2008/11/15

This is disturbing

Knee-jerk support for Obama among people who are ostensibly progressive is already well under way. This post on Daily Kos is a love letter to Valerie Jarrett, a close friend of the Obama family, co-leader of transition planning, and now "White House senior adviser and assistant to the president for intergovernmental relations and public liaison". With only a couple exceptions out of over 400, the commenters agree that Jarrett is an "amazing" "talented" "impressive" "remarkable" woman. Also, "She has a dignity and grace that few people possess."

Jarrett is a creature of the Chicago political and economic elite. She rose to prominence as an important official under Daley, she moves easily among the city's corporate leaders, and even tho she is Robert Taylor's granddaughter, she has taken a leading role in destroying Chicago's public housing. The only good news is that Jarrett might do less damage as a liaison within the bureaucracy than she would have as head of HUD or Illinois Senator.

But make no mistake - Jarrett is an enemy of the progressive agenda, as are most of the other people being suggested for positions within the administration. Summers at Treasury and Clinton as Secretary of State? I didn't think Obama would be terribly good, but I had no idea he could be that bad. Progressives need to get over their Obama crush asap if we're going to provide an effective check on Obama's very centrist impulses.

6 comments:

stephen said...

I think there are a lot of progressives who would posit that the destruction of public housing hasn't happened fast enough, I'm one of them! That's it for the daily dissent

Jake said...

No question, public housing in Chicago before the "Plan for Transformation" was a horrible failure. In fact, I think the vision of the Plan for Transformation was basically sound - to create mixed-use developments integrated by race and class that would improve the situation of poor people by ending the destructive concentration of poverty that city racism and negligence had forced on them.

But the implementation has been a disaster, because the people who promulgated the Plan for Transformation never really intended to follow thru on that vision. All they wanted to do was to tear down the projects and disperse the residents so that that real estate could be made available to more "valuable" people and uses. The lives of former public housing residents have not been improved; they've simply moved to new concentrations of poverty farther from transit and jobs.

Daley bears primary responsibility for this, but Valerie Jarrett was intimately involved. This is one of the worst scandals in the city of the last decade, and it's a shame the national media (and many progressives) are giving Jarrett a free pass.

MK said...

How do you know that the lives of the former residents have not been improved? Have you talked to any of them? I would be pretty shocked if they are any worse off than when they lived in the high rises. From what I understand, that was probably the most miserable situation of despair that one could possibly have. The environment could not have been set up any more to encourage crime and a feeling of hopelessness and dependancy. There is no way that their lives could have not improved by moving from that environment.

Of course, their problems are not solved and everything is not sunshine and lollipops. If that is your standard then you will probably never be happy with any policy decision that is ever made. The reality is that you need to attack poverty by focusing on its root causes. Moving people from one place to another is not going to elimanate the reasons that they got into that situation. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. I'm sure their lives did improve, by and large, from the move. But they are never going to improve significantally unless they find a way to get themselves out of poverty.

Jake said...

As I said, the high-rise projects were a terrible failure, caused by government racism and neglect combined with deindustrialization. But in destroying them without building housing to replace them at the same time, the residents lost their friends and networks of community support that had helped them survive, and they were forced to move to new high-crime areas further from jobs and transit.

Undoubtedly some people's lives improved and others' got worse. If you can provide any evidence at all that "their lives did improve, by and large, from the move", please do so. I'm not nearly so optimistic.

You are right, of course, that we "need to attack poverty by focusing on its root causes". I think the best ways to attack those root causes are to create neighborhoods integrated by race and class and invest substantially in economically devastated neighborhoods. Daley, Jarrett, and the CHA have shown no interest in pursuing such initiatives, preferring instead to recreate new concentrations of poverty and crime on less valuable real estate.

stephen said...

Jake, the reason Daley et al have no interest in pursuing policies that will force people to be integrated by class is that it kills their tax base! Affluent people (by most people's measure I am) don't want to live around people who are working 3 jobs, single mothers, and all the social situations that accompany the lower class. Thats just thats the facts. Attempts to intergrate people by class is one of the many causes of "white flight" to the suburbs. Try integrating Lincoln Park by class, watch how much property value is destroyed and the quick flight of former residents to the near suburbs. Its a pipe dream.

By the way, I know by the sound of some of my comments I might sound like a crazy conservative republican, not the case. I usually only post when I strongly disagree. Public housing, or government regulation of housing is not
something I'm very fond of.

By the way, its for this very reason that neighborhoods with populations of higher income get better city services (better parks, schools, sanitation, et cetera)... if the city diverts resources from them, we'll move away, and then its even worse for everyone (who provides more of a tax base, 100 gold coast residents or 50 englewood residents?). I'm not saying its right, but it all comes down to economics.

stephen said...

ehh, i said that wrong, 50 gold coast or 100 englewood