Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Brake or Gas?

I recently had occasion to spend a lot of time at Baptist East Hospital in Louisville. It is a large hospital on a sprawling campus. While walking about 1/4 mile from my car to the hospital, it hit me that we, the public, the citizens, are asked to make accommodation to the desires of developers, or other profit-centered parties.

Why must a hospital be so large? Is that the best way to deliver quality health care, or is it the most efficient way to maximize profit? Is a sixteen screen megaplex the best venue to showcase movies, or it the best way to squeeze a few more bucks out of a diminished workforce asked to handle theaters on a spoke and wheel system? Is the shopping mall the epitome of choice, or is it a capitulation to developers who wish to reorder society in a way that benefits them while allowing the old, original commerce centers to deteriorate? Does the old deteriorating commerce center hurt the mall developer in any way, or does its deterioration serve to reinforce the decision to move farther out from the sinking ship of trade?

In each of these examples, with which all Americans are familiar, we can see that large developments do, in fact, deliver some benefits, but they do so at quite a cost. The success of these large ventures is built upon a sturdy foundation of costs shifted from the developer, the owner, the schemer, onto the citizens of the host communities. These shifted costs are sometimes referred to as externalities. Externalities are imposed upon the commons, that which we by right of our citizenship or residence own and share in common with our fellow citizens or neighbors--air, water, open land, places or things too big to be hauled in, tied down or titled with the aid of an enviable checkbook.

And when, or before, this cost shift occurs the clarion call is jobs, prosperity, and growth. Such a compelling case is made that few can resist the pull of the grand project. But with each grand project we must try to assess the plans, the schemes, the dreams, against the needs of the entire community. Is a reach for the brass ring an expansion of that which benefits the most citizens, or is it another example of a community forced to dance to the tempting tune of developers whose intentions may be good, but whose plans will cause disruption to slower, smarter growth?

For years now the United States has been enthralled by movement toward the horizon. Without the myth of the limitless horizon, Westerns could never have been made. Here, in our own microcosm, we have been to the horizon, it's just a little ways out State Street in one direction and a about the same out Grant Line and Charlestown Roads in other directions. We need to move toward the horizon alright, but it's a place to search for possibilities to improve what we have. How can we take the infrastructure bequeathed to us and save it, improve it and hand it to those who follow us? The answer is not always the next big thing. It may well be many, many, small, good things we do to improve life in this small city for the greatest number of its citizens.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Joe, Good to Hear From You

A tip of the hat to Vice President Biden for recognizing the importance of unions to the middle class of this nation.

Further, he recognizes that the Republican strategy of dismantling unions is not simply a path to efficiency in the workplace nor a necessary step toward greater competitiveness, old chestnuts of G.O.P. orthodoxy; it is a frontal assault on the Democratic Party. It is raw, political, bare-knuckle, thuggery.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Today There is no News From the Politburo, But You May Wish to Read Below or Between


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Class Warfare? You Betcha

All scenes are from March 10, 2011 at the Capitol in Indianapolis. I heard an estimate of 32,000 in attendance.

I can't figure out the techniques of getting these pictures loaded properly. So, some are duplicates, and my picture should not be at the top of the list. Besides, it was too windy to wear my hairpiece.

Otherwise, it was a powerful show of force by a lot of people whose Man ain't Mitch. Hopefully those who attended are energized and imbued with a fairly long term memory.

Fool me once...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Divide and Conquer

Below is a video of a visit by filmmaker Michael Moore to the on-going citizens' rights protest in Madison, Wisconsin.

Make no mistake, what happens there will affect us here, for better or for worse.

It is easy to feel that we are constrained by the limitations of our economy. This sea change in the American economy has its roots in the Reagan administration when air traffic controllers were busted out of their union. It continued through the Clinton administration as unbalanced trade agreements shifted American jobs to third world sweat shops. It is felt now as those factories, that used to make goods for domestic consumption shut down in favor of foreign manufacturers, are removed from the tax rolls.

Right wing taxaphobe Grover Norquist famously said, "I don't want to kill government, I want to shrink it to the size we can drown it in a bathtub." This is what it looks like in Norquist's bathtub.

As Lincoln proclaimed, ours is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. By the great man's logic, we are in the bathtub.

It is we who must pull the stopper.

Along the same lines, Jon Stewart shines a brilliant light on the hypocrisy used to divide us from our fellow citizens. Fox News is simply a tool of the radical Republicans, aka teabaggers.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

These Blind Mice, These Blind Mice, See How They're Spun, See How They're Spun

I didn't draw the cartoon above,the credit is printed below the drawing. Nor did I make up the joke below; I heard it on the radio and can't attribute it to anyone specifically....

A union worker, a member of the Tea Party, and a CEO are sitting at a table.
In the middle of the table there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it.
The CEO reaches across the table, takes 11 cookies, looks at the Tea
Partier and says:
"Look out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie."