Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Puerto Rico is Fucked.

I'm come to realize that Puerto Rico is completely and utterly fucked.

Here's why:

With the destruction in Miami, gulf coast and Houston there's only so much in terms of federal resources to go around.

Midterm elections coming in a year... Who are the politicians going to allocate money to? The people who can vote them out of office or Puerto Rico?

By all measure Puerto Rico's infrastructure was already a complete shit show before the hurricane. Because of it's location and what's needed to fix it, it's going to become crazy expansive very quickly. To add to that, with the poverty and debt that PR already has, I don't expect investors are going to line up in droves to dump money in.

Will PR get rebuild? Yes. Will it be slow as shit. You can bet on it.

Taking a knee and the slippery slope and getting played.

The people who are freaking out about the NFL players taking a knee are getting played.

What the NFL players are trying to do is force a conversation about racism, privilege and inequality in this country.

The other side instead of engaging in this conversation wants to yell "unpatriotic!!" as loud as they can. It's a clear act of de-platforming.

Let's stop for a moment and think about the people who REALLY don't want to talk about equality for a moment... Yeah it's those assholes with the nazi flags.

What's frightening to me is that I see this leading down the road to fascism.*

Imagine an America where you get fired from your job because you patriotism-ing enough?

This is where we're going today. The President demanding people get fired for lacking patriotism is scary.

Boss: "Yeah, I'm gonna have to let you go, I get a call from the patriotism police and yesterday while you were at the game, it's clear from the video you didn't take your hat off and you have your left hand on your heart. We've talked about this before, we only employ true patriots around here."

While the quote is falsely attributed to Sinclair Lewis, I'm going to butcher it a bit further...
"When Fascism comes to American it will be wrapped in an American Flag carrying a cross and demanding blind jingoism"

* - Fascism: go read the wiki article on fascism as there isn't a well defined single definition, but of them, I like this the best:

The 14 points of Fascism
  1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
    Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
  2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
    Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
  3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
    The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
  4. Supremacy of the Military
    Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
  5. Rampant Sexism
    The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.
  6. Controlled Mass Media
    Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
  7. Obsession with National Security
    Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
  8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
    Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
  9. Corporate Power is Protected
    The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
  10. Labor Power is Suppressed
    Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
  11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
    Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.
  12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
    Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
  13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
    Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
  14. Fraudulent Elections
    Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Coming Darkness...

As I've watched the various weather forecasts for Harvey and now Irma and Jose, I've had a stark revelation. I can see a future in which we for the most part have to abandon the southern coast.  I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out.

Will we rebuild Houston? Yes. Just like we rebuilt New Orleans, many parts of New Orleans that are not rebuilt, I can imagine there will many parts of Houston that never get rebuilt.

If Miami gets wrecked, will we rebuild it? Yes.

However, think about "Littlevile". This is an imagined small town on the coast. It could be in any of the coastal states.

Let's imagine for a moment that Irma smacks Florida, as a category 3 or 4 it runs into this small town on the coast and wrecks 85% of its structures.

FEMA and flood insurance comes in and Littleville starts to get back on it's feet. Let's imagine it the whole process takes 2 years..

Now imagine at the 1.5 year mark, another storm comes in and undoes a portion of the work.  FEMA has to come in again and the flood insurance pays out for some more stuff. Plus private business insurance has to pay out again for the businesses that were damaged.

Now imagine this process happening in fair number of small towns across the southern region.

At some point, it's not that the federal government will abandon this areas, it's that the insurance companies will.  This will cause a cascade effect.

Sure, you'll be able to build there, but flood insurance will be so insanely expensive (imagine 5k per month) as to deter anybody from building on the coast. When this happened with Sandy that did this sort of thing, and congress howled, but at at some point after they've had to past their Nth number of relief bill that's pouring money into the flood insurance market to shore it up, the writing will be on the wall and the resistance to high flood premiums will melt away. 

So imagine any set of these towns that's through their 5th or 6th partial rebuild.  No businesses will be able to get flood/business insurance. What few houses are there will be mansions build on high pilings surrounded by levies.

With each storm, more and more of the residences of these towns are forced by economic conditions to move. At some point the local government bereft of a tax base dwindles to a skeleton of what it was. Eventually these small towns will have to band together for schools, fire, police, etc. These structures will become the only safe places in a storm. Built on high foundations, surrounded by levies, generators and water systems on the roof. Designed to be islands for weeks at a time. What few people remain will find the only way they can build will be to build near these regional storm shelters as zoning rules and insurance restrictions will limit them.

As more storms continue to roll in, there will come a point where the state governments will balk at rebuilding anything. Who needs to fix the pot holes in a town with no people?  Why would a government issue bonds to build infrastructure that won't even last a fraction of it's intended life? While all this time, the sea level continues to creep higher and higher. Municipal water systems will salinate, as they are right now in Florida. Sewer systems that were designed when the sea level was lower will inundated as they are now in Florida. There will be no will, people or money to fix these.

There might be people who'll come out in say it, but in most cases what will happen is that legislatures in these states will simply drag their feet. When presented with the mounting costs will kneed their hands... and frankly as these regions empty of people their constituents will be pressuring them to spend money on infrastructure inland. Sleepy cities in the middle and northern parts of these states will suddenly have an influx of people, flush with money to build houses. They'll want bigger schools for their kids, these towns will need more fire / police / hospitals.

The south coast won't die with a bang, but it will die with a steady ebbing of it's people in resources.

NASA will release pictures showing a timelapse of the lights going out on the southern coasts except for the major cities where they'll be spending billions to buttress and build what will eventually become islands in a region of darkness.