April 2019/2020

“The tweets on April 1, 2019, from the think tank people (TTP), are unlikely to be taking advantage, but I’ll leave that for you to judge. Many of the observation are through to the end of the month and new ones for 2020 are noted. I also recommend looking at the tweet rate as another algorithm worthy of observation, some are hourly, others one or two per day or week.  Others are once a month suggesting a grounded fear of jibber-jabber. Please enjoy the 2020 additions” 

Rex L. Curry

2019 Acton’s reaction to the world is “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In the name of its founder it presents a combination of secular and religious overlays.  Acton offers a set of videos on the role of the Federal Reserve (before and after the Great Recession) on aggregate demand and the reserves of cash required. It is produced by the Marginal Revolution University.  Acton evaluation of socialism as a moral argument with economic flaws is a refreshing appraisal of the political din. A series of podcasts can take you to new insights in calm rational terms.

The 2020 Acton remain as consistently conservative critic of the status quo of anger over clear headed thinking. The lack of a level playing field on social media is criticized, but regulaton vs. innovation remains difficult to resolve. The provision of “texts for meditation” is a service worthy of enhanced civil dialogue.

In 2019 ,The American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) bold tweets found Medicare quite popular in a recent poll. The count was 71% are in favor of a health insurance “guarantee” for all Americans, but 60% opposed if they had to pay for it. An attack on a GAO report based on the 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances, found “52 percent of households age 55 and older have no retirement savings in a “DC plan or IRA” however Factcheck.org described the tendency to leave the DC and IRA qualifier out. (source) Efforts to correct were also reported yet remained a whisper in comparison to the AEI attack on the GAO.  What happens when a nation’s institutions face subtle accusations of lying and time is spent baiting those who argue that some sections of the economy (health, education, transport) should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole for the good of whole?

2020 AEI  In an unusual bit of candor , pointed out how the representatives from blue cities and states expressed heightened concern about the virus, while representatives from red counties and states took little notice in a cold bit of political calculus. AE was among the first to join the cry of concern regarding arrival of an “economic crisis.” and they have been consistent critic of “America First” policy as internationally damaging. The AEI view on the humanitarian crisis was expressed by opposing a loosening sanctions on Iran.

The 2019 Aspen Institute opens with the idea that online activism is useful but insufficient if “Building America’s Next Great Awakening” is to be successful. Eric Liu clearly defines the push back against the dull odors of monopolized, institutional power willing to concentrate ineffectively on radical inequality.  Aspen recommends a review of his discussion of power (TED). Aspen is also about balance in its promotion of ways to sharpen our vision in a series of Business & Society podcasts launched this month (here). Swing over to the business integrity people (BIP) to see if the folks there will pick up on it after the official launch on the 18 April 2019.  If you need think-tank people (TTP) that have an interest in pushing the limits of every boundary to assure that your fear is not of change, but of loss.

See the Five Best ideas every day

2020 Aspen. For years they have assigned a team in partnering with TIME, to pull the five best new ideas every day from a long list of news sources. As far as the daily press is concerned, this is a reasoned selection and therefore a good editor’s pulse service.  March began as business usual, with interesting articles choices, but as April began, the virus was viral in the news and no different in Aspen’s best five. As far as ideas are concerned one out of five ain’t bad.

In 2019, anyone who has taken a glimpse at the enormity of American Defense Industry will find the Atlantic Council’s defense of democracy well validated in their celebration of NATO and its newest members hitting the ten-year mark (#Albania and #Croatia) while seeking to include Cyprus.  It is without surprise that NATO’s weighted connections and conference in D.C. this first week of April is entitled #NATOEngages to assure the alliance. The general pressure to increase spending as a percentage of GDP is having a destabilizing and disturbing effect on domestic affairs as expected. Following NATO, a strong interest in cyber security, engagement and sanctions is described.

The 2020 Atlantic Council view centered on cash. “What is clear is that, in a crisis, the Federal Reserve is the indispensable central bank. This is followed by serious worries in the governance of th EU in relation to a degraded NATO military. Another issue popular at the AC is the comparison with the Chinese state managed capitalism and the American decentralized approach. Specific stability concerns regarding the more authoritarian vs. the bubble up forms should turn directly to how these two designs will de-isolate individual countries, with high poverty rates and bad health infrastructure.

The 2019 Belfer Center is looking straight at Russia and China through the lens of the Pacific Rim. The growing complexity of “safety-critical technologies” in this vast region of the earth is an opening for a change in policy.  First, question the importance of the Middle East in comparison to threats to power caused by climate change on Pacific Rim nations. The center also enjoys its privileges and offers a wide range of important players in world affairs to sit and talk for the benefit of their students and faculty.  A link to Foreign Affairs offers one free article a week. If you are interested in foreign affairs, Belfer is a TTP stop.

The 2020 Belfrer set of tweets (April) is also a strong pulse center with retweets from other major interest and issue groups in the world. The selection is clear headed, multi-issue and thankful unsoaked in COVID-19 insights in multiple posts.

The 2019 Bipartisan Policy Center’s (BPC) reaction to political pressures affecting “speech” within the university is direct. In response to President Trump’s Executive Order that pulled out the government’s big research funding stick they ask one question, “What is the litmus test?” Universities cannot model the current behavior in national politics; the idea of a government agency intervention to monitor compliance for funding is an insidious act. BPC mentions a leadership guide from Sanford Ungar (Free Speech Project) at Georgetown University.  His report “Informed and Engaged” describes the launch of the Free Speech Tracker.  Message at the Executive Order level have uneven qualities, while the search for instances and causes of incivility on university campuses is where the thinking caps belong. Solving students in debt, children in poverty, the people on opioids should be on the bipartisan-do list, but it feels doubtful.

For 2020, the exposure of outfits like AEI that encourage the use of misleading statistics and psuedo science to argue that social inequality is caused by genetic inferiority in society that is working very hard to eliminate discrimmination based on “groups.” In the tracker you can find a student made video in 2017 that shut down a Charles Murray talk, not to attack speech, but to stop fueling culture war the using bad science.

After a year of peeking into this group, you will fined it to be excellent on data sharing ideas, and insight into parlimentary proceedures that support compromise and growth in the use of those that do not.

I found the 2019 Brookings Institution (BI) focused on the “divided politics” situation as tribalism and turning to a description of Brexit as if it was a warning. Brookings also brought to our attention a survey of 93 leaders from government, NGOs, and others to share their view of global development. The title is Disrupted and points to fragile governments and climate change as principal sources for many policies going “tribal.”  The underlying premise is small groups can make significant changes, and that forces questions about the responsibility to make them good ones. A set of tweets that lead to improved understanding of what middle class means. April is a good month to spend some time with the TTP because of the focus on income, credit and taxes at their Center on Regulation and Markets.

The 2020 Brookings Institution is gearing up to produce a finally detailed cost of policy timeline analysis, while plans to measure the economic impacts over the next year. Communication is the foundation of lasting and useful facts. As a large public events organization you will find them at Apple: https://apple.co/2Q2jeFl  Google: https://bit.ly/2trN6mJ 
and Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2M6gMfW  The crunchers of the GDP will find parcing day toward the metroregions will capture 90% of the economic success iniatives and only 10% of the errors. This is a tough place as the political power might be elsewhere.

The 2019 Carnegie Council (CCEIA) serves as a judge of fact and includes an interest in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, blockchain technology, and cybersecurity.  The possibility of a revolution in network collaboration will require the vision of people such as Eric Liu and Sanford Ungar. There is a way to avoid the negatives in “tribalism” that forces the decline of democracy. Eric offers a stinging left jab, and Sanford follows with a hard right- cross. The simulated anger and the provoked loss of faith in long-standing public institutions can be proven.  Fund them just enough to fail on safety net issues in marginalized communities. 

In 2020, and early in March the Council said to Congress if you want to escape a recession – send people money now. The crisis peaked in April. Lesson from the Council – there is no fast action plan in the U.S. for anything other than war, but the White House is at war with itself.

The 2119 Carnegie Endowment (CEIP) direct emphasis on the voice of women in world affairs is having an impact.  Bill Burns article “The Lost Art of American Diplomacy” (here) describes the current disdain for its powers as a stimulus for rebuilding its “first resort” capacity.  Redefining diplomatic problems breaks the easy dependence on muscular military instruments with facts instead of political assertions used “to mask a pattern of retreat” designed to inflame aggression.

The 2020 Endowment took time and a variety of subtle tweets to point out that countries that do not handle an infectious disease well loses trust, become the subject of local to global propaganda and bad press in general.

The 2019 CATO Institute focuses on ways Medicare can control drug prices without impacting the system overall.  A reasonable disruption for a “patients first” approach follows a long list of price hikes that are the product of monopolistic behaviors. Turning to a related point, getting low congressional interest toward a serious concern in patent reform suggests that CATO would pull out Bernie Sanders’s 2005 idea for the Medical Innovation Prize and break up big drug pharma with concessions on generics.

The task of turning down the rhetorical din into something the TTP can stomach was promoted in a tweet by CATO when Alex Nowrasteh’s Washington Post article on “patriotic correctness” vs. political correctness. It yields hope that we haven’t been driven quite mad by the “silly-stupidness” as a dear friend calls a lot of that right/left speak. 

The first 2020 Cato tweet that caught my eye was, “Tariffs in a Pandemic are Taxes on Lifesaving Goods.” As most people who are hurt by a pandemic are low- and moderate-income in older urban areas, the benefits are still shared unevenly and punitively in the case of a pandemic. Another irony is the complaint against misinformation on COVID-19 and the complaint under the heading of combating populism. Do I sense pandemic unity?

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) interest in disproportionality has a top example the demand by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee to fire its Chair, Adam Schiff, is an “eye off the ball” problem and exhibits the shallowness of acceptable political behavior. Perhaps a name change is in order.  I suggest the Center for Snarky Security.  Beware of angry but hungry TTP people.  

The Center for American Progress (CAP) honed the potential of emoluments violations because the House has the power to compel the IRS to release Trump’s tax returns. The Center shares an agenda item with the BPC in work needed to improve women’s labor force participation. Two problems require a solution to the quality of paid family leave and access to affordable childcare. The lack of both is part of the “war on workers.”  Brookings is on the same page under the heading of the pay gap.

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) sees expanded resettlement programs as a refugee issue to pressure off the perversely facilitated asylum backlog. The Department of Homeland Security is in disarray with southern border troubles. Is the wall-threat and lack of reform causing the crisis? Policies in favor of diversity have been evident since the 1960s; however, the lack of a powerful north/south relationship has weakened instead of strengthened since NAFTA was established.

Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) exhibits the need for adaptable technologies in military hardware and brings up the historical “renewed great power competition” problem about the United States, China, and Russia’s claim of sovereignty and believe other countries that are not great powers are not sovereign.  All kinds of cyber weaponry operated by new technologies re-opens the debate on the billions spent on “star-wars.”   

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CNPP) recognizes chipping away of safety net program funding in the Federal budget. Early in the month protecting SNAP (nutritional assistance) for vulnerable people is top on their list. The Center’s focus on state and local budgeting reports reduced the health care costs through caring society investments in education, income, food, housing, transit, and recreational support services are provided and encouraged.

The Claremont Institute (CI) claims to restore American principles as “originalists,” as if the founders of the U.S. Constitution remain the preeminent experts over our national life.  Historical desires hold tightly to the past as a measure of our time centuries later.  It is difficult to read these arguments based on values by institutions that have not or refuse to read and confirm the truth of Richard Rothstein’s book, “The Color of Law,” B&N and who remain satisfied with jabs around the edges at the whiteness of that law.  Law made racism impossible to understand if you are white. It is impossible to recognize if you have never read or ever encouraged to read anything in the enormous body of work by Derrick Bell or the writers who stand on his shoulders, such as Ta-Nehisi Coates. For centuries, cultural power is the only available tool, and because of that, it is far too easily altered and appropriated without a clear set of goals. Thanks to Avik Roy’s retort to Bill Voegeli on CI’s website, those goals might find a scrap of common ground with the right. Ta-Nehisi Coates’ voice is current (here), and he offers firm ground because the U.S. has participated in reparations four times.

The Commonwealth Fund (CF) takes us to the daily battle for a healthy America. Their tweets are regular attacks on the role of health professionals who care for modest income patients or those who are one crisis of poor care or one “surprise bill” away from full-blown poverty.  Just what America needs, a little more depression and anxiety on a bet-hedging that it won’t be too many of them or too weak to build guillotines.  

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) sends tweets on how globalization counts how to make the American worker more competitive by researching ways to eliminate unions and attacking the Kigali Amendment as a “job destroyer.” There is an unusual combination of politically conceived demands with crony-appeal and others that stand on more rational grounds. They need to choose.

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is impractical with the global map. It leaps to review every crisis affecting American hegemony. The Council also pointed out the top ten countries for women’s workforce equality, and the United States is not on the list. You will compare other nations’ top-tier tax rates for comparison to those proposed by the 2020 Democrats. A detailed analysis of foreign aid for 2016 will be useful if it leads to 2020 comparisons. The UK’s only land border (after Brexit) is with Northern Ireland.  Is irony is back?  CFR points to an oddly similar border with Mexico as a related security discussion that can put you in a world where Japan gets its groove back with some severe armament. Bottom line, a run-through CFRs tweets can tease you into thinking that this institution is in total control.  Oh!

The Discovery Institute’s (DI) first tweet to my gaze talks about “pathological altruism” as one of the big awful things to discover.  They think they do good, but they know not.  DI is a wonderful break into the world of thought about problems instead of the ones “all of the above” seem to find. Every new second with DI is worth an hour everywhere else.  Columbia’s Earth Institute (EI) is next on the list in the current alphabetical order (that may require another form of organizing).  The EI tweets focus specifically on the next generation, also known as students and life-long learners, for a welcome sense of hope. One promotion with the “New School” asks a simple question: How do we know what cannot be known?” Where else but for the next generation would you be presented with butterflies tasting the salty tears of rainforest turtles to discover the importance of the complexity that beats the heart of diversity.

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) added to the idea that we should have a more rational “thinking about important stuff days.” I pick up something new about EPI’s constitutional questions in their tweets.  The demand for a “more perfect union” during February is one of them.  February is a month of American history that has many important days related to the African-American experience.  April gets the ‘thinking day” attention of EPI on women rights regarding equal pay.  A Native-American gets .58, African-American and Latinas get 0.53, Asian 0.61 and White 0.77 of the $1.00 of white men. Overall, the “many” vs. the “one” debate requires the patriarchy to change in all these groups. In the name of perfecting our union, a routine injection of steps of fairness with the proof of balance defines equity, wages, skillsets, and safety nets.   

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Center for Democracy and Technology, TechFreedom, Human Rights Watch, and 34 others are demanding the reauthorization or Section 215 to end NSA’s phone data collection. 

The Brennan Center has the best summary of selected government surveillance programs (here).  Getting into this subject by looking at all the trees (felled, standing, old, or sapling) will miss the new way the forest gets your attention. The digital forest, but like the old-growth forest, too can take something from you forcefully like a hungry bandit and offer you something you need or want at the same time. Trade began as a neighborhood/tribe thing that became a village or city thing, then regional, national and global. Instead of looking into the old forest, a new digital forest wants to look at you, your tribe, and your place on the planet.  The moral authority function of human judgment is why humans build cities and turn forests into parks.  The time is now to look deeply into ourselves in cities and leave the old wood alone, revered as the place from which we came.

The Freedom House looks at the demand for human rights in places under threat of violence and works to protect these rights when won, yet far too easily lost.  The FH sees an erosion of democratic political environments and points to more than 2.5 billion people FH designates as “Not Free” and more than a third of the earth’s population.  The number of “not free” is growing due to a decline in political rights and civil liberties. The Annual “Freedom in the World” report each year is getting more frightening.  In April, the concerns focus on Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Russia’s disconnect from the Internet.  The growing interest in ranking internet and digital rights exposes an inability to clarify how user information is secured and encapsulated or closed and contained in authoritarian regimes.  Expanding the Global Magnitsky Act as an accountability tool is appreciated by FH.

The Guttmacher Institute examining global population issues and ideologically-driven political interference disrupt the professional connection between doctor and patient, lawyer and client.  These disruptions reduce these critical relationships’ safety and dignity and adversely affect a woman’s quality of life. The growth of blatantly unconstitutional and radical state-level laws aimed at a SCOTUS trial is a blatant money grab on settled law.  At the current federal level, rules governing the national use of funds are coercive in intent and practices that assault women’s access to reproductive health services, especially if they are low and moderate-income.

Heartland Institute looks to free-market solutions to the social and economic problems in the United States. When free-market solutions meet over 90% of human issues, needs, and concerns, it seems odd that attempts at getting into the 10% where it fails are threatening.  Most of the tweets are clear political shots when any entity does not see profit first and all other consequences second. The twitter-sphere tempts childishness, so it prompts you straight to their websites.  For example, a letter to POTUS45 seeks funding for a climate security commission as a voluntary offer to debunk science reports on climate change. Their interest in demonizing people interested in Democratic Socialism is an equally deliberate attack on any attempt to reduce excesses in the free-market system.  It leaves one deaf to any other point as valid. Heartland needs a transplant, and a heart may not be enough. Facebook canceled their ads.

I suppose it is appropriate that the Heritage Foundation (HF) is next up in this alphabetical Tweet O-Rama of think tanks. Here you will find the narrative tones exalting the glory of capital markets. The wonders capital has brought to the world. What would we do without money to sustain whole new classes in newly enriching ways? Most of the tweets are useless jibes and retweets of the favored. Go to their website to get the strategy.   Under “Heritage’s Perspective,” you will find a series of “read/listen more” teasers. I will summarize my first impression using the following, well-crafted, run-on sentence:

Of course, the transgender ban is logical. If you have a hovercraft, gerrymandering would be much more fun, along with the ability to take shots at Theresa May’s failure as a conservative within the confines of a robust pro-life agenda. Finally, college admissions are rigged, haven’t they always been so? 

The Hoover Institution (HI) is pleased to give me ten reasons by progressives shouldn’t hate POTUS45 and get this; they quote CNN. Here goes: 1) The economy, 2) not appalled by lies because 3) he’ll stop the socialists, 4) they believe his caring, empathic rhetoric, 5) he is the same at every rally, suit, tie hair and all, and 6) keeps trying to keep promises and goes against his party, 7) people see moves against a sitting president is all political BS and 8) media bias is clear.  The last three are reasonable ways to understand his loyal base,  8) it is the east and west coast vs. the hollowed-out interior that has grown to include battleground states, 9) despite everything “the family” is holding together, and 10) he is a performer and entertains. Even looking at conservative sites will produce cross-over insights.

Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) attention is on the reconciliation efforts in Rwanda as a lens focused across the globe from Libya to Venezuela and on to specific concerns such as the 500th day since Azory Gwanda “went missing” in Tanzania (#WhereIsAzory?”), and the secret Khashoggi murder trial and beatings in Nigeria and so on.  Malaysia decided to leave the ICC very quickly. HRW is livid with the cancelation of an ICC prosecutor’s visa. NGOs mag get a break from the Egyptian government. The triple bottom line utilizing “truth commission” practices yields a sliver of hope.

Common Ground Alert!

The Independent Institute has David J. Theroux’s magazine, the Independent Review. Its messages have a unique California vantage point that puts the facts on the table and tries to make you think. For example, in response to the recent POTUS45 request to make more room for a conservative speech on campus, this quote is in its article.

“The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education found that in 2017, 39.6 percent of the 449 colleges it analyzed “maintain[ed] policies that seriously infringe[d] upon the free speech rights of students” (source).

A Republican, Ronald L. Trobridge wrote the article, noting it would be inappropriate and probably illegal to ask applicants applying for a teaching job if they were a conservative or liberal. The applicants want to be professors exploring ideas, not politicians. 

I find more progressives teaching because they have something to say.  Trobridge ends the article by saying it is OK if you fail and get a “D” in a class if “principles” are involved.  I wrote a paper that successfully delivered my views under the heading “democratic socialism” in a classroom (applause, request for more information, and so on). I was pulled into the faculty office and given that “D” myself.  I should preface that this was just after the assignation of John Kennedy. I remember how frightened, McCarthy-like frightened the teacher seemed. Knowing pain has the potential for being self-inflicted yet knowable and understandable is good. The alternative is to have that pain secretly imposed with malice and intent.

The Inter-American Dialogue has a laser focus on Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, Columbia, Brazil, and Haiti. One of those lasers looks at “remittances” as a significant largest financial assistance source ($85B) moving from north to south Read IAD’s report #Remittances2018 here.  The overall energy company impression is best in the first few minutes from Lisa Viscidi (here) via Bloomberg and sharp on China in the region. 

The James Baker III Institute for Public Policy is all over Venezuela in the “let freedom ring” mode with VP Pence as the VP Pence at Rice University. The rapid turnover in Trump’s high-security positions became a central concern in mid-April.

The Kaiser Family Foundation aims at a healthier America to see our lower-income population’s health problems as central to the reform effort of a national policy to eliminate bias.  One example of this is 90% of uninsured poor adults reside in the South.  The high cost of indigent care is very carefully tracked by going to the detail such as the 212% increase in deductibles woven into health care policy. Overall, “health” remains a thread in the tweets of several of the tweeters in tanks. The focus on health is seen as an attack aimed at the drug cartel responsible for 1.9 million opioid-addicted nonelderly adults is a “give” in the ongoing attack on the ACA. The general call for Medicare for All in the number of bills introduced can be examined (here).  April is a cruel month.

The Lexington Institute points to a major health problem, AKA war, and in April – the need to defend against “hypersonic weapons.”  Fentanyl from China is not being well tracked or seized and, like cyber – put in the context of an invasion. Pounding the table for continuous improvements in defense postures belongs to Lexington. From micro-tracking devices on everything to brand new B-21 Bombers circling the planet, military reform is consistently cloaked in terms of modernization.  I believe in defense with a bid “D,” but try to find an economist looking at what happens when too much money chases too many goods?  The rich country answer is you get the acceleration of products fashioned, more than the military needs, and then send it to police jurisdictions just in case of an invasion?

The Ludwig von Mises Institute (LMI) After calling out a civil war battle anniversary, the LMI attacks @AOC for her interest in “socializing the economy” by advancing arguments for a climate change strategy and a rapid reduction of fossil fuels because it makes no economic sense without a clear and largely unregulated role for private capital and property. Western economists promote fungibility and discount entrepreneurs’ negative role as minimal no matter the amount owned or how much or what we consume.  The flaw in this argument is obvious. It cannot be proven to be a flaw until it is too late and the mystery of “market correction” capital implements repairs.  Nevertheless, there are some useful arguments for their critique of the GND“ debunked.  Nevertheless, Tomas Piketty (summary) has a refined approach to the problem of vast patrimonial capitalism and the threat of an oligarchy.  One example is how the “estate tax” was renamed “death tax.” The average annual income of $12M to the CEO may be why $36,000 is the ordinary worker’s national average.

Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (MIPR) work on post-industrial cities sees opportunity in Aaron Renn’s report through new ground planning while awaiting private market corrections.  There is a long list of a post-industrial urban center with under one million in a population that has lost 20% or more of its people from a previous peak. (DOWNLOAD PDF).  The mysteries of fungible capital became unavailable to these cities to fix municipal finances, reform or restructure dysfunctional institutions, and rebuild public services. The MIPR has NYC recovery from a similar abandonment of capital as “the bank is in trouble” solutions for growth with fiscal discipline.  Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, Saginaw, Danville, Johnstown, and so on were not so lucky, and MIPR gets into the why and how.  There is no snipping in their tweets, just honest statements leading you to real thinkers and solid proposals.

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has a broad approach. They are attracted to the economics of the housing crisis, immigration reform, the revival/survival of manufacturing, and the promotion of a book on “the corporation.”  Challenges to the federal debt level, the rise of right-wing terrorism,   

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) has the last word on the economic forces shaping the world’s future.  The use of their Twitter feed is to announce working papers fed by the wealth of U.S. Census data on every aspect of American life, from micro-marketing strategies and consumer response to mandated protection disclosures.  An interesting analysis of “patent trolls” by them and them to license them vs. using links to health and drug policies that hide the demand for larger generic markets.  NBER produces papers like a factory would include cars. There is something for everyone without a hint of political purpose: the facts, just the facts.

The New America Foundation is similar in its “life is complex” approach to science and the art of political change.  The New American Weekly (Edition 243) produces their “fellows” residents in NYC or LA.  They have a functional analysis of why the right-wing got control of a swath of state capitals. 

On 18 April, the New Democrat Network (NDN) asks its participants to do some background reading to gain an understanding of Trump and to have a discussion of their findings. The series of papers are swept under the heading of “patriotism and optimism.”  Their criticism of trade policy points out the general decline of manufacturing fear of change

The Open Society Foundation (OSF) lays it out as clearly as possible; the world needs care, hope, democratic climate action, and continuous revelation on equality’s meaning and purpose. In all of these areas, the OSF works to lead by example and with others who do so with a healthy set of retweets from publishers such as The Guardian.

The Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) would be wise not to repeat presidential threats unless until there is an actual implementation, then call it was it is.  Trade talk/war/talk and all of it on Mexico’s critical relationship to its northern border with very little attention paid to the south.  Economic nationalism in Chinese is like the German role in the EU State-owned companies in China, and sector-specific American interventions are hypocritical behaviors.  Central Bank control systems are in little trouble given “hyperinflation” flags fluttering in the breeze of a credit crunch.

The Public Policy Institute of California is way cool. In April, they have a thing for retweeting the Maddy Institute reports on the 2020 Census and how immigration policy might get framed through the election.  Next, the next great drought will have less remote sensing data available due to USGS and NOAA cuts, even though the water grid crisis continues to loom.

As a nonprofit, nonpartisan, organization the Rand Corporation is committed to the public interest and considered a trusted source for policy ideas and analysis. They would also admit a rise in the threat to communities worldwide likely to become less safe, secure, and healthy amidst the prosperous. Rand opened April up with a century-long review of the “political objectives of U.S. Military interventions and puts reduced success on “ambitiousness.”  Calling out Iran as a terrorist nation fits that bill. The next message somewhat ironically promotes SEL for social and emotional learning as a “measures” issue. They are delighted with the student achievement success of the Principle Pipelines project. Military complex interests are in cyber currency and terrorism.  Billions needed to cover the cost of meeting California’s new 2030 Seismic standard in the contract. 

The Reason Foundation libertarian ideals separate themselves from the wing-flapping left or right with a value system that remains adaptable to changing times if they lead to a limited federal government.  The logic of it is the states of the republic remain the leading laboratory for building a democracy.  The surprise is they find Pete Buttigieg, the “most interesting” Democrat. The challenge to the “qualified immunity” doctrine governing police behavior as “notorious” and disagree over labeling immigration policy.

The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is one of many doing the thinking needed most by the thoughtful over the next decade.  Goals for the earth and energy for humans are becoming more critical, and where else would you be able to discover the “Rs 10.000-crore FAME-II scheme?”  Just in case you are an advocate for less jargon globally, this is about India’s move to incentivize vehicle electrification. I ran a national community design center conference for several years.  The Pittsburgh Design center incentivized bicycling with a Pedal Pittsburgh Campaign.  RMI recently organized the screening of National Geographic’s documentary, Paris to Pittsburgh. RMI knows solutions to climate change will be implemented in cities, not the mountains.

The Russell Sage Foundation (RSF) works in social science research on inequality, the working poor, immigration, and the economic behavior of the actors involved. Themes in education tie it together from the impact of information technologies on the contributions of individuals such as Brian Powell and James Rosenbaum.  Timothy Bartik was asked to respond to a new report from the Economic Innovation Group (EIG) regarding the decline in the working-age population expected through the 2020 Census. The report suggests a “heartland visa” immigration policy to replace losses in the area of the country where the reduction of working-age people is most pressing.

The thinking of people in the Third Way tank is an ambitious center-left organization aiming its resources clean energy, education, health care, national security, and the social policy and politics it will take for high-quality results in these areas. Their @TWPolitical feed is exciting. It examines challenges to the democratic party and examinations how the republic is collapsing and what can be done to save it in an author/speaker series.  April is about Michael Tomasky’s book on both subjects. Next on their priority list asks for the “fastest path to zero,” and no one has to request the meaning of zero, so that a good thing.

The Urban Institute (UI) continues to pound the table to get people to see cities as the answer.  The failure of political discourse in urban policy has required all institutions to seek a humanitarian response in the fight to sustain and establish the quality urban life of a diverse nation. This experience led UI to compile two extensive case studies by the Center on Nonprofits Philanthropy (CNP). The depth of the nonprofit housing and community-based development organizations in large cities has established a long list of social service programs’ innovations by breaking glass ceilings and building capacity with proof.  In turning fifty, UI is taking the definition of knowledge as experience plus reflection by examining the bias built into the demand for transformations since the 1965 Voting Right Act, the Higher Education Act 1968, and the Fair Housing Act comprising the core of the Great Society. If the next fifty years of America’s community development future from suburban to core centers is a concern. Will the answers about courage be found in that history?

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars tips the balance of American hegemony in the sheer number of people attracted to this subject where a great deal is said, but results are elusive. The initial Wilson vision became focused in his honor – 1968.  They stand with Jefferson’s notion that an informed and active citizen can be trusted with their own government. This organization believes it is building tools for that citizenry to join the national conversation. The tweets generally promote local events, but for a fascinating archive of public policy history, the center’s “Sources and Methods” blog is an insightful look at today with each visit.  

It seems appropriate for the Worldwatch Institute to conclude this lengthy effort to summarize America’s think tanks just for April. In contrast to the incessant attempt at understanding the complex communications of human, their institutions, and nations, April opening tween asks us to think seriously about the ecological impact and minimal psychological benefits of pets, the number of shipping containers and other sources filling the global ocean with everything from vintage Garfield phones to the micro-bead plastic you now consume with every bite from the sea.  The Institute handed the world its most significant economic challenge – come up with a way to assure human well-being and minimize consumption. The knowledge that an institution like “Black Friday/Cyber Monday” can devastate America’s climate future does not seem to help.  WI tweets carefully – one interesting lesson is the ability to quickly scroll down to their 2018 interest in altering the circular economy with the idea of “degrowth.”  Just keep swimming, keep swimming.

On the Delivery of Quotidian Jeremiads

Loving the English language is not easy, but it is fun. The think tanks can lead you down some interesting new paths covered in rabbit-holes, and a few Kool-Aid stands. With or without Congress’s consent, the President of the United States can threaten many kinds of civilizational catastrophe. The American President’s election is not a routine political occurrence; it is the release of a specific set of prejudices plus immense power. The short history of the United States also exhibits this power distribution by wealth and its penchant for significant error inherent to inherited wealth.

Here is another think-tank thought stimulation. De facto segregation is a myth; racism is a created thing, and its proof is daily and routine. It is a quieter thing now, an experience like watching the minute hand on a classroom clock; the movement is subtle because patience for an exact moment of freedom grows thin, and in the sweep of a second hand, it comes and goes.  The depth of America’s diversity challenge should not be unfathomable for the joy of its existence. Yet, there are times when the quality of human discourse is pressed for improvement so hard, we barely notice (here) or here

On T.S. Eliot

The lesson in sharing Eliot’s literary genius is that it does not excuse his anti-Semitism. It complicates the reading of “The Wasteland” with feelings of unwanted complicity. We should be able to read and reread his best poems, see the beauty and wisdom without fear of his bigotry. The message includes caution and resistance to all those who would use hatred as a power source in all political speech.

April is the cruelest month breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

These four lines capture a bit of the human soul. The reader wants to assign Eliot’s soul to a permanent place “beneath the rats” because his “icy dismissiveness” was assigned to an entire people. The reader’s judgment of his character is critical but not one I would assign to his tribe without the proof pulled from each member’s heart.

The March 2019 summary (here) introduced all the Tweet-O-Rama organizations and the Random Tweet-O-Rama. The idea is to learn something from the wits from this vast new area of the blah blah world.  The April summary (here) examined the Think-Tank People. In May (here), I looked at the organizations working to produce a good economy combined with voter rights organizations. With those thoughts in mind, it is logical to look at politics as a sport and as a practice that is now very different from the role of leadership that it implies. Please enjoy June, everyone should, and then July (here) for a look at the one thing of great importance – housing (here)

Paradise and Panama Jitters

“Global finance has expanded without accountability. However, the good news is that the attempts to take down journalism as an agent of facts are failing. Instead, a network is lining up like dots across a landscape of searches for truth. It is sustained with anger, vengeance, honor, and integrity, and it looks to me like two things. First, the attacks are a “tell” that makes the managers of extreme wealth very unsafe and conservative (to a fault) poker players, and second, the enormous flow of capital is producing a logic similar to that of a cancer cell. I predict Pandora for “all gifts” including the world evils.”

Rex L. Curry

The Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition (FACT) pointed its tweet readers to the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the problem of #AnonymousCompanies that hinder inquiries into political corruption and a long list of criminal enterprises (read testimony May 2019). To wonder why the FBI is under attack is not to understand the facts. See why we need more financial accountability people (here).

Face it. We have a terrible case of the jitters. After all, Wilbur Ross became the U.S. Secretary of Commerce in 2017, right after his name was in releasing 13.4 million documents known as the Paradise Papers in 2016. That leak came from an off-shore finance management legal firm Appleby containing the names of more than 120,000 people and companies that hide capital. I don’t know why Mr. Ross wants that particular position of power, but it gives me the jitters.

Before Paradise, we had the Panama Papers. Remember? It became “news” following the “leak” of 11.5 million documents from another managing law firm – Mossack Fonseca, a team of journalists, gathered to finish the work of John Doe, whose identity remains unknown. During the data analysis, journalists (not government officials) have gathered worldwide to develop a plan. Their work covered many months of traditional journalistic practice before releasing newspaper stories designed to expose how billions of dollars were hidden killed from governments. A film summarizing their experience became available in March 2019.

Pandora (Frontline PBS)

The work to expose the cancerous practices of extreme wealth management continues. Given global conditions, even the honestly gained wealth is managed without an interest in investment to improve global conditions. Following the release of findings focused on public figures, the known investigators have been harassed, killed, and others attacked with “alternative facts” and lawsuits.  When it takes ‘whistleblowers” to produce the momentum for reform, be worried. The tale of two worlds requires the distasteful cleaning of the world’s corporate laundry. Forcing it out of these poorly managed financial machines may not occur until wealth becomes meaningless.

The wealthiest Americans have so much more money in 2020 that even Bernie Sanders has difficulty explaining it. That wealth is thanks to the 2017 tax overhaul by Republican Party. As recently as 2018, the estate tax was $20 billion for the treasury from nearly 5,500 families. In 2020, $9.3 billion in estate taxes were paid by 1,275 wealthy families. In the last five years, U.S. billionaires have doubled net worth. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, it is more than $5 trillion.

To Act Go (here), it leads to an old list of billionaires, pressing for trillion, and to what end? Again, action writers in the tradition of “the papers” are sought.

Need to Know List

An Essay for Reading Tweets from the Left

The United States is composed of thousands of institutions and organizations drawn from the profound beliefs and principles of liberty outlined by The Founders. Since then founding, the laws of protection for the growth of liberty and development of American principles have flourished. The continuous emergence of political organizations that seek to provide the best in human life for individuals has succeeded. In part, these efforts are defined as progressive or conservative, democrat, republican, libertarian, green, socialist, working family, and so on (see list below).  We live through these institutions and expect them to be dispositive of most problems given two provisions – civility in discourse and respect for facts.

American institutions focus on social and international justice, civil rights, and liberty in the context of human rights for all people. Many of them work to assure equal opportunity, good educations, environmental preservation, conservation, and human health advocacy. As they are plentiful and varied, their progeny continues to expand in the service of new constituencies who are emboldened to be free in a search of technological advancements in cultural change through art, and science. All these activities are constitutionally guaranteed. These institutions implement programs to produce predictable results that seek to hasten or slow social change processes, increase or reduce costs and protect local interests and specific assets held in private trust or on behalf of the public good. There is no hard proof that the physics described by Newton’s laws of motion are in play in these processes, yet it feels as if proof isn’t necessary for observing the many failings of power in the accelerated rate of change in which we find ourselves.

“Reducing the hard-punch capability of American hegemony has been difficult from the first use of the Atomic bomb all the way down to the colloquial definition of Americans as “people who buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t know.” The power to be that free includes a capacity for hate and injustice that cannot be rationalized, only disliked, and deterred.”

RLC

The belief of progressives and conservatives is that different worlds are possible. Both see the basics of air, water, land, and food as the most powerful natural resources on the earth, and once brought under the control of specific energy sources and industries, a sustainable environment is possible within an equitable economic system. In this system, only then can children be protected without wealth. Putting the force of these ideas in a global context redefines national security needs all the way down to a sense of personal safety best defined as freedom from fear. It is in the global realm of competitive personal protection that political actors become irrational. The rise of evil forces, demonizing recalcitrant actors, or the outright taking of spoils through conflict raise the walls of ignorance.

What everyone knows is why political divisions form in the debate on a proposed action. The benefits of assigning specific public expenditures in a three-branch system of government are to sustain debate to correct errors of judgment in a changing world. One branch creates two sets of representatives from every aspect of American culture. Their job is to write laws, see to an evaluation of the implications of their implementation, and adjust accordingly.  When failures in this process occur, the legislative practice is further evaluated and judged in a federal court system. The nationally elected leaders are the President and Vice-President. The Executive Branch is the final authority of Congressional actions subject to veto, amidst the ongoing churn of public elections, and the final arbitration of the Judicial Branch.

Human survival mechanisms will distort self-protection behaviors (i.e. fight/flight) in social groupings and this fact does not exclude complex global corporate and national government power-sharing systems. Entire social structures build supports eager to give meaning and purpose to the human experience of power. Communication of spiritual and community values, movements for social change, and reflections on past movements all push for a wide range of cultural transformations. New theories of change among the institutions confronting the need to adapt to new conditions include personal interaction with natural events that have a manmade feel about them. If each initiative defines an outcome-driven process, a practice based on evidence for action is drawn from detailed performance measures undertaken routinely by trusted parties. No matter how or where the idea for change occurred or the credit becomes needed, the results should be trusted. Time is the great judge of failure and success unless one cannot outrun the bear.

The task for staff is to find the counter punch organizations among the following largely progressive organizations. The primary mission is to get people to pay attention, express issues of concern, and vote on them in every election.  The list work got started with a project called START.

The Original START Study Guide is Here

For an excellent description of START, see “Acting in the Big Picture: New study guide builds on history, hope,” by Linda Pinkow, Dollars & Sense, Number 273, Nov/Dec 2007, p. 9. It was the inspiration for building the Tweet O-Rama pages found in the menu under The Synergy Project.s

The “tweet” is a way not to be distracted by the “big picture”, such as “we are all f’n doomed” problem, or if you are as rich as some of my friends, you plan, build and stock a $20 million hideaway, to avoid being in the “all” category.

List 1: Electoral Politics Organizations

The major electoral categories on the progressive side are political parties, namely the Democratic, Working Family, Green, Labor, DSA, Socialist, and the CCDS. A complement of state and local legislative groups is composed of BISC, SIX, and Progress Now.

Democratic National Committee/Party

Works for job creation, equal pay, education, health care, and clean energy.

Working Families Party

A progressive political organization that sponsors candidates in 7 states and fights nationwide for an economy that works for all and a democracy in which every voice matter.

Green Party of the United States


Labor Party

A few democratic socialists advocate for a broad-based social revolution while predicting the possibility of an undemocratic and violent seizure of power by a single political party. As history repeats, see blog to see if they might be right.

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)

The largest socialist organization in the United States, and the principal U.S. affiliate of Socialist International. Extending political democracy to greater empowerment in the economy, in gender relations, and in culture.

Socialist Party (USA)

A political party of, by, and for working people, founded in June 1996 by delegates from hundreds of local and international unions as well as individual activists.

Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS)

The achievement of the socialist vision requires the production of wealth controlled by the people participating in a broadly framed democracy serving political and cultural life. I found a link to the Left University that offers many interesting resources (here). One of the best is the analysis by David Schweickart out of Loyola University below.

If only “the left” had the sound technicians as polished as those of TED and a few others.

In Sweden talking to a few students.

Think Tank People

“The Economist explains the role of think tanks as filling “the gap between academia and policy making.” I made a list for tweet scan to get a sense of that gap. It ain’t no gap – it’s a chasm, no an abyss.

The role of professional academic researchers move with the dedicated pace of a peer review and thus, very slowly. Journalists produce daily descriptions of events and are fast but not dispositive.

The job of a think tank is to make some sense of the day-to-day world over the course of a year or more and develop policies that make each day better than the one before. The good ones make the academic rigor of research as accessible a news story. The list below is not exhaustive and developed as a test using their twitter feed. Which of the following are most accessible?” Or, take a look at On Think Tanks.

Rex L. Curry

Acton Institute

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Lord John Acton (1834-1902). Acton seeks ways to articulate a vision of society that is both free and virtuous, the end of which is human flourishing.

American Enterprise Institute

Aspen Institute

Atlantic Council

Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Bipartisan Policy Center

Brookings Institution

Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Cato Institute

Libertarian and non-interventionist

Center for a New American Security

Center for American Progress

Center for Immigration Studies

Center for Strategic and International Studies

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Claremont Institute

Commonwealth Fund

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Council on Foreign Relations

Discovery Institute

Earth Institute

Economic Policy Institute

Electronic Privacy Information Center

Freedom House

Guttmacher Institute

Heartland Institute

Heritage Foundation

Hoover Institution

Human Rights Watch

Independent Institute

Inter-American Dialogue

James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy

Kaiser Family Foundation

Lexington Institute

Ludwig von Mises Institute

Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

Mercatus Center at George Mason University

National Bureau of Economic Research

New America Foundation

New Democrat Network

Open Society Foundation

Peterson Institute for International Economics

Public Policy Institute of California

RAND Corporation

Reason Foundation

Rocky Mountain Institute

The Russell Sage Foundation

Third Way

Urban Institute

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Worldwatch Institute

Tweet-O-Random

“The Twitter feeds below are a random selection tied to a large set of “feeds” in the Tweet O-Rama – a large list of watchdog, housing, accountability, consumer, tax, vote protecting, public policy and business integrity people. I make them available to myself for a fast review of the times, sort of a person am I thinking clearly, litmus test. The “keyword” programs that hunt down story trends are cold and grabby. I like to stroll through them for the sense of humanity that remains in the issues people seek to resolve.

I recommend scanning them regularly for what is relevant to them all from day-to-day. As a whole, Tweets represent a spectacular display of what is important to people in groups at the moment. They are not doing well, or maybe it’s just the moments that are not that good. Consider the following selection found in the randomness of tornados, hurricanes, floods, and fires.”

Rex L. Curry

Before you go to the list, first, know that all core documents, assumptions, and arguments that require more testing for data will dance like angels on the head of a pin and achieve nothing. We live in a world of catastrophic resolution (CR). Understand the practical misuse of argument in a diverse, divided country like ours is fully engaged in CR poof.

Garrett Harden’s 1960s thesis regarding the “tragedy of the commons” is true, but our innocent actions are no longer innocent. One balancing element might be the Creative Commons offer of a more open process. Nevertheless, even in the current mess we find ourselves in, observers can see some things with abundant clarity.

Change toward anything better will not work without mass mobilization toward specific tests at the community-based action level of change. Moving the argument from the “atmospheric gas” problem to practical issues under the heading of resilience will shift the argument toward those tests. Every planning director and political leader should be asking questions such as 1) How many homes will flood or burn, and where is it most likely now and in ten and twenty years? 2) Can this region or nation handle that number, and does it have a resilience plan?

Getting blown to pieces, flooded or burned out of a low-cost, no cellar home, then fleeing, returning, and repeating is not a plan. It is climate change roulette. Once the gamble is recognized as such, the questions can get smarter. Participants will look for efficiencies and redundancies in the food and water supply, the energy grid, the quality of emergency response, the replenishment of local mitigation budgets, and so on.

The spread of single-family buildings from huts to mansions across the American landscape is our energy reality. We live where we live. It was shaped by national policy and cannot be reinvented easily in the face of new challenges. The National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956 is a central part of why we live where we live.  The initial expenditure was $26 billion, today that would be $242 billion. The highway spread us. The act was designed in part to protect against the thermonuclear war. Still, it also produced enormous land development wealth, a cheap place to live for everyone post-WWII to the present, and automobile industries that became globally duplicated. An investment in the nation’s future, even for purposes of research on alternatives, is inconceivable today. Yet, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) reports the cost of severe weather and climate disasters to be $91 billion in 2018.

A self-criticism arose during the anti-war and civil rights movement of the 1960s youthful vision of the world. Progressive Americans had to do more than talk to the already convinced. Enough of them added walking that talks itself into new places of culture, economy, and outlook. Americans still need to mix it up because a similar problem remains today after well over a half-century. There are people to listen to and learn from regarding trustworthy improvements in the argument for a better future. Quality leadership remains easily accessible. There is a chance to sustain the vitality of sacrifice in confronting new challenges.

I like David Roberts at Vox on renewable energy, and Amy Harder of Axios is a favorite of mine on energy politics. Grist has Nathanael Johnson exploring, God help us nuclear energy and World Resources Institute offers the big picture with reasoned care.

The Random Tweets

The following tweets are written by people close to the ground who can be aware of tests for organizational, political, and technological changes that meet a local condition and prove a positive change. Feel free to add some. The well of ideas is plentiful. Finding the thread of principle that ties them into a thing called mobilization is the real task at hand. Have a look.

Axios

Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES)

Dani Rodrik’s Tweets

Dot Earth

Energy Institute at Haas

Environmental and Urban Economics

Environmental Economics

Jeff Goodell

In 2005 his book “The Water Will Come” would not be flying off the shelves around the world as they are in 2019.

Grasping Reality with Both Hands (Brad DeLong)

Greg Mankiw’s Blog

Grist

Harvard Environmental Economics Program

Jeffrey Frankel’s Blog

Larry Summer’s Blog

Long Now Foundation

Take a break — listen to the long term thinking people. Look for the Jeff Goodell presentation about his book “The Water Will Come.”

Making Sen$e | PBS NewsHour

National Bureau of Economic Research

Now This

Their production of Congressional hearing on why corruption is getting ripe in nearly every political venue starts with one interview and a unique analysis (here). For the rest of it, that is why we call this is the tweet-o-random.

Resources for the Future – Common Resources

The Conversation: Analysis, Research, News and Ideas

Vox

Catastrophic Resolution

Good for the City in Small Pieces

“Some years ago, and a year or so after the 9/11 disaster, I was standing near a conversation at a town hall session, when a constituent decried failing systems in service to the simple act of voting – long lines, ill-trained, confused poll workers, broken machines, deplorable participation rates, falling registrations, and so on.  The Senator, politely nodding, said, “Little will happen on any of these issues until voting breaks down completely. Only if that happens can action with money be taken, in the meantime…” when the constituent interrupted and said, “But Senator, all the dots are in a row here,” it was like being slapped.”

Rex L. Curry

The policy of catastrophic resolution is supported as a congressional decision-making model. It trickles as policy all the way to cities. In New York City, as an example, the policy is to wait until the water main breaks. “It is the only way to find them to fix them.” claimed the officials with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) at the time.

While reasonable in one sense, it has become a disease of denial regarding the value of prevention. Today, a variety of life-denying systems within the western economies are held by self-styled anthropophagus-like altruists whose logic would destroy the village to save it and govern at an “arm’s length” with the help of psychopaths they put into public offices. They are not the oligarchs of old that hold the spoils of war. In their worlds, surrounded by the obsequious kindness of others, I believe many of them do not know what they do or have done to damage the future. The clutch of sycophants in their spheres quietly whisper in a gaggle of insistence, saying there is no need for decisive action on the unprovable loss of a single species or global breakdowns in seasonal patterns that bring fire, drought, and thunderous waves from a rising global ocean or the searing heat across ever-widening dry plains. The policy of “no need without undeniable insistence” must not occur.  There is a need for revolution, and I think I know where it might begin.

The synergy of dense urban living appears to create or at least support the rise of conditions that prevent damage to future generations as it defines and solves problems squarely ahead. It can be sloppy. However, most of the cycles of sloppiness are short, cover small geographic areas because only parts of the systems that glue the city together fail at any one time. A city in constates of repair is a city with powerful expertise. When an ancient, wood water main breaks, a sewer fails, a gas line leaks and an electric power loss occurs, only a few people are affected and only for short periods because of compacity. A word that describes many people nearby that know exactly what to do or how to get it done.

ConEdisons Outage Map shows the number of customers affected by location.
New York City’s “Outage Map” by Consolidated Edison
illustrates outages for 3.5 million customers by location.

If you are in a dense area you can experience compacity (the feeling of density) by taking a walk for fifteen to twenty minutes in a reasonably straight line, make four right turns to get back where you started, and you have probably walked a square mile. On average, you have enclosed 30,000 to 80,000 people, miles of road, and thousands of homes. If you are in New York City, you may have come across multiple subway stations, several hundred commercial retail, institutional service, and public facilities such as schools, police, and fire stations. All in a little over a one-hour walk. Amazing.

The central and overriding responsibility of political leaders and public and private service agencies is to assist in the readiness of people to respond to problems of any kind or any sort. They should know and understand this capacity as it represents the beating heart of NYC’s future. In every one of these square mile enclosures in any one of hundreds of neighborhoods, the capacity for positive change is undeniable. Still, it needs to be taught as a practical matter of citizenship, of what to do or not when the need for help is immediate or anticipated like the tide.

If or when a city’s potential for positive change or the need for occasionally rapid response is denied or obstructed, it is readily recognized as a conflict against humanity in the place where it occurs. The origins of the forces behind these life-defining conflicts may begin as “person-against -person,-nature, -self, -society, -technology or the raw unknown. These are not the elements of fictional narratives. They represent the day-to-day experiences of regular people. They produce these occurrences of conflict with relish in all things, from the simple exchange over the price of bread for currency to a course in high-school algebra for a grade. They are all things wrought by the compacity of urban life that are continuous and in many ways unrelenting.

In many places throughout the city, your walk would have included observing a highly diverse population. You would have heard many voices speaking combinations of familiar and unfamiliar words. Your opportunity within this environment to purchase and consume your requirement for protein or clothing, a laugh, or a smile is easily acquired. Your business is appreciated. A twenty to thirty-minute train ride will take you to some of the world’s finest hospitals and universities or airports and trains to see far-off places. All of these little break-downs and celebrations renew the place and the person.

 

 

 

Fact Checking People

“Facts are things known that need to be proven routinely. A word of caution my Dad said, ‘Believe none of what you read and only half of what you see.’ Do that, and you get better questions.

The desire of political “camps” is to communicate messages first and facts second. Media advisers and psychologists find the proof of communication in persuasion leading to action. That is it, nothing else. Millions of votes or cans of beer are the proof needed, and ethical communications standards are not required. The friends of the “fact-checking world” help to give writers perspective and the ability to set personal standards.”  

Rex L. Curry

Snopes.com        

A proven and reliable debunker of false statements

FactCheck                     

Dedicated to public education on media bias and deceptive news practices 

Annenberg Public Policy Center’s focus on political statements

Politi Fact           

Rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others in American politics

BallotPedia        

A professional encyclopedia of American politics and elections

Open Secrets      

Tracks money in U.S. politics – nonpartisan, independent, and nonprofit

Truth or Fiction

A mishmash and hodgepodge of all the bull on the internet, but lacks focus

Tech Transparency Project


Economic Research People

Staying in the “now” of the Tweet Timeline is an efficient way not to be distracted and to recommend breezing through the following outfits to see if you are reminded by many of them are beginning to understand that the earth cannot “know” of its desolation but if it did, it would smell regeneration in the moist breath of our decay.

Economic Policy Institute (EPI)          

Economic policy dialogue on money issues associated with poverty, unemployment, inflation, competitiveness, and problems

Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN)

A collaboration of national, state, and regional groups that conduct economic research, develop and advocate for policy, mobilize public opinion, and win state policy victories.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP)

Conducts research and analysis on proposed budget and tax policies, with an emphasis on those affecting low- and moderate-income people.

National Priorities Project (NPP)

Offers citizen and community groups tools and resources to shape federal budget and policy priorities which promote social and economic justice, particularly educating the public on the impacts of federal tax and spending policies at the community level.

Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)

Conducts professional research and public education to promote democratic debate on important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

Institute for Economic Analysis (IEA)

Macroeconomics applied to the analysis of policies that do or do not maintain stable, sustainable, structurally-balanced full-employment growth, leading to a more equitable distribution of income and wealth. Aimed at professionals seeking to demystify requirements for a sound economic policy. Does not Tweet

Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS)

A national policy center and field laboratory for high-road capitalism — a competitive market economy of shared prosperity, environmental sustainability, and capable democratic government.

Community Wealth

Practitioners, policymakers, academics, and the media need solid information. This group supports the expansion of community wealth-building institutions with a vast list of organizations on this subject.

Financial Policy Forum / Derivatives Study Center

Created out of the concern that financial markets disruptions and inefficiencies have become a barrier to improvements in living standards in the U.S. and around the world. No Tweets – aimed at professionals, will persuade themselves and few others.

Center for Full Employment and Price Stability (CFEPS)

The University of Missouri-Kansas City aimed at the distribution of papers on employment and cost of living.     No Tweets

Institute on Assets and Social Policy

Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University aimed at reducing inequality to improve social and economic well-being.

The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College

A research organization devoted to public policy but steeped in the knowledge of nowhere economic in the United States. No Tweets

Social Policy People

The Urban Institute

Social policy research and some advocacy for vulnerable populations.

National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)

Columbia University’s work on preventing child poverty in the United States and that improve the lives of low-income children and families in the United States. A focus on its own backyard could help.

Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC)

A social policy research organization dedicated to learning what works to improve the well-being of low-income people.

Poverty and Race Research Action Council (PRRAC)

Generates, gathers, and disseminates information regarding the relationship between race and poverty, and promotes the development and implementation of policies and practices that alleviate conditions caused by the interaction of race and poverty.

Progressive Policy Institute

The Library of Economics and Liberty

Tax Accountability People

Unlike many countries, the United States is a miracle of taxpayers that actually pay taxes. It is also a culture that tends to let the most important things go unsaid. In this case, when Warren Buffett tells the world he paid a percentage less in taxes than his executive secretary, one of those most important things got said, out loud and it was news. That level of honesty drove the wealth world crazy, and the rest of us saddened by the idea that there is only one good billionaire. A list of the will be found here for review. Following are three progressive agents on the creation of public revenue, aka tax.

Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ)
Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP)

Ordinary people need a voice on tax laws and defense against special interests working for corporations and the wealthy.

Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition (FACT)

An alliance of state, national, and some international organizations examining tax systems and policies combating corrupt financial practices.


Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS)

A budget watchdog fighting the politicians from both parties who continue to fund pork-barrel projects, hand out unfair subsidies and tax breaks and make backroom deals with lobbyists.

Business Integrity People

“Globalization requires documenting the impact of the world’s transnational giants through social activism. Self-regulation will work if it supports specific democratic controls and power in the hands of local communities affected by these business networks. A solid principle of business management finds those closest to a source of an impact should have decision-making powers as it affects human rights, labor rights, and environmental justice.”

Rex L. Curry

CorpWatch

As an organization development project of the Social Good Fund, it emerged and evolved from a 1997 book, The Corporate Planet: Ecology and Politics in the Age of Globalization, written by CorpWatch’s founder Joshua Karliner, and published by Sierra Club. Corporate accountability is tested by malfeasance in the world. Their investigations are about the economic impact on environmental, political, and human rights.

Alliance for Democracy (AfD)

Corporate “company town” style domination of a local market is antithetical to the creation and support of democratic institutions and equitable economies. Alliance’s are forming to keep the United States from becoming one of those “towns.”

Corporate Accountability International (CAI)

Holding corporations publicly accountable requires a megaphone and the subpoena powers of governments interested in the truth. Large transnational corporations create the most dangerous actions around the world. They have the power to devastate democracy, trampling human rights, and destroy ecosystems and must be resisted.

Move to Amend

Can money be a form of protected free speech under the First Amendment? To answer this question, ask how it will be possible to regulate money in political campaigns. Is your $5 the same as another’s $500,000 when it is spent to persuade me to know or think about an issue?

Reclaim Democracy!

Works to restore democratic authority over corporations, reviving grassroots democracy, revoke and reform corporate powers to control government and civil society.

Center for Popular Democracy (CPD)

The Center for Popular Democracy merged with the Leadership Center for the Common Good on January 1, 2014. It includes a sister 501c4 organizations, Action for the Common Good to create progress not just wait for it to occur. 

 DataCenter

The Third Wave Fund helped to establish the closed Data Center project but the idea of capacity building for local organizing groups focused on young people as activists remain. Who else better represents ‘meaning’ in every sense worthy of attention. The idea is good for replication at the local level. Data is in books, but the meaning of it is in people where you live. If you hope to build a local center with tools for the use of information by ordinary people, start here.

Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

Need some legal services to eliminate undue rights of corporations to damage the earth? Over 200 municipalities across the U.S. have enacted this group’s Community Rights laws which ban practices – including fracking, factory farming, sewage sludging of farmland, and water privatization. They fight all those who would violate the rights of people, communities, and nature.

The idea of advancing corporate responsibility appears to many as the ultimate oxymoron. However, helping people who enjoy high levels of cognitive dissonance to identify the lack of endogenous chemicals that enable neurotransmission on triple bottom line issues can be joyful. The following six groups have their fun in this way.

Green America

The economic power and strength of consumers, investors, businesses in the United States is vast. It can establish an environmentally sustainable society and has a lot of ideas about how to get there.

Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment

Guidance for socially responsible investing is sought out be huge funds held by groups such as TIAA/CREF in portfolios under the headings of Environmentally and Socially Responsible. If the investment community is not on board we are truly doomed, and not in a good way.

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)

Faith-based institutional investors as stockholders can vote for socially environmentally responsible business practices. Advancing the outlook of these organizations is a step in the right direction.

As You Sow

Shareholders can leverage strategies to improve corporate behavior. Watch how they do it and still do the reaping part.

Business for Social Responsibility (BSR)

Business needs help to find ways to demonstrate respect for ethical values, by making choices through business policies, practices, and processes that advance the welfare and health of a community as well as it builds a business.

Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE)

A network of local business networks composed of independently operated businesses share ways they build local economies that know how to share prosperity through local business ownership and environmental stewardship.

https://twitter.com/bealocalist

Local Political People

Each of the following will lead to many others at your local level of political networking. 

Ballot Initiative Strategy Center (BISC)

Build grassroots ballot initiative campaigns and strengthen progressive policies and respond to the right-wing’s damage.

State Innovation Exchange (SIX)

A national resource and strategy center that supports 1,500 state legislators in advancing and defending progressive policies across the country.

Progress Now

Works with state partners to promote progressive ideas and causes through earned media strategies and cutting-edge new media.

MoveOn

Build a political voice in a system dominated by big money and big media.

Indivisible

Local groups in every Congressional District seeking progressive change.

CREDO Action / Working Assets

Activists supported with the revenue of the mobile phone company CREDO Mobile and long-distance phone company.

Daily Kos

An activist hub working for electoral and policy change.

Our Revolution

Built upon the success of Bernie Sanders; presidential 2016 campaign, it organizes grassroots action to elect progressive candidates to political office, from school boards to congressional seats.

Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

A Quaker lobby that works with people from many different races, religions, and cultures to advocate social and economic justice, peace, and good government.

Progressive Congress

Works with progressive members of Congress.

 Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC)

Like bold progressive candidates, helps with campaigns, raises money for them, and gives volunteers the opportunity to help these campaigns succeed.

Progressive Democrats of America (PDA)

Grassroots activists who network with other activists to guide Congress toward progressie legislation built on state and local level success.

Public Leadership Institute
Progressive Majority Action Fund

Hosts the largest network of progressive lawmakers at the state and local level, the Progressive Leaders Network.

Democracy for America (DFA)

A political action committee inspired by the presidential campaign of Howard Dean, and now dedicated to supporting fiscally responsible, socially progressive candidates at all levels of government — from school board to the presidency.

21st Century Democrats

Supports progressive and candidates with stuff they need to win.

Young Democrats of America (YDA)

Mobilizes young people under the age of 36 to participate in the electoral process, influences the ideals of the Democratic Party, and develops the skills of the youth generation to serve as leaders at the local and national level.

Americans For Democratic Action (ADA)

America’s oldest independent liberal lobbying organization, dedicated to individual liberty and building economic and social justice at home and abroad.

National Committee for an Effective Congress (NCEC)

A political action committee (PAC) supporting progressive candidates who fight for freedom of choice, separation of church and state, gun control, equal rights, and environmental protection.

Emerge America

Recruits, trains, and provides a powerful network for Democratic women running for political office.

EMILY’s List

Supports pro-choice Democratic women candidates for federal, state, and local offices.

National Stonewall Democrats

The voice of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ) Americans in the Democratic Party. New York City’s feed is strong, but you will find the progressive movment strongly represented in cities across America. Proof of political diversity is found in the Log Cabin Republican wing of the LGBTQ universe.

Housing Rights People

“The exhibit of the nineteenth and early twentieth-century social housing reveals scant interest other than producing shelter for vulnerable populations, the working classes, and the lower levels of the middle-class people of color. Speculative builders and public housing authorities provided much of the design, architecture, and construction; however, the design process was seen as a luxury disruptive of the bottom line.”

“It wasn’t until the close of the last few decades of 20th c. for this conservative view to be challenged. The double and triple bottom line efforts of housing advocates attacked their minimally progressive precursors for the decay of older urban centers. The strategy was a simple one:  capture vacant and abandoned buildings. In NYC, these vital stocks were in big trouble. Some neighborhoods and public housing became traps. Communities that fell into a quagmire of disinvestment and unemployment were abandoned and left to die. Economists argued that value tends not to occur without a rising standard of living to produce sufficient demand. Racism would not allow that to occur—the fight for housing preservation in old urban areas. While poor, people recognized a weakened, but excellent pre-WWII housing stock was available. Once recognized, it proved to be a job producer and a community development gold mine. Bringing design quality to every aspect of housing preservation gave a threatened community a first vital step in sustaining the city’s promise. With that in mind, you will find nine national watch groups. Scan it for thE elusive skill of persuasion. If you discover something like an understanding of design (in every aspect), I want to see it.” Thanks!

RLC – OCCUPY

Coalition on Human Needs (CHN)

Civil rights, religion, labor protects low-income and other vulnerable populations — children, women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Is there a design that can prevent human suffering?

PolicyLink

This national research and action institute of collaborators tends to be all over the place, but watch how they implement local, state initiatives that alter federal policies and work to get a uniform flow of economic and social equity in the pocket of ordinary people. There is a design here.

National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC)

Ending the affordable housing crisis vs. watching a crisis unfold before our eyes rings the bell that tolls for thee. In this sense very problem is a housing problem.

National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH)

Committed to a single goal: end homelessness. The NCH is always getting ready because it is like the tide and comes in waves.

National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC)

Credit and banking services for lower-income communities. Is “risk” a design problem?

Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Can law improve the economic security of low-income families? Can a justice system for all people beginning with the most vulnerable and work its way to everyone?

National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ)

Engages in legal representation and policy advocacy around the U.S. to improve the administration of cash assistance, Medicaid, food stamps, and childcare. Design practices are excellent managers of multiple variables.

National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP)

Works to prevent and end homelessness by serving as the legal arm of the nationwide movement to end homelessness. What is the design for decriminalizing poverty?

Center for Popular Democracy

The Center for Popular Democracy works to create equity, opportunity, and a dynamic democracy in partnership with high-impact base-building organizations, organizing alliances, and progressive unions.

All of the above organization, not only fight for human dignity, they must also struggle to survive, keep staff, pay rent and remain focused. When was the last time they all had a meeting, organized, designed and implemented an agenda?

Economic Justice People

The wealth of the United States is known, and its median household income is the sixth highest in the world. The people on this list know that the opposite of that wealth is not poverty. It is an injustice. The reasons for this are many. They can be explained in the fine detail of economics, markets, globalization, and climate change. Protecting the vulnerable from those who would push them aside do so with affordable housing, a fair justice system, health, and education. Following corporate watchdogs, taxation analysts, consumer protectors, and advocacy training in civic engagement are worth following. Under the heading of “justice,” integration with the other groups is strongest.

Jobs with Justice (JwJ)

Coalitions (labor, community, religious, and other organizations fight for a workers’ right to organize.


Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ)

Use religious values to educate, organize, and mobilize workers. Campaign for living wages, health benefits, and safe conditions. Add the voice of low-wage workers in a powerful way.

Working America

The AFL-CIO fights for good jobs, health care, secure retirements, and an interesting demand for “real homeland” security.

National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)

Laborer organizing groups, low-wage work, and immigrant rights effort. Develop better models for contingent/temporary workers.

 Coalition on Human Needs (CHN)

An alliance of national civil rights, religious, labor, and professional organizations working together to promote public policies which address the needs of low-income and other vulnerable populations — children, women, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

PolicyLink

A national research and action institute that works collaboratively to develop and implement local, state, and federal policies to achieve economic and social equity and ensure that everyone — including those from low-income communities of color — can contribute to and benefit from economic growth and prosperity.

National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC)

Works to end America’s affordable housing crisis.

National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH)

A national network of currently and formerly homeless persons, activists and advocates, community and faith-based service providers, and others committed to a single goal: to end homelessness.

National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC)

Seeks to increase fair and equal access to credit and banking services for lower-income and minority communities.

Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

A public interest law and policy organization which promotes policies to improve the economic security of low-income families and to secure access to our civil justice system for all low-income persons.

National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ)

Engages in legal representation and policy advocacy around the U.S. to improve the administration of cash assistance, Medicaid, food stamps, and childcare.

National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty

Works to prevent and end homelessness by serving as the legal arm of the nationwide movement to end homelessness.

Tweet-O-Rama

“Everything happens all at once, so thank your stars that the people who try to watch everything come in groups. You will find fifteen of them below, representing a diversity of views and experience in American political thought.

The divergence rate is disturbing, but more scientists’ gem of a tightly edited tweet than politicians can make a difference.  The question is when. I recommend conducting a personal monthly summary of just one or two of these groups. Then, weave tweets into your science and democracy fabric to see any treads of principle emerge.”

RLC – OCCUPY

Watchdog People

The watchdog people live lives of great trepidation, review the most recent concerns, and summarize the “whistles.”

Housing Rights People

The foundation of an equitable society is housing in communities capable of nurturing everyone. Quality housing is a right.

Protect the Vote People

The right to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State. It is the law, and political leaders in many states are breaking it.

Social Policy People

The unknown principle of action adopted by governments and corporations is to avoid scrutiny of all kinds. These outfits focus on what works. Housing is often a central theme.

Business Integrity People

The number of businesses that will steal or cheat is growing. The business integrity people are out there to find them to make one point. Laws to protect exist, funds to enforce do not.

Think Tank People

A reasonable combination of the policymakers can be viewed as conservative or progressive. Here the facts are friendly.

Women’s Liberation People

Some of the most effective advocates for equality in the nation.

Science Facts People

The facts are friendly, the main argument thereafter is proof.

Accountability People

There is no end to the trouble caused when the developers of all things material ignore the basics. They hide their mistakes. The “whistleblower folks” help to dig them out.

Consumer Protection People

Imagine if a thing you bought is dangerous. How do you know? Right, you don’t. These are the people who pay attention to this stuff.

Tax Accountability People

The tax account people in this section document socialism for the rich. Be warned, and these tweets can alter your sense of fairness in the way capital is treated.

Local Political People

Finding effective local political organizations often requires a look at some national network people building local networks.

Economic Justice People

People who correct past wrongs give us a good definition of justice with equity. The opposite of wealth is not poverty. It is an injustice.

Random Tweet O-Ramas

Close to the ground testers for what works in your world. Rough list and growing.

Fact-Checking People

“If I said it was a fact, I meant it was my opinion of the fact.” A favorite line from a New York Mayor. These are the best of the doublespeak people.

Please Recommend a New Group or an addition (here).

These moderately overlapping institutions are summarized for what they think is important in a monthly summary posted at the end of 2019; another will be done as 2021 comes to a close on the pandemic.

This project began with the START list. Have a look, if you are hoping to find other organizations.

Three Out of Five

Let Creation be Creation

“Draw a line around the urban world and offer unlimited growth. Offer a true wilderness on the outside of that line. That is the place from which we all came. Getting those two things done, or well underway is all that is needed to solve all our problems. Build good cities and let the rest of creation be creation. One thing for sure is the new frontier is inward. We have very little time to produce a tactical network of collaborators for implementation by end of 2030. Running into the woods or the wilderness will not work.”

Rex L. Curry

The 13th and the 19th Amendment

In 2016 two parts of the American body of values became serious problems. Originally defined by Jefferson, they were exposed more sharply by Seymour Lipset’s five pillars. Not many people can rattle them off, but people will recognize them as American’s belief in liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, populism, and laissez-faire capitalism. The first three are firm, repeatable values experienced and repeated in many ways. The last two remain a challenge regarding the purpose of each in a Democracy.

Watch Here

You might say this is all John Locke’s problem. He’s the one John Dunn, the political theorist described as forming the ideology of governance found in the secular principles of “the founding” of the U.S. Constitution. Briefly, these are unprecedented freedom of the individual, unlimited opportunity to acquire material goods, and strong limitations on the power of government to inspect or rule over the individual initiative.

Getting to an effective collaboration will require an understanding of populism and laissez-faire capitalism. On one side of the populism coin, we can look at how the Thirteenth Amendment allowed the continued imprisonment of African-Americans for the crime of being black. The ability of ordinary people to sustain the freedom for effective resistance to oppression was not produced. It was threatened. The 13th Amendment is over 150 years into its clumsy implementation. It is a failure only partially admitted to by Congress as recently as 2019.

The second concern in building an effective collaboration recognizes the 2020 Centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment as it marks the failure to sustain the power of the vote. This is the realm of what people believe can be correct or incorrect but always thought of as correct, even when challenged. This true of what is seen and heard or read. This characteristic of human perception requires measures of balance from leaders to prevent the use of a strongly held belief as a means for demonizing others.

An ordinary person like myself has an understanding of populism as a force capable of meeting my needs. I also know if it is effective, it requires some direct pressure or spins out of control. That balance is not provided by American laissez-faire capitalism. The flow of money builds heavily on self-interests and not ideas as the true actors.

They need to recognize the actors and forces that theoretically lead to economic equilibrium are defined, in part, by the flag that reads “don’t tread on me.” The sentiment for retribution speaks loudly to the first three values (liberty, egalitarianism, and individualism), but if they are challenged, government and regulation are either the solution or the problem. This is when it is important to know your placement on the populist data spectrum. A sense of perspective of who, what, and how you got where you there is the prerequisite value needed to proceed toward the collaboration that will stop us from running for the woods and beating our drums. We need to be better than that.

The American values spectrum needs some fixing. So here is how I think a way forward from local to global is possible. I think of it as the time I made some new friends on a golf course in Brooklyn. All of us were struggling on a long par 5 with missed shots amidst mild cursing when I said, “Well guys, at least, I understand white privilege.” The response from the two African-Americans who befriended me was an enduring trust in my self-awareness and honesty, two values that power the game.

Sander’s Agenda

America is an urban nation and while Bernie Sanders’ campaign for president is a shock to the Democratic establishment’s old suburban guard, they might be able to absorb his policies. The reasons for this are also political. He is authentic, likable, and persuasive. He is also trustworthy, 223,000 donors sent him $5.9 million within the first 24 hours of his 2020 presidential campaign.

Mayor Bernie Sanders made Burlington America’s first city pilot community-trust housing; today, the trust manages 2,800 permanently price-controlled homes. As mayor, he recognized this city’s capacity for a quality urban debate on social justice, education, and health care issues.  Cities have universities, hospitals, and a network of nurturing activist organizations capable of building progressive municipal policies. Sanders is not a radical, and he has basic common sense about how Americans can thrive by engaging urban resources through collective access.

The urban answer is well known and ever since the design of the ramparts of a feudal wall, to Henri Lefebvre’s “Right to the City” observations in 1968, to the Rockefeller Foundation’s “Century of the City – no time to lose” in 2008 (Neil Pierce and Curtis Johnson). The facts are in; they are solid and improve monthly. What is not available is a political pathway and the quality of persuasion needed to implement well-known understandable solutions. Yet, all we have now is a need to be hopeful in the way David Harvey describes.

“The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. It is, moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanization. The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.”

David Harvey (Sept.–Oct. 2008) “The right to the city”. New Left Review.II (53): 23–40.

Having “no time to lose” has become the first communication problem to solve. It is torturous. As framed by conservatives, American national politics appear to fear government “takings” and seem to promote anger with the ineptitude of government giving to the undeserving. Most of it is aimed at the so-called American heartland, while most of the American population in metropolitan areas is accessible only through a single means of transportation. On the other hand, their dense urban centers offer a broad base of cultural and educational institutions and real experience with diversity. The urban center is consistently renewable and, in that, the freedom to exercise power.

Arguments about urban resources are electoral college problems of disproportion. This aside, will Sander’s have a 2020 urban agenda? Not exactly, but his agenda benefits working poor households, puts watchdogs on bankers and brokers, supports public universities, hospitals, and doctors in parts of the nation that offer the lowest per capita energy use. These are all top value factors that help cities and metropolitan regions.

Medicare for All is a material good because working to encourage people’s health is better than a sick society. Federal minimum wage at $15 (or a living income) also helps to assure healthy communities. The proposal to increase the tax on billionaires to 77% is about pushing for more income equality. His focus on Wall Street abuses such as stock repurchases under the tax act passed in 1/2018 is a fight against increased inequality. 

Progressives

Advancing free public college tuition for students in households earning less than $125K is another step in producing an opportunity for equality.  His actions on climate change are similar or equal to the Green New Deal proposals. An example is to increase funding for urban transport systems by 250%. A fully developed country is one where the wealthy, the middle class, and the ordinary worker use mass transportation. Encouraging alternatives to personal vehicle transit is a step toward a stable urban core.

Cities are Different

“One number above all other metrics suggests a housing affordability and infrastructure emergency is pending. In New York City, one emergency is around 40,000 people living permanently in shelters, with a growing percentage of emotionally distressed and mentally ill people in the population. The number alone is less telling than realizing how and why it lasts for decades.

Homelessness has become a production function of cities.

In NYC, an additional 35,000 people, by official estimates, are homeless as transient or invisible. There are no rules or initiatives to stop these numbers from exponential growth.”

Rex L. Curry

Pushed Out”  illustrates displacement and its impacts.  Produced by: UC Berkeley Urban Displacement Project, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and The Great Communities Collaborative, an initiative of The San Francisco Foundation

The history of cities is about how problems are defined and solved. The political skill of the dense city is different than other places. The city is regularly expected to create change that people will believe in, even though combinations of corruption and inspiration determine each change. The effectiveness of either or both is fixed in the experience of communities and demonstrated in neighborhoods. Inexplicably, is this what makes the celebration of cities so unique and important in advancing human thought?  Here is one example.

From the 1960s to the early 90s New York City experienced rapid cultural and physical changes unlike any other. Initially, it confronted wholesale infrastructure deterioration coupled with a profound housing crisis, population loss, racism, double-digit inflation, a significant recession, and a nation embroiled in a foreign war. The city responded with improvements in race relations, education, and training. So far, there was just enough of a federal response to prevent catastrophic collapse. Why? People with disadvantages and other people with extraordinary power found themselves face-to-face with the problem of being face-to-face.

The appointment of a financial control board control over the NYC credit crisis lasted a decade. Ending of the mid-1980s. You know the old story borrow $5,000 from a bank and don’t pay it back; you are in trouble, but make that $500,000 with a run into trouble, you have a new partner. The concept of leverage is thematic in urban development. It includes knowing the power in the phrase of many community organizers, “people united can never be defeated.”

The agreement struck was to build equity through housing rehabilitation, rent stabilization, education, and good employment.  Community control of schools and ideas on creating neighborhood government matured and created community-based development corporations in partnership with charitable foundations and city agencies. They had one purpose. Confront the city’s issues directly before them and create a better city.  It worked, but new problems without easy solutions dug into the city’s flesh as irreversible displacement and permanent homelessness became continuous, like a tide.


Displacement and Homelessness

The examination of the causes of displacement summarized in the UC Berkely presentation has some solutions and remedies offered at its conclusion. Unfortunately, zoning is not one of them.  In fairness to Mike Bloomberg, his comment on the issue was, “Hey, this was the only game in town, so you’re either in or out.”  To this extent, he is correct, the Federal response to urbanization continues to allow the market to have its way until it doesn’t, and the great recession of 2008 was not far off. 

What is poorly understood is how low- and moderate-income people find housing in the suburbs for work and affordability by combining unrelated individuals and families in shared housing arrangements as under the radar as possible. The irony is that shocking zoning is used in the dense urban environment to include low- and moderate-income families in town and keep them out in the suburbs.


Evidence of failure to implement the remedies for ongoing home displacement is in the number of individuals and households (largely women with children) estimated in distress.  A detailed look at this is described in a brief article entitled A New America. It describes the beginnings of a federal role in housing production, infrastructure, and economic mobility due to the rise of displacement, formal and informal homelessness in America.  Here is a brief excerpt: 

“When violent change hits a community, the question turns to the first responder’s capacity, then speed, followed by when (or if) the full weight of federal support occurs. If the change is massive but slow, as if following the logic of a cancer cell, a long-term sense of resilience is essential. Political leverage for needed change will be found when people link these fast and slow forms of damage to climate change and energy. The “small fires” response to sudden catastrophes in the national context produces quality emergency management skills. More is needed.

Service providers with advanced communication systems can reach deeply from federal to local levels. The service of a slower and national pre-trauma framework is building strength because it is vital. Still, first-response systems are quickly overwhelmed without a reliable set of front-end steps in mitigation that can pull its people out of trouble at a steady pace. Along with outright prevention.”

RLC

It is the Water Stupid

The following chapter from “Finding Density” looks at the simplicity of water as a regional development strategy. Combining the duality of land/water systems as interdependent brings ideas for density, or “compacity” into focus. It also turns to a growing dependency on transit-oriented designs with this interest in taking a look at the Northwest by not repeating the mistakes of the Northeast.

Rex L. Curry

Successful municipal economies yield control of their laws governing annexation and eminent domain to state governments. The loss of decisiveness and accountability caused by ever-lengthening adjudication proceedings is destructive in that it forces an ever looking “outward” for revenue. The boundaries have been the same for over a century for New York City and it proves the look inward is the way to thrive on limits and prosper.

New York manages the complexity of its social diversity; it conducts daily battles rooted in zoning; it sustains a quality bond rating. It has written and re-written the rules of what is and is not a “taking”. In brief, it is a powerhouse of jurists and litigators.  Despite the intense political debate, it gets to the truth. On this point, the City’s zoning laws became fully accessible to the New Yorker public in early 2019.  Having the NYC Zoning Resolution  (ZR) online for anyone with an interest in its authority, practices and procedures put all proposed changes upfront. In the spirit of transparency, the full text went live as a beta version here because the City Planning Commission (CPC) sought feedback with a link.

That huge 1,570-page physical binders will no longer be printed in preference to a digital platform that still provides access to all 14 Articles and 10 Appendices, plus 126 Zoning Maps and Special District boundaries. The use of ZR’s police power to contribute solutions to problems is well known. It has aided in the production of affordable housing, perhaps the city’s most serious dilemma but it addresses even more complex problems such as the impact of climate change on a compact urban environment such as New York City.  The creativity demanded by land area limits and looking inward for solutions to problems also isolates and defines in sharp detail a set of dependencies that remain outside of political boundaries.  One of the most important is water.

The origin of New York City’s success is retaining clean water coming in as well as going out, but the initial plan to accomplish this goal has grown to control much more land outside of its boundaries than it has within. Like other cities, two interlocking parts energize the City’s power. One sustains a sophisticated, occasionally stealthy war of antidevelopment heartily welcomed by the wealthier suburbs, while its counterpart offers the prospect, if not the full reality, of development in the dense urban center that is without limits. Recently added sweeteners of growing value are enormous economies of scale in environmental protection.

Highly useful boundaries emerge that define everything from “a 20 x 100-foot lot” to “the wilderness”.  The downside of this approach is local governance blunders, especially as it applies to the regulation of land use for water. In these two basic envelopes, one is defiantly anti-development to yield clean water in the reservoirs freely given by a forest root system, and another offers no limits for the human settlements in its use as it returns to the global ocean’s vast water cycle. There is an economical triple bottom line menu here if it (wilderness and metro-region) is reinvented as a duality of land and water, as it gives users an “in or out” boundary for the application of an essential life cycle criterion.

Once both are defined with a relatively hard edge, the performance within each becomes accountable to a standard. The combination of private ownership associated with the rules of limits defines “in or out” options that tend to strengthen an “as is above, as is below” structure for debate. The rules that govern the use of a 20 ft. X 100 ft lot in a compact city remains compatible with rules guiding the use of land throughout the state. Protecting one protects or defends them all. The genius of this is how it supports the two permanent and essential elements of tension vital to democracy, decisiveness, and accountability.  That is, until recently. 

The reason urban development policies incentivize is in preference to the enforcement of penalties or the provision of subsidies. Minimizing standards for low-density water treatment, site-by-site opens hundreds of individual pathways to corruption across a vast landscape of jurisdictions. Nevertheless, American values strongly support multiple centers of social and economic power to assure a layered political leadership structure. An example is the authority of the states to charter cities. A broader example is support for the lawful rise of social change movements seeking the means to alter, then “fix” boundaries of all kinds. This kind of “don’t tread on me” diversity is seen as a source of leadership. The reality of this structure is the fallacy built into the continuous growth assumption.

The image (above) is the water system in the NY metro region. Long-term predictions expect a modest increase in rainfall.  The image (below) is from Wells Dry, Fertile Plains Turn to Dust (NYT 5.19.2013) illustrates a five ft. to 150 ft. drop in water from the High Plains Aquifer running from Nebraska to the Texas Panhandle. A multi-state regional water system that defines loc. These localities are politically incapable of yielding values of independence in trade for a common good. The core issue rooted in the nation’s land-use policies is how it is entangled in its social problems.  The American frontier view of nation-building is part of this, yet, another view highlights the rise of the national highway system in a nuclear era and represents forces aimed at developing the landscape without the introduction of countermeasures or public interventions associated with conservation. Policy: there is plenty of land and water, so use it.  What if these systems are dying?

When a will of the people strategy is employed, is the complaint about poor leadership? It is far more accurate to describe it as a lack of vision beyond state borders. The frontier has moved, it is no longer out west. The frontier is everywhere and it involves everything affecting everyone all at once. A basic human need such as clean, use water, that connects metropolitan regional policies to urban centers would be capable of collecting and re-charging water systems leading to system protection.

To get a sense of the importance of this issue a based search using the words High Plains Aquifer Map will quickly illustrate local concerns from the Nebraska Water Science Center of the USGS to Everything Lubbock TX worried about nitrates linked to uranium contamination in the aquifer water that may come from fertilizers, animal, or industrial waste.

Wanted: A Density Trigger and a Clock

Do not blame America’s 20th c. Middle-Class for its useful affluence or its fascination with innovation. The belief in the promise of carefree life remains as easily exploited today as it was in 1950. Half a century ago urban design thinking capitalized on land with a street and a car; now it needs to be an alternative. The street remains vital sans car but not sans mobility.  Therein lays a new problem.

Bellevue’s compacity just east of Seattle, WA is a good example. The completion of two 450-foot 43 story towers among five approved will hold 543 units on a 10.5-acre site with a 900-car parking structure. Why room for so many cars? Site approvals include a build-out to 900 units and three proposed office towers with hotel and retail shops pending market conditions.1 In brief, the site will have plenty of reserve multi-level parking. Car storage is still a key in the “get in the black early” strategy, but down the road, Bellevue planners probably purchased serious auto congestion.  Therein lays the solution.

The introduction of a subway or light rail system is an automatic density trigger if it connects the right stuff. Why does this system require a planning clock with a half-century movement hand? Perhaps it is the attendant exaction process needed to produce distributive benefits to the city such as a mass transit system. Housing affordability is another example, to avoid the “Aspen Effect” but it will of necessity include a variety of building design treatments aimed at mobility on the small scale using alternatives. 

The idea of a density trigger assures that the mass transportation process begins first. New mass transit partners are growing rapidly; they are eager to help evaluate costs, alternatives, and so on. Setting a density trigger through zoning establishes a priority that “points” before it shoots. The history of mass transit has been “ready, fire aim”.

If zoning tips off the land-owners to the idea of growth in a larger, more compact city it could plan triggers to take it away by suggesting a time interval for planning that frames accountability for direct as well as unintended consequences. Developers and city administrators are intelligent enough to work out tax increment financing deals or other creative time value approaches much like a hedge fund.2

Transit Oriented Design Case Study

For a century, the zoning rules and tools of local government have promoted low-ground coverage for residential uses while expanding coverage with other impermeable surfaces for vehicular access to everything else. This includes the driveways and decks often uncounted in coverage data to the lots required by the retail model. Traditionally suburban county and municipal rules and tools abhor density, detest mixed land uses, and resist all regulatory control processes that call for performance measures.3 Changes to these views are being altered by projects such as Bellevue in Seattle, WA.

Even though the quality and amount of space between multiple uses hold no priority, in much of the road warrior world of low density, some good news remains. A relatively small overall coverage percentage remains for most regions and the nation. The bad news is low-density land uses continue to spread exponentially, and there is no stopping or questioning this type of growth due to hundreds of local governments per region. Not one of them wants the change that comes with density.

As planners and developers look at trains again because suburban real estate continues to have a long-term boom look to it. The centers of these little booms seem to be every station along with the remaining rights of way laid out for trains nearly a century ago.  There is only one thing missing – a reason to go up and down the line.  A creative drive to establish destinations one station at a time. In the meantime, all anyone needs to do is to look at the rate of land purchases near every train station in the region of every major metropolitan region and center.

The most recent and bold example is Warren Buffet’s purchase of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad. This investment in 21st century energy-conscious transportation is compelling because his other “old technology” bets have been winners. It also stimulated many others to look at the land along the line only to discover that Buffet had been doing so for a decade.4

Trains can move more than goods and people to more places with less energy, and as the image below suggests, rail could propel a very broad range of investment interest toward some of the largest undeveloped sections of the United States. (Wiki)

Aside from researching land/rail purchases, another barometer is the recent work of the Government Law Center on the number of local law review articles using green and sustainability issues to address land use law and practice.5 Without a doubt, the relatively rural traditions of local land use planning need incentives to accept new ways of thinking but make no mistake about the motive for change. Even with “green and sustainability” tags, the task of maximizing investments by reducing risk holds priority.

Urban planning functions because banks, lawyers, and developers drive it. The resource requirements to offer new ways to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) or a more sustainable environment do not occur without bowing to a compelling capital return. Public rules, on the other hand, can require or limit significant portions of development opportunities to “B” corporation structures adhering to specific aspects of triple bottom line practices assigned to their mission.

The Clearwater Junction & Kittitas Question

Protect the Northwest from what happened to the Northeast.

The north-south axis of BNSF and its northwest axis link to Cascadia, also known as the Northwest hub. Amidst the Clearwater, Lolo, Flathead, Bitterroot, Nez Perce, and Helena National Forest there are many conservation areas. The forests of Montana, Idaho, and Washington present the full breadth of a true wilderness. It also represents a mixture of wildlife entrepreneurship at loggerheads with conservation.

The value may seem incalculable. It is not. Write “Northwest National Forest” into a search engine (See Google Map below) and a vast range emerges. It illustrates an opportunity to get it right or turn them into “parks.” It is hard to imagine areas of this size surrounded by developer bids to “live alongside” or “work them” but one only needs to look at the “Northeast” insert to recognize that all that is left are isolated, invisible parks at the same map scale.

These Areas are Equivalent in Size

Anyone that has been in part of the thick forest for more than a few days understands why the desire to be in it defines one of the great joys of life, perhaps its meaning. It is not surprising that resistance is significant when attempts to develop housing through subdivisions occur. A recent effort at protection against housing development used only one tool -the threat of predatory attacks. The central argument made by the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department of the State of Montana in resisting a 200-acre housing development in Clearwater Junction, MT is rightly based on this threat. The proposal for 119 single-family home sites was reduced to 59 in a compromise that included a variety of plan amendments such as a fence/wall surrounding the property. Again this plating alternative was again.

The developer continued litigation efforts to proceed until the Montana State Supreme Court affirmed the community’s denial for development on appeal. See Richards v. Co. of Missoula, 354 Mont. 334, 223 P.3d 878 (Richards I) and Richards v. County of Missoula, 366 Mont. 416 (Mont. 10/23/12).

As developers continue to produce strident objections to the environmental concerns cited by public authorities, the courts will often point out other ways to seek a remedy based on mitigating potentially deleterious impacts to wells, septic systems, and water resources on nearby properties and agricultural lands. A project’s failure to comply with irrigation laws, eliminate impacts on creeks, do not address violations of specific kinds of growth. Development plans and the transfer of rights through protection policies are all successfully litigated subjects defining the opportunity for compacity, urban clusters capable of meeting the need to be part of the wilderness but not living the wild, for that is its destruction. 

While forms of new urban development seem to be reasonable grounds which denies developers (Richards in this case). The court noted the making of “no effort to refute those objections” with alternatives for a reason – the illusion of wilderness living. It is ironic this case was lost on the danger to human life via the threat of predation when access to all the wonders of life in the wild would remain available to experience except one — the idea of plunking down houses in it.

Case Study

Kittitas County in Washington is to the east of the Seattle, Tacoma urban area, and known to most national urban development observers and planners as Cascadia. At the turn of the century, Kittitas County had a few small towns east of the Snoqualmie National Forest along US 90. It is here where the battle over density and urbanization is very sharp, but it is losing the battle for conservation. 

One group, the Kittitas County Conservation Coalition’s central mission is the “preservation of a rural future.” A benchmark that sparked the formation of this countywide nonprofit was the closure of historical “trailheads” by private landowners. These trails link the past to the present and define an exquisite wilderness.  They should not be lost. The hope of this organization seems directly dependent on a fragile, but comprehensive statewide conservation initiative. It is the well-known, highly examined, and heavily documented Growth Management Act (GMA).

The state requires local governments to invest in comprehensive plans and comply with state and federal standards aimed at the protection of wetlands, streams, farms, and forests. This investment has heightened the debate on questions of growth and density and intensified the role of citizens groups such as the Kittitas Coalition. These issues pit the emotions and traditions of ‘frontier independence’ against the capacity of the state and local planning agencies to manage urban development as it occurs one plat, one PUD, one commercial farming, forest, or retail project at a time. Before it was removed for viewing online, maps on the Kittitas Coalition’s website illustrated changes in land use regulation by zoning designation from 2000 to 2009. Perhaps the concern represented by the move to a virtual private network (VPM) was not to not aid developers with their formidable insight or to help them recognize areas where developer interest was occurring and could continue in consuming wilderness environments.

Increased public involvement in planning is exhausting, but the dialogue on how local governments need to plan and develop housing and services for all income groups has rarely been met with success. The overall density of Kittitas is low at 17 people per square mile, but almost half of the housing in the county is rental, and nearly 60% of its 38,000 residents live in urban areas. Public planning helps the community to anticipate and respond creatively with facilities or services. Nevertheless, the overwhelming pressure of exponential population growth throughout the state is unrelenting; it exhausts the GMA and reveals a continuous battle largely based on the lack of alternatives to the single-family house (SFH).

From a national planner’s perspective, Seattle and Tacoma look something like Manhattan, to the east of Seattle and Tacoma there is a massive national forest. It looks like it could be something like one of New York’s large open spaces such as Central, Prospect, Pelham, or Gateway National Park. While everything is very different to the northeast from the typography to the trees, places like Kittitas are beginning to look like New Jersey – a super-suburban state and most the densely populated state in the union.

What would happen if I drew a line around the little urban part of Kittitas? Inside this line, growth would be exponential to an upper, unknown density only limited by one rule, that it is not poisonous to anything and everything outside that line. Everything outside that line would become wild, with only the homesteads it has now. The development would be limited and comply with the same no damage rules. Would those who found themselves owning and controlling portions of these two worlds recognize the enormous value of each? A hint at this possibility emerged in May 2010, when Jason F. McLennan, CEO of the Cascadia Green Building Council (CGBC) announced a change in mission that envisioned the need to look well beyond buildings and to take a sectional view. Cascadia’s mission is, “to lead a transformation towards a built environment that is socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative.”

McLennan also recalls how the northeast experienced a similar response to “rapid growth” at the turn of the last century for colleagues and policymakers of Cascadia these mistakes can be avoided. Concerns about haphazard growth and lack of coordination influenced the creation of the Regional Planning Association (RPA). This outfit recognized the importance of linking the interests of three states — New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Established in 1922, it published the first regional plan in 1929, just before the advent of the Great Depression. RPA has a very deep archive, it has survived as a nonprofit agency, and given its longevity, it will emerge from its first century as a brilliant critic of the status quo and a staunch supporter for regional planning. It has the satisfaction of being right, self-correcting, and the dissatisfaction of being largely powerless.

Perhaps most telling of this duality is the title of RPA’s most recent local plan, Region at Risk.6 It is likely history will repeat, as the central problem remains. Nongovernment organizations (NGO) like RPA or Cascadia’s CGBC are insufficient. They are greatly needed instruments for public education, but cannot draw the line in the sand that Cascadia is desperately attempting to bring in a kind of “time-delayed” wake enclosed in RPA’s almost desperate warning about the risks. Today RPA’s mission is a demand for social justice, a regional “greensward” and a seamless regional transit network. All remain its toughest unheeded challenges.

Those who could grasp the long proactive view have defined the current practice of regional planning as disjointed and incremental.  The “long tail” vision of America is one that offers a multi-modal, national transportation system, a diverse and creative multicultural society, and a progressive yet, globally competitive outlook.  Instead, we have an oil-addicted road system, increasingly polarized residential enclaves with laisse-fair politics, and the collapse of self-regulation as a viable American value. Perhaps, the lesson here is still far too bright, too optimistic for policymakers to take heed.

In response, I would have them know on my and your behalf that The Republic is without a lawful means to invoke the practical work that would allow one state to cut across jurisdictional boundaries of another in their mutual interest and that discovering these interests is the only way The Republic will stand.

A crucial aspect of our urban metropolitan future is to spend some time looking past our borders for some encouragement. Clearly, NYC is happy about its positives, but a good plan for density starts and keeps momentum by defining serious new problems. You know, those hiding inside the smaller, older problems.

New York’s extraordinary history of support for affordable housing got some help in March of 2015 from the New Jersey Supreme Court. In the same way, New York City looks to the north for its environmental protection (e.g. clean water), it should look west at the two-edged nature of that calculation toward 2050.

Efforts to get New Jersey’s local governments to provide a fair share of affordable housing establish diversity and assure affordability remains a difficult road to travel but the routes were taken to date are instructive for the metro region and the nation as a whole. In part, the density of New Jersey as a suburban state (yet, the densest in the country) brought to light sharp social and economic divisions stimulated by the so-called “white flight” and “spread-city” period out of New York City and Philadelphia in the 1960s and 70s with recovery in the 80s and 90s. The search for remedies to the social, economic issues presented over the next half-century is represented by unyielding efforts to link housing to social justice in New Jersey and with it, improved access to quality education and employment for the entire metropolitan region.

In 1983 the NJ Council on Affordable Housing was established with the power to require a local jurisdiction to comply with a court order known as the “builder’s remedy.” This power was not renewed by the legislature in 1999. It was not until 2015, and considerable analysis of local government “certification” processes that the New Jersey Supreme Court established a state constitutional right to housing. The state can require local governments exercising its land-use regulatory powers to “make realistically possible the opportunity for an appropriate variety and choice of housing for all categories of people who may desire to live there, of course, including those of low- and moderate-income.”

Those familiar with the Mt. Laurel One (1975) and Mount Laurel Two (1983) decisions will recognize the continuity of this most recent case leading to the re-adoption of the powers of the NJ Council on Affordable Housing (March 10, 2015).7

One other gem in the inter-regional establishment of affordable housing is the region’s wealth of economic mobility. That mobility is threatened by the “on again off again” need for a mass transit tunnel that transportation agency planners, state and local leaders see as essential for two reasons.  First, the existing tunnel, while a miracle of construction is an official antique at 100 years of use.  It could kill many people, with the possibility of a catastrophic failure and if this risk occurs it will also disrupt the economy of both states for decades.  It may be possible to monitor the progress of this effort by following the Gateway Program.org


Footnotes


[1] The developer is based in Salt Lake City: Wasatch Development Associates

[2] Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is a financial tool.  Used will it helps local governments to sell debt in the form of bonds to pay for infrastructure (highways, subways, energy) and aim it at areas that need these improvements.  As land uses change, the neighborhood mix might contain former warehouses, industrial uses where the reinvestment risks are too high in comparison to the same investment options on greenfields.   In this way, older, formerly compact neighborhoods can rid themselves of past errors in the quality of use and retrofit them with innovative housing solutions, with new combinations of private and public transit serving retail/cultural destinations.  When ideas like TIF tie to a “density factor” they give cities a way to make right past errors for good reasons.

[3] As mentioned in “Finding Density” the urban center leadership found in Miami 21 (October 2009), brought the “transect” idea forward.  It may change everything in land use management.

[4] On November 3, 2009, Warren Buffett‘s Berkshire Hathaway announced that it would acquire 77.4% of BNSF for $100 per stock in cash and stock, in a deal valued at $44 billion. The company is investing an estimated $34 billion in BNSF and acquiring $10 billion in debt

[5] See Sustainability and Land Use Planning: Greening State and Local Land Use Plans and Regulations to Address Climate Change Challenges and Preserve Resources for Future Generations.  The study reviews six initiatives, 1) land use planning process in the nation, 2) state and local climate action plans, 3) emission rules and EIS reviews 4) zoning and regulation, 5) building codes and 6) water management and landscaping initiatives Download article SSRC website: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1503379

[6] Cornell University holds a collection of Regional Plan Association’s materials from 1919-1997.  Those materials are available for research by contacting the university library.

[7] The opinion can be accessed at the deep end here: http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/supreme/M39214COAH.pdf

IBO on HNY/2.0

How well is the program for Housing New York doing? Is it serving those most in need or fueling gentrification? A little bit of both is the verdict by our friends at the Independent Budget Office (IBO). They put their fiscal eye on 78,000 units financed under the plan from June 2014 through June 2017.   They compared income restrictions with the “typical” income of neighborhood residents. The findings are available as a portable document file (PDF) for distribution and as an HTML file for searches.

  1. Most of the housing is in lower-income neighborhoods. The typical neighborhood household qualifies in these places are very low or low-income housing using AMI income definitions.
  2. Very few units are in the city’s middle- and high-income neighborhoods.
  3. Just over half of the housing is where the typical household earns too much to qualify for the affordable housing located there and not eligible.
  4. A quarter of the units financed are in neighborhoods where the typical household does not earn enough to qualify for the housing.
  5. The remaining quarter percent are in neighborhoods where the typical household would meet the income-eligibility limits.
  6. Units reserved for the lowest incomes are predominantly located in neighborhoods of similar or slightly higher relative incomes.
  7. Moderate-income units are mostly located in relatively poorer neighborhoods, while most middle-income units are in the city’s highest-income neighborhoods.

The city manages the five income brackets of affordability. In this study, the 2016 median income of $60.500 is used.  Household eligibility begins for individuals at 1) “extremely low” at 30% or less than $19,050, 2) very low at 50% or $31,750 and not more than 3) low at 80% or $50,750.  Thereafter, the qualifying income goes up based on the number of people in the household. 

Moderate, and middle incomes are formulated based on the Department of City Planning’s Neighborhood Tabulation Areas to define neighborhoods around a Housing New York project and U.S. Census American Community Survey data to calculate the neighborhood’s typical household income.

IBO uses the Department of City Planning’s Neighborhood Tabulation Areas to define neighborhoods around a Housing New York project and U.S. Census American Community Survey data to calculate the neighborhood’s typical household income. For information on how locations across New York City impact construction costs of affordable housing, see IBO’s February 2016 report “The Impact of Prevailing Wage Requirements on Affordable Housing Construction Costs in New York City.”

Short List the GND

The big problem is a nonrenewable energy system. It has a lot of little problems inside, such as GHGs or wait-time for a technological fix. The nastiest of these is the “catastrophic resolution” problem that takes the “whereas” logic of a “resolution” full circle bizarrely. One strategy that doesn’t wait for the sky to fall or homes to flood and burn is mobilization.  It is represented in the energy within the Sunrise Movement and a range of other mass-membership organizations. That is one side of the coin.  Here is the other.

The political influence of the fossil fuel industry remains strong thanks to Citizens United v. FEC. The prevention of outright bribery is the only crack in the armor of this ruling.  Quid pro quo political corruption is not free speech. Turning this connection into fact leads to possible remedies; however, the money is already talking from a well-organized lobby with a century of experience. You have already heard the line.  The GND is attacking the only major job-creating, growth industry – energy. It’s called wagging the dog.

The Shortlist

The Green New Deal should be welcomed like chlorophyll receives the sun, where the pigment arranged in pools of all things green, where the sun’s energy bounces from one molecule to the next to reach a delicate three-billion-year-old trap that makes the materials of life on earth from light. The trap snaps closed as electrons from water molecules break into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is in a stream of electrons that flow up through the trap to turn carbon dioxide into organic matter. The oxygen is discarded.

The GND Resolution is a “big tent/long list” thing. It sets the benchmarks for everything people want or need. A small tent, the shortlist is, therefore, essential to mark accomplishments. The twenty-year-old voter in 2020 will be a mere eighty years old in 2080, and they don’t like what climate politics is doing to them each day. Don’t worry about your grandchildren. The priority of a voter in 2020 should be about the lives of their children in 2020. The shortlist is as follows:

  1. Irreversible Climate Change Demands Environmental Protections
    • Strategic Resilience  
  2. Implementation of a Violence Reduction Plan
    • Guns, Sexual Harassment, Assault & Terror
  3. Social Justice and Enforcement of Fairness  
    • Immigration, Civil and Criminal Justice Reform
  4. Health Care Services and Reform
    • Comprehensive Provision and Prevention

Getting number one well started is the best way to assure the continued success of the remaining three and practical advancement of H.R. 1 

Reflect

Step back a minute for some reflection on the political environment set by H.R. 1. It establishes the climate for change leading up to the 2020 election and implementation in 2121. It is rightly called a “power grab,” so we know how it will go. But one perusal of HR 1 proves we go high, but a left hook is there too.

Congress has established two top priorities:

  1. H.R. 1 is bold and comprehensive. It supports voter rights and access reforms, campaign finance reforms, and corruption fixes. It sums up ten years of “good government” efforts to correct serious problems.
  2. A Select Committee to support the Green New Deal Resolution is not much to ask.

Step back a minute for some reflection on the political environment for change leading to the 2020 election.

The leadership of independent agencies such as the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has the responsibility to regulate political representatives’ campaign financing. They have two interesting unsolved problems.

First, there are no laws prohibiting candidates from funding their office campaigns entirely from the fossil fuel industry, big pharma, private health companies, and the purveyors of huge arsenals for weapons or bytes.

Second, having won a Congressional seat, there are no ethical standards or procedural rules that prevent a member of Congress from owning stock in any of these global companies or writing legislation and setting standards that would increase their holdings’ value. These facts are well known.

If the youthful fingers of college undergrads can dig into the fissures of corruption in the modern landscape of democracy, the McCain-Feingold prescription for decreasing donor influence may have a future.  Yes, it is admittedly weak, although the effort to put some sunshine on a few obvious gaps in legislators’ financial practices is where it can get interesting. The investigative task is to examine the votes that were not for the GND resolution in as much detail as possible. These representatives will provide the first “tell” in this poker game for the planet.   

Way Way Outside

One other way anti-corruption policy could work would only cost the American people about $5.35 billion per year or less than one percent of annual military spending and not counting the off-budget stuff. In other words, a drop in the $4 trillion annual budget of the United States. What if you would pay every member of Congress $10 million a year for their services. Now that is paying attention.

The accountability strings could be many. Holding that number by law without an increase for five or ten years would satisfy critics.  A clear incentive for representatives would be to hold spending influence on inflation to a minimum, and yes, that is a tax on the dollar, not the income.

The influence of money remains incontrovertible. Freeing up members’ fundraising needs is not the only thing that needs better shields from political radiation. The idea of paying each Congress member $10 million a year in trade for legislative honesty might work if it was also in trade for transparency. Could that salary set up a firewall between public agencies’ legislative mandate and the special interest lobby absorbing trillions of dollars in annual spending? Could it draw a line in the sand between mandatory and discretionary spending responsibly? One never knows unless one gives it a try. Hey, the total cost is less than three days of Pentagon spending.

Did you know Congress members’ salary is less than $200K, but the average in Congress is just over $1M? There are many wagging dog possibilities, and a couple of thousand students of economics and members of the Sunrise Movement, Ballotpedia, and others will find out why.  There are ways to repair the dysfunctions of the government by focusing on bad actors.  The bottom line, remedies to the possibility of “this for that” corruption or systems that assure 100% transparency remain very difficult to implement.

Know that the GND Resolution is not law. It is a promise. Accountability to its vision will be proof of the hard work needed to get laws passed. Win or lose in passing legislation is the measure of the problem, and it is a twelve or twenty-year game. The GND Resolution also measures the quality of pressure in the persuasiveness of science. The hypothesis is that if more legislators were scientists instead of mostly lawyers, the arguments for change might improve. Membership organizations serving scientists such as 314.org are taking direct action on this point. They are motivated well by Albert Einstein, who said science does not need to be silent on political matters.

Coalitions of Innovators and Mobilizers

Given current political conditions, the work of following the money is difficult but not impossible. Can you say Paradise Papers or Panama Papers? The coffers of lobbyists and today’s political leadership are secretly entwined. The unending campaign, the ring of phones and piles of postcards and bodies in federal offices’ hallways, can be enough in a democracy, but will it be in time?

Getting to know how well Seattle’s Democracy Voucher Program is working will add to your confidence. It is a remarkable public campaign financing idea. It helps residents participate in local government by 1) supporting campaigns and 2) running for office themselves. The idea is to make elections competitive and interesting to voters.  The Brennan Center for Justice paid attention to it because political campaigns represent the heart of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Center is named for Justice William J. Brennan Jr.  One of the things he is well known for saying is the First Amendment requires “a lot of breathing room.” You can trash the Enquirer for being trash, but it has the same rights as the New York Times in the light of the Constitution. An educated public can see the difference. Do we have that now?

This fear of “the mob” does not reduce the Brennan Center’s interest in reducing negative influences on political campaigns bought by forces that want to run elections with as few voters as possible and have the winning votes go according to a script or plan. As this is the behavior of the “moneyed elites,” balance becomes the issue, not new viewpoints.

Invest in Civic Life of All Kinds

The civic life of the United States has a long list of not-for-profit organizations. There are the traditions of outfits like the Masons, the emergent single-issue groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and another long view, mass-membership corporations are the American Association Retired People (AARP). All these institutions are threatened easily. Subtle examples abound. In the case of MADD, how many people do you see taking “shots” of a whiskey or in the case of the NRA shooting “guns” in the media every week?  Right, enough to notice. Public trust in civic membership in the fight against impaired driving or gun violence will succeed when conditions of excess threaten human lives.

The arc of world history predicts the demise of civic life for the loss of public interventions. It begins when the low- and moderate-income voice becomes a whisper in the ear of government officials. In that silence, every troubled neighborhood on the American diversity spectrum becomes metaphorically irrelevant. It seems that no one will talk about these problems in ways that make sense to the ordinary voter beyond the accumulation of wealth that hints at an oligarchy but isn’t, at least not one with a motive.

Then in 2016, a rude, belligerent man said, “follow me, not these assholes.” He captured the working-class voter and added the roar of the advantaged voices that policymakers could already hear clearly and would do whatever they asked. Arguments about the relevancy and merits of foreign election tampering or the electoral college in the 21st century aside, none of these factors change without attending to a set of prerequisites.

The Prerequisites

Organized and mobilized groups tied to one clearly defined issue can re-acquire government responsiveness. There are several examples. If you are over 50 years of age, you could be one of 38 million other people who send in a modest membership fee to the AARP. The belief is they will represent you in your aging years and give you helpful information and planning advice. Evidence of this mass-membership power was clear during the American Health Care debate. The attack on AARP cost them hundreds of thousands of members. That is proof of super-relevance. The route to reasonable health care remains viable, and “repair” instead of “repeal” is on elected officials’ lips.

The arc of history in re-claiming government attentiveness has better examples. One does not have to convince American’s that reversing a record of oppression is possible. Women have the vote. The civil rights and social justice movement remains a strong pulse in the arteries of the American future. The GND is similarly put out as a long haul. It is not.

The Wonderful World of Votes and Ducks

Empowerment is a wonderful word if it describes a community-generated emotion. If you need convincing, think of the Marines or Navy Seals, where mission success training is at its height. Obstruction, on the other hand, is a lesser emotion, often considered the only tool of the powerless, but in 2014 the authoritative leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell (R KY), used obstruction to prevent a hearing for the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice Judge Merrick Garland.

Another mass-membership group Common Cause (30 States, over a million members), will argue against gerrymandering in the Supreme Court in 2019.  They also hope to succeed with other national partners in altering the Electoral College for its failure to recognize the popular vote.  In recognition of “the vote” is to remain an important conflict reducer, fairness in majority rule voting is paramount and requires a fair hearing, if not a fix. Another group, Fair Vote, aims its resources to emphasize public education on vote power and reform the system.

We know civic organizations struggle for resources to accomplish basic reform tasks. All seek a revival in voting enthusiasm and an energized coalition of civic associations on specific issues that help build informed participation. Membership in local organizations has declined less in participant numbers than in the growing number of groups, desperately attempting to get the public’s attention.

Top on the list, we find threatened groups such as Planned Parenthood’s women’s health service.  There are “straphanger” groups fighting for fair transportation systems, housing groups protecting against displacement, and fighting for affordable rents.  Across the political action spectrum, organizations have become aggressive yet sophisticated in demanding the protection of legislators. All you need for proof is the “they will take your guns away” strategy of the NRA.

The lesson to learn is how a national to local network system is most effective. It is fixed to a specific interest and where there are a lot of community-based organizations.  Urban centers are particularly effective for identifying common interests in coalition building that break down old barriers such as race and find ways to develop a common agenda on a broad range of problems.  Much of this activity is not well supported by national foundations, which remain far too shy of activity related to political change when their real power as adjudicators of fact is distinguished. 

Robert Sampson’s 2012 book, “Great American City,” detailed the enduring effects of civic organizations in Chicago. It digs into the extraordinary potential of cities once the equality of neighborhoods can be accepted with policies that eliminate poverty concentration by neighborhood. While not an issue now, the social organizing and community building skills on this question will be greatly needed for one reason. It is fully possible that hundreds of thousands of displaced people could occur in the United States as a global warming/climate change possibility.

Define the Problem

The problem is defined in one word – energy. Why? The world is still being built using a nonrenewable energy system. Therefore, despite all the other problems this presents, the goal is to develop renewable energy systems. To achieve this goal, objectives are defined by demonstrations of the scale embedded in the wind, geothermal, and solar alternatives. The strategic and tactical approaches to achieve this goal and its objectives will combine public and private investment through local trials in all residential and business settings defined by two forces, movement and heat. Priorities will be set based on thousands of initial projects with a promise that serves local environmental conditions. Each solution is thereby linked to a new American energy paradigm. Routine examination of the resource implications of each will occur through the pragmatic rule of law and evaluations.

Building a new energy future is first on the shortlist because it is the core problem. Working to solve this problem first will aid in organizing and mobilizing the next three on the list. The following is an example of not paying attention. Of the thousand examples, this one by the Guardian is the most accurate expression of our enormous power to destroy in our own image. (Guardian Explains) Google’s earth engine video illustrates here.

The bet that the failure to reduce GHGs in a decade “won’t be that bad” is a gamble of the addict. It pushes aside all other opportunities to reduce violence in all of its forms, kills the idea of sustaining a healthy social justice movement, and weakens our ability to keep people healthy from birth to death.

National Security Archive

30+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

Founded in 1985 by journalists and scholars The National Security Archive (NSA) works to put a check on rising government secrecy. The NSA combines a unique range of useful functions:

  • a center for investigative journalism
  • a research institute on international affairs
  • a library and archive of declassified U.S. documents
  • an advocate for open government
  • an indexer and publisher of former secrets

White House Visitor Logs

NSA offers a place to spend some time in the working of government. For example, small things can reveal larger questions such as ending the disclosure of visitors to the White House log by POTUS45. (here)

Post 9/11 Policy

Because the information is drawn largely from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests the archive makes it possible to look to the past for some insight into the future. Changes in public policy, after 9/11 is covered in a detailed essay that outlines a long list of initiatives implemented to alter negative views of the United States in the Middle East in this example.

FEC Foils FOIA

The National Security Archive Audit found that only 38 out of 99 federal agencies have updated their FOIA regulations in compliance with the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016.   The Federal Election Commission was one of them. It passed with bipartisan, bicameral support. The law requires agencies to update their FOIA regulations within 180 days of passage. It was June 30, when President Obama signed the act which made December 27, 2016, the deadline.

The NSA alone provide insights, however, all the details are on FOIA.gov

Source: National Security Archive | 30+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

Political Tech

“Thinking does not solve problems it merely expresses the possibility. One thought expresses a vast human capacity. It brings to mind a contemporary criticism of the medical system that defines a healthy person as one who has not been fully worked up.  It tells us that cities are like that – never fully worked up, a possibility. Outside the realm of a single thought or one laugh there is the very hard work of finding and defining a real, live lie. The presumption of one is just the first step, but it will take complete faith in technolgy to go further.”

Rex L. Curry

In one sense, a lie and the truth are born of a union, but now they walk the earth telling stories of their exploits and how the world works as competitors. Truths and lies have equal value because they represent the supposed fairness of reason in various adjudication systems that ask jurists to choose between two, three, or a hundred versions of the truth or a lie. They differ as honest interpretations. The audience picks the one liked as a matter of categorical interest over factual accuracy. The result is a chaotic condion of inductive and deductive processes that go from the specific to the general, and from the general to the specified. You see it organised in three steps.

First, the legal concepts build up as cases are compared.

Second,  these cases wrestle for a while with the inherent ambiguity of language. The most dramatic arguments are about causation such as the cause of global warming. The facts are well known. The concept of a cause becomes exclusive, while the process of reasoning continues to place specific events inside and outside of the concept.

Third, a condition or stage emerges as reasoning through these examples moves ahead until matters of kind move into matters of a mathematical degree leading to the breakdown of the concept.  New discrete components form. 

Basics

Where there is little proof of preemption there is a lot of it about failure. Change occurs in a kind of 3D matrix that defines who, where, and when, leaving why and how ignite into use. When “how” comes in to use there is only one stop sign solution. Why?

The assignment of natural resource consumption rates to concrete named companies by material can become an aggregate. The “unsafe at any speed” narrative on consuption is symbolic of our 20th century. As rates begin to exceed the earth’s replacement capacity post 20XX, the examples of “kind” continue to have measurable quantities. Most of it is about making stuff directly attributable to the loss of life and its quality as predictable. Now, matters of kind become elements of degree. Here is an example.

Work the concept of climate change cases with laws against the presumption of entitled consumption. Take these steps to attach your personal and professional mind to this change.

  1. Step back, look at the roots of technology, and decide to become comfortable with getting to know the arc of this change.
    1. A summary is (here) from Kevin Kelly, it’s OK for the seed. There is better.
  2. Look at how the making of things expresses human genius. The idea that we have to make or acquire stuff to find “ultimate expression” misses the point. It is about the choice of stuff to make.
    1. A vague look at this responsibility (here) is troubling, accurate.
  3. Private Workshop Project. Transect the ground between any two things, perhaps a collection of bobble-head dolls and then a set of dishes at home. Realize measures for a cult of personalities and the acquisition of gigabytes about them both. Now do it this with thousands of “things” and make choices using tools such as:
    1. the Good Guide or Kando’s Real Message
  4. Accept the opportunity of the 1 thru 3 (above) processes and expect change, but do not expect to know what they will mean.
  5. Public Workshop Project. Imagine a world before language as a whisper of thought and a fragment of an individual’s movement and imagination.
    1. Write down what you really need and want to know with other people and then let it happen and if necessary make it happen.
  6. Now imagine knowing everything of your world within the system itself as if a tree had knowledge of all trees. Do you see less stuff and more life?
    1. If not go back to step one.
  7. Make your own step seven to acquire the knowledge implied and you will become comfortable with dense idea of activism and life.

Technium – not basic

All of the above is how I imagined Kevin Kelly or someone just as unreasonably optimistic might make an argument for a new kind of quality of life with added restraints but access to a machine with a perfect memory. His book What Technology Wants, defines the relevant technical and environmental conditions for enthusiastic investment at the dawn fo the 21st c. The tendency is to view these investments in a broad social mobility dimension such as thinking of your phone as a thing closer to God than a frog to which Kelly’s NY Times critic said he would believe when a phone reproduces itself on a diet of flies. Biology combined with technology misses the purpose of complexity to maintain awareness of simplicity.

Here is a practical example, the local education budget in NYC for may not capture its investment in supporting five amazing geniuses and a million other kids to discover their talents because manly of them might end up in Los Angeles. The technology available now suggests NYC investment in education can still benefit. The crisis of COVID-19 brought this to bear in a painful way as one or more of those bright young people may have been among the 300,000 children that did not have a computer or the raw broadband cash access to communicate with their peers or teachers via the Internet. The shutdown in North Korea on the other hand was traumatic, but not one beat was missed in the education of their children because of universal high-speed service providers.

The well-known midrange of capability as captured in Maslow’s hierarchy ignores two elements – interpersonal social integration and consonance. Regardless of the physical design, from cave to savanah, agora to market, high-rise classrooms or country-side campuses, the public responsibility to educate is to assure individuals the widest possible set of choices. (John Locke) Limits on choice produce a lack of balance in human capital investment policies. This is apparent by measuring the number of individuals able to choose among a variety of socioeconomic dimensions vs. the number who have a limited number and further parse that by country of origin, race, gender, and sexual orientation.

GND GDP & 3BL

“Historians of money will tell you about the 16th Amendment ratified by Congress in 1909 and certified in 1913 provides for a federal tax on income and how quickly that led to the Federal Reserve System. It still is what it was but taxing people and corporations changed, and not in a good way.”

Rex Curry

Over the last century, most Americans have a bad taste of income tax complexity in their throats and a sense of general unfairness in their minds. Yet, every American knows about the high concentrations of wealth in our society and how it includes a hedge on how civil it can remain and retain the ability to control if not to avoid federal tax strategies.

The aggregate total of American wealth runs short of the funds demanded by federal, state, and local budgets. The easy explanation is that American multinational corporations and foreign countries’ laser-like strategies capture our markets and evade taxes. It is more accurate to talk about size because it matters when the triple bottom line folds into the gross domestic product to confront the green new deal.

The American economy (GDP $19.3T) is larger than the second-largest, China ($12T), and the third, Japan (or Germany, or the UK, and so on) combined. This can be confirmed annually with online sources such as the World Bank and the CIA World Facts book (graphic below). The economies of free-market power are based on the availability of value embedded in the U. S. dollar ownership.  In 2010 the Americans held $10 billion of America’s debt, but $6 billion was owned by other nations, mutual funds, and commercial banks. The world’s economy depends on a stable dollar. That should be worth far more than we realize. In 2020 over/under is $22 trillion. A lot of zeros my friends $22,000,000,000,000

Use this link (here) for more detail.

Finder of GDP all nations.

Here’s a Crazy Idea

The complexity of these and many other machinations of the power to tax are likely to continue indefinitely and regressively. Instead of income, what would happen if there was a tax on the dollar by putting a time limit on its use and, therefore, its value. The depreciation of the dollar is well understood as an econometric exercise. For tax reduction purposes, large organizations can accelerate the depreciation of a long list of assets that continue to grow in value.  What can be done? Prove that we are not crazy. They are the ones that need a shrink.

The crazy people want to change the world, but they are the ones who do it in denial. Since the Sixteenth Amendment, changes in the world require a forceful effort in dealing with the income and tax problem. One of those changes that will most likely contribute to reform could come from the debate calling for new policies such as the Green New Deal (GND – WIKI).

Following the passage of the federal power to tax and a lot of bumps along the way, the practice of keeping inflation controlled became a clear way to manage money in the economy. It stripped money of trade value for gold or silver and replaced it with trust. It prevents old money from being worth less than new money by a percentage low enough to overcome other investments. What if that changed? How do you ask? The loss of trust.

What if investments in all things not listed as certified GND investments become depreciating money? It will take some time to figure that out, and in this country, we are talking one to three decades. We may not have that much time. The tax on money transition would bring foreign reserves and dollar transactions capable of funding an entirely new U.S. economy. Instead of an income tax, holding money alone in a non-GND stock or FIRE places will pay through planned periods of depreciation.  Corporations and households that invest in GND directly or indirectly will not pay income tax on anything over. Let’s give it a ballpark of a three-billion.

The GND and the Triple Bottom Line (3BL)

All tax systems tend to stop working well and without attention to reforms. This will weaken, if not destroy, large market economies. For example, John Elkington announced his TBL in a June 2018 HBR article (here). One sentence sums it up, “Clearly, the Triple Bottom Line has failed to bury the single bottom line paradigm.” If this continues, it is trust that loses, and you’ll start looking for other forms of currency, and that world is full of scraps.

Legislators, government agencies, and the owners of great wealth routinely examine the growth of public deficits. All of them share one demand. Use of every known form of wealth protection available and, if necessary, invent new ways. Unfortunately, the only “new way” left to meet that demand is the dollar. The most important asset in the world is the American currency. Unless new ways are established to use its power better, it will, in my opinion, be an asset lost to authoritarian purposes.

John Elkington continues to advance the idea of the TBL or 3BL as Chairman and Chief Pollinator at Volans. The Breakthrough Challenge: 10 Ways to Connect Today’s Profits With Tomorrow’s Bottom Line is his most recent collaboration. The TBL is an accounting framework that measures social and environmental impacts as economic costs. His consulting company Volans survives, but he admits to the failure of TBL to take hold. Nevertheless, after 25 years and despite slow progress in its adaptation, he sees new leverage points that can advance its original effort at a system change.  

The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals forecast outlines a conservative estimate that $12 trillion will enter the market for the singular purpose of protecting the planet’s health. However, improving awareness of global challenges in climate, freshwater, and food from the oceans, forests, and soils will not stop threats to billions of people’s lives and well-being.

Saving the Planet from Ecological Disaster Is a $12 Trillion Opportunity.

We see the issue well because we have the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in Amsterdam, Netherlands. A subtle but growing use of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes (DJSI) and many others. Despite clear trade-offs in things like lives saved, nations remaining stable, it isn’t working. Innovation in renewable energy and reductions in war-like postures and armament spending is not working. The acceptance of catastrophic resolution by business and political leadership becomes “Hearts and Prayers, or Grace of God” policies to defend preemptive inaction. Benchmark progress does not exist. If I want to conquer the world with a billion tons of Pez with collectible plastic dispensers, I can thank my CFO’s brilliant manipulations and her profit targets.

Getting to System Change in the GND

Altering capitalism away from income and toward the dollar could revitalize generously corrupted accounting systems. The GND and whatever other countries want to call it will invest in breakthroughs, cause disruptions, followed by recognizing, punishing, and sidelining unstainable sectors. 

Putting a time value on the dollar could put GND, and TBL innovation on the fast track, as Elkington and many others are pleading. However, the lack of a pace and scale for change awaits the radical intent of public policy demand for an improved public good.  The biosphere overshoot is unacceptable.

Also, see “Short List the GND.

The Synergy Project

Density and Compacity

Politics and Plans

Density and compacity are terms useful for places like the New York Metropolitan Area. Several technical measures produce components by volume and within these volumes, fine granular distinctions of enormous importance.

Volumes are also the subject of power in politics and plans. They distinguish one leader’s area from another, they reveal distinct responsibilities for services such as police, fire, and sanitation or how water, gas, electricity, and bytes serve your community.

Energy and Synergy

The lines are multi-linear. They can define you by a zip code, or the train or road used to a set of career routes to and from places that shape human life. People know exactly where they are in the NYMA and when not. Boundary lines separate one thing from another, and the stuff that makes the NYMA separate from everything else is tied to the density of things per unit of land or water. At some point, the area is not dense enough to be called metropolitan. Although these many densities combine to form measures of compacity, of everything we know, and to the detriment of humanity, it remains a vague notion.

The premise of combining stories and writing about the densities and compacity of urban life and the many opportunities it offers includes elements of personal political leadership essential to educate and inspire the will to create change on a scale so massive it appears impossible. It is not.

energy = infinity + entropy
energy = infinity – entropy

Economists & Advocates

Economists have value systems, just like other people. To the economist, the affordability of housing and its price is relative to the cost of production, not the ability of people to buy or rent. The economist also knows that housing is essential, however, when the cost of production exceeds a household’s income capacity for acquisition or rent by over 50%, the value system of the housing rights advocate is activated.

Interventions

Demands for public intervention by the economist or housing rights advocate occurs in the political economy. The result is a range of subsidies or incentives for people seeking housing and the corporate producers offering to build housing. Economists have long lists of variables affecting a household’s capacity for mobility on a spectrum ranging from a positive transition to “rent burdens” and homelessness. The failure to intervene in some markets leads to displacement relative to the reduction of diversity in income. In both high-cost and lower-cost areas, these failures become most evident during extreme disruptions threatening life and well-being observed as refugees around the world. The typical refugee crisis is stimulated by violent conflict, however, the refugees in the United States go unnoticed for the lack of direct threats to life, and are wrongly characterized as individual human failures and certainly not as victims of the soft violence inherent to capitalism.

The experience of both economists and housing rights advocates intersect in the selection of interventions. The economist uses sophisticated formulas based on whether units are valued below or above construction costs over specific evaluation periods. The national economist concludes this analysis with a description of a healthy and affordable housing market in the nation as a whole. The housing rights advocate within smaller regional markets points to downward pressure on wages and the costs of household displacement. These are difficult social costs to measure because the impact is in neighborhoods and displacement cycle data is decennial. In tight markets, weak wage growth and displacement costs can be severe enough to fully separate householders from their homes. The evidence base for this remains largely anecdotal but rises from one tragic number. In New York City, and every year for decades it sits at 40,000 people [? population of Tarawa, the capital city of Kiribati], mostly women with children who are homeless, and as it stays at this number year after year. Only one conclusion is possible –homelessness a production function of urban living.  

New York City’s first homelessness crisis arrived suddenly in the early 1980s and like the voices calling out, the “subprime crisis” warnings were unheeded. When buildings throughout Manhattan known as SROs (single room occupancy) became marketable for more profitable uses, hundreds of people fell into the streets. The burden of that shift fell on the city agencies heavily and its large of WW I and WWII armories became shelters. As the crisis matured, many supportive housing programs formed followed by the construction of low-cost hotels throughout New York’s five boroughs supported in part by city funding for families in short-term distress. The enormity of capital that was in part responsible for causing displacement and homelessness averted a humanitarian crisis but it did not solve the problems of displacement, it absorbed displacement to further urban reinvestment processes.

The Americans

The tragedy of capital and its workings are easy to spot in the eyes of the housing rights advocate. In looking at the issue of housing and community development through their eyes it is easy to see why the literature on democratic socialism has become more and more abundant. Quotes from socialist literature such as the following appear in internet discourse and as widely as Season 5 Episode 5 of “The Americans.”

His labor is therefore not voluntary but coerced; it is forced labor. It is therefore not the satisfaction of a need; it is merely a means to satisfy needs external to it.

Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. Karl Marx “Estranged Labour” Source: https://www.marxists.org


Affordability advocates point to the 80+ percent increase in visits to Marxist.org since 2009 (statistics) as an indicator of people searching for answers. They would argue the rising cost of shelter is not only separating families from their homes but from their local economies as well, creating food deserts and deteriorating conditions in services where there should be vibrant neighborhoods. The economist might agree on these facts but would argue the call for political change is not built successfully on distress factors.  The percentage of income for shelter is only a benchmark of affordability. This factor does not define the problem well, only one of its symptoms. The economist’s definition examines the range of construction costs associated with housing and the correct response to affordability would be to build more housing to increase supply while also acknowledging the frustration of housing rights advocates regarding the existence of affordable housing, that is not where people need it or have low-cost access to it or from it for jobs.

Economist says the social cost of new housing cannot be lower than the cost of construction it is because it impinges on gains accrued when the price of housing is significantly above the cost of construction. To the economist, the social costs are those imposed on consumers for which they are not compensated or charged. The housing rights advocate, on the other hand, cannot easily quantify social gains attached to a course of inaction only the action that prevents loss. Numerical values are not readily assigned for food needed but not eaten, child care services not provided, transit unavailable or the costs of displacement from one home to the next and the next or ultimately into institutionalized shelters. Built into the tragedy of capital lies the misfortune and heartbreak of people made invisible.

Dense housing markets suggest to the economist that supply limits are due to high costs for land and construction. Another view sees high costs in regional suburban markets where land is abundant, that restrictive zoning, fees, review, and approval processes are the principal causes of increased construction costs. Both definitions of the problem seem accurate, leading to the question of how it is possible to produce more housing in both markets when paired for comparison of initiatives in specific regions. Housing markets such as New York City and San Francisco are unique because conditions of demand create a significant divergence between prices and costs. Adaptations in dense markets alter the ratio of height from 1:7 to 1:17 (see Park Avenue.) No such change in ratio occurs in lower-density regions. Dense markets increase rent pressures on low-and-moderate income households, however, safety valve measures such as Rent Stabilization reduce these pressures with triggers tied to inflation and specific capital improvements. These practices slow the problem but do not stop its pace.

While low densities are often associated with upper-income demand for amenities and land these costs appear to have more to do with zoning than the marginal cost of land. Economists admit that data linking zoning to production costs is difficult to develop. The Wharton Land Use Control Survey (1989) has been followed up and subsequent publications under the title of Wharton Residential Land Use Regulation Index (WRLURI) provide added support for this position (Joseph Gyourko). For the housing rights advocate, the regulation connection to high development cost is a plain fact on the heads side of the housing coin but in the game called “heads I win, tails you lose,” the regulatory protector on the tails side (the game).

Paul Davidoff (1946-1985) was one of those housing rights advocates who recognized the cost structures imposed by zoning and other land use regulations mattered a lot. He opened the Suburban Action Institute in the late 1970s and transformed it into the Metropolitan Action Institute in the 1980s. The idea was to conduct research and prepare litigation everywhere in the metro region that would increase access to suburban communities for people with disadvantages by breaking down exclusionary zoning rules. He saw them as unfair, regulatory constructions that refused to understand or plan to serve the needs of people already holding a set of comparative disadvantages. In this sense, the nation’s affordable housing crisis would not exist if advocates for change could exhibit and expose the injustice aimed at young people, minorities, and women, further aggravated by skin color. Effective change requires an attack on the barriers built by human prejudices that continue to remain unchallenged for decades after the passing of leaders like Davidoff.

For the economist, the price of housing across the nation remains close to the physical costs of construction Edward L. Glaeser examines the “plenty of affordable housing in the wrong place” issue as one of the economists who routinely parse housing data with highly refined tools. His lean toward density as a provider of affordability links to data that strongly suggests how zoning, and other land-use controls, are more responsible for high prices and exclusion. The title of his most popular book tells the story people need to hear –  Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier.

Davidoff’s instincts placed the burden for change on the urban planning and architecture community and he criticized its lack of leadership. He brought about changes in the professional planner’s code of ethics accordingly. Davidoff knew that planners and architects have a capacity for envisioning futures that people can share, believe in, and fight to achieve, and yet failed to take a leadership position remains. Turning to litigation and legislation for political social change is the least powerful route without a dedicated political movement backed by professionals that know how to change prejudicial behavior and correct wrongs. Legislation and litigation are rarely dispositive of any question without the strategic use of political action.

The economist takes social and economic change as a matter of professional observation, that all things require a sense of equilibrium to achieve useful observations of human economic behavior. For the economist, the evidence is always suggestive and never fully definitive for changing policy. For the housing rights advocate its more radical forms of resistance to oppression, social injustice is needed. Both actors are sensitive to the outright chaos embedded in the postures of conflict from financial bullying to dirty little wars. Both, on the other hand, are capable of a “facts are friendly” approach to the demands for social change.

Financial Herd Immunity

Billionaire Mike Bloomberg (NYC’s Mayor 2002-2013) is one of those “facts are friendly” leaders. He combined the problems defined by the economist and the housing rights advocate by going directly at zoning and in a big way. In reviewing his options for a housing strategy he looked at the Federal Budget and reportedly said, ah bupkis, and then examined the steady boom in NYC’S residential real estate market and went all in on the “inclusionary zone” idea already well advocated by the city’s nonprofit housing advocates. In this New York City model, “if you give a little” in this case square feet of floor area, you could, “get a little” in almost affordable housing. It would prove to be the displacement force of his era. Even with the 2008 Recession in its headlights, NYC’s housing market rebounded dramatically and the price regardless of the impact of the Great Recession would continue the agony of homelessness.

His background in the production of econometric data for sale on the “Bloomberg Terminal” put him among the 1% wealthiest. (see Writer’s List and Timeline). In becoming mayor, he took a special interest in housing, but rather than turn to the city’s housing agency for answers, he moved to produce significant reforms aimed at housing production through the Department of City Planning. In this agency, he could produce incentives for private development and expose the facts of housing production cost, leading to a ten-year battle for his Inclusionary Housing program that would become mandatory for the entire city built on the proof of its success.

At the end of the Mayor’s third term his administration could take credit for 175,000 new and rehabilitated housing units, the pace of which has not lessened in the administration of Mayor De Blasio. (2014, 2020, and a possible third term) His administration of the Housing New York (HNY) plan claims 109,766 affordable homes financed since its inception in 2014 through June 2018. The prospect of a floor area addition within strict design parameters for new housing through zoning created ways include 20 percent or more units of a project for modest income households. This factor alone outweighed the constraint of production costs as the supply of new and rehabilitated housing amounted to over one million units of housing over the first two decades of the 21st century. (Assuming 20%= 380,000 units, then 100% is well over 1 million.)

New York City’s housing history from 2000-2020 should tell all observers that balance can be achieved in the eyes of the economist. In the vision of the housing rights advocate serious affordability questions remain. In this plan, 80% of the housing is unaffordable to a couple with two kids if they earn less than $85,000 [? cost of Porsche 911] a year when affordability is measured by 30 to 35 percent of income used for housing. The number of households below that threshold (such as two rookie cops in 2018) will either gain the skills to compete for these incomes or stand quietly in the line leading to the day-to-day battle against the deterioration of their shelter, routine harassment, and the specter of displacement and the threat of homelessness.

Policies that reduce production costs do well with zoning reform incentives. LEED/SEED environmental incentives lower operating costs as do tax reductions. The direct production of deeply subsidized housing occurs using those tools and substantially reducing (or eliminating) the cost of money. This is useful for two reasons.  It sustains an in-house knowledge base of production costs and it serves the city’s most vulnerable populations with hope. Building small numbers of heavily subsidized housing units has a trivial impact on average housing prices but it is a win-win for all cities with large and flexible capital budgets.

Cities are Within Cities

New York also has a “city within the city” managed by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). The deterioration of 175,000 apartments in this arena for a very low-income and aging population is a growing concern. NYCHA’s situation is emblematic of a national predicament. The nation’s legacy of social housing has become a kind of “trap” based on race, poverty, and destinies defined by zip code.

The movement toward a reform zoning regime in high-cost areas facing greater stress in their capital budgets in suburban areas faces consequences on two fronts. The first is knowing full well that the deterioration of the older single-family stock and supportive infrastructure is ongoing and likely to absorb displaced households from their core cities as prices/rents fall. The second front is to make zoning changes politically feasible through initiatives such as mass transit-based high-density housing development. Other forms of compensation regarding the reduction in housing prices due to this change in low-density areas are therefore likely, but less palatable.

The NYU Furman Center is an excellent source of independent, evidence-based analysis of housing and its affordability. Furman serves the core data analysts as well as the ordinary concerned citizen of New York City with training that helps Hithe housing rights activist drill down to neighborhoods of specific concern for information. Well-reasoned articles on issues such as the effect of higher income in migration of residents on displacement in specific areas are plentiful at the Furman Center.

The rise of 19th-century macro- and. micro-economics from economists such as John Maynard Keynes describes how the demand for housing creates housing from double-wide to mountainside. Others such as Jean Baptist Say describe how the supply of housing creates its own demand. These worldviews involve decades of public policy. Both are being severely altered by the idea that differences in degree matter greatest in the small things that alter human life or all life negatively. It remains impossible to argue one of those small things is the single-family house.

The interest in growth as the prime problem solving resouce persists in degrade the environment and has a tendency to destroy natural beauty. This is where the numbers lie despite their accuracy. Affordability is becoming a far greater function of locations liked to the energy function of “buildings” among all the other buildings needed to meet needsAttendance to community needs will require a radically altered view of growth. We live in cities yet have only the vaguest idea of what they are now or must become for generations to come. 


The next post in this series (GND) will of necessity look at housing within its larger systems and within which our homes will be rethought. The Green New Deal (GND) is a comprehensive idea to counter the worst ideas under the heading of “climate denial.” A draft is here as a Google Document outlining the creation of a select committee. An excellent summary of its content and potential is from the Haas Energy Institute (here).

Dealing New Green

The glory of American-style politics and the power of its global businesses and industries is unchallenged. They have yet to respond to the demand for a strong public investment in mitigating the risks associated with climate change.

Failure to act is not the question; thousands of ideas are flowing in the digital winds; hundreds of ideas are being demonstrated. The current stream of investment is significant but confusing, as if finding a technical “one-off” or a strategic “winner” may be at the heart of the problem. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet.

It is all connected. Without Salmon, the forest will not flourish.

Without the coalescence of tactics specific to every climate region of the earth, the failure to govern will be confirmed by its rising seas, violent storms, floods, and fires. The choice to select a positive climate future has not been made. The choice offered is to wait and have it forced upon an unknown, potentially terrifying percentage of the population. Only one choice is rational and humane. Roulette is not policy, nor is 666 a strategy. (Salmon?)

“Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.”

Milton Friedman

On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal — A classic interview on the need to lead, follow, or get into the best ideas of the day. This is a fantastic forty=five minute use of your time in a broadcast (here), and she is at her best. Include the speech below, and that should get you to decide to get into some serious kick-ass activism. Don’t forget Bernie. We need a new Bernie.

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A slow start, but all the points are essential.

The Green New Deal (GND)

Only a political risk is implied by this unknown. Taking steps toward ideas like the Green New Deal is a risk because it may or may not prevent the displacement of the American worker by the technology needed for success. But, of course, it will add wealth to workers. The political question is where. No action could be politically deadlier, but post mortem conditions in Congress are not the problem either. If political representatives are unwilling to bring America’s climate regions closer to a sustainable future, the task is simple: elect leaders who have courage. 

This is no ordinary battle. Every representative in the House will be pushed or pulled in this direction through 2024. The ongoing legislative role is a (here). It outlines the creation of a select committee recently named Crisis Climate Committee.

The FDR Library documents the New Deal’s development as an idea for its time.  The depth of its creativity in the public interest responded to a complex set of human needs, environmental challenges, and opportunities. Accordingly, the library created an Interactive Periodic Table of the New Deal to study its history.

Readers are invited to bring reviews and comments to this site regarding its relevance to GND. (Contact)

The GND goal is to decarbonize the economy with Keynesian-style short-term bursts of large-scale public investments, coupled with federal employment guarantees. The GND will be implemented as an evidence-based, outcome-driven, and performance measurement process.

1998

The first step toward a GND as a public initiative requires a big preemptive warlike change in policy. That change is planned to occur for full implementation by 2020. Achieving the goals implied by the GND implementation will result in a national, energy-efficient carbon-reducing energy grid built on a massive expansion of renewable power sources with an evidence base built on the current use of and implementation of all known systems designed for the use of renewables.  These sources will define a rate of x% percent per year to establish outcomes to predict when renewable sources serve 100% of the national power demand.

The performance measures of individual renewables will determine future combinations of private and public investments. Specific energy conservation steps will contribute to goal accomplishment through an energy use inventory of all residential and industrial buildings. Steps to ready all buildings for state-of-the-art renewable energy systems will be the measure for reduction levels by climate sectors of the United States as follows:

  1. Climate Sector reports will establish baseline reductions in GHG emissions through manufacturing, agricultural, and other industries processes. Simple – audit carbon.
  2. Climate Sector reports will define, locate, and score specific infrastructure investments to repair and improve the nation’s transportation grid and related infrastructure that yield the highest reduction in GHG emissions.
  3. Climate Sector reports will examine the water. Too much or the lack of it is at the center of climate change impacts. High priority investments in local-scale agriculture in communities across the country will include infrastructure to ensure universal access to clean water and protection from the damage it can cause.

The goal of decarbonizing the economy will include a GHG drawdown process. Investments in known and proposed measures will define the potential for GHG mitigation. The evidence and performance measures for this determination are abundant.

If an ordinary, albeit intense blog such as the Urbanist (here) can demystify the process, a practical public process can be implemented by ordinary people.

Support for investments in green technology, through industrial, professional, and scientific expertise, and the creation of products and services of a 100% renewable energy economy in the United States reimagine a new theory of “economic base” (Charles Tiebout). It is worth trillions in global trade volume, if (and this is a big f’n “if,”) a viable and useful understanding of the growth of metropolitan governments occurs and develops in regions throughout the United States (read here from a half-century ago).

Vox, The Atlantic, The Intercept, Axios, ProPublica covered the early efforts to create a GND. The field is wide, from its millennial “this changes everything” upstart sunrise movement organizers to blue wave reps like AOC and the old support, such as Al Gore. Ultimately, the GND is subject to the instincts of Nancy Pelosi where the idea for a GND fell into the lesser priority world of Congress like the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, and one hot button later became the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis headed by Kathy Castor (FL 14th) an unchallenged seven-term representative from Tampa Bay.

Crisis (danger+opportunity)

I don’t know when the idea of global conquest seemed possible or even thought of as accomplished in history. But, I know it as the conscious decision of many actors over four thousand years or so.

The distinct spheres of human decision-making occur through deep social and cultural connections built on a cognitive view of evidence widely shared but rarely proven. These views can be right or wrong but consistently perceived correctly by the party that holds the view. Think of that sphere as “Pinky.” In another sphere, which I would like you to think of as “The Brain,” are the decisions made in professional silos. For example, economists will influence decision-making based on combinations of economic factors such as costs or benefits, profits, and losses measured by currency and time.

Perhaps the most useful decision-making sphere is the one that drives for a big transformation.  The impetus is drawn from exposure to incorrect, “Pinky-like” beliefs established by the first sphere’s cultural recurrences.  The stimulus for specific action draws from the second sphere’s failures, where “The Brain’s” leadership reveals how traditional practices collapse. Whether the market for these experiences is in currency, ideas, or both, the demand for something new and transformative takes hold. The geologist’s understanding of time and the anthropologist’s examination of humanity have suggested we name the Anthropocene transformation.

“The era of geological time during which human activity is considered to be the dominant influence on the environment, climate, and ecology of the earth.”

Oxford English Dictionary

Greta Thunberg’s argument “listen to the scientists” speaks to the quality of her education at a young age. It is not “which scientist”; it recognizes how the body of evidence is established. It takes time, criticism, and continuous improvements in their methods and conclusions that eventually become indisputable.

Andrew C. Revkin’s lifetime of reporting produced a perfectly tuned review of his global experience as the observer of the growing pains of humanity as follows:

“After tens of thousands of years of scrabbling by, spreading around the planet, and developing tools of increasing sophistication, humans are in surge mode and have only just started to become aware that something profound is going on.

Andrew C. Revkin — An Anthropocene Journey.
The message: “how dare you,” and “we will never forgive you.”

“It’s surely our responsibility to do everything within our power to create a planet that provides a home not just for us, but for all life on Earth.” “The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are totally dependent on that world.”

David Attenborough’s conclusion is clear in these two quotes. We now exercise power to “create a planet” and remain unknowingly dependent on those changes.

Urban Obama

Watch and pull out what might be essential ideas for the urban agenda.   All of the good ones are tucked away in this now famous Vox series (here).