Unspoken, And Unaccounted For

May 24, 2022

            Lots of continuous daily news dominates. In addition to the ever evolving Covid pandemic, there is the war in Ukraine, the politics of elections – current, past as well as upcoming – and the economy. Can’t forget the economy with its inflation, for which the preceding are given as reasons for its being. And here in Licking County Ohio the anticipated Intel workshop stains the daily news no matter what the reason (Analysis would say “sweatshop” but that’s no longer possible with the clean suits and clean rooms anticipated). Accompanying the near daily Intel stories are headlines like “280-acre commercial, industrial development coming to Harrison Township” (The Newark Advocate, 5-23-22) and other economic “growth” news. It is easy to overlook the weekly “Public Records” news published by The Advocate as this feature, easily obtained by the paper because it is a matter of public record (like the police blotter), has also been around for as long as, well, public newspapers. The 5-21-22 headline read “Public Records: Jersey Township property sells for over $4 million.” Both the headline, as well as the sale price, is not unusual. The history of area sales has been trending in this region for quite a long time. Market sale prices are not a “cause” of inflation, but certainly contribute. Scarcity is a primary “cause” of market pricing. Inflation’s poster child is the plethora of over priced flat screen TV’s available for immediate delivery. But Analysis digresses. It is hard to find “affordable” property transfers in the public records anymore. Million dollar plus sales are multiple each week. Most transfers are for residences in the 300K to 600K range. Below 100K is the exception. One thing unspoken with the market and inflation is that those earning a commission are experiencing a windfall despite doing no more actual work (labor) than if there were no inflation. Such is also the case with Licking County Ohio. For each $1,000 in sale price, the county receives a conveyance fee of $2. Considering, with Intel and all, that million dollar properties are now the norm, unexceptional, the County is taking in a premium of tax revenue without any additional labor. When it comes to County infrastructure spending (the “labor”), the County primarily draws on ARP, Federal Infrastructure Bill funding as well as State Intel assistance. Isn’t it time for Rick Black, Tim Bubb, and Duane Flowers to give back, and pay forward by investing public revenue in affordable public housing? The relationship between those without a house (the homeless), the scarcity of available affordable housing, and the million dollar real estate market couldn’t be any clearer.

In The Presence Of Myths

May 8, 2022

            In America, today is celebrated as Mothers Day. It is no coincidence that America’s First Lady met up with Ukraine’s First Lady on this unofficial state holiday. Although the news of Ukraine has been “The News” for quite a while now, it was displaced this week by the auspicious SCOTUS leak re: Roe V Wade, declared as “settled law,” being overturned. Analysis finds it no coincidence that the leak was made the week prior to the celebration of Mothers Day. Ostensibly, the draft of Justice Alito’s opinion has been around for the last 2 or more months. In terms of “the culture wars,” what would be a better time to give a peek to this writing on the wall? All the Sunday yak shows, editorials and comedy commentaries are centered on this dominant news. Analysis finds the timing to be perfect. It is no coincidence, no getting away from it, that “the conversation” is framed and couched  in terms of motherhood (much as “conversations” re: marijuana or firearms are framed in terms of “gateway drugs” or 2nd Amendment Rights). Tradition, found in the use and meaning of words and concepts, sets the stage and frames “the conversation” no matter how much factual evidence may indicate a completely other scenario. Analysis finds it to be no coincidence that the convenience of the appeal to tradition is the foundation of the appeal of Conservatism. Fact based science or argument requires much more work. “The good life” shouldn’t involve work. As Graeber and Wengrow end their book, The Dawn of Everything, “We know, now, that we are in the presence of myths.” (p. 526)

In Which The State Does Not Exist

April 2, 2022

            In the previous post (3-27-22), Analysis considered an alternate look at the state, one in which the state itself was the disguise. The quote from Graeber and Wengrow’s book was focused on “the realities of power.” Analysis gave three examples of where it ostensibly looks like the state is about the business of running or solving things (wielding power) where in actuality it is only a front for an unnamed source. In 2 of the 3 presented (if not, in essence, all 3) the unnamed is the market, which the state is committed to keep “free” (at the expense of the rest of us). The quote suggested an alternate view can be achieved by looking where the state is not. A Washington Post article entitled Corporate landlords are gobbling up U.S. suburbs. These homeowners are fighting back. (Peter Whoriskey and Kevin Schaul, 3-31-22) does precisely that. No news here in Licking County Ohio that the anticipated Intel chip facility is the dominant news without a day going by that some feature of it doesn’t appear. Unwritten (specifically) is the likewise near daily pressure on homeowners to sell their property to “investors.” The red hot real estate market is fueled by cash only offers, driving prices up. The Post article sheds some light on this market (which has got to be free): “As investors have targeted the American suburbs, faraway companies have begun to take over entire blocks. Last year, investors bought nearly 1 in 7 homes sold in the nation’s top metropolitan areas – the most in two decades of record-keeping, according to a Washington Post analysis of data from realty company Redfin” “In Charlotte and surrounding Mecklenburg County, landlords backed by Wall Street own roughly 11,500 houses – more than 4% of single family homes, according to an analysis last year by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Urban Institute. Most of the houses are in the starter home price range, “likely putting the most pressure on the lower end of the market,” said the institute’s Ely Portillo. Most of those purchases were made by one of six major out-of-state companies: Progress Residential, American Homes 4 Rent and Invitation Homes each owned more than 2,000 homes, according to the Urban Institute analysis, while Tricon, Amherst Residential and FirstKey each had more than 1,000 homes. Faced with this surge of corporate landlords, many homeowners associations have begun to fight back.” “Using the same legal authority that allows homeowners associations to punish people who fail to cut their grass, the [Charlotte, NC] Potters Glen board erected a hurdle for investors: a new rule required any new home buyer to wait two years before renting it out.” Other HOA’s in the area followed suit with varied duration of ownership and rental use restrictions. None outright ban rentals but rather are aimed at slowing the rate of return for non-owner occupant investment purchases (with their immediate profit expectations). For better or worse, HOA’s are grassroots democratic endeavors. Essentially they operate where the state is not. Much like unions they rely on active and engaged participation to be effective. And they can be squelched. In Ohio there are a plethora of laws continuously passed within the state legislature denying the Ohio constitution’s right of home rule. Like labor unions, HOA’s are formed and operate where the state does not exist (for the state masks the unbridled market). The implications of all this for Newark Ohio are staggering. As Analysis has repeatedly pointed out, just under half of all Newark residences are non-owner occupant (rentals). By definition HOA’s are comprised of owner occupants. At best, HOA’s are only a partial solution to the expanding domination of the free market.

The Mask

March 27, 2022

            “To understand the realities of power, whether in modern or ancient societies, is to acknowledge this gap between what elites claim they can do and what they are actually able to do. As the sociologist Philip Abrams pointed out long ago, failure to make this distinction has led social scientists up countless blind alleys, because the state is ‘not the reality which stands behind the mask of political practice. It is itself the mask which prevents our seeing political practice as it is.’ To understand the latter, he argued, we must attend to ‘the senses in which the state does not exist rather than to those in which it does’. We can now see that these points apply just as forcefully to ancient political regimes as they do to modern ones – if not more so.” (Pg. 430-31, The Dawn Of Everything: A New History of Humanity, David Graeber and David Wengrow) Lots of fanfare accompanied the signing into law of the bipartisan, big bucks infrastructure bill last year. The major political elites promised to finally address the issue of crumbling bridges, highways and other existing deteriorating physical necessities of a functioning community. Barely a whimper was noticed when it was disclosed that, here in Licking County, the petite political elites (the county commissioners) would choose to use the bulk of their allotment to build up the infrastructure required to support the anticipated Intel facility in Jersey Township. Undisclosed, except to the discerning, was the remarkable coincidence that the Intel negotiations took place concurrent with drafting of the bipartisan infrastructure legislation. What’s behind the mask? Currently other petite elites, Ohio House representatives Diane Grendell and Sarah Fowler Arthur, are co sponsoring Ohio HB 327 To amend sections 3314.03 and 3326.11 and to enact sections 3313.6027 and 4113.35 of the Revised Code to prohibit school districts, community schools, STEM schools, and state agencies from teaching, advocating, or promoting divisive concepts. Recently Representative Arthur was on record saying both sides of the holocaust should be presented when discussed. Is the mask a good fit? It was recently pointed out that in Zanesville Ohio “Only around 10% of the people who applied for a [Section 8] voucher in 2021 were actually housed, largely due to a lack of inventory.” “The Housing Choice Voucher Program [Section 8] is a federally-funded program that works as a way to help very low-income, elderly and disabled people pay their rent.” “That means around 90% of the people who currently need subsidized housing in Muskingum County aren’t able to get it. There simply aren’t enough landlords accepting vouchers and available units approved by federally set standards, according to ZMHA.” “”There’s a lot of reasons we struggle, but really right now it’s not as profitable here as it is in other communities,” Zanesville Community Development Director Matt Schley said. “It’s all about what the market can bare.”” (Zanesville’s lack of Section 8 housing leads to homelessness, instability Erin Couch for the Zanesville Times Recorder, 3-27-22) Does the market buy and sell masks?

Adding Insult To Irony

February 24, 2022

            Although the major news event of the week is happening overseas with the fascist takeover of the sovereign nation of Ukraine by we-never-can-forget-being-Soviet Russia, S*** still happens here in Ohio. The super majority GOP Ohio legislature has been busy, though not on the constitutionally mandated, and Ohio Supreme Court ruling required, drawing of non-gerrymandered redistricting maps. It must be in the genes, this disregard of what 70% of the electorate voted in, as well as contempt for Ohio Supreme Court rulings (see school funding rulings for the last 20+ years). No, Ohio’s GOP legislators have been so traumatized by the events that happened in the nation’s capital on January 6, 2021, that they could only focus on affairs of the heart (Ohio being the heart of it all, etc.). All GOP (all the time) sponsored Ohio House Bill 109 just passed the house and is currently in the Senate (on its way to the governor). It seeks “to increase penalties for certain assault, vandalism, and riot offenses, to allow peace officers to bring civil suits against persons participating in a riot, and to prohibit bias motivated intimidation of first responders.” Although not a co sponsor of HB 109, Newark’s own Mark Fraizer IS a co sponsor of sister legislation, Ohio HB 325, currently wooing support in the Ohio House. This proposed revision of the Ohio code is “regarding a political subdivision’s emergency powers when suppressing a riot, mob, or potential riot or mob and the preservation of rights regarding firearms during an emergency.” The allure that seduced Mr. Fraizer is the staunch protection of Second Amendment Rights during a riot, mob, or emergency (or all of the above). Briefly stated, it disallows Ohio Constitution Home Rule provisions during such events by disallowing any action restricting firearm, ammunition or explosives sale or possession, etc. in managing such events. You can close the liquor stores and gas stations, but you can’t shutter the gun dealers. Ohio HB 109 takes what is already legislated as unlawful (your assaults, vandalisms and sundry riot offenses), and makes them even more illegal with the added onus (à la Texas abortion ban) of allowing civil suits to be brought against demonstration organizers (organized demonstrations corrupted by already illegal violent acts). Analysis can only show that these legislative ventures are meant to aid GOP political subdivision administrators and prosecutors to follow the law in such emergencies, especially after the directive by the Republican National Committee that such occurrences are “legitimate political discourse.” Atta Boy, Mark! You let ‘em know a thing or two about legitimate political discourse. Returning to the major news of the week, happening overseas but once again in everyone’s living room, Analysis marvels at the President’s chutzpa in requesting that Americans look to tighten their belts during a war we are not even engaged in. This, since the inception of the all volunteer professional U.S. military, after how many active wars (your Gulf War, your Iraq War, your 20 year Afghanistan War, your War on Terror, etc.) where Americans were specifically instructed to go out and buy Hummers and spend like there’s no tomorrow. And now, all of a sudden, tomorrow is here?

The Healthy Practice Of Democracy

February 12, 2022

            In the news this past week was a city council meeting in Yellow Springs Ohio. Or shouldn’t we rather say the news was Dave Chappelle at a city council meeting in Yellow Springs Ohio? After 4 years of the Trump Presidency, we’ve all learned that celebrity place-ment makes a difference, especially in regards to civic proceedings. And the place of the celebrity in this proceeding made all the difference in the world. It also gives an enhanced meaning to “legitimate political discourse.” Like the January 6 original “legitimate political discourse’’, this one was also recorded on video. What we all can see, time after time, is a man getting up to address the city council with regard to proceedings over projected residential housing development. In no uncertain terms the man addressed the council as “clowns’ and told them he would withdraw his own projected development investment if the plan under consideration was passed. There was no back and forth, question and answer for the man was a celebrity. The celebrity was area resident, Dave Chappelle. After the “exchange’ (Not!), rather “legitimate political discourse”, the council withdrew the plan under consideration and approved the one amenable to the celebrity. End of story. Not! The media, both social and commercial (though both are commercial) picked up on the local Ohio story and made it national news.  Some critiqued the celebrity as stifling the development of affordable housing. Others claimed that to be a “smear” of the man. Celebrity smeared or not smeared became the focus of the news story. Analysis finds the event to be very informative and instructional for why, in our contemporary moment, we cannot deal with any of the “crisis” situations that confront us and grow with continued inattention. The Yellow Springs city council was considering two projections for residential land development. One, limited by the land size, offered roughly 100 single family homes to be built on the parcel. The other offered roughly 50% more units but in a mix of single family houses, town houses and apartments. This latter plan offered 2 acres for development as “affordable housing” (built by someone, at some time not specified). After the videotaped “legitimate political discourse” the council opted for the lesser unit single home plan. Not part of the celebrity obsessed media coverage was the ordinary acknowledgement that such council considerations are taking place practically everywhere nationwide. Nor was any attention paid to the fact that continuous expansion through single family housing developments is central to sprawl. And sprawl is unsustainable. The discourse or reasoned exchange (when it doesn’t include celebrities) usually is around low density single family residences and high density multi family housing. The MAGA dream of the 1950’s single family home promise (along with a chicken in every kettle) is incredibly outdated for the current time and concern with global warming. Celebrity investors rely on the promise and keep it on subsidized life support. In the end, there is zero affordable housing projected for Yellow Springs. Again, the same scenario finds itself repeated nationwide. Butt weight, there’s more. Part of the celebrity’s defenders  say new housing is win-win no matter what, and the ripple effect is that it opens up older “undesirable” units as  affordable housing (the rising tide lifts all boats argument). Not necessarily so. The moneyed are always at hand to buy up older residential units to convert (invest) into medical offices, strip malls, convenience store gas stations to serve the new arrivals to the upscale single family housing development. Chappelle himself was threatening to pull just such an investment in a projected comedy club in town. Again, the folks who will be employed at these newly created “jobs” enterprises will need to find affordable housing somewhere else as there will continue to be none in the town where they are  employed, necessitating a lengthy daily commute. This also is unsustainable for global warming, and any public transit solutions are doomed to meet the same fate as affordable housing (public transit fits in well with high density neighborhoods). Once again, the same scenario is replayed across the US. But not covered at all by the celebrity obsessed  media is the debilitating damage  wreaked on democracy when a wealthy celebrity, one member of the 1% in this country, can so easily and effortlessly determine institutions and policy for the entire community. This is not only unsustainable, but detrimental to the healthy practice of democracy.

Olympic Schemes, Er, Dreams

February 6, 2022

            Much as it may come as a surprise to Whoopi Goldberg, the 1936 Summer Olympics was organized specifically to frame the superiority of the master race that was hosting them. Adolf Hitler was still somewhat stuck in the past by intending to accomplish this outcome (of racial superiority) through what manly man Charlie Sheen would call “Winning!” Hitler relied on past precedence to showcase this “winning’ as making for an irrevocable argument of dominance. Whoopi would be not as surprised to learn that the Third Reich’s Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels, was way ahead of the curve in terms of framing the accomplishments of the Third Reich and doing what we call today “marketing.” Most would be surprised to learn that the closest of Hitler’s cronies, the self same Goebbels, was an exceptionally well educated man with what would be considered today as a high IQ. But Goebbels’ (along with Hitler) subordinated this mastery of propaganda for the end of “Winning.” Such was the still prevalent mindset of the 19th century well into the 1930’s. Today, with the 2022 Winter Olympics, the propaganda itself is the desired end. Winning is irrelevant. Whereas Goebbels tried to market his message to any and all comers, Xi Jinping confidently has chosen his audience strategically (much as gerrymandering chooses voters for the party that draws the maps). In a way, he is preaching to the choir. The Olympics (and its athlete participants) have been usurped, co opted as a spectacle to highlight the future. And the future is manufactured. China is the world’s manufacturer (the recent Christmas “supply chain disruption” confirms this). Everything at the current games presented to those privileged to look is manufactured – the snow, the ice, the robots, the robot prepared and served meals, the mountain, etc. The “winter time sports” is completely divorced from anything winter (natural or historic). Xi’s mastering and maturing of Goebbels origination by making propaganda the end (and leaving the “Winning” to take care of itself) is not only brilliant but very instructive and informative of the time we live in. The 2022 Winter Olympics is more of a World’s Fair than a celebration of seasonal sport. Global warming scientists say such spectacles are limited in site and duration. Analysis finds all this informative and insightful with regard to the recent projections of the Intel chip manufacturing facility in Licking County. Like the renovation of the Arcade in downtown Newark, it looks like it will happen as long as the public money is there. Should supply chain issues be once again assured, not so much. The curious analogy which the two Olympic examples suggest is that the reception of the announcement by local county and state leaders of Intel’s decision closely mirrors that of Goebbels and the Nazi’s in the 1930’s.  It is couched and mired in the past, the 20th century outlook with its factory production thinking. Whereas Intel’s disposition is more in line with Xi’s China, the future, and fabricating everything with no regard to context or surrounding. Intel will have its way no matter the burden placed on the surrounding community, be it water supply, environment, housing, traffic congestion, or quality of life.

One Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

January 23, 2022

            The latest big news out of Licking County this past week also happened to make the national news. Intel is projecting to build (and install) a 20 billion dollar chip manufacturing facility (no, not the crunchy kind). It is to be located on the western border of Licking County with Delaware and Franklin Counties, just north of the New Albany business park complex. For someone visiting from Mars (no, not Elon Musk) it would only naturally look like an extension of Les Wexner’s New Albany (minus the white fence). Remember the multi million dollar freeway extension built specifically to link Les’s Easton with New Albany? But this digresses. Intel put out many “artist’s renderings” of the proposed project (does any reader recall the excitement over the artist renderings of the proposed “affordable” housing to be located behind Walmart on N. 21st St?). Most are from a drone cam point of view (surveillance is so today!). The prominent one being circulated the most shows a 7 story main building with the fab units receding to the zero perspective point in the back, and the main building surrounded by acres of parking lots (and cars) in the foreground. There is not a public transit kiosk or Disneyesque monorail terminal to be found. So much for IT being concerned with a carbon footprint, or building with the latter part of the 21st century in mind. No, it’s all going to happen by car over freeways, most of which lie outside Licking County. It is a race to the Los Angeles freeway rush hour bottom (or Boston, NYC, Chicago, or even, gasp, Cols.). But the breaking news announcement was staged in Newark, the county seat that identifies itself as just a small, all American town in the middle of a rural Ohio county. The fab plants’ location is a huge feather in the red MAGA cap of the county’s three GOP commissioners. It is something to continue the “Aw Shucks’ rural (us) vs urban (not us) identity paddy cake that has been going on for decades. Since the plant is on the margins of New Albany, and has access to CBus amenities, urban problems like affordable housing, child care, public transportation, hunger or access to medical care are someone else’s (what me worry?). The “Aw Shucks” rural small town of Newark can maintain its timeless aura, and appeal (like the pedestrian friendly downtown “destination” for which you need a car to access). Just so long as the 3,000 projected Intel employees pay the county taxes. JobsOhio has seen to it that Intel and its executives won’t.

The Role Of Flo In Learned Helplessness

January 2, 2022

            “Since winning a third term in 2019, Mayor Jeff Hall has faced some difficult times, including the death of Police Chief Steve Baum in March and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.” (Newark Mayor: Tough times in ’21; new leaders, housing, developments in ’22. Kent Mallett, Newark Advocate, 1-2-22). There’s an insurance company ad running currently in the media. In it Flo is trying to get a focus group to talk about the product they’ve just had the occasion to watch on the big screen monitor. Their response is “what product?” They have no clue what it is about since the video featuring the product seemed too much like an ad. They just block out ads that appear on screen. Mallett’s Sunday front page article would absolutely fit in perfectly with Flo’s promotion. Who reads this stuff? Unless you are integral to the operation of the GOP favorite’s machine (as Human Resource Director Bill Spurgeon must be), own properties in town (like Service Director Dave Rhodes) or are key to their development (as in Mark Mauter, Development Director), there isn’t much there for you. Sure, Covid is in the opening line, but other than being addressed as an inconvenience to the efficient operation of the business, er, city, it is regarded as a painless nuisance. When did you ever hear Mayor Hall come out and say “I feel your pain”? Suffering the pandemic akin to suffering the opioid/meth epidemic? Naaa. Any mention of the residents of Newark, the actual people, any insights on addressing their concerns or issues? Nada. As Mallett’s headline succinctly and pithily states, there isn’t anything covered that would fall outside the purview of the Newark good ole boy’s patronage network of property and largesse. Mallett affirms this by quoting the Mayor himself: ““Your job is always to try to hire within and try to see where your talent is,” Hall said. “I think that’s preferred. To properly manage this town, you’ve got to know the town. A lot of times you can attract people from outside the community, as larger cities do, and they don’t understand the culture, sometimes, in the community. I think they need to understand Newark pretty well. So, you’re always looking internal to see what can work.” (Kinda sounds like something Sparta Mississippi Police Chief Gillespie would say. Newark = Sparta? Naaa. Couldn’t be.)  Analysis finds it to be an understatement to speculate that most local readers just shut out this political ad. The three time mayor is pretty well counting on this. It is included in his plans to run for a fourth term.

White Kid With A Gun

November 21, 2021

            Local news of note this past week was the scheduled Third Thursday Conversations sponsored by The Freedom School in Licking County (11-18-21). It was well attended, primarily by folks deeply committed and involved with various community action groups. As this event took place the evening before the acquittal of the white kid with a gun, the immediate concern felt by everyone was the abysmal voter turnout in Newark with the election held earlier this month. Though not the focus of conversation throughout the evening, it lurked in the background like a malevolent spirit, a truly bad stench that could not be ignored. The next day’s acquittal of the white kid with a gun provided little surprise to conscientious students of American (and world) history as well as culture. On a micro level Analysis found this to replicate what was already written in this blog’s 12-9-18 post entitled Polarity And The Burning Of The Reichstag. In this case, instead of a large political apparatus instigating the creation of a catastrophic conflict in order to use force to justify an illegitimate resolution to the manufactured conflict, one found the essential “manufacture a conflict, find oneself losing (failing), commit murder, and claim self defense.” [For those of you keeping score at home, within the purview of an instituted government with an established justice/security mechanism, vigilantes exist only in response to a manufactured conflict. The rest of the script reads as written on any playground] This movie has played, and been playing, many times before. Analysis references the George Zimmerman defense in the murder of Travon Martin (the white kid with a gun was losing to the black kid with the Skittles who was winning). Which brings us back to the spirit lurking behind the scene, the bad stench which cannot be extinguished. With l8% of Newark’s registered voters determining 80% of the folks governing for the city of 50,000+, it only stands to reason that 82% of citizens who could exercise what democracy privileges them (a say in their governance) chose to say “Why bother?” We’ve all heard the high school STEM teachers say that nature abhors a vacuum. The nature of politics is that it adores a vacuum. Where democracy is absent, authoritarianism fills the void immediately. Analysis finds the 82% complicit in fostering an authoritarian government for the rest of us. Imagine, a white kid with a gun could be the way America governs itself; all in the name of self defense at that!