GO SET A WATCHMAN

By Bill Lyne | June 26, 2020

As the topic of defunding the police begins to make it into more and more of our country’s respectable parlors, the inevitable first question is something like, “But who’re you gonna call when someone’s breaking into your house?”  The answer, of course, is, It depends on who you are and where you live.  In the urban enclaves and suburbs that are graced with 401Ks, health insurance, and a Whole Foods Market, no one thinks twice about calling the police.  In those neighborhoods, the slogan “serve and protect” tends to more or less overlap with reality.  But in the neglected regions of capital, with their payday loans, eviction notices, and McDonald’s, the police are an occupying army, agents of the interests of the bankers and landlords who don’t live anywhere near there.  James Baldwin, the brilliant Black witness to U.S. white supremacy who grew up in Harlem poverty, wrote that in his neighborhood he learned early that his people “hardly ever” called the cops, for it usually led to a brutal reminder that the police didn’t work for…

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THE SECOND TIME AS TRAGEDY

By Bill Lyne | June 8, 2020

THE SECOND TIME AS TRAGEDY        This time it’s going to be much worse. From 2008 to 2012, during the recession that now seems more quaint than great, the state slashed appropriations to public higher education.  This only accelerated a process of privatization.  Following a trend that had been consistent since at least the early 1980s, state universities raised tuition between 60% and 80% over four years and went on their merry way.  Overall university budgets were actually affected very little, but the cost of public higher education was shifted more and more to students and their families. This time, the full bill for a house-of-cards public higher ed funding scheme will be coming due.  Funding for public universities comes in three buckets—state appropriations, tuition, and self-supporting auxiliaries like dorms and dining halls.  All three of those buckets are about to become dumpster fires. The need to shut down the economy has shriveled state tax receipts and whenever the inevitable legislative special session comes, the temptation to make deep cuts to universities will be great.…

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