Coming soon to a town near you — Camden-ization

Corporations get bailouts. The poor get austerity.

Somebody send out the cadaver dogs to search for my midwinter optimism.

In the fall, at least, I was able to bike across the Ben Franklin  from Philly to take care of business. But after the first dusting of snow, the DRPA closed the bridge to walkers and cyclists, probably because they’re too lazy to sprinkle salt on the walkways, or they’re broke from funding too many multimillion-dollar projects unrelated to upkeep of the bridge.

But why stop at complaining about the bridge, which is run by corrupt hacks who control all the toll money? On the other side of the bridge is something worthy not only of complaint, but dread — meaning Camden, where almost half of the police force and a large number of firefighters were laid off this week.

Amazing. One of the poorest, most crime-ridden cities in America experiences a drastic reduction in safety personnel, and the state of New Jersey, run by Gov. Chris Christie, shrugs its shoulders.

My right-wing acquaintances are chuckling over this. Camden, they say, is full of shiftless, drug-addled “democrats” — a cute right-wing code word for black people. The democrats had it coming to them, for not providing enough of a tax base to prevent the layoffs. The cops and firefighters had it coming, for belonging to unions that demand good wages and benefits. The right-wingers’ solution? Let this vile little town of 79,000 rot to the point where the state can send in bulldozers and replace it with a giant parking lot.

Right-wingers see the Camden cutbacks as “austerity measures” forced by the country’s ongoing fiscal crisis. Never mind that the crisis was caused by Wall Street banks and monster corporations whose reckless business practices destroyed millions of jobs. That both major political parties responded to the crisis by bailing out the monsters instead of funding jobs programs that might have sparked a genuine recovery. That the monsters, now fully recovered, are continuing to help send American jobs to China, India and even the Caribbean. (Ask your Comcast operator where she’s based the next time you phone for service.)

As Robert Reich noted yesterday, “The United States doesn’t have a national economic strategy. Instead, we have global corporations that happen to be headquartered here.” His implicit point was that we don’t have a national strategy because it wouldn’t be in the interest of the corporations.

Many non-rich right-wingers refuse to make this leap of logic. They’d rather blame the poor, or the cops, firefighters and teachers than admit that corporations have taken over the political process. And that, consequently, the income gap between the rich and everyone else is wider now than at any time since the 1930s. To do so would be to admit that what’s happened to Camden is happening, more slowly but just as inexorably, to their hometowns, too.

This entry was posted in Camden, Delaware River Port Authority, economic collapse, globalization, Great Recession, livable cities, mainstream media, NJ, Philadelphia, Politics, taxes, Wall Street, world-wide economy and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Coming soon to a town near you — Camden-ization

  1. Dan Henry says:

    The rest of the world is catching up to us. After world war 2,Europe was in ruins and the rest of the world for the most part were third world countries. The United States being a kind and generous nation helped rebuild Europe and Japan and gave a helping hand to poorer nations thruout the world. My whole life all I heard was give what you can to the poor countries and pray that they can have a good life like ours. Now that china,India, brazil etc. are improving their way of life liberals want to protect our jobs. Unemployment for people with a degree is 5 percent,still to high but not bad in this economy. Alot of the manufacturing jobs that went over seas caused enviormental problems and the liberals don’t want any of that, so let the rest of the world have the smog and dirty rivers. You cannot compete with the rest of the world today with out an education. Look at our public school system its a disgrace. There should be no such thing as a bad school. The liberal agenda has created a permanent under class in this country. We have to ween them off the dole and make them productive citizens. The corporations didn’t destroy millions of jobs they just moved them. Its a globel economy we have to compete now get used to it. Dave i’m sure you have a few pagan babies named after you, don’t you want them to have a nice life.


  2. oddmanout215 says:

    How do we wean people off the dole if goods jobs are moved overseas? (“Moved” and “destroyed” mean the same thing in this context.) These jobs will never be replaced, regardless of education improvements. (BTW, the percentage of unemployed college-educated Americans is much higher than the “official” five percent, and incomes of employed college grads are rapidly declining.) American-based corporations wouldn’t be allowed to outsource if our political system wasn’t so corrupt. How much outsourcing do you think German corporations do? How much of Germany’s manufacturing base has been moved outside Germany? Hardly any, because Germany and other enlightened democracies have governments for the people… I don’t object to my pagan babies doing well. I object to rich corporate scum arranging for them to do well at the expense of Americans, in order to enrich themselves even further.


  3. Dan Henry says:

    Let me enlighten you. German companies account for more than 650,000 jobs in the united states.The value of their US investments was estimated at 218 billion dollars at the end of 2009. Only British and japanese companies create more jobs. the fact that sales figures for German businesses in the US have risen some 66 percent in 2010 can primarily be attributed to the manufacturing and renewal energy sectors. And this from one of the enlightened germans Hans Grandin president of machine constructor Komet USA a German company says German firms in theUS aren’t just betting on stimulus money. Instead, they’er planning to profit from the countrys secure business environment with its clear laws and regulations. But of course your right and hes just a German corporate scumbag. Its a global economy what don’t you get. The Germans don’t think were corrupt why do you.


  4. oddmanout215 says:

    The information you cribbed from Export.By doesn’t change the facts. Germany’s unemployment figures are lower than ours, even in a recession, because it still makes things and has a good balance of trade. It did not let big business destroy its manufacturing base or its social safety net. Its companies have foreign branches, but not at the expense of the German people. European countries, at least so far, don’t pretend the prosperity of their corporations is the same thing as the prosperity of their people, or that a global economy necessarily means poor wages and benefits at home. Only in the U.S., where politicians are in bed with CEOS and bankers, are such lies told with a straight face… I doubt if Grandin is scum. It depends on the extent to which he screws his own workers in order to line his own pockets… What’s more interesting is why a guy who enjoyed a secure job and great benefits because of a good union is defending the scum who are destroying everything from which he benefited.


  5. Dan Henry says:

    There are scum bags on both sides of the fence. I belonged to one of the most corrupt unions in the country and my job was anything but secure. You seem to lump all corporations as bad guys and unions as the working mans friend. After spending over 30 years in the union I can tell you i’ve been screwed more by my union then I was by any company I worked for. Germanys unemployment rate is 7 percent. The population is 80,000,000 million. Our population is 4 times that and our economy is the biggest in the world. You can’t compare apples and oranges.


  6. oddmanout215 says:

    I don’t disagree — union leaders are often scum. I was in a corrupt union. It was better than NO union, and it has since been cleaned up. When there’s no union, the owners simply say, “By the way, you’re out of here. We’re going to make the guy next to you work TWO jobs.” You’re a lot less likely to last 30 years or so at a job with good salary and benefits, as you did, without a union… As for unemployment — we’re talking about rates, not population figures. Germany’s rate is about 7 percent. Ours is “officially” 9.4 percent and, in reality, more than twice that amount. More important than the numbers is that Germany has a social safety net — universal health insurance, etc. – for the unemployed and we don’t. But we’re off topic… Working people in America and to a lesser extent in Europe are suffering because of a financial crisis that wouldn’t have happened if regulation of U.S. corporations hadn’t been abolished as the federal government was being corrupted by big business, from the 1970s to the present. The bad guys are only as bad as government allows them to be.


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