The greedy and incompetent people who pushed the nation to
the brink of bankruptcy are generously rewarded – with your money and mine –
while hardworking people suffer unemployment, wage reduction, lack of medical
care and drastically diminished opportunities.
AIG pays its morally bankrupt executives $165 million in
taxpayer-funded bonuses for running the company into the ground, and thousands
of honest New Yorkers face an increasingly uncertain future.
Strange times, indeed.
After the AIG bonus debacle, something has became clearer:
Giving more taxpayers’ billions to the same people who created the present
economic mess is not a solution.
Instead, it would make more sense to pay attention to
people like Maya Wiley, director of the Center for Social Inclusion.
"We have to stimulate equality if we want to
stimulate the economy," she said.
The center, a New York-based group that attempts to
"serve as a bridge between the worlds of public policy and grass-roots
community organizing," released its new report on the state of equal
opportunity. The survey, "One Region: Promoting Prosperity Across
Race," reaffirms what immigrants and people of color have known for years:
Not all New Yorkers are given the same opportunities.
In particular, the report finds these groups have
benefited little from infrastructure development, job creation and other
crucial services. As a consequence, they are having the hardest time in today’s
As if they had read the report and wanted to show their
support for it, hundreds of Queens residents gathered at Travers
Park in Jackson Heights
Wednesday to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with such disparities to Gov.
Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg. They wanted to tell them in no uncertain terms
that the recent cuts to adult literacy and job training programs for more than
1 million New Yorkers are shortsighted and unacceptable.
"These times call for significant government
investment and innovation," said protest organizers, who included members
of the New York Immigration Coalition, Make the Road NY and New Immigrant Community Empowerment.
Echoing the report’s findings, they said the proposed cuts
would be a disaster for New York – a city with 1.6 million residents 16 years
or older who dropped out of high school.
Also, more than 20% of the state’s population is
foreign-born (twice the national average), and more than 1 million New Yorkers
do not speak English well.
In addition, immigrant and unskilled workers have been
severely hurt by the loss of construction and service jobs. The need for adult
education and training opportunities is urgent – yet there are fewer than
60,000 seats in free or low-cost government-funded English As Second Language
and adult literacy programs.
That’s why the protesters called for the state and the
city to integrate low-wage workers into its stimulus-funded recovery plans,
something that the center report also recommended.
The center "is using this report to urge elected officials
to use federal stimulus funds to connect low-opportunity communities to jobs,
schools, health care and other vital resources," said Wiley.
In response, Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and other local
leaders plan to hold town hall meetings in their districts.
"This report is evidence that we still have much to
do to end the disparities afflicting our communities," said Velázquez.
Ending these disparities is a matter of fairness and, more
importantly, is the only road to a solid economic future for the whole city.