Gentrification Here In America

For this post I want to talk about an issue that hits close to home for me. It deals with a concept some may not know the definition of or have heard of but don’t know what exactly it entails. I’m talking about gentrification.

The exact definition of gentrification from Brittanica Academic is:

the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanied by a wave of middle- or upper-class people moving into the area and displacing poorer residents

And what’s further:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report Health Effects of Gentrification defines the real estate concept of gentrification as “the transformation of neighborhoods from low value to high value. This change has the potential to cause displacement of long-time residents and businesses … when long-time or original neighborhood residents move from a gentrified area because of higher rents, mortgages, and property taxes. Gentrification is a housing, economic, and health issue that affects a community’s history and culture and reduces social capital. It often shifts a neighborhood’s characteristics, e.g., racial-ethnic composition and household income, by adding new stores and resources in previously run-down neighborhoods.

The possible negative effects of gentrification are, but not limited to:

Displacement through rent/price increases

Loss of affordable housing

Commercial/industrial displacement

Unsustainable property prices

Displacement and housing demand pressures on surrounding poor areas

Community resentment and conflict

Homelessness

Secondary psychological costs of displacement

Increased cost and charges to local services

Loss of social diversity (from socially disparate to rich ghettos)

Under occupancy and population loss to gentrified area


Loretta Lees, Tom Slater, and Elvin Wyly, Gentrification Reader, p. 196. © 2008 Routledge.; Rowland Atkinson and Gary Bridge, eds., Gentrification in a Global Context: the New Urban Colonialism, p. 5. © 2005 Routledge.

This an important concept in terms of income-inequality rights. Big investors may come to a “ran-down” neighborhood, start some huge new development to serve bourgeois interests, and then drive people out of their homes along with other negative impacts. And it hits close to home for me because it is affecting a special place for myself right here in Louisville, KY. Let me explain:

There is an area in Louisville called Germantown/Schnitzelburg (G/S) which is composed of a few adjoining neighborhoods where an enclave of German Catholics moved into soon after arriving from Europe. And this is where my family is from and where I spent a lot of my young adult/university days. But G/S shares a border with the trendy/hipster section of town, and they are beginning to run out of real estate. So, in response, they are currently gentrifying G/S and bringing all the negative effects in with it. They are running out good, hardworking people from their family homes by increasing rent/tax prices and renovating old warehouses into apartment buildings and transforming little family bars into hipster hangouts.

The repertoire of the capitalist/bourgeois machine effects can hit the people in many ways. Gentrification is one of them.

Yes, Ms. Burns, Let’s Tax the Hell Out of the Rich!

The headline reads above an article from the leftist publication “In These Times”, published on February 8th, 2019, by Rebecca Burns, “Tax the Hell Out of the Rich, When They’re Alive and When They’re Dead.” Without saying, I was already on-board.

What the article outlines is a comparison of the three proposed ways that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Sen. Bernie Sanders want to create a fairer tax system for the 99%. Here’s the rundown:

First Warren’s plan

…(A) 1 percent tax on the wealthiest 0.1 percent, or those with assets of over $20 million. Warren’s proposal would tax fewer people—those with more than $50 million in assets, an estimated 75,000 families—but she would bump up the rate to 2 percent. Households with more than $1 billion in assets would get a 3 percent rate.

Yet,

Where Warren’s proposal would probably be insufficient on its own is that it wouldn’t offer a particularly aggressive corrective to inequality over time. It would raise trillions for social programs, which is crucially important and would certainly have other beneficial political effects. But, as a result of the tax, the fabulously wealthy would be only slightly less fabulously so.

But right now, correcting the immense rate of economic inequality in American society is not going to fix itself with one tax plan. So, don’t get down, writer Rebecca Burns. That’s going to take something truly radical to happen (hint, hint).

Second, AOC’s plan as outlined in a “60 Minutes” interview,

“You look at our tax rates back in the ’60s and when you have a progressive tax rate system. Your tax rate, you know, let’s say, from zero to $75,000 may be ten percent or 15 percent, et cetera. But once you get to, like, the tippy tops—on your 10 millionth dollar—sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70 percent.”

But,

By even the most optimistic estimates, this would bring in only a quarter of the revenues Warren’s plan would generate.

So, once again, it will not cure the economic inequality in our society as Warren’s will neither. Yet, it is a starting point and one that may be more palatable to everyday-progressives.

And lastly, the Sander’s plan,

Bernie Sanders’ plan involves restoring top marginal tax rates on inheritances to where they were in the 1970s: 77 percent for estates over $1 billion.

The plan would also decrease the threshold for the inheritance tax from $11.18 million to $3.5 million and impose a 45 percent rate on this lower (but still very rich by any normal standard) tier. Even with this new threshold, just 0.2 percent of Americans would ever pay an estate tax. Thus, in the style of Occupy, the plan is called “For the 99.8 Percent Act.”

Yet,

Again, Sanders’ plan would probably raise less revenue than Warren’s: About $315 billion over a decade.

Then it continues,

But by taking aim at the ultra-rich as a class, it also singles out the kind of dynastic wealth that allows a few families to wreak havoc on our political system. Just three families with multi-generational wealth—the Waltons, the Kochs, and the Mars—have a combined fortune of $343 billion, more than 3.5 million times the median wealth of U.S. families. And they use that wealth to fund all manner of right-wing policies.

The Sanders plan makes the least revenue for the government and will not even come within seeing distance to the eradication of the exspanse of inequality in the United States. But it could be the most acceptable not only to progressives but even centrists if the argument is framed properly by Sanders.

What I am trying to do up above is, first and foremost, to educate everyone on the strides made by modern politicians (two of the three deeming themselves so-called “socialists”) towards income equality which would have been unimaginable 10 years ago. It’s almost amazing, when you really think about it.

Yet my main point comes out of the analysis of the Warren plan, namely, that her plan is the most effective regarding a shrinking of the income gap in this country, but it does not really even make a scratch. As Burns was writing above, “the fabulously wealthy would be only slightly less fabulously so.” That’s all. And this is the reason why we need real change in this nation. We need real radical leftists in power, not just democratic socialists, but real revolutionary thinkers. That is the only way to get any immediate help with the income gap in the U.S. and, later, around the world.

So, I am greatly impressed with the ITT article by Burns in that, first, it has a cool title and, secondly, she respects that even these so-called sweeping tax plans will not truly affect the disparity between the rich and the poor in this nation.

But it’s a start…now let us take advantage of it.