In Case of Emergency- What if this Tag-Team Actually Wins ?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION In Case of Emergency- What if this Tag-Team Actually Wins ?

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    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    When I first joined this forum there was a lot of discussion about how the economy was going to be lifted by going green. I said back then that when the economy is down, these type of changes don’t happen. They happen when prosperity can afford them. The big changes that work come when things are going well and/or it is practical for consumers to invest in them in their choices of purchases (ie, fuel efficient cars).

    Gas is at $4 a gallon, air travel is sky high, food is higher almost every day,and  people still run tha AC and the heat, Most people feel that directly. No matter where their hearts are on the environment, at this point the general population is hurting and most don’t want any other things that will drive up the costs of energy because it hurts them directly and the benefits to the environment seem more conceptual than real.

    When the general population is doing well, they are happy to be putting more into that concept of improving the environment. The more people hurt, the more they start to feel resentful of how some of these policies might be affecting them personally, rightly or wrongly. Perception is everything. That is why stopping the Keystone Pipeline has a lot of people upset. If most everyone was doing well, few people would be upset and more would be glad.

    Fix prosperity and the environmental progress will continue. Let it fail and the environment will degrade.

    Good things don’t create a vigorous economy. A vigorous economy creates good things. There is no indication that the current administration believes that or they don’t know how to get it done or they don’t want to get it done. Either way, it is failing.


    Heather Smith

    I don’t see it as failing. And I disagree with the notion that the government shouldn’t invest in green energy. As with business, investing in new technologies is inherently risky. The government in general has been the one to pave the way when it comes to researching new ideas.

    People are being hired, it has been slow growth but that was expected. Even Romney’s job promise of 12 million simply follows the projected job growth of economists with or without Romney. Anectdotal evidence but we are doing very well businesswise. We were speaking with another small business owner in town and he mentioned that it will never be what it was before the crash. But why should we be surprised? That wasn’t real. We borrowed from future growth and therefore we see a sluggish(which was predicted) growth. I for one find it ironic that conservative small business owners blame the government for their businesses failing when businesses have a high failure rate regardless of which party is in charge. Obama has not hobbled our business. Obama did not cause the crash of 2008…I hear a lot of complaining about this slow growth and no acknowledgement of the severity of this depression.

    All indicators point to positive gain in the economy, whether that is home sales, car sales or even our own little story. This is our best year yet…by a long shot. Obviously our bar is set lower because we started in 2008…but I also think it is more realistic. I wish conservatives would stop complaining about the government making their businesses fail when it probably has to do with a lack of demand for their product or poor business skills. What a convenient scape goat.

    Romney’s policies do not benefit truly small businesses, but already wealthy individuals like himself that don’t have to worry about purchasing health insurance or figuring out how to find financing. I spoke with the small business and development director down in Lewiston the other day because we are thinking of starting another business and were wondering about the differences in business set ups. When she attempted to explain the s corporation (I believe it was) she had to pause because she said that the tax system was backward from how it used to be. It used to be you were taxed higher on your dividends not your earned income…as a successful business owner and business educator she said this was the opposite of what it used to be. Of course, this is how Romney “earns” his living and why his taxes are so low. We have been experimenting with trickle down economics for 30+ years…how long do we have to see wage stagnation and wealth accumulation at the very top before we admit it doesn’t work? Romney’s plan is the same as Bush’s…according to that mind set we should have had the largest job growth in decades to coincide with the two tax cuts Bush put in and that we still have!

    Sorry for the rant…I was just reading a National Chamber post on facebook and they use the term small business to include what would be HUGE businesses to us. They don’t have the same needs as your local mom and pop store, maybe they need a new term so we can have a real discussion on what real “small” businesses need.


    Regarding “going green”, In my area I still often see ads for energy analysts and energy efficiency experts for buildings and I know companies are investing a lot in improving the performance of their facilities in this way.  Its not so much the sexy stuff, like windmills and solar, more like weather stripping on doors, and updated, more efficient boilers and AC units.  It has been motivated more by a need to cut costs rather than altruistic notions of going green, though it may be packaged that way for public relations.  I’ve been in several Kohl’s stores around the country where they tell you over the PA about the solar panels on the roof and how they are reducing the store’s carbon footprint.  As these improvements begin to reap dividends, that money will be available to invest in the economy, spurring job growth, besides the cleaner air and reduced carbon footprint benefit.  You know, the “triple bottom line” stuff.  High gas prices lead to cars that get better mileage and more people using transit, which translates into cleaner air.  I know some people don’t like having to drive smaller cars or use transit, but the personal responsibility argument comes into play here.  The individual needs to consider what they can afford with transportation choices and not expect government to create conditions for cheap gas.  Of course we have millions living in arrangements that are dependent upon cheap gas, and that is a problem that will call for some painful adjustments to resolve, as James Howard Kunstler is fond of pointing out.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I did not say the government should not invest. I’m just saying that investing in green without a vibrant economy is not going to happen for very long. More importantly, the investment in green does not make an economy that does not exist.

    All of it comes back into play when the economy recovers. It is the nature of our society. When the public knows things are detrimental to the environment or anything else, the business community responds, not necessarilly out of good will, but because they have to.

    I’m not saying it should be this way, but it IS this way.


    Make no mistake, the environment got much better in the US in prosperous times because we could afford to do it as a government, as consumers, and as business people.


    Energy conservation is practica for everyone in any economy and fine tuning that is essential with energy rates being at record highs. Who is not doing that?


    It is the government policies that are forcing the cost of the energy that we actually are using that are not being embraced at this time rather than things that the public or business communities are doing to save costs.


    One more time here. In a near final attempt to keep the original intent of this controversial forum topic true to its roots as being centered on the consequences of What implications for the environment (in general) and our profession (specifically) that an R Squared administration might mean, I have added three more recent articles that attempt to answer at the least first part of the question. 

    From David Broder and again the NYT (this seems to be the only national newspaper that is really paying attention to the environmental pronouncements and policies of the presidential candidates)…

    A rather lengthy piece (4 page clicks- those with low-information tendencies will struggle to get through this)

    from Kevin Baker in the New York Times entitled ” Republicans to Cities -Drop Dead” – a scathing and fairly factually (trends and tendencies) based look at what an R Squared administration would hold for urban policies and programs for America’s cities.

    Conclusion: not good at all.…

    Lastly a worthwhile and short !! comparison between the environmental policies and practices of a Romney Administration and Obama Administration from the Russell Sage Foundation

    Heather Smith

    I see what you are trying to say now, Andrew. Yes, not ideally but pragmatically.

    I agree with someone that posted that a lot of the green growth is in tightening up door leaks, insulation, new windows, etc. When I worked at the City of Moscow it was my job to measure the energy use, costs and carbon footprint. I actually found it very interesting, and there is a lot of money to be saved by just making changes in our building codes to require higher standards of efficiency. We could say the same for water conservation, a lot of our sewer systems are very antiquated and lose water every year. These investments in infrastructure are not sexy in anyway, but very practical and necessary. We shouldn’t be focusing so much on the Keystone or coal, if we poured money into updating even our electrical infrastructure we could make do with less energy. We lose so much water and energy because we have not maintained what we have. Of course, these ideas aren’t as exciting to politicians.

    The woman that worked in my position after me is actually an LA grad that is now working on her PhD in environmental science, she is currently a NASA fellow, studying energy use at the Sustainability Base in CA. She told me that NASA is now focusing it’s energy on sustainable earth systems meant to decrease energy use but also prepare for the changes that global warming will bring about.

    I have always felt and recognized it when working at the city that “green” needs to mean green as in money, as in the savings. It isn’t hard to show the money and payback time that such investments would require. Often the savings are so high from retrofits that the initial investments are paid back very quickly. The money saved can be rolled over into other energy saving projects. One quick example being our local high school that received a grant to replace a very old, inefficient boiler system. This led to HUGE financial saving costs for the district as well as energy savings for all of us. Our local utility is heavily involved in encouraging and offering incentives for increasing energy efficiency. I helped gather information for some of the huge block grants that Obama put into place to help stimulate the economy. These things are just coming to fruition. A local parking lot downtown is receiving funding for lighting retrofits that will use a lot less energy, other places where energy could be saved is on traffic signals. Changing to LEDs saves a TON of money…even the utility guy I was working with was stunned by the savings in dollars. This parking lot is also be repaved and will use swales for storm water mitigation.

    So following the original intent of the conversation I guess we could ask would Romney/Ryan approve such funding?


    Empty Pageantry

         The press wet its small-clothes over Mitt Romney’s ebullience in last Thursday’s so-called debate, as these joint interview contests are styled these days. What a jaunty fellow Mitt came off as, compared to poor Mr. Obama, cloaked in presidential gloom, the wearisome woes of high office and all that – or perhaps just some indigestible tidbit served out of Air Force One’s galley, an infected cocktail weenie, a shrimp with attitude, or an empanada with the E coli blues, who knows….
         To be sure, Mr. Romney’s ebullience had a crafted tang to it, like one of those pumpkin-flavored beers made for the season, especially since all that verve was employed in the service of ebullient lying, statistical confabulation, and self-contradiction. At times his sheer manic zest veered in the direction of what used to be called hebephrenia in the old clinical sense of someone euphorically out-of-touch with reality.
          Alienation from reality being at the very core of the current zeitgeist, the American public can only admire somebody who displays such a buoyant disregard for what is actually happening in the universe. To me, Mr. Romney just gave off the odor of someone who will do anything to get elected while Mr. Obama evinced the dejection of someone doubting it was worth it.
         Of course, the issues this time around are framed with the presumption that all the current rackets of political economy can be kept running – everything from Fannie Mae to Medicare to suburbia to the systematic looting of the future by the Federal Reserve’s shell-game operations with every loser bond instrument lately fobbed off on hopelessly rigged markets – which is exactly the opposite of what reality has in store for us. In fact, the salient feature of these times is the remorseless running down of all these rackets to their entropic end points.
         The sad part is that everyone from the leadership down to the lowly clientele of food stamps and gamed disability payments is locked into the vast array of rackets that constitute our national life, and the truth of their failure thresholds is too terrifying to entertain. What to many appears to be a “conspiracy of elites” is just our way of life. Evidence of this is the increasingly eerie way that the financial crimes of recent years somehow vanish into the ethers of history without any official notice from either the media or the police powers of society. In a very serious time, we are just not a serious people. Anything goes and nothing matters.
         The central reality broadly ignored is the unavoidable contraction of industrial economies all over the world. The action is especially brutal in the USA, which actually gave up on the nuts-and-bolts of industrial production beginning in the 1970s, but managed to cream off other nation’s exertions by reserve currency hocus-pocus, pervasive executive control fraud, and a reckless spewage of  glitzy “consumer” service infrastructure over the landscape, which gave the appearance of vitality in the absence of value creation – the exact specialty, by the way, of predatory private equity squads like Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital. …… 
         You would think that the question of what we will do about all this might be at issue in the current election – how we might deliberately face the tasks of reorganizing farming, commerce, transportation, banking, schooling, and all the other practical matters of existence. There is an awful lot to talk about, and much to be done, but nobody is interested. Instead, we’ve mounted a foolish campaign to keep all the old rackets running, and there is no fundamental difference between Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama on that. The empty pageantry of these debates dresses this dangerous madness in the raiment of clowning.
    mark foster

    “when all was said and done, more was said than done”  author unknown.


    As the election heads into its final stretch, some poignant comments from Frank Bruni, courtesy of the NYT for the complete ignorance or  greater appreciation of all of us at Land8Lounge ……

    Bruni had an op-ed sitdown with Marco Rubio, the Hispanic hopeful version of Paul Ryan …..his commentary I found to be a very fair indictment of both parties and very thought provoking, provided you have any thoughts on this at all. 

    “With our debt soaring, our population aging and our infrastructure crumbling, we stand at a troubling crossroads. And yet politicians sell us low-tax, no-pain fantasies. They traffic in vagueness and treat us like toddlers.”……


    “At a time when our taxes are, in a historical sense, relatively low, our leaders vie for favor not by conjuring more sweeping and profound visions of the future but by leaning on the prosaic, default promise that they’ll leave more money in our pockets than the other guys will.”


    “There are several problems with this happy talk. One is that many economists dispute any such tidy correlation between tax cuts and quick, consequential growth.

    Another problem is that growth on the scale he’s suggesting isn’t really a plan or policy. If it were that controllable, we’d be growing like a punch-drunk weed, quarter after merry quarter. It’s a goal. A hope.

    But the biggest problem is that growth is the one putative solution that asks nothing of us: no trade-offs, no sacrifices. It perpetuates the seductive and irresponsible illusion that we can get our house in fiscal order without any terrible inconvenience after all.”

    It was a master class in wishful thinking, and I pick on it not because it was unusual, but because it distilled so many politicians’ refusal to have adult conversations with us, to assume that we’re grown-ups who can do some math and face some disappointment.”

    Here is the link to the full column. A mere two-pages in lengt, perhaps an overload for the impatient and low-informationally challenged amongst us.


    Jason T. Radice

    Consider the source. He’s a freakin’ restaurant critic. And for the NYT.


    Yea. I really take seriously an opinion on something as complex as free market economics from a dude who used to rate macaroni for a living.


    Jason, maybe you had a bad dining experience at a restaurant reviewed by Bruni. I have no idea beyond that. I will still accept his take on the vacuous and hollow slipshod suggestions for enduring economic recovery that come from both parties, because they avoid the hard reality that national sacrifice and commitment will be exactly what it takes and no one wants to admit that kind of heavy lifting is required. 

    Kind of like limp pasta without any sauce, eh ?


    If your still undecided, you might want to check your scalp.


    Some people out there might remember Ronald Reagan’ s overtly optimistic “It’s morning in America” political ads that made us start to feel good about ourselves (as a nation) again. Nothing wrong with that.

    Here is what the “Morning After” might look like if Rsquared prevail… pill needed 

    From Tim Egan (no fan of Rsquared) of the NYT…..

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    In 2008 people felt like they did not like the status quo. The idea was that change has to be better than what we had. The question “What if this Tag-Team Actually Wins” is just that – a question. A question, just as it was in 2008.


    What is no longer a question is “What if this Tag-Team does not win”. You know what that will get you because you are living it. You have the choice to see and understand the reality that you are living in or to believe the fantasy that all the nice things that were promised are going to become reality by simple decry and what clearly has not worked in four years will magically turn into prosperity for everyone except the rich.


    Fooled you once – shame on him. If he fools you twice it is on you.



    Here is the “grown-up” way to win a presidential election……

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