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Posts Tagged ‘capitalism’

Frank Espada, 1930-2014, Que En Paz Descanse

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on February 18, 2014

fes_portrait
I had the privilege of knowing Frank Espada through my wife. Frank founded the organization, Bay Area Photographers Collective, of which my wife is a member. Being an opinionated, cantankerous old/New Leftie, he eventually quit BAPC due to political and artistic differences, but he continued to mentor and inspire local photographers with his skill and talent. I own his book The Puerto Rican Diaspora: Themes in the Survival of a People, a brilliant portrait of his community whose black-and-white photographs are visceral and tactile. I’m proud to say that my wife and I own a number of Frank Espada original, old school darkroom prints, which hold an honored place on our walls and shelves.
malcolmx
Just one Frank Espada story. I remember attending one of his exhibitions, where the above iconic photograph was prominently displayed. I was admiring it when Frank walked up alongside me. Noticing that the Malcolm X photo was actually quite reasonably priced, I asked him if there were copies of the print available for sale. He said no, that this was the one print available at that time, and that he didn’t do large runs of particular photographs. Then he asked me whether he thought the price and quantity of his photography should be commercially determined. When I said yes, unthinking, with an eye toward owning my own copy, he immediately came back with the comment that the value of art, all art, should never be determined by the market. From there our discussion turned to criticizing “art for art’s sake,” the social responsibility of the artist, the need for art to be accessible, etc. Frank was a socialist with an abiding critique of capitalism, one of the things I liked and admired about him.

Frank’s papers and photos were recently acquired by Duke University, and his website can be found here.

Que En Paz Descanse.

Así son las cosas de la vida.
One obituary
Another obituary
Yet another obituary
A final one

Posted in capitalism, Frank Espada, life, socialism | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Anti-Techie backlash: bus blockade tactic

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on December 31, 2013

So I’m walking around Market Street, doing a bit of extra exercise between my workout sessions, when I encounter this sticker on a newspaper kiosk near the corner of Church Street.
GAM_scum1GAM_scum2
Its an old slogan (“Die Yuppie Scum!”) updated for present realities in San Francisco. The techies flooding into the City have become a lightning rod for local frustration, discontent, protest, and worse. In particular, those Apple, Google, and Genentech buses seen cruising the city’s streets have become prime targets. On December 20, four separate incidents involving blockades and/or attacks on tech buses occurred in Oakland and San Francisco, according to the SF Chronicle. People peacefully surrounded and briefly detained buses at MacArthur BART Station in Oakland and the 24th Street and Mission BART Station in San Francisco. At 7th and Adeline streets near the West Oakland BART Station, violence greeted another bus, rocks and bottles were thrown, and window was shattered and tires were slashed.
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Video can be found here. These protests, nonviolent and violent, follow a bus blockade on December 9 in the Mission, covered here. The folks staging this protest called themselves the San Francisco Displacement and Neighborhood Impact Agency, and sighted the following reasons for their protest:

[W]e’re stopping the injustice in the city’s two-tier system where the public pays and the private corporations gain.

Rents and evictions are on the rise. Tech-fueled real estate speculation is the culprit. We say: Enough is Enough! The local government, especially Mayor Lee, has given tech the keys to shape the city to their fancy without the public having any say in it. We say, lets take them back!

Tech Industry private shuttles use over 200 SF MUNI stops approximately 7,100 times in total each day (M-F) without permission or contributing funds to support this public infrastructure. No vehicles other than MUNI are allowed to use these stops. If the tech industry was fined for each illegal use for the past 2 years, they would owe an estimated $1 billion to the city.

We demand they PAY UP or GET OUT!
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Those tech workers temporarily trapped on the buses in question were furious about being “held hostage” by the protestors blockading the means of transportation to their jobs. These techies have demonstrated a profound myopia over their own part in gentrifying San Francisco and in engendering the hostility among the locals to their intrusion. All the while tech workers are safely ensconced in their buses with tinted windows, air conditioning and wifi without thought one about giving back to the neighborhoods and the city they’re blithely destroying.

Business leaders narrowly argue that the backlash against the tech buses makes no sense, because the buses take solo drivers in individual cars off the roads. These business interests deliberately ignore the wider damage done to San Francisco by the tech industries relentless encroachments. And they conveniently look the other way as Mayor Ed Lee and other corporate complicit local politicians provide $14.2 million annually in tax breaks to stimulate growth in tech, biotech, and cleantech, most prominently to keep Twitter in San Francisco and to stimulate economic growth around its mid-Market Street headquarters.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian has provided a much needed critical counterbalance to the Chronicle’s pro-business cheerleading that simultaneously bemoans all the fuss being made over tech workers and the tech industry. Along with the YouTube of the December 20 bus protests below, SFBG continues to cover the bus blockages and other anti-techie protests.

Posted in capitalism, evictions, gentrification, Google buses, life, Oakland, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle, tech industry, techies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Ladies and gentlemen, the vanishing middle class

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on October 29, 2013

It’s a set of platitudes mouthed by all American politicians everywhere, that “the middle class is the foundation of this country’s prosperity,” that Washington “is doing everything possible to strengthen the middle class,” and that “the future looks bright for the American middle class.” Absolute hogwash! Here are a few more charts and graphs, thanks to the Business Insider:

middleclasscharticle_fig1-2
middleclasscharticle_fig2-2
middleclasscharticle_fig3-2

Nothing up the sleeves of the American ruling class, except for the demise of the American middle class.

Posted in capitalism, jobless recovery, life, politics, United States of America, US economy, US middle class, US ruling class, US society, US working class | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

USA! We’re Number One!

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on October 29, 2013

It’s official. The United States is #1 at creating rich people. Here’s the chart (based on this study):
original
The consequences of this “wealth creation” is an ever widening gap between rich and poor, the decimation of the American middle class, the potential for societal segregation, social unrest and class warfare that is exacerbated by such class dynamics. This income gap is the highest since the “Roaring 20s.
20130911_inequal1
What’s more, even prominent moderate-to-liberal individuals are beginning to see this as a problem.

Then, there’s so many other ways that the United States excels at being #1 in very bad shit. Here are the graphic representations, including the first one mentioned above:
MaternityLeave_1USExceptionalism_Vacation_0
USExceptionalism_SickDays_1EducationSpending_1
EducationSpending_1-1MilitarySpending_0
USExceptionalism_WeaponExportsUSExceptionalism_PrisonPop
USExceptionalism_GunsUSExceptionalism_Sweetner_0
CalorieConsumption_1USExceptionalism_HealthCareCosts
USExceptionalism_DrugCostsFirstDayDeaths_0
SuperRich_0Inequality_0
Makes you fucking PROUD to be an American! Third World Banana Republic, here we come!

Posted in American Empire, capitalism, corporations, homeless, life, politics, poverty, United States of America, US economy, US middle class, US military, US society, US working class | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »