The Architecture of our Economy

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The Architecture of our Economy

Postby WalkerARCHITECTS » Tue Apr 16, 2013 3:25 pm


The real problem is that a monopoly of unprecedented scale exists. It is a monopoly although it has been crafted to fit inside the laws of the nation, the impact is the same. Discover what is actually documented about the distribution of wealth in America. The truth is liberating.

ARCHITECTS, most of them are trapped in a dead end. This usually results in a lot of frustration, extra time, and back-tracking to get on the proper path. Age discrimination in the profession damages every Architect in the profession not born with family money. The common practice is to push architects over 50 out of the firm. The excuse used is simply we do not need that many experienced people. Without the money to start a practice or clients to take with them, they are trapped in a dead end. Most architects fail to realize how trapped they are. Education can be like that. Choose the wrong degree and finding a job after an employment loss can seem more difficult than navigating the streets of a foreign city without a map.

Architects from wealthy families almost never lose their jobs at the firm. Share this post aggressively.

The budget just released by House Republicans--and the ascendancy of Paul Ryan, its architect--marks the culmination of an important, long-term shift in the Republican Party. Over the last several decades, the party has abandoned political conservatism and embraced its opposite: an agenda of radical, experimental reform.

The wealthy get special treatment, The congress goes out of their way to serve them. Wealth and conservatism are not always congruent with the best interests of the nation. The working class is trapped in a dead end with no place to go, because the bulk of the population takes a back seat to a few.

The wealthy are controlling our country, it's econmics and it's government, the bad news ia that they really do not have our interests as a top priority.

There are only two types of conservatism. The first is "values" conservatism, with its desire to preserve a traditional way of life premised on hard work and self-restraint, sexual modesty and heterosexual monogamy. The second is the strain of environmentalism that urges us to protect the natural world, live closer to the land, reduce our consumption and economic growth, and resist the allure of ambitious technological experiments.

I am in both senses above a conservative. I am also an Architect.

Lately, use the term "conservatism", to describe almost anything the Republican Party happens to endorse is common. But using it in this way mangles a deep and influential political tradition. It generates a distortion and obfuscates established facts in favor of unsupported dogma. Modern conservatism was born in the aftermath of the French Revolution, as a reaction to the Promethean hubris of revolutionary planners. In trying to reengineer European society using rational principles dictated from above, revolutionaries had unleashed tremendous destruction, instability, and violence. At its very core, conservatism is about protecting human lives and institutions from such radical, self-inflicted upheaval. The current version of the Republican Party is a pale reflection of it’s roots and most of the party are estranged from the truth. Never has there been so much false information and belief in this nations history. The British conservative Michael Oakeshott, whose essay "On Being Conservative" remains one of the finest reflections on the subject, describes conservatism this way:

“It is a disposition appropriate to a man who is acutely aware of having something to lose which he has learned to care for; a man in some degree rich in opportunities for enjoyment, but not so rich that he can afford to be indifferent to loss.”

Conservatives, he says, are those who understand how difficult it is to change human societies for the better and how easy it is to change them for the worse. Conservatives have therefore always preferred "the familiar to the unknown," "the tried to the untried," and "the actual to the possible."

Let me clarofy the severity of this condition.

This is what evil looks like. Greed without mercy.

As of the 2013 Congress, fortified by libertarian ideological purists, the Republican Party can no longer claim this tradition as its own. They are estranged from the truth and from the spirit of conservatism. Though "values" conservatives still have a place in the party, they are an increasingly ineffectual minority, especially at the federal level. The dominant faction--among the elites who fund and speak for the party--is now driven by a very different ideology. It believes that the size and scope of government should be vastly reduced, that public services should whenever possible be privatized, and that market principles should be extended into ever more areas of human life--from education to retirement savings to prisons. Whatever the merits of this ideology, it is simply a mistake to call it conservative. To a greater extent than caution would tolerate the truth is that it is a social experiment with no design intelligence nor core human values, it is simply the making of every decision based on dollars and that, only to serve the interests of a wealthy few.

The lack of design intelligence is catastrophic.

To the remainder of us, our biggest problems over the next ten years are not deficits, and accordingly the president told House Republicans that, in March of 2013.

Jobs are our biggest problem. This is especially clear if you're an "older" student (25 and up) who's going back to school to improve or change your career. Sure, your heart may be saying, "Finish that 19th century literature degree," but your head - and a lot of research - is saying, "Find a practical degree that will pay the mortgage." The wealthy, a small minority, simply do not have that problem. The majority of Americans do have that problem.

The president should also deliver the same message to the public at large, loudly and clearly. The biggest problems we face are unemployment, stagnant wages, slow growth, and widening inequality -- not deficits. See the video above. The problems we have today exist because of the disproportionate distribution of wealth. The major goal must be to get jobs and wages back, not balance the budget. But beyond that we need to shut down the system currently in place that allows a reckless level of exploitation of the working class, that allows the manipulation of the nations politics and consequently it’s legislation. Change must take place and the first area that needs to be targeted is at the very top.

Paul Ryan's budget plan -- essentially, the House Republican plan -- is designed to lure the White House and Democrats, and the American public, into a debate over how to balance the federal budget in ten years, not over whether it's worth doing. The problem actually lies elsewhere. That problem is clearly understood and it has always been the intention of this nations laws to avoid this condition, because it creates the suffocation of free enterprise and constrains freedom itself.

Education, for example, is a much neglected topic in the budget debate in Washington D.C. The working class is deeply concerned about it. The wealthy are not concerned. It is not a problem they have. It is not a problem that affects their children.

"This is an invitation," Ryan explained when he unveiled the plan . "Show us how to balance the budget. If you don't like the way we're proposing to balance our budget, how do you propose to balance the budget?" Is that the critical problem of the nation state at this time?

I suggest we start at the top with lots of taxes to level the playing field a little. Obviously that is a top priority. Let us adopt the Buffet rule as a good place to start. Yet, until now the President has seemed in my view too willing to engage in that GOP controlled debate. His ongoing talk of a "grand bargain" to reduce the budget deficit has played directly into Republican hands. We oppose this approach, in the context of the video above, all of that diversion from the actual problem at hand, is damaging to the working class. We are victims of monopoly, and certainly it is nothing less than that.

With that in mind, we checked out a 2012 study on the unemployment rates for recent (ages 22 to 26) college graduates in various majors by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. The report is appropriately named "Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal."

The report offers many encouraging words for prospective students: "A bachelor's degree is one of the best weapons a job seeker can wield in the fight for employment and earnings." Sounds great, but a little further comes the real kernel of wisdom: "The risk of unemployment among recent college graduates depends on their major." Let’s face facts up front most bachelor’s degrees, are all pretty much the same. This is the real truth and Information Technology is at the root of this damaging impact on the working class. Electronic scanning of resume’s is creating distinctions where little or no differences exist. Obviously not all educational streets lead to Employment City.

The president repeated use of the Republican analogy comparing the government's finances to a household's. "Just as families and businesses must tighten their belts to live within their means," he said of his 2013 budget, "so must the federal government." Yet where the problem is in fact generated there is no need to tighten the belts what so ever. Those whose wealth is clearly out of scale compared to the rest of us are not willing to come to the assistance of the balance of the population of the United States, rather they expect the working class to settle for less, in every conceivable way. Including the schools where your children will be educated. Education is in the same pile as every other dimension of public services that the working class relies upon. Cutting back the budget sounds good to the wealthy, for the most part they do not need the services that will be cut.

Hopefully, the president is now shifting the debate. Clearly the top heavy distribution of the wealth created by the labor of others is telling and revealing of the economies inherent weakness. The top 2% of Americans simply have much more in their possession than they could ever have conceivably have earned. Who earned that money? We did, the working class did, we created that wealth with our labor, and we have the right to take that wealth back.

The president knows full well that the government's finances are not at all like a household's. In fact, it's when American families can't spend enough to keep the economy going, because too many of them are unemployed or underemployed and have run out of money, that government has to step in as spender of last resort -- even if that means taking on more debt. That is the circumstance we now endure. If government doesn't fill the spending gap, an economy can collapse into deeper recession or depression, pushing unemployment far higher. Look at what austerity economics has done to Europe. We seek no remedy from the politics of austerity the purpose of that is to secure the wealth of the 2% and nothing beyond that could be accomplished by it.

As you know, the house has passed the Ryan Plan. Senate Republicans say the Ryan Plan does not go far enough, because it leaves parts of President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act intact.

The desire to deny the working class access to health care by the wealthy, can be compared and linked to the desire to destroy education for working class people. Same source same reasoning.

The Senate has soundly rejected a balanced budget plan authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.

Five Republicans joined every Democrat present to kill the measure, which failed on a 40-59 vote. The included Rand Paul of Kentucky who wanted deeper cuts, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah – also opposed the measure. This does not imply that increased congruence with Democrats on the budget issue has been achieved, but among them, Susan Collins of Maine and Dean Heller of Nevada also opposed the Ryan plan, because it cuts sharply from safety net programs for the poor and contains a plan to turn the Medicare program for the elderly into a voucher-like system for future beneficiaries born in 1959 or later.

The rule of cutting budgets always include is the items that the decision maker does not see a need for. Wealthy Senators who do not see the need for services will vote to cut them from the budget. We need working class senators in the Congress of the United States. Statistics indicate currently that there are none in the Senate who have only Middle class wealth. The rule of budget cuts requires considerable balance and all due consideration of each element on the chopping block. The decisions made must consider the impacts on those affected.


It's perfectly fine for government to borrow and continue to borrow in order to invest in new roads or other infrastructure, or education, or basic research -- when those investments pay off in higher rates of economic growth. The notion that government spending "crowds out" private investment, keeping interest rates higher than otherwise, is obsolete in a global economy where capital sloshes across national borders, seeking the highest returns from anywhere. Societies that invest in the productivity of their people attract global capital and create high-paying jobs. And since most big corporations are no longer dependent on the productivity of any one nation, the responsibility for making such investments increasingly falls to government.

Being an Architect is now considered to be the number one most worthless degree any person could have. Headlines proclaim this fact. How did this happen? Largely it has happened because only the wealthy are allowed to succeed in this profession. It is a brutal fact.

The economy is hostile to Architects. Architects are not alone most small businesses are in trouble. What should we do?

According to Robert Reich “The best way to deal with it is to do so gradually, through economic growth. That's how we reduced the giant debt Franklin D. Roosevelt bequeathed America, and it's how the Clinton Administration (of which I am proud to have been a member) achieved a balanced budget in 1996. Republicans want Americans to believe government budgets are like family budgets that must be balanced because the analogy helps their ideological aim to "drown the government in a bathtub," in the memorable words of their guru, Grover Norquist. As long as there's a debt and balance is the goal, shrinkage is the only option -- if tax increases are ruled out.”

The goals of the Wealthy are not shared by the working class, consequently their voices are to be drowned in the bathtub as well.

Clearly the president wants to change the debate and focus on the real economic problem. Unfortunately his best opportunity existed before the Ryan budget was passed. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos he said "my goal is not to chase a balanced budget just for the sake of balance. My goal is how do we grow the economy, put people back to work, and if we do that we are going to be bringing in more revenue. Creating jobs creates more buying. Cutting jobs reduces buying. The Ryan plan is not a conservative plan designed to improve the economic health of America’s working class, rather it protects only the wealthiest 2% of the nation.

Market activity has changed rapidly in the context of the debate and the global market place. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose above 14,270 -- completely erasing its 54 percent loss between 2007 and 2009. Yet, nobody is declaring an economic recovery is underway. The stock market is basically back to where it was in 2000, while corporate earnings have doubled since then. So is this the appropriate time for the Ryan plan?
There are problems, the real median wage is now 8 percent below what it was in 2000, and unemployment remains sky-high. More of this brand of “conservatism” is like to produce more of the same impact on the working class. It is not likely that more damage to the capacity of working class Americans to buy goods and services will result in a different result than it did before. Americans making less money than they did in previous years is literally the problem that must be solved. The stock market has improved but the problem that we must live with endures and expands.

Why is the stock market doing so well, while most Americans are doing so poorly? Four reasons:

First, productivity gains. Corporations have been investing in technology rather than their workers. They get tax credits and deductions for such investments; they get no such tax benefits for improving the skills of their employees. As a result, corporations can now do more with fewer people on their payrolls. That means higher profits. We are encouraged by higher profits the working class sincerely wishes they could share the wealth embodied in them. Again see the video at the top.

Second, high unemployment itself. Joblessness all but eliminates the bargaining power of most workers -- allowing corporations to keep wages low. There is no doubt that the intent of corporate managers is to make the workers poorer. There is no intention to make them wealthier. Public policies that might otherwise reduce unemployment -- a new WPA or CCC to hire the long-term unemployed, major investments in the nation's crumbling infrastructure -- have been rejected in favor of austerity economics. This also means higher profits, at least in the short run. So the intent is to continue to destroy the American family at the paycheck.

Third, globalization. Big American-based corporations have been expanding and hiring around the globe where markets are growing fastest -- even while the U.S. market is lackluster. Tax policies and trade policies have encouraged them. Jobs lost here have hurt the buying capacity of American workers. Profits are good but those who benefit are not those who created the value that those profits are made of.
Finally, the Fed's easy-money policies. They've pushed investors into the stock market because bond yields are so low. On Tuesday, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was just 1.9 percent.

Is this a healthy economy? American workers remain terrified of job loss and confidence continues to fluctuate.
All of this spells widening inequality in America, because the people who invest the most in the stock market have high incomes. Those who rely most on wages have lower incomes. Wages are still falling. Evil is embodied in the massive distortion in wealth between those who do the labor that generates the wealth and those who actually receive it. If greed is a sickness there is a plague in America.

Corporate profits are claiming a larger share of national income than at any time in 60 years, while the portion of total income going to employees is near its lowest since 1966. There is little or no justice in the current distribution of wealth, workers simply can’t afford attorneys, priced beyond reach, American wage earners have no place to go and no chance to improve their compensation without joining unions.

We predict that unionism should soon become very popular in the United States. Obviously that is also a target to be drowned i9n the bathtub by the same political advisories. Education is being drowned in the bathtub along with taxes, despite the lip service in congress and the State legislatures.

Immanuel Saez recently found, all the economic gains between 2009 and 2011 (the last year for which data was available) went to the richest 1 percent of Americans. The bottom 99 percent has continued to lose ground. Be frightened. Take action.

Forced cuts are likely to make all this worse, since it will slow the U.S. economy and keep unemployment higher than otherwise. The Ryan Budget passed and was repulsed by the seante. It was designed to hurt the most vulnerable. Some $1.9 billion in low-income rental subsidies were under the axe to be eliminated, affecting 125,000 people. Cuts to the Department of Agriculture will eliminate rental assistance for another 10,000 low-income rural people. Meanwhile, 100,000 formerly homeless people are likely to be removed from their current emergency shelters. What will the Senate choose to do the next time a budget plan is presented by these same congressmen?

This is not what true conservatives would do. The stability of the nation state is no longer the prime concern among this new group of libertarian inspired politician. The truth about what America should do is not important to those who have already decided that the changes they advocate will be profitable to the wealthy and will augment those already bloated with wealth.

More than 3.8 million Americans receiving long-term unemployment benefits would have their monthly payments reduced by as much as 9.4 percent, and lose an average of $400 in benefits over their period of joblessness. Why did they propose this? This accomplishes what? If the jobs existed to be filled the problem would not exist. If the employees had been paid in a manner equal to the risk that they would suffer upon unemployment then the need for the unemployment compensation would not exist. Employers never pay more to employees than they have to pay. Consequently since supply and demand controls decisions, employment is subject to loss that can’t be eliminated by either saving money against the day the layoff occurs or purchasing private insurance to protect the house hold against the impact of the job loss. The money to do those things is simply not embodied in the wage. Employees are believed to be responsible for taking care of themselves while simultaneously every effort is undertaken by the employer to make certain they never pay wages a penny greater than they must to remain competitive.

The Department of Education's Title I program, which helps schools serving more than a million disadvantaged students, would have been cut $715 million, and $400 million would have been cut from Head Start, the preschool program for poor children. And major cuts were to be made in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, which provides nutrition assistance and education.

Rarely before in American history have public policies so radically helped the most fortunate among us, so cruelly harmed the least fortunate, and exposed so many average working Americans to such widespread insecurity. What is wrong? See the video at the top of the Article.

Why does Architecture as a profession now become the least respected profession in America? It has everything to do with the fact that fewer and fewer people can afford Architectural services. The distribution of wealth has a great deal to do with that. In my own practice very few clients decide in favor of a building project where alternatives exist.

Opportunities for the working class is non-existant on the congressional agenda. There is no committee seriously engaged to promote small business in the nations congress. The problems of American families are not the top priority of the Republicans in congress. Not all democrats are serving the best interests of the American people either. Conservatives now appear to be estranged from reason, because these people are simply not conservatives. We are caught up in a reckless experiment fueled by Libertarian ideology and dogma that triggered the most serious economic global disaster since the great depression and promises to force every American worker in the nation to settle for less…. and less…and less. Are we the nation where greed has no limits and no morality. This wealth in America was created with labor, not management. Who is responsible for this incredible disparity in the distribution of the nations wealth?

The damage is so deep that Architecture will never be the same. The Architecture degree and the career path that was touted as the equivalent of a superhighway - right up until the entire housing and commercial real estate markets crashed, is now the ultimate Dead-End Degree.

This happened because the nations fianances were not managed under the Bush Administration and it will take some time to fix it.

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Re: The Architecture of our Economy

Postby phansford » Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:40 pm

I don't know about anyone else - but I'm tired of reading Mr. Walker's political rants in the Architecture Forum. The Fireside Forum is the place for these types of posts and discussion. Using the word architecture or architect in a rant about wealth distribution does not make this a discussion about architecture.

If you agree, please send Kevin the administrator a PM.

I would suggest Mr. Walker start a blog on politics - then those interested could subscribe, while the rest of us can get back to discussing the art and craft of architecture.
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Re: The Architecture of our Economy

Postby Kevin » Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:50 pm

I very much appreciate both Mr. Walker's personal commentaries, and his sustained loyalty to the DesignCommunity forums.

I do think all these larger issues are most relevant to the thrust and viability of architecture today, and especially in the future.

I also can see that many of Mr. Walker's postings are too long and too heavy for casual forum reading for many. With overt political content, as well as architectural philosophical content, they are certainly very appropriate for the DesignCommunity Fireside Forum.

However, I don't think the issue of forum placement is really that much of an issue, except at times when forum postings are heavy, so there's a burden in sorting through new material.

It seems to be pretty easy to skip past a posting that one is not interested in. Of course, if one is politically offended by an opinion, that tends to affect one's impression, too.

I think we have room here for a wide range of responsible opinions, reflective of the whole DesignCommunity!
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Re: The Architecture of our Economy

Postby WalkerARCHITECTS » Tue May 07, 2013 5:04 pm

I appreciate the fact that what I am writing is going to be something of a shock to some readers. Reality however is relentless and Architects certainly can't ignore it, 10% of the people in the USA own 90% of the assets. It is not getting better, rather it is getting worse. In my opinion this is the most important front page news and comment for professional Architects.

Given consequently if you are practicing Architecture for the 90% of the people who have only 10% of the nations assets then it is certainly relevant as an impact on your business, if that already lop sided distribution of the assets is getting worse. It is certainly relevant to Architects that Design Intelligence is being ignored, obviously it is deliberately ignored as the rapid rate that the 90% have lost wealth was driven by decisions made in the congress of the United States.

Let the most relevant discourse be found on the front page.
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