As a person who has lived in my apartment for close to 25 years, I am heartsick and infuriated that I, like thousands of others, might lose the home I have because rents, already so out of control, are being raised again just so landlords can make profit—profit had in abundance already. According to the NYC Rent Guidelines Board’s own studies, "…landlords had reaped record income coupled with the smallest increase in expenses in nearly a decade," (New York Times, June 23, 2000). Now they have raised our rents another 4% for a one year lease and 6% for a two year lease.
At the RGB’s public hearing I attended on June 15, person after person expressed what their apartments—their homes—meant to them. One woman moved people to tears when she said, "I have lived in my apartment most of my life. I got married there, raised my children there; my husband died there; but I, who want to stay there for the rest of my days, might not be able to because I won’t be able to afford the rent."
As I heard people pouring their hearts out, and saw how their anguish was met with complacency and coldness by the Board, I thought how barbaric it is that anyone should have to worry whether they will have a roof over their heads or not. The cause of this painful and unjust situation is understood only by Aesthetic Realism, the philosophy founded in 1941 by Eli Siegel.
Mr. Siegel, a great educator and historian, showed that our economy, the profit system, is based on contempt for people, seeing them in terms of how much profit can be squeezed from them. He described contempt as "the addition to self through the lessening of something else." Contempt is the cause of racism, child labor, and war. And it was contempt that had four senior citizens arrested and dragged from this public meeting for doing nothing more than expressing passionately the injustice they felt about these rent increases.
In the international journal, The Right of Aesthetic Realism to BeKnown #1260 Ellen Reiss, the Class Chairman of Aesthetic Realism writes:
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