Saturday, April 11, 2015
|Thomas Jefferson understood the importance of private property for all and most especially the poor.|
Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison on Private Property
Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were political allies and personal friends. Over the course of their lifetime, they wrote many personal letters where they shared and debated the ideas which helped shape the American system of government. This letter was written while Jefferson was visiting France. He had spent the day walking through a portion of the French countryside, 40 miles from Paris, where the French aristocrats often vacationed. In his letter he notes the vast amount of land left uncultivated, reserved for the aristocrats recreation and hunting, while the largest class of the French population was landless and poor. He believed America should strive for a more just and equal division of land where the citizens would be able to achieve prosperity through hard work and the ownership of property. In his letter to Madison he begins defining his belief that the small landowner is one of the most important parts of the state.
Seven o’clock, and retired to my fireside, I have determined to enter into conversation with you…
As soon as I had got clear of the town I fell in with a poor woman walking at the same rate with myself and going the same course. Wishing to know the condition of the laboring poor I entered into conversation with her, which I began by enquiries for the path which would lead me into the mountain: and thence proceeded to enquiries into her vocation, condition and circumstances. She told me she was a day laborer at 8 sous or 4d. sterling the day: that she had two children to maintain, and to pay a rent of 30 livres for her house (which would consume the hire of 75 days), that often she could get no employment and of course was without bread. As we had walked together near a mile and she had so far served me as a guide, I gave her, on parting, 24 sous. She burst into tears of gratitude which I could perceive was unfeigned because she was unable to utter a word. She had probably never before received so great an aid. This little attendrissement, with the solitude of my walk, led me into a train of reflections on that unequal division of property which occasions the numberless instances of wretchedness which I had observed in this country and is to be observed all over Europe.
The property of this country is absolutely concentrated in a very few hands, having revenues of from half a million of guineas a year downwards. These employ the flower of the country as servants, some of them having as many as 200 domestics, not laboring. They employ also a great number of manufacturers and tradesmen, and lastly the class of laboring husbandmen. But after all there comes the most numerous of all classes, that is, the poor who cannot find work. I asked myself what could be the reason so many should be permitted to beg who are willing to work, in a country where there is a very considerable proportion of uncultivated lands? These lands are undisturbed only for the sake of game. I should seem then that it must be because of the enormous wealth of the proprietors which places them above attention to the increase of their revenues by permitting these lands to be labored. I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable, but the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivision go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind. The descent of property of every kind therefore to all the children, or to all the brothers and sisters, or other relations in equal degree, is a politic measure and a practicable one. Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions or property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there are in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on. If for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be provided to those excluded from the appropriation. If we do not, the fundamental right to labor the earth returns to the unemployed. It is too soon yet in our country to say that every man who cannot find employment, but who can find uncultivated land, shall be at liberty to cultivate it, paying a moderate rent. But it is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of the state.
|Housing Advocates tell us the darnest things.|
Marinwood-Lucas Valley will grow by 37.5% if all of the housing is built according to the 2012 Housing Element. There are many reasons to be concerned with their "facts". Here is how Novato Community Alliance is addressing some of the FICTION created by ABAG and Housing advocates.
Fiction and Facts about
Planning for Housing Mandates
FICTION1. Novato will "takes care of its own" by acting on the affordable housing allocation from the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG)
FACT1. The ABAG allocation identifies need at a regional level, not at a local level. ABAG has little knowledge of the numbers of Novatoans, or even the number of people working in Novato, who live in substandard housing.
2. Novato teachers, firefighters, policemen, nurses, and clergy find high density housing attractive.
|2. Some of the teachers and policemen who lived in Bay Vista (220 unit complex located in the Hamilton area of Novato) found the experience less than optimal. High density housing starts at around 30 units per acre.|
|3. Novatoans against high density housing are NIMBYs, racists, and/or bigots.||3. Novatoans against high density housing object to crowding large numbers of people into small areas because they believe the crowding has negative impacts on human beings.|
|4. Good design compensates for high density; the council can set aside regulations in favor of buildings that they consider 'exceptionally well-designed'.||4. Good design makes high density housing more livable but greater numbers of people still have greater numbers of needs to be met. The Council sometimes sees 'exceptionally good design' where others see large ugly massing which is out of scale with its surroundings.|
|5. Compact city development and mass transit are the most efficient ways for Novato to combat global warming.||5. Novato's population is not large enough to create much reduction of greenhouse gas through mass transit. The SMART train is only predicted to reduce traffic by one percent or less. Locating enough high paying jobs in Novato so that people do not have to drive every day to San Francisco would help reduce greenhouse gas. 85% of the land in Marin is already set aside as agricultural or open space; industrialization of Marin is hardly feasible with the exception of a few very clean small industries.|
|6. High density does not increase crime or demands for infrastructure; it decreases congestion.||6. By definition, high density housing increases population. Increased population causes increased infrastructure demands of all types, including demand for transportation and city services. Although the cost per high density housing resident may be lower because building costs per unit are lower, the dollar costs for additional infrastructure (including demand for transportation and city services) are significant .|
|7. High density housing projects subsidized by tax-increment financing (Redevelopment Agency financing) are cost effective.||7. Tax-increment financing effectively transfers tax revenues from schools, fire, police, and other essential services to property developers. Tax increment financing is exempt from voter approval. Cities end up raising taxes or cutting services or both.|
|8. Property values are not affected by large high density developments nearby.||8. Zoning for different densities was originally created to protect property values. State housing law requires that land be "up-zoned" to accommodate medium density for low income housing, unless enough medium density zoning already exists. That is, city planners don't have to provide much documentation about feasibility of "up zoning" if they submit high density affordable housing options. Additionally, California Housing and Community Development offers "safe harbor" rules which allow for even greater up-zoning for high density (up to 30 units/acre). |
|9. People will want to live in high density housing near transit so they can walk to nearby transit or ride their bikes to commute to work.|
9. People take transit when it competes favorably with the automobile in ease, speed, and cost. Most Marin County transit at present does not compare well.
|10. Best practices in management are always used in affordable housing developments. The state and local governments are proactive in following up on problems in housing projects.||10. There is a great deal of confusion about the responsibility for poor management of affordable housing. State and local agencies are strapped for money and are cutting back on policy enforcement personnel.|
|11. Mixed use zoning discourages business investment.||11. Mixed use zoning may not result in profit margins as large as those where housing does not have to be considered at all however, that does not mean that mixed use development is not profitable.|
|12. The European Model, which is compact development, coupled with the transit option of the SMART train, will enhance Novatoans' quality of life.||12. Europeans were forced into compact development early on by population and the lack of wood, conditions which do not necessarily apply here. In stark contrast to European train service, the SMART train is on the road to becoming the little train to nowhere, reducing more of Sonoma's congestion problems than Marin's.|
|13. Everyone deserves to live in Novato.||13. If everyone got what they deserved, where would we all be?|
See more at Novato Community Alliance
Friday, April 10, 2015
Thursday, April 9, 2015
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
|Will you be drinking recycled sewage water so that we can build an Urban Marin?|
Editor's Note: I sent the article on
" Why Californians Will Soon Be Drinking Their Own Pee " to a friend this morning.
Here is their response:
Thanks for your note. I appreciate it.
My two cents on water and Plan Bay Area (a favorite topic of mine):
If folks are interested in water, here are two good books on the topic:
* The author of "The Man Who Made it Rain" discusses water issues in Marin
* "Cadillac Desert" gives a more broad view of water in California with some good history
"Plan Bay Area: Caps your Life, Trades your Freedom".
We live in a semi-arid State and for decades have built infrastructure to move water from source to demand areas. There are many issues surrounding water for nature, water pollution and water supply. More on this if you are interested.
Few people know that they are already drinking effluent from wastewater treatment plants which discharge tertiary treated wastewater into rivers throughout the State including the Sacramento and San Jacinto rivers. That water is then taken out of the rivers downstream for treatment as a drinking water supply. These rivers drain into the Delta, a source for many water supply agencies. Here's a link to a map of the rivers of California: http://geology.com/lakes-rivers-water/california.shtml
The good thing about water is that it can be purified from the worst condition using a variety of techniques. The natural treatment of water happens everyday through the hydrologic cycle. The only real issue is cost, as we have need to accelerate this natural purification process to meet demand.
Water reuse has been billed as a "drought proof" supply and so, in my view, should allow us to maintain our current use of water. Others see this supply as a means to support more growth or provide water for nature.
In my view, what we Americans are facing, is the contrived, political creation of scarcity in the USA. The politics of scarcity can be viewed as the unavailability of resources required to sustain life, such as food, energy, or water and can undermine security in degrees similar to military aggression.
If I understand it correctly, taking Plan Bay Area and sustainable development to its unabated "sustainable" conclusion, we are looking at water reuse and conservation which ends in the per capita rationing of water and other resources (energy, gHg emissions, etc.) for all of us except perhaps a select few. A distinction is made between water for man and water for nature which supports this scarcity. No more lawns, swimming pools, Saturday afternoon car washes, or long hot showers. These water uses are likely not "sustainable".
In my view, Plan Bay Area, our nine County sustainable community strategy, with other regional initiatives implemented by the Joint Policy Committee (JPC/JPA) creates scarcity, ultimately, as a means of control. http://www.abag.ca.gov/jointpolicy/
For a broader view on this issue: "The Unfinished Agenda", a Task Force Report sponsored by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund is The Citizen's Policy Guide to Environmental Issues. "The Unfinished Agenda" report states on page 155 that "this book is about a world transition from abundance to scarcity." www.geraldbarney.com/Rockefeller_Brothers_Fund/Unfinished.pdf
This Task Force was part of the Environmental Quality Council that grew out of the U.S. Congressional legislation: The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). http://ceq.hss.doe.gov/
Another report that may be of interest is the 1969 Rockefeller Commission report titled: "Population and the American Future". This report signed off by President Richard M. Nixon, when Nelson Rockefeller was Vice-President, includes the following quote in the Preface: "Whether man’s response to that challenge will be a cause for pride or for despair in the year 2000 will depend very much on what we do today." http://www.population-security.org/rockefeller/001_population_growth_and_the_american_future.htm
Personally, I think the year 2000 came and went without a lot of fanfare. In my view, there are many aspects to these reports that are not relevant or are an effort to create and/or respond to a reality which does not exist.
If I understand correctly, NEPA is the legislative/governmental mechanism which brought environmentalism to the world stage and then back to the USA through the 1992 UN Earth Summit and Agenda 21, the Biodiversity Assessment and President Clinton's: President's Council on Sustainable Development Towards a Sustainable America report and then locally as Plan Bay Area. The "soft law" of sustainable development is becoming "hard law" which each State law that is passed to support it's implementation.
"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force."-George Washington
Regarding population, as I understand it there are two aspects: our own children and our nation's immigration policy. These people will need land, food, water, a place to live work and raise their own families. Do we grow vertically as we are now being coerced with RHNA/PDA's, or do we grow horizontally, developing more suburban land that is currently in rural areas?
What do we want to do? We the people, have some difficult decisions to make. We may want to work on getting the ABAG population projections reduced which are more than a million over natural trends in population growth for our nine counties. We may also want to oppose the $11 billion dollar water bond measure planned for the November ballot. If our 45 organizations want to consider working on these issues with their members, I think we can have a real impact.
The climate is changing, the seas are rising; all hell will break loose if we don't do something to save the planet, save the children or enslave ourselves to ensure world peace. Lot's of dire predictions and generalities are used to manipulate the masses to impose programs which benefit those advancing the solutions. Could it be about money, power and control? :)
Those who have studied history know that "in the course of human events": something happens in the world, all the time, everyday and the sky does not fall. People die, people fight, people suffer, people thrive, people are happy, people struggle in this life to find meaning, comfort and fulfillment as they meet their basic needs and then some. This is the human condition.
As I understand it, today we have more people living better, longer, richer, more peaceful lives than at any time in history. To me, this is good news. I'm optimistic we can address our social and environmental challenges using our constitutional self-government system to make our lives better still, retain our rights and help others do the same.
We change what we can (acting respectfully), accept what we cannot change and hope we have the wisdom to know the difference.
I think many of us do our best to be good people, help where we can and enjoy the precious gifts of love, life and freedom.
I'm not letting anyone take my rights and freedoms away from me without a fight.
All the best,