Ever wonder where to find the Trump Tower? Then take this “Trump Walking Tour” with me, and learn even more

Meet at the southwest corner of 53rd Street and 6th Avenue, under the large statue across from the Hilton Hotel, the tour guide will be holding a “Social Justice Tours” sign.

That is what The Municipal Arts Society of New York website counsels, and indeed, Dan is there … Social Justice Tours being the non-profit he started three years ago, that is taking off quite nicely, nicely enough—thank you very much—to have its website hacked by someone with a Russian IP address. You might have a little trouble reaching them at socialjusticetours.com for at least the next week or so, until the volunteer IT guy gets things fixed.

But this much I could get from my web search “Social Justice Tours engages New Yorkers in critical dialogue by exposing injustice & highlighting inequality in an effort to encourage thought & inspire action.” So who better than to run a Jane’s Walk—the grassroots celebration of the famous urban activist Jane Jacobs—called Trump Walking Tour.

Sounds like the walking tour for me. Last week a tourist on 5th Avenue gingerly approached me in halting English to ask for directions to”Tower Trump?”, so maybe I should know a bit more about Trump’s New York than just simple directions when standing a half a block away from the famed (sometimes inflamed) building.

This is a tour about Trump history, not Trump presidency. Dan assures us that he has read four books about Donald Trump. We are going to stick to the facts about the man himself. But we also recognize that other agents—whether the shady underworld, the commercial banks, the criminal justice system, or failures of public policy—facilitated his rise: he is not just an individual.

His story shows us how the real estate industry has shaped New York into a billionaire’s city, in many ways trampling over the commoners, but not without observing some lessons about the importance of organizing and collectively fighting back against bullies and bulldozers.

This is a social justice tour after all.

“I have yet to have a Trump supporter on my tour.” The crowd of 16 New Yorkers cheers this opening line with approval, one proudly proclaiming “I’m a Never Trumper.” And we’re off.

Continue reading “Ever wonder where to find the Trump Tower? Then take this “Trump Walking Tour” with me, and learn even more”

#S17 is today, and reminds us of the price of inequality

The twitter hash tag is #S17, and using it will connect you to all those preparing for the first anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which of course is today, September 17th.

You will find tweets encouraging your participation: “If you feel that the world is on the right track, stay home. If you know things are bad, Join your local #OWS.”

Others will guide you on how to prepare, be it “Escaping from Zip Ties” or “How to pick your way out of handcuffs” (actually just the Smith and Weston model 100s).

But whatever your level of engagement, there is a message that this anniversary has for us all, a reminder of the real price of inequality.

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Understanding inequality and what to do about it

Inequality has been increasing in most countries, in part because top 1% are capturing a higher fraction of all earnings but also for other reasons. I made a presentation to the Occupied Ottawa conference “Take Back Democracy!” on June 2nd, 2012. The presentation explores three issues in search of intelligent conversation, and in order to accomplish something constructive: description, explanation, and prescription.

You can download it as a pdf here: Understanding inequality and what to do about it .

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“Canadian Inequality: Recent Development and Policy Options”

While inequality in Canada has increased over the course of the last three decades, the tax and transfer system can significantly reduce disparities in market incomes. But the political will to use the tax system may be limited, and public policy needs to address underlying labour market developments if it is to pursue an agenda of greater equality.

This is one of the major themes arising from a recently released discussion paper by a group of labour economists from the University of British Columbia: Nicole Fortin, David Green, Thomas Lemieux, Kevin Milligan, and Craig Riddell.

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Inequality and Occupy Wall Street 8: causes of growing inequality and policies to address it

This video of a panel discussion called “The Challenges of Growing Inequality” organized by the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University features a discussion by Lawerence Katz, a prominent labour economist. Katz speaks on the causes of inequality and offers advice to Occupiers on what should be done about it.

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Inequality and Occupy Wall Street 7: tax policy for occupiers

Perhaps a bit more politely than others in the mainstream media, but nonetheless pretty emphatically, the Ottawa Citizen columnist Joanne Chianello tells Occupiers that it’s time to leave, and she offers some advice:

“I don’t know what the answer is to the growing income gap. Unfortunately, neither do the people at Occupy Ottawa or Occupy Toronto or Occupy Vancouver. They could have contacted a lefty economist (yes, they exist) to help frame specific policy issues or demands, but they didn’t. Perhaps that’s the protest’s “stage two” we keep hearing about.”

Contact a lefty economist!

Well, if economists are going to be at the centre of “stage two” why don’t we forget about “lefty” or “righty”, and just consult the “best”?

Continue reading “Inequality and Occupy Wall Street 7: tax policy for occupiers”