Joe Paolino’s boomerang

Joe Paolino’s boomerang Greg Gerritt 9/26/2016
The some of the landlords who own downtown Providence, and some of their allies, have decided that Kennedy Plaza and its surrounding area would become much more valuable real estate if they could cause the bus depot and all of the low income people who are drawn to the bus depot and/or the city center in general, to disappear. Seems former mayor Joe Paolino decided that he no longer cared about the community, he wanted more valuable properties, so he started a campaign against the poor.

Every rational person in Rhode Island then told Mr Paolino that his plan was very strange as it went against all constitutional law and common sense. But in the very weird world in which nearly all public policy decisions are made by and for the people with a lot of money, i guess he became so out of touch with reality that the thought it made some kind of sense.

There are several major flaws in Joe Paolino’s proposal. Some of which have come out in the public discussion, some that need lots more exploration.

We need a real plan to end poverty, because no matter what you do, low income people are drawn to center cities. This is a hard and fast rule that is as old as cities, 8000 to 10000 years. When people have almost nothing, when they are displaced from their land, conquest or mechanization have the same effect, or the factories have closed, the only place they can go is to the city. Elites can try to move them around the city, but all that does is move them, it does not end the poverty or the magnetic attraction cities have for the displaced. Mayor Elorza and all of the advocates are right, its a phony plan without jobs or even a whiff of a brighter future for the people being moved around so landlords can claim bigger depreciations.

In the future a bus hub right downtown is going to be more critical to our survival than it is now. Instead of marginalizing transit, to reduce our climate footprint and keep Providence above sea level, Providence needs to eliminate almost all automobile entrance to the city and get everyone riding transit, biking, boarding, or walking. Mr Paolino has not considered the climate implications of his monstrosity, or maybe he does not care. But in any case, the bus hub belongs downtown, and you sound like a scoundrel wanting to push low income people away from your real estate properties and into someone else’s neighborhood and make it harder for people catching buses.

But you have already heard those points from others. What you are not hearing is that your economic development strategy is self defeating, An economy based on the needs of the real estate, finance, and insurance industries (you know the FIRE that burned down the economy in 2007) is guaranteed to swing wildly between bubble and bust while pumping up the assets of the landlords and the banks, and displacing many other people. Piketty has made it quite well known that the greater the inequality in your community, the less well the economy will perform. Economies that have reached the point where real estate redevelopment is the underpinning of other economic activity are in big trouble. They become the early adopters of being a place with no work for most workers,. So they try to displace them away from their properties. But as the inequality and the end of jobs as we know them further displaces people, as you get more climate refugees, you get more people (and water) flooding downtown right onto the very properties you want more money from.

It is time for economic development from the bottom up. We can not rely on churning buildings downtown to create jobs for the people who do not have one. We can not rely on the wetlabs, communications businesses, dirty industry infrastructure, and app developers to create jobs for the people who need them, as they never will. The meds and eds strategy creates only a small number of jobs, most of those higher paying jobs, mostly to be filled from away, while creating few for the people already here. In other words displace the poor and have many more join those already on the streets is exactly what is intended, as it is the only way for the rich to steal more as the global economy and ecology strangle and overheat. There are now people asking for money at every street corner, people who feel permanently displaced from the economy.

The answer to our woes is not more concentrations of wealth, though that is the preferred economic development strategy these days. So maybe I am pissing into the wind. But he wall is cracking in the face of the resistance. We are not letting you build any more fossil fuel infrastructure what so ever, and we are going to stop the running of economies to benefit the landlords of downtown and the bankers. We want clean power and we need democracy. When real estate and finance rule, the people suffer. The debts choke an economy, causing it to squander resources.

A most excellent way to understand the difference between the preferred solutions of the 1% and reality is to compare business climate rankings with various measures of the strength of an economy. No actual study has ever found a correlation between business climate rankings and economic performance. None. No study has ever found a correlation between strong environmental regulations and weak economic performance. None. Piketty demonstrated that inequality harms economic performance too. You want an example? How about Rhode Island. We get the worst rankings in the business climate indexes, but if you look at economic performance we are pretty close to the middle in growth rates, median income, and other performance based evaluations, and hardly a week goes by without the quality of life and new business start up culture being highlighted in the national media.

In other words on balance what the state and other institutions are doing to promote the profits of the 1% is harming us. Cutting taxes for the rich is useless for everything except lining their pockets and causing cities to neglect basic infrastructure. It does not help us systematically end poverty or stop climate change. Trickle down economics is like getting peed on. Which is why there are more and more efforts to restrict democracy and corral the people. Which is why the resistance grows. Daily and on many fronts simultaneously.

The former Mayor, Governor Wall St, the funders of the political machines that pull the strings on Smith Hill, they are all in need of some education on where the economy is going to go and why as the climate crisis rolls on and economic growth slows with the destruction of the resource base and greater “natural” disasters. The future is going to be more locally self reliant. We are going to locally generate renewable clean power. We are going to grow more of our own food. Our transport systems will be less automobile oriented. And the FIRE industries will not be allowed to burn down the economy again. If your plans to revitalize downtown do not take these things, including a slowing of economic growth, the odds of success are pretty slim.

Warming up the Crowd for Jill Stein September 23 2016

Good afternoon, I am Greg Gerritt, and today i am wearing my Green Party hat, As you know, we all fulfill a variety of roles in the community, Today is Green Party, tomorrow I lead the fence building party at the community garden we are building in my neighborhood. I note the garden because some of the other hats I wear to RIC in my work in the community, hats related to sustainability, food security, and compost, led me to people who were willing to invite Jill Stein to speak on campus, and made the process of organizing the event much easier. Thank you to the RIC Environmental Club for inviting Jill Stein, and thank you club adviser and compost conference partner Jim Murphy for smoothing the way. Truly appreciated. And thank you to the administration of RIC for allowing Dr Stein to speak here.

I want to tell you how much of a treat you are in for this afternoon. Dr Jill Stein is a breath of fresh air in the campaign season. Yes, I am biased. I helped found the Green Party 32 years ago, but even if you are not a supporter, Jill Stein is running the type of Presidential campaign that all Americans long for. A candidate that is out on the stump meeting people, talking with people about what is really going on in their lives and communities, and offering common sense proposals that work for communities and the planet rather than the war machine and Wall St.

Do we not all long for a candidate with transparency, compassion , intelligence, common sense, good judgement, and the ability to connect with crowds and people’s higher sense of purpose and values. A candidate who personifies American virtues in a way we wish all of our presidential candidates would. I could say much more, but I an not introducing Dr Stein, I am just a warm up act, and have a different task today, The task of suggesting why you might want to work with the Green Party here in Rhode Island post November 2016. Besides, you are actually going to see Dr. Stein speak this afternoon. Tell me after if it is not a breath of fresh air in the rancid landscape of American politics. Even if you are not voting for her.

Here are a few things that may inspire you to work with the Green Party in your neighborhood going forward

I hope everyone who is in the room votes Yes on question 6 this November. It is the bond to create a $35 million fund to build Green Infrastructure projects, Manage stormwater, build new parks, reduce sedimentation and pollution. The Green Party came in to the world of Green Infrastructure twenty years ago, with the Green Party forcing the Narragansett Bay Commission to put in a public document, the documents that allowed the Combined Sewage Overflow project to go forward, a long term commitment to Green Infrastructure, though no one knew what to call it back then. As usual, we were just slightly ahead of our time, but the world has followed. 18 years later the NBC called me up and asked me to come back and help them finally start to implement GI in the last phases of the $500+ million project. But they are still a bit reluctant.
When the conmen came to town in 2004 they convinced Governor Almond, the Economic Development Corporation, and all of legislative leadership that if the state of Rhode Island spent a billion dollars to build a port they could get shipping companies to turn it into one of the biggest ports in the world. It was touted as the economic miracle rhode Island had been waiting for since 1920. You think 38 studios was a disaster, this one would have been epic. People all over Rhode Island rallied against the monstrosity on the bay, and finally we pushed hard enough for the con men to be exposed as shysters who had been running this scam, to no avail, all over the world. What the Green Party brought to the discussion, was the exploration of unfair trade, deforestation around the world, climate change, the murder of the indigenous to steal the forest to build the products in the containerships, and how a container port would undermine Rhode island workers. Again the first ones to put out the call on issues that have become the main currency of the resistance to globalization. And to put it to practical use when working on policy issues in our community

And that is why we need you now. More than ever the empire is heading us for the rocks. The frackers are destroying both the water and the air. Wall St. continues to steal. The economic development strategy offered by Governor Wall St is riches for the 1% and greater poverty for most of us. We have the worst health care system in the industrial world.
But the most hopeful thing is the resistance. The resistance to pipelines and fracking, the resistance to militarism, the resistance to Wall St and real estate speculators continuing to loot us and create another bubble and crash rather than a sustainable economy. The two party system , as George Washington noted, is the worst of all possible worlds. The people always lose. There is already a political party completely lined up with the resistance, one open to all the members of the resistance. Maybe it is time to help it evolve into a more potent force.

As the Jefferson Airplane sang “We are all outlaws in the eyes of Amerika”. There is a warrant on Jill for resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Any other presidential candidates on the front lines? When Black Lives Matter was evolving in Providence, the Green Party did not play a leading role, we played a supportive role, bringing a few people together to smooth planning the early rallies, and offering up our bullhorn for them. We also encouraged members of the resistance to think broadly about the nature of the resistance and all of the different ways we could synergize.

Finally, in an age in which the 1% are grabbing more and more and the rest of us get poorer, we need to directly confront the economic development strategies that elected officials offer us on behalf of their Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate industry donors. You know the FIRE sector, it is the one that burnt down the economy in 2008. The Green Party of Rhode Island is the only organization in Rhode Island participating in the development discussions that makes sure that the end of growth, dealing with climate change and food insecurity, and the transformation to clean energy are recognized as the only practical the economic development strategy for the future. An economy based on real estate deals by downtown developers and builders of suburban office parks, or catering to the medical industrial complex is a dead end.

Right now only the Green Party is pointing out that there is no correlation between a state’s “ Business climate” and the health of its economy, and therefore easing the regulations that keep the planet and our communities a bit healthier than they might otherwise be is actually the WORST development strategy if we want a widespread and shared prosperity. The current strategy is focused on enriching the the 1% by giving them ever greater shares of the natural and built wealth often using debt to bind communities to destructive projects and practices. Maybe 10% of the population does well economically with this strategy. Everyone else is being replaced and displaced. Robots may be signaling the end of work.

So the Green Party offers both a critique of what is wrong and the Green New Deal. A program to put everyone to work fixing the infrastructure, the food system, and the energy production system and transforming it into a totally clean Green system. Informed by the idea that “you can not heal ecosystems without ending poverty, you can not end poverty without healing ecosystems, and if you do not close the war machine all else will fail”, nothing less will help us transform our relationship with climate change into one of true prevention and healing while creating communities that work for everyone.

Join the party of the resistance. We have flyers, sign up sheets, facebook pages, twitter. Find us. And vote Green in 2016.

Musing on the resistance to the corporate order

I wrote this in response to an article by Steve Alhquist on RI Future on powerplant resistors at the ISO hearing. .  It was originally posted there as a comment, reacting to the  article and one of the commentators who was chastising demonstrators for not opposing the powerplant the way he wanted them to.  greg


Several Strands

First to recognize Steve’s very useful analysis of the players and their connections. Always helps to understand the powerful forces arrayed against us. And yet we resist.

That ISO has recognized, as have the states, that the current system is biased against dealing with climate change and justice is a good thing. years behind the curve, but a good thing.

I also want to echo salgal in reminding Bill that there are many different ways to change the world, and we never know which ways will be effective until we try them. We also find that different ways are effective for different people. And right now we need every different way to contest the corporate monster eating the planet. We need people going to hearings to remind the ruling class that they do not have a monopoly on wisdom or information. And sometimes by talking when you are not supposed to. We all need people writing letters to the governor and calling in political favors. We need football players taking a knee instead of standing for the anthem. We need business people funding giant windfarms in the ocean and we need community gardens, solar panels, Watershed Watch, the Burrillville Land Trust, and the Audubon Society.

I try to do those things I do well so that i can most efficiently and effectively contribute to the health of my community and my planet. I often end up with tasks no one else seems to be ready to do. Writing about things no one else is talking about. Being on the cutting edge where I can to bring new things to the discussion. Should I stop doing that because you think I should be writing about something else. One of my favorite quotes is from Stephen Biko who was murdered in a South African prison by the government. He said “I write what I like”. Which gave him and others who follow that creed, the ability to write about what is important.

I have friends across the entire spectrum of the resistance. From those chaining to gates and spray painting bulldozers, to those who talk back to the ruling creeps in hearings and will not sit down, to those who file law suits and endure the state house. None of us know what it will take to defeat the powerplants, pipelines, and liquefaction facilities. So join your colleagues in honoring all of their work in its diversity, and also recognize that those who do it one way today, may be doing something you like tomorrow, and vice versa.

Response to article on the destruction of forest peoples and forests and other stuff

Urbanized communities have always destroyed forests and either absorbed or killed all of the forest people. The forests close to the coast, close to harbors, with abundant water and good soils, the people who lived in them were urbanized or killed centuries or millennia ago. What we see is the urban people of the planet seeking the last remaining forests because civilization as we know it must have forest products, wood, paper, and other items, in order to thrive. As a person of wild spaces as well as cities, I know that the remaining indigenous communities are our last chance to save the plane. Understanding how civilizations eat forests makes me not only fearful for the forest and mountain people, it helps me understand the demise of urbanized places as well. We need to move to an economy no longer based on growth to preserve forests and forest people and the rest of us.


Another short essay  written in response to an on line article

Time for the people to start leaving the places with no water before they turn into refugees and the rest of us starve. It seems as if most of the states in the west are run by climate deniers. Therefore they are very unlikely to do any real planning for what to do as the water evaporates. I sure hope by the time they walk to Rhode Island they have figured out they better start thinking very differently about climate change.



The pipeline is a fools errand

To the Editor,

John Kostrzewa, in his September 4 article “Pipeline would be a conduit for jobs” trots out the same tired, and long since disproven arguments for building more climate destroying fossil fuel facilities. In this case a pipeline to bring us more gas. Study after study has demonstrated that the gas crunch is a fiction and nothing has shown that the gas pipelines will do anything to reduce the cost of energy in New England. Read the studies by the Acadia Center and the Conservation Law Foundation. The reality is that our future is solar and to put baskets of money into fossil fuel infrastructure threatens to burden us with a debt that will prevent a smooth transition to green energy and bring down the economy.

Big business and their shills in the chattering classes have tried to sell Rhode Islanders these same old tired myths for years. Sometimes they slide one by and we get a 38 Studios. Other times the people send them packing, saving us a fortune. This time the climate is too important for anyone to buy the lies and the economic analysis describes a world no one has seen for decades. The people of Burrillville and the Southside of Providence have spoken very clearly. We do not want projects that harm the environment and our communities that would be better off replaced with clean alternatives, especially when the long term economic benefits of going green are so apparent. No new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Greg Gerritt