Saving the Venerable NYPL
Scott Sherman deserves a lot of credit for helping to stave off what would have been an act of vandalism [“The Battle of 42nd Street,” June 2]. Thank you, and please keep reporting on the New York Public Library.
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Gotta get some NYPL trustees elected by the people, as is the policy in many libraries around the country. There’s too much public money in the mix not to have more representation by NYC taxpayers.
I was very pleased by Scott Sherman’s essay, but I must call into question one phrase in it. Mayor de Blasio is a great improvement on Bloomberg, not least for his effort to save the library from being gutted. Sherman asks if the current director will let the decrepit Mid-Manhattan Library deteriorate “so as to sell it down the road to a more developer-friendly mayor?” I submit that Mayor Bill isn’t consistent in his distaste for developers. Witness the fate of a wonderful tradition and tourist attraction, the horse-drawn carriages that for so many years took people into Central Park on slow, clip-clop trips that recalled a less frantic time in the city. I am a horse lover and a rider; my wife and I hired horses from the Clermont Stables (sold to developers) some years back. I know something about horses, and I can attest that the carriage horses were in splendid condition, well trained to their jobs and tended by drivers who truly cared about them. A developer had his eye on the carriage-horse stables and contributed substantially to de Blasio’s campaign. De Blasio maintains his ban is based purely on concern for the horses. That’s a load of horseshit.
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Cooperation, Not Capitalism
It’s exciting to see renewed attention to the cooperative movement in The Nation, [Laura Flanders, “The South Goes Co-op,” June 2]. Cooperative enterprise, based in shared ownership, democratic control and distribution of surplus (or profit) based on use of the business rather than shares held, is a concrete alternative to capitalism. As the name implies, capitalism privileges capital and those who have it, resulting in dramatic divisions of wealth and political influence.
Far from being a new phenomenon, the cooperative found its feet among laborers, artisans and small farmers as a defense against the economic dislocation of the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s, and then spread quickly around the world.
Since 1967, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives (see federation.coop), often described as the economic arm of the civil rights movement, has promoted co-ops as a tool of empowerment for African-American communities marginalized by the mainstream economy. Following on the heels of the global recession, the United Nations promoted co-ops as an effective tool for community empowerment and poverty reduction, declaring 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives. An outstanding question is whether the International Co-operative Alliance’s vision for a “Co-operative Decade” will find traction among communities hungry for a viable participatory economic alternative.