NY Gov. Cuomo’s war on the poor

People are protesting New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s vicious campaign against folks who can’t pay New York City’s $2.75 subway fare. Over a thousand people gathered at Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 31 and marched across midtown Manhattan. At least 13 were arrested.

The real crime is that New York City transit fares have increased 55 times since 1948. Back then, it cost a nickel to ride, but now the price of a weekly MetroCard is $33.

It’s tragic that Malaysia Goodson fell to her death on Jan. 28, 2019, while protecting her baby. The Black mother died falling down the stairs because the subway station at 53rd Street and 7th Avenue—like three quarters of New York’s stations—lacks elevators. That’s illegal and a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s law breaking doesn’t bother Gov. Cuomo too much. Cuomo’s outrage is reserved for people who jump a turnstile or enter the back door of a bus because they can’t afford the fare. The greatest crime In capitalist society is to be poor.

Cuomo demanded that the MTA hire 500 more cops to arrest and harass people. This will cost at least $50 million, enough money to buy 62 electric buses. But the Cuomo-controlled MTA board rubber-stamped the governor’s ultimatum.  

The Community Service Society rightfully called Cuomo’s actions “antiquated broken window policing” that will “not reduce police bias, but rather enable it.” Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter that “ending mass incarceration means challenging a system that jails the poor to free the rich. Arresting people who can’t afford a $2.75 fare makes no one safer and destabilizes our community.”

Never forget Michael Stewart and Darryl Goodwin

Between October 2017 and June 2019, 90 percent of those arrested for allegedly not paying the fair were Black or Latinx, according to New York Attorney General Letitia James. 

“I got tired of hunting Black and Hispanic people because of arrest quotas,” said a former police officer, Christopher LaForce.

Adding 500 cops will mean even more racism.

Instead of “fare-beating,” 37 years ago the capitalist media were screaming about graffiti. One result was that the 25-year-old Black artist Michael Stewart was beaten and choked to death by 11 transit cops in September 1983. 

Andy Cuomo’s father, Mario Cuomo, was New York governor at the time. Mario built more prisons than all the other New York governors put together did. To do so, the elder Cuomo stole billions from the state’s Urban Development Corporation that was supposed to have built affordable housing. 

Latinx women selling snacks are victimized by police. The Ecuadorian immigrant Elsa Morochoduchi was arrested on Nov. 8, 2019, inside the Broadway Junction station for selling churros. 

Vendors like Morochoduchi stand on their feet for long hours so that they can pay their high rent. Gov. Cuomo doesn’t have to worry about that.

Along with his $225,000 salary, Andy gets to live in a rent-free executive mansion set on 10 acres of land. To travel around the state, he got a brand new $12.5 million helicopter in 2017.

Police also target transit workers. Station agent Darryl Goodwin was arrested on May 16, 2017, at the Columbus Circle station for supposedly unlocking a subway gate too slowly for police. The 27-year-long member of Transit Workers Union Local 100 was eligible to retire the following year.

Because of the stress caused by his illegal arrest and the need to work overtime to make up for being suspended for 60 days, Darryl Goodwin didn’t make it. The Black worker died three months later on Aug. 15, 2017. 

Cuomo was even going to send armed state police last year to take attendance and check the overtime of Long Island Railroad workers.

That smells of fascism.    

Tax-free interest and stolen wages

A trillion dollars of Manhattan real estate would be worthless without a rapid transit system. It’s union workers on subways, buses and commuter railroads, as well as in repair shops and offices, that move millions of people everyday. 

To the billionaire class the function of the Mass Transit Authority is to pay interest on its $44 billion debt.

In 2018, capitalist bankers and other capitalist bondholders lapped up over $2.5 billion in tax-free interest like pigs at the MTA feeding trough.

Next year, this massive robbery will gobble up 19 cents of every dollar in fares. But we’re supposed to get upset over some poor person who couldn’t pay $2.75?

The capital of capitalism actually has fewer miles of rapid transit than it did in 1940. That’s largely because elevated lines, like on Third Avenue, were torn down but not replaced by subways, though they should have been. Twenty-one cities in the socialist People’s Republic of China have opened subway systems just since 2009. It can be done.

Meanwhile, Gov. Cuomo celebrated New Year’s Day by vetoing legislation that would help workers recover their stolen wages. Bosses in New York state steal more than $1 billion in wages from workers annually, according to a U.S. Department of Labor study.  

The Securing Wages Earned Against Theft (SWEAT) act would have closed loopholes by putting liens on sweatshop owners who cheat workers out of their pay.