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Signs of Life in Detroit

Been hearing rumbles of this for a while. The first thing I heard about was some very creative groups working in the area of urban farming, who were leading the country with revolutionary concepts on hanging urban landscapes. It appears that Detroit may be “catching fire” again with creative talent, drawn by the low rent, and possibilities to chart their own space.

Two years ago, the renowned graffiti artist Revok moved from LA to Detroit Josh Harkinson

Graffiti Artist Revok

Detroit may be down… But it ain’t dead quite yet.

How to Bring Detroit Back From the Grave

“Warning! This city is infested by crackheads. Secure your belongings and pray for your life.” So reads a hand-scrawled sign just off I-75 in Detroit, where a post-apocalyptic cityscape of looted and charred homes has come to represent a sort of sarcophagus of the American Dream.

But beyond simply fueling murders and bribery scandals, decades of hard times have finally birthed new signs of life here in the Motor City, as its gritty neighborhoods attract a burgeoning community of artists, hipsters, and socially minded entrepreneurs. “With a little bit of motivation, you can make anything happen here,” says Jason Williams, a.k.a. Revok, a renowned Los Angeles graffiti artist turned Detroiter, whose lively murals adorn walls not far from the crackhead sign. “It’s all about the reality that you create for yourself.”

For those willing to brave the nation’s most dangerous major city, Detroit offers a tight-knit and successful creative community. The birthplace of Motown and techno still manages to turn out chart-busting artists like Eminem and Jack White. And growing numbers of bohemians have found that a few thousand dollars will buy them a classic brick townhouse or a loft in an art-deco skyscraper. Where old buildings have fallen, hundreds of urban gardens sprout.

Detroit is hardly the first city to lure urban homesteaders with access to cheap and artfully crumbling buildings. The same formula revitalized (and eventually gentrified) neighborhoods such as the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and San Francisco’s Mission and Dogpatch districts. The big difference in Detroit, however, is that its economy blew a rod long ago, triggering an exodus of more than half the city’s population—last year, it lost another 28,000 people. Barely a quarter of those who remain have a degree from a four-year college. During my recent visit, local elected leaders were warning that the city could run out of money—within the week.

Last year, in Guernica magazine, Wayne State literature professor John Patrick Leary cautioned against what he called “Detroitism,” the fetish for urban decay mixed with utopianism, “where bohemians from expensive coastal cities can have the $100 house and community garden of their dreams.” But Detroit offers much more. Here is a city that foretold the woes of America’s middle class—and spent decades searching for a path out of its recessionary wilderness. Forget the clichés about heirloom tomatoes and check out these four examples of creative Detroiters who are making a difference

The Power House Gina Reichert

Meet the Power House and the new “Hood Cat” changing neighborhoods a brick at a time

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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Revenge of the Rust Belt

So now that US Industries have woken up – and finally started realizing that producing many products is cheaper in America…

Where are the new factories going?

Turns out, a majority of them are moving right back where they came from…

The Rust Belt.

During the 80’s and 90’s a lot of American business followed the cattle herd mentality in migrating manufacturing to China – or the next “best” onshore location – the American South. Now I don’t know if it was because at the time, Wall Street was sucking up all the smart MBAs with promises of making millions – or a failure in groupthink…

But a whole bunch of somebodies forgot to put the ancillary costs of offshoring into the equation. From lead laced toys damaging babies, to diaphanous intellectual property protections, to drywall which killed people because of the use of cheaper – poisonous chemicals… The real cost of manufacturing in China is much higher than the wage level would indicate. Thank goodness some folks finally got a clue.

The issue in the South is productivity. American productivity far surpasses that of any other country – and is significantly higher than Chinas. So while the payroll part of manufacturing in China is cheaper – the cost per completed piece is actually higher. Same issue in the South. When you start looking at where your educated workforce is…

It isn’t by and large …There. Meaning productivity is again higher in those old tried and true rust belt states. Further is the cost of conservatives. That is – as long as southern conservatives are dedicated to fighting the Civil War – the number of discrimination lawsuits, and level of employee friction is going to be through the roof, hampering full productivity. Lastly – as recent laws introduced and passed by conservative red state legislatures – such as the anti-immigrant legislation in Georgia where the state’s agricultural workforce was decimated…

You don’t know what stupid, business killing thing they are going to come up with next. Like declaring war on your largest foreign customer.

It’s early – but the “Rust Belt” right about now is looking pretty damn good.

The Revenge of the Rust Belt: How the Midwest Got Its Groove Back

We’re not used to thinking of the old industrial Midwest as a beacon of good news. Just the opposite. It’s Exhibit A in the story of America’s economic decline — a land of hollowed-out factory towns and shrinking cities. There’s an entire genre of photography dedicated to Detroit’s decaying cityscape alone.

Yet, it may be time to rethink that view. Because there are signs that the heart of the rust belt may be finally shaking off its rust.

For the past thirty years or so, there have been two great running narratives about American manufacturing, both of which have been disastrous for the Midwest’s economy. The first has been about the disappearing factory worker — how by shipping some jobs abroad and replacing others with machines, companies have figured out ways to produce more goods with millions of fewer employees on their assembly lines. The second narrative has been about migration — the decision by companies to move production away from once-booming industrial centers of the north, to southern states with weaker unions and lower wages.

Both of those trends, it appears, may have drawn to an end.  Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2012 in News

 

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If There Were a 1% Debate… MLK vs. Romney

What would MLK do? What would MLK say?

There is very little evidence that MLK would have anything good to say about today’s Republican Party. Indeed – for many folks today’s Republican have gone about as low as you can go.

Here is a mash up of points by MLK and “Willard” Romney…

 

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Rising Like a Phoenix? US Economy…

World power swings back to AmericaThis may well just continue to work and turn the US economy around…

As long as conservatives don’t get elected to screw it up.

The fact is, it has now become cheaper to manufacture many products in the US than in China. Those companies who haven’t made plans to “inshore” yet may well be holding losing cards. This could have a net impact on the US economy of over 3 million new jobs in 3 years. Foreign based companies have figured it out, with both Asian and European companies flocking to build plants in America. You add that to the two major “bleeding edge” chip foundries being built right here in America – and there are some fundamental economic changes afoot.

No small contributor to this shift is that energy independence thing. The US isn’t very far from being able to be self-sufficient. There are humongous reserves of Natural Gas in the Midwest, and oil reserves beggaring those in the Middle East in the Gulf of Mexico. This should mean stabilized energy costs, no longer at the whim of some crackpot oil-can Dictator.

China’s counterfeiting and Intellectual theft issues are huge for tech industries, it is also impacting firm’s brand names. I for one, have never been convinced it was ultimately profitable to move any high tech or leading edge product production to China because of the theft issue. It really doesn’t matter if you can make a big screen TV 15 cents cheaper – if the manufacturer is making knockoffs, using your logo, and selling them $100.00 cheaper. I think it’s time to cut the George Bush (pick one) support system for China. They have a huge internal market, and there is no reason their economy should not be strong once the necessary changes are made in how their government works, and business is conducted are made.

World power swings back to America

The American phoenix is slowly rising again. Within five years or so, the US will be well on its way to self-sufficiency in fuel and energy. Manufacturing will have closed the labour gap with China in a clutch of key industries. The current account might even be in surplus.

Assumptions that the Great Republic must inevitably spiral into economic and strategic decline – so like the chatter of the late 1980s, when Japan was in vogue – will seem wildly off the mark by then.

Telegraph readers already know about the “shale gas revolution” that has turned America into the world’s number one producer of natural gas, ahead of Russia.

Less known is that the technology of hydraulic fracturing – breaking rocks with jets of water – will also bring a quantum leap in shale oil supply, mostly from the Bakken fields in North Dakota, Eagle Ford in Texas, and other reserves across the Mid-West.

“The US was the single largest contributor to global oil supply growth last year, with a net 395,000 barrels per day (b/d),” said Francisco Blanch from Bank of America, comparing the Dakota fields to a new North Sea.

Total US shale output is “set to expand dramatically” as fresh sources come on stream, possibly reaching 5.5m b/d by mid-decade. This is a tenfold rise since 2009.

The US already meets 72pc of its own oil needs, up from around 50pc a decade ago. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Save America – Deport a Conservative! Cain and the Unemployed…

Notice the crowd reaction to this one …

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2011 in Black Conservatives

 

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“I Don’t Think They Know What They Dealing With!” Dick Gregory

 

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2011 in Occupy America, The Post-Racial Life

 

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ANOTHER Recession??????

And the whole world walked off a cliff…

Anyone else get the feeling the “experts” don’t have a clue how the economy actually works?

U.S. Economy Tipping into Recession

Early last week, ECRI notified clients that the U.S. economy is indeed tipping into a new recession. And there’s nothing that policy makers can do to head it off.

ECRI’s recession call isn’t based on just one or two leading indexes, but on dozens of specialized leading indexes, including the U.S. Long Leading Index, which was the first to turn down – before the Arab Spring and Japanese earthquake – to be followed by downturns in the Weekly Leading Index and other shorter-leading indexes. In fact, the most reliable forward-looking indicators are now collectively behaving as they did on the cusp of full-blown recessions, not “soft landings.”

Last year, amid the double-dip hysteria, we definitively ruled out an imminent recession based on leading indexes that began to turn up before QE2 was announced. Today, the key is that cyclical weakness is spreading widely from economic indicator to indicator in a telltale recessionary fashion.

Why should ECRI’s recession call be heeded? Perhaps because, as The Economist has noted, we’ve correctly called three recessions without any false alarms in-between. In contrast, most of those who’ve accurately predicted a recession or two have also been guilty of crying wolf – in 2010, 2005, 2003, 1998, 1995, or 1987.

A new recession isn’t simply a statistical event. It’s a vicious cycle that, once started, must run its course. Under certain circumstances, a drop in sales, for instance, lowers production, which results in declining employment and income, which in turn weakens sales further, all the while spreading like wildfire from industry to industry, region to region, and indicator to indicator. That’s what a recession is all about.

But how can we have a new recession just a couple of years after the last one officially ended? Isn’t this too short for an economic expansion?

More than three years ago, before the Lehman debacle, we were already warning of a longstanding pattern of slowing growth: at least since the 1970s, the pace of U.S. growth – especially in GDP and jobs – has been stair-stepping down in successive economic expansions. We expected this pattern to persist in the new economic expansion after the recession ended, and it certainly did. We also pointed out – months before the recession ended – that because the “Great Moderation” of business cycles (from about 1985 to 2007) was now history, the resulting combination of higher cyclical volatility and lower trend growth would virtually dictate an era of more frequent recessions.

So it comes as no surprise to us that, with the latest expansion only a couple of years old, we’re already facing a new recession. Actually, such short expansions are hardly unheard of. From 1799 to 1929, nearly 90% of U.S. expansions lasted three years or less, as did two of the three expansions between 1970 and 1981. In other words, such short expansions are unusual only with respect to recent decades…

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2011 in American Greed

 

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