LikeTheDew.com » Monica Smith http://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Wed, 27 May 2015 23:22:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/dew3_mh4feed.png http://likethedew.com 88 31 A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Rewarding Poor Planning http://likethedew.com/2015/05/21/rewarding-poor-planning/ http://likethedew.com/2015/05/21/rewarding-poor-planning/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 23:11:00 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=60288 It has been hard to get timely, accurate information. In the early years of the 21st century, some group was tracking the transfer of dollars from the federal treasury to the states, which generally showed that the majority payments were in the form of various types of insurance subsidies: mortgage insurance, housing insurance, health insurance, flood insurance, crop insurance and higher education loans.

The data collection stopped, perhaps because of objections from the insurance industries at having their transfer function exposed. Or maybe all of my computer crashes and software switches are the reason I no longer can find the information.

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It has been hard to get timely, accurate information. In the early years of the 21st century, some group was tracking the transfer of dollars from the federal treasury to the states, which generally showed that the majority payments were in the form of various types of insurance subsidies: mortgage insurance, housing insurance, health insurance, flood insurance, crop insurance and higher education loans.

The data collection stopped, perhaps because of objections from the insurance industries at having their transfer function exposed. Or maybe all of my computer crashes and software switches are the reason I no longer can find the information. Some information began flowing again with Medicare and Medicaid reform, insurance/financial industry reform tackled by Dodd-Frank, the Affordable Care Act for health insurance, and the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act whose context is fairly well addressed in the report put out by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

According to the CRS report, the flood insurance legislation signed by President Obama in 2012 was over four years in the making. During that time the National Flood Insurance Program hobbled along on annual appropriations. Perhaps Congress was reluctant to deal with the short-comings revealed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. And, although the new law calls for the repayment of $17.5 billion to the U.S. Treasury,

Many insurance analysts believe FEMA will not be able to repay the current debt in the next 10 years.

Why? Because, when premiums for policies are increased, property owners opt out. Moreover, unless people have mortgages and their financial institutions are penalized for not insisting on coverage, there is no way to enforce compliance.

So, “repetitive loss properties” are a well-recognized and on-going problem.

Properties that experience repetitive flood losses, known as a “repetitive loss properties” (RLP) and “severe repetitive loss properties” (SRLP), account for a disproportionately large share of all the flood insurance claims filed and paid under the NFIP.50 Historically, it is estimated that approximately 1% of the properties insured under the NFIP have accounted for over a third of claims paid. About 1 in 10 homes that suffer repetitive flood damages have cumulative flood insurance claims that have exceeded the value of the house. (from page 17 of the CRS report)

Researchers indicate that there are at least five possible explanations for the low market penetration for flood insurance: (1) flood insurance is not seen as being worth the cost (i.e., a poor investment); (2) individuals have misperceptions about low-probability risks and lack information about the NFIP;55 (3) private insurance agents do not market NFIP policies; (4) lack of compliance with the mandatory purchase requirement or failure to ensure that property owners maintain coverage for the life of the loan; and (5) many homeowners in risky areas either do not have a mortgage or have a mortgage from a lender that does not enforce the mandatory purchase requirement. (from page 19 of the CRS report)

And then there are inaccuracies, like the current designation of the western side of our eroding Sea Island Spit, as being “moderately” susceptible to flooding–i.e. in the X (SHADED) category.

X-shaded
Leaving potential buyers with the impression that the elevation is comparable to the commercial spine of St. Simons Island suggests that perhaps there’s a 6th reason for “low market penetration”: deception.
X-unshaded

The CRS report identified a number of states as being responsible for many repeat claimants as of December 2011: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. Of course, there were/are residual effects from Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy.

state-flood-insurance-claims

So, perhaps the more recent data should not be surprising. Alabama, Florida and Texas still lead the pack in terms of paid claims for the year ending September 30, 2014. Which is about as current information as you can hope to get. And they’re still being rewarded for not planning ahead.

Claim_payments_fy2014-1

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“Indulging Generosity” http://likethedew.com/2015/05/15/indulging-generosity/ http://likethedew.com/2015/05/15/indulging-generosity/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 15:38:57 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=60224 It's a phrase that just popped into my head out of the ether the other day. And, sure enough, Google has a handy reference in a book by a Scottish minister, David Gilkison Watt, who died in London in 1897, after having visited both India and St. Petersburg, Florida. Watt was a missionary, so it's perhaps not surprising that in his writing he promoted the wisdom he found in the Book of Ezekiel -- i.e. long before his time. I don't know if his "Homiletic Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel" was timely when he wrote it, but it sure seems timely now.

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It’s a phrase that just popped into my head out of the ether the other day. And, sure enough, Google has a handy reference in a book by a Scottish minister, David Gilkison Watt, who died in London in 1897, after having visited both India and St. Petersburg, Florida. Watt was a missionary, so it’s perhaps not surprising that in his writing he promoted the wisdom he found in the Book of Ezekiel — i.e. long before his time. I don’t know if his “Homiletic Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel” was timely when he wrote it, but it sure seems timely now.
A homiletic commentary on the Book of the prophet Ezekiel ..., Volume 25 By David Gilkison Watt, Thomas Henry Leale

The law which protects property also limits the exercise of the owner’s power over it.

I couldn’t agree more. It is, however, the principle which the advocates of private property rights prefer to forget. They’d like their power to be absolute.

Can’t disagree with the Scot’s perspective on indulging generosity, either.

The prince was amply provided for that he might be generous both to his family and his servants; but he was prohibited from indulging generosity by seizing the possessions of others. Some are generous enough with what belongs to others. It is mistaken generosity; it is fraud and robbery.

But that’s not exactly what I had in mind when the phrase occurred to me. My perspective was more that of the generous person who, while he’s obviously dependent on having willing recipients — recipients who, in turn, have no obligation to be grateful, but aren’t entitled to be indulgent, either — does not deserve to be devalued, to have his generosity indulged, like some foible, and then liable to being summarily rejected when his usefulness wears off.

That does seem to be the attitude with which the Cons consider liberal behavior. The Cons not only take what’s on offer; they do so grudgingly, barely indulgent of generosity, and then, when usefulness wears off, they reject it and declare themselves proud. It’s as if not beating the child were a sin.

On second thought, if the Scot’s use of the phrase was sarcastic, it is just this attitude of his, predicated on the belief that taxation is theft, which is shared by the Cons – -and the justification for deprivations to be inflicted on an “undeserving” populace. In which case, I guess I definitely disagree with the Scot.

How easily justice is perverted. Look how quickly the Scot transits from “just regard to the rights of others” to “judicious liberality.” Generosity is to be tempered, not indulged in wholeheartedly.

On another level, “indulging generosity” is sort of like “damning with faint praise” along the way to the full-fledged aggression we have in recent years identified as “Swiftboating” — i.e. the tactic of holding a person’s virtues and achievements against him. The motive? Power. It is perhaps telling that the Scot is considering generosity from the perspective of the “prince” and proceeds from the assumption that power is just.

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“They came to bury us, not knowing we were seeds.” http://likethedew.com/2015/05/03/they-came-to-bury-us-not-knowing-we-were-seeds/ http://likethedew.com/2015/05/03/they-came-to-bury-us-not-knowing-we-were-seeds/#comments Sun, 03 May 2015 15:52:49 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=60124 Occupy lives from coast to coast. It's just no longer news. In Oakland, the images of martyred young men are "planted" along with real flowers and trees to start a garden of hope. That's the Oakland Spring.

Three years ago.

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Oakland Spring

Occupy lives from coast to coast. It’s just no longer news. In Oakland, the images of martyred young men are “planted” along with real flowers and trees to start a garden of hope. That’s the Oakland Spring.

Three years ago.

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“Protection” — It does not mean what you think it means. http://likethedew.com/2015/04/13/protection-it-does-not-mean-what-you-think-it-means/ http://likethedew.com/2015/04/13/protection-it-does-not-mean-what-you-think-it-means/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 11:38:45 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=59975 At least not in Glynn County, Georgia. Nor, I suspect, many other places where duplicitous Republicans reign. In some instances, "protection" is a euphemism for extorting money that you shouldn't have to pay out, if our public servants were doing their job. The Mafia and home insurance come to mind. Which is why, when the term is used by those whom we've hired to "serve and protect," we are relieved to think that, at last, somebody's doing their job. Think again.

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At least not in Glynn County, Georgia. Nor, I suspect, many other places where duplicitous Republicans reign. In some instances, “protection” is a euphemism for extorting money that you shouldn’t have to pay out, if our public servants were doing their job. The Mafia and home insurance come to mind. Which is why, when the term is used by those whom we’ve hired to “serve and protect,” we are relieved to think that, at last, somebody’s doing their job. Think again.

Glynn County, Georgia, which is situated on the Bight of Georgia and has about a dozen miles of ocean front of which it can boast, claims to protect its stretch of beaches and dunes with a “Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone,” as described in Section 762 of the Zoning code. If we remember that codes are designed to deceive, that a code-breaker would be handy comes as no surprise.

Section 762 is not lengthy. Why, along with all the other sections slated for revision, it has languished on the County Attorney’s desk, instead of being forwarded to the County Commission for public consideration and adoption, is a puzzlement. Especially since the only changes involve substituting the word “zone” for “district” and giving violators somewhat less time before they risk being charged with some unspecified criminal infraction.

    762.1 Intent of District

It is the intent of this section that development within the Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone be protected from tides and high water storm surges, winds and erosion; that development within the Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone occur without adversely affecting the existence or natural features of the beach and dune areas, and that development within the Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone occur without subjecting adjacent property or property further inland to additional potential danger from actions of wind and water.

    762.2 Establishment of Subzone Areas.

The Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone shall be as follows:

Area A – A shorefront area with an established active/stable dune sequence extending from the mean high water mark to the first landward occurrence of either:
1) Native trees twenty (20) feet in height, or an inhabitable building existing on April 25, 1979.

2) A line fifty (50) feet landward of any seawall structure existing on April 25, 1979, unless otherwise varied or determined by the Department of Natural Resources.

Area B – A shorefront area without an established active/stable dune sequence extending from the mean high water mark to the first landward occurrence of either:
1) Native trees twenty (20) feet in height or an inhabitable building existing on April 25, 1979.

2) A line fifty (50) feet landward of any seawall structure existing on April 25, 1979, unless otherwise varied or determined by the Department of Natural Resources.

    762.3 Establishment of the Beach and Dune Development Setback Line

A development setback line shall be established as follows for the two (2) areas within the Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone. The purpose of the development setback line is to delineate those areas within each subdistrict where development is permissible.

Area A – The Development Setback Line shall be located forty (40) feet landward of the crest of the most seaward stable dune, as determined by the Glynn County Commission following consultation with the Islands Planning Commission.

Area B – The Development Setback Line shall be located twenty (20) feet landward of the mean high water mark, as determined by the Glynn County Commission following consultation with the Islands Planning Commission.

    762.4 Permitted Uses

1) Landward of the Development Setback Line permitted uses shall consist of those uses allowed within the underlying zoning district.

2) Seaward of the Development Setback Line permitted uses shall consist of boating, swimming, sunbathing, picnicking and other recreational uses not inherently destructive of the existence or integrity of the beach and dunes.

762.5 Conditional Uses The following uses may be permitted seaward of the Development Setback Line on a conditional basis in accordance with Section 904 provided that the applicant demonstrates that the proposed use will have no significant adverse environmental effects, such as increasing the potential for beach erosion or interference with existing established dune sequence, and increasing the exposure of inland properties to wind, water or wave damage.

1) Seawalls, jetties, bulkheads, revetments, groins, breakwaters, streets, utility lines, swimming pools, decks, boardwalks or fences.

2) Excavation of sand and/or disturbance of vegetation in Area A.

3) No development, grading, filling or other land alteration shall occur seaward of the Development Setback Line other than those conditional uses listed and approved above.

    762.6 Other Requirements

All permanent structures placed within the Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone, but not including accessory structures incidental to the principal structure, shall have a minimum first floor elevation of one foot above the FEMA flood elevation. The construction shall be on pilings rather than fill and construction standards shall conform to Department of Housing and Urban Development design and construction guidelines for high risk areas.

What we have here is a good example of the importance of the preconceived notion. If one proceeds from the assumption that ocean and wind are threats from which the dunes and beaches have to be protected, then man-made structures of all sorts, including asphalted parking lots, can be defined as protective. Developers, it turns out, are people who come to protect us from (Mother) Nature’s insults. The environment is not to be coddled. It doesn’t envelop; it threatens to destroy. Ergo, to counter the threat, development is deserved.

East-Beach-R6

All of which goes a long way to explain why Glynn County has designated thrity acres of vegetated sand dunes for medium density residential development. So, when the fund balances get too low, instead of raising the millage or increasing a sales tax, they can just reach into the “surplus land” cupboard and sell off the dunes for a cool three million or more. It is said “they’re not making more land,” but on the Bight of Georgia, Mother Nature has been increasing the resource base for over fifty years. Some people can remember when the Coast Guard Station was on the edge of the ocean. Now it’s back about 800 feet.

 

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Settlement or Extortion? http://likethedew.com/2015/03/22/settlement-or-extortion/ http://likethedew.com/2015/03/22/settlement-or-extortion/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 01:55:53 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=59796 The reports of a settlement on Sea Island, Georgia, are disturbing on many counts, not the least of which is that the Sea Island Company no longer exists. Not only have many of the assets of the bankrupt, family-owned firm been acquired by an artificial body that called itself “Sea Island Acquisitions,” as if acquisition were an honorable enterprise, but that Limited Liability (little responsibility) Corporation has now morphed into an alphabet string that’s not even a pronounceable acronym, SIA PROPCO II, LLC...

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Image: composite image created for LikeTheDew.com - aerial photo by James Holland Photography; Mr. Moneybags a Monopoly image (fair use).

The reports of a settlement on Sea Island, Georgia, are disturbing on many counts, not the least of which is that the Sea Island Company no longer exists. Not only have many of the assets of the bankrupt, family-owned firm been acquired by an artificial body that called itself “Sea Island Acquisitions,” as if acquisition were an honorable enterprise, but that Limited Liability (little responsibility) Corporation has now morphed into an alphabet string that’s not even a pronounceable acronym, SIA PROPCO II, LLC. So, it’s no wonder references default to the historical moniker, which may well be the intent. Then too, the community has an historical investment in an enterprise, whose shame they’d just as soon forget. Bankruptcy may be SOP on Wall Street, but it’s not welcome on Main Street. So, Sea Island Company survives in local discourse.

Mendacity, on the other hand, does not merely survive, it thrives. Indeed, it was the mendacity involved in the claim that a fragile spit of rapidly eroding sand had been destined for development/destruction all along, which raised the hackles of both locals and environmentalists from away. Development has been promised and underway on the Georgia Coast for several decades, with the result that the locals, the people trying to make a living on Main Street, are no better off. Neither the air, nor the water are fresher — better to breathe and drink. The fish aren’t fit to eat and neither are the crabs and shrimp. There are fewer jelly balls washing up on the beach because they’re being “harvested” and sold off to Asia, but that’s not much of a boon.

Development, as we might guess from the prefix, is kin to destruction, devolution, degradation and the general descent into the less useful. Environmentalists settling in to watch (monitor) is not likely to reverse the trend. Which accounts for why I’ve not had much truck with environmentalist in the past. But, that’s neither here nor there. What we have here in this purported “settlement” to seal the future of the Spit (that the word “settlement” raises the specter of the controversy in the Middle East is probably relevant) is a compounding of mendacity. For, although lawsuits and formal complaints have been bruited about, nobody ever went to court to get a fair determination of rights – of whether ownership comes with a right to abuse and destroy and trumps nature’s right to survive intact.

While a trip to the court house might have demonstrated anew that the “law is an ass” and needs to be changed, what we had here was merely a threat to disclose circumventions, elaborations and less than honorable intentions for the sake of outrageous monetary profits, of which the environmentalists are now content to get a modest share. We could say they were “bought off,” even as Mother Nature and the public at large were “sold out,” except for the fact that considering who initiated the action makes it look more like extortion.

When the attorney for the environmentalists asserts that they didn’t get everything they wanted, one has to conclude, since SIA PROPCO II, LLC gets to realize up to forty million dollars from the sale of eight McMansion lots, that it’s the environmentalists who didn’t get as many dollars to fill their coffers, as they might have wanted. But, since none of them had any personal skin in the game, they’ve got no complaint. The threat to withhold their consent from the building of sea walls and groins, which was never an issue, put money in their purse, just as surely as the threat of hellfire fills the collection plate. It’s an old tactic, but it’s not a virtue. It’s extortion, pure and simple and not very different from the scheme Solomon had to resolve.

Honorable people would have gone to court.

An environmentalist is to the environment as an apologist is to an apology and a philatelist is to postage stamps.

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Selling out the Public http://likethedew.com/2015/03/18/selling-out-the-public/ http://likethedew.com/2015/03/18/selling-out-the-public/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 14:04:27 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=59762 Once upon a time it took thirty pieces of silver to sell out a man. Now, in the electronic age, when all precious metals have been replaced by paper or electric currencies, millions of people, some not yet born, can be sold out for next to nothing. That's progress. Some people work to conserve the environment and to prevent further pollution and degradation of the organisms that make up the basic web of life. Others are content to simply exclude their fellow man. Still others promote financial interests by making some lands inaccessible...

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Judas Receiving the Thirty Pieces of Silver by Simon Bening (public domain via Wikimedia.org)

Judas Receiving the Thirty Pieces of Silver (Simon Bening)

Once upon a time it took thirty pieces of silver to sell out a man. Now, in the electronic age, when all precious metals have been replaced by paper or electric currencies, millions of people, some not yet born, can be sold out for next to nothing. That’s progress.

Some people work to conserve the environment and to prevent further pollution and degradation of the organisms that make up the basic web of life. Others are content to simply exclude their fellow man. Still others promote financial interests by making some lands inaccessible, thereby increasing the market value of what’s left. The latter are the new face of segregation, providing evidence that exclusion is both not necessarily sectarian and may well, as Goerge Wallace promised in 1963, last forever.

Or as long as men walk the earth. “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” retains its potency, mainly because it isn’t about who’s being selected, segregated and sold out, but about exercising dominion. It’s the strategy of the predator, to segregate and isolate an object of desire and make it easier to destroy.

Human predators don’t have to eat what they kill or even kill their fellow man. The segregation and isolation of individuals from the public are destructive enough. The exercise of dominion destroys our liberty and mobility, the very characteristics by which we the people are defined. Exclusive areas, whether they are designated as gated communities, reservations, conservation easements, “Exclusive Resorts” or private industrial enclaves, segregate and destroy the social cohesion humans require to thrive.

The evidence is all around us, especially in the South. Our people are not thriving. Their degradation and the destruction of our environment go hand in hand. Sometimes, as we see in the disposition of the southern tip of Sea Island, also known as the “Spit,” self-styled “environmentalists” (GreenLaw, the Altamaha Riverkeeper, Surfrider Foundation and the Center for a Sustainable Coast), are complicit, not just bought off. In exchange for “donations” to the Saint Simons Land Trust, the environmentalists get to exercise stewardship and monitor land disturbance and construction projects for residential purposes and to counter Mother Nature’s efforts to reclaim some of the land mass for other purposes.

Sea Island's disappearing spit approved for development (facebook)

Sea Island’s disappearing spit approved for development (facebook)

The Land Trust will accept a one-time contribution from SIA for stewardship and management services.

and

The Land Trust works with willing property owners to purchase property outright or to place conservation easements on the properties to restrict any future development of the property. The organization monitors all easements.

No doubt, if Judas Iscariot were alive today, he’d tout having “worked” with the powers that be to identify that public “nuisance,” the Nazarene.

The wholesale attack on our public assets, whether they be on land, in the sea or in the marshlands, is not a happenstance. Ever since we the people got the vote and, even more important, access to public information, privatization, with the connivance of some of our public servants, those who prefer not to serve but to rule, has aimed to subvert the public interest. The extent to which our eleemosynary “friends,” the non-profits and non-governmental organizations, have been complicit in selling us out will be revealed when they file their tax returns.

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An open letter to Georgia Representative Alex Atwood http://likethedew.com/2015/03/07/an-open-letter-to-georgia-representative-alex-atwood/ http://likethedew.com/2015/03/07/an-open-letter-to-georgia-representative-alex-atwood/#comments Sat, 07 Mar 2015 13:34:24 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=59650 Dear Alex Atwood,

The problem with the Cons (conservative, contrary, confused, conflicted, concerned, convoluted; take your pick) is that they are negative -- against not just change, but most everything else. So, since the world is in a state of constant change, they are "out of step," so to speak and that makes them both ineffective and angry. It is a mistake to think the Cons we install in public office will accomplish anything positive...

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State. Rep Alex Atwood

State. Rep Alex Atwood

Dear Alex Atwood,

The problem with the Cons (conservative, contrary, confused, conflicted, concerned, convoluted; take your pick) is that they are negative — against not just change, but most everything else. So, since the world is in a state of constant change, they are “out of step,” so to speak and that makes them both ineffective and angry. It is a mistake to think the Cons we install in public office will accomplish anything positive. But the voters, who elect them, are to be excused. The voters do not deserve the government they get, as many a callous Democrat might argue, because, just like Adam and Eve, the voters have been deceive.

Have the voters of Glynn County been deceived by Alex Atwood? Is he going to stand idle while our marshes and our wetlands, the nurseries of our fish and shell-fish and even the birds in the air, are poisoned by the chemicals every storm event flushes off the highways, parking lots and residential yards? Why, after so much effort to make industrial producers clean up their acts and stop dumping wastes into fresh and salt water bodies, would we countenance their deadly products being dispersed by landscrapers (sic)?

While the Golden Isles won’t be attractive when the marshes turn into mud flats and the oaks and cedars and cypress die off, looks (appearances) are not decisive. Already our fish are not fit to eat, but occasionally. Our beach waters are not fit to swim in. Our ponds and lakes and ditches with standing water are mosquito breeders because there are no fish or shrimp to eat the larvae. The dolphins are laced with PCBs and whole pods of whales turn up sickly. Even the hunters, who shoot to kill from a distance, are not immune since their lead bullets contaminate the carcass. But, when we say we want an “environment that’s good to eat,” we’re not just concerned about humans. The whole food chain is involved. We’re being poisoned from the bottom up.

You want to spend less on health care? Stop letting man-made poisons contaminate land, sea and air. How can it be stopped? It turns out that what man hath put together, the bacteria in the soil, can actually take apart. Molecule by molecule chemicals can be reduced to their constituent parts, given enough time and storm water doesn’t flush them out. That’s what naturally vegetated buffers along and around water bodies are for.

Did you know that cattails can’t be land-filled because they filter out and store so much lead (deposited by car batteries and exhaust on our roads), they’d have to be classified as hazardous waste? Think of the minerals oysters and clams return to the earth when they make their shells. Why are we content to kill them off?

Marsh preservation isn’t about appearance; it’s about function. It is unfortunate that people relying on superficial optics can’t see that. Function is invisible. Think about it the next time you hit a function key on your computer. Don’t feed the poisoners.

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The Mission for March is the Marsh http://likethedew.com/2015/02/25/the-mission-for-march-is-the-marsh/ http://likethedew.com/2015/02/25/the-mission-for-march-is-the-marsh/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 14:59:56 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=59545 Community Forum on Marsh Buffers & Clean Waters, March 4 at 7:00 pm, Ballard Community Center, Brunswick, GA.

And, because such events need to be sponsored and the environment can never have too many friends, we're organizing a new group, the Sidney Lanier Environmental Advocacy Team or S.L.E.A.T.-- sporting the unofficial slogan "Making sure our environment is good to eat."

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Community Forum on Marsh Buffers & Clean WatersOur Georgia Legislature is piddling with a piece of legislation (SB 101) they’re promoting as an effort to protect the coastal marshes from pollution and predatory humans. But, what this passel of pee words means to suggest is “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”

Oh, one could be charitable and accept the promoters just don’t know what the word “buffer” means. Why else would they announce up front their purpose “to provide for a buffer against coastal marshlands in which certain land-disturbing activities are prohibited”? It makes sense, if it’s just another example of man ranting against the rising tides marching across the marshes to take a bite out of his lands.

That the low and high marshes provide shelter from buffeting winds and wave action has not registered, obvious as it may seem. Perhaps, that the marshes nurture the nascent creatures of the seas — creatures man has, from the beginning, liked to eat — simply doesn’t register either, because they are just too small to be seen.

Whatever the reason, it’s why James Holland, Altamaha Riverkeeper Emeritus and all around guru of our coastal wet and wild lands, is going to do a show and tell about the benefits and beauties of the Marshes of Glynn and, for that matter, the whole hundred miles of the Georgia Coast, featuring his famed photographs, at the Ballard Community Center in Brunswick on March 4th.

And, because such events need to be sponsored and the environment can never have too many friends, we’re organizing a new group, the Sidney Lanier Environmental Advocacy Team or S.L.E.A.T.– sporting the unofficial slogan “Making sure our environment is good to eat.”

If what SLEAT stands for is too hard to remember, just think “So let’s eat!” It’s what Jesus, the fisherman, would have said.

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What’s the Matter with BMPs? http://likethedew.com/2015/02/13/whats-matter-bmps/ http://likethedew.com/2015/02/13/whats-matter-bmps/#comments Fri, 13 Feb 2015 22:59:25 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=59415 BMPs, short for Best Management Practices, the playbook upon which environmentalists rely to guide developers and other soil disturbers to do the right thing, are failing. The question is why. I don't think the spouse, who observes that, in his youth, BMPs referred to "bowel movements with pee," is on the right track, even though the venue, the southland, is apt. I really don't think the blatant disregard for best management practices, especially on the part of public agencies, ranging from the Georgia Department of Transportation to the Glynn County Department of Public Works can be blamed on linguistic disconnects.

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BMPs, short for Best Management Practices, the playbook upon which environmentalists rely to guide developers and other soil disturbers to do the right thing, are failing. The question is why. I don’t think the spouse, who observes that, in his youth, BMPs referred to “bowel movements with pee,” is on the right track, even though the venue, the southland, is apt. I really don’t think the blatant disregard for best management practices, especially on the part of public agencies, ranging from the Georgia Department of Transportation to the Glynn County Department of Public Works can be blamed on linguistic disconnects. No, the devastation James Holland documents in his photographs is neither a mistake, nor accidental. Nobody drives a backhoe into a swamp on a whim.

Click to view slideshow.

Best Management Practices. One assumes that, like profit, striving for excellence would be beyond dispute. But, one would be wrong. After all, if excellence were a universal priority, an esteemed industrial enterprise like the Ford Motor Company would never have had to announce in 1981 that, henceforth, “Quality is Job 1.” Nor, if management were in top form, would they have jettisoned that slogan for the even more ephemeral, “Better Ideas. Driven by You.”

But, what both these slogans and the evidence of poor management on all sides seems to evidence is that the syndrome is pervasive and may well have a uniform cause. That is, management practices are poor because that’s how managers are taught to carry out their jobs. Instead of keeping their eye on the ball, so to speak, the graduates of management programs are really only taught how to manipulate their intended subordinates. Perhaps that’s because business schools, having discovered that economics, the “dismal science,” attracted fewer and fewer students, determined to re-invent themselves as social psychologists–i.e. manipulators of persons.

Manipulating the personnel is both easier and harder than one might expect. It’s easier because, people tending to be stubborn, the failure to comply is not only expected, but forgiven. It’s harder for the simple reason that an order given does not guarantee the person being directed actually knows how a specific task is to be accomplished. (As is clear from James Holland’s photographs, the operator of that backhoe had/has no idea what preservation of the environment even means). It’s not possible to have Best Management Practices when managers don’t know HOW to do anything.

How did we get into this fix? People in academe used to be derided for living in ivory towers. That was based on a recognition that their ideas were often untested in the real world. Then, for some reason, instead of testing ideas with functional experiments, ideas were assigned a reality of their own. A comparable development can be found in the art world, I think, where white paint on a piece of stretched canvass is characterized as a painting. “All it takes is the idea,” as Exxon Mobil says. Thus the disconnect between function and idea is complete.

What accounts for it? Laziness or incompetence. I’m inclined to blame the latter, but whence the incompetence arises is a puzzlement. A BMP manual is obviously not self-installing. Perhaps, if manual dexterity isn’t exploited it atrophies. If so, then banishing the manual arts from our school curriculum is even more serious than we thought.

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Say it isn’t so! http://likethedew.com/2015/01/24/say-isnt/ http://likethedew.com/2015/01/24/say-isnt/#comments Sat, 24 Jan 2015 22:57:20 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=59150 James Holland writes: Glynn County public works is at it again. I thought my eyes were lying to me when I observed the images in my photos. Tide coming in and you can see how high it is and it is still coming. Glynn County simply has to be the most unscrupulous county in the entire state. Why is it that they continue to do this when all the science is out there about what buffers do to protect our marshes and waters? If anyone knows the name of the single individual that gave the order to do this would you please enlighten me so I will know who is the dumbest person in this county....

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MotherNatureWithEarth

James Holland writes:

1404-1-21-15-Glynn-County-destroying-marsh-buffers-again

1442-1-21-15-Denuded-area-on-incoming-tide

1465-1-21-15-Denuded-area-on-incoming-tide

1456-1-21-15-Denuded-area-on-incoming-tide

1524-1-21-15-Denuded-area-on-incoming-tide

1555-1-23-15-Christine-Ernst-at-polluted-water-site2

ADDENDUM: And then there’s the occasional unintended consequence, new evidence exposed.

Glynn County public works is at it again. I thought my eyes were lying to me when I observed the images in my photos. Tide coming in and you can see how high it is and it is still coming. Glynn County simply has to be the most unscrupulous county in the entire state. Why is it that they continue to do this when all the science is out there about what buffers do to protect our marshes and waters?

If anyone knows the name of the single individual that gave the order to do this would you please enlighten me so I will know who is the dumbest person in this county.

We really have the EPD Director (Judson Turner) to thank for unleashing this evil on our marshes and tide waters.

That’s not necessarily correct. Local law can always trump state law, as long as the provisions are more stringent and grounded in the functional requirements of public health and safety. Which, as a previous post points out, is far from the case in Glynn County, where the operative principles, when it comes to Mother Nature, are drain and dispose or, if we prefer Mr. Holland’s term “denude.”

After all, the directives are quite clearly in the interest of serving superficial optics.

In all zoning districts established by this Ordinance, except the GC General Commercial District, no fence, wall, terrace, sign, shrubbery, planting or structure or object capable of obstructing driver vision between the heights of thirty (30) inches and ten (10) feet above the finished street level shall be permitted . . .

No fence, wall, hedge or other planting, or sign forming a material impediment to visibility over a height of two and one-half (2.5) feet shall be erected, planted, placed or maintained within twenty-five (25) feet of the point of a public street with any private roadway or drive which serves more than one (1) dwelling unit.

A thin blanket of hay can’t hide that the marsh buffer has been ravaged. On the other hand, what Mr. Holland takes for granted, that everyone knows what a marsh buffer is for, may well be Greek to people who only know what “it looks like.” People, who prefer a well-manicured lawn, may well be beyond comprehending what Mr. Holland is wanting them to see.

Folks, the first photos of the above areas only showed devastation around the edges of the marsh. The attached photos show for a fact what Glynn County is wantonly doing and it is destroying tidal water buffers along with the marsh buffer. The attached photos were taken yesterday (January 21, 2015)morning on the incoming tide.

I am just about at a loss for words in what to do about this because according to Glynn County they have not violated any of man’s laws. The county was back out there yesterday morning destroying more of these areas and the Coastal Resources Division (CRD) will receive this along with all of you. Down at the CRD building they profess to claim these words “Know the Connection”, all right, many of us know the connection, but do you folks down at CRD “Know the connection”? If you are truly sincere about what you preach, it is high time that you all help to rein in Glynn County. If it is about educating everyone, including the government, then let’s prove it starting today, like right now. The science is there about stream and marsh buffers, we citizens need help from our government agencies that understand the value of marsh and stream buffers.

Yes CRD, I know what your excuse is, buffers are in the uplands and you do not regulate uplands, EPD (Environmental Protection Department) does that. Well, it was EPD that put a halt to our marsh and estuarine buffers and the upper echelon of EPD is not getting off the hook either. Judson Turner did this and he wantonly unleashed governments like Glynn County that think marsh vistas are more important than our marshes that are the nurseries that grow the sea food for us and marine species all the way out to the intercontinental shelf off shore.

Mr. Holland is being too generous. The functional buffers being devastated by the Glynn County excavator lie at an elevation of four (4) feet. That’s hardly an upland.

The state and local government are loaded with non believers, who could care less about our food sources. But, we the people are fools for letting them get away with it.

Am I mad as hell, yes I am. Because I remember what just about destroyed the blue crab population on the coast of Georgia. The state wanted to lay all the blame on a severe drought, but the drought was only partially to blame. The true culprit in that instance was the people that had ditched and drained the vast majority of our freshwater wetlands in southeast Georgia and that only exacerbated the drought conditions.

What can we as citizens do about this, just ask those people that attended the Island Planning Commission a couple of evenings ago. We can write letters to the media, to the elected officials and show up at meetings conducted by the Glynn County Commissioners and give them a piece of our mind. The Glynn County public works is going to continue with this destruction until we put a stop to it.

Above all, I beg of you not to blame the people out there doing the work. They are doing like all family oriented citizens, working to obtain a pay check to house their families. Our goal(s) should be to go after the people in government that issue the work orders for this to get done. Thank all of you for your help. James Holland

Sometimes it seems that antagonism, even antagonism toward Mother Nature, trumps common sense. Why humans aim to destroy the environment that sustains them is a puzzlement. Maybe it’s just a matter of superficial optics being deceiving and hope that James Holland’s pictures can bring them into the light.

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On Cowboys and Cowards http://likethedew.com/2015/01/19/cowboys-cowards/ http://likethedew.com/2015/01/19/cowboys-cowards/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 13:16:42 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=59092 Not having grown up American, I find that I am often ignorant of American culture. On the other hand, when it is pointed out to me, I see it as an outsider and, I sometimes think, more clearly. That was the case with the car culture "discovered" by my spouse in the American cinema. We agreed that the ancillary side-effects of Americans' love affair with their cars -- urban sprawl, social disruption, environmental degradation, individual isolation -- are all deplorable...

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mr-ed-for-president

Not having grown up American, I find that I am often ignorant of American culture. On the other hand, when it is pointed out to me, I see it as an outsider and, I sometimes think, more clearly. That was the case with the car culture “discovered” by my spouse in the American cinema. We agreed that the ancillary side-effects of Americans’ love affair with their cars — urban sprawl, social disruption, environmental degradation, individual isolation — are all deplorable. But, it was only recently that it hit me that the promotion of the private automotive capsule and the destruction of cohesive communities was all intentional. Though the evidence of commercial interest was always rather obvious.

What was not obvious, though it might have been if I were more familiar with the American culture depicted in the movies, is the antecedent of car culture in the cowboy culture. That was called to my attention just recently by the apparent horse mania among our new-money elites. It turns out, Ann Romney’s horses aren’t mainly therapeutic. They are part of a horse culture that’s spreading to the point where people are being persuaded to make stupid investments in over-priced real estate on the basis of them being resident on streets named Churchill Downs and the prospect of being able to ride horses on the beach.

We tend to forget that the iconic Reagan sat tall in the saddle while his hapless successor spawned a son widely mocked as being “all hat, no cattle.” Poor shrub wasn’t a real cowboy. But, in not being a cowboy he carried on the cowboy tradition, nonetheless — on his bicycle. Which is why it is telling that the new money crowd, at least here on our island, are now into bicycle paths reaching from one horse venue (the stables) to the next (the beach).

What is the cowboy tradition? Cowboys are herders on horseback. They follow their prey and harass them from on high, so they won’t get hurt. If a steer or a bull turns, the horse will take the brunt of the attack. Cowboys are a cowardly lot. Predatory and cowardly. Just like the dollar herders on Wall Street. I used to think of the speculators as hoarders, but that’s not quite apt. They don’t hoard; they herd. The move dollars around amongst themselves, rather aimlessly. The cowboy’s job is to keep the herd together as it moves through and chews up the landscape. It’s a destructive process, but relatively slow.

Car culture, as depicted in the movies, was/is a direct descendant of cowboy culture — predatory, lawless, thieving, bullying and cowardly.

If Willard is a coward, is Ann the bully in his household? Does he have more cars than she has horses?

Barack Obama looked good in the black cowboy hat. Too bad he gave it up. He’s not a coward and maybe that’s why. Maybe, when Michelle hits the campaign trail in her own right, he can go back to just looking’ good.

What role does the cowgirl play in American culture?

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The Senseless Saga of Don Siegelman http://likethedew.com/2015/01/12/senseless-saga-don-siegelman/ http://likethedew.com/2015/01/12/senseless-saga-don-siegelman/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 13:32:00 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=59027 The saga of Don Siegelman, the former popular democratic Governor of Alabama, who was convicted and imprisoned on largely trumped up bribery charges and whose prosecution has been, so far unsuccessfully, appealed continues to befuddle his supporters. That's because, I would argue, Siegelman having supporters, who believe in his innocence, does not carry the weight with the judicial system they might think. Rather, it's because he has supporters, who are likely to be impressed and depressed by the effort to break him and grind him down, that his persecution seems worth while. It's not senseless at all.

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Don_signs-376x174The saga of Don Siegelman, the former popular democratic Governor of Alabama, who was convicted and imprisoned on largely trumped up bribery charges and whose prosecution has been, so far unsuccessfully, appealed continues to befuddle his supporters. That’s because, I would argue, Siegelman having supporters, who believe in his innocence, does not carry the weight with the judicial system they might think. Rather, it’s because he has supporters, who are likely to be impressed and depressed by the effort to break him and grind him down, that his persecution seems worth while. It’s not senseless at all.

To see the sense, one just has to start from the right predicate or preconceived notion. Which just happens to be that the culture of obedience, by which the U.S. has been hijacked and which has just one objective, power — the culture of obedience demands it. Because, power, to be felt, not only has to hurt, but, if obedience, a natural virtue based on imitation, is to be exacted or coerced, its dictates have to be irrational. The culture of obedience not only feeds on innocents, but irrationality is its hallmark.

That’s how we ended up with dozens of innocent people convicted of murder and sent to death row, where they languished not to assure their eventual release, but to serve as a continuous reminder to other innocents that they’d better follow the directives of the culture of obedience, if they didn’t want to end up the same way — or actually dead.

We like to think that virtue is rewarded because, of course, nobody wants to be punished. However, that’s not how it works when the lust for power rears its head. Lust is out for blood and its victims suffer. Mosquito or man, for the lust to be satisfied somebody’s got to be victimized. Makes perfect sense.

Can it be avoided? Sure. Humans lusting for power and making irrational demands have to be restrained. Indeed, that’s mostly what we institute governments for. Perhaps it’s harder to see that when so many of our affairs are conducted on a symbolic level. Perhaps our super-sophistication, relying increasingly on mediated transactions, makes the lust for power harder to identify.

If Don Siegelman were a rich man, perhaps those lusting for power would have been content to strip him/defraud him of his wealth. Stripping him of his popularity has proved a continuing challenge, especially since, unlike many innocents, he hasn’t been convinced to confess. It could be worse. He could have been found with a dead girl in his bed and convicted of murder.

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What Kind of Idiots? http://likethedew.com/2014/12/17/kind-idiots/ http://likethedew.com/2014/12/17/kind-idiots/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:24:28 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=58765 What kind of idiots shell out, or commit themselves to borrow, two hundred thousand dollars for a row house and then sign on to a "warranty" that warrants nothing other than their responsibilities as buyers and owners? Rubes from the hinterlands of Georgia, mostly, but also a bloke in New South Wales. Imagine!

I have written earlier about the mortgage notes that condition a loan on the buyers of property ceding their civil rights to the financier -- e.g. on a standard Georgia form the borrower...

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Reserve-2-412cde36d1
Service_Request_Form_PagesWhat kind of idiots shell out, or commit themselves to borrow, two hundred thousand dollars for a row house and then sign on to a “warranty” that warrants nothing other than their responsibilities as buyers and owners?

Rubes from the hinterlands of Georgia, mostly, but also a bloke in New South Wales. Imagine!

I have written earlier about the mortgage notes that condition a loan on the buyers of property ceding their civil rights to the financier–e.g. on a standard Georgia form the borrower:

(2)Waives all rights which Borrower may have under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, the various several states, the Constitution of the State of Georgia, or by reason of any other applicable law, to NOTICE AND TO JUDICIAL HEARING prior to the exercise by the lender of the right or remedy herein provided to Lender, except such notice as is specifically required to be provided in said Deed to Secure Debt;

Now this new form of indenture has taken a further step by effecting immunity for the builder of housing under the umbrella of a meaningless “warranty” that is obviously constructed to make it look like it’s a two-party agreement. In fact, one side listing things that aren’t covered by any guarantee and the other listing owner responsibilities add up to the same thing. And, if that’s not clear, the last page spells it out:

OUR CORPORATION WILL NOT CLOSE ON A HOME THAT HAS NOT HAD THE ORIENTATION LIST COMPLETED AND ACCEPTED BY THE HOME OWNER’S SIGNATURE.

The sellers are doing a favor when they let someone buy a house. Then there is this lovely follow-up instruction:

6 Month Request
The 6 month forms are to be completed and returned to the warranty department 6 months after the date of your closing. This report should only include non-emergency, warrantable items. Only items covered under the one year builders warranty that are stipulated on this form will be discussed at the Warranty Request appointment. No other items will be addressed at that time.

That the form has no provision for listing “builders warranty” items presumably falls into the category of “things left out.” Perhaps I should call them “sins of omission.”

By the way, the heading of this form, “SERVICE REQUEST,” is consistent with the notion that the buyer is “asking for it” even as it does not specify what “it” is. In practical terms, the buyer, whose signature is required, is not just agreeing, but asking to be defrauded–a new wrinkle to the notion of “informed consent.” That the Professional Warranty Service Corporation is not listed by the Georgia Insurance Commissioner as a licensed company should not come as a surprise. Scammers don’t need to be certified.

But, what I really like about this outfit is the final disclaimer relative to landscaping. It explains a lot about what is going on at the development known as The Reserve at Demere, a town-house development being constructed and sold on St. Simons Island by the Palmetto Building Group:

The sole responsibility for landscaping is to ensure proper sales and drainage away from the home.

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Abstract Finance http://likethedew.com/2014/11/30/abstract-finance/ http://likethedew.com/2014/11/30/abstract-finance/#comments Sun, 30 Nov 2014 17:08:30 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=58557 Your dollar or your word? Which would you rather give or receive to satisfy an obligation? A dollar isn't just tangible and guaranteed, it's definite and final in the sense that there's no reconsidering, waffling or fudging down the line. When you hand over a dollar, the deed is as good as done. The national currency introduces an element of certainty into relationships that might otherwise be fraught with ambiguity. Dollars let people, who don't know each other very well, get along.

So, what happens when dollars are scarce?

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Your dollar or your word? Which would you rather give or receive to satisfy an obligation? A dollar isn’t just tangible and guaranteed, it’s definite and final in the sense that there’s no reconsidering, waffling or fudging down the line. When you hand over a dollar, the deed is as good as done. The national currency introduces an element of certainty into relationships that might otherwise be fraught with ambiguity. Dollars let people, who don’t know each other very well, get along.

So, what happens when dollars are scarce? Do people have to go back to relying on words, empty promises and a potential host of misunderstandings? Basically, yes, unless they come up with acceptable and accepted substitutes. Since dollars (any currency, for that matter) are figments of the imagination, made visible and tangible in paper and electronic bits, it is possible to imagine other forms. Green Stamps used to be almost universally accepted in the US, but ultimately proved as unreliable as the Confederacy’s dollars turned out to be. More recently, various inventions put forward by the financial industry, abstracted figments of the imagination such as debentures and CDOs, suddenly imploded and triggered a widespread collapse of exchange and trade, without, oddly enough, leaving any real physical trace. Which should not actually be a surprise since the world of finance has become increasingly unreal — an abstraction of an abstraction. Think of it as a framed canvas without any paint?

Or, perhaps, if one compares a dollar to a written word, meaningful speech made visible and, when rendered in brail, tangible, the relationship that should exist between a symbol and a physical reality (spoken language impacting auditor nerves as waves of energy) is easier to comprehend. Currency symbolizes value and renders it tangible. The variations invented by the financial industry rely on the notion that value is lessened or enhanced much as the informational content of the written word depends on fanciful decoration with gold leaf or a spectacular font.

Super Lawyer Christopher T. Graham

Super Lawyer Christopher T. Graham

“Spectacular” is a good word. Appeals to the visual sense seem particularly effective as substitutes when an abstraction of an abstraction is being promoted. I suspect, for example, that, if the following sentences, found on the web site of an outfit that calls itself The Graham Private Client Law Group were spoken out loud, they’d be about as persuasive as the word salad Sarah Palin routinely spouts.

The Graham Private Client Law Group specializes in Asset Preservation, Asset Succession, Tax Minimization, and Business planning exclusively for high net worth entrepreneurs and families. Our professionals apply their advanced degrees from internationally respected institutions such as Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Dartmouth, Michigan, Mississippi, Virginia, Emory, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Wesleyan, Georgia, and University of Connecticut, as well as their breadth and depth of experience from international, national and regional law, accounting, and financial firms to achieve Client objectives in full collaboration with their current advisors.

Each Client has a specific and unique circumstance. Accordingly, we approach each project with an open architectural problem solving process that ensures customized solutions designed to match Client needs and objectives. There is no “one size fits all” or “fill in the blank” solution to a Client problem.

While validation of these claims is verbalized on a radio program, it is unlikely that the clients of Christopher T. Graham bother with that any more than they are likely to be impressed by the “honors” received from the “Modern Luxury Men’s Book.” One hopes. The reference to “potential marital creditors” does give one pause.

In any event, Christopher T. Graham’s enterprise is located in the tower atop the Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta, on the 27th floor, the same venue where we find the purported owner of the Reserve at Demere (Mary Wan LLC), Mariners Landing (Gascoigne LLC) and the Yacht Club (Yacht Club LLC), all on St. Simons Island, the latter of which C T Graham actually claims to control. Perhaps “customized solutions” is the euphemistic designation for operating under different names and disguising a variety of uniformly shoddy enterprises. The Yacht Club, for example, dumps road run-off directly into Mother Nature’s marshes and soaks the Clients for big bucks (nearly half a million) for tiny, less than a third of an acre, lots. Bargain hunters can pick up condos at the Reserve on five tenths of an acre ($20,000) for less than a quarter million.

Dollars also let scammers get away quick.

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Have We Turned a Corner? http://likethedew.com/2014/11/12/turned-corner/ http://likethedew.com/2014/11/12/turned-corner/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 14:15:07 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=58355 Money, the life-blood of the nation
Corrupts and stagnates in the veins
Unless a proper circulation
Its motion and its heat maintains.
Jonathan Swift

For the first time since 2009, the rate at which the dollar moves through the economy on its way to becoming part of the Gross National Product has increased. The Federal Reserve data collectors had to extend the number out three digits to get there. But, from a low of 1.381, we’re now up to 1.386.

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Dog with a mouthful

Money, the life-blood of the nation
Corrupts and stagnates in the veins
Unless a proper circulation
Its motion and its heat maintains.
Jonathan Swift

For the first time since 2009, the rate at which the dollar moves through the economy on its way to becoming part of the Gross National Product has increased. The Federal Reserve data collectors had to extend the number out three digits to get there. But, from a low of 1.381, we’re now up to 1.386.

The high point for the rate was in the third quarter of 1981, when it reached 3.5 and the country was not only awash in paper dollars, but people were passing them around at an increasing rate. Couldn’t have that, could we? Somebody had to put on the brakes. That’s why we got double digit interest rates. And, ever since, the money bags have been slowing things down.

Velocity_of_the_dollar

Why?

I suspect it’s in the vain hope that, if they can just limit the supply of dollars to the hoi poloi, every dollar the money bags can snatch and stash will be worth more.

But, if the crash of 2008 has taught us anything, it should be that quantity doesn’t matter. The country supposedly “lost” forty trillion dollars in that crash, yet all our deteriorating infrastructure and our shoddy housing projects, as well as our crumbling industrial plant, pretty much survived. I mean, it wasn’t as if, like the cradle of civilization, the U.S. had been bombed back into the stone age. Right?

Money, is a figment of the imagination. So are the letters (symbols) I used to “write” what you are reading. How many symbols I use to get my ideas across has some importance. If I used none and all the visitors to the internet were illiterate, like the people who come to feast on “dirty” pictures, or even pictures of dirt, then the number of letters I use, or don’t use, would be truly insignificant (not visible). The same is true of dollars (symbols of debt, aka IOUs) that aren’t spent, i.e. handed around to someone else. On the other hand, the more people that get their hands on that one dollar in a given amount of time, just as the number of people that read and “get” my message, determines the value.

So, the dollar becoming less sluggish is good news.

Of course, dollars that are sent from the Treasury to individual pensioners or orphans or the physically handicapped get passed around at a goodly rate. Those people know what to do with money; that money is to be spent. Congress, on the other hand, even though it is in charge of the currency’s initial distribution doesn’t appreciate ordinary folk doing their work for them.

Why not?

Because Congress doesn’t appreciate ordinary folk. Congress, for whatever reason, has turned into a cadre of bad servants, who resent having been hired to work. They have a job and they don’t want to do it. So, somebody else needs to be coerced and sequestering the wherewithal that’s necessary in the modern world to complete our transactions is how they’ve been putting the squeeze on the rest of us.

Now the electorate seems to have got their number and sent in more replacements. (Before 2014, 212 incumbents in the House had been replaced, but without significant effect). Besides, the President did say he’d have to act on his own, if Congress doesn’t get down to work by providing both funds and directions. We should not be surprised that the voters took him at his word.

“Six of one, half dozen of the other.” This time around it wasn’t even possible to distinguish Republicans from Democrats.

Message to Washington: “If you’re serious about doing your job, show us the money.” Get rid of that sequester and get Wall Street to empty the vaults by setting the tax high enough to make the dollars come back (that’s what revenue means) at a goodly rate. After all, that’s what federal taxes are for–to recycle the bucks.

If we don’t recycle, we just have to keep issuing more. Dollars in bank vaults are about as worthless is those bags of aluminum cans in the neighbor’s back yard.

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