The following is a crosspost from www.nevernesters.com

 

There’s an essay by Jedediah Purdy in the new n+1  that I found difficult and a little embarrassing but really, really worthwhile. I didn’t know who he was. His political consciousness struck mine like the mallet striking the big damn gong.

At 24, Purdy wrote a book (For Common Things) that made a case for “structural politics” (as opposed to ideology politics and personality politics). He called for radical imagination. He maintained that the foundational tenets of neoliberalism could be got out from underneath of. (Chief among them being the slavish worship of the free market and the ubiquitous, smothering and pre-emptive surrender to the idea that things are crappy but, hey, they’re as good as we can expect.)  Read More→


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What the 1% Don’t Want You to Know


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Buncombe County, North Carolina residents who filed suit after finding their well water contaminated by chemicals from a CTS Corp. facility shuttered in 1986 will argue their case before the Supreme Court on April 23 (video clip from March 18). The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of 23 local citizens last year. CTS appealed.

At issue is whether the suit should be dismissed because of the lateness in filing the case. The pollution dates back decades. Community activist, Tate MacQueen, is among those leading the fight.

Because of the way North Carolina law is written, the Asheville residents may have no legal recourse. CTS shut down that plant and sold the property in 1987. A state statute cuts off a company’s liability 10 years after its last contaminating act, meaning the deadline for filing claims came and went in 1997. MacQueen’s heads-up letter arrived in 2008.

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Apr
18

Friday Open Thread

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It’s Friday. But is it really a Good Friday?


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In case you missed it last Friday. This is NC Speaker of the House Thom Tillis’ latest brainchild, one opposed by local businessmen, the Mecklenburg-area T-party, and contrary to his party’s own platform. (Emphasis mine):

Raleigh – The N.C. Department of Transportation announces the apparent successful bidder for its first Public-Private-Partnership (P3) contract to improve the traffic flow along 26 miles of I-77 in the Charlotte area, one of the most congested roadways in the state.

P3 contracts are an innovative way of leveraging new funding sources to lessen the financial impact to the state and help complete projects sooner through investments by a private firm. Following a required bidding process, and pending final review, it appears Cintra Infraestructures, S.A. will construct the I-77 project through a joint venture with F.A. Southeast, W.C. English, and the lead design firm of The Louis Berger Group.

Cintra, a world-wide leader in managed lanes projects, estimates the total project cost at $655 million. Cintra will invest the majority of that in return for toll revenue generated from the managed lanes. NCDOT will contribute $88 million for the project, which is significantly less than the $170 million it had projected.

Wow, that is innovative. The state’s estimated $170 million highway project will now cost $655 million, but only cost the state $88 million in tax dollars. (Update: To be clear, general-purpose lanes were estimated at about $500 million.)

Hmm, where will the Spain-based company, Cintra, make up the difference? Oh, right, by collecting tolls from drivers for next 50 years. But — now listen up — those 50 years of tolls paid to a foreign conglomerate are not taxes. So, Freedom!

Of course, Cintra will have to manage to stay in business if it means to collect. They’re about to go into default on their toll road in San Antonio after only a year in operation. This from last October:

Texas’ first foreign-owned toll road financed through a controversial public private partnership just got downgraded to junk bond status by Moody’s Investors Service. The Spain-based firm, Cintra (65% ownership), and San Antonio-based Zachry (35% ownership), known as SH 130 Concession Company opened the southern leg of State Highway 130 last November.

What innovations will aspiring Speaker of the House and Tillis’ fellow ALEC board member, Rep. Tim Moffitt, bring North Carolina, if re-elected? Maybe a PPP for the I-26 project in Buncombe County? Surely Moffitt will listen to his constituents more than Tillis? You think?


Apr
14

Make What?

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If you’ve been following the nasty, divisive “makers vs. takers” meme promoted on the right, Fox News in particular, add this to what makers “make.”

Some of those makers — you know, job Creators (it is capitalized, right?) — are wheeling and dealing and spending millions on technology to shave milliseconds of high-speed trades. That is, they are investing in speed — milliseconds — digitally running ahead of a stock order to buy it first and sell it to the buyer at a markup when the order arrives. Something like “The Wire” in the movie, “The Sting.” Speculators are boring through mountains between New York and Chicago to put in straighter, shorter fiber-optic cables to make this con work.

Paul Krugman this morning:

What are we getting in return for all that money? Not much, as far as anyone can tell. Mr. Philippon shows that the financial industry has grown much faster than either the flow of savings it channels or the assets it manages. Defenders of modern finance like to argue that it does the economy a great service by allocating capital to its most productive uses — but that’s a hard argument to sustain after a decade in which Wall Street’s crowning achievement involved directing hundreds of billions of dollars into subprime mortgages.

What this game shows is how finance has become a game not of job creation or productively allocating financial resources, but of playing small-time investors for suckers. This is what the so-called makers are in the business of making. And Fox thinks you’re the parasite.

At least Newman and Redford ran The Big Con with more panache.


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Apr
13

Sunday Morning Music

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We cannot thank Jay DeLancy enough for the vast amounts of volunteer time and more-limited funds he’s spent, as other voter fraud sleuths, chasing voter impersonation fraud, dead voters (some of whom aren’t), clerical errors and data entry errors in the state’s voter records. (Identity theft is his latest bugaboo.) Since accuracy of the lists is the Voter Integrity Project’s concern, perhaps they would donate those funds to the state Board of Elections, earmarked for database maintenance instead. It would free up the local Voter Integri-T-Party to spend its time registering new voters, getting them to the polls and showing the rest of us how to win elections the American way. Unless they lack the electoral confidence that they can.

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Apr
11

Friday Open Thread

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It is Friday, right?


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It’s been years since I last posted to this blog. Decided to do so today because there’s an important issue that needs to be discussed within the Buncombe Democratic Party … and I don’t have another vehicle to start the conversation.

As you may know, I support Todd Williams in the current District Attorney race.  But what y’all may not know is why.

What I didn’t write in the LTTE, because I didn’t want to be confrontational before more information became publicly available, is that Ron Moore had possession of evidence that would have cleared the names of 5 people for murder – and didn’t turn it over to their defense attorneys.

This is upsetting enough. What’s salt-in-the-wound is that this serious miscarriage of justice is not being discussed intelligently within the establishment of the local Buncombe Democratic Party during this year’s DA primary race. “Moore’s a good man” is the common mantra when faced with facts around this issue, or pretty much every other scandal concerning Moore.

Ron Moore may very well be a good man. Fine. It really depends on which side of the prison-bars you’re sitting on – I guess.

The Asheville Citizen times has full coverage of the story here. But the highlights are:

1) Ron Moore ignored DNA evidence.

2) Another person admitted to the crime in 2003, but Moore didn’t re-open the case for investigation.

3) Videotape evidence corroborating the 2003 confession was ignored.

I know Moore is a Democrat. He might even be a great guy in-person. But 5 people spent years in jail because Moore didn’t want to do his job properly. Frankly, if it had been 5 white middle-class kids – it is my humble option he would have been disbarred over this by now. In the coming years this issue is going to develop into a major scandal, putting the already tarnished credibility of the DA’s office in serious jeopardy.

The local Democratic party has a choice this year: During the primary y’all can put forth a 24-year incumbent with a history of opaqueness, sweeping serious issues such as the evidence-room scandal under the rug, and preventing justice; or you can submit someone who will focus on doing the right thing.

ON EDIT: Grammar & spelling


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