Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Paradigm Shifts and Ideas

A certain little punk at another blog complained that there is a lack of address to ideas at this site. He said Hardberger is an Old Guard Democrat with outmoded leftist views from the 70's. He suggests there has been a paradigm shift, and the current candidates fail to reflect the new mood of the country.

Let’s examine his premises.

This site is in fact about ideas. It is about one idea in particular that has been beaten like a big base drum, namely that “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” That’s it in a nutshell folks. Power in San Antonio is concentrated in the hands of a few dozen people who determine the fate of the rest of us without the slightest concern for the general well being of the community. This has been a running theme throughout this blog. It may not reflect recent paradigm shifts, as the Religious Right now snuggles up to power oblivious to its inherent moral challenges. Smugly confident in their own righteousness as defenders of the unborn and crusaders for public decency, they content themselves with the Pharisee’s prayer. Unfortunately for them, it will fall on deaf ears.

Is Hardberger an Old Guard Democrat with outdated ideas?

Unfortunately, although it pains me to throw the nameless dog a bone, he’s right about this. Don’t look to Phil for the vision thing. He’s one of those tax and spend liberals that thinks spending money is the same as doing something. But this is not exactly a News Flash to anyone that has followed the campaign. It also probably won’t seriously bother the majority of citizens in a city in which the have-nots outnumber the haves by 2000:1. This may not reflect the nationwide paradigm shift, but it does reflect the disparagement of opportunity in San Antonio. Tough luck to the New Right, but the democratic process will continue to trump paradigm shifts so long as injustice so self-evidently prevails. The tragedy for the historically underserved communities in San Antonio is that Hardberger will content himself with spending money tinkering around the edges of the status quo. Their plight will continue unabated, the homeowners’ taxes will continue to rise unabated, and the big box retailers who come to town will continue to get their abatements on schedule.

What are the implications of the Paradigm Shift with regards to local politics?

First it means cutting funding of groups like Planned Parenthood that offer abortion services, as well as women’s health services, to the underserved areas of town. Is this a good thing? That depends on how you feel about abortion. Regardless, it will mean a decrease in health services to some of the people who need it most. But Neo-Cons suggest that these services are more aptly the responsibility of the non-profit community who they assert provide them more cost effectively. Other budget cuts to social programs that are less ethically charged would also be in order, with the similar transfer of responsibility to the non-profit sector. This sounds good on the surface, but scratch that paint and you’ll find rust eating away at the social fabric.

The reality of the non-profit world in San Antonio is that the philanthropic fundraiser is about as welcome in the halls of wealth as a dentist who forgoes the use of anesthesia. A typical fundraising event in San Antonio goes something like this:

A bunch of rich inbred old biddies sitting on a Board of Trustees make up a guest list to a fundraising party. They carefully scratch names off the list so nobody on the social outs gets in, regardless of their inclination for giving. The biddies occupy all the time and resources of the management and staff of the organization for three months as they plan their party. They need catering, flowers, interior decorators, live music and hot and cold running chambermaids scurrying in every direction. All these expenses come out of the operating expenses of the non-profit organization in question. Frequently these expenses may add up to as much or more than ¼ of its annual budget. Party night comes and a bunch of old rich folks and their useless scions attend a $300,000 bash at the organization’s expense. A speech is made calling for donations. At the end of the evening, if the party has been well planned (if not, the non-profit may go into the red on the event), they raise $350,000 and congratulate themselves enthusiastically. The Chairman of the Board and head biddy now uses this meager $50,000 to beat the institution’s Director like a rented mule until the next fundraiser 12 months away. In the meantime a feud ensues regarding the size of the print and position of the names on the bronze plaque that is to be erected in honor of the generosity of these so-called philanthropists. Eventually it is agreed that whether you gave $500 or $10,000 your name will be the same size. The people who gave less consider this a most important victory and congratulate themselves on their shrewdness, since the more foolish generous individuals paid too much for the same amount of prestige. Lesson learned, in the future write a smaller check and stick to your guns when fighting for credit.

Counting on the generosity of San Antonio’s aristocracy is like counting on the generosity of the mugger who just stole your wallet to buy you dinner. It ain’t going to happen! If we cut public funding you cannot rely on the generosity of San Antonio’s misanthropists to pick up the slack. If you don’t believe this just ask anyone working in the non-profit sector.

The second note of the Neo-Con local mantra is that property rights trump all others. This is a pernicious bate and switch. Fear mongering tactics are used to scare the middle class homeowners into thinking their interests and the Developers are identical. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Developers thrive on fear. In particular they feed on fear of the encroachment of Hispanics into the Northside suburbs. They sell homes with the catch phrase good schools to mask their hidden redlining agendas. Bad news for the Northsiders who fear their brother more than they love him, U-haul is going to continue to rent trucks to Latinos and every few years you’re going to have to sell your ticky tacky house and move yet further north if you don’t rid yourself of your contemptible racial paranoia.

The Neo-Cons real agenda is big box development as far as the eye can see, aquifer be damned and they won’t let anything come in the way. What is deplorable is they are selling us Fascism and calling it Libertarianism. It’s not, it’s a hoax based on fear and greed. Ever notice how you almost never see Bill’s Flower Shop, Steve's Garage or Wally’s Restaurant in these big box strip centers? That’s because they are designed and priced to keep these business models out. Say goodbye to the middleclass entrepreneur, as we all become a nation of wage slaves gerrymandered around our racial fears and prejudices.

How’s that for ideas, rattled brains? Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.


At 3:59 PM, Blogger Cernig said...

Excellent analysis.

Regards, Cernig

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