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What the misanthropic Jenkins calls a "small mental adjustment" is actually a government-

subsidized economy of destruction—rather than production—divorced totally from

human needs but instead dictated by the demands of those who deal in "moneyness."

 

 

Tear Down the Ghetto: The Price is Wrong

By Glen Ford

 

The final crisis of capitalism is no longer looming: it has arrived with all the mad presence of a six-foot-seven transvestite at the head of the parade at the stroke of midnight in Greenwich Village on Halloween.

Here's the latest criminal enterprise hatched by the ruling sectors of U.S. society: tear down all that overpriced housing, the stuff that was only recently built but can no longer be financed for sale. No, don't convert it to useful purposes as rental units or reasonably-priced family homes to satisfy the desperate needs of millions of families—and of people who wish they could successfully constitute themselves as households in this jungle-like environment. Just make it all go away, with the federal government paying the bill for the massive destruction.

It is now proposed that the "excess" housing stock of the United States be knocked down, bulldozed until a renewed shortage of shelter will render the housing that survives worth something close to the prices advertised before the bubble burst.

It has come to this: The U.S. economy can only heal itself by destroying those few products it can still manage to create. This is what happens when pure capitalists rule society, the people with no connection to actual production of goods and services, but only to the uses of money, or the recently coined phrase "moneyness"—stuff that can be made to act for a while as if it were money. Like the $516 trillion in "derivatives" that big  banks have to hold on to because nobody knows what's in these strange "instruments"—which were just as good as money as long as financial institutions pretended they really were money-like.

At some point, the derivatives will have to be disposed of, but there's a problem. The yearly gross product of the United States is only about $17 trillion, and the entire planet only produces about $50 trillion in goods and services a year. Therefore, nobody can possibly bail out ten times the Earth's worth in derivatives.

But the capitalist fools can start tearing down some houses.

The Wall Street Journal's Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., in the April 2 issue, suggests "using tax dollars to buy and demolish foreclosed, unoccupied or half-built houses in selected markets," thereby driving up prices by lowering availability. Jenkins points to ghettonomics—government at its most destructive and least responsive to the citizenry—as the emerging business model. "In highly depressed housing markets," Jenkins quotes Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke, "the worst-quality units are often demolished to mitigate safety hazards and reduce supply."  

But Jenkins' is not concerned about safety, only with keeping supply down and price up. For example:

"Baltimore has been praised for efforts to keep borrowers in their homes, but little mentioned is a program of demolition of foreclosed homes. Cleveland spends $6 million a year to demolish buildings. Dayton plans to demolish 550 this year. Only a small mental adjustment is required to begin aiming these bulldozers at ‘new' homes too. Get over it."

What the misanthropic Jenkins calls a "small mental adjustment" is actually a government-subsidized economy of destruction—rather than production—divorced totally from human needs but instead dictated by the demands of those who deal in "moneyness."

"Knocking down surplus homes would be the most efficient and equitable way to spend taxpayer dollars. It can proceed experimentally. It can be turned off quickly when the need evaporates. It would not be a lesson to Americans that housing debt is not real debt and need not be repaid. It wouldn't benefit the most irresponsible lenders and borrowers at the expense of responsible ones. The housing market would still have to hit bottom, but the bottom would be higher (and sooner)," said Jenkins.

"Surplus homes" in a country in which affordable housing is disappearing. In this same sense, the problem with New Orleans was "surplus people," who have now been scattered and exiled through a joint public-private-meteorological venture that goes under the general heading of Katrina. That which cannot be exploited by the Big Capitalists is, by definition, surplus.

There can be no doubt of the insanity of late stage capitalism, its absolute disconnect from every notion of supply and demand drummed into the heads of innocent school children during crude early Miseducation. Wall Street and its servants in government purposely created a monstrous bubble of grossly overpriced housing in order to build up debt that would make it appear that a non-producing society is really doing things that are healthy and worthwhile. There was never the slightest chance that the scheme, which violated every lesson of recent and ancient history, could avoid absolute disaster. Suddenly, that which was crazily overpriced one minute was transformed into a near-worthless redundancy, the next.

Worthless? Well, it's not worthless to you or me or a host of people we know well, who are desperate for a dignified place to stay at a price that can reasonably fit the budget of the median household in the United States: $35,000 a year for a Black family vs. about $60,000 for whites. The houses exist, of course, and many, many more could be built—big ones, small ones, urban ones, rural ones—but the conspirators that run the U.S. and much of the world economy solely for their own benefit can only satisfy their demands for ever-higher rates of return on investment by two methods: blowing bubbles until they inevitably burst, and international theft through direct actions of war or warlike coercion.  

By the Wall Street Journal's Holman W. Jenkins' reckoning, the wrecking balls and bulldozers need to get to work immediately in much of Black America, where the subprime lending crisis hit hardest. If these ghetto houses cannot be financed at the bubble prices demanded, then they must be torn down, thus making housing in general more scarce. Soon, with scarcity, prices will stabilize. 

All three major presidential candidates are on great terms with the madmen of Wall Street who have brought western "civilization"—which includes Cleveland and Baltimore—past the edge of the abyss. We are in freefall, contemplating tearing down perfectly good houses, as crazed capitalists pile up human and material debris at the bottom of the hole, hoping for an acceptably soft landing. But there can be no mutually acceptable outcome to the current crisis, because human beings and Wall Streeters have diametrically opposed goals in life. Humans want some degree of stability in life, a reasonable chance that their children will experience a materially, morally and intellectually better world, and a degree of social justice that allows people to look one another in the eye. They require a roof over their heads, under fair terms.  

Wall Streeters want advantage, the opposite of justice and fairness. We will soon be forced to go to war with these people. Their notion of surplus is deadly.

BAR executive Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com

Source: Black Agenda Report

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Response

The Radical Solution—Knocking down surplus homes would be the most efficient and equitable way to spend taxpayer dollars. It can proceed experimentally. It can be turned off quickly when the need evaporates. It would not be a lesson to Americans that housing debt is not real debt and need not be repaid. It wouldn't benefit the most irresponsible lenders and borrowers at the expense of responsible ones. The housing market would still have to hit bottom, but the bottom would be higher (and sooner).Wall Street Journal

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This would be more of a way to equilibrate prices after all the dust finally settles rather than a way to fix the current problem. Driving up prices inorganically would probably just fuel more speculating.

You know less than 1/3 of the people who qualify for subsidized housing are actually in the system because of bureaucracy, waiting lists and lack of funding etc. If the money being used to bail out lenders were used to subsidize renters then there would be exponentially more occupancy, rents being paid, less homelessness and myriad other positive effects. Those who paid subsidized rents would have more money to spend on other things also. Much of this crisis is because of past bad economic policies that benefited the wealthy at the expense of pulling people into the middle class. Wealthy landlords were created artificially instead of creating homeownership organically.

As Mr. Ford alluded to though, these "bubbles" bursting seem to be the only thing that get the attention of the powers that be to understand this economy has fundamental problems. All these artificial value creation mechanisms that led to the stock debacle of the 90s and this current real estate crisis are just symptoms of an economy that no longer creates value and relies on inflationary money policies and corporate subsidies instead of export demand growth and domestic job creation to expand the economy.Vince

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So it's clear that the manifest and overwhelming negative of this plan—there will be fewer houses for everyone to live in— is less important to Mr. Jenkins than some prospective gain. I would guess that Mr. Jenkins owns a home whose value he does not want to see reduced, and possibly has some personal stake in the stability of the leveraged financial system around him. This at least would give a patina of comprehensible avarice to what is otherwise stark lunacy. This plan is as "efficient" and "equitable" as my beating up a homeless guy to steal his quarters.stonecity

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Those who are homeowners or who are interested in selling their houses or borrowing money on their houses, as well as financiers and investment houses, would seem to profit by creating a housing shortage, however superficial the process is. So I expect to hear silence on the matter, if irresponsible Congress persons bring it to the floor, silence except from maybe renters, who will find the whole matter outlandish.—Rudy

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011
 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power--and the enormous risks--of the dollar's worldwide reign.  The Economy

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 9 April 2008

 

 

 

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Related files: If this be Lynching . . . (As in Merrill-Lynch)   The Big End of the American Economy?  Mortgage Crisis Lesson   Economic status of African Americans Bridging the Racial Gap in Education  

Moratorium on Theory   Tear Down the Ghetto