Saturday, 6 September 2008

Gustav and Orleans

So we stood and waited for the massive destruction of New Orleans. Yes, I'll admit I was one of the people....waiting like you would at a NASCAR race.....waiting for destruction and flooding. Basically.....it was a dud.

There are several shocking things out of Gustav though.

First, amazingly enough.....folks actually left New Orleans. Some of them even admit today...it was the first time they'd ever been out of the city limits (they were 45 years old).....and they were fairly shocked that real nice folks exist outside of New Orleans. They were even shocked how nice things are in other civilized societies.

Second....the leeve dudes were left standing there....with resignation letters in hand....waiting for the collapse.....and the system held. After everything was done....the boys ran out to some local club.....boozed it up....and went back to work the next day to continue building onto a half-ass flood control system.

Third....the chief of police actually counted up his force....and was really excited. He actually had "X" number of cops on the rooster, and they actually existed this time around.....no fake cops drawing paychecks like Katrina.

Fourth.....the major hotel downtown where Mayor Nagin took refuge in the Penthouse during Katrina, was shocked that Nagin didn't even show up (they had plenty of booze, had the mayor taken refuge in the penthouse).

Fifth....the Super Bowl management staff were shocked that they weren't going to be used as the shelter for the city.

Sixth....and final.....the media who had deployed every single big-name that they had....to cover the 5-star hurricane and hope to lose the Republican National Convention amongst all the action....suddenly woke up by Tuesday morning to discover a 1-star hurricane and no real news....unless they cut back to Minneapolis and cover the convention.

Ten Affordable and Livable Housing Markets?

So Yahoo went out and picked out an interesting topic...."Ten Affordable Housing Markets".

After looking at them....I added "Livable" as part of the title.

1. Indianapolis, IN? Crime and gangs....so why move there?

2. Youngstown, OH? Crime and no jobs....so why move there?

3. Detroit, MI? Crime and corruption in government....so why move there?

4. Warren, MI? Crime and corruption in government....so why move there?

5. Grand Rapids, MI? Crime and corruption in government....so why move there?

6. Tolerado, OH? Crime and almost no jobs.....so why move there?

7. Dayton, OH? Crime and limited job opportunities....so why move there?

8. Akron, OH? Crime and a limited job market....so why move there?

9. Syracuse, NY? Massive snow in the winter, no jobs, and a dead city for the most part....so why move there?

10. Wilkes Barre, PN? High tax base, limited job market...so why move there?

Someone spent a fair amount of time surveying the options and offering these ten as very "affordable".....but then you have to ask the second question....how did they come to be affordable? Thats where you start to find various reasons. Why would any fool think of moving to Detroit? Its one of the few places in America that simply doesn't attract anyone. Half the towns in Ohio fit into the same category of having problems with crime, drugs, and no jobs.

Everlasting Bankruptcy

In Germany, there is such a term as everlasting bankruptcy.

Basically, when the company has screwed up enough....and you'd think thats the end of them....and its a company of a thousand or more employees...then the government steps and takes control. They bandage up things and attempt to move on...forward. In most cases....the orphan company is either sold off quietly or kept running for years in a semi-bankrupt status.....just to keep employees and the local community happy. Its the German way.

Here in Kaiserslautern, existed a company for almost 100 years.....called Phaff. They made sewing machines. Up until the late 1970s....they still made a profit. Truthfully, up until the 1950s....they were still employing several thousand folks and turning great profits year after year.

In the 1970s....the modern area arrived and clothing became slightly cheaper to make elsewhere and ship in. Fewer sewing machines (their line of production) were made and sold.

By the 1980s....they had gotten into heavy-production sewing machines, but met stiff competition from the Pacific.

So by the early 1990s...they were borrowing money heavily from the banks with the corporation of the local political figures and even state politicians. They could not recover. They were sold and resold.

So when Mr. Ting came in the mid-90s...the man who bought vast sewing machine empires in the Pacific and throughout Europe....no one asked questions. This guy sold various properties and shipped the cash quickly out of the country....rather than pay his bills or the loans. When the banks finally said enough....Mr. Ting walked away.....no prosecution efforts by the political apparatus of Germany....because so many were paid off or the party gained funding. So in 1999....Phaff was officially bankrupt.

Then came the various government directors and efforts to repackage the company. When they were finally bought by an Italian company....it was mostly for the technology, and a simply promise that jobs would remain. The company was basically a bankrupt company kept in operation.....with German funding used in some fashion....to keep a bogus act going.

Next year will be the tenth anniversary of the bogus company that still stands there. This week....the local press came to announce that various folks are going to be laid off (approved by the union), and Pfaff is going toward the next age of bankruptcy, which will evolve of course....to an eventual state of "nothing".

The property left there? This is the curious thing....sitting there at the end of town....probably 40 acres of prime real estate. There are dozens of land speculators that would love to get their hands on the property, but then the issue of hazardous waste exist. They want the local government to take up the flag and cover the cost.....which the fools will likely do eventually. A major shopping mall? I'm betting on it....but it'll be decade away before they can finally turn off the light and let the last employee leave.

Germany is a funny country....keeping jobs going with a bankrupt company....with no future. Who pays for this service? Take a guess.