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Governbusimess and Our Beloved City of Neglect

By · April 27th, 2000 · Phoenix
In our country's past, corporations were held tightly accountable to communities. A corporation that messed up had its charter revoked. That accountability has waned over a century or more as corporate power, good and bad, has increased.

Because of cumbersome bureaucratic and legal processes that they can effectively influence, corporations are minimally accountable to our elected officials. Microsoft, after losing its monopoly case, will not have actual penalties, if any, for several years and will perform as it pleases in the meantime.

Because of similar processes that can be used, politicians are also minimally accountable to us in any immediate sense. Most of the time, we don't know who to blame for bad decisions, much less who to vote out of office. Ultra-division of power and the resulting influence of special interests have obscured the location of responsibility.

After business and government, We the People are a distant third in the chain of influence and outcome. Public outcry has to really build before things -- minimal things, that is -- get done.

Standard media, in the name of objectivity, believe in the necessity of this same power structure. In their rapture over that structure, standard media also largely ignore our voice. A juicy scandal outweighs the reporting of events more important to our lives. At best, we can provide background noise.

This lack of hearing and lack of vision points to the cause of Cincinnati's stadium scandal. Such foolishness is not simply the fault of our administrators, but also their masters: corporations, media and, finally, us.

Corporate intent regarding the stadium is for profit. But, with the historic separation of corporate intent from public influence came the pursuit of money and power without public foundations placed first in line.

Despite city and county governments and a thriving big business community -- no, a wealthy big business community -- the list of fundamental social improvements continually neglected is long. Profit takes preference over people.

Our air stinks, and it stinks a lot compared to most of the country. Our water systems were outdated before they were improved and remain less than adequate. Our transportation system is absolutely incompetent, as is urban and rural planning or improvement. These things all deteriorate as patchwork ultimately eats up the original cloth. The results are things like higher cancer rates, unstoppable sprawl and chronic tension in the community.

As to an example of where our local process is failing but stays more covert, we knew in 1993 that we needed $600 million or more to bring our school buildings up to date. Not to improve the buildings -- just bring them up to date. Sadly, all funding, funding plans and promises provide less than a third of that amount spread over decades to come. Reality check by numbers: The schools will not be fixed or replaced, although we pretend the opposite. Our entertainment and pride in sports teams take priority.

We will spend over a $1 billion on stadiums in Cincinnati. Despite lies, delusions and non-substantive intentions to the contrary, those stadiums won't provide enough additional prosperity to remove even one of our persistent social failures.

We've heard this argument from business and government many times in the past -- for example, the lottery income will fix the schools -- but real improvement for all, the true change or even preservation of environments for the better, doesn't occur.

As there are good businesses that fund their own basic needs prior to funding the less basic, in a similar manner, responsibility should imply that our city's living and functioning needs be met before implementing and supporting fancy projects for private financial gain.

Instead, the profit is at our expense, literally, and that's on top of living in this state of neglect. In this condition, taxing us to fund corporate endeavor is the ultimate promotion of a predominantly government-corporate agenda. It's also an ultimate weakening of populace power and democracy.

The fact that we voted the tax in, based on fiction given to us by the powers that be, shows that the devious and inept have replaced the forthright and competent. It also shows that we still fall for the same old fairy tale.

Our local situation reflects the disgrace of the nation's current "booming" economy. The poor get poorer as the well-off become concerned about who's becoming a millionaire and who's not. Infrastructure for the people per se is subsequently pushed lower on the list of those with power.

Our basic need of survival for all -- or liberty and justice for all -- is more neglected in both an actual and relative sense, and we all, inside or outside, become more desperate. All activities run by a profit motive then become more and more cutthroat. Accountability of governments and businesses to We the People gets more cut off.

This disgrace is the reality not being conveyed by standard media -- the picture of rats on a sinking ship.

The rising rat race is part of a cycle, throughout history, that occurs with the cycle of price movements, especially upward movements of prices for basic needs. During the last years of an up cycle, kind of like where we are now, there's always an intensification of turmoil. Sometimes, as in the demise of the Soviet Union, we see the turmoil as good.

But there are always disasters as well as egregious and unnecessarily disproportionate suffering thrust onto the poor. Greenspan-type maneuverings such as increasing interest rates always hurt those not in control of wealth. Yet, rather than truly moving willfully toward a more humane set of rules, it's business and government as usual. And, our fiction of being a good and morally justified nation keeps us running.

The bigger lie is the feared cause of our ills projected onto We the People. The results of our nation's mismanagement are blamed on, let's say, a "lack of family values."

The feared action itself -- violence, injustice or social wrong -- is then promoted by the projector who has the power to control. To see where the totalitarians really are, look to the sections of our own power structure using totalitarian methods. Look to those who would weaken civil liberties. Look to those who don't see this tendency in themselves but who are also the most vocally hostile to the enemy. Any enemy will do.

Be prepared for the promotion of the impoverished to internal enemy No. 1. The projection system will justify its attacks on liberty -- attacks against its own people. "Sure, why not arrest the homeless?" They're our problem. "Why not revoke Miranda rights and give the police more power to coerce confessions out of suspects, innocent or guilty? At least we'll have order."

The logic of projection is that we can stop crime by making more criminals. Be prepared for more movements toward a police state.

See public schools being used, through state law and behaviorist technique, to manipulate the minds of children. See invalid, standardized scores promoting those who can maneuver, leaving much of true intelligence behind. Small cubicles loom large in a corporate society.

Remember that our government-corporate alliance was used to convince us of the necessity of an unnecessary war that accomplished nothing but economic waste and genocide.

Hear their cries in the night.

Alas, many of the innocent can be made into enemies -- those who are just different or who just won't play the game. But people don't turn out well after being manipulated or turned into enemies -- they rebel. They then appear to need even more control. Aggression becomes contagious to the formerly peaceful.

What's then perceived as coherency is really complexity, which obscures fairness and good: "Thou shall not steal, lie or kill, except when it's absolutely necessary." It's always more of those who just don't fit, innocent or guilty, who wind up on death row.

Short-term profit, not where we're going or who we are, becomes the measure of success. This success is reflexive and occurs at the expense of our brothers and sisters but is perceived as necessary.

Children sneering at each other in run-down prisons is one sad result of our cycle of greed.

A possible outcome of this cycle is the further demise of society. When everyone is undeniably suffering, reflexive thought and action can escalate to a purely survivalist mentality. Yet, the simplicity beyond reflex -- kindness, love and caring for the many -- is still possible and might even come out more. What happens is ultimately a matter of a type of awareness and choice.

Here is really the only true solution: We must start revising our rules, and this can only really be done by those who are beyond the primary service of self alone. Planetary environments, local environments and human decency for the whole world have to come first.

In the meantime, I have two proposals. First, let's give Paul Brown Stadium the full expression of what it expresses. After wimpy, family oriented aggression -- football -- we reserve Saturday nights for a sport befitting our societal achievements. A sport not seen for centuries. Yes, it's overdue, and we can do it right here in Cincinnati. Let's bring back the gladiators.

Next, let's rename all of the bridges from Kentucky with a simple scheme: London Bridge 1, London Bridge 2 and so on. Then, we build a skyway, coming from the North, above our still crumbling city and its new coliseum.

We name that skyway "Falling down, falling down ... ."



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