Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Death of the American City

I've thought about this problem: John Ransom: Union Greed and Politician Apathy are Killing Cities, in the past, and although Ransom is right in his analysis of the immediate problem facing many cities, this is only part of what is "killing" cities. Some cities, like NYC, Boston, Seattle, and others are not being killed - - yet. What, in my opinion, has killed many cities are the same forces that have killed the mainstream media and is killing other sectors of the “old city” economy.... Societal Evolution and the Invention of the Internet. 

Today there is little need for big cities. Sweatshops have all but disappeared. Manufacturing has disintermediated, as has much of the old traditional economy: Supplier > Manufacturer > Wholesaler > Retailer to finally, Buyer, has been replaced with: Just-In-Time Manufacturer > Buyer; and this to large degree has been facilitated via the Internet. Even the traditional salesforce has been severely diminished. In the traditional economy, of just a decade or two ago, the old model business chain clustered in and around the city, providing millions with jobs. Many of those "jobs" have simply disappeared - never to return. Not just outsourced manufacturing jobs, but most "middleman" jobs as well.

Today, especially in the high-tech world of electronics, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices, "campuses" have sprung-up in the suburbs and even the exurbs. What little population support needed by workers quickly develops around these campuses as, what I call, "a city in a box." The box is nearly pre-manufactured and merely needs assembly. It generally consists of the familiar modern "town" of a few big-box stores, fast food franchises, and necessary services such as: a complete medical building, perhaps even a small hospital; various and sundry mechanical services including a local airport; educational facilities and minimal county government services.

Crowds, crime, the uneducated, the unemployed, the unemployable, the unwashed of the present, if you will; those are the peoples of the dying cities. Those folks do not pay substantial taxes and are supported to a large degree by government: police, the courts, other government service providers; the bureaucrats. The very presence of this growing segment of modern society is exacerbating the death of the city. President Obama, and others are attempting to stop and even reverse this trend, to financially gut and strangle those suburbs and exurbs in order to force the tax paying population back into the cities and thus support the old culture there. Drive-up the cost of fuel is one ploy, but is back-firing; the one-time commuter will look for work closer to home or move even further out rather than return to that which he/she ran from: the big (and now dirty and dilapidated) city; and simply use less fuel. Starting a business today requires, in city services, little more than an internet connection! Gone is the glamour of the city. Good food, culture and entertainment are all available just about everywhere, and once again the Internet aides and abets.

Cheers, Mel

P.S. Sorry Governor Brown (CA), High Speed Rail and other rapid transit public transportation schemes won't stop, let alone reverse, this trend. It's called: evolution. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The importance of the next election

Romney's choice of Paul Ryan was the perfect decision for a CEO, a businessman and a President: an Accountant and a Comptroller.

Most don't realize where we, as a nation, sit today: on the brink. We have used-up most of the equities left to us by our forefathers: world power, prestige, and shear wealth. Even the equities in our homes have greatly diminished. Beyond that we have become a debtor nation that without serious recovery will slip over the edge. Economic collapse is the ultimate destroyer of every once great nation. Most recently it was the Soviets, now but a memory. Prior to the USSR it was Great Briton, France, Spain, Portugal, Rome, Greece, Egypt, etc. All fallen empires - all spent into debt. All history.

Ronald Reagan's exhortation, "....tear down this wall!" did not bring down the Soviets, it was their failed economy based on a false ideology: Communism. What reduced Great Britain was their loss of wealth through war and collapsed colonialzation. And so it goes. America is on the brink today because of a complex multitude of losses. Our lost sense of who we are: hard working, risk-taking, "a better life" opportunity seeking nation of individuals, with the absolute knowledge that this dream is obtainable only through a righteous life and hard work. But then we came to believe, and quickly - within a generation,  that we could leverage our way to success by borrowing against ever greater wealth that would accrue to us naturally. We were entitled to success. We were each deserving of a gold star, a medal, a trophy. We've done that....... When that failed we decided to take the "Kick The Can Down The Road," road: more of the same, but better, bigger. That hasn't worked either so we are trying the age old and failed technique of inventing wealth through the magic of words and paper.

But where's the beef?

The penultimate choice is the one we are contemplating now, and we will actually have the chance to vote on it: "Let's Take Someone Else's Wealth; our neighbors, the boss', the "corporation's," the Rich Guy's. Just take it, from whomsoever.

Okay, so we vote on it. We go for the, "Let's Take The Other Guy's Stuff" scenario. That should last, what, a couple years? After that where do we turn? That's the question we should be asking: What are the consequences of our choice? What do we do when we've used up the other guy's stuff? Because that is what's next and it is coming at us like a runaway train!

Seminars are given regularly in every major metropolis extolling the virtues of living a life AWAKE. Let's wake-up for a minute or two.... we can't really live long on someone else's effort.... to use the phrase of the day, that's not sustainable.

Ideology should be a personal thing: you believe what you want to believe, I'll believe what I want, but let's both believe that we are each responsible for "us and ours" and not entitled to that of others. It's the only sane and logical course - IF - we wish "America," not the country but the concept, to continue. We need a CEO - a real businessman and his bright Accountant/Comptroller, not ideologue, to awaken us to the opportunities we each have, and to return to our special place in the world. Each of us is entitled to his and her personal ideology, but governments of Ideology are doomed to fail and their people are doomed to the consequences of that failure. That's the choice we are faced with now. It can be seen clearly..... by those willing to awaken from their daydreams.

The alarm is ringing; It's time to Wake-UP and see America clearly.

Cheers, Mel