How A Capitalist Democracy Works

            The front page of the 8-28-22 Newark Advocate was a rare display of stories headlining American capitalism and democracy. Students of either ought to take note. Top headline story was “Intel shares tumble: Factory reboot fails to impress Wall Street” by Mark Williams for the Columbus Dispatch. Occupying the left single column was “Redistricting reform made bad maps. What’s next?” by Jessie Balmert for USA Today. Taking up the rest of the front page (with very large photo) is “‘Pick A Path’: Johnstown residents vote Tuesday on removal of council members” by the Advocate’s own Kent Mallett. Providing context or what was not written by these reporters, and appearing the same day online, was “Census Bureau: 3.8 million renters will likely be evicted in the next two months — why the rental crisis keeps getting worse” by Brian J. O’Connor for MoneyWise. Analysis quick and dirty synopsis of the articles shows the Intel story to be more of just that – the Intel story. Ground is already bought and being excavated (along with roads and infrastructure work). Questions remain about the viability of the production facility and whether or not it is “planned obsolescence”, which the Chips act (along with JobsOhio, public funding etc.) are subsidizing. All this is done in the name of “Jobs!”, which is not at all what the capitalist market (Wall Street) is about. ‘Pick A Path’ is American democracy as imagined and idealized. Fundamentally it is a recall of two small town government leaders (Mayor Chip Dutcher and Council President Marvin Block) in a recently designated city just a mile away from the borders of Intel-land. Of course it is about property values and future use based on the previous village history. Both Dutcher and Block stress their roots in the community which can be taken to mean they have owned their homes (and other local property) by choice, and the choice is Johnstown (aw shucks, you know us, we’re your neighbors). Both assume those voting will also own their own residence (if not more). “Redistricting reform made bad maps. What’s next?” certainly doesn’t answer the question. But it does give a play by play history of what made for bad maps and how the GOP mapmakers could thumb their noses at the Ohio Constitution and the Ohio Supreme court. Analysis finds the maps themselves, along with the article, to assume (along with the founding fathers) that voting is primarily for those who own property. The representative democracy voting districts are grounded in geography – property. “Census Bureau: 3.8 million renters will likely be evicted in the next two months — why the rental crisis keeps getting worse” gives context to the emphasis of property ownership and voting rights within contemporary Ohio. It is an article of statistics. “In the year before the pandemic, the country recorded a shortage of seven million affordable housing units for low-income renters, according to the Center for American Progress, creating a crisis that left just 37 affordable rental homes for every 100 low-income households looking to rent. And the homes that are available are often still out of reach. Rent rates are up nearly 25% since before the pandemic, with an increase of 15% in just the past 12 months, according to the real estate tracking service Zillow. Evictions are up, too, according to the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. In August, evictions were 52% above average in Tampa, 90% above average in Houston and 94% above average in Minneapolis-St. Paul.” The three years since have only aggravated the lack of availability of affordable housing. “The annual median household income for all renters in the U.S. is about $42,500, according to Zillow, 37% lower than the national median income of $67,500. As of early August, the Census Bureau reported that while 56% of renters had household incomes of less than $50,000, 24% of renters surveyed were paying more than $2,000 a month in rent. Nearly half of all renters — more than 30 million people — had been hit with rent hikes in the past 12 months, with 19% paying a monthly increase of $100 to $250, 7% paying $250 to $500 more and 4% needing to find another $500 a month to stay in their apartments.” Reading behind the lines of the Advocate’s front page stories one thing is overwhelmingly clear. Democracy in Ohio is reliant on and assumes property ownership. People who are without housing, as well as those in transition from one unit to another, cannot vote for their Ohio house and senate representatives, the very people who draw up the voting district maps.  In addition, they haven’t much say in the running of the municipality they find themselves in, be it Johnstown or Newark. Renters, along with those without housing, have little say in the distribution of services provided by the state, county or municipal government that collects taxes from them. In the end that tax money goes to subsidize corporate entities like Intel in order to assure “Jobs!” that provide the state, county and municipalities with more tax revenue. That’s how a capitalist democracy works.

Advertisement

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: