Saturday, December 4, 2010

Worldwide Economic Collapse Is Good For You

Out there on Planet Sustainability a new cause for joy has been found. And since many of these people are not quite genetically wired for such an emotion, this is very big news indeed. That the chronically dour and sour should suddenly find something to take comfort in is a hopeful sign. At least until you discover exactly what it is they are taking comfort in.

Sadly, what has them a-brimming with happiness is not what most would find to be a particularly chipper thing. I mean, people losing their jobs, homes and all hope for the future in general tends to be a bit of a downer for many, and the dreams of most lie with economic recovery and better times in general. But apparently we have some new thinking on this matter.

Two gentleman, one from here in the US and the other from the UK, have discovered that there is much good to be found in economic collapse and the widespread misery it has caused. The first writes of the sustainability benefits should the mortgage interest deduction be taken away from home owners. This in an economic environment where home ownership has become difficult already. The second deep thinker laments the mere thought of an economic recovery because it might be a problem for the environment.

Our initial entry comes from a site called CSRwire. It describes itself as being the "leading source for corporate social responsibility and sustainability." The ruler of this little corner of cheer is Joe Siblia, who is also the author of what we are posting below. And apparently he is very excited by the prospect of people such as yourself being kicked out of your home and shuffled off to the inner city.

Mortgage Interest Deduction Elimination Spurs Sustainability - There is a movement in the US Congress to eliminate the mortgage interest deduction to increase revenue (it's not a new idea but it is gaining some traction.) The mortgage interest deduction has been a part of the American experience since its inception. It's basically the only deduction available for the diminishing middle class. Those opposed to eliminating the deduction will cry foul and say lots the only incentive for home ownership. Eliminating the deduction will slow the already depressed home sales environment. Builders and home furnishing suppliers will be adversely affected. Values of homes will decline further. People 'upside down' on their mortgages will allow the banks to take over their homes and defaults will decrease substantially, further pushing prices lower as inventory increases.

Not a pretty picture so far. But Mr. Siblia is not one to leave us without hope. Here is what he sees as being the upside to this lamentable situation:

On the other hand, new opportunities will be created. Inner cities that have suffered will find resurgence. Young couples and families will move downtown and get rid of their cars. City stores will reopen. Properties that were vacant will come online as new refurbished rentals. Gardening in the cities will gain more popularity. Vacant lots will become urban farms. Central cities will be fun again ... In the suburbs, large "McMansions" will become housing for multi-generational - multi-family groups gathering together. Well-manicured lawns will becoming mini self-sustaining farms. Public transportation will finally reach the suburbs as the connection continues.

Now as far as I can tell, most middle class small city homes are not "McMansions." Though we can see a push for that sort of thing coming from the likes of the so-called Greens on our G4 City Council, along with those whose interests they represent. So I find the use of that term to be a bit of an unfair aspersion as we here in Sierra Madre do resist that sort of thing.

But that said, I think you can see the point Mr. Siblia is making here. Mass impoverishment, pauperization and general economic decline is good for you. No car, no home and a life as a downtown tenant is what he has to offer. And, after all, you will get to grow corn and cabbage on a vacant inner city lot, so what is there to complain about? It's sustainable. Be joyful!

I think this should be included on a Sierra Madre Green Committee agenda real soon. Let's skip the trite ephemera they're covering now and get down to the real hardcore of sustainability thought. And wouldn't that be a nice compliment to the massive bond debt being pushed by the Committee's City Council Liaison?

The other cause for hope comes from James Meikle, who shares some important news in the British paper The Guardian. And in the European Union (EU for the acronymic) report discussed there, it would appear that economic recovery poses a serious threat to, you got it, sustainability. Something that furthers the notion that being green and personal poverty are now somehow linked.

UK economic recovery 'poses threat to environment' ... Any emergence from recession may erode shift towards more sustainable lifestyles, warns EU report - The hoped-for emergence of the UK from its economic crisis might erode a shift towards more sustainable lifestyles, according to an EU report published today. A growing population, coupled with demand for more and larger homes, is threatening the UK's security of water supplies and wildlife, said the European Environment Agency (EEA).

There is also a risk that public concern with green issues declines as more people live in towns and cities and have no "experience of the natural world," said the assessment of the challenges facing the country. And this trend may be greatest among younger generations, it warns.

Now that is an interesting juxtaposition to sustainability thought in the US. Here in America it is assumed that living in the country constitutes "suburban sprawl," and that the only sustainable thing to do is chase everyone back into the inner city to live on a shelf and ride buses. However, according to this Guardian piece, it would seem that city living alienates one from the natural world, which causes many to not care.

Unlike the Looney Views News, The Guardian allows reader commentary on their website. And there is one comment on that site that I found particularly amusing.

greendodo - "The hoped-for emergence of the UK from its economic crisis might erode a shift towards more sustainable lifestyles ..." You mean people might get jobs, leave the house and travel to work and stuff? Instead of sitting at home, eking out their benefit cheques and wingeing about the environment on CIF all day, like good little Guardianistas? Quelle horreur!

Quelle horreur indeed.


  1. The concept of putting people in densly packed, hospitally scrubbed urban environments as a lifestyle, and wanting to "save the planet" seems to repeat itself as a massive social blunder. After WW1, this was tried by the then social progressives(socialists) in Europe and newly formed Soviet state, and embraced by the European left, that failed.
    You can see it in the "idealism " and anti traditionalism of the Bauhaus movement.
    (not intending to condemn modernism).
    We seem to be trying to resurrect these ideals as our savior. This time we are calling it the environmental movement.
    BUT, you just have to look at the socialist regimens tried in Spain, Germany, and experimented with in Great Britain, you realize it is accurately stated as
    "une horreur!"
    Many intellectuals at the time had a need to
    flee to points West, knowing to stay would mean persecution for resisting it.
    The hope is, we will realize where we are heading, with the almost fascistic green movement. All movements couched and justified in noble and "it's the right thing to do because it's good for society", eventually seems to morph into extremism of the worst kind.
    Wait till next year, when we see the effects of those "greenies" start to come to fruition.

  2. That economic decline is being sold to the plodding masses as a positive green movement towards a better future is amusing to say the least. You're not being kicked down the economic ladder, you're making the sacrifices necessary to save the world!

    Orwellian doesn't do justice to it. Unbelievable.

  3. So does this mean humans can continue to expand their population, territory, and habitat without consequence? What's the answer here? Pestilence? Famine? Genocide? If we call efforts to extend the life of the planet to our species should we call that movement by some other color? Pink? Blue?

    Or do we just sit back and wait for God to provide?

  4. In the past economic crunch times like the one we are facing now were usually solved by war. Perhaps some sort of world wide conflagration will cull the herd, thus giving us an era of sustainability and growth.

  5. The CSR wire article by Joe Sibilia is coming from a very-well connected capital investment banker who is the CEO of CSR Wire, a PR instrument for socially responsible capitalism. That breezy statement is meant to apparently shift the values of the middle class from consumption to conservation, but actually it sets the stage for ongoing consumption of a different kind, the PC type.

    It means people should buy the "green" brand of everything, giving the capital markets a place to expand to. It's not based upon a socialistic model, it's actually a "new normal" capitalist model with allowances for continual expansion of goods and real estate development, which is what drives the US economy. It means the wealthy don't have to change their lifestyle, just everyone under the 250K threshold, who are apparently going to pay the regressive taxes and utility fees so that more middle class folks can be housed in the small quarters of large urban centers or crams multiple families into existing tract developments.

    The question remains: is this capitalist model of ever-expanding consumption viable? Of course not, and redistributing it into large cities and multifamily suburban flats does nothing to change that; it's an avoidance strategy. The capitalist model has to become sustainable and "net zero" in all aspects, which will be difficult because we don't know how that will create livelihoods for people. What if everybody just quit buying all this stuff we don't need? Is it a pure service economy? Light manufacturing, hospitality, professional services? Given the ability of the corporations to bust the small communities and buy off the legislature, the only answers seem to be coming from corporate, not the people.

    I think the pushback is going to have to be through the nonprofit sector and social networking systems, and hold the corporate and local government's feet to the fire.

  6. Soylent Green comes to mind.Great movie,the setting is America 2022.One has to wonder;does art sometimes predict the future?

  7. I'll wait to hear what John Buchanan has to say because he is the resident expert on everything green and wants you all to know that he is immensely smarter than you or I

    He has to be an expert of green because he claimed that our city was imploding do to faulty water pipes and when the truth came out, he was lying and was pushing to build a 7 million dollar library as part of the water tax hike

    so, he knows he way around green, mostly wasteful spending of greenbacks

  8. Did the Communist Chinese have it right by having forced abortions, and one child families?
    It may be too many of our species crowd the world. Does the next step of this current social movement include population control to save the world in order to keep it "green",? Is that why some of the most influential "czars" in our government advocate allowing the least healthy and least productive in our society to have healthcare witheld?
    Sounds almost Hitlarian.
    The Progressives believe in the world needing to be saved by limits, While Conservatives believe the world will be saved by man's enginuity, and the free market.
    Who is right, or more right?

  9. Mr.Sibilia's ideal world of the "new normal" is something I cannot be fully convinced of. If we give up consuming, how does one put food on the table, once one is laid off from the local widgwit factory.

  10. Or why not wait for Matt Bosse to yell in our faces in City Hall, he did mine, or on the street. He is a physician. He must have fabulous compassion and great bedside manner. What an amazing and kind couple.

    They were really great when they arrived and wanted from all of us.

  11. I believe Siblia's deal here is marketing economic decline for profit. The U.S. is not competing worldwide at the level it once was, and the necessary capital is no longer here. So sell (or lose) your car and home and pack your fanny off to the brave new green ghetto lifestyle. I honestly think there will be riots and blood on the streets before the American middle class is finally forced into the rather chilling scenario Siblia paints. Look at what is happening in the EU right now. Paris, Athens, Lisbon and Dublin are seeing demonstrations and riots on an almost daily basis now. And as far as I can see none are being held out of gratitude for their new sustainable lifestyles.

  12. I think Matt functions as Joe's political enforcer. Just like Henderson does. They're ward healers, and neither of them are afraid to use intimidation to protect their boss and his operation.

  13. Don't know where this fits in, but the economic collapse was a help in halting some big development plans in my little town.
    It came too late to save our hillsides.

  14. 10:54 and damn, they're effective.

  15. That's true 10:55, but did it require a world wide hardship?

    Right, we're talking about developers, a thick breed to be sure.

    It probably did require world wide action.

  16. Goons always play a role in big city politics. It is sad that the tactic was imported to our little town.

  17. Joe Mosca, Matt Bosse and Susan Henderson have one thing in common. They are all bullies.
    Don't know about Matt, but Susan and Mosca are also two of the biggest traitors/liars in this town.
    It was a very unfortunate thing, these people found our nice little town.
    All three of them hate us all, you know. They really do.

  18. I think Sierra Madre is a thorn in the side to the big developers. Every other town rolls over and does whatever they want. But this town refuses to do that. It must offend them.

  19. I'm sure it does offend them, 11:23.
    Let's keep it that way.
    No MATTER WHAT. If we have to take them to court, get measures, like Measure V on the books or vote out these crooks. We must do it, NO MATTER WHAT.
    We must send a message to developers and their puppet politicians.....Sierra Madre does not want this for our town!

  20. slow does not equal noDecember 4, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    Before anybody takes those previous comments out of context, I think I speak for the majority of slow growthers, WE ARE NOT ZERO GROWTH, got it?

    No one in their right mind advocates that there should never be any construction, or restorations, or improvements. That is a twisting of the slow growth position that the pro-development side likes to push.
    Another lie.

    Slow growth is about massing and scale, respecting neighbors, conserving resources, yes, real sustainability. No paper water, no cardboard condos, and pay attention to traffic and parking.

  21. CS Lewis quoted in The Week as quoted in the Huffington Post:
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. Those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

  22. Thanks for posting that, "slow does not equal no".

    You sure speak for me! Well said, friend.

  23. I have never thought of it as "slow vs. no" growth. I've always seen it as quality vs. garbage growth. And the cookie cutter mass development that the BIA and CAR try to push into towns like ours through the pinicchio politicians and city employees they own is crap development. Development that grows up in Sierra Madre, that is organic and part of this community is fine. But block upon block of the oppressive garbage that can be found in Pasadena and Monrovia these days just doesn't belong here. And shame on those individuals who have sold out their own community and its values to bring it here.

  24. slow does not equal noDecember 4, 2010 at 1:02 PM

    Thanks Old K, and absolutely 12:25.
    The Zero Growth and/or no growth lie is one of the tools the Dirts & DICs used to sway the vote:
    "Don't vote for Crawford and Watts! Along with MacGillivray, they are Zero growth. Vote for Buchanan and Mosca, who want to preserve the village with healthy development."
    They are still using it.

  25. Can't comment on stories in Pasadena Star News either - unless you join ...Facebook! Hah, got you there ignorant consumer meat! Lady Gaga and the Kardashians await you, simply join Facebook to comment on PSN website (there's no other way). Check it out, and BTW, why aren't you at the mall or shopping online right now?

  26. I saw that 1:27. I think Larry and the boys got tired of seeing their fabrications and fudging torn to bits everyday on Topix.

    The facebook thing was done in hopes that it would silence their critics.

  27. Looks like we're back to the old-fashioned news style. Read a story and then pick up the phone or e-mail a letter to your local representative; the comments on Topix are just troll bait.

  28. In todays LA Times an article on the fiasco about to unfold at the Santa Anita Debris Basin.
    (Thank you Caroline Brown for leading this effort).

    Michael D Antonovich
    Los Angeles County Supervisor, Dist 5
    500 Temple Street Room 869
    Los Angeles, Ca. 90012

    Re: Killing 170 Live Oaks & 70 Sycamores on
    11.3 Acres for 500,000 Cubic Yards of Debris

    I have no idea how or why the "Environmental Impact Report" for Los Angeles County would even suggest or recommend the destruction of 11.3 acres of Live Oaks and Sycamores in exchange for a pile of "debris sludge" from the Santa Anita Debris Basin.

    Would you or the County want to be remembered for the desecration of priceless trees and habitat for: Coyotes, Bears, Deer, Hawks, Foxes, Mountain Lions and for too many smaller animals too numerous to mention to make room for debris? I submit this is not West Virginia blowing off mountain tops. This is Los Angeles where what remains of our native landscape need Government Representatives like you to protect it.

    Its a "no brainer", to find a better solution than destroy a little more of our San Gabriel Mountain Native Landscape. Especially when solutions exist that will accept the "tailings" and or exchanges with the Cities of Monrovia or Arcadia. It is not necessary or acceptable that decisions have been made to exploit our dwindling mountain side for depositing sludge.

    Please do your job for our environment and population and insist that better solutions be explored and put into place to find an acceptable home for the Santa Anita Resevoir muck and save 249 native trees.

    You owe to us and future generations
    Jim Engle

    and again thanks to Caroline Brown who calls this to our attention.

  29. That's a great letter, Jim.
    Thanks to people like you and Caroline Brown, we will save our natural treasures.
    I urge others to use your link and write a letter to Mike A.
    If Caroline can fight for us, the least we can do is support her efforts. Jim did his about the rest of you?
    Thanks in advance, because I know Tattlers care.

  30. Our way of life is worth fighting for. Who are these arses who presume to tell us how we should live?

  31. The problem with Antonovich is he is the quentissential political hack. He gets funding from the development lobby to maintain his position, is pro development to the max. Fortunately, if he is made to face saving the oaks, he will cave when the spotlight is beamed at him, knowing he will loose voters.

  32. Just like we're hoping to do here - shame the developer shills into preserving the town, as they assure one and all they want to.

  33. We will do whatever it takes to save our town, save our hillsides, save our trees and save our rights by law under Prop.218. Sierra Madre must never be allowed to take any of these away from us.
    If Antonovich doesn't want to see his "head on a stick" on KFI John and Ken Show. He'll help us, "Disillusioned" is right, this guy could go the way of Anthony Adams, whose head was on a stick on the J&K Show. He chose not to run again rather than get beat.

    We have a great "secret weapon" here in Sierra Madre. It's The Sierra Madre Tattler and their many readers and posters. The word is getting out there.
    Just like the John and Ken Show are exposing crooks from Los Angeles to Sacramento. John Crawford and his merry band of Tattlers are exposing them from Sierra Madre to Sacramento!

  34. Sir Eric and Patch guy?

    Are we going to hear anymore about the SMPD's bogus PR company?
    I sure hope we pursue that scam as well.
    Enough is enough from the SMPD.
    I supported them when they wanted a raise, with my time and money. I feel duped.
    We were misguided and lied to.
    I respect Chief Diaz, but not the police union.
    Diaz lives here in Sierra Madre and does care about the town. Lots of bs has been spread about Diaz, for a short time, I believed it, but found out differently. This seems to be a common pattern in Sierra Madre these days since the Gang of 4 hooked up with the police and volunteer fire dept. and spread lies about good people.

  35. Please remember that when you want a support for an issue it is not a good idea to use insulting language poster "disillusioned @ 5:43."

  36. Somebody is going to have to rub the Gang of Four's noses in this latest PD disgrace. If they're not shooting people in the back they're getting into bed with con artists and crooks. Not that they'll do anything. LA County Dem's like Mosca and Buchanan wouldn't dare bite the hands that feeds them. They are totally in the pockets of public employee unions.

  37. You missed the point, 7:24. Antonovich really is a political hack.

  38. So 9:36 pm, if the SMPD are all such despicable characters, who should we turn to in order to keep a modicum of public safety in place? Perhaps you're in favor of bringing in the Sheriffs? Or back to the good old boys of the 70's and 80's? There are 31 people in the SMPD and I just don't see tarring them all with the same brush. I don't even think Officer Berry is a "con artist or crook". But I would hope that he checks with the Chief before he sends out another solicitation letter. Now that was dumb.

  39. If you put your name to a fund raising letter that turns out to not be legitimate, you are responsible. Stupidity does not absolve you of that.

  40. They forgive their own, 2:54.


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