Inclusion in the Creative Economy?

This week in North Philly Notes, Tarry Hum , author of Making a Global Immigrant Neighborhood, writes about the re-branding of Brooklyn.

New York City Mayor de Blasio was elected with a mandate to address the city’s deepening crisis of income and wealth inequality. Mr. de Blasio’s 2013 victory was echoed across the country as progressive candidates won mayoralties in cities such as Boston and Seattle. In light of federal inertia, the political will to tackle the troubling persistence of poverty and a diminished middle class has shifted to local municipalities. The first six months of Mayor de Blasio’s administration has been defined by important achievements in universal pre-K, paid sick leave, and a municipal ID. Moreover, Mayor de Blasio has stated that his approach to economic development will be premised on creating opportunities for all New Yorkers in the city’s high growth sectors including the technology industry which is essential to NYC’s creative and knowledge economy.

Making a Global Immigrant_smAn example of the events that are taking place to engage in a public dialogue on New York City’s economic future took place last week at a half-day conference titled, Onramps of Opportunity: Building a Creative + Inclusive New York, with NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and NYU-University of Toronto Professor Richard Florida, the “rock star” author of The Rise of the Creative Class. Presenters described how the spatial geography of New York City’s creative economy is increasingly centered in the industrial waterfront neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens where factories and warehouses are retrofitted, wired, and modernized to accommodate tech, media, entertainment, and artisanal manufacturing. Almost a mantra, conference attendees were told repeatedly, “every future job is a tech job”. Tensions between the creative class and neighborhood gentrification were alluded to as several presenters emphasized the need for affordable housing. However, it’s clear that meaningful inclusion extends beyond the provision of affordable housing as evidenced in the Extell Development Company’s project which will have separate entrances for tenants of its luxury and affordable housing units.

IstanbulThe re-branding of Brooklyn as an epicenter of creativity, innovation, and artistic production has achieved international success. On a recent trip to Istanbul, I was astonished by the prevalence of Brooklyn branding in clothing and cafes. Numerous Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Williamsburg, DUMBO, and Fort Greene are exemplars of the clustering of skills and talent and urban amenities such as bike paths, parks, and good coffee shops that support a creative economy and the lifestyle preferences of the creative class. The potential of this economic revival was recently explored in the PBS NewsHour clip “Could Brooklyn hipsters help save the middle class?”

The revitalization of Brooklyn may be the ultimate test for Mayor de Blasio’s vision of an inclusive urbanism. Acknowledging Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood as a nexus of the human and physical infrastructure necessary for equitable economic growth, Mayor de Blasio announced the formation of a Jobs for New Yorkers Task Force in front of the Brooklyn Terminal Army along Sunset Park’s waterfront. Heavily immigrant and working poor, Sunset Park’s Latino and Asian residents are largely concentrated in low paid service jobs. Sunset Park still retains a sizable number of garment factories that continue to rely on immigrant women workers. As Professor Florida described, these are the people that pour our coffee, take care of our kids and elderly parents, clean our homes, and make our food – jobs so essential to a creative city that Professor Florida extolled these workers as the “lifeblood of the city”. As one of New York City’s few remaining industrial neighborhoods, Sunset Park is now facing the challenges posed by a growing artisanal and creative economy. According to a recent New York Times article, the neighborhood’s extensive industrial building stock is being refurbished to accommodate a new Soho. Examples of tech and artisanal firms that now call Sunset Park home include MakerBot which manufactures 3-D printers, the internationally known Jacque Torres chocolatier, and the world’s largest urban rooftop farm on a former federally owned military warehouse. Even the Brooklyn Nets want to be in Sunset Park and are planning a 70,000-square-foot training facility with a rooftop terrace to enjoy the waterfront views.

deBlasioBATThe question of inclusion in New York City’s creative economy is essential to the future of neighborhoods like Sunset Park. Framing the afternoon’s discussion, Professor Florida stated that building an inclusive economy “will require all hands on deck” to formulate a new approach to economic development. Political will is just one of the necessary ingredients – policies that support unionization, affordable housing, living wages, worker cooperatives, workforce development and placement in jobs with avenues for economic mobility, and meaningful engagement in city planning and economic development decision-making are also essential. Working class, immigrant Latino-Asian Sunset Park is ground zero in testing the development and implementation of “onramps” for an inclusive creative city.

Addressing our changing relationship with our work

In this blog entry, Peter Fleming, author of Resisting Work, addresses some of the consequences of too much work.

When 21-year old banking intern Moritz Erhardt died in his London apartment in 2013, it attracted worldwide attention. What was so disconcerting about his death was that it followed 72 straight hours of stressful work. Reports of the banking culture discovered firms gleefully celebrating such arduous displays of commitment. Working incredibly long hours was a badge of honor.

Erhardt’s parents stated that they had become increasingly worried about their son’s lifestyle, noting how his emails were sent at unusual times, 5am or even worse. A story in the London Evening Standard cited how the intern worked “crazy hours” because “he felt under intense pressure to succeed.” Meanwhile, the Independent wrote about the “furore that developed over long hours and macho culture at banks.”

In January 2014, Li Junjie, a 33-year old investment banker for a large U.S. firm jumped to his death from its high-rise tower in Hong Kong. The story was reported in the Daily Mail and on Alex Jones’  Reports suggested that he had a rather stressful job, but it was news of an impending financial crash that had prompted this awful act. The wave of banker suicides in 2014 has shocked many of us, with some large firms even banning its employees from using email after hours so they can unwind. But the fact remains, why would someone take their jobs so seriously that they can contemplate ending their life when something goes wrong in the office? How does such a lack of perspective come about?

Resisting Work_smResisting Work seeks to challenge the overly sunny reputation that work has gained in our society of late. It suggests these two sad events tell us much about how a growing number of people approach their jobs in the post-industrial workforce. Many of us have become completely wedded to our work. Whereas our grandparents could ‘switch off’ after leaving the office or factory, workers today no longer see their jobs as something they just ‘do’ among others things, but something they ‘are’. While suicide and death-by-overwork are extreme cases, my book reveals numerous examples of people in similar situations who see their jobs as everything, who cannot switch off, are unable to holiday and even destroy personal relationships for the sake of it.

I hope to show that this changing relationship with our work – and some of its deeply negative consequences – is no accident. Using historical analysis, I demonstrate that it represents a new configuration of power that is symptomatic of the neo-liberal economic paradigm, which tends to glorify work as the highest virtue. But here is the rub: if we actually had pure neoliberalism in the office – say, complete individualism, no state regulation, rampant competition, no mutualism or open co-operation – absolutely nothing would get done. Neo-liberal ideals are completely chaotic when actually applied in most employment settings. As a result, corporate capitalism requires us to be fully present, socially resourceful human beings in order to pick-up the slack. We need to live with its problems and employ our whole persona to deal with them. This I call ‘biopower’, whereby life itself is literally put to work.

All of this sounds bleak, and it is. But the true focus of the book is about how we might resist work today. Given the above trends, this is easier said than done. For how might we oppose ‘biopower’ when our jobs are now somehow tied up with our very sense of self, our identities and personal worth? And what would a world without work actually look like? I argue that a new resistance moment is emerging in post-industrial societies and beyond that seeks to put work ‘in its place’. However, unlike older conceptions of employee resistance (such as the strike or sabotage) which tended to call for more, better or fairer work, these newer forms of opposition seek to escape the paradigm of work altogether. It does not view our over-attachment to working as a natural part survival, but as a political construction that we now live as if things had always been like this.

I give many examples of this new anti-work movement. And it is for this reason that I really admire a moving study by Bonnie Ware, a nurse who cares for the terminally ill. She recently reported on the most common regrets people had when close to death. First and foremost was not being true to themselves, living a life that was not authentic. A close second, however, was the regret that they had worked far too much. From the perspective of near death, all of that labor and worry seemed such a waste. For these patients, it is too late. The central question of this book concerns the following. What about us? How might we embody this final epiphany throughout our entire lives, and what might an alternative to work look like?


Josh feels needed—like a hot cup of cocoa on a cold day

This week in North Philly Notes, Yasemin Besen-Cassino, author of Consuming Work, writes about youth labor, an important element of our modern economy.

On this bitterly cold day, Josh, like many other teenagers, traveled many miles to get to work. Despite experiencing car troubles, nearly having a car accident, and spending hours in heavy traffic, he arrived at the coffee shop where he works part-time only—to do a double shift, carry heavy loads of garbage in the cold, and deal with a hectic day of selling hot beverages to shivering customers.

Even though his school was in session, he chose to come to work instead of going to class at the local college, where he is getting his degree in theater and humanities. When I asked him why he chose his work over his studies, he told me they need him here: “Nobody notices when I am not [in class].” Unlike at school, they notice him at work. He feels needed—like a hot cup of cocoa on a cold day.

Consuming Work_smJosh, like many other teenagers, works “part-time” while still in school, but do not be fooled by what he calls “part-time” work. “Part-time” sounds like a few hours of work scattered throughout the week, but he was at the coffee shop every day of the past week. Even on the days when he was not scheduled to work, he stopped by to hang out with his friends. He did not just stand idly by; he also helped the friends who were working. He is one of many young people who fold sweaters in clothing stores, pour our morning coffees, wait on us in restaurants, and serve us in many service and retail sector jobs. Yet Josh differs greatly from our traditional conceptions of young workers. For most of us, the terms “child labor” or “youth labor” evoke images of unventilated sweatshops in the developing world or the chimney sweeps of Dickens novels. Yet contrary to popular belief, not only is youth labor widespread in the United States; it is an important element of our modern economy.

With his spiky blond hair, fashionable clothes, and brand-new cell phone, Josh looks nothing like the chimney sweeps of Dickens novels, nor does he fit the conventional definition of a service or retail worker in our contemporary economy. Typical service and retail sector jobs in which young people are employed are “bad jobs”: routine jobs with low wages, part-time hours, few or no benefits, no autonomy, and limited opportunities for advancement. Normally, we would assume the teenagers, who take these bad jobs are the poor teenagers, who desperately need these jobs for survival—to put themselves through school or perhaps help their families. What is really surprising is, only in America teenagers, who work tend to be more affluent.

Affluent teenagers say they work to meet new people in the suburbs and hang out with their friends without the supervision of adults. They also work because they want to be associated with cooler brands. Even if the pay is better and the working conditions are nicer many teens don’t want to work for mom and pop places, they want to work for cooler brands—especially ones where they are avid consumers of. “If I shop there, I’ll work there” is a motto for many young people.

Many companies actively seek out these young and affluent workers. These young, attractive workers, who are already devoted fans of their products “look good and sound right.” They become ideal faces of the products they are selling. Besides, they do not care about the low wages, limited hours and the odd schedule.

As affluent young people want to work for social reasons or for the brand prestige, the ones who really need these part-time jobs are often shut out of the system. As “looking good and sounding right” become important components of service sector jobs, many young people from the inner cities have trouble finding jobs, or settle for fast-food positions.

Maybe Alligators Don’t Mind Toxic Pollution

In this blog entry, Stephanie Kane, author of Where Rivers Meet the Sea, offers advice on how to clean up Guanabara Bay for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Alligators thrive along Rio de Janeiro’s coastline and even the most famous beaches are subject to swimming advisories for pollution. Although the Brazilian constitution promises the right to clean water and habitat, up and down its coast, wherever urbanized rivers meet the sea, industrial and household toxins and sewage degrade water habitats. Brazil is not unique. Worldwide, cities destroy the habitats and hinterlands upon which they depend.

That statement did not constitute news until November, when a story came across the AP newswire: Sailors, who had begun training in Guanabara Bay, became more than a little concerned about the bay’s pollution; the visuals startled them although the contaminants that frighten health professional are visible only through microscopes, especially fecal coliform bacteria that could cause dysentery and even cholera. Rio organizers pledged to clean up and monitor Copacabana, the designated swimming venue. But consider: INEA, the state environmental agency, “has classified nearly all the 13 bayside beaches it monitors as ‘terrible’ for 12 years running. . .” AECOM, the company that built London’s Olympic Park, designed the Olympic Park site for Rio 2016; although lovely, as Oliver Wainright noted,  the design does not convey the stagnation of the surrounding Jacarepaguá lagoon. The video-plan evokes AECOM’s  “water strategy” with a visual gloss of rainfall—captured, filtered, recycled and revitalized. Really?  Carlos Minc, state secretary for the environment, says for 20 years, everyone has known that the “bay is rotten.”  This time, he adds, there is something new in the government’s response.  Landfills around the bay have been closed (at least legal landfills), some industrial pollution has been “curbed” and programs to collect floating garbage and install “river treatment units (RTUs)” are in the works. Built over rivers, the RTUs are meant to filter garbage and human waste as it slides by on the way to open water. But contaminated water flows everywhere, above and below ground, through the dense, diverse human development spreading outward from the bay’s edge. How can AECOM’s site-specific water strategy possibly trigger significantly cleaner water for the Olympian swimmers and sailors in 2016  or more importantly, the people of Rio who will still be there in 2017? Will there be RTUs installed on every stream and river? Can RTUs substitute for centralized urban garbage and sewage infrastructures that retrieve and manage waste before it befouls the water?  Even if those responsible manage to keep the water looking clean enough for a few days, is that really a good enough aim? Couldn’t the “legacy” of Rio 2016 be a serious effort toward functional urban infrastructure and to implement and enforce anti-pollution laws?

Where Rivers_smThe special few apparently believe that they are protected from regional water degradation. Earthworks, filtration, labs to monitor fecal pathogens, gestures toward environmental law enforcement—this infrastructure sustains an unequal, exclusionary and paranoid security logic: urban elites wall themselves off within zones deemed free of toxins and criminals and wall out the masses who are left to struggle, to effect real change, to invent and extend sustainable habitat—or merely to withstand and survive. Although well-funded materialized illusions  may make it seem so, islands are not separate.  Rain, mist, subterranean fossil water, cycles, tides, and surges—water brings back whatever we give.

The image of Olympian athletes skimming along the murky surface, intermingling with the city’s disgusting outpourings warns of a dangerously unhealthy situation requiring either sure action or speedy retreat. Surely, the catastrophic air pollution in the 2008 Beijing Olympics was a clue: the environment cannot be ignored. Who knows? Out of pure pragmatism, the International Olympic Committee could actually transform itself into a global engine for start-up urban environmental sustainability projects that could lead to larger projects after the Olympians have gone home (like Bahia Azul, a project that cleaned up the Bay of All Saints in Salvador). Political will and imagination is what is needed here, installing a few RTUs simply won’t cut it.

How planning in NYC has fared under Bloomberg

In this blog entry, Scott Larson, author of “Building Like Moses with Jacobs in Mind,” reflects on the state of Michael Bloomberg’s New York this Mayoral election year.

In November residents of New York City will go to the polls to elect a mayor not named Michael Bloomberg for the first time in 12 years.

Already some New Yorkers are taking the opportunity to reflect on what they see as the successful aspects of the Mayor’s three terms in office. They point to a drop in crime, the expansion of the city’s network of parks and public spaces, as well as initiatives aimed at expanding public transportation and bike use, greening city streets and encouraging healthier lifestyles. Others tout the transformation of wholesale city neighborhoods, focusing on the redevelopment of the city’s waterfront and old industrial neighborhoods and the revitalization of its real estate market. Like the Mayor, they celebrate what they see as New York City’s ascension to the forefront of an elite network of global cities.

But in doing so they are overlooking a number of disturbing trends. According to the administration’s own analysis, between 2009 and 2011 the number of residents with incomes less than 150 percent of the official poverty threshold grew 2 percent, to 46 percent of all city inhabitants. That means that in 2011, a family of four could earn as much as $46,416 and still struggle to make ends meet.  In addition the number of New Yorkers actually living in poverty increased almost 4 percent– from 19.8 percent in 2007 to 23.6 percent in 2011. Especially hard hit were Hispanics, Asian working families and recent immigrants. That these increases occurred at a time when unemployment rates were at five-year lows only underscores the troubling dynamics at work: a slow and incomplete recovery from the financial crisis/recession of 2008 and a dearth of jobs offering a living wage even as federal benefits programs designed to keep many Americans from slipping into the ranks of the poor face determined political fire from the conservative right.

All of which begs an obvious question: can a city in which almost one half of all residents live at or near poverty level really be considered successful?

By virtually any measure whoever succeeds Bloomberg as mayor will inherit a city of increasingly divergent realities. On one side are the wealthy, largely white and well connected. On the other side stand the growing ranks of the un- and underemployed, often people of color, left to make do at the ever-shrinking margins.

Building Like Moses_110512_smAs I argue in “Building Like Moses with Jacobs in Mind,” this fragmentation should come as no surprise. For more than a decade the Mayor and his administration have pursued planning and land-use strategies designed to remake the city along class, and by extension racial, lines. From Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards to the East River waterfront in Queens and Manhattan’s Manhattanville, corporate subsidies, tax breaks, threats of eminent domain and zoning changes have been used to displace poorer residents and clear working class neighborhoods in favor of private redevelopment schemes and city-shaping, capital-attracting design projects. Developers and designers might relish this return of the master plan, especially since under the Bloomberg administration they’ve been given the reigns for reimagining the city in the 21st century. But the result so far is a city increasingly hostile to anyone who doesn’t work in the “creative” economy and who can’t afford a luxury condo.

Whether any of the 11 mayoral candidates – seven Democrats, three Republicans and one Independent – recognizes the relationship between the planning policies that mark the Bloomberg era and the city’s growing class divide is unclear. So far remarkably little attention has been paid to their views on land use and urban planning. And that’s unfortunate because after 12 years of little more than lip service in regards to public participation, all New Yorkers deserve a serious conversation about their role in the process of shaping the city’s future.

Staging America’s First Contact with China

In this blog entry, John Haddad, author of America’s First Adventure in China, writes about The Empress of China, a play about an American voyage to China, that he saw in Hong Kong.

In 1784, the Empress of China sailed from Philadelphia to Canton, becoming the first American vessel to reach China.  This commercial voyage, undertaken mere weeks after the end of the Revolutionary War, marked the beginning of the Sino-U.S. relationship.  In 2011, the Hong Kong Reperatory Theater staged The Empress of China, a dramatic rendering of this historical journey.  The play was a big deal.  The Theater commissioned a production from Joanna Chan, a successful script writer and director of historical movies and television dramas.  In anticipation of the show, the city was festooned with banners and posters advertising the production.  After finishing its run in Hong Kong, it moved to New York for its American premiere.

Haddad_America's First Adventure_082112I was not only living in Hong Kong at this time, I was writing a book specifically about Americans in China – America’s First Adventure in China.  When I saw the performance, I had recently finished writing a chapter on the very same voyage.  I knew as much of the actual history as anyone, and was well-equipped to compare the play with the historical record.  You may think I am one of those historians who takes pleasure in pointing out the factual inaccuracies in historically-themed plays and films, but that is not my aim here.  I understand that Joanna Chan had to take liberties to ensure that her production appealed to today’s audience.  That said, I do think that a comparison is meaningful.

Though Chan mostly stuck to the historical record, she made two big additions.  First, there is a scene in which the Americans demonstrate fencing to the Chinese, and the Chinese teach the Americans about Kung-Fu.  The scene is thrilling, funny, and acrobatic…but it never happened.  Second, the play includes a forbidden romance between Samuel Shaw, a dashing American, and the lovely daughter of a Chinese merchant.  This also never happened.  Why do I point out these additions?  Trust me: my purpose is not to say either “you want history to be exciting, but I’m here to crush your hopes by informing you the past was dry” or “you want meaningful cultural exchange to have taken place, but the truth was neither side showed any curiosity in the other.”   Actually, deep personal relationships and cultural exchanges did really happen – they just did not happen during the very first Sino-American encounter.

In the 1800s, Americans in China formed close relationships with the Chinese and engineered meaningful exchanges of culture.  Examples are plentiful, but I’ll share just a couple.  In the 1820s, Nathan Dunn, a merchant from Philadelphia, forged friendships with Chinese merchants and government officials.  Why did they like him?  Along with being affable, Dunn opposed on moral grounds the opium traffic that was making his peers rich.  These friendships came in handy.  When Britain’s East India Company tried to force Dunn out of the China trade, his Chinese friends stood by him and protected his business.  These friends also appreciated Dunn’s fondness for Chinese art and culture – though “fondness” does not adequately capture the obsessive nature of Dunn’s collecting.  Mania is more like it.  With the help of Chinese friends, Dunn amassed thousands of artifacts, which he shipped to Philadelphia.  This massive collection became the first serious exhibition of Chinese culture in America.

Another example involves  Anson Burlingame, a former congressman from Massachusetts, as U.S. Minister to China appointed by Abraham Lincoln in 1860.  When Burlingame arrived in Beijing, China was in turmoil: the Qing Government had lost the First Opium War to England, was losing the Second Opium War, and was trying to quell a rebellion.  An ardent opponent of slavery, Burlingame saw China’s foreign affairs through the lens of America’s great debate over slavery.  Just as Southern whites unjustly used superior force to enslave blacks, so too did Britain use its superior military to bully the Chinese.  After befriending Chinese and European officials, Burlingame sought the unimaginable: to replace the West’s “gunboat diplomacy” with what he called the “Cooperative Policy.”  In a nutshell, the European powers and China would settle disputes not with warfare but rather by developing mutual trust, engaging in dialogue, and abiding by treaties.  Though the “Cooperative Policy” did not last, it did define Sino-Western relations during the 1860s.  As Burlingame prepared to return stateside in 1868, the Chinese fêted him with farewell banquets.  At one affair, they blindsided him with a remarkable request that shows the deepness of their trust.  Would Burlingame agree to represent China’s interests in Europe and America?  Burlingame agreed, was given an official Chinese rank, and embarked on an amazing diplomatic odyssey.

I will close by making one last observation about The Empress of China.  That the play exists at all shows that we in the twenty-first century are highly interested in – or concerned about – U.S-China relations.  Yet Chan’s additions suggest something else.  Our desire for this relationship to be about friendship, trust, and cultural exchange is so strong as to compel us to project these things onto the past.  But do we in the present really need to enhance the past so it can offer hope for the future?  If we look not at this single voyage but at the first 100 years of Sino-American interaction, we see much to encourage us.

A Q&A with Vice Presidential candidate Judge James P. Gray, author of Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It

As election season heats up, Judge James  P. Gray, author of Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It took some time out of his campaigning to answer questions about running for Vice President of the United Staes on the Libertarian Party ticket.

What prompted you to run for Vice President on the Libertarian Party ticket with nominee Gary Johnson? 

Based upon his stature, courage, and accomplishments as a two-term governor of New Mexico, for a long time I had been calling Governor Gary Johnson the most qualified person to be president that I knew of.  So when he asked me to be his running mate, what was I supposed to say?

What can your running mate do to help the country and what will you do to help him achieve that goal?

Our country is in serious trouble on numerous fronts.  Taking just three of them: the economy, jobs and education.  President Obama and Senator Romney are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on TV ads, and not talking about their records – because they can’t – nor about their ideas – because they almost literally don’t have any – but instead spending all this money showing how inept the other one is – and we agree with both of them!  Today of every dollar the federal government is spending, we are borrowing 43 cents!  That is simply not tenable!  We will submit a balanced budget to Congress in 2013.  This so-called radical budget of Paul Ryan will not balance the budget for 28 years.  We will conduct an audit of the entire federal government, and reduce spending on programs and agencies that are not giving value for our tax dollar.  Similarly, we will repeal the income tax, which will make our products – both manufactured and agricultural – more competitive with other goods around the world.  With that result, companies will bring their manufacturing back to the United States.  In effect we will have a reverse outsourcing of jobs.  Regarding education, we will empower parents to control where the government’s money is spent on the education of their children.  As such, they will demand excellence.   This program is now working famously well in Milwaukee and New Orleans, and it will work in the rest of the country under the leadership of Governor Gary Johnson as well.

Your platform involves balancing the budget, rethinking education, extending civil liberties, developing a plan for legal immigration, reforming health care, and environmental protection issues. How do you feel your approach to these issues differs from the other candidates?

In so many ways, like set forth above, Romney and Obama are the same.  We come at Obama from the left, because we would repeal the so-called Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, and the pattern of flying drones over our towns and cities to monitor citizens without a judicial warrant.  And we come at Romney from the right, because we really would reduce the size, cost and intrusion of the federal government.   The choice between Romney and Obama, on the one hand, and Governor Gary Johnson on the other, is stark.

One of your major platforms is reforming drug laws, which was the subject of your Temple University Press book, Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed…. How have drug laws been less effective in the time since your book was published?

When I first published my book in 2001 I was convinced that we would change our failed and hopeless policy of Drug Prohibition if only we could legitimize the discussion, and that my book would contribute to that discussion.  Honestly I believe that the book has, but today in 2012 we are in a much worse position than we were 11 years ago: more drugs in our communities, more people in prison, more deaths from the drug violence, more deaths from lack of quality control, and on and on.  There is simply no question that eventually we will come to our senses and hold adults accountable for their actions, but stop attempting to hold them accountable for what they put into their bodies.  But until that day, we will continue to make the situations worse at all levels of our lives.

How do you feel your work as a Superior Court Judge from Orange County qualifies you as a Vice Presidential candidate?

Honestly, there is no doubt in my mind that I am more qualified than any other of the candidates for Vice President.  I will be the first person to be elected to national office who was a Peace Corps Volunteer.  I am the only one of the six of us running for president or vice president who has served in the military.  And I am the only one who has been a federal prosecutor and a judge for 25 years.  Similarly, Governor Gary Johnson has more administrative experience than both Obama and Romney combined.  We are the most qualified team by far, and it is frustrating that, so far, we could not even be a part of the debates.

You and Gary Johnson are on the ballot in 47 states and the District of Columbia. How/where will you get media coverage over the next month leading up to the election?

Getting coverage from the mainstream media is one of the most difficult parts of our campaign.  Why is hard to figure out.  But it is best illustrated by the time in about September when Jessie Ventura was being interviewed live on CNN when he endorsed Governor Gary Johnson for President.  When CNN put the interview on its website, they deleted the endorsement.  But slowly we are making progress, and if people demand that we get coverage, we are sure eventually it will happen.

Will you be touring America? Where can people see/meet you and/or Gary Johnson?

Governor Johnson and I continue to travel our country in this campaign.  Everywhere.  People can track us through our website, which is

You and Gary Johnson are challenging the Republican/Democrat Status Quo. What disappoints you about Republican/Democrat discourse?

As Libertarians we believe in honest competition.  That is what frustrates us the most about the Republicans and Democrats, because they don’t.  For example, the Republicans have traveled all around the country challenging our qualifications to be on the ballots.  So far we have successfully repelled their challenges, except in the State of Michigan.  And overall it is the voters and the country that will suffer for this action. 

What would we do in office?

We would balance our budget, because a weak economy is the biggest threat to our security.  We would repeal the income tax and bring back millions of jobs to our country, as stated above, we would keep our loyal troops out of military conflicts unless our genuine national interests and security were to be threatened, and we would repeal these threats by our own government to our freedoms and our liberties.  We care about our great country, and will reverse the process of prosperity, equal opportunity and freedom slipping from our grasp.  The alternative is to give up, and that will simply never happen!

Asking how and why industrial hazards persist

In this blog entry, Dangerous Trade co-editor Christopher Sellers discusses industrial dangers, past and present, and how people have sought to discover and correct these hazards.

Over the past few months, a burst of stories have made headlines in the New York Times and elsewhere about dangers of what we buy and use have posed to those in foreign lands. First came a harrowing report last December about what was happening to car batteries that Americans had used up and discarded.  A growing business has emerged of shipping these batteries to Mexico, where around disassembly plants, lead has been steadily escaping into the air and soil, to poison neighborhood children. Then came the coverage of China’s Foxconn, manufacturer of Apple’s i-pad.  We learned that this latest, dazzling digital wonder, brought to us by one of America’s most respected and successful firms, had come with a cost none of us knew about or had bargained for.  Workers in China had paid, instead, with lengthy work-days, exploitative and sometimes toxic working conditions, and distress that could reportedly turn suicidal. 

Scientists and scholars who have followed these industrial dangers for years have to applaud the media’s new in the distant hazards imposed by our own consumer purchases.  The rising awareness suggests the prospect that, finally, more effective ways of mobilizing and intervening against them may arise.  Those of us who have followed this kind of issue, and sought to dig up its history, have to conclude that these sporadic reports offer only a visible tip of what is likely a global iceberg.  International studies suggest that occupational diseases alone kill more throughout the world than malaria.  These numbers do not include the many additional casualties from contaminants in the air, water, and soil.  With rebounding economic growth throughout the world, this toll is no doubt on the rise once again, especially in the developing world.

A starting point for understanding how and why these dangers continue to recur is to recognize that this problem is far from new.  Dangerous Trade: Histories of industrial hazard across a globalizing world, is the first book to take a genuinely global approach to their history, one that encompasses both the developing and the developed world.  

Dangerous Trade explores the contours of this kind of problem not only in our contemporary world, but historically, through the past century and more of what has been a long-standing trade in industry-derived dangers.  In every period when international trade has picked up, the most hazardous industries have tended to cross national boundaries, to gravitate to where regulation and awareness of the attendant hazards remain less.  Looking at examples from colonial Malaysia’s mining industries to the extraction of oil in Mexico, this book’s essays offer rigorously documented accounts of just why and how these dangerous industries arose where they did, and the ways in which locals strove to cope with them.  As these essays make clear, the ways and means by which dangerous activities travel has nevertheless been shifting over the last century. As technology has changed, nations especially in the developed world have come up with new and more effective ways of recognizing and correcting the worst hazards.  The result, however, is hardly one of unadulterated progress. Instead, these hazards endure, if in changing and ever more wily ways. They get shipped elsewhere, where the companies that rely on them, and the consumers who give these companies their business, can once more put their dangers out of mind.  Hence, the resurgence of poisonings from lead, perhaps the longest known and most studied of industrial hazards, but still sickening workers and children from Uruguay to Mexico in our contemporary world.  

This collection constitutes a first effort to ask how and why these problems have persisted, even decades after new efforts have arisen around the globe successfully to identify and address them. A central concern of the collection, as well, is to generalize cross-nationally, about the evolving repertoire through which people in different times and places have sought to discover and correct these dangers, once they arise.  From the early health departments to worker compensation laws of the early twentieth century, to the environmental legislation starting in the sixties and seventies, to latter day campaigns to ban a dangerous substance like asbestos, the tools and targets of those who would ameliorate these dangers have constituted a work in progress.   Often it is precisely the loopholes in an earlier system of control that make a later one necessary.  But a key theme as well is that amelioration has not been a given even once the hazards became unmistakable to the experts and officials in charge.  Expert activism was often important in calling attention to new hazards, but as if not more important in stirring real change was the mobilization of the inexpert.  From the workers in Mexican oil fields to the environmental agitators in late twentieth century France and Uruguay, those who were themselves the victims of these exposures also had to mobilize, to marshal the available political tools to induce governments as well as scientists to consider their problems. 

If these histories suggest just how persistent industrial hazards like lead or asbestos can be, together they also offer many grounds for hope.  Not just failures but success stories abound here, of mobilizations fighting asbestos and lead battery-burning and pesticides and liquefied natural gas facilities. In addition to elucidating these problems’ persistence, these essays thereby offer an abundance of models that may inspire today’s practitioners, activists, policy-makers, and citizens, and on which they may build.

Continuing the argument about why we need to repeal our failed drug laws

Judge James P. Gray

In this blog entry, author Judge James P. Gray makes a case that our drug laws are not working. He explains why–and why he updated his book Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do about It: A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs.

On April 8, 1992 I did something quite unusual for a sitting trial court judge: I held a press conference and announced my conclusions as publicly as I could, both as a judge and former federal prosecutor, that our great nation’s policy of Drug Prohibition was not working – and would never work. 

Since that time the situation has demonstrably only gotten worse. Eventually I became so frustrated about the amount of evidence mandating a change away from this failed policy that I organized my thoughts and wrote a book entitled Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do about It: A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs.

The first half of the book is intended to make people angry at all of the unnecessary problems we have inflicted upon ourselves and the rest of the world because of the policy of Drug Prohibition.  But the second half of the book was intended to give people hope, because it outlines many of the options we have to that failed policy. In fact, many of those options have been proven to be successful both by our own experience and that of other countries.  In many ways, the response to the book was gratifying because it helped to initiate and perpetuate a full, open and honest discussion about this critically important area.

But now the situation is much worse even than when the book was originally published.  So at the request of my publisher and numbers of others, I have written an updated second edition that traces many of the developments of the last ten years. 

Many of these developments have been predictably disastrous, like the fact that our country still leads the world in the incarceration of its people; that tens of  thousands of people, including many children and other innocent bystanders, have been killed in Mexico and elsewhere not because of drugs, but because of drug money; that the continued obscene profits made by juvenile street gangs and adult gangs like the Hell’s Angels, Mexican drug cartels and other thugs are solely facilitated by the continuation of Drug Prohibition; and that all of these illicit drugs are easier to be obtained by children – if they want to – than it is for them to get alcohol, expressly because the illicit dealers don’t ask for I.D. 

But there have also been some definite signs that people in our country and all around the world are beginning to understand the cause and effect of what is happening.  This realization, along with the fact that many of the options used by some other nations like Portugal and Switzerland are working far better than ours, are evidence that we will see some material and positive changes in the not-so-distant future.

Personally I believe that helping us change away from the failed policy of Drug Prohibition is the most patriotic thing I can do for the country I love.  Further, the most effective way of achieving that goal is to let people know that it is all right to discuss drug policy, and that just because we discuss the fact that we have options to our present failed policy does not mean that we condone the use of any of these drugs.  Please join me in this important effort, and I hope that this new edition of Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed will assist all of us in providing a foundation for that positive change.

Defining the identity of “Second Cities” — explicitly in opposition with global cities

Jerome Hodos, author of Second Cities: Globalization and Local Politics in Manchester and Philadelphia uses the example of Barcelona to define what a “Second City” is, and how they operate in the global world.

Second Cities compares how Philadelphia and Manchester have dealt with globalization over the past two centuries. An important question that people often have about the book is whether one can generalize from the experience of these two places to other cities. What does the book have to tell us about the rest of the world?

Let me pursue this by talking about Barcelona, where I happen to be this spring starting a new research project. It’s an exciting city to be in, about the same size as Philadelphia and with a stunning variety of museums, lectures, and concerts – not to mention FC Barcelona and the buildings of Antoni Gaudi. Moreover, Barcelona has been widely acclaimed as one of the most successful cities of the past thirty years – exemplified above all by the 1992 Olympics, which served as a sort of “coming out” party for Barcelona, and for Spain, in the wake of the country’s late-1970s democratic transition. 

Barcelona was the first Spanish city to industrialize, developing a large cotton textile sector from the early 19th century onward; the neighborhood of Poble Nou was even known as the “Catalan Manchester.” As was the case in both Manchester and Philadelphia, the city diversified into other industries, like machining, and also failed for most of its history to develop a significant financial sector. In the 1950s and 1960s, the city became home to a large automobile industry, and more recently has witnessed expansion of higher education, design, and tourism. Of course, the city has repeatedly invested in transport projects to support its economic growth. It had the first railway in Spain, opened in 1848, and is currently building a high-speed rail line to connect directly to the French TGV system. It systematically redeveloped the port and waterfront in the 1980s in preparation for the Olympics.

All the while the city absorbed a steady stream of migrants, particularly tens of thousands from the southern region of Andalusia. Because these migrants were from a region long considered different and didn’t speak Catalan, the local language, domestic migration to Barcelona took place across a language barrier that functioned similarly to the religious and racial differences between natives and domestic migrants in Philadelphia and Manchester. Today, the city’s population is about 20% foreign-born, including large numbers of Italians, Pakistanis, Dominicans, Ecuadorians, Bolivians, Japanese and Chinese.

Throughout its history, the city has cultivated an identity as European and cosmopolitan rather than Spanish, and has defined itself explicitly in opposition to Madrid, the national capital (just as Manchester and Philadelphia have done with respect to London and New York). It has displayed this identity in three gigantic international events that gave the city a world stage: the world expositions of 1888 and 1929, and the 1992 Olympics. This identity has relied on the city’s 800-year history as the center of a Catalan region that either was independent (and at one time ruled a vast Mediterranean empire stretching as far as Athens), or that chafed under Castilian domination. In fact, the city revolted at least three times against central power, in the 1640s, 1705-14, and the 1930s.

From the Renaixença of the 1860s forward, the city has nurtured several generations of literary nationalists, wedded to the idea that the Catalan culture and nation were distinctive and ought to be protected and promoted. Some of this cultural production was directed at “high culture” efforts, via the literary, architectural and artistic groups centered on the Jocs Florals and Els Quatre Gats, including Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso. But much of it focused squarely on the promotion of Catalan culture and identity, as in the work of Enric Prat de la Riba or Pompeu Fabra. This cultural nationalism was made concrete in a variety of attempts to bolster Barcelona’s autonomy. For example, in the 1890s, nationalist lawyers and writers formed the Lliga Regionalista political party. Today, there is even in Barcelona an official regional government “Institute for Autonomous Studies” that funds and publishes comparative investigations of political institutions in other countries that guarantee regional autonomy. Perhaps most important of all, these politicians and intellectuals codified the Catalan language and promoted it as the region’s mother tongue.

Barcelona, then, vividly exhibits the major characteristics of the second city.

There is of course no guarantee of how widely the characteristics defined in the book can be applied, but I would suggest that perhaps 150 cities around the world might exhibit this complex of features, from Bangalore to Lyon, Monterrey to Turin. Like Manchester, Philadelphia, and Barcelona, they are all diverse, thriving centers of large metropolitan regions with several million residents each. Though the book only focuses on two cities, it contains insights that can speak to many, many more.


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