New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks to the media during a news conference. (photo: Reuters)
19 December 13
our callous response to the deeply troubling series The New York Times did on Dasani, the homeless child in Brooklyn, highlights everything that’s wrong with your style of leadership. As mayor of the largest city in the richest country in the world, the conditions she described, like standing guard outside a dingy shower while her mother bathed to protect her from sexual assault, and having to use toilets clogged with vomit, should prompt you to take action.
"City and state inspectors have repeatedly cited the shelter for deplorable conditions, including sexual misconduct by staff members, spoiled food, asbestos exposure, lead paint and vermin. Auburn has no certificate of occupancy, as required by law, and lacks an operational plan that meets state regulations. Most of the shelter’s smoke detectors and alarms have been found to be inoperable."
-New York Times, Invisible Child
Any decent human being should be horrified about such conditions and want to do everything in their power to change them. And many people of much lesser means than you do so. But your response to her troubles was simply, “That’s the way God works.” I’m not sure if you’ve studied the Bible much, but I have, and I’d love to tell you a little bit about the way God actually works.
In Luke, Chapter 3, verse 11, Jesus instructed his disciples, “If you have two coats, give one away. Do the same with your food.” You own a $7 million, AgustaWestland SPA AW109SP helicopter through your company, and The New York Times mentions how you keep it with your private jets. Jets, as in more than one. If you have more than one private jet AND a helicopter, why not sell off all of your flying vehicles except one, and use the money to create more spaces for homeless families like Dasani’s?
Another one of Jesus’ parables – in Matthew, Chapter 25, verses 31 through 46 – is another example of how God really works. In the parable, Jesus tells the story of a king who says to his people that when the good ones fed the hungry, clothed the cold and healed the sick, they did the same to him, and would be blessed with eternal life. The king likewise tells the wicked among his people that when they did not feed the hungry, clothe the cold or heal the sick, they also didn’t do those things for him. The wicked are then condemned to eternal punishment. Regardless of your religious beliefs, I think it’s safe to say that your decision to stop food donations to homeless shelters in your city qualifies you to be among the wicked.
In Mark, Chapter 10, verses 17 through 25, Jesus is approached by a rich ruler, who proudly tells Jesus that he’s followed all the commandments and seeks eternal life. When Jesus tells him to give away his possessions to the poor, the rich man leaves sadly, refusing to part with his wealth. Jesus then reminded his disciples that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Under your leadership, New York City became the city with the highest income inequality in the United States. One in five people in your city are below the federal poverty line, even though the median income in New York is over $60,000. That means in a city of approximately 8,000,000 people, roughly 1,600,000 of them are starving and desperate.
You could take a lesson in how God really works by looking to the examples set by Pope Francis. In November, he blasted the worthlessness and greed of financial speculation, the profession your city is perhaps best known for, and the source of your billions of dollars. He wrote:
“As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.” -Pope Francis
As one of your last acts as mayor, you could impress the hell out of me and everyone else if you would lift your ban on food donations to NYC shelters, come out in favor of tighter regulations on Wall Street, and support a financial transactions sales tax that would raise billions, dedicating that new revenue stream to more spaces and aid for the homeless population of your city.
Kicking the most vulnerable when they’re down isn’t how God really works – that’s how bullies work. Will you be remembered as a former class warrior who repented and worked to help the less fortunate, or as a greedy bully who fed the overfed by starving the masses?
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Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.
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