Thursday, August 29, 2013

Yes, Virginia, It Really, Truly, Sincerely DOES Matter Which Party Controls The White House

Four examples of why, courtesy of Rachel Maddow.

It's Well Worth Your While To Scroll Down For This One

I just shared this on Twitter, but I'm re-posting it here because it's worth it.  Scroll down to the photo involving the Beijing subway and plastic bottles.  No, it's not a joke; it's the sort of thing we should be doing more of.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Recognition of Climate Change From An Unlikely Source

Namely, George Shultz, Nixon's Secretary of Labor and Reagan's Secretary of State.  If we can just find a few more true believers among the "true believers," it might begin to make a difference.

How To Combat The Power Of Wall Street

As it turns out, the history of the Glass-Steagall Act provides a clue.  If the author is right, it's all the more reason to reinstate Glass-Steagall in some form.  Especially since doing so is one of the few ideas that has bipartisan support in the present Congress.  It's apparently not a priority for Obama, but it should be.

An Alternative To High-Speed Rail?

It sounds like a variation of old-fashioned pneumatic tubes, like the ones you see at drive-up bank teller stations, enlarged to the size of trains and aided with solar power.  On the other hand, if it's more affordable than current high-speed rail proposals, it's at least something to think about.

And Here's The Number One Reason Why Hillary Will Be Our Next President

Most voters are women.  And Hillary can and does attract support from women of all political backgrounds.  Take a look.  Then take another look.

And, Toward That Same End ...

Next Monday is Labor Day.  Around the world, Labor Day is observed on May 1.  But not in America.  In America, we fear doing or saying anything that might smack of Communism.

Maybe, just maybe, it's time we were a little less afraid.

Because, while good American workers (union and non-union alike) have been reluctant to inconvenience their corporate masters and ask for living wages and better working conditions, those corporate masters have been showing their gratitude toward those workers in a most peculiar way.

They've been shipping jobs overseas.  By the thousands.  Propping up sweatshops around the world, and the corrupt governments that make the sweatshops possible.

And,when you use your substandard wages to buy the goods that come out of those sweatshops, guess what?  You join the corporate masters and the corrupt governments as enablers of the corruption.  Slaves that recruit move slaves, leading the rich and corrupt to ask you to give even more of the less you already have.

Labor Day shouldn't be a day for a picnic, or a parade.  It should be a day to get off your rapidly diminishing assets and tell the corporate masters and the corrupt governments that you're mad as hell, and you're not going to take it anymore.  Don't make it a day of rest.  Make it a day of action.  That's what they're doing in New York, and that's what everyone should be doing from coast to coast.

And don't limit your work to political drives.  Strike.  Sometimes, it's the only way to get the attention of the pickpockets on Wall Street and in foreign capitals.  You know those wonderful folks who serve the fast food you eat?  They're willing to do it.  Why not you?

Finally, network.  It's called the World Wide Web; use it to organize labor action around the world.  When the corporate masters run out of sweatshop nations, they'll finally have no choice but to do the right thing.  We'll never know, until we try.

I hold no brief for Communist governments.  But not everything Marx said or wrote deserves to be condemned.  The last three sentences of "Das Kapital" are words that should resonate, and be heeded, by the exploited all over the earth:

"The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.  They have a world to win.  Workers of all countries, unite!"

One Nation, Too Easily Divisible

Last Saturday, members of blue America marched on Washington, formerly a physical swamp and now a political one, to commemorate one of the high points of not only the civil rights movement, but the American political process in action:  the 1963 March on Washington, whose 50th anniversary is today.  Today's commemoration was marked by speeches from no fewer than two former presidents and the current one, a man who owes his ability to hold the job in no small measure to the March's success.

Commemoration, however, is not the only goal of those assembling in Washington throughout the past week; they also want the nation to rededicate itself to realizing the "dream" that Martin Luther King, Jr. illustrated in his historic speech at the first march.  And, as did Dr. King, all of them want to use the tools of our political process--the Constitutional tools of speech, assembly, the press and the vote--to make the dream real.

Putting it mildly, however, they and the rest of us who feel the way they do have their work cut out for them.

Because while blue America has been remembering Dr. King and his dream, red America has been hard at work turning the American dream into a nightmare.  Foremost among its efforts:  the current Tea Bagger drive to shut down the government unless funding for health care reform is completely cut.  That's right:  it's a "principled" demand to throw the uninsured into the streets, because they can't imagine an America in which they don't get everything they ask for, when they ask for it.

And therein lies the source of America the divisible.  Even Barry Goldwater, nobody's idea of a bleeding-heart liberal, understood that successful politics in a democracy depends on compromise--and said as much.  To Tea Baggers, compromise, and its sister term, "bipartisanship," are curse words--and they say as much.   But, on and on, Democrats (and Obama in particular) continue to try to negotiate, as if this weren't true.  On and on, they pretend (at least publicly) to act as though we are all one big happy family, where no dispute can't be resolved by everybody giving a little.

Tea Baggers, however, give nothing but non-negotiable demands.  They pretend to have all of the answers, even when they don't have all of the facts.  They talk about obeying the Constitution, while making threats to subvert the government the Constitution established.  They talk about loving our nation, even while openly hating a majority of its citizens and even going so far as to stop voters from going to the polls.

It does not divide America any further than it is already divided to call out the Tea Baggers for what they really are:  not a political movement, not even a corporate diversionary tactic, but a Fifth Column dedicated to creating a religious plutocracy in which every American fears every other American, and is armed to the teeth to prove it.

It's time to face this fact:  America can only be one nation again by doing whatever it takes to destroy this Fifth Column.  Not with violence, not with lies, and not even (after a point) with money.  Those are the tools of the other side.  We must organize, we must verbalize, and we must all exercise the franchise that so many have fought and died for, whether Tea Bagger rules make it easy or not.  Above all, we must show at every opportunity that we are through negotiating with people who do not even accept those who do not agree with them as fellow citizens.

To hell with marching on Washington.  Let's march from sea to shining sea, and make America the divisible America the beautiful again.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Remember, You Heard It Here First (Or Some Of You Did)

The Democrats will hold on to the Senate in 2014.  And Georgia is one more reason why.

Go, Michelle!

Of Course It's The Real Reason They're Blocking It

And Obamacare will succeed, whether they want it to do so or not.

UPDATE, 08/28/13:  And because it will succeed, they have to use lies to stop it.  The truth is something very different.

Who Should We Trust With Our Tax Dollars?

In this country, when this question comes up, we trust the rich at the expense of the poor.  But it just may make more sense to trust the poor more than we do.  Here's how this works in an international setting.  Apparently, it works quite well.

Bravo, New Mexico!

A state with a pro-active policy to promote the preservation of its historic theaters.  Amazing.  Why can't this be a national policy?

An Absolute Disgrace

It's bad enough that we underfund the arts to the extent that we do, given their economic as well as their cultural impact.  But to allow the two main cultural agencies to go rudderless for months at a time is an absolute disgrace.  It's not as if there aren't a surplus of qualified people willing to do the jobs.  I would be half-tempted to throw my own hat in the ring, if I thought it would make a difference.  Unfortunately, I'm sure that it won't.

I referred to Obama as King Barack the Timid in an earlier post.  I'm afraid this may be another example.  Everyone with a stake in the arts (which, in fact, is all of us, whether we realize it or not) should get on the phone with the White House and not let up until there are two nominees.  Pronto.

History Reduced To A Chart

And notice how small a space the United States occupies on it.  Of course, this chart was created in 1931.  But how much of a difference would adding the subsequent years really make in it?

King Barack The Timid?

Having lost his "street cred" with movement conservatives through his involvement with the Senate CIR bill, Marco Rubio is trying to repair the long-range damage to his political career by jumping back (rhetorically, at least) onto the side of the crazies.  Case in point:  his recent warning that President Obama might use his administrative authority to grant temporary protective status to all current undocumented immigrants, if CIR is not enacted by the full Congress.  This warning received a boost last week by this article about a "secret memo" generated within the Obama Administration, discussing the possibility of the President using his administrative authority to grant a measure of legal status to the undocumented.

Immigration lawyers have long known that this was possible.  Some in fact (myself included) have argued that Obama should just go ahead and do it, given the current political logjam in Washington.  We have, regardless of how it originated, a human rights crisis in this country when we have 11 million or more people, most of them children, who are essentially people without a country.  They cannot conduct the most basic activities of human existence without fear of incarceration or worse.  And, despite that fact, they live their lives among us, affecting those lives in positive and negative ways regardless of what we do or don't do.  Those reasons have, or should have, the effect of sweeping aside all other considerations for the one individual, the President, who is charged to act on behalf of everyone in this country.

Obviously, Obama is reluctant to do this.  And there are practical considerations that support that reluctance.  What can be unilaterally done by one President can be unilaterally undone by another; witness Mitt Romney's refusal to commit to a continance of the DACA program if elected.  A legislative change, on the other hand, is far more permanent.  And the cooperation of Congress prevents its members from turning immigration into impeachment bait--something that they could do, on the other hand, with an administrative program (and something that, in the event of an all-Republican Congress in 2015, they might do through DACA and the provisional waiver program, which thus far represent the limits of Obama's administrative action on immigration).

Nevertheless, Obama's refusal to use his administrative power more openly to goad Congress into acting legislatively is why I have come to think of him as King Barack the Timid.  He's been under no real impeachment threat for the past six years, with the Senate in the hands of the Democrats during that time.  What would it have harmed to have set a deadline for Congressional action, promising to use his administrative authority in the event the deadline was met?  Nothing.  Even if he then had to pull the trigger on his promise, all he had to do was add a renewal feature to whatever relief he granted, thereby giving Congress the freedom to act at a later date.

Obama, and modern Democratic Presidents generally, have been far too modest in their conception of the Presidency.  Even the Framers understood that an executive needs the freedom to act unilaterally; that's why Article II of the Constitution is far less detailed than Article I.  Democrats, and Obama in particular, need to be less afraid of the potential of the office.  Just because that potential is flagrantly abused by Republicans doesn't mean that Democrats have to treat the Oval Office as a Cone of Silence.

Life Magazine, in a special issue on the Presidency, included a quote which described it as "a job as big as the man."  Leaving the question of sexism aside, that has and will always be true.  It would be nice to find out, sometime before January of 2017, exactly how big Barack Obama can be.  And, unless CIR becomes a reality, I hope that immigration will be the vehicle that helps the rest of us to find out.

The Real Fear That Climate Change Should Inspire

When it comes to climate change, fear plays an obvious role in the discussion.  For progressives, the fear is losing the only planet we've got.  For conservatives, as Chris Hayes points out here, the fear is the obvious solution:  a greater role for government in regulating pollutants and requiring alternatives to fossil fuels.  Hayes' response to that is to build on conservative big-government fear by urging progressives to paint a portrait of a post-climate apocalypse world--one in which resources will be scarce and some form of "big government will be needed to not only enforce rationing, but perhaps even take more drastic steps to manage the decimation of Earth.

It's a potentially clever approach, one that makes the big government component of the issue essentially inevitable, and pointing out that a little more government now might mean a lot less government later.  But it doesn't really deal with what is, for me, the underlying question:  why, in the face of so much mounting evidence to the contrary, do conservatives continue to go out of their way to pretend that climate change isn't happening.

I think the answer as as simple as it is disturbing:  They want it to happen.

Despite their rhetoric to the contrary, they believe that climate change is real.  They just see the possibilities in it for themselves, from mining at the poles to changing the political make-up of the nation, as the politically blue coastal regions sink into the ocean, creating new coastlines and expanding the economic strength of the interior, where conservatives dominate the political, economic and cultural scenes.  With apologies to Margaret Mitchell, frankly, they don't give a damn about the hardships caused on a melting planet.  They're too busy asking the one question they always ask:  "How can this benefit me?"

So they are content to play a long game, denying the existence of climate change until its effects are irreversible, and then using their leverage to finish the job of remaking the United States in their own image.

Unless, of course, you do something about it.

Climate change is the supreme political issue not just of our lifetimes, but of all time.  Literally, the planet's survival, and ours, is at stake.  And even if we survive physically, we may not survive the exploitation of its effects not by big government, but by the big businesses that have spent the last three decades making sure that their control of the economy would ultimately be complete.  And climate change could provide the capstone to their efforts.

Unless, of course, you do something about it.  Will you?  It's not yet too late.  But, if you decide to sit at home for the next election, that may change along with the climate.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

This Shouldn't Be A Fantasy

This map is, at present, a fantasy, but it shouldn't be.  A national high-speed rail system would create thousands of direct and indirect jobs, as well as reduce our dependence on oil (foreign and otherwise) and contribute to the fight against global warning.

It makes so much sense, in fact, that it's not surprising our current dysfunctional political system can't make it happen.  All the more reason to organize for and vote in 2014.

Maybe Voter Fraud IS An Issue

But maybe the wrong people are complaining about it.

Paternalism Isn't ALWAYS A Bad Thing

And now, a conservative has finally said so.

And, On A Related Note ...

A plane that could take off and land at an airport, journeying to outer space in the process?  It may just be possible, although the tone of this article annoys me greatly. has developed a tendency to embrace the forward-thinking attitude of the person who said (over a century ago) "Everything that can be invented has been invented."  Sadly, that mindset is on full display here.

But let it not be said that Slate isn't ready to tackle (pun intended) the burning issues of our time.  Recently, it has come out foursquare against the nickname of the NFL's Washington, D.C. franchise.  Hey, I hate the nickname too, but seriously?  This is where you take a stand and damn the consequences?  There must be more football fever in Seattle than I would have expected.

Think There Are No True Pioneers Left?

Then take a look at this.  This is what the spirit of our founders is really about, not putting on colonial clothes and holding up misspelled signs.  It's about chasing the frontier, even if it is the final one.

I believe the people who pursue this really will colonize Mars.  And I believe I'll live to see it happen.

Why Misery Shouldn't Love Company

Having just been in San Francisco earlier this summer, and having been inspired by its progressive spirit in the process, I was greatly disappointed to read this.

When are we going to realize that there is an alternative to making everybody equally miserable?  It's called unionization.  The way to restore the American dream isn't to drag union workers down to the level of those who do not have what it take to fight for their rights.  It's to make it easier for everyone to organize and exercise their rights.  The only reason worker's rights emerged from the Stone Age of the nineteen century is because unions fought for things we now take for granted (like weekends and holidays).

We don't need more suffering.  We need more unions--and members willing to fight to make them work.

Move The Olympics?

That is what is currently being urged by George Takei and other prominent athletes in the wake of the Russian Government's enactment of anti-gay legislation.  Unless they can show that this ugly law would actually have the effect of putting any athlete in harm's way, I disagree.

The Olympics are an honorable exception to my previous observation that sports should only be significant in our society for purposes of physical fitness and entertainment.  For over a century since their re-institution, they have served to promote international cooperation and good will, helping to put individual human faces on our concepts of other countries.  Given the fact that they provide a world-wide public platform for international relations, the temptation to politicize them is frequently tremendous, and almost always as misguided as it is counter-productive.

I admit to being an admirer of Jimmy Carter; I think his presidency gets a bum rap from most people.  But I have to agree with his detractors that his decision to have the United States boycott the Moscow Olympics in 1984, in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, was a real mistake.  It merely served to make the athletes of all the Olympic nations (especially the American athletes) victims of a tragedy in which they played no direct part.  It handed the Soviet government a propaganda weapon it did not deserve.  And it steadfastly avoided the question that John F. Kennedy directly and successfully confronted in the Cuban missile crisis:  how to use military means to confront a military assault on our interests while avoiding total destruction.

Our political interference with the Olympics was not limited to 1984 and Communists.  Consider the Munich Olympics in 1936, sponsored and organized by an even more odious government than that of the Soviet Union.  No one deserves a boycott more than the Nazis.  We didn't boycott them, of course, but we found a way to hand Hitler a propaganda victory, by denying two Jewish athletes (Marty Glickman, later to go on to fame as a sportscaster, and Sam Stoller) the chance they had worked for to compete and demolish the "master race" theory.  Of course, one of their replacements (Jesse Owens) did some damage to that theory.  But he also protested the exclusion of Glickman and Stoller, even though he benefited by it.  In doing so, and in competing, he showed more character than the nation he represented, AND showed that success can be both the best form of propaganda AND international relations.

If we take the next Winter Olympics away from Russia, who are we punishing?  The Russian people, who, living under an authoritarian government, can hardly be held fully responsible for the odious behavior of Vladimir Putin and his cronies.  Again, the Russian government gets a propaganda weapon it doesn't deserve.  And the anti-gay forces in the Russian population get yet another excuse to bully their victims--or worse.  Far better it would be to have openly gay athletes show up, compete, succeed, and have a chance to win the hearts and minds of the Russian people--and perhaps, just perhaps, soften the hearts and minds of its leaders.

The 2014 Winter Olympics should not be turned into yet another futile example of national posturing.  Nor are Olympic athletes, gay or straight, meant to serve as political pawns in the chess games of nations.  Let them go to Russia, and show both their skill and humanity.  That will do more to promote gay rights--in Russia and elsewhere--than any national boycott could possibly accomplish.

Ban Them For Life

That's all I have to say about professional athletes using drugs, whether for recreational or for performing-enhancement purposes.  Ban them for life.  And I'm talking about first offenders.  No excuses.  No exceptions.  Here's why.

Sports are not and should not be the highest priority in society.  To the extent that they are a priority at all, it should be first and foremost centered around personal physical fitness.  But that doesn't change the fact that sports have value as entertainment.  And I'm not complaining about that, either--I'm a consumer of sports as entertainment.  There's nothing wrong with treating them that way, provided that the entertainment value, based upon competition, isn't a fraud. And fraud exists anytime one player, or several players, attempt to tilt the playing field in their favor, whether by way of chemicals or other means.

That, of course, does not even begin to get into the issue of what most if not all of these drugs do in the long run to the athletes who use them.  Athletes have careers with very short-shelf lives, and drugs (even of the performing-enhancement variety) can have a way of shortening that shelf life further, regardless of what the short-term effects may be.  And then there's the question of the life they have left to them after their careers are over--that is, if they have not already destroyed themselves before then.  Athletes are people who, like the rest of us, are answerable to their families and friends, if not their fans.  I'm not going to get into the "role-model" argument here; I think it's a bit overrated, in that I don't know how much children really model their behavior after professional athletes (beyond buying jerseys with their names).  But, if you want to make that argument, feel free.  If it has some validity in reality, why overlook it?

But why a lifetime ban for first offenders?  Because they're adults.  They are old enough to understand why their conduct is wrong.  They wouldn't hide it if they thought it was acceptable.  And there's a simple solution, namely, the Nancy Reagan one.  They're certainly rewarded enough otherwise that asking them to refrain from doing things that destroy their integrity and that of the the sports they play seems like a modest "sacrifice."

We've tried half-measures.  We've tried short-term suspensions.  We've tried education.  We've tried public shaming.  It's time to go nuclear, for the simple reason that we've tried everything else.  One time, and you're done.  Along with your records.  And any championships you've helped your team to win.  I guarantee you that last provision will get everyone to take the problem seriously.  And yes, it's necessary.  Drugs are a problem for everyone in sports; everyone in sports is going to have to start taking responsibility for it.

And I don't mean tomorrow.  I mean RIGHT NOW.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Can We Say There's A Consensus Now?

I mean, can we all admit that global warming is both a real and solvable problem, now that four Republican EPA Administrators have come out and said so?

The Makings Of A Live Theater Revival?

As an advocate of saving older theaters, I've been concerned about the growing number of competitors over the years--from television to VCRs to DVDs to the Internet to tablets and smartphones.  At times, it has seemed to me that there are so many entertainment outlets of convenience that one is hard-pressed to sell people (and young people in particular) on the value of live performances and the venues built for them.

But, perhaps I'm wrong.  The recent spate of tanking blockbusters has stars looking at live theater as an alternative way of staying in front of the public.  Take a look.  Let's hope there really is something to this.

Want To Know the REAL Reason Detriot Is Bankrupt?

Because it's in a state that's a welfare state, all right--but for the wrong recipients.

This Is WHY We STILL Need Economic Stimulus

Because austerity is killing us.  The numbers don't lie.  Economic theory doesn't lie.  I mean, when someone from a public policy school named after Gerald Ford (nobody's idea of a tax-and-spend liberal) tells you that austerity is the wrong course, doesn't that at least suggest that you're getting good advice?  I mean, assuming that you don't want to believe the "lying" numbers?

Are we this determined to let the Tea Party folks slit our throats for the sake of their imaginary fears?  God help us if we are.  Because no one else will.

THIS Is Why We Need NATIONAL Gun Legislation

So that we don't have states like Virginia serving as supermarkets for criminals in New York--and so that we don't let Virginia's Governor lie about the effect of being a supermarket.

Are We Headed Toward A More Progressive America?

Think Progress seems to think so.  Would that it were true.  I believe that it is, and that, in the long run, there could be a more progressive America in the cards.  It's getting past the next 4 to 6 years that may be the tricky part, until the projected demographic changes take place.

But, whether or not we have enough voters, voting is never enough.  Democracy is a full-time occupation and, win or loss an election, the work of making it real is too important for anyone to allow electoral setbacks to get in the way of that work.

Organize.  Donate.  Write.  Speak out.  Every day.  Not just on Election Day.  If you want to be headed toward a more progressive America, it will take nothing less.

The Limits of Luxury

The recent purchase of Saks Fifth Avenue by the retail holding company that owns Lord & Taylor, along with this analysis recently published in The New York Times, illustrate even more than property values the futility of organizing society for the benefit of its wealthiest citizens.

As the Saks article illustrates, high-end retailing isn't what it used to be.  Once, Saks was among many New York-based stores that catered to what was once called, in a more genteel era, "the carriage trade."  That number had already shrunk considerable by the time I moved to New York in 1979 and, after my departure in 1982, it shrunk even further, not only in New York but across the country.  The few local stores that survived did so largely by becoming national retailers (Neiman-Marcus and Nordstrom's being two prominent examples).  Given the fact that Hudson's Bay, the purchaser of Saks, already owns another high-end Manhattan retail name plate, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that one will be eventually sacrificed in favor of the other.  If I had to make a prediction in this regard, I would bet on Saks surviving; it has had a stronger retail performance over the past two decades than L&T has had.

The Saks article focuses more on the lifestyle aspect of retail change in America, i.e. the growth of outlet malls and online shopping.  But, indirectly, those changes make a point about income inequality.  There was a time where middle-class income in this country was sufficient that middle-class shoppers could afford the occasional minor splurge at a Fifth Avenue-style emporium.  That is no longer the case--which goes a long way toward explaining the emergence of outlet shopping, often organized around tourist destinations so as to give the retailers a chance to compete for vacationers' dollars as well.  Obviously, Internet shopping, less dependent on bricks and mortar than traditional retailing, has become an attractive option as well.

But this has made the SFAs and L&Ts of the world almost exclusively dependent upon the uber-wealthy to meet their extremely high bottom lines--and there just are not enough uber-wealthy people to support the existing inventory of luxury stores.  This guarantees that the number of those stores will be reduced even further, reducing competition AND allowing merchants to drive up the insane prices up to even more insane levels.  Which, in turn, will mean that even the discounted outlet prices will be even higher.  And, ultimately, this will mean that almost no one will be able to afford luxury shopping at all.

It's this sort of insanity that shows that wealth redistribution, in some form or another, is not just a good idea, but absolutely essential to the survival of our society (not only nationally, perhaps, but internationally as well).  If there was a way to do it other than by wealth taxes, I would be all for it.  The money's got to come from somewhere; it might as well come from the people who have it and who debase its value and utility by sitting on it.  The Times article offers consumption taxes as an alternative, but I don't see how that can work if income is so low that it depresses the overall amount of consumption in society.

I do agree with the last sentence of the article:  "Get ready to choose a side."  I know where I stand, and you know it too.  Hopefully, you'll stand with me, and thereby with everyone.

The Value of Limits

In my earlier post about my trip to Minneapolis for the League of Historic American Theaters 2013 Conference, I touched briefly on the positive impact that historic preservation has on property values.  If this seems somewhat counter-intuitive, it shouldn't.  Here's why.

As the income gap in our society grows greater and greater, real estate developers have no incentive to build for any market except the top 1%, soon to be the top 1/2 %.  And therein lies the problem:  more and more developers are chasing a lucrative but shrinking market, leading to an oversupply of "luxury" buildings and a scarcity of affordable structures for everyone else.  Landmarking, and other types of preservation laws, have the effect of focusing development of structures and neighborhoods that serve a wider range not only of incomes, but social and cultural needs as well.  In effect, these laws preserve the diversity that feeds the creative and, ultimately, the economic vitality of all truly great cities. 

There is no better example in the United States of this process than New York City, as this article illustrates.  Of course, it also comments on the predictable whining of local real estate interests, who lament the fact that only 72% percent of the city is completely free to satisfy all of their development fantasies.  But cities cannot live on skyscrapers alone--there simply aren't enough actual or potential users to satisfy the unlimited greed of their would-be builders.  They could, in fact, have a much steadier and therefore more valuable profit stream if they focused on smaller-scale development that made maximum use of existing structures.  But human nature tends to mitigate against the force of this type of logic.  Preservation laws, on the other had, ensure that this logic prevails, at least to a degree--and, ultimately, to the benefit of everyone.

But it won't stop the whining, which has gone on for decades, and doubtless will go on for many decades more.  Let's hope that it never wins the battle for a better civilization.