New Deals Contract Government Circa 2017

July 17, 2017

The first line of the news report was almost banal but the news it reported was more than a tragedy – “A yoga and meditation teacher living in Minneapolis was fatally shot by police Saturday night after she called 911 to report a possible assault in the alley behind her home.” (Minneapolis police officer fatally shoots Australian bride-to-be under mysterious circumstances   The Washington Post, report by Katie Mettler, Kristine Phillips, Mark Berman, 7-17-17); this in a community still struggling to comprehend the senseless homicide of Philando Castile by exonerated officer Jeronimo Yanez, 7-6-16. “Three mayoral candidates, Minneapolis NAACP officials and about 250 other friends, family and community members attended a vigil Sunday night where [Justine] Damond was shot. “Many of us who have been on the front lines have been warning the public, saying if they would do this to our fathers and our sons and our brothers and our sisters and our mothers, they will do it to you next,” said Nekima Levy-Pounds, one of the candidates and a civil rights attorney. “I really hope that this is a wake-up call for this community to stop allowing things to be divided on the lines of race and on the lines of socio-economic status.” Friends and neighbors called her a “peaceful, lovely woman” who loved animals and helping others.” Analysis knows this will be on the nightly news, across the board. Analysis also shows that these same nightly news broadcasts air a commercial ad, a Public Service Announcement of sorts, that shows a couple having to endure listening to an overly heated, violent argument from the adjoining apartment which ultimately results in the murder of a spouse. Viewers are urged to risk being wrong and call police if they suspect such domestic violence. The ads urging “calling” for help are not new. Nor are the reports of people calling 911 for help, reporting burglaries, sick individuals off their meds, a child waving a toy gun, etc. resulting in someone, even the caller, being shot by the uniformed responders. Usually, there is more than one shot, normally a fusillade as per rigorous police firing range training. The domestic violence PSA may go the way of Movantik commercials. You know, for aid with opioid induced constipation. Like the domestic violence ads, the Movantik ad might be quite appropriate —  until one realizes the epidemic AstraZeneca is trying to cash in on. Likewise, “calling” police “to report a possible assault” might be quite appropriate, until one realizes the redundancy of banal news report first lines describing callers being shot by responders, usually multiple times. Still eager to do your civic duty and call? Analysis vaguely recalls high school civics and government classes teaching long dead political philosophy and theory about contracts between the governed and those who govern, and the role of police in a democratic country like ours. Something in there about trust, and the erosion of trust creating something unrecognizable, even sinister. Evidence of this erosion can be found in “But the BCA [Minneapolis Bureau of Criminal Apprehension] offered few other details on what precipitated the shooting and, it said, neither of the responding officers had turned on their body cameras before the shooting. The squad car camera did not capture the incident, either.” Analysis finds Nekima Levy-Pounds’ statement not to be inflammatory but rather quite documentary. “Many of us who have been on the front lines have been warning the public, saying if they would do this to our fathers and our sons and our brothers and our sisters and our mothers, they will do it to you next,”

Know Justice, Know Peace

July 13, 2017

The media news footage includes cell phone/dash cam/body cam video of a man being shot dead by a policeman. Later, the policeman is exonerated, has done no wrong. Repeat ad nauseam. Closer to home the video shows protesting people targeted by city police and taunted as they are pepper sprayed. Following orders. Repeat again ad nauseum. Both here at home and elsewhere there is video of people complying, or already subdued being punched in the stomach or kicked in the head by uniformed officers. Doing their duty. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. No video available of the nation’s top law enforcement official addressing an SPLC designated “hate group” for an “off-camera, closed-door speech” (NBC News, Jeff Sessions Criticized for Speaking to ‘Hate Group’, Mary Emily O’Hara, 7-13-17) “As announced on his public schedule, Sessions addressed a crowd at the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Summit on Religious Liberty in Orange County, California.” “Founded in 1994, the Alliance Defending Freedom was a coalition effort between conservative Christian leaders aiming to preserve traditional social norms, restrict access to abortion and fight the “homosexual agenda.”” “But with millions in its war chest, ADF does more than just litigate: The firm wrote model legislation called the Student Physical Privacy Act that built a foundation for dozens of proposals and policies around the country that are frequently referred to as “bathroom bills.” ADF’s model legislation, and the national trend that stems from it, is aimed at keeping transgender people out of restrooms and other private facilities that correspond to their gender identity and presentation.” The dominant news dwarfing all these repeated daily occurrences is “that Russia thing,” disparaged as so much “fake news” by the apprentice president. His son now flaunts the family’s otherwise undisclosed interaction with Russian representatives prior to the official GOP nomination of his dad as their presidential candidate. How is this possible? Responsible news media continuously supplies contextual background reporting for an “in depth” understanding of headline news. Today, USA Today gives “In Trump country, Russia doesn’t resonate” from Tennessee. On 7-11-17 PBS Newshour ran a segment “Deep in coal country, West Virginia residents speak out about GOP healthcare bill.” Closer to home, writing for Reuters, Tim Reid headlines “In Trump’s Ohio bastion, supporters dismiss uproar over Donald Jr.” (7-12-17) With regard to the GOP engineered demise of Medicaid PBS shows a dismayed Rebecca Hicks, a patient at Williamson Health & Wellness Center from Chattaroy, West Virginia, earnestly confessing “I chose those people. I put my faith in those people that they would make this place better, not take away the only things that were helping this area.” Tim Reid reports: “In Hillsboro, the county seat of Highland County, the editor of the Hillsboro Times Gazette, Gary Abernathy, says many people in the county believe the media is trying to destroy Trump. “It just plays into the belief here that the media is fixated on all things Russia,” said Abernathy, whose newspaper was one of only six in the United States to have endorsed Trump for president during the election campaign. “I don’t mind Donald Trump being treated critically or aggressively, but not in a way that is an effort to drag him down. Donald Trump Jr. had one 20 minute meeting with a lawyer from Russia and it’s wall-to-wall coverage.” Analysis finds it extraordinary and quite revealing that the responsible media expends such an effort on the actual news of the media being designated as “fake news” and disparaged as unreliable while the substance of this news, that without reporting events become of no concern, is missed entirely by those it is meant to inform. It seems like an odd twist on the former president’s admonition to “go and talk” with those who don’t agree with you. Reid ends his road trip report with “In the Bob Evans diner in Jackson, three workers from Walmart were sitting down for lunch. They were Trump supporters. Asked about the Russia investigation, they stared back blankly. “I have never heard anything about it,” said Chastity Banks. Neither had her two colleagues.” Repeat ad nauseam nationwide. Given this unique situation, Analysis can’t help but conclude that Junior and “that Russia thing” will go the same route as police violence, shootings, and the dictates (in word as well as deed) of America’s top law enforcement officer.

Michael Mangus, Mark Fraizer, And C-TEC

July 7, 2017

A quick synopsis for readers unfamiliar with the current Newark kerfuffle: “During Wednesday’s council meeting, Michael Mangus, D-4th Ward, chastised Mark Fraizer, R-at large, for comments he made about circuses during council’s finance committee meeting June 26.” (Newark City Council members spar over circus comments, Maria DeVito, Newark Advocate, 7-6-17). Mr. Fraizer threatened to bring the big top down (and did). His reason was that animals were being abused, that he owns 7, and couldn’t imagine they’d learn tricks other than through abusive techniques (a true animal aficionado would have said “cohabits with 7”). Many associated this with the influence of PETA, and their ongoing campaigns on behalf of animal rights. Mr. Mangus chose to chastise via the current, conventional charge against media, “doing the research” and all the fake facts, alternate facts, real facts, science, etc. A little political grandstanding was thrown in for good measure by siding with the locals, and local service organization (and all the good they do). C-TEC? Concurrent with DeVito’s report, the Advocate headlined “C-TEC manufacturing camp looks to fill hole in job market”, also by DeVito, same day. Analysis finds coverage of the brouhaha (ha ha!) to glaringly reveal the character of contemporary culture through the dynamics of this discourse. In attempts to make the world a better place, Mr. Fraizer focuses on righting the wrong. In attempts to make the world a better place, Mr. Mangus focuses on “do right” service (the service organizations contribution through the services of the circus and the disservice of Mr. Fraizer’s comments). He opts, or rather co-opts the currently fashionable trend of bashing the media (gratis our apprentice president) while questioning the character of Mr. Fraizer and his ability to do research and differentiate facts (fake, alternative, “real” facts, “real” alternative facts, etc.). Analysis finds this to be a microcosm of what is occurring on a larger, national scale. The real issue is totally elided, obfuscated by the need to right a wrong (think the GOP and Obamacare) or that knowledge and learning are a matter of discriminating consumerism (think if you just got your news from the right source, you’d get the right answers, correct outlook, whatever – the apprentice president’s approach to correct learning, let alone knowledge). The human animals performing in the circus didn’t learn their tricks through abusive techniques. There are more of them than the non-human kind. The internet is full of documented accounts of human interactions with animals, both wild and domesticated. There are accounts of wild birds eating out of folks hands, pet fish cuddling on the palm of a hand so as to be petted, and crocodiles getting a smooch from their keeper. How do you abuse a croc to get it to be so? No, people and animals do learn tricks through patience, perseverance and continuous repetition. Which brings us to Mangus and his consumer oriented disposition to learning and its offspring – knowledge. There is no “once and for all” absolute, ultimate, final fount of knowledge (no matter how smart your mobile device is). As any good educator would say, learning is continuous. It would be naïve to believe that there is no abuse in the world, or that we can eliminate it totally through some sweeping legislation (like “pee in the cup” legislation for public assistance recipients, “to eliminate the abusers”). Which brings us to C-TEC and the article concerning one of its programs to foster and cultivate learning and skills through patience, perseverance, and repetition. Brand marketing has its consuming faithful convinced that something is a natural, born that way, in the DNA, fated (like Athena sprung whole from the forehead of Zeus). That quality is reflected in the price and inherent. Any flaws indicate lesser value. Etc. Learning and knowledge formation require working with what is unknown and at risk of being off or wrong. Crafting good legislation, whether for health care or circuses, requires a bit of doing, a lot of patience, perseverance and repetition, and even more learning and knowledge. This is something Mr. Fraizer and Mr. Mangus ought to be held accounted for, along with our other elected officials.

Send In The Clowns

June 28, 2017

The news out of Newark this week includes the campaign by Republican council person at large (and rising GOP star), Mark Fraizer, to rid Newark of circus (Please refrain from uttering the snide comment that “Newark is….”). Much of the online commentary swivels on his need to represent the dollars and cents interests of his constituency (which “at large” would include just about anyone and everyone). There is an under current of disappointment that someone who listed working in a bank on his candidacy resume would choose not to concern himself with fiscal issues but rather ones embraced by “interest” groups like PETA. In More Hannah Arendt (previous post, 6-22-17), Analysis pointed to the difference between politics situated amongst interest groups and that within a totalitarian environment, where the politics swirls around either being for or against the dominant party (the need to win at all costs, anything whatsoever). Analysis paraphrased a quote Arendt pulled from the official handbook for the Hitler Youth, The Nazi Primer (New York, 1938). The original quoted line reads “We shape the life of our people and our legislation according to the verdicts of genetics.” Analysis substituted “economics” for “genetics.” How do they differ?  The dictionary gives “the study of heredity and the variation of inherited characteristics.” for genetics. For economics there are two given interpretations: “the branch of knowledge concerned with the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth.” and “the condition of a region or group as regards material prosperity.” Either interpretation, they are united by concern for material prosperity taken as production, consumption and transfer of wealth. Both genetics and economics have one glaring thing in common – neither are a science (as indicated in the definition). Neither can make a plane fly, change hydrogen and oxygen atoms into water, or prevent tooth decay. If it were so, we certainly wouldn’t have experienced the financial meltdown of 2007-8 and the great recession that followed, nor would there be such outrage over the “scientific” genetic experiments perpetrated by various government sanctioned individuals, here and abroad (think Dr. Mengele, American slave breeders, or Soviet aptitude selection). 100 years ago genetics was one of the operative forms of “knowledge” used to justify segregation, colonial administration, relocating Native American children to church run boarding schools, etc. Genetics essentially gave the alibi for why some people were complete human beings and others were just human wannabe’s, in need of development, etc. Bear in mind, dear reader, that it was not a science but was a “branch of knowledge” very prevalent within the world at that time (we’re not talking DNA here but the shape of a person’s skull, nose or color of skin).  Economics has supplanted genetics in today’s world order. What isn’t justified by, or doesn’t have economics as its alibi? (Think jumping ahead in line for a higher fee at the historic jail haunted hoochie, or health care if you’re not familiar with Halloween in Newark) Which brings us back to Mark Fraizer, his Grand Old Party, and interest based self-governance (where groups representing specific interests interact to form cohesive civil government through a democratic process). This blog doesn’t need to reference the continuous debate over whether some or any government decision or policy makes money, costs money and the “economics” involved (jobs created, wealth distribution, tax breaks, etc.). A funny thing happens on the way to government in the US today. If it is something ”interest” based, it immediately is cast into the margins by the call to be with us (for the economics involved) or against us (trying to subvert the market, consumers or wealth distribution). With his desire to bring the big top down in Newark, Mark ventures into this nether region of an appeal to interest, a public interest that is not economics. Analysis shows that eventually this will put him at odds with the GOP’s dominance, which prefers to actively shape the life of our people and our legislation according to the verdicts of economics. Will Mark submit and toe the party line? Or will he require Newark’s finest to respond to clown sightings at the American Clown Academy or the Kiwanis BIG Show?

 

More Hannah Arendt

June 22, 2017

Although Hannah Arendt writes about events from 70 to 200 years ago in The Origins Of Totalitarianism (1951, 1958, 1966), something of today jumps out with almost every page. Contemporary political savants argue endlessly over how the party system is faring, who is winning/losing, why, and what the results of this spell out for the American people (as well as people of the world). In a paragraph referencing utilitarianism and governance (pg 347) she ends with:  ““Scientism” in politics still presupposes that human welfare is its object, a concept which is utterly alien to totalitarianism.” She footnotes this with: “William Ebenstein, The Nazi State, New York, 1943, in discussing the “Permanent War Economy” of the Nazi state is almost the only critic who has realized that “the endless discussion . . . as to the socialist or capitalist nature of the German economy under the Nazi regime is largely artificial . . . [because it] tends to overlook the vital fact that capitalism and socialism are categories which relate to Western welfare economics” (p.239)” She begins the next paragraph with: “It is precisely because the utilitarian core of ideologies was taken for granted that the anti-utilitarian behavior of totalitarian governments, their complete indifference to mass interest, has been such a shock.” On page 350 she writes “Totalitarian movements use socialism and racism by emptying them of their utilitarian content, the interest of a class or nation. The form of infallible prediction in which these concepts were presented has become more important than their content. The chief qualification of a mass leader has become unending infallibility; he can never admit an error.” She elaborates this. On page 350 she writes “Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such.” Which she footnotes with “Konrad Heiden, Der Fuehrer: Hitler’s Rise to Power, Boston, 1944, underlines Hitler’s “phenomenal untruthfulness,” “the lack of demonstrable reality in nearly all his utterances,” his “indifference to facts which he does not regard as vitally important” (pp. 368, 374). –In almost identical terms, Khrushchev describes “Stalin’s reluctance to consider life’s realities” and his indifference to “the real state of affairs,” op. cit. Stalin’s opinion of the importance of facts is best expressed in his periodic revisions of Russian history.” She concludes this small foray into utilitarianism and objective interests in “traditional” Western forms of governance and what she believes occurs with totalitarian forms: “For masses, in contrast to classes, want victory and success as such, in their most abstract form; they are not bound together by those special collective interests which they feel to be essential to their survival as a group and which they therefore may assert even in the face of overwhelming odds. More important to them than the cause that may be victorious, or the particular enterprise that may be a success, is the victory of no matter what cause, and success in no matter what enterprise.” Tonight’s nightly national news covered the crowds lining up overnight for the apprentice president’s Iowa rally, very much like they used to do outside stores for Black Friday Sales. The camera panned to a little girl who yelled out “Build a wall!” No matter that at the recent (6-14-17) Columbus Metropolitan Club Forum Dr. Jim Johnson, in his talk on the Browning and Greying of America and its impact on business and the economy, carefully pointed out that the median age for whites is early forties, for immigrants and people of color upper twenties and early thirties. Who will help populate the workforce and consumer economy of tomorrow? No matter that the GAO, as well as others, describe self inflicted damage from much social legislation and executive action. (to paraphrase Arendt’s pg. 350 quote from the Nazi Primer “We shape the life of our people and our legislation according to the verdicts of economics” [original “genetics”]). No matter that “the jobs are never coming back,” and that the coal mining museum in Kentucky has solar panels on its roof. “More important . . . is the victory of no matter what cause, and success in no matter what enterprise.”

In Licking County Wealthy People Don’t Commit Crime

June 20, 2017

The Father’s Day NBC Evening News ran a short segment by Tammy Leitner about pay to stay jails in California. Turns out that if the incarcerated is wealthy, they can upgrade to jail time with amenities like access to store offerings, phone, cable TV, even an ocean view location like trendy Seal Beach Jail (a new twist on Father Knows Best – Father Stays Best!). Your local accommodating jail is not just for misdemeanors anymore. The LA Times reports close to 5% are in for a felony conviction. For a hefty fee, this captured clientele can get an upgrade (eat your hearts out Trivago). NBC was not really presenting news but rather “upgrading” what has been news since 2007, with Analysis also considering it in past posts. In an upgrade of its own 2013 report, the ACLU in 2015 reported IN Jail, In Debt: Ohio’s Pay-To-Stay Fees. “Our statewide investigation analyzes policies at 75 facilities representing 74 counties across Ohio. More than half of jails, 40 of the 75, charge people for their incarceration through a booking fee, a daily fee, or both. Ohioans are getting billed up to $66.09 a day to be in jail.” Earlier this year the Marshall Project in collaboration with the LA Times did a joint investigation that was reported variously (from which NBC created Father’s Day fill). NPR’s Robert Siegel interviewed Alysia Santo, “a staff reporter for the nonprofit news organization the Marshall Project,” (3-9-17). From the transcript: Santo “The most expensive is Hermosa Beach, and that’s $251 a night. And then the cheapest is La Verne, which is $25 a night. More typically they’re between a hundred and $150.” “And in that jail, he was allowed to bring his own bedding. He was allowed to bring his computer and work on musical recordings while he was spending the time there. It also – the judge had said he needed to finish that sentence within one year, and he took two years to finish it. So he kind of scheduled his time over a matter of two years and did two-day increments until it was completed.” “It is. I mean a lot of what we cover at the Marshall Project is looking at the ways that money influences people’s outcomes in the criminal justice system. And some of those ways are no secret. You know, you can buy a better attorney. You know, you can pay your bail. So there are many ways that money comes into play. I think, though, pay-to-stay – what seems outrageous to a lot of people is that it’s so explicit that you really can purchase a more comfortable experience for a nightly fee. It’s very similar to many things in criminal justice. It’s just more in-your-face about it.” With so much being “in-your-face” these days, Analysis finds there may be something in all this that Licking County’s beleaguered commissioners could cash in on, literally. No, not a room with a view between the bars at Buckeye Lake (there are already plenty of those), but rather the historic old jail, which hardly generates any income during its very seasonal and limited Halloween Haunted Hoochie days. It would be the perfect pokey, overlooking Newark’s much desired “destination” location as well as the area’s hottest prime real estate for young urban hipsters. Offering concierge service, the upgraded county lock up could provide the discretionary jailbird with farm market fresh offerings as well as artisan soda and food truck cuisine; all while enjoying the incredible view of the newly refurbished justice center! What could be more rehabilitative than knowing that your upgraded stay is not only helping to pay off your debt to society but also helping to pay for the recent courthouse upgrade? Additionally, detention center guests, er, inmates could “work off” some of their hospitality accommodation charge by volunteering to act as, well, prisoners during the Halloween Hoochie celebration. Analysis finds this would be a win-win for all. It could even lead to a yearly downtown reunion celebration like the local university has for its alumni. What’s that you say? In Licking County wealthy people don’t commit…

Is Home Rule Homeless?

June 19, 2017

The recent news out of the Ohio legislature is the bait and switch (again) of the local government fund to balance the state budget. Jackie Borchardt, for Cleveland.com (6-16-17), headlines Ohio Budget Pulls $35 Million from Cities to Spend on Opioid Crisis. “Combined with a provision to give money to villages and townships, the budget halves the state’s local government revenue stream directed to the 614 of Ohio’s 940 municipalities that levy an income tax. Cities, counties, villages and townships were already anticipating an $89 million hit over two years because of declining state revenues.” Essentially, in exchange for agreeing to levy income tax on their residents (and guest workers) cities were promised a chunk of the state funding (“Senate GOP spokesman John Fortney said the city-specific funding is a “bonus payment” that would be better spent on treatment programs for people addicted to opiates”) Borchardt provides background perspective: “The fund was established in 1934 in a deal with local governments to create the state sales tax. When the state began collecting personal income tax in 1972, the legislature agreed to give a share to municipalities because the new state tax would make it more difficult to raise local taxes.” “In 2011, Kasich slashed the local government fund in half to help patch an $8 billion budget hole. The fund went from 3.68 percent of the state’s general revenue fund in 2011 to 1.66 percent today. The last state budget diverted $17 million from the city-specific funding stream to pay for statewide law enforcement office training and a state database tracking shootings involving officers. It also temporarily redirected about $24 million to townships and villages.” Reporting for the State House News service (6-14-17) Andy Chow headlines Local Government Group Criticizes Latest Budget Proposal. “Local governments are likely to see a loss of $150 million in funding from just the local government fund distribution and projects. The Ohio Municipal League’s Kent Scarrett says there are a lot of seemingly small changes in the Senate budget bill that could result in big cuts.” Unrelated, but certainly intimately connected and very relevant to the state legislature budgeting process is the continued legal struggle over Cleveland’s Fannie Lewis law. 6-15-17 Robert Higgs updates the situation with National Coalition Joins Cleveland Fight to Save Fannie Lewis Law (Cleveland.com). “Named for the longtime Cleveland Councilwoman Fannie Lewis, the city ordinance was enacted more than a decade ago to help combat poverty and to ensure that residents participate in the city’s economic development – and share in its prosperity.” “The Fannie Lewis law requires that on projects of $100,000 or more, at least 20 percent of construction hours be performed by Cleveland residents. At least 4 percent of that work must be done by residents considered to be low-income. Failure to meet the requirements results in a fine equal to 1/8 of 1 percent of the total contract cost for each percentage by which the contractor misses the goal.” “A year ago the Ohio General Assembly approved a bill that would have barred cities from enacting local hiring regulations in contracts for public improvements as Cleveland’s Fannie Lewis law does. Gov. John Kasich signed the bill into law last May. Cleveland sued the state last August, shortly before the law was to take effect, claiming it violated home rule powers guaranteed in the Ohio Constitution. In January, Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Russo issued a permanent injunction that blocks the state from ever enforcing the law. That led to the state’s appeal.” “The Campaign to Defend Local Solutions on Tuesday filed a brief in the 8th District Ohio Court of Appeals arguing in favor of the city’s position.” “”Cities across the country are under attack by overreaching state legislatures, and a preemption threat to one city is a threat to all,” Michael Alfano, campaign manager for the coalition, said in a statement. “Whether in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, or North Carolina, the rights of cities like Cleveland to enact laws that reflect community values must be defended.”” Analysis finds there to be no coincidence that one of the “national conversations” currently ongoing (after the 2016 presidential election) is over the urban/rural cultural divide. It likewise is no coincidence that cities are gerrymandered (and isolated) with Democratic party expectations by GOP dominated state legislatures (currently in the majority across most of America). Likewise, Analysis finds it no coincidence that “cities across the country” are effected by such budgeting. Remember ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) of which Ohio’s governor and legislators are members? You know, the lobbying group that offers legislative templates that legislators have copied verbatim, even forgetting to change the name of the state to their own for which they are making law. Alfano raises suspicions as to the origins of such budgeting solutions. From ALEC’s home website’s “State Budget Solutions”: “Smart budgeting is vital to a state’s financial health. The ALEC State Budget Reform Toolkit offers more than 20 policy ideas for addressing today’s shortfalls in a forthright manner, without resorting to budget gimmicks or damaging tax increases.” Newark, of course, is at one with all this. Mayor Hall chose not to involve himself with the Ohio Municipal League’s initial complaint on Governor Kasich’s original budget manipulation, and the city council prefers to constantly defer to the state on most matters, even ones that have been voted on by its citizens through a ballot initiative (think marijuana, medical as well as misdemeanor). So much for getting the roads paved any time soon (but there will be a new bridge over 16 with “Downtown” written on it, in case one is lost).

Analysis Goes Way Back In The Way Back Machine

June 18, 2017

“Totalitarian movements are possible wherever there are masses who for one reason or another have acquired the appetite for political organization. Masses are not held together by a consciousness of common interest and they lack that specific class articulateness which is expressed in determined, limited, and obtainable goals. The term masses applies only where we deal with people who either because of sheer numbers, or indifference, or a combination of both, cannot be integrated into any organization based on common interest, into political parties or municipal governments or professional organizations or trade unions. Potentially, they exist in every country and form the majority of those large numbers of neutral, politically indifferent people who never join a party and hardly ever go to the polls.

It was characteristic of the rise of the Nazi movement in Germany and of the Communist movements in Europe after 1930 that they recruited their members from this mass of apparently indifferent people whom all other parties had given up as too apathetic or too stupid for their attention. The result was that the majority of their membership consisted of people who never before had appeared on the political scene. This permitted the introduction of entirely new methods into political propaganda, and indifference to the arguments of political opponents; these movements not only placed themselves outside and against the party system as a whole, they found a membership that had never been reached, never been “spoiled” by the party system. Therefore they did not need to refute opposing arguments and consistently preferred methods which ended in death rather than persuasion, which spelled terror rather than conviction. They presented disagreements as invariably originating in deep natural, social, or psychological sources beyond the control of the individual and therefore beyond the power of reason. This would have been a shortcoming only if they had sincerely entered into competition with other parties; it was not if they were sure of dealing with people who had reason to be equally hostile to all parties.”

pg.311-312, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, 1951

Pat Tiberi: What Are Your Priorities To Create Jobs?

June 9, 2017

6-6-17 LA Weekly’s Dennis Romero headline’s California’s Economic Boom Isn’t Helping L.A.’s Housing Shortage. Notable regarding the economic boom California is experiencing in the face of multi year drought, devastating natural catastrophe’s, etc. is “Seventeen percent of the nation’s job growth and 24 percent of its gross domestic product increase between 2012 and 2016 can be attributed to California, according to recent data parsed by Stephen Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy. “Those are very striking numbers,” he says. This week’s “Best & Worst State Economies” report found that the Golden State ranked fifth for startups, fifth for the percentage of high-tech jobs and second for “innovation potential,” which includes high-tech jobs and research and development investment. Last year the state became “the sixth largest economy in the world, boasting a GDP that’s comparable in size to the U.K.’s and even larger than those of France and India,” according to the report.” Romero also covers the income disparity: “Yet by one federal standard, about one in four people in the Golden State is poor. And L.A. County’s $2,600 median rent for a two-bedroom apartment far outpaces the ability of the average Angeleno (median individual income is about $28,000) to live indoors. Housing prices in the Bay Area are even worse. Thus, L.A. County this year has seen a 23 percent increase in the number of people living on the streets.” This is followed with “Economist Levy says, indeed, these conditions can and do coexist in California, a place of enormous wealth and nation-leading poverty. “A strong economy can’t by itself eliminate poverty or build housing,” he says.” On 5-24-17, in an article by Karla Lant, the World Economic Forum headlines How California Is Winning The Renewable Energy Race. Of note: “On May 13, 2017, California smashed through another renewable energy milestone as its largest grid, controlled by the California Independent System Operator (CISO), got 67.2% of its energy from renewables — not including hydropower or rooftop solar arrays. Adding hydropower facilities into the mix, the total was 80.7%. Sunny days with plenty of wind along with full reservoirs and growing numbers of solar facilities were the principal factors in breaking the record. The CISO controls 80% of the state’s power grid.” and “While California is certainly leading the nation, other states and cities are following suit. Atlanta will run on 100% renewables by 2035, and Chicago will power all city buildings with renewables by 2025. The Las Vegas government has them both beaten, as it’s already 100% powered by renewables, and Nevada itself has a goal of 80% renewables by 2040. Massachusetts will be 100% renewables-powered by 2035, followed by Hawaii in 2045.” Meanwhile, back at the ranch, on 6-7-17 Dan Gearino of the Dispatch headlines State Legislators Still Hope For Compromise With Governor On Clean-Energy Bill. “A proposal [House Bill 114] that would weaken clean-energy standards is now in the Ohio Senate, and a key lawmaker says he hopes to come up with a version of the bill that Gov. John Kasich would support.” This after the moratorium imposed on these standards. Locally connected: ““We are trying to come up with a compromise with the governor,” said Sen. Troy Balderson, R-Zanesville, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.” Not mentioned in the economic news from California is that California is also not a Right To Work State.  Ohio, on the other hand… Jackie Borchardt for Cleveland.com on 2-13-17 headlined ‘Right-To-Work’ Bill Introduced In Ohio House. Of note: “Rep. John Becker, a Clermont County Republican, introduced the latest iteration on Monday with the support of 12 House Republicans. Under House Bill 53, public sector employees could opt out of joining a union or paying dues. Conversely, unions could opt out from representing employees who don’t join. Currently, employees cannot be required to join unions. But state law allows collective bargaining agreements to require “fair share” or agency fees. The fees are lower than union member dues payments and cannot be used for services beyond contract negotiations.” With the final line being “Last month, legislative leaders from both parties questioned the need for right-to-work legislation. Opponents say right-to-work laws lower union membership and wages and don’t lead to job growth as promised.” Which brings us to yesterday’s headline from the State House News Bureau’s Jo Ingles (6-8-17) New Bill Would Make Big Changes To The Ohio Bureau Of Worker’s Compensation. Ingles writes “State lawmakers are considering a new bill to reform the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. It would make key changes to the program, like reducing extended injured worker benefits for retirees. And it would also change the name of the agency.” The name would become the Office of Employee Safety and Rehabilitation. Ingles quotes Republican Rep. Mike Henne ““It’s about giving them the appropriate care when they are injured. It’s about getting them back to work, for the employee and the employer and it’s about getting them the appropriate benefits when they can’t return to work.”” Makes it sound like Ohio’s workers are just a bunch of slackers and the economy isn’t growing on account of this, doesn’t it?

“Lies, plain and simple”     James Comey

 

 

Why Donald Trump Needs People To Be Poor

June 6, 2017

In his inimitable, deeply personal manner Newark’s US Representative, Pat Tiberi, emailed his constituents a survey. “What are your priorities to create jobs? Your priorities are my priorities. Your thoughts are important to me.” followed by the GOP house menu. The survey presents the appearance of propriety as the party is now the government, no need to bother. The party itself is now evolving with the “old” guard (McCain, Kasich, etc.) and the new populist/nationalists, again, presenting the appearance of being irreconcilable. Trump came in forming a weird coalition of uber wealth (his cabinet is the richest ever) and those who appear to have not so much (really?). Those who appear to have not so much either find their modicum of success to be a plateau or are without success altogether. Each triumphs the Trump presidency for a different reason. All the statistics from the “Occupy” days haven’t disappeared and the ubers’ wealth is superfluous, i.e. it is not generating more wealth. The not so’s find their overcapacity to work is, in an odd way, superfluous, i.e. that there either is not better compensation for their work, or the expenditure of greater work effort will not greatly improve their economic position. Recent developments in the automotive sector may help shed some light on this. The last couple of years have shown continuous and steady sales of various automotive products. In spite of this, Ford sacked its CEO and is restructuring for change. GM is pondering splitting its stock like airline seating – first class and coach. According to classic capitalist theory, nothing is awry. An investor purchases a scrap of paper and yearly the company selling the paper pays out a dividend. Where’s the hitch? What is destabilizing the auto companies is that the value of the piece of paper hasn’t gone up. In short, the superfluous wealth tied up with this “investment” is not promising a large enough return. Put crassly, the money needs to make more money. In today’s global economics, the auto industry is akin to the stationary industry of 50 years ago. Making an envelope is not all that complicated. Though there once was a steady demand for paper envelopes, nothing would make the producer’s stock price rise dramatically, as the competition was equally adept at producing envelopes. Imagining Ford and GM to be making envelopes brings us back to the weird coalition that supports Donald Trump. The ubers demand a greater return on their wealth. The not so’s would like a greater return on their participation in this enterprise. Unlike colonial imperialist times, no new market or supplier will magically manifest itself in today’s global economics. Everyone, everywhere has access to a mobile device which will tell them what something on Ebay can be gotten for. So the classic “buy cheap, sell dear” model is well worn. Other approaches are available that will make America great again and cause stock value to rise (saving jobs but not necessarily creating them). Early on in their schooling children are taught the Disneyland version – discover something everyone wants and you’ll be a star. This is John Kasich’s methodology in dealing with the drug epidemic in Ohio through research funding. Another approach is by making what is public private, and vice versa. The health care debate swirls around this interpretation, and now the Trump presidency is calling for it with appeals to make America’s infrastructure great (and private)  again. But the tried and true (historical) approach to increasing the value of what you already have is to make sure others ain’t got it. Exclusivity is priceless. This technique increases the value of superfluous wealth without the risk of needing to expend it, creating something new, or tying it up in mundane, long term low yielding envelope company stock. The likewise tried and true method of making people poor (making sure other’s ain’t got it) is through creating an other, someone who is predetermined to be without. The without can be anything from job skill capacity, place of residence, genetic background, right language or learning, etc. This is the glue that bonds the coalition of uber wealth and those who appear to have not so much. Each are looking to enhance the value of what they have, at the expense of some other. Neither are very happy with what envelope sales generate. Analysis concludes by reminding the reader that “creating an other, someone who is predetermined to be without” is the classic definition and function of racism.