Home > Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Dystopia, Links, Skepticism > Interesting Links: June 25, 2015

Interesting Links: June 25, 2015

Here are links to some interesting news articles that I came across today. They are mostly about the continued decay of living standards for everyone but the super rich and their flunkies.

Link 1: Buying a car could soon be a thing of the past, and Ford is desperate to find what’s next

Ford last month sent letters to 14,000 of its American drivers with an unusual suggestion: For extra cash, they could rent their cars to fellow urbanites wanting a cheap ride. America’s second-biggest auto giant wouldn’t directly sell any additional cars or trucks off the arrangement; it wouldn’t even take a cut. But it would put Ford closer to the front of a movement in which cars are shared, ignored or Uber-ed — not bought. The “peer-to-peer” rental experiment is only the latest weird move for America’s auto powerhouse, maker of the F-150 and Model T. Last month, Ford launched a pay-as-you-go network of shareable, on-demand cars in London, called GoDrive.

The car-sharing program, running now through November, will cover cars, trucks and SUVs in six of America’s younger cities: Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Portland, Chicago and Washington. The Ford-financed vehicles are rented to pre-screened drivers through Getaround, an Airbnb for cars, for anywhere between $5 and $9 an hour. Getaround takes a 40 percent cut, but Ford gets a few perks, too: The car owners get more money to pay off loans, and the renters take a test drive that could persuade them to buy a Ford, if they ever buy a car at all.

Link 2: Jailed for Being Broke

A little over a week ago, a 23-year-old construction worker in the Bronx named Jeff Rivera got in an argument with his wife, from whom he is separated. During the argument, he struck her door, pushing in the screen. Rivera was arrested and brought to court, where he was charged with criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, for pushing in the screen door. Though the sentence for being convicted of a misdemeanor offense like criminal mischief is hard to predict, the more immediate question for Rivera was whether or not he’d be jailed before trial. Rivera had no reason to expect that he’d have to post bail to stay out of jail. Not only was the offense relatively minor, but he has no criminal history, is employed, and has a child and every reason in the world to show up for his trial. Judges are only supposed to set bail for two main reasons: if the defendant is a flight risk, or if he or she is a danger to the community.

“Bail is for guaranteeing that a person appears at trial. It’s not a punishment,” says Rivera’s lawyer, Alexandra Bonacarti of New York County Defender Services. “There’s absolutely no reason to set bail on someone like Jeff who has a job, a child, no criminal history, no history of missing a court date, and is not charged with a violent crime.” But Rivera was unlucky. He went to court and stood before a judge who decided to set bail of $500 in his case. Rivera didn’t have the money, which means he’d essentially committed two crimes, the second more serious than the first: he’d pushed in a screen door, and he didn’t have $500.

What people forget is that those who’ve merely been charged with crimes aren’t officially guilty yet. And not-yet-guilty people aren’t supposed to go to the hole, except under very narrowly defined sets of circumstances – for flight risks or for threats to the community. It’s certainly not supposed to be a punishment for not having $500. But it works out differently in practice. In the era of “Broken Windows” and community policing, a crime-prevention strategy designed to generate vast numbers of minor arrests, more and more people are ending up in jail for what amounts to the crime of not having money. The bail issue is only just starting to get some profile in the press, which of course has focused quite a lot on criminal justice and inequality issues in the last year.

Link 3: Bryan Stevenson on Charleston and Our Real Problem with Race

The whole narrative of white supremacy was created during the era of slavery. It was a necessary theory to make white Christian people feel comfortable with their ownership of other human beings. And we created a narrative of racial difference in this country to sustain slavery, and even people who didn’t own slaves bought into that narrative, including people in the North. It was New York’s governor — in the 1860s — that was talking about the inferiority of the black person even as he was opposed to slavery. So this narrative of racial difference has done really destructive things in our society. Lots of countries had slaves, but they were mostly societies with slaves. We became something different, we became a slave society. We created a narrative of racial difference to maintain slavery. And our 13th amendment never dealt with that narrative. It didn’t talk about white supremacy. The Emancipation Proclamation doesn’t discuss the ideology of white supremacy or the narrative of racial difference, so I don’t believe slavery ended in 1865, I believe it just evolved. It turned into decades of racial hierarchy that was violently enforced — from the end of reconstruction until WWII — through acts of racial terror. And in the north, that was tolerated.

And even moving closer to the present day, even the era of the civil rights movement — in my judgment — has been recast as moments where great heroism and courage took place that we can all celebrate. Everybody gets to celebrate the courage that it took to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge, everybody gets to celebrate the march on Washington, everybody gets to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King and Rosa Parks, and no one is accountable for all of the resistance to civil rights, all of the damage that was done by segregation. I hear people talking about the civil rights movement and it sounds like a three-day carnival. Day One: Rosa Parks gave up her seat on the bus. Day Two: Dr. King led a march on Washington, and Day Three: we just changed all these laws. And we tell our history as if it’s the true history when in fact that’s not the true history. The true history is that for decades, we humiliated black people in this country every day. For decades we did not let them vote, we did not let them get full education, we did not let them work for pay, we did not let them live as full human beings with dignity and hopefulness, we denied all of these basic opportunities to African Americans, and we’ve never really talked about the consequences of that era of apartheid and segregation.

When did the narrative of racial difference end? What date did people fully embrace and accept, internalize, act on, believe that there is no difference between races? When did that happen? It did not happen when the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 because every state in the South has been fighting it until the present day. It did not happen in the 1970s when people were violently resisting the idea of integration in schools. It did not happen in the 1980s when some people were suggesting that there ought to be affirmative action for people who have been denied historic opportunities. It did not happen in the 1990s when we saw police violence being directed at blacks like Rodney King, and saw the rate of attacks on young men of color increase and we constructed this whole apparatus of mass incarceration that has targeted and menaced black and brown people in ways that are epidemic. It didn’t happen at the beginning of this 21st century when for the first time, one in three black males born in this country were destined for jail or prison because we think that your race makes you presumptively dangerous and guilty. So what date did it happen?

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