Archive for February, 2019

What A Concept!

February 24, 2019

In the past year plus, Amazon had courted a vast number of American locations for establishment of its HQ2. When the dust had settled, it announced two HQ2’s – one in the greater DC area, and one in NYC, the borough of Queens to be specific. This came as more than a double whammy to those urban centers who earnestly offered to give all (and more) to have the mega giant’s home (away from home) office in their neighborhood. Popular discontent with the prospect of thousands of more employees, commuters, urban upheaval and displacement due to real estate values rising, gentrification, etc. while infrastructure costs, schools, and medical care, emergency services would receive no commercial Amazon support, created a popular uprising. Amazon withdrew its 2 HQ2 vision (and had to settle for just one). Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her followers were credited (or blamed) for the erasure of the dream (or scheme). Many critiqued the outcome on the usual suspects attributed to “growth” in Licking County by Newark’s GOP mayor, the GOP county commissioners and (the GOP) Grow Licking County – “Jobs!” would bring wealth into the hood and revitalize the neglected economy. In Queens, it isn’t exactly vacant farm fields that would get transformed but the populace recognized early on that their rents would go up, along with their taxes and commute times (even for groceries). Real estate values going up is great for those who own it to make a financial killing (investment), terrible for those who depend on it to stay alive (for their livelihood or as a place to live). Analysis can only find that the folks in Queens could discern the difference. On the other side of the Atlantic an analogous situation exists with the slow motion train wreck called “Brexit.” London has been the traditional financial equivalent of Wall Street (indeed, many Newark consumers have their loan and credit card interest rates tied to the LIBOR rate which finds its home in, you guessed it, London). The various global banks and commercial entities which had their HQ1 (or 2) in London are now exiting. “Which City Is Winning the Race to Be Europe’s Next Finance Hub? None” by Sophia Akram appeared in Ozy (2-24-19). Seems no single European city will take in the financial refugees. Cities like Frankfurt, Paris, Dublin, Madrid, Milan, Amsterdam, etc. have suitors and potential mates but each only a few. No city wants them all. The usual suspects (covered by the AOC confrontation in Queens) are listed: “These growing pains — overpopulated cities, purpose-built towns and spillover into neighboring areas as well as soaring rents and property prices — aren’t surprising, says O’Malley [Eoin O’Malley, associate professor of politics at Dublin City University]. And how governments deal with them could determine whether these cities can truly cash in on the opportunity presented by Brexit, he adds. “Whenever you’re bringing in relatively high-paid jobs, it’s probably displacing the people living in those areas to the outskirts of the city,” says O’Malley. “There’s a lot of pressure on the government to build more social housing, and that’s probably the big issue in Irish politics at the moment.”” Gasp! Government build more housing? What a concept! Try selling THAT to Tim Bubb, Nate Strum or Jeff Hall. “And it will take time for the cities bidding to replace London to be able to fully absorb the incoming demand from foreign firms and professionals. O’Malley says Dublin, for instance, currently lacks adequate affordable housing, transport infrastructure and non-Catholic schooling.” “[Paris] is preparing for what O’Malley warned would become the gentrification that pushes residents from the city to its suburbs. The city, meanwhile, is expanding the Paris metro system to cover a “Greater Paris” metropolitan area.” Double gasp! Metro system expansion? What a concept! Grow Licking County prefers good ole self reliance, thank you (“Nate Strum, economic director of Grow Licking County and the Licking County Chamber of Commerce, said a new effort will focus on unemployed in neighboring counties with higher unemployment.” Mallett, Advocate: Employers thinking outside box on job recruitment, retention, training 2-22-19). The good folks in Queens heeded the USPS motto; “If it looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.” But the real concept camouflaged in all this (but staring us right in the face) is the dispersion of wealth. Since Occupy back in 2010/11, the public consciousness has grown with regards to wealth distribution and income inequality in the U S and abroad. Most are cognizant and articulate with the 1%, 99%  concept. Locating all the wealth within one sector seems to have been actually undermined by the likes of AOC and the Queens resistance to Amazon’s HQ2. And Brexit, no matter how it turns out, has likewise created a rupture in the concentration of wealth within a limited geographic location. It is a crack, indeed a relatively minor one, but Analysis does find that it makes factual the redistribution and dispersion of wealth, affecting more than just an exceptional few. Triple gasp! Wealth redistribution? What a concept!


Failed Community Administration

February 19, 2019

The past week saw a barrage of local news appear in The Newark Advocate. Though apparently disparate in content, the aggregate spoke volumes about the Newark community. Analysis was intrigued by what the stories contributed to the overall larger narrative. There were a couple of stories about the growing population of homeless within Newark (by definition marginal to Newark’s self identity as community). There were likewise a couple of stories of projected capital improvements within the geography of Newark (by most accounts structures and institutions are what define community in Newark). In the final lines of ‘What needs to be done with homelessness in Licking County?’ (2-17-19) Kent Mallett quotes Newark’s mayor: “”No individual group, entity or person will have all the answers, but collectively, we’ll work together. The power of community is pretty strong right now.”” Previous to the mayor speaking Mallett wrote “The mayor said any sustainable answer has to include the public, private and non-profit segments of the community.” Analysis shows the mayor is cognizant of Newark as a community and his place within that community. He IS the mayor who is being interviewed and as THE community leader he is integral to not only what needs to be done but what IS done. ‘New senior housing, wellness center coming to Denison’ by Craig McDonald (2-16-19) is technically NOT Newark though the large footprint of The Art Space on Church St. definitely puts the DU in downtown Newark. DU likewise self identifies as a community with a mission of producing leaders for tomorrow (may or may not include mayors). From McDonald’s article it becomes obvious that there is not enough housing and group activity spaces on campus, and the community must generate more, and will. Likewise, the healthcare of the community is being inadequately provided and that too must be improved, and will. ‘Newark’s St. Francis de Sales announces $3 million expansion’ by Dave Weidig (2-17-19) projects an expansion of the downtown church to meet its urgent need, and the sundry reasons, plans and financing involved. DU takes a lot of pride in their generations of leaders, so small wonder that they actively address the immediate physical needs of their community. Pride is somewhat ambivalent within the context of the Catholic Church. Though an understatement, “”It will be a good street presence,” said Shannon Karrenbauer, St. Francis Business Manager.” suffices as an adequate surrogate. And Newark Mayor Jeff Hall? “While other cities are talking about what they can’t do, Newark is talking about what it is doing, Mayor Jeff Hall said. “You kind of have to get out and see what’s going on around and there aren’t a whole lot of cities in Ohio that got a lot going on,” Hall said.” (Newark may see downtown, north end developments, Kent Mallett, 1-5-18). Analysis finds this collection of reporting in the middle of February inadvertently reveals the disjunct of “community” when it comes to the administration of Newark. All three groups take pride in their community. On the basis of this pride the administrators of the leaders group as well as the religious organization address their present real concerns with projected solutions in the here and now. The administration of the Newark community? The mayor mouths the 100% correct analysis of what it takes to accomplish the goal of addressing the need (“The mayor said any sustainable answer has to include the public, private and non-profit segments of the community.”) but has failed to do any of the above. Akin to DU and the Catholic Church, Newark is not some isolated hardscrabble backwater struggling to identify itself, let alone flourish.  Along with being the government seat of a prosperous and thriving county, it is the headquarters of a bank with $7.8 billion in assets. Its membership rolls, along with its alumni and active promoters far outstrip anything that the local church or university can access. Yet the present Newark administration has not succeeded in generating any affordable housing, public transportation or public community centers. It isn’t that there is a lack of public, private and non-profit segments within Newark. Rather, Analysis reveals that the current Jeff Hall administration has totally failed the Newark community even though they know what it takes to do otherwise.


Playing By The Rules

February 13, 2019

The MarketWatch article headlined: Ocasio-Cortez says the system is broken, and the internet goes wild (Shawn Langlois, 2-11-19). The article was mostly about Twitter followers and who has how many. The past years’ obsession with how many followers, and how it makes for news, belies the fact that the headline is not news. Dear Leader employed the same tactic, different grammar, saying the system was “rigged”, the outcome “fixed.” The internet likewise went wild. The rhetorical trope of a “broken system” seems to be mostly preaching to the choir (assuming anyone is actually singing). In this Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez differs little from the history of political wannabe’s as well as already bees. In all sobriety Analysis finds it lacks creativity, let alone solutions. After all, it is solutions we seek from our political leaders, not simply another reflection on what we all know are the problems. Analysis feels it is pertinent to bear in mind that the nature of democracy resides precisely with the demos establishing or determining the “rules” of government, not otherwise (a government of the people and by the people). If the rules suck, are inappropriate or out of sync with conditions, a democracy changes them without the violence inherent with other forms of governance. The “rules of the game” are decided by the participants when and while democracy is exercised. In fact, one could almost say that democracy exists only when there are no rules (as opposed to the divine right of kings, religious autocracies or traditional dictatorships). Sandra Laugier considers just that in an essay entitled Disobedience as Resistance to Intellectual Conformity (Critical Inquiry, Winter 2019). Sandra, a French philosophy professor, studies the works of American thinkers like Thoreau, Emerson, Dewey, and Cavell. “Dissent is not the undoing of consent but a dispute about its content, a dispute within it over whether a present arrangement is faithful to it. The alternative to speaking for yourself politically is not: speaking for yourself privately. . . . The alternative is having nothing (political) to say.” (Stanley Cavell) This is only possible if the rules are not pre-set, which is not the same as saying “the system is broken.” It doesn’t presume a pre-existing system to begin with, with preordained rules already set in place determining what is possible (public speech or “nothing political to say”), when it is acceptable, who can say it, etc. Laugier challenges American readers with “Emerson and Thoreau rejected the society of their time for the same reasons that the United States had sought independence from England and proclaimed the rights to freedom, equality, and the pursuit of happiness. The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence (1776) establishes that “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” It is here and now, every day, that I decide whether to assent to my society; I have not somehow assented once and for all. It is not that my assent is measured or conditional but rather that it is constantly under discussion, in conversation—it is shot through with dissent.” And “a dispute about [its] content” cannot predefine the content. Laugier reminds us “The problem is knowing to what one has consented. Disobedience rattles the idea, found in various forms of contemporary political life, that there are rules of debate and public life.” And again a little later “Conceptualizing disobedience means not only thinking that there are no predetermined rules for how society operates (many would agree with this) but also, and above all, that there are no rules limiting the acceptability of claims or their form. Drawing on Emerson and Thoreau, Cavell calls into question the idea, found in many contemporary political doctrines, that some claims are impossible, inappropriate, or misplaced because they fall outside of these rules. To disobey is precisely to challenge the idea—which periodically reemerges in contexts of serious or violent conflict—that in every expression of a claim there are lines that must not be crossed or else the entire functioning of society will be harmed.” Analysis finds this to be something to keep in mind when considering the candidacy of the many who are running in the upcoming primary election for Newark council or court positions. Ask them. Are they offering to move game tokens around a board or willing to challenge critical and urgent problems that touch us all? Insist on an answer.