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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tell it like it is

Steve Duin calls Portland's eastside streetcar "an amusement park ride, and the antithesis of efficiency and mobility for the poor slobs in Portland who actually need the trains to run on time." He adds: "[L]et's stop pretending this glitzy development vehicle is supplementing, not undercutting, the city’s increasingly fragile transit grid." Amen, Brother Steve, amen.

Comments (19)

As one commenter on the O blog said to Duin's Opinion, it wasn't the streetcar that made The Pearl, it was the tax subsidies, urban renewal dollars, and tax incentives.

But equally contributing was the massive up-rezoning of all The Pearl. That is the real reason for what happened, when a property owner can build a 16 story building in place of a one or two story building. Plus, raw land property values exponently increase

The same is happening, with more to come, in the Central Eastside. But the Planners, TriMet, and CoP will claim streetcars created the change. But citizens have caught on....including Duin. Except he missed the real reasons. Still, thanks Steve for meeting reality.

Nice to see Steve get onboard with the streetcar criticism. Of course, it would have been more helpful a few years back when this blog was regularly turning out the amusement park references about Portland - although, to be fair, those were often about the Tram.

Speaking of references though: I get the "poor slobs in Portland" line - it's a Lake Oswego thing.

But the phrase "who actually need the trains to run on time"? Shouldn't that be "the buses to run on time"? Or did Steve just slap the leadership of Portland with a Benito Mussolini reference?

If so, I think that's pretty lively for a newspaper columnist. Steve reads a lot of books so he has to know what the phrase means.

"Transit grid," whatever it is, is NOT "increasingly fragile." Transit fuel IS increasingly fragile, though. Because petroleum is depleting.

PLEASE Steve D. get your mind around the verging reality.

This'll help: Globalized Growth Is the Problem, Localism Is the Solution, By Chris Hedges, Truthdig, 10 September 2012

The steady depletion of natural resources, especially fossil fuels, along with the accelerated pace of climate change, will combine with crippling levels of personal and national debt to thrust us into a global depression that will dwarf any in the history of capitalism. And very few of us are prepared. ... Survival will be determined by localities. Communities will have to create collectives to grow their own food and provide for their security, education, financial systems and self-governance, efforts that Heinberg suspects will "be discouraged and perhaps criminalized by those in authority." This process of decentralization will, he said, become "the signal economic and social trend of the 21st century." It will be, in effect, a repudiation of classic economic models such as free enterprise versus the planned economy or Keynesian stimulus versus austerity.
Steve, in reading Hedges, notice the impeccable writing provides simplicity, clarity, and understanding. You could do that and explain today's historic crest in growth and civilization, in a manner that's understandable for the Portland market ... I mean, community. You in? Or are you out in denial and dead?

There is however a big difference between a real carnival fun ride and the Eastside Streetcar. A real carnival ride makes the operator money, the streetcar is more of a taxpayer subsidized fantasy ride that drains public the coffers because it will never pay for itself.

Tenskwatawa : Globalized Growth Is the Problem, Localism Is the Solution, By Chris Hedges, Truthdig, 10 September 2012
JK: Please give us a break from those thoroughly debunked Malthusian delusions:
1. Huge new oil discoveries have been occurring around the world due to the higher price (basic economics, which the Malthusian crowd ignores.)

2. Hulbert’s peak has been broken for natural gas with fracking. The price has dropped to 20% of the peak price due to fracking.

3. Fracking is being applied to oil and already the USA is estimated to have a 200 year supply of oil. Then add in natural gas and coal, and we no longer need to worry about domestic energy. We will literally run out of the need for oil before we run out of oil. Just like the stone age did not end because they ran out of stones. Same for the copper age, and the bronze age.

4. The rest of the world will soon be applying similar techniques and will also be awash in oil & gas. So the argument that our finding oil has no effect of world price, is more or less literally true and totally irrelevant.

5. What accelerated pace of climate change?
The global temperature has been static for the past 10-15 years. The only place it is warming is in the arctic where there are no thermometers - it is a computer projection by politicized “scientists” at NASA and Penn state. See HADCRUT 3 & UAH.

If you (or anyone else) have any genuine evidence that man’s CO2 is causing dangerous warming, why don’t you show it to us. The warmers have NEVER shown actual evidence, only deeply flawed computer projections. BTW, our current climate is totally explained by natural cycles. See

6. The whole bit about self sufficient communities is simply not possible for an advanced society. Advanced technology is NOT POSSIBLE on a community scale. The world you paint (and probably wish for) is really a world of universal poverty where the average lifespan in 30 years and people routinely die of minor cuts. You can see examples in the third world, whose people are being kept back from development by the global warmers trying to cut their CO2 foot print (those people are the real climate criminals.)

7. As to decentralization, the big city cores have been losing population share for many decades as people move to the suburbs. (BTW suburbs have been around for centuries - even the word is ancient, meaning “beyond the wall”)

Tenskwatawa : Steve, in reading Hedges, notice the impeccable writing provides simplicity, clarity, and understanding.
JK: So what?
How is that relevant to correctness of the postulate?
Of course that does make it appeal to simpletons.


"Sustainability" has been the driver and the fear of the Earth's doom and demise (as we know it) are driving a whole generation brought up in the most advanced civilization known to mankind to want to return to a "simpler time". From what I've seen, this overriding fear of impending Malthusean disaster (or Peak Oil, or Climate Change) has people desiring to live as if they were urban survivalists or Mideval peasants. The Mideval reference is to the picture of "re-greening" the suburbs where everyone is eventually living in urban areas growing their own veggies on rooftops and the suburbs have been returned to a green state for food and energy production. (see Retrofitting Suburbia on TED Talks for a dive into wholesale idiocy).

As for Steve's missives in the O, he gets it right that the streetcars are toy trains for amusement only. And Bill McDonald has it exactly right that he misses the boat altogether if he only thinks they should run on time. The bus transit system is being gutted for this nonsense, and that, plus the debt burden for the poor slobs everywhere, is the real tragedy. In LO, Steve's hometown, he could not get anywhere on a bus because the buses do not go into his neighborhood, or any neighborhood. If he wants to agitate about something, indeed, start local. Anywhere. What do real poor slobs everywhere outside of Trendyville need everyday to get around? Hint: it isn't light rail or streetcars.

Uh oh. Steve Duin broke with the Oregonian party line of kissing the mayor's butt, no matter what. I can imagine the phone calls from City Hall: "No, YOU listen. Dissent is treason. Have him flogged."

Too bad he didn't say all this 10 or even 5 years ago....
I don't think the "growth" on the Eastside will be as explosive as in the Pearl. For one thing the economy is barely moving, and the Eastside of the "ditch" just doesn't have the cache that the Westside does, and the population isn't growing fast enough to push another expensive inner city development.
Maybe in 50 years?...the "planners" will have moved on by then. They are already headed to LO with their newest little train.

How can folks be so pessimistic? Just look at what the streetcar has done for the South Waterfront!! Oh, wait . . . .

I am with Karlock on we're "running-out-of-oil" boogey man which turns popular every fifteen years or so when the oil market heads into an up price cycle, only to be followed by a new gush of supply or advance in oil use efficiency. The trend in U.S dependency on overseas oil has sharply reversed trend, despite Obama's neglect of Alaskan oil resources and federal oil resources in general. Lower 48 oil production is climbing back because of production on private lands, and after 20-plus years of a private sector oil man's experimentation leading to the newest shale oil technologies (experimenting even through the lean oil price years in the late 80s and 90s). This guy truly "did do it himself."

As for Duin he is finally writing reality. Downtown Portland is nothing but a government proped up amusement park, underwritten largely by the specious money printing of the federal government, confiscation of state wide taxpayer monies diverted to Portland cityhall, and expanding city of Portland debt. Sounds like a mini-Greece in the making. People are happy and see no problems in Portland, but this is while the party is still being fed punch- a punch that eventually runs dry.

I agree that Duin is writing about reality. Most things I read in the Oregonian seem to be about an imaginary city that floats in the air above Portland somewhere. That's how strong the corporate/political filters are. It's like a make-believe world with little or no connection to the place it's supposed to be covering, except that some of the names are also in the happy talk.

It's as disconnected as the gap between the "pillar of the community" image the editors have of themselves, and the image of an Oregonian editor out driving drunk or visiting a call girl.

The Left of Portland thinks all this planning is cool.

But let me suggest the Left is being used by Crony Capitalists, who get government to pay a percentage of their expenses, while government gets only a limited precent of the profits -- increased property taxes.

This is the model: Private profit and public expense (or loss in the case of "too big to fail banks).

And, you only get to the trough if you are politically connected.

Does the Left really want to support Crony Capitalists, who, through the process, drain tax monies from basic services, which in turn are put into private pockets.

Admittedly, a transition away from public/private partnerships, aka, Crony Capitalism, will cause difficulties, but with a basic competitive field, economic environment, Portland can thrive, where the most creative, efficient, and competitive will thrive and tax monies from that healthy economic environment will flow into basic services.

After all, isn't the providing of basic services, available to all, the real purpose of city government?

If the Left understood that it is really connected Cronies (the 1% of the community are the ones who benefit from the current system) who benefit would they still support it?

Sadly, it is possible the Left would support it as long as the Crony Capitalists pay lip-service to liberal platitudes, boilerplate, and "trendy" ideas.

When will they ever learn?

That they are getting used.

Would they have continued to be used if the buzzwords hadn't come onto the scene to keep them in line - Sustainable, green, renewable-energy, innovation, eco this and that....?

Jim Evans, you're right about how "Crony Capitalists pay lip-service to [I'll leave out 'liberal'] platitudes, boilerplate, and "trendy" ideas.

Back about 15 years I was in several meetings with developers and the Planners arranging "public/private partnerships". I knew the developers and their backgrounds, and it wasn't about being truly Green, environmentalists, social equity and all the other platitudes. They winked at me, made a few comments to placate my deeper knowledge of their backgrounds when the Planners left the room, and said this is the "New Order" to talk up the platitudes.

Then when the Planners came back in the room, the Planners made note of how they like to work with the few developers who supported the city agendas-the Chosen-for these Partnerships.

Competitiveness went out of the window because these Partnerships are based more on if you can talk the platitudes than on economics. Even the Request For Bids are rigged to eliminate competition.

Jim Evans: "Does the Left really want to support Crony Capitalists?"

Yes: so long as the Left gets their cut, some of which is donated to their elected officials in the form of campaign contribution, beach house rentals, and VERY EXPENSIVE nights on the town.

Here is a wild thought (not original):

Do you suppose the O is changing its philosophy with their new boss?


JK: Please give us a break from your thoroughly dense stone-headedness. No, wait, continue stupidly reciting last century ignorance. More people find their way to enlightened understanding after seeing the darkness you effuse, than the other way around.

Example here: "During the past 10 years I have not met a single individual who, after doing research on the subject, switched from questioning the official narrative of the events of 9/11/2001 to believing the official narrative of those events."

In the same manner, not a single person, NO person, who has grasped planet oil depletion -- which is perfect rational reasoned logic knowing that continuous consumption from a finite supply eventually stops, when there is none more to consume -- ever let go of that knowing. Once in the light of knowledge, no person goes back to your dogmatic dark. Keep pushing your darkness, it drives folks to brighter awareness.

Steve is just laying the foundation for his eventual public opposition to the streetcar to LKO.

Having created a (late to the party) public history of meager opposition to rail transit makes it easier to sidle into the proper camp, when the time comes, or the Editors decide his stance.

Having lived in LKO brings to me a perspective many share there: rail=crime=decline in property values.
When push comes to shove, rail will be ridden out of town on a rail. Mark my words.

Tenskwatawa:...NO person, who has grasped planet oil depletion -- which is perfect rational reasoned logic knowing that continuous consumption from a finite supply eventually stops, when there is none more to consume . . .
jk: Perfectly reasoned logic frequently turns out to not be perfect, especially when practiced by Malthusians and other doomsters. They usually leave out an important detail, like assuming linear growth in supply when in reality supply grows by the third or fourth power.

Now, we have been through this before, so please try to pay attention this time:

1. Due to recent discoveries, we have enough oil for 200 years. History suggests that well before then, we will give up oil for something better. (Do you have any concept of how much progress was made in the last 200 years? In 1812, fast transportation was a horse. Instant communication was a semaphore. High efficiency transport was a canal. Labor saving devices were slaves. People 200 years ago could not fathom getting firewood delivered over a wire. Or seeing live pictures of a man walk on then moon. Or having a pocket watch sized device that lets you talk to the world. And has pictures.)

2. If we happen to run out of oil we can make it from coal or natural gas. Hitler ran ½ of his war machine on coal -> liquid for his last two years. With external energy, we can even make oil from air and water!

3. As we have recently seen, high prices bring more supply and substitution.

So to believe we will soon run out of shows your lack of knowledge of history, chemistry and economics.



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