Tuesday, April 15, 2008
THE ELECTORAL CIRCUS COMES TO PHILADELPHIA
On April 22, the much contested Democratic Primary will be held in Pennsylvania.
Needless to say, the media descend upon Pennsylvania, particularly, Philadelphia, its largest city, like a horde of locusts.
Even the popular, daily, cable comedy show of Stephen Colbert is broadcasting for a few nights from the Annenberg Center on the city's private, sprawling college campus, the elite, Ivy League, University of Pennsylvania in West Philadelphia.
Well, you can be quite sure the economic and political realities and contradictions surrounding both the University of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia will NOT be televised, either by the Colbert show, since the University is hosting him, or any of the other corporate media descending upon the place.
Regarding the contradictions surrounding just the Univ of Pennsylvania, for example, from where the popular TV show, the Colbert Report, is broadcasting.
Its sprawling, vast, expansive geographic area compromises, perhaps, around 20 city blocks squared, more or less, when all taken together.
It costs approximately $30,000 or $40,000 or more a year to be either an undergraduate or graduate student at the U of P, depending upon degree, status, etc.
The Univ of Pa is the city's largest, single, PRIVATE employer.
That means its got clout.
Further, altho private, it floats on a sea of Federal tax monies through subsidies and grants, including military ones, for all sorts of research programs in a wide variety of subject matter, from languages, computers, medicine, science, engineering and on and on.
To add insult to injury, the Univ of Penna, pays NO local property taxes because it is categorized as a not-for-profit, educational institution!!
Yet, it's endowment, like that of Harvard or any of the "Ivy League" private schools, happens to be one of the largest and it utilizes this money to own and purchase private, profitable, speculative, real estate development in the city.
In addition, it sits as an island surrounded by a sea of run down and/or vacant slum dwellings on the West and North Side of its campus.
On it's East Side is the Schuylkill (a name derived from one of the indigenous tribes) River, separating and linking it to the more upper income, trendy downtown areas on the opposite, east side of the river.
The crime rate on the campus is high, as a consequence, since those without means see these upper income kids as good targets for some quick cash.
Thus, the Univ of Penna campus has LOTS of private and public "security," police, cameras, undercover personnel and so on.
It's a bastion of security.
On top of that, the very folks whom the University is securing itself against are the same ones who are constantly being pushed out of their homes by the University's "institutional expansion" and speculative real estate development and sprawl.
Further, NO free higher educational system in the entire city of Philadelphia exists except for one state university, which, altho not free, costs less than the Univ of Penn.
Everything else in higher education is private.
Of the City's full time residents, it has an approximate 40% or higher functional illiteracy rate.
There are other areas of the city, further away from the Penn campus, which look like disaster zones, extensive slums with abandoned houses, drugs, crime, guns, high unemployment, etc.
This could go on and on.
So, will anybody outside hear about any these egregious highlights or see them from either the media and/or the Presidential campaigns?
Of course not.
Please keep in mind, also, Philadelphia is a Democratic city, it's Mayor is Democratic, the state Governor is Democratic, it has a Democratic Senator, as if that makes any difference.
Here's a little snapshot version of an area not too far from where the expensive, upper income, elite, private University of Pennsylvania sits, about a mile or less away from the University:
Of course, all the Presidential candidates will visit the Ivy League campus of the Univ of Pa, including an Obama event for the upper income students, most/many of whom are not from Pennsylvania in the first place. At one time, not too long ago, Pennsylvania state had much in the way of industry and employment, including steel and coal, most of which closed and left and why unemployment and economic depression is so high.
The state is part of the "industrial rust belt," as it's called.
Of course, there's absolutely no reason why those industries should not be operating.
Steel, coal, energy is not something that has gone out of style.
The only thing needed was to simply nationalize the industry and the resources, reopen them and make them into public utilities.
It's that simple.
Much too simple for anyone here to demand.