Whose Back Does Sandy’s Aftermath Sit On?
There are many articles and news spots portraying and, in a few cases, magnifying the impact of income inequality in light of Hurricane Sandy’s demolition job on the east coast. I do very readily applaud NYC Mayor Bloomberg for his decision in cancelling the New York City Marathon, however, Bloomberg was the last of his own administration to jump on board with the idea. The New York Times ran an article today pointing out the hardships endured by those in the lower income bracket.
From the article:
The mayor, virtually alone in saying the race should go on, finally relented and canceled it after a conversation with Mary Wittenberg, the marathon director, late Friday. “This isn’t the year or the time to run it,” she said.
Bloomberg, who has advocated (quite well I might add) for the presidential candidates to acknowledge climate change, needs to re-examine the issues facing his own city too. Were it not for a nearly unanimous call for the cancellation of the marathon, Bloomberg would have had the race go on as usual to “portray” an image that New Yorkers are ever so resilient (which they truly are) and everything is back to business-as-usual. Things are not, however, back to normal nor will they be any time soon. Michelle Chen wrote an excellent piece that appeared on Truthout.org revealing many of the inequality issues that New Yorkers are facing. Chen writes:
Though some bus and subway service is returning, many neighborhoods dependent on public transportation remain functionally shuttered. Not surprisingly, recent surveys show that Metropolitan Transit Authority ridership consists mostly of people of color, nearly half living on less than $50,000 a year in one of the world’s most expensive cities.
So who lifts up the storm-ravaged east coast and builds it up again? Who are the people that will rebuild and repair the mess? Chen again states it perfectly:
In the immediate aftermath, however, recovery work–from restoring electricity to rebuilding homes–will be grueling, hazardous and handled by unions that often come under political and economic siege. As Jamilah King points out at Colorlines.com, workers in the city’s transit union, long a bulwark of black and Latino labor (and of militant public-sector organizing) will lead the repair of a city whose politicians have been steadily eroding theirworking conditions and benefits.
Much like the military, it will be upon the backs of the lower income citizens to build up what has been destroyed. Our elites will sit in the ivory towers criticizing the union workers that are rebuilding the nation. Maybe it’s time that the privileged step down from their thrown and get those soft, clean hands dirty and do the real job of nation building – right here in the United States.