Wandering Eye: The many misdeeds of Hopkins, 'Born To Run' turns 40, and more

So if the Johns Hopkins University/Hospital system gives you the howling fantods—or even if it doesn't—you might learn something you didn't know in this lengthy catalog of the institution’s misdeeds published by Zachary Gallant in The Leveller. It's all here: the low-wage service jobs, the "bubble" of wealth amid crushing poverty, the curious nonprofit status of Maryland's largest single institution. The tax issue is central here in the first section of the piece: If "Johns Hopkins were taxed at Maryland's going corporate tax rate of 8.25% on its $7.62 billion annual revenue, the taxes would come to $628,650,000 annually, or $12.5 billion over the past 2 decades, in addition to the $12-million-plus in annual property taxes cited by the SEIU." Next up, the EBDI redevelopment. You probably know that story, or a version of it. The Henrietta Lacks story is recounted as well, and linked to other experiments on African-Americans, which Gallant depicts in harsh light. Finally, we have the political money. Here is where it gets interesting, as City Councilman Carl Stokes and City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young are singled out for taking tons of money from Hopkins-affiliated developers: "In Stokes' case, this money coincides with an utter cessation of public positions regarding Johns Hopkins." There are many more mentioned. "There are very few elected officials in Baltimore who stand against Hopkins. The bonds of campaign contributions are the bonds of complicity: when you're earning money for supporting a multi-million-dollar project, you're very quick to defend the project's merits." (Edward Ericson Jr.)


There has been a precedent (which still exists today) for not trusting cops when it comes to reporting issues such as domestic violence and sexual assault. Bitch magazine recently published an excerpt from the book "Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America" by Kristian Williams, who chalks this distrust up to "the indifference of police, the indignity of cross-examination, near-impossible burdens of proof, meager penalties for assault, a general atmosphere of victim-blaming, and the wholly reactive nature of the entire system." This excerpt recounts various grassroots and volunteer-organized groups in the U.S. who, beginning in the 1970s, "organized street patrols, escorting women to their destinations and intervening in violence when they saw it," boycotted businesses with shitty harassment policies, and started rape crisis centers, among many other efforts to protect and advocate for women. Williams admits that many of these efforts were short-lived due to their stressful nature and the fact that many were volunteer-based, "which avoids the problems of co-optation and professionalization, but limits the resources available and often overburdens the few people trying to keep it going." Stories about these activist groups (such as Detroit's Women Against Rape and the Audre Lorde Project's Safe Outside the System) are incredible and inspiring, but it's unfortunate that we still live in a rape culture that still requires these kinds of efforts that place the burden on citizens rather than authorities who wield, in many ways, more power to make things better. (Rebekah Kirkman)


Today marks the 40th anniversary of the release of "Born to Run," Bruce Springsteen's third album, which launched the Jersey rocker to bona fide stardom. The Atlantic has an interesting reported essay on the economic conditions in the mid-1970s that would make workers connect with a lyricist like Springsteen, whose songs told stories of people in desperate situations related to their low economic status. The '70s, writer Joshua Zeitz notes, are thought of as a decade of self-indulgence, but there was still plenty of social change, including worker upheaval during a time of rampant de-industrialization. As one United Auto Worker union official said of workers at the time, "They've been exposed—at least through television—to all the youth movements of the last ten years . . . They're just not going to swallow the same kind of treatment their fathers did . . . They want more than just a job for 30 years." Springsteen knew all of these things and related to them because he experienced them first-hand growing up in Freehold, New Jersey. Of his sister and her husband, Springsteen once said: "They got kids; they're working hard. These are people, you can see something in their eyes . . . I asked my sister, 'What do you do for fun?' 'I don't have any fun,' she says. She wasn't kidding." (Brandon Weigel)

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