Wednesday, May 11, 2005

NFL: Beatify This

Hardberger’s at it again, more pandering to the mook crowd. San Antonio Saints? Not likely, more like yet another cynical move by an NFL owner to extort more money from his hometown through threats to leave New Orleans. They can keep the Saints in New Orleans. If we get the losing franchise, then it will be San Antonio taxpayers that are, like clockwork, subjected to such periodic shakedowns.

To New Orleans, “Keep your losers. We know there are no Saints in the NFL Owners Association, only thieves."

At least Castro got this one right. Julian says the Saint's are welcome so long as they bring their own checkbooks with them. So where were his cajones when Soccer punked him out? This guy flips back and forth so often, I'm beginning to think he's a hermaphrodite.

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Is Hardberger an Old Guard Democrat with outdated ideas?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.

Castro and Hardberger Aren’t That Bad

Sorry if that last post sounded, well a little strident, but Rattled Brains had it coming. His harassment has made me realize that in fact, the biggest jerks in town aren’t the one’s running for Mayor.

San Antonio will stumble down its mediocre road regardless of who wins the runoff. The developers will continue to pave the aquifer. The City services will be expensive and inefficient. The historically underserved communities will stay underserved.

Julian will come to learn the depressing fact that there is nothing this town resents so much as vision. It doesn’t matter what the relative merits or demerits of a particular vision are. In San Antonio it is vision itself that is universally viewed as at best suspicious and worst intrinsically pernicious.

In 1994 I came to the citizens, business and nonprofit community and shouted to anyone who would listen, “The Internet is coming! The Internet is coming!” San Antonio’s unanimous response was. “Go away kid you bother me. The Internet’s a fad. Nobody will use it.” Or the unfathomable,"OK, I'll take a one page website, but I don't need email." It might surprise some readers that at one time in 1994 and early 95 there was more information on the Internet about San Antonio than about New York City and Los Angeles combined. No Bull! It is true folks. But as usual San Antonio squandered its opportunities and waited until it was the last one to board the train. Anybody remember The Coffe Gallery down on Commerce St.? How many realize that the 3rd Internet Café in the world was opened in San Antonio less than one week after the first one opened in San Francisco and the second in London? Yeah, I didn’t think you knew that. But sad as these facts are, they are true, and they reflect the malaise that is San Antonio culture. Julian will inevitably learn what many who have come before him already know, “A prophet is never loved in his hometown.”

Phil is about to learn that San Antonians are not going to just do what they're told no matter what it is you tell them to do. You could command a bunch of San Antonians to evacuate a flaming theater, and they would hem and haw and shuffle until the last person burned alive. He’s also about to find out that they don’t play nice together either. San Antonio’s power base skipped kindergarten and headed straight for the Fiesta Balls. Hence sharing was a lesson most of them missed.

As a financial capital San Antonio ranks somewhere between El Paso and McAllen, yet we have more chambers of commerce than we have successful business ventures in this town. There’s the Greater Chamber, the Northside Chamber, the Hispanic Chamber, the Alamo City Chamber, the Women’s Chamber etc. etc. There are more chambers opening up constantly in the outlying areas. These are a lot of chambers for a town that’s claim to fame is that it is where successful businesses come to fail. Unless you’re selling tacos, automobiles or a new house, your business prospects in San Antonio are bleak at best. So why so many local chambers? Because divide and conquer is an effective strategy and it is the one that has been exploited for decades by San Antonio’s elite business and political power brokers to their own resounding success and extravagant profit. These folks already had a meeting, and they had it without Phil. Whatever policies he attempts to deploy will run into a concrete wall as they hand him a fate au complete. If his resistance is more than token, he will find himself a one term Mayor and his ultimate legacy will be that he was thanklessly thrown out of office by the same people who put him there.

It is not the uninspiring candidates that are going to be responsible for San Antonio’s continued slump into mediocrity; it is the fault of San Antonio itself. As long as we are determined to be a village of sheep rather than a city of lions, we will continued to be ruled rather than governed. Our destiny will be determined by the handful of elite power brokers who will continue to mismanage our prosperity into oblivion.