Posts Tagged ‘Economics’

New Life For An Old Structure (Again)

January 15, 2021

[With the breaking of the latest news by the Newark Advocate’s Kent Mallett (Longaberger basket building won’t become hotel, on market for $6.5 million, 1-15-21) Analysis chose to rerun this oldie (but goodie) from 4 years ago (2-12-17). For those of you keeping score at home, this line from Mallett’s recent reporting is most telling: “The best use for the building will be its original purpose as office space, which will not require much interior work, [Brandon] Hess said. The remodeling to convert into a hotel had not begun, he said.”]

Remember the basket building at the edge of town? Of course you do. Commuters driving by rubber neck daily for signs of decline, never admitting any morbid interest, but looking just the same. After a visit to the place by “business leaders”, and an assessment of futures value by Cheri Hottinger of what a great place it is (would make a terrific office of tourism), nothing else has been heard. But the tax bill increases, even as the City of Newark elides taking responsibility (or ownership). How about turning it into a state wide immigration reception and processing center? The Ellis Island of Ohio, right here in the heart of the heartland, downtown, er, town’s edge Newark! Think of the jobs it would create with the various state and federal agencies dealing with immigration, the requisite housing for new arrivals in a controlled centralized location, as well as the conference facilities for immigration related events, maybe even a living immigration museum, telling the story of where it all began (for some) (for most). The tour busses would return! A tourism center? Fuggetaboutit. Besides, immigration and the big basket share a lot in common. Cincy may have an underground railroad museum, but the interdependent story of African Americans and Euro Americans is not that of the immigrant. As Hegel pointed out, the master/slave relationship is a weird dialectic of power, need and reliance, both spoken and unspoken. The story of the immigrant, like that of the basket building, is one of uselessness, not being needed or wanted, being totally powerless (Will the building eventually disappear? Will the immigrant do likewise?). The alien architecture of the basket building is not located amongst the church spires and bank buildings of downtown Newark. Rather, like the alien immigrant, it is relegated to a specially annexed borderland of the city, out of sight, out of mind. The only company this alien construct has is the long distance relationship with the giant chair across the road. The immigrant shares a similar heritage with the building that bears the Longaberger nameplate hearkening an inspirational past of thriving and belonging, one that is forever lost, never to be revisited or regained. Ever present mourning, nostalgia and angst is an integral part of the immigrant life; something experienced only occasionally by Heisey, or Longaberger enthusiasts. The entire work ethic and skill that spawned the immigrant and the basket building is still looked upon with skepticism and suspicion in today’s America. Hand making baskets is akin to speaking another language. Unlike the basket building, most immigrants do not stay useless for long (or all arrive useless for that matter). Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Rupert Murdoch, most quickly assimilate into the conservative mainstream. But that’s a whole other story, one that the current administration might do well to consider (City, County, State, as well as Federal). So call your city council representative, the mayor, and county commissioners to tell them Newark needs immigrants. Better yet, call the folks with their hand on the handles of the basket building, Cheri or her husband, and tell them Newark needs an immigration reception and processing center. Like them, most immigrants come with one or both hands gripping the handles of their belongings. And the basket building even has those. What better place than the vacant basket building? What could be more perfect?

Addendum To Denial

January 11, 2021

            In the previous post, Welcome To Denial Ohio Jeff Hall Mayor (1-8-21), Analysis makes the claim that Kent Mallett’s report (East Main Street building to become Newark thrift store, not homeless shelter, 1-8-21) was really more about the “growing homeless population” than about the former Family Dollar store recycling into the new St. Vincent’s thrift store. A report by Melody Hahm appearing in Yahoo Finance (who knew?) gives a curious insight without the absurdity of “counting the homeless,” since we know that few will be inclined to self identify as “homeless.” Most are inclined to self identify as middle class, though they are not. So all you “middle class” out there, perk up. Hahm’s report is about you. Entitled “Middle-class homeowners will get ‘priced out permanently’: real estate investor Grant Cardone” it spells out the current road to the American dream paved with, well, Capitalist intentions. “The number of homes for sale reached an all-time low in December, as buyers remained active and eager to buy even during the holiday season.” “But given the low inventory and the quick turnaround of homes, middle class Americans are finding homeownership more inaccessible than ever, according to Grant Cardone, a real estate investor who manages a $1.4 billion portfolio of multifamily properties and also stars in Discovery Network’s (DISCA) reality series, “Undercover Billionaire.” “The middle class are going to get priced out permanently. The great divide will get wider, wealthy people are picking up second and third homes like most people buy Skittles or the way we were buying toilet paper back in March. The average person is not able to grab a house today. After the pandemic, the banks went to 20% down, now they’re doing double and triple checks to see if your future employment is stable,” he said during an interview with Yahoo Finance Live on Friday.” ““It’s going to get more and more difficult for people to buy homes in the lowest interest rate environment we’ve ever had, the middle class will not be able to take advantage of this. This validates the concept which I’ve been pushing… cash is trash and the wealthy are turning cash into real assets,” he added.” That helps shed some light on the current state of housing in Denial, er, Newark Ohio. For those unable to afford the flight to the far west side with its exceptional schools, there is only what remains in the already previously “developed” city. Aspiring homeowners who can’t afford the flight to the west side find themselves in competition with “the wealthy [who] are turning cash into real assets” – rentals. The percentage of rental stock available in Denial, er, Newark increases as a consequence of the flight to the far west side. Newark already has almost half its residential housing as investment property (non owner occupant). If “the banks went to 20% down, now they’re doing double and triple checks to see if your future employment is stable,” then rents themselves will be high. And rentals also demand background checks. No, not that a pandemic is in your background. Rents will be high since the alternative is to compete with the Capitalized landlord. Like the coldest days of winter to be, the flight to the far west side of Denial, er, Newark as a solution to its housing shortage contributes to a “growing homeless population” as a consequence.

More Hannah Arendt [Again]

January 5, 2021

[This is a Newark News Analysis re-post  from 6-22-17. Given the events of these first weeks of 2021, the writing and insights are even more appropriate]

Although Hannah Arendt writes about events from 70 to 200 years ago in The Origins Of Totalitarianism (1951, 1958, 1966), something of today jumps out with almost every page. Contemporary political savants argue endlessly over how the party system is faring, who is winning/losing, why, and what the results of this spell out for the American people (as well as people of the world). In a paragraph referencing utilitarianism and governance (pg 347) she ends with:  ““Scientism” in politics still presupposes that human welfare is its object, a concept which is utterly alien to totalitarianism.” She footnotes this with: “William Ebenstein, The Nazi State, New York, 1943, in discussing the “Permanent War Economy” of the Nazi state is almost the only critic who has realized that “the endless discussion . . . as to the socialist or capitalist nature of the German economy under the Nazi regime is largely artificial . . . [because it] tends to overlook the vital fact that capitalism and socialism are categories which relate to Western welfare economics” (p.239)” She begins the next paragraph with: “It is precisely because the utilitarian core of ideologies was taken for granted that the anti-utilitarian behavior of totalitarian governments, their complete indifference to mass interest, has been such a shock.” On page 350 she writes “Totalitarian movements use socialism and racism by emptying them of their utilitarian content, the interest of a class or nation. The form of infallible prediction in which these concepts were presented has become more important than their content. The chief qualification of a mass leader has become unending infallibility; he can never admit an error.” She elaborates this. On page 350 she writes “Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such.” Which she footnotes with “Konrad Heiden, Der Fuehrer: Hitler’s Rise to Power, Boston, 1944, underlines Hitler’s “phenomenal untruthfulness,” “the lack of demonstrable reality in nearly all his utterances,” his “indifference to facts which he does not regard as vitally important” (pp. 368, 374). –In almost identical terms, Khrushchev describes “Stalin’s reluctance to consider life’s realities” and his indifference to “the real state of affairs,” op. cit. Stalin’s opinion of the importance of facts is best expressed in his periodic revisions of Russian history.” She concludes this small foray into utilitarianism and objective interests in “traditional” Western forms of governance and what she believes occurs with totalitarian forms: “For masses, in contrast to classes, want victory and success as such, in their most abstract form; they are not bound together by those special collective interests which they feel to be essential to their survival as a group and which they therefore may assert even in the face of overwhelming odds. More important to them than the cause that may be victorious, or the particular enterprise that may be a success, is the victory of no matter what cause, and success in no matter what enterprise.” Tonight’s nightly national news covered the crowds lining up overnight for the apprentice president’s Iowa rally, very much like they used to do outside stores for Black Friday Sales. The camera panned to a little girl who yelled out “Build a wall!” No matter that at the recent (6-14-17) Columbus Metropolitan Club Forum Dr. Jim Johnson, in his talk on the Browning and Greying of America and its impact on business and the economy, carefully pointed out that the median age for whites is early forties, for immigrants and people of color upper twenties and early thirties. Who will help populate the workforce and consumer economy of tomorrow? No matter that the GAO, as well as others, describe self inflicted damage from much social legislation and executive action. (to paraphrase Arendt’s pg. 350 quote from the Nazi Primer “We shape the life of our people and our legislation according to the verdicts of economics” [original “genetics”]). No matter that “the jobs are never coming back,” and that the coal mining museum in Kentucky has solar panels on its roof. “More important . . . is the victory of no matter what cause, and success in no matter what enterprise.”

If That Just Don’t Beat All

May 5, 2020

The front page of the online edition of the New York Times for Tuesday, May 5, 2020 was an accurate barometer of the contemporary situation. On the left hand side the NY Times headlined “Infection Rates Show the Threat of Coronavirus Is Not Fading.” The top story line beneath the headline read “The U.S. is seeing at least 25,000 new cases per day, an increase of 2 to 4 percent. There have been more than 1,000 daily deaths for over a month.” On the right hand side, sharing equal billing was the headline “Wall Street set to gain amid signs of optimism.” The reflection of today was not limited to the NY Times exclusively. The same day The Wall Street Journal headlined an article with “Why Home Prices Are Rising During the Pandemic”. Again same day, different news source, USA Today headlined “Essential worker just means you’re on the death track”. The headlines for today are as polarized as the politics that surrounds them. Ohio’s Governor Dewine’s daily update on the Covid 19 situation in Ohio showed an increase in cases along with an increase in mortalities. As of this writing Licking County increased to 133 from a previous day’s 130, and the previous to that 114. Yet contrary to the Governor’s initial rationale for nixing the Arnold, halting the March primary and closing public institutions, etc., all systems are go for reopening, without the curve ever reaching a peak. It doesn’t matter? Or is something else at play here? During the Arab oil embargo of the 1970’s it was the simplistic “supply and demand” explanation. During the Reagan recession of the 80’s it was “too many dollars chasing too few goods.” In the 90’s it was the dot com bubble with its enterprising entrepreneurs self justifying mega dividends. W’s regime righted itself with a war economy after 9/11. The chickens came home to roost with his end of term meltdown on the bundled, junk sub-prime securities. B Rock rescued everything through compensating the source of the loss with the mantra of “we can’t let the system fail.” And now this. THIS appears to be the complete unbridled, shameless operation of the market with no other considerations. There is no rhyme or reason, no attempt to justify or rationalize any of it (“Supply and demand” or “too many dollars chasing too few goods” etc.). Those accustomed to making money off whatever situation find no difference in the current situation. Those who always had to pay, no matter the situation, find no difference today except that now it also includes paying with their lives. The polarization reveals itself for what it is: the US as an economy versus the US as a society.

Adult Education

January 24, 2020

Like the swallows and Capistrano, global corporate authorities gathered once again in secluded Davos Switzerland this past week. For the rest of us the corporate media represents it as the World Economic Forum with pronouncement made and issued for, you guessed it, the rest of us. Dear Leader attended, of course. Before leaving he too issued a pronouncement representing things in the US as being just all around boffo. We should all be very happy. Aren’t you? Why Greta Thunberg was there is anybody’s guess as she doesn’t fly in that rarefied milieu. Someone, who does, attended along with his boss. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took offense at Thunberg’s lecturing the corporate elites. “U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin suggested that Greta Thunberg isn’t the best person to give advice on economic issues related to climate change — at least not until she goes to college. At a press briefing at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mnuchin criticized the 17-year-old environmental activist’s call to divest from fossil fuels immediately, according to the Associated Press. Asked how such restrictions would affect the U.S. economic model, Mnuchin responded, “Is she the chief economist or who is she? I’m confused,” the AP reported. He paused before adding that his comments were “a joke.” “After she goes and studies economics in college she can come back and explain that to us,” Mnuchin said. Thunberg, who has been outspoken about the lack of progress on climate change, tweeted Thursday that “it doesn’t take a college degree in economics” to realize that our remaining 1.5° carbon budget and ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and investments don’t add up.” She did not name Mnuchin but said in a subsequent tweet, “either you tell us how to achieve this mitigation or explain to future generations and those already affected by the climate emergency why we should abandon our climate commitments.”” (‘Who Is She?’ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Questions Greta Thunberg’s Economic Expertise at Davos by Sanya Mansoor for Time, 1-23-20). For those of you keeping score at home Thunberg dropped out of Sweden’s version of high school to embrace activism (without much “formal” education in that, either). Mnuchin has a BA from Yale, a father who is a partner at Goldman Sachs, and had his first job with the investment bank Salomon Brothers while still a student at Yale. Secretary Mnuchin feels no need to learn anything about what we all share in common while Thunberg considers each day an opportunity to learn more. Analysis surmises that eventually she will be forced to give an accounting for why she chose to go to Davos. “The corporate state, however, is in trouble. It has no credibility. All the promise of the “free market,” globalization and trickle-down economics have been exposed as a lie, and empty ideology used to satiate greed. The elites have no counterargument to their anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist critics. The attempt to blame the electoral insurgencies in the United States’ two ruling political parties on Russian interference, rather than massive social inequality – the worst in the industrialized world – is a desperate ploy. The courtiers in the corporate press are working feverishly, day and night, to distract us from reality. The moment the elites are forced to acknowledge social inequality as the root of our discontent is the moment they are forced to acknowledge their role in orchestrating this inequality.” (Chris Hedges, America: the farewell tour)

Under The Law Updated

November 24, 2019

Gasp! Looks like Newark Development Partners didn’t bother to wait for a determination on the legality of the state owning property to get into the ownership business under the law (the capitalist religion imperative of “money making money”). The Newark Advocate’s editor Benjamin Lanka and veteran reporter Kent Mallett teamed up to headline Historic Downtown Newark Arcade Sold, Renovations Planned (11-23-19). “The Newark Development Partners Community Improvement Corporation on Saturday announced the purchase of the Arcade. The purchase includes all real estate located at 15 Arcade Place, including the entrances facing North Third and North Fourth streets, commercial property extending east and west between the entrances, approximately 22 commercial spaces inside the arcade and the potential for 15 to 20 residential units above the area.” Will the Newark community be improved? Well, that rests on the shoulders of Spencer Barker who markets community and real estate for Newark Development Partners. Analysis shows it to be no coincidence that, out of all the available candidates to replace Mark Fraizer on Newark City Council, Jeff Hall and the others on the GOP’s central committee chose Spencer Barker. Butt weight, there’s more! America is unique among most of the world’s democracies. It’s chief executive is not only the nation’s figurehead (President) but also chief policy maker/executive (Prime Minister). It is not always so with America’s cities. Often there is a figurehead mayor and a city manager to implement policy. But these are the days of overt, “official” US State Department policy and covert, “shadow” US State Department operations. Analysis finds ditto happening in Newark. ““The Arcade area is a crucial part of the downtown district. It holds special value in our community’s heritage, and it has tremendous potential as the next step in the ongoing revitalization of downtown Newark,” said NDP [Newark Development Partners] Chairman Dan DeLawder in a statement. “We have a responsibility to be good stewards of this historical property and look forward to it becoming, once again, a unique jewel in our city.”” While Newark’s shadow Prime Minister is touting that the Arcade purchase “has tremendous potential as the next step in the ongoing revitalization of downtown Newark,” the figurehead Mayor will continue to say ““I’d like to have a busing service, a fixed-route busing service. Can’t afford it. There are things you can’t afford. You reach a balanced budget by saying no to things.”” (Mallett, The Advocate, 10-20-19). Both will claim that the purchase and development, using public funds through a “Public/Private Partnership”, falls under the law. The capitalist religion law of “money making money”, that is. As cleveland.com’s Andrew J. Tobias put it “Any profit [from NDP’s ownership of the Arcade] could be plowed back into the organization to be given to other companies.” (11-21-19). The business of business is to follow the law of “money making money.” To do otherwise would be a crime. When it comes to community needs, like bus service, low barrier (even no barrier) shelters, community rec centers, or street paving, more first responders, etc., it will always be the mayor saying “Can’t afford it. There are things you can’t afford.”

This is all so sad that Analysis finds it calls for some comic relief. Politico’s Edward McClelland headlines How Reagan’s Childhood Home Gave Up On Reaganism (11-23-19). “In 2002, Dixon’s [Dixon Illinois] congressman, Dennis Hastert, then the Republican speaker of the House, passed a bill authorizing the National Park Service to buy the property and manage the house, as it does so many other presidential properties. The members of the Reagan home’s board of directors were aging and approached Hastert because they thought the Park Service might be a good candidate to carry on their work. They changed their minds, however, and spurned the help, in part because Congress wouldn’t match the millions of dollars private donors had invested in the property, and in part because that’s not how Reagan would have wanted it. “He didn’t think government needed to be involved in our daily lives,” Connie Lange, the executive director at the time, said of the 40th president. “And people really took that to heart here.”” “A year ago, Patrick Gorman, who became the foundation’s executive director in 2016 [coincidentally the year the home’s sugar daddy, Norm Wymbs, passed away], wrote a letter to the National Park Service, offering, at long last, to sell the home to the federal government. He understood, and sympathized with, the former president’s philosophy. But it had reached the point that clinging to Reagan’s anti-government principles might mean the demise of the most important tourist attraction in Dixon. He and the foundation were not willing to leave the home to the whims of the free market.” “Dixon’s current congressman, Adam Kinzinger, a Republican, “supports the National Park Service purchasing the site,” he said through a spokesperson. This time, the money to honor Reagan will have to come from a Democratic Congress. One factor in the home’s favor, however: The Park Service can name its own price.” “Gorman says he has “mixed emotions” about selling the anti-big government president’s house to the government. (Although maybe he shouldn’t: Despite Reagan’s rhetoric, the Park Service acquired plenty of land when he was president, including an $8 million purchase in the Santa Monica Mountains.)” “A lot of Dixonites have mixed feelings about the potential sale, too. “I don’t have a problem with it, because it’s struggling, and the Park Service can help,” says Marlin Misner, a former foundation board member who wrote a history of the boyhood home. “Whether they will or not, we’ll see. If you want to ruin a project, get the federal government involved.””

 

Under The Law

November 22, 2019

“Downtown is a commercial district. If you put the dollars first in the commercial district, then raise those revenues, create some more jobs, it creates more funds to put in the neighborhoods.” These words appear to express a very noble sentiment, They certainly assert a strategic outlook, one that defers immediate neighborhood aid for the eventual promise of neighborhood benefit to come. But does it serve the community’s interest, help the community’s needs? Analysis finds that, distilled, the strategy is simply a rehash of the fundamental tenet of the capitalist religion that “money makes money” (“If you put the dollars first in the commercial district,… it creates more funds”) The words (and strategy) are those of recently re-elected Newark Mayor Jeff Hall (The Advocate, 10-11-19). Reporting for cleveland.com, Andrew J. Tobias headlined: JobsOhio pushing boundaries by looking to be a part-owner of companies it supports (11-21-19). Analysis finds JobsOhio moving to put into action the Newark Mayor’s capitalist formula for success by “owning stakes of private companies”. “It’s an open question whether the new strategy means JobsOhio is interested in taking a venture capital approach — making a larger volume of risky bets on very young companies, hoping to strike it big if one is successful — or focusing on small, promising companies that are financially stable, but looking to expand. Any profit could be plowed back into the organization to be given to other companies.” “State lawmakers and then-Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, created JobsOhio in 2011 as a private non-profit to functionally replace a state agency that had led Ohio’s economic development efforts for decades. It’s exempt from state public-records laws, but the governor appoints its board members and helps hire its leader. DeWine picked new leaders, but opted to keep it basically intact upon taking office in January. Back when JobsOhio was still getting set up, Kasich considered allowing the organization to take shares of the companies it invested in. He even hired Mark Kvamme, a venture capitalist from California, to run it. Kvamme left the organization after less than two years, and now helps run a venture capital fund in Columbus.” “JobsOhio’s funding comes from the profits it gets running the state’s liquor enterprise, which netted $271 million last year.” “Beyond the political issues, there are also possible legal issues under the Ohio Constitution. There’s a story behind that — local governments and the state between the 1820s and the 1850s lost millions bailing out its bad investments in toll roads, canals and particularly, railroad companies. Citizens, alleging corruption, called for a constitutional convention in 1851. The result severely limits what the state can do when it comes to giving money to private businesses. The constitutional section flatly banning state ownership of private companies was so popular it wasn’t even debated, according to a 1985 article in the Toledo Law Review written by David Gold, a longtime staffer for the Ohio Legislative Service Commission. As one delegate at the 1851 convention put it: “And sir, we ask now, that debt-contracting, loan laws, and money squandering may forever be put an end to-that the whole system maybe dug up by the roots, and no single sprout ever permitted to shoot up again.”” “Still, Maurice Thompson, a conservative Ohio legal activist who was part of the failed lawsuit [2011 challenge to JobsOhio], said a legal challenge is still possible, although it would be hard to find someone with the standing needed to file it. “I think this has been a long time coming, given Gov. Kasich’s initial comments,” Thompson said. “I do think it’s unconstitutional.” “It’s already problematic that JobsOhio can spend hundreds of millions of our dollars with very little transparency or accountability,” said Janetta King, president and CEO of Innovation Ohio, a progressive think-tank in Columbus. “If it is now ignoring prohibitions in the state Constitution that were put there for good reasons, we should all be concerned.”” Is the reader concerned? Which brings us round to Newark and the recent election results. The entitled GOP (of which Newark Mayor Jeff Hall is a Central Committee member) recently appointed Spencer Barker to fill the seat left vacant by Mark Fraizer, who by appointment filled Scott Ryan’s legislative position (who left for the Third Frontier). Analysis finds all these resume’s curiously compatible with the law of “money makes money.” Fraizer is with giant Huntington Bank, while Barker markets community and real estate for Newark Development Partners (like JobsOhio, a public/private partnership) and Shai Commercial Real Estate. Analysis can only conclude that mini-me Grow Licking County (patterned from its inception on JobsOhio) is salivating while waiting breathlessly for JobsOhio’s investment strategy to be put into action. Analysis finds one place where the law (and raison d’etre) of “money makes money” is already in practice. The financial market (Wall Street) makes money by following the law. Analysis can’t readily ascribe any community, per se, benefiting from this practice under the law. Can you?

Fire Service Kabuki

September 22, 2019

“The British are coming! The British are coming!” What American wasn’t introduced to that at some point in their childhood? The Disneyesque version has a patriot traveling through the land “warning” his fellow citizens of an impending British invasion. The more sobering, and less fanciful, historic account has it that this was no “warning” but rather a prearranged communication mechanism of a previously devised and agreed to plan. Exit Disney world and fast forward to contemporary Trumpland (equally as fantastic as the Disney magical kingdom). “The Chinese are coming! The Chinese are coming!” What Ohio registered voter’s household hasn’t received such a mailing from Ohioans For Energy Security? “In the coming weeks, don’t give the Chinese government your personal information, email, cell phone, address or sign your name on their petition.” It’s the last part (“sign your name on their petition”) that is the buried lead. After all, the only voters who have not received the mailing would be those who were recently purged. The voter rolls are accessible public data. Why bother with an expensive and ungainly petition drive to acquire easily accessible data? “Don’t sign their petition attacking House Bill 6!” appears elsewhere on the mailing. Ohioans For Energy Security insinuates that Chinese shareholders in petroleum centered companies want to monopolize Ohio’s energy sources; the presumption being that OFES, and their backers, are “clean” of such pollution. Journalists, pundits, researchers and academics find that global investors are just as much vested in First Energy (the prime recipient of HB6’s largesse) as in the natural gas and other energy suppliers; the inherent nature and definition of “global economics”. All agree that such an aggressive marketing campaign to deny a petition, before it is a petition, is unprecedented. And there’s much at stake. Number crunchers show that the owners of the nuclear and coal fired power plants stand to gain 20 to 30 times the couple million dollar cost of the “Chinese are coming” marketing drive (should HB6 remain unchallenged). So what is happening here? Back to Trumpland. On the day of his inauguration in 2017, the newly sworn in president officially kicked off his reelection campaign. The subliminal messaging of this marketing tactic was “You don’t need to bother with any organized resistance or opposition to my regime as my reelection is inevitable in 2020.” Today’s latest news (9-22-19) is that Alaska has dismissed a GOP presidential primary in 2020 (along with several other states who already have made that commitment). There are 3 GOP challengers for a spot on the ballot. The overt message is one of “No need to bother with a fundamental process of democracy as the course of events is inevitable, and invincible.” Analysis finds the same mechanism at work with the high energy marketing trying to dissuade voters from engaging with a petition to place the question of HB6 on the Ohio ballot in 2020. Also in the news this week was the uptick in commitment of American troops to Saudi Arabia, for their defense. When asked by the media why this was such a priority, Dear Leader replied “They [the Saudi’s] pay cash.” The same seems to apply with Ohioans For Energy Security. The cash HB6 guarantees them is hard to pass up. No need to bother with any organized resistance or opposition. Cash is king. The outcome is inevitable, and invincible. Saudi Arabia is, after all, a monarchy. And on the local level we find the kabuki of “public discussion” of authorizing the capital expenditure of a new fire station on Sharon Valley Road. The question of funding for staffing all fire and EMT service in Newark is happening amongst the kabuki administrators and “civic leaders”  behind the curtain, out of sight, No need to bother with a fundamental process of democracy as the course of events is inevitable, and invincible.

Gaslighting

April 26, 2019

The last few years have witnessed blatant examples of behavior and speech individually recorded only to be recounted later as not so, never happened or the witness/recording was a fabrication/fake. Most of this occurs on national news. Local occurrences are rarely noted as such. Ya gotta love the online dictionary’s supplemental description of gaslighting as a verb — “from the storyline of the movie Gaslight (1944), in which a man psychologically manipulates his wife into believing that she is going insane.” Either something is taking place, or it is not. Gaslighting shows the how and why of both. Occur locally? As Sarah Palin would say “You betcha!” Columbus teachers march in protest of city tax abatements for developers by Bill Bush appeared in the 4-24-19 Columbus Dispatch. Bush starts off “Ignoring warnings from city development officials that they don’t understand tax abatements, about 400 Columbus teachers marched up to the doorstep of the CoverMyMeds headquarters Downtown on Wednesday and presented the firm with a giant “tax bill.″ Chanting “Pharma got handouts, kids got sold out,” the teachers union tried presenting CoverMyMeds with a giant poster reading: “Bill: Robber, CoverMyMeds” for $44 million but were turned away. The firm received a 15-year, 100 percent property tax abatement last year for a new $225 million office complex Downtown to be completed by 2024.” Around the middle Bush reports: “The Columbus Board of Education last June approved the CoverMyMeds abatement, which will cost the schools about $55 million in property taxes over its lifetime, the city estimated last year. But [Cols City Development Director Steve] Schoeny said this week the schools will share about $650,000 a year in income taxes with the city. “I’m not sure where (the schools) are losing money on that deal,” he said.” You do the math (55 mil divided by 650k per year would mean how many years to recoup?). ““Of course that’s what they say,” [Cols Ed Assoc Pres John] Coneglio countered. “We know the argument. It’s the chicken and the egg thing,” that developers wouldn’t have built without the abatement. But why should condos selling for $300,000 be subsidized by taxpayers, Coneglio asked. “We’re just saying, ‘Hey, you’ve got to do this wisely. You can’t just give everything away.’” Steve Murray, 59, who teaches at Columbus Alternative High School, a building where the district is doing $1.1 million in emergency repairs after the public complained about its poor condition, considers the abatements “racist.” “It’s just so damn unfair” that tax money is diverted from an overwhelmingly minority school district to wealthy corporations, Murray said.” A little closer to home we find The Newark Advocate headlining North Newark affordable housing project awaits tax credits by Kent Mallett the same day (4-24-19). Notable: “One of the last remaining pieces of the old farm could become an affordable housing complex on north Newark land between Walmart and the Newark Area Soccer Association fields. Development plans are contingent on obtaining tax credits from the Ohio Tax Credit Authority, which may announce the recipients next month. Commercial Realtor Steve Layman represented property owner Chilcote Prior LLC earlier this year at Newark Planning Commission meetings, when a lot split was approved and zoning changed from general business to multi-family residence district on 9.7 acres of the farm’s remaining 23 acres.” The article includes a lot of folderol about the land’s history as an investment farm, and the investor’s kin keeping investment horses there, etc. The report ends with: “The apartment complex, Layman said, could consist of 84 units in up to seven buildings, either two-story or three-story. Of the 9.7 acres, only about two acres can be developed, due to the Log Pond Run floodplain. A restaurant could also be built on adjacent land, situated so it would be visible straight ahead after turning from North 21st Street onto Log Pond Drive, Layman said.” You remember Steve Layman who projected development of the old elementary school across from the main library (West Main) only if he could get historic tax credits. Well he didn’t get them but still went ahead and developed the property anyways. It is very notable the article’s stress on tax credits making it happen without mentioning a single word about what rents would be with this “affordable housing.” Speaking of taxes (credits and abatements got to come from someplace, ya know), how about that GOP HB6, the “Energy Bill”? For the Statehouse News Bureau Andy Chow reports: “Opponents are speaking out against the bill that would prop up two struggling nuclear plants while also toss out the state’s green energy requirements for utilities. There’s a debate over whether the legislation will end up saving a person more or less on their electric bills. The proposed law would create a monthly fee of $2.50 to create clean air credits for carbon-free power generators.” “FirstEnergy Solutions says their two nuclear power plants are set to close by 2021 unless they receive financial aid. The bill could give those plants up to about $170 million.” (4-23-19) “[AEP Vice President of External Affairs Tom] Froehle says AEP likes the bill “If done right, the bill will go down some but the benefit is that you’re finally getting investment in Ohio in clean air,” says Froehle. New fees in the legislation would create a $300 million fund from  – more than half would go to the nuclear plants, with the rest to renewable sources.” (4-24-19) Of course, AEP doesn’t own any nuclear power plants. FirstEnergy does (nuclear waste doesn’t just get cleaned up for a “jobs ready” site by JobsOhio, or does it?). But that’s beside the point. “According to a new study, a group of 60 companies in the Fortune 500 booked nearly $80 billion in total profits in 2018, but each owed $0 in taxes. Worse: Many of these companies actually got rebates from Uncle Sam, totaling more than $4 billion.” (Billions in Profits, No Taxes: How the Trump Tax Code Let 26 Companies Off the Hook, Tim Dickinson for Rolling Stone, 4-15-19). Of the 26 companies on the list, some are local favs – Amazon, AEP, FirstEnergy, Halliburton. The last word on this goes to someone who knows gaslighting when they see it: “[Steve] Murray thinks he has a simpler answer. If city and district officials are worried that companies will move away if they have to pay their taxes, “let them leave,” he said. “If they’re not putting any taxes into the city, then who cares?” (Bush)

 

Half The Story – But Which Half?

April 3, 2019

Ohio’s Lieutenant Governor swung by Licking County to talk to some folks about some things near and dear to his heart. You remember John Husted. The same John Husted who as an elected representative was caught in a bizarre court case regarding being a representative of his district in Dayton all the while living with his family in a home in Upper Arlington; except that his “residence” in Dayton was unoccupied. Paying the water bill satisfied the courts that he was a lawful “resident.” Apologies for the digression but it was irresistible. No, John didn’t talk about affordable housing with the Newark Homeless Outreach at City Council. Nor did he speak about state initiatives to deal with methamphetamine abuse at a Newark Think Tank on Poverty meeting. No, Republican Lieutenant Governor (and wannabe future Governor) Husted’s heart embraced “Workforce development is the most important issue the state faces, Lt. Gov. John Husted told a Grow Licking County investor’s breakfast crowd Tuesday at The Granville Inn.” (Lt. Gov. Husted: Workforce development is Ohio’s most important issue Kent Mallet for the Newark Advocate, 4-2-19) Mallett is rather succinct: “”It is, by far, the most important issue we face,” Husted said. “Everywhere we go, this is the No. 1 issue. What we have to do is be a magnet for talent. The people, the communities, the states that get this right, will see greater prosperity. “Talent can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For some, it’s someone who can pass a drug test and show up for work five days a week.” For others, he said, it could be someone with a doctoral degree. Adding to the challenge, he said, is the reality that more Ohioans will turn 65 years old than 18 years old during the next decade, dwindling the workforce further. Employers need mechanical engineers and electrical engineers, for example, Husted said.” Curious how the recent announcement of a new building to be constructed at OSUN COTC fits right in to that. Another digression, mea culpa. The next day the NY Times headlined “Short of Workers, U.S. Builders and Farmers Crave More Immigrants As a tight labor market raises costs, employers say the need for low-wage help can’t be met by the declining ranks of the native-born.” (Eduardo Porter, 4-3-19). Gasp! Significant numbers from the article: “The tightest labor market in more than half a century is finally lifting the wages of the least-skilled workers on the bottom rung of the labor force, bucking years of stagnation.” Not exactly mechanical or electrical engineers. “But to hear builders tell it, the rising cost of their crews reflects a demographic reality that could hamstring industries besides their own: Their labor force is shrinking. President Trump’s threat to close the Mexican border, a move that would cause damage to both economies, only adds to the pressure. Immigration — often illegal — has long acted as a supply line for low-skilled workers. Even before Mr. Trump ratcheted up border enforcement, economic growth in Mexico and the aging of the country’s population were reducing the flow of Mexican workers into the United States. The number of undocumented immigrants in America declined to 10.7 million at the end of 2017 from a peak of over 12 million at the height of the housing bubble in 2008, according to the Center for Migration Studies.” “The problem for builders is that the recovery in home building has outpaced the growth of the construction labor force. Housing starts have picked up to a pace of 1.2 million a month, more than twice as many as at their trough in April 2009. The number of nonsupervisory workers in residential construction, by contrast, has increased by only 40 percent since hitting bottom in 2011, to about 530,000.” “Were it not for immigrants, the labor crunch would be even more intense. In 2016, immigrants accounted for one in four construction workers, according to a study by Natalia Siniavskaia of the home builders’ association, up from about one in five in 2004. In some of the least-skilled jobs — like plastering, roofing and hanging drywall, for which workers rarely have more than a high school education — the share of immigrants hovers around half.” “For all the fears of robots taking over jobs, some economists are worrying about the broader economic fallout from a lack of low-skilled workers. And businesses across the economy are complaining that without immigration they will be left without a work force. “It is good for wages to go up, but if labor is at a point where employers can’t hire, it is reducing growth,” said Pia Orrenius, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “There’s also considerable wage pressure in small towns and cities that are depopulating, but that is a sign of distress, not of rising productivity.” The labor crunch is likely to persist for some time. The Pew Research Center projects very little growth in the working-age population over the next two decades. If the United States were to cut off the flow of new immigrants, Pew noted, its working population would shrink to 166 million in 2035 from 173 million in 2015.” Double Gasp! Work force development may be near and dear to Mr. Husted’s heart as the most important issue facing the state, but this is only half the story. In disguise, the Republican in Mr. Husted is promulgating a white power movement theme, since we don’t have to address what historically really made America great – immigrants. The vitriol, diatribes and lies (some just call it hate) directed at immigrants defies their underlying value to the country as well as Licking County. Velvet Ice Cream (poster child of Grow Licking County) was an immigrant contribution. “Many of the high school students who would replenish the pipeline of carpenters, plumbers and electricians are undocumented immigrants. “Half of the kids in the high school carpentry programs are DACA kids,” said Mr. Hoffmann, the Dallas builder, referring to a program that allows unauthorized minors to stay in the United States. “They are not documented, so we can’t work with them.”” (Porter, NY Times) “”You get what you reward,” Husted said. “Whatever society celebrates, it gets more of. I’ll do signing days at tech schools.”” (Mallett, Newark Advocate) Triple Gasp!