“The fact is that what we’re experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. The policies that got us into this mess weren’t responses to public demand. They were, with few exceptions, policies championed by small groups of influential people — in many cases, the same people now lecturing the rest of us on the need to get serious. And by trying to shift the blame to the general populace, elites are ducking some much-needed reflection on their own catastrophic mistakes.” – Paul Krugman, The Unwisdom of Elites (posted below)
“About poverty: Money might not be that important, but access certainly is. How close you live to a bus stop, to a public park, to a library, makes a huge difference in your happiness and stability. That’s a fact we cannot state often enough in Oregon, where the quality and quantity of public services varies wildly from zip code to zip code.” – Anna Griffin, Money Diet (posted below)
I’ve written a lot about the great divide in the Molalla area between the petty bourgeois merchant/professional class and the people who live inside the city limits – about the lack of social justice in Molalla. As Krugman notes “policies championed by small groups of influential people” who, in Molalla, are represented by the greedy good old boy cabal that has brought us “catastrophic mistakes” like SDC waivers, terrible “stuff ’em in fake urban planning, no new parks, and the half million dollar planning deficit.
Most of Molalla’s petty bourgeois class doesn’t live in the city and doesn’t give a hoot about quality of life issues – otherwise TEAM and the merchants would have long ago demanded sufficient SDCs for parks, roads, sidewalks, storm drains, and sewers and would NEVER have supported any SDC waivers like the atrocious million dollar give away to the Hart Street supposed apt. developer (don’t you wonder what bank would be stupid enough to make a loan on that “project” – and how Molalla will be able to pay the quarter million dollar plus road fixes needed to facilitate the fantasy project?).
It was funny to see the Spring Fling stuck in the tiny postage stamp parks and set up on the asphalt tarmac next to City Hall. Responsible cities long ago would have provided great green spaces/parks/ civic squares for such event. Molalla gets asphalt and “public” parks so small it is ludicrous to call them “parks”.
Most of all, anyone with a sense of fair play – anyone ETHICAL – would NEVER have pushed the city into a half million dollar planning deficit to try to facilitate private profit using public money for the certain to fail – and now soundly DENIED – urban reserve.
Here’s the newest writing on the wall to show how horrible conditions have become here in Oregon as a whole and in the local area, where things are far worse than in the METRO areas:
Per RealtyTrac, one house out of every 497 in Oregon went into foreclosure in April. In Molalla, in April, the whopping rate was one house out of every 302 getting a foreclosure notice.
Recent real estate news predicts that prices could drop as much as 11% this year.
Oregon was just listed as the second highest state in Food Stamp use – in one year, Oregon’s rate of use jumped 9.6% since 2010 to over 20% of Oregon’s population applying for Food Stamps. The only state higher was Mississippi. Oregon’s rate is even higher than Michigan’s:
And yet, the local Molalla land speculator/business/professional elites pretend that all would be well if high-end came. More customers/consumers is the mantra. What planet are those fools living on and what kind of ice water runs through their veins?
The only bright hope for Oregon was an 18% jump in state exports, including a rise in exported agricultural products. And yet the pathetic loser land speculators want to demean our agricultural export potential. What part about farm land is far, far more valuable these days to feed the world and boost Oregon’s economy than it would ever be with more totally unnecessary high-end homes don’t the speculators get?
Below is a great story about a “money diet” where an upper middle class woman attempted to live on a poverty stipend of $511 a month, the average fixed income of a Section 8 voucher participant.
I’d suggest that TEAM and the noxious Molalla business elite class might wish to take that below story to heart. How about forming a TEAM committee to live like citizens in Molalla in one of the run down neighborhoods with crumbling streets and no sidewalks facing foreclosure and trying to stay alive on Food Stamps?
I’d like to post Eric Kyllo in such a situation for a month. I’d give him the $511, find him a decayed old place in Sunrise Acres, present him with a stack of unpaid bills and watch him plug his ears as the creditors called day and night and the delinquent notices stacked up. He could eat beans and rice till his Food Stamps ran out. Then he could burn the furniture to stay warm because soon the foreclosure notice would be on the door and he’d have to move up the River into a camper.
Sadly, none of that above scenario is a joke and people like Kyllo and the members of TEAM who have bankrupt the city and turned it into a low quality mess while they pushed for private profit should have to switch places and see how it looks at economic disaster ground zero. They have shown ZERO compassion for life in the Molalla city limits and are morally bankrupt.
For Kyllo to write letters pretending that he cares about the people of Molalla is grotesque beyond belief. How’s the air over there in the fancy mansion in CANBY, Eric? Are your closets filled with high-end clothes? Is there plenty of high-end food on the table? No worries about the mortgage? What day do you want to trade places with a citizen of Sunrise? I’ll be happy to front you the $511 for the month and I’ll bring the video camera. Maybe Michael Moore could document it as “Land Speculator Tanks” and win an Oscar next year!
But rather than facing facts, accepting blame, speculators like Kyllo want to lash out and attack the very people who were steady voices of reason. Sorry, but we can’t just forgive and forget what the good old boys did to trash Molalla’s future. As Krugman says:
“But the larger problem, I’d argue, is that by making up stories about the current predicament that absolve the people who put us here, we cut off any chance to learn from the crisis. We need to place the blame where it belongs, to chasten our elites. Otherwise, they’ll do even more damage in the years ahead.”
Read on for two great accounts about the disgusting gulf between the haves and have-nots in America. It might be time to get off the TEAM high horse and remember that “there but for the grace of” is all that separates most of us from financial disaster these days….
Anna Griffin: ‘Money diet’ gives Portland housing worker a sense of living in poverty
Published: Sunday, May 08, 2011, 10:25 PM Updated: Sunday, May 08, 2011, 10:25 PM
About poverty: Money might not be that important, but access certainly is. How close you live to a bus stop, to a public park, to a library, makes a huge difference in your happiness and stability. That’s a fact we cannot state often enough in Oregon, where the quality and quantity of public services varies wildly from zip code to zip code.
About herself: “I don’t need the New York Times, the gym membership, a manicure and a car to make myself content,” she said.
That’s the kind of thing it’s easy to say but much harder to live, even for a few weeks.
© 2011 OregonLive.com. All rights reserved.
May 8, 2011
The Unwisdom of Elites
By PAUL KRUGMAN
The past three years have been a disaster for most Western economies. The United States has mass long-term unemployment for the first time since the 1930s. Meanwhile, Europe’s single currency is coming apart at the seams. How did it all go so wrong?
Well, what I’ve been hearing with growing frequency from members of the policy elite — self-appointed wise men, officials, and pundits in good standing — is the claim that it’s mostly the public’s fault. The idea is that we got into this mess because voters wanted something for nothing, and weak-minded politicians catered to the electorate’s foolishness.
So this seems like a good time to point out that this blame-the-public view isn’t just self-serving, it’s dead wrong.
The fact is that what we’re experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. The policies that got us into this mess weren’t responses to public demand. They were, with few exceptions, policies championed by small groups of influential people — in many cases, the same people now lecturing the rest of us on the need to get serious. And by trying to shift the blame to the general populace, elites are ducking some much-needed reflection on their own catastrophic mistakes.
Let me focus mainly on what happened in the United States, then say a few words about Europe.
These days Americans get constant lectures about the need to reduce the budget deficit. That focus in itself represents distorted priorities, since our immediate concern should be job creation. But suppose we restrict ourselves to talking about the deficit, and ask: What happened to the budget surplus the federal government had in 2000?
The answer is, three main things. First, there were the Bush tax cuts, which added roughly $2 trillion to the national debt over the last decade. Second, there were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which added an additional $1.1 trillion or so. And third was the Great Recession, which led both to a collapse in revenue and to a sharp rise in spending on unemployment insurance and other safety-net programs.
So who was responsible for these budget busters? It wasn’t the man in the street.
President George W. Bush cut taxes in the service of his party’s ideology, not in response to a groundswell of popular demand — and the bulk of the cuts went to a small, affluent minority.
Similarly, Mr. Bush chose to invade Iraq because that was something he and his advisers wanted to do, not because Americans were clamoring for war against a regime that had nothing to do with 9/11. In fact, it took a highly deceptive sales campaign to get Americans to support the invasion, and even so, voters were never as solidly behind the war as America’s political and pundit elite.
Finally, the Great Recession was brought on by a runaway financial sector, empowered by reckless deregulation. And who was responsible for that deregulation? Powerful people in Washington with close ties to the financial industry, that’s who. Let me give a particular shout-out to Alan Greenspan, who played a crucial role both in financial deregulation and in the passage of the Bush tax cuts — and who is now, of course, among those hectoring us about the deficit.
So it was the bad judgment of the elite, not the greediness of the common man, that caused America’s deficit. And much the same is true of the European crisis.
Needless to say, that’s not what you hear from European policy makers. The official story in Europe these days is that governments of troubled nations catered too much to the masses, promising too much to voters while collecting too little in taxes. And that is, to be fair, a reasonably accurate story for Greece. But it’s not at all what happened in Ireland and Spain, both of which had low debt and budget surpluses on the eve of the crisis.
The real story of Europe’s crisis is that leaders created a single currency, the euro, without creating the institutions that were needed to cope with booms and busts within the euro zone. And the drive for a single European currency was the ultimate top-down project, an elite vision imposed on highly reluctant voters.
Does any of this matter? Why should we be concerned about the effort to shift the blame for bad policies onto the general public?
One answer is simple accountability. People who advocated budget-busting policies during the Bush years shouldn’t be allowed to pass themselves off as deficit hawks; people who praised Ireland as a role model shouldn’t be giving lectures on responsible government.
But the larger problem, I’d argue, is that by making up stories about the current predicament that absolve the people who put us here, we cut off any chance to learn from the crisis. We need to place the blame where it belongs, to chasten our elites. Otherwise, they’ll do even more damage in the years ahead.