Posts Tagged ‘Economics’

It May Not Be Racial, But It Is Very Real

November 25, 2017

Analysis has found itself considering the close relationship of home ownership and politics in Newark Ohio. Many statistics and definitions must be borne in mind for insights, some of which have been covered extensively in past posts. Some, such as the near 50% of residential housing being non-owner occupant or the low rate of voter turnout, are essential to continuously bear in mind. Others, such as the existence of polarization, gerrymandering or redlining, are a little more difficult to grasp. The interrelationship of all of these does not materialize trippingly on the tongue. Redlining is described readily enough on Wikipedia. However, it is generally associated with racial segregation. According to the census bureau, Newark’s racial diversity is way below the national ratio. As mentioned in the previous posts, polarization appears non-existent within the workings of Newark City Council. And with at large council representation, gerrymandering would be difficult to ascribe to the city’s ward/at large governance. But the recent late night gazebo move brings polarity to the fore (ranks closed tightly along party lines) And past Newark Advocate reporting that has questioned why so many of Newark’s representatives, government administrators and “leaders” all reside in the 5th ward makes gerrymandering more than real for Newark voters. Redlining? In Newark? Naaa. Redlining, steering and reverse redlining have primarily been associated with racist dispositions and denial of access to opportunities. The recent T Day week end Columbus On The Record featured a rerun of a Chasing The Dream panel. One of the panelists, Beth Gifford of Columbus Works, described a recent drive through the streets of her childhood neighborhood, the south side of Columbus. She said it doesn’t look much different today than a half century ago, except the places of employment are gone (manufacturing base) and the stores have disappeared along with it. Only the residences remain, more of which become rentals with each passing year. The south end of her youth was a vibrant mix of restaurants, bars, department stores, large and small employers and church/community identity, etc. Sounds a bit like what currently comprises Newark’s 1st, 2nd, and 7th ward, doesn’t it? Like the south side Columbus of Gifford’s youth, the east side of Newark was an equally vibrant mix of employment, residences, stores, restaurants and church/community identity. For reason’s beyond the scope of one page posts, Newark’s “leaders” decided (a half century ago) to relocate the hospital from its east side home to the farm fields of the west side, on West Main Street. This was accompanied by development of employment facilities as well as housing, schools, churches, etc. (all the ingredients needed to form “community” according to Chasing The Dream). Ditto the north side, all of which currently comprise Newark’s 3rd, 5th and 6th wards. While these political districts flourished, the 3 on the east side languished. “Well, it’s where people want to be” we are told. Analysis finds this a cliché way of avoiding the answer to the more pressing question of who sold them on this end of town? And who financed it?  Just as today all the “commercial development” and places of employment magically appear outside the Newark City limits (for reasons only known to Grow Licking County and Newark Development Partners), so half a century ago Newark began expanding away from the east end. Not that there wasn’t open farmland or highway access on the east side. And someone thought it was a “safe bet”, “good investment”, “progressive thinking” to provide residential loans as well as underwrite business/commercial ones. Now it may have nothing to do with race, but providing mortgages for one area and eschewing another defines redlining. Aggressively selling one area while disparaging another likewise approximates steering. Saying it’s “too costly” or “risky” to finance maintaining properties in a designated area is akin to reverse redlining (driving up the cost for residents who own these properties). So redlining has history in Newark. The relationship to gerrymandering (and polarization) is apparent when one considers what areas comprise the wards and where the boundaries are drawn. It may not be racial, but it is very real.

Advertisements

In Defense Of Being Homeless

November 16, 2017

Regular Newark News Analysis readers can’t help but notice that recent posts have swirled around real property ownership and housing, directly or indirectly. “Homeownership doesn’t build wealth, study finds” headlines Diana Olick for CNBC (11-16-17). Intriguing! Analysis required reading. “”On average, renting and reinvesting wins in terms of wealth creation regardless of property appreciation, because property appreciation is highly correlated with gains in the traditional financial asset classes of stocks and bonds,” wrote study co-author Ken Johnson of FAU’s College of Business [Florida Atlantic University], in a release.” This seems to be the keynote quote pursued (for actuality, efficacy) throughout the article. What follows are the pros and cons of renting versus owning with back up insights for the period covering 2008 (when the real estate bubble burst) to the present. “Still, researchers in the study claim the adage of “throwing your money away on rent” doesn’t hold up. That is because it assumes that the extra money a renter saves by not owning a home and not saving for a down payment is simply spent on goods or services and not invested.” Well, that seems clear enough. “In other words, the rent argument works only if the renter invests the rental savings instead of consuming the money.” The article then localizes the theory. “The researchers therefore went city by city, measuring home price appreciation against a portfolio of stocks and bonds that were equal in volatility. “To have a fair race, that reinvestment into stocks and bonds has to be as risky as that particular housing market,” Johnson said.” Put crassly (and simplistically) if a homeowner considers what she pays monthly for principle and balance on her mortgage against how much (percentage wise) her real property investment made (appreciates), that margin would be less than a renter, renting the same size, quality property would have if the difference between the monthly cost of renting and the mortgage amount was invested in “”stocks and bonds.” Gasp! Butt weight, there’s more. The buried lead appears at the end, after a breakdown on the requirement “if the renter invests the rental savings instead of consuming the money.” That buried lead throws shade on the initial quote by Johnson pursued throughout the article. Here it is: “As long as home values don’t fall, which has historically been the case in most markets, with the glaring exception of the last recession, homeowners are building a nest egg. They had also been getting a tax advantage. That is now at risk in the Republican tax plan, which curbs the mortgage deduction and in the Senate version, wipes out the property tax deduction. Real estate can still be a good investment, according to Johnson, but not necessarily living in the home you own. Being a landlord or investing in real estate-related stocks and commodities can be more lucrative that keeping all your capital in the nest.” Not surprising given the “Me first” focus of the apprentice president and his MAGA emphasis, and Wall Street’s insatiable demand for more sources of capital. But “Me first” “landlord[s] or investing in real estate-related stocks and commodities” don’t make neighborhoods (or community). What more, stock and bond ownership doesn’t equate with the quality of life issues associated with community. But investment is touted as the primo path to greatness, success and wealth (the GOP use this line of argument to justify the recent tax bill and its permanent corporate tax cut, etc.) How’s that in actuality? Reporting for The Independent Clark Mindrock headlined “Trump’s top economic adviser can’t contain his surprise after CEOs say his tax plan won’t make them invest more” 11-15-17. “During an event for the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council, an editor at that newspaper turned to ask the room a question: “If the tax reform bill goes through, do you plan to increase investment — your company’s investment, capital investment?” Prompted to raise their hands if so, very few shot their palms into the air. Mr. [Gary] Cohn, the White House Economic Council director, smiled uncomfortably at the response. “Why aren’t the other hands up?” he asked, making a joke out of the spectacle. But experts say that it isn’t hard to figure out why corporations might not want to take savings from cuts to the corporate tax cut and pump it back into their companies — all you have to do is look at who actually benefits financially from the cuts. Citing a recent Moody’s report that estimate that the Trump tax plan would yield just a 0.3 percent economic growth rate for 10 years before a likely decline, Brooking Institute senior fellow William Gale noted that business leaders might be expecting declines in the long term.” Analysis shows there is more to the homeownership’s study than the math provides. The renter’s surplus investment (which will make her wealthy) can only be made with companies that themselves are reluctant to invest. “Being a landlord… can be more lucrative that keeping all your capital in the nest.” “Real estate can still be a good investment, according to Johnson, but not necessarily living in the home you own.”

Newark’s Likely Voters

November 9, 2017

Originally Analysis was going to cover the recent election. Reuters (amongst others) reported “Maine governor says he will not expand Medicaid despite vote” by Gina Cherelus, 11-8-17. Déjà vu all over again with “About 60 percent of voters in Maine approved the ballot proposal in Tuesday’s election, according to the Bangor Daily News, making the state the first in the country to vote to expand Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled.” GOP Governor LePage refuses to implement it. Sound familiar? Hint: Marijuana. That’s right, a citizens’ initiative approved by the voters of Newark re: marijuana possession in Newark was ditto refused to be implemented by GOP Mayor Hall. More recent is the cavalier late night destruction of the gazebo vociferously opposed by residents, all to no avail. These left Analysis with the question “why is the will, and vote, of the people (citizens) so impotent within a government founded on democracy?” Presently the Democrats are all Broadway musical happy after limited “victories” this just past election but, again, Newark doesn’t reflect that. This blog’s previous post displayed the inadequate attempt by Lesha Farias’s service organization to affect Fred Ernest’s 10 year “vision.” Couple that with the very low turn out Monday (11-6-17) to “protest” the demise of the gazebo and the question gets even thornier – where is the democracy in Newark? And if it’s missing, why? Again, (11-9-17) Reuters headlines “Trump’s low approval rating masks his support among likely voters” by Chris Kahn. Couple this with the actual voting outcomes reported by The Advocate (GEMS Election Results from 11-8-17). For overall county election races (like the muni court judgeship) 29.1% of eligible voters turned out. Now “likely voters” looms large. Analysis finds that though urban precincts encompass more registered voters, rural district issues and races attracted a greater percentage of voters, though lesser in number. Newark precincts involve 4-6 thousand voters each and were turning out roughly 24-25% of them to decide the contest. That’s less than the county actual (likewise likely) voter percentage (29%). Most rural precincts show way less than 2,000 possible voters (many less than 1,000) with turn out being 33-35% (Northridge School’s district precincts turned out over 50%!). Many have repeatedly asked “Why is turnout, interest and active engagement so low in the very urban city of Newark?” That is, why does the description “likely voter” include so few already registered voters in Newark? Those paid to know offer many theoretical possibilities – culture, economics, education, disinterest or even distrust of government. Analysis considers a material actuality. “Landlord doubles rent, evicts nuisance tenants to improve property” by Shelly Schultz for the Zanesville Times Recorder (11-8-17). “Following an abatement warning, the owner of an apartment complex located at 1252 Edwards Lane issued residents a zero tolerance notice for illegal activity and nearly doubled the rent.” The back story to which is “In September, several residents converged on the public safety committee complaining of a sudden increase in prostitution and drug activity in their neighborhood.” Somewhat deeper: “Tenants who have been identified as a nuisance have been evicted, according to Horvath. The rent has increased from $300 to $500 and heading towards $600. The property now mandates a background check on tenants.” (“Eriech Horvath of Newark, owner of Stone Works Development, purchased the 22 unit apartment complex in March and said he has been working diligently to clean it up.”) Back story to the back story would be from WHIZ’s report of “Zanesville Police Dept. cracking down on nuisance homes” by Matthew Herchik 6-30-17. “To be able to move forward with a nuisance abatement, [ZPD Police Chief Tony] Coury says they must prove that the house is in fact a “nuisance,”” “The ZPD has been working in conjunction with the city Law Director as well as the Prosecutor’s Office to make these homes a bigger focus.” And finally, the back story to the whole story is the Ohio Revised Code 3767.01 and .02 which define “nuisance” and “nuisance homes”. All of which sounds pretty sensible when dealing with crime and violence until one makes the connection that Mr. Horvath is using the imminent power (and actions) of the prosecutor/law director/police to justify evicting tenants and upping the rent on his recently acquired property. Given that 48% of Newark’s residential housing is non-owner occupant (rental) and that the census bureau shows over 40% of the US population as having no net worth (living pay check to pay check) it is little wonder that, though greater in numbers, so few registered voters are “likely voters” in Newark, let alone actually voting in elections. Not wanting to rock the boat and potentially be evicted from one’s rented home (for whatever reason, be it the inability to suffer an increase in monthly rent or “nuisance” designation) is a very normal response to being asked to engage in a political process. Analysis shows that having a home to come home to matters a lot.

 

 

A Mighty Fortress Is Our Homeowner

November 3, 2017

A weird news coverage article appeared out of thin air in The Advocate 11-3-17. Maria DeVito headlined Group thinks Newark vision plan didn’t account for whole city. The article primarily covered the 10 year “vision plan” currently in play with Newark Development Partners and what transpired at their recent meeting (11-2-17). There is little grounding for Analysis in the world of dreams and visions. A 10 year “vision” differs little from a 5 (or 10) year Stalin era “plan,” except in the execution – who does what and how. As mentioned in this journal’s previous post, the current political administrations of Mr. Hall and Mr. Bubb, along with Grow Licking County and Newark Development Partners, couch everything in terms of “the economy versus…” Fred Ernest’s development franchise engages in an ethereal dance in sync and lock step with the team on this “vision” quest as well (could Dancing With The Stars be far off?). Besides, the best laid plans of mice and men can change in a heartbeat if PNB should opt to relocate to New Albany (happens all the time. Meritor is still sitting vacant). One thing in the article jumped out, primarily in terms of its lack or absence. That lack or absence spoke volumes in terms of what Lesha Farias and The Newark Think Tank on Poverty were attempting to convey (but failed according to DeVito’s reporting). “”It’s not the community’s plan,” she [Lesha Farias] said. “It’s the people that they wanted to make the plan making the plan.”” Who is “they”? The article (or Farias) never makes “their” identity apparent. What is apparent though, and does give direction as to what Farias was trying to express, is the glaring lack within the “Seven Pillars” envisioned by the “vision.” Sounds almost biblical, doesn’t it? “Seven pillars are identified in the plan: image and brand; public safety; mobility and transportation; neighborhood revitalization; vibrant downtown; arts and recreation; and quality education.” Notice anything absent? Hint: you can probably buy the Basket on the edge of town for what it costs to make a McMansion on an out of town rural acreage. That’s it, housing! What never figures into the celestial fluff of the “10 year vision” is the actuality of the preponderance of non-owner occupied residential housing that IS Newark, not some pie in the sky “image and brand(ed)” “neighborhood(s).” Remember “Welcome to Old Town West” along West Church Street? Does it look different today than it did 25 years ago during the heyday of its promotion? What makes the difference answers the “Who is the “they”?” The current ongoing conversation/debate nationally is the new GOP tax overhaul, the central pillar being slashing the corporate tax rate by over 40% of the present. The GOP claims corporations will “reinvest” that windfall in higher wages and new jobs. In the 1980’s and 90’s it was established policy that corporate America’s first allegiance is to the share holder evidenced by the resulting consolidations, mergers resulting in plants being padlocked and wages remaining stagnant to this day. But with Newark Development Partners’ “vision” the actuality of that experience becomes unmentionable – it lacks presence. The last time The Advocate cited non-owner occupant housing in the city of Newark it was around 48%. An underlying principle of “neighborhood revitalization” in almost all urban areas is the emphasis on those who live in a neighborhood having “ownership” of that neighborhood (and yes, Virginia, Newark is urban). Like corporations, landlords’ allegiance is not with the neighborhood, but with a return on investment. Recently it was revealed that the second most segregated city in the US, segregated in terms of income disparity, is Columbus Ohio. On the basis of this finding WOSU has been running a series entitled “Chasing the Dream” (wosu.org/chasingthedream). As pointed out in this series people living paycheck to paycheck, as well as red lining, planned development and gentrification (with its higher tax valuation) make home ownership out of reach for most. Along with public transportation (the number 1 issue for sustainable jobs), affordable housing is essential for any kind of sustainable development. Of course that would mean disruption with regard the sacred cash cow. Of course that would mean a disruption in who could own a piece of Newark. Lending institutions (like PNB) would need to create financial instruments making homeownership possible (like low interest or subsidized loans, inclusive lending practices, low or no down payments, etc.) and the city/county would need to create abatements and tax breaks for individual home buyers (versus developers!). The “they” that Farias was alluding to becomes very apparent when the glaring lack of the “Seven Pillars vision” manifests itself. A mighty fortress is our home owner!

Duck Soup

September 26, 2017

From this blog’s 6-1-17 posting (El SID And The Poppies): “Why is a SID an integral part of gentrification? To increase property values (for the non voting property owners of the district – in 2013 Analysis also found that of the remaining not government, religious, or bank property owners, few were individually named, most were corporate legal entities) rents need to be higher across the board (like the neglected house on the block determining neighborhood value). A SID does specifically that. As a tax, it increases the property owner’s costs which in turn increases the operating expense for any business located there. Marginally profitable businesses will exit as they did prior to the large scale construction of downtown several years ago. Ditto for any other renters (i.e. residential tenants). Upscale enterprises (with capital backing) move in and, Voila! The SID has functioned perfectly as planned. In the meantime Newark’s City Council will wrestle with the tsunami of legalized marijuana while this disenfranchised mandate will pass like shit through a duck.” The Newark news of today and the past week confirms this. From the Newark Advocate these headlines “Newark City Council rejects medical marijuana zoning proposal” (9-26-17), “Gazebo to move from courthouse grounds to former children’s home site” (9-26-17). Prior to that “Special tax coming for downtown Newark after Newark City Council approval” (9-21-17) and “Parking around Licking County Courthouse — ‘bad idea’ or ‘a winner’” (9-22-17). In the 9-26 Gazebo article Kent Mallett writes “The Children’s Home was demolished in 2013. It was built in 1886, serving as a county children’s home before it was decommissioned in the 1970s. It later housed county offices and a medical clinic before closing in 2009.” Sub-context to Mallett’s historic context is that justification for relocating the county jail to a “new” building on East Main was that the old jail was encrusted with black mold – impossible to eradicate (and therefore unhealthy). In 2009 commissioners chose to neglect upkeep on the Children’s Home while maintaining the “old” jail for storage. A central decision maker resulting in the Children’s Home being demolished and the “old” jail being maintained was current commissioner Tim Bubb. In the 9-22 Parking article Mallett again provides context. After reporting the meeting location as the Double Tree hotel, he states “The meeting, by Newark Development Partners community improvement corporation, included several small group discussions and reports, and presentation of a downtown parking study by OHM Advisors, a Columbus architecture, engineering and planning firm.” No decision has been made regarding the proposal promoted by NDP. Analysis finds the 9-26 Gazebo article indicates otherwise. Again Mallett, “Bubb added, “It was the only place in downtown you could do a performance. Now, the Canal Market provides a much better venue. The gazebo, in my observation, lived its life as a performance venue.”” Analysis discovers this to be the same authority on the “life” (and death) of the Children’s Home. Sub context on the Canal Market goes back to these same days (of jail, Children’s Home, and square renovation). The Canal Market was the “dream’ of a local philanthropist who controlled the essential property (adjacent the “old” jail). Analysis surmises he would not commit to “renovate” this property and materialize his dream unless the surrounding county/city did likewise (parking garage construction being the initial goodwill gesture). No coincidence that the jail was saved while the Home disappeared (and the jail as a public transportation hub was completely dissed). No coincidence that moving the gazebo was sooo important at the start of the courthouse renovation. At the time Newark resident appeal prevented the earlier move, now in play for projected parking space. In the 9-21 Special Tax article Maria DeVito writes “Now that the district has been approved by council, the next step is to create a board of people who will run the district, Ernest said. The board will have five people on it. Three who are voted on by the property owners within the district, one appointed by the mayor and one appointed by city council, Ernest said. It will be up to the board members to decide what the district should use the money for each year out of the parameters that have been set up by the district, which include services such as parking enforcement, safety and security, litter control, graffiti removal, visitor ambassadors, special projects and marketing, Ernest said.” Analysis finds this to be the same Fred Ernest, head of the Newark Development Partners (integral to downtown gentrification). Analysis finds that nowhere in this convoluted history of manipulation of public spaces, public funding, and public “interest” is there any voter input. Nowhere is there resident input. The parking meeting like the much earlier courthouse square design meeting were both held at the hotel, a member of the NPD (not at a public space like the library, school auditorium, etc.). While Rome burns (or in this case is gentrified) those elected to represent the residents of Newark are more concerned with nitpicking marijuana distribution center location (“The state has already prohibited dispensaries from being located within 500 feet of a school, church, public library, public playground or public park. Mangus’ proposal also would have prohibited dispensaries from being 500 feet from a residentially zoned area.” “Fraizer would also like for dispensaries to not be allowed with 1,000 feet of a school, church, public library, public playground or public park.” 9-26 Council Rejects). More circus? “The SID has functioned perfectly as planned. In the meantime Newark’s City Council will wrestle with the tsunami of legalized marijuana while this disenfranchised mandate will pass like shit through a duck.”

The New Normal

August 31, 2017

The average citizen resident of Newark pays income tax, and more, and in return expects competent administration of city services like road access, police and fire protection, water, sewer, etc. etc. Not unusual. Residents of municipalities have never had reason to think twice about whether an inappropriately parked car will be ticketed, a vandalized street sign will be repaired, a littered and overgrown lot will be rectified, or that their duly compensated mayor will represent the city as the best there is. Now we read this by the Advocate’s Maria DeVito: “Newark Development Partners board members are seeking to create the district and have gathered permission from the required 60 percent of property owners in the area. The goal is to use property tax assessments from those within the district to pay for services such as parking enforcement, safety and security, litter control, graffiti removal, visitor ambassadors, special projects and marketing. If approved, property owners would pay 7.5 percent of the tax rate applied to the 2016 real property taxable value, providing the district about $110,000 annually. The assessment would first appear on their 2018 property tax bill. The tax would last five years, but could be renewed for an additional five years by the property owners. (New downtown property tax gets initial approval from Newark council, 8-29-17). This is the Special Improvement District Analysis covered in past postings. DeVito’s final words include: “If council approves the district, property owners then elect property owners within the district to a leadership board. The district board determines how much of the available money is devoted to the various services.” On 8-30-17 The Miami Herald’s Kristen M. Clark headlined “DeVos had a public agenda for Florida schools meetings … and a private one”. From the report: “A day after visiting a private religious school and a public charter school in Tallahassee, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spent Wednesday speaking behind closed doors with various education stakeholders, business leaders and advocates in Florida’s capital city. The events were not disclosed on DeVos’ public schedule, as her office deemed them “private” activities.” “Meanwhile, DeVos’ office also did not disclose — nor offer a readout of — a meeting reportedly held earlier Wednesday with about a dozen leaders of business, higher education and advocacy organizations at the Florida Chamber of Commerce. The News Service of Florida reported that DeVos had a “warm reception” there and urged the leaders to “double down” on efforts to expand choices for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.” “She also urged a rethinking of the federal government’s role in the education system. “I think that there’s been an outsized footprint in the last couple, three decades on the part of the federal government in education,” she said. “And it’s my goal to extract us from a lot of those spaces. I will welcome your thoughts on what we need to be doing less of. And if there are areas to be doing more of, what are those areas?”” Shortly after the inauguration Rolling Stone reported; “Betsy DeVos just bought herself a nice little cabinet position. On Tuesday afternoon, most Senate Republicans – all but Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski – voted to confirm the billionaire Amway heiress as secretary of education. It cost her $115,000 in personal donations to sitting Republican senators; $950,000 more has flowed in from the DeVos family over the last three-and-a-half decades. And another $8.3 million from the DeVoses has gone to Republican super PACs in the last two election cycles alone. Not cheap! But it got the job done. And no one should expect her family’s financial manipulation of Republican senators to stop there. In fact, if what the DeVoses have done in Michigan is any indication, she and her family are likely just getting started trying to buy Republican support for their radical agenda.” (Betsy DeVos Just Bought Herself a Trump Cabinet Position. She and her family are likely just getting started trying to buy Republican support for their radical education agenda by Tessa Stuart, 2-7-17). Pre-inauguration Politico headlined “Trump rewards big donors with jobs and access Contributors who met with Trump gave about $59 million in support of his campaign and other Republicans, averaging more than $800,000 per donor.” by Isaac Arnsdorf, 12-27-2016. Analysis indicates that America is abandoning government by the people, of the people, for the people in favor of a two tier system that embraces government by and for those who can afford to pay, with the rest becoming those serving, or rather, servicing this government. After all, we are constantly reminded of how we now have become a service driven economy. Newark’s downtown SID confirms the two tier system. This is now the new normal.

Licking County Has No Housing Problem

August 27, 2017

A seemingly mundane article headlined the 8-27-17 Sunday Advocate. County auditor may reject additional borrowing, cites state report by veteran Advocate journalist Kent Mallet reports on the fiscal condition of Licking County and its municipalities. Of note is “The state auditor’s financial health review of the 2016 performance of Ohio cities and counties shows Licking County government with 15 positive outlooks, one cautionary and one critical. The critical category is debt service expenditures to total revenue.” with the usual no problemo rebuttal “The commissioner [Tim Bubb] said he takes seriously the review from the state auditor, but maintains the county is in good financial shape. “It’s something we need to look at, but we’ve borrowed cautiously and have debt service capacity to repay it,” Bubb said. “If repayment was questionable, we probably wouldn’t have done the borrowing.”” Is it a problem? When is a problem a “problem”? Appearing the same day but requiring enormous commitment to read was an in depth Pro Publica/New York magazine publication entitled Is Anybody Home at HUD? By Alec MacGillis (8-27-17). The article describes a mini me version of the White House administration in terms of one of its cabinet positions – HUD. Along with the usual intrigues of nepotism and secrecy (press coverage suppression/manipulation) is a harrowing trail of fiscal activity. Analysis finds the article itself would justify its own post but must note only some of what is relevant: “HUD has long been something of an overlooked stepchild within the federal government. Founded in 1965 in a burst of Great Society resolve to confront the “urban crisis,” it has seen its manpower slide by more than half since the Reagan Revolution. (The HUD headquarters is now so eerily underpopulated that it can’t even support a cafeteria; it sits vacant on the first floor.) But HUD still serves a function that millions of low-income Americans depend on — it funds 3,300 public-housing authorities with 1.2 million units and also the Section 8 rental-voucher program, which serves more than 2 million families; it has subsidized tens of millions of mortgages via the Federal Housing Administration; and, through various block grants, it funds an array of community uplift initiatives.” Some giving rather ambiguous clarity as to the thinking, direction and leadership of its head, Ben Carson, would be: “On March 6 [2017], Carson arrived for his first day of work at headquarters. In introductory remarks to assembled employees, after he’d gotten the mic back from his wife, he surprised many by asking them to raise their hands and “take the niceness pledge.” He also went on a riff about immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, capped by this: “That’s what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder, for less. But they, too, had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”” ““You know, governments that look out for property rights also tend to look out for other rights. You know, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of all the things that make America America. So it is absolutely foundational to our success … On Sunday, I was talking to a large group of children about what’s happening with rights in our country. These are kids who had all won a Carson Scholar [an award of $1,000 that Carson has sponsored since 1994], which you have to have at least a 3.75 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale and show that you care about other people, and I said you’re going to be the leaders of our nation and will help to determine which pathway we go down, a pathway where we actually care about those around us and we use our intellect to improve the quality of life for everyone, or the pathway where we say, “I don’t want to hear you if you don’t believe what I believe, I want to shut you down, you don’t have any rights.” This is a serious business right now where we are, that juncture in our country that will determine what happens to all of us as time goes on. But the whole housing concern is something that concerns us all.” [5-2-17 speech to the American Land Title Association]” with the more recent clarification “(Just last week, Carson said, in the wake of racially tinged violence in Charlottesville, that the controversy over Trump’s support of white supremacists there was “blown out of proportion” and echoed the president’s “both sides” language when referring to “hatred and bigotry.”)”. Oh, the fiscal element in all this – “After word emerged in early March that the White House was considering cutting as much as $6 billion from the department, Carson had sent a rare email to HUD employees assuring them that this was just a preliminary figure. But as it turned out, Carson, as a relative political outsider lacking strong connections to the administration, was out of the loop: The final proposal crafted by Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney called for cutting closer to $7 billion, 15 percent of its total budget. Participants in the Section 8 voucher program would need to pay at least 17 percent more of their income toward rent, and there’d likely be a couple hundred thousand fewer vouchers nationwide (and 13,000 fewer in New York City). Capital funding for public housing would be slashed by a whopping 68 percent — this, after years of cuts that, in New York alone, had left public-housing projects with rampant mold, broken elevators and faulty boilers.” The previous day (8-26-17), reporting for AP, Jeff Martin and Robert Ray headlined Homeless wary as Atlanta closes its last-resort shelter. Of note: “For decades, as many as 1,000 people with nowhere else to turn could come off the street at Peachtree and Pine, no questions asked. But years of litigation wore down the shelter’s operators. After epic battles against the city, tuberculosis, bed bugs and other hazards, the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless settled out of court and sold its enormous industrial building to Central Atlanta Progress, a downtown business group.” “Atlanta, however, is closing Peachtree-Pine without having first developed the capacity to replace it, said Anita Beaty, who retired six months ago as executive director of the task force. “It’s a terrible mistake,” Beaty said. “The forces in Atlanta who don’t want homeless people visible — and certainly not on Peachtree Street — are extremely powerful.” The shelter occupies some the most valuable real estate in the South, a few blocks from the 55-story Bank of America Plaza, the city’s tallest skyscraper. Its occupants mingle with business executives and theater patrons on a stretch of Peachtree that includes the iconic Fox Theatre and the Georgian Terrace Hotel, where Clark Gable and other Hollywood stars stayed for the Atlanta premiere of “Gone With The Wind.” “All they want to do is build high-price housing that most people are not going to be able to afford, and that’s not just down here — that’s everywhere in the country,” said Anthony Murphy, 68, who has lived at Peachtree-Pine since 2011.” And the concluding “Having “low-barrier” shelter beds available to people who have been told they can’t stay elsewhere is a matter of life and death, said Carl Hartrampf, who has run the task force since Beaty left. “I believe they’re going to find out they need more than they think.”” Analysis indicates likewise.

 

Discerning Ohio Issue 2

August 13, 2017

The conventional wisdom coming from those covering Ohio and local news regarding Issue 2 is that “Folks just don’t know enough.” What is Issue 2, you say? See, you just don’t know enough. Analysis shows the pundits to be right. Knowledge wanting, the advertising blitz is on to buy your vote. The pro Issue 2 folks offer a small partial solution to the ever rising cost of healthcare. They are backed by the nurses’ union. Even Bernie Sanders’ image and voice from past speeches are featured in their ads. But wait! The anti Issue 2 folks have long time Democratic consultant and Innovation Ohio fixture Dale Butland doing the talk shows as a paid spokesman (the group’s communications director). Just another gig for brother Dale, you say? Their ads claim the backing of various Veterans groups as well as members of the medical industrial complex. Currently they are outspending the pro folks by 3:1. “Ohioans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue spent $9.7 million of the $15.8 million it has raised from May 30 to June 21, according to campaign finance reports filed Monday with the Ohio secretary of state. Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices raised $3.7 million from January through June 30 and has spent nearly all of it, according to its report.” (Issue 2 opponents spent $9.7 million against Ohio drug price measure, Laura Hancock for Cleveland.com, 7-31-17). Know more now than you did before? Of course not. In archive posts Analysis has indicated that part of the debacle of the climate change “debate” centers on “cause and effect” science versus “correlation” science. Cause and effect seeks absolute irrefutable proof, correlation employs artificial intelligence utilizing extensive data to reveal trends and likelihoods of great certainty. Case in point would be the recent Ohio State Fair ride tragedy. Non Destructive Tests (NDT) would have indicated a high probability of metal weakness and probable failure. But this is a correlation, not cause and effect. Cutting the metal parts (destruction) would definitively reveal their actual condition (absolute, irrefutable proof). When it comes to the future, cause and effect science is full proof, and would be nice. But it might be more practical and useful to employ correlation in many instances. Case in point would be the addition of a recent Washington Post article to that of Laura Hancock’s. “Study: Doctors received more than $46 million from drug companies marketing opioids” by Katie Zezima, 8-9-17 offers the following: “One in 12 doctors has received money from drug companies marketing prescription opioid medications, according to a study released Wednesday afternoon. Researchers at Boston Medical Center found that from 2013 to 2015, 68,177 doctors received more than $46 million in payments from drug companies pushing powerful painkillers. Researchers believe it is the first study to look at the practice of pharmaceutical companies marketing opioids to physicians.” “Doctors were paid the most for the promotion of fentanyl, which is typically used in hospitals to treat post-surgical pain, cancer patients and for end-of-life care. Most of the fentanyl driving the increase in deaths is illicitly manufactured overseas and cut into heroin. According to the study, companies were not aggressively marketing tamper-proof versions of pills, which were created in response to the opioid crisis.” “According to [author Scott] Hadland’s study, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health, about two-thirds of the payments came from speaking fees. About 700 doctors raked in nearly 83 percent of the total money spent marketing to physicians. Pharmaceutical companies spent freely around the country, but some of the states hit hardest by the opioid crisis, including Indiana, Ohio and New Jersey, recorded the most payments to doctors.” Add to that the multiple lawsuits, settled or pending, in West Virginia, Ohio, Mississippi, Oklahoma, etc. involving pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, and Issue 2 begins to look a little different. Cause and effect certainty?  Without knowing anything for certain, are you beginning to discern something about Ohio Issue 2?

Send In The Clowns

June 28, 2017

The news out of Newark this week includes the campaign by Republican council person at large (and rising GOP star), Mark Fraizer, to rid Newark of circus (Please refrain from uttering the snide comment that “Newark is….”). Much of the online commentary swivels on his need to represent the dollars and cents interests of his constituency (which “at large” would include just about anyone and everyone). There is an under current of disappointment that someone who listed working in a bank on his candidacy resume would choose not to concern himself with fiscal issues but rather ones embraced by “interest” groups like PETA. In More Hannah Arendt (previous post, 6-22-17), Analysis pointed to the difference between politics situated amongst interest groups and that within a totalitarian environment, where the politics swirls around either being for or against the dominant party (the need to win at all costs, anything whatsoever). Analysis paraphrased a quote Arendt pulled from the official handbook for the Hitler Youth, The Nazi Primer (New York, 1938). The original quoted line reads “We shape the life of our people and our legislation according to the verdicts of genetics.” Analysis substituted “economics” for “genetics.” How do they differ?  The dictionary gives “the study of heredity and the variation of inherited characteristics.” for genetics. For economics there are two given interpretations: “the branch of knowledge concerned with the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth.” and “the condition of a region or group as regards material prosperity.” Either interpretation, they are united by concern for material prosperity taken as production, consumption and transfer of wealth. Both genetics and economics have one glaring thing in common – neither are a science (as indicated in the definition). Neither can make a plane fly, change hydrogen and oxygen atoms into water, or prevent tooth decay. If it were so, we certainly wouldn’t have experienced the financial meltdown of 2007-8 and the great recession that followed, nor would there be such outrage over the “scientific” genetic experiments perpetrated by various government sanctioned individuals, here and abroad (think Dr. Mengele, American slave breeders, or Soviet aptitude selection). 100 years ago genetics was one of the operative forms of “knowledge” used to justify segregation, colonial administration, relocating Native American children to church run boarding schools, etc. Genetics essentially gave the alibi for why some people were complete human beings and others were just human wannabe’s, in need of development, etc. Bear in mind, dear reader, that it was not a science but was a “branch of knowledge” very prevalent within the world at that time (we’re not talking DNA here but the shape of a person’s skull, nose or color of skin).  Economics has supplanted genetics in today’s world order. What isn’t justified by, or doesn’t have economics as its alibi? (Think jumping ahead in line for a higher fee at the historic jail haunted hoochie, or health care if you’re not familiar with Halloween in Newark) Which brings us back to Mark Fraizer, his Grand Old Party, and interest based self-governance (where groups representing specific interests interact to form cohesive civil government through a democratic process). This blog doesn’t need to reference the continuous debate over whether some or any government decision or policy makes money, costs money and the “economics” involved (jobs created, wealth distribution, tax breaks, etc.). A funny thing happens on the way to government in the US today. If it is something ”interest” based, it immediately is cast into the margins by the call to be with us (for the economics involved) or against us (trying to subvert the market, consumers or wealth distribution). With his desire to bring the big top down in Newark, Mark ventures into this nether region of an appeal to interest, a public interest that is not economics. Analysis shows that eventually this will put him at odds with the GOP’s dominance, which prefers to actively shape the life of our people and our legislation according to the verdicts of economics. Will Mark submit and toe the party line? Or will he require Newark’s finest to respond to clown sightings at the American Clown Academy or the Kiwanis BIG Show?

 

More Hannah Arendt

June 22, 2017

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.”