Muscles and arteries. Hammers and parasites. Addictions and complexes. Destin Jenkins concludes our Bonds of Inequality symposium by reflecting on the political implications of the metaphors we use to describe municipal debt.
Municipal financing schemes have often distributed the benefits of spending along race and class lines, yet federal programs have a similarly mixed track record. How, then, can we safeguard public investment to secure just outcomes? The answer may reside in the details of agency and program design.
Can public things meaningfully protect us from capitalism’s bottom line? If not, is our hope in them as a lever of progressive politics misplaced?
The Fair Housing Act, as written, provides several tools to challenge inequitable urban development. Yet the courts have been reluctant to enforce the law.
Elite white capital created housing for middle-class whites built by working-class whites. Nowhere in this process, nor in the profit of lending, the employment of housing construction, or the long-term appreciation of white homeownership, was there a meaningful place for African Americans to bridge racial economic inequality.
Every year, governments and public entities wrestle with tough decisions about how they will fund their communities, and every year we absolve Wall Street of its role in siphoning money away from our public budgets. Enough is enough.
Dependence on public debt is a hallmark of democratic capitalist governance. How, then, can we ensure that the interests of private investors do not overtake the needs of the people that debt is meant to serve?
American cities’ reliance on municipal debt must be understood as part of a larger structural reliance on concentrated, mobile capital.
Municipal bond finance is an important technology, but is it more like a hammer or an automobile?
By documenting how public debt produced our present nightmare, Destin Jenkins allows us to dream about using public money to mend the ills of our era.
Los Angeles’s King-Drew Medical Center, a public hospital originally intended to provide Black residents with quality healthcare, is a cautionary tale about using bond financing to advance racial equality.