Friday, December 29, 2006

BUSH, RATNER, AND THE VISIONS OF FOOLS

This November we saw the beginning of the end of the Neo-Conservative movement in the United States. Whether Neo-Conservatism is proto-fascist is well worth considering. That is because Fascism regards the aims and policies of a power as superior to the system of law and order. Far more important is that many people in this country are no longer offended by fascist modes of thinking. They are either venal enough to think they can exploit it, or foolish enough to find it comforting. If it is true that vice tends to catch up with itself, folly does it faster. In some cases we have vice in the name of folly, a pursuit that starts with its own tail in its mouth. Good examples are the War in Iraq and the Atlantic Yards.

The sheer, clumsy dishonesty of the Bush II Administration is revealing the grotesque folly of Neo-Conservatism, a fact that has been obvious since the fiscal policies of Ronald Reagan for which we are still paying as a large chunk of the National Debt. Who exactly has been fooled, and who has been the fool is not at all clear as yet. What is certain is that Neo-Conservatism has thrown at least a quarter of the world’s population into bloody, mindless, and pointless chaos. As proof, the Taliban seem plausibly able to retake Afghanistan. We are back where we started except for those who died in the process.

Bruce Ratner rides the same breed of horse as the Neo-Conservatives though he would no doubt vehemently deny it. It is not so much that the ends justify the means with Forest City Ratner, as it is an article of faith that some people are imbued by providence with the ability to plan, decide, and seal the fate of those they regard as less able beings. It is not that Bruce Ratner believes he rules public finance by Divine Right. It is that for him, like George Bush, the law is a secular impediment to his role as the conduit for the divine will. The law just gets in his way.

To Mr. Ratner, the Atlantic Yards Project is more than the law, the state, the nation, and its people. We mortals here below are not able to grasp that fact, and so when the high trinity of New York State politics gathered in Albany this month, they “sanctified” Mr. Ratner’s mission in spite of the evidence. Apparently they agree that he is gifted with the angelic visionary ability to create for us what we cannot see we ought to do for ourselves. Like the Archangel Michael, Mr. Ratner wrestles with secular law to beat it into cooperating for the higher – though as yet unseen -- good. To him, those of us who see this as a mass mugging of the public treasure simply have feet of clay. We need indoctrination, not honest dispute.

The gangsterism that both Bush and Ratner have employed to circumvent the law does more than get them to their own privatized historical destinations. It leaves a wake of misery and destruction that they themselves cannot repair, and so they refuse to see that it is there They both speak in curiously, reductive homilies about, “Nobody likes change,” as though our regrettable genetic inferiority is what prevents us from embracing the Edens they would each set before us.

Mr. Ratner and President Bush see themselves as placing toys of endless, shining wonder before na├»ve, and unwisely timid children. In Ratner’s case, people both above and below him can see that he is bending the truth, if not the law, entirely out of shape on a daily basis. Apparently that no longer bothers them. Let us hope that the courts can see the moted flaws in FCR’s divine vision. Apparently Mr. Bush will be allowed to wait on the judgment of history, which in his case can never be harsh enough.

Eden was a place that proved uninhabitable to humans. Both the Bush and Ratner Edens are apocalyptic. They lead to scorched, polluted deserts. One cannot blame them entirely for their flawed vision, given that in both cases, their glaring folly unfolded long before either the current crusade in Iraq or the Atlantic Yards were begun. In both cases, the question is whether we Americans can adjust our thinking in time to pull back from the heinous acts and blatant idiocies that have brought us this far.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

FCR AT THE TROUGH

If anyone is still under the delusion that Forest City Ratner is not already well and truly on corporate welfare, I note this item from Crain’s New York Business.com. In the three brief paragraphs that appear at the end of this article, we learn that the Bank of New York is being subsidized to cover 9/11 losses by giving FCR 113.9 million of your public dollars to build the Atlantic Terminal and provide them with office space.

More importantly we learn that the newly merged New York Mellon Corporation will have assets of 16.6 trillion dollars and be the largest asset manager in the world. That would hardly seem to make the new banking entity one of New York’s neediest. The 9/11 losses were I guess sustainable.

In other words we are subsidizing banks with trillions (trillions!) of dollars in assets with our tax dollars by plumping up FCR so they could build the architecturally dubious Atlantic Terminal.

I invite you to think about that because we are about to give FCR billions of dollars from our pockets to create the Atlantic Yards enterprise. One wonders why those with trillions of dollars could not simply lend Bruce the dough instead of weaseling it out of the public in the form of property taxes, income taxes, and sales tax subsidies?

If the new Democratic Congress is to be any different than the old Republicans, this is the sort of scraping and grinding from the public coffers that has to stop. To hell with bridges to nowhere, and other piddling earmarks, we need to shut off the conduit of the nation’s wealth set up from our pockets into the corporate world’s “venture capital.” In fact this is the sort of bold entrepreneurial spirit that only Karl Marx could possibly support.

The material from the Crain’s Website is below.


“Bank of New York was hard hit by the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The state and city helped keep bank jobs in the city by issuing $113.9 million in Liberty Bonds to Forest City Ratner Cos., which developed a tower over Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal. Bank of New York became the anchor tenant, moving about 1,500 jobs there. The bank currently occupies 320,000 square feet in the building, Forest City says. Bank of New York received the grant as part of the same economic development package. The merged company, to be called Bank of New York Mellon Corp. will create the world's leading asset servicer, with $16.6 trillion of assets under custody. It will also rank among the top 10 global asset managers with more than $1.1 trillion of assets under management.”