Pin It
Caseythoughts Bishop George Hume once wrote that "'"Words may be either servants or masters. If the former, they may safely guide us in the way of truth. If the latter, they intoxicate the brain and lead into swamps of thought where there is no solid footing."

I quote this because I have noted that the phrase 'safe injection site' is apparently no longer being used by the advocates for legal shooting galleries for heroin usage to be placed in a neighborhood near you. I have now seen the phrase 'safer consumption space' used in lieu of the phrase 'safe injection site'. How convenient. Let's make it sound like shooting up heroin and zoning out at a house on your street is kind of like 'consuming' a candy bar or a bowl of cereal, instead of what it really is, which is a life threatening action with an illegal and dangerous drug. No harm done, right?

Once again, like the phrase 'low income housing', we have dispensed with a phrase which the middle class might react against, so called it 'affordable housing', allowing us to ignore the real problem: in housing, the need for the working poor to live comfortably in our neighborhoods, but in the case of 'safer consumption space' to obfuscate the reality of dangerous (and often deadly) behavior, basically being condoned by the change of language by our elected officials. Once again, wordsmiths have obscured reality with words, words, words. Watch for the phrase 'safe injection site' to disappear from media view, and be replaced by 'safe consumption site'.

Once again, it appears we are being led astray by apparently innocent words'/phrases, in such clever ways, oblivious to ways that we can be manipulated. (If we had allowed 'low income housing' to stay in the lexicon, would it ever have been condoned and advocated by a majority of people who can make it a reality for our working poor?) Again, Bishop Hume: 'Among the sources of those innumerable calamities which from age to age have overwhelmed mankind, may be reckoned as one of the principal, the abuse of words.'

To expand for a moment on the phrase 'affordable housing', may I ask innocently, 'Affordable for whom?' Even though I am semi-retired from the full time work force, I still do 'temp' work for some extra bucks, as well as to keep in touch with other humans and businesses that I might normally have little or no contact with.

As a 'temp', I get to meet the people who scratch and struggle daily to keep up financially in this expensive world known as Tompkins County. The best offer I have had for an hourly wage in this temp world (remember the old adage that you have to have a bachelor's degree to flip hamburgers in Ithaca) was $13.00 by an amazingly (and, perhaps unfairly) disparaged local landlord. Now, that's a decent wage, well above 'minimum', but below the supposed 'living wage'. You do the math as if you were working full time: 40 hours a week is $520.00 gross, weekly. Deduct, fed, state, FICA, disability taxes and as a single person you're lucky to bring in $400.00 a week. $1600.00 a month, not much more than the average Social Security recipient receives in retirement benefits a month.

A decent one bedroom apartment in our area will probably cost you about $800-900 a month, plus utilities (I know this for a fact, check it out yourself). Potentially 50% of your hard earned wages (if you're lucky to make $13.00 an hour, which many of the people I have worked with don't receive) is going just to pay the rent and utilities. If you're fortunate. Suppose you live in Enfield, or Groton, you either depend on TCAT (another $5.00 a day, assuming the bus even runs to and from work somewhere close to your schedule, which in many cases like Trumansburg it does not) or you can drive which will cost you even more. Oh, insurance isn't even in this calculation.

What I'm getting at is that 'affordable housing' is a misleading phrase when you realize that over 30% or more of Tompkins County's working population (the blue collars, the people who work at the hospital, the restaurants, the retail establishments, the people who make this county livable) cannot live in Tompkins County. They live in Cortland, Tioga, Schuyler and Seneca County because no entity other than Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services takes them into account, and INHS gets heat from residents for doing just that. You see TCAD, Tompkins County Trust and other names on banners on the fences surrounding new high rises being built, but you have yet to see one opportunity for truly 'affordable' (read, working poor income levels) housing for the hard working people being financed and built by the city of Ithaca or Tompkins County.

The tax breaks and the financial wherewithal (millions to an airport expansion, for example) all going to the upper middle class while the working stiffs who keep the hospital running, pour your coffee and cook your food have to travel twenty miles one way to that job, and then back to home, spouse and kids who cannot live here because of the cost of living. Want to test yourself? See if you can count how many people in your day are making less than a 'livable' wage that you may encounter every day. But, it's not a livable wage issue, as some would say: it's livable housing that's only available in surrounding counties, while downtown Ithaca and surrounding communities just look to tax base as if it were a property issue, instead of a people issue.

Kudos to the town of Lansing for their approval and push for housing for seniors, vets and the disabled across from the Lansing Library and Town Hall. If education is our main product in Tompkins County, then let's look to be educated about the needs of the hardworking people (including teacher aides, janitors and others who cannot afford to live here without second and even third incomes) who keep this county 'working', who can't find 'affordable' housing in their own county, except for lip service and concerned committee reports. Hats off to those who put their money where their words are, such as Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services, and the Town of Lansing.

Finally, I'm happy to note that my recent prediction of $4 gasoline by Labor Day may have gone seriously off the tracks. Saudi Arabia and Russia have both evidently decided to uncap their pumping potential and world supplies have stayed steady, though Venezuela is in freefall and the effects of the Iranian sanctions will not be fully felt until autumn. China will apparently be placing tariffs on US oil, and will make up the potential shortfall by buying Iranian oil. The result seems to be stasis in the American gasoline supply, although the US is running out of pipelines, storage facilities, trucks, truck drivers who can pass drug tests and railroad tank cars to transport all of the oil we are now pumping, relying less and less on imported oil.

I still think we will sooner or later regret this increased reliance on electric vehicles, but in the meantime I'm glad to have proven once again that I am usually wrong at least once a day (this column being Exhibit A). Wrong as $4 a gallon gasoline prediction may have been (and Labor Day ain't here, yet) I will still economize and use as little gasoline as I can, and hope you're doing the same, regardless of its price.

Pin It