Daily Archives: December 13, 2011

Tell Hungary That Being Homeless is NOT a Crime (petition)



  • Target: Hungarian President Pal Schmitt, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, 8th District of Budapest Mayor, Mate Kocsis and Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird.
  • Sponsored by: Concerned Citizens of the World

In Budapest, Hungary, the Mayor of the 8th District, Mate Kocis, recently passed a regulation that makes being homeless a crime. According to the BBC, homeless people can be arrested, imprisoned and forced to pay a $600 fine.

The BBC states that the only reason why this law passed was because the public did not want to deal with the homeless anymore. As this district is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Budapest, this new law will have a devastating effect on thousands of people.

Being economically disadvantaged is not a crime and should not be considered one. But that is just what this legislation is doing: criminalizing the poor. The homeless need support, not to be considered as criminals or nuisances to society.

Tell the President, the Prime Minister and the Mayor of the 8th District in Hungary that homelessness is not a crime. They should be funding more programs to help these people get off the streets, not finding more ways to hurt them.


We the undersigned, demand that the regulation recently passed in the 8th District of Budapest that makes being homeless illegal, be revoked. Homelessness is not a crime and you should not be punishing people because of they are economically disadvantaged. You should be supporting them and finding solutions to help them get off the streets and live better lives. All citizens, regardless of class should be supported by their governments.

Please show the world that you support your citizens by getting rid of this regulation.

Thank you.

Sign the petition here.

Thanks to Comrade D. for the heads-up.

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Filed under activism, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, urban movements (right to the city)

Doug Henwood: NYC More Unequal than Brazil

LBO News from Doug Henwood:

The New York City Independent Budget Office is just out with an analysis (pdf )of income distribution in the city. It’s no surprise that it’s very unequal. The surprise is that it’s far more unequal than Brazil’s.

Full details are available in the letter—which was in response to a request from City Council member James Oddo—but here are some highlights:

  • The poorest tenth (decile) of the city’s population has an average income of $988, and claim 0.1% of the city’s total income. Since the source of this data is tax returns, the very poor no doubt have hidden sources of income. Taxable income doesn’t include many social benefits, like public housing or Food Stamps. Even allowing for that, my god.
  • The bottom half of the city’s income distribution has 9% of total income; the bottom 80%, 29%. Comparable figures for the U.S. are 19% for the bottom half and 44% for the bottom four-fifths.
  • The richest 10% of New Yorkers have 58% of total income, and the richest 5%, 49%. The national average is 42% for the top 10%, and 32% for the top 5%
  • And here’s where the action is, the proverbial 1%: it has 34% of total income, compared with 19% for the U.S. as a whole.

Some dollar amounts to make those percentages more concrete:

  • The average income of the poorest 30% is $6,373, on a par with Egypt and about $1,200 below China’s (computed on a purchasing power parity basis, which attempts to adjust for price differences across countries).
  • The city’s median income—the level at which half the population is richer and half is poorer—is $28,213. That’s roughly the level of Greece.
  • The average income of the top 10% (a category that begins at $105,368) is $387,259.
  • The average income of the top 1% (a category that begins at $493,439) is $2,247,515. These are the people that Andrew Cuomo was very reluctant to tax.

How does the city’s income distribution compare with that of Brazil, a country with a worldwide reputation for stunning inequality?

  • The income of the top 20% of New Yorkers is 64 times that of the bottom 20%. In Brazil, that ratio is 17 times.
  • The income of the top 10% of New Yorkers is 582 times that of the poorest 10%. In Brazil, that ratio is 35 times.

The New York and Brazilian comparisons are pretty rough, since the Brazilian figures are based on survey data reported by the World Bank. Rich people don’t answer surveys, so the incomes of rich Brazlians are probably way underestimated by that data. But if you look a little down the scale, to the second-richest quintile (20% slice) of Brazilians, they have incomes about 6 times the poorest quintile. In New York, the comparable ratio is 14 times.

So there you have it: New York City makes Brazil look almost like Sweden!

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Filed under critical thought, urban movements (right to the city)