Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics
By Kim Phillips-Fein
Metropolitan Books (April 2017)
Reviewed by Jacqueline Brandon
Critics of neoliberalism have well established that disasters, be they economic, ecological, or political, create space for opportunistic restructuring. In post-Allende Chile as in post-Katrina New Orleans, free market ideologues, business interests, and neoconservative political regimes seized the chance to dismantle robust public services and unions, making the death of liberal civil society in the name of corporate oligarchy parading as bootstrap individualism. In mid-1970s New York City, deepening municipal debt and a waning commitment to the liberal politics established by the New Deal and Great Society coalesced in what has gone down in history as the narrowly avoided fiscal collapse of the city. This is the story Kim Phillips-Fein tells in Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics. Here, sandwiched between the sixties’ welfare state expansion and the eighties’ triumph of Reaganism, Phillips-Fein uncovers the complicated process by which once-liberal politicians and policymakers embraced a form of governance hollowed of public services and friendlier than ever to business leaders and the financial industry.
“Invaders”: Black Ladies of the ILGWU and the Emergence of the Early Civil Rights Movement in New York City
By Janette Gayle
Black female industrial workers are strikingly absent from literature on the Great Migration and black industrial labor in the twentieth century. Studies like Joe William Trotter Jr.’s Black Milwaukee, James R. Grossman’s Land of Hope, Richard W. Thomas’s Life for Us Is What We Make It, and Peter Gottlieb’s Making Their Own Way have advanced our understanding of black industrial workers and their importance in the making of black communities in the Midwest and northern urban industrial cities, but they focus almost exclusively on the experiences of skilled men. Skilled women are virtually absent from these studies. But women were there. If we look closely at the sources, another picture comes into focus, one in which women such as Maida Springer Kemp, Eldica Riley, Edith Ransom, and thousands of others were indeed part of the black industrial workforce in New York City. If we look closely we will also see that the Great Migration was not a completely unskilled migration. Many migrants -- men as well as women -- were skilled workers. The ones who caught my eye were the dressmakers.
“Does the United States Need a Medical Revolution?” Communism, Birth Control, and National Health Insurance in 1940s New York
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