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May 06, 2014

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i have firmly felt since 2006 this will be a generational thing, ala japan.

Add insane summer temperatures and drought, and you have to makings of a disaster. Somewhere the Hohokam are shaking their heads.

I may have hyped this article before here. If so. Pardon. It’s about this economist named Robert Gordon. A geezer professor at Northwestern but a very noted one.

From the article: “By the middle of the eighteen century, the state of technology and the luxury and quality of life afforded the average individual were little better than they had been two millennia earlier, in ancient Rome.”

His thesis is that there were two industrial revolutions. One starting in 1750 or so in England. It centered around the steam engine, steel, the factory system, etc. The second started in the U.S. around 1870. It involved electricity/electronics, the internal combustion engine, flight, etc. These two events drastically affected the standard of living of everyone. Not equally of course – but everyone was immensely better off.

But starting somewhere around 1970, the growth in well-being started to taper off. Some might argue that the growth is somewhere around zero now.

From the article: “ If Gordon is right, then for all but the wealthiest one percent of Americans, the rate of improvement in the standard of living – year over year, and generation after generation – will be no faster than it was during the dark ages.”

“….liberals alarmed about their children’s student debt or conservatives outraged about the national deficit- who are not convinced that we will grow rich enough to pay these bills in the future, who hold ambient anxieties that things are getting not better but worse.”

Link: http://nymag.com/news/features/economic-growth-2013-7/

This is not just an Arizona thing.

wkg in bham, your link provides excellent reading. Some of us here, probably Petro, Cal, myself, and a few others who comment less regularly are already in the camp of pessimists. Rogue himself frequently refers to the arch-pessimist, James Howard Kunstler. This blog has been home to many debates about Peak Oil and its ramifications. It is also home to the happier news that growth for its own sake is a dead-end strategy, and that Arizona's lame economic strategy is evidence that lazy thinking will not and cannot be rewarded. I say happy not because we wish Arizona ill but because we want the madness to slow or stop before Arizona is degraded even more by cheap, mindless growth.

We can't see around corners so it's absurd to make predictions. When the U.S. first started showing stress fractures after the post-war boom waned - stagnant incomes, declining social mobility, racial friction - I would say to anyone who would listen that our loss of social capital was the thing that frightened me most. I felt we couldn't survive as a nation with a shrinking pie since our cohesiveness as a society was no longer culturally but economically predicated. For some reason, that doesn't bother me so much now.

Perhaps it's because of what I see in Portland, which is either at the vanguard or is simply an outlier, in the creative ways people have of living with less. Tiny houses, micro-apartments, bicycle riding (Portland leads the nation on a per capita basis), artisanal crafts, and gardening are significant phenomena. A big house in the 'burbs no longer is the centerpiece of this American Dream. Indeed, it may be the definition of our nightmare.

Insofar as we can decouple from the impossibility of 7 billion people living large on a finite planet, the future may actually be brighter than we dared hope. We were always going to get to this point eventually. The most creative among our peers imagined a different way of being over 40 years ago. They were scoffed at and mocked, derided and marginalized. Many simply gave up but some found their way to cities like Portland and demonstrated the future doesn't have to be bleak. Human ingenuity and creativity arise when necessity demands it. We Boomers are not the last lucky generation. We may be the last, however, crazy enough to equate material excess with happiness itself.



wkg, that is why Obama Care is so good. It increases nearly everyone's standard of living while decreasing the deficit over the long term.

That was the one thing that was not discussed in your article, that being the improvement of overall health of citizens at every income level.

The Affordable Care Act has touched half a dozen of my friends and family so far. ACA is 0 for 6.

Increased cost, increased deductibles.

Four out of the six chose to go without coverage and just plan on paying the penalty.

They had coverage before. Now they don't. At an age when they need coverage.

All cases are different, however, in our group, it's best not to bring the subject up.

Ruben, I am so sorry that you and your friends could not find an insurance plan that fit your needs. Regardless, if you or your friends do end up in the hospital, or a doctors office – I can assure you that your care will be much better than it would have been living in the dark ages.

What soleri said. I applaud his radar on social capital. I remember when there was a fuss in the media in the mid '90's when Putnam published an article titled "Bowling Alone" - I was at the time still in full greedhead mode, attending to my particular brass ring of "winning," and I scoffed. I'm naturally an introvert and a loner, and I failed to appreciate the danger in inculcating that tendency into the greater demographic.

Ruben is a curmudgeon and an iconoclast with a wicked sense of humour. He keeps us honest.

Petro,

Cal and I have covered this with you many , many times.

Small words, my friend, small words.

Now where is that dictionary so I can see what I was just called.

C'mon Reb, those are ancient multisylabbic words. (Shit, there I go again.)

@Soleri: “We may be the last, however, crazy enough to equate material excess with happiness itself.” You have a much more optimistic view of human nature than I do.

While wealth cannot assure happiness or any semblance of it, material want isn’t any better. Think of the millions of Mexicans that risked everything, including their lives, to live off the crumbs of Phoenix’s table.

@Suzanne: “that is why Obama Care is so good. It increases nearly everyone's standard of living while decreasing the deficit over the long term.” What alternative universe are you living in? At most, 8,000,000 are enrolled in the system. I suspect it’s a lot less. This represents less than 3% of the country. The other 97% saw nothing but premium increases. Also the loss of medical insurance as tax free income. Decreasing the deficit! You can’t be serious.

Phoenix first,
when the temps hit 122 or more the pollution will be about the same as Chinas worst city. (Google the science).
If you are less than 60 suggest you move, soon.

WKG, Suzanne is as serious as your heart beats.
Obama care: No one should be without medical assistance. And just because you are rich is no reason to get better than others medical care. It’s now going to cost me a couple of grand more a year for medical care in order to support Obama Care, but that’s OK with me. Since I retired at the age of 51 other than 10 dollar copays (that ended when I turned 66) I have paid $35 dollars for medical bills. That includes two major surgeries among many other medical costs. (Also I have had over 700 skin cancers removed that including plastic surgery,).

Which reminds me. If we live in the world’s greatest country why do young people that want a college degree have to pay for it? Private for profit schools and prisons should be illegal.

Petro, after “Soleri said” can you lay out the meaning of what you wrote in something Ruben and I can digest?

Ruben, since you denounced Organized Religion in LDS country do U have any friends, except Petro and I?

We can't see around corners so it's absurd to make predictions. “
Got to disagree with you here Soleri. I been around the corner. It’s just a matter of time until Earth is a too hot to sustain life forms.

Industrial revolution: Jared Diamond covered this with “the Advent of agriculture was the beginning of the decline of man.” Soon we will be back to moving scavenging. Living in your own shit is unhealthy.

Diane, The Hohokam were not a lot smarter than us today, To get to the real survivors you have to look at the Seri’s. Suggest a reading of “Killing the Hidden Waters

Phoenix first,
when the temps hit 122 or more the pollution will be about the same as Chinas worst city. (Google the science).
If you are less than 60 suggest you move, soon.

WKG, Suzanne is as serious as your heart beats.
Obama care: No one should be without medical assistance. And just because you are rich is no reason to get better than others medical care. It’s now going to cost me a couple of grand more a year for medical care in order to support Obama Care, but that’s OK with me. Since I retired at the age of 51 other than 10 dollar copays (that ended when I turned 66) I have paid $35 dollars for medical bills. That includes two major surgeries among many other medical costs. (Also I have had over 700 skin cancers removed that including plastic surgery,).

Which reminds me. If we live in the world’s greatest country why do young people that want a college degree have to pay for it? Private for profit schools and prisons should be illegal.
Petro, after “Soleri said” can you lay out the meaning of what you wrote in something Ruben and I can digest?

Ruben, since you denounced Organized Religion in LDS country do U have any friends, except Petro and I?

“We can't see around corners so it's absurd to make predictions. We can't see around corners so it's absurd to make predictions. “
Got to disagree with you here Soleri. I been around the corner. It’s just a matter of time until Earth is a too hot to sustain life forms.

Industrial revolution: Jared Diamond covered this with “the Advent of agriculture was the beginning of the decline of man.” Soon we will be back to moving scavenging. Living in your own shit is unhealthy.

Diane, The Hohokam were not a lot smarter than us today, To get to the real survivors you have to look at the Seri’s. Suggest a reading of “Killing the Hidden Waters”

Decreasing the deficit! You can’t be serious.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/15/us-usa-healthcare-premiums-idUSBREA3D1KQ20140415

Indeed, this is what Obamacare, the conservative alternative to better health care reform like single payer will eventually do. Now, I fully understand that this victory could be more significant if the monied interests were not adamant in protecting themselves first. The political reality in American "democracy" is that the rich and powerful get the lifeboats, and the poor get life vests (unless they have the misfortune of living in a red state, in which case they get nothing, not even swimming lessons).

To have health insurance that is not tied to employment status is, as Joe Biden would say, a BFD. There may have been over a million Americans who kept working in places they didn't want to live in or at jobs they hated merely to have health insurance who are now free to do what they want. Ironic, isn't it? Conservatives who celebrate the free market are actually more interested in keeping people chained to unsatisfactory jobs and places.

The urban legend that people lost their "good" insurance due to Obamacare (the conservative health-care reform plan) is simply a desperate attempt to change the subject. You can't base policy on anecdotes unless they're actually based on verifiable facts (as opposed to chain e-mails, Fox News, Republican political calculations, or the gassy assertions of ideological confederates). We all know people who claim stupid and crazy things to be facts. It doesn't mean they're real. http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/politifact-the-top-15-myths-about-obamacare/2144026

There's a reason this is a "lefty" blog. It has to do with respect for reality. If science says climate change is real, for example, we believe it. We're not trying to upset you or Koch Industries. But empirical data is a much better gauge of reality than belief. If the facts change, we change our minds. Also, we don't politicize facts to fit preconceived positions of political faith (Benghazi!!!, anyone?). A party and ideology based on certitude and inerrant dogma is actually a cult, which makes dialogue extremely difficult.

Our beliefs are no better than the fact-checking that support them. It's why genuine journalism is so important in separating wishful thinking from knotty reality. It's not that lefties and the reality-based community don't have biases. It's that we actually care enough about reality to stay curious and inquisitive. Fundamentalists, on the other hand, have an unfortunate tendency to lock in to beliefs and will simply deny inconvenient facts. This tendency is the most troubling aspect of American politics today. Our national project will capsize if this tendency persists.

Soleri, Portland is an outlier. The vast US economic system is predicated on fossil fuel usage and any meaningful change in a meaningful time frame to climate change would require Stalinist governance. Portland will not be Portland when its population hits critical mass. Look north to Seattle, land of the rich liberal materialist.

Premiums have gone up for me under ACA, a person who has bought his own health insurance for a decade. Bravo still for ACA, because now I can disclose pre-exisitng conditions to health providers without risking loss of coverage. The tax credits will make my individual coverage less expensive in the next open enrollment. Republican thugs would rather take this away to give subsidies to oil & gas operations and large corporate farming entities.

The charts are excellent. The grim reality is that the economy no longer places a premium on what Phoenix can offer. No longer do companies that are growing need the large number of square feet for new facilities that they did when they were producing products. Arizona offered relatively cheap and available land, a work force that could produce the products and a climate that was appealing to Rust Belt inhabitants.
When expansion was needed, Arizona became one of several locations to consider..and competed well.
Today, the fast growing companies need cubicles and relatively limited space located where those younger workers really want to live. Even Silicon Valley is rapidly moving to San Francisco driving up prices and absorbing lots of space. But these moves aren't about machines (and space needs thereof) but rather about minds that can be thrown into the creation of software.
50 years ago a company looking at expansion needed space and a lot of it. California was too expensive, the South was, well the South. Texas was intriguing but (except for Austin) not too appealing at the time. Distribution and transportation-centric entities were drawn to Atlanta. And the Southeast was re-inventing itself.
And Phoenix lived in this marvelous bubble of optimism created by construction of homes while the expansion was going on. The multiplier effect of the primary income creators, the secondary and tertiary construction cash flows created a fragile bubble of optimism.
And then it burst.
And now, the future is murky and dramatically less bright.

Phoenix Observed....good observation.

The area will remain attractive to affluent Midwestern suburban retirees for the next decade. The core growth industry.:)

Other interested individuals should:

1)Stay away for their own personal and employment well-being.

2)If compelled to relocate for one of the limited job or other opportunities, have an exit strategy developed prior to arrival.

3)Have an exit strategy.

Get the picture?

From Rogue’s 101 History Saga, Phoenix seemed to work best when it did real stuff. Admittedly a lot of this was drudge labor: growing citrus, mining, building planes, etc. But this created a full spectrum of jobs. Like everything else, they were subject to business cycles. I’m ready to include software as “real stuff” – at least if it’s software that people will pay for. The most distressing graph was the one about employment in the electronics industry. Maybe silicon valley can involve itself in pure abstraction, but I think it is an outlier in that regard.

Places like Portland and San Francisco are really nice. All the dirty work has been outsourced to somewhere else. They’ll be more genuine when a saw mill, a steel foundry and brick ovens return. Or for that matter a chip making factory. It’s nice that some people ride bikes a lot. That’s less gas you have to import from someplace else and find a way to pay for. I’d hate to see Portland turn into a San Francisco where you look around one day and say “where are all the children? What happened to all the working-class and middle-class people that used to live around here?”

Soleri, you are not pessimistic enough. The multi-generational right-wing project to destroy civil society and critical thinking has succeeded. Things will have to get worse for a generation or two before they get better. Eventually the decline of America vis-a-vis the rest of the world will be impossible to disguise, we will run out of scapegoats, and the spell will be broken. I doubt that's in my lifetime.

wkg, Portland's economic history involved a typical mix of resource extraction, farming, shipping, and manufacturing. Gradually this economy gave way to the one we see today where the new economy produces much of the wealth - medical research, high tech, chip-making (Intel is a major presence). San Francisco's is similar but different in degree - it's one the planet's greatest locations, which means it magnetizes the wealth of the already wealthy. High-tech firms like Google are taking it to yet another lofty level economic well-being.

Phoenix has a lot of problems. One is that while it's a pleasant place, it's not spectacular. I say this as someone who thinks the Sonoran desert is one Earth's greatest topographies. It's a shame Arizonans didn't value it more since preservation might have leveraged its enchantment to create a stronger economy in eco-tourism alongside the winter resorts that have long flourished there. You either get the desert or you don't, and most people are ambivalent at best. Putting close to 7 million people in a fragile ecology has had predictably horrifying results (e.g., Fountain Hills).

Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle have benefited from a back-to-the-cities movement. Well-off Boomers would rather spend their retirements in exciting cities than boring suburbs. But it's the Millenials who are supplying the creative energy that creates the magic in places like Oakland. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/04/fashion/oakland-california-brooklyn-by-the-bay.html?action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults&mabReward=relbias%3Ar&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%23%2Foakland%2520brooklyn%2520by%2520the%2520bay%2F&_r=0
Phoenix doesn't have Oakland's bad reputation. Nor does it have Oakland's great building stock, salubrious climate, or proximity to San Francisco and Berkeley. What does Phoenix have? Cheap rents, which translates to "cheap for a reason". Great places offer great things. What does Phoenix offer besides endless sunshine? Cheap rents? Not good enough.

Sunshine and music not enough to save Arizona let alone america
From the front pages above the rule of law is gone.
http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/05/u-s-supreme-court-decision-means-nation-entered-post-constitutional-era.html

@wkg in bham....
"drudge labor:growing citrus, mining, building planes"....
Compared to what?

To: wkg in bham and Ruben

wkg, If you have insurance you are enrolled in the “system” (ACA is insurance reform). And, 97% of the country who have always had insurance have been subject to rate increases, sometimes dramatic increases, for the last 20 years (5% over inflation every year). Now, with ACA, we can say that ‘the collective’ is getting more for our money. This is especially true for women. You may not know or care much about women’s healthcare or the costs associated – that would be indicative of the planet I live on.

Lastly, no one can be absolute about ACA and deficit reduction. However, CBO has consistently testified that the ACA will reduce the deficit.

Homey is about to board light rail to airport, then flight to PHX. God I wish we had high speed rail.

Despite the current bias against trains by the economic and ignorant kooks the train comeback is going to happen. Warren Buffet knows it.

What Warren Buffet knows is that all the fracking oil to feed the world 's never ending addiction will be shipped by rail along with the increased use of coal in Asia.

Portland and Seattle provide more livable cities for people coming from exciting cities such as NYC, DC, London, Tokyo and SF. Well-off Boomer Ghettos in Seattle and Portland sounds a lot like Scottsdale with public transportation and cooler weather. Yuk!

HMLS, I've thought of Bellevue, the tony Seattle suburb, as Scottsdale with high rises. Portland has Lake Oswego, which doesn't have Scottsdale's stretch or cachet but is pleasant enough. In Portland proper, there's the industrial-chic Pearl District, which is a good example of a Boomer ghetto.

The urban cores of both cities are as utterly unlike Scottsdale as an Inuit village or an oil derrick.

I do regret the homogenization of both cities as money replaces the blue-collar vibe that used to prevail. But that's life. It's happening in every city that has a spark of vitality. Chicago is no longer hog butcher to the world. In its tonier precincts, it's become that thing - a Boomer ghetto.

It's already happened in SF, NYC, Boston, and Denver. There's no answer to it except to hope that the market responds creatively to people's thirst for urbane values.

Petro, after “Soleri said” can you lay out the meaning of what you wrote in something Ruben and I can digest?

Seriously guys, am I really that opaque? (Don't blame me, Reb, cal dragged you into this.) Wouldn't mind others piping up - who got my comment, who didn't... seriously, it would be helpful to me.

I wish I was Hemingway (minus the machismo and the shotgun,) but I don't think that's happening...

Now that our Empire has lost the ability to carry out a simple execution, do any of you history buffs out there know if the Roman Empire went through the same thing. Maybe, having the cross fall apart as it is raised into place. Faulty nails? Have soneone step off the cross and ask if they could go to the coliseum?

This is really embarrassing. I don't care if you are for or against the death penalty. This hurts.

One person with a knife, in China, is able to kill 30 people at once.

Do we need to outsource our executions to China? (or the VA hospital)?

petro,

it's really simple math.

1. you currently reside in AZ.

2. if you want to communicate with Arizonans, words will need to be under 9 letters per word.

3. Obamacare ok at 9 letters.

4. existential, you went over. we no comprende.

LOL. Ruben, you are a curmudgeo and an iconoclas.

Petro, I like your words. My only advice is to use fewer multisylabbic words in one sentence, or even in two sentences. “Iconoclast” is a nice word that has gone out of favor.

I was only trying to communica.

Thanks, Suzanne. I will take that as sincere advice, since I beat myself up over that all the time.

Although, Suzanne, I will say that "iconoclast" is one of my favorite words, and I like to think of it as a self-description. I do not like "icons" (i.e., nominal authority.)

So it was a compliment to AzReb.

But I'm happy that you spoke up.

Petro, yea, I took it that way, as a compliment. That is the way I see it.

"iconoclast" I had to look it up.
it said the definition was "pussyriot"

"Opaque" Looked that up also,
it means reading in the dark.

multisylabbic
A nonsensical word that i was unable to decode.

Meanwhile that "liberal" in the white house just gave us some more 1984 rules.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/09/us/politics/obama-policy-bans-employee-use-of-leaked-material.html?hp

HMLS U R right about Buffet.
He is all Koch Coal ed up
But I like him better than the Coke Brothers.
I still think we may see more trains and possibly light rail, Although I see a guy just drove a Telsa 2600 miles at not cost.

Petro here is another word I had to look up.
Curmudgeon. Definition: I is one

Cal, agreed Buffet is a benevolent plutocrat. The cokehead brorhers are addicted to their fossil fuel based industry and will do whatever is necessary to feed their addiction.Society be damned.

This is brilliant. I don't think I have ever seen such a fine overview of the state's economy anywhere, much less presented so concisely and in a fashion so easy to absorb. Bravo.

I've been sick lately (very bad kidney problems) so I haven't been online much, otherwise I might have contributed when the thread was current, and be able to contribute more now.

One criticism: the underlying dynamic needs better context to determine to what extent these problems are inherent to Arizona and to what extent Arizona merely reflects national trends. That said, the conclusions are probably correct regardless.

Continuing my last point: we know that housing starts (and prices) are way down nationally, on average, and especially in the areas that previously saw housing booms.

Growth in the state's labor force is described as "flatlined" but the vertical axis of the graph shows year over year growth in percent; so the state's labor force is growing by 2.5 percent annually, and that appears to be stable. I think that the higher growth rates which appear primarily from 1993 through 2000 (also for perhaps four years from 2003 to 2007) might reflect the large influx of undocumented workers, most of whom have now fled the state for more welcoming and more economically vital places (e.g., Texas).

Construction will recover no faster than the housing market.

The graphs showing manufacturing of electronics and computers in the state shows the number of employees, not the total output or the output as a percentage of the state's economy. It is well known that manufacturing has been automated, and this trend of decreased manufacturing *employees* refects a national trend.

Real median household income in the U.S. in 2013 was about where it was in 1997, same as Arizona; so the trend, while economically important to the state, is national in origin.

Year over year growth in the state's personal income per capita trails the national average, but then it has done so for most years, according to the graph, which shows that it typically tracks closely, just above or below. Yes, the national average includes Alabama and Mississippi, but it also includes New York and California, and in fact every other state.

The gap between state and national per capital income in nominal dollars has been widening steadily since 1985, even during the boom decades. It would be interesting to examine the reasons for this in greater detail. That said, nominal dollars may not be the best basis for comparison since it fails to compare state versus national trends in cost of living and inflation changes.


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