US Government Is World’s 3rd Largest Economy

Monday’s open enrollment deadline for ObamaCare, which, with its subsidies and tax credits, represents the largest expansion of government, is a good time to assess the total scale of government in the US. 

Appreciating the full scope of the US government is difficult, because its activities are undertaken at the federal, state, and local levels. Adding all of this together, government in the US consumes more than $6 trillion a year. This makes the US government the world’s 3rd largest economy. 

via US Government Is World's 3rd Largest Economy.

El Paso moves with gusto to the New Urbanist camp

El Paso moves with gusto to the New Urbanist camp

Looking to move beyond its history of sprawling development, El Paso turned to New Urbanism. But instead of hiring New Urbanist experts, the city decided to indoctrinate its staff and private sector designers in the movement’s principles.

“El Paso officials waht [sic] to reinvent the city by following the tenets of new urbanism, which means a greater emphasis on dense, walkable neighborhoods, mixed-use buildings that are street-oriented and more green spaces,” writes Tod Newcombe. “But there was one big problem in making that change: The local development community and the architects were still designing the old-fashioned way.”

So instead of hiring the movement’s leading consultants, the city decided to develop a nine-week training program to introduce public officials and the private sector to new urbanism. “The city has also started requiring that any design firm that wants to do capital work with the city has to have someone on the team accredited in new urbanism practices,” notes Newcombe. “According to [El Paso development director Mathew] McElroy, approximately 100 city staff and 100 private architects and engineers have taken the course and passed the accreditation exam.”

We sometimes don’t…

We sometimes don’t notice history as it’s unfolding right before us, so let’s stop and take note of what a historically momentous day Tuesday was. Twenty, 50 years from now, when historians or college professors are trying to describe to their readers and students what the difference was between the two political parties in our time, they will direct them to October 1, 2013. That one day says it all. – Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast

What History Will Say About Obamacare and the Government Shutdown

How will State and Local Governments Fare with Federal Shut Down?

State and local government budget experts say the first federal government shutdown in 17 years shouldn’t be too disruptive to their operations in the short-term, but if it lasts more than a week, they could start to encounter serious challenges.

“A couple of days is a pain in the neck … but doable; nobody likes it, but it happens,” says Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers. “The longer a shutdown goes, the longer the impact it starts to have.”

Read more here.

Ecuador’s constitution grants rights to environment

It is gratifying to read on this 11th day of September that Ecuador is proposing a new constitution that grants inalienable rights to the environment.

A 130-member Ecuador Constitutional Assembly, charged with re-writing the Constitution, has proposed five articles aimed at protecting the environment and granting individuals standing in court to defend these environmental rights, if the government were to fail to do so.

Chapter: Rights for Nature

Art. 1. Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.

Every person, people, community or nationality, will be able to demand the recognitions of rights for nature before the public organisms. The application and interpretation of these rights will follow the related principles established in the Constitution.

Art. 2. Nature has the right to an integral restoration. This integral restoration is independent of the obligation on natural and juridical persons or the State to indemnify the people and the collectives that depend on the natural systems.

In the cases of severe or permanent environmental impact, including the ones caused by the exploitation on non renewable natural resources, the State will establish the most efficient mechanisms for the restoration, and will adopt the adequate measures to eliminate or mitigate the harmful environmental consequences.

Art. 3. The State will motivate natural and juridical persons as well as collectives to protect nature; it will promote respect towards all the elements that form an ecosystem.

Art. 4. The State will apply precaution and restriction measures in all the activities that can lead to the extinction of species, the destruction of the ecosystems or the permanent alteration of the natural cycles.

The introduction of organisms and organic and inorganic material that can alter in a definitive way the national genetic patrimony is prohibited.

Art. 5. The persons, people, communities and nationalities will have the right to benefit from the environment and form natural wealth that will allow wellbeing.

The environmental services are cannot be appropriated; its production, provision, use and exploitation, will be regulated by the State.

56 per cent of Ecuadorans are said to support the proposal which will go to a vote on Sept. 28. The world is watching.

Sources: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2008/09/04-7

http://www.greenchange.org/article.php?id=3104

First published September 11, 2008

Thomas Jefferson’s wisdom applicable today

“We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our selection between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts as that we must be taxed in our meat in our drink, in our necessities and comforts, in our labors and in our amusements, for our callings and our creeds…our people.. must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live.. We have not time to think, no means of calling the mis-managers to account, but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow suffers. Our landholders, too…retaining indeed the title and stewardship of estates called theirs, but held really in trust for the treasury, must…be contented with penury, obscurity and exile.. private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as by private extravagance.

This is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of society is reduced to mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering… And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in it’s train wretchedness and oppression.”

— Thomas Jefferson