Tuesday, March 05, 2013

How Liberals Live

It's all about control.  Liberals can control the poor by patronizing them but the middle class are a bit pesky

The Democratic Party has two reliable groups of adherents: the rich and the poor.  Not all of the rich, of course. Not all of the poor, either.

But a large swath of wealthy people, especially those whose wealth was inherited rather than earned, wouldn’t dream of voting for a Republican. Ditto for a large number of poor people who have discovered how to sign up for various welfare programs and intend to remain on the dole for the rest of their lives.

What do these groups have in common? Nothing. They rarely meet. And if they did they wouldn't like each other.

You might be inclined to think that the political union of these two groups is an accident of modern electoral politics. But there may be something else involved. Both groups have little use for the middle class -- the poor envy them and the wealthy disdain them.

To test the idea the there might be some sort of weird sociology involved, I decided to look in on some communities where limousine liberals are firmly in control and have no fear of being ousted in the next election by middle class voters with middle class values.

Welcome to the People's Republic of Boulder, Colorado.  When you ask the residents what they like about Boulder, they are quick to respond. "You won't find any large billboards telling you where the nearest Target is," I was told. And, "Where you might find a McDonald's or a Taco Bell in some other city, in Boulder you are more likely to find Starbucks or Whole Foods."

To make sure that things stay that way, Boulder has virtually destroyed any possibility of new housing that people who shop at Target and eat at McDonald's would find affordable. Through tight zoning restrictions, the city has virtually legislated new, middle class housing out of existence. The city has even purchased large tracts of land to make sure development doesn't occur.

As a result, the average price of a home in Boulder is $375,000, in contrast to an average price of $220,000 in Colorado Springs.

Boulder has its own global warming policy. In fact, it is one of the few cities in the country that is about to jettison a private electric utility company for a publicly owned one. The reason: the private electric company isn't "green" enough. This would be comical until you stop to realize that Boulder has a lot to atone for on the climate change front. Two thirds of all the people who work in Boulder must drive to work from outside the city because they cannot afford to live there.

That's 60,000 automobiles spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every morning and every evening of every congested business day, thanks to Boulder's land use planning.

While Boulder forces its middle class workforce to live in neighboring communities, it is surprisingly generous to the poor. A multimillion dollar homeless shelter is so luxurious, it actually attracts vagabonds from other Colorado cities. As one local writer explains:

    "Boulder Shelter for the Homeless is a multimillion dollar facility of recent construction. It has a spacious day room, a TV room, washing machines ($1 per load) and dryers (free) available, showers, a few dozen small storage lockers, and a large kitchen/dining room… It has a 160 person occupancy limit, and the nightly "overflow" is accommodated by a network of local churches and a synagogue managed by Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow.

There is also an active program to provide subsidized housing to low-income families. One development on prime real estate with a mountain view is estimated to have a market value of $500,000 per unit. In other words, low-income families are living in housing units that are worth considerably more than the average home in Boulder! Unfortunately, poor families cannot sell their homes to the highest bidders, however. Were they able to, they would immediately become non-poor and the property would go to its highest valued use.

Maximizing the value of property, however, is not the goal of the citizens of Boulder. If you have a house built, say, before 1950, there's a good chance the Landmark's Board will designate it a historic preservation site and not allow you to modify it. For new houses and renovations, the city virtually dictates how big the house can be. It also tells you what kind of fireplace you can have and what you can or can't burn in it. If you want to tear down an existing structure, you can't just bulldoze it. You have to disassemble it and recycle all the pieces.

When the owners of a trailer park decided to use the property to build condominiums instead, the trailer owners appealed to the city leaders, who rezoned the property so that it could only be used as a trailer park.

Then, of course, there is the nanny state desire to tell everyone what to do with their personal lives. Smoking in Boulder is banned in almost all indoor facilities and also outside on the sidewalk.



Economic growth centered in America's more conservative States

In the wake of the 2012 presidential election, some political commentators have written political obituaries of the "red" or conservative-leaning states, envisioning a brave new world dominated by fashionably blue bastions in the Northeast or California. But political fortunes are notoriously fickle, while economic trends tend to be more enduring.

These trends point to a U.S. economic future dominated by four growth corridors that are generally less dense, more affordable, and markedly more conservative and pro-business: the Great Plains, the Intermountain West, the Third Coast (spanning the Gulf states from Texas to Florida), and the Southeastern industrial belt.

Overall, these corridors account for 45% of the nation's land mass and 30% of its population. Between 2001 and 2011, job growth in the Great Plains, the Intermountain West and the Third Coast was between 7% and 8%—nearly 10 times the job growth rate for the rest of the country. Only the Southeastern industrial belt tracked close to the national average.

Historically, these regions were little more than resource colonies or low-wage labor sites for richer, more technically advanced areas. By promoting policies that encourage enterprise and spark economic growth, they're catching up.

Such policies have been pursued not only by Republicans but also by Democrats who don't share their national party's notion that business should serve as a cash cow to fund ever more expensive social-welfare, cultural or environmental programs. While California, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts and Minnesota have either enacted or pursued higher income taxes, many corridor states have no income taxes or are planning, like Kansas and Louisiana, to lower or even eliminate them.

The result is that corridor states took 11 of the top 15 spots in Chief Executive magazine's 2012 review of best state business climates. California, New York, Illinois and Massachusetts were at the bottom. The states of the old Confederacy boast 10 of the top 12 places for locating new plants, according to a recent 2012 study by Site Selection magazine.

Energy, manufacturing and agriculture are playing a major role in the corridor states' revival. The resurgence of fossil fuel–based energy, notably shale oil and natural gas, is especially important. Over the past decade, Texas alone has added 180,000 mostly high-paying energy-related jobs, Oklahoma another 40,000, and the Intermountain West well over 30,000. Energy-rich California, despite the nation's third-highest unemployment rate, has created a mere 20,000 such jobs. In New York, meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is still delaying a decision on hydraulic fracturing.

Cheap U.S. natural gas has some envisioning the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge as an "American Ruhr." Much of this growth, notes Eric Smith, associate director of the Tulane Energy Institute, will be financed by German and other European firms that are reeling from electricity costs now three times higher than in places like Louisiana.

Korean and Japanese firms are already swarming into South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. What the Boston Consulting Group calls a "reallocation of global manufacturing" is shifting production away from expensive East Asia and Europe and toward these lower-cost locales. The arrival of auto, steel and petrochemical plants—and, increasingly, the aerospace industry—reflects a critical shift for the Southeast, which historically depended on lower-wage industries such as textiles and furniture.

Since 2000, the Intermountain West's population has grown by 20%, the Third Coast's by 14%, the long-depopulating Great Plains by over 14%, and the Southeast by 13%. Population in the rest of the U.S. has grown barely 7%. Last year, the largest net recipients of domestic migrants were Texas and Florida, which between them gained 150,000. The biggest losers? New York, New Jersey, Illinois and California.

As a result, the corridors are home to most of America's fastest-growing big cities, including Charlotte, Raleigh, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City and Denver. Critically for the economic and political future, the growth corridor seems particularly appealing to young families with children.

Cities such as Raleigh, Charlotte, Austin, Dallas and Houston enjoy among the country's fastest growth rates in the under-15 population. That demographic is on the wane in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. Immigrants, too, flock to once-unfamiliar places like Nashville, Charlotte and Oklahoma City. Houston and Dallas already have more new immigrants per capita than Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle and Chicago.

Coastal-city boosters suggest that what they lose in numbers they make up for in "quality" migration. "The Feet are moving south and west while the Brains are moving toward coastal cities," Derek Thompson wrote a few years ago in The Atlantic. Yet over the past decade, the number of people with bachelor's degrees grew by a remarkable 50% in Austin and Charlotte and by over 30% in Tampa, Houston, Dallas and Atlanta—a far greater percentage growth rate than in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago or New York.

Raleigh, Austin, Denver and Salt Lake City have all become high-tech hubs. Charlotte is now the country's second-largest financial center. Houston isn't only the world's energy capital but also boasts the world's largest medical center and, along with Dallas, has become a major corporate and global transportation hub.

The corridors' growing success is a testament to the resiliency and adaptability of the American economy. It also challenges the established coastal states and cities to reconsider their current high-tax, high-regulation climates if they would like to join the growth party.




20 years ago today: Operation Showtime:  "On February 28, 1993, the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Bureau raided the home of the Branch Davidians, a religious sect just outside Waco, Texas. The agency, which has suffered bad press due to sexual harassment and racial discrimination scandals, made sure reporters were there to witness its planned heroics and dubbed the raid 'Operation Showtime.' The agents sought to apprehend sect leader David Koresh, whom they deemed a dangerous cult leader, but who, as an integrated member of the community, they could have easily arrested peacefully on his regular jog or during one of his frequent visits to the bar."

Waco: 20th Anniversary of the ATF attack on the Branch Davidians:  "Today is the 20th anniversary of the ATF’s attack on the Branch Davidians outside Waco, Texas. I thought Waco might be the most important public education lesson of the 1990s, but I don’t see the learning curve yet. Most Americans forgot or never undertstood Waco, paving the way for politicians to commit other grave abuses in the following years. Following are a few pieces I did on Waco back in ‘95, when some members of Congress briefly acted like they gave a damn about the carnage."

The coming default:  "I think it's more practical to address those who continue investing, through the purchase of government bonds, in the debts run up by Obama, Reid, Boehner et. al. and let them know that the likelihood of making their money back over the long haul passed 'slim'quite some time back and as of now is right at 'none.' Sooner or later -- probably much sooner than most people think -- that debt is going to be defaulted upon and repudiated. There is no 'if' involved, only an unspecified 'when.' Heck, it may even be this generation! Regardless of when the when is, one thing is certain: You don't want to be holding T-Bills when it arrives."

Lincoln’s inversion of the American union:  "By 1860, a choice lay open between either re-negotiating the compact between the states in order to form more perfect unions, as John Quincy Adams counseled should happen, or a powerful section would have to conquer the whole and reconstruct it into its own image, subordinating all else to its own interests. Everything in the older American tradition of the self-government of peoples points to the former path. Lincoln chose the latter path, and in doing so was in step with the nineteenth- and twentieth-century trend of industrial society to consolidationism."

NY: Bloomberg booed at annual St. Patrick’s Parade in storm-ravaged Rockaways:  "Mayor Bloomberg was booed yesterday as he walked in the annual St. Patrick’s Parade in the hurricane-ravaged Rockaways. The jeers grew so loud toward the end of the Queens parade that mayoral candidate and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn appeared to break away from the mayor to march separately. ... The mayor wasn’t the only politician crossed by paradegoers. Revelers heckled Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer after he cheered through a bullhorn, 'Let’s hear it for the Rockaways.' 'Send money, pal. Send money!' one heckler yelled back. 'Talk is cheap!'"

CA: Smart kid designs compact nuclear reactor:  "Eighteen-year-old Taylor Wilson has designed a compact nuclear reactor that could one day burn waste from old atomic weapons to power anything from homes and factories to space colonies. The American teen, who gained fame four years ago after designing a fusion reactor he planned to build in the garage of his family’s home, shared his latest endeavor at a TED Conference in southern California on Thursday. 'It’s about bringing something old, fission, into the 21st Century,' Wilson said. 'I think this has huge potential to change the world.' He has designed a small reactor capable of generating 50-100 megawatts of electricity, enough to power as many as 100,000 homes."

Switzerland: Voters approve limits on “fat cat” executive pay:  "Swiss voters approved some of the world’s toughest limits on executives’ pay in a referendum, a move critics say could make Switzerland less attractive to multinational corporations. ... The proposal gives shareholders an annual ballot on managers’ pay. It eliminates sign-on bonuses, as well as severance packages and extra incentives for completing merger transactions. The initiative also includes rules punishing executives who violate the terms with as long as three years in jail."

From Hollywood to Kansas, drones flying under the radar:  "They hover over Hollywood film sets and professional sports events. They track wildfires in Colorado, survey Kansas farm crops and vineyards in California. They inspect miles of industrial pipeline and monitor wildlife, river temperatures and volcanic activity. They also locate marijuana fields, reconstruct crime scenes and spot illegal immigrants breaching U.S. borders. Tens of thousands of domestic drones are zipping through U.S. skies, often flouting tight federal restrictions on drone use that require even the police and the military to get special permits."

There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc



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