Posts Tagged ‘Democracy’

And The Party Never Ends

November 17, 2022

            Back on 11-10-22 Fort Worth Texas U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman struck down President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program. “The program is thus an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’s legislative power and must be vacated,” wrote the judge. “In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone,” he went on to say. The ruling was heralded by critics of Biden and the loan forgiveness program comparing him and his action to that of a monarch. This critique is nothing new. Back in September “”The president isn’t a king. He’s not an emperor. And if he does something unconstitutional, hell yeah, I’m going to hold him accountable,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich told NPR in an interview.” (Morning Edition 9-30-22) Analysis finds Americans easily incensed over the prospects of a single individual wielding ultimate power but are, ho hum, OK with a single party doing ditto. An 11-14-22 Newark Advocate report, Commissioners’ deal with water, sewer district angers several communities, by Kent Mallett would be a case in point. Bear in mind that the recent midterms were unanimously won by the GOP in Licking County, with some races uncontested. It is safe to assume that those involved with this story are all of one and the same party. “An Oct. 6 Licking County Commissioners’ decision to extend the service area for Southwest Licking Water and Sewer District brought a flood of complaints Thursday from township and community officials in western Licking County.” “Monroe Township Trustee Troy Hendren said the commissioners told the townships they need to plan and coordinate, all while they were secretly working against the townships. “I was shocked when I heard this because when you guys talk, you’re always about ‘we need to work together and know what’s going on,” Hendren said.” “Jim Lenner, the owner of Neighborhood Strategies planning company and former Johnstown city manager, represented St. Albans Township at the meeting. He said the township learned of the agreement as it planned to approve its comprehensive plan next week. The township is located between Granville and New Albany. “It just was shocking for my clients and the people I’m working with that this monumental decision was made without input from (them),” Lenner said. “There’s other entities that could be servicing that area. That’s the concern and how you guys came to the decision to basically hand it over to the district to service that when you are in the middle of a water and sewer study. When St. Albans and most communities are all trying to plan, this bomb is dropped on us.”” “The commissioners said the amended map may go too far and maybe they should consider rescinding the agreement.” “”At the end of the day, it may end up being the way it is, if you can’t provide it and they’re willing to plan to provide it,” [Licking County Commissioner Tim] Bubb said.” Analysis finds Americans easily incensed over the prospects of a single duly elected individual wielding ultimate power but are, ho hum, OK with the same actions by a single duly elected party, in this case three individuals. Analysis finds there to be an interesting analogy between contemporary political parties and corporations. Corporations, entities which exist only in law, theoretically can never die. Long live the party!

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There’s More To Democracy Than Get Out The Vote

October 30, 2022

            With the midterm election coming up in a week, local matters. In fact, local IS the democracy that is touted as so valuable by those involved. In Granville there is a school tax on the ballot since all such taxes must be approved by the constituents of the district. Even though the school board is likewise elected to office by self same constituents, it lacks the authority to pass a tax. This year a group, self identified as Granville Common Sense Coalition, has opposed the tax through various street signs, promotions and even paid advertisements in the Advocate (10-9-22) as well as the Sentinel (10-13-22). As pointed out by various Advocate reports covering this matter as well as columnists, and even a letter to the editor by the League of Women Voters, the GCSC’s anti tax advocacy is based on a lot of lies, fabrications and misinformation. Just another case of “both side-ism” in today’s news media coverage of democracy in action? There is a subtle difference at play here. Once discerned, it becomes quite glaring. The rebuttals to the GCSC’s rationale are all authored by identifiable individuals. Even the League lists the members co-signing the letter, the reporters’ inquiry names election officials interviewed, the columnist signs his opinion, etc. As of this writing, no one at the Advocate has identified any member of the Granville Common Sense Coalition. Who are these people? After the SCOTUS Citizens United ruling it is improper to ask such a question as it is money that is speaking. Money is pretty much indistinguishable (a dollar is a dollar, any dollar). In this case it is dark money and purposefully anonymous at that. True, at the time of the founding of the republic, anonymity with regard to politically held views was accepted as part of the exchange of enlightenment era ideas made possible by the secular use of the printing press under the rule of a totalitarian monarchy. Although anonymous publications did much to foster the American revolution, the new constitution addressed the downside of anonymity (lies, misinformation, the stoking of chaos). The First Amendment protected individual speech, worship, etc. Anonymity has no such guarantee. Which brings us to the present day political quandary. How responsible is the Advocate (or any other platform like Fox News, Twitter, Meta, etc.) for the anonymous dissemination of lies, misinformation and the sowing of chaos? The Advocate has a very strict and specific no anonymous letter to the editor policy yet their coverage, and ads, have disseminated the GCSC’s outlook marvelously well (reminding one of our former president’s penchant that “any news coverage is good news”). Yet the Advocate ostensibly is about the facts, and the fact is the lie is out there and spreading its corrosive effects. (Analysis has just now dabbled in both side-ism) Shouldn’t the Advocate’s strict policy of no anonymous letters extend to its advertising or news coverage? (or any other platform at that?) Giving lip service to the First Amendment speech rights and liabilities while promoting the profit to be made off anonymous dark money sources is disingenuous (Gannett’s fearless investigative reporters can’t, or won’t, identify the make up of the GCSC).  There’s more to promoting democracy than get out the vote. There’s the chore of everyday living  in one.

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!”

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.

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).

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.

In Which The State Does Not Exist

April 2, 2022

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

The Healthy Practice Of Democracy

February 12, 2022

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

The Role Of Flo In Learned Helplessness

January 2, 2022

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