Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Losing My Religion

I am not sure when my belief in organized Religion fell away but I suspect it was long before the endless revelations of sexual abuse by the hands of Priests, Ministers or other Religious figures; I never lost my faith in the concept of God but I began to question and in turn evaluate those tenants of faith that mark the religion of my choice - Christianity.

I chose my faith as my Parents had no interest in any of it, although my Mother found herself attending the nearby Presbyterian church at the corner of my home as I had discovered the old Church housed a theater group, the La Pense Players so it seemed if not convenient but was also  perfect reflection of how I see God; for it is  in the moments the house lights begin to go down in a Theater and the stage lights before the Actors set foot, for it is in that moment I see God.   Perhaps that is what drew me to the Catholic Church as theater is very much a part of its tradition and history.  But somewhere along the line I did not need a constructed dogma to channel my faith as it was mine and mine alone and I would reconcile that with God.   As for Jesus, he believed he was his son to the point he was willing to die for it, I on the other hand saw him as the world's first Hippie down to the commune. But anyone willing to die for what they believe be that country, freedom or religion, more power to you.

Since moving to Nashville I have found religion to be that which is thrown in my face on a daily basis and I find it repugnant as I see little true behaviors that I believed reflected Christianity, such as generosity, kindness, community and love.  What I have found it is the contrary - greed, cruelty, selfishness, segregation and hate.  It is shocking, no, not really. For all the stereotypes and archetypes we of the North have of the South and of Bible Belt this is one that does not fall far from the tree.

And I of course found that prototype and in turn never cared for an individual more.  I did not love him in a conventional manner nor in a mother/son type,  but in a true spiritual soul mate whom I suspected I knew (and later confirmed) in a past life, the irony being his not mine.  When I realized that is why we connected despite all the opposite flags flying I was willing to drop the guards and fence and open my heart and mind to this young man who for whatever it was worth did not fly said flags fully in my direction and that was also a problem that later crashed this plane firmly to the ground.

At age 60 I was not sure what to make of my loving a person in this spiritual perfectly clean way and I had never believed in my rational mind I would ever find common ground with someone who was on paper the perfect opposite if not antagonist to my protagonist as I would with this young man. Then the outside looked in and of course this being the South the reality was few understood or were willing to believe that innocence and purity were the foundation to this relationship as the South and their ignorance with regards to sex and sexuality falls into prurient and pervert in perfect synchronicity.  So with all eyes on us the reality of it led this beautiful friendship collapse in a way that left me crawling out from under a heap of waste.

I do believe that much of the issue is and was sex.  I have had an interesting sex life that discontinued when a boy of 24 tried to kill me for whatever reason or intent that to this day has never been clear but I have never waivered from the belief that he wanted to kill me as no one would put that mix of drugs, alcohol and allow them to get behind the wheel without wanting to do harm, so when this young man decided to rescind the friendship all the triggers were pulled and my PTSD emerged double time as I was already in move mode and had surgery planned which he all knew so that intent and design was not lost.

But what I have come to know since is the way Religion and a clinging to tradition here in the South play into all interactions - history, legacy, suspicion and of course gender all are all part of how those "from" here see those who are not.  As being the first Northerner whom this young man met he was fascinated, intrigued and of course curious and it led to his commitment to a friendship that again on paper would be a flag that such possibility would be odds that even Vegas may flail against but so it went and I believe both of us grew as a result.  And if one thanks God for that so be it.

Since our falling out for reasons I felt were about Religion but less spoken and more implied I tried to understand why we could not work around that without it affecting what was an important relationship to us both but alas I could not. From a hateful video of a Preacher long dead lecturing on When God Impeaches America I knew then that this friendship was coming to a close.  Then came the talk about how he. believed that sex was for marriage only and for the purpose of procreation that I had to check the calendar to see what year I was living in.  I had never touched the boy sexually and had never seen him in that light but only in a light that was positive and white I could not believe he felt compelled to send both that video to me and to tell me that bullshit I wondered what or why he was so determined to destroy what I believe God had brought to us.  Funny how two people can see God so differently, or not.

But one thing is certain this is about sex and sexuality and the modern day Puritans have cornered the market on fucking their followers over versus fucking them.  While all of the Revelations (not the Biblical kind) with regards to these towering figures are about sex it goes to show that yes absolute power corrupts absolutely and if I can't have mind neither can you.

When I read the below article suddenly it all made sense, the projection, the accusation and the sudden withdrawal.  To be that confused about sex, sexuality and gender relationships does not bode well for this young man's future and to that I say - FUCK IT. I have only so much to give and to take and frankly I can't take it anymore from these religious crackpots, time is only so long as is my patience. The similarities between this man's story and the young man I called a friend cannot be lost. He seems to be and I just wanted to put a trail of breadcrumbs down for him to know he always had a home, it just was not the one he once believed was. I pray for him or at least wish him well he needs wellness.

The Guardian
'I thought losing my virginity would be rape': inside Christian purity guides

The youth movement that swept US churches in the 1990s also spawned many anti-dating books. Now, some writers are losing faith in ‘the Mike Pence rule’

Sian Cain
Tue 30 Jul 2019

‘I have lived in repentance for the past several years’ … Joshua Harris.

Joshua Harris was just 22 in 1997 when he published I Kissed Dating Goodbye, a dating guidebook for young Christians that advised them to do anything but. Dating was a “training ground for divorce”, he argued in the book, which sold almost 1m copies worldwide. It also made Harris a superstar in the Christian purity movement, a pro-abstinence crusade that began in evangelical churches in the 1990s and became well-known in the purity ring-wearing hands of Jessica Simpson and the Jonas Brothers. Many authors came after Harris – John and Stasi Eldredge, Hayley DiMarco, Tim and Beverly LaHaye – all of them in the US, where religious publishing is worth $1.22bn (£1bn) a year.

Now 44, Harris made headlines this week when he revealed he no longer considers himself a Christian. He has been issuing apologies for his own books over the last decade, even making a documentary called I Survived Kissing Dating Goodbye. On his Instagram this week, he wrote: “I have lived in repentance for the past several years – repenting of my self-righteousness, my fear-based approach to life, the teaching of my books, my views of women in the church, and my approach to parenting to name a few.”

Dianna E Anderson, who left the purity movement in her 20s and is the author of Damaged Goods: New Perspectives on Christian Purity, says its relationship guides have inflicted lasting damage on young people desperate to preserve their holiness while battling hormones.

“As a woman, I was taught that women don’t feel or experience desire, so I suppressed any and all thoughts along that way, to the point where I was practically asexual all the way up until I was 23, and I didn’t date until I was 25,” she says. “Turns out it’s really hard to date when you’re a super-repressed purity-obsessed evangelical.”

Most Christian purity guidebooks dish out similar advice. The golden rule: no sex before marriage, ever. The relationships are always heterosexual and monogamous, while the sex is always deeply conventional – a mindset that has left a generation of Christian teens muddled on the “purity” of acts like oral sex, and inspired the Garfunkel and Oates tune The Loophole.

Male desire is treated as animalistic and uncontrollable, with many writers – including Harris – advising that men should avoid the company of women who aren’t their wives. (This was once called “the Billy Graham rule”, after the evangelical preacher who advocated it, but is increasingly rechristened “the Mike Pence rule”.) In his 2005 book Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust is), Harris supported a strict interpretation of Matthew 5:28, where even glancing at someone attractive on the bus was a sin. Anderson calls it the “There’s No Such Thing As a Random Boner principle”, where “lust becomes a thoughtcrime … every single hormonal moment becomes a life-death struggle for your soul and something to repent of. That’s such a huge weight!”

Anderson still lives with the after-effects of being raised on such ideas. As a teenager, she believed that women didn’t feel arousal and men were uncontrollable, which “caused me to imagine that losing my virginity would essentially be rape. That if I wasn’t married, then the only other way I would lose my purity would be if I wasn’t strong enough and a date raped me. Of course, I didn’t see it as rape – I saw it as a man being animalistic and just giving in to his sin. I had no mechanism for understanding that I could possibly consent, and that it would be something I would want to do. In my teenage, evangelical imagination, I hoped and prayed to be put in a scary sexual assault situation so that I could prove how faithful I was to God.”

Harris is now leaving his wife after 21 years of marriage. Anderson says disillusionment is not uncommon in a movement built on the fallacy that if you marry young and abstain, you’ll be happy. But she does not think others will follow Harris’s lead, as criticism tends to make them double down on their beliefs. “You see this throughout the Southern Baptist Convention, and through the abuse scandals at Harris’s former denomination, Sovereign Grace Ministries. They refuse to acknowledge that a sexual ethic based simply on telling women they have to say no until they’re married, at which point they cannot say no any more, is flawed.”

For many like Anderson, Harris’s apology is too late, having spawned a whole subgenre of books by authors who won’t also recognise the damage they have done.

“I don’t think evangelicals should be contributing to the conversation about purity and sex anymore. It’s time for them to listen,” she says. “As a queer woman, I was so repressed that I didn’t discover my own queer identity until I was in my late 20s, and I feel like important parts of myself were stolen from me because of this theology. At this point, it’s their job to listen. Unfortunately, they don’t seem ready to.”

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Opportunity You Say?

Between Nashville's aspiration to gentrify an entire city they are using every tool in the sleaze playbook to accommodate their desperation to rid themselves of every poor person and/or Black person they can as quickly as they can.  If they continue to underfund the Police the reality is that the Black Community will manage to accomplish this goal single handed with the violence that permeates their community. If they don't kill each other they will imprison the rest and in turn drive as many families of color from the region in a type of weird ass genocide.  Ah the South.

But the hilarity ensues when Nashville in its perpetual state of delusion believes Amazon is going to fill the coffers of the city with 5,000 jobs with an "average" salary of 150K. This is oddly the same figure that Alliance Bernstein stated and that the CEO who engineered said deal is now retiring I wonder what will actually transpire, new broom and all.  And I believe EY, the accounting firm, said the same, despite the fact that their own internal averages are nowhere near that for standard accounting gigs (56-72K according to Glassdoor).  And then we have Apple Music supposedly setting up shop which is odd as they are now transitioning into streaming music and why they need a specialized local office to do as such with a large crew is of course debatable as they have a significant outpost in Austin which could serve as the foundation for said endeavors.

The reality is that Nashville has no fucking clue what kind of city it wants to be - Med, Ed, Music, Tourist, White Collar, Government/Municipal or a jack of all trades and master of none?

Now this is from City Lab with regards to Amazon and the promises made and not kept.  They are already under fire for numerous issues about legitimacy of second sellers on the site and in turn their lack of oversight that has led people to be harmed, counterfitted items and also have books reprinted with information that could ultimately do harm and of course the violations of proper payments and royalties. 

 So really Nashville do you think they are going to do any of this shit because they leased some space?  Hey guess what they did that in Seattle and promptly sublet it. 

What is truly laughable is the hysteria surrounding the Opportunity Zones that have my apparent hood, Wedgewood Houston, declared one (good to know I was living in a ghetto, but why was my rent not cheaper?) and the Dickerson Pike now one with Champagne wishes and Caviar dreams to build out that area of town.  

Construction on the largest land development in decades on the east bank of the Cumberland River in Nashville is getting set to begin in several months.

Chicago-based Creek Lane Capital partnered with MRP Realty of Washington D.C. to buy 13 acres in East Nashville between Jefferson and Cowan streets for $42.5 million on Friday.

On Monday, the team announced that they will start building 600 apartments surrounded by offices and 50,000 square feet of retail shops called The Landings at River North early next year.

The project will include a new pedestrian bridge connecting Germantown to East Nashville, a waterfront public park, and a marina.
River North development site is the location for a 1.3 million square foot land acquisition on the east bank of the Cumberland, directly east of McFerrin Park, for large apartments, offices and shops, pictured Monday, July 1, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn.Buy Photo

River North development site is the location for a 1.3 million square foot land acquisition on the east bank of the Cumberland, directly east of McFerrin Park, for large apartments, offices and shops, pictured Monday, July 1, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo: Courtney Pedroza / The Tennessean )

Investors have been working on a vision for this site for years, and hope to eventually expand commercial riverfront redevelopment on the east side down to Interstate 65.

"We valued the opportunity to do waterfront development in the city, and that’s the draw," said MRP Principal Matthew Robinson. "We think growth here will outpace other areas."

The Landings at River North, which is likely to attract more investment around it, and on nearby Dickerson Pike, is expected to open about two years after dirt starts moving.
New bridge and park coming

Work on the park and pedestrian bridge connecting Germantown and East Nashville will begin at the same time as the commercial development.

The park will initially span 4 acres behind Topgolf, but is ultimately expected to stretch for one mile along the river.

Metro Council allocated $20 million from the capital funds budget, mostly financed by general obligation bonds, to help pay for the infrastructure improvements. The money will go toward street widening, new sidewalks and upgraded traffic signals along Jefferson and Cowan streets, as well as infrastructure throughout the development.

"I look at this project and see great opportunities for this city," Mayor David Briley said. "I live on the other side of the river and I look forward to the day when this is complete and we get Cleveland Street connected all the way over here so I can ride my bike to Shelby Park on a bike lane from downtown."

The Landings at River North will overhaul the squat industrial warehouses and vacant waterfront lots behind Topgolf Nashville into 7-story-tall multifamily residential buildings, offices and shops.
River North development site is the location for a 1.3 million square foot land acquisition on the east bank of the Cumberland, directly east of McFerrin Park, for large apartments, offices and shops, pictured Monday, July 1, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn.Buy Photo

River North development site is the location for a 1.3 million square foot land acquisition on the east bank of the Cumberland, directly east of McFerrin Park, for large apartments, offices and shops, pictured Monday, July 1, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo: Courtney Pedroza / The Tennessean )

"There will be a lot of food, beverage and entertainment uses," Robinson said. "We're not in a position to announce any tenants but it's going to be a destination location."
'Nashville's premier neighborhood'

The vision for River North began nearly 20 years ago, when Chicago-based Monroe

The firm has already secured entitlements on the lots so construction work can begin now.

"We've worked collaboratively with the city to develop the vision for River North that you see here today," said Don Allen, principal at Monroe. "Together with the city's investment in infrastructure, this will be the catalyst for development on the east bank and will make River North Nashville's premier neighborhood."

Allen hopes to expand the River North project to ultimately include 105 east bank waterfront acres.
This investment was spurred by a new federal tax break designed to boost economic development in distressed areas. The "Opportunity Zone" status allows investors to defer some tax payments for up to a decade.
"We were looking at this site before it was made an Opportunity Zone," Robinson said. "The Opportunity Zone helped it along but we were already interested."

Yeah sure.  Here is what Opportunity Zones really do.

One Trump Tax Cut Was Meant to Help the Poor. A Billionaire Ended Up Winning Big.

Opportunity zones are meant to spur new investment in poor areas. But Under Armour’s Kevin Plank is getting a tax break for investments that are not new and not in a poor tract. And Plank’s area was picked over neighborhoods that are actually poor.

Under a six-lane span of freeway leading into downtown Baltimore sit what may be the most valuable parking spaces in America.

Lying near a development project controlled by Under Armour’s billionaire CEO Kevin Plank, one of Maryland’s richest men, and Goldman Sachs, the little sliver of land will allow Plank and the other investors to claim what could amount to millions in tax breaks for the project, known as Port Covington.

They have President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax overhaul law to thank. The new law has a provision meant to spur investment into underdeveloped areas, called “opportunity zones.” The idea is to grant lucrative tax breaks to encourage new investment in poor areas around the country, carefully selected by each state’s governor.

But Port Covington, an ambitious development geared to millennials to feature offices, a hotel, apartments, and shopping, is not in a census tract that is poor. It’s not a new investment. And the census tract only became eligible to be an opportunity zone thanks to a mapping error.

As the selection process was underway, a deputy chief of staff to Maryland’s governor wrote in an email that “Port Covington does not qualify” as an opportunity zone.

Maryland’s governor chose the area for the program anyway — after his aides met with the lobbyists for Plank, who owns about 40% of the zone.

“This is a classic example of a windfall benefit,” said Robert Stoker, a George Washington University professor who has studied economic development in Baltimore for decades. “A major investment was already planned and now is in a zone where they are going to qualify for all kinds of beneficial tax treatment.”

In selecting Port Covington, the governor had to exclude another Maryland community from the opportunity zone program. In Baltimore, for example, the governor dropped part of a neighborhood that city officials recommended for the program — Brooklyn — with a median family income one-fifth that of Port Covington. Brooklyn sits just across the Patapsco river from Port Covington, in an area that suffers from one of the highest drug and alcohol death rates in Baltimore, which in turn has one of the highest drug fatality rates nationwide.

In a statement, Marc Weller, a developer who is Plank’s partner in the project, defended the opportunity zone designation. “Port Covington being part of an Opportunity Zone will attract more investors, foster more economic growth in a neglected area of the City, and directly benefit all of the surrounding communities for decades to come,” Weller said. Supporters say the Port Covington development could help several nearby struggling south Baltimore neighborhoods.

Developers say Port Covington will be a “city within a city” geared to millennials and featuring offices, residences and a hotel. (Matt Roth for ProPublica)

An official in the administration of Maryland’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan, said, “The success of that project is really going to go a long way to providing benefits for the whole city of Baltimore.” The official added: “The governor is a huge supporter of the development.”

A spokesperson for the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development, which was involved in the selection process, said that “due to the time limits of the federal tax incentive, the state of Maryland did purposefully select census tracts where projects were beginning to increase the odds of attracting additional private sector investment to Maryland’s opportunity zones in the near term.”

The Birth of a New Tax Break

In December 2017, Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, his signature legislative achievement. Much criticized as a giveaway to the rich, the law includes one headline provision that backers promised would help the poor: opportunity zones. (Listen to the “Trump, Inc.” episode where we travel to an opportunity zone where the Kushner Companies owns large tracts of property.)

Supporters of the program argued it would unleash economic development in otherwise overlooked communities. “Our goal is to rebuild homes, schools, businesses and communities that need it the most,“ Trump declared at a recent event, adding, “To revitalize these areas, we’ve lowered the capital gains tax for long-term investment in opportunity zones all the way down to a very big, fat, beautiful number of zero.”

The provision has bipartisan support. “These cities are gold mines,” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a 2020 presidential hopeful and main Democratic architect of the program, told real estate investors in October. “They’re domestic emerging markets that are more exciting than anything you’ll see overseas.”

Here’s how the program works. Say you’re a hedge fund manager, you purchased Google stock years ago, and are sitting on $1 billion in gains. If you sell, you’d send the IRS about $240 million, a lot less than ordinary income tax but still annoying. To avoid paying that much, you can sell the shares and put the $1 billion into an opportunity zone. That comes with three generous breaks. The first is that you defer that $240 million in capital gains tax, allowing you to invest more money up front. But if that’s not enough for you, you can hold the investment for several years and you’ll get a significant reduction in those taxes. What’s more, any additional gains from the new investment are tax-free after 10 years.

It’s impossible to predict how much the tax break will be worth to individual investors because it depends on several variables, not least whether the underlying project gains in value. But one investment pitch projected 10-year returns would jump to 91% from 29% on a hypothetical $1 million investment. That includes $284,000 in tax breaks — money the federal government would have collected from taxpayers with capital gains but for the program.

The tax code already favored real estate developers like Trump, and his overhaul made it even friendlier. Investors can put money into a range of projects in opportunity zones, but so far most of the publicly announced deals are in real estate. The tax break has led to a marketing boom, with Wall Street pitching investors to raise funds to invest in the zones. Critics argue that the program is flawed, pointing out that there’s no guarantee that the capital investment will help community residents, that the selection process was vulnerable to outside influence, and that it could be a giveaway for projects that were going to happen anyway. In a case in Chicago uncovered by the Real Deal, two tracts already slated for a major development project were selected by the governor as opportunity zones even though city officials hadn’t initially recommended them.

Under the new law, areas of the country deemed to be “low-income communities” would be eligible to be named opportunity zones. The Treasury Department determined which census tracts qualified. Then governors of each state could select one quarter of those tracts to get the tax benefit.

That governor prerogative turned out to be very useful to Kevin Plank.

Plank’s Dream

In 2012, Plank-connected entities quietly began buying up waterfront property on a largely vacant and isolated peninsula south of downtown Baltimore. Often using shell companies to shield the identity of the true buyer, they ultimately spent more than $100 million acquiring much of the peninsula. Plank’s privately held Sagamore Development now controls roughly 40% of the area that would later be named an opportunity zone.

In early 2015, more than two and a half years before Trump’s tax law passed, Plank revealed himself as the money behind the purchases. He planned a new development and headquarters for Under Armour, the sports apparel company he started after coming up with the idea as a University of Maryland football player. Today, Under Armour employs 15,000 people. Plank has a net worth of around $2 billion.

Though the Port Covington area was cut off from downtown by I-95, Plank said he likes the location because of the visibility. “When people drive through Baltimore [on I-95] I literally want them to drive through and go, ’There’s Baltimore on the right. There’s Under Armour on the left,’” he told The Baltimore Sun.

A year later, Plank’s firm took his vision to the general public, running TV and print ads touting the new project. One of the ads, reminiscent of the Democratic presidential primary spots airing at that time, was filled with a diverse cast sharing their dreams for a new city within a city.

“We will build it. Together,” the ad begins, before running through a glittering digital rendering of contemporary urban design features. Office towers, shops, transit, parks, jobs — all of it to be anchored by a new world headquarters of the city’s most visible brand name, Under Armour. Sagamore would spearhead the project and sell land to others who would build businesses and housing.

Even before qualifying for the opportunity zone break, taxpayers were going to subsidize the development. Days after the ads touting togetherness, Plank proposed that the city float $660 million in bonds to help build what the company has said would be a $5.5 billion development. Opponents contended Plank’s proposal amounted to corporate welfare that would exacerbate the city’s stark economic and racial divides. But the company agreed to provide millions of dollars to the city and a group of nearby low-income neighborhoods to gain support for the project, and the City Council passed the measure that fall.

As Under Armour’s stock plummeted in 2017 amid slowing sales growth, progress on the Port Covington project lagged. That September, Goldman Sachs stepped in to commit $233 million from its Urban Investment Group. Hogan, himself a real estate developer, personally spoke with the then-CEO of Goldman, Lloyd Blankfein, about the deal.

Meeting With the Governor’s Office

In the weeks after the 2017 federal tax overhaul passed, Plank’s team spotted an opportunity.

Nick Manis, a veteran Annapolis lobbyist who has also represented the Baltimore Ravens, reached out to Hogan’s chief of staff about Port Covington, according to emails obtained by ProPublica through a public records request. The developers and their lobbyists had given at least $24,000 to Hogan’s campaigns in recent years.

But the developers had a problem.

The Friday before the meeting, a deputy chief of staff to the governor wrote in an email that “Port Covington does not qualify” for the coveted tax breaks.

The Port Covington tract, which includes a gentrified corner of South Baltimore north of the largely empty peninsula, was too wealthy to be an opportunity zone. There is a second provision of the law for wealthier tracts: A tract can qualify if it is adjacent to a low-income area. But Port Covington failed that test, too. Its median family income — nearly 160% of Maryland’s — exceeded the income cap even for that provision.

Port Covington was out — unless the tract could somehow be considered low-income in its own right.

On Feb. 5, the Port Covington development team arrived at the second floor of the statehouse in the opulent governor’s reception room to meet with top Hogan aides. The agenda for the meeting included opportunity zones, as well as transit and infrastructure issues. The developer’s team requested that the Port Covington tract be made an opportunity zone. The state officials “acknowledged their interest in receiving that designation,” a Hogan administration official said.
Bank Error in Your Favor

Three days after that meeting, Plank and the Port Covington developers got bad news. The Treasury Department released a list of census tracts across the country that were sufficiently poor to be included in the program. Port Covington was not included in that list.

Three weeks later, however, things turned around. The Treasury Department issued a revised list. The agency said it had left out some tracts in error. The revised list included 168 new areas across the country defined by the agency as “low-income communities.”

This time, Port Covington made the cut.

It couldn’t have qualified because its residents were poor. It couldn’t qualify because it was next to some place that was poor. But the tract could qualify under yet another provision of the law. Some tracts could make the cut if they had fewer than 2,000 people and if they were “within” what’s known as an empowerment zone. That was a Clinton-era redevelopment initiative also aimed at low-income areas.

Port Covington wasn’t actually within an empowerment zone, but it is next to one. So how did it qualify? The area met the definition of “within” because the digital map files the Treasury Department used showed that Port Covington overlapped with a neighboring tract that was designated an empowerment zone, Treasury officials told ProPublica.

That overlap: the sliver of parking lot beneath I-395. That piece of the lot is about one one-thousandth of a square mile.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Red State Blue State Wage State

I lived in Seattle which was one of the few cities that jumped early on the bandwagon to raise minimum wage and little has been proven that it discourages customers from eating or using businesses that pay their workers more than the current minimum wage that in turn results in rising prices. In fact the current economy seems to be tied right now to consumer spending despite the fact that the tariffs may be causing some prices to increase.  That said overall spending is being I suspect fueled by credit thanks to the Fed Reserve not raising rates and in turn keeping credit costs lower than they were just a year ago and while overall hiring is up wages are still largely stagnant in many fields and that is again the food service one.

I live in Nashville where despite their histrionics over being an it city, the largest employer is Vanderbilt, then the Municipal Government followed by the Hospitality Industry.  And those together are the lowest paid gigs currently on offer.  To be competitive you have to offer a better than average wage packet but most of the workers are highly mobile and the revolving door is constantly in motion.  When they speak of jobs here they mean at the mall or the Subway, the sammy shop not mass transit. In fact our mass transit service is facing huge cuts due to the city seemingly failing to fill its budget coffers, so much for it I guess.

The State legislature which is also in our backyard is another significant employer who seems to also have a turnstile affect when it comes to Government as the current speaker is leaving later or maybe sooner if the special session called to order comes to fruition and they kick his slimy ass out the door. He quit his pharmaceutical gig so he may be needing to hit up a fast food place for a quick meal or gig if he can't get a new one right away.  It will tide him over. Maybe he could clean the cans at Party Fowl where his assistant fucked some girl for 10 minutes once.  How hard are cum stains to get rid of?

Well enough about the local gossip machine.  Let's talk about wages shall we?  Here in the Volunteer State you might as well volunteer as despite efforts by the City Council to raise wages it was quickly overturned by the Legislature along with anything else progressive or of self rule as decided by the electorate who voted in these individuals to act upon their campaign promises. Fuck that shit!

Red states like their poverty as it enables racism and sexism and of course maintains the status quo of classicism which is the real bullshit here.   And their is a lot of bullshit here, I wear Hunters everyday in order to step through it.

Why nearly 350,000 workers in mostly red states aren’t seeing wage increases, even though their local lawmakers passed them

The Washington Post
By Tracy Jan
July 3

For most of her 13 years working the grill and cash register at McDonald’s, Bettie Douglas earned just over $7 an hour. Then in 2017, the St. Louis resident’s hourly pay rose to $10 after the city increased its minimum wage.

But the Missouri legislature soon invalidated the local wage ordinance following opposition from business groups, despite the state Supreme Court having already upheld the increase. Pay for tens of thousands of low-wage workers in St. Louis reverted to the state’s then-minimum of $7.70 an hour.

Missouri is among 25 states that expressly block local municipalities from adopting their own minimum-wage laws. State legislatures in Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky and Wisconsin have also invalidated local wage increases, costing nearly 350,000 workers a total of $1.5 billion per year, according to a study by the National Employment Law Project that quantifies for the first time the economic impact of prohibiting local wage increases.

State laws preempting or nullifying higher local wages perpetuate economic inequality in American cities, hurting women and minority workers who are disproportionately employed in low-wage jobs, researchers say. More than 60 percent of affected workers affected in St. Louis, Birmingham and Miami Beach are people of color, according to the study.

“Missouri was one of the most egregious examples of an overwhelmingly white legislature undoing the will of local communities,” said Laura Huizar, a senior staff attorney for NELP and co-author of the report. “Preemption has been used as a tool to undermine higher wages, protect corporate profits, and cancel the voices of blacks and Latinos.”

In addition to invalidating the local pay increases in St. Louis and Kansas City, the Missouri law blocked the introduction of new employment benefit requirements such as paid sick leave and health, disability and retirement benefits. The St. Louis minimum wage had been scheduled to rise to $11 an hour by 2018. Kansas City’s was supposed to go up to $13 by 2020.

On average, workers in the 12 municipalities where wage increases were overturned by state legislatures are losing almost $4,100 individually per year, the study found. Between 20 and 71 percent of the affected workers in these cities and counties live below the federal poverty line.

Despite the strong economy and historically low unemployment rates, real wages for the majority of workers have flatlined over the past decade. Since the “Fight for $15” minimum-wage movement began in 2012, more than 40 cities and counties have passed laws raising the local wage floor — leading to a corporate-fueled backlash in many legislatures, Huizar said. Minimum-wage increases in 20 municipalities, including the District of Columbia and two states, went into effect July 1.

Douglas, the McDonald’s worker in St. Louis, is the sole breadwinner in her family. At 61, she’s supporting her eldest son, who is recovering from a brain tumor; her youngest son, who has autism; and her brother, who is disabled. Each weekday morning, she catches two buses and a train to work because she cannot afford a car.

“Anybody who gets up and goes to work every day should be able to earn a living wage to take care of their families and pay their bills,” said Douglas, who began working at age 12 in her parents’ janitorial business. “I’m not asking for a handout. I’m saying just give me my due.”

Douglas said her boss at the fast-food restaurant allowed her to keep her $10 hourly wage as a recognition of her long service, but many of her colleagues lost their raises.

Still, she said she has no health insurance, no paid vacations or sick leave, and no retirement benefits. She said she hasn’t been to a doctor in the 18 years since she gave birth to her youngest son.

Missouri voters last fall approved a ballot measure to raise the state minimum wage from $8.60 to $12 an hour by 2023. Douglas says she’s fighting for $15, which still falls short of the $16.32 hourly wage required for a single adult in St. Louis to meet his or her basic needs — let alone the $18.99 required for a family of four.

“We are all just one paycheck away from being homeless,” Douglas said. “No one in America should live like that.”

New South/Old South

I live in the supposed "it" city of the South, Nashville. It was or still is Hotlanta but then again does "it" really matter? I mean it is still the South. The South where poor is a Noun,Verb, Adjective and Adverb and all in one sentence. Poor Man who lives there, he is so poor and doing so poorly but that is what being poor does to a man.

The distinction between that view is that in the South it is believed that all poverty is is an intrinsic state of mind versus one of extrinsic factors that have contributed to this style of life.  Sort of like being Gay in the South it is choice.  Sure. What. Ever.

I have challenges writing about living here as I am still in the middle of it, being evicted from my home due to the never ending greed push turning these dumps into Condos, while trying to complete my dental reconstruction and just trying to organize a major move at times seems overwhelming yet beneath it all I find it a relief and an end to a chapter that started on a bad note and may be leaving on less of one despite it all.

What fascinates me is the level of ignorance that dominates the dialog to the point I have finally given up trying to make sense of it and in turn frustrate myself, so I rely on nasty under the breath comments that enable me to simply push past and onto the next.   If you can't say something nice then don't!

Much of the issue here is the role of the Church. It is the the largest voice in the heads of these idiots and in turn they rely on the Pulpit for most of their views, followed by the chatter of Church ladies and men who rely on Social Media to share information and opinions gleaned from whatever facts they conjure in their head or that book that rests on their lap (or phones) to confirm their convoluted beliefs.

And when I read the below article this last week I felt relieved that I was not far from my mark in trying to understand, explain or simply ignore the endless bullshit that thrives here.  And yes folks they are racist here but it comes in a way that is subtle and vague that cleverly intertwines through religion and faith but is firmly in place through the Politics and the ways they circumvent voting and participation - largely through arresting every black person they can and taking away their voting rights, gerrymandering and my personal favorite - Education.   When I a resident of three years know more about the history and people of Nashville, particularly those faces of color that pretty much sums it up.  We gots problems, 99/100 percent of them from the lack of education.  As you read you will realize how pervasive it is regardless of race, poverty is the biggest problem and that white trash fear being lower on the ladder and that explains why Donald Trump is their savior they have no other. Wells Jesus but he seems to be busy and he wasn't a Racist, that we know of.   Was he Anti Semitic? I think yes, the money lenders and the Temple seems to come to mind. 

Southerners, Facing Big Odds, Believe in a Path Out of Poverty
The New York Times
By Patricia Cohen

July 4, 2019

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — A widening income gap and sagging social mobility have left dents in the American dream. But the belief that anyone with enough gumption and grit can clamber to the top remains central to the nation’s self-image.

And that could complicate Democratic efforts to frame the 2020 presidential election as a referendum on a broken economic system.

Americans, who tend to link rewards to individual effort, routinely overestimate the ease of moving up the income ranks, while Europeans — citing an unfair system, inherited wealth and sticky social classes — consistently underestimate it, surveys have found.

For moving from the bottom of the income ladder to the top, the South offers the worst odds in the United States. But it’s also the region where people are most optimistic about the prospects.
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“Fifteen to 20 percent?” guessed Vicki Winters, a retired contract specialist at the Defense Department who lives with her husband, George, in a predominantly white Huntsville suburb.

The actual chances of making that climb in Alabama are a shade above 5 percent. Nationwide, they are less than 8 percent. And in Madison County, where the Winterses live, the odds that a child will escape poverty are among the lowest in the nation.

The county’s dismal ranking is in some ways surprising given Huntsville’s reputation as a dynamic and growing technology hub centered on NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the Army Aviation and Missile Command. It has an unemployment rate below 3 percent, is close to a string of colleges and universities and has a business-friendly profile.

“There are a lot of jobs in Huntsville,” said Gregory G. Parker, who presides over the front desk at the Optimist Recreation Center, named for the service club that helped create it. On a recent morning, he was checking in the regular pickleball players. “People just have to have the drive to strive.”

“There are a lot of jobs in Huntsville,” said Gregory G. Parker, who works at the Optimist Recreation Center. “People just have to have the drive to strive.”

But Madison County also shares several characteristics with other areas that researchers have mapped as poverty traps. Those include steep income inequality, a high proportion of single-parent families and deep segregation.

Huntsville was one of the first racially integrated cities in the South as a result of civil rights sit-in campaigns in the early 1960s. But the legacy of Jim Crow and redlining persists in the city as it does elsewhere in the region, with concentrated pockets of poverty.

One of those can be found at the city’s office for social services and food stamps, a low-slung, blocklong building flanked by a pawnshop and a Salvation Army thrift store. On a steamy weekday, public-assistance recipients and applicants waited for a bus under a shady tree.

“You’ve got to work hard, but it can happen,” said Edward Stokes, adding that he had often found himself one paycheck away from homelessness. He had just come from signing up for a program at the city’s career center.

Why inequity and disadvantage produce such hopefulness is not as unusual as it might initially seem. In the most economically stricken areas, residents understand that “nobody is going to help you,” said Roland Bénabou, an economics and public affairs professor at Princeton University.

So the only way to retain hope and motivate your children is to “think that if you just work hard or study hard, you will make it,” he said. “Otherwise there is no hope and no incentive to work, and then for sure you’ll remain poor.”

Mr. Bénabou also noted that whether you believe people get what they deserve in terms of rewards and punishments often varies widely by country.
Income Mobility Charts for Girls, Asian-Americans and Other Groups. Or Make Your Own.

Watch men and women of any race grow up in the United States.

Americans are strong believers in what psychologists call a “just world,” one where people get what they deserve and deserve what they get, he said. “If you’re poor, you must have not worked hard or are lazy, and if you are rich, it must be due to your own merits, efforts and talents,” he said. “Europeans think it’s much more due to luck.”

Those perceptions were confirmed by Harvard University researchers after conducting broad surveys in Europe and the United States, published last year. They asked people in five countries to estimate a child’s chances of moving from the bottom fifth of the income distribution to the top fifth.
Economic Mobility: Reality and Perception

Recent research by a Harvard University team found a disparity between the perceived and actual odds that a child born into the bottom fifth of the income ladder in the United States could move to the top fifth. Optimism about mobility is highest in states that, in reality, offer some of the worst prospects.

The kind of audacious hope they uncovered could hinder the Democratic case that fundamental changes are needed to enhance economic opportunity.

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts announced her presidential campaign with an indictment of a “rigged system that props up the rich and powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else.” Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has rallied crowds with attacks on the “rigged economy.” And former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has talked of the “rigged labor market.”

They, and other Democratic contenders, have proposed ambitious programs for easing the upward trek confronting children from poor families, like free college, universal health care and childhood savings accounts or bonds.

Yet views about the government’s ability to even the playing field are tangled up with attitudes about the system’s fundamental fairness.

“If people think opportunity is equal, they will tolerate more unequal outcomes,” said Stefanie Stantcheva, an economics professor at Harvard who was part of the university’s research team.

Oddly, segregation does not dampen America’s unique brand of optimism, but augments it. “We find that perceptions are more optimistic when there is more racial segregation,” the Harvard researchers sai

Whether people think opportunity is equally available, though, often depends on their political viewpoint.

Liberals are generally more pessimistic than conservatives about the ability of poorer Americans to hoist themselves up economically, and they are more inclined to support government programs meant to ease the route. Tell them that social mobility from one generation to the next is less than they thought, and their support for public assistance increases.

For conservatives, none of that is true. Learning that they have overestimated the odds does not increase their support for government intervention, but causes it to drop even further.

“We didn’t expect this very stark polarization,” Ms. Stantcheva said. It is not that conservatives do not consider flagging social mobility to be a serious issue, but rather that they think government will make the problem worse.

The political split may also help explain the South’s particular optimism. The region has leaned conservative for decades. Alabama, like most of its neighbors, has not voted for a Democrat in a presidential election since 1976.

Ms. Winters is one of those dedicated Republicans. Her husband described himself as a lifelong Democrat.

Mr. Winters figured the odds that poor people could work their way up were slim. For him, that is evidence that the government needs to do more.

For Ms. Winters, hearing that the odds of moving up the income ladder are actually much lower than she had guessed did not change her opinion that government assistance was wasteful.

“There are too many handouts to collect from the government,” Ms. Winters said, “instead of going out there and trying to work, and putting your money in a savings account.”