Canal Street

^^ One Canal Street : succulent and enticing, but not at all affordable, and guaranteed to be Boston’s present and future.

—- —- —- —-

Spare me the mouth bleeds of candidates — and current office holders — who promise we the people “affordable” housing any time soon. It isn’t happening. Frankly, I’m losing my patience for hearing such horse smoke emit from the throats of those — including my friends — who seek my vote.

Here’s why I call BS on the whole “affordable” housing layer cake :

( 1 ) what gets built these days is either huge megaliths of overpriced, miserably made “units” or go-for-it luxury condo blocks with every hotel-like amenity and a price to set the hearts of trip-advisor a-flutter.

( 2 ) new-era McMansions continue to be built in the outlying neighborhoods of our wedding party city. Leonard DeCaprio and Kate Blanchett — and there’s plenty of them right now with fat wallets — would fit right in to these million-dollar, even two million dollar Titanics.

( 3 ) land costs doubled when, in his 2013 campaign Marty Walsh announced his intention to build 53,000 housing “units,” a number which, as Mayor, he later raise to 69,000, at which point land costs doubled again. That initial mistake has never been made good. Its impossible to buy a lot of buildable land in Boston for less than half a million. Just ask the Ascolillos of East Boston who acquired the old Lynn and Boston railway right of way for about $ 50,000 sixty years ago and who today are asking a developer to pay at least $ 2,000,000 — a price which is actually a bargain now, given the size of the four plots.

( 4 ) As Tom O’Brien of HYM, the developer building out the 10,000-dwelling Suffolk Downs colossus notes, it now costs at least $ 500,000 to build a “unit.” That’s the bare minimum. Add in the price of union labor and some better-than-basic fixtuers, and you’re north of $ 600,000. Now add in broker fees, advertising, inspection and closing, and a ten percent profit, and your “unit” probably costs $ 700,000. Minimum.

( 5 ) the City’s “affordability” covenant, by which builders of more than a nine-unit project must offer one unit, of every ten, at an “affordable” price, worsens the problem, because the money that the developer loses on the “affordable” unit must be made up by jacking the price higher of his market-rate units. Yet some candidates and office holders think it just ducky to demand that big develoipers offer one “affordable” uhit for every five they build: which of course raises the price of the other four even higher !

( 6 ) rent control, now touted by candidate Michelle Wu — and which is illegal in Massachusetts for very good reason — does not change the market but merely impedes it, deflecting its values from owner to tenant (and thus constitutes a taking of property without proper compensation or pursuant to eminent domain laws, which require a public purpose anyway), a situation which, when rent control was last tried., saw tenants renting out rooms in their apartments for more money than they were paying in rent ! And of course owners, unable to acquire the rise in values which the market created, simply stopped doing any upgrades to their buildings and no repairs except under Court order. At its worst, rent control led to owners burning their loss-leader properties for the insurance money. Lastly, rent control required an entire City bureaucracy, a burden to every taxpayer – who, in our City, is the property owner !

( 7 ) We are told, by the painted warblers seeking our vote, that the answer to the “housing crisis” (more about that later) is to build more housing. Yet fact is that the more housing that has been built, the higher that rents and buy prices go.

( 8 ) “affordability” will only come when the housing market tanks. Yet who the heck wants that ? Economic hard times are hardly the solution to the present real estate bubble. Nor is such a burst to happen any time soon. The salaries of high tech folks, education bureaucrats, financial whizzes, and health care executives continue to rise, and the rush by them to live in center-City shows no signs of reversing — even the onset of Covid and working from home couldn’t stop it.

( 9 ) lastly, what does “affordable” even mean ? Affordable for whom ? When I was younger,. living in a more rational world, we used to opine that a family’s housing costs shouldn’t be more than one-third of their take home income. Today, the median family income in Boston is about $ 95,000; which means a take-home income of about $ 68,000 and thus a monthly rent or mortgage payment of no more than $ 1900 a month. Good luck finding an aprtment6 for that cheap, or a mortgage payment that low ! And that is for a median income family. What of the families that take home less, even much less ? Apartments for $ 1600, $ 1400, and $ 1200 don’t exist except in Federally subsidized housing.

( 10 ) even if we continue to use the absurd “affordability covenant,” an “affordable” home is available for only one of ten, or one of five dwellers. yet there are at least 200,000 families living in Boston whose take home incomes fall below the median.

The situation gets worse every day. In East Boston, where demolition of the entire community in favor of megaliths and condo blocks has touched almost every street, long time owners are selling their small houses for $ 600,000 to $ 750,000 and their triple-deckers for $ 1,200,00 to $ 1,800,000 ! I do not begrudge these sellers their great luck; they stuck it out through horrible real estate times and some community dysfunction. Yet the result is that the new dwellings that will be built, or the condos that will be converted to, out of such huge buy prices are NOT going to be anywhere near affordable. They are going to be very, very pricey.

One answer that might mitigate the present real estate bubble would be to raise the wages of “affordable” families’ workers by at least 50 percent if not more. And why should not a merchandiser, an airport worker, a hotel room keeper, an office attendant, waiter, cook, or outreach worker earn more than $ 16 to $ 19 an hour ? In Boston that level of wage requires families to double up in order to pay even a minimum rent — and many families are doing exactly that. Granted that $ 16 to $ 19 an hour is a lot higher than people were earning as recently as six years ago; yet rents and buy prices have risen much more in those six years than wages. So where are the candidates who call for a $ 21/hour minimum wage ? Nowhere that I can find, at least not among those who have any chance of winning. And I understand why. Candidates for office today must raise a ton of money. An at-large Council race costs at least $ 200,000; a Mayor candidate needs about twelve times as much., Where to get such money if not from the business community, which views an enormous line worker wage as economic collapse.

As for the so-called “housing crisis,” what is it, really, but a debt crisis ? 60 years ago, homes sold for $ 12,00 to $ 20,000. Buyers took a mortgage for 80 percent of the purchase price nd put down the other 20 percent. Those mortgages were issued by a community bank with which one had a personal relationship. Banks kept, their mortgages; there was no such thing as “selling a mortgage in the secondary market.” Owners paid off their mortgages and owned their house outright. Payoff day used to be a big day in those days ! I well recall my own parents;’ payoff day. We celebrated !

But now what ? You buy a $ 700,000 house putting down maybe five percent — $ 35,000 — if you have a 720 credit score (If you have a lesser score, you’re screwed) and the remaining $ 665,000 is borrowed, maybe in two mortgages. Guess who profits from that borrower borrowing $ 665,000 ? Not the borrower, that’s for sure. Lose her job and foreclosure awaits; and so she is at the mercy of her boss, whose “evaluation” of her job performance spells the difference between making a $ 4000 mortgage payment and…not making it. Then who DOES profit from the debt indenturing of thousands of borrowers of overpriced buys ? You might say the lending bank: but you would be mostly wrong. Yes, that bank gets an “origination fee”; and maybe some interest, but as soon as at the very closing, that $ 665,000 mortgage is sold to an “investor” — usually a hedge fund or pension fund or even a huge commercial bank, which then bundles it with 10,000 similar mortgages and submits them to trading in the bond and stock market, where “sovereign wealth” funds owned by Mideastern sheiks (including the murderous MBS) and similar autocrats can bank some arbitrage or finance some weapons purchases for terrorists, or perhaps fund a few Chinese and Indonesian sweatshops.

Nice going, America.

Thus we see that the “housing crisis” is, as I said, a debt crisis. Of course those who were lucky enough to own a home from 1990 or earlier can now sell out at a vast price and receive actual cash money. But what of the buyers today ? What do they get after paying $ 875,000 for a fairly decent 1960’s house in the City but decades of debt — mortgages are no longer twenty years, they’re 30 or even 40 years — a working lifetime — lashing them to a career which had better not fall afoul of a bad business or employment event. No wonder that linkedin is filled with people who are “open to work” seeking this bureaucratic “job” or that “good fit.”

Given the indentured life of $ 665,000 mortgage borrowers, it’s no wonder that they have little understanding of the freedom that America used to mean : because in the truest sense, they are NOT free. Not free and likely won’t BE until they’re 70 years old.

In addition to a debt crisis, we have an employment crisis. Linkedin is filled — as is indeed — with paper pushing, Microsoft Office-requiring, “jobs” which produce nothing, not even actual service, but which do satisfy “:equity and inclusion” politics or university pig-lipstick; human resource staffs policing sexual conduct in the office and overseeing speech; online application magicians who post corporate aerosol out to potential customers, etc. Naturally, the majority of such instagram influencers, corporate gaslighters, and internal affairs spies want to live as close to their paychecks’ gleaming skyscraper as possible, right ? Because a 75 hour work week makes commuting to a suburb or exurb hell to pay.

Meanwhile, actual skill jobs go socially unappreciated, and in any case, most such workers don’t live in Titanic City.

The candidate for Mayor who I am supporting, Annissa Essaibi George, says this about housing in her current hand-out card : “

Make it possible for everyone to call Boston home. Annissa will create better pathways to homeownership, relieve pressure in the market that lead to higher rents, and build more affordable housing.”

I love Annissa; I think she has a more masterful, realistic handle on Boston’s big issues than any others who sought this year to be Mayor. Yet I can’t see any way that even her very measured statement can do what it seeks and many ways in which it will worsen the problem. I think the pathways to ownership of which she seeks are very few; that there is no way to relieve the rental; pressure; and that building more “affordable” housing is a paradox at best. And if Boston’s most realistic current candidate has good words but no real answer, how worse the blather and doodle-bugging one reads from her rivals and from various City Councillors and would-be’s.

We are lashed to the masts of economic prosperity as tightly as Ahab was lashed to his Moby Dick obsession. Ahab at least had Starbuck to warn him; who is warning us ? The future of our Pequod at sea is as a high-income playpen and 75 hour work weeks serviced by a host of helots living sardine-packed while the playpenners bask in amenity heaven where a $ 5,000 rent or a $ 4,000 mortgage is no problem at all because all the money in the City economy goes to those who can parse the technology systems and to those who educate them, care for their health, and invest their 401(k)s.

And I am Ishmael.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


Liz and Adam

Governments, no matter how beneficial or enlightened, do end. So do the intellectual movements that underwrite such governments. Thus we see, in today’s America, that modern conservatism, a theory of government which arose largely from the writings of the late William Buckley, has reached its end. Limited government; personal liberties; low taxation and a reluctance to borrow upon the credit of the national treasury; an interventionist foreign policy based upon opposition to communism — all these have lost their hold upon the advocates, donors, and political parties which helped make the America of the past 50 years what it was.

Recently we have taken to naming this political stance “principled conservatism.” Which implies that the movements that now profess to be “conservative” are un-principled. This is a mistake. Today’s “conservatives” are fully committed to a principle : the end of our Constitution and of the liberal democracy which it details. Consider what the current Republican faction insist upon every day : ( 1 ) insurrection and sedition ( 2 ) falsehoods about elections ( 3 ) overturning election results if they go against the Republicans ( 4 ) an end to the separation of church and State guaranteed in the First Amendment ( 5 ) an end to free speech guarantees in said Amendment ( 6 ) an end to the equal protection and due process guarantees in the Fourteenth Amendment ( 7 ) isolationism ( 8 ) the President as absolute monarch and the un-personing if all who do not swear him a loyalty oath ( 8 ) Presidential control of the Federal Courts ( 9 ) disinformation via Republican-minded media ( 10 ) the application of vigilantism, including bullying of voters and harassment of officials, to enforce its agenda and ( 11 ) a love of death by whatever means those who support the Constitution do not support.

Nothing political could be less like principled, modern conservatism than these. The current Republican faction is a radical, illiberal, sometimes fascist, sometimes obscurantist, often delusional, bone-sawed hallucination funded by cynical money men and women who bamboozle working class supporters and foment a political epidemic in the course of which they can free their money purposes from regulation, oversight, and consequence.

We like to think that Trump made this happen, but that too is a mistake. He gave it permission, and has since then played up to it and allowed it to think itself good and right; and he has shown his troupe the ways to destroy; but the impulses were there already. They harken back to long traditions in American life — minority positions always., but of long persistence. All of the actual agendas espoused by today’s illiberals have made the scene many times : in 1787, against ratification of the Constitution; in 1794, the whiskey rebellion; after the Civil Wart, in Jim Crow laws and lynchings; many occasions when immigrants were hounded, harassed, and even murdered;. after World war I and II, in “red scares”; before World war II, the existence of Nazi sympathizers and anti-semites (these led by Father Coughlin and Gerald L K Smith); and for two decades, from 1894 to 1914, the William Jennings Bryan movement, which was racist, religiously intolerant, rural, and economically populist.

What was NOT present, however, in any of these movements, was ( 1 ) a willingness to resort to sedition. 1787’s anti-Constitution people, who might have led a rebellion, instead accepted the ratification; ( 2 ) movements led by liars broadcasting disinformation and fake bugotry ( 3 ) a readiness to chose death over public safety.

The utter falsity of the present illiberalism is scary. A political refusal to accept what is, is absolutely lethal to any kind of ratio0nal government. That today lies and falsity direct the politics of a major political party is a novel phenomenon for our natioin, one whose consequences will likely be fatal to our 234 years of rational governance.

And what of the Democratic party ? For decades beginning with the rise of Woodrow Wilson, it stood for utilitarian reforms that would make the Constitution’s guarantees more available and supported. All of the great democratic reforms since 1912 owe their enactments to Democrats (and, to be fair, to the reformist segment of the old Republican party as well). All of these reforms were achieved by legislative compromise, some of them rapid, some not so rapid, but in every case the consequence of deliberation and campaigning. Which is not to say that they were not accompanied by sometimes outrageous street actions — the antics of some suffragettes cannot be forgotten. Nor were the victories of labor won without violence. Yet if at street level the great reforms of 1913-1968 were often occasion for civil disobedience, often painful, in the halls of Congress, legislation was debated, crafted, redrafted, and enacted in the manner accorded by our Coinstitution as practiced.

Today that is less and less the case. The Democratic party has responded poorly to the current Republican menace. It is off balance at best. It can’t decide whether to become as cultish as the Republicans or to remain Constitutional. Much of its working class base has left the tent. The Democrats of today are, more and more every month, led by outlandish ultras who want it all and want it now; by mega-rich, technology donors and corporate human resource zealots; by academics who have turned universities into inquisitions; by racially obsessed biology nuts who divide the electorate into skin color or ethnic origin apartheids; and by consultants and campaign managers who have intentionally excised a huge part of the nation’s registered voters from their campaign lists. I have some advice for the Democrats : elections are won by addition, not subtraction. An act-blue campaign only to a “vote builder”: voterfile list is by definition a vote suppression, an oligarchic structure.

By campaigning thus, the current Democratic party is sticking its head in the Republican lion’s mouth, doing exactly to the voters what the Republicans want Democrats to do and verifying, for Republican voters, all the lies that Republican manipulators tell their voters about the other party and its activists. If that were all, it would be scary enough. There is more, however. Today’s Democratic party has almost given up on the deliberative Congressional process and on the independence of our Federal Courts. The party is dangerously close to trying to impose its priorities rather than negotiate them, to seek tinkering with the Constitution rather than accepting its skeptical, centuries-wise limitations. Nor should this surprise us. just as the Democrats’ academics and administrators tell students (and professors) what to think, say, and learn, and just as the party’s corporate managers tell employee what to think and say (much of it being skin-color and national origin diktats), so these same folks see no reason why in the political sphere they should not impose rather than discuss with their opponents. Nor is the Constitution any precept to them; after all, the Democrats’ favorite academics and advocates consider the Constitution illegitimate because crafted by slave holders in defense of slavery. Indeed, some Democratic zealots consider the entire history of our nation illegitimate.

The Democratic party hasn’t slid as far down the slope to illiberal as its political opposite — after all, Joe Biden is President, not AOC — but the clock is ticking. If the modern conservative movement is already dead, the modern liberal movement is maybe two election cycles away. All of the great Democratic leaders — Hoyer, Clyburn, Pelosi, Schumer — are 80 years old or almost. They have no successors. We are watching the constitutional Democratic party move into death’s waiting room.

We are so screwed.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



A recent report by the State’s Department of Education makes clear that Boston’s Public School system isn’t doing the job. Of course this is not news. Boston’s schools administration has failed across the board for decades. Its finances are a hot mess. Its school performance varies from superb to unacceptable. It follows a busing order, almost 50 years old, that no longer relates at all to present residential facts. It maintains facility capacity, at needless cost, for 92,000 students when barely 54,000 are enrolled. Principals cannot choose their own staff. The exam schools have just adopted a racial quota admission rule that reminds one of 1950s apartheid in South Africa. Lack of trade and technology curriculum remains a problem. School bus timeliness seems hard to secure. The safety of school lunches has sometimes been questioned. Three years ago, the system was fined about $ 1,800,000 by the IRs for filing its reports late or not at all. Some members of the appointed school committee have succumbed to racial gossip.

I’d better stop right here before this column is reduced to a list.

So what, then, are we to do about a system that for fiscal 2021 eats up $ 1,250,000,000 of taxpayer’s money — one third of Boston’s entire City budget ? $ 135,000,000 of which is allocated to “transportation” ? About $ 15,000,000 to pay the salaries of system teachers who have no assignment because no principal will have them ? Maybe $ 20,000,000 in unnecessary maintenance costs for vastly under-utilized buildings ?

Why do we continue to hire superintendents from out of town who then pass through a rapidly. revolving door as their inability to manage a system out of sync becomes too obvious to be glossed away ? Is there no one in Boston schools administration who can do the job — who knows the failures first hand and can crack the whip of radical reform ?

Why did Mayor Walsh not reappoint John McDonough, who as interim superintendent from 2012 to 2015 had begun the reform process before system failures became this publicly scandalous ?

But enough questions and accusations. Below I set forth the radical reforms I beg us to consider urgent and to get busy at making it so :

( 1 ) change the City charter to institute a mostly elected school committee, of 13 members, eleven elected by district and two appointed by the Mayor. Parents MUST be brought in to school decision making. As voters, parents will have a direct say by electing whom they will. The same goes for taxpayers who foot the bill even if their own kids attend private schools or are homeschooled. As for the Districts, they should NOT be co-extensive with our City Council Districts, to prevent, or at least lessen, the rise of political rivalry. (My own suggestion is that we use the current busing assignment districts, electing five members from the large district, four from the next one in size, and two from the small district.)

( 2 ) divide the system into those three election districts, with a superintendent for each and a budget for each. Each District would be separately managed and would be required by the State to compete with each other on performance standards monitored by the state through the Mayor’s two appointed members. As separate districts, the central administrative staff would be reduced accordingly.

( 3 ) enact a City ordinance that the school principals in each District have hiring and firing power for ALL of their staff.

( 4 ) Each District budget will be separately subject to annual approval by the Mayor.

( 5 ) Establish parent-teacher associations, thus reviving the institutions which crucially oversaw and directed the operation of schools prior to 1974 and had the full confidence of the city’s voters, teachers and taxapers.

( 6 ) The exam schools will not be subject to any of the three district superintendents but will be operated and regulated directly by the mayor through his Education Advisor and staff. The ONLY schools issue on which the City’s most important elected official is accountable will thus be the success or not success of the City’s most sought-after schools. The exam schools will also have a separate budget overseen by the Mayor’s city comptroller, subject to approval by the Council. (the budgets for the three districts would not be subject to Council approval, as is the case in most Massachusetts communities, where school committees have budget autonomy.) As for exam standards, test scores shall be the ultimate arbiter of admission, but the school’s managers shall have discretion to consider the neighborhood status of a student seeking admission.

( 7 ) the City’s teachers union will bargain with each District Committee separately.

( 8 ) Budget performance will be overseen by the Boston Finance Commission and appropriate legislation shall be filed and enacted. These annual reports shall be published prominently in the City’s newspaper of record and on the City’s website in a separately accessible file.

( 9 ) End the 1974 busing order and the transportation if students all over the City. Boston’s students must be able to attired school with their neighbors.

In no way does the above list exhaust suggestions for major reform. Nonetheless, these certainly generate discussion and set the parameters of what can be devised to attack head on and utterly the comprehensive irrelevancy of much BPS administration, performance, and purposing. Nothing by way of reform should be off the table when we tackle 50 years of maladministration and misdirection. If we are to have a taxpayer-paid school system at all, we owe it to those taxpayers — and to school parents, potential school parents, and all students –to do the best we can and not ever again settle for a mish-mash inside a Rube Goldberg on behalf of kicking 1,000 inconvenient cans down the road.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



On September 14, 2021, about 108,000 Boston voters cast their verdicts on the multiple candidates seeking the offices of Mayor and City Councillor. Eight at Large Council candidates will face the voters on November 2nd, along with Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George seeking to be our next Mayor.

Ordinarily, such voter verdicts would be matters of character and size-of-following. Ever since I first involved myself in Boston elections, some 54 years ago, there has almost always been broad consensus on what city governance is about and should take care to do. Except for 1967, when Louise Day Hicks, as the voice of many aggrieved school parents, challenged those who sought to desegregate Boston’s then very racially separated school system, the main difference between candidates has been whose names would be on the City of Boston paychecks. We used to smirk at the unity of it all, but as I survey the current Boston situation, I wish those days of consensus were back.

Instead, we have polarization: so-called “progressives” versus “traditionalists.”

Annissa Essaibi George, the “traditionalist” candidate for Mayor, won votes by the barrel-full in Dorchester east of “the Avenue”; Michelle Wu amassed the same in Jamaica Plain and Roslindale. West Roxbury threw a tsunami of votes at Essaibi George; Back Bay and Downtown a wave nearly as big for Wu. Meanwhile Kim Janey, who became acting Mayor in March, all but monopolized the voters of Black voters. As for Councillor Andrea Campbell, she did defy the polarization pressure by winning a fairly even spread of votes all across the City (befitting her status as almost everybody’s second choice), yet finished third, proof (if any were needed) that polarization was the ticket to success this time around.

The polarization was racial as well as cultural. There was scant enthusiasm among the city’s Black and Hispanic voters for Wu or Essaibi George. Still, culture rulked the day, because Boston’s white voters are polarized among themselves.

The same is true almost everywhere in America today. Skin-colored conflicts inflame white voters almost exclusively. Why is this ? Pundits offer a dozen reasons. Who can say which is the proximate cause / Yet the fact is there. “Blue states” versus “red states” exist because white voters, who comprise about two-thirds of all voters, are at each other’s throats. Why would Boston be any different ? Myself, I think the proximate cause of this white-voter face-off is the unevennness of our economy.

Nowhere is that unevenness more flagrant than in Boston. The same highly-paid, tech-savvy, educated skillsters who are taking over the Democratic party nationwide are doing so in Boston with a vengeanace, shoving out the old-school, Catholic, ethnic working class, whose jobs pay less, whose technology savvy doesn’t often keep up, whose ways of life are embedded in the accommodations and successes of 50 to 85 years ago (Franklin D Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson) and whose job opportunities have narrowed savagely as the industrial phase of American life has given way to a service economy in which union solidarity and its economic boosts have faded into non-union, low-wage, peon jobs.

How could scions of the once successful, ethnic Bostonians (including my own grandparents) who commanded city government for 100 years not feel pissed at being pushed out by the buyers of million dollar homes and waves of luxury condo developments ? Wouldn’t it roil you to have to move out of Boston because no one will assure that every Boston public school imposes a high-quality education ? Wouldn’t you fight to keep the exams schools exam schools ? And the jobs — where are they ? Of course you’d be upset to watch three-quarters of your long-time neighbors — friends of your grandparents even — move to Peabody, Foxboro, Wakefield and Newton. Yet just as “old Boston” moves away or is pushed out, newcomers to Boston who stay for the $ 250,000 “diversity and inclusion” jobs ( you got to love that phrase, “diversity and inclusion.” What it actually means to “old Boston’ is “jobs for you, but none for me any more.”) are quite happy to rent a cubicle sized flat for $ 2500 or buy a poorly constructed, “luxury” “unit” for $ 650,000 — more money than “old Boston” voters see in a decade.

For the first 20 years or so of the high-income conquest of Boston, the “old Boston” among us could still command city elections and win city jobs in the manner of two generations before them: it takes time for newcomers to adjust to or grasp any significance in local politics. But lately even that last refuge has failed. The numbers just don’t muscle it any more. Essaibi George is proudly an “old Boston’ candidate. Where did she rule on September 14 ? In maybe 50 precincts of the City’s 255.

Another fact : once upon a time there’d be 20, even 40 City Council candidates with Irish or Italian last names. This year ? Only four with Irish last names, none of Italian heritage. Yes, none.

People who are being pushed out understandably don’t like it. For generations, “old Bostonians” have lived in, worked for, socialized among, and managed Boston. Are the current generation of “traditional” voters supposed to just bow out and smile ? Are today’s Bostonians of Italian ancestry supposed to cheer as statues of Christopher Columbus are defaced and removed by City order ? Look at what has replaced Columbus statues, men-only taverns, Park league football, and Irish politicians : bike lanes — which make driving an even huger ordeal; Boston-magazine restaurants, serving hummingbird-sized portions of leafy, stringy I-don’t-know-what’s “drizzled” with cilantro glaze; ring-and-video doorbells on security locked front doors; and vast nosefuls of corporate job descriptions — almost all of them written by new-to-town white people — which include, among the “interviewer’s questions” section this telling bit of agitprop : ‘will you commit to fighting white supremacy ?”

I could go on listing examples of the new condescension — the sleeve-worn race obsessions — spreading its expensive colognes all across Boston neighborhoods being planned out of existence by our City’s Ph.D’d bureaucracy, but you do get the point.

But back to the money.

Mark Twain’s famous quote — “money is twice tainted. taint yours and taint mine” — epitomizes today’s America, in which about ten percent of us are educated to the max and are a “good fit” for salaries above $ 200,000 a year; or we run brand-new online businesses which, after gestation, sell to mangers of land-speculation billionaire money for millions of dollars. You can see these sparkling new richies all over instagram, posting their world travels, dressed to the nine times nines, their photo captions littered with Via Napoleone brand names. It’s nice to have money, jeroboams and balthasars of it ! But Twain had it right : taint yours, and taint mine.

The rest of us earn far too little. Either we hustle at middle-management jobs thumbed by human resource departments and evaluated by supervisors, or we hold peon jobs serving fast food to impatient commuters, cleaning hospital bedrooms, washing skyscraper windows, longshoring, assisting “seniors” and what-have-you, jobs that in 2021 America pay about one-third of what a family requires to barely break even in and around the big cities where the jobs are. I hate to tell ya, but hey — even a $ 15/hour wage doesn’t cut it.

So, enough about the imbalances in our economy. You all know what I’m talking about. Back, then, to the Boston city primary, which is the main event filling up our arena right now. In one corner we have the candidates representing the new corporate progressivism, the big money thereof as well as the entire real estate industry, which has made of Boston its new Klondike toward which all are rushing as real estate prices climb ever upward. This is the current majority voice. In the opposite corner we have those who have worked for or had a personal stake in city governance lo these many decades, including Boston Latin School parents as well as most Boston labor unions representing crafts especially but also police, fire, and EMS workers. These comprise the current minority numbers.

The majority supports significant, even radical changes in how the city operates its schools its police, its traffic and the MBTA, as well as big-box, cheap-tack megalithic housing “units” (it favors high density “transit-oriented” housing, and zoning reform to allow for these, whatever that is) and of course regulation of the atmosphere, the ocean, and modes of transportation. The minority simply wants to be left alone to do our modest jobs, take care of our loved ones, and maybe plan a meager retirement. Who are this “rest of us” going to vote for in November ? You know whom. And if our candidate — our last hope of securing a viable, economic foothold in what was once our City — doesn’t win, as seems likely, what will we do ?

You tell me. I have no idea.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere