Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Other Wall

There has always been a wall in America between the have and the have nots, those who live in vibrant cities with economic diversity, high educational rates and of course largely liberal populations with even more personal diversity that everyone secretly aspires and hates at the same time. Seattle is one, San Francisco and the Bay Area another and of course New York City.  I recall growing up New York City was the city of evil and aspiration and if you could make it there you could make it anywhere but in my house no one ever aspired to go to New York.  We went to Los Angeles and San Francisco and for us foreign travel was Vancouver Canada.  Our home was full of exotic people from all across the globe and as my Mother was Australian we had plenty visitors from Down Under and many ended up living in America and we visited them. 

Growing up my life was the West Coast with a brief stopover in Texas and then I went to New York City and I fell in love at first sight and I fell hard.   I think endlessly about New York City and cannot wait to get back there ride the dirty crowded subways, push along the streets and just walk from one area to the other.  When I visit I try to stay in a different area each time to get to know the varying geographic hoods and I can assure you that even that is not enough as there are many side streets and avenues the deserve investigation and exploration.   That is a city to me and I want to make it there in whatever sense that means.  That is where I want to write my final chapter and I feel that the ones that precede them however, will be worth it as life is for the living.

I came to Nashville knowing nothing other than what the New York Times told me when it declared Nashville an "it" city.  Not the first time the paper has misinformed and misled me but like all bitches she the gray lady is a tough one and I forgive her every time. 

Nashville is a dump and in reality the WalletHub report that decided Tennessee was the most angry and hateful of the states they listed in their sinful list I agreed.  The anger and hostility here is aligned largely with the obsession with religion and in turn the monetary focus that is derived from this and the home of the prosperity pulpit.  Even the sub reddit community is full of the same nuts who blame outsiders and transplants for ruining what before we arrived was a shithole but it was theirs and they could wallow in it without interruption.   True here the word hypocrisy has an entirely different meaning but then again you would not be able to have the locals define it as it would require the ability to spell it and again that is another list Tennessee is proud to be on - the least educated.  Hey they brag about that too as they are above Mississippi.  Seriously these people are what I used to call terminal idiots - functionally retarded.

The sheer level of stupidity is often centered around money and the reality is that the average and median wage here are actually quite close. The average wage is 45-47K with the median 63 in Nashville with it 53K state wide.  That would be largely due to the State and Federal offices in Nashville, with a large portion of Hospitals and major Colleges that disproportionately skew wages upwards.   That Nashville's actual larger percentage of employment is in the hospitality industry explains why the average wage is less.

Understanding math is like reading here and well that explains that but this is from the Bureau of Labor and it breaks down the actual income variations across occupations and here in Tennessee we are still lower than the national average

Occupational Employment and Wages in Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin – May 2017

Workers in the Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $22.65 in May 2017, about 7 percent below the nationwide average of $24.34, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Regional Commissioner Janet S. Rankin noted that, after testing for statistical significance, wages in the local area were lower than their respective national averages in 16 of the 22 major occupational groups, including life, physical, and social science; construction and extraction; and architecture and engineering. One group—farming, fishing, and forestry—had a significantly higher wage than its respective national average.
When compared to the nationwide distribution, local employment was more highly concentrated in 8 of the 22 occupational groups, including production; office and administrative support; and management. Conversely, 13 groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including education, training, and library; personal care and service; and construction and extraction.

So as Nashville wets itself with excitment of the white collar jobs from Alliance Bernstein, Ernst and Young and Amazon with promises of thousands of jobs spread out over the next seven years and all promising an average wage of 150K that would put payroll in this region in the billions of dollars. Really?  Just Amazon alone would put approximately 2000 people (out of 5000 supposed employees) earning over 300 million?  Really that would put the wage structure at 3 times the median across the state thereby the payroll alone would lead to mass chaos as other employers would have to raise wages to compete and in turn the costs of living, the very thing that supposedly drew them here to rise in proportion doing what Amazon did to Seattle over the last few years increasing homelessness, traffic, a collapsing infrastructure and driving diversity out of the city.  Sure but they can do this over seven years and in that time economies change, demands and needs do as well and Amazon is going to fill not one but three headquarters with 55,000 people and all with the average income of a 150K?  Really? 

Amazon made Seattle a company town and yet they are many cities company:
More than a quarter of Amazon's U.S. tech and managerial workers are not based in Seattle. The company has 17 North American tech hubs with a total staff count of at least 17,500, a reflection of the tech expertise that’s grown up in specific areas and the reality that not everyone wants or can live in Seattle. Amazon's New York offices focus on fashion and publishing, for instance, while its Los Angeles hub concentrates on video and gaming.
As of June 2017 Amazon had 45,000 workers in Seattle and 17,500 at its North American tech hubs, a number the company says will rise to more than 26,000 within the next three to five years. Those are what it calls corporate workers, separate from the tens of thousands of lower-paid staff the company employs in what it calls fulfillment, at its dozens of warehouses across North America.
Worldwide, Amazon employs 575,700, a 51 percent increase over the same quarter a year ago. In the United States, it employs more than 200,000.  
That makes it one of the larger private employers in the country.   Apple has about 130,000 employees worldwide, 80,000 in the United States and 30,000 in Silicon Valley. Microsoft has 131,000, 77,829 in the United States and 48,764 in the greater Seattle area. Google employs more than 89,000.
The largest tech hub outside Seattle is the San Francisco Bay area, where 6,000 corporate staffers work. That includes offices in San Francisco, Palo Alto (home to Stanford University), Cupertino (home to Apple) and Sunnyvale.
Amazon's Boston hub is growing — executives predict its tech and managerial workers will increase to at least 3,200 in the next five years. Most of those tech jobs pay more than $100,000, according to And Boston is far from the only city where Amazon's footprint has quietly expanded.
Next on the list is the Washington, D.C., area, which has 2,500 Amazon corporate staff. And then New York City, which has 1,800 and which Amazon says will ratchet up to 3,800 within five years.
 So when you realize that this bullshit over building a major HQ2 was just that as Amazon was there all along but to get further tax incentives and other bullshit such as a helipad this enabled Amazon to play games and manipulate Government bureaucrats who care little about the long term it is the immediate that matters.     Apple and Google have quietly expanded across the country and with far less fanfare and tax breaks so what is the real reason other than power and domination.   And that includes the world:
The decentralization of Amazon's high-tech workforce is happening across tech, at companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook — but it's particularly pronounced at Amazon. 
Upwards of 28 percent of Amazon's corporate staff in North America work hundreds and often thousands of miles from its soggy Seattle home. And it’s not confined to the United States and Canada. Amazon has 17 smaller tech hubs across Europe, as well as one in Israel, another in Johannesburg, four in India, one in Japan and one in China.

And all of this seems to be another irony as the actual numbers of employees across Amazon is declining while openings are now on the upswing it may be as the turnover for the company is another well known secret and may contribute to some of these numbers.

So all the histrionics about Amazon and their Queen campus is just that histrionics besides it leaves the space available now as the future home of the Trump Presidential Library. As Trump likes to piss on real billionaires he can take the space turn it into his mega dick worship place as former Presidents do and he is ironically from Queens so perfect!  I figure it would take an hour tops to tour the place and see all 15 of the Executive and Emergency Orders signed during his Presidency than cross the river to see Hamilton about a real Politician with real skills.

What New York City did was actually stand up to Corporate greed and the bullshit of corporate welfare given over in tax incentives.   Amazon certainly doesn't need those as they have failed to pay federal taxes for the past two years so they are not hurting for cash.
 Amazon will pay $0 in federal income taxes for the second year in a row. Amazon, which doubled its profits and made more than $11 billion in 2018, won't pay any federal income taxes for the second year in a row, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reported on Wednesday.

I do believe that Amazon will fit right as they are equal to and no less Massholes (where they have a massive tech center in Boston) and that character is one they will find a home here. Add the lust and greed and yep its a strike three.  The reality is that Nashville is an ill suited place for those who like a liberal progressive background in which to pursue the play over the work and frankly Broadway will be boring as shit after a week of Bachelorettes and drunk Cowboys to fuck with and by fuck with I mean that in every sense of the word.  This is a stop over tour place and if you live here be ready to be stupid here as that is the reality of middle America.  The resentment and frustration over decades of being ignored has not been forgotten.  Fuck the Berlin Wall the economic sanction law has finally broken that down by making laws that makes it illegal to unionize aka "the right to work" and the perennial low wages from having poorly educated, ill trained and largely minority workforce and the onslaught of largely foreign money. (Hmm hows those tariffs working out?)    Sharecropping, Indentured Servitude and Slavery has become the migrant/undocumented workforce.  The South shall rise again bitches! If Bezos wanted world domination take a look at the forgotten states, like Mississippi or Ohio and realize that they have been raped before and like all war torn regions are willing to sell out to get their share too. Ah no fucking way who wants to live there, amiright?  

New York's dance with Amazon shows us how to fight for a city's future

By rejecting the logic that cities should bend over backwards to welcome corporations, New Yorkers asserted a principle that has long been lacking

Samuel Stein
Sat 23 Feb 2019
The Guardian

Between November 2018 and February 2019, the world’s biggest corporation (Amazon) and the US’s biggest city (New York) staged a bizarre, absurd and frequently infuriating public spectacle.

In just three months, all of the following happened: Amazon announced they had selected New York as a location for one of their two new headquarters; the deal they struck with the city and state of New York was announced; groups representing workers, tenants and immigrants organized furiously against Amazon, while the mayor, the governor and the deal’s supporters scrambled to defend it; several key politicians – most of whom had previously encouraged Amazon to come to New York – turned hostile to the company; and then, with no notice and little fanfare, Amazon announced they were no longer pursuing New York for their corporate headquarters. The opponents had won, and Amazon was sent packing.

For the past few days, New Yorkers have been celebrating or seething, depending on their position, and debating with one another about what just happened and what it all meant. Clearly, this was not just a one-off fight between an obnoxious billionaire and a pissed off populous. New York’s dizzying dance with Amazon tells us a lot about the state of urban politics in the United States, and the kind of fights we need to engage in if we want to alter the balance of corporate and people’s power.

Much has been made of the fact that the US’ federal system allowed Amazon to host a competition for cities across the country to race to the bottom in order to prove they would offer the company generous subsidies, extensive tax breaks and lax regulations. This is, indeed, a travesty that should be addressed legislatively, but it is also a demonstration of the enormous power corporate capital wields in determining cities’ urban planning priorities.

It also displays the shifting economic mix that US planners and policymakers are seeking to attract. Whereas, in the past, cities were accused of “smokestack chasing”, or devising competitive packages to lure factories from one town the next, cities are now engaging in “skyscraper chasing”, or seeking massive investments in real estate (in this case under the auspices of tech industry growth).

Clearly, this was not just a one-off fight between an obnoxious billionaire and a pissed off populous

Around the country, we have witnessed the rise of the real estate state, a faction of government whose interests are always aligned with escalating land and property values. At the municipal level, we see planners presenting gentrification as a public good to be encouraged; at the national level, we witness the election of a luxury developer to our highest office. Amazon sought to capitalize on this frenzy, and rightly predicted that politicians across the country would devise ways to welcome them and the real estate capital they summon.

The particular siting of the proposed New York City Amazon headquarters was telling. Long Island City, Queens, had been the target of planned deindustrialization for over 35 years, with a succession of governors and mayors seeking to displace manufacturing and incentivize a proliferation of bland corporate office and luxury residential developments.

In the 1980s, Mayor Ed Koch and Governor Mario Cuomo – the father of contemporary New York governor and Amazon apologist Andrew Cuomo – turned up the heat by providing a billion-dollar subsidy to a mixed-use development called Hunters Point South. The next mayor, David Dinkins, presented a Waterfront Plan that encouraged a wholesale transformation of the area, and his successor, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, offered generous subsidies for companies such as MetLife to locate there.

The pace of luxury development accelerated rapidly under Mayor Michael Bloomberg after his 2001 rezoning. By luring Amazon to this particular place, Cuomo and the mayor, Bill de Blasio, were building on a long legacy of marginalizing manufacturing and courting gentrification.

Ultimately, however, Bezos, Cuomo and De Blasio failed – they could not secure the consent of the people, who conducted a forceful and multi-fronted battle on the issues of housing costs, labor and immigrant rights, corporate subsidies, infrastructure demands, small business survival, and more. In so doing, the anti-Amazon movement presented an anti-corporate, anti-gentrification mantel for other cities to pick up. In fact, since New Yorkers successfully stood up to Amazon, protests in northern Virginia – Amazon’s other top choice – have intensified.

By rejecting the logic that cities should bend over backwards to welcome gentrifying, union-busting, homogenizing corporations, New Yorkers asserted a principle that has long been lacking in planning: that the public is the rightful steward of a city’s future.

That may sound obvious, but it is a major turnabout from ordinary planning practice, which has tended to privilege the rights of property owners and seek little more than advice and consent from the rest of us. Public stewardship, on the other hand, is the contention that the city is a collective product of residents’ labor –in terms of the material production of streets and buildings, the cultural production of neighborhoods and common spaces, and the social reproduction of residents and workers. The city’s fate belongs with those who made it, not just those who own it.

If cities are products of collective labor, then gentrification, in geographer Ipsita Chatterjee’s phrase, is “the theft of space from labor and its conversion into spaces of profit”. Anti-gentrification movements like the one that scared away Amazon can be understood as part of the long legacy of working class struggle against the alienation of labor by capital. In the classic cases, workers have revolted against bosses for stealing the surplus value they created; here, residents are rising up against developers and politicians for alienating people from the spaces they have built.

The city is an expression of popular will, and that will can be summoned to upturn the plans of those who seek to usurp its labor. This kind of mobilization is key to beating back corporate power and resisting the rise of the real estate state. With Amazon on the run, the time is ripe to renew our push for public stewardship and rethink the purpose of urban planning.

Samuel Stein is a PhD candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center, and the author of the forthcoming Capital City: Gentrification and the Real Estate

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