Democracy for NYC (DFNYC) is committed to the ideals espoused by Democracy for America, the organization founded by Howard Dean, and the national network of local coalition groups dedicated to the same.
We work both locally and nationally to ensure that fiscally responsible and socially progressive candidates are elected at all levels of government. We develop innovative ways to advocate for the issues that matter to our members and support legislation which has a positive effect in our communities. We promote transparency and ethical practices in government. We engage people in the political process and give them the tools to organize, communicate, mobilize, and enact change on the local, state, and national level.
You can download our bylaws here.
Neoliberalism and How We Got Here
“The neoliberalism package is specifically designed to undercut democracy” (Noam Chomsky, 2014)
Neoliberalism is an economic geopolitical philosophy that emphasizes privatization, deregulation in the interest of corporations, and deep cuts to social spending. It a system that has a “by the market and for the market” approach. Proponents preach of the wonderful, fair, and just powers of the free market.
The neoliberal approach was formulated at the University of Chicago by economist and professor Milton Friedman in the early part of the last half of the 20th century. Friedman was adamantly opposed to the New Deal policies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which were an extension of the doctrines of economist John Maynard Keynes. Keynes had advocated, conversely to Friedman, for strong government intervention and corporate regulation to temper the rampant inequality and cyclical recessions that unfettered capitalism produces. He advocated for programs that leveled the economic inequality and cyclical instability inherent in a capitalist system. These policies, implemented in response to the Great Depression, produced a uniquely vibrant middle class in the US.
Income Inequality Trends Europe Versus US 1900-2010
This graph is taken from Capital In The 21st Century by Thomas Piketty
Relative Industry Shares of corporate profits in US Economy. 1950 -2001. This chart illustrates the steep decline of manufacturing in the designated period and the sharp rise of the FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) sector, also indicated in the following chart.
Friedman’s policies were readily welcomed by corporations and Republican politicians and bureaucrats in the early 1970’s, most notably Henry Kissinger, then Secretary of State. It was impossible to set these policies into practice as the Democratic party still held dear the policies and institutions originated by FDR, including the Social Security system and welfare. Over the past 45 years, the US government has been able to gradually cut these programs by using globalization, forcing millions of American workers in the field of manufacturing to compete with workers from countries that pay much, much lower wages. The weakening of campaign finance laws over time also allowed corporate money and lobbying to overwhelm the US political system, making US politicians mere courtiers to corporate interests. The Democratic party became subservient to corporate money and loosened its adherence to FDR-style public policies. The membership of unions was devastated. Holding the upper hand, the corporations, in collusion with the US government, drove down pay and benefits. Workers in the US saw manufacturing jobs leave the country by the millions. Social programs have been severely reduced and privatized. Austerity, or cutting government spending for the working class, is the rule. The wealthy, on the other hand, enjoy lavish perks from the government, including, quite dangerously, exorbitant military spending.
Neoliberalism is not just the norm in the US, but also throughout most of the western world. Bureaucratic institutions such as the European Union and International Monetary Fund, which have little association with the working classes, impose austerity behind closed doors. A myriad of elite international institutions stretching from the ivy league universities to the International Monetary Fund collude to create a worldwide ruling class. The economy has become financialized, with the Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate (FIRE) sector assuming dominance in the economy and deeply exacerbating inequality by creating wild wealth on one end and a vast debtor class on the other.
Of course, the general public becomes enraged with its ever-declining living standards. The age-old ploy of using scapegoats, such as immigrants, minorities and even the government itself, is utilized to divide the populace. Politicians, doing the bidding of their corporate masters, egg on this sentiment in order to deflect public ire from the true corporate culprits. The western world, riddled with austerity and the results of unending wars and the present danger of climate change for which it is largely responsible, is in deep crisis. Donald Trump played on the angst of the US public, using a combination of scapegoating, white nationalism, and narrow but accurate economic critiques of the system to successfully claim the US presidency. Interestingly, with the election of Trump as US President and the subsequent cabinet appointments of corporate CEO’s and board members such as Rex Tillerson (Exxon), Betsy DeVos (Amway), and Ben Carson (Costco) to name but a few, the courtier class has now been supplanted at the top of the executive branch by the corporate masters themselves. Indeed, the middleman has been eliminated.
Paul Street, “They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy”
Dr. Gus Bagakis, “Seeing Through the System: The Invisible Class Struggle in America”
Greta R. Krippner, “The Financialization of the American Economy”
We at DFNYC are saddened and outraged at the killing of Alfred Olango, a 30-year-old unarmed Black man, was shot by police in El Cajon, California on Tuesday, September 27th.
The police arrived at his home after his sister called 911 as he was suffering a mental breakdown and was afraid he might hurt himself. Within two minutes of arriving on the scene, police opened fire on Alfred after he pointed an object (an e-cigarette) at them. After seizing the cell phone of a witness who recorded the shooting, police have have not released the video -- but decided instead to release a still photo to influence initial public perception and media coverage.
Alfred Olango joins a painfully long list of Black Americans -- including Terence Crutcher, Keith Lamont Scott, Philando Castile, and Alton Sterling -- who have suffered appalling deaths at the hands of police this year (according to the Washington Post, 174 Black Americans have been killed in officer-involved shootings in 2016). These killings have outraged millions and struck many numb at the endless news cycle of senseless tragedy and lack of accountability for those who are supposed to "serve and protect" us.
We must not remain silent as the pain of communities of color grows louder under the systemic oppression of our criminal justice system -- and the life and death consequences it renders every day. The time for simply being a sympathetic but passive "ally" to the movement is over. If we are going to achieve transformative change that saves lives, we have a responsibility to meaningfully join this fight for racial justice and not just sharing our shock, outrage, and pain on social media.
This is a moral moment for each of us and our country. We, at Democracy for New York City, encourage our members to take action and hold police accountable so another senseless tragedy does not take place.
DFNYC is deeply committed to fighting against systemic racism and inequity. We support the Movement for Black Lives and its transformative vision of racial and economic justice, equal treatment in our criminal justice system, and relief from our nation's long history of oppression, as well other organizations at the forefront of this struggle that coordinate actions, messages and campaigns, such as the Black Youth Project 100, Color of Change, and the Black Lives Matter Network, that are working together to organize, train, and enact reforms and policies that will fundamentally improve the lives of communities of color.
We encourage our members to get involved, as there is simply no time to waste. We are not powerless and can make a difference to ensure that these senseless tragedies no longer take place.
In December of 2013, Democracy for NYC is submitting a Transition Memo to Mayor-elect Bill De Blasio, presenting some specific policy ideas for the new administration. Here is Item #4 from that memo:
Surgery Checklist - Reducing death, complications & infections
The Safe Surgery Checklist is a common sense approach to healthcare that could help save lives and reduce surgical complications for New Yorkers and their loved ones. Proper use of the checklist, developed by the WHO in 2008, was found to reduce major complications from surgery by 36%, reduce infection rates by nearly 50%, and reduce deaths by 47%. (New England Journal of Medicine, 1/29/09.) Unfortunately, this checklist is often not used, or used inconsistently, due to medical culture and other factors. (Harvard School of Public Health, 2/7/13.) NYC’s DOHMH could improve healthcare by increasing use of the checklist by surgery teams at local hospitals. In fact, many NYC hospitals could also benefit financially, as there are incentives for healthcare quality improvements under Obamacare.
Feasibility: We believe this would not require a change in existing law, but coordination with the state DOH is advisable. Dr. Atul Gawande, who developed the checklist as discussed in his 2010 book The Checklist Manifesto, has set up a non-profit to help hospitals with implementation.
Additional Information: (Not in the hard copy version of the Transition Memo)
We have been in touch with Safe Surgery 2015, the non-profit set up to implement the safe surgery checklist.
The good news is that there are great resources, available without cost, to help hospitals increase the use of the checklist for surgical teams, including a video clip from an episode of ER where doctors went over the list, and simple surveys for hospital staff.
The bad news is that this is not simply a matter of calling up a hospital and asking if they are using the checklist. They will likely respond in the affirmative. The experts at Safe Surgery 2015 have found that use - and proper use - of the checklist increases by changing the culture. People need to talk to people about why this is important. There are many people in hospitals that are advocates of the checklist, and it is possible, that with focus from city government, we can empower checklist supporters to persuade entire surgical teams.
~ In Progress: Check back soon or contact us at info-at-dfnyc.org ~