BroadSnark

Thoughts on politics, religion, violence, inequality, social control, change, and random other things from an autonomous, analytical, adopted, abolitionist, anarchist who likes the letter A
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Things You Might Have Missed

August 22, 2014 By: Mel Category: Misc

This is gonna be a long one. And I’m saving some for next week. Apologies. Not only did I miss last week, but I also did a lot of catching up on reading. And, of course, I have been obsessively following Ferguson.

I know none of you have missed what has been going on in Ferguson. But I will drop a few of the more important links:

Ferguson isn’t the only place people have had enough. In the Mandalay Region of Burma/Myanmar, farmers had their land taken away by the military. They protested by, for example, plowing the fields that had been stolen from them. The cops came and started shooting. The protesters, along with local villagers who ran out to help, “detained 37 police personnel“. The rest ran away. Nicely done, farmers.

While we wait to hear whether or not the cop will be charged in Ferguson, we know that Shaneen Allen is going to be prosecuted for gun possession.

San Bernardino PD tased a man to death last week. Maybe they were trying to one up the South Dakota PD who tased an 8 year old?

In New Orleans, a man was shot in the head and the PD didn’t report it for two days. And in LA, they refused to release the autopsy of the man they shot.

If You Were Gunned Down By Police, What Photo Would the MSM Use to Portray You?

You have probably seen the picture going around of all the people killed by police. But maybe you missed this series of Last Words: A Visual Tribute to Men Killed By Police.

Nobody knows how many people cops murder every year.

I don’t know if this new police accountability app will do any good. But these teens are clearly awesome.

Prisoners in PA have been protesting and need some support.

We don’t hear enough of the stories from people in prison, especially not women in prison. Which is why this account from a woman at Virginia Correctional is so important. And why people should support films like this one about Marcia Powell, a sex worker who died in prison.

It turns out that Telling White People the Criminal Justice System is Racist Makes them Like it More. Awesome. 

In Memphis, a teacher punched a five-year-old girl in the face.

Good news is, LA says they are trying to shut down the school to prison pipeline. Bad news is, they are arming Compton school PD with AR-15s. What could go wrong?

Mothers are still be arrested for letting their kids play in parks and for swearing in front of them. (Newsflash: If you put your kid in a car, you are risking their life far more than any of this bullshit.)

Baltimore Jimmy Johns workers are now IWW.

Also in Baltimore, an out of control judge ordered a pro se defendant to be tased in court.

One could argue that a dildo is even more dehumanizing than this very life-like Japanese sex doll. But as a human and a sapiosexual, I’m finding the claims about it being a legit girlfriend replacement a little incomprehensible and (frankly) sad.

They better send a whole crap ton of those dolls to Brazil considering that women need virginity tests before they can get a job.

Sooo. That whole Affordable Care Act thing. How is it that hospital CEOs are seeing massive pay increases? Almost as big as the insurance premium increases we have been getting.  Hmmmmmm.

Finally, a Honduras morgue director is reporting that at least 5 of the children deported back to Honduras are now dead.

How Consumers Choose Their Corporate Masters

August 11, 2014 By: Mel Category: Change

Protester with Boycott BP signNonprofit Quarterly has a piece about how nonprofit nursing homes outperform for-profit ones. It got me thinking about the categories that we put organizations into and the criteria by which we judge an organization’s worth.

Here we have for-profit vs. nonprofit. The evaluation looks at outcomes for patients, as it should. But we don’t have much about how the workers are treated. Nursing assistants are absurdly low paid. The median wage is $11.97 per hour. In Minnesota, a main argument against the minimum wage was that nursing homes would have to close if they were forced to pay their workers $9.50. In New Jersey, nursing home workers cannot afford health insurance.

Those nonprofit nursing homes may have better health outcomes and they keep higher levels of staffing. But that doesn’t mean that they treat their employees well or pay them a living wage. It doesn’t mean that the people who work there have any autonomy or democracy in their workplace.

What about food labels? I’ve written before about how workers are ignored in the movements for a better food system. Nothing about an organic or free-range label tells you how the humans are treated. A label of local doesn’t tell you much when people haven’t even decided how far away local actually is. How much does fair trade tell you really? Fair in comparison to what?

The Human Rights Campaign has an annual Corporate Equality Index. It measures things like whether or not a company has a sexual orientation discrimination policy or offers same-sex partner health benefits. HRC has consistently given Wells Fargo a 100% human rights rating, presumably encouraging GLBT people to bank there. Meanwhile, Wells Fargo is a major investor in private prisons and their racist, predatory loan practices were a key driver in the foreclosure crisis.

What about pressure campaigns against giant companies? There are multiple current campaigns against Coca Cola. Each of them run by a different organization. When one organization wins something, they wrap it up and congratulate Coke and tell everyone they can start buying from them again. No thought to the other campaigns that keep going. No thought to how the greenwashing may actually keep a company in business.

Boycotts? What happens if I boycott BP, but I’m still buying gasoline from Exxon or Shell? Is that really helping anybody? What about boycotting Starbucks, but still buying coffee from another chain whose workers don’t have a union? What if your local indie coffee shop treats their workers like shit too? What about boycotting Walmart but still buying from Target, which is just as anti-union?

I’m not saying we should give up trying to make ethical choices. I’m not saying you are a shit if you ever buy anything from someplace that does horrible things. There is no way to avoid completely interacting with organizations that, in a better world, would not exist. But can’t we at least get it together enough to evaluate them in a way that isn’t so disjointed, that is based on more than just some narrow set of issues? Can’t we look at purpose, size, democracy, profit, community involvement….everything? And can’t we be smarter about what kinds of things we boycott and what we offer as alternatives?

Don’t tell people to leave Wells Fargo for Bank of America. Don’t just find any old credit union either. Don’t care only about environmental issues and ignore workers. Don’t assume that nonprofit means anti-capitalist or that people are treated well. Don’t start a campaign to boycott one organization in an entire sector that runs the same way. What is the point in that?

Consumer choice can help. I feel most hopeful when I am surrounded by co-op people who are trying to build the new world inside the old. But not all decisions that are made out to be ethical are. And we aren’t going to consumer choose our way into a revolution, especially not if we are just choosing between Walmart and Target.

Things You Might Have Missed

August 08, 2014 By: Mel Category: Misc

Dirt track at Hagerstown SpeedwayI watched dirt track racing this weekend. Apparently, that’s a thing. A very loud and surprisingly fun thing. You can make a race car out of anything.

Very much looking forward to seeing how the amazing Andrea Bowen takes Garden State Equality past the gay marriage fight. Andy has actually gotten me to help call people for an advocacy day, so you know she can make pretty much anything happen.

I think many people forget that a lot of chains are actually owned by locals who just wanted a small business of their own. Though it sounds like McDonalds is trying to get rid of those people. In any event, when a franchise owner basically comes out in support of a union for fast food workers, that’s news.

Moving on up the chain of evil corporations, a bunch of memos have been released showing Chiquita’s support of the death squads in Colombia.

Setting aside the Obama apologism and apparent belief that the CIA is or should be salvageable, this isn’t a bad summary of the torture investigation history.

Where is the nationwide torture investigation of US police? Like the ones in New Mexico that like to anally rape people for kicks.

Or these cops who went to the wrong house and dragged a woman naked out of her apartment.

Those cops will not be punished in the slightest. Meanwhile, a five-year-old has sexual misconduct on his record for pulling down his pants at school. You read that right. A five-year-old.

Looks like people in Colorado are staying home to get high instead of going out and getting in car accidents. Seriously though, the chicken littles are just going to look sillier and sillier as drugs are legalized and the world doesn’t fall apart.

If you are trying to help things fall apart, then you’d be better off sending in some aid. Perhaps you can send USAID to pretend to humanitarians working for an AIDS organization in Cuba.

Or maybe you can NGOize a small country that has been pummeled by natural and political disasters so that NGOs and contractors can make gazillions of dollars and thwart any chances for autonomy or democracy or justice…

Or you can just sell out to the highest bidder while still patting yourself on the back for being a good guy.

At least with Chiquita, nobody really pretends they aren’t evil.

In Delhi, The Hindu did an investigation of the reported rape cases. One of the things they found is that many of the cases were controlling parents who filed rape charges against the man that their daughter eloped with. Authoritarian parenting at its worst. Happens here too.

Leo Hollis calls out the bullshit that is “startup urbanism” for the gentrification that it actually is.

DC has now been added to the list of cities where a posh building agrees to provide affordable housing, but has the poor people use a separate door. The twist here is that they claim the low-income tenants wanted it that way in order to preserve their community. Can’t really blame them for not wanting to deal with all the douchebags that live in places like that. It is tragic to see how the neighborhood relationships break down with gentrification.

And finally, Victoria Law has a new piece on compassionate release.

Marijuana Decriminalization Isn’t Stopping Arrests in DC

August 06, 2014 By: Mel Category: Drugs

An ounce of weedDCist reports that “between July 17 and July 31, 26 people have been arrested for marijuana-related crimes that don’t fall under the new decriminalization law.” Fourteen of those people were arrested for consumption. Presumably they were actually caught smoking in public. Police aren’t supposed to stop people for the smell of weed anymore. But I’m not exactly going to be shocked to find out that isn’t how things are playing out.

Of the other twelve people arrested, only one of them was arrested for having more than an ounce of weed. Eight were arrested for distribution. Presumably those eight sold to undercovers or were actually seen transacting a sale. But again, I wouldn’t be shocked to find out that wasn’t the case. Three of the arrests were for intent to distribute. Meaning that three people were arrested in those couple of weeks despite having less than an ounce and nobody having witnessed them sell anything.

Too many people believe that quantity is the determining factor when police and prosecutors are deciding whether or not to go after someone for intent. But quantity is just one thing they might use to argue that you were intending to distribute. For example, one of the cases that we heard when I was on grand jury duty involved a minuscule amount of marijuana. But they were prosecuting the kid for intent because it was divided up into a few different baggies.

I’ll give you three guesses what the race of the accused was.

Just kidding. We all know who gets arrested for petty drug crimes in DC. Marijuana decriminalization was supposed to be addressing that disparity. But considering that the MPD clearly states on their website that “selling any amount of marijuana to another person” is still a crime, their reminding us that they still intend to arrest people for marijuana, and their long history of targeting – I think we can expect the bullshit to continue.

On the BRICS Bank and Missed Opportunities

August 04, 2014 By: Mel Category: Change, Politics

BRICS summit photo opYou have probably heard about the new BRICS bank. There were a lot of celebratory posts on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. I can’t say that really surprised me. But I am a little disappointed.

I can understand why people would be happy to have any challenge to the World Bank/IMF, US/European chokehold on the world economy. It is lovely that there isn’t only one game in town. But it isn’t as though the BRICS bank is based on better principles. It isn’t as though their development projects are going to be beacons to social justice.

But it isn’t actually the BRICS bank I want to talk about per se. I was listening to Patrick Bond in this interview about the bank and the “inter-imperial rivalries” that it is an outgrowth of. It got me thinking about missed opportunities.

Everybody knows about divide and conquer. I hear plenty of people talking about how we are divided. Just try googling “divided working class.” But rarely do I hear people talk seriously, and strategically, about divisions between elites.

And there are a lot of divisions between elites. Many revolutions are less insurrections by the oppressed than they are disputes between elites. Sometimes, like in Colombia, the people who were dragged into the disputes were screwed when the elites decided to ban together. But other times, like in Mexico, people were able to exploit the rifts between elites and make some changes. Not perfect changes, obviously, but they got something.

It isn’t just applicable to war. How do the old car companies feel about Google now that they are getting into the car game? Why do Google and Facebook care whether or not the cable companies win on net neutrality? How do you think former Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and AIG people feel about being losers in the game they were playing with Goldman Sachs?

I’m not suggesting we spend all our time trying to figure out what these people are doing. Our efforts need to be focused on building at the community level. But that doesn’t mean that we cannot keep our eyes peeled for opportunities that may come up because these greedy, ego-maniacal, sociopaths are constantly at each others throats too. And so are a lot of the local thugs – politicians, developers… – in our towns.

Looking to exploit those rifts would be a lot more productive than cheering when someone who is mildly less of a dick gets a little bit larger piece of the power cudgel with which to beat us.

Things You Might Have Missed

August 01, 2014 By: Mel Category: Misc

James Baldwin in TurkeyA lot of depressing, infuriating, and terrifying news in the last week. So I’m going to ease you into it with a heartwarming story first. Some students at UCF 3d printed a bionic arm for a six-year-old who can now do all kinds of stuff that six-year-old kids want to do. So cool. Also, instead of trying to sell it for beer or luxury car money, they are making the plans freely available so anybody can do it.

And now for the terrifying news. The Ebola outbreak that is being talked about far too little, but has already claimed hundreds of lives, is likely to claim many more now that it has moved from the countryside to the city and onto an airplane. If you have never read The Hot Zone, don’t. It is better not to know.

Also of major concern is running out of potable water by 2040. At least I don’t have to worry about my lack of retirement savings now.

Did you know that Facebook has a cop on the payroll whose job it is to harass local truant kids? Naturally, when you are trying to “help” your new community, you go straight for policing.

It isn’t like policing ever goes wrong. Nobody has ever been shot for something trivial, like parking tickets.

As long as we are on the subject of bullshit policing, the federal government is going after home distillers now.

Maybe they are seeing the writing on the wall with weed being decriminalized or legalized everywhere. Not that legalization has stopped the black market in Colorado. Probably not arrests either.

Also in Colorado is a program for lifers who are getting out on parole after decades in the system. This two part NPR series on their re-entry and redemption is a must.

Here is a quick list of the 36 orgs that are keeping private prison companies in the money. If you bank at any of these places….don’t.

Citibank has been ordered to pay up for their role in subprime loans and the housing crash. Naturally, almost none of that money will go to the actual people who suffered. All getting sucked up by the feds. Guess they need more drones.

Subprime car loans have apparently risen 130% in the last five years. If they are more frequent than back when I worked in collections…holy shit. Cause it was already a lot.

Infuriating that Indian children are being taken away from their families so casually. Still. Nothing changes.

Why do campus administrators make so much money?

If you live in a gentrifying city, you are undoubtedly in the midst of transportation wars. Rarely in the discussions about walking v. biking v. driving v. public transportation do we hear anyone center the needs of people with disabilities. In fact, most changes seem to exacerbate the challenges.

A lovely essay by James Baldwin’s nephew for his birthday celebration.

This report on Greenwood, Mississippi by the descendant of one of its refugees is what I wish more journalists would do.

Also on the civil rights era is this piece on The Sex Amendment. What’s interesting about it is how it highlights the hostility between white women and black men. It also shows very clearly how changes were made out to be the work of powerful white men, rather than the movements that actually did it.

Finally, I will leave you with some very cool food related projects around the country.

Police Entrapment in DC

July 30, 2014 By: Mel Category: Criminal Injustice System, Inequality

DC Metro StationAbout a week ago the Washington Post ran an article about police stings in DC.

The D.C. police department is quietly turning to high-risk sting operations in which undercover officers recruit people they think are likely to commit armed robberies. The scenarios dreamed up by law enforcement officials, some involving the lure of liquor and strip clubs, are designed to put violent offenders in jail and to address one of the District’s most persistent and dangerous crimes.

Of course, we know who the people “likely to commit armed robberies” are going to be.

I would have just tweeted this and maybe put it up on a link post. But, in addition to encouraging you to read the whole article, I wanted to draw your attention to part of it.

In recent years, D.C. police have deployed extra patrol officers and teams of undercover decoys to respond to robberies. Officers have posed as subway commuters to catch would-be thieves of electronic devices, who Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said in 2012 had “clobbered” her department.

Back when I was on the Criminal Injustice Committee, one of the Committee brought these undercover stings to our attention. PD would pose as passed out people with money and cell phones hanging out of their pockets. When some teen came by and went for the goods, they would get arrested.

Naturally, the reports were coming only from poorer and blacker neighborhoods. I believe the Anacostia metro was one main target. Sadly, the Committee was chin deep in the Wells Fargo campaign. So the proposal to work the S.E. metro stations to warn people wasn’t followed up on.

The poverty rate in DC is (when cost of living is taken into account) 23%. We have some of the worst income inequality in the country. Ward 8 still has almost 18% unemployment. And we all know that unemployment stats are low-balled. But DCs response is to set those people up and shovel them into the prison industrial complex.

Things You Might Have Missed

July 25, 2014 By: Mel Category: Uncategorized

DC GraffitiRadley Balko has another stellar piece on Shaneen Allen, Race and Gun Control. Please read it, especially if you are a proponent of gun control.

Meanwhile, The Wingnut Collective in Richmond has a post about a new group called Anarcho-Rednecks Against Oppression (ARAO). They plan to go to gun shows and bring information about Copwatch, security culture, anti-racism, queerness, and other stuff. I’m looking forward to hearing the results.

ProPublica is doing a series of interviews for the anniversary of Freedom Summer. This one is of Rita Bender who was the wife of Michael Schwerner, one of the three civil rights workers killed working on a voting drive. Worth a read, if only because it isn’t all nostalgia and glory.

ProPublica is also starting an investigation into collection practices. If you have ever been sued over a debt, they want to talk to you.

You have probably all seen articles on those leaked documents that The Intercept got its hands on regarding the casual way our government has been labeling people terrorists. They aren’t just going after Muslims. You may have noted that property destruction is a terrorist act. However you feel about radical animal rights or environmental groups, do you really think kids who freed some minks are terrorists?

Accused terrorists in Bagram, that torture prison we have all forgotten about, have held numerous hunger strikes. And, over at Guantanamo, one mystery nurse with a bit of a conscience has refused to force feed hunger strikers.

Nobody at the Newark PD seems to be battling a conscience. The Justice Department report about the corruption, violence, racism, and theft in Newark is damning. Of course, nothing will actually change.

Much like nothing will happen to the prison guards at Rikers who beat on the mentally ill.

Here in DC, possession of a small amount of weed will just get you a fine. There was a lot of celebratory weed smoke in the air on the night that took effect. Of course, DC PD would like to remind you that they will still be arresting your ass.

Finally, on a positive note, this little video about the Emergence Community Arts Collective is great. That place is a treasure. Sylvia is great. If you live in DC you should support them. We need to keep this stuff from being killed by the gentrification. If you don’t live in DC, and you think it’s all military and political douchebags that live here, this is a short peek into what the actual city can be like.

The Tulsa Riot: Violence and Erasure

July 23, 2014 By: Mel Category: Violence

Downtown Tulsa 2006A while back I came across this article about freeway removals. My first thought was – cool. My next thought was – I wonder what was there before the freeways. That got me thinking about Tulsa, Oklahoma.

For the Creeks, the trail of tears ended in what is now Tulsa.  That tragedy of displacement is how Tulsa became part of Indian Territory. Some of those “Indians” who were driven to Oklahoma brought African descended slaves with them. Other black people came post reconstruction, trying to get a little land out from under the violence of the South. Some of those black immigrants were exodusters who set up entirely black communities in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Colorado. Mexican immigrants also arrived in larger numbers as the pre-civil war situation in Mexico became more dire.

The thing about small places with few riches and loose rules is that they tend to open up space for the kinds of relations that are forbidden and erased later. Our popular cultural narratives whiten everything so thoroughly. We think we are looking at the white supremacy of the past. And we are. But we are looking at it through the white supremacy of the present. When you actually read honest sources about “frontier towns” and early contact, you almost inevitably find that things were much more complicated and diverse than we are led to believe.

All of which is to say that early Tulsa wasn’t segregated. Several of the downtown businesses were owned by black people. But by the time Oklahoma got statehood in 1907, six years after oil was discovered and after an influx of white immigrants, Tulsa was on its way to becoming the most segregated city in America. Miscegenation was a felony. Blacks were required to take literacy tests before voting. Lynchings like that of Laura Nelson, who was gang raped before being hung with her young son, were photographed and advertised to terrify black people.

(Amazing what starts happening when somebody discovers oil and all the greedy shitbags in the world start descending on a place. I believe we are now referring to this as the “resource curse.”)

Two black men had purchased a bunch of Tulsa property at the turn of the century and sold parcels of it to other black people. The idea was to set up a black community that could provide some security and mutual support. That community became the Greenwood District. People referred to Greenwood as “The Black Wall Street.” But most people were far from rich. Many were dependent on the white families they worked for as domestics. Much like in poor, urban, black neighborhoods today; city services were nonexistent.

(If you want to see who a city cares about, see which neighborhoods get their trash picked up.)

In 1921 Tulsa, the Drexel Building had one of the only bathrooms that black people could use in the downtown area. The elevator of the building was operated by a white girl named Sarah Page. A shoe-shine boy named Dick Rowland got into the elevator. Stories differ on what happened next. But Rowland was accused of assaulting Page. And that is when all hell broke loose. Rowland was arrested and the Tulsa Tribune front page announced “Negro assaults a white girl!”

I won’t go into how often the black rapist lie has been used to justify atrocities. I’ve written about it before and probably will again. But I genuinely wonder if anyone has ever tried to compile a list of all the horrors that start out with some supposed violation of a white woman. That is never the real story, of course.

The real story is that Tulsa was a cesspool of racism. Also, by 1921, there was an active labor movement that was striking all over the place and powerful people were antsy. Black people who had served in WWI were coming home and expecting to be treated human. They were also armed and trained. In short, people were standing up for their rights.

So when rumors of a lynching started and a crowd of white people gathered in front of the courthouse and refused to disperse, the black community was not going to just hide. Black people in Greenwood, including veterans, got together to talk about how they could prevent a lynching. At 7:30, 30 armed black people went to the courthouse but were sent off by the black deputy. A couple hours later, 25 armed black people returned and demanded Rowland. By this time, Rowland’s innocence was confirmed by the accuser, but he supposedly couldn’t be released until a judge was available in the morning.

Later that night, white people started arming themselves and tried to break into an armory. Armed blacks followed. There was a struggle when a white man tried to get a black man’s gun from him. Black Tulsans retreated to the Greenwood District. There was fighting in the streets. The national guard was called in. “Deputized” white men roamed all over the city robbing stores and taking the law into their own hands. Greenwood was invaded. Homes were looted and set on fire. Airplanes few overhead.  Many black witnesses say that those airplanes were dropping bombs on the city. Officials deny it to this day. Pictures of the aftermath speak for themselves.

Nobody has an accurate death toll from the riot. Some estimates go into the hundreds. But black Tulsans were not allowed to bury their dead. People don’t even know what happened to the bodies, though archeaologists have been trying to find out. Nobody faced consequences for the destruction. Donations were rejected by the city, which provided no help to those who tried to rebuild. Instead the city passed ordinances to make rebuilding difficult, worked on rezoning the area, and gave land away to whatever industry came along.

The history of the riots was completely erased by white Tulsa. School children knew nothing about it. No mention was made by officials. Then in the 1950s, as with so many other communities that the power structure found inconvenient, Greenwood was wiped out for an expressway.

Back when I was going to Tulsa quite often, I learned about the riots and decided to go see the area. That is how I found myself standing under a desolate highway overpass wondering how Oklahoma’s version of a pogrom could warrant so little attention. And that is why, when I hear about all these groovy projects for green spaces and bike lanes and farmers markets, I wonder what stood there before and how it was chased off.

Places change. People move on. Others move in. Buildings need to be replaced. Priorities change. But nobody should proceed as if the past never happened, much less actively work to erase it. All over, for as long as we have records and right up to the present, this violence and erasure keeps happening. Maybe you call it colonialism or gentrification or urban renewal or land grabbing. It’s all the same shit. People are killed. They are forced out. They are erased and their culture, history, and struggle is erased with them.

We always need to be asking what and who was there before. There is no hope of acting justly without understanding where we are now and how we got here.

___________________

Much of the info for this article came from James Hirsch’s book Riot and Remembrance: The Tulsa Race War and Its Legacy. Bit of the background came from Danney Goble’s book Tulsa: Biography of the American City.

Hijacking the Sharing Economy

July 21, 2014 By: Mel Category: Change, Inequality

Forbes cover of Airbnb CEOThere have been a slew of articles lately about how services like Airbnb and Lyft signal the “rise of the sharing economy.” Forbes says it is “unstoppable” and includes a cover that asks “Who wants to be a billionaire?” The Wall Street Journal profiles Airbnb’s founder as a young upstart who is rocking the boat of all those stodgy hotel chains. The economist wants cities and their pesky worrywarts to get out of the way.

Maybe the most interesting piece was in Wired. Wired thinks that this “sharing economy” has gotten people to trust each other. After all, as one Lyft driver said “It’s not just some person off the street.” These people have Facebook accounts and credit cards. They have online ratings. It isn’t like they are picking up hitchhikers (god forbid) or a person so poor they don’t have a MasterCard (gasp). These people must be o.k. right? You won’t be picking up anyone sketchy like John Waters.

And then there is this

Lyft cofounder John Zimmer goes so far as to liken it to time he spent on the Oglala Sioux reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. “Their sense of community, of connection to each other and to their land, made me feel more happy and alive than I’ve ever felt before,” he says. “I think people are craving real human interaction—it’s like an instinct. We now have the opportunity to use technology to help us get there.”

You know what. People are craving real human interaction, but a ride that you pay somebody for is not that. Is Zimmer claiming that the connection to the land he romanticizes was brought about by fee for service car rides? Am I really supposed to listen to some millionaire wax nostalgic about time spent on a reservation with the lowest life expectancy in the country and teen suicide rates 150% higher than the U.S. national average

Kevin Roose’s response to Wired was that The Sharing Economy Isn’t About Trust, It’s About Desperation. Roose is right that the economy sucks, but I would hardly call the people profiled in the articles above “desperate.” If you have a luxury car or a house in San Francisco to rent out and you think you are desperate, you lead a very sheltered life.

In The Case Against Sharing, Susie Cagle describes how someone at a conference of these sharing economy climbers actually had the nerve to quote Audre Lorde. But when labor researcher Veena Dubal told them that rideshare companies contribute to a culture of precarious work and are therefore hurting workers, the reaction from these sharers was less than generous.

These companies are just exploiting our desire for connection and co-opting the real sharing and solidarity economies. Renting is not sharing. A business model that makes a couple of people billionaires and chases thousands of out of a city through gentrification on overdrive is not an economic model that should be romanticized. And there is absolutely nothing new about an economy based on sharing. It is a hell of a lot older than the economy we have now.

Gift economies are ancient. Workers started talking about workplace democracy since they started experiencing the workplace. Mutual aid societies have been essential survival tools for people all over the world. What are interesting and front page worthy are not the billionaire stories. What we should be paying attention to is the growth of the solidarity or social economy.

When artists start a co-op bed and breakfast in New York so that they can survive as artists, that is attention worthy. So is a time bank in Maine or a free store in Baltimore. What about hundreds of people gathering in Jackson to talk about “cooperative restaurants, child and elder care coops, cooperative grocery stores, cooperative factories, farms and more, all collectively owned and democratically managed by the same workers who deliver the service and create the value.”

Don’t be distracted by these “sharing” businesses that make a lot of money for their founders and a little bit of money for the relatively well off. Their new economy is the same as the old one. It leaves most people out in the cold – literally. The real sharing economy isn’t making anyone a billionaire. The real sharing economy means genuine relationships, workplace democracy, and social justice.