Posts Tagged ‘hegemony’

Spiritual Break

March 14, 2017

Whatever became of all the statistics and figures that flooded the media after the financial meltdown of 2008? You know, the various accounts of who owns what, and how much of what is earned goes where, etc. Things like that 43% of all Americans have no net worth, perhaps even owe more than they can pay (“choosing” to make health insurance payments via credit card is akin to Pay Day lending). Or that the majority of wealth generated during the first (and following) years of the recovery went to the top 1% of Americans, mostly to the top .6% at that. Have they just ceased to be, gone away? Almost as a Trump precursor, Ohio still preferred the business first gospel of John Kasich, electing him governor although Occupy “occupied” much of the discussion around these matters in 2010. Six years later, as a presidential wannabe, John touted the “Ohio economic miracle” for getting out of recession. Come 2017 he engages his fellow Republicans with Ohio being in a recession. In or out, how are we to know? Today all is “leadership, predominant influence, or domination” by the GOP (the dictionary definition of “hegemony”). Representative government is determined by apportionment of voting districts through this party’s actions. Policies, agendas, and priorities are determined by their super majority legislature, executive and judicial branches of government. Ditto on the Federal level. Is it any wonder all talk of who owns what, and how much, has ceased? How can this be returned to relevance? Today’s news is that Ohio is only second to Nevada in terms of gambling population, yet in the past year the state’s share of revenue from gambling casinos and lottery tickets has dwindled. Also down has been the state’s revenue from income taxes (no mystery there as the governor and legislature have and continue to favor cutting income taxes). In addition, revenue from retail sales taxes has dropped, along with the commercial activities tax. Liquor revenue is the exception, but that is taken by JobsOhio. The recent report by JobsOhio shows a 10% decline in new jobs over previous years (which cannot be verified independently, even by State Auditor Yost, so the reader must take JobsOhio’s word for it). The party of hegemony continues to promote, advocate and act in accordance with cutting taxes and cutting services – locally, state wide and federally. Ditto was done drastically with the speed of business in Kansas, only to have failed miserably. Ostensibly “employers” are saying jobs go unfilled due to lack of skills (even though Skill Games parlors abound). The stock market is at all time record highs. Someone is generating wealth to purchase stock at those prices. Who is accumulating wealth from all these “economically sound and prudent” policies? (refer to above for a clue) The major manifestation of late term capitalism, enabled by the hegemony of “business first” government, is the overwhelming preponderance of positive attitude – if you contribute or support making lots of money, then you are amazing, fantastic, a quality American. If you inhibit or impede that through regulation, criticism or “quality of life” concerns, then you are worthless – demeaned and disparaged. Any wonder? (refer to above for a clue) In Mexico, along the border, are factories and workshops known as a maquiladora. Mass produced assembly line goods destined to fulfill US consumer desire originate there. Security is tight. Little gets out about workers, conditions and practices within a maquiladora. To speak openly is to invite personal hardship. “In another segment of the video [Yoshua Okon’s “Canned Laughter”, 2006], the workers are taking a break, holding hands and meditating. In case the viewer might be tempted to think that this is a union meeting, the counterpoint to the assembly line, Okon explains that the workers he interviewed told him about mandatory “spiritual breaks” in the maquiladoras; they are organized, in his words, for the workers to be “thankful for being exploited.”” (Even Laughter? From Laughter in the Magic Theater to the Laughter Assembly Line by Anca Parvelescu) Does hegemony likewise demand a spiritual break?

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Voter ID

September 14, 2016

“Evictions still on rise in Licking County despite recovery” headlines reporting by Jennifer Smola for The Columbus Dispatch (9-13-16). Smola writes that “The number of eviction cases filed in Licking County Municipal Court has steadily increased each year since 2010. Last year, the county logged 1,078 cases, an increase of 8.6 percent from a decade earlier, in 2006, before the Great Recession. The county is on track for a similar number this year, with 712 cases. The eviction hearings occur once every two weeks, and a court date late last month had 82 eviction cases — the most this year.” Later she reports the irony that “Regionally, mortgage delinquencies and foreclosure rates are down, according to a report last month from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, which covers Ohio and parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky. But despite those improvements, roughly 50 to 70 percent of low-income renters struggle with housing costs, the report said.” Bear in mind, dear reader, that Analysis has repeatedly covered the success story narrated by Tim Bubb and Grow Licking County. See his 2015 year in review (“A look back and ahead for Licking County” Newark Advocate 1-10-16). Indeed, overall unemployment places Licking County under 5%, within the state’s rate. And nationally the recovery is begrudgingly working, making the rich richer and the poor statistically not growing. So what gives with the growing evictions given the jobs are there along with “consumer confidence”? Smola considers “Despite low unemployment rates and reports of economic growth, the picture of recovery isn’t always as rosy as it’s portrayed to be, [local Newark activist David] Greene said. Wages remain low, and many jobs that are available locally are only part time, temporary or seasonal, he said.” Analysis reveals this to be an incomplete (and unsatisfying) explanation. A Wall Street Journal graphic from 6-21-16 (“Not Just the 1%: The Upper Middle Class Is Larger and Richer Than Ever” Josh Zumbrun) lists the various percentages of “class” population in the US. The poor (under $30,000 per year) at roughly 20%, the lower middle class (30-50,000) 17%, the middle class (50-100,000) comprises 32% and the upper middle class (100,000-350,000) at 29%. The rich (over 350,000) displace 2%. The 20% poverty rate has remained essentially flat lined for the last 50 years, yet evictions in Newark are growing. In a PBS Newshour article entitled “There’s less middle in the middle class as income inequality grows, Pew analysis finds” (5-12-16) Kai Ryssdal (Host & Senior Editor, PBS Marketplace) says “If you stop seven people — 10 people on the street, probably seven of them would say I am the middle class.” This is borne out by the WSJ “class” distinctions of “upper” middle class, middle class, and “lower” middle class instead of upper, middle and lower. Rich, middle class, and poor is how the politicians in this election year have divvied up the masses. More on this later. Ryssdal confirms Greene, but more completely: “Wages have been stagnant in this economy for decades now, right, which means incomes and household wealth are stagnant, which means there is more income inequality. And when you have income inequality, you have more going to the low end, you have more going to the high end, and those drivers of prosperity in America [the middle] are getting, as you said in the beginning, hollowed out.” The Pew findings, along with the WSJ article, find that although the poor and the rich have maintained the same percentage of population, the middle class (the middle) has shifted with roughly 2/3’s getting richer (increasing the percentage of the “upper” middle class) and 1/3 getting poorer (increasing the “lower” middle class). Not noted within the Fed report is that rents have been following the middle class, with landlords erring on the side of upward mobility in setting rents. More people today cannot afford rent though there aren’t statistically more “poor”. Politicians (Dem as well as GOP) have remained fixated on the rich, poor, middle distinction. With the poor remaining in stasis, no emphasis is placed on measures to create affordable housing. It is easier to speak of “jobs” as the solution. The 2/3 of the middle class that benefitted from the recovery would likewise explain the “base” that has materialized and supported the presidential candidacy of Donnie Trump. These folks have the most to lose with any political maneuvering that would integrate the “lower” middle class with the poor (creating an overall 37% of the population within a lower class status, in need of public support programs). It is this appeal to the fear of losing the gains accrued within the Obama recovery that drives the Trump candidacy. After all, the reality of loss is certainly manifest within the evictions suffered by those who did not benefit from the Obama recovery, the 37% in the lower class. Losses in the middle and “upper” middle class would not be found here, but rather in the Fed’s mortgage delinquencies and foreclosure rates. No wonder voter ID is such a huge issue. “If you stop seven people — 10 people on the street, probably seven of them would say I am the middle class.” But how many would identify as “upper’, middle or “lower” class?

Biopolitics Laid Bare

August 13, 2016

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

In The Hall Closet

June 27, 2016

Newark once again is considering putting a personal income tax increase on the ballot (Newark voters may see income tax increase on ballot, Newark Advocate, 6-26-16). Go not so far back in the way back machine, dear reader, to an Advocate editorial at the end of 2015 looking forward to the upcoming year (2016 holds much promise for Newark, 12-27-15). In it the editorial board pinned all its hopes and confidence on the newly elected Republican majority, coupled with the Republican city administration (not to mention the State judiciary). Analysis wonders whether Mayor Jeff Hall kept his cheerleading outfit from the last income tax campaign. Will it still fit? We all seem to fill out around the middle with the passage of time and the same old same old. No mention of whether it is to be on the ballot in the fall, down ticket from the presidential and senate selections. Given the current “populist” penchant of the Republican party, the mayor better have some pretty good routines perfected. The lackluster, mediocre “Rah, Rah” of the previous campaign won’t cut it. Will the mayor take to tweeting instead of twerking? Then again, perhaps the behind the scenes politicians know something about the future of the Republican party post Trump that isn’t readily available to the rest of us, and that The Advocate has no financial incentive to reveal (or could it be, has financial incentive not to reveal? You choose). Do income tax increases loom in the every man’s paycheck with a Trump presidency? Has Ronald Reagan become an emoji? Pardon the digression. Analysis is more interested in the closet politicians, the behind the scenes persons who decide what the downtown should look like, what gets done, in what order, what roads to widen and change direction to accommodate their vision, what bridges to rebuild, what is under developed (and out of reach) and what is worth developing (and on the margins). Yes Virginia, corporations are now persons, closeted political leaders. Analysis finds the increased rate of taxation on the proposed income tax hike not to have been arrived at with the throw of a dart. The original lesser percent increase failed ballot approval. In accord with the new Trump logic, the administration doubled down on the increase. It will be absolutely fantastic. You’ll love it, a huge success. And we’ll get the out of town workers to pay for it! Analysis finds an income tax to be essentially a tax imposed on revenue generated. A personal income tax is one imposed upon the revenue generated by a person. Closeted politicians have successfully achieved income tax cuts, abatements and credits for their person while excluding their own revenue stream from any “personal” income tax. Operating “behind the scenes,” who is to question that the needs of the city can only be met by a personal income tax increase? Just arrived, by Amazon Prime and waiting in the Hall closet, is a brand new cheerleading outfit. Go Bucks!

Babe

June 8, 2016

This week Analysis witnessed a scene straight out of the movie Babe. US Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, surrounded by his party flock of senate cronies, bleated out to his party’s presidential candidate “No biting. No more biting!” A more telling sign of the times was US Speaker of the House (and ditto party member) Paul Ryan’s passionate disavowal of the very same party presidential candidate’s doubled down public statements. Analysis couldn’t help but note that even after the righteously indignant disavowal, Paul Ryan went on to say he still endorses his party’s candidate and will vote for him. His presidency is in the best interest of the Republican agenda and priorities. Does this bounty of disavowals (after endless apology) indicate a new Jim Crow era where the openly apparent perception of trauma is immediately disavowed and hushed-up without debate or conversation? Analysis finds this to be evidence of a culture of silence meant to enforce party discipline of closing ranks in order to maintain a fabricated history of events necessary for an ideological agenda and aspirations. On a local level Analysis has already witnessed (and noted, posts Ted Cruz Joke 3-18-16 and Super Hero Welcome 4-3-16) this with County Commissioner Tim Bubb’s “I have no idea. For Pat Tiberi, it’s not just a Licking County question, it’s a United States question. I’m not going to be critical of Pat.” after being told to hush-up with regard to the diminishing funding of Licking County Job and Family Services. We are currently witnessing this disavowal of trauma with its culture of silence to ensure a discipline of membership inclusion and continuity. The growing public need coupled with the under funding of Job and Family Services is an open wound. It is disavowed as a dereliction of Licking County responsibility. The culture of silence is enforced by referring to it as a “problem of funding” in order to promote the ideological agenda and aspirations of “business first” in the form of tax breaks, credits and abatements. This maintains a fabricated history of scarcity and diminished public assistance programs not being affected by an economics of austerity. Such a constructed history links Job and Family Services’ response to public need with social entitlement and privilege while maintaining the discipline of silence over the actual entitlement and privilege programs of business tax breaks, credits, abatements and public/private “job creation” incentives. Jim Crow? “Know the feeling, Babe.”

National Conversation

June 3, 2016

“We need to have a conversation about…” race, the opioid epidemic, gun safety, police, income inequality, housing, etc. The list could or would seem incessant, but what is “the conversation”? Of the multiple meanings of the word “support”, the dictionary gives a socially oriented one of “to maintain (a person, family, institution, etc.) with the necessities of existence; provide for”. Today the word seems to have become just another synonym of “purchase” or “buy”. We are asked to support the local vendors at the Farmers Market, or support a local restaurant, or support community service through “shopping” (another synonym of the current use of “support”) at the local thrift store. Like it or not “to maintain with the necessities of existence; provide for” is not at all the same as “buying”, “purchasing” or “shopping” within a competitive capitalist economy. Sure, the end results of maintaining existence may appear to be the same, at least until “provide for” is considered (aka go fund me). “Support” seems to have morphed into “purchase” with the financial meltdown of the Bush presidency, and the “Great” recession implicated by it. But then, George W’s first reaction to 911 was to tell his fellow citizens to go out and buy stuff, a pick up truck or hummer. The roots of its meaning transformation may be deeper than the collapse of Lehman Bros. Like “support”, “conversation” seems likewise to have slid into meaning something not exactly the same as the dictionary definition which implies some kind of “interchange of thoughts, information, etc.” The recently endured national primary contests, as well as the anticipated (and loathed) general election campaign, give evidence of another meaning entirely. The financial meltdown of 2008, and the ensuing years of recession filled with lack, brought with it an overabundance of speculative questioning by journalists, scholars, economists, etc. Is capitalism capable of addressing the public needs left over from catastrophes and disasters? Can capitalism, and the market, provide the necessities of housing, food distribution, medical care? People were definitely out of work with their homes in foreclosure and the food pantries emptied. Everyone clamored that there needs to be a national conversation on this. That was 8 years ago. Today we have the harvest of a two party system that has specifically sowed legislation limiting democracy to a choice between only two, over the past century if not more. Recent evidence of this within Ohio was the quick legislative change of third party ballot eligibility during the race for re-election by John Kasich in 2014. The current (and loathed) presidential contest pits a neo-liberal against a “self made” salesman of the virtues of marketing. Neo-liberalism is all about personal choice, and making markets available (and inevitable) in virtually everything, and to everyone. The “liberal” vestiges (if any) are the “virtually everything, and to everyone”, making it appear progressive, concerned with the welfare of all (whether in terms of free trade agreements, meals on wheels or low interest school loans). The “self made” salesman for the virtues of marketing doesn’t disguise his absolute lack of interest “to maintain with the necessities of existence; provide for” the welfare of others. If you can’t afford it, get out. As Newt Gingrich put it so succinctly when he ran for president “take a shower and get a job.” The “self made” salesman phrases it more positively, “We love those who go to work for us.” Both the neo-liberal and the salesman are in agreement over the positivity that must be extended to the electorate (neither willing to diss those who vote), as well as being united in their underlying commitment and dedication to profit. The “interchange of thoughts, information, etc.” concerning matters of social urgency and significance can only be made within the bounds of marketing, business and profit (thoughts about how to profit, business information, etc.). Any “conversation” outside that envelope simply will not pass postal regulation, whether it contributes or not, and is relegated to the dead letter file. Since the financial meltdown of 2008, “conversation” has experienced the same slippage as “support”. “Conversation” is more about “closing the deal” than any “interchange of thoughts, information, etc.” We ought to have a national conversation about that.

The Good Is To Be Done Because It Is Good, Not Because It Goes Somewhere

May 1, 2016

The Washington Post headlined the passing of Daniel Berrigan (Daniel J. Berrigan, pacifist priest who led antiwar protests, dies at 94, Colman McCarthy, 4-30-16). Politics from the past involving figures not noted today. The cliché is that history is written by the winners, those who are successful. After the various comings and goings of success in the last twenty years, from the first Clinton presidency Dot Com economic hysteria through the Bush years financial meltdown to “What do we do with the Basket Building?” and today’s “it’s not the economy, stupid!” presidential politics, Analysis can’t help but wonder how, or what kind of history can or will be written. Within that context it was refreshing to read the obituary. An obituary refreshing? Several days prior, PBS Newshour ran a segment entitled “Artist Theaster Gates turns Chicago’s empty spaces into incubators for culture” (4-26-16). The end of the interview brought the following exchange:

“JEFFREY BROWN: His newest project, undertaken in his position as director of arts and publics life at the nearby University of Chicago, extends the idea to an entire city block, a burgeoning art block in the Washington Park neighborhood. It includes an arts incubator for cultural groups and classes in woodworking and more for young people.

THEASTER GATES: As you finish high school and go to college, come back for the summer, go back to college, come back after you graduate, that it’s really that relationship that will make these buildings work over time.

JEFFREY BROWN: There’s also a cafe and a bookstore where musicians regularly perform. On the drawing table, a large performance space for plays and concerts. And what’s the idea behind it, an anchor or an engine to grow, or how do you see it?

THEASTER GATES: So, maybe words like engines and anchors are good words. But I think first it needed to just be a place where culture could happen, that before we had to think about it as an economic generator or a cultural anchor, it’s just like, can I have a place to rehearse my play?

JEFFREY BROWN: Simple? Yes.

THEASTER GATES: Yes, absolutely. Can we have a place to make our music? Can our kids learn art here?” Gates final words in the interview:

“THEASTER GATES: What I love about art is that the power of the symbolic work has so much potential to do more than the thing on the ground. And so I think about ripples. I think about affect. I think about symbolism. But I don’t think that there are limits on what’s possible. Not only do poor people have a right to beautiful things, but people have the right not to be poor anymore. And I think that that feels like it’s worth making art about and fighting for.” (from the transcript)

Analysis finds this outlook, this reasoning to resonate with what Daniel Berrigan has to say at the conclusion of McCarthy’s obit: “In a 2008 interview in the Nation magazine, Father Berrigan echoed a line of Mother Teresa’s that spiritual people should be more concerned about being faithful than being successful.

“The good is to be done because it is good, not because it goes somewhere,” he said. “I believe if it is done in that spirit it will go somewhere, but I don’t know where. . . . I have never been seriously interested in the outcome. I was interested in trying to do it humanely and carefully and nonviolently and let it go.””

Trouble In Mind

April 15, 2016

Analysis always finds it disconcerting to pick up on area news from an outside the area source (see archive Not News, 3-9-16). Again, “Ohio State Turns the Concept of ‘Safe Space’ Against Student Protesters; Activists were cleared from a building by officials who claimed that they were making university employees feel scared.” By Conor Friedersdorf for The Atlantic (4-14-16) creates this disruption of confidence in local news access. The story itself is troubling. “At Ohio State last week, a sit-in and protest inside a university building was cut short when students were warned that they would be forcibly removed by police, arrested, and possibly expelled if they did not vacate the premises within a few hours, by 5 a.m.” Again, from “outside the bubble” as Harry Shearer would say, we learn that outdoor demonstrations against new labor law reforms in France have been taking place nightly in Paris since March 9, 2016. The movement, entitled “Nuit Debout” (Standing Night) has since spread to 30 cities outside Paris, with the latest confrontation involving the arrest of children in Montpellier (France: Riot police spray Montpellier students with tear gas during protest By Alex Wheeler, International Business Times, 4-14-16). All very much akin to last summer’s unreporting of “Every Saturday for nearly two months, Constitution Square outside Guatemala City’s National Palace has overflowed with thousands of protesters demanding an end to corruption and the resignation of President Otto Perez Molina.” (from the UK’s Telegraph) You may also like the AP’s More UMass student protesters arrested during second sit-in (4-14-16). “Police say the 19 students booked on Wednesday were protesters who did not exit the building peacefully after a dispersal order was issued. They were charged with trespassing and were arraigned in Eastern Hampshire District Court. Fifteen protesters were similarly arrested at Tuesday night’s sit-in.” Then again, a Yuuuuge demonstration has evolved on line for tonight in front of the Grand Hyatt hotel in Manhattan where Donnie Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich are scheduled to speak. But back to the unreported Ohio State Student Union demonstration which is much more troubling in its broader implications. Just a little over a year ago a non-demonstration outside the Ohio Student Union was brutalized by Columbus police using horse mounted officers and pepper spray (Riot Cops Use Tear Gas on Columbus Crowds After Ohio State Win, NBC News, 1-13-15). Bear that violence in mind as Friedersdorf quotes Dr. Drake’s representatives: “Our goal, because I want you to understand why we would do something like this—I didn’t think we were going to—but the consensus of university leaders is that the people who work in this building should be protected also. They come to work around 7 o’clock. Do you remember when you all made the rush down there and chanted to the folks outside the doors a minute ago? That scared people.” Friedersdorf goes on to write: “That elicited disbelief from protesters. Who was scared, they scoffed, the police officers with guns? Said the university messenger, “If you refuse to understand what I’m trying to tell you—I’m not going to answer that question,” meaning he refused to say who it scared. Soon after, his sidekick steps in, saying, “It would scare employees who are wanting to do their work in this building.” Added the first messenger, “The employees who work past five o’clock left early this evening. Do you know why? Because they were scared you were going to do something.” Said messenger two, “That’s the truth you guys. I talked to several of them when they walked out of here.” Their consensus position: “The people in this building have a right to a safe environment, and to an environment where their jobs won’t be interrupted.”” Analysis wonders if this is a new variation on the ongoing Right To Work laws or something else. Analysis finds this to be something else, a new variation on the oft repeated theme for police/paramilitary shootings where the shooter “feared for their life” as justification for the shooting (George Zimmerman’s purported rationale, repeated since ad nauseam by various shooters). This is particularly insidious in light of the Constitutional Rights which are disregarded (trampled on) for the sake of being scared, in fear of one’s life, terrified (which leads into the war on those who terrify, the war on terror). While the second amendment right of bearing arms, whether through concealed or open carry, is not sufficient cause for being scared, in fear for one’s life, or terrified, people assembled or exercising speech is considered scary. This new line of policing is even more pernicious in light of the SCOTUS ruling not allowing for “safe spaces” in front of abortion clinics in order to keep those entering or working there from being scared, fearing for their lives, or being terrified by the folks outside exercising their Constitutional Rights of assembly and speech. Analysis finds all of this occurring within the Patriot Act environment, manufactured specifically to protect citizens from being scared or terrified, to be quite troubling.

League Of Leaders

April 14, 2016

Like the swallows returning to Capistrano (wiki it), the area public airwaves have filled with numbers to call for sustaining donations. Of course, donate whatever you can, at whatever amount you are comfortable with. But the recipients of the donor’s largesse offer bonuses and incentives – funding levels. One area station offers the requisite coffee mug/keychain for the minimum contribution, rising up through Tee shirts and decorated throws all the way to membership in the League of Leaders, where instead of receiving something, the sugar daddy (or mommy) gets to give their advice, business direction, management expertise to the ever attentive program director herself, etc. If the present presidential election is any barometer of culture, Americans like their leaders to be wealthy. Quick, without looking at your smartphone, who was the last white, un-wealthy leader you can think of? Ralph Nader? Maybe. Richard Trumpka? For a while. Let’s hear from the ladies out there? Can I get a witness? The silence is deafening. People of color? Oh plenty when we go down that road, whether radical or conventional. Why is that? Then again, that too is changing. No, it is a safe overgeneralization and simplification to state that Americans associate leadership with wealth. Somehow that makes us feel comfortable. No sense to go through the 1%, 99% stats of how CEO’s of companies make beaucoup more salary (and perks) than those making their wealth possible. How often does one hear that tax funded public institutions must offer continuous pay scale upgrades to attract “the best” for their leadership positions, be it superintendent, manager or even coach? In wealth we trust. To those having acquired it we attribute various virtues and qualities like foresight, wisdom, talent, affability, and in general, the taste and discernment of what is the best for all. Recently, a league of leaders, the majority of which were not elected (but well funded just the same), toured the tottering relic of Dave Longaberger’s corporate vision and foresight. For the pre-wiki generation, Dave was a beacon of business leadership in this part of central Ohio. He “saved” the Midland theater, as well as the present, and only, hotel in town. He brought “jobs” to the Dresden/Frazeysburg area, and eventually the corporate headquarters to an annexed just-for-you part of Newark. Now the paint is coming off the handles of his basket dream. Sigh. Another league of leaders gathered in the state’s capital recently to decide whether to fund First Energy’s and AEP’s request for a corporate welfare fee to be imposed on its customers to ensure continued ownership of redundant coal fired power plants. Like the Newark league, the utility commission is also primarily unelected, appointed “leaders”. The leaders ultimately voted to allow the corporate welfare fees to be imposed. Bear in mind, dear reader, this took place after a moratorium was put in place on state renewable energy requirements by, in this case, the very elected leaders who previously had mandated the requirements. Today we learned that Peabody Coal, the nation’s largest coal mining company, filed for bankruptcy. AP’s Jim Salter reports (Peabody, largest US coal miner, seeks bankruptcy protection, 4-13-16) “The bankruptcy filing comes less than three months after another from Arch Coal, the country’s second-largest miner, which followed bankruptcy filings from Alpha Natural Resources, Patriot Coal and Walter Energy.” It is no surprise that one of the top contenders for the 2016 presidential race has been in bankruptcy filings several times. His actual wealth is not accounted for or verified. Like Peabody, Longaberger, and many, many others (both league members and not), his wealth is assumed, as is his leadership. Analysis finds all of this akin to what in sports reporting (and economics) is described as a bubble. The association of wealth with leadership creates completely uncritical conclusions like that leadership contributes to wealth, and that members of the league of leaders, through their “contributions”, have the public’s best interest as a priority.

Is Everyone Unhappy?

April 1, 2016

“I’m not happy unless you’re unhappy” seems to be an underlying, almost subliminal mantra within a good part of the political aspirant for the future of self-governance here in the US of A (both individual as well as ideological). Quick, without checking a smartphone, what was the reason given by the freshly, first time elected Mayor Jeff Hall for why Newark’s streets could not be paved? No, you don’t need to phrase it in the form of a question. That’s right, the bungled Longaberger public- private partnership. Well, just like Arnold, it’s back. The Newark Advocate headlines “Leaders discuss Big Basket future without Longaberger” by Kent Mallett (3-31-16). “The company [parent company JRJR Networks] owed $472,859 in delinquent property taxes for the Big Basket on Feb. 17, and will owe $568,132 at the end of the year.” But wait, superheroes “Mayor Jeff Hall, former Longaberger President Jim Klein, developer Jerry McClain, chamber President and CEO Cheri Hottinger, County Commissioner Tim Bubb, Newark Development Partners Director Fred Ernest, Grow Licking County Director Nate Strum and representatives from higher education and local foundations discussed ideas for the building.” Holy love handles, Bubbman, this could be fraught with danger! No problemo, Wan Woman “Hottinger said the building could be used for seminars. It has a large cafeteria area and a 100- to 120-seat theater, with a stage, several conference areas for board meetings or training. The building could have a tourism function to it, she said, but still needs multiple tenants and at least one pretty large company before it also could be used as a visitors’ center.” According to the official Licking County website “‘Grow Licking County’ is a Community Improvement Corporation and a cooperative effort between Licking County Government, The Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority, and the Licking County Chamber of Commerce.” “based at the Licking County Chamber of Commerce”. So much for getting the streets paved, Boy Blunder. On the state level we find “Republican Gov. John Kasich’s administration is moving forward with plans to require more than 1 million low-income Ohioans to pay a new monthly cost for Medicaid or potentially lose coverage.” (Waiver readied to require cost-sharing in Medicaid, Ann Sanner for AP, 3-31-16). For those of you keeping score at home, we just learned of Jobs and Family Services losing funding through a program promoted by Newark’s US Congressperson (and all around good guy) Pat Tiberi after losing previous funding from the State, never restored by its wannabe US president. That self same presidential candidate nationally justified his embrace of Medicaid (while vowing to destroy the ACA), on religious (compassionate) grounds. Folks are on Medicaid because they can’t afford medical care (let alone premiums). “But I can’t be happy, till I make you unhappy too.” Is everyone unhappy? Almost, but not quite! “Ohio assures profits for 2 energy companies” by Jessie Balmert for Gannett (3-31-16) reports that “The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in a 5-0 vote Thursday approved plans from Akron-based FirstEnergy and Columbus-based American Electric Power that require customers to subsidize aging plants.” And “Ohio Consumers’ Counsel initially estimated the plans would cost customers as much as $6 billion over eight years. That amounted to an extra $800 for every FirstEnergy customer and $700 for every AEP customer over that time.” After what we’ve witnessed with the price of petroleum, FirstEnergy and AEP must be very happy. But wait, there’s more! “Republicans lied in Wisconsin: Here’s how you know the state’s voter ID law is a complete sham Wisconsin GOPers insisted the law wasn’t intended to suppress the vote. A new report suggests that wasn’t true” by Elias Isquith, staff writer for Salon (3-30-16). “On April 5, when voters cast ballots in Wisconsin’s Republican and Democratic primaries, the state’s controversial voter ID bill will face its biggest test since Governor Scott Walker signed it into law in 2011. For the first time in a major election, citizens will be required to show approved forms of identification in order to vote. The law mandates that the state run a public-service campaign “in conjunction with the first regularly scheduled primary and election” to educate voters on what forms of ID are acceptable. But Wisconsin has failed to appropriate funds for the public education campaign.” Not only that, but “the Government Accountability Board [“the nonpartisan agency responsible for producing voter education materials”] decided against making a formal funding request to the legislature, which had already introduced a bill to dismantle the agency.” Isquith concludes “With anywhere between 200,000 to 350,000 Wisconsin citizens potentially facing disenfranchisement, according to [Pro Publica’s Sarah] Smith’s report, the voter ID law is on pace to work exactly as intended.” Is everyone unhappy?