Posts Tagged ‘Licking County Intel Project’

Welcome The Immigrant

October 2, 2022

            The upcoming midterm elections are deemed significant, or at least as significant as any, by national politicians, pundits and pollsters. Analysis finds it ironic how local politicians choose to remain silent on the matter. A recent AP article on Pa. politics made the astute, and ubiquitous, observation that the midterm elections are “about the high price of everything, about finding workers and good paying jobs, about the culture wars.” Analysis finds the first of that list to be code for inflation, and the last of the list to be a polite way of saying politics after the rise of Donald Trump. Put simply, inflation is too many dollars chasing too few goods. Analysis finds it obvious that no election, no matter the outcome, will solve the culture wars. The last one didn’t so why should we believe the next one will? Analysis finds the nebulous middle term to be the most incongruous. For all it is worth “finding workers and good paying jobs” could be used during any election for the last 75 years. Funny it is used so much today. The current national unemployment rate is 3.7%. The Ohio rate is 4% while the unemployment rate for Licking County is that of the nation – 3.7%. These are numbers that 50 years ago would have been considered “full employment”, meaning all those able and willing to work would have a job. So why is “finding workers and good paying jobs” an election year, or any other year, issue? It’s obvious that the very nature of capitalism is that it takes money to make money. And if you don’t have any money, you sell your labor. In a capitalist democracy, anyone can open a business. There is nothing to prevent the new business owner from laboring themselves on the job they have created as a self employed business. But capitalism is about using money, to make money. So the new business owner seeks to find individuals who can’t help but sell their labor to work for them, to make the business function. The old saw was that in every successful business there is eventually a spouse or offspring found working in a back room because they are “family” (for no remittance). Americans have no difficulty understanding the “high price of everything” yet they see the lack of workers and good paying jobs as somehow a 1930’s Depression era issue. It is not. It is a case of job inflation – too many employers chasing after too few workers, who have only their labor to sell. In Ohio “Jobs!” has been a political rainbow stew since the author of the Kent State massacre originated it (galloping Governor Jim Rhodes). The Intel plant isn’t being built in Monroe County (which has a 10.6% unemployment rate). Rather, it is appearing in a county that matches the national rate of unemployment. With the spin off industries and support businesses that accompany such growth, there will be a lot of “entrepreneurs” looking for someone else to labor for them so that they might become successful capitalists. Although this same phenomena is taking place all over the US, hence the 3.7% rate, it is assumed that these folks will just magically appear to fill these jobs, trained or not. Job inflation – too many employers chasing after too few workers – is a real issue. But the solution presented by some, mostly the GOP, is not a solution at all, but rather an aggravation of an existing unsustainable condition. Getting baby boomers to fill these jobs by securing the borders is totally unsustainable. At some point, sooner than later, the only sustainable solution is to welcome the immigrant.

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Space And Culture

September 11, 2022

            The 9-11-22 online Business Insider headlined “China plans three missions to the Moon after discovering a new lunar mineral that may be a future energy source” by Jyoti Mann. “It comes a day after China became the third country to discover a new lunar mineral, which it called Changesite-(Y), according to Chinese state-controlled newspaper the Global Times. China’s Chang’e-5 mission retrieved samples from the moon in 2020 and it has been described by Global Times as a “phosphate mineral in columnar crystal” found in lunar rock particles. The mineral contains helium-3, which could be a future source of energy.” Well, there goes the neighborhood! Which literally occurred in the US (more than once). American Experience aired the documentary “The Feud: for the Hatfields and McCoys, there were no winners” on PBS 9-7-22. “The Feud reveals more than an isolated story of mountain lust and violence between “hillbillies” — the Hatfield – McCoy feud was a microcosm of the tensions inherent in the nation’s rapid industrialization after the Civil War.” One of the things the documentary points out was the appropriation of small town Appalachian news, sensationalized by big city newspapers to sell copy, forming the mythological “hillbilly” culture which permeates to this very day. The other thing (amongst many) it shows that, akin to the motivations of today’s Chinese (and others), the greedy accumulation of coal, timber and land resulted in the dire poverty which the otherwise industrious and self sufficient native inhabitants eventually found themselves staked to. And, of course, bereft of land and resources, not to mention culture, they were forced to labor in mines and industry. Etc. We’ve seen that movie before with the elimination of “the commons” in the days of the pre-industrialization run up. Sound vaguely, and discomfortingly, familiar? How about the Intel shell game in Licking County? “The citizens of Ohio will be better off…” Yadda, Yadda. Analogous to the industrialists of the 19th century, the large scale financial institutions along with Intel are meaning to exploit something, and it ain’t undeveloped farmland. Analysis finds it to be space, AND culture. In the 1970’s, I 270 was built, ostensibly, to “relieve” the 70/71 congestion downtown. It was termed a “bypass’ at the time. Not. Downtown Cols withered and major development boomed along the “bypass.” Ditto years later with 670 and its ? spur heading from Easton to the tiny crossroads of New Albany. Like the 19th century Appalachian way of life, New Albany ceased to be. It is the space that is ripe for exploitation, that “nothing” is there AND that what is already there is not cohesive enough to withstand the violence of big money and its promises of Jobs! and “shared” (?) wealth. Just as the 19th century yellow journalists perpetuated the big lie of primitive Appalachians, so do today’s news sources perpetuate the myth of the rural/urban divide. At the end of the 20th century the US Census showed that the majority of small farmers (under 400 acres) had to have a source of off farm income (a job) in order to farm. Things are even more pressing today. In short, to live rural requires a job in town (just listen to the morning traffic report to verify that). The Jobs! promises promoting Intel (and other) development are superfluous to those already existing and employing the folks in “rural” America. Analysis finds that what will happen is the genuinely rural culture presently found within rural America will go the way of pre industrialized Appalachian culture. Akin to the time of “The Feud’, there is no cohesive culture to offset the large financial interest intent on exploiting the disconnected, and independent, fragility of rural living. In its place will be a further expansion of the culture now ubiquitously present in the spaces surrounding I 270 and its ? New Albany spur.

How A Capitalist Democracy Works

August 28, 2022

            The front page of the 8-28-22 Newark Advocate was a rare display of stories headlining American capitalism and democracy. Students of either ought to take note. Top headline story was “Intel shares tumble: Factory reboot fails to impress Wall Street” by Mark Williams for the Columbus Dispatch. Occupying the left single column was “Redistricting reform made bad maps. What’s next?” by Jessie Balmert for USA Today. Taking up the rest of the front page (with very large photo) is “‘Pick A Path’: Johnstown residents vote Tuesday on removal of council members” by the Advocate’s own Kent Mallett. Providing context or what was not written by these reporters, and appearing the same day online, was “Census Bureau: 3.8 million renters will likely be evicted in the next two months — why the rental crisis keeps getting worse” by Brian J. O’Connor for MoneyWise. Analysis quick and dirty synopsis of the articles shows the Intel story to be more of just that – the Intel story. Ground is already bought and being excavated (along with roads and infrastructure work). Questions remain about the viability of the production facility and whether or not it is “planned obsolescence”, which the Chips act (along with JobsOhio, public funding etc.) are subsidizing. All this is done in the name of “Jobs!”, which is not at all what the capitalist market (Wall Street) is about. ‘Pick A Path’ is American democracy as imagined and idealized. Fundamentally it is a recall of two small town government leaders (Mayor Chip Dutcher and Council President Marvin Block) in a recently designated city just a mile away from the borders of Intel-land. Of course it is about property values and future use based on the previous village history. Both Dutcher and Block stress their roots in the community which can be taken to mean they have owned their homes (and other local property) by choice, and the choice is Johnstown (aw shucks, you know us, we’re your neighbors). Both assume those voting will also own their own residence (if not more). “Redistricting reform made bad maps. What’s next?” certainly doesn’t answer the question. But it does give a play by play history of what made for bad maps and how the GOP mapmakers could thumb their noses at the Ohio Constitution and the Ohio Supreme court. Analysis finds the maps themselves, along with the article, to assume (along with the founding fathers) that voting is primarily for those who own property. The representative democracy voting districts are grounded in geography – property. “Census Bureau: 3.8 million renters will likely be evicted in the next two months — why the rental crisis keeps getting worse” gives context to the emphasis of property ownership and voting rights within contemporary Ohio. It is an article of statistics. “In the year before the pandemic, the country recorded a shortage of seven million affordable housing units for low-income renters, according to the Center for American Progress, creating a crisis that left just 37 affordable rental homes for every 100 low-income households looking to rent. And the homes that are available are often still out of reach. Rent rates are up nearly 25% since before the pandemic, with an increase of 15% in just the past 12 months, according to the real estate tracking service Zillow. Evictions are up, too, according to the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. In August, evictions were 52% above average in Tampa, 90% above average in Houston and 94% above average in Minneapolis-St. Paul.” The three years since have only aggravated the lack of availability of affordable housing. “The annual median household income for all renters in the U.S. is about $42,500, according to Zillow, 37% lower than the national median income of $67,500. As of early August, the Census Bureau reported that while 56% of renters had household incomes of less than $50,000, 24% of renters surveyed were paying more than $2,000 a month in rent. Nearly half of all renters — more than 30 million people — had been hit with rent hikes in the past 12 months, with 19% paying a monthly increase of $100 to $250, 7% paying $250 to $500 more and 4% needing to find another $500 a month to stay in their apartments.” Reading behind the lines of the Advocate’s front page stories one thing is overwhelmingly clear. Democracy in Ohio is reliant on and assumes property ownership. People who are without housing, as well as those in transition from one unit to another, cannot vote for their Ohio house and senate representatives, the very people who draw up the voting district maps.  In addition, they haven’t much say in the running of the municipality they find themselves in, be it Johnstown or Newark. Renters, along with those without housing, have little say in the distribution of services provided by the state, county or municipal government that collects taxes from them. In the end that tax money goes to subsidize corporate entities like Intel in order to assure “Jobs!” that provide the state, county and municipalities with more tax revenue. That’s how a capitalist democracy works.

We’ve Seen This Movie Before

June 24, 2022

            The nation’s news blockbuster this summer is God, Guns and Babies: God with the US Supreme Court ruling in favor of religious schools with equity of state public funding, Guns with the recent SCOTUS overturning of New York’s centuries old gun licensing regulation, and Babies with the Supreme’s latest hit single covering Roe. Is the reader beginning to detect a theme here? In Licking County Ohio the news has been pretty much a monogamous relation with Intel. Now Intel has floated the Idea of a possible split if they don’t get all of the expected dowry (kinda like old Elon Musk). Within the same week we get word that New Albany has agreed to a 30 year, 100% tax abatement for their suitor, Intel. Meanwhile, Intel has let slip that it won’t formally dive in without passage of the Chip legislation which has been languishing in congress. That legislation is to provide billions of dollars in federal subsidies to domestic micro chip manufacturers. No need to reference Fox Con’s Wisconsin debacle, heralded with much fanfare during the Trump administration (also another debacle, of a more sinister kind), and likewise on an enormous scale of jobs promised, economic redemption – Not! (but paling in comparison with Intel’s over the moon swooning) Licking County residents can’t tell if the current iteration of news they are forced to watch is a remake or rerun (does it matter?). They’ve seen it so many times before with the public private partnership deals made by JobsOhio, Grow Licking County, Newark Development Partners, as well as all the “just private” commitments to develop, only if the funding is provided by the state, county or municipality; usually in the form of tax credits (historic are the preferred genre), abatement or infrastructure subsidy, etc. They include, but are not limited to, things such as the Arcade, Central elementary apartments, “affordable housing” behind the north side Walmart (Not!), west and north Newark single family residential development, etc. All this involves community resources (public funding) used for the profits of private individuals (in archive news the Supremes designated corporations as individuals). It has all the earmarks of the “socialism” condemned by the right wing, free market fear machine. Only, because it is destined for Capitalist entrepreneurs, it can’t possibly be state sponsored socialism; more like state sponsored Capitalism which in the case of “Communist” China is considered negatively (how far off was Orwell?). The movie ends, as we all know, with the Intel tail wagging the Licking County dog.

Unspoken, And Unaccounted For

May 24, 2022

            Lots of continuous daily news dominates. In addition to the ever evolving Covid pandemic, there is the war in Ukraine, the politics of elections – current, past as well as upcoming – and the economy. Can’t forget the economy with its inflation, for which the preceding are given as reasons for its being. And here in Licking County Ohio the anticipated Intel workshop stains the daily news no matter what the reason (Analysis would say “sweatshop” but that’s no longer possible with the clean suits and clean rooms anticipated). Accompanying the near daily Intel stories are headlines like “280-acre commercial, industrial development coming to Harrison Township” (The Newark Advocate, 5-23-22) and other economic “growth” news. It is easy to overlook the weekly “Public Records” news published by The Advocate as this feature, easily obtained by the paper because it is a matter of public record (like the police blotter), has also been around for as long as, well, public newspapers. The 5-21-22 headline read “Public Records: Jersey Township property sells for over $4 million.” Both the headline, as well as the sale price, is not unusual. The history of area sales has been trending in this region for quite a long time. Market sale prices are not a “cause” of inflation, but certainly contribute. Scarcity is a primary “cause” of market pricing. Inflation’s poster child is the plethora of over priced flat screen TV’s available for immediate delivery. But Analysis digresses. It is hard to find “affordable” property transfers in the public records anymore. Million dollar plus sales are multiple each week. Most transfers are for residences in the 300K to 600K range. Below 100K is the exception. One thing unspoken with the market and inflation is that those earning a commission are experiencing a windfall despite doing no more actual work (labor) than if there were no inflation. Such is also the case with Licking County Ohio. For each $1,000 in sale price, the county receives a conveyance fee of $2. Considering, with Intel and all, that million dollar properties are now the norm, unexceptional, the County is taking in a premium of tax revenue without any additional labor. When it comes to County infrastructure spending (the “labor”), the County primarily draws on ARP, Federal Infrastructure Bill funding as well as State Intel assistance. Isn’t it time for Rick Black, Tim Bubb, and Duane Flowers to give back, and pay forward by investing public revenue in affordable public housing? The relationship between those without a house (the homeless), the scarcity of available affordable housing, and the million dollar real estate market couldn’t be any clearer.

In Which The State Does Not Exist

April 2, 2022

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

The Mask

March 27, 2022

            “To understand the realities of power, whether in modern or ancient societies, is to acknowledge this gap between what elites claim they can do and what they are actually able to do. As the sociologist Philip Abrams pointed out long ago, failure to make this distinction has led social scientists up countless blind alleys, because the state is ‘not the reality which stands behind the mask of political practice. It is itself the mask which prevents our seeing political practice as it is.’ To understand the latter, he argued, we must attend to ‘the senses in which the state does not exist rather than to those in which it does’. We can now see that these points apply just as forcefully to ancient political regimes as they do to modern ones – if not more so.” (Pg. 430-31, The Dawn Of Everything: A New History of Humanity, David Graeber and David Wengrow) Lots of fanfare accompanied the signing into law of the bipartisan, big bucks infrastructure bill last year. The major political elites promised to finally address the issue of crumbling bridges, highways and other existing deteriorating physical necessities of a functioning community. Barely a whimper was noticed when it was disclosed that, here in Licking County, the petite political elites (the county commissioners) would choose to use the bulk of their allotment to build up the infrastructure required to support the anticipated Intel facility in Jersey Township. Undisclosed, except to the discerning, was the remarkable coincidence that the Intel negotiations took place concurrent with drafting of the bipartisan infrastructure legislation. What’s behind the mask? Currently other petite elites, Ohio House representatives Diane Grendell and Sarah Fowler Arthur, are co sponsoring Ohio HB 327 To amend sections 3314.03 and 3326.11 and to enact sections 3313.6027 and 4113.35 of the Revised Code to prohibit school districts, community schools, STEM schools, and state agencies from teaching, advocating, or promoting divisive concepts. Recently Representative Arthur was on record saying both sides of the holocaust should be presented when discussed. Is the mask a good fit? It was recently pointed out that in Zanesville Ohio “Only around 10% of the people who applied for a [Section 8] voucher in 2021 were actually housed, largely due to a lack of inventory.” “The Housing Choice Voucher Program [Section 8] is a federally-funded program that works as a way to help very low-income, elderly and disabled people pay their rent.” “That means around 90% of the people who currently need subsidized housing in Muskingum County aren’t able to get it. There simply aren’t enough landlords accepting vouchers and available units approved by federally set standards, according to ZMHA.” “”There’s a lot of reasons we struggle, but really right now it’s not as profitable here as it is in other communities,” Zanesville Community Development Director Matt Schley said. “It’s all about what the market can bare.”” (Zanesville’s lack of Section 8 housing leads to homelessness, instability Erin Couch for the Zanesville Times Recorder, 3-27-22) Does the market buy and sell masks?

Olympic Schemes, Er, Dreams

February 6, 2022

            Much as it may come as a surprise to Whoopi Goldberg, the 1936 Summer Olympics was organized specifically to frame the superiority of the master race that was hosting them. Adolf Hitler was still somewhat stuck in the past by intending to accomplish this outcome (of racial superiority) through what manly man Charlie Sheen would call “Winning!” Hitler relied on past precedence to showcase this “winning’ as making for an irrevocable argument of dominance. Whoopi would be not as surprised to learn that the Third Reich’s Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels, was way ahead of the curve in terms of framing the accomplishments of the Third Reich and doing what we call today “marketing.” Most would be surprised to learn that the closest of Hitler’s cronies, the self same Goebbels, was an exceptionally well educated man with what would be considered today as a high IQ. But Goebbels’ (along with Hitler) subordinated this mastery of propaganda for the end of “Winning.” Such was the still prevalent mindset of the 19th century well into the 1930’s. Today, with the 2022 Winter Olympics, the propaganda itself is the desired end. Winning is irrelevant. Whereas Goebbels tried to market his message to any and all comers, Xi Jinping confidently has chosen his audience strategically (much as gerrymandering chooses voters for the party that draws the maps). In a way, he is preaching to the choir. The Olympics (and its athlete participants) have been usurped, co opted as a spectacle to highlight the future. And the future is manufactured. China is the world’s manufacturer (the recent Christmas “supply chain disruption” confirms this). Everything at the current games presented to those privileged to look is manufactured – the snow, the ice, the robots, the robot prepared and served meals, the mountain, etc. The “winter time sports” is completely divorced from anything winter (natural or historic). Xi’s mastering and maturing of Goebbels origination by making propaganda the end (and leaving the “Winning” to take care of itself) is not only brilliant but very instructive and informative of the time we live in. The 2022 Winter Olympics is more of a World’s Fair than a celebration of seasonal sport. Global warming scientists say such spectacles are limited in site and duration. Analysis finds all this informative and insightful with regard to the recent projections of the Intel chip manufacturing facility in Licking County. Like the renovation of the Arcade in downtown Newark, it looks like it will happen as long as the public money is there. Should supply chain issues be once again assured, not so much. The curious analogy which the two Olympic examples suggest is that the reception of the announcement by local county and state leaders of Intel’s decision closely mirrors that of Goebbels and the Nazi’s in the 1930’s.  It is couched and mired in the past, the 20th century outlook with its factory production thinking. Whereas Intel’s disposition is more in line with Xi’s China, the future, and fabricating everything with no regard to context or surrounding. Intel will have its way no matter the burden placed on the surrounding community, be it water supply, environment, housing, traffic congestion, or quality of life.

One Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

January 23, 2022

            The latest big news out of Licking County this past week also happened to make the national news. Intel is projecting to build (and install) a 20 billion dollar chip manufacturing facility (no, not the crunchy kind). It is to be located on the western border of Licking County with Delaware and Franklin Counties, just north of the New Albany business park complex. For someone visiting from Mars (no, not Elon Musk) it would only naturally look like an extension of Les Wexner’s New Albany (minus the white fence). Remember the multi million dollar freeway extension built specifically to link Les’s Easton with New Albany? But this digresses. Intel put out many “artist’s renderings” of the proposed project (does any reader recall the excitement over the artist renderings of the proposed “affordable” housing to be located behind Walmart on N. 21st St?). Most are from a drone cam point of view (surveillance is so today!). The prominent one being circulated the most shows a 7 story main building with the fab units receding to the zero perspective point in the back, and the main building surrounded by acres of parking lots (and cars) in the foreground. There is not a public transit kiosk or Disneyesque monorail terminal to be found. So much for IT being concerned with a carbon footprint, or building with the latter part of the 21st century in mind. No, it’s all going to happen by car over freeways, most of which lie outside Licking County. It is a race to the Los Angeles freeway rush hour bottom (or Boston, NYC, Chicago, or even, gasp, Cols.). But the breaking news announcement was staged in Newark, the county seat that identifies itself as just a small, all American town in the middle of a rural Ohio county. The fab plants’ location is a huge feather in the red MAGA cap of the county’s three GOP commissioners. It is something to continue the “Aw Shucks’ rural (us) vs urban (not us) identity paddy cake that has been going on for decades. Since the plant is on the margins of New Albany, and has access to CBus amenities, urban problems like affordable housing, child care, public transportation, hunger or access to medical care are someone else’s (what me worry?). The “Aw Shucks” rural small town of Newark can maintain its timeless aura, and appeal (like the pedestrian friendly downtown “destination” for which you need a car to access). Just so long as the 3,000 projected Intel employees pay the county taxes. JobsOhio has seen to it that Intel and its executives won’t.