Nativism in Philadelphia Politics

Barack Obama (D - Illinois) was born in Hawaii, to parents from Kansas and Kenya, and lived in Indonesia and New York before moving to Chicago at the age of 24 to work as a community organizer. He then went to law school in Boston (Cambridge, to be exact) before returning to Chicago to work as a civil rights lawyer and teach constitutional law, became a state senator for his district in Chicago and then was elected U.S. Senator for the state of Illinois.

Before running for the U.S. Senate, though, Obama made a run for the U.S. House of Representatives. He ran in a 2000 Democratic primary against Bobby Rush, a four-term incumbent. There were a lot of reasons why Rush beat Obama, but the criticism of Obama that stuck was that Rush's claim that "Maybe you [Obama] haven't been around the 1st Congressional District long enough to really see what's going on." [Link]

Obama's recently been subjected to a different kind of nativist criticism -- namely that (according to Debra Dickerson, Stanley Crouch, and others) because his father is from Africa, that he isn't authentically black. (See Patricia Williams's excellent critique of this bogus position.) But this earlier instance of nativism may actually be more instructive for Philadelphia politics.

There are lots of stories besides Obama's -- neither Hillary Clinton nor John Edwards were born in the states in which they were elected to the Senate. (Neither was Bobby Kennedy.) Jennifer Granholm in Michigan is from Canada; and on the other side of the aisle, Mitt Romney was born in Michigan, Arnold Schwarzenegger in Austria. But I can't think of any comparable story in Philadelphia politics. Arlen Specter was born in Kansas, but 1) not many people know that and 2) Republican politics in the city are different. Still, Specter has wider support than any Republican in Philadelphia partly because he's lived here for fifty years and is perceived as a native son.

Tom Knox's campaign has gotten some traction partly because he has a great Philadelphia story. Abbotsford public housing, dropped out of high school to support his family. That resonates with people who don't really care that much about his business successes. Now imagine that Knox's story were identical, but set it in the Bronx, or Baltimore. His qualifications and story would be exactly the same, but I don't think he would be getting any serious consideration for mayor.

If Obama had come to Philadelphia instead of Chicago, I could easily have seen him getting beaten in a congressional primary. But I doubt he would get elected to the state Senate, let alone the U.S. Chamber. If Ben Franklin tried to get elected to office today, he'd be told by more than a few people to go back to Boston. And all of this is a little strange.

And it's not just electoral politics. Besides the way the party makes its decisions, and the voters make theirs, there's also the chattering classes. Nativist assumptions have popped up on this blog more than once as well. I was prompted to make my first post on this site partly because of a post that I thought made an odd and distorted distinction between Philadelphia natives and newcomers. But then I started noticing the same dichotomy, again and again. I've since proposed an alternate taxonomy, but this tendency is strong enough that it's worth exploring on its own.

The shape it seems to take is this. Native Philadelphians -- generally regardless of their politics -- see themselves as tough, hard-working, either poor/working-class or in solidarity with the poor/working-class, authentic, realist, well-informed, and bound together by a common place and time and certain common experiences. (The mayoral candidates tend to promote that they went to public schools.) Outsiders are seen as suspect on all of these issues.

I'm not really interested in discussing the various mayoral candidates' proposals, or rehashing the specifics of these native/newcomer debates. Instead -- as a transplanted Philadelphian who was born in Detroit -- I hope a few native and adopted Philadelphians can help me better understand this sentiment.

I also think that we can and should subject Philadelphia's nativism to a thorough critique from the point of view of (young) progressive politics. So many of Philadelphia's young progressive politicos are from points elsewhere, with something unique to offer. There has to be a role for all of our immigrants -- and a point where we can stop being outsiders and stand side-by-side with the city's native daughters and sons.

Interesting post. A friend

Interesting post.

A friend of mine and I were having an extended lunch yesterday. We are both professionals. We discussed how we were both native Philadelphians, him growing up in an African American neighborhood and myself in an Italian American neighborhood, and how we both decided to stay in our respective communities because of (1) how much we loved them and (2) that role models are needed in these places to encourage Philadelphia's youth--and what better role models than Philly kids who did well.

As the conversation was going, we discussed things that only native inner city Philadelphians would know (or at least what we think they would)--being chased and beat up by kids from other neighborhoods, waiting for the bus in a unfriendly place at night, having nothing to do on a hot summer night than to sit on your corner watching the girls walk by, etc.

Last night (after I got home late due to my extended lunch), perhaps due to the nostalgia that this conversation brought to mind, I spend the entire evening thinking about other things I consider part of my Philadelphia childhood, the barbershop with all the old men who wouldn't shut up long enough to cut your hair, opening the fire plug, playing "jail break," "knock-knock run away" and handball, stickball and halfball, the produce trucks, the pretzel boys who would walk around with a shopping cart on Saturday morning screaming something like "Fer-eshhhhhh per-et-zels," working at a deli, etc. Then, the things it has brought to my adulthood, my serenade being the one thing that stood out most.

You see, I think, at least in inner city Philadelphia, South, North, West and South West Philly (parts of other places too), regardless of race or ethnicity, there is a cultural Philadelphia--one that pervades our thoughts. Perhaps because, no matter the tensions we all live so close to one another that there is a certain respect for being from Philly versus not being from Philly. I completely dig what you are saying above, and I too want Philadelphia to embrace the world, but I can understand why some people are less likely to than others to do that.

I concurr with Gaetano

There's nothing like growing up in Philadelphia. I'm a life-long Philadelphian myself. Philadelphia has a certain culture that we really value. It's a culture that makes me want to stay here, and a culture that makes people want to move here.

But oftentimes, Philadelphians don't believe that outsiders value that culture. It's almost like when a woman marries a man who "just needs a little touch up". They marry knowing that they both have flaws; but they both are really looking to change each other into the people they want the other to be. Does that make sense? The problem is, you usually want to change the very thing that made you fall in love in the first place.

I think that we all genuinely want to make Philadelphia better, but I think that new residents and life-long Philadelphians have different ideas as to how to do that.

That coversation that Gaetano had with his friend was with me. That conversation made my day and reminded why I stayed right here in Philadelphia. Yesterday, you had a young Italian American professional and a young African American professional vibing on very similar life experiences. We grew up in different neighborhoods, with different ethnic backgrounds, and even different religions. But we could appreciate our similar experiences as Philadelphians. Things that Philadelphians do that nobody else does.

That is why Philadelphians vote for people who are more like them. People who they believe understand their experiences. They want you to understand. I do understand. Gaetano, that conversation really took me back.

Just by way of example, on

Just by way of example, on my block as a kid, we had two types of new comers--those who would try and understand and those who didn't care. I can't tell you the number of times my friends and I would sit on the corner at 18th and Gladstone or play touch football in the middle of the street at night to have some new neighbor call the police, chase us off or otherwise be jerks. That is what we did--these things were passed down generationally. They didn't understand our culture and didn't care to.

Then there were the new comers who were more easy going. They were cool with us, we were cool with them. They tried to understand where we were coming from and when we would put up our crate basketball net, they play (or help us), or when we would have the fire plug open, they knew to keep there windows up and would let us soak their car (free wash). They learned to appreciate the things we did. They accepted our culture and we accepted them.

I try and get everyone to move to South Philly. But, I always say to them--you can't have it both ways. You can't love the bakeries, pastry shops, restaurants and the old ladies who clean their sidewalk every day and then piss and moan about the kids who are on their block doing what they do (usually nothing troublesome).

BUT

You can call the cops when someone starts serenading a lady and is very off-key.

It would be rude, but I'd

It would be rude, but I'd imagine you could.

More on this

Dan, Gaetano, and I all grew up in neighborhoods that most of today's newcomers would have never considered living in in the 80's and early 90's. Like Gaetano, we had a parade of people who moved on and off our block over the years.

At some level Philadelphia negativism is born out of experience that a lot of non-native residents just don't stick around.

So, yeah, when you think someone is going to bail, it's easy to be hostile to them when they interfere with the way things are as there's no guarantee that they'll follow-up on whatever they started.

Ray, that is a really

Ray, that is a really interesting perspective on this matter.

Philadelphians are about "roots." You are either laying them or you aren't.

Change, Displacement, and Belonging

I think this issue is big. Ray's specter of people coming and not sticking around is real, and I think there is the further risk of near-wholesale displacement of existing communities.

But while I think conflicts may be tied to 'rootedness' in geographic spaces of neighborhoods, these conflicts manifest on very large scales: the very conception of "reform," its goals and its methods. In another context I think Ray was advocating a very community and (broadly) identity-based approach to change. I think this is essential, but I think the fact that we have a not-insignficant number of residents who don't clearly have communities or rootedness needs to be grappled with somehow.

Jennifer

I grew up in Irish-Catholic Southwest Philly...

My brother was Alex and Dan's aunt's first boyfriend. (Philadelphians like to know that sort of thing.) And yes, I do tend to be suspicious of outsiders. (Although I'm very fond of most Midwesterners, and count several as dear friends.) When a Philadelphian asks where you're from, they don't mean "where do you live?" They mean, where did you grow up? When we say, "Where did you go to school?", we don't mean college. We mean high school, and grade school.

We want to know if you're a member of our tribe. We want to know if we can trust you.

I especially don't like it when they say Kobe Bryant's from Philadelphia - because he's not. He's from the Main Line, for heaven's sake!

MBS?

My dad is from 57/chester.

MBS was our family's.

MBS was our family's.

Good example for non natives: MBS= Most Blessed Sacrament= SW Philly Parrish= Another way a lot of native Philadelphians identify/identified themselves.

Philly is a great place! I

Philly is a great place! I am reading these comments and beaming with absolute pride. Philadelphians are amazing.

St. Carthage is in the HOUSE!

I received all of my sacraments baptism to marriage at St. Carthage (63rd & Cedar). After a consolidation with closest parish, Transfiguration, in 2000 we are now St. Cyprian.

I attended St. Carthage school in 7th and 8th grade. We played MBS in basketball and if we lost we would have to fight after the game (it was always Sam Pressley's fault).

At one point MBS was the largest Catholic school in all of America. As a result of white flight, reduction in priest, changing demographics....the school is now closed. That is another Philadelphia story worthy of an entire blog.

13 masses

MBS had 13 masses on a Sunday morning. Can you imagine that?

Yep.

There was the upper church and the lower (basement) church. That's where the schoolkids went to Mass with their class every Sunday during the school year.

In South Philly, I was a

In South Philly, I was a public school boy in a Catholic School world. But, St. Monica's is where I called home. Still, a pretty impressive parish.

You were a "public."

That's what we called it.

Stories

I love all of these stories, and I've always loved collecting them from native Philadelphians -- especially other people who were raised Catholics, since their particularity makes them universal.

I would tell my own from Detroit -- Holy Redeemer, baseball in Clark Park, stickball at my grandmother's in the St. Christopher's parking lot on Asbury Park, steel-framed bungalows, lighting candles for the Day of the Dead -- but they wouldn't be the same.

Partly I think you all are right -- I might know how it feels, but I won't know how it felt.

Except for Seth's story about coming back to Philadelphia, and getting splashed by the SEPTA bus. I know exactly how that feels.

I live near Philadelphia's Clark Park now. It's not the same, but just saying the name makes me feel more at home.

I was just on robo-type

I couldn't help but type that, even in a conversation about "nativism." A term, by the way, which is really offensive in the context of this post: The history of nativism in all parts, including anti-Irish Nativists of the 1850 in Philadelphia, is of a dominant group with some level of power oppressing mostly immigrants in often very violent and derogatory ways.

The newcomers in Philadelphia are hardly the victims of such oppression.

Not All Newcomers White; And Politics Is Different

Again, newcomers who are white and have some income haven't been the victims of oppression. But -- again -- not all newcomers are white or wealthy.

And not all of the nativist sentiment comes from whites or blacks. For example, when you read about changing demographics in Philadelphia's hispanic community (which led in no small part to Juan Ramos's defeat of Angel Ortiz) you get a very different picture -- and closer to what I mean by "nativism in politics."

What I meant is that there is often a conflict between natives and non-natives, and equally often a preference for natives over non-natives in matters having to do with politics. And in Philadelphia politics, natives -- whether white, black, or hispanic -- for the most part really do hold all the power.

Sort of. Ed Rendell: New

Sort of.

Ed Rendell: New York.

Arlen Specter: Kansas.

John Street: A farm in the burbs.

Oh, Fast Eddie

All of which goes to show: Ed Rendell is the new Ben Franklin.

Seriously, though -- I think it goes to show how much time and work it takes to be accepted in the city. Ed Rendell has gone totally native -- he doesn't mention being born in New York on his governor's bio page. And from what I understand, he took a pretty strong beating on this when he ran for mayor (first against Goode in 1987, then against Blackwell/Rizzo/Egan in 1991.)

On Politics

There is a point here which is bigger than Philadelphia: getting votes is hard to do if you don't know a lot of people. It's not necessarily anti-non native sentiment that will make it harder for Marc Stier, who does not have elementary, middle and high school classmates here + hundreds of former co-workers or neighbors, to get as many votes as someone who grew up here. Even with the cleanest money system in the world, you also can't raise money for a local campaign without mostly relying on people who live there to give. So, at some level, being a native does give some people an advantage in politics, but it's mostly because they have just been around longer.

Ed Rendell is not a native Philadelphian, nor is John Street, but they have both been around for years.

And again...

I already said this in another comment, but:

There is a dominant narrative in Philadelphia over the past few years that newcomers will save Philadelphia BECAUSE they are rich and white. That's why development policy, like tax abatements and wage tax cuts, were implemented. How many times can the media talk about our city as NYC's sixth borough and how we should leverage that to get more wealthy Mannahattanites to come down here?

I'm not saying this is true: I understand that many newcomers are not wealthy, I grew up one block from Baltimore Avenue and knew Amare Solomon well (he used to give me cigarettes), but the Philadelphia Forward, KIP, PA Economy League and even elected official rap about newcomers has been: rich and white=more tax revenue.

This is not only morally a wrong, but economically wrong as improving the lot of people who already live here, by raising wages, is a more sustainable way to save the city.

Again, I don't get how that perspective could be labeled "nativist."

Having grown up in Philly

but lived in many other communities in this and other countries before coming back, I'm not clear about what you think is so unique here. In Vermont, you are a "flatlander" unless you're family has lived there for generations. In rural North Carolina, it takes years and years to integrate into the social fabric. How many "outsiders" gained political power in South Boston before it was gentrified?

An anecdote

When I first moved to the Boston area, I had a girlfriend that lived in the North End. On the days of Celtic games at the Garden, kids would wander the streets and vandalize tens if not hundreds of cars. Amazingly, none of the cars of the people who lived there would be touched.

One time they broke into my truck (which still had out of state plates) and stole a bunch of tools I had in the back. A couple of days later I passed a bunch of carpenters working on a store and saw that they were using some of my tools. Once I explained the situation, I got the tools back.

5-8 Trinity.

Did your dad hang out at Dirty Annie's?

Blame the Eagles!

As Philadelphians we love our heroes and cheer for them louder than anyone and the minute they don't give us 100% we boo the hell out of them. We take great pride in that. We will always love Pete Rose, Lenny Dykstra, Joe Frazier and the mythical Rocky Balboa.

Not only do we want to know if you are from Philly, we want to know exactly where you grew and up and what schools you went to. This lets us figure you out. We have to "authenticate" you.

Collectively we love to hate Philly. We feel beaten down for many reasons, and feel that unless you have endured as many losing Eagles seasons as we have you don't truly know our pain.

Yes it is true that Philadelphia may be the most parochial city in America. If you are not from our neighborhood let alone city we want you to prove yourself. It should be noted that our last three mayors where all born somehwere else, but after enduring countless losing seasons, were able to prove to the voters they felt our pain.

Like Gaetano I have stayed in Philly. With the exception of college and law school I have always lived in West Philly and continue to go to the same church that I was baptized in as a baby.

When I was in law school the largest law firm in Arizona flew me out to Phoenix to wine me and dine me. They wanted me to join the firm upon my Georgetown graduation. It was very tempting, the temperature was great, real estate prices were cheap (affordable houses had pools)and as a single man in my mid 20's, the fact that every woman appeared to have walked off of a magazine cover was very, very appealing. However, it was so clean and pretty I didn't feel comfortable.

The very next week, I was in Philly interviewing with a large firm. As I stood near 15th & Chestnut Street on a gray February morning holding a Daily News in one hand and a soft pretzel with mustard in the other... a SEPTA bus passed me and fumes from the exhaust engulfed me and slush from a puddle was splashed from the tires and soaked my pants
...I exhaled and said..."It is good to be home." That is Philly.

not unique

it's funny, but some of the stuff that Philadelphians claim as unique (asking what highschool you went to, recalling neighborhood stickball) are pretty typical for most med-large cities, and also of the changing times. for example, I moved here from St. Louis, where "what highschool did you go to" was an insider way of getting a quick snapshot (class, ethnicity, ideology, etc.). and I can recall street games where I grew up, but there (as many places) the shifting population, increased concerns about safety, and modern mores mean that most people don't know their neighbors so well anymore (nor can count on them to help with the game rather than phone it in).

anyway, these roots and nostalgia are one thing -- and something even transplants can come to learn and appreciate -- but it's quite another when "he comes from my neighborhood" is taken to trump any other analysis of "he stands for the right things." this is the vibe I get off of the Brady campaign and its supporters -- that he's One of Us (not just the machine but the larger nativist Us) and thus has no need to prove himself further (as, say, with policy, etc.). it not only rubs me the wrong way in the exclusivist sense, but it also feels to me like it prevents a more rational way of assessing who might be best for the job (like I don't think "would rather have a beer with him" is a good measure of who should run the country)...

another two cents.
acm

Learning History

Nativism is a problem. Period.

That said, as a both a life long Philadelphian, and a young progressive, there are some definite things that young people can do to sort of ease tensions between natives and not. I think a lot of that is learning a little history, so that we don't make asses of ourselves.

First and foremost, although it can be hard, we have to be aware of recent history and learn about those who have come before us to do (and are still doing) on the ground progressive work. So, for example, if you are a progressive, you should probably understand who Tom Cronin is, what Community Legal Services has done, the work of David Cohen, etc.

Second, in specifically thinking about politics, and the insider-outsider thing, we have to know the names of those who fought similar fights before- names like Bowser, White, Goode, Gray and hell, John Street. Maybe if we get really ambitious, maybe even Joe Clark.

My point in this is that I think that is something that this site can help with. My idea is to get a group of people together who will volunteer to periodically write short posts (between everyone, a total of once a week) that basically do a little bit of legwork- be it some quick research or short interview with progressives and progressive groups, and help the rest of us get to know the people and groups who have been fighting the good fight since before we were born.

Anyone interested?

Bemused

I don't know if others clicked the examples that Short used above, but they were two comments that I wrote and one blog post written by Brady (a non-native, one-year old transplant to Philly).

I appreciate your interest in understanding nativism and I am happy to respond, though I'd appreciate if you would reply to my interest in class and race that I find many non-natives ignore.

Philly is a city, where in 3 people lives below 200% of poverty. More of these people are black than white, and almost all; are native. Maybe part of the problem with non-natives is that they have no personal relationships with people who are here and are in trouble.

I read your alternative taxonomy last week and one of the things I remember about it was that you added folks to the divide (so to speak) but you didn't quantify (nor did I) them. Maybe if would be helpful if you attached number of population per category.

Why I Picked These Examples

The race and class concerns that you and others made central to this discussion are real, and if fact that's exactly what I was keying into. My position is that while the vast majority of Philadelphians in deep poverty are more often black than nonblack, it seems reductive on its face to say native=poor=black and newcomer=rich=white. At the same time, however, the solidarity that many progressive Philadelphia natives feel with the former group is real, and this solidarity and the dichotomy seem to be the key feature of the Philadelphia nativist attitude.

That is, a key feature for Philadelphia nativists who are progressives. There's a totally different nativist anti-progressive attitude that is based almost solely on an antipathy to these groups, and that sees them as the "newcomers." One of my working hypotheses is that the experience of Philadelphia politics for natives is so strongly shaped by one's attitude towards black poverty that it tends to be the issue that dominates above all else. Progressives and non-progressives tend to put outsiders on one side or another of this issue because it's really what they fight about with each other. And the force of these politics are strong enough that non-natives like Brady can easily adopt them as their own.

So I don't think I'm ignoring class and race -- far from it. If you read my taxonomy, it's all about class and race. But I am trying to complicate the picture, by looking at the native black and white middle classes, and the newcomers who are neither rich nor white, which speaks more to my experience of both native and nonnative Philadelphia.

When I think about native Philadelphians, I think about my neighbor Jim, who lived next door to me on the 2000 block of Fitzwater in the house he was born in. Jim (who's black) had hurt his neck right before I moved in and had a handicap sign put in so he could park in front of his house. I shoveled and salted his walk in the winter, and he showed me (among many other things) how and where to park so that I wouldn't piss the other neighbors off. He has an auto shop in South Philadelphia, two boats in the Chesapeake, and bought three buildings on his block when no one else would; he hopes to sell them so he can retire. He did the auto work for everybody on the block -- you would just give him your keys and he would take the car to his shop, do the work and bring it back. His wife is a jazz singer; Jim also seems to have a hand in a record studio. I still talk to him all the time.

I also think about my neighbor Carl in Germantown, who worked as a pastor and was trying to get his ministry going. Carl was politically connected, and had steered clear of a few scandals in city politics that had threatened to taint him by association. He lived with his wife and two children in a big schist-and-brick house, and had moved in right after they closed the Presser and Nugent homes after the big scandal there. (Before that, the neighborhood used to be science-fiction scary -- crazy unmonitored people and old people wandering the streets, and criminals there to prey on them.) Carl couldn't get anything working. When I last talked to him, he was planning on moving to Atlanta, or maybe Montgomery County.

Of course, I also think about Darrell, who grew up on Kingsessing, got addicted to heroin, contracted AIDS, and who sells his pain medication and begs his neighbors (and probably does other things I don't want to know about) to survive. Darrell was doing well in December, when he was well-medicated, collecting disability and found a cheap place to stay. Since then, the government has retracted his disability checks (on the grounds that death-at-the-door AIDS shouldn't keep him from working) and he's started to lose weight again. And I think about my landlord. He grew up in Philadelphia, came back for graduate school, worked here as a professor, got a job at Ohio State, and comes back every summer, because this is home. He and his wife help Darrell out; I "inherited" Darrell from him, and Darrell still sometimes calls me "Steve," my landlord's name.

And when I think about nonnatives, I think about all the students I know and see every day, some of whom are rich and some of whom aren't, some of whom hate Philadelphia and some of whom love it, all of whom have better chances than a lot of native Philadelphians, but who shouldn't be written off for that (even though I know so many of us have broken your hearts). And I think of all of the cab drivers who live on my block, who tell me about West Africa, think my wife is Indian, memorize area and zip codes, and drive most of the business on Baltimore Avenue. I also think about my old landlord, who moved here from Ireland, worked a tech job in the New Jersey casinos, bought two houses, got laid off, and is trying to open a restaurant. Ken loved and loves Ed Rendell in the way that someone from an earlier generation would love John Kennedy. His wife (also Irish) works with troubled kids in North Philly. They have a son, now 4, who has dual Irish-American citizenship. Some of us really do just want to stay.

Supporting Michael Nutter for Mayor.

I agree

This was a very nice post. I have sort of two follow-ups:

1- I am genuinely interested if your hypothesis about white middle class"progressives" is based on more than just the writings of me and Brady which you referenced--a piece of background on both Brady and is that I was, and Brady is,an organizer at the Philadelphia Unemployment Project which is comprised of people who are victims of/working against very real concrete economic injustices. I actually don't think that Brady and I very representative of a main stream "progressive" opinions, so much as the product of professional lives that center on economic justice.

2- In regards to this point:

it seems reductive on its face to say native=poor=black and newcomer=rich=white

There is a a very real flip side to this argument which is that many people have argued just this: that rich, white newcomers will save our city. The comments I wrote, that you link to in your post, point that out. It's not so much as an anti-non-native sentiment as it is a reminder that natives count too in any plan to transform Philadelphia's future.

Gross misrepresentation

There is a a very real flip side to this argument which is that many people have argued just this: that rich, white newcomers will save our city.

Where did anyone argue this?!?!

I think that Philadelphia's fifty year trend of losing jobs and population has exacerbated many of Philadelphia's problems and have made fixing them more difficult. I think that lowering the BPT is a means to reverse this trend and bring more jobs into the city, which will bring more population into the city. I do not think that this strategy can be fairly characterized as "that rich, white newcomers will save our city." I think the population growth would come primarily from immigration, the suburban children of former Philadelphians moving back to where their families lived in the 50s, and from the offspring of current residents staying in Philly.

----
I support Michael Nutter for Mayor.

cites

From the infamous NYT Sixth Borough piece:

At least one developer is banking on the hope that Philadelphia's appeal is not just a fleeting fad. On a vast tract of land in Northern Liberties, an area once notable for hate crimes and heroin availability, a 50-year-old former shopping center developer named Bart Blatstein is building a $100 million development. Scheduled for completion in 2007, it will have 1,000 apartments, half a million square feet of ground-floor retail space and 100,000 square feet of industrial-chic office space, all of which Mr. Blatstein says will be offered at reduced rents to "edgy, creative types." The project is seeking New Yorkers. (Mr. Blatstein's company, Tower Properties, plans to advertise both in The Village Voice and on New York's Craigslist.) "We want it to be a cross between Williamsburg and SoHo," he said.

From a different NYT piece:

According to a report released late last year by the Center City District, from the time that tax abatements were passed, more than 8,000 converted and new units will have been added to Center City, and half of all new residents benefiting from tax abatements came from outside the city....Now, the tax-abatement programs have become somewhat controversial. While a small percentage of wealthier residents are living in high-end properties and are paying very little in taxes, a majority of the longtime residents who suffered through the bad years are likely to see their taxes go up as property values rise.

Mildred Ruffino has lived on the city's south side for 32 years, with much of her family close by. The tax-abatement program, which has spurred housing almost exclusively downtown, is now spilling over to other neighborhoods. Mrs. Ruffino's street will soon have eight town houses where a bakery once operated.

History

I am really interested in working on a project about Philadelphia political history. That would be super fun and a great way to prepare to move back to the city.

As someone who was born and raised in a suburb next to Philadelphia, this conversation is extremely interesting. I feel like I know a lot about Philadelphia politics, but also can't still help feeling like an outsider.

I left the Philadelphia-area to attend college in a rural area. Nativism is just as strong out there. As one person told me, "People don't really trust you out here unless they trusted your grandfather." I think Philly is the same way sometimes.

Here is a bit of interesting history: When he was mayor, Frank Rizzo established an office that was responsible for finding and responding to negative sterotypes about Philadelphia in the media.

---
http://benwaxman.com

YPP <3's HISTORY

I love it. To the extent this is not just a city of neighborhoods but a city of changing neighborhoods, engaging with semi-recent history has a couple functions. It is plain useful--keeps us from being kids who think they know everything. And it is a way to integrate newer residents--who come at reform from a necessarily somewhat outside position--with communities of people who have fought for change while embedded in organizations, neighborhoods, and governments.

Also, I am jealous of Gaetano and Esquisite. My bedroom growing up looked out at empty fields, and I moved to South Philly too late for running around in open fire hydrants. Though I guess nothing is stopping me from sitting on the corner looking at girls.

Jennifer

Cross-Posting: Taxonomy of "Philadelphians"

I think it's worth cross-posting my classification of the Philadelphia/Philadelphia-area population here. Bear in mind that this classification is oriented towards discussions of natives vs. newcomers, and immigration to/expatriation from the city. There are lots of other classifications that could serve different purposes and reveal different conflicts.

The quote at the end is from 1 Corinthians. Since there are some HBO fans here, you might remember that it was used very well in the first season of Deadwood.

Sadly, I don't have figures for these groups, as Ray asked for -- I don't even know any way you could separate some of these groups (especially 1 and 2). There aren't good numbers for immigrants, either, for other reasons. So it's more observational than demographic.

...

Group 1: Old Population (1) -- Philadelphia locals who are entrenched and unlikely to leave. As Ray notes, this group includes virtually all of the poor and most of the working classes in the city, but also many "heritage" Philadelphians, including rich lifelong residents and middle-class home and business owners who aren't going anywhere (even if their kids might leave). Priests and ministers, teachers, cops and firemen, business owners in South and NW Philly, and many more.

Group 2: Old Population (2) -- Philadelphia locals and longterm residents who will likely leave the city in the absence of a major turnaround, and would almost definitely leave in the event of a major downturn. These are mostly middle-class people who don't like the city that much, but have always lived here and continued to live here when most of their neighbors left. Virtually everyone I've ever met from Mayfair falls in this group, but it's not just white-flighters -- we lose lots of the black middle class to the Montco and Delco suburbs and Jersey. (And these days, other cities like Atlanta.)

Group 3: New Population (1) -- Philadelphia residents (usually nonlocal) already living in the city who also could easily move somewhere else. This group tends not to be wealthy, but has a lot of spending power and income (and political) potential. All of the students (especially graduate and medical school students), hipsters priced out of NYC, Manayunk yuppies, UCity anarchists, and entry-level white-collar employees skew this group young. They often don't have a choice where they work -- if the jobs are here, they'll stay, and if not, they'll move to Portland or Denver. This group also includes young Philadelphians who typically grew up in the city (Mt Airy) or close suburbs, moved downtown for college and their twenties, and tend to move to Burlington County when they have kids. This is the source of the brain drain. Boston and Chicago keep these kids -- Philadelphia doesn't.

Group 4: New Population (2) -- This is the second group Ray mentions -- the people, young and old, who buy the condos and seem to have limitless money and choice for where they live and/or work. This group chooses to live in Philadelphia rather than New York or D.C. (for affordability and because nobody rich likes to feel poor) or in New Brunswick, Wilmington, or Baltimore (because Philadelphia is a world-class city, especially for these people). This group usually doesn't care about local or party politics because they don't have to. But they will pump money into your economy, force the government to reduce crime and provide services (at least in their neighborhoods) and generally make your city a less objectionable place, even as they rob it blind, perpetuate and mask inequality, and generally act in such a way that makes you hate their guts.

Group 5: New Population (3) -- Immigrants. They come from Africa, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Asia, East Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sometimes Canada or Ireland, and the West Indies. They tend to be self-selected entrepreneurs, while others perform the bulk of the city's unseen labor, and often work harder than the other six populations put together.

Group 6: Auxiliary Population (1) -- People in the suburbs who have a love/hate relationship with Philadelphia. They would never live here (schools, crime, no parking and no front yards) but they love the schools, hospitals, museums, restaurants, etc., and usually tell people who live elsewhere that they're "from Philadelphia." They also put a lot of money into the economy, and a ton of traffic on the highways.

Group 7: Auxiliary Population (2) -- Tourists. Unless Philadelphia descends into a serious Mad Max dystopia, we will always have a leg up on the Detroits, Clevelands, and Baltimores, because there's only one place in the country that you can see the Liberty Bell.

All of these groups need each other. The more each of these groups succeeds and thinks that Philadelphia is a hopeful, valuable place, the better off all of us are.

Now the body is not a single part, but many.
If a foot should say, "Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body," it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.
Or if an ear should say, "Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body," it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.
If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?
But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended.
If they were all one part, where would the body be?
But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, "I do not need you," nor again the head to the feet, "I do not need you."
Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary,
and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety,
whereas our more presentable parts do not need this. But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it,
so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.
If (one) part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

The middle and working class is gone!

I think your analysis is interesting. It very well could be the reality of Philadelphia today, but perhaps this is another part of a native vs. non-native perspective, whatever the reality is today, people who have been here hold on their vision of the way they think things are.

For example, this group:

Group 6: Auxiliary Population (1) -- People in the suburbs who have a love/hate relationship with Philadelphia. They would never live here (schools, crime, no parking and no front yards) but they love the schools, hospitals, museums, restaurants, etc., and usually tell people who live elsewhere that they're "from Philadelphia." They also put a lot of money into the economy, and a ton of traffic on the highways.

For many people, this group is our family. They used to be natives. My grandmom left SW in 1971 and moved to Yeadon. Dan's grandparents left and went to Glassboro. Lower Bucks county is full of ex-Philadelphians who you can follow right up Front Street, Kensington Ave and the Blvd. from their immigrant roots.

Why did people leave? In most cases it was block-busting, racism, white flight and just a terrible past. Having all of our companies and industry move out was bad too.

Some of the folks moving back into the city now are the people who left in the 50's, 60's and 70's (or their children). I have to admit, I do feel some resentment toward these folks, which perhaps explains the sentiment Ben expresses. At some level, people have choices to make, and a whole bunch of folks chose to leave Philly. They can't come back now and sit at the table as equal partners while the city went way downhill in, and because of their absence.

Also of note, there is very much still a large and engaged white working class. There's also a 150,000 person + and growing black middle class in this city.

I am sort of out of steam right now, but I think there is a lot beyond a dichotomy here in terms of what's going on with native Philadelphians having some issue with new residents and their attitudes about the future of our city.

The white working and black

The white working and black middle classes split between groups 1) and 2). I explicitly mentioned the black middle classes in my discussion of group 2, and moved somewhat quickly and maybe too selectively through the white working classes in group 1 ("Priests and ministers, teachers, cops and firemen, business owners in South and NW Philly") -- a group that includes a lot of nonwhites too, but I was thinking mostly about the white working class.

I also wanted to add group 6 (suburbanites) to the discussion, because I agree -- many of these people really are Philadelphians too. And a whole lot of them still work and pay taxes here, and contribute to churches, and add to the city in a hundred other ways.

Supporting Michael Nutter for Mayor.

As a non-native...

...of Philly, I've found that there is definitely a strong nativist sentiment in the city that can be quite intimidating. In fact, I think a great example of this is the fact that I've read this site consistently for about a year, but haven't posted until now. To be honest, there's a part of me that has been scared to death of posting for fear of being ripped apart! I think a large part of that fear is a slight sense that non-natives are not as welcome.

Oh, and I'm jealous of all three of you (Gaetano, Esquisite, and Jennifer) - all three of your views sound better than mine. I grew up in the exurbs of Baltimore and I looked out of my window to see another house identical to mine.

Thanks for the input, Kevin.

Thanks for the input, Kevin. Of course, now that you have commented once, you will never stop. Welcome to the dark side.

I do strongly think that a lot of the influence that both younger and/or newer people are having on the Philly political process is a good thing, even if it sometimes results in culture clashes. IE, a newcomer, or an outsider, or a young person is likely to look at (insert example of broken piece of the system) and say, "uh, why?"

Put in some time

Kevin:

Welcome to Philly and YPP. If you put in your time, endure championshipless (sp?) years of Eagles, Phillies, Sixers and Flyers...and pull up your sleeves to help in your new neighborhood, you will be accepted.

Disappointing

Having grown up in a near suburb (I ordered my pizza from a place in the North East), gone to highschool in Germantown, left town for a dozen years and then moved back to Center City, this mindset is something I've had pleasure of dealing with my whole life.

This mindset, at least the general acceptance of its legitimacy, is something uniquely "Philly." I have friends from Buffalo, Utica, Boston, Pittsburgh, NYC, SF and D.C. who all are shocked when I try to explain that not only does this mindset exist, but that it is openly accepted by people who consider themselves to be "Progressive."

In my opinion, the belief that this mindset is appropriate is not consistent with "Progressivism." Definitionally, nativism is fundamentally at odds with "progress." Philly's willingness to champion its nativism and the ugliness it creates (e.g., Geno's) is something that I, as a proud Philadelphian, am ashamed.

______________________________
Phillyville

Definition of Nativism

Wikipedia has a very useful definition of political nativism that's worth quoting here:

Although opposition to immigration is a feature of all countries with immigration, the term nativism originated in American politics has a specific meaning. Strictly speaking, the term 'nativism' distinguishes between Americans who were born in the United States, and individuals who have immigrated - 'first generation' immigrants. A similar distinction is relevant in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In many other countries, a person with foreign-born parents would also be considered a 'foreigner' or an 'immigrant'. Not all opposition to immigration in the United States is concerned with this distinction, but nativism has become a general term for 'opposition to immigration' based on fears the immigrants do not share American values. It can be misleading to apply the term in other countries, especially in Europe, where opposition to immigration is often founded on national identity.

And:

[Nativist] sentiment [is] typically justified with one or more of the following arguments, claiming that immigrants:

* Language: Isolate themselves in their own communities and refuse to learn the local language.
* Employment: Acquire jobs which would have otherwise been available to native citizens.
* Nationalism: Damage a sense of community and nationality.
* Consumption: Increase the consumption of scarce resources.
* Welfare: Make heavy use of social welfare systems.
* Overpopulation: May sometimes overpopulate countries (Or abandon their native countries)
* Ethnicity: Can swamp a native population and replace its culture with their own.
* In some cases deplete their countries of origin of badly needed skills (known as the "brain drain").

If you modify "Make heavy use of social welfare systems" to "demand unfair and unaffordable tax cuts," I think this can apply without further qualification to liberal/progressive nativism in Philly.

The key point is that nativism is more about structure than content -- Puerto Ricans can have nativist attitudes about Mexicans and Dominicans, just as Irish- and Italian-Americans can have nativist attitudes about blacks or Asians, and working-class neighborhoods can have nativist attitudes about gentrification, whether they're white 'Yunkers in Manayunk/Roxborough or black folks in Germantown or University City. Nativist sentiment may even be stronger among the relatively powerless -- they're fighting for what little they have. The people at the top really don't have to care.

How about we stop calling it "nativism"?

Navtivism is a bad thing--a vehement opposition to immigration and newcomers.

Philadelphians are not that way. As we see above, Philadelphians are welcoming provided you respect their culture and stick around to become a Philadelphian. My wife, a Virginian, decided to move here because people were so friendly and helpful to her, because there were children who played in the street and small businesses to go to. She does not want to change Philadelphia into what it is not--a yuppitocracy. She loves it the way it is and knows that it has the potential to get so much better with the right leadership. A leadership that has to include native Philadelphians too.

I would not equate what Ray, Dan, Seth and I are talking about to the travesty at Genos either. Joe Vento is just a bigot who happens to run a business in a community that is one of the most diverse in the entire city, state and country.

Yeah

I agree. Navtivism is not an accurate label. Suspicious, maybe. But it's not a hate by any means. I think Ray and other clearly articulated the reasons for these feelings. It's up to both newcomers and longtime residents to work to build bridges between these communities. I think that we can find political issues that can unite these two groups.

For example, many young families choose not to come to Philadelphia because of the low-performing public schools. At the same time, working-class and poor residents are trapped in a crappy system. There has got to be a way to build a cross-class (and multiracial) coalition around school funding that could mobilize both newer residents and folk who have been here for a while.

I think the same thing could be said about affordable housing, crime, and a host of other important issues. The most important thing is that we not imagine that the "new" Philadelphians are all rich and sending their kids to private schools. I am doubtful of building coalitions between poor people and the elite, but the middle class is a whole other story.

---
http://benwaxman.com

In the Absence of a Better Term

I'll grant that "nativism" is associated with very bad things, and it sounds too much like "racism." When I say "Nativism in Philadelphia Politics" I mean something more like "Race in Philadelphia Politics" than "Racism In Philadelphia Politics." But "native" just doesn't conjugate the same way that race does. If I say "Nativity and Philadelphia Politics," I sound like I'm talking about a statue of the baby Jesus in front of city hall.

At the same time, however, I am concerned about what could be seen as a preference for natives and prejudice against non-natives. This is nativism in the perjorative sense, even if it isn't about building fences or beating Irishmen in the street.

Perhaps what we could do, following Ray's suggestion, is to turn this into a thread about nativism and anti-nativism, both of which have softer and harder forms.

For example, Ed Rendell campaigned on a soft anti-nativist platform when he ran for district attorney in 77 -- his position was that because he wasn't tied to Philadelphia politics, he wouldn't be corrupt. Likewise, many Philadelphia newcomers (and longtime residents) are soft anti-nativists; they're skeptical (with good reason) that the Philadelphia establishment can make things better. Anti-nativism, like nativism, can have some traction in Philadelphia politics, all the more so in moments of crisis. (See also Juan Ramos's election, above.)

Likewise, I think most nativism in Philadelphia is soft rather than hard -- or, if you will, skeptical.. And it usually doesn't have a racist component, as the bullshit at Geno's does. The problem at Geno's isn't nativism -- he doesn't make you use a South Philly accent when you order a steak -- it really is racism; albeit racism that has some traction among nonprogressive anti-nativists. The instinct to tell newcomers, "respect our culture and stick around" isn't the primary problem, even if it may be problematic.

Native Philadelphians just don't get it

People in other cities are welcoming without any provisos. And the one's that aren't are called nativists or slack-jowled yokels or worse. Philly's problem is the nativists mindset is considered appropriate.

I still maintain there is no qualitative difference between Geno's "English Only" policy and statements like "Philadelphians are welcoming provided you respect their culture and stick around to become a Philadelphian."

______________________________
Phillyville

Okay, Dewitt, I guess every

Okay, Dewitt, I guess every native Philadelphian, including myself, who has posted on this subject is either a nativist or racist in the mold of Joe Vento.

Your argument is illogical and unreasonable. It assumes that when new people move places, they move into a vaccum and that those communities were without traditions, cultures, and generations of families who have lived there. That is not Philadelphia. Or, it may be the Philadelphia where you live, but it is not the Philadelphia where we live(d).

And, I think DEII has handled your "people in other cities are welcoming without any provisos" argument. See above.

If you dislike Philadelphians, their traditions, neighborhoods, etc., so much (or at least the ones who aren't like you), why do you chose to live here?

Actually,

It seems that there's a lot of focus here on the divisions that characterize Philly.

On the other side of the coin - I think that one of the things that distinguish Philly is the level of integration - rather than division - that characterizes the City. For example, the kind of racial and economic integration that exists in Mt. Airy is very unique in my experience, and the percentage of middle-class African Americans in this City, I would venture to guess, is also relatively unique. For all of the problems rooted in the lack of synergy between the "progressive" community and the working class (black and white) folks who would seem to have similar political objectives, that problem is a relative phenomenon. As much as I have problems with the Democratic Party machine in Philly, I think that the Party power structure is pretty remarkably racially and economically diverse. The divisions we're talking about here are problematic - but at least the divisions are of a scale that can be discussed. How many places do you find that?

After living in other locations for some 20 years or so, when I came back to Philly it took a while to readjust to going to concerts or upscale restaurants and seeing a racially mixed clientele. Similarly, although the "progressive" community is largely characterized by white middle to upper middle class whites - I would hazard the generalization that it's less true here of the "progressive" community than in most other large cities.

We're mixing a lot of stuff in this thread. One component is racism. Another is anti-immigrant sentiment. Another is a distrust of outsiders. Another is the gap between "progressives" and the rest of Democratic Philadelphia. Another is "class warfare." Hey, the "divisions" in this city are clearly party of what inhibit our growth - but let's not overdue it. Many of these divisions are not unique to Philly, and there are larger-scale economic and racial/ethnic issues that predominate.

What I want to know is how we begin to bridge those divisions. Contrary to something that Ray mentioned on another thread (I want to be careful about referencing this out of context), I see huge "strategic" potential in getting well-resourced and influential "progressives" to work more closely with relatively cohesive labor and civic organizations on issues where they share common goals. One of the things that continues to impresses me about this blog, despite all the wailing about "binary thinking" or the uselessness of navel-gazing, or it's supposed partisanship, is that it has become a virtual meeting place for people from different communities. Is there a total balance here? No. But like the City as a whole, I think that the diversity of representation on this blog is pretty unique. In itself, obviously, that isn't sufficient, but I think it is one step in the right direction.

PS: I just found out that one way to get Gaetano's agreement is to say something complimentary about Philly.

I have only a few true loves

I have only a few true loves in my life. Philadelphia is one of them.

Yes and No

Philadelphia's nativists mindset sentiment comes in two flavors that exist on the same continuum - a "lite" and "heavy." There is a quantitative but not qualitative difference between the two. The stuff being discussed here is definitely of the lite variety. Geno's is of the heavy variety.

I won't even bother to respond to the rest of the crap you are trying to read into my words.

______________________________
Phillyville

one more clarification

there is a qualitative difference between being (1) proud of your personal history; and (2) requiring others to participation in your personal history as a precondition to admittance.

If you are just (1), that's fine with me.

If you are both (1) and (2), that's not right.

______________________________
Phillyville

Yeah, Ray and Joe Vento,

Yeah, Ray and Joe Vento, definitely.

The Difference

As I mentioned above, I think the qualitative difference is that Geno's is racist, and Ray Murphy isn't. Race plays a role in progressive nativism (and anti-nativism) but I don't think everyone who holds either of these positions is racist.

And again, I would characterize both soft nativism and soft anti-nativism as characterized by skepticism rather than hate.

to be clear

you are saying that i specifically am a nativist?

Clarification

The main point of my comment was to clear you (and the other Philly natives) of connection with Geno's.

But I do think (and my original post already said) that your "inner nativist" came out in this comment:

I am just interested in the fact that the person you like least, Fattah, is the person you spent the most time writing about above. You are new to Philly, but as a native, let me tell you this mayoral election has more wild cards and the best candidates that we have had in years.

I think you are factually inaccurate about Fattah, but since you clearly have your mind made up, I won't go into a lot of detail. I think your info about him is coming from other bloggers and not the policy papers he has released which have quite a lot of info and show that he has ideas and priorities that speak to all Philadelphians at all income levels.

However, for you and mostly the Nutter supporters, write something good about your guy. I've never seen an underdog--which is what Nutter is right now based on his polling--rise up by tearing the other guy down. Remember Chuck Pennachio?

Dwight Evans, Brady and Knox are not the current leaders of the polls, but you have to give their campaigns and their supporters credit for sticking to their message.

I am sure many of you are discounting what I am saying because i work for Fattah, but remember I was a co-editor of this blog long before that, and will continue to be after the election, and I am really wearing that hat right now to say that all the hating by Nutter supporters is really, really B-O-R-I-N-G.

Please, I welcome you, write about what is he for and what he plans to do rather than just talking about how much the city sucks and how bad it is and how you hate the other candidates.

Some of this came out of your frustration with people bashing Fattah, but I don't think you would have teed off on J. Young's in the same way if he hadn't confessed to being a new Philadelphian. And some of the antipathy towards Nutter supporters (especially the part about "talking about how much the city sucks and how bad it is and how you hate the other candidates") echoes sentiments you've expressed here about non-native Philadelphians.

My main position on both nativism and anti-nativism is that both positions are problematic, but ones that we repeatedly lapse into, often without our noticing them. I don't think it's a conscious thing, or anything more pronounced than most Philadelphians, or even (as many people, including me, pointed out) natives in other cities. I don't mean to unfairly single you out. But then again, as you point out, you're co-editor of the blog.

Supporting Michael Nutter for Mayor.

I love this

You are saying I am a nativist because of this sentence:

You are new to Philly, but as a native, let me tell you this mayoral election has more wild cards and the best candidates that we have had in years.

Cut me a break. I should have said "as someone who was here in 2003, let me tell you." That was not to meant put J down for not being born in Philadelphia. That was meant to say, if you think this year is bad, you should have been here 3 years ago.

I was not here in 1999 and anyone who knows me knows that I ask about that race. I was in college and thorouhly disinterested in Philadelphia politics in favor of gay dance clubs in dingy PIttsburgh basements. I spoke with Wilson Goode on the phone on a call-in show called Kids Corner when I was like 9, but I don't really remember his elections or 91. I know about that stuff mostly because I read a lot--they do have books outside of Philadelphia right? If not, I'll send the Peoria, Illinois library "A Prayer for the City" and "In Goode Faith."

After a long day, and a lot of this back and forth, as interesting as I think Philadelphia "nativism" is to discuss, I ultimately think you are using that concept as away to avoid dealing with the fact that in this election cycle there are Philadelphia voters who care more about retaining and enhancing their own privellege than anything else. This may be human nature (human, like all of us, not just born in Philly) but it just seems irresponsible to me.

No, not just one sentence

This is what I think your comment to J boiled down to (absent the anti-Nutter-supporter stuff)

1. You're new to Philly.
2. Because you're new to Philly, you don't know what you're talking about (both about the city's history and its candidates).
3. All you do is complain about how bad the city and its politicans are.
4. If you don't stop complaining about my city, I'll make it unpleasant for you on my blog.

Otherwise, it's just a straight rip into Nutter supporters. Fair or unfair, that makes less sense to me than that your Philly pride jumped up -- which is why you started by sticking up for all of the candidates, not just Fattah.

Likewise, I don't know what this is about:

I know about that stuff mostly because I read a lot--they do have books outside of Philadelphia right? If not, I'll send the Peoria, Illinois library "A Prayer for the City" and "In Goode Faith."

If you read my other posts, you'll see that I'm as up on my city history and political details as (almost) anyone on this blog. Other people are here (in part) to learn something. They shouldn't be faulted for that.

This reminds me of Adam Gopnik's rant about the new New York City street signs in The New Yorker: "New York is not a hard place to get around in. If you don’t know where you are, you don’t deserve to be here."

And I'm from Detroit, not Peoria. I don't know where J is from. Illiteracy is a real problem in Philadelphia and elsewhere, so if that's just supposed to be a joke, it's a bad one two ways: on non-Philadelphians (whom you're calling illiterate) and Philadelphians who genuinely can't read.

And I definitely agree that "there are Philadelphia voters who care more about retaining and enhancing their own privilege than anything else." I just think that this is a more widespread phenomenon than the business and white-collar community. It includes the Joe Ventos of the world, and other people at or near the bottom (with a lot less money than Joe Vento) clinging to what they have. and it includes polticians who mobilize anti-outsider sentiment to win elections. To his credit, your guy, Fattah, hasn't done that. He wants to use temporary tax breaks to bring businesses into the city, and has never made his campaign about us vs. them. But it seemed and seems strange to me that some of his supporters on this blog have. But I think it isn't because they're Fattah supporters at all -- but because this is something that, as one Philadelphian after another has confirmed, plays an important role in Philadelphia politics.

Supporting Michael Nutter for Mayor.

Thanks for reposting the thread, Ray - a related challenge here

since comments on the old thread is turned off.

A challenge to the anti-BPT statistics wonks:

Read Ray's post, and then come back and talk to us about whether the recent tax cuts, that you keep suggesting have actually to some degree "caused" increased revenue, have concurrently increased the wages of the average Philadelphian.

Any stats on how there's a higher percentage of middle-class folks during these years that increased revenue are correlated with lower taxes?

Any stats on fewer Philadelphians living in poverty?

It seems that making that point would be crucial to explaining how tax cuts are going to improve our economy for a representative cross-section of the City

Can We Do That Somewhere Else?

I think there are enough threads about the BPT where this debate can continue. I'd rather if this thread didn't lose its focus (which, thank God, has so far been BPT free).

Absolutely, I didn't mean to

Absolutely, I didn't mean to hijack this thread.

Use this thread

Use this thread to respond to the "Why Wages Matter" post.

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