` Now we see the violence inherent in the system — imaginary family values

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Anatole France was famous for remarking that “the law in its infinite majesty forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread”. Twenty-first-century capitalism does M. France one better: we break up the homeless encampments with truncheon-wielding police while letting the rich host overnight parties under the adjacent bridge.

Case in point: this New York Times article leads with the sentence “Contracts everywhere are under assault.” If you read further, though, it turns out that only employment contracts are everywhere under assault. For example, if you are a unionized police officer or firefighter, and the city where you work declares bankruptcy, then your union’s contract with the city can be torn up. But if you loaned money to the city by purchasing its bonds, you can be comforted that the bankruptcy code “was never meant to be a place where governments could get out of their bonded debt”. Infringe on the rent-collecting power of the bourgeoisie? Perish the thought!

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