Posts Tagged ‘Democracy’

If Not Democracy, Then What?

July 31, 2017

Newsweek lifted an article from RobertReich.org entitled INTRODUCING DONALD TRUMP, THE BIGGEST LOSER by (who else?) Robert Reich, 7-31-17. Those not familiar with Reich will recall he was part of the Clinton cabinet and now is (like a lot of former government heads) an academic. Well, to cut to the chase, he writes articles and essays telling folks what they need to know and think, the big picture, and giving out forewarnings. Describing our apprentice prez as a “loser”, by a former cabinet member of all people, is a bit jaw dropping. No, not because he chose to identify the apprentice president with winning and losing (which we already know), but rather for stooping to the apprentice president’s level of dialogue and discourse (“He’s a loser.”). First our political leaders have degraded to expletives, exaggeration, and unsubstantiated innuendo. Now our academics? Reich’s article is another essay (by many) illuminating that the current administration’s priority is winning/losing rather than any ideology or policy commitment. Analysis finds itself in that same company having written/posted likewise.  Reich lays out a sterling argument referenced impeccably with accurate current events and observations (his own as well as those of others). With his summation he writes “Anyone who regards the other party as a threat to the nation’s well being is less apt to accept outcomes in which the other party prevails – whether it’s a decision not to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or even the outcome of a presidential election. As a practical matter, when large numbers of citizens aren’t willing to accept such outcomes, we’re no longer part of the same democracy. I fear this is where Trump intends to take his followers, along with much of the Republican Party: Toward a rejection of political outcomes they regard as illegitimate, and therefore a rejection of democracy as we know it.” America and democracy? Like bacon and eggs, bread and butter, Kardashians and Extra – hard to imagine one without the other. “Rejection of democracy”? Naaa. Same day NPR produced New Florida Law Lets Residents Challenge School Textbooks (Greg Allen, Morning Edition 7-31-17). From the transcript: “Keith Flaugh is a retired IBM executive living in Naples, Fla., and a man with a mission. He describes it as “getting the school boards to recognize … the garbage that’s in our textbooks.” Flaugh helped found Florida Citizens’ Alliance, a conservative group that fought unsuccessfully to stop Florida from signing on to Common Core educational standards. More recently, the group has turned its attention to the books being used in Florida’s schools. A new state law, developed and pushed through by Flaugh’s group, allows parents, and any residents, to challenge the use of textbooks and instructional materials they find objectionable via an independent hearing.” There is an elaboration of Florida Citizens’ Alliance agenda and methodology followed by: “Flaugh says he’s just as concerned about how textbooks describe U.S. history and our form of government. “I spent over 20 hours with a book called ‘United States Government,'” he says. He found more than 80 places where he believes the textbook was wrong or showed bias, beginning with the cover. Its subtitle is “Our Democracy.” “We’re not a democracy, we’re a constitutional republic,” Flaugh says.” The dictionary gives the following definition for the word “republic”: “a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.” Fair enough. Analysis wonders about the elected part and whether Mr. Flaugh is taking something for granted (are we all?). If the representatives and the president aren’t determined through election by the people (which hold supreme power), then how does it come about? Who determines winners and losers? If not democracy, then what?

 

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Why Does A City Even Bother To Make Laws?

December 7, 2016

In the 11-20-16 post (It’s Troubling That People Face Different Charges For The Same Offense) Analysis posed the rhetorical question “Why does a city make laws to begin with?” Today, Maria DeVito reports that a handful of Newark residents asked the same question, only non rhetorically. “Despite the cold and rain Tuesday morning, about a dozen protesters chanted outside the Newark Municipal Building to voice their frustration that the city will ignore the newly passed marijuana decriminalization law. Shawn Aber, a Newark resident, organized the People Have Spoken rally after learning the city will charge people under the state laws for marijuana.” “”If the people voted it in, one man should not be able to change it,” Aber said.” (Group protests Newark decision to ignore pot law, Advocate, 12-6-16). It appears the question is not so rhetorical after all, and maybe Mr. Aber is on to something that he himself is totally unaware of. Same day, the Advocate’s parent company, Gannett, reporter in Cincinnati headlines “Lawmakers want to block $15 minimum wage (Jessie Balmert 12-6-16). “Legislators want to block efforts like one from Cincinnatians for a Strong Economy to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15-an-hour. Ohio’s GOP-controlled legislature would prohibit cities from imposing a minimum wage that is higher than the state’s rate, which will be $8.15 next year.” “State lawmakers plan to add the prohibition to another bill: One that would prevent cities from imposing their own rules on where pet stores can purchase animals. That proposed legislation, called the Petland Bill, is a reaction to a Grove City ordinance that prevented pet stores from purchasing animals from puppy mills.” Dear reader, please recall the fracking brouhaha that resulted in the state overriding individual municipalities from enacting drilling restrictions within their communities. In the previous We’re Dealin’ post (11-27-16) Analysis found itself questioning “Which “public” will our political leaders be fighting for?” It was pointed out that the various government entities all claim to be looking out for the best interest of “the public”. Even Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb feels the sting of who gets to represent “the public” when he told LCJFS Director John Fisher “We’re looking at some loss of revenue next year courtesy of the state.” (see previous post Cleansing 12-5-16). Analysis detects a thread here that was anticipated years ago at the start of this blog but has been difficult to corroborate. Over the past decades there has been a concerted effort made to redefine how America is governed through the lobbying of ALEC (if the reader is not familiar with ALEC, Wiki American Legislative Exchange Council, then Google same). Anecdotal evidence always appeared in the form of various disparate states passing similar legislation, all modeled on wording drawn up by ALEC. Americans For Prosperity likewise found that pursuing an agenda of changing state legislature to fulfill their demands of free market and smaller government was more effective than doing it through the federal government (Some would say the outcome of the recent election confirms the effectiveness of that back door strategy). Analysis points at the plethora of ultimate state determination of everything from education (pre-K through grad school), economic development, employment, etc. to health, marijuana, minimum wage, children’s services and puppy sourcing. This is done not only through economic incentives/prohibitions (taxes, cuts in funding) but also in the legislative creation and enactment of law. Why does a city even bother to make laws?

It’s Troubling That People Face Different Charges For The Same Offense

November 20, 2016

In the pre-election post “What The Hell Have You Got To Lose?” (10-26-16) Analysis asserted its mission “to draw the link, to follow the thread between what is large and “out there” (as news, policy, etc.) and what is local, next door, just around the block.” The saga continues with the recent episode, “Smoke gets in your eyes.” 8-20-16 The Advocate’s Maria DeVito headlined “Newark officials not backing pot decriminalization.” “Mayor Jeff Hall said He doesn’t support the initiative as it is being presented because it goes beyond what has been done at the state level.” Further on: “Licking County Municipal Court Judge Michael Higgins, who wrote a letter to Newark City Council members earlier this year pointing out the difference between Newark’s law and the State law, said he doesn’t have feelings one way or another on the ballot measure. But he did say it’s troubling that people face different charges for the same offense.” Well, history shows the initiative to have been passed into law 11-8-16 by a majority of the electorate of the City of Newark. 11-11-16 DeVito headlines “Newark ignores newly passed pot decriminalization”. Notable: “[Law Director Doug] Sassen said there is nothing that requires the city to charge offenses under city law. “it’s just an option to pursue it and we’re going to choose not to pursue it.” He said.” The article stated Newark’s Police Chief Barry Connell’s accord with the Law Director. Analysis feels it is safe to assume ditto for the ever vociferous Mayor. On 11-14-16 The Advocate’s Kent Mallett headlined “Council members OK with decision to ignore new pot law.” Reporting that 100% of the City Council members were likewise 100% behind Doug Sassen’s policy decision. In a 11-20-16 letter to ed, the Law Director expounds on his policy: “If the initiative as passed were to be given full effect as suggested that would mean the conduct previously outlawed in these ordinances would be perfectly legal under Newark Law.” Well, yeah, that is how law making/changing is done (for some historic precedent Google “Newark City Council Pit Bull”). Analysis finds all this begs an awful lot of questions. Who makes the law? When is a law a law (not to mention the will of the people)? Which law is law? Who decides any or all of the above? Why does a city make laws to begin with? In the pre-election post of 10-26-16 Analysis claimed that “what the GOP candidate [and now president] is about, that has his party in a tizzy, can be found with that same party and electoral process here in Licking County.” Contemporary answers to some of the preceding questions might be found in the opposite direction – looking at the national and state news rather than just in Newark. The 11-18-16 Washington Post Wonkblog’s Christopher Ingraham headlines “Trump’s pick for attorney general: ‘Good people don’t smoke marijuana’”. Quoting the Trump administration’s AG to be, Jeff Sessions, (from a U.S. Senate Drug Caucus hearing in April of 2016): “We need grown ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger.” Analysis finds this correlation with Sassen’s national counterpart to lead to various conclusions, all troubling and untenable. Is one to assume that Jeff Hall, Barry Connell, Doug Sassen and the members of the Newark City Council are the “grown ups” with the city’s electorate being children? How did the electorate get the right to vote if they are underage? Analysis finds more complications with all this. The same Advocate that published the Law Director’s letter also ran an older news item by its parent company, Gannett’s USA Today, headlined “Think tank calls on legislature to help rural Ohio”. The think tank (no, not Newark’s), being Cleveland’s the Center For Community Solutions, calls for what Analysis likewise pointed out in the 11-13-16 post, Make Licking County Rural Again. Both highlight the state’s withdrawal and redirection of funding, etc. resulting in the negligence and lack of affordable housing, public transportation, public health care, children’s services, etc. in Licking County and Newark. Yet, along with Sessions, Newark’s elected officials march lock step with the state. When will they diverge? When will they heed the children’s concerns? Analysis finds the local leaders response to the 2016 election results even more troubling, but from an ethical dimension. “Good people don’t smoke marijuana” determines, carte blanche, the morals that make America great. Unseen is the obverse. It also determines what is not good, immoral, without taking any recourse to the law and lawmaking. Such determination Newark’s elected leaders likewise choose to reserve for themselves. This is also evidenced in the same day’s paper that ran Sassen’s guest editorial alibi. In “Q&A: Offender list in Ohio brings up questions about cost” by the AP’s John Seewer, state legislators propose to expand the registry (and tracking) of convicted felons from those presently marked for life. Analysis wrote about the Steve Smith trial outcome back in 3-29-16 (Where’s The Crime In All This?). At the time Analysis was dumbfounded that a Marion County man convicted of drug trafficking that resulted in death (with a preponderance of evidence) could receive a lesser sentence than an isolated and unsubstantiated drug trafficking charge in Licking County. “Newark ignores newly passed pot decriminalization” says more for why “there is nothing that requires the city” to be fair, just, equitable or non-discriminatory in its interaction and treatment of citizens, underage or otherwise. To paraphrase Judge Higgins: “it’s troubling that people face different charges [and outcomes] for the same offense.”

What The Hell Have You Got To Lose?

October 26, 2016

This election year in the US stands out with its, er, “unique” interpretation of democracy (As Harry Shearer says “We know how to run an election.”). Much has been said and written about the lack of empathy for the conservative GOP on the outcome of the primaries with its presidential candidate (“They got what they deserve.”). Much of that centers around non issue, non existent, non substantive quotes, talking points and headlines proffered by the self same candidate (“Well, it just may be… I don’t know”). Whether it be the overt saber rattling as an outcome of the party’s continuous active resistance to policies not embracing war, the disparagement of people of color, immigrants, “others” etc. after the party’s championing (pre-Scalia’s passing) conservative SCOTUS rulings in favor of dismantling affirmative action, voting rights, pay equity, etc. The latest is the conservative GOP’s squirming and disavowal when it comes to their presidential candidate’s claims of vote fraud; this after years of voter ID legislation, gerrymandering and disenfranchisement efforts – all based on the drum beat of (statistically negligible) “voter fraud!” The raison d’etre of this very blog is to draw the link, to follow the thread between what is large and “out there” (as news, policy, etc.) and what is local, next door, just around the block. Just as global warming is produced by individual (AEP) power plants, cars, trees being cut down (for Amazonian soy bean production), etc. so what the GOP candidate is about that has his party in a tizzy can be found with that same party and electoral process here in Licking County. In terms of leadership, the county commissioner race tops the ticket. The GOP incumbent boasts continuous leadership with the convenient alibi of being part of a troika for anything not. The county is flush with cash, businesses like Amazon are moving in with Jobs! and the courthouse renovations will include built-in Christmas lighting (that will last another 50 years!!!). Unexposed, lest their spirits haunt an otherwise fraud free election, is the lack of affordable housing implicating continuous evictions (for a county with a lower unemployment rate than the state, like working in Manhattan but can’t afford to live there), lack of fixed schedule public transportation to get to all these jobs (which fuels the evictions), lack of funding resulting in the county’s Jobs and Family Services having to “make do” with less and less (to temporarily rescue the folks affected by the lack of affordable housing without adequate transportation to get to the plethora of low paying precarious jobs in the county that Tim built), lack of affordable child care (for the working parent affected by the lack of affordable housing without adequate transportation to get to the plethora of low paying precarious jobs in the county that Tim built), as well as public health services. Most major metropolitan counties (in the US) include these matters within their county public services and provide for them – if not regionally, then locally. But shucks, we’re just a struggling rural county (there’s that city versus rural thread that dominates national analysis of the GOP presidential candidate’s popularity). What does the incumbent commissioner have to crow about? His vast real estate and business expertise, of course. As a sitting Grow Licking County board member (talk about rural! Nothing more rural than “Grow”) he knows a good buy when he sees one. And he has seen more than one. Like his party’s presidential candidate he has spent heavily on building, land, development and gambling interests. The $10 mil “gamble” spent on making private property in Pataskala “Jobs Ready” has been a shrinking violet wall flower as the dance of commerce swirls around it (not to mention the Port Authority futures’ “gamble” on the Diocesan PIME property). The commissioner’s heralding that finally a sizeable bean field of the Pataskala Corporate Park will sell to become an AEP storage facility obfuscates no real estate tax earnings for 15 years. Given the history of photography (from film to digital to smart phone and tablet), computers (from IBM main frame to PC to Dick Tracy, er, Suri wrist watch.) and telecommunications (from line phone to mobile phone to cell phones that operate globally) it is a big “if” whether AEP will be around much after that (remember IBM?). So another “For Sale or Lease. Will build to suit” sign will go up after the abatement runs out. Another savant commissioner coup is the millions spent to find a home for the homeless. No, not those homeless, but the courthouse records which got evicted from their attic roost in the, well, courthouse. They’re certainly not finding a home in the cloud (where the future would indicate they belong), rather two homes (emulating Donald’s know how that tax deductions allow for a second home. Can you say Mar-a-Lago?). Along with his party’s presidential candidate’s penchant for “private” (no, not locker room) wheeling and dealing, the incumbent LC commissioner hosted several “secret” meetings and conversations (in violation of legislation requiring openness and transparency) with the corporations that eventually landed the courthouse work without a contract (nice work if you can get it. The cost elevator clause is to die for!). Which leaves us with the one statement by the commissioner’s party presidential candidate that has had all the professional political pundits, analysts and talking heads miffed – “What the hell have you got to lose?”

Biopolitics Laid Bare

August 13, 2016

Analysis often lists “hegemony” as a tag line for many of its posted essays. Within any conversation, discussion, or exchange of ideas, it is assumed that there will be more than one point of view. Hegemony doesn’t negate this outlook. What it does describe is that one point of view or outlook dominates the exchange by determining format, or prioritization of hierarchy, or the agenda of ideas. Some ideas will be energetically contested while others will be so marginalized as to never find voice. Currently, in Ohio, there is a very contested exchange of ideas over the nature of state sponsored (paid for) education. The state constitution mandates education as a required state concern. The current Department of Education was caught with its pants down regarding charter school oversight, especially in regard to online schooling. The State Auditor has been vocal in advocating for better control, “accounting”. Results range from new legislation “to give an accounting” all the way to Ecot (major online school) being required to account for when its students attended and what they received for this attendance, etc. The “to give an accounting” screw primarily turns on money spent (by the state) and what is received in return (much as a purchase at a big box store is defined). The intricacies of what is learned, how much it costs, and whether it is comparable with brick and mortar educational facilities is what complicates the online analysis (how “to give an accounting”). After all, there is no little teacher on the other end of an online educational program to teach math, history or Spanish. It is only soft ware, 1’s and 0’s. Yet the demand remains for determining (and verifying) a return on money spent per pupil in either pedagogy. What ties the discussion together, makes it possible, is the self righteous predetermination of “performance” as a basis to assess the return on investment. (starts to sound a lot like the marketing of stocks, doesn’t it?). Hegemony reveals itself when one questions the value or worth of the cost of a school nurse, the guidance counselor, individual sports coach, school social worker or psychologist. Just how does one (the legislature) factor in the return on investment via the outcome or “performance” of individual students for these disparate education contributors? The hegemony of the debate, the dominance of the financial mode for determining the benefits of public education, through whatever means, is clarified when one considers other forms of public sponsored or funded interaction akin to education. Public transportation readily comes to mind. Though Licking County’s response to the need of public transportation certainly continues the hegemony of financial return (with service very much established around this priority), large city fixed service mass transit elides this hegemony. Like public education, public transit is considered a given requirement. Yes, bus routes must have limits (starts and ends), and yes, certain frequencies must be established, and stops determined, but after that, there is no channeling of ridership as to who goes where, and how often. Subway systems and light rail are accessible for riders no matter what, unfettered by any requirement of justification for their efficacy. Another example would be public libraries which promote various, often disparate resources for use by any (and all) with few necessities of legitimation by the user. We’re not talking rules here, but giving an accounting for resource availability. The hegemony of performance with financial accountability at the heart of the public education debate is evidence of what theoreticians describe as biopolitics. Black Lives Matter is just one of many responses to the politics of authority, where a monarch, dictator or “police” authority rules through intimidation or overt power (might makes right). Most modern “democratic” states rely on other measures to insure that taxes get paid, the state is secure internally/externally, and that its citizens can live out their lives (raise families, pursue interests, care for themselves and loved ones, etc.). Differing from authoritarianism, biopolitics relies on the biological development of the individual, and hence the citizenry. Through various means, biopolitics determines a pool of soldiers, or medical practitioners, truck drivers and school teachers, etc. to avail itself for the good of the state. The current debate of performance based accounting for the efficacy of any state sponsored schooling reveals the working of biopolitics within the functioning of Ohio’s “real” governance. Although an American democracy where each should be able to determine their own path, the State of Ohio is determining resource allocation only on the basis of how it promotes the aspirations of the state (which currently are totally market driven). Unlike public libraries or public transportation, where the individual user can determine the actual use (or not) of the public resource, the hegemony of “performance” and financial return on educational spending determines the orientation and development of the biological individual public education is meant to serve. Education as a resource for the citizens of Ohio becomes education as a response to the demands of the market. This is biopolitics laid bare.

Marketing A Tax

July 28, 2016

Generally, once a month the Newark Advocate business section highlights local marketing guru’s by offering them their own full length columns. This is not to be confused with the regular “ace of trades” or local flavors reporting. No, the marketing pros “sell” Licking County and Newark with glowing reports on Grow Licking County’s success, or the Port Authority’s recent acquisitions (and projected plans) or how marvelous the redevelopment of downtown business is going. No problem. Analysis wonders whether these same marketing whiz bangs will devote their freely given column space to marketing Newark’s income tax increase. Not only that, but how will they market it? Johnstown has announced an anticipated income tax increase on the upcoming ballot which will double their current rate. Their tax increase marketing centers on growth. The town is projected to be a city after the 2020 census. All that growth requires a lot of municipal expense with increased demands on infrastructure, security services, etc. Driving through town the rapid change is evidenced primarily by the mushrooming of new residential housing, not downtown business expansion or industry. Unlike Newark, which is connected to Ohio’s major freeways through immediate access 4 lane highways (79 and 16), Johnstown has none. It is located at the intersection of two lane 37 and 62. Yet it has a very vibrant industrial park and manufacturing sector. Their tax increase marketing appears to target the all too obvious residential housing boom, not the commuting workers. Upper Arlington, surrounded by Columbus, is embroiled in a nasty recall over its recently passed income tax increase. Four council members who marketed the increase face removal over how the money was ultimately spent. Like Newark, the tax revenue was to go for infrastructure maintenance and improvement. The money was spent on redeveloping an old (and much loved) park so part of the park property could be commercially developed. The council members involved claim that was part of the marketing. Those who initiated the recall claim it was not included with the income tax sales pitch. How will Newark’s council and mayor market the upcoming tax increase on the ballot? With half of Newark’s council totally not on board and half facing the scrutiny that befell Upper Arlington’s public representatives, this is not an idle concern. Past expenditure of Newark’s ostensibly earmarked revenues for other projects benefiting the business interests which populate the business section of the Advocate are easily referenced, whether they be tearing down a deadbeat landlord’s building to provide additional municipal parking, prioritizing business street paving, or a back door purchase of a basket building. Analysis finds that overcoming the skepticism generated by the precedent of such past performance needs to be central for any Newark “vote yes” campaign. After all, what if the revenues generated by the tax were used to “save” the basket building? If it was, would anyone mount a recall? Marketing a tax, it’s best left to the pros.

Grand Old Party Of Licking County Commissioners

July 21, 2016

Duly elected commissioner Duane Flowers publicly recommended the execution of Hillary Clinton at this week’s very public meeting of the Licking County Commissioners (a quick peek of closet misogyny?). Grand Poopah Tim Bubb came to the defense of his fellow commissioner by reinterpreting the brother’s words. Translations never do give the original meaning (or the original language!). The local press is all in a kerfuffle over these statements. The usual suspects are implicated – freedom of speech, politically correct speech, maybe better said in private than in public, responsibility of public officials, does such violent “rhetoric” (more translation and interpretation!) contribute to violence? Yadda, yadda. Missed in this all was any consideration of the obvious. Analysis finds that Mr. Flowers obviously felt completely at ease to be speaking within the comfortable environs of his peers and within his official capacity at this completely public government meeting. The disposition and assumption of comfort was more bespeaking a Masonic temple or fraternal lodge than a government meeting room. And why not? The folks there were all of the same persuasion and commitment. These might as well have been lodge members or frat brothers (maybe are). Equally outrageous news this past week came from outside the US where the duly elected president of Turkey is purging those of not like mind (with his party) from any publicly funded positions within the state (from police and professors to foot soldiers and bus drivers). All this is being done in the name of democracy. After all, he was democratically elected and his party holds the monopoly of power. Why should his party take anyone else into consideration, let alone benefit from the public largess? Analysis finds that the Grand Old Party of Licking County Commissioners would readily concur.

Newark Income Tax OMG

July 16, 2016

An iconoclast is described by the dictionary as someone who attacks beliefs and institutions as being superstitious or in error. Over a decade ago Bruno Latour made a play on this with the term “iconoclash” to describe what he felt was the attack on beliefs and institutions worldwide. For Latour, situated in France, this had a lot to do with the tensions between Christian France and former colonial subjects entitled to citizenship but definitely not Christian (many of whom were second and third generation, born in France). Religious (of various beliefs) were attacking religious (of not their belief) as well as secular institutions (such as the state, corporations, etc.), and vice versa (secularists were attacking each other as well as the religious, etc.). The world was on the attack! In the inimitable style of Donnie Trump, Analysis would say that we may be. Then again, simple logic shows we may not (“I don’t know.” D.T.). To read news coverage and commentary, Donnie may be right. Then again he may not. Ostensible reasons for things like Donnie’s own wall (and many other “projects”), PAC ads for the 2016 election, the Black Lives Matter demonstration, the Brexit vote, etc. are all couched in terms of competition and contention – attack or defend. Do people go in the voting booth with such an inflated sense of potency, effectiveness and aggression? Or could something else be at play, invisible behind the curtain of the secret ballot? Latour misses the mark in our time. But he does offer an insight into what most of the high dollar media is missing. The corporate giants like to frame the referendum as a sporting competition – Britons competed to decide in or out. The out won showing the strength of the discontent, the desire to tear down the institution of the EU as in error. With the 2016 POTUS election, it is the match up of the “outsider” versus the “establishment” (bound to defend the practices of her predecessor). Kinda like a heavy weight title fight, huh? Locally, the Newark income tax increase was likewise framed when first initiated a couple of years back. The local media proclaimed the competitive effectiveness of the entire process with “The people voted it down.” But iconoclash it is not, for the next morning everyone gets up and goes to work at the same institutions with the same belief systems all neatly in place. Analysis finds something else to be at play here, something akin to iconoclash but only in appearance. The Brexit vote, the Black Lives Matter message, the statistical dead heat of two radically different presidential candidates may not be about attacking, or tearing down. The statisticians “dead heat” may not be based on “equal distaste for the candidates.” The Brexit vote, the 2016 POTUS statistics, Black Lives Matter, Newark’s income tax referendum may, in fact, be rather a statement of disbelief than one of active effectiveness, potency and aggression. Statements of disbelief usually follow the straight forward OMG of twitter. Choosing to use more characters, they are embellished with irony. Some may even descend to actual cynical commitment. But they are statements of disbelief and incredulity, not attacks on institutions or beliefs based in error or superstition. Analysis shows it is possible to disbelieve something without attacking it or tearing it down. The Black Lives Matter demonstration may be a statement of disbelief regarding the distribution of “equal justice for all” by those paid to ensure it. Brexit may have been the absence of belief in the effectiveness of EU membership (though the next morning everyone expected the same jobs, ease of travel and buying/selling of goods). The “statistical” 2016 POTUS dead heat may rather reflect equal disbelief in Donny’s simplistic nationalism as well as Hillary’s convoluted globalism. And in Newark, a no vote may not be about people wanting to have their infrastructure maintained. It may just be a statement of disbelief that revenue raised by the tax will actually be spent on the intended reason for the tax. After witnessing (repeatedly) how contributions made to NGO’s (like the Red Cross, Wounded Warriors, etc.) are spent for other matters than the one’s the donor intended, AND witnessing the preferential distribution of available funding by state, local county and city government to business related enterprises, a statement of disbelief is not only reasonable, but quite appropriate.

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.