Archive for the ‘Critical Analysis’ Category

Strike For A Living Wage

September 27, 2022

            Two articles appeared within the same week, same online publication, that share an uncanny relation with each other. From the headlines, one would think the two had little to nothing in common. “On strike for a better world: Labor conflict is coming — and the ruling class will fight back hard Biden thinks he has averted a rail strike — for now. But the elites can’t crush massive discontent forever” was published in Salon 9-21-22. It is by journalist and former global war correspondent Chris Hedges. It features an archival black and wide photo prominently showing a row of Construction Workers Union members picketing, holding signs reading “Strike for a living wage”. In the article Hedges examines the history of labor strikes, the uber wealthy that opposed them, and the correlation with today (Analysis finds it way too much, too many to be brief). On 9-24-22 Salon published “”You are going to hear our voices”: Rev. William J. Barber on the midterms and the road ahead Don’t fear the word “poor,” Barber says: If poor people voted in large numbers, that would change everything” by Bob Hennelly, a reporter for the Chief-Leader. It features a recent photo of Reverend Barber delivering a sermon in Selma, Alabama. Hennelly’s article is an interview with Barber following a keynote address by the latter to the American chapter of the World Student Christian Federation delivered recently at Princeton University. Again, too much, too many to be brief. One “fact” is clear throughout the interview: most are reluctant to self-identify as poor. As a potent voting block they are “used” (politically) by those not poor. Organized politically, they would be capable of enormous, comprehensive, and real change (But how?). On its face it appears the two articles, one history based and the other a contemporary interview, would share little in common. Analysis reveals a curious and prescient overlap. The archival image at the onset of Hedges’ article says it all. He follows this up with: “Today, the top 10 percent of the richest people in the United States own almost 70 percent of the country’s total wealth. The top 1 percent control 31 percent of the wealth. The bottom 50 percent of the U.S. population hold 2 percent of all U.S. wealth. Infrastructure is outdated and in disrepair. Public institutions, including schools, public broadcasting, the courts and the postal service are underfunded and degraded.” “Workers, bereft of union protection and lacking industrial jobs, have been forced into the gig economy, where they have few rights, no job protection and often earn below the minimum wage. The rise in global food and energy prices, coupled with the weakening of democratic institutions and impoverishment of workers, have become a potent recipe for revolt. Weekly earnings, adjusted for inflation, decreased by 3.4 percent from August 2021 to August 2022, and real hourly earnings fell by 2.8 percent in the same period. Hourly earnings, adjusted for inflation, have fallen for the past 17 months.” Hennelly quotes Barber: “If you look at the number of poor people — 52 million without a living wage, 140 million [overall] — you have to talk to them as human beings. Second of all, say to them, “I am not here to ask you to vote. I am here for you to join a movement that says there’s something wrong with our policies that this many people can be left disinherited.” Thirdly, I am asking you to believe that democracy is not just an idea, but democracy and justice are on the ballot. So who you are going to elect is going to determine health care. It is going to determine if you can push them to do the right thing because if people who get elected tell you upfront, “Don’t come to me about a living wage, don’t even talk to me,” then you don’t have a real chance with them. And lastly, let people know how much power they have. There is not a battleground state where the presidential election has been decided within three percentage points where poor and low-wealth people don’t make up 45 percent of the electorate.” “Yes, we have done some things on climate change — historic things. Great. Yes, we have done some things with Medicare and pricing on the drugs. Great. But you can’t dismiss what was left off: voting rights and a living wage. You have to tell people, “Give us the kind of majority where we can’t be overturned easily and we will deal with that — we will deal with the filibuster. We will give you a living wage.”” Analysis finds that a living wage is the one things that never turns up on all the corporate media coverage/polling with regard to the upcoming midterm elections. Inflation, the economy, the war, Roe, etc. all are put forth as “what people want.” And those running to be elected collaborate with this same made up narrative. A living wage is an unspoken, assumed outcome of the correct choice on the ballot. “Strike for a living wage!”

The Monarch Is Dead. Long Live The Monarchy!

September 18, 2022

            The Donald got bumped from first place in the past week’s news box office receipts by the recently deceased queen of England. One can’t turn on the news, any news, without some story about the queen, her funeral, or her dogs. It’s not that the passing of any individual isn’t a matter of concern, only with this individual, the line between state figurehead and just-human are blurred. In the US, the president represents the US (to a certain extent) but is just-human when out of office. Not so for the British royals. And so there is a certain undercurrent of resentment. Not so much as to the news being dominated by man on the street interviews (standing in 5 mile long lines, to have a look), but that the monarchy was the face of colonization, exploitation, and oppression. News sources did their darnedest to insure that these cracks did not show (these demonstrations of minority protest, usually a mainstay of the “both side-ism” media, rarely appeared). Something similar occurred in Newark. “United Way of Licking County unable to secure donations from largest companies” (Kent Mallett, The Newark Advocate, 9-17-22) was dropped on a Saturday, and failed to resurface with the Sunday edition (print or online). There is no Saturday print edition; token coverage insuring the least number of readers would access the news. “Deb Dingus, executive director of the United Way of Licking County, told the Licking County Commissioners last week that Amazon, Facebook, Google and Intel have not contributed a campaign since locating in the county. Intel is new to the county this year, but the others have been here through a few United Way campaigns. “We’ve not seen anything come back from any of the large tech industries in this county,” Dingus said. “We’ve not gotten one penny from Google. Not one penny from Facebook. Not one penny from Amazon. Not one penny from Intel. “And yet, we have a lot of tax abatements. And the size of needs are continuing to grow in the county.”” Analysis finds striking similarities to British colonialism with the absence of active concern for the colonized by the colonizers. “Amazon announced it was coming to Licking County in November 2015. The company states it’s a misconception to claim it does not contribute to local communities because it has not donated to one organization. Amazon states it has contributed to 48 Ohio organizations, many in Licking County, but many outside of the county.” “Facebook announced it would build in New Albany in 2017 and had a groundbreaking ceremony in February 2020. Facebook has made grants available to the Johnstown-Monroe and Licking Heights school districts.” The crown’s representative had this obfuscating reply (dodging the issue, as usual, by attacking the messenger, not the message): “Licking County government, which has always supported United Way, also received some criticism, but from within. Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb said it’s not acceptable that United Way has been unable to even find out who is the county’s United Way campaign leader this year. “I’m really concerned when we say we’re not sure who’s even the Licking County government contact or who’s running our campaign,” Bubb said. “Somebody should be working on that. Seriously. We’ve got 1,000 employees. There needs to be outreach. There needs to be stuff on our bulletin boards and website and that sort of thing.”” The cracks on the surface of our “shared” capitalist democracy grow wider and deeper, and it’s beginning to show. The colonization of space and culture by the royal 1% is revealing it’s violence, slowly yet increasingly each day. Token gestures are made to placate the natives that there is active concern for the welfare and well being of the colonized, yet “the size of needs are continuing to grow in the county.”” Americans, obsessed with watching the trappings of the queen’s funeral from the security of their “shared” capitalist democracy, have been spared the sight of the violent residue of the Royal British Empire. The monarch is dead. Long live the monarchy!  

Space And Culture

September 11, 2022

            The 9-11-22 online Business Insider headlined “China plans three missions to the Moon after discovering a new lunar mineral that may be a future energy source” by Jyoti Mann. “It comes a day after China became the third country to discover a new lunar mineral, which it called Changesite-(Y), according to Chinese state-controlled newspaper the Global Times. China’s Chang’e-5 mission retrieved samples from the moon in 2020 and it has been described by Global Times as a “phosphate mineral in columnar crystal” found in lunar rock particles. The mineral contains helium-3, which could be a future source of energy.” Well, there goes the neighborhood! Which literally occurred in the US (more than once). American Experience aired the documentary “The Feud: for the Hatfields and McCoys, there were no winners” on PBS 9-7-22. “The Feud reveals more than an isolated story of mountain lust and violence between “hillbillies” — the Hatfield – McCoy feud was a microcosm of the tensions inherent in the nation’s rapid industrialization after the Civil War.” One of the things the documentary points out was the appropriation of small town Appalachian news, sensationalized by big city newspapers to sell copy, forming the mythological “hillbilly” culture which permeates to this very day. The other thing (amongst many) it shows that, akin to the motivations of today’s Chinese (and others), the greedy accumulation of coal, timber and land resulted in the dire poverty which the otherwise industrious and self sufficient native inhabitants eventually found themselves staked to. And, of course, bereft of land and resources, not to mention culture, they were forced to labor in mines and industry. Etc. We’ve seen that movie before with the elimination of “the commons” in the days of the pre-industrialization run up. Sound vaguely, and discomfortingly, familiar? How about the Intel shell game in Licking County? “The citizens of Ohio will be better off…” Yadda, Yadda. Analogous to the industrialists of the 19th century, the large scale financial institutions along with Intel are meaning to exploit something, and it ain’t undeveloped farmland. Analysis finds it to be space, AND culture. In the 1970’s, I 270 was built, ostensibly, to “relieve” the 70/71 congestion downtown. It was termed a “bypass’ at the time. Not. Downtown Cols withered and major development boomed along the “bypass.” Ditto years later with 670 and its ? spur heading from Easton to the tiny crossroads of New Albany. Like the 19th century Appalachian way of life, New Albany ceased to be. It is the space that is ripe for exploitation, that “nothing” is there AND that what is already there is not cohesive enough to withstand the violence of big money and its promises of Jobs! and “shared” (?) wealth. Just as the 19th century yellow journalists perpetuated the big lie of primitive Appalachians, so do today’s news sources perpetuate the myth of the rural/urban divide. At the end of the 20th century the US Census showed that the majority of small farmers (under 400 acres) had to have a source of off farm income (a job) in order to farm. Things are even more pressing today. In short, to live rural requires a job in town (just listen to the morning traffic report to verify that). The Jobs! promises promoting Intel (and other) development are superfluous to those already existing and employing the folks in “rural” America. Analysis finds that what will happen is the genuinely rural culture presently found within rural America will go the way of pre industrialized Appalachian culture. Akin to the time of “The Feud’, there is no cohesive culture to offset the large financial interest intent on exploiting the disconnected, and independent, fragility of rural living. In its place will be a further expansion of the culture now ubiquitously present in the spaces surrounding I 270 and its ? New Albany spur.

How A Capitalist Democracy Works

August 28, 2022

            The front page of the 8-28-22 Newark Advocate was a rare display of stories headlining American capitalism and democracy. Students of either ought to take note. Top headline story was “Intel shares tumble: Factory reboot fails to impress Wall Street” by Mark Williams for the Columbus Dispatch. Occupying the left single column was “Redistricting reform made bad maps. What’s next?” by Jessie Balmert for USA Today. Taking up the rest of the front page (with very large photo) is “‘Pick A Path’: Johnstown residents vote Tuesday on removal of council members” by the Advocate’s own Kent Mallett. Providing context or what was not written by these reporters, and appearing the same day online, was “Census Bureau: 3.8 million renters will likely be evicted in the next two months — why the rental crisis keeps getting worse” by Brian J. O’Connor for MoneyWise. Analysis quick and dirty synopsis of the articles shows the Intel story to be more of just that – the Intel story. Ground is already bought and being excavated (along with roads and infrastructure work). Questions remain about the viability of the production facility and whether or not it is “planned obsolescence”, which the Chips act (along with JobsOhio, public funding etc.) are subsidizing. All this is done in the name of “Jobs!”, which is not at all what the capitalist market (Wall Street) is about. ‘Pick A Path’ is American democracy as imagined and idealized. Fundamentally it is a recall of two small town government leaders (Mayor Chip Dutcher and Council President Marvin Block) in a recently designated city just a mile away from the borders of Intel-land. Of course it is about property values and future use based on the previous village history. Both Dutcher and Block stress their roots in the community which can be taken to mean they have owned their homes (and other local property) by choice, and the choice is Johnstown (aw shucks, you know us, we’re your neighbors). Both assume those voting will also own their own residence (if not more). “Redistricting reform made bad maps. What’s next?” certainly doesn’t answer the question. But it does give a play by play history of what made for bad maps and how the GOP mapmakers could thumb their noses at the Ohio Constitution and the Ohio Supreme court. Analysis finds the maps themselves, along with the article, to assume (along with the founding fathers) that voting is primarily for those who own property. The representative democracy voting districts are grounded in geography – property. “Census Bureau: 3.8 million renters will likely be evicted in the next two months — why the rental crisis keeps getting worse” gives context to the emphasis of property ownership and voting rights within contemporary Ohio. It is an article of statistics. “In the year before the pandemic, the country recorded a shortage of seven million affordable housing units for low-income renters, according to the Center for American Progress, creating a crisis that left just 37 affordable rental homes for every 100 low-income households looking to rent. And the homes that are available are often still out of reach. Rent rates are up nearly 25% since before the pandemic, with an increase of 15% in just the past 12 months, according to the real estate tracking service Zillow. Evictions are up, too, according to the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. In August, evictions were 52% above average in Tampa, 90% above average in Houston and 94% above average in Minneapolis-St. Paul.” The three years since have only aggravated the lack of availability of affordable housing. “The annual median household income for all renters in the U.S. is about $42,500, according to Zillow, 37% lower than the national median income of $67,500. As of early August, the Census Bureau reported that while 56% of renters had household incomes of less than $50,000, 24% of renters surveyed were paying more than $2,000 a month in rent. Nearly half of all renters — more than 30 million people — had been hit with rent hikes in the past 12 months, with 19% paying a monthly increase of $100 to $250, 7% paying $250 to $500 more and 4% needing to find another $500 a month to stay in their apartments.” Reading behind the lines of the Advocate’s front page stories one thing is overwhelmingly clear. Democracy in Ohio is reliant on and assumes property ownership. People who are without housing, as well as those in transition from one unit to another, cannot vote for their Ohio house and senate representatives, the very people who draw up the voting district maps.  In addition, they haven’t much say in the running of the municipality they find themselves in, be it Johnstown or Newark. Renters, along with those without housing, have little say in the distribution of services provided by the state, county or municipal government that collects taxes from them. In the end that tax money goes to subsidize corporate entities like Intel in order to assure “Jobs!” that provide the state, county and municipalities with more tax revenue. That’s how a capitalist democracy works.

The Weather

July 24, 2022

            “The weather” was once The originating topic of conversation when two strangers or mildly acquainted individuals would meet. Family get-togethers were often marked by talking about “the weather” amongst siblings, perhaps estranged. Analysis finds it was not as much about being the safe cliché that it is, but rather, of a starting point held in common (much as the starting mark of a race is held in common by all the contestants. After the race begins, there is no commonality). The news of the past week has been of extraordinary extreme heat, both here in the US as well as abroad.  And yet, though “the heat” may be a topic of conversation held in common, the weather is not. Joe Manchin, for example, believes the weather in West Virginia differs substantially from that in New England, Texas or the state of Washington. Americans there have nothing in common, except suffering the extreme heat. The weather, taken as a unified system, much as Google, Meta or the market on Wall Street can be considered as a system, is not possible for Mr. Manchin, along with many other political leaders (primarily GOP). “We can’t do anything about the weather” creeps in the age old saw. Analysis finds this to be based on a reliance of the deus ex machina excuse, essentially a belief in the hand of providence at work behind the scenes of a system. Analysis finds it uncanny how this dovetails with many other politically legislated and executive actions conceived and acted upon as articles of fundamental faith. Originally, the GOP adamantly denying global warming was about some mumbled reasoning that the scientific evidence was not completely there. With the extreme heat, the horrendous and prevalent wildfires, the catastrophic flooding in places that haven’t ever experienced such (and hurricane season has just begun!), the GOP position on climate change has evolved, much as the science of global warming has evolved. For the GOP today, God, guns and babies shows up with even something as common as “the weather.”

Dark Matter

July 16, 2022

“Running for the Ohio House on the Republican side are Thad Claggett and Mark Fraizer, the incumbent in old District 71. Unless an Independent files for the November election, this primary will decide who represents House District 68 because no Democrat is running in the primary.” (Kipp: Navigating Licking County’s August primary, Rita Kipp, guest columnist The Advocate, 7-9-22) Analysis finds the choice for the new 68th district Ohio House seat (old 71st) to be between MAGA and MAGA Lite. Nationally, pundits and columnists, like the LC League of Women Voters’ president, would have us believe that voting and the two party system makes all the difference in the world. The prescription for political discontent is often “Vote in Dems.” What’s going on in Licking County (as well as Ohio) must be either an anomaly or prescient (or both). After the summer’s blockbuster January 6 commission hearings, it is a bit uncomfortable to converse about life under a one party state as it is apparently crystal clear that this is a distinct possibility. Yet that is exactly what Analysis finds in Newark and Licking County. After all, the Newark mayor, entire city council, prosecutor, etc. are of a single party allegiance. Ditto for the County government, and state reps, etc. The choices are not between mindful, regulated sustainable development and carte blanche business growth but rather, as with MAGA or MAGA Lite, more and bigger business dominance versus not in my back yard but in your back yard. Whose back yard? No discussion exists regarding thoughtful housing development (premium tracts and affordable living units, as well as shelter for those without a house) but only choices between unbridled expansion at the rate of what the market supports versus NIMBY and IYBY. Quality of life issues are not afforded equal gravity or access of opportunity, such as health care, education, public transit, disability, and retirement, but choices are only in terms of personal affordability (follow the dollar). “Show me the money” is the final arbiter of difference. Analysis finds life in a single party state saps the imagination. Soon entire ideas, concepts and imagery like “affordable housing,” “shelter,” “environment,” “equal access,” etc. will disappear, not to be found anywhere, not even in historical accounts! Analysis finds indicators of this nationally with the don’t say gay laws, the single party rewrite of history and civics education legislation, and the recent women’s rights SCOTUS ruling. Locally, it is the de facto preeminence of “show me the money” criteria in determination of local affairs. Intel (and others) says “show me the money” and government marches to that tune. Any imagination otherwise as to alternatives inhabits the nether world of Rumsfeld’s known unknowns. Like dark matter, it’s out there, exerts an influence but is undetectable with no proof of existence to be found (like voting for a Democrat to be representative of the Ohio House 68th district).

We’ve Seen This Movie Before

June 24, 2022

            The nation’s news blockbuster this summer is God, Guns and Babies: God with the US Supreme Court ruling in favor of religious schools with equity of state public funding, Guns with the recent SCOTUS overturning of New York’s centuries old gun licensing regulation, and Babies with the Supreme’s latest hit single covering Roe. Is the reader beginning to detect a theme here? In Licking County Ohio the news has been pretty much a monogamous relation with Intel. Now Intel has floated the Idea of a possible split if they don’t get all of the expected dowry (kinda like old Elon Musk). Within the same week we get word that New Albany has agreed to a 30 year, 100% tax abatement for their suitor, Intel. Meanwhile, Intel has let slip that it won’t formally dive in without passage of the Chip legislation which has been languishing in congress. That legislation is to provide billions of dollars in federal subsidies to domestic micro chip manufacturers. No need to reference Fox Con’s Wisconsin debacle, heralded with much fanfare during the Trump administration (also another debacle, of a more sinister kind), and likewise on an enormous scale of jobs promised, economic redemption – Not! (but paling in comparison with Intel’s over the moon swooning) Licking County residents can’t tell if the current iteration of news they are forced to watch is a remake or rerun (does it matter?). They’ve seen it so many times before with the public private partnership deals made by JobsOhio, Grow Licking County, Newark Development Partners, as well as all the “just private” commitments to develop, only if the funding is provided by the state, county or municipality; usually in the form of tax credits (historic are the preferred genre), abatement or infrastructure subsidy, etc. They include, but are not limited to, things such as the Arcade, Central elementary apartments, “affordable housing” behind the north side Walmart (Not!), west and north Newark single family residential development, etc. All this involves community resources (public funding) used for the profits of private individuals (in archive news the Supremes designated corporations as individuals). It has all the earmarks of the “socialism” condemned by the right wing, free market fear machine. Only, because it is destined for Capitalist entrepreneurs, it can’t possibly be state sponsored socialism; more like state sponsored Capitalism which in the case of “Communist” China is considered negatively (how far off was Orwell?). The movie ends, as we all know, with the Intel tail wagging the Licking County dog.

Anticipation

June 12, 2022

            Intel is ever present with any edition of the Newark Advocate. There seems to be an entire industry devoted to the anticipation of an event being more important than the event itself (which may account for the eventual lack of actual planning since the anticipation of the event displaces the event itself. We rather prefer to plan for the anticipation). This characteristic of the American culture is to account for OSU football (and back to school) occurring in July, Halloween in September and Christmas at Halloween!  What was missing in the local news this past week was of a Newark March For Our Lives event. Although Newark took part in the original, this past week’s non existent event may be attributed to lack of institution, or interest. Unlike interest, which can wax and wane, institution covers the irregularities and gaps to provide a structure for the repetition of events like March For Our Lives. But then again, who funds our institutions has proven to be determinate of what the interest is. Nationally, in the news this past week, there was the initial presentation of the January 6 commission. Conservative critics, like David Brooks, say the effort is wasted – too much focus on the past, not enough addressed to rectifying the divisiveness of the present through future solutions. Analysis indicates the findings of this congressional commission to be akin to a lifeline. Without it there is absolutely no possibility of bridging the divide. Its findings provide a slender thread of closure. Would you prefer a lifeline of truth and facts, or one composed of lies? The same “emphasis of the future” was the criticism of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation commission’s activities. Focused on the past, it did provide a tangible basis for going forward. Analogous to this is our present Jan 6 commission in Washington. Sure, it would be great if the entrepreneurs of the insurgency were jailed. Without being cynical, but rather realistic, no one was ever jailed for the 2008 financial meltdown. Also no truth and justice commission investigated it. Maybe if there had been such an actual, in depth, day by day analysis, it wouldn’t be so difficult to locate the source of today’s out of hand economic inflation. Dealing with the uncomfortable at hand tends to lessen the recurrence in the future. But then again, American culture is all about anticipation, and the future.

The Sound Of Silence

June 1, 2022

“The Gap report released jointly by the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio and the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows a deficit of 254,545 rental units that are affordable and available to the state’s 443,717 extremely low income households. That equates to only 43 affordable units for every 100 households.” The report was issued 4-21-22. It followed data available through 2020 and does not include pandemic related housing stress. As pointed out by the report, rents jumped by an average 11% in major Ohio cities in 2021 (now, well into 2022, probably higher overall). “COHHIO Executive Director Bill Faith called on state leaders to invest $308 million of the $5.6 billion in State Fiscal Recovery Funds that Ohio received from the American Rescue Plan Act to address the affordable housing shortage.” Remember Steve Stivers, former US Congressman from a gerrymandered district that snaked from the margins of Upper Arlington to the depths of south central Ohio? Of course you do. Who could forget his opting out of representing his constituents for a job with the Ohio Chamber, and the Trump intervened special election that followed? ““Employees need a safe, decent, affordable home to raise healthy families and be productive at work,” Ohio Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Steve Stivers said. “This one-time investment of Ohio’s Fiscal Recovery Funds on affordable housing will create jobs in the near-term, and will strengthen our workforce for the long-term.”” Duh? But Steve’s not alone in his public aspiration. “More than 200 companies and organizations are supporting COHHIO’s affordable housing plan, including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio REALTORS, the Ohio Bankers’ League, CareSource, Huntington Bank, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, PNC, and the Ohio Apartment Association.” It would be curious to learn if Park National Bank could be included. After all, Licking County’s Commissioners have a bit of an identity problem round about now. With Intel and all the big bucks development in the western portion, are we an urban center or an “Aw shucks” rural enclave encroached by modernity? No matter, “Erica Mulryan, Director of the Ohio Balance of State Continuum of Care, which oversees the homeless system in Ohio’s 80 non-urban counties, said rising rents and the lack of affordable housing are making it more difficult to get people out of shelter and into permanent homes. “Our agencies’ rehousing programs depend on private landlords to help get people out of homelessness. But it’s getting harder and harder to find landlords who are willing to partner with us,” Mulryan said. “Ohio’s rural and suburban counties desperately need more affordable housing.”” Get people out of shelter? What shelter? The leaders of Newark and Licking County have opted to not-be-able-to-afford-it. Meanwhile, in the county with a rural/urban identity problem, Kent Mallet gave this Economic Statistic in his Newark Advocate Answer Man column roughly a month after the Gap report: “The total volume of sold homes in Licking County through four months was $220,078,195. That’s a 21% increase from last year and a 51% increase from two years ago.” As pointed out in the previous blog posting, the county has increased its revenue stream in the last 2 years. This, in combination with the State Fiscal Recovery Funds included as part of ARP, makes the “can’t afford it” excuse rather disingenuous. Hear that silence? It’s not the duo of Simon and Garfunkel, rather the trio of Bubb, Black and Flowers, Licking County’s Commissioners.

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.