The nation's escalating economic troubles -- triggered by the growing wave
of home foreclosures, declining housing prices,and bank failures -- was entirely preventable. In today's Huffington Post, I diagnose the
symptoms, examine the root causes, discuss the politics, and suggest a
five-point remedy that candidates for president and Congress should embrace.
Here it is. Comments and criticisms -- on the HuffPost website or just to me -- are most
CLASS PREJUDICE: Which whites will support Barack Obama if he runs against John McCain? In my article in the American Prospect this week, I look at America's racial divide in terms of both voting trends and control of key institutions that foster racial discrimination and stereotypes: banks, corporations, the real estate industry, the media, etc. It turns out that, with exceptions, upper class whites are more racist than the working class whites that so many political pundits smugly call racist. Obama confronted this reality in his inspiring speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
THE STATE OF THE ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT: The media is filled this week with assessments of the state of the anti-war movement, on the 5th anniversary of the US invasion. Even there aren't millions of folks in the streets, the anti-war movement has been a success. American public opinion is overwhelmingly against the war. In the Huffington Post, Tom Hayden looks at the anti-war movement. Here's a good article on the topic in the Pasadena Star-News and another broadcast on NPR affiliate KPCC.
WHY WALL STREET IS GLAD TO SEE SPITZER GO: In the Nation, Robert Scheer writes about why Wall Street is happy to see Gov. Eliot Spitzer go away. Spitzer took the lead in criticizing the predatory and greedy practices of banks and investors that led to the current foreclosure crisis -- a crisis that could have been prevented if the federal bank regulators had done their job.
THE WIRE, the HBO television drama about Baltimore and which just ended its fifth and final season, was a huge hit with critics who applauded its gritty depiction of urban life. But as John Atlas and I write in this article published in Dissent magazine, the show's version of reality was only partly right. The Wire reinforced white middle-class stereotypes of inner-city life.
The show's writers, producers, and directors believed that they were presenting a radical critique of American society and its neglect of its poor, its minorities, and its cities. But there's nothing radical about a show that portrays nearly every character—clergy and cops, teachers and principals, reporters and editors, union members and leaders, politicians and city employees—as corrupt, cynical, and/or ineffective. The show's portrayal of Baltimore buttresses the myth that the poor are mostly drug dealers or users, eternally helpless victims, unable to engage in collective self-help.
THE WIRE's unrelenting bleak portrayal missed what’s hopeful in Baltimore and, indeed, in other major American cities -- the significant number of working class people involved in grassroots community, union, and other forms of organizing. In fact, THE WIRE was the opposite of radical; it was hopeless and nihilistic.
In our article, we interview and describe the effective and inspiring work of activists from three of Baltimore's effective grassroots organizations -- BUILD, ACORN, and Justice for Janitors. These organizations and these people -- committed activists, who have persisted in the organizing through victories and disappointments, but never succumb to cynicism or corruption—were nowhere to be found in THE WIRE.
Perhaps it is no accident that THE WIRE is ending its five-year run just as the Bush era is ending. As we usher the Bush era out the door, Americans may be ready to feel hopeful again. So the next time a major TV network decides to produce a show about America's inner cities, some of it major characters will be activists and organizers!