Reckoning with What is Owed — and What Can Never be Repaid — for Racial Privilege

Nietzsche’s “guilt”, whiteness, and what the real cost is to live in the land of another | Oh, and the difference between freedom and liberty

[I once feared buying a house because I didn’t want to be owned. I had saved money with no purpose in mind other than the freedom to do whatever I wanted. Now I’m bound to this house, though I’m still free to lose it if I choose. But that isn’t the version of freedom that interests me at the moment. I’m more compelled by a freedom that would allow me to deserve what I have. Call it liberation, maybe. If debt can be repaid incrementally, resulting eventually in ownership, perhaps so can guilt.

What is the condition of white life? We are moral debtors who act as material creditors. Our banks make bad loans. Our police, like Nietzsche’s creditors, act out their power on black bodies. And, as I see in my own language, we confuse whiteness with ownership.]



The Things Nobody is Talking About | Harsh, Painful, Stunningly Accurate Article about Greece, Written by a Non-Greek

Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds | VANITY FAIR

[The Greek state was not just corrupt but also corrupting. Once you saw how it worked you could understand a phenomenon which otherwise made no sense at all: the difficulty Greek people have saying a kind word about one another. Individual Greeks are delightful: funny, warm, smart, and good company. I left two dozen interviews saying to myself, “What great people!” They do not share the sentiment about one another: the hardest thing to do in Greece is to get one Greek to compliment another behind his back. No success of any kind is regarded without suspicion. Everyone is pretty sure everyone is cheating on his taxes, or bribing politicians, or taking bribes, or lying about the value of his real estate. And this total absence of faith in one another is self-reinforcing. The epidemic of lying and cheating and stealing makes any sort of civic life impossible; the collapse of civic life only encourages more lying, cheating, and stealing. Lacking faith in one another, they fall back on themselves and their families….]

447-438 B.C., Athens, Greece --- The Parthenon at Dusk --- Image by © Colin Dixon/Arcaid/Corbis

447-438 B.C., Athens, Greece — The Parthenon at Dusk — Image by © Colin Dixon/Arcaid/Corbis

This is the Question

Is Charging Inmates to Stay in Prison Smart Policy?

[The American criminal justice system is replete with fees that attempt to shift costs from the government to those accused and convicted of breaking the law. Courts impose monetary sanctions on a substantial majority of the millions of U.S. residents convicted of felony and misdemeanor crimes. There are an estimated 10 million people who owe more than $50 billion resulting from their involvement in the criminal justice system.

In the last few decades, fees have proliferated, such as charges for police transport, case filing, felony surcharges, electronic monitoring, drug testing, and sex offender registration. Unlike fines, whose purpose is to punish, and restitution, which is intended to compensate crime victims, user fees are intended to raise revenue. The interactive map in the story details which statutes authorize state and county correctional facilities to charge inmates for their cost of incarceration as well as charge inmates for medical fees while incarcerated.]

Read the full story and see the interactive map here | BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE

VOX points out several issues which emerge with these policies. Pay-to-stay may create lasting effects on inmates and their families. It can double the strain on inmates’ families: in addition to losing a household income, they have to pay to support their incarcerated family member. And it can make it even harder for inmates to get back on their feet financially after they are  released from prison.

Read the full story here | VOX

The Unbearable Lightness of a Curiously Lazy Haste | … some Greek thoughts on Greece

[The nation’s stocks and bonds slumped, even as Tsipras and his finance chief pledged to avoid a standoff with creditors. The benchmark ASE Index has fallen 15 percent in the past three days, and bond yields spiked to levels not seen since 2012. A person familiar with the matter said bank-deposit withdrawals accelerated to record levels in the run-up to the Jan. 25 election.

The losses took Greek stocks down 48 percent since a high in March, as anti-austerity party Syriza gained ground among voters. Piraeus Bank trades at less than 1 percent of its 2007 share price and Alpha Bank AE has tumbled 97 percent since its high that year. National Bank of Greece, valued at about 23 billion euros ($26 billion) in 2007, has now a market capitalization of 3 billion euros.] Cited from BLOOMBERG Business


[The alliance with Panos Kammenos (far rightwing) has dampened the enthusiasm of SYRIZA’s supporters outside Greece, those who saw its victory as a herald for the leftist revolution against austerity. Inside Greece it came as less of a surprise….

The second blow against SYRIZA’s international image came from the issue of possible EU sanctions against Russia…. The head of the German Parliament’s Committee of Foreign Affairs, Norbert Roettgen, warned Athens against using its veto right on the Russian issue as leverage in debt talks….

Statements by several ministers highlighted the key point of Tsipras’s celebration speech: that the elections marked the end of the memorandum and the troika. Ministers froze privatizations, rehired public sector workers that had been sacked, and reinstated the 13th salary bonus for those on minimum wage, among other moves….

The question is not just whether SYRIZA will be able to fulfill the former’s promises or failure to do so will drag the country into unpredictable territory. The question is, since Greece is in such dire need of reforms in justice, health, the war against tax evasion and corruption, immigration policy, education, culture and public administration, why is the government opening up so many simultaneous fronts?

A Strange Haste | KATHIMERINI


[Coalition new government of SYRIZA and ANEL announced their intent to implement the “Thessaloniki Program.”

The crumbs included in the particular program are presented like “a tremendous reversal of the politics of debt” having one and only goal: stage the sense that government change in political line also means a radical political change for the lower classes. This way they wish to gain, not only the people’s approval on their politics, but also their active mobilization to make their politics a reality.

By all means, there are differences between the previous administration handling of government and the one the new coalition administration promises. The strategic course, however, which will determine the lives of Greeks is identical. Remember the elections of 2009?

Let us examine a few examples. Yesterday the announcement of the new Assistant Secretary of Maritime Policy was widely publicized, about not moving forward to sell 67% of the Pireaus Port SA stocks. This declaration is part of SYRIZA’s program to “destroy the stringent rules of the Greek debt agreement.” But SYRIZA, as well as powerful investors involved with maritime affairs and tourism, or seek after segments of the Pireaus port, are strongly against privatization: development of Pireaus Port SA would exclude those actors from the larger game of interests.

Thus they follow a different route, this time further privatize the port, for example the business partnership of government-private sector, long-term services provisions and infrastructure of the port, with the government maintaining the majority and distribute the goods. The particular regime complies with the EE directions to release all port services. However, the consequences for the people and the port employees will simply remain the same.

Another example is the vague promise to reinstate minimum wage to 751 euro, an announcement widely shown in the media. However, the announcement by the new Secretary of Labor did not enjoy equal air time. The Secretary stated: ” you will have to understand the application of such a measure only in combination with a number of other measures which maintain a good business operation, and will ease the market.” In other words, the measure to adjust the debts to IRS and Social Security Registries….

The bottom line for SYRIZA is to maintain the people’s compliance into living with very little. The new Secretary of Finance was clear: “we support a life of frugality (…)” he said [while he is married to a factory owner’s daughter, and his real estate counts to hundreds of millions]. “Greeks were creative only when they lived in simplicity” he also said.]

Read the full article here | RIZOSPASTIS – Newspaper of the Communist Party of Greece


On a different note…

[The negotiation game has just begun. Nobody believes that it will be easy and carefree. There will be tension, strength, documentation, arguments and certainly support will be necessary. It would be a mistake however for some to predict how this negotiation will turn out.

Europe cannot strangle an economy simply because a new government does not agree ideologically and politically with Merkel and Schäuble’s beliefs. Nor can it force a failed recipe that nobody can defend any more.

The Tsipras government has an irresistible argument: the previous policy exhausted all possibilities and options, it crushed parties and leaders, it cannot go on any longer, it requires a change in means and tools, goals and pursuits, because if it continues it will only serve fascism and anti-Europeans and nobody else. If this is coupled with a cohesive plan, which will cover fiscal and growth targets, then there are many chances of winning the negotiation and disproving the domestic and international prophets of doom, who invest in conflict and catastrophe.]

Read the full article | TO VIMA



Why Unpaid Internships Are Not Cool

Unpaid Internships | The Scam that Wasn’t

Stephen Fry on the Return of the Parthenon Marbles