Counterpunch: The sorrows of suburbia

November 30, 2007

Politics and the Housing Crash

The world wide credit crisis started in the heart of America suburbia itself, and primarily through the politics of suburban development that radiated from South Florida. The story of subprime mortgage mess has not yet meshed with the campaign finance supply chain that wrapped up Florida production home builders, lawyers and lobbyists. But from the perspective of Miami and South Florida, it is clear that supply chain was managed by Jeb Bush, the former two-term governor.

Yesterday Bloomberg reported that $700 million in defaulted debt, representing sprawl (asset-backed commercial paper– the exact details have not been disclosed) has vanished from the trust funds invested by the Jeb Bush team, adding to losses that will change American politics in 2008 and beyond.

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Counterpunch: Who lost America’s Everglades?

November 22, 2007

A Thanksgiving Tirade

Skyrocketing land prices and other costs have jeopardized the likelihood that the Everglades restoration project will ever be completed, a federal engineer said,” to the AP on Thanksgiving Day, 2007. I hope its timing stirs the ire of Americans.

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Counterpunch: Sprawl, Mortgage Fraud and Political Corruption

November 16, 2007

Snagged on the Precipice

In the Friday pullout real estate section of The Miami Herald, local Latin Builder Association member Caribe Homes announces it is throwing in a swimming pool and 3 percent off closing costs and “no builder’s fee”, for its stale inventory: Antilles Isles.

But throwing in the kitchen sink or swimming pool won’t be enough to stimulate buyers because there are none-or only a few. The last dregs of the housing boom sucked up the final tranche of possible buyers-culled from frauds, deadbeats, the weak and gullible. For the foreseeable future, it is a waiting game and an unstable one at that.

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Counterpunch: A brief history of Florida environmentalism

November 10, 2007

Tangled Up in Blue

Last week, Congress handed President Bush the first override of a presidential veto. The issue was the Water Resources Development Act– and for Florida, what was at stake was reviving the federal half of Everglades restoration.

In 2000, Congress set out to solve the Everglades restoration riddle (in the last WRDA Act) that had been wrapped up in more than a decade of litigation relating to Big Sugar’s pollution of federal lands.

It became one of the signature environmental efforts of the Clinton White House: putting aside the acrimony between the state and federal government and moving forward in Florida with concrete plans to restore the fabled River of Grass. Seven years later, cynics call it: the River of Gas.

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Counterpunch: The politics of colony collapse

November 7, 2007

To Bee or Not to Bee?

Colony collapse disorder sounds so elementally human. A recent 60 Minutes segment featured the disappearing bees. Too bad bees can’t talk.┬áCome back, bees! You’re part of the hive that humans have made of the planet. I was thinking about bees last night, driving and at the same time looking at my brightly lit, new cell phone named for a fruiting tree pollinated by bees.

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Counterpunch: The housing crash, suburban sprawl and the crisis of the American middle class

November 3, 2007

From AAA to Junk

Congress and the White House, state governments, local legislatures and lobbyists are vested to the hilt in denial: that the downgrade by Moody’s of at least $50 billion in collateralized debt from AAA to junk is a verdict on an economic model-suburban sprawl-that is torpedoing America’s middle class.

At the heart of sprawl is securitization: that is to say, the packaging of mortgages by Wall Street indifferent to locale so long as the shape, size, and purpose of its components is more or less the same.

The catalogue of horrors is not exclusive to the middle class, of course. In places like Miami, the housing bubble had the collateral effect of diverting attention from the needs of the poor. While local legislatures did the bidding of the growth machine, the county housing agency was looted to a fare-thee-well.

But it is suburbia is where the financial avalanche in debt markets started-in states like Florida where a sophisticated economic elite, tied to the interests of production homebuilders, primed the pump of the growth machine.

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