Monday, October 14, 2013

Two Headed Monster, Duopoly of Democracy in the U.S.A

When I was in high school I once attended a Ralph Nader political rally at the Target Center in Minneapolis. He and the other speakers railed against the influence of money in politics, the common theme being that when voting for Democrats or Republicans you are often voting for the lesser of two evils. The choice of door number one or door number two feel more like a game show then a success of democracy. I left with a T-shirt that depicted George W. Bush and Al Gore as dinosaurs and Ralph Nader as a caveman.

The current status of our federal democracy, this combining of our large and varied country into one ruling body, is in shutdown. I like to chalk this up to the failure of voters to grasp their option of choice. The two party system sets up a rivalry similar to that of two crosstown rivals, who hate each other greatly but have more in common with each other then any other teams they might face off against. That is why when the subject of National Defense, or in the United States national offence. both groups tend to agree with each other because of the idea of different aka (foreign) countries are much more different then US. The lack of choice stems from the low turnout in primary elections where per-capita eligible voters show up less then 20% for primary voting.
Then when the 'real' election comes about people see the only options as either Democrat or Republican, because other political candidates are seen as throw-away votes. And the only thing worse then voting for the candidate who loses is voting for someone who never had a chance anyways. People also have the false sense of personal winning when the candidate they voted for wins. "We won!" people will shout on election night, when in truth they didn't win anything. The candidates will have to run for re-election soon and while in office they will have to listen to the lobbyists of the groups that donated and supported their election campaign, if they ignore those lobbyists they risk losing financial support from previous groups in their re-election campaign.
The idea is that there is enough variation within the two parties to allow for a large and open dialogue. That the use of money in elections doesn't harm democracy.

More later...

Friday, April 5, 2013

 Debt is cheap in post-recession America, now is the time to have people lend you money. Apparently in Minneapolis the housing developers have jumped into the party. I recently spent an afternoon pedaling through the city looking for cranes. The tall metal ones that allow builder to add height to their projects. I counted more then half a dozen in use throughout the city. Three of them were along the Midtown Greenway bike path, one was in Loring Park, another at the Walker Art Museum, two were downtown against Nicollet Avenue and also abreast of Hennepin Avenue, and more then three along parts of the "North Loop" of downtown.

Who will fill these buildings? How long will these monuments to cheap debt stand, are they made to last hundreds of years? Will they perhaps be a symbol of an over zealous era where the recent past seemed so bleak that future could only get better, why not build for it..
Minneapolis hit it's population height in the 1950 census at 521,718. This is around 130,00 more then the amount of people in Minneapolis as of the 2010 census. I am wondering with the current decline in birth rates, if most urban cities have seen their peak populations already? Granted the metropolitan area itself is home to more people today then ever before, but these buildings will be homes for who? Will third tier suburbs shrink and populations drift to the middle? Perhaps the trend in local lifestyle will just place populations near employment, as the death bell of the daily driving commute sounds and turns into a bike/bus ride or perhaps a walk to work. Nobody knows the future, but we do know the future of Minneapolis will be a taller one. 

A lot of growth around the Twins Stadium in the background.