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

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.  Continue reading

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…

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. Continue reading

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

Notice the crowd reaction to this one …

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

 

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…

Hispanic Children Now Largest Number of Poor in America

One is six American children are now living in poverty…

Isn’t it time to raise some hell in this country?

Hispanic Children Make Up Largest Share Of Poor Children In U.S.

The largest group of poor children isn’t white for the first time in U.S. history, according to a Pew report released Wednesday.

There were 6.1 million Latino children living in poverty in 2010, that’s 37.3 percent of all of the nation’s poor children, compared with 30.5 percent who were white and 26.2 percent who were black, according to the report. The Great Recession, which pushed increasing numbers of American children into poverty, hit Latino families especially hard, the report found.

The unemployment rate among Latinos is currently 11.1 percent, significantly higher than the national rate of 9.1 percent. And the high jobless rate is affecting their kids; twenty-five percent of children in black and Hispanic families had one unemployed or underemployed parent last year, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Hispanic households were also devastated by the foreclosure crisis; almost half of the victims of loan modification scams were Hispanic, African American or Asian, according to a report from the Homeownership Preservation Foundation.

The pain has yet to end. Seventeen percent of Latinos lost their home or were at risk of losing it in June 2010, according to a CNN Money analysis of Center for Responsible Lending Data. That’s compared to 11 percent of African American homeowners and 7 percent of white homeowners, according to CNN Money.

The foreclosure and jobs crisis exacerbated Hispanic child poverty rates, according to the Pew report. An additional 1.6 million Latino children were pushed into poverty between 2007 and 2010, a boost of 36.3 percent. By comparison, the ranks of white children living in poverty swelled by 17.6 percent, while the number of black children living in poverty grew by 11.7 percent.

In addition to economic woes, high birth rates among Hispanics living in the U.S. may also explain why Hispanic children make up the largest share of children living in poverty, the Pew report found. Hispanic children make up 23.1 percent of the nation’s children, due mostly to their high birther rates, according to the Pew report.

The rise in Hispanic children living in poverty is part of a larger trend of a rise in child poverty since the recession. One in four U.S. children under six are living in poverty, according to the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. And that rise isn’t limited to pockets of the country.Child poverty rose in 38 states in the last decade, a report released last month by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found.

The boost in child poverty is indicative of the rise in poverty in the nation as a whole. The U.S. poverty rate increased last year to 15.1 percent, according to Census data released earlier this month. The ranks of the nation’s poor swelled to 46.2 million, the most since the agency began keeping track.

Why Republicans Are Afraid of Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren was brought in by the Obama Administration to develop the Consumer Protection Agency. Once it was set up – Republicans went to war to keep her from running it.

They were scared…Here’s why -

Cornel West Interview By Martin Bashir – “Wall Street Greed”

I am coming to feel that Martin Bashir is by far, MSNBC’s best interviewer. Bashir is on point, is aware of the facts, and is willing to confront bull.

In this clip, Cornel West discusses Obama’s recent discovery of a spine (the verdict is still out on that one), the vast wealth and income disparity that is a legacy of Raygun, and the need for Civil Disobedience to fight back …

American Tent Cities

What is the difference between Picture 1 and Picture 2?

But they live here and allowed me inside

Picture 1

 

Picture 2

 

Picture 1 is in America – right here in New Jersey. It, and the “Tent City” it is in, are all some luckless Americans have to live in anymore.  Picture 2 is of a Tent City in Haiti.

They, a poor country to begin with,  suffered a massive earthquake, destroying tens of thousands of homes and villages… These Americans are trying to survive the impact of conservatism in America, where our country’s jobs and manufacturing have been sold to the lowest bidder, and 28% of the Middle Class has fallen into poverty. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, with no chance of getting them back anytime soon. Millions of Americans have lost their homes due to predatory lending and the bust of the Credit bubble. Millions try and survive without Healthcare.

It is the Second Great Depression.

I see Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas leading in the Republican Primaries bragging on his Texas Economic Miracle…

Except it seems that the Texas Economic Miracle is about as fake as the Texas Education Miracle under the last Texas Governor to run for the Presidency.

Texas ranks 6th in terms of people living in poverty. Some 18.4% of Texans were impoverished in 2010, up from 17.3% a year earlier, according to Census Bureau data released this week. The national average is 15.1%.

And being poor in Texas isn’t easy. The state has one of the lowest rates of spending on its citizens per capita and the highest share of those lacking health insurance. It doesn’t provide a lot of support services to those in need: Relatively few collect food stamps and qualifying for cash assistance is particularly tough.

Lot of folks figured out former Governor, former President Bush was “all hat an no cattle” to borrow a Texas phrase. Seems that Governor Perry doesn’t even have the “hat” part right.

Which is why the Tea Party Republicans are trying so hard to sell racism against the nation’s first black President…

Instead of politics.

 

 

Moodys – Obama Plan Grows US Economy and Adds Jobs

Well, the first of the Credit Ratings Companies has stepped in with basically an AAA rating…

My only real complaint about the speech is WTF is it proposed to spend $140 Billion in putting construction workers to work?

Seems to me that money would be better spent on putting unemployed college grads back to work on something like the Kennedy Space Program, which drove economic growth in the world based on technological advances for 40 years.

Moody’s: Obama plan would add 1.9M jobs

President Barack Obama’s $447 billion job-creation plan would likely add 1.9 million payroll jobs and grow the U.S. economy 2 percent, a leading economist said.

The plan, which Obama outlined before a joint session of Congress Thursday, would likely cut the unemployment rate by a percentage point, Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi said as Obama prepared to tout the plan at Virginia’s University of Richmond.

Obama is scheduled to speak at the university’s 9,000-seat Robins Center arena, home to the university’s Spiders basketball, at 11:35 a.m. EDT, the White House said.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. — who criticized the tone of Obama’s Thursday address but told CNBC he applauded some proposals, including “business tax relief, reducing red tape, working to try and streamline the infrastructure spending in this country” — will be in Richmond Friday holding his own jobs event.

More than half of Obama’s proposal consists of payroll-tax cuts for employees and employers — an idea the White House said it hoped would appeal to Republican lawmakers.

Advisers told The Washington Post Obama would blame Republicans for the jobs crisis if they don’t accept his proposal.

The proposal would cut in half the employers’ payroll tax for businesses’ first $5 million of wages. Businesses adding new workers or increasing wages up to $50 million would have payroll taxes completely eliminated.

The plan would expand the payroll tax cut passed last year to cut workers’ payroll taxes in half in 2012 — a tax cut of $1,500 to the typical family earning $50,000 a year. This would not hurt Social Security funding, Obama said.

The plan further calls for more than $62 billion in spending to extend unemployment insurance benefits through 2012 and let people unemployed for six months or more work for up to eight weeks while also receiving unemployment benefits.

About 14 million Americans are unemployed and the jobless rate, currently 9.1 percent, is widely expected to be above 8 percent in late 2012.

Obama also proposed $140 billion in infrastructure spending and aid to states — including cash for hiring teachers and refurbishing schools — as well as a $10 billion infrastructure bank and $50 billion for transportation projects.

White House officials said the proposed plan, known as the American Jobs Act, was deliberately constructed from policies that previously won bipartisan support.

“The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple — to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working,” Obama said in his 32-minute speech.

“It will create more jobs for construction workers, more jobs for teachers, more jobs for veterans and more jobs for long-term unemployed,” he said.

World Stocks Fall On Fears Tea Baggers Will Kill Jobs Bill

Now looking to do for the world what they have done for the US in damaging US creditworthiness…

Foreign Investors join their American counterparts in  no longer believing Tea Party majority US Congress will do the right things for the US or World economy.

The Tea Baggers are idealoges, clinging to a thoroughly discredited mantra bent on destroying the Governemnt – and who are doing, and have done more damage to the United States…

Than Al Quaeda.

That “credible terrorist threat” reported by Law Enforcement on the 10th anniversay of 9-11 isn’t radicalized Muslims…

It’s radicalized Republicans.

World Stocks Fall On Fears That U.S. Jobs Plan Will Stall In Congress

World stocks fell Friday on investor worries that a U.S. plan to stimulate jobs and growth will be held up in Congress and may not be followed fast enough by action from the Federal Reserve.

The euro hit six-month lows against the dollar and the yen with more falls likely after the European Central Bank shifted away from further rises in interest rates, a key driver in the single currency’s rally this year.

U.S. shares were poised for a weaker open, extending Thursday’s falls after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke left the door open for new stimulus measures but stopped short of signaling the central bank would take the plunge.

Markets are concerned that President Barack Obama’s proposed $447 billion package of tax cuts and spending plans aimed at boosting growth and job creation could be hamstrung by political wrangling.

“Investors are holding back…There isn’t any reason to commit until you can see credible policies,” Justin Urquhart Stewart, director at Seven Investment Management, said.

“Bernanke was never going to say anything. He made it clear at Jackson Hole he was pushing it back to the politicians. Obama has come up with this stimulus package. We now have to digest what effect this will have, assuming it is passed.”

European shares fell as much as 1.1 percent, pulling down the MSCI world equity index 0.7 percent. S&P index futures were last down 0.6 percent, pointing to a lower start on Wall Street.

Market confidence has been fragile this week due to growing concerns over the global economy and Europe’s debt crisis, with Friday’s deadline for bond holders to decide on Greece’s swap offer adding to the nervousness.

Pass This Bill. NOW!

Great speech as usual last night by the President. Once again he is trying to thread a path though a minefield by appeasing Republicans, and trying to shame them into doing something positive for the country.

He still doesn’t “Get It”.

Insofar as creating jobs, the payroll tax reduction is a joke. The Bush tax giveaways got us into this mess in the first place.

You raise taxes, including on the wealthy. You raise taxes on companies offshoring. And you eliminate loopholes which allow corporations and over half the American public to avoid paying any tax – especially any loophole that allows corporations not to invest in American job growth. That is the prescription Reagan followed to get the country back on its feet.

We are a tech and services economy. While the country’s infrastructure is crumbling and needs a serious repair -more construction jobs don’t either build or help the economy. What I had hoped for as a bold vision like Kennedy’s “put a man on the moon” which would drive tech and scientific development for the next 30 years and put our economic core back to work.

 

 

Jim Hoffa re: Tea Party – “Lets Take These SOBs Out!”

Labor in this country has suffered a gradual erosion since Raygun’s firing of the Air Traffic Controllers in ’82. The Republican Party – and in particular it’s new right wing owner, the Tea Party wants a fight with Organized Labor  - and in every state where they control the State House have introduced anti-Union legislation. Gone are the days when labor could stop every truck in the country from rolling through the Teamsters…

Gone also are the days when Rush Limbaugh could play racial politics to fool white Teamsters into believing their livelihoods, neighborhood, and way of life were threatened by minorities instead of the real beast at the door…

Conservatives selling their children’s  middle class status down the river to China or India.

Now Jimmy Hoffa may or may not be the guy who can tap into that middle class frustration and anger, as he represents one piece of the middle class in America. But I think President Obama can light that fuse – and it is way past time to have lit that fuse to get Americans to stand up against those who have sold America into Third World decline.

Black folks had better be in the middle of this, because it is your jobs and future which are at stake. The black community (along with the Hispanic community) have been devastated by the loss of Public Sector, manufacturing, and service jobs in America – and now have unemployment rates at least twice that of the majority population – and in Urban areas 4 to 5 times higher.

The only real issue is whether President Obama has the cajones to stand up this time, or is he going to roll over again at the first sign of conservative disapproval?

And on that revolves whether Obama will be a one termer or not.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 133 other followers