Harvey on Baltimore

Posted on Posted inPolitics

From the last issue of N+1, a very thoughtful intellectual journal, a portion of an interview with David Harvey is available online (scroll down a bit).

David Harvey (July 2008)

DH: I don’t have sufficient information to say what proportion of the people who got foreclosed upon were themselves flipping or speculating. Some of them were, in some parts of the country—in California, for example, there was quite a bit of that going on.

But in a city like Baltimore, that was not going on. It was largely a low-income, African-American population that had been pulled into the dream of home ownership and they’vebeen wiped out. And in effect if you look at cities like Cleveland or Baltimore the foreclosure wave has been like a series of financial Katrinas. I’m very familiar with Baltimore, and I have a map of the foreclosures in Baltimore, and it’s clear who’s being affected. A lot of it affects women, particularly single, head-of-household women–they’re just being completely destroyed.

Harvey is a professor at CUNY and well-known author, specializing in the critique of liberal capitalism. Whether you agree with his politics or not (and I suspect that some readers would not), his comments represent an instructive and incisive look at the current real estate crisis.

  • While his commentary provides decent insight, my own eyeballs in my neighborhood and the other well-to-do neighborhoods around the city were rife with flippers and speculators looking to turn a quick buck. Quite frankly I hope they get what’s coming to them in the form of foreclosures – and really, the only reason it hasn’t happened sooner is because most of those people had the working capital to support such a venture for a time – but it’s gonna happen.

    EAT THE RICH

  • That one reason I mentioned it. With all the anti-slum watching going on, it was interesting to see someone mentioning homeowners in baltimore. We (or at least I) consider real estate speculation the most dangerous, and morally odious, practice. But if Harvey is right, it is potentially more transformative over the long term. If people lose their homes, they put more pressure on the city’s already stretched social services. Will crime and drug use spike as people, already unable to find a job, now lose their homes? We tend to think of the “subprime housing crisis” in terms of the overly-optimistic low-to-middle class. Harvey, however, refocuses our gaze on the segment of the lower class struggling up the economic ladder. These are precisely the people that we need to succeed.