Sunday, January 29, 2012

Finally, A Real Investigation?

When President Obama mentioned, during the SOTU, that he was calling on the Justice Department to investigate the actual causes of the "08 crash, I was both glad and skeptical.  Obviously, this was a political move by the President coming into his re-election campaign, but it was going to be one that actually makes sense (and one that should have been done, in my opinion, back in late '09/early '10).  However, I remember yelling to the television, "what about the proposed settlement that the government and the banks have been squabbling over?" 

Well, it looks like I am closer to having an answer now.  "Rolling Stone's" Matt Taibbi has been a real hero of mine, with regard to his reporting so extensively on this issue, and I just finished reading his latest post that actually addresses my concerns from Obama's move on this issue.  And like Taibbi, I am encouraged by what is being reported (h/t, Taibbi) about the narrowed scope of the potential settlement (only focusing on foreclosure fraud like robo-signing), and the fact that the banks will not get a free pass on their actions leading up to the '08 crash.

I know that there is a general sense on the right that it was poor and undeserving minorities getting loans from banks forced by the Community Reinvestment Act to lend to those folks (still not true, by the way) that "caused" our economic meltdown, but I am glad that we will have people like the New York AG Schneiderman looking directly at the the folks on Wall Street as the real culprits. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Trying to Envision Solutions

Those who've read this blog know that I LOVE cities.  I love the energy, the noise, the conveniences, and even some of the grit (though not too much).  I love that more cities are seeing more investment and growth in their historic and commercial cores.  I particularly 24/7 cities, where there is always some solid amount of activity anytime one ventures out.

I was fascinated by an article in Slate that I read regarding Detroit, a city that has experienced incredible decline in the last several decades.  With the re-emergence of the American auto industry, people have been talking up "Detroit," but this article focused on a documentary that posits whether or not the real Detroit is a harbinger of things to come for the U.S., as we adjust to the new realities of the global marketplace.

As I watched the video clip (which I will include below), I was reminded of the things I saw when I traveled to New Orleans following the Katrina related flooding.  It's clear that Detroit, like New Orleans, needs some real comprehensive city planning.  Perhaps, Detroit could become a re-imagined city with a smaller footprint.  I think that it can be a great potential laboratory, and jobs could be created in a variety of areas as those experiments are tried and tested.  Perhaps Detroit needs a well managed overhauling, and one that the people of the city supports, as did the auto companies that have made such a comeback.

A Belated Happy New Year

Once again, I am glad to see the back of another rather tough year, and my usual optimism about the possibilities in this new year has returned.  I have to admit that I've been surprised by my neglect, if you will, of my blog, and I definitely thought hard of just copying my old posts and shutting things down.  But that's not happening today, and that's because a couple of long time readers have been nudging me not to close shop.  That nudging reminded me that I'd not taken many opportunities to say "thank you" to the small community that has read my random thoughts and perspectives over the years.  I appreciate you more than you know (including those with whom I disagree).