Unlike the robber barons of old, today’s gang doesn’t build railroads or operate steel mills. The current crop of capitalist speculators simply redirects public funds into their own pockets, often through bogus “development” schemes.
Bruce Ratner, one of the nation’s most powerful real estate developers, just purchased the NBA’s New Jersey Nets and plans to build a massive stadium complex which includes thousands of luxury high rise apartments, offices, and a mall in an inner-city Brooklyn neighborhood.
Ratner, supported by billionaire politicians and celebrities like Mayor Bloomberg and rap star Jay Z, wants to forcibly evict over 1,000 Brooklyn residents using “eminent domain” laws in order to build the complex.
Ratner claims that the development will include “affordable housing” and that it will bring jobs and revenue into the area. This is not to mention the cruel dangling of the dream of a professional sports career as a way to escape poverty. These are all lies. The “affordable” housing will be as limited as possible, and the rest will be luxury apartments, driving up rents in the area as a whole. As for jobs, Ratner claimed that two of his previous Brooklyn projects – Metrotech and the Atlantic Center – would reduce unemployment. However, the unemployment rate in one public housing project was 78% before these projects were built and it’s still 78% today.
Ratner Plays, Workers Pay
Private development schemes like these have allowed speculators like Ratner to gain control of public space, displacing working class communities, while the tax-payers are left to foot the bill.
Ratner’s stadium is estimated to cost at least $1.1 billion dollars in public funds. $28 million will go for tax breaks to Ratner and $150 million will go to relocate train tracks and build new roads, sewers, and utilities. To top it off, there will be a donation of 11 acres of public land worth $500 million! All these handouts of public funds are being planned without any type of public debate.
At the same time, the mayor and big business have cut city jobs, raised subway fares, and cut funds to libraries, parks, and schools, always singing the same old song: “We have a budget deficit. There is no money.” More lies.
The money exists to give tax breaks to the rich and go to war in Iraq, yet there is never enough money for education and healthcare. That’s the reality of capitalism: war abroad for profits and power, and war at home against our rights and living standards.
A fight-back against Bush, Bloomberg, and big business is long overdue. Let’s start by taking a stand against the rampaging corporate “development” agenda. Appealing to politicians will not defeat Ratner and Bloomberg. A campaign has already started, and Socialist Alternative in New York is involved. But the stakes are high, and powerful forces are lined up behind Ratner. That’s why we urgently need to organize a mass movement centered on the working class communities under attack to stop Ratner and his stadium!