Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Tipping Point

Tucson, Arizona. After some reflection regarding events local and national I have a theory I will call "The Tipping Point" regarding the transformation of governance as populations, technologies, or administrations cross certain thresholds. For a metropolis, one such threshold occurs when the population surpasses a million. Nationally, a threshold can occur when an administration drifts too far from the will of the citizens it is supposed to represent.

When this occurs, the ability of the old dogs to run the show with their old tricks starts to slip. More than birth rate, migration fuels the population growth of Tucson and the state of Arizona. When those that arrive settle in, a small percentage start to pay attention and ask questions. They are not part of the old dog network or "Supergroup" (SG). They are not served by the status quo.

The process starts with observation and criticism, and the Robert Nordmeyer opinion piece, It’s past time for Tucson to Grow Up in the Star Tuesday is a perfect example. Unfortunately, the process is painfully slow. Nordmeyer wrote about Tucson corruption and incompetence in May 2007, the same month I resigned from SAIAT and Tucson had a town hall.

The SG is not an extraordinary conspiracy or organized crime syndicate masterfully designed to make a couple dozen guys rich. I can appreciate Econ Guy’s assertion that certain components are quite successfully producing desired ends for those with wealth and influence. Cigar Man hits closer to the truth with his image of the sloppier, less organized combination of the noble and adept, the well meaning but inept, the arrogant, the hard working, the greedy, and the corrupt. Some of the well connected make extraordinary sums through sweet deals or automated faucets that flow unabated, unchecked, and unwatched. I wish I had a gig where the city cut me a check for $16 grand a month for doing positively nothing.

The process is slow, but an increasing number of intelligent individuals are scratching their heads and asking questions about governance at all levels. Here in Tucson, what arena makes sense? Who gets to design it and why? Who was given what land and why? The SG let a lying thief shut down a training organization so he could take its funding. Was there any debate? Any discussion? Any assessment of value vs. cost? None. Never mind SAIAT. Let the cockroach explain why $30,000 better serves Tucson sitting in his bank than spent by Goodwill Industries to help the less fortunate. What filth.

The tipping point is about information. Good governance has little to hide and shares information. Bad governance hides and withholds information. The model of bad governance, the Bush Administration is the Satan of information and the worst presidency in the history of the nation. Its arrogance, incompetence, and moral bankruptcy are so staggering we are in denial. They laugh at the constitution and the law. They destroy documents, ignore subpoenas, imprison the innocent (even governors), suppress scientific research, give unspeakable fortunes to corporate pals, and exhibit outrageous contempt of Congress.

As above so below. Does not Tucson have its Halliburtons?

The United States, Arizona, Tucson, and Tucson Newspapers all approach tipping points. The systems persist until forced to change. Will the owners and editors of Tucson Newspapers continue to sit on the SG boards and publish SG favorable content? Will Tucson continue to tolerate the SG’s hanky panky? Will Arizona continue to neglect its education system and water fiasco? Will the United States tolerate the same disastrous policies with the next administration? At all levels the inertia is great. Still, the pool of those paying attention is growing. Dissatisfaction and frustration continue to mount. If the spread between the journalism of Web 2.0 and that of the regular press spreads too wide, the community will alter where it gets its information.

Inside Tucson Business sits on TREO’s council of Trustees and paid for the seat, a glaring conflict of interest. ITB’s material on TREO is school girl cheerleading, not journalism. The metropolitan Tucson community now exceeds a million people. It’s time for Tucson’s press to toss the pom poms and buy a pair of pants.

The bigger the rock, the harder and slower goes the trek up the hill. At the peak we reach the tipping point, at which point the size of the rock acquires completely different semantics.


Blogger The Navigator said...

Yeah, right, x4mr. You wish you had a gig where you were paid $16,000 a month to do nothing.

Nonsense. I know you better than that. Your conscience would eat you alive. You would feel guilty, drink heavily, and turn to the dark side.

Your journey is complete when you start working for TREO.

Very interesting post. I wonder if you're right. It does feel like we are on the brink of something.

Maybe it's a massive depression.

4/09/2008 3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you should leave The Tipping Point as the top post for a few days without posting anything else. Just let us all contemplate this one, digest it, and give us time to respond to it and have a dialogue, before you move us on to the next issue.

I would love to see 40-50 comments posted in response to The Tipping Point, before you remind us again how awful Hillary is.

4/09/2008 7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Without commenting on anything you wrote, it's kinda weird to read that you describe the term "tipping point" as something you created.

4/09/2008 8:10 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Your comment is too short for me to decipher tone. You can't possibly believe I think I created the phrase "tipping point"? That was around before I was born and I am not that young. It has so many applications it's used in three or four fields, and I thought it useful here as well.

The theory posted involves distinguishing the levels of "as above so below" from the nation and Washington to Tucson and a Newspaper organization. (Google "As Above, So Below." I didn't invent Hermeticism either.)

I've not read the book at your link, but it appears to be presenting purely sociological concepts building on stuff from the 60s, and it sounds like it might tie to the butterfly in chaos theory (didn't invent that).

I address population growth, governance, and old dogs/networks (the SG) at different levels in the context of INFORMATION, Web 2.0, and the ability to sustain status quo.

However, I did invent the internet, post-it notes, and those foot scrapers they sell on TV for $9.99. They work great. Your feet will look terrific.

4/09/2008 9:29 PM  
Blogger Cigar Man said...

X4mr, You doof! Why are you publishing post middle school level content on the same day Scarpinato published the url to your blog? You should have had a simple, scathing, easily understood entry about Eggplant or Bee or TREO or whatever.

You are way too generous with the anon above. Daniel’s publication probably doubled your traffic with all sorts of first time visitors many of which, well, yeah. Occam’s Razor. Anon saw your post and understood nothing. However, he had heard "tipping point" before. He googled it and made his accusation.

Today was great. The comment by James is not trivial. In a moment I will cherish forever, someone approached me, "We’re reading that blog. Do you know who Cigar Man is?"

If you tell anyone, x4mr, I will know. I will prove this and also prove my reach at a comment coming to a blog near you.

BTW, the question regarding if and how you can be used has been asked.

I will comment on the theory later. Intriguing.

4/09/2008 10:19 PM  
Blogger Sirocco said...

If you haven't read the Tipping Point I would recommend it. It does discuss a lot of sociological matters (why/how did X become popular, for example), but it's not limited to that, and provides some interesting case examples.

I suspect the rise in popularity of both blogging and blog reading could be analyzed as a case of a "tipping point" occurring.

You'd enjoy it. You'd also enjoy Blink, another Gladwell book. Both are enjoyable and fast reads. Both are thought-provoking, even (especially) when you find yourself in disagreement.

As for whether Tucson is at a population tipping point, I think it clearly is. I had a similar conversation with my father about the effects of the 1 million mark last Thanksgiving. Many, many things are going to come to a head sooner than people realize - water issues, road infrastructure, governance issues (not just good governance, or questioning government, but also an increase in the number of people who want to be part of the SG or, at least, a part of SG's pie). I expect a screeching collision.

4/10/2008 4:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I left the comment about using the phrase "tipping point." And, boy, do I feel chastened by the response. I was simply responding to this from your lead sentence:

After some reflection regarding events local and national I have a theory I will call "The Tipping Point"

It just seemed sloppy to me and detracted from my reading of the piece. No offense intended. I would concur with the poster who suggests you check out Gladwell's two books.

Keep up the interesting work!

4/10/2008 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your TREO pals also stole $60,000 (or close) from the Microbusiness Advancement Center (MAC) and trashed its Executive Director, Mary Gruensfelder Cox.

SAIAT $132,500
Goodwill $30,000
MAC $60,000

$222,500 stolen to pad TREO's bank account.

Also, because MAC used that money for a Federal matching grant, the blow to the company was doubled, $120,000.

Cox resigned.

4/10/2008 10:13 AM  
Blogger The Navigator said...

I won’t speak for CM or x4mr, but you got the reaction you got because you picked what I say occurs as a nit without contributing on the ideas presented. You still haven’t. I thought x4mr’s response was tame, and CM, well, he’s shown himself to be a rather critical guy. Don’t take it personally.

Regarding x4mr's theory, I agree with Sirocco that locally Tucson is reaching a "tipping point" of sorts and that the old SG is facing forces that will require some changes. I’m not a connected person, so I can’t offer details except to say that I think it will involve increased scrutiny and a demand for accountability regarding the decisions that get made. It appears that this blog is becoming a vehicle for people like james and robish and travis to post content that cannot get into the press. I think the average age of those in the SG is over fifty, and the over fifty crowd doesn’t quite get Web 2.0.

X4mr put in red that information was the key to the theory he’s proposing. I am convinced Bush and Cheney do not get Web 2.0. "The internets" and "the google" demonstrate the lack of understanding and I think this applies to Congress as well. The older representatives do not have the savvy that the younger generation has. Do you think Kyl reads blogs? What I would add to x4mr’s post is that we also face a generational "tipping point" as the older crowd has to give way to the younger. We see this dynamic fervently at work in the Democratic presidential primary. The older are for Hillary. The younger favor Obama.

The dead and buried prefer McCain.

I would assert that the kernel of x4mr’s post is the transition from the way the older generation processes and relates to information to the way the emerging generation processes and relates information. While there are many other factors, I think the old vs. new "tip" is part of what tripped up Hillary and has her campaign so perplexed and frustrated. Her campaign is using the "tried and true" methods of yesteryear. The Obama campaign uploaded his race speech on Youtube within seconds of its conclusion and then emailed the link to millions. The internet is his principle fundraising engine, and he is kicking ass.

What is thought provoking, but I have nothing to add, is the four levels from TNI to Tucson to Arizona to the USA and the notion that each are corrupt at their own level. Does not Tucson have its Halliburtons?

Finally, were it not Bush’s final year, forces for impeachment would have "tipped" by now. Only the most die hard and unmovable support "Eggplant." I agree that he has been the most disastrous president in the history of the United States. What allows him to stay in office is the fact that he is leaving within the year. Thank God.

4/10/2008 11:54 AM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Good catch, nav. Age and generation are absolutely a key part of what I'm saying and I agree with what you wrote, especially your remarks about Hillary's campaign.

I'm working on a post on the very subject. The young, and especially the young and educated, are massively for Obama.

4/10/2008 1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is ridiculous that the owners and top people of the press to sit on the boards of the groups they are supposed to cover.

Why is this obvious conflict of interest tolerated?

4/10/2008 1:28 PM  
Blogger Cigar Man said...

As for whether Tucson is at a population tipping point, I think it clearly is. I had a similar conversation with my father about the effects of the 1 million mark last Thanksgiving. Many, many things are going to come to a head sooner than people realize - water issues, road infrastructure, governance issues (not just good governance, or questioning government, but also an increase in the number of people who want to be part of the SG or, at least, a part of SG's pie). I expect a screeching collision.

Sirocco is spot on. Like the second anon that posted about wanting to see many comments, I wish it would happen, but I don't expect it. X4mr is right about the inertia. Snell is only one of many that walk about with no clothes, held up by political cowardice and the lack of willingness to object to the fraud.

I completely forgot about MAC (I'm more into workforce issues than the small business thing). TREO screwed Mary just like x4mr. As readers know, both Executive Directors resigned after Snell "slit their throats."

Isn't it amazing what people can get away with? I am reminded of the Leonard Cohen lyrics:

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
Thats how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that youve been faithful
Ah give or take a night or two
Everybody knows youve been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
Thats how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
Thats how it goes
Everybody knows

And everybody knows that its now or never
Everybody knows that its me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah when youve done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old black joes still pickin cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the plague is coming
Everybody knows that its moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But theres gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

And everybody knows that youre in trouble
Everybody knows what youve been through
From the bloody cross on top of calvary
To the beach of malibu
Everybody knows its coming apart
Take one last look at this sacred heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
Thats how it goes
Everybody knows

Oh everybody knows, everybody knows
Thats how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows

4/10/2008 11:08 PM  
Blogger TexPatriate said...

The Navigator left a comment that I read several days ago. . . and apparently it got stuck in the back of my mind somehow.

I revisited this post today and. . . the comment struck a chord that it hadn't before.

"Yeah, right, x4mr. You wish you had a gig where you were paid $16,000 a month to do nothing.

Nonsense. I know you better than that. Your conscience would eat you alive. You would feel guilty, drink heavily, and turn to the dark side.

Your journey is complete when you start working for TREO."

Here's what jumped out of my brain today -- why is it that some people are paid $16,000/month to do NOTHING ? Why do we as taxpayers not demand results for such a paycheck ? I know damn well that if I lay out my hard-earned money for a car and it does nothing, the dealership is absolutely going to hear some very bad words come out of my mouth.

Why are "supergroups" (and administrations) held to such a low standard ?

4/11/2008 1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It comes down to pressuring the elected officials who control the purse strings.

Most elected officials are skilled at blowing off the concerns of isolated individual citizens, but when a group of people bands together with the same message, and creates a real or implied threat of harming that official's re-election chances, then it gets their attention.

So the trick is to figure out how to get this blogging community to function collectively to apply direct pressure on council members or supervisors, without blowing everyone's cover! I assume some of the people who post here are well-informed because they work with or for agencies that wouldn't be happy if they were lobbying against the interests of another organization. Even if their employer agrees with their position, they may feel there would be retribution or other negative consequences to speaking out.

4/11/2008 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be comforted, Zorro is alive,the Lone Ranger is reincarnated,Mighty Mouse has grandchildren,Dudley Doo-Right and the Canadian Royal Mounted Police are in town, and the 3 retired private investigators are at their posts.

4/11/2008 11:52 PM  
Blogger Policon said...

Navigator, you sell yourself short. Can you really not describe the Beast? I'm guessing that most everyone posting here is actually a member of the Beast, the SUPERORGANISM that rules our town. If not, why would we use our real names.

The Beast is the government-based economy of Tucson. Our politics follow our economy.

Tucson has an inordinately high number of core jobs in Big G: local, county, state, fed.

We also have a very high number of Little "g" jobs: Raytheon, UofA, Pima College, TUSD, Tohono, TREO, COPE, CEBUS, MTCVB, IDA, (groups who's funding comes primarily from govt).

The old "Five C's", cattle, cotton, copper, climate, and citrus, has been replaced by G,C&E (govt, climate, and education). Our largest "private" employer is a bomb factory for the government.

This makes us somewhat unusual by US standards.

If we want to affect change, we must understand and deal with the actual battlefield. As Howard Bloom describes in "The Lucifer Principal:"

"SUPERORGANISMS, IDEAS, and the PECKING ORDER -- the triad of human evil -- are not recent inventions "programmed into us by Western society, consumerism, capitalism, television violence, blood-and-guts films or rock and roll. They are built into our physiology. They have been with us since the dawn of the human race."

We aren't going to get anywhere with this blog without recognizing that the SUPERORGANISM ruling Tucson is in place because we are a government town. The forces that caused TREO to consolidate power in itself are the kind of self-protecting activities that all SUPERORGANISMS engage in.

Who was championing the SAIAT cause? Were they high in the PECKING ORDER, or just nice, smart people? Nice people don't wield power. People high up in the PECKING ORDER do.

This blog needs to embrace the regime as it exists.

x4mr, will you make a side-bar link to an org chart displaying the names, bios, email, and phone numbers of the Supergroup and the hot staphers who are actually controlling decisions this week and next month? If a few calls and letters have profound effects on electeds, you wouldn't believe what it does to non-electeds.

This blog should also articulate the IDEA it promotes. x4mr, can you honestly say your ideal is "Meritocrocay, and Anti-Bureaucracy?" Are you pissed that the feisty, nimble, cost-effective training program you ran on near-passion alone was crushed for no good reason? Will we rail against the machine even when it pits us against other political philosophies we do embrace?

Everything I'm learning about you says you will. You respect political philosophies, but you respect your inate common sense even moreso. I think you hate the Nannystate and Liberal Fascism.

There is a wind blowing down I-10 as our Tucson liberal government based SUPERORGANISM collides with a conservative free economy SUPERORGANISM that is steadily making us into a suburb of Metro-Phoenix. We may not like it, but this is the battlefield were we stand.

The Tucson Liberal Voter SUPERORGANISM is also under attack from balkanizing communities (Marana, Oro Valley, Sahuarita, etc.) which is exascerbating the collision with Phoenix. Employees of the UofA, TUSD, Raytheon, etc., worry about their government jobs. Are they safe? Are they meaningful? They vote to keep power in the hands of their SUPERORGANISM leaders (think of the union influence in Tucson city council elections).

If we want to stampede the herd, we'd better truly understand the motivations of the average cow, not just their current leaders. Are we stampeding them out of fear or greed? Are they supposed to recoil from the SAIAT and Rio Nuevo Bridge follies, or embrace the greener pasture of Phoenix's plutocracy? More to come.

4/13/2008 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Mariana said...

Anon (4/11/2008 1:34pm) is right about pressuring elected officials; if you don't belive it, watch Elias changing positions, there is a video somewhere on "Blog for Arizona" (under "Election Integrity" button I think) It's funny... or maybe not.

4/13/2008 4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Policon is so right on. The very reason the City Staff refers to elected officials as; "Substitute Teachers"! Erstwhile the Meta-Organism roles on.....and on.... with all the impunity mankind has confabulated.

4/13/2008 11:02 PM  

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