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September 26, 2010


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And there's not much that can be done about it, since the draw of the cheap and easy is more alluring. I doubt even $10 gasoline would change anything except maybe the size of the cars.

Good piece, Jon. Nothing better than driving the back roads and visiting towns that feature block buildings built with hewn granite. Much of the West I appreciate most is desolate and mercifully unfit for subdivisions. I had the good fortune recently to drive from Salt Lake to Ely, Nev., and I took the southern two-lane route through the Great Basin. I swear there were vultures circling above my solitary auto. The mountain ranges in eastern Nevada are astonishingly massive, rugged, beautiful -- and deserted.

"I wondered for the millionth time why the lovely, the historic, the authentic and the unique were always at risk in America."

Because they don't generate revenue or tick up stock value.

I took much of Talton's route back to Arizona in July. Lakeview stood out as an extremely isolated place and was lovely for that reason. As horrifying as Reno and Vegas are, Nevada remains a sad reminder how even greed once had dignity. Tonopah and Goldfield teeter on the edge of oblivion but without the methy frenzy that characterizes so much of America.

Kingman may be the most disheartening place in America. I wonder if Mohave County generally isn't the future for a nation increasingly tribalized and broken. The Tea Party's agenda - old whine in a new bottle - looks like it was born here.

Good news, such as it is: the new economic landscape means far less exurban development. And future energy shortages mean less aimless travel through the spectral remains of America's better days. We can marvel at the mystery of time without assuming there is a moral purpose to our speculations. We live, we die, and something different is born in the crevice of old facts.

Welcome back Rogue. Missed ya'.

Much of downtown Pendleton's commercial real estate stands empty, not to mention gutted by fire damage. As with most of rural Oregon, the anti-business policies of state government have destroyed our economy here in Umatilla County.

Also, please recall that Democrats were responsible for the freeways Jon hates so much, chief among them Prince Albert Gore's dad. Ike said he would never have approved the Interstate Highway bill had he known the autobahns would go into cities.

Further, very few Obamabucks actually went for infrastructure, as Jon supposes. A better stimulus bill than the Porkulus monstrosity would have included more for construction, such as being discussed now. But better still would have been tax cuts, the only kind of stimulus that can produce sustainable jobs, & pay for itself through the taxpaying jobs created when business can hire & buy new equipment or expand.

The REAL problem is OUTSOURCING. The US has lost too many jobs. We have millions of workers for whom we have no jobs. The result is poverty and ruin.

The "good" areas Jon saw were areas where the economic backbone was not ripped out. The "bad" areas are the evidence of the debt and speculation that were offered as terrible substitutes for real jobs and a real economy.

The United States has one real problem. It is the JOBS CRISIS. We need 30 million good-paying jobs this instant. Give us those and everything else will play out decently. Without the jobs, every problem that Jon writes about will just magnify.

Jobs (that pay well) are the only answer.

Jon asks:

"What kind of people would care so little for the beauty and majesty of the land as to allow this?"

Now that's what I call a loaded rhetorical question. And I can't resist playing with a loaded querry. So here's the first few paragraphs from a recent AZ Daily Star article:

"Dorothy Ross often journeys to this wooded area in the Tonto National Forest to pray, harvest acorns and pick medicinal plants. She's made the trip since she was a child.

Assembled at the Oak Flat Campground, east of Superior, Ross and other elders of the San Carlos Apache Tribe said this area of the Pinal Mountains is sacred. God created their people at this site and gave them the land, they said.

Speaking collectively in their native language through an interpreter, Ross, Delores Jordan, Gertrude Waterman and Audrey Johnson said spirits living in the crevices and canyons provide blessings to the Apaches.

Tribal leaders traditionally have preferred to have healing ceremonies and purification rituals here.

"God created this area for us," the interpreter said, distilling the thoughts of the four women. "Since the beginning of time, this area was never restricted to us."

But the area also holds what's been called the largest untapped reserve of copper in the U.S. and possibly in the world. In a plan that includes the wider Oak Flat area, Resolution Copper Co., a joint venture of Anglo-Australian mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, wants to mine a deposit that's more than a mile below the surface."

I think we've seen this movie before.
Nevertheless here is the rest of the script:


So, how goes the battle between the Carsoni Family and the D'Inclinis? [/30-year-old in-joke]

There he is! The Rogue returned! Welcome back. I don't know if it's a brain-fart or not, but as soon as I saw your new post I had a weird notion to write a comment saying "Got your nose!" as in the old children's game.
(As Sean Lennon sings, "my motorcycle brain / remains to be explained" -- which I interpret in light of the book title Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.)

John Tillmann wrote:

"But better still would have been tax cuts, the only kind of stimulus that can produce sustainable jobs, & pay for itself through the taxpaying jobs created when business can hire & buy new equipment or expand."

So, explain to me how tax cuts could stimulate anything except speculation bidding up the price of paper wealth?

Businesses don't expand or hire merely because they have extra money: they do so because there is sufficient demand for the products or services they sell to make expansion profitable and worthwhile.

A recent article in the Arizona Republic noted that "91 percent of small-business owners surveyed in August by the National Federation of Independent Business said all their credit needs were met and that "only 4 percent cited a lack of financing as their top business problem" while pointing out that "plans for capital spending were at a 35-year low".

So it isn't a lack of available funding, it's a lack of demand. You can't spur demand by cutting the taxes of the rich (who, by and large, already spend as much of their income on consumption as they're going to, investing the rest in paper assets to increase their wealth). That includes successful small-business owners.


One of the few things that can possibly increase demand to levels sufficient to restore the country to the kind of high-growth necessary to decrease unemployment to acceptable levels -- any time soon that is -- is not tax cuts, but direct redistribution of income, funded via targeted tax *increases* of the wealthy.

Ah, Emil is in his glory, and Zero has been graduated to a Marxist from a Socialist. All is well now in the land of Oz.

Terry Dudas, your cryptic utterances become more and more unintelligible. Who's Zero? Who's a Marxist?

I'm a non-Marxist socialist. For that matter, did you know that the Nixon administration gave serious consideration to a national minimum income? Was Nixon a Marxist? (Well, he DID go to China...maybe them heathen Chinee brainwashed him while he was there.)

See, socialism means public ownership of the means of production. Redistribution of income is something else entirely, and it goes on in every developed country on the planet. It's just a question of how much, and what it goes for.

I'm proposing to cut out the middleman (bureaucracy) and let individual recipients decide what to spend redistributed money on. That maintains the classical feedback links of capitalism, allowing for resources to be allocated more rationally.

This country would become an economic powerhouse if the excess income of the wealthy were directly redistributed to the bottom third of the working population. There's a lot of unfulfilled consumer demand in the latter group.

With a steady, reliable stream of increased demand, businesses receiving that money would expand operations and hire, and banks would be happy to deem them a good risk for business loans.

Unemployment would plummet to near zero. Everybody would want a job so that they could get their share of redistributed income. We could do away with a number of social programs catering to the impoverished, because everyone who worked would get a living income, and demand would be sufficient to make full employment profitable.

Oz my foot.

P.S. Yes, this country needs infrastructure investment badly. I propose to fund that with a tax on financial transactions (excluding credit card purchases). Just two-tenths of one percent of each transaction value would yield, by conservative estimates, $2 trillion over ten years.



I'm guessing terry meant to call you Zorro, you know, take from the rich give to the poor. Just a guess. I would post more comments, but I'm trying to rejoin the legendary "Silent Majority".

Thanks for that idea, azrebel. Now you've inspired me to compile a speculative list (others may join in) of possible references:

(1) The 1973 Schoolhouse Rock song "My Hero, Zero"

"My hero, Zero, such a funny little hero,
But till you came along,
We counted on our fingers and toes.
Now you're here to stay
And nobody really knows
How wonderful you are.
Why we could never reach a star,
Without you, Zero, my hero,
How wonderful you are."

(2) The 1974 Billy Preston song "Nothing from Nothing":

"Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'
You gotta have somethin'
If you wanna be with me
Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'
You gotta have somethin'
If you wanna be with me

I'm not tryin' to be your hero
'Cause that zero is too cold for me, Brrr
I'm not tryin' to be your highness
'Cause that minus is too low to see, yeah"

(3) The 1983 song "Saved by Zero" by The Fixx:

"Maybe, someday
Saved by zero
I’ll be more together
Stretched by fewer
Thoughts that leave me
Chasing after
My dreams disown me

Loaded with danger
Maybe I’ll win
Saved by Zero
Holding onto
Words that teach me
I will conquer
Space around me"

(4) "Not Me", the culpability ghost used by Little Billy and others in The Family Circus.

(5) No man. As in, "Nemo me impune lacessit", the motto of The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle.

"A Hoover Dam for our age would have been a high-speed rail line between Las Vegas and Phoenix" - Rogue

Are you proposing a "bridge to nowhere" redux? Connecting two unsustainable dead-ends does not a sustainable future make. I can think of myriad better places to connect, other than two sprawling salvage yards posing ephemerally as desert mirages.

It matters little how quickly the retirees and jobless of Phoenix can be shuttled to Nevada's casinos to surrender the remnants of their savings.

Tax cuts are not the answer as 1) the rich aren't really spending (also our billion boss did get a new Bentley convertible) as they chase better interest rates overseas; and 2) all that extra corporate cash and low interest is going into our next round of mergers (its good to be Goldman Sachs).

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