Category Archives: Political Action

Editorials about political action you can take to save the future of our cities.

MORESO | A Tyranny of Criminals

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” – Thomas Jefferson

When there are so many laws that everyone is a criminal, then we are living in a tyranny. Have you gone seven miles per hour over the speed limit? You are a criminal. Have you watched copyrighted material without paying its owner? You are a criminal. When you were 18, did you had sex with someone who was 16 or 17? Congratulations, you are a sexual offender. Have you jaywalked? You are a criminal. The insidious genius of a tyranny is convincing the people that their status as criminals is in their own best interests.

About the image
Liberty Leading the People (La Liberté guidant le peuple in French) is a painting by Eugène Delacroix commemorating the July Revolution of 1830, which toppled King Charles X of France. A woman personifying the concept and the Goddess of Liberty leads the people forward over a barricade and the bodies of the fallen, holding the tricolor flag of the French Revolution in one hand and brandishing a bayonetted musket with the other.

Moreso is a new series of short ruminations or thoughts of the moment, usually of less than 500 words, from The Outlaw Urbanist.

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A Reckoning is Upon Us | The Populist Movement in America

A Reckoning is Upon Us | The Populist Movement in America
An Op-Ed by The Outlaw Urbanist

Something is happening in America…

Many people do not understand it. Some people fear it. Other people recognize it as something long overdue.

Populism has washed ashore in America with a terrible thunder…

The Establishment brought this upon themselves. By ‘the establishment’, we generally mean the media, political, and moneyed-interest class principally, but not exclusively, located in New York, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. This is the real us vs. them dynamic in play in this election since political affiliation, race, gender, age or any other way ‘them’ attempt to divide (and conquer) ‘us’ is irrelevant.

The Establishment has faced a successive wave of ‘change’ elections: Republicans lost control of the U.S. Congress in 2006; Republicans lost control of the White House in 2008; Democrats lost control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010; President Obama was re-elected in 2012 even as Republicans dramatically increased control of the U.S. Congress and states governorships/legislatures from 2010-2014; and, Democrats lost control of the U.S. Senate in 2014.

The American people are speaking loud and clear: the medium is the message.

And yet, the Establishment still refuses to listen. Yes, the American people are angry. I understand the anger. Too often, I have watched people – lacking in common sense but blessed with an abundance of money, influence, and willful ignorance – change the rules in their own petty self-interests at the expense of others who worked hard and deserved to rise in a functional meritocracy.

It is true there have always been ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’ in the capitalism of the American republic. This is accepted as a given. However, the bailouts of the 2008 Financial Crisis lay bare to the American people just how far  incomes and opportunities (or even their simple consideration) have fallen behind the coastal oligarchs. The ‘opium drip’ of Qualitative Easing and zero interest rates to prop up the banks and real estate/financial markets over the last seven years has not allowed the pulling back of the curtain in 2008 to recede into a forgotten past. They have enriched themselves beyond all measure while we continue to struggle day-to-day to find jobs, feed ourselves, and pay our bills (the proverbial “income inequality”). In particular, Black Americans (especially urban youth) have paid a terrible, unfair price for this status quo, which should be viewed as a complete disgrace by any citizen possessing the tiniest measure of decency. The solution is not found in a barely disguised democratic socialism. Nor it is found in an unmasked laissez-faire capitalism. It can be found in a common sense republicanism; the historic source of American meritocracy when functioning properly.

This anger is feeding populist movements on the extreme left of the Democratic Party (“feel the Bern”) and the muddled right of the Republican Party (“win again”). The origins of both movements are tapped from the same vein whether expressed in the Occupy Wall Street or Tea Party protests of the not-so-distant past. These movements are natural allies, both sides of the same coin, and supporters of each should avoid the all-too-obvious efforts of the Establishment (for example, George Soros and MoveOn.org) to pit either side against each other in a cage match designed to create a conflagration of mutual-consumption. It is an insidious effort to re-assert the bought privileges of a select few by ensuring the election of Hillary Clinton, who could not be a more potent symbol of the Establishment if she tried.

Common cause is what really scares the Establishment. They are coming to realize that many (not all) of Bernie Sanders’ supporters will cross over and vote for Donald J. Trump in the November election to defeat their ‘potent symbol’ as the youth vote in President Obama’s coalition sits this election out because their preferred messenger never had a realistic chance in the rigged Democratic primaries (all pay homage to the Super Delegates and biased media). They are coming to realize the ‘conventional wisdom’ of the electoral map will be utterly destroyed and re-drawn anew in the process. The silent majority of Americans – including many people such as myself who, out of frustration, now refuse to participate at all – watch in delighted glee as the Establishment (especially the media, be it of the FOX News, CNN or MSNBC variety) squirms in desperate discomfort to ignore, desperate attempt to blunt, and desperate wish to avoid the inevitable.

A reckoning is upon us and you better start listening or else the Establishment is “gonna wonder how (they) ever thought (they) could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.”

And if this isn’t the time? If not today, then tomorrow.

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The Editorial leftist Folio Weekly Was Too Afraid to Publish

Corporate Welfare Queens Bankroll Opposition to Amendment 4
The opposition to Amendment 4 is using taxpayer money to try and stop you from having a voice in the future of where you live, work and play: our neighborhoods and towns. They are trying to silence your voice about the future of Florida’s growth and development. Home builders and their vassals are principally responsible for bankrolling millions of dollars in opposition to Amendment 4. The only argument they have is fear because no one (not even the home builders) has the political courage to defend the morally corrupt and intellectually bankrupt growth management process in the State of Florida over the last 30+ years. And the home builders are trying to scare you using your own money.

Do you want to talk about the audacity of audacity? Let’s follow the money.
At the beginning of this year, the Democratic Congress passed and President Obama signed into law an extension of unemployment benefits compensation. So far, so good: right? But the special interests in Washington DC successfully lobbied to insert something more into the bill: a tax loophole for the home building industry. The national home builders were able to claim losses over the last 2 years against federal taxes on their corporate profits during the previous 5 years. Basically, this means the federal government is using deficit spending (by borrowing mainly from China, Japan and the United Kingdom) to refund corporate taxes on national home builders’ profits during the boom years to compensate for their losses during the Great Recession. Of course, it will be left to this generation and future generations of unborn Americans to pay this debt.

Let’s be clear. This is a “backdoor” government bailout: nothing more, nothing less.
But wait, there’s more. After receiving their bailout, the national home builders report the tax refund as profit to Wall Street, thereby maintaining the value of their shares. Most home builder shares lost more than 80% of their value during the financial crisis, broadly dropping from $35-45 a share to around $10 or less a share. Even with this backdoor government bailout, home builder share prices had only remained stable more or less near their historic lows. So, not only is the federal government propping up the obsolete business models of the home building industry that planted the seeds of this Great Recession in the first place (especially in Florida, California and Nevada) and not only is it also the means to artificially inflate home builder share value on stock market to create another “bubble” but it isn’t even working all that well. To any common sense American, this is a waste of money on an almost unimaginable scale.

Oh, and the unemployed? At the same time the home builders are receiving billions of dollars in backdoor government bailouts, the federal government taxes as income the unemployment compensation payments for the unemployed. This is the anti-Robin Hood economics of the perverse. Steal from the future earnings of the poor to bailout the rich today. It is a house of cards waiting to fall all over again. And, once again, it will be left to the taxpayers to cover the bills.

In the early 90s, Welfare Reform was a major legislative achievement of President Clinton and Newt Gingrich’s Republican Congress. It rolled back one of the worst abuses of Johnson’s Great Society programs by getting people off the welfare rolls and back into the workplace. At its core was the idea there is dignity in being able to work and stand on your own without government assistance. Now, we have the new phenomenon of the Corporate Welfare Queens. The banks, auto industry and, now, the home builders are just some who have been caught red-handed sucking at the teat of the federal government. How are these Corporate Welfare Queens any different from the welfare queens President Reagan used to describe as both an abuser and victim of the system? Well, for one thing, we are talking about corporations that are too stubborn, too beholden to their quarterly profit reports to Wall Street, who possess obsolete business models they are too cowardly or dense to change in order to address the new economic realities. They would rather stick their fingers in their ears and hum really loud (and insert their heads with the fingers plugging their ears into the sand, for good measure) rather than adapt their business models and methods. Corporations like this should be allowed to perish in a capitalist society. The innovators will survive and thrive. The dinosaurs will finally become extinct, as they should. Instead, the federal government is using corporate welfare to pervert the marketplace and these obsolete industries are as happy as pigs at the trough. Today, what we clearly need is Corporate Welfare Reform.

So what does this have to do with Amendment 4? The home building industry has bankrolled 40% of the funds raised to oppose Amendment 4. The rest of the funds raised to oppose Amendment 4 largely come from businesses/organizations providing support services – and receiving income – from the home builders. Amendment 4 is a ballot initiative designed to give voters a say on major changes to their community’s future land use map; specifically, how our neighborhoods and towns in Florida will grow in the future. They want to deny you a voice in your future.

Many voters are old enough to remember the Watergate adage, “follow the money.” If you do, it’s easy to see they are using your money to tell you to shut up. But this is our Florida. They may have more money (even if a part of it was stolen from you) but there are more of us. Nothing can stop the power of The People when they decide to act (see the Revolutionary War against King George and the British Empire for a relevant example). Let your voices be heard loud and clear this November 2nd. Vote YES on Amendment 4.

Tea, anyone?

Mark Major, AICP is a certified planner of the American Institute of Certified Planners, a former planner for a national home builder and former Chair of the First Coast Section, Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association from 2005-2008.

This editorial was originally written October 26, 2010 and submitted to Folio Weekly for their back page editorial. It was never published and Amendment 4 was defeated by 67% of the vote in the November 2010 election. The scare tactics employed by the home builders, government officials, and real estate and planning professionals to defeat Amendment 4 was instrumental in driving up vote turnout and electing the current unpopular Republican Governor of Florida, Rick Scott. Today, the Florida real estate market remains vastly overbuilt with inventory on life-support. You reap what you sow. Don’t believe the bizarre rants and maniacal claims of real estate agents about a “hot” real estate market. They are lying to you.

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20 Theses for Political Reformation

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” – Thomas Jefferson

1.         The Left and the Right Define the Box Within We Are Trapped!
We must break out of the tyranny defined by the ideologies of left and right in our country to chart a new course for our People, communities and country for the next 250 years. We must do this whilst recognizing our leadership role in the world and reinvigorating the Jeffersonian ideals on which our country was founded.

“Experience hath (shown), that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson

“Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.” – Alexis de Tocqueville

2.         Constitutional reform now!
Convene a constitutional convention: we must dare to re-imagine the republican foundations of our Federal and State governments and the relationship between the national and local interests of the People whilst always protecting the Bill of Rights (including the 2nd Amendment). States should follow the lead of the Federal government in re-imagining our governments from top-to-bottom.

3.         Cherish the statesman. Forsake the political animal!
Two (2) representatives from each state/commonwealth in the union shall comprise the constitutional convention membership. Governors should appoint the ‘best and the brightest’ using their conscience, not their interest. Party affiliation is irrelevant. Ideology is irrelevant. Race, sex and creed are irrelevant.

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” – Alexis de Tocqueville

4.         A Republic, not a Democracy!
Halve the size of our political leadership in Federal and State government: one (1) senator from each state means fifty (50) senators; one (1) representative per 150,000 People means two hundred seventeen (217) congressional representatives. Representation in State governments should be similarly downsized, where appropriate.

5.         End 365/24/7 Political Campaigns!
Extend the terms of elected representatives: four (4) year terms for representatives (four term limits); eight (8) year term for senators (two term limits); and, six (6) year term for the president/governors (two term limits). This will alleviate the need for constant campaigning/fundraising and allow our representatives to lead rather than follow.

6.         End Gerrymandering
Representative districts should be convex in shape, defined by clear geographical and physical boundaries (natural and man-made) rather than gerrymandered to incorporate specific demographic populations to give advantage to one party over another at election time. There is nothing wrong with a diverse electorate and our leaders will be better for representing multiple points of view.

 7.         Referendum Prohibition
Establish an explicit constitutional prohibition against political referendum at the Federal and State level. Popular vote referendums lead to governmental anarchy and paralysis. California has been destroyed by the democracy of referendums, and Florida and other states are foolishly following close behind on this well-traveled path to destruction.

“Democracy leads to anarchy, which is mob rule.” – Plato

“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the People may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” – Thomas Jefferson

8.         Prune the Overgrown Branches of Federalism!
Eliminate and/or consolidate the expansion of Executive Power. This means de-evolving ‘health and human’ services closer to the People served at the State level (education, housing, health) and the Federal government focusing on its core responsibilities to the People: war and peace, law and order, national defense and international commerce and relations.

“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the People under the pretense of taking care of them.” – Thomas Jefferson

9.         Half the Size of the Federal Government!
Eliminate and/or consolidate more than 1,000 Federal agencies, many of them obsolete or redundant. Merge agencies with overlapping missions, de-evolve others to the State level, and eradicate those that are obsolete or irrelevant.

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” – Thomas Jefferson

10.       Not Isolationism but Consolidate-ism!
Consolidate our forward assets/presence abroad by realigning to a core mission serving our strategic interests rather than the expansive application of military and economic power in all geographical spheres of the world. Reduce our military footprint in Europe (defend yourselves!). The Monroe Doctrine should take precedent: protecting and strengthening our sphere of influence and partnerships in the Americas.

11.       Rationalize the Disposition of Our Military
Re-deploy our military bases (at home and aboard) to better serve our strategic interests rather than to serve the political and economy interests of a specific community or politicians.

12.       Expand National Service
Require a minimum three (3) year period of service for all citizens between the ages of 18-21 in the US military, or alternatively in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps. No exceptions.

13.       Trust Bust “Too Big to Fail” Corporations
Corporations that are “too big to fail” are 21st century representations of anti-trust monopolies. These corporations should be regulated and, where necessary, broken apart in order to facilitate market competition. No private business should be eligible for a government protection ever. Innovate and compete or perish! Government protection perverts market dynamics.

14.       Reform the Market
Ban quarterly reporting of return on profits, institute annual reporting within the context of 5-10 year business plan models. Short-term, tunnel vision obsession with profit (otherwise known as greed) perverts our markets. Regulate predatory lending and usury exploitation of consumers by banks. Further reform of bankruptcy laws to protect consumers (see #16 below regarding expanding credit).

15.       State-by-State Universal Health Care
Establish a single payer, public health insurance program in each state (or regional plans amalgamating states for less populous regions of the union) and allow for cross-border competition of these public insurance plans. Adopt tort-reform to limit awards for malpractice lawsuits. Allow public-private partnerships (“pubvates”) between states and private insurance companies to meet the need for health care insurance.

16.       Reform Social Security
Instigate social security reform to allow: 1) investment by Social Security Trust in low-interest yielding government bonds to facilitate expanded investment in our infrastructure; and, 2) private accounts (maximum: 50% of personal contributions) for citizens to invest in market at their own discretion (within certain limits to avoid excessive risk-taking). Allow personal contributions above minimums prescribed by law. Increased availability of monies in the market will provide a safety net for credit markets without perverting market dynamics. Increase the retirement age to more accurate reflect average lifespans in today’s world.

17.       Decriminalize Human Vice
Constitutionally decriminalize, regulate and tax human vices such as gambling, narcotics and prostitution. Instead of spending billions of dollars to fight human nature in mock ‘wars’, allow individual choice on vice and generate billions to regulate and monitor such vices. Reserve the power to regulate, monitor and collect taxes for the states (a Federal top-off of the tax rate should be allowed). Lower the minimum drinking age to 18 years old (if you can vote, you can drink).

18.       Cherish Innocent Life!
Adopt constitutional ban on abortion except for cases of protecting the life of the mother. Instigate adoption reform so it takes a maximum of twelve (12) month to adopt a child in this country. Allow single parent and homosexual partners to adopt abandoned children. Adopt more stringent guidelines for the application of the death penalty. The death penalty should be reserved for the “monsters of our nightmares”.

“Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” – Alexis de Tocqueville

19.       Constitutional Reserve of Powers
Further clarify the application of Federal power between the three co-equal branches of governments: legislative branch legislates; executive branch implements; and, judicial interprets. Limit some expansions of executive power (presidential decrees), limit legislative usurping of executive powers, and retard legislative branch forfeiting of power to the judicial branch.

20.       Reform Libel Laws
Freedom of speech must be maintained but injured parties must have recourse to seek relief from the legal system for perversion of the truth, especially by those in the media. Freedom of speech is irrelevant when the truth has been destroyed.

“Educate and inform the whole mass of the People… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” – Thomas Jefferson

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This article was originally posted on the Metro Jacksonville online magazine discussion forum on January 20, 2010. It generated 0 comments, arguments, or discussion. I can only assume it was because either: 1) it was thought to be basic common sense; 2) so radical as to not warrant additional comment; or, 3) everyone just wants to argue and no one is really interested in solutions. I’m not sure. You decide. Mark David Major

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Amendment 4 Commercial Script

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is the final script for an online political ad in support of Florida Hometown Democracy (Amendment 4) during the November 2010 elections. I have no idea if the ad was ever finished or aired.

Amendment 4 Commercial Script
by Mark David Major, AICP

Hello! My name is Mark David Major. I’m a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and I’ve lived – and worked – in Florida for nearly a decade now. Over the last decade, as Senior Planner for Nassau County, a planner for one of the largest home builders in the state, and a small business owner, I have worked on both sides of the table on growth and development issues in Florida; ALWAYS based on the principle my primary ethical obligation is to the public good, and to speak clearly and honestly about growth issues to the public, my employers, and my clients.

I want to talk to you today about why I’m supporting Amendment 4, or “Florida Hometown Democracy”, and why I’m urging you to vote YES on Amendment this November 2nd. During my time in Florida, it has become abundantly clear to me how we manage growth and development in our state simply does not work. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Even those who opposed Amendment 4, openly admit it does not work. And you don’t have to take their word for it either.

Over the past 2 years, Floridians from all walks of life have experienced first-hand the catastrophic effects of our real estate market being Ground Zero for a Global Recession that has led to 1 out of every 5 Americans being out of work. Banks have foreclosed on homes at a rate not seen in this country since the Great Depression. There are record numbers of people filing for bankruptcy. The scale of personal debt defies description and the scale of government debt is beyond comprehension. The decline in the value of our homes has been massive. And it has all been a direct result of the way we’ve planned, grown, developed and built our communities, neighborhoods, and homes over the last 30 years. It is not an accident the areas of Florida hardest hit by home devaluation during this Great Recession has been those characterized by unsustainable, energy-inefficient, suburban sprawl neighborhoods. That’s because when the housing bubble burst, the bill for reckless growth finally came due.

So what’s the solution? Amendment 4 proposes to give voters a voice in how their neighborhoods, towns, and communities grow and develop. But even more importantly, approval of Amendment 4 will cause businesses and developers to make smarter decisions about what land they buy and develop long before the public becomes ever involved, leading to better and smarter projects. Instead of being driven but what is the cheapest land to develop, developers will have to decide what is the best land to develop. This will lead to smarter growth in Florida.

Now the opponents of Amendment 4 have a clear political strategy to try to defeat this ballot measure: to confuse the issue and try to scare you. They are saying approval of Amendment 4 will cause Florida to lose jobs but we’ve already lost tens of thousands of jobs. They are saying approval of Amendment 4 will cost Florida’s economy billions of dollars but our economy has already lost billions of the dollars. They say approval of Amendment 4 hand power over to special interest lawyers but our dysfunctional system is already dominated by special interest lawyers lobbying on behalf of landowners and developers. They say approval of Amendment 4 will mean higher property taxes but that’s only because our homes have lost so much of their value due to their reckless development practices.  The opponents of Amendment 4 want cheap land because they are poised, even eager, to make the same mistakes all over again because they know how to exploit cheap land and leave you the bill for the next time the bubble bursts. It’s ironic, on one hand, the opponents of Amendment 4 are trying to confuse you into believing approval of Amendment will not really change anything and, on the other hand, they are trying to scare you into believing the solution to our current problems is more of the same. Do you really want more of the same?

Americans built this country by being explorers and pioneers; by dreaming of a better tomorrow and then daring to make it a reality. I urge you to do the same by voting YES on Amendment 4 this November 2nd and daring to dream today of a better Florida, a smarter Florida for you and your family tomorrow.

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