changing arrangements

Saturday 2012.01.28


Much of what I’m thinking about is closely related to the themes of a very good, fairly concise and pointed article written some time ago by James Howard Kunstler, Making Other Arrangements, published by Orion magazine. Also published by the same operation, coincidentally, is an article from about a decade ago by Wendell Berry called The Idea of a Local Economy, which is also a useful read for some fundamental clues about what needs to be changed, not just in specific practical terms, but right down to the basic philosophical basis that became the normal way of doing things in the United States in the decades following World War II.

Circumstances regarding where we are in remaining petroleum, and our use of it, continue essentially the same, with all the complexities of trends and changes combined with a strange brew of frozen stagnation and neglect . A relatively tiny minority of people have any realistic understanding of where we are, the trend, and what this stuff clearly indicates for the future.

As the economic problems continue on, it amazes me to see and hear the noisy thrashing that obscures and confuses the problems further. There is, very definitely at this stage, a widespread attitude of reality evasion. The basic gist of it is that astounding masses of people seem to be happy, or at least willing, to join in on pretending that if we just somehow apply some sort of fix, just do this, or do that, we’ll just recover to back into the same kind of modes of thinking and operating as before, merrily rolling along on the very same road that led to the chaotic catastrophe we have now. Then they’ll call this “the path to prosperity” or something.


In the meantime, a few minutes taken today here and there to turn on a TV and check CNN reveals the usual mode for CNN these days. This is not to use their basic structure, of being on 24 hours a day, to keep their audience well informed on as much of what’s happening in the world as possible, with as much useful and accurate background as possible. Instead, they drone on and on about one story that’s the obsession of the moment, with that, now, being a cruise ship running aground, presenting a parade of random talking heads to babble endlessly and uselessly and continuously about the same few items.


It’s not really terribly hard to understand how bad things have become in some kind of state of mass public hypnosis or delusion. There’s a combination of people heavily bombarded with stimuli that is often plain gross bullshit, falsehoods and confusion, or assorted empty noise with little solid, true, important, relevant information. You can make a fairly accurate metaphor about it being a kind of mental equivalent of somebody being grossly obese, yet malnourished at the same time, because they constantly stuff their gut with all sorts of fattening garbage pseudo food with little actual nutrition.


Along comes another piece offered up in a blog, about an astounding glimpse of the state of what used to be the profession of journalism, that seems to have become kind of parody. The thought that occurs to me instantly is that there are herds of people who would read the phrase “mainstream media” in this and immediately have some kind of reflex response based on some ugly form of hypnosis induced by perpetual soaking in the propaganda flowing from Fox News Channel, and other operations, the egregiously worst of the worst. There’s the worst irony. Here in early 21st century America, we have a large segment of the population who would see something about criticism of present era news under the term “mainstream media” and react with some sort of Pavlov’s dog trained predictability, about this being evidence of the “liberal media bias” they’ve been trained to believe exists, by incessant repetition from people who then tell them, basically, “so you can only believe us, we’re ‘Fair and Balanced'”.

Add in, by coincidence, the previous entry of the same blog, the Dave Cohen “Decline Of The Empire” blog, They Tried To Teach My Baby Science!, featuring a look at satire from The Onion, and you’re getting a large heaping portion of a good look at how much delusional lunacy feeds the society we live in.

It’s no wonder there are so many profoundly confused people around.

Toss in a little mob/herd mentality and you have a society where it’s normal for many people, who might otherwise seem to be reasonably mentally functional in day to day life, to really and truly have their heads up their asses. For some people, facing reality as clearly as they’re able is unavoidable, because circumstances are smacking them in the face. For many other people, it’s possible for them to hang on to some wad of delusions and ignorance, because their circumstances allow them.

I think an awful lot of serious large scale problems that we have now, and are going to be hitting us in the future, come from and are compounded by so many people just not grasping them.

I think it comes down to case where it’s not that most people are morons, insane, or both, even while I’m convinced, with plenty of demonstrations of evidence, that there is a lot of that. It’s that so many people just don’t really step out of the swirl of madness, chaos, daily assorted matters, and bombardment of noise, and really take the time to see things, and reflect and think things through.


There’s not anything particularly new about people making criticisms of the phenomenon of suburbia. What strikes me most about that is that, for a fairly long time, there has been assorted criticism of suburban American life, but that almost entirely seems to me to entail some kind of criticism of suburbia in some kind of terms of fashion and lifestyle and sociological characteristics. There isn’t so much in terms of looking at it in more fundamental practical, functional terms.

We’ve long been able to find critics of suburban life and its characteristics, where people look at it and criticize it in certain terms. They might talk about it in terms of being superficial, socially homogenized, of conformity, of isolation from people and activities not very similar or identical to them and their lives, and that kind of thing. In simplest terms, many people critical of suburbia in general don’t seem to really go beyond their own kind of superficiality in the sense of not really examining the whole thing in terms beyond an idea that it’s all just so unhip.

In a very real and serious way, that’s as bad as assumptions of normal by people who have only ever known life in an American suburb that all that is just normal, standard, how life works and is supposed to be.

I’ve talked a lot about this before, including pointing to reading such as James Kunstler’s brilliant book The Geography Of Nowhere. The expansion of suburban sprawl, including such aspects as single use zoning, has created large areas of America that have become entirely dependent on petroleum fueled personal motor vehicles for transportation everywhere, spread out more and more, creating the need for millions of people to drive a car (or light truck) everywhere for virtually anything in daily life. Doing this has driven petroleum consumption in the United States to staggering, just insane levels. In the process, the outward concentric expansion of suburban sprawl has sucked the life out of the middle, the hearts, of American cities across the nation.

The project of suburban sprawl expansion has been described by James Kunstler as perhaps the greatest misallocation of resources in history, and I believe he nailed that right on the head.

There’s something that has always struck me as very odd. What might be even more odd is that I suspect that there might be no small number of people who would think it’s odd that I would think this is odd. How often have you heard someone say that something is some amount of time away? You know, like, “that place is about 20 minutes away… this place is about an hour out of town… oh, that place is pretty close to here, it’s probably five minutes away”.

A period of time is not a measurement of distance. It’s a really absurd thing. A measurement of distance is a measurement of distance. Many people seem to speak in this way, like “oh, it’s about 20 minutes from here”, as a normal thing, not seeming to even think about what a nonsensical idea it is. So at this point, there’s an obvious thought. What, exactly, is this they’re saying? What are they telling you? It’s probably obvious in the context as somebody is saying it, but it’s worth stopping and really examining this and letting this settle into mind for a while.

In terms of travel time, the quantity of time is a function of distance and average velocity, of course, and this isn’t something that really requires explanation for anybody with functional intelligence and a grade school education. So, basically, describing some distance between places in terms of time doesn’t make any sense at all except by a particular assumption. Somebody is assuming the speed of the journey in some approximation. The significant thing here is that it’s a fairly reasonable assumption, in the present here in the United States, that somebody is probably making certain assumptions about the means of travel. For local or regional destinations, they’re probably assuming travel in a personal motor vehicle, one fueled by refined petroleum. For longer distances, they’re either assuming travel by that same means, or maybe a flight in a jet airliner aircraft, again fueled by refined petroleum.

People are so accustomed to these modes of movement, it’s such a standard concept to so many people, that it’s hardly even examined. Few people seem to consider questions like, how long would it take to walk, or ride a bicycle, or take a bus or local commuter train (if they even exist there) for local travel.

It’s apparently and clear and obvious, yet this kind of thinking and assumption rarely gets any examination of how much is just assumed as a given. People are making the assumption: you just get in the car and drive at approximately this speed and it takes about this long to travel this distance. The thought that never seems to occur to most people in contemporary America: what if you can’t?

Millions of people, particularly in American suburban zones, base everything around this kind of arrangement; you just climb in a car and drive. It’s inconceivable to many people that it would be anything else. There are large expanses of many places where even if there are sidewalks (with those not found sometimes), you’re unlikely to see somebody walking (or even riding a bicycle), and in the event of a rare occasion where somebody is, it might be regarded almost like some bizarre anomaly, like “that’s weird, what’s going on there?”.

There’s some kind of mass sleepwalking delusion about a state of things, of a general overall way of seeing things, thinking about them, and doing things, entirely based on the premise of essentially unlimited amounts of steadily flowing cheap petroleum, when a fairly minimal amount of objective honest examination of reality makes it obvious that this is simply a set of circumstances that cannot continue. There are limits. It cannot be sustained. It’s that simple, and it’s not hard to understand.

I’ve probably made this analogy before, I’m not sure without looking back and checking, but it’s such an obvious metaphor that I would be surprised if I had not already used it. The general American attitude and set of assumptions about the way we have arranged life and do things seems a lot like some sort of trust fund baby. It’s like someone who has grown up in some massively wealthy family, whose entire experience of life and the world has surrounded them with an existence where anything you want surrounds you at all times, there’s always plenty of money to feed anything and everything, every need, wish, and random whim. Even entering into adult life, there might be some kind of ongoing funding to continue this kind of existence, with an idea that this is just how life is. There might be an array of luxury homes around the world, random whims of wanting some high end exotic car, maybe a new Ferrari here (regardless of whether you have any business being at the controls of such a machine), maybe a new Bentley (or maybe a new pink one, for a girl), maybe a few of everything. Then one day, the trust fund money is running out, and you suddenly discover how the world and life is for the rest of humanity.

Suddenly things have to fundamentally change, and that’s even more difficult if somebody completely lacks any concept that things might not be the way they have always known.

This is all clearly cycling back through familiar territory of what I’ve been writing about, but the reasons for that are obvious enough, by now, I would hope. The point is, the hope of spreading some awareness, doing some small bit to kick start some waking up in people, and getting word to spread. It’s tough going when we have whole generations of people living since the end of the second world war, the baby boomer generation and onward, who, first, have this ingrained concept of the American suburban arrangements as normal. That’s complicated by the failure to understand, on a wide public awareness and consensus kind of level, the situation regarding petroleum resources, and how we’ve been using them.

Combine the assumed normality of American suburbia and ridiculously confusing news stories based on an absurdly mistaken premise like “are we running out of oil”, completely missing the fundamental point that it’s not about some possibility of some upcoming announcement that that’s it, the oil is all gone, it’s about physical limits and hitting the limit and going into the diminishing returns down slope described by Hubbert’s curve. Add in the absurdities of the dualistic bipolar ignorance of what we could call “Team Drill versus Team Green” arguments, between people convinced that we have all the petroleum we ever want if we only have the right political policy and business activity, and people convinced, just as detached from a good look at reality, that it’s all good if we just swap in some substitute “green energy solutions” that will keep everything rolling along more or less just the same, but different.

Pile up all of that and it’s a pretty difficult challenge to even get anybody thinking about the arrangements of things in the current status quo, and reworking this.

There are people who are understanding the matters involved in all of this, and have been thinking seriously about the assessment of what’s involved, and how we might address this. There are people like those I’ve already referred to, such as Andres Duany, and James Kunstler, and the general school of thought known as “the new urbanism” or the “New Urbanists” (because we’ve just got to have some headings of Ism and Ists applied to everything).

The thing that might be most noteworthy about the new urbanist thinking is that this might be considered by some people as some kind of new and radical thinking, highly unusual, when it really isn’t anything new at all when you get right down to basics. All it is, essentially, is simply a kind of practical philosophical movement of people who understand that the arrangements of human civilization, over a long, long time, have evolved to general kinds of arrangements where cities have developed in kind of organic (for lack of a better term) ways, that is to say, the way cities have taken shape and evolved over time have simply followed what makes sense for human life as it has been lived over most of the history of human civilization. More recent arrangements and the thinking governing and shaping those arrangements, as we find as the norm in late 20th century to early 21st century America, is the odd anomaly.

It has only been in a recent few decades, more or less predominantly since the end of the second world war, that the arrangements and layout of the places where we live and work in America have altered, to separate and spread out everything, so that virtually all human activity involves the necessity of shuffling around in petroleum fueled vehicles over significant distances, in ways that make it anywhere from difficult to impossible to function and live without such vehicles available to people.

The new urbanists recognize this fairly obvious fact, and think accordingly. They recognize the fact that we have basically built huge portions of a society (in not only the United States, but Canada, as well, and probably other places in the world trying to imitate American trends) completely dependent on petroleum as I’ve already described, and this cannot function over the long term, and is already in trouble because of this fundamental dependence.

They aren’t really arguing for and promoting a new way of thinking and doing things, they’re essentially simple pointing out that we already know how to sensibly and realistically and practically arrange things so we have a functioning and healthy society of communities without the need to travel long distances for everything. It isn’t about some kind of aesthetic style of sentimentality and nostalgia, like you might find in some batch of people who want everything to look like Victorian era architecture or something. It’s about practical functionality and realism.

The details and analysis of the kind of standard practice suburban development and arrangements we’re looking at have been covered well in books I’ve mentioned before, like Kunstler’s The Geography of Nowhere, or Suburban Nation by Duany, Plater-Zyberk, and Speck. Both of these, especially Suburban Nation, examine how badly arranged many places have become (the term “pods” in Suburban Nation summarizes the philosophy of separation governing it), in such ways that lead to absurd physical arrangements where people can’t even go between two places that are actually a very short distance from each other, measured between them in straight line distance, without getting out on the roads and travelling what can be a ridiculous distance.

It’s not such a hard concept to grasp, to understand that this is really common. You can probably find a perfect example very close to you. You might very likely live in such a place, where, for example, there might be a grocery store a few hundred feet from your home, yet, to get there, the normal, possibly the only way, of getting there is to get in a car and drive a half a mile, or more, because there simply isn’t a physical arrangement of things to just walk out your door and walk straight to the door of the store.

There are people thinking about how the disastrous mistakes of the arrangements we have might be retrofitted and revised, into more integral functional communities, where people can do a lot of their daily living with short trips, even walking much of the time. There are serious questions about how much of this suburban development over the past half century or so can even be modified and salvaged. You can look around and find plenty of examples of outer suburbs, that might sometimes be called “bedroom communities”, that aren’t really much of a community, consisting of pretty much little else other than lots of houses in subdivisions. Anything other than these expanses of houses might be miles away, even to get to a grocery store, or the schools for that area.

In a newer area like this, in what was recently probably rural farmland sold off by someone to a developer, who then builds dozens of houses (along with others in the area building dozens of houses, rapidly turning into hundreds of houses), there might be some excitement one day because at a local intersection of what had been rural roads, there’s a gas station and a Taco Bell installed.

Over time and more of this is built up, maybe a shopping area goes up, which, in today’s America, might be another Wal-Mart complete with multi-acre slab of asphalt for parking. More is built like this, and people complain about traffic on what were two lane country roads rarely traveled when it was all farmland, and roads become five lane highways. Over time, as more people move into new houses being built in the general region, more developers might start building up collected areas of what Duany and colleagues would call something like “shopping pods”, almost certain to be a collection of the very same national corporate fast food places and retail commerce as you’ll find in every other zone like this.

You can easily find those sorts of areas, where you can probably easily find an area like this, around where you live, where you could pick a spot in the middle of the area, rotate around taking photos looking in all directions, and have a set of photos showing a place impossible to distinguish from thousands of other places like this virtually anywhere in America, where it’s probably almost impossible, or completely impossible, to guess where it is from the photos. They all look alike, only the specific arrangement of the corporate logos signs and uniformly designed corporate buildings varies.

People in such places start thinking that this has become nothing like the “almost country living” they thought it would be, and the cycle repeats, moving outward. Like concentric rings of tree growth, out and out it goes, as what was new outer suburbia with thoughts of pseudo country life, a fantasy of the nice and pleasant parts of actual country living, with the comforts and conveniences of city life, turns into something with none of the advantages of either country life or city life, and the bad parts of both. So some head outward to the newest development on the outer edges. Eventually, as you can find in places across America, you can go for miles and miles and miles through this kind of stuff, just going on and on interminably, with no sense of a city center, a core of community life anywhere, and all of it was entirely laid out with the assumption of cheap petroleum fueled cars hauling everybody around for everything.

Topping it off, there’s a side note, not so much about function, but important to people living as human beings. In all these places, as enough moves in and is built up to where all traces of anything like “country” is completely wiped out and paved over, the general quality and thoughtfulness (or lack) in design and construction in all this is likely to be crap when it’s new, and horrific as it deteriorates and doesn’t age well. So it’s hard to guess what will happen with all this. This is especially hard to guess given what I’ve been talking about regarding the state of news.

It’s a running theme through much of what I write here in my little corner of the net. Our biggest single overall problem here in the United States in the early 21st century is the problem of how much of the populace seems to have little to no recognition of what our problems really are, or at least the ability to consciously face them and be honest with ourselves and each other about them.

The 2012 edition of the State of the Union address by the President of the United States to the joint houses of Congress and the American people featured President Barack Obama getting a few things right, but also ended up with too much of the political theater and cheerleading that has become normal for this annual presentation, missing a lot of what needed to be said. In the meantime, a large faction of people in this country, fed by a constant barrage of manipulation by madmen, or their own devious madness, take any possible opportunity to spew nonsense and try to portray the current President as pure evil set on the destruction of the country, including seizing anything like even this bit of criticism of Obama as “proof”. Part of the lunacy right now is the ongoing bizarre circus of the battle for the nomination of the Republican party to be their party’s candidate for the 2012 presidential election, including what’s beginning to feel like weekly events euphemistically called “debates” that are just unbearable, grotesque. A moment here to point you to this piece by pseudonymous blogger “Bill Hicks” about the nasueating wonder of Newt Gingrich.

It says a great deal, speaks huge volumes of clues, that in this setting, many people would be quite fond of Ron Paul as a candidate to possibly become President. He manages to get a thing or two very right, and most significantly, stands out in stark contrast by appearing to be somebody genuine and honest actually saying what they really think. When he speaks, I don’t get a sense of him standing underneath some sort of giant neon sign overhead flashing “bullshit! bullshit! bullshit!”. He seems to be the very rare critters in American national politics willing to state the obvious, that for decades, the United States government has been slowly but steadily bankrupting itself with staggering levels of spending under the heading of “defense” or “national security”, with most of it having little relevance to the matter of actually protecting the country, in exactly the kind of thing Dwight Eisenhower warned the country about as he was about to leave office in early 1961, talking about what he named “the military-industrial complex” (which might be better renamed “the military-corporate complex” today).

Everybody else who could be President, whether it’s Barack Obama re-elected or someone of the Republican circus, seems bound to keep up the show maintaining an idea that it is a natural state of the world decreed by God, Jesus, and The Founding Fathers (mythological version, not what these people actually thought, said, and did) that the United States of America is supposed to be a worldwide ruling military empire, which shows itself constantly, even in the recurring holdover from the Cold War era of the cliché of referring to the President of the United States of America as “the ruler of the free world”.

I see pretty bright, intelligent, conscious people who seem to find some substantial appeal because of what they see in terms of honest realism in a thing or two from Ron Paul, which is understandable up to a point, with that point being where I examine everything else he says about what he thinks and wants in terms of government. I mean, among other things, we’re talking about a man who seems to be a favorite of The John Birch Society, a sort of political cult that, in the past, was generally (and correctly) regarded as a small fringe collection of lunatics and morons, but, today, in a United States with things like the “tea party” activities we’ve been experiencing, seem perfectly acceptable to some Americans, which isn’t too hard to understand when you look at everything and realize that essentially the loose collection of phenomena under the “tea partier” heading basically is The John Birch Society taking hold of some people like contageous germs.

All this is getting a little off on a tangent, but relevant, in the larger view of tryng to get a grip on how little grip much of the American citizenry have on reality, among all the noise surrounding them as severe distractions and diversions.

In the political realm, it’s rare to an extreme of being virtually unheard of to hear anybody prominent in American politics speaking honestly and accurately about things like what the petroleum situation is, or any natural resources, in terms of the history of the subject, how we’ve dealt with it, how we are dealing with it, and what the future will be, and the obvious implications and demands we have to face, to continue functioning.

In a time and place in history where it it might be reasonable to say that the general view of America is of America as “suburban nation”, it’s hard to get people to face the reality of these arrangements in this setting. People see the American suburbia way of arranging the places where we live and work, and all that entails, as “normal”, and this seems to have become so completely accepted without even a moment of serious examination by a majority of people living in these environments. Given this state of affairs, it’s really damned difficult to try to get people to see the obvious problems, and that this way of doing things is most certainly not normal, but rather this is the strange anomaly in human history, that’s basically a transient blip of abnormality in the long term of human existence. It can’t be, could never be, anything more than a relatively short term phenomenon and way of arranging human civilization.

You don’t even need to get into any kind of examination of data of the numbers involved for this to be obvious, it’s a basic conceptual matter, something I’ve been writing about repeatedly. One short item covers much of this, that I’ve said before. In the whole spread and scattered arrangments of suburbia, we’ve created a large scale system of laying out things completely dependent on cheap and effectively unlimited flows of petroleum to function. In doing that, we’ve greatly increased the rate of consumption of that very resource. That resource is a finite resource, with the added complication described decades ago by oil business geophysisist M. K. Hubbert in the Hubbert curve, showing us that this finite resource doesn’t just suddenly flow and flow and then suddenly “run out” and stop one day, it reaches a point of peak and then diminishing returns decline.

It’s staggeringly obvious, this arrangement has a limited window of time to function. The more we create of this arrangement of places and how we do things, and the more spread out it becomes, the shorter the window of time this has in which it can possibly function.

All this ties in with the economy, naturally. There, we get into more of a tangled dilemma of problems. As business practice has become more and more dominated by corporations, we’ve seen the whole phenomenon of outsourcing and globalization destroy much useful and functional activity, in making things, and following that with further repercussions, of activities maintaining and repairing things. To keep growth going, or illusions of “growth”, we’ve seen the whole saga of “the economy” in America becoming more and more immersed in all the games of banking and finance and “The Markets” coupled with much of the activity of investment going into continuous and ever increasing outward suburban “development”, in housing and assorted crappy retail zone operations, like endless new little strip shopping centers. All that has blown up now, in case you haven’t noticed. And all of that development I just mentioned seems to have almost entirely not been created, with all the money and resources it consumed, for a real need and because something was really a good idea, but because some entities could make money from the perpetual churn of transactions in the process.

So here we are. It seems pretty apparent at this stage that not only have we seen incomprehensible amounts of money sunk into all this, and not going elsewhere that would have been proper, but much of it has, effectively, simply disappeared, as supposed “created wealth” that really wasn’t.

At this point, there is an enormous amount of work we need to do in this country, to have a functional society. We’ve got some really big problems now in that we not only have this to deal with, we have the problems of the massive extended misallocation of money and resources into whole vast geographical areas that just simply can’t continue to function because of simple physical reality. The topper is that it’s damned near impossible to get people to form a general concensus of understanding of the whole situation.

Even when people have some vague genuine idea, based in reality, of the problems we have now and face for the future, it’s obvious to me that there is usually, with occasional rare exceptions, some form of a notion that there’s some magic wand Santa Claus wishes easy solution. The maddening and frustrating extra to this is seeing how many people think that, given some supposed easy answer, things will be fixed somehow in a way that simply sets everything back to what they see as properly “on course” again, that’s just exactly the same stuff that has brought us to this state.

There are assorted examples, and I’m not sure I want to even try to dig into an attempt to make an itemized list. If, for example, people think that some sort of “path to prosperity” involves a magical restoration of “the flow of credit”, and a revival of projects of outward suburban expansion developments of house subdivisions and associated retail commerce pods, this is just fucking crazy.

In the general domain of the subject of energy resources, we have the continued dualistic pair opposition between people thinking the uninformed, ill informed, and flat out deluded thoughts that what they see as suitable political and business positions and activities, and “new technologies”, and things like tar sands and oil shale and so on, will just provide us with all the fuel we wish. Even that stuff reveals obvious glaring examples of the horrific attitudes that are common, as much of the chatter explicitly declares that the situation will be fine, because we supposedly have X number of decades of supply of petroleum (or near substitutes) or natural gas, which leads to the obvious question that is usually not following these statements. What about the people living beyond that time? Even people who are now young people, from children up to young adults in their twenties, have these supposedly optimistic claims being thrown around, with what should be obvious simply taking many of these declarations as accurate on the face of it; the sales spew is talking about these resources being depleted in what they might reasonably expect to be their lifetimes.

The other half of the dualism, of course, is the “we’ll develop green renewable energy”, with little rational thought of reality in it, just a lot of suppositions and assumptions without doing the math.

Stating the problems in terms of actual reality and facing the necessity of reworking everything to simply work out how to live while using much less of what fuel resources we have left is not a popular idea, when the inevitable conclusion is that this is the only real answer to the problems in this area.

It should be ridiculously obvious to anybody but the most deluded and insane, or just grossly stupid, that we aren’t going to revive and continue the exact same casino games of finance, and have any kind of economic function that actually supports human life and a decent existence.

There are loads of people in the situation of not having any gainful employment to support themselves, and there’s no shortage of bullshit about “job retraining” as an answer. A great many people have education and backgrounds and skills and experience forming an ability to do good work in useful things, doing work that is needed. This alone astounds me, to see the amount of pretentious delusion in this area. For many, many people, the problems are not about them not having “job skills”, or a lack of a need to et work done that they can do, it’s about a lack of people able or willing to pay for the work.

What we don’t need, by the way, if this isn’t pretty obvious by now, is more freeway construction or more suburban outlands house and retail box construction. On the other hand, what we do need, pretty urgently, is maintaining and reworking and actually rebuilding a lot of thousands of square miles on the middle core areas of American cities, that have been in abandoned decay for decades, so that they work again and are functional, living, and even enjoyable places to work and live, with far less separation and the dependencies that come with that separation.

The biggest, most important, and broad general theme?

We need to blow away a whole giant complex knotted mass of confusion, and noise, and trivial distractions, and buzzing bullshit, and start telling ourselves and each other the truth. We have a lot to do, and that can’t happen until enough people understand this.








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