New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


The Homeless Bach

February 21, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Pat LaMarche

‘Can Anyone Spare a Pair of Bootstraps?’

by Pat LaMarche

In June of 2009 PBS predicted that — according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness — “The recession will force 1.5 million more people into homelessness over the next two years.” That was 1.5 million MORE people. That makes best estimates for the number of homeless people in the U.S. anywhere from three to five million. The same PBS story says that 1.5 million of the overall total are children.

These numbers are so large that it’s difficult to imagine the typical homeless person. Because homelessness is at such epidemic proportions, there is nothing typical about the conditions, circumstances, or character of the homeless.

So rather than try and imagine the entire spectrum — from aging military veteran to colicky new born — let’s just talk about one of these newer homeless folks.

Allow me to introduce a man who became homeless as a result of our nation’s economic downturn. He’s one of those million and a half extra folks added to the already existing crowd experiencing chronic homelessness. Only recently and unexpectedly, this gent found that he couldn’t keep his bills paid and a roof over his head for the first time in his life. (more…)

Pax Occupata

November 14, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Ecology, Economy, Politics, Randall Amster

From Relative Peace to Universal Wellbeing

by Randall Amster

Decades ago, on the eve of a period of widespread societal upheaval, Bob Dylan famously intoned that “the order is rapidly fading.” For a time, this appeared to be so: around the world people were in the streets, revolution was in the air, and structures of oppression were being openly contested. The headiness of those days brought many advances and opened up significant space for later movements to operate, yet in the final analysis somehow it all delivered us into even higher degrees of wealth stratification and greater consolidation of power. The order had flickered, but not quite faded, and in the end reasserted itself stronger than before.

Today we stand poised at a not-dissimilar crossroads. While perhaps no one has yet penned a Dylan-esque anthem of the movement — although stalwarts such as David Rovics and Emma’s Revolution have dropped some poignant opening stanzas — a mass chorus of voices is drawing lines in the sand literally everywhere: public spaces, workplaces, shipping ports, shopping malls, community centers, corporate banks, schoolrooms, boardrooms, and more. The Occupy Movement has transcended the narrow confines of Zuccotti Park, and in doing so has seemingly asserted itself wherever the forces of elitism and subjugation rear their heads. As Frederick Douglass said, “power concedes nothing without demand,” and whatever else transpires in the days ahead it can at least be said that the movement has reminded us all of this basic tenet. (more…)

The Banks Are Made of Marble

August 10, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Harry Targ, Politics

Sometimes We Have to Sing and Cry and Hit the Streets…

by Harry Targ

Fred was dating a young woman who gave him the two Weavers Carnegie Hall albums for Chanukah in the winter of 1958. He brought the albums over to my house so I could listen. He never got them back.

I’m not a Red Diaper baby. I didn’t read Marx until the 1970s. I don’t know when I decided I was a Marxist. I didn’t start teaching Marx and political economy until the late 1970s. But I became a small “r” red when I first heard those albums. Then on to Pete Seeger alone, Woody Guthrie, Cisco Houston, and later Arlo Guthrie, Phil Ochs, and even Kris Kristofferson and Bruce Springsteen.

From time to time I reminisce about all this as I still listen to the music that makes me mad, makes me cry, and makes me want to hit the streets. I forget the fine tuned lectures I listen to (and even give) on neoliberal globalization, the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, over-production and under-consumption, and financialization — and break into song and tears as I hear the old music in the car or at home. (more…)