Archive for June, 2016

In The Hall Closet

June 27, 2016

Newark once again is considering putting a personal income tax increase on the ballot (Newark voters may see income tax increase on ballot, Newark Advocate, 6-26-16). Go not so far back in the way back machine, dear reader, to an Advocate editorial at the end of 2015 looking forward to the upcoming year (2016 holds much promise for Newark, 12-27-15). In it the editorial board pinned all its hopes and confidence on the newly elected Republican majority, coupled with the Republican city administration (not to mention the State judiciary). Analysis wonders whether Mayor Jeff Hall kept his cheerleading outfit from the last income tax campaign. Will it still fit? We all seem to fill out around the middle with the passage of time and the same old same old. No mention of whether it is to be on the ballot in the fall, down ticket from the presidential and senate selections. Given the current “populist” penchant of the Republican party, the mayor better have some pretty good routines perfected. The lackluster, mediocre “Rah, Rah” of the previous campaign won’t cut it. Will the mayor take to tweeting instead of twerking? Then again, perhaps the behind the scenes politicians know something about the future of the Republican party post Trump that isn’t readily available to the rest of us, and that The Advocate has no financial incentive to reveal (or could it be, has financial incentive not to reveal? You choose). Do income tax increases loom in the every man’s paycheck with a Trump presidency? Has Ronald Reagan become an emoji? Pardon the digression. Analysis is more interested in the closet politicians, the behind the scenes persons who decide what the downtown should look like, what gets done, in what order, what roads to widen and change direction to accommodate their vision, what bridges to rebuild, what is under developed (and out of reach) and what is worth developing (and on the margins). Yes Virginia, corporations are now persons, closeted political leaders. Analysis finds the increased rate of taxation on the proposed income tax hike not to have been arrived at with the throw of a dart. The original lesser percent increase failed ballot approval. In accord with the new Trump logic, the administration doubled down on the increase. It will be absolutely fantastic. You’ll love it, a huge success. And we’ll get the out of town workers to pay for it! Analysis finds an income tax to be essentially a tax imposed on revenue generated. A personal income tax is one imposed upon the revenue generated by a person. Closeted politicians have successfully achieved income tax cuts, abatements and credits for their person while excluding their own revenue stream from any “personal” income tax. Operating “behind the scenes,” who is to question that the needs of the city can only be met by a personal income tax increase? Just arrived, by Amazon Prime and waiting in the Hall closet, is a brand new cheerleading outfit. Go Bucks!

Out Of The Closet

June 25, 2016

The last of the Wolfe family to have been a publisher of the Columbus Dispatch passed away recently (The Dispatch having been sold last year). Obituaries, accolades and tributes remember him as being passionately involved in the formation and direction of Columbus though he preferred to work “behind the scenes”, not getting directly and openly involved in politics. Kinda like being a closet politician, huh? Newark appears to have a plethora of these, both currently in the political closet as well as those outed in passing. Presidential wannabe Donnie Trump has often described himself as such. A previous Newark Trump was a man named Kraner who piloted his own helicopter (OK, it was no jet). When one of the first area cell phone towers sprang up on Welsh Hills Rd. adjoining his estate, he declared it to be ugly, a hazard to his flying and swore to bring it down. It still stands. Mr. Kraner has passed on. This week America’s Trump appeared in Scotland at one of his golf courses. Coincidental with the UK’s Brexit referendum, media world linked the voting outcome with Mr. Trump’s own aspirations. Of course, the master of Twitter obliged. Analysis finds media world’s scoop to be incredibly incomplete, almost a tweet. Scotland had overwhelmingly voted in favor of remaining in the EU. Mr. Trump promoted the outcome as an awesome benefit for the Scots. The Scots themselves feel otherwise. They now want to break away from Great Britain and reconnect with the EU. Trump was at one of his newly developed golf courses to tout (what else?) its wonderfulness. Media world failed to mention that the golf course is an actual, historic wall built by Mr. Trump. Like Wexner’s buy out of properties to create the new (and improved) New Albany, Trump gobbled up properties on the site of his projected golf course. However, there were holdouts. Like Kraner, Trump declared these to be ugly and built an enormous earthen wall immediately adjoining their property in order to completely block their exposure to his golf course. The golf course side of the wall is landscaped to look like hills around the margins. Gated communities employ this same form of landscape architecture. Walls keep out more than just people. They also keep out what can be seen, and sees. For the Trumps of the world, there is no right to look. Like media world, Analysis does find a parallel between Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential marketing, er, campaign and that of Brexit. Standing there in Scotland, saying that leaving the EU created greater value for Scotland (like tourism to fill his golf course) was superlative marketing. This was akin to selling coal to Newcastle considering that Scotland (like North Ireland) voted otherwise and are now moving to exit the UK. Here at home Analysis can imagine Trump appearing at a hospital proclaiming that it is in the best interest of public health not to have comprehensive national health care. Or consoling the next gun induced massacre occurrence by encouraging everyone to be armed at all times. Or telling precarious, part time, and temporary workers at a living wage rally that they should be thankful for a low minimum wage making their jobs possible. Like the Wolfes, Kraners, Wexners, etc. of the world, Trump is using his wealth and marketing to materialize his own personal vision. Unlike our local versions, he is not operating behind the scenes but in the open, out of the closet.

Queasy

June 22, 2016

queasy 1. inclined to or feeling nausea. 2. causing nausea; nauseating. 3. uneasy; uncomfortable. 4. squeamish; fastidious.
Loathsome doesn’t begin to describe the response most have to the presidential election of 2016. How about those not finding it loathsome but rather exciting, its opportunity to participate in the making of history, or reclaim America? Analysis can’t help but notice a certain queasiness pervasive in this arena of engaged, informed and passionate electorate. The possibility of the opponent actually winning out, the loss of any sense of inevitability or righteousness, contribute to that unease. Analysis finds all this quite curious in that in all these electoral contests, stark contrasts are usually delineated in order to define one candidate as being completely different from the other. Nausea usually sets in with the realization that “it makes no difference. It is all unpalatable.” Could that actually be the case? The presumed Democratic candidate for president recently spoke in central Ohio at the Fort Hayes educational facility. She lambasted her opponent on many levels, primarily for the disingenuous way her opponent enriched and enriches himself. Why, the line of suits he markets is made in Mexico. Analysis reveals a breakdown of these economic talking points acts out enrichment through the practice of neo-liberal policies, aspirations and agendas. This is the very neo-liberalism that was threatened by the Scandinavian Socialism promoted as “difference“ by the self-same speaker’s primary opponent. The presumptive Republican presidential candidate prides himself, nay, runs on the very basis of his qualifications, his ability to enrich himself by his mastery of the workings of the neo-liberal global economy – be it trade, the mobility of capital and financing, or the mobility of labor. Analogous to service providers, be they Google, Apple, Amazon or AT&T (etc. etc. etc.), it is all about choice, and more and greater individual choices implying more and greater freedom (the very core of neo-liberalism). Of course the regimen constantly changes and is in need of updating, upgrading, but the promise of better is always there, always the marketing incentive. The ultimate and greatest benefits enrich those at the top, the service providers, while those “being served” gain more and more freedoms. The analogy with neo-liberalism is complete by each and every new and additional freedom incurring an additional charge or fee. Is it any wonder that the Clintons attended the last Trump wedding and spend the winter holidays at the Kissinger estate in Florida? The queasiness sets in when Democrats realize that maybe, just maybe, the neo-liberal charade will be exposed for precisely what it is – a Victor Kiam Remington shaver ad promoting a ridiculously affordable electric shaver that eventually continuously requires expensive replacement cutter heads. “Progress” won’t be progress anymore but just another part of global marketing strategy. The queasiness on the part of Republicans is realizing that their “conservatism” orbits around a tacit acceptance of the neo-liberalism their forebears helped implement and is currently represented by a caricature spouting “See, I learned how to play by the rules of neo-liberalism, and enriched myself. We can do that self-same to make America great again.” Locally we find this with the recent unemployment statistics for Licking County in May, the lowest they’ve been since pre-911, when the bloom of the dot com bubble hadn’t yet burst. The championing of neo-liberalism’s greater freedom and choice through the inclusion of more in the market (employment as labor for business) elides the mushrooming of children’s summer nutrition programs to help feed those who, for some mysterious reason, aren’t being benefitted by these global marketing aspirations, policies and agendas. Queasiness sets in when “liberal” Democrats realize that conservatives have embraced neo-liberalism as status quo in order to thrive, and “conservative” Republicans realize they have to continuously change to play by the rules of global economic neo-liberalism.

Babe

June 8, 2016

This week Analysis witnessed a scene straight out of the movie Babe. US Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, surrounded by his party flock of senate cronies, bleated out to his party’s presidential candidate “No biting. No more biting!” A more telling sign of the times was US Speaker of the House (and ditto party member) Paul Ryan’s passionate disavowal of the very same party presidential candidate’s doubled down public statements. Analysis couldn’t help but note that even after the righteously indignant disavowal, Paul Ryan went on to say he still endorses his party’s candidate and will vote for him. His presidency is in the best interest of the Republican agenda and priorities. Does this bounty of disavowals (after endless apology) indicate a new Jim Crow era where the openly apparent perception of trauma is immediately disavowed and hushed-up without debate or conversation? Analysis finds this to be evidence of a culture of silence meant to enforce party discipline of closing ranks in order to maintain a fabricated history of events necessary for an ideological agenda and aspirations. On a local level Analysis has already witnessed (and noted, posts Ted Cruz Joke 3-18-16 and Super Hero Welcome 4-3-16) this with County Commissioner Tim Bubb’s “I have no idea. For Pat Tiberi, it’s not just a Licking County question, it’s a United States question. I’m not going to be critical of Pat.” after being told to hush-up with regard to the diminishing funding of Licking County Job and Family Services. We are currently witnessing this disavowal of trauma with its culture of silence to ensure a discipline of membership inclusion and continuity. The growing public need coupled with the under funding of Job and Family Services is an open wound. It is disavowed as a dereliction of Licking County responsibility. The culture of silence is enforced by referring to it as a “problem of funding” in order to promote the ideological agenda and aspirations of “business first” in the form of tax breaks, credits and abatements. This maintains a fabricated history of scarcity and diminished public assistance programs not being affected by an economics of austerity. Such a constructed history links Job and Family Services’ response to public need with social entitlement and privilege while maintaining the discipline of silence over the actual entitlement and privilege programs of business tax breaks, credits, abatements and public/private “job creation” incentives. Jim Crow? “Know the feeling, Babe.”

National Conversation

June 3, 2016

“We need to have a conversation about…” race, the opioid epidemic, gun safety, police, income inequality, housing, etc. The list could or would seem incessant, but what is “the conversation”? Of the multiple meanings of the word “support”, the dictionary gives a socially oriented one of “to maintain (a person, family, institution, etc.) with the necessities of existence; provide for”. Today the word seems to have become just another synonym of “purchase” or “buy”. We are asked to support the local vendors at the Farmers Market, or support a local restaurant, or support community service through “shopping” (another synonym of the current use of “support”) at the local thrift store. Like it or not “to maintain with the necessities of existence; provide for” is not at all the same as “buying”, “purchasing” or “shopping” within a competitive capitalist economy. Sure, the end results of maintaining existence may appear to be the same, at least until “provide for” is considered (aka go fund me). “Support” seems to have morphed into “purchase” with the financial meltdown of the Bush presidency, and the “Great” recession implicated by it. But then, George W’s first reaction to 911 was to tell his fellow citizens to go out and buy stuff, a pick up truck or hummer. The roots of its meaning transformation may be deeper than the collapse of Lehman Bros. Like “support”, “conversation” seems likewise to have slid into meaning something not exactly the same as the dictionary definition which implies some kind of “interchange of thoughts, information, etc.” The recently endured national primary contests, as well as the anticipated (and loathed) general election campaign, give evidence of another meaning entirely. The financial meltdown of 2008, and the ensuing years of recession filled with lack, brought with it an overabundance of speculative questioning by journalists, scholars, economists, etc. Is capitalism capable of addressing the public needs left over from catastrophes and disasters? Can capitalism, and the market, provide the necessities of housing, food distribution, medical care? People were definitely out of work with their homes in foreclosure and the food pantries emptied. Everyone clamored that there needs to be a national conversation on this. That was 8 years ago. Today we have the harvest of a two party system that has specifically sowed legislation limiting democracy to a choice between only two, over the past century if not more. Recent evidence of this within Ohio was the quick legislative change of third party ballot eligibility during the race for re-election by John Kasich in 2014. The current (and loathed) presidential contest pits a neo-liberal against a “self made” salesman of the virtues of marketing. Neo-liberalism is all about personal choice, and making markets available (and inevitable) in virtually everything, and to everyone. The “liberal” vestiges (if any) are the “virtually everything, and to everyone”, making it appear progressive, concerned with the welfare of all (whether in terms of free trade agreements, meals on wheels or low interest school loans). The “self made” salesman for the virtues of marketing doesn’t disguise his absolute lack of interest “to maintain with the necessities of existence; provide for” the welfare of others. If you can’t afford it, get out. As Newt Gingrich put it so succinctly when he ran for president “take a shower and get a job.” The “self made” salesman phrases it more positively, “We love those who go to work for us.” Both the neo-liberal and the salesman are in agreement over the positivity that must be extended to the electorate (neither willing to diss those who vote), as well as being united in their underlying commitment and dedication to profit. The “interchange of thoughts, information, etc.” concerning matters of social urgency and significance can only be made within the bounds of marketing, business and profit (thoughts about how to profit, business information, etc.). Any “conversation” outside that envelope simply will not pass postal regulation, whether it contributes or not, and is relegated to the dead letter file. Since the financial meltdown of 2008, “conversation” has experienced the same slippage as “support”. “Conversation” is more about “closing the deal” than any “interchange of thoughts, information, etc.” We ought to have a national conversation about that.