By NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF

THE country has fallen on hard times, but those of us who love cities know
we have been living in the dark ages for a while now. We know that turning
things around will take more than just pouring money into shovel-ready
projects, regardless of how they might boost the economy. Windmills won’t do
it either. We long for a bold urban vision.

With their crowded neighborhoods and web of public services, cities are not
only invaluable cultural incubators; they are also vastly more efficient
than suburbs. But for years they have been neglected, and in many cases
forcibly harmed, by policies that favored sprawl over density and conformity
over difference.

Such policies have caused many of our urban centers to devolve into generic
theme parks and others, like Detroit, to decay into ghost towns. They have
also sparked the rise of ecologically unsustainable gated communities and
reinforced economic disparities by building walls between racial, ethnic and
class groups.

Correcting this imbalance will require a radical adjustment in how we think
of cities and government’s role in them. At times it will mean destruction
rather than repair. And it demands listening to people who have spent the
last decade imagining and in many cases planning for more sustainable,
livable and socially just cities.

The changes needed may seem extravagant, but they are not impossible. Many
of those who see the current economic crisis as a chance to rebuild the
country’s infrastructure have pointed to previous major government public
works projects, like Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Projects Administration
in the 1930s and 1940s and Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1956 National Interstate
and Defense Highways Act, as a reminder of what this country was once
capable of.

Although the W.P.A. is mostly associated with rural dams and roadways,
there’s hardly a city in America where it didn’t leave its mark, from
riverfront parks to schools and housing projects.

Eisenhower’s investment in highways was equally audacious, but its effect on
cities has not always been positive; in many ways the Highways Act set the
stage for decades during which suburban interests trumped urban ones.
Read the rest of this entry »

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education funds

March 21, 2009

Good article in the NYT.

“These formulas were the best vehicle for getting these emergency economic recovery funds out to school districts as quickly as possible, to help them immediately stave off layoffs,” said Rachel Racusen, a spokeswoman for Representative George Miller, Democrat of California, who is chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor.

 

Lots of problems, but moeny seems to be coming quickly.

Stimulus money for calif

March 14, 2009

SACRAMENTO—California is in line to receive at least $31.5 billion in federal stimulus funding, much of which will help plug budget shortfalls to education and other programs, state officials reported Tuesday.Billions more will be available through competitive grants that Schwarzenegger administration officials say they will pursue aggressively. Landing additional grant money would push California’s total closer to $50 billion, administration officials said.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s chief deputy budget director, Ana Matosantos, told lawmakers the administration “will access all funds available.”

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office released the first official rundown of the money California is expected to receive from the $787 billion stimulus bill.

Most of the money will be used to fill gaps in education and health care programs. California also will get help with housing, welfare and unemployment programs. About 8 percent of the total will fund transportation projects.

Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor urged lawmakers to begin using the federal money to start highway and road projects that have been stalled by the state’s budget crisis and the frozen credit markets that have prevented the state from borrowing money. He also urged them to act quickly to draw as much Medicaid funding as possible.

 article by Hazel Henerderson. This in the categoy of reset, not rebound.

THE NEW FINANCIERS

By Hazel Henderson

http://www.ethicalmarkets.com/?p=1642

Bay area housing

March 5, 2009

Here is a blog with specific focus on us. i don’t like the

hanging implication (pun intended) about the poor, but the site has very useful info.Tthe problem with the poor is we have a kind of economy

which does not share with them (us).

Middle Class: big trouble (long post)


I found it interesting that President Obama has already identified the pressing need to rescue the middle class. Without a middle class, then government ceases to exist, because from the Roman Empire to the present, it is the middle class which pays the bulk of the taxes. The wealthy find waivers and exceptions via corruption and guile, while the poor pay little or nothing but extract much.

Stiglitz and Stern hope that the new administration will take global warming seriously:

Obama’s chance to lead the green recovery, by Joseph Stiglitz and Nicholas Stern, Commentary, Financial Times: We face two crises: a deep global financial crisis … and an even deeper climate crisis… The scale of risk from climate change is altogether of a different and greater magnitude, as are the consequences of mismanaging or ignoring it. …

The investments necessary to convert our society to a low-carbon economy … would drive growth over the next two or three decades. They would ensure that growth, with accompanying improvements in standards of living, was sustainable. The path that we have been on is not.

The economic crisis will leave the US and other economies greatly weakened and it will be imperative to increase efficiency. One area in which there is ample room for improvement is in the energy efficiency of businesses, consumers and the government. …

Private investments are driven by market signals. These signals are distorted because we have been pricing one of the world’s scarcest resources – a “good” atmosphere; or the societal costs of emissions, which lead to a “bad” atmosphere – at zero. Not surprisingly, this has led to inefficient outcomes, with emissions levels too high and too little effort devoted to energy conservation and research.

Providing a strong, stable carbon price is the single policy action that is likely to have the biggest effect in improving economic efficiency and tackling the climate crisis. … We may not be able fully to resolve the risks of the financial crisis quickly; but we can take actions now that will markedly reduce uncertainties about future carbon policies and prices. … The problems of global warming cannot be attacked without the participation of all countries. The world has been waiting for the US: there is now reason to believe that it is ready to lead.

Stiglitz on Green tech

March 3, 2009

Obama’s chance to lead the green recovery

By Joseph Stiglitz and Nicholas

Stern

Published: March 2 2009 19:16 | Last updated: March 2 2009 19:16

We face two crises: a deep global financial crisis, caused by inadequate management of risk in the financial sector; and an even deeper climate crisis, the effects of which may seem more distant but will be determined by the actions we take now.

The scale of risk from climate change is altogether of a different and greater magnitude, as are the consequences of mismanaging or ignoring it. The US, in particular, has a window of opportunity to act on the financial crisis and, at the same time, lay the foundations for a new wave of growth based on the technologies for a low-carbon economy.