Critique of California

So the latest news from California is this:

New fires flared up in Riverside, Ventura and San Bernardino Counties on Wednesday and Thursday just as winds eased in the north and firefighters wrangling the state’s largest active blaze, the Kincade fire, managed to contain more than half of its 76,800-acre footprint for the first time.

Meanwhile The Nation Online tells us:

California Is Burning—Nationalize PG&E

It's clear, then, that the wildfires are attracting attention to America's most populous and most glorious state. The reality is that while California burns, and while California utility Pacific Gas and Electric shuts off people's electricity as a preventative measure, California's poorly-maintained electrical infrastructure sets off more fires and the capitalists profit off of all the misery while California's vast incarcerated populations are recruited to clean up the resultant mess. So, Ben Ehrenreich argues, PG&E should be in public hands. After all, they declared bankruptcy in January. What is everyone waiting for? I'll get to that in the conclusion to this essay.

More philosophically, the New York Times published a piece by Farhad Manjoo titled "It's the End of California As We Know It," which argues something along the lines of this:

The fires and the blackouts aren’t like the earthquakes, a natural threat we’ve all chosen to ignore. They are more like California’s other problems, like housing affordability and homelessness and traffic — human-made catastrophes we’ve all chosen to ignore, connected to the larger dysfunction at the heart of our state’s rot: a failure to live sustainably.

Of course, the reason why Californians don't live sustainably is that they're not looking for it. Manjoo argues this directly:

Our whole way of life is built on a series of myths — the myth of endless space, endless fuel, endless water, endless optimism, endless outward reach and endless free parking.

The author's alternative is, of course, explained too simply:

To stave off fire and housing costs and so much else, the people of California should live together more densely. We should rely less on cars. And we should be more inclusive in the way we design infrastructure — transportation, the power grid, housing stock — aiming to design for the many rather than for the wealthy few.

which is why, by the end of the article, said author despairs of seeing such a solution enacted. Let me suggest an alternative narrative.

In my youth, California was a beautiful place to live, and I lived there. In my middle age, California was a place where I could live and do a few good works because it was a place where my parents lived, and my parents needed my help, or at least this was what my Mom proclaimed so loudly when she was alive. I'm sure I felt fortunate to live there even then.

Back in the day, California was the awesome place described even in Steinbeck fiction, or maybe it was what that band the Eagles sung about in that song of theirs "Hotel California" or what the Mamas and the Papas' had in mind with their song "California Dreamin'": perfect weather, perfect weather for growing anything, great access to resources, glories of nature easily accessible in desert and mountain and beach to shame most of the rest of the country, cool people (if you could find them), Hollywood, Chinatown, Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley and in Oakland. For awhile Aldous Huxley lived there, before he passed away six hours after JFK was assassinated. The wise man Jiddu Krishnamurti did great stuff there in Ojai.

America's response to California was that it was, like the rest of the world, another place to make money. In the 1980s housing became a Ponzi scheme, and thus unaffordable with the wages of anyone outside of the managerial class. Politically, California became in 2016 terms a Hillary state; after spending the Nineties building up its prison system (funded I suppose by reassessments on sold properties and by its 9% sales tax) and after starving its university system of funds during the same time and thus limiting its educational options to attending overcrowded universities and taking on fantastic quantities of student loan debt. California became a place where, if you wanted to go anywhere, you had to calculate how you were going to avoid the traffic jams which operated like clockwork on the freeways. California became, in short, a place of smug, self-satisfied, property owners who didn't really care if their reality was becoming a sad joke as long as their 3br2ba residences fetched $1.1 million on the real estate markets.

Food is cheap in much of California because its big cities form a shipping nexus. I used to go to a supermarket in Pomona, California, which sold Monterey Jack cheese from a local dairy for $3/ pound. So delicious! This food-cheapness also explains why I spent thirteen years in southern California putting together a viable modified French Intensive cultivation practice, which, last I tended it, was in alternating rotations between tomatoes (and suitable companion plants) and marigolds (to make the land inhospitable for nematodes of the bad kind). Nobody in southern California really cared about what I did, except a few friends who were too busy to say "hi" more than twice a year and those who got their degrees from the college where I was doing this and moved out of state or to careers in Los Angeles or the Bay Area. California is also the birthplace of Food Not Bombs, an awesome thing if there ever was one. I participated in that, too, if anyone cared or cares.

It is not a coincidence that nearly half of America's homeless people live in California. The weather is acceptable in most of California for year-round outdoor living, and in much of the state it's just not affordable for many people to live indoors. There are also places in California where the city councils won't put forth the (nasty) effort necessary to drive the homeless out of their town; perhaps Oakland is an extreme example. Upland, California, on the other hand, posted signs on its city streets telling people not to give anything to homeless people. Its chief of police was quoted in the local newspaper as saying that the homeless were not exclusively a police problem. Nonetheless, in a country in which the bottom 40% are living paycheck to paycheck, it should be no surprise that people choose homelessness in California over destitution elsewhere.

The Atlantic piece on the current catastrophe, Annie Lowney's "California Is Becoming Unlivable," emphasizes matters of California housing while discussing the topical wildfire situation. Wildfires make a housing situation worse, the author emphasizes, because much of the development that has been going on in California for the past, I don't know, since World War II maybe, has been in wildlife-urban interfaces. (To give some historical context: when Aldous Huxley was living in Los Angeles his house burned down on account of a wildfire.)

What really has to go, if California is to be made good again, is capitalism. California was the cool place in America, because of its ideal weather conditions and because it hadn't really been intensively exploited in the way that the land Back East had. Now it's another land of gray, eventually-mass-suicidal, capitalist conformism -- maybe it can still be hacked for its wonders, but this has appeared as an increasingly difficult task for thirty years now (or at least since the 1989 earthquake collapsed much of the Pacific Garden Mall in Santa Cruz, or even later in 2001 when they started requiring students at UCSC to take letter grades). The fires are like another coup de grace -- they might come each year, but since little changed after Paradise was destroyed (except that Paradise was destroyed), we might be reasonably led to expect that little will change in the future, except that more of California will wink out. And those parts that are still lovely? The people there will sometimes be self-absorbed fools, also sometimes adorable for their subscriptions to a few of the really cool concepts, and you might not be able to afford to hang out with them anyway.

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my paralegal, super educated, multiple degrees, grew up in California.
About 15 years ago, she bailed. Came to Texas. She just couldn't make ends meet there.
She misses the great weather, the great beaches, but instead of a one bedroom efficiency apartment there, she lives here, in a 3500 square ft. home with a giant front and back yard.
Your point about homeless living there because weather permits is really thought provoking.
Of course.

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@on the cusp
An efficiency apartment has zero bedrooms. Usually a fold out sofa suffices. My late mother-in-law had one near O'Hare airport. She had a single bed and a Lazyboy in her living room, a kitchen with table and a bathroom. Oh, and a closet.
Surprisingly it sold easy for a good price when she died. To an airline pilot who had a home in another city but was on a milk run to O'Hare and was tired of paying hotels on the Chicago end.

The location was minutes from the airport gate. bad for most but not for a pilot looking to just sleep. When I was a newlywed we had an an apartment in a three flat a few miles away. The other two flats were occupied by stewardesses, three of them sharing the one below. The attraction for me was low rent and literally a half mile from an entrance ramp to the tollway that took me most of the way to my job at Great Lakes Naval Base.

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

No way to justify that.
I am so sorry she had to live it that manner.
That is 3rd world.
Here.

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snoopydawg's picture

.... the country follows as they say.

"What's the difference between the Titanic and California? The Titanic sank with its lights on."

The richest country on earth has hundreds of thousands of people living on the streets. There are of course enough houses for them to live in, but in many places there are no jobs because companies have moved them overseas with congress blessing. And the companies that do have factories here don't pay taxes to help keep their communities going. Corporate welfare is okay as the one socialism congress will accept.

I moved away from California in 2005 after it got too expensive to find a place to rent even in the Central Valley. Too many people were moving away from the city because of housing prices and driving prices up there too. Modesto was called one of California's bread and breakfast town because people lived there, but worked in the City. It used to be that I could fight rush hour traffic to see my doctor in SF in the am, but if I waited till after 9 pm I could scoot home. . but not in the last few years I lived there because the freeways were always packed. This was because even more people were buying homes even farther away from the city into places that used to be wilderness areas including the foothills were lots of the fires have been. I agree that people need to have affordable housing close to where they work, but the NIMBYs didn't want to share their spaces and of course many of them were rich enough to buy politicians and the circle just kept going round and round and here they are today living in areas that are prone to burn. SF has been trying to build more homeless shelters, but people don't want those kinds of people in their neighborhoods.. and so they are never built, but then those same people cry about people sleeping on their sidewalks or living in cars outside their homes... One neighborhood put huge boulders on the sidewalks to keep people from pitching their tents. Benches have spikes that go up if someone lays on them or after a certain time at night. One church put sprinklers over its porch that came on if someone tried sleeping there. Nice huh?

And of course the NIMBYs didn't want the train system to be built by there homes so people had no options but to drive their cars with only one occupant. Car pool lanes were there of course, but you had to have 3 people in them to use it. They were either empty or had few cars in them. Don't even think about putting a dummy in your passenger seat cuz cops look for them and it's a huge fine if you get caught. But what people won't do to not spend 4-5 hours every day on the freeway.

Back to the current problems with PG&E cutting power to millions of people. Cities are losing billions and people are losing thousands of dollars worth of food because their fridges don't have power. Disabled folks who rely on powered medical devices are caught in the middle as are schools..etc. But it's not just PG&Es fault. The government and the power regulator people never made them do proper upkeep because they needed their money to get reelected. So now PG&E is out of money and lots of people want the state to take over because capitalism is bad right? Newsom is asking another rich dude to buy them out and keep it as a capitalistic system. Warren Buffet..the guy who is giving away his money to charity. Except that charity is just another private foundation where rich people park their money so they don't have to pay taxes. Sorry for the rant. But it's time to get a new system in place. People are dying faster under this parasitic capitalistic system.

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The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

The Ostrich should be the national bird not the Eagle

@snoopydawg
https://capitolfax.com/2019/10/31/exelon-threatens-to-shutter-four-nuke-...

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

WaterLily's picture

@snoopydawg

... people need to have affordable housing close to where they work, but the NIMBYs didn't want to share their spaces and of course many of them were rich enough to buy politicians and the circle just kept going round and round.

This is exactly what's happening in Burlington, Vermont, under our progressive carpet-bagging, neoliberal sell-out of a mayor, Miro Weinberger. Most of the non-agricultural, "professional" jobs in the county -- and arguably the state -- exist in Burlington, yet it's increasingly unaffordable to live here thanks in no small part to our mayor's efforts to award large development contracts (bolstered by taxpayers in the form of TIF funds) to his buddies in the business who then build above market-rate condos and apartments that attract second- and third-homeowners to the downtown core. Meanwhile, he's been demolishing the areas where our increasing number of homeless have been gathering under the guise of urban renewal while denying the fact that he's creating a boutique city.

Sorry for the rant, but as someone said below ... as goes California ...

(On the other hand, as Caitlyn says -- highlighted in another essay -- maybe these are just the uncomfortable things we're experiencing as our collective paradigm shifts toward something better. I can only hope).

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snoopydawg's picture

@WaterLily

Gentrification is spreading and pushing people out of the cities everywhere. Including in cities run by democrats. This is what Mayo Pete should be being hit with every time he shows up somewhere. Are you seeing the one size fits all apartment buildings that I'm seeing all over Utah? Ugly as a big box store and they are built in places where the cities are giving tax breaks to big businesses re gentrifying the area.

Then there's all the money that has been gutted from HUD and people are waiting years on waiting lists for public housing. SL is doing good, but I'm not seeing it Ogden yet, but there is talk. Many of the bigger cities have ignored slumlord apartments for decades while they kept getting tax breaks for them. Slumlord Kushner has neglected his apartment buildings for decades, but now that Trump is calling some cities sh*tholes the cities are finally going after them. I could go on, but I think I've said it all before. Good luck with your city.

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The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

The Ostrich should be the national bird not the Eagle

WaterLily's picture

@snoopydawg

Are you seeing the one size fits all apartment buildings that I'm seeing all over Utah

Yes. That "architecture" -- and it's not just apartments, here -- is everywhere. And it's a blight. But of course the developers (who are getting the tax breaks) don't give a $h!t because it's cheap to build. Never mind the fact that the city has plenty of resources to devote to harassing homeowners who have replaced their windows without a permit (which they do because when they seek a permit, it's most often denied because the windows don't conform to "historic" standards)... but when it comes to new development, suddenly all the zoning and permitting and strict historic standards go out the window.

It's disgusting. And it's everywhere. Because even in small-town government, the grifters run the show.

Sorry for the rant, which probably makes little grammatical sense, but this stuff infuriates me.

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Pricknick's picture

There are also places in California where the city councils won't put forth the effort necessary to drive the homeless out of their town

Kinda reminds me of driving the native Americans to reservations. That turned out well. /s.
So where do you wish them to be driven to? Your own words say it is necessary.

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

Cassiodorus's picture

@Pricknick What I clearly said was that effort was necessary to drive the homeless out of town, not that it was necessary to drive the homeless out of town.

What I'd like to see, as a good anticapitalist, is for the homeless to be given homes. Given the reactionary politics of suburban California, however, you're not going to find too many city councils out that way which have the inclination to do such a thing. What they will put effort into, then, depends upon what they think they can get away with, since their inclinations toward the homeless are generally bad ones.

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"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

Pricknick's picture

@Cassiodorus

Is reading out of fashion?

But definitely some writing is.

effort was necessary to drive the homeless out of town, not that it was necessary to drive the homeless out of town.

That's as backwards of an explanation as I've ever seen. My reading was fine. Your explanation contradicted itself.
Sometimes I'm a Pricknick. Sometimes others are.
Peace.

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

@Cassiodorus
Always wanted to live in California. never could afford it. But you want to give people homes?
Shelter, yes. Homes, no.

Some homeless are just out of work and money. They need jobs.
Others are drug addicts or have criminal records so no one wants to hire them. Either way, they made their own bed.
I wouldn't guarantee a non-crippled adult anything but a job.

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

@The Voice In the Wilderness Not shelters.
Guarantee safety and privacy.
They need to go home after they work 10 hours at minimum wage "guaranteed" jobs, eat some Ramen noodles, then do it again the next day.
We treat homeless people as some class of worthless humanity.
Is there any way to achieve personal dignity, safety, and security besides work? I hear this work or die in a ditch chat constantly. When did work become the measure of a man?

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@The Voice In the Wilderness
but a permanent real residence) to someone who does have a job?

In a market system, there will always be people who work hard and cannot afford rent. That's simply the nature of the Supply/Demand curve dogma.

In the long run, in a capitalist system that permits unlimited wealth accumulation without protecting some sort of fundamental, universal right to an above-subsistence material living, almost everybody will end up dwelling at best in tenement slums, at worst in their (broken-down) vehicles or cardboard boxes and tattered tents -- because all of the wealth will eventually accumulate in the hands of a very small number of people. And yes, I mean all of the wealth. That is the nature of geometric growth.

The most fundamental principle of the philosophy I label "progressive" is that aggressive government action is necessary to override the actions of the markets, in order to provide the basics of a physically decent living to 100% of the population.

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The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

thanatokephaloides's picture

@UntimelyRippd

In the long run, in a capitalist system that permits unlimited wealth accumulation without protecting some sort of fundamental, universal right to an above-subsistence material living, almost everybody will end up dwelling at best in tenement slums, at worst in their (broken-down) vehicles or cardboard boxes and tattered tents -- because all of the wealth will eventually accumulate in the hands of a very small number of people. And yes, I mean all of the wealth. That is the nature of geometric growth.

OmiGoat, Untimely, you've mastered subtraction! /s Biggrin

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

@thanatokephaloides

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The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

thanatokephaloides's picture

@UntimelyRippd

It's a lost art amongst economists.

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

@thanatokephaloides @thanatokephaloides That it is not capitalism per se. It is the corporate entity that is the means by which people can amass vast amounts of wealth in a capitalist system that creates the evils in the system.

There is one purpose and one purpose only for a person to incorporate. That is to avoid personal liability -- which means passing all the losses that person generates onto some other person or the public at large.

But here is another thing people fail to recognize. Corporations can do this to socialist governments as well. Socialist governments are not immune to the evils that corporations cause.

The corporate entity, (which ironically is a government creation, since only a government can issue a corporate charter), with the wealth it acquires by avoiding personal responsibility for its owners, corrupts and undermines all governments, regardless of the type of government it is.

And now that corporations are global, they can corrupt capitalistic governments and socialist governments and anything in between, simultaneously.

The prototype was the international bank. Now all corporations follow the model once they get large enough to operate in a second country.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@davidgmillsatty Two problems:

1) at every step of the commodity production process, the capitalist looks for "cheap nature" -- some portion of the world that can be bought cheaply and sold at a greater cost to the consumer. The end result is a cheapening of the world -- cheap labor, pollution, devastated landscapes, raw materials shortages, broken societies of mentally and physically ill people. A harmonious nature would require a different process.

2) when you have a system based on wage labor, you see whole lives based on the pursuit of money -- because money is that which can purchase those things in the world which people value. Thus "value" as such becomes an autonomous process ruling people's lives -- you end up designing every aspect of your life to be of "value" to someone who's willing to pay for your services. And even then you aren't guaranteed any money. This is no way to live a life.

And finally one caveat:

3) The dominant form taken by business in the antebellum United States was not the corporation but rather the partnership. The antebellum United States was a society of drunken "Christians" whose business was stealing land from native peoples and gambling it away in Ponzi schemes. Half of it was a vast prison camp holding "slaves." It wasn't corporations that made that version of capitalism work.

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"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

thanatokephaloides's picture

@davidgmillsatty

When will people begin to understand That it is not capitalism per se.

Never, as in fact it is "capitalism per se". And that fact remains true whether or not corporations are in the mix.

Capitalism utterly requires limitless economic growth in order to continue to function in any way. We live on a finite Planet whose carrying capacity for humans has already been exceeded, especially if one eliminates GMO crops and chemically enhanced agriculture, as we soon must.

Energy and shelter are already doing what food soon will -- too scarce and expensive to afford for all too many of us.

Capitalism's solution to poverty, "employment", is failing miserably as the ultimate Ponzi scheme, population expansion, continues to cheapen labor with respect to the costs of laborers' needs. It is no accident that purchasers of labor always go to the most overpopulated countries to buy; labor is always cheapest in such places. Meanwhile, employments disappear from the purchasers' own countries as those laborers can't compete for price against the virtual slaves in the worst overpopulated lands.

Do the math. (Hence, my remark to Untimely Ripped about subtraction.)

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

@thanatokephaloides The mistake you make is that you think some form of government will solve this problem. My point is that as long as there are international corporations no government on earth can solve the problem no matter what kind it is. Corporations can corrupt any kind. And I don't necessarily agree with your premise since there has never been capitalism without corporations. There is no way to know whether the ills you mention are destructive in a capitalism system that does not have corporations. It has never been tried.

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thanatokephaloides's picture

@davidgmillsatty

The mistake you make is that you think some form of government will solve this problem.

I'm not aware of ever having asserted that these problems, demonstrably inherent in all forms of capitalism, are soluble in any way. Frankly, I don't believe they are soluble, at least not at current levels of human overpopulation.

My point is that as long as there are international corporations no government on earth can solve the problem no matter what kind it is. Corporations can corrupt any kind.

Corporations have nothing to do with the existence of these problems. (I will concede to you that they can seriously exacerbate them, however.) The need of capitalism for limitless expansion is baked-in from the start, and would still be unabated even if all capitalists worldwide were individual natural biological persons.

And I don't necessarily agree with your premise since there has never been capitalism without corporations. There is no way to know whether the ills you mention are destructive in a capitalism system that does not have corporations. It has never been tried.

False, As Cassiodorus correctly stated above, prior to the age of the US Civil War, profit corporations were almost unknown, and personal proprietorships and personal partnerships were the norm in business organization. The corporation as we know it today was a late 19th Century invention, invented by the greediest capitalists of the time to protect their personal assets from the liabilities incurred by the businesses which created those personal assets. Capitalism itself is much older than that, and the problems we decry and discuss were all fully present.

Corporate organization has nothing to do with the problems' existence. The problems were all there first.

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

@thanatokephaloides @thanatokephaloides Actually corporations were well established before the United States became a country. In the Boston Tea Party, the colonials threw the tea of the East India Tea Company in the harbor. It was already a global corporation.

Corporations came to being as a result of feudalism dying. It was just another device to make sure the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor.

We have never had capitalism without them. In early America charters were only granted for twenty years and then expired. They could be revoked sooner than that. Any renewal usually required a vote by the legislature of the incorporating state upon a showing that the continued existence of the corporation was in the best interests of the state or its citizens.

Over time, the corporations, using their power and wealth changed the laws to permit charters in perpetuity. They can still be revoked, but if a corporation has the money and will to prevent revocation, revocation can be difficult. And there are always other states or countries that will issue charters now.

If you are going to create economies at the level of the person, good luck with that. Humans are greedy and self serving. Let me know when genetic engineering fixers that. Otherwise you are advocating for a society that has never existed.

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@davidgmillsatty Seem now to be off considerably. In most countries, births are not at replacement levels now. Most places are in population decline.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@davidgmillsatty that there were corporations "back then." Doing away with the likes of the East India Company, however, wouldn't have changed the antebellum United States a whole lot. It's still a big counter-example that would seemingly demand that you compromise your argument a bit.

as for:

Humans are greedy and self serving.

The "humans" who lived here before their land was stolen by European invaders (spreading smallpox, influenza, and measles) were not "greedy and self serving." They were, as were the European invaders, largely products of the cultural milieus they grew up in. Within those cultural contexts SOME of them might have been "greedy and self-serving," but there's a difference between being part of a culture in which being "greedy and self-serving" is necessary for any sort of social status that isn't inherited, and a culture where the rules are different. Capitalist societies combine the misery of dependency upon inheritance with the additional misery of having to sell one's labor-power to the greedy and self-serving.

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"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

@Cassiodorus You obviously have a misunderstanding of what happened with the Native American population, at least with respect to the US. By 1620, the plagues that were primarily caused by the animals the Spaniards had brought over had wiped out about 90% of the native Americans before the English got here. The native population had only domesticated the llama and barely it. They had no immunity to the horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, dogs, cats, etc., that the Europeans had domesticated had had lived with for millennia.

This was a genocide but not really intentional. Yes there were few isolated incidents where the colonists did deplorable things with the diseases you mentioned. But the native American population had been decimated by 90% before the English got here. If they had not been wiped out, the colonists would have been so vastly outnumbered they would have never been able to colonize the US.

So your whole premise is wrong. But if anything it supports my argument that human nature and greed will corrupt any economic system.

Incidentally, it was bison's susceptibility to diseases carried by European cattle that wiped out the bison and it was the American chestnut's susceptibility to the Chinese chestnut's fungus that wiped out four billion American chestnut trees between 1904 and 1950. Many life forms in the Americas were simply not immune to the diseases of Europe, Asia and Africa.

Here is a good Wikipedia article on the native American plagues:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_history_of_indigenous_peoples_o...

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Cassiodorus's picture

@davidgmillsatty BEFORE declaring me wrong. We don't disagree in the details you mentioned above, at least not yet. Okay?

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"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

@Cassiodorus I guess I disagree with your claim that the land was stolen. If it was not occupied, it was not stolen. Let's assume that there were nine million native Americans who occupied both continents in 1620 per the Wikipedia article. Do you think they actually occupied all of that land for colonists to steal?

If nine million people think they are entitled to own these two continents, I think that could be described as greedy.

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snoopydawg's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

with no strings attached and even gave them free support to clean up their addictions or mental health issues. They found that this saved the city more money than just putting them in homeless shelters that were over run and not safe for many people and mostly women.

But then there's that free stuff that poor people think they are entitled to right? Meanwhile the rich get another tax break, the banks are getting more bailouts, the war machine is getting more equipment that the military doesn't need or even want and congresses everywhere in this failed banana republic are getting richer per hour.

Well look here:

'Another Gift' to Big Business as Trump Treasury Moves to Eliminate Rules Against Corporate Tax Avoidance

President Donald Trump's Treasury Department on Thursday took the first step toward eliminating remaining regulations designed to prevent corporations from avoiding U.S. taxes by storing profits overseas, a move critics decried as yet another harmful giveaway to big business.

I rest my case.

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The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

The Ostrich should be the national bird not the Eagle

Cassiodorus's picture

@snoopydawg

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"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

ppnortney's picture

@Pricknick

I found your comment mystifying as I had no difficulty interpreting OP's intent as you apparently did. Maybe it was the parenthetical word you omitted in your quote:

There are also places in California where the city councils won't put forth the (nasty) effort necessary to drive the homeless out of their town

But even if that had not been enough of a clue to the point OP was trying to make, the piece as a whole assuredly was.

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The smaller the mind the greater the conceit. --Aesop

Cassiodorus's picture

@ppnortney In case there was any confusion.

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"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

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janis b's picture

Originating on the east coast, my impression of California was of a distant, foreign place, where some individuals and families from here chose to recreate life in a style more reflective of freedom and opportunity. In retrospect it seems as if it was all a dream; the sky’s the limit, the sunshine endless, and life eternal.

Have you read Steinbeck’s, To a God Unknown?

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Before the advent of the car cities were built in a topological sane organization, favoring walking, and public transportation. California was developed after the car became the dominant means of personal transportation and therefore built metropolitan areas of enormous sprawl. Other areas had the advantage of older cities with an established central core. But they too were destroyed by suburban sprawl, but not to the extreme of CA.

Now add capitalism to this and for the last 40 years all of the fruits of economic growth have gone to the richest Americans, meanwhile the middle class got nothing. Houses became nothing but a speculative "investment" game for the banks and the rich. Add that all together and California now imitates a third world country where the vast majority of her people can't afford to live there.

Now add the global climate crisis, a product of the automobile, oil, and capitalism. California is on the leading edge of the extinction crisis. Wildfires are a predictable outcome as temperatures rise, and vegetation loses moisture content. And then it rains and the grasses and shrubs grow at a furious rate only to dry out and provide more fuel for the next fire. This is a permanent situation. California's only solution is to hire more fire fighters, buy more equipment and improve their techniques. This is a model for the rest of us as the effects of the global climate crisis begin to set in.

On the East coast we are just beginning to deal with sea level rise (SLR). The dirty "R" word is Retreat. We are going to have a cultural tsunami as we come to the realization that we have to begin to abandon some of the most expensive real estate. The realization that government will not do anything to prevent SLR, or to compensate owners will come as a shock and people will become angry and refuse to deal with the situation.

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Capitalism has always been the rule of the people by the oligarchs. You only have two choices, eliminate them or restrict their power.

@The Wizard

Where humans concentrate all their shit in one place. People have lost touch with the natural world.

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I lived in San Jose about 20 years ago for several months working in high tech. Even then things were crazy. Santa Clara had a teacher shortage so Intel started a lottery to help pay for rent for people just beginning their careers. Stanford Medical nurses went on strike as they could not afford health care!!! My rent was the same as my current mortgage for a one bedroom dump apartment. Apartments taken sight unseen when they hit the market (which was rarely). I knew people who hit the stock option lottery and made a ton of bucks who could not find newer bigger homes and just spent a ton of money re-modeling their current homes. People renting out at night a small part of the floor of their apartment for a place to sleep--and then in the morning these people working at whatever job. Reminded me of Soviet apartments. Man, crappy outside, but inside apartments just elegant. Don't remember seeing any homeless at the time. the only sign of homelessness were small mobile homes/travel trailers parked in strangest places. I suspect the first wave of homeless were working people living in cars, mobile homes, trailers, etc. From a mini-dystopia to a full grown adult dystopia.

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"On the East coast we are just beginning to deal with sea level rise (SLR). The dirty "R" word is Retreat. We are going to have a cultural tsunami as we come to the realization that we have to begin to abandon some of the most expensive real estate."

Sea Level Rise--you can see for yourself what is happening with sea levels world-wide and in the U.S. on the NOAA website: https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_global.html

There are a few interesting things to take note of. As measured by tidal gauges, sea level rise varies, depending on where you are. In Stockholm, the sea level actually declines--this is because the land is rising relative to the sea. In Sydney, Australia, sea level has been pretty steady since the 19th century. The east coast of the U.S. is tending to sink, so the sea level is rising, though at a slow pace--about 1.5 to 2 millimeters per year.

One thing tidal gauge sea level measurements do not show is a recent acceleration of sea level rise. I have looked at the data from virtually all of the sites reported by NOAA. None of them show any acceleration of sea level rise in recent decades. Things have been steady, world wide, since the 19th century. Where then do the warnings of increasing sea level rise come from? Computer projections of climate change. These projections may or may not be correct. There are scientific papers that claim recent acceleration of sea level rise, based on satellite measurements of sea level. But measuring millimeters of sea level rise via satellite involves so many fudge factors (the sea is rough, satellite orbits decay, etc.) that the results are not trustworthy. And they certainly do not match the data, going back to the 19th century, from tidal gauges.

Just a few items for thought about a complicated issue....

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@out of left field @out of left field
In Miami Streets have gauges that tell people how deep the water is so they know whether it's safe to drive through. It floods every king tide. Annapolis used to need sand bags on rare occasions. Now it seems like every week. All across the eastern seaboard beaches would be disappearing if communities didn't dredge sand every other year to replace whats washed away. They increase the size of sand dunes too in order to protect property. In Dewey Beach between Rehobeth and Ocean City the side roads off Route 1 often have several inches of water. I spent many weeks there as a child and teen and never saw it happen except once when we left just ahead of a hurricane.

CA is burning up. A large portion of the agricultural Midwest was under water well into planting season. The Arctic Ocean is virtually ice free during the summer months. You can cruise the Northwest Passage in a full sized ocean liner. This was not normal 10 years ago. Welcome to climate change.

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@FuturePassed Cities need fresh water and they usually get it from aquifers. What happens when you pump more water from the aquifer than nature adds? You get subsidence.

I remember back in the 60's hearing that Houston, Texas had subsided fifteen feet. I grew up in Galveston, which is fifty miles south of Houston, but it is an island. Galveston's water was not potable. Much too brackish. So Galveston had to have its water pumped from wells on the mainland. Galveston hasn't subsided at all. Tide gauges are still essentially the same as they always have been.

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@out of left field The models and projections are not matching the data. Death Valley, as an example, has not come close in recent history, to matching its hottest temperature recorded in the 1930's. There are examples like this all over the world. Just look at the maximum temperature of your state. See when it was. You will be surprised.

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I read a wonderful idea proposed by a friend and board member of my local rural electric coop. He is also a staunch conservative. It went something like this. PG&Es rate payers should each buy a share or two of the company. At $6.68 a share most people could afford one or two. Once enough stock has been bought up they should perform a hostile take over and go co-op. He is even willing to pony up enough to buy 100 shares to give to people who might be stretched thin coming up with $7. He suggested the rest of us do the same. He was dead serious. Co-op electric is technically socialism but it is citizen socialism not run by the government. Although some people seem to lump public utilities in with government they actually have nothing to do with it. At least that is the explanation he gave. Must of worked. He has commitments of $16,000 in a little over 12 hours. This place tends to be a sea of red. Even the irritating Trumpsters are ponying up.

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"I don't know where your tidal gauges are located."

Go to the NOAA website and you will find where the tidal gauges are located. That is why I gave the link in my post: https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_global.html

"Miami Streets have gauges that tell people how deep the water is so they know whether it's safe to drive through. It floods every king tide."

A large portion of Miami was built on reclaimed swamp land. That land is gradually sinking. Combine that with unusually high tides and the result is predictable. But a local problem like that is not proof of world-wide catastrophic sea level rise.

"CA is burning up. A large portion of the agricultural Midwest was under water well into planting season. The Arctic Ocean is virtually ice free during the summer months. You can cruise the Northwest Passage in a full sized ocean liner. This was not normal 10 years ago. Welcome to climate change."

California has always had wildfires. However, in the past the population was smaller and there were not so many people living in areas that tend to burn. According to U.S. Forest Service records, the western U.S. had nearly five times as many acres burnt by fire in the 1920's and 1930's as happens now. Also, in the 1920's, Arctic summer ice had declined to the point where the Northwest Passage was navigable--this was reported by Roald Amundsen, the explorer who had been the first to reach the South Pole. There was actually concern during the 1920's that the Greenland ice sheet would melt sufficiently to cause sea level rise and coastal flooding. However, after 1940, the warming in the Arctic peaked and the weather became colder, and Arctic ice became thicker. Indeed, by the late 1960's, scientists were concerned that a new ice age might be just around the corner--a group of about 40 climate scientists wrote to President Nixon, telling him of their concerns. It was not until the late 1970's that the cold in the Arctic snapped and the warming trend we are in now started.

What does this all mean? Claims that the weather events we see now are unprecedented are false. We have always had storms, wild fires, droughts, floods, etc. There is concern that our burning of fossil fuels may be altering the climate, and that concern is not misplaced. But the current tendency in the media to blame every adverse weather event on climate change is not based on data that is derived from real observations. Climate change has become a hot political issue, and there are powerful interests who are interested parties. We know how the mainstream media lie to us and propagandize about other political issues. Why should they behave any differently here? Watchfulness and skepticism are in order.

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@out of left field Preach it.

You haven't even mentioned the sun and what many astrophysicists are saying about its role in climate. Since I have been observing sun data for thirteen or fourteen years, I can tell you this. It is not the solar constant we once thought. It's rise and fall in the strength of the solar winds may significantly affect our climate. Solar winds protect us from galactic cosmic rays. And we now know that these cosmic rays enhance cloud formation. The greater the cosmic radiation, the greater number and size of clouds, which cause the earth to cool.

Apparently for most of the twentieth century we had reduced cosmic rays because the solar winds were stronger than in past centuries. So we had fewer clouds than in previous centuries. Fewer clouds meant a warmer earth. Recently cosmic radiation has increased once again and the earth has become more cloudy. This could have a cooling effect on the earth. Here is a graph of the cosmic radiation change from Thule, Greenland.

http://cr0.izmiran.ru/scripts/nm64queryD.dll/thul?PD=1&title=Thule&dt=0&...

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