Writing

Piece 59 – In Defense of Bail Reform By. Raimondo Graziano

In Defense of Bail Reform

By. Raimondo Graziano

 

There is a deep history of systemic racism and deliberate incarceration pointed at predominantly black and brown communities, people of color and in some of the most historically marginalized communities across the United States. It is something that is deeply ingrained in American culture and finds its sordid roots in the very founding of the nation, in that fateful deliberate choice to allow the birth of a new nation under the oppression that is the institution of slavery. In that moment, the moment we stand at today, was forged. A nation conceived with the ideals of liberty and justice for all founded upon a foundation whose core pillar which would last for nearly a hundred years after its founding, denied that very ideal to a large portion of the population, thus sowing the continuance of the plague of racism that still deeply grips this country. In our failure to leave slavery in the past with the founding of our country we set the stage for generational poverty, income inequality between whites and blacks, and the perpetuating of racism and discrimination.

This plight did not end either with the emancipation proclamation, or the 13th or 14th Amendment. Racists in government, whose very thinking is antithetical to the god they often defer to, crafted devious methods and means to deny people their rights long after the end of slavery. These empty husks of humanity, parading as human beings, found ways of stifling communities who never had the chance to build wealth and foundations here uninhibited by a system meant to keep them in the mud – from suppressing votes, to housing and labor discrimination and the stain of segregation which lasted well into the 20th century, and in some cases still to this day – racists hell bent on the belief that one race is superior to another, that one race has divine favor while the other is lesser have imbedded themselves in American society and pushed an agenda diametrically opposed to the ideals that this nation was founded on. Though perhaps the greatest sin of all, is denying a free man his freedom through targeted and systemic enforcement of laws built to suppress the black and brown communities of this country through mass incarceration.

Righting the wrongs of our past will take time, and in many cases will take measures that some may deem extreme, the circumstances under which these problems first arose where in essence extreme, inhumane, brutal, and demand rectification. The United States has the largest incarcerated population of any nation in the entire world – land of the free? When a quarter of the worlds prison population rests in the supposed seat of the steward of democracy, we indeed have a problem. For decades now, black and brown communities have been disproportionately targeted for crimes solely based on the color of their skin. Studies have shown that blacks and whites commit crimes at the same rate, then why is that the large majority of the prison population is black men? Many rotting in a jail cell for minor possession charges, and facing insurmountable odds upon being reingratiated in society – if they ever manage to get out.

With polices such as mandatory minimums, coupled with a discriminatory attitude in police forces we have condemned a generation of black and brown individuals to languish away in jail, sons without their mothers, daughters without their fathers, families torn and teared apart – a deep moral scar on the very face of this country. In order for us to right these wrongs bold action must be taken, we must work to stem the tide of continued incarceration through measures that may be unpopular, but that are necessary. The problem we have created must be rectified, and if some may view them as extreme than they fail to see the severity of the situation. Not only are we trying to end mass incarceration, but we have to account for those imprisoned already. It is as if a one man or woman is holding two walls of inequity at arm’s length from crushing and suffocating him or her, and that man or woman is named liberty. The Bail Reforms enacted in New York State are a necessary first step towards righting the wrongs of our morally degenerative epoch in this country, we should not overturn them, we should work to ensure they are enforced effectively and to the benefit of all people, especially those most affected by the racism that persists here, and all across this nation.

Writing

Piece 57 – Affordable Housing In New York By. Raimondo Graziano

Affordable Housing in New York
                                                       By. Raimondo Graziano

Affordable and New York City are four words you’d be surprised to find here in the state and city of New York. Over the last ten to twenty years this city specifically has become less and less affordable for the working-class families that struggle to make ends meet day to day. While the state has never seen such a great economic boom and infrastructure expansion, the benefits that ought to trickle down to the average New Yorker just haven’t been nearly close enough to what they should be. In a city and state of such wealth and promise this is an atrocious truth, one that our elected officials have been slow to rectify.

While daily expenses – bills, utilities, provisions, childcare and healthcare and the such are already expensive as ever, housing has become a luxury. The average rent for an apartment, and a small one at that, in New York has gone up to between $2500.00 to $3100.00. This is outrageous when the vast majority of New Yorkers don’t make nearly enough to be able to afford this on a month to month basis. On top of taxes, bridge tolls, and all other means of squeezing the working family – the situation of affordability, and security in ones ability to achieve a good life for themselves has reached crisis levels.

You would be remiss to mention the staggering fact that there are upwards of 60,000 people homeless in New York. More than at their height during the 1930’s. This is outrageous. On any given night in New York, near 4,000-5,000 people are homeless on the streets, and with the frigid winds of Winter lashing the state – this could be classified as a humanitarian disaster. For the wealthiest city and one of the wealthiest states in the union to be leading on this issue is a travesty of the highest order.

This just shouldn’t be. To house an individual in a shelter costs far more than it would if the government would simply guarantee housing to every single New Yorker. This is cost effective to the tax payer, its humane and it’s our obligation as defenders of the wellbeing of the people of this state to enact reforms now to fix this gross inequity. So while Mayor DeBlasio talks about ending street homelessness, he is doing no better than Mayor Giuliani – simply sweeping the issue under the rug so that the “good people” (i.e wealthy, tourists and those campaign contributors of his running the hotels acting as shelters) of New York dont have to worry about seeing the problems that exist as a foundational issue of this state and city. We need action now; otherwise what kind of a people are we who don’t provide for the most basic wellbeing of the people of the state and city of New York?

Writing

Piece 58 – The Importance of Our Allies Across the Atlantic By. Raimondo Graziano

The Importance of Our Allies Across the Atlantic
By. Raimondo Graziano

The importance of the United States on the global stage cannot be understated; we are looked to for leadership, guidance and approval for a great many undertakings of the nations of the world. The order we established after the end of the second world war remains, though imperiled it may be. In recent years our respect and integrity on the world stage has been degraded by both foreign and domestic threats to not only the constitution but to the very ideal that is the United States.

What is perhaps even more important than the unilateral approach and power of this country is the pertinence of our allies across the Atlantic in maintaining, committing and doubling down on the established order of the prevailing of the liberal democratic idea. Our allies in Europe are indispensable, the maintenance of the West, and any hopes for dramatic reforms of our world order rely heavily on The United States and more crucially on our allies who span across an entire continent, more directly connected to the vastness that is the international community.

The world we live in today is riddled with crisis after crisis, and the many governing bodies of the world seem engaged in a state of governance by crisis. From domestic threats of rising authoritarianism and populism, to protracted wars abroad, and economic downturns and entire continents lit ablaze – the world we live in today is fraught with instability. The West is under threat of consuming itself in its own decadence, moral negligence and excessive income inequality. We must rise to the occasion. Here in the States, we must reject that which is easy and fleeting for that which is difficult and worthy of struggle. We must reject isolationism and the idea that it is America first, and America Alone.

We must reach out across the sea, the arms of liberty cleansed anew and stretched out to our European brothers and sisters to engage hand in hand in amending the ills that we collectively have helped to ferment. We must right the wrongs of our past and of the present by boldly leading forward, now. United.

Writing

Piece 54 – The Presidency Unhinged By. Raimondo Graziano

                                                         The Presidency Unhinged

                                                           By. Raimondo Graziano

            The American Presidency occupies but only a small portion of the Constitution, the strong yet oft tested guardrails of our republican democracy. The executive has over many decades and nearing three centuries now gradually expanded its powers, authority, reach, and influence. Many presidents have used the executive branch to propel their agenda forward, cement their legacy and undermine the other branches of government meant to be coequal in their distribution of power and authority.

            From Andrew Jackson to Franklin Roosevelt and to Donald J. Trump, those at the helm of American democracy have steadily expanded the ‘imperial authority of the Presidency.’ As we venture further into the next century and as partisan divisions grow ever entrenched, the dangers that are posed by a Presidency unhinged, unrestricted in the exercise of its perceived and unspoken powers, grows ever stronger. With each passing day of apathy from the American public and dereliction of duty by the Congress and the threats of partisanship within our courts, we teeter closer toward elected dictatorship.

            The influence of the two parties within the country have helped to elevate their standard bearers, their leaders of the party, to a powerful evocative symbol – a dangerous symbol. A unflinching loyalty to not a man, but to an idea. The man as an idea. But the inherent danger is to, in our blind pursuit of personal and ideological agendas, elevate dangerous demagogic figures with their own personal agendas to the heights of power, because we believe they represent more than simply the man. We are allowing the festering of an unhinged Presidency disseminate amongst us.

            In short – we forgive the once unforgivable, we accept the once unacceptable, we endorse the once impeachable. In short, we have given the Presidency, and the man who occupies its office, an endorsement to pursue an agenda at any cost. Today it is the Republicans, tomorrow perhaps the Democrats. Though the day after? Perhaps Julius Caesar himself, seizing the authority of Rome and ceding its powers to one man veiled with the veneer of a populist fury, promising to liberate the people. In our continued longing for a savior, we will bring about the degradation of our liberties and the utter dismantling and destruction of our democracy.

Writing

Piece 53 – A Condemnation of Congress By. Raimondo Graziano

                                                     A Condemnation of Congress

                                                        By. Raimondo Graziano

            If there is any American institution which stokes ire and contempt from the public it is Congress. Congress has become a woefully partisan gymnasium, full of hacks and political lackeys for their respective parties and interests as well as lobbying groups and a whole cacophony of dirty phony patriots, apologists and agitators of the highest order. These representatives that we have put into office are beholden not to the voters but to those who cut the checks that line their pockets, and fill their campaign coffers. It goes without mentioning that Congress rarely passes pieces of legislation that have any major bearing to what it is the American public is seeking. The American public longs for systematic institutional change to address the harrowing issues that they face. They mask themselves in a facetious love of the country, yet they do nothing for the people and the nation that afforded them the highest opportunity to serve the public. They serve themselves.

            This deformation of patriotism, this false love of country is borderline treasonous, and most certainly negligent and a dereliction of duty. They are ardent apologists for themselves, blaming their inability to do what is right on obstruction that they themselves have caused. They are hacks and lackeys because they perpetuate lies, and they peddle talking points fed to them by their national committees, and of course the special interests and lobbying firms that feed to them the policies that they know little to nothing about. They are bought and paid for by both foreign and domestic entities all with competing interests – none of them, the interest of the American people.

            They serve themselves, enrich themselves and blame the constituency for not being informed about the issues, they blame everyone but themselves. Their hubris and their blatant malice towards the American people is dually noted in the hearts and minds of many. It reflects in the discourse, and the American people know that those whom they send to Washington on the taxpayer’s dime, are frauds – they feel as though they have no true power or say in the political process. And of course, they don’t – Republicans work to suppress the vote, disenfranchising millions from voicing their truths, and Democrats work to suppress dissenting opinion, they suppress anything that works to move them closer to a progressive stance. In truth – Republicans and Democrats alike are cut from the same political cloth soaked in blood, a disengaged, out of touch political class of elites licking the boots of industry and anyone or anything which can keep them clothed in the black sackcloth that is American power.

            Congress has routinely failed to live up to its constitutional duties to serve, protect and defend the American public – let alone our founding documents, and our guiding principles. To the congress, these things are simply trivialities, things to be referred to rhetorically, or used as a nod to principles which they lack wholeheartedly. Governing is the duty bestowed upon these men and women, and they skirt this moral responsibility habitually. Why not, when accountability is neither an issue nor a concern – when the media on either side bolsters the arguments of these bonafide talking heads who perpetuate falsity, after falsity and continually undermine the American people. It is a vast understatement to say that reforms are needed – to campaign finance, to term limits, in regards to accountability and in regards to very premise and foundations of what it means to be a member of what is meant to the greatest deliberative body in the world.

            The corruption and rot within the hallowed halls of Congress runs deep, and if the American public does not wake up to the siege laid upon them then The United States of America will befall the same fate as the Roman Republic. In these times of trials and tribulations and with no stern captain at the helm of our democracy, of our republic, with no statesmen left and with no leaders to lead it is up to the people to keep their republic, it is up to the people to shake the shackles of corporate oligarchy that besets this country, it is up to the people to refresh the tree of liberty for all Americans. It is, and shall always be, up to the people. One can only hope, that the fickle hand of fate is on our side.