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Archive for January, 2011

Have You A Country? (Revolt, January 15, 1916)

This is a letter published in Vol. I, No. 2 of Revolt (dated January 15th, 1916), an Anarchist newspaper edited by Hippolyte Havel and published by the Revolt Publishing Association, 63 East 107th Street, New York, N. Y. The copy came to us by way of a facsimile edition published by The Match!, a journal of Ethical Anarchism, published from Tucson, Arizona. The letter was contributed by Robert Minor, and appears on pp. 6-7 of the issue.

British Labor shows fight. The army poison hasnt twisted their brains as much as their bosses had hoped for. It gives a fellow’s heart a quicker throb to know that even in the mob-crazy war country, Labor can hold up its head and be Labor still. In times of peace, workers know that capitalists are their enemies; in time of war they are often fools enough to go fight their friend workers of another country for the sake of the capitalist enemies that they have been fighting at all other times. They’ve got to learn better, and it looks as though the English are learning. Hurrah for the English! (That means English Labor, not the Greedy British Empire, their greatest enemy.)

They are not perfect by a long sight, but neither are we, nor any other labor. They are improving, that’s the point. They have got their bosses so badly worried as to be afraid to make a daring stand for their crooked privileges. It is really amusing. Go to it, friends; you may weaken and be fooled later on, but even then, the little start you have made in defying conscription will not be forgotten, and the world will profit by the example.

May we do as well here in America. It’s our turn now. Conscription is at the door, the back door, trying to sneak in. Stand up, American Labor! You ought to do even better, without the disadvantage of actual war upon you. You haven’t any country. No labor, anywhere, has any country. So don’t be patriotic. Be Labor. And fight to GET your country, not to help your bosses hold it.

HAVE you a country? Then, why do you pay rent?

Robert Minor.

If it moves, tax it; if it keeps moving, regulate it; if it dies…

Now available thanks to Stephen Smith at Market Urbanism:

I apologize for the lack of posts for the last few days – I just moved to DC (a few blocks north of H Street, right by Gallaudet, if anyone’s curious), and I have yet to begin another rewarding relationship with Comcast. But, I’m here at work (I started interning at Reason magazine today), and I’ve got some free time, so I wanted to post this excerpt from Fogelson’s Downtown (I’m almost done!) that illustrates perfectly the shift from the second to last phase of Reagan’s joke about government, as applied to housing policy:

If neither public authority nor private enterprise could overcome the obstacles to urban redevelopment on its own, perhaps they could overcome them by working together. Or so the downtown business interests and their allies hoped. The trouble was that public authority and private enterprise were not used to working together. Through the mid nineteenth century public authority had routinely joined forces with private enterprise to stimulate economic development. But later this practice gave way to what might be called, for lack of a better term, an adversarial arrangement. Under this arrangement, public authorities granted private companies a franchise to build and operate the street railways, gas systems, and other public utilities other than the waterworks. They also regulated these companies. Under the watchful eyes of the courts and state legislatures, public authorities regulated the building industry as well. They established fire zones, drafted building codes, imposed height limits, and formulated zoning regulations. They also granted building permits – and, at least in theory, inspected everything from elevators to fire escapes.

This adversarial arrangement was the subject of a nationwide debate in the early twentieth century. Some Americans attacked it as one of the principal sources of corruption in cities. Others defended it as the most ...

Read the whole thing at Market Urbanism.

Emma Goldman Now Alien (New York Times, April 9, 1909)

This is a side column from Page 2 of the New York Times on April 9, 1909, reporting the U.S. Attorney’s success in convincing a federal court to strip Emma Goldman of her citizenship, which she had gained by marriage to a naturalized citizen in 1887.


Deprived of Rights of Citizenship by Disenfranchisement of Her Husband.
Special to The New York Times.

Buffalo, N.Y., April 8.–Judge Hazel, in the United States Court this morning, granted an order canceling the citizenship papers of Jacob A. Kersner. Through this order all rights of citizenship also are taken from Kersner’s wife, who is none other than Emma Goldman, the woman leader of the Anarchists in this country, whose fiery teachings, it was charged by many, incited Leon Czolgosz to the assassination of President McKinley.

The order was granted upon motion of Special United States Attorney P. S. Chambers of Pittsburg, and the evidence upon which it was based was presented principally by Kersner’s own father, who was subpoenaed from his home at Rochester.

Kersner obtained his citizenship documents in 1884, when the statutes governing such procedure were quite lax compared with the present laws. He was two years under age at the time. Three years later he married Emma Goldman. She was a foreigner herself, but by virtue of her marriage to a citizen she was clothed with the rights of citizenship. Emma was only a girl, then, and had barely begun the career that later connected her so closely with the Reds in the public eye.

The New York Times (April 9, 1909), Page 2.

Parking lots as tax arbitrage during the Great Depression

Now available thanks to Stephen Smith at Market Urbanism:

I’ve learned a lot from Fogelson’s Downtown, but one thing that I had absolutely no idea about before I read this book was how Depression-era tax policies encouraged downtown landlords to tear down their buildings and replace them with parking lots (emphasis mine):

By the mid 1930s the owners of Detroit’s Temple Theater, a nine-story office building that had once been the home of the city’s most successful vaudeville house, had had enough. In a city reeling from the Great Depression, the vacancy rate for office buildigns was running between 35 and 40 percent. With tenants hard to find – and rents, which had been falling steadily, hard to collect – the Temple Theater no long paid. In an attempt to lower property taxes and operating expenses, its owners did what other downtown property owners in Detroit and other cities had done. They demolished the building and turned the site into a parking lot. [These] were commonly referred to as “taxpayers.” The “taxpayers” were as much a legacy of the depression as the “Hoovervilles,” bread lines, soup kitches, and dance marathons. They symbolized downtown in the 1930s as much as skyscrapers, department stores, and high-rise hotels had in the 1920s. [...]

Things were much the same in downtown Los Angeles, where so many buildings were torn down and replaced by parking lots or “taxpayers” in the 1930s that by the early 1940s roughly 25 percent of the buildable land was used to store autos. In a business district of less than one square mile there were no more than nine hundred parking lots and garages, with space for more than sixty-five thousand cars. [...]

By tearing down the buildings, the owners could lower their tax bills and reduce their operating expenses. By replacing them with parking ...

Read the whole thing at Market Urbanism.