Thursday, February 19, 2009

get a move on

I was listening to NPR the other day on the way to work and heard them discuss the approval of a new regional economic growth plan called "Agenda 360", whose stated goals are:

At the core of this plan are three transformational, long-range goals. By the year 2020, the goal of Agenda 360 is to:
  • Add 150,000 additional 20 to 34 year-olds in the region's workforce, an increase of 50 percent.
  • Add 200,000 net new jobs in the region, representing an estimated 50 percent increase in the historical job growth rate in the region.
  • Create economic self-sufficiency for all, incorporating the United Way goal of income at a minimum of 250 percent above the federal poverty level for all households.

Of course, being smack in the middle of that demographic at 26 years old, and as a designer being a member of the coveted creative class, my ears perk up. Does this mean my city loves me?

So naturally, I'm wondering what kinds of stimuli they're scheming in order to attract people like me to the region. I had hoped more emphasis might be put on public transit infrastructure, but I wasn't surprised to learn that the only reference to such is support of the anemic streetcar proposal already on the books and a vague reference to future LRT plans without any real call to action. For shame.

Young creative urban types thrive on public transit. You want to revitalize downtown, get these kinds of people interested in moving here? Public transit enables the lifestyle of the demographic you're targeting. In purely economic terms, it makes it more affordable to live and thus more attractive to people just out of college or at the beginning of their careers with lower incomes.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Choo-choo time

It's about freaking time. Let's hope this money doesn't get siphoned off by local transportation authorities for more road projects.

Map of Potential HSR Built by the Stimulus

Thursday, February 12, 2009


So I have this odd habit of holding a glass with only three fingers sometimes. Apparently so does Barack Obama.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Nothing new here

How do you stimulate an economy? A republican says cut taxes - help those who already have money keep more of it. A democrat says spend, spend - give money to people who don't have it. Nothing new here.

Republicans would like to see the economic stimulus package divided rather evenly between spending and tax cuts, since they don't think government spending is really the way to give the economy the 'ol jump start. The problem with that argument is that it assumes that a person has an income that is being taxed. Job losses were a record 598,000 in January alone. If you don't have a job, you can't spend money. If you don't spend money, the economy grows weaker, and businesses lose revenue. If businesses fail, more jobs are lost. It's a vicious circle. A tax cut doesn't do any good to someone who has little or no income to begin with.

On the other hand, if you create jobs by making money available for school construction or road repairs or new broadband infrastructure then, well, you've created jobs. Which in turn leads to more spending. Apparently the republicans do not agree. What got cut? Money for school construction, broadband initiatives, research, science, school nutrition. Typical things Republicans hate.

Check out Rachel Maddow's take on it. Oh, if only they could say "bullshit" on television.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Making the case

For your perusal, the next installment in making the case against a suburban lifestyle comes from this insightful article in New York Magazine: Is Urban Loneliness a Myth?

I'm going to spoil the best line in the entire article right here, which occurs on page 5: "The presence of other human beings puts a natural limit on how freakily we can behave.". Well, it certainly hit the spot for me. Where do all those school shootings happen, and who perpetrates them? Freakishly antisocial kids in suburban schools in the middle of nowhere, or at universities in isolated locations.

The whole premise is how you live. Urbanites, whether single or married, have larger social circles, more social activity, and because of this are less likely to feel lonely, which affects physical health. Among other things, such as not driving everywhere and not sitting on your ass watching television every night.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What happened to Capitalism?

What ever happened to capitalism? With all the critical remarks about socialism against Barack Obama after he made that fateful comment about "spreading the wealth", you'd assume that people in this country were staunch capitalists. Apparently that isn't the case at all. You'd assume at least the leaders of large corporations would be capitalists, after all they're the ones that scream the loudest when it comes to protecting their hard-earned cash. So why is it that the leaders of the big three automakers are suddenly groveling at the doorstep of the government asking for a handout like it's a soup kitchen? I guess that belief in the free market economy is easily set aside when the free market economy seems perched to throw you in the dumpster.

As you can tell, I'm infuriated at the hypocrisy here. I don't think those companies deserve a bailout at all. I think they need to get what's coming to them. They've been outperformed by companies that make better products and have bee unwilling to retool their product to compete. In the free market, that means you fail. What about the jobs, you say? Auto repair shops, auto parts shops, they'll all stay in business. People will still be buying cars in large numbers - they'll still need maintenance. What about the assembly line workers? Well, when Honda and Toyota suddenly feel the windfall of increased demand from the failure of these companies, they'll probably open more plants to produce more cars, and that means they'll be hiring. They already make all of those supposedly "foreign" cars right here in the United States anyway.

So let them fail. Fuck them. Bad business decisions, greedy unions, all of them should get what's coming to them. In the words of Republican senator Richard Shelby of Alabama,

“The financial straits that the Big Three find themselves in is not the product of our current economic downturn, but instead is the legacy of the uncompetitive structure of its manufacturing and labor force. The financial situation facing the Big Three is not a national problem but their problem.”

Sunday, November 2, 2008

the joy of philosophy

Kind of like the joy of cooking, but for your mind.

Alright, so the point of this is, I'm going to get back in the habit of philosophy. Definitely better than hard drugs, though some might disagree. I've been chatting with an old friend who has become interested in the sorts of thinking and writing I used to do three to five years ago, the sort of "why are things the way they are" brand of thinking. Something on the order of the ontology of everything. Though, as it relates to specific things like beauty, beer, subway cars and God.

I'm digging up some of the interesting essays I wrote before and during my stint studying philosophy, rewriting them, and we're going to have a good old fashioned blog-ring. You know, like the web rings of old. The dark ages, when web surfers wandered aimlessly without the guidance of the Great Google.

Anyways, look for some pretty wacky if not thought inspiring or rage-inducing articles in this web log soon :)