There are no apartments for $650 or $700. They cost $850 and $900. You will have to work 4 or 5 shit jobs just to pay the bills and eat.
My mom sort of did this when I was growing up. Hercules. She was Hercules to me – then and now. Now more than ever!!! When she retired the first thing she did was see a doctor who said: YOU NEED DOUBLE HIP REPLACEMENTS asap! Why? Because she had walked and worked so hard her entire life that, according to the doctor, it was all “bone on bone” – no cartiledge in her hip joint because she had worn it our through hard labor (more than full time from 14 – 62) That was my mom’s retirement gift!
But lots of people aren’t my mom – Hercules. They wear down. They get angry. Familes split up. People turn to drugs and booze in weakness/sadness/stress.
This is wrong. This is a very harsh version of the American Dream.
Why kill the first/second generation just so the next generation can have it easier/more opportunities? We have a problem – an illness – Worcester does, MA does, America does. But we are not treating the symptoms of the illness. We are not saying: WE MUST DEAL WITH CHINA.
Or: WE MUST RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE TO COVER THE BASIC COST OF LIVING – $10 and hour is a good start.
We are not saying: THOSE GREAT FACTORY JOBS THAT PAID PEOPLE WELL EVEN IF THEY COULD BARELY READ AND DO MATH ARE GONE – WE NEED TO BRING IN SOME OF THOSE FACTORIES. CALL IT LIGHT INDUSTRY. LURE ANY KIND OF FACTORY INTO Worcester’s BLUE COLLAR NEIGHBORHOODS SO THEY PROVIDE JOBS FOR RESIDENTS.
AN IDEA: If a company moves into a Main South or Green Island and demands that its local workforce be able to handle such and such math or such and such chemistry, we as a city need to bring those math problems etc straight to our local high schools and say to teachers: OK. TEACH TO THE JOB. The company across the street won’t hire our kids if they don’t know this math formula, chemisty formula, etc. TEACH TO THE JOB! We do it with the MCAS. We can do it for $15 an hour jobs for our 18 and 19 year olds.
The CDCs have acutally kept most of our inner city hoods from becoming true ghettos! Without them, there would have been more speculation during tough economic times, more three decker flipping, more absentee landlords, more poverty, violence, etc. The CDCs stepped in and said: Wait. We are part of the community. We will reclaim and rescue these old three decker shitholes and build some new stock and the rent will be not so very high because the factories are gone and now the jobs our people have are at the local Dollar Tree or McDonalds, etc.
This is what we are dealing with, people. Not some lazy evil inner-city underclass. I BELIEVE THAT EVERYONE WANTS TO WORK. BUT THEY WANT A FAIR PAYCHECK FOR A DAY’S WORTH OF WORK.
State Rep. Mary Keefe MUST push for a minimum was hike to get the ball rolling. Elizabeth Warren, our new US Senator, can push for a much higher federal minimum wage. Work it, girls, work it! That is why we voted for you!!
We dismiss the fact that Worcester can never be Springfield or Lowell or other third tier cities because we have a HUGE middle class living quite happily through out much of the city: West Side, Greendale, Burncoat St, Rice Square, Upper Grafton Street, Main Street/Wildwood Ave, etc up by Cherry Valley/Leicester line. Mansion, dutch colonials, tudors, capes, ranches – we got em all – and the middle class people to pay for them – and pay taxes to help keep the city’s wheels turning.
We must not let THE FACTS of this housing report make us forget that we can NEVER be a Springfield or Hartford. Our housing stock is too great – we have too many wonderful homes and streets – and people will come from the Boston area and other parts of the North East to live in these great homes. Maybe not the swinging singles who will be drinking martinis every night. Maybe not the cosmopolitan couples who will go to every concert at The Hanover. But the people will come. They will most likely be a bit more conservative – family focused.
I am OK with this.
As a single person, it is fun to have a city with a real life, and my life here is very different from the life I lived in Amherst – or the ones my sisters live in Boston. But I choose to stay here cuz I have roots here and I like … the peacefulnesss of Wusta. City with small town vibe. I like it! I think it is BETTER to have a city that is safe, green, has good schools, nice community vibe, usually quiet, filled with dogs and cats and kids and relatively … sleepy. Wusta to the t!
Would it be nice to have both?
We probably do!
Let the CDCs keep doing their thing. Fuck the housing report’s facts – the numbers are just being manipulated into hurting people – destroying the American (immigrant) Dream! Let the developers who are hell bent on shutting the CDCs down shut the hell up AND CONTINUE doing their thing! The more, the merrier, I say. We are a muti-voiced town! There’s plenty of room for everybody’s hobby horse.
We are Americans! Vive la difference!!!