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November 28, 2011

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The cruelty of using water rates to propel a conservation policy isn't immediately obvious to some people. Even CenPho residents sometimes lapse into EZ thinking about this issue ("it's a desert, fer crissakes!"). But if you've spent five minutes outside on a July afternoon, the absence of shade is a horrifying reminder just how fragile our defense against the sun can be. We're not going to leverage decorative desert landscaping into "greatness" or sustainability. I love the Sonoran desert more than anything else about Arizona, but even in cooler months, the dullness of xeriscaping is overwhelming. It virtually mocks the feebleness of our efforts at civic improvement.

I think Greg Stanton won partly because he was perceived as the real conservative in the race. That is, he doesn't simply see Phoenix as a real-estate hustle like Bob Robb or Elliott Pollack. He gets that Phoenix cannot substitute confidence fairies in place of real economic strategies. And he's seen the damage done to the city by free-market vandals who scrape the desert in order to plant stucco and particle-board crapola. This city, increasingly, resembles the catastrophe of its own weak motives.

Phoenix is not going to self-correct without extraordinary effort - the inertia of the last 60-some years still applies. We got fat, dumb, and happy off cheap growth and even after the worst crash in anyone's memory, the instinct is still there telling us to market ourselves to dumb, dull rubes. But the rubes are a majority of voting citizens, so they can still veto a future worth having. Stanton needs more than his good intentions and clarity of vision. He needs a citizenry galvanized by a shock of recognition.

"If anything, Phoenix needs to be prepared to be a smaller place."

True, Phoenix desperately needs to develop a habit of foresight. But, there are numerous reasons why the population might continue to grow . In any event, Phoenix needs to be prepared to be a much more culturally integrated city of Mexamerica.

Whoa.

There is NO REASON to build out any biosciences anything. There are no jobs for the graduates.

Don't waste money on this stuff. Create jobs first. We don't want people with biosciences degrees to clean toilets at WalMart or flip burgers.

There is NO JOB MARKET for the graduates and therefore no need to WASTE MONEY on it.

Phoenix needs to prepare for 25% unemployment in 2014 and mass starvation. That is what is coming, particularly if a Republican wins in 2012.

There is no chance in Hell of anything getting better, because the US government wants to destroy American jobs and cut wages and employment in the United States. Corporations want slave labor. Therefore Phoenix will be a dusty slum.

Vote against the Corporatists or die. Prepare for a revolution or prepare to starve.

It doesn't matter who the mayor is.

The only thing that matters is JOBS.

No mayor is going to be remotely successful with the economy that we are going to get after 2012.

Phoenix is about to be annihilated. We need to move to another country. This one is toast.

Word is out, the Phoenix trend is to build up vs. out. Also, Stanton is pro sustainability which in itself can have a major positive impact on local Phoenix economy. If each occupied home in metro-phx can save $500 per year on utilities, it would sustainably release billions of dollars into local economy creating product demand, jobs - a shift in the right direction.

"If each occupied home in metro-phx can save $500 per year on utilities, it would sustainably release billions of dollars into local economy" - Bill Clay

Please forgive me, Bill, but your understanding of the intersection of Arizona and regional economics with energy seems to me to be quite naive.

The system in Arizona has been shifting energy costs into the small business sector for decades. Those hidden energy costs are then passed on to Arizona's consumers of goods and services.

I would enjoy reading your comments after reading http://ratecrimes.blogspot.com/2009/07/executive-summary.html

Where does urban end and suburban begin? Is there a fairly clear line, or is it gradual? I really don't know, but I do believe older suburbs of tract homes that are now considered slummish, like Maryvale, have the potential to once again be desirable, as they now have mature and abundant shade. I think if crime and poverty could be alleviated without displacing people simply because of lower economic status, these types of suburbs could enjoy a renaissance of sorts, maybe fueled by an influx of retired blue-collar to middle-class people, supporting a network of younger health service, home renovation and maintenance people, and small industry. I would love to see the canal system expanded and fully utilized, creating a series of inter-connecting, well-watered, shady areas, with areas set aside for community gardens,and with minimal flows-enough to support fish and wildlife-year around, which would be of more benefit to more people than cotton fields. Maybe a potential huge future industry will be in de-construction and salvage of ill-advised, far-flung failed subdivisions.

de-construction, love dat word pbm
Mick a quiz? Whom said,
"what you rebelling against"? And someone else said "whata you got"?

Nice piece Jon, I am sure Phxsunfan is eagerly anticipating the savior Stanton.
But I agree with Soleri, "Stanton needs more than his good intentions and clarity of vision. He needs a citizenry galvanized by a shock of recognition."
Good luck! By my observations the mexican population in the valley "gets it" more so than most, particularly all those folks in the elite east valley and Snobsdale. I walked through Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall a few nights ago and it was busy. All the restaurants and bars were packed. I saw a number of folks drinking beer out of thin "two foot" tall glass containers and living it up like there were no financial concerns in the world. Or maybe after you drink out of that big a container you have NO worries?

Chandler Mall also stays very busy.
I go to these two malls for my daily hour or more walks if I am not on the mountain.

Mr. Talton wrote:

"Phoenix's mayor is more powerful than any of his peers in the state, but the city remains (foolishly, to my mind) a council-manager form of government. The mayor is "just one vote," as an intelligent, ambitious councilman told me years ago."

Contrary to the prevailing media wisdom, Stanton has a great deal of power precisely because his is the single, deciding vote between two opposing but equally balanced blocs: fiscal conservatives Tom Simplot, Sal DiCiccio, Bill Gates and Jim Waring (Simplot is a former Republican who is a close friend of Wes Gullet -- he switched to the Democratic Party because he is homosexual and a social liberal); and Michael Johnson, Michael Nowakowski (Democrats) and the moderate Republicans Thelma Williams and Claude Mattox.

Stanton can make either bloc's dreams come true simply by casting his vote on their side. Not only can he tempt or compel members to trade votes in order to see (parts of) their agendas enacted, he has the flexibility to enact solutions across the spectrum of political philosophy on a case by case basis, insofar as either side's position corresponds more closely with his own on key issues.

In short, for each bloc, Stanton is the only game in town on many issues, without whom a stalemate is guaranteed to paralyze the Council.

Good analysis Emil but I think Sal is going to be kept in the closet and that Stanton is going to get fairly good support from his fellow council persons. That said, How much will the council be able to get done given the climate of the rest of Arizona particularly the state legislator which has been the arch enemy of Phoenix and Tucson for years. And can they attract world class technology to come?

Jon, You know I am the sand and Sahuaro man. Recently got a new book on Sahuaros, So, I repeat myself about the "water" issue. As much as I admired Teddy Roosevelt and Carl Hayden and Mo Udall I wish they had not brought "the Water." Your piece reminded me of the young Mexican kid in Chinatown telling Jack Nicholson that at nite "the water comes. So will Phoenix grow as some wish to envision or will it retreat into the sand from which it came.

Bill Clay wrote:

"Stanton is pro sustainability which in itself can have a major positive impact on local Phoenix economy. If each occupied home in metro-phx can save $500 per year on utilities, it would sustainably release billions of dollars into local economy creating product demand, jobs - a shift in the right direction."

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with what Bill Clay wrote. The question is how each home in metro Phoenix can do this, where the money to accomplish this would come from, and what legal authority or incentive can insure that it actually is done. Second, and to the point of this blog, what does Stanton mean by "sustainability" and what if any policies does he propose that could, as a practical matter, result in an average $500 per year per home on utility costs?

Here's the sum total of Stanton's reported remarks from the Arizona State University Global Institute of Sustainability debate which he and Gullet participated in:

"When asked for a specific example of a sustainable effort within a city they support, Stanton did not give a direct answer, but mentioned that Phoenix is doing well and needs to continue to move forward, especially with solar. . .When asked if the city should offer incentives to energy companies, Stanton gave a definite yes. . .Both candidates said they support urban gardening and building codes which support urban gardening, as well as a need for more alternative fuels within the city. Both promised to create lofty goals for sustainability and to make it a priority."

http://www.ahwatukee.com/news/article_8ce758ce-018a-11e1-a0a8-001cc4c03286.html

OK, let's see:

* Subsidies for solar. Question: How much, paid for how and by whom? Implemented on what scale? If the city increases sales taxes or fees to fund an increased solar subsidy, doesn't this simply move money around rather than saving each household, unless it can be demonstrated that the subsidy saves homeowners more than it costs them? What about replacing old, inefficient air conditioners and heaters with newer, more efficient models in older, less wealthy areas? How much energy is lost there? Ditto weatherstripping and insulation.

* Urban gardening. Question: Is this really the best use of scarce water resources -- inefficient private mini-plots in which we all grow veggies without the agricultural knowledge, the soil, the tools, or the efficiency of scale for maximizing output for a given input?

* More alt-fuels within the city. What does this mean? A few more cars in the city fleet which run on liquified or compressed natural gas?

Shouldn't Stanton and the city council create a permanent federal grant application and lobbying team to get as much federal funds for home improvements as possible? After all, if grant money is already allocated (or will be), it's just a question of who gets it.

Can someone (Bill?) please tell me what, if any, concrete policies Stanton proposes?

If you want to save on energy costs, install a swamp cooler. An easy $500 saving every year.

My next proposal: de-annex Maryvale, Awautooke (sic); Anthem.

@soleri, from your link (thanks):

Such an outright assault on expression and speech are not the product of a free country and rightfully raised red flags within the U.S. State Department.

"Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights," the State Department said. "We have called on Russian officials to safeguard these freedoms, and to foster an environment which promotes respect for the rights of all citizens."

LOL. The voice of Moral Authority speaks!

Jon, would you please tell us how Phoenix and Scottsdale might collaborate once Mayor Stanton takes hold? It appears to me that each exists in its own myopic silo . . .

I had a dream:
Everyone in the Salt River valley lived in homes underground or halfway underground. Doors and windows facing south. Natural desert terrain over the top.

I had a dream:
Each house had two buried cement cisterns. One for holding solar heated hot water for winter heating. One holding chilled water for summer cooling.

I had a dream:
Anyone running for public office could serve one term AND you had to live in a scorpion infested house during your term. And you couldn't kill the scorpions.

I had a dream:
Rail connected all cities. Every train had a bar car, drinks free. Intra-city travel, bikes, pedal cars, walking, bicycle cabs.

I had a dream:
Organized religion punishable by death. We send you to your maker express line style. You are so adamant about your belief, go tell it to him in person, right now.

I had a dream:
People could choose to be put to sleep at their choosing, gently like pets.

I had a dream. Then I woke up. I looked around. This is a nightmare, right?

morecleanair,
The problem is Scottsdale. It is the one that wants to exist in its "exclusive," white-right apartheid silo. Scottsdale has increasingly refused to be part of the region, from light rail to the Phoenix-Tempe bio marketing project. It also is a vampire squid that sucks economic assets and consumer dollars out of Phoenix, even though it wouldn't exist aside from a resort town without its proximity to Phoenix. So the problem is Scottsdale's mindset and politics, neither of which is within Stanton's power to change.

Cal, if you want to preserve saguaros and the Sonoran desert, then push for dense cities and an end to sprawl and leapfrog development.

Thanks for that update on Occupy, Petro. Regarding ALEC, the group People for the American Way just released a report, titled "ALEC in Arizona: The Voice of Corporate Special Interests in Arizona's Legislature".

http://www.pfaw.org/media-center/publications/alec-arizona-the-voice-of-corporate-special-interests-the-halls-of-arizona#_Toc309721659

From its "key findings":

ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, serves as a voice for corporate special interests in state legislatures across the country. Its corporate executives, lawyers and lobbyists, along with member legislators, draft, lobby for, and secure passage of a wide array of bills designed to promote corporate interests.

Arizona has one of the highest concentrations of ALEC legislators of any state in the United States – at least 50 of the 90 legislators now serving are ALEC members. Two-thirds of the Republican leadership in the Arizona House and Senate are on ALEC “task forces” that write “model” legislation for state legislators around the nation. The last three Arizona Senate Presidents have all served in ALEC leadership roles: Senator Robert L. Burns (International/Federal Relations task force), Senator Russell Pearce (Public Safety and Elections task force) and Senator Steve Pierce (Energy Environment and Agriculture task force).

Close analysis of AZ legislation on a range of subjects shows remarkably similar – if not identical – provisions to ALEC "model" bills, including:

* Draconian anti-immigrant measures that criminalize undocumented workers and penalize their employers, strip native-born Americans of their citizenship rights and require that all publications and materials disseminated by state agencies be written in English only

* Measures encouraging the privatization of state prisons to the benefit of the private prison industry

* Voter suppression bills that potentially disenfranchise tens of thousands of Arizonans

* Attacks on workers, their unions, and collective bargaining and the elimination of public employment through outsourcing and privatizing of government functions

* Attacks on public education through private school voucher programs
Measures to prevent implementation of healthcare reform, and

* Attacks on federal environmental regulation by attempting to deny the federal government the ability to supersede weak state environmental legislation.

Sound familiar?

The problem isn't limited to Arizona. From the same report:

"When legislators in multiple states introduce similar or identical bills to boost corporate power and profits, undermine workers’ rights, limit corporate accountability for pollution or harm to consumers, privatize public education or restrict voting rights, for example, the odds are good that the legislation they are pushing was written by corporate lobbyists working through ALEC. According to ALEC’s own legislative scorecard, 826 pieces of ALEC legislation were introduced in state legislatures around the country and 115 were enacted in 2009 alone.

ALEC’s major funders include Exxon Mobil, the Scaife family, the Coors family, Charles Koch, the Bradley family, and the Olin family. . Members of ALEC’s board represent major corporations such as Altria, AT&T, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Koch Industries, Kraft, PhRMA, Wal-Mart, Peabody Energy and State Farm. According to the American Association for Justice, over 80 percent of ALEC’s finances come from corporate contributions.

Sorry, this item should have received its own bullet and paragraph separation:

"Measures to prevent implementation of healthcare reform"

How about i push for less pepole. I still have a few save the planet condoms from SWBIODIV to pass out. Think i will go to Mesa tomorrow.

This takes me back to Occupy. They camp out. ALEC controls state legislatures and passes "model" legislation that furthers reactionary control nationwide. What is Occupy's answer? Protests aren't stopping draconian cuts and other GOP nihilism.

"Subsidies for solar. Question: How much, paid for how and by whom?" - Emil

Paid for by all ratepayers to put solar on the homes of relatively fortunate (Sprawl McMansion) homeowners so that they can escape future rising energy costs that will be paid for by . . . the now even less fortunate tenant ratepayers.

Yet another hidden, regressive tax.

http://ratecrimes.blogspot.com/2009/12/solar-phunny.html

First, remove the subsidies for traditional fuels: Including, the taxes hidden in the Arizona utility rate structures.

Cal...Marlon Brando, in "The Wild One(S?." I cheated and googled it. Eclectic dog, if Phoenix de-annexed Maryvale, Wes Gullett might be the Mayor, since both of the white democrats in Phoenix probably wouldn't be enough to put Stanton over the top. Az rebel, it seems like bermed, or underground houses would be the sensible thing in a climate like the valley's. Emil, no, urban gardening probably wouldn't be the best use of scarce water resources. If my wishes weren't like the proverbial horse, I wish the Federal Government would incentivize the resettlement of the rust belt. If manufacturing is ever going to come back at the scale of the post-war period, people are going to have to live where the water is. The massive population shift to the "sunbelt" hasn't just damaged the desert and mountain west, it has created barely sustainable populations that are just begging for the "perfect storm" of conditions to create a man-made disaster. Phoenix only has it's Salt River Project oasis to differentiate it from places like Tucson, Las Vegas, and Palm Springs, and it's been squandered, in terms of aesthetic value.

Jon, Jon, Jon....

Even if they build it, it ain't gonna happen. Young people don't want Arizona. The mold for this state has been long poured: old and mean not young and green.

Seattle, the Portlands, San Francisco, Denver...
Cool places. Cool people. Cool things to do.
Good coffee. Bicycles. Organics. Urban urbanity.

Young people have the image of Gov. Brewer's fright mask burned into their frontal lobes. That bumbling creature's debate video went viral. Brewer *is* the face of Arizona now. Who, young and smart, would condescend to allow *that uneducated old thing* govern them? Imagine you are young and idealistic again. Are you going to want to take your marching orders from a sagging global warming denialist with a sub-100 IQ?

Me neither.

I mean really Jon...
It's the Big Sort.
And who can blame the shuffling around?

Hipster programmers and college geneticists don't want to be around old white racists waving automatic weapons around while posing with Santa. That's a turn off to everything smart and good in the world. Do the math: Arizona = Young. Brain. Drain.

What's stopping you from being a reformed realist about AZ future is the fact that you grew up here. I know that sensation. Locality burns itself into our memories. It is very human of you to care so much. It is very large of you. I can honor that in you and the other homies here.

But the reality on the ground is something else...

Ah Koreyel, Your wisdom once again allows you to have your feet solidly on the ground. The burning racist sands of Arizona are not for the young and hip Urbanite's. The current issue of Adbusters magazine has got a great piece on dull and boring, called "I am married and live in the suburbs."

Today's Republic was a contrast in bull. Montini's tongue in ear scribbling is a piece trying to attach the word "statesman" to the scalper Brewer. And then big headlines about how Brewer is going to make state employes life more miserable.

During a short stint of contract work for then Governor Fife Symington I came to the conclusion that the State of Arizona was probably the worst governmental or municipal employer in AZ. I am a homie of 62 years in The great Sonoran desert, whats left of it. But I still like it better than the time I lived in the Midwest.

Oh yea and then there is Lovely's editorial on shutting down freedom of speech for anonymous folks. Guess I wont post on AZ Central anymore even though I use my real name, (Cal Lash), as to post on AZ central you will be required to have a Facebook account, I don't.

Embarrazzona.

"azrebel" wrote:

"I had a dream: Anyone running for public office could serve [only] one term...

The problem with term limits is that most first-time legislators (especially in Arizona) are private business owners or partners or otherwise come from a background that gives them little or no insight into most of the public policy issues they will decide: their understanding of complex issues like tax law, healthcare, economics, education, and immigration are no better than that of the average man on the street; worse, in fact, because they carry with them all of the biases that stem from their class interests and individual circumstances: all of their needs are fulfilled and they can scarcely relate to ordinary citizens who might need (say) unemployment insurance or food stamps or subsidized healthcare to see them through hard times.

What they bring to the legislature is a vague set of principles and a few personal axes to grind (e.g., the reduction of taxes on top earners like themselves, and the elimination or hobbling of regulatory oversight which, regardless of its public benefits, adds to the bottom line of their businesses).

Even given the inclination (admittedly, often absent) it takes time to obtain anything approaching an accurate, much less sophisticated grasp of fundamental issues.

The argument against term limits is that incumbents attract funding from entrenched special interests (most often corporations and wealthy individuals benefitting from legislation they passed or are in a position to pass) which places idealistic challengers at a funding disadvantage.

This is actually an argument against privately funded political elections, not a cogent argument for term limits. Some of the most idiotic, reactionary, and baneful legislation to be introduced (and in some cases passed) in the Arizona legislature recently came from "tea party" candidates in their first (or first few) terms.

But many of these legislators are out of step with public opinion even as freshmen.

According to survey results released Wednesday at the Morrison Institute's third annual State of the State conference, 91 percent of Arizonans are for making kindergarten through 12th grade education the top priority; followed by 81 percent who said the emphasis should be programs to help children in families living under the poverty level; and 77 percent support health-care coverage for those earning below the poverty level.

"The poll results show an apparent disconnect between Arizonans' steadfast support for education in the state and the actual support for classrooms, teachers and educational programs they receive institutionally from policymakers," said Sue Clark-Johnson, executive director of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2011/11/30/20111130survey-make-arizona-schools-priority.html

These are exactly the programs that have been cut. When it comes to spending, these legislators bewail "we're broke" instead of raising taxes on wealthy businesses and individuals. Then they pass $538 billion in tax cuts that are scheduled to kick in just as the temporary sales tax increase expires in May of 2013. How can we afford these tax cuts if "we're broke"?

So, how do they get elected to begin with? Money. Money pays for advertising: advertising that appears often enough and consistently over the duration of a political campaign puts them in the public eye; advertising that employs the propaganda methods of expansive public relations companies developed over decades of study. Their money comes either from their own private wealth, or from wealthy business and individual campaign contributors.

Mr. Talton wrote:

"This takes me back to Occupy. They camp out. ALEC controls state legislatures and passes "model" legislation that furthers reactionary control nationwide. What is Occupy's answer? Protests aren't stopping draconian cuts and other GOP nihilism."

Protests and (especially) camping out and the resistance of political and police authorities to this, are the only reason anyone is talking about Occupy and the issues they raise: concentration of income and wealth, high and long-term unemployment, increasing control of the political system by concentrated wealth, and many related issues.

"A quick search of the news--including print articles, web stories and broadcast transcripts--via Nexis reveals a significant rise in the use of the term “income inequality,” from less than 91 instances in the week before the occupation started to almost 500 instances last week."

http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/1111/Occupy_Wall_Street_is_winning.html

Mr. Talton, like many in the media, simply doesn't understand the function of groups like Occupy: agitation.

There are three steps to solving a problem: the first is getting people to listen to you. Not just a few, but a lot of people. That's agitation. This allows the second step to take place: propaganda, where you get your message across, not just to a few people a few times, but to a lot of people, often, over and over.

Only when enough people recognize the importance and legitimacy of issues and are in the habit of talking about them on a regular basis -- not just talking but arguing, in the mass media and in response to the mass media, is it possible for solutions to emerge independently of established wisdom (which tends to support the status quo, not changes to it).

If Occupy were just another conventional pressure group whose conclusions were offered as an occasional press release to the media, they would be ignored, as are the vast body of such groups, most of whose communiques seldom receive widespread media distribution.

The job of Occupy isn't to solve problems which all of the well-funded liberal think tanks and pressure groups haven't been able to legislatively resolve: it's to put these issues in the spotlight and keep them there, through agitation, thus affording others the opportunity to build on focused public and media attention to critical issues raised by the agitators.

"Mr. Talton, like many in the media, simply doesn't understand the function of groups like Occupy: agitation."

In my 30-year career in journalism, some of it at a pretty high level, you'd be amazed how many people told me that my questions, reporting or commentary showed that 'I simply didn't understand...____.' Enron was among them.

"The job of Occupy isn't to solve problems which all of the well-funded liberal think tanks and pressure groups haven't been able to legislatively resolve: it's to put these issues in the spotlight and keep them there, through agitation, thus affording others the opportunity to build on focused public and media attention to critical issues raised by the agitators."

Good luck with that. But none of this answers the key question of how policy is changed given the environment of popular ignorance and oligarch government that I have no doubt timesomely described.

Occupy isn't over - yet. It may fizzle out but you have to start somewhere. Changing the conversation by putting the 99% on the agenda is important. 'Class warfare' takes decades. Occupy could fall into the trap of previous protest movements by staying a protest movement or becoming another pressure group. At some point it has to morph into an action movement.

They have to make changes in their lives, in their 'consumption habits' and expectations. It is they who have to pull their money from the national zombie banks and put it in credit unions. It is they who have to refuse servicing underwater loans, etc. Protests alone or polite negotiations don't work in distribution conflicts. You have to kick the banks when they're down and at the same time look beyond the banks for the sources of our problems.

"Activism has its place, to be sure, and potentially an important one, but activism only matters if the people who are doing it have already followed Gandhi’s advice and become the change that they wish to see in the world. When that first necessary step doesn’t happen, activism fails. Those of my readers who have watched the self-destruction of the climate change movement have already seen how far activism gets when the activists show no signs of accepting the limits that they hope to impose on others."
http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-11-24/bringing-it-down-earth

One has to wonder how crazy the world is if a druid sees things more clearly than the received wisdom.

"Most Americans, ignoring these realities, still insist they are entitled to a standard of living that neither their country’s faltering position in the world, nor the hard facts of physics and geology, will enable them to have for much longer, or get back if they’ve already lost it. Until that sense of entitlement gives way to a more realistic set of expectations, nothing is going to solve the problem Americans think they have—that of finding a way to hang onto hopelessly unsustainable lifestyles—and nothing is going to be done to deal with the predicament Americans actually face—that of dealing with the end of abundance in a way that doesn’t finish shredding the already frayed fabric of our society."

Also, I have difficulties imagining cal Lash as a mall walker (?!).

Mr. Talton wrote:

"...None of this answers the key question of how policy is changed given the environment of popular ignorance and oligarch government that I have no doubt timesomely described."

I haven't found your descriptions of THAT tiresome; just your jumping on the mainstream media bandwagon to belittle a group of acvitists who are unable to solve problems that you admit have not been solved by anyone else.

We can just shrug our shoulders, assert that the movement is "vague" and complain about how "camping out" and "protests" won't solve anything, or we can do our part to help things along by building on the momentum they have created and continue to create.

For example, E.J. Montini had an excellent column in today's Arizona Republic (which USA Today News picked up). He used his position as a columnist to give voice to the movement, employing concrete personal stories as leverage in attacking political decisions by Arizona's legislature which resulted in avoidable and unconscionable suffering and widespread social injustice.

http://www.usatoday.com/USCP/PNI/NEWS/2011-12-02-PNI1202met-montiniPNIBrd_ST_U.htm

Good lord, Emil. I've used my position as a columnist to raise these issues for years :). I'm still doing it.

Of course you have, Mr. Talton, and I'm grateful for your columns and website, even when we disagree. Nobody (except those with an ignorance of history) disparages the power of the written word to change the world; in fact, that's my point, and why I would like to see you take this to heart:

Occupy is another tool in the struggle and I don't see the point of disparaging it when it embodies a very real and very justified angst. You don't have to fund it, you don't have to camp out or even carry a sign: just use your considerable talents to harness it as you see fit; otherwise you're falling into the "circular firing squad" trap.

* * *

...Like the individual who lost his job a year ago and has been taking part in Occupy protests in Phoenix off and on since:

"I went to the protest the first time after another failed attempt to find a job," he said. "For someone like me the 'Occupy' movement isn't vague. It's very specific. The government bailed out the banks and the investment firms and mortgage companies and so on. But my own state Legislature failed to bail out those of us who suffered because of decisions made by those people.

"The banks get billions, and a guy like me doesn't get $216 a week in unemployment. Regular working people say they don't understand what the 'Occupy' protesters are doing. Maybe that's because they don't believe that they could be one of us. But they can. I know it. I'm living it."

...People like Marjorie, who told me for a previous column, "Our 60-year-old son lost his computer-graphics job to India.… He has sent out hundreds of resumes, attended job fairs, applied at temporary agencies, knocked on doors, all without any luck.… Where is the compassion? Where is the outcry for those people who are down and out through no fault of their own?"

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