progressives were seen as partisans for the people, eager to help the working
and middle classes achieve upward mobility even at expense of the ultrarich.
But in California, and much of the country, progressivism has morphed into a
political movement that, more often than not, effectively squelches the
aspirations of the majority, in large part to serve the interests of the
this modern-day program of class warfare is carried out under the banner of
green politics. The environmental movement has always been primarily dominated
by the wealthy, and overwhelmingly white, donors and activists. But in the
past, early progressives focused on such useful things as public parks and open
space that enhance the lives of the middle and working classes. Today, green
politics seem to be focused primarily on making life worse for these same
sense, today’s green progressives, notes historian Fred Siegel, are most akin
to late 19th century Tory radicals such as William Wordsworth, William Morris
and John Ruskin, who objected to the ecological devastation of modern
capitalism, and sought to preserve the glories of the British countryside. In
the process, they also opposed the “leveling” effects of a market economy that
sometimes allowed the less-educated, less well-bred to supplant the old
aristocracies with their supposedly more enlightened tastes.
green gentry today often refer not to sentiment but science — notably climate
change — to advance their agenda. But their effect on the lower orders is much
the same. Particularly damaging are steps to impose mandates for renewable
energy that have made electricity prices in California among the highest in the
nation and others that make building the single-family housing preferred by
most Californians either impossible or, anywhere remotely close to the coast,
gentry, of course, care little about artificially inflated housing prices in
large part because they already own theirs — often the very large type they
wish to curtail. But the story is less sanguine for minorities and the poor,
who now must compete for space with middle-class families traditionally able to
buy homes. Renters are particularly hard hit; according to one recent study, 39
percent of working households in the Los Angeles metropolitan area spend more
than half their income on housing, as do 35 percent in the San Francisco metro
area — well above the national rate of 24 percent.
high energy prices may not be much of a problem for the affluent gentry most
heavily concentrated along the coast, where a temperate climate reduces the
need for air-conditioning. In contrast, most working- and middle-class
Californians who live further inland, where summers can often be extremely hot,
and often dread their monthly energy bills.
gentry are also spared the consequences of policies that hit activities — manufacturing,
logistics, agriculture, oil and gas — most directly impacted by higher energy
prices. People with inherited money or Stanford degrees have not suffered much
because since 2001 the state has created roughly half the number of mid-skilled
jobs — those that generally require two years of training after high-school —
as quickly as the national average and one-tenth as fast as similar jobs in
past, greens and industry battled over such matters, which led often to
reasonable compromises preserving our valuable natural resources while allowing
for broad-based economic expansion. During good economic times, the regulatory
vise tended to tighten, as people worried more about the quality of their
environment and less about jobs. But when things got tough — as in the early
1990s — efforts were made to loosen up in order to produce desperately needed
today’s gentry-dominated era, traditional industries are increasingly outspent
and out maneuvered by the gentry and their allies. Even amid tough times in
much of the state since the 2007 recession — we are still down nearly a
half-million jobs — the gentry, and their allies, have been able to tighten
regulations. Attempts even by Gov. Jerry Brown to reform the California
Environmental Quality Act have floundered due in part to fierce gentry and
green gentry’s power has been enhanced by changes in the state’s legendary tech
sector. Traditional tech firms — manufacturers such as Intel and Hewlett-Packard
— shared common concerns about infrastructure and energy costs with other
industries. But today tech manufacturing has shrunk, and much of the action in
the tech world has shifted away from building things, dependent on energy, to
software-dominated social media, whose primary profits increasingly stem from
selling off the private information of users. Servers critical to these
operations — the one potential energy drain — can easily be placed in Utah,
Oregon or Washington where energy costs are far lower.
more critical, billionaires such as Google’s Eric Schmidt, hedge fund manager
Thomas Steyer and venture firms like Kleiner Perkins have developed an economic
stake in “green” energy policies. These interests have sought out cozy deals on
renewable energy ventures dependent on regulations mandating their use and
guaranteeing their prices.
these gentry no doubt think what they are doing is noble. Few concern
themselves with the impact these policies have on more traditional industries,
and the large numbers of working- and middle-class people dependent on them.
Like their Tory predecessors, they are blithely unconcerned about the role
these policies are playing in accelerating California’s devolution into an ever
more feudal society, divided between the ultrarich and a rapidly shrinking
the biggest losers in this shift are the very ethnic minorities who also
constitute a reliable voter block for Democratic greens. Even amid the current
Silicon Valley boom, incomes for local Hispanics and African-Americans, who
together account for one-third of the population, have actually declined — 18
percent for blacks and 5 percent for Latinos between 2009 and 2011, prompting
one local booster to admit that “Silicon Valley is two valleys. There is a
valley of haves, and a valley of have-nots.”
the opposition to these policies is very weak. The California Chamber of
Commerce is a fading force and the state Republican Party has degenerated into
a political rump. Business Democrats, tied to the traditional industrial and
agricultural base, have become nearly extinct, as the social media oligarchs
and other parts of the green gentry, along with the public employee lobby,
increasingly dominate the party of the people. Some recent efforts to tighten
the regulatory knot in Sacramento have been resisted, helped by the governor
and assisted by the GOP, but the basic rule-making structure remains, and the
government apparat remains highly committed to an ever more expansive planning
the rise of the green gentry, California is becoming divided between a largely
white and Asian affluent coast, and a rapidly proletarianized, heavily Hispanic
and African-American interior. Palo Alto and Malibu may thrive under the current
green regime, and feel good about themselves in the process, but south Los
Angeles, Oakland, Fresno and the Inland Empire are threatened with becoming
may constitute an ideal green future — with lower emissions, population growth
and family formation — for whose wealth and privilege allow them to place a
bigger priority on nature than humanity. But it also means the effective end of
the California dream that brought multitudes to our state, but who now may have
to choose between permanent serfdom or leaving for less ideal, but more
How do you make a city thrive and survive in today’s economy?
all the challenges that the economy has today, what do you think the key to the
success of a city is?
It has to be open to everyone. A very diverse population really makes a big
difference. You have to have a raison d’etre. The city has got to have a spirit
and a reason why people want to go there and live there.
of the problems with Washington, DC is everybody lives there, but they look
out. They never think they're going to stay there for the rest of their lives.
They’re always waiting to go home.
York City or other great cities, people want to come there. And today, there
are many people that are moving to New York City than leaving for the first
time in decades. We have more tourists than ever before. More people have jobs
than ever before.
that creates a dynamic place where the best and the brightest want to be.
the best and the brightest want to be there, they’ll create and generate a tax
base so that you can take care of the less fortunate.
real key – and it’s not a populist thing to say – not popular to say, because
it’s not populist, but you have to have the wherewithal, those people who are
willing to think out of the box try new things, start new businesses, take
risks, if you're ever going to have a future.
you do the same thing. And if you do the same thing, we know where that ends,
You’ve also talked about how it’s very important for a city like New York to
have a bunch of very rich people so you could tax them . . .
You are . . .
A very small . . .
– unapologetic about that.
No, very small – well, the fact of the matter is a very small percentage of the
people pay the preponderance of the taxes. And if you don’t want the tax
revenue, then you can lose those people. But if you want to have the ability to
go and invest in infrastructure, invest in cultural institutions, have social
programs that can really help people who are less fortunate, you have to have
the dynamic drive, the people that are creative and the revenue. and that comes
from people who do well. And in our city, the poor actually are a little bit
better than the poor in other big cities. But the real reason for this great
inequality, as people describe it, or gap in income, is we have been very
successful in attracting the very, very wealthy. Those come here and they spend
money and they create businesses.
they can go elsewhere, as they are very mobile. They’re the one group that has
the resources to go.
What are you worried about when you look at New York after Bloomberg?
are you worried about being undone or a legacy that, you know, of government
that will be perhaps eroded or atrophied?
What . .
Well, I think most of the things we've done, hopefully, if we’ve done a good
job, will stay in place. Yesterday, I was in London. The weather was nice, so
you think better of any city when the sun is shining. But London is a real
competitor to New York.
got to understand if I we were to stop improving, stop diversifying, stop
investing, we will get pushed back and other places will take over. I was in
Paris the day before and I had dinner with some people, all of whom talked
about all their friends moving out of – out of Paris and out of France because
the tax rates are so high.
are the people who are going to create the jobs and pay the taxes down the
– you can’t hold the waves from coming in. You’ve got to keep making your
society open and you’ve got to keep providing opportunities.
you start to focus on equal results rather than equal opportunity,
unfortunately, you start to dumb everything down. And if you do that, you’re
going to get hopelessly left behind.
politics have much to recommend them. They are pure, smart and focused. But at
a time when society as a whole is riven by an ever widening economic chasm,
policy delivered from on high can get you only so far. Voters on both the right
and the left are suspicious of whether the plutocrats and the technocrats they
employ understand their real needs, and whether they truly have their best
interests at heart. That rift means we should all brace ourselves for more
extremist politics and a more rancorous political debate.
does that leave smart centrists with their clever, fact-based policies designed
to fine-tune 21st century capitalism and make it work better for everyone?
the problem is that no one has yet come up with a fully convincing answer to
the question of how you harness the power of the technology revolution and
globalization without hollowing out middle-class jobs. Liberal nanny-state
paternalism, as it has been brilliantly described and practiced by Cass R.
Sunstein and like-minded thinkers, can help, as can shoring up the welfare
state. But neither is enough, and voters are smart enough to appreciate that.
Even multiple nudges won’t make 21st-century capitalism work for everyone.
Plutocrats, as well as the rest of us, need to rise to this larger challenge,
to find solutions that work on the global scale at which business already
other task is to fully engage in retail, bottom-up politics — not just to sell
those carefully thought-through, data-based technocratic solutions but to
figure out what they should be in the first place. The Tea Party was able to
steer the Republican Party away from its traditional country-club base because
its anti-establishment rage resonated better with all of the grass-roots
Republican voters who are part of the squeezed middle class. Mr. de Blasio will
be the next mayor of New York because he built a constituency among those who
are losing out and those who sympathize with them. Politics in the
winner-take-all economy don’t have to be extremist and nasty, but they have to
grow out of, and speak for, the 99 percent. The pop-up political movements that
come so naturally to the plutocrats won’t be enough.
after the Palestinian Authority called the Balfour Declaration “a crime against
humanity” and called upon Britain to apologize for it, Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu said the Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish people’s right
to a homeland is the root of the ongoing conflict.
Balfour declaration, a letter written 96 years ago on November 2 by British
Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild, called for the
establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.
declaration recognized the right of the Jewish people to its own homeland in Israel,”
Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. “There is no
doubt that international recognition of the Jewish people’s right to its own
state in its historic homeland is important; the refusal to recognize us is the
root of the conflict.”
said that in order for there to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians,
they needed to recognize the Jewish people's right to a state in its homeland.
This means that in a final status agreement they will need to relinquish their
so-called right of return and all other claims on Israel, he added.
The Saudi Gazettereported that on Saturday,
the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, the Palestinian Ministry of
Information issued a statement saying the Palestinian people were “paying the
price of the biggest political crime in contemporary history,” and that
thedeclaration was “a mark of shame on
ministry said that the declaration “began the Zionists’ process of ethnically
cleansing the Palestinians from their homeland, which continues until today.”
added that “Britain and the entire world must recognize the usurped Palestinian
rights because everything that has befallen Palestine – it’s partition, the
aggression, the suppression, the settlements, the arrests, the separation wall,
the siege on Gaza, and the millions of Palestinians living in exile – was made
possible because of the Balfour Declaration.”
Palestinian Ministry of Information’s English website on Thursday wrote that
Balfour Declaration “continues to serve as the bases for a racial
discrimination system forcibly inflicted on Palestine and the Palestinians
putting former South Africa Apartheid regime to shame.
injury to the insult,” the statement continued, “many of the superpowers
continue supporting the Israeli occupation to the cradle of Christianity and
sacred shrines of Islam, an occupation disgraced with flagrant violations to
human rights and democracy.” No mention was made of Israel's importance to
did not refer to the Palestinian statement during his comments Sunday to the
cabinet. He did stress, however, that any agreement with the Palestinians would
necessitate the Jordan River remaining Israel’s “security border.” Israel’s
demand that the IDF retain a security presence along the Jordan River is
believed to be one of the major sticking points in the current negotiations
with the Palestinians.
also related to Iran during his comments, saying the Islamic Republic continues
calling for Israel's destruction. He pointed out that Monday marks the 34th
anniversary to the Iranians taking over the US embassy in Teheran, a day marked
in Iran as “Death to America Day.”
makes clear that what needs to be done is to continue the pressure on Iran,” he
said. “The pressure is what brought them to the negotiations, and I am
convinced that if the pressure is sustained, and not weakened, Iran will
dismantle its military nuclear capability, but if the pressure is weakened,
Iran will progress toward that goal.”
stressed that Israel was committed to preventing Iran from achieving their goal
of nuclear weapons.
interview with business daily Globes,
veteran Ha’aretz editor Gideon Levi
talks about his feelings regarding Jews who have made their homes in Judea and
Samaria. Bottom line: Levi hates them.
not just that they bother me. I actually have feelings of hatred towards them,”
Levi proudly told Globes. “I am a very emotional person. They embarrass me,
they mock me, they devalue me with the things they do, with their very
interview, Levi discussed his work as one of the most leftwing journalists at
Israel’s leftwing daily, who has made a career of writing negative articles
targeting Jews who embrace Zionism and the Land of Israel. “I was a good boy
who did everything properly. In high school I was the most well-behaved kid in
the world. But in my travels I began to write about the occupied territories
and what I saw there,” said Levi, describing Judea and Samaria as some sort of
far-off colony, instead of just a few miles away from his Tel Aviv home. “Over
the years I have seen many terrible things, that have made me the journalist I
said that, traveling through Judea and Samaria, that “something big” was
happening – and he didn’t like it. “There was something dramatic and serious
going on, and nobody was writing about it,” Levi said. “There grew up a
phenomenon in Israel of sweeping things under the rug. Nobody was covering the
occupation. Since I do not see myself as part of the choir and do not like to
do what others do, I said to myself that if there is something major going on
that no one else is covering, that is where I should be.”
despite his protestations of anti-establishment independence, Levi has been
employed for decades at Ha’aretz, the
epitome of Israeli establishment journalism, and has won three European and
international journalism awards.
despite claims of being an objective journalist, Levi said that his attitude to
Jews living in Judea and Samaria, and the way he writes about them, “is
obviously a personal reaction. There are many things that I detest, and I do
not hide it. I believe that they are immoral. There is no way I can find a way
to communicate with them, to come to a meeting of the minds.”