Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Florida's boom and bust gets airtime on Marketplace broadcast

Posted By on Tue, Aug 28, 2012 at 8:36 PM

One of the best pieces explaining Florida, especially its boom past and bust present, was on APM's Marketplace show tonight, tied to both the show's election coverage and an ongoing series about the U.S. economy's challenges.

Reporter David Gura is doing a two-part series on the I-4 corridor and found the little-known Polk County town of Dundee, where the development boom of the '90s and early 2000s saw active orange groves sold for development that, for the most part, never was built after the housing market tanked in 2007-08.

As someone who has groused (yes, groused) for years about Florida's addiction to the cheap thrills of boom-and-bust homebuilding, I was especially bemused to hear the developer in the piece argue that he is upset that government didn't do more to help out the land speculators.

Take a listen. These are the kinds of issues that Florida Republicans should be talking about instead of chanting for a repeal of Obamacare.

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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Recession Buster: dark chocolate flavored brussel sprouts

Posted By on Sat, Jul 7, 2012 at 9:17 AM

Bacon-flavored broccoli isn't a madman's fantasy anymore. It's America's ticket to reasserting herself as one of the world's top scientific super powers while at the same time allowing her to make a quantum leap out of a crippling recession. In order to climb back into the saddle Americans needs to tap back into what has united them over the centuries in a singular purpose. A sense of collective ideology has enabled Americans to undertake and accomplish things so that are both exceptional and revolutionary.

  • New York Times

Yet America's ingenuity is a double edged sword. It's both a blessing and a curse. A question lingers as to how America's shared ideological ethos has evolved. From its inception as an Eden and refuge for people who found themselves marginalized and unwelcome elsewhere, America has come to harness and tame those differences within a climate of “hyphen” American culture. When asked what it means to be American or what overarching ideology binds Americans together, a laundry list of demographically subjective opinions spring up. Alex Tocqueville figured it out more than a century and a half ago.
Tocqueville was a French political philosopher and a De facto historian who traveled throughout America during the 1830's. He was from an aristocratic French family and a dyed-in-the-wool European Romanticist. He set the tone for future exploration in social sciences with his seminal work known as “Democracy in America”. Essentially Tocqueville asserts that a collective subconscious pioneering spirit is at the core of what unites Americans ideologically. He draws attention to the concept of “The Frontier”.
Americans at the time Tocqueville visited had been on a steady march towards the west for roughly six decades. These pioneering folks shared a kindred spirit, he deduced. A deep-rooted ingenuity to conquer new and unfamiliar territory is what defined the American esprit de corps. The ability and independent fervor to try unconventional ideas and trends in order to pacify unfamiliar territories lends itself to a loosely knit ideological cohesion. However, if the ideological trends stay fluid they are subject to eminent change which is ever looming on the horizon. It stands to reason then that if these trends are in perpetual state of change then an inevitable loss of a uniting tradition will be the outcome.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Strategy, Discipline, the Right to Assemble, and Occupy Tampa

Posted By on Fri, Oct 28, 2011 at 10:54 AM

The Occupy Wall Street phenomenon spreading across the US is both a continuation of a long tradition of civil resistance movements and something totally unprecedented. Its viral diaspora is evidence that it hits at the core of what many Americans feel is wrong with our system. But where it goes from here and if it will lead to significant change in the direction of this country (and the world) is the zillion dollar question no one can answer. In New York last week, I met United Methodist pastor and civil rights leader James Lawson who, having played key roles in the Nashville sit-ins and the Freedom Rides of the Civil Rights era, knows a thing or two about successful non-violent resistance movements. Of the many nuggets of wisdom he shared with my class at the Journalism and Civil Resistance conference, was this: “We need to make sure we know the difference between strategy and tactic and that every move operate under the ethos of building recognition and support from a wide population.”

This got me thinking about the movement as a whole, the atrocities in Oakland, and the police confrontations happening across the country. Here in Tampa, our own blossoming local resistance struggle surged onto the scene in early October. The press made a point of highlighting the peaceful dialogue between Occupy Tampa and the TPD early on, but for the last week and a half have focused almost exclusively on their tussles with the City of Tampa and the Police Department rather than their message. This is unfortunate because in a town like Tampa, arguing with the cops over the sidewalk and getting arrested is not the best way to win the masses over, even if a majority are sympathetic to your aims.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Occupy Tampa: we're gonna stay right here

Posted By on Thu, Oct 27, 2011 at 10:50 PM

Some people deride the Occupiers for not clearly articulating their grievances and reasons for protesting. In this video, a few of them tell you...

(Editor's Note: Kelly Benjamin reported on Occupy Wall Street for the first two weeks of it's existence and assisted with creating a dialogue with Occupy Tampa and the City of Tampa Government.)

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Democrats try to fix the economy, but Republicans get to frame the debate

Posted By on Sat, Oct 8, 2011 at 2:05 PM

The Labor department reported that job growth was stronger than expected as employers added 103,000 net new jobs in September. The news of added jobs comes amidst growing fears of an economy inching closer to a double dip recession. However, a rehiring of 45,000 striking Verizon workers accounted for nearly half of the added jobs. Furthermore, the number of jobs added barely kept up with population, maintaining an unemployment rate holding steadfast at 9.1%.

Members of Congress, in both parties, rushed to cite the jobs report in the debate over the American Jobs Act, a stimulus bill proposing a mixture of tax relief and infrastructure spending. House Speaker John Boehner said, "The American people are asking the question: 'where are the jobs?' The Democrats running Washington need to stop campaigning, start listening, and start working with Republicans to liberate our struggling economy and remove government barriers to private-sector job growth."

For weeks, the President has instructed Congress to pass his $447 billion jobs bill, but gridlock has frustrated real legislative action. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor refused to put the bill up for a vote and Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid blocked a vote on the bill in the Senate.

According to the Labor Department's recent report, the economy needs to create several hundred thousand jobs a month just to keep up with population growth. There's little indication, however, that the recovery is building any real momentum. Many recessions are self-correcting and characterized as a V-shape, which symbolizes a steep drop in the economy followed later by a climbing recovery. The nature of our recovery, however, is L-shaped; the current recession is marked by steep drop and then flat-lines for an extended period of time. So, why do we have a dilatory congress during a persistent recession?

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Criticisms of the President's plan distract us from the real issue

Posted By on Sat, Sep 24, 2011 at 1:50 PM


Unveiling the second part of his $3 trillion deficit reduction plan on Monday, President Obama stressed, in no uncertain terms, that he would veto any bill that would call for cuts to Medicare without raising new revenue. According to the President, "I will not support any plan that puts all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary Americans". The deficit plan called for $1.5 trillion in new taxes and immediately elicited criticism from Republicans who accused the President of engaging in class warfare.

America does have a history of class warfare, and it's a turbulent one.

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Workers anxious about job security amidst dismal jobs report

Posted By on Sat, Sep 3, 2011 at 3:22 PM


Stocks plunged as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that no new jobs were created in August, holding the unemployment rate persistently at 9.1%. The latest BLS jobs report, the worst in almost a year, confirms fears of a stalling recovery. Also affecting the markets was the news of major banks, including Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and J.P. Morgan Chase, facing federal lawsuits concerning the securities sold duing the housing bubble. Friday's markets closed with the Dow down 253 points, 2.2%

The news of both tumbling markets and a grim employment outlook breaks just after Gallup reports on the rising fears of being laid off. Job insecurities are double what they were in 2008. What does this mean for our recovery?

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's here! The Knowledge/Service Economy 2.0: Completing the shift to the next economy

Posted By on Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 4:00 PM


Since 1975, we have slowly but surely been shifting out of the Industrial/Consumer economy to a Knowledge/Service economy. From 1975-2008, we were in Knowledge/Service 1.0 as production was outsourced throughout the globe, and we put our attention into increasing technology and knowledge expansion here at home.  Knowledge/Service 1.0 saw the first wave of transition sending blue-collar jobs overseas and now the white-collar jobs attached to these production industries are going too.  Less obvious however was the emergence of the new industries of the Knowledge/Service economy: medicine, education, finance, technology, arts, entertainment, and other quality of life industries that support optimal human life.  70% of our economy remained tied to the Industrial/Consumer economy while only 30% was part of Knowledge/Service 1.0.

As we sit in the Great Recession of 2008, we are faced with the stark reality that we will not be able to consume our way out of this recession. A jobless recovery is now predicted and this makes sense because many of the industries that provided jobs are no longer thriving. This time, a myriad of forces have come together to push us onward. As chaotic as this now seems, if we will embrace it, we’ll discover we’re about to enter the most vibrant economy ever! While yet to be determined, it is possible that a complete flip will occur and within the next 10 years, 70% of work will be found in Knowledge/Service industries while just 30% remain in the Industrial/consumer sector.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Transitioning from consumers to "Creatives" to shape a 'quality of life' economy

Posted By on Tue, Jul 13, 2010 at 12:00 PM


How many times have you read or listened to a radio news report and heard lines that go something like this: “Consumer spending was up today and economists predict a good year;”  “The Stock market today reacted to a slow holiday spending season as consumers decided to save;”  “Lower consumer confidence spells out a continued recession;” or “Deep discounts opened up the wallets of consumers and businesses breathed a sigh of relief.”

Consumers, consumers, consumers -- we use this term as if this is a life form of its own!  We used to be ‘citizens of the United States’, but now mainly, we are identified as consumers, which as we all know is the hallmark of the Industrial Economy.  After 9/11, we weren’t asked to be good citizens, we were asked to be good consumers and as the run up to the current recession shows, we were relentless!

As many consumers have finally realized, consuming costs a lot of money and getting that money costs a lot of life.  So much so that it has begun  to dawn on a lot of consumers that consuming wasn’t nearly as much fun as it should’ve been.  We became exhausted consumers working to pay off massive debts that we now realize can never be paid off.

And while all that is happening, the Industrial/Consumer Economy is showing massive and multiple signs it is on its last leg. The Wall Street/'Too Big to Fail' banking debacle was the last gasp attempt to keep the Industrial economy going through the selling of ‘fake assets’; so much so that a consumer-manic world got so excited about buying that it didn’t even realize it was being sold thin air!  With a jobless recovery predicted, its clear the shift to a Knowledge/Service Economy is fully underway.

But what happens when the Industrial/Consumer Economy changes to a Knowledge/Service economy?  And if you aren’t a consumer, then what are you?

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Let's transform our economy to a Triple Bottom Line to support humans, the environment and business

Posted By on Tue, May 18, 2010 at 5:23 PM

Thomas Friedman’s May 14th Op-Ed article referred to Lydia, a Greek child who had left a note outside a recently bombed bank in Athens, Greece. Killing three innocent bank employees, that bombing can be connected to the economic collapse in Greece as well as the Too Big to Fail banking mess that started on Wall Street.  In the note, she asked “In what kind of a world will I grow up? Lydia, age 10.”

Friedman writes that it is time for us to all wake up and realize that we are such an interconnected world economy that actions in one part of the world now have an impact in other parts of the world—often with dire consequences.  In some cases, like this one, it’s economic and financial systems that are impacted, in others—it’s environmental and social systems that feel the ripple effect from far away.  But if you step back far enough, you see that a crisis in any one of these four major systems creates chaos in all the others.

Friedman discusses two value systems—the one we currently have-- Situational values--whatever feels right at the moment, while challenging us to shift to Sustainable values--“values that inspire in us behaviors that literally sustain our relationships with one another, with our communities, with our institutions, and with our forests, oceans and climate. ……..Sustainable values inspire you to do what you should do in every situation.”


Essentially, what Friedman is now advocating for is a Triple Bottom Line economy—where social, natural and business systems are equally valued and taken into account when choices are being.  This is in direct contrast to the economy we have now—which is a Single bottom line—anything that makes money for business is good (even if it does so at the expense of human and environmental systems).

In an interconnected world—Situational values result in the huge disparity between rich and poor, Sustainable values result in a world that works for humans and the planet.  That’s the world Lydia could grow up in…if we shift to a Triple Bottom Line economy.  In doing so, we can begin to measure and monetize our economy from a much wider set of options—along with the current Gross National Productivity (business), we could add Gross Household Productivity (social) and Gross Environmental Productivity. 

When we do that, we also expand employment into a full spectrum of markets, government, and the household enterprise, as well as factoring in volunteer activities and the natural environment/true cost accounting into the equation. (Present as well is the illegal employment sectors—drugs, sex etc.,--which will never go away, but in a Triple Bottom Line economy—the need for this sector is reduced since there are three new other employment options available—household, volunteer, natural environment)

This would be an amazing world for Lydia to grow up in and it is entirely doable. And do we must.  The current Single bottom line economy/situational value system works for just the few at the top while a Triple Bottom line economy/Sustainable value system work for us all while enabling us to achieve our highest creativity levels possible. And isn’t that what an economy is really for in the first place?

Let’s move beyond blowing up banks and the limitations hoisted on us by the current economic and financial crisis. Our energy is much better spent transforming our world economy into one that measures and monetizes activities to support a system that honors the interconnectedness of humans, the environment and business all at the same time.  We have the know-how to do this, now we need only the will.  And for Lydia—isn’t this the world we’d want her to grow up in?

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