Scamming the Poor and Workers, Banks and Kushner Style Gerrymandering

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65 Bay Street
Source: Getty

New Orleans  America, what a country! The news reports endlessly about plans to hard handle struggling families and workers, barely making it, or not making it at all, on food stamps or SSI disability payments, with increasingly draconian “work” requirements, mindless of whether any jobs exist and any fair definition of what “able-bodied” might mean, or the fact that it speaks to a bygone time in an America of another century where manual labor was king. At the same time, reports on the way that the big boys with deep pockets scam programs designed to level the playing field for bank loans or access to jobs are likely to be just more weeds popping through the cracks in the sidewalk and quickly ignored.

It turns out in big business “gerrymandering” is not just a term used in politics for the way that voting districts are shrunk or expanded to protect incumbents or disadvantage or isolate minorities for this party or that. Gerrymandering in the business world seems to be the science of redrawing or manipulating census tracts so that businesses can take advantage of programs meant to help low and moderate income families and workers.

The Washington Post, following up on the earlier marketing snafu where the sister of Trump son-in-law and still private business profiting special assistant, Jared Kushner, was hawking EB-5 visas to the Chinese, has now laid out how his company gerrymanders low income census tracts in order to use money raised through EB-5 visa programs to lower its capital cost by millions. You will recall that EB-5 visas are the so-called “golden visas” that foreigners can use to buy entry and privileges in the United States by laying down $500,000 in specially qualified areas like job creation in low income census tracts. The Post used two properties that Kushner developers had put together with the highly accommodating state officials in New Jersey to build 50-story luxury apartment developments in Jersey City, overlooking Manhattan across the river. 65 Bay Street and 1 Journal Square are both at this trough, while many people living in low income tracts as many as four miles away are shocked to hear that they are getting jobs from these projects. And, believe me, no special effort is being made to outreach to these tracts to offer job access, training, or real employment. It’s all take-the-money-and-run with no oversight, which is what defines a scam, isn’t it?

Another recent story detailed how all of the big banks, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank America and the gang crowd into the small slivers of a low income census tracts that might include upscale or business areas in order to open branches. Why? Certainly not to offer more services to lower income families, but absolutely to pat their own backs and lard on more credit for themselves in their annual reports that are part of the Community Reinvestment Act., designed expressly to force more lending and services for lower income and racially diverse communities.

The practice of businesses, often with the help of local, state, and even federal government, assistance are scamming programs designed for low-and-moderate income families isn’t something new under the sun. Any hard evaluation of the expenditure of Community Development Block Grant monies and their actual outcomes for low income families would find too much of the same. The number of private developments that have used CDBG monies as part of their financing with the promise of creating jobs and then never were required to prove the jobs were ever created is legion in city after city.

The surprise is that the constant attack on struggling individuals never even admits the irony of the even bigger gifts given to the undeserving rich individuals and their deep pocketed companies.