Friday, May 30, 2008

Economic Problems

OK so I have not been writing lately, having taken my creativity to work on gardening and springtime pursuits instead of sitting. These hot desert afternoons are now a good time to think and write, since it is just to hot to work outside. Tomorrow it may be hot enough to dry foods on the roof like they used to do.

What ought we be doing like they used to do? Quickly, I think of the food supply. Water use went up parallel to population growth until the 1970s, when groundwater production dropped off in relation to rising population growth. Trucking food in has become a huge necessary business for this desert city. This valley might support a roving band of fifteen humans per year under natural conditions.

The policy of the CAP is set to destroy what farming we have left and replace it with houses containing more mouths to feed. I suggest reviewing this policy, since the trucking in of foodstuffs has risen in price. Possibly the growing of vegetables could be profitable once more. It would certainly provide a cushion of local production.

Citizens can assist with this push to save on food prices. If you have vegetation, assess how you could grow a few vegetable plants. Apartment dwellers could request part of the grounds to grow squash, tomatoes and other small food plants. Not to spend more money on water, just grow something else with it. Gardens grow all year here in Arizona.

If I sound like a survivalist maybe that is correct. This community should have the long term goals of securing the food supply at a reasonable cost to the people. The water supply needs to be managed in order to maximize local food production and provide water for personal needs. People are interested in the idea of growing vegetables, partly because agriculture is our cultural heritage and partly because food prices are rising. Historically, victory gardens have been successful.

I am thankful for the railroad through Tucson. Why cannot we be an international railroad hub? This is the place for it and it could be the economic salvation of Tucson. Tucson is an international city in a position to make money off increased trade between Mexico and the United States. Passenger train connections to Nogales and beyond into Mexico would benefit the economies of this area. Build a passenger terminal for the railroad where the dump used to be and let the surrounding streets vote on new zoning according to the neighborhoods.

I call for the RTA to restudy the need for more public transportation, rather than faster wider new roads. The speed limit should be lower, in order to save gas. Possibly cutting the price of bus fare would attract more ridership, particularly since gas prices are so high. People need a price break and the buses might make more money if ridership numbers rise. If people cannot afford to get to work, the economy will suffer.

Localization of schools within walking distance of the people is a necessity. Smaller closer neighborhood schools would eliminate busing, insurance, fuel and other associated expenses. This transportation expenditure could be used instead to set up smaller schools closer to homes. If busing is necessary, low cost vouchers for student riders on public transportation should be available. Hire mothers to ride the bus with children instead of having to have a separate bus system for them. Redundancy in bus systems is too fuel foolish.

Zoning laws are crippling economic development. Archaic laws prohibit using your private property to open a small business. People who want to do business are forced to obtain storefront, pay extra fees on water and electricity, pay more fees to license, pay more taxes on everything and in general, allows only those with funds to set up a business. An idea won’t work anymore. It has to be upfront fees, zoning purchased from the city for a fee, higher utilities and others unless you are a big developer who can skip all this and rely on the government to provide all that new service need. It’s just a matter of scale, my friends. If you’re small, you have to give up a larger percentage of funding before you can even open. I say have the neighborhoods vote about zoning. Let them vote about whether they can open a business in their homes. This is the land of the free, is it not? And what an economic stimulus this opening up of new opportunity would be.

And while we are taking this on, how about easing up on the building regulations that run up the cost without any real benefit or that prevent the use of a serviceable, cheaper alternative. Why require parking when the consumer could just decide whether or not to buy? Are public school building standards a little too stringent, which drives up the cost unnecessarily? Review all these fees, regulations and cost padding in the building codes.

Insurance is taking too much out of the economy. Mandatory insurance is noncompetitive and expensive. If somebody wants insurance, they should buy it but nobody should be forced to buy it. I’m not talking about auto lien holders contract issues. I am talking about a human right of not being forced to buy something. Mandatory benefits for workers is another noncompetitive burden imposed on businesses. The effects of the mandatory insurance policy should be reviewed. Perhaps the money currently tied up in mandatory insurance would be better circulating in the local economy. There is a money shortage and this would alleviate this ‘credit crunch’ and return to a more user friendly cash economy.

Credit cards are a scam. Quit using them. They charge the seller, they charge you and they run up unearned charges at a usurious rate. Credit is for ventures and total emergencies, not as a matter of course. A moral value of saving for a desired item has been diluted by a deluge of advertising immediate gratification. Avoid interest charges by saving, then spending. These credit card people are leeches on a healthy economy because they demand unearned funds and encourage unhealthy spending habits and gross indebtedness.

All these things affect our community here in Tucson. Our freedom has been curtailed and this curtailment is being taught as the ‘way’ to do anything. The time has come to reassert freedom of choice to buy what we want, use our property how we want and to have a flourishing local cash economy.