Why is Harrisonburg's Martin Luther King, Jr. Way also designated 'Historic Cantrell Avenue?' On August 13, 2013, Harrisonburg Virginia expressed its changing community values by renaming Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Way. This site answers how the former Cantrell Avenue became historic in this process. It includes the documents used in the renaming struggle as well as analysis of the significance for the present and future.

History of Naming
Cantrell Avenue

Because some states could not part with the logic of slavery (the chain, the whip, and the sword), most poor blacks, women, and a majority of low-wage whites who did not own land faced not benefiting from full civil rights.
Link to: Political History of Appalachian Virginia


History of Naming
Martin Luther King Jr. Way

A broad coalition raised the message of a healthy community that values all its members and brings out their best.


History of Places
in Site Banner

The pictured buildings along the former Cantrell Avenue were significant sites of Harrisonburg's struggle with Jim Crow and segregation.

Lessons and Significance
of the Renaming

"Because some states are not expanding Medicaid, two-thirds of the poor blacks, single mothers, and a majority of the low-wage workers who do not have insurance will not benefit from the new health law."
Link to: New York Times


  1. Significance
  2. Lessons
  3. History, disfranchisement to Hitler:
  4. Theory:
  5. Modern Monetary Theory and King's Bad Check
  6. Contributions from Ruth Toliver:

More quotes.
Contact: info@mlkjrway.org
Thanks to over two dozen contributor to these sites.

Upcoming Events:
Building better communities, not more jails
Ongoing petition drive.

Past Events:

People's Day, January 19, 2015.

Harriet Tubman Day Celebration, March 10th
Lucy F. Simms Center, 620 Simms Avenue

Drafter of Dr. King's "Beyond Vietnam" Speech to Speak at EMU, Feb. 26 and 27.

Event Flier
Information Flier

Related News/Page Updates:


The Fierce Urgency of Now

The following collage of stories linked to the front page of the October 3 New York Times exposes the falsehoods we repeat ourselves as a nation, just as Harrisonburg's street renaming exposed the falsehoods that impeded our city's reaching for Dr. King's dreams. America can reach for the dream. We can take care of our own.

At the bottom of the false economic arguments is nothing but antipathy for our fellow human beings. That is what Harrisonburg saw when we probed for what was behind the anger against our renaming. Our municipal policy makers saw it too, and voted their conscience. Pray and raise Dr. King's moral voice that we may similarly change our heart at the federal level..

Links to Key Stories:

Jamie Galbraith setting out the position that members of this renaming effort helped establish.

Millions of Poor Left Uninsured.

Where the Poor and Uninsured Live in America

Academic sources at Cornell affirming the race and class patterns of the opt-out.

More at this site's economics of Dr. King

Representative John Conyers enthusiastic about Street Renaming

A Harrisonburg resident met Representative Conyers at an event in Washington DC and mentioned that Harrisonburg, a small city in the Shenandoah Valley, had re-named a street for Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. Representative Conyers reportedly was enthusiastic, affirming that the valley was a very conservative region and exchanged contact information.

At this time, Representative Conyers is involved in the debate in Congress over the unnecessary government shutdown which is being used as a negotiating strategy to rob a majority of Americans of more of their dignity and security. This bill that Representative Conyers sponsored in March suggests how our flier might have resonated with him-
Summary by Sandy Darity. The bill itself. Conyers on shutdown and full employment.

Representative Charles Rangel Exposes Confederate Logic

A law maker involved in trying to re-open the government and pass comprehensive immigration reform makes the obvious connection for a reporter. The reporter responds with the same hostility that was seen in some of the opponents to re-naming, confirming that the Congressman was on target.

" When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people,..."

The chain, the whip, and the sword mirror Dr. King's "giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism." This logic, this way of looking at the world, creates the very criminals, failures, and violence those who seek to justify it set out to find, while a tiny group reap vast profits from it as they sit besieged in a world of misery. The lesson of slavery's failure has been slow to sink in.

There is another way: see the economics section.

Historical Roots after Emancipation

The first chapter of Steve Reich's book captures the period in which Dr. King's spiritual insight into oppression is rooted: the time when the US struggled with the end of slavery, and how to move forward. Citing the report of William E. Strong on Southern planters to Major-General O. O. Howard, January 1, 1866, "Reports of the Assistant Commissioners," Sen. Exec. Doc. 27, 39th Congress, 1st Sess., p. 83, Reich quotes:
They insisted that unless they resorted 'to the overseer, whip , and
hounds' their estates would deteriorate and never recover.
... "Planters resented that emancipation not only challenged their
sense of racial supremacy but also eroded their authority as employers
of labor." p. 13
The fate that awaited African Americans was one with which many workers of all background can relate today:
"Because black material success often rested on white goodwill, blacks
took great care not to appear too successful or to transgress racial

Note how closely this parallels present of Asian Stereotypes discussed in the race section of this site.

Reich goes on to tell of a Black teacher who felt compelled to live in an unpainted house. p. 39

Reich spells out the details of the political reasoning at the time:

"The political activism of black workers in the low country caused
Republicans to fear the African Americans would corrupt the political
system by seizing the reins of government in order to confiscate
property, redistribute wealth, and erode the promise of social
mobility through hard work. Faced with growing white working-class
unrest in the North and politically mobilized former slaves in the
South, Northern Republicans abandoned their working-class allies,
fearful that they would sow the seeds of political and economic
disorder by strengthening the rights of labor at the expense of the
rights of property." p. 30
"Many Republicans, who valued property rights over labor rights, grew
fearful of encouraging a class politics from below. More and more,
they became convinced that it was safer and wiser to come to terms
with former Confederates than to promote and protect the interests of
their black working-class constituents. In so doing, they enabled the
white propertied elites of the South to survive the trials of
Reconstruction." p. 31
And placed almost insurmountable barriers to accumulating anything and getting ahead before the freed slaves. Quotes from A Working People: A history of African American workers since Emancipation, Rowman and Littlefield, 2013, New York.

How Dangerous was the Northeast Neighborhood?

In a recent public discussion of urban renewal, the word 'dangerous' was used to describe parts of the historically African American Northeast Neighborhood. Setting aside oral histories that document that what feels 'safe' depends on who you are, the following is an architectural approach to the question:

"Nathan Musselman says his new house, off Switchboard Road just
  west of town, is 320 square feet"

"Water will come from a 2,500-gallon cistern, collected from the roof
...  Oh, and unlike many other off-grid houses, this one’s fossil
  fuels-free, too: no propane stove. He’ll cook on the woodstove, and
  in an outside kitchen that’s yet to be built."
Andrew Jenner, Old South High Blog: Little House on the Hillside.


"Beyond the individual aspiration for propertied independence, black
landownership had broader economic and political implications. In some
places, freedmen abandoned the plantations where they had lived as
salves in favor of squatting on little patches of unimproved land in
the woods or in creek bottoms where they intended to farm for
themselves. Citing such behavior, one former slaveholder feared that a
great many of the richest plantations in the South might remain
uncultivated because of the lack of black laborers."

From Steve Reich, A Working People. p. 12

In the backlash against Reconstruction, rather than let market forces reallocate land to attract labor, Black Codes were imposed to force African Americans to work under conditions favorable to the planters.

During urban renewal, zoning codes were similarly used to clear away communities that were poor, but had evolved ways to sustain themselves.

Those zoning codes, which facilitated defacto segregation as well as coercion to participate in the economy on terms favorable to property rather than labor, persist. Neighborhoods of homes in the first picture are still deemed 'dangerous,' even by people who move in the same social circles as those who live in the home in the second picture.

We might hope that through subverting the legitimacy of spurious zoning arguments a sort of reverse gentrification might result from the tiny house movement to permit more sustainable living over the full range from young highly educated white professionals at the start of their careers to those who will have fewer choices over the course of their life.

Rocktown: From the Small Farm to the Big Box (2009)

The above linked is a film with some background regarding the economics and politics of Harrisonburg setting the stage for the street renaming. The film represents a diverse set of perspectives struggling with the consequences of putting profits and property rights ahead of people. The Martin Luther King Way answers with a revolution in values that brings those people together to overcome racism and other forms of bigotry and ignorance and tap the power and vision needed in order to make a healthy community.

We are the Overwhelming Majority.

A close examination of polls and the historical record of public opinion shows that to the extent that people understand what they are being asked, they tend to agree and they tend to me much closer to the values of Dr. King than Democrats, Republicans, and the Tea Party.

Full article:
Even Right-Wingers Become Liberals When They Turn Off Fox News

Key Quotes:

Cutting the deficit amounts to austerity economics, the opposite of
the Keynesian approach, which keeps deficits high when the economy is
struggling, letting public-spending demand take up the slack of
missing private sector demand, in order to hasten recovery. Classic
Keynesian policy calls for cutting back deficits only after economic
recovery is well established — a point we are still far from reaching
roughly three years after PPC’s surveys were conducted.[The
section in italics is incorrect 'deficit dove' thinking. The
correct 'deficit owl' approach that can be found in the econ links
here says that, for the US, deficits depend on a combination of the
foreign sector and the private sector's desire to save, with a natural
tendency to run deficits.]

Yet, this doesn't necessarily mean the public actually believes in
austerity economics in the way that these figures might suggest, for
at least three main reasons. First, as Free and Cantril’s research
showed, Americans have always believed in austerity economics at a
symbolic, ideological level.  This is what their findings about
American’s ideological conservativism were all about.  But this
finding — based on surverys in 1964 — did not prevent LBJ from winning
a landslide victory over Barry Goldwater, and thus cannot be taken
seriously as a policy prescription. That’s what their findings of
operational liberalism are all about.

Second, there's the "the Beltway deficit feedback loop*" described by
Washington Post Plum Line blogger Greg Sargent back in April 2011 —
the cumulative impact on public opinion of the Beltway deficit-cutting
obsession eventually stifling the public's primary concern over jobs.
Thus, the public that PPC was polling around the 2010 midterms was a
public repeatedly primed to cut deficits by Beltward Democrats as well
as Republicans. 

Third, this priming was reinforced by the entire structure of the
budget exercise as designed by PPC. There was nothing in PPC's
approach designed to ask if people preferred to prioritize putting
people back to work before reducing the budget deficit, or to provide
accurate information about the macroeconomics involved.  This is not
to say that PPC is ignorant of this concern.  Another PPC survey
conducted in roughly the same time frame, just after the 2010 midterms
found widespread misinformation throughout the elctorate, with some of
the most prominent examples having clear impact on people's view of
the economy and economic policy. This includes underming their
understanding of how effective economic stimulus has been.  But that's
a topic for a whole other article.
* from the link:
["When you have leading officials in both parties — starting with all
Republicans and a handful of moderate Dems — acting as if reining in
the deficit is so urgent that it requires more attention than creating
jobs, people start to tell pollsters they agree. This helps create a
climate in which Dems lose any incentive to make the case for more
government spending to prime the recovery, which begins to vanish from
the conversation."]

We Take Care of Our Own

That we may constantly strive to be a country that is accountable to the sacrifices made for it.

Budget Basics

UMKC Economics Department Chair, Stephanie Kelton: Pamphlet.

Modern money is debt. In the US, a treasury bill is like a dollar bill except for the interest it pays and that we have to wait before we can cash it in to kelton pay our taxes. Taxes drain reserves. Debt gives people a way to earn interest on their holding of dollars. From a budget operation perspective taxes and 'debt' are ways of adjusting to technical interest rate targets after the fact of government spending. They are not sources of funding. The US, a sovereign government with its own currency (unlike the Greek government), spends by making entries in bank accounts on a computer. It can no more run out of money than it can out of 1's as 0's.

From the people's perspective, federal debt is the quantity of the safest of all financial assets in, for example, our retirement accounts. The deficit on the other hand, allows those who participate in the private economy to spend less than they earn- that is, to save. Thus, being 'in debt' to China allows China to send us products to enjoy and put off asking for anything from us for their people to enjoy in exchange. If we want to employ our people who formerly suffered and polluted to make those products, that is entirely our government's business, a political choice. But thanks to China, they can do something other than the dirty work (if we didn't 'send the jobs to China' firms would figure out how to do them at lower cost/with fewer workers by machine, speedup, etc., so no luck for the workers anyway unless we make a political choice for their well-being).

Budget Truths Exposed

The month of November saw several revealing speakers on the topic of debt and deficits in Harrisonburg.

Bill Clinton: engine of growth

Bill Clinton spoke in Harrisonburg before the election. His introduction included praise of his budget surplus. That did not draw applause. You may want to check. President Clinton did not emphasize the same. He did, tellingly, say that our employment problem was not with new workers, but with workers who just need 10 or 15 years of additional work. These are the people who were devastated by the budget surpluses he can no longer enthuse about in good conscience. He did nonetheless use the 'credit card' analogy, and did stand by the 'engine of growth' as in his book.

Bob Goodlatte: cut the size of the government

Representative Bob Goodlatte recently spoke before the Chamber of Commerce on the topic of the recent government shutdown and the Federal Debt.

The Congressman started his talk with a false premise: the debt is bad. The only support he gave for this was that it was bad because it was big. Stacking up dollar bills in that amount would reach very, very, high. So it was bad.

He also confounded the debt and the deficit. He also stated that the deficit was bad, stating that only 7 times in American history had we run budget surpluses big enough to substantially pay down the debt, (whatever that may mean). He did not mention that each of those episodes was followed by a depression, include the recent mess we are in with its roots in the Clinton surplus and its necessary sectoral balances 'homes as piggy banks' boom. He also stated a desire to curb the growth of entitlements, sometimes also known as 'automatic stabilizers' seemingly inured to sending our feeble economy into another nose dive.

Mr. Goodlatte however, tipped his hand in a very revealing statement: A balanced budget amendment would give us "pressure points" with which to force a cut in the size of government. The real goal is not the debt or the deficit, it is the size of the government.

Burt Abrams: The Debt and Deficit: The New Red Menace

Mr. Goodlatte's slides were not available. However, an economics department speaker, Burt Abrams, seems to have been the source of Mr. Goodlatte's outline. In any event, he covered the same points in some greater detail. The Debt and Deficit: The New Red Menace was the title of his talk. The subtitle being a chilling warning to those thinking of disagreeing with his position, evoking Palmer Raids and McCarthyism: do you now, or have you ever favored government spending?

He, like Goodlatte, came to a moment when he tipped his hand. He stated that big government is bad because if people had free medical care, for example, they would not work. Thus we have that modern austerity rhetoric is nothing but the plantation logic that won the day after reconstruction.


Some thoughts for those who usually defend free markets, and a reply to Representative Goodlatte's 'nation of laws' line on immigration:

Today, a small group of people braved what was supposed to be freezing rain to show their gratitude and appreciation for the workers who make a key part of the Thanksgiving dinner possible, workers many of whose loved ones face great uncertainty over problems that could easily be solved by political choices to align American actions with American values.

When the supporters crossed to the plant, the day warmed up as the poultry workers came out for lunch break, standing on tables to see, some even impulsively crossing the street to join in, even though we were there to thank them.

We can hope that management was moved by the moral force of the display of love for friends, children, parents, and partners that was evoked in the workers. We can hope they were moved to put people ahead of profit motives and property rights (it was commendable that they took no steps asserting property rights to encumber this show of good will toward their workers) and use their political power to press for just immigration rules not subject to the conflict of interest of industry control and to curb harmful enforcement so they and their peer companies can be privileged with the luxury of operating in a climate of greater dignity and respect for their workers.

As the story of the original Thanksgiving goes, new immigrants struggled through harsh conditions and were grateful to the first people here who helped them put food on their table. crossingNow, market forces send out the message that people in this country need help and our neighbors do all they can to come over to help in response to the call. The help they are prepared to give includes the work done in the turkey plant, where new and old immigrants work side by side in harsh conditions to put a native food on the tables of the country they love, recreating the picture of the first Thanksgiving.

While addressing an even more dire need that appeared in one of Congressman Goodlatte's slides before the Harrisonburg Chamber of Commerce of a coming steep decline in number of workers per retiree, Economist Robert Gordon in a paper that repeats common errors about the Federal Debt but is otherwise insightful asks:

"Why was unlimited immigration into the U.S. so successful throughout
the 19th century, until it was stopped by restrictive legislation in
the 1920s, yet could not be considered as a plausible public policy
today? Unlimited immigration before 1913 did not cause mass
unemployment. Immigrants were extremely well informed about the
availability of employment in the U.S. economy. They arrived when the
economy was strong and postponed their arrival (or returned to their
home countries) when the economy was weak."
Robert J. Gordon, Working Paper 18315

Yet our immigration policy's response to their response to our system's call for help is to use state police power to put barriers in their way, including making them reveal they are willing to risk their lives and separation from their families, stigmatizing them as outside the law, and withholding from them the rights this country was founded to defend for people fleeing from places where freedom did not exist. This country was a fortress not to keep out freedom seekers, but to keep out the armed state power of other countries that sought to take that freedom away.

Many new immigrants who get here without documents have thus, by state interference, been forced to reveal how much abuse they are prepared to take in order to help, which puts them at a tremendous bargaining disadvantage in negotiating a wage. Even companies who want to be ethical have their hand forced. Just a few struggling producers making an ethical lapse, perhaps rationalizing that it is their livelihood against the workers', and through pressure on product prices it is a race to the bottom, all forced by the initial interference with market forces, state power imposing different rules on one set of players. This is surely a place to let market forces work and let both sides come to the bargaining table on a level playing field. Reform immigration now through executive and legislative action, first by releasing the pressure of police power that tears apart families, militarizes the borders, and internally casts a shadow of suspicion over our cherished freedom.


Francis vs. Martin

Quotes from the most recent and authoritative communication of the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion people, 78 million in the US, that echo quotes on this site from Martin Luther King Jr. radical revolution in values (4/4/67) and bad check (8/28/63) speeches.
"I can say that the most beautiful and natural expressions of joy which I have seen 
in my life were in poor people who had little to hold on to." -Pope Francis, 
Evangelii Gaudium 7., Nov 24, 2013.

188-9 It presumes the creation of a new mindset which thinks in terms of community and the priority of the life of all over the appropriation of goods by a few. 53 Just as the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say "thou shalt not" to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. 2. The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. ... our "technological society has succeeded in multiplying occasions of pleasure, yet has found it very difficult to engender joy". ... 47us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us 232 Ideas disconnected from realities give rise to ineffectual forms of idealism and nominalism, capable at most of classifying and defining, but certainly not calling to action. What calls us to action are realities illuminated by reason. Formal nominalism has to give way to harmonious objectivity. Otherwise, the truth is manipulated, cosmetics take the place of real care for our bodies. No to a financial system which rules rather than serves No to the inequality which spawns violence.
55. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption. 58 I exhort you to generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.
202 As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills. 52 This epochal change has been set in motion by the enormous qualitative, quantitative, rapid and cumulative advances occuring in the sciences and in technology, and by their instant application in different areas of nature and of life. We are in an age of knowledge and information, which has led to new and often anonymous kinds of power ... 56 In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.
54 This opinion [trickle down economics], which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.
54 Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.
60 Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. It serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. 59 If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegration and death. It is evil crystallized in unjust social structures, which cannot be the basis of hope for a better future.
204 , but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded. 218 Nor does true peace act as a pretext for justifying a social structure which silences or appeases the poor, so that the more affluent can placidly support their lifestyle while others have to make do as they can.
60 Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an "education" that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless.
61 We should recognize how in a culture where each person wants to be bearer of his or her own subjective truth, it becomes difficult for citizens to devise a common plan which transcends individual gain and personal ambitions. 189. Solidarity is a spontaneous reaction by those who recognize that the social function of property and the universal destination of goods are realities which come before private property. 190 our own country. We need to grow in a solidarity which “would allow all peoples to become the artisans of their destiny”, since “every person is called to self-fulfilment”.
Each meaningful economic decision made in one part of the world has repercussions everywhere else; consequently, no government can act without regard for shared responsibility. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find local solutions for enormous global problems which overwhelm local politics with difficulties to resolve. If we really want to achieve a healthy world economy, what is needed at this juncture of history is a more efficient way of interacting which, with due regard for the sovereignty of each nation, ensures the economic well-being of all countries, not just of a few. 192 We are not simply talking about ensuring nourishment or a “dignified sustenance” for all people, but also their “general temporal welfare and prosperity”. 159 This means education, access to health care, and above all employment, for it is through free, creative, participatory and mutually supportive labour that human beings express and enhance the dignity of their lives. Growth in justice ... requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.

Unprecedented Anxiety among Workers

Washington Post article: Among American workers, poll finds unprecedented anxiety about jobs, economy

The Punishment Cure

In a New York Times Op-Ed piece entitled "The Punishment Cure", Paul Krugman echoes what has been observed in the street renaming and whose historical and ideological roots are traced on this site. Some select quotes:
Six years have passed since the United States economy entered the
Great Recession, four and a half since it officially began to recover,
but long-term unemployment remains disastrously high.
Correspondingly, [the austerity/budget myth proponent] answer to the
problem of long-term unemployment is to increase the pain of the
long-term unemployed: Cut off their benefits, and they’ll go out and
find jobs. How, exactly, will they find jobs when there are three
times as many job-seekers as job vacancies? Details, details.
Businesses aren’t failing to hire because they can’t find willing
workers; they’re failing to hire because they can’t find enough
So the odds, I’m sorry to say, are that the long-term unemployed will
be cut off, thanks to a perfect marriage of callousness — a complete
lack of empathy for the unfortunate — with bad economics. But then,
hasn’t that been the story of just about everything lately?

Plantation Logic

Reich's book focuses on the condition of Black workers. For a direct examination of Confederate logic we turn to Bruce Levin, who unpacks this and provides documentary support in the process of debunking the concept of Black Confederates. Levin summarizes highlights of his book in a talk given at the University of Maryland -Baltimore Campus May 7th, 2008, entitled ``Confederate Emancipation.''

When the Confederate army was losing the war and saw it was greatly outnumbered by the union army, it started to consider ``emancipating'' its slaves in exchange for their military service. In July of 1861, General Richard S. Yule cautioned an optimistic Jefferson Davis at Bull Run that the sure way for the South to triumph was ``emancipating the slaves and arming them.''

General Patrick Claybourn, division commander in the army of Tennessee, circulated the same idea in a memo following a defeat in December of 1863. In addition to stating that slavery had become useless to their military position, he also admitted the slaves' capacity for helping his enemy. Levin quotes Claybourn saying ``Those who donned union blue had proved able to face and fight bravely against their former masters.'' Levin points out in his comments that this was supposed to be impossible according to pro-slavery ideology which claimed that salves were content and that they were incapable of fighting effectively as soldiers.\footnote{Note the striking similarity between this and the early thinking of British colonialists in India. Chatterjee writes:

  ``There are two elements in Orme's account of the conquest of Bengal
  that would persist in different forms in imperialist histories
  written in subsequent decades and even centuries. The first is that
  of the natural servility of the inhabitants of India, who are
  constitutionally incapable of defending themselves by the strength
  of arms and therefore are always under the sway of more warlike
  peoples. This tapped directly into the venerated classical
  Aristotelian tradition-- one that would be transmitted right through
  the nineteenths century by way of the patrician education imparted
  by the English universities to generations of imperial civil
  servants-- that spoke of the 'natural slavery' of barbarians.  It
  also invoked the more recent European humanist tradition in which
  the French jurist Francois Connan could say that 'liberty was born
  with servitude ... there was no one free, when no one was a slave,''
p. 48 In the same talk Levin also points out that the Southern elites viewed 'Liberty' as their liberty to deprive others of liberty.

It made its way to the Cabinet of Jefferson Davis where it was discussed. More Confederates objected to this proposal and it was defeated and suppressed. But it gained more support in less than one year when it became obvious the Confederate army was losing the war.

Another key document with Claybourn's in Levin's estimation was one by John Henry Stringfellow of Virginia to Jefferson Davis. In Feb 1865, the staunchly pro-slavery Stringfellow wrote on the need for more troops:

  ``If it were done properly, abolishing slavery need not mean
  abolishing the whole plantation system. ...  only the measures
  involved in confederate emancipation could save the plantation
  system. ... If {\em we} emancipate, our independence is secured.
  The white man only will have any and all political rights and will
  retain all his real and personal property and he alone will be in a
  position to make laws to control the free negro; whose wages, would
  be regulated by law hereafter as may suit the change of relation. In
  this kind of post war South, the landless free man would have to
  labor for the land owner on terms as economical as if he were still
  owned by him.''

Leaving no doubt about the continuity between rhetoric that is familiar today and the logic of slavery, among the other statements quoted by Levin is one by R. M. T. Hunter, President Protem of the Confederate Senate who wrote: ``what did we go to war for, if not to protect our property?'' Levin points out that the precious 'Social Institutions' of which the venerated Robert E. Lee, among others, write is no more than a code for slavery. What he, Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamine, and others feared in casting about for a compromise was ``the wholesale destruction of slave society.''

Several such documents demonstrated the plan the white elite in the South had to implement the emancipation that they felt pressed toward by massive outside force as well as ``internal resistance and active revolt'' of their enslaved population so that their former slaves could still be put under their control and continue to serve as labor to the plantation system after the liberation. The documents showed the white elites considered the Black an ``inferior'' race, and liberating them was an ``evil consequence'' (Robert E. Lee's words). Nonetheless, they felt it better to have imperfect white supremacy in the South than losing all to the Union. Therefore, they contemplated how to maintain their control over their Black population after the liberation thorough carefully implementing the emancipation (making landless African Americans controlled labor, for example). Levin described this as their need ``to maintain control of the black labor force both by monopolizing the land and by enforcing a restructured form of the legalized physical coercion that Southern masters has always considered essential to the survivial of their plantation system.'' Though the 'Confederate Emancipation' of black slaves did not happen during the Civil War, the ideas on how to control and exploit free African Americans saw their influence after the failure of Reconstruction.

Prescient in seeing the exigencies of the slave society coming, Claybourn writes one of the most illuminating statements for understanding the far reaching effects the United States not winning Reconstruction: ``It is said slaves will not work after they are freed but we think necessity and wise legislation will compel them to work for a living.'' This is the same refrain that has been used most recently as of this writing in connection with the budget compromise (``killing the spirit to work''), entitlement programs in the budget, the Affordable Health Care Act, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Austerity in Greece (``lazy Greeks'') and around the world. See Civil War Memory for more.

Boehner: Austerians Have Lost all Credibility.

For two days running, Boehner, R-Ohio, has made clear that he's heard
just about enough from conservative advocacy groups such as the
Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks.

On Wednesday, he called them "ridiculous." On Thursday, he said
"they've lost all credibility."

More at The Washington Post.

King on Reconstruction

We make the claim here that Dr. King's work was the first advance since Reconstruction was defeated. The following shows King himself thought in these terms.
"The State of South Carolina, during the days of Reconstruction sent
many many Negroes to the state legislature. The State of South
Carolina not only sent them to the state legislature .. Negroes to the
Congress of the United States. The last Negro to leave the Congress of
the United states was from the state of South Carolina and in his fare
well address the one thing that he said was said that even though this
is a period that ends for us for a while, we will come again."
"Let us march on ballot boxes so that men will have ... freedom and
dignity for their spirit, education and culture for their minds.  Let
us march on ballot boxes so that men and women will no longer walk the
streets for jobs that do not exist."

The American Dream

Just as Beyond Vietnam ranks as the apex of King's speeches in politics and economics in informing this site, the following are key to the philosophy.

The first set of quotes appear in both sources but come from Methodist Student Leadership Conference Address delivered 1964, Lincoln, Nebraska

The second set of quotes come from "The American Dream" as recorded (which is substantially different from the text accompanying the link).

"All I'm saying is simply this: that all life is interrelated, and in a
real sense we are all courting an inescapable network of mutuality,
tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly,
affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I
ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be
what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the
interrelated structure of reality."
 "segregation is evil because it is based on human laws that are out
 of harmony with the moral, natural, and eternal laws of the
"Now, the Church has another thing that it can do in the ideational
realm. It is necessary now to get rid of the notion once and for all
that there are superior and inferior races. The tragedy of
segregation, the tragedy of slavery is not only what it does to one in
terms of physical inconvenience, but what it does to the soul. These
systems scar the soul. They damage the personality. They end up giving
the segregator a false sense of superiority, while leaving the
segregated with a false sense of inferiority. The whole doctrine of
white supremacy has been based on this idea of one racial group being
superior to another racial group."
Now, certainly many of the scholars and in academic circles we have
found individuals working in these areas and they’ve made it clear
that there is no evidence for this. Great anthropologists, like
Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, the late Melvin Herskovits, and others
have made it clear that as a result of long years of study they see no
evidence for the idea of superior and inferior races. There may be
superior and inferior individuals intellectually, academically within
all races, but there are no superior or inferior races, and yet this
notion still lingers around."
"Now, there was a time, strangely enough, that men tried to justify
this notion on the basis of the Bible. It’s so tragic what people will
do with religion and the Bible to crystallize the status quo and
rationalize and try to justify their own prejudices. And so the Bible
and religion were misused to preserve an unjust status quo. It was
argued that the Negro was inferior by nature, because of Noah’s curse
upon the children of Ham. And then the Apostle Paul’s dictum became a
watch word, “Servants be obedient to your master.”2 And one brother
had probably read the logic of the great philosopher Aristotle; and
you will remember that Aristotle did a great deal to bring into being
what we now know as formal logic in philosophy. And in formal logic
there’s a big word called the "syllogism", and the syllogism has a
major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion. And so this brother
decided to put his argument for the inferiority of the Negro in the
framework of an Aristotelian syllogism, and came out with his major
premise: All men are made in the image of God. Then came his minor
premise: God -- as everybody knows -- is not a Negro; therefore, the
Negro is not a man. This was the kind of reasoning that prevailed."
"Now, it’s done on subtle sociological and cultural grounds. You’ve
heard the arguments: “The Negro is not culturally ready for
integration, and if you integrate all the schools and all areas of
life you will pull the white race back a generation.” And then comes
the other argument: “The Negro's a criminal. [In his July 4 1965
speech King says 'he is innately criminal,'
echoing James Q. Willson,]You see he has a large, a
great crime rate" -- and the arguments go on ad infinitum."
"There is another way. This way of nonviolence has a way of disarming
the opponent. It exposes his moral defenses. It weakens his morale and
at the same time it works on his conscience and he does not know how
to handle it. If he doesn’t beat you, wonderful. If he tries to beat
you, you develop the quiet courage of accepting blows without
retaliating. If he doesn’t put you in jail, wonderful. Nobody with any
sense loves to go to jail. But if he puts you in jail, you go in that
jail and transform it from a dungeon of shame to a haven of freedom
and human dignity. Even if he tries to kill you, you develop the inner
conviction that there are some things so dear, some things so
precious, some things so eternally true, that they’re worth dying for;
and if a man has not discovered something that he would die for, he
isn’t fit to live. And this is what the nonviolent movement does.

So, there is power in this way because it has a way of disarming the
opponent. But not only this: It gives individuals engaged in a
struggle a way of seeking to secure moral ends through moral means."
"This can’t be true, because in a real sense the end is pre-existing
 in the means. The means represent the ideal in the making and the end
 in process;"
"Love is understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all
men. And it can be a strong demanding love, for in the process it
demands justice."
"We will match your capacity to inflict suffering with our capacity to
endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force."

"We will not only win freedom for ourselves, we will so appeal to your
heart and your conscience that we will win you in the process and our
victory will be a double victory."
"I must admit to you that there are not always pleasant moments when
you stand up in this struggle. I must be honest enough to say to you
if you stand up in this struggle it may mean that you will have to
suffer for righteousness sake."


"It may mean losing a job. It may mean somehow facing all of the
agonies and all of the frustrations of our days. It may mean that
somebody will have to face physical death, like Medgar Evers faced in
the civil rights workers in Mississippi this summer. Physical death is
the price that some must pay to feed -- free their children and their
white brothers from a permanent psychological death and a permanent
death of the spirit. Then nothing can be more redemptive."
The following quotes appear in his July 4, 1965 "American Dream" speech which overlaps with the previous in significant ways. Note, the text at the site is substantially different from the recording.

Here is what Dr. King means by 'the content of our character': after talking about people grasping stars in the sky (having high aspirations, setting grand goals) he cites: ...

"They have justified the conviction of the poet:

Skin may differ, but affection dwells in black and white the same.
Were I so tall as to reach the pole, or to grasp the ocean at a span
I must be measured by my soul, the mind is the standard of the man."
  1. The myth of time
    "What we must come to see is that evolution is true in the biological
    realm. So Darwin is right at that point. But when a Herbert Spencer
    seeks to apply it to the whole of Society There is little evidence for
    it. Human progress never rode in on the wheels of inevitability. it
    comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of
    dedicated individuals and without  this hard work time itself 
    become the ally of the insurgent and primitive forces of irrational
    emotionalism and social stagnation so that we must somehow get rid of
    this idea that time alone will solve this problem."
  2. educational determinism the idea that only education will solve this problem. ...
    "there is some truth in this. 
    it is not either education or legislation it is both. It may be true
    that you can't legislate morality, but behaviour. can be regulated. 
    control the external effect of bad internal attitudes." 
    "We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws, because
    noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is
    cooperation with good, and so throw us in jail. (Make it plain) We
    will go in those jails and transform them from dungeons of shame to
    havens of freedom and human dignity. Send your hooded perpetrators of
    violence into our communities after midnight hours and drag us out on
    some wayside road and beat us and leave us half-dead, and as difficult
    as it is, we will still love you. (Amen) Somehow go around the country
    and use your propaganda agents to make it appear that we are not fit
    culturally, morally, or otherwise for integration, and we will still
    love you. (Yes) Threaten our children and bomb our homes, and as
    difficult as it is, we will still love you. (Yeah)"
    "But be assured that we will ride you down by our capacity to
    suffer. One day we will win our freedom, but we will not only win
    freedom for ourselves, we will so appeal to your heart and your
    conscience that we will win you in the process. And our victory will
    be a double victory."
20-25 minutes

King, Pope, Relativism

Continuing the philosophy of King, he, like Pope Francis, believed in a single reality. Here is King critiquing Communism:
"Second, Communism is based on ethical relativism and accepts no stable
moral absolutes. Right and wrong are relative to the most expedient
methods for dealing with class war."
"In contrast to the ethical relativism of Communism, Christianity sets
forth a system of absolute moral values and affirms that God has
placed within the very structure of this universe certain moral
principles that are fixed and immutable." 
He states how this single reality manifests in the human world as:
"The law of love as an imperative is the norm for all of man's
Note that this is hardly a Ducks Dynasty prescription for micro-managing other people's lives. He also says
"the means represent the-ideal-in-the-making and the-end-in-progress"
This process statement in combination with his statement about Darwin previously shows his thinking was very philosophically sophisticated, leaving plenty of room for complexity and diversity rather than degenerating into simplistic extremes of positivism or relativism.

Consistent with the above, he is not a methodological individualist, stating:

"Man is more than a producing animal guided by economic forces;
he is a being of spirit, crowned with glory and honor, endowed with
the gift of freedom."
However, in the previous he was clear about the interconnection between people. This is also consistent with his statement about Darwin which implies contextuality. Yet he was not a holist:
"Third, Communism attributes ultimate value to the state. [Communisms
says] Man is made for the state and not the state for man."

The Pope

Converging with King from a different perspective on the same spiritual tradition Pope Francis has this to say about relativism:
"Moral relativism "endangers the coexistence of peoples," Pope Francis
told diplomats March 22, and said a common ethics based on human
nature is an indispensable condition for world peace."
"Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace," Pope
Francis said. "But there is no peace without truth! There cannot be
true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always
claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for
the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that
unites every human being on this earth."
Catholic News Service, March 22, 2013

For more on the theological issues see, for example, a google hit on the Pope, conscience, and relativism on a blog, beyond the scope of this site which is historic, social, and economic realities on which followers of Dr. King can agree regardless of spiritual background. King and Francis converge in having, for separate historic reasons, confronted these realities.

$26,000- all in a day's work.

Relevant parts of the Public Works budget for 2013 include (total, followed by the number divided by 365, for a per-day rate): -- In addition to the items whose names suggest themselves, the titles of the crew putting up the signs, Street Engineerin a DNR article suggest the engineering items. The mention of equipment in a WHSV report suggest the large general maintenance budget. The lighted signs and other parts suggest lighting and beautification.

Rounding, this comes to 26,000 a day, the city estimate for the cost of putting up the Martin Luther King, Jr. Way signs which in fact took one day to put up. Is this a coincidence, or is it all in a days work?

A common refrain from those not happy with the decision is that it was decided ahead of time. Anyone who is at this site can see the effort that went into dispelling false claims and to a lesser extent the courage and moral force that was needed to overcome threats from powerful opponents. However, what was decided in advance was that our friendly city would have safe, beautiful, well maintained streets and that we would use our taxes to sustain a team of full time professionals with quality equipment to get the job done. In the normal course of one day's street maintenance, we had them put one name rather than another on a group of old signs that they were already about 1/3 of the way into replacing anyway.

No Cheer for the Jobless

From a New York Times Editorial:
The House Republicans who refused to renew expiring federal jobless
benefits before leaving Washington for an extended Christmas break
have shown no inclination to revisit the issue when they return to
work in January. This is unconscionable. In each of the previous seven
major recessions, dating back to 1958, Congress has never let federal
benefits expire when the need has been as great as it is today.
Another misperception is that ending benefits will help to end
unemployment. In that scenario, Republicans see themselves as
practicing tough love, jolting dependents into finding jobs. That also
is not how it works. Long-term unemployment is high because there are
not enough jobs, not because millions of Americans have suddenly lost
their work ethic. At last count, there were still nearly three
unemployed people for every job opening; in a healthy economy, the
ratio is about one to one. At last count, the average spell of
unemployment was 37.2 weeks, nearly 20 weeks longer than the
prerecession level. And as demonstrated in North Carolina, which has
cut state jobless benefits and effectively rejected federal benefits,
slashing aid has led not to more jobs but to despair.

The Etiquette of Discussion

Excerpt from The American Dilemma 1944 Study by Gunnar Myrdal
5. The Etiquette of Discussion 

Generally the form of a matter becomes important when the matter itself 
is touchy. Explosives must be handled with care. Educators, reformers, and 
journalists with liberal leanings in the South have a standard text which 
they recite to please one another and the visitor. Everything can be said 
in the South if it is said "in the right way." Criticisms and even factual state- 
ments should be phrased in such a manner that they do not "offend" or 
create "embarrassment." I have listened again and again to the pronounce- 
ments of this theory of Southern indirectness from liberal white Southerners 
who have been most eager that I should understand, not only the aesthetics, 
but also the pragmatic purpose of this escape machinery. I have been told 
countless examples, where, as my interlocutor confided to me, he was able 
to get by in saying so and so to such and such a person because he phrased 
it this or that way, or how this or that change for the better in inter- 
racial relations was "put over" on the public by letting it appear in
a euphemistic
 light. I have sensed the high subjective pleasure of this persistent 
balancing on the margins and the corresponding pleasures of the less liberal 
audience in being merely teased but never affronted by the sore points. 1 
have come to understand how a whole system of moral escape has become 
polite form in the South. This form is applicable even to scientific writings 
and, definitely, to public discussion and teaching on all levels. It is some- 
times developed into an exquisite and absorbing art. 

It renders the spoken or written word less effective. It is contrary to the 
aims of raising issues and facing problems; it makes difficult an effective 
choice of words. It represents an extra encumbrance in intellectual inter- 
course. At the same time as it purposively opens a means of escape, it also 
fetters everything to the very complex suppressed by this means : the Negro 
problem on their minds. 

This form has even crystallized into a peculiar theory of induced social 
change. It has become policy. There is nearly common agreement in the 
South that reforms in interracial relations should be introduced with as 
little discussion about them as possible. It is actually assumed that the race 
issue is a half dormant, but easily awakened, beast. It is a complex which 
is irrational and uncontrollable, laden with emotions, and to be touched as 
little as possible. 

When talking about the Negro problem, everybody — not only the 
intellectual liberals — is thus anxious to locate race prejudice outside him- 
self. The impersonal "public opinion" or "community feelings" are held 
responsible. The whites practically never discuss the issue in terms of "I" 
or "we" but always in terms of "they," "people in the South," "people in 
this community," or "folks down here will not stand for . . ." this or that. 
One can go around for weeks talking to white people in all walks of life 
and constantly hear about the wishes and beliefs of this collective being, 
yet seldom meeting a person who actually identifies himself with it. But he 
follows it. 

In the more formal life of the community the Negro problem and, in 
fact, the Negro himself, is almost completely avoided. "In effect the Negro 
is segregated in public thought as well as in public carriers," complains 
Robert R. Moton. 7 The subject is only seldom referred to in the church. 
In the school it will be circumvented like sex 5 it docs not fit naturally in 
any one of the regular courses given. Sometimes, but rarely, the topic 
will be taken up for ostentatious treatment as part of an effort toward 
interracial good-will. The press, with remarkable exceptions, ignores the 
Negroes, except for their crimes. There was earlier an unwritten rule in 
the South that a picture of a Negro should never appear in print, and even 
now it is rare. The public affairs of community and state are ordinarily dis- 
cussed as if Negroes were not part of the population. The strange unreality 
of this situation becomes apparent when one comes to realize that for 

38 An American Dilemma 

generations hardly any public issue of importance has been free from a 
heavy load of the race issue, and that the entire culture of the region — 
its religion, literature, art, music, dance, its politics and education, its 
language and cooking — are partly to be explained by positive or negative 
influences from the Negro. 
These inconsistencies and contradictions should not be taken as indicat- 
ing simply personal insincerity. They are, rather, symptoms of much 
deeper, unsettled conflicts of valuations. The absorbing interest in the form 
of a matter} the indirectness of approach to a person, a subject, or a 
policy j the training to circumvent sore points and touchy complexes — which 
we consider as symptoms of escape — are developing into a pattern of 
thinking and behavior which molds the entire personality. People become 
trained generally to sacrifice truth, realism, and accuracy for the sake of 
keeping superficial harmony in every social situation. Discussion is sub- 
dued; criticism is enveloped in praise. Agreement is elevated as the true 
social value irrespective of what is to be agreed upon. Grace becomes the 
supreme virtue; to be "matter of fact" is crude. It is said about the Southern 
Negro that he is apt to tell you what he thinks you want him to say. This 
characteristic ascribed to the Negro fits, to a considerable extent, the whole 
civilization where he lives. 

This escape mechanism works, however, only to a point. When that 
point is reached, it can suddenly be thrown out of gear. Then grace and 
chivalry, in fact, all decent form, is forgotten; criticism becomes bitter; 
opinions are asserted with a vehemence bordering on violence; and dis- 
agreement can turn into physical conflict. Then it is no longer a question 
of escape. The conflict is raging in the open. 

People and Property: the housing bubble and Jim Crow

A more abstract application of where the values of putting people ahead of property rights and profits were not applied:
Note here Wray mentions bankruptcy reform, an issue that was brought forward at a 2000 Jupiter Island meeting, as an institutional perceived risk and power shift that would promote a bubble and make the inevitable crash deeper and more prolonged. At the time, that observation was accompanied by a related critique of credit rating agencies and securitization.

The moral ailment that Martin Luther King, Jr.'s struggle diagnosed is like diabetes. It manifests in a constellation of symptoms, some less severe, some more severe, some incredibly subtle, some fatal. So it is with the ailment that gave us slavery. Treating the symptoms, some of which are simply too complex and subtle to go after in isolation, is not as good as curing the cause- through a radical revolution in values.

Vincent Harding

Ruth Toliver

Ruth Toliver on Newtown History

Shockoe Bottom and Slave Revolts

Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey,(less) Nat Turner... as our focus moves South and West in solidarity with the people of Richmond trying to preserve our history. For this section, help us collect information on resistance during slave times.

The passing of Vincent Harding

See Eastern Mennonite University's page on the passing of Vincent Harding, who personally engaged the issues on this web site on his visit here. See Sojourners for another perspective.

Why is Thomas Piketty is so popular?

Is the appeal in a way like that of the sham concept of 'Confederate Emancipation,' because his work holds out the promise of coopting an undeniable phenomenon which otherwise would have forced deep and uncomfortable questions? See a review by Jamie Galbraith. and (June 4 update) the Wall Street Journal's confirmation of above.

Paul Krugman commented on this article by Galbraith. He and Galbraith have been debating for years. However, since the great financial collapse, Krugman has become ensnared by reality. On the blogosphere, a number of people have criticized Krugman's dismissive comments for being incorrect on the technical matter of the Cambridge controversy, one going so far as to write that Krugman looked dumb. I don't read him as being dumb. My impression is that he knows full well how the Cambridge controvesy turned out and that what he was saying was not that Joan Robinson's side didn't win, but that it is gauche to think such thoughts. He did not write "they were not right" but rather "... you shouldn't [think it]." This reading is consistent with his preceding "I think I do understand where this is coming from" paragraph in which he uses the words and phrases: "bizarre", "left-leaning", '"somehow' implying", "doesn’t really make sense", "weird", and "oddly off-center". I do believe this is what Deirdre McCloskey means by 'sneering' and it does make Krugman appear to have run out of intellectual ammunition.

Such ad hominem attacks have been turned to as a pernicious last resort against Veblen, Keynes, King, and many others who threatened to upset the order of things by breaking rank with their social class and speaking truth [including General Thomas Rosser in our Cantrell renaming history] and against countless other less privilaged people who have dared speak truth to power. The use of them shows that Krugman, for example, knows on which side his bread is buttered.

Let's fight poverty, not the poor.

Fadhel Kaboub has a timely piece on the 50th anniversary of the war of poverty. Key quotes:

"The failure of the so-called “War on Poverty” to actually end poverty and the socio-economic problems associated with it is due to the fact that the program was systematically aimed at fighting the poor rather than poverty and its root causes. The late economist Hyman P. Minsky exposed these flawed strategies since the early days of the war on poverty in the mid-1960s. He argued that the best way to fight poverty is to focus on ending unemployment by giving a decent employment opportunity to anyone who is ready, willing and able to work at a socially established living wage."

"Community groups would identify local needs, prioritize projects and recruit unemployed individuals from the local community to implement, supervise and assess outcomes of each project. This is a decentralized participatory system of community empowerment. However, funding for the Job Guarantee program would come from the federal government in the form of grants to local community organizations."

Read the article: freepress.org

Underlying causes: ebola and St. Louis disturbances.

Why does ebola spread in West Africa, but not elsewhere? Years ago, there was a very candid NPR report on just what the nature of the problem is, a matter little discussed. The New York Times, again in a little discussed comment in the present outbreak, identifies the same issue:
"This time, however, the outbreak quickly spread among the three
contiguous countries, all battered by political dysfunction and civil
Using a Tactic Unseen in a Century, Countries Cordon Off Ebola-Racked Areas. See Laurie Garrett for more, going back to 2000.

In another story of overlooked causes, this weeks violence in St. Louis prompted a closer look by the New York Times which reveals patterns that should make Harrisonburg glad for the path it has taken in starting to take on the issues of diversity while also illuminating the seemingly strange insistence of some on tying serious issues in the city with seemingly minor city ordinances. The Death of Michael Brown Racial History Behind the Ferguson Protests

"But it doesn’t take a federal investigation to understand the history
of racial segregation, economic inequality and overbearing law
enforcement that produced so much of the tension now evident on the
streets. St. Louis has long been one of the nation’s most segregated
metropolitan areas, and there remains a high wall between black
residents — who overwhelmingly have lower incomes — and the white
power structure that dominates City Councils and police departments
like the ones in Ferguson."

"Until the late 1940s, blacks weren’t allowed to live in most suburban
St. Louis County towns, kept out by restrictive covenants that the
Supreme Court prohibited in 1948. As whites began to flee the city for
the county in the 1950s and ’60s, they used exclusionary zoning
tactics — including large, single-family lot requirements that
prohibited apartment buildings — to prevent blacks from moving
in. Within the city, poverty and unrest grew."

UMKC’s Stephanie Kelton is named chief Democratic economist on the Senate Budget Committee

Professor Kelton has followed this site and related developments in Harrisonburg and provided material that was distributed at events related to our renaming and related events. From the media:
Kelton, the chairwoman of the economics department at the University
of Missouri-Kansas City, who used to tweet under the handle
“@DeficitOwl” (as opposed to a “deficit hawk”) is a leader in a school
of thought known as Modern Monetary Theory that advocates for some
deficit spending as a means to grow the economy. This year, she gave a
lecture titled "A Heartwarming Tale of Debt and Deficits in the Modern
"Each party has its own chief economist on the budget panel, which
among other things oversees the Congressional Budget Office."

People's Day, 2015: Building Beloved Community


Yanis Varoufakis, colaborator of Jamie Galbraith, becomes Finance Minister of Greece.

SYRIZA campaign song. A little about some of the other people in the cabinet, lots of Harrisonburg connections:

Anti-austerity home and abroad

The following are examples of the economics laid out here playing out at the policy level.

Lets: reply to a request for a word other than 'money.'

There was another discussion of poetry tonight that made me think way back.

I have called 'money' 'permissions,' but that is a fancy academic Latin term, and a noun no less.

I remember an alternative currency from way back that was called 'lets.' 'let': a short, blunt, direct Anglo-Saxon word. Someone already thought of this, but I have not seen it in a long time.

It has the right accounting properties: it has two sides, an asset and a liability. It is very closely related to debt. In fact, we could think of it as the opposite of debt.

If you give me a dollar, I'll let you have this orange. If you give me 200,000, I'll let you have this house. Why won't the ECB let Greece go about its business?

If I want that orange, I have to get you to let me have it. I have to get lets from you so you will let me have it. But you will no let me have it unless I give you lets that you can use to get someone else to let you do things.

We can write future contracts in terms of how much you will let me do in the future.

Who gets to let people participate in the national economy? The one with the sword who lets you keep your head in exchange for returning the lets he issued. Why do you trust a bank? Because they are regulated such that you can be sure the one with the sword will let them pay your taxes for you.

Mundel on the currency union

Money Doesn't Grow on Rich People

A federally funded/neighborhood administered job guarantee is being called for within the 'Black Lives Matter movement.'

Support for a monetary critique is helpful to defeat or circumvent resistance at the policy level. An effect of making that critique can be setting employment as a direct policy target (job guarantee), as is already the case with certain interest rates.

In sync with Coates:

This is a significant opportunity in the playbook, with the job guarantee picking up exactly where Ta-Nehisi Coates leaves off in his high profile essay he Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration in the Atlantic this month:
"A serious reformation of our carceral policy—one seeking a smaller
prison population, and a prison population that looks more like
America—cannot concern itself merely with sentencing reform, cannot
pretend as though the past 50 years of criminal-justice policy did not
do real damage. And so it is not possible to truly reform our justice
system without reforming the institutional structures, the
communities, and the politics that surround it. Robert Sampson argues
for “affirmative action for neighborhoods”—reform that would target
investment in both persistently poor neighborhoods and the poor
individuals living in those neighborhoods. One class of people suffers
deprivation at levels above and beyond the rest of the country—the
same group that so disproportionately fills our jails and prisons. To
pull too energetically on one thread is to tug at the entire
tapestry. "


An automatic objection will be, where do we get the funds for reparations?


Funds cannot be scarce, only certain "resources"*2 can be scarce. For the federal government, money is a bookkeeping entry accounting for permissions to cancel taxes that only it can issue.


Money is not a substance that grows on rich people.


The way I have seen most people go at this question is rigged with a fundamental flaw in the playbook: the idea that "Money grows on rich people." To the 'radicals' the answer is "fleece the rich!" Which is the easiest attack to fend off, lacking teeth on the policy offense and having on its defense flip-side that if you want money to trickle down to your community, you have to feed and care for the rich: water them with money, relieve their stress by providing them green pastures in your community and don't harass them by interfering with their roaming and trampling through taxes and regulation.

In the US (as opposed to Greece), the operational reality is that money grows on the people: through their will as expressed in the Congress and carried out by the monetary authorities (Treasury and Federal Reserve) of the Federal Government which is the sole issuer of the national currency. Federal funds are nothing more and nothing less than permissions by the government to have a unit of tax liability canceled.

The government can never run out of permissions; once they are used to pay taxes, the permissions are extinguished. In general it is good for the government to issue more permissions than it cancels as there generally are more things to do and unemployed resources to be mobilized to do them. The accumulated account of permissions not canceled is an accounting of the contribution of the government to the greatness of our country.

In the private sector, banks create loans for those who undertake money making enterprises (usually the rich) when they see an opportunity to fleece the people of money they have been payed or might be payed. The deposits created by those loans circulate as money until the loans are payed back. The Federal Government accommodates by ensuring payments between banks will clear and that the banks will be able to honor any claims for payment of taxes that result from those loans.

It would be great if the above could be cooked down into a slogan that could circulate along side the job guarantee/ jobs with dignity slogan. Maybe "[our? America's? the nation's?] money doesn't grow on rich people" is it?

*1 A basic income guarantee falls into the methodological individualist/patriarchal trap Coates identifies. People are social. We need to have the option of being a part of something that gives us meaning and purpose. We are not consumer-bots. We also need a strong safety net and resilient and supportive community for the times when we must care for ourselves or be cared for by others. 'Basic income' entrusts that to the private sector. This does not ensure that the goal people have in mind will be reached, just as pump-priming or even public works programs fail to directly address the social purpose of guaranteeing meaningful employment with dignity.

*2 Reality is process, not atomistic entities and types. "Resources" are not resources without the human component- they are not resources unless they solve human problems. Reality exists and places hard limits on how and if humans can solve the problems they set themselves, but there are not fixed resources.

Decoding Bernie

Bernie Sanders is emerging as the top contender for president of the United States. He has been drawing enormous crowds on the basis of simply speaking the truth. His rhetoric on debt and deficits, however, does not seem consistent with this and with having Stephanie Kelton as his Chief Economic Adviser. Is he really saying the same as the deficit hawks and deficit doves? The following is one of his most detailed statements on debt and deficits. Let's walk through it and parse whether he really is confused on the operational realities.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Remarks at the No Labels Problem Solver Convention

11:45 Social Security

The trust fund means nothing. As Wray says, you can't bury Winebagoes and dig them up when the baby boomers retire. Sanders however, proposed increasing how much people with high incomes will pay in the future. This does not 'fund' social security, or replenish the trust fund. It does, however, do something that may be desirable. It reduces income inequality be reducing the buying power of those with high incomes. Reducing the concentrated economic power at the top may be desirable in the future to keep the poor from being crowded out. Is this bad for the rich? It depends. They may be getting a smaller share of a bigger pie.

17:10 How do we balance the budget?

He calls the deficit too high, and speaks of reducing the deficit as good and the debt as a serious issue. Why? The fact that the deficit has decreased is good in the sense that it is an indicator that automatic stabilizers that are strongly triggered when a lot of people are unemployed are not easing, suggesting some recovery of incomes. If it increased because of a massive jobs plan, that would be even better.

He continues with the first of his answers, his signature response to the 'how do we pay for programs' question: "When we went to war in Afganistan and Iraq, those wars were not payed for ... I have a hard time understanding how some members of Congress can come forward and ask for cuts in [spending on people], but when it comes to war, not a problem." He uses the 'credit card' metaphor, which is bad, but otherwise effectively neutralizes the meaningless question of 'how to pay for it.'

Second, he says "It has to be put in the broader context of what has been going on in America in the last 30 or 40 years." He then describes increasing income and wealth inequality. He calls for government efficiency, and adds also taking a look at the defense department, which is fine. Devoting resources to destruction is not a good use of resources. He then says we need to move to tax reform so as to tax those who are concentrating wealth -- estate tax, progressive income tax, etc. This is good use of taxation not because it is a source of funds, but because it decreases the concentration of wealth, and thus power, in the hand of the few. His is consistent in not fretting over whether the spending will cause a problem of running out of money while using the opening to propose taxes to perform the function that taxes perform well: discouraging things that are undesirable. Elsewhere he has talked about transaction taxes on Wallstreet.

Except for the credit card which too strongly evokes a household budget, I don't see Bernie speaking inconsistently with MMT.