Maybe the Constitution Should have Started with the Declaration!

CORRUPTION WATCH-Obviously, one should not ask why a non-teleological universe gave rise to teleological sentience. The practical question is: what are the objectives of our communities? 


In recent human history, people began writing down their teleological goals for their societies as “constitutions.” In America, however, we started with a Declaration, where we proclaimed that the goal of government was the securing of inalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Too bad, Jefferson did not insert, “In addition, we each assume the correlative duty to support the inalienable rights of each individual.” 

Hmm, maybe if the Declaration had spoken of duties, no one would have signed. While people love to proclaim their rights, they are not so keen about acknowledging their corresponding duty to respect rights. My right of free speech does not include my right to shout you down. While my correlative duty may not be to listen and certainly not to agree, it requires that I not infringe on your rights.  

A community that pays attention to correlative duties is a place which respects other people. What happens, however, when a city only recognizes the rights of one group, whose members see no duty to respect other people? The City of Los Angeles seems to be one such place. It operates on the teleological belief that the rich and powerful get to take what they want. PERIOD! Hay no mas. They take, you shut up. 

Alternative Teleological Goal -- Quality of Life 

The city could have decided that its decisions would promote the Quality of Life of Angelenos, but instead it elevated the profits of developers as its most desired outcome. 

How do we know that the City of Los Angeles under Mayor Eric Garcetti prizes developer profits above Quality of Life? About the last 10,000 projects, mas o menos, were approved unanimously by the LA City Council. Someday someone somewhere may name the number to describe the odds of a 15-member council unanimously approving 10,000 consecutive projects without collusion. (A city council as corrupt as the orange buffoon merits a Trumpian word.) 

Let’s look at Los Angeles whose main goal is developer profits and where quality of life plays no role.  In December 2013, a gaggle of LA’s uber wealthy issued the 2020 Commission Report, A Time for Truth. It stated: 

“As a consequence, Los Angeles is sinking into a future in which it no longer can provide the public services to which our people’s taxes entitle them and where the promises made to public employees about a decent and secure retirement simply cannot be kept. City revenues are in long-term stagnation and expenses are climbing. Year by year, our City—which once was a beacon of innovation and opportunity to the world—is becoming less livable.”  

It's five years later and our Quality of Life is much worse. The 2020 Commission’s follow up April 2014 report, A Time for Action, did not suggest that the city should improve the Quality of Life for Angelenos; it only helped the rich and powerful make more money. Here are some of things which were beyond the scope of the action plan: 

Combatting homelessness 

Ensuring a clean environment for the next generation 

Fixing education 

Improving Transportation 

The Highfalutin Grand Poo-Bahs Had No Use for Quality of Life 

If Quality of life had been a city goal, then we would not have enacted policies that resulted in producing the worse homeless crisis in the nation by destroying the homes of 60,000 poor people so that developers could maximize their profits. 

If a clean environment had been a goal, our air pollution would not be getting worse and we would not design a traffic system that gave Los Angeles the world’s worst traffic congestion. Developers’ profits have dictated City Hall’s decisions. A high rise in DTLA makes a developer much wealthier than a low-rise garden office building in Chatsworth. Who cares if a DTLA high rise attracts an additional 1,000 cars? Who cares if the employees have an extra two hours’ commute per week? It’s not the Quality of Life for Angelenos that matters; it’s the developers’ profits that drive all decisions. 

Education? Whose kid needs a stinkin’ edukashun? Not to worry, teachers aren’t people who merit a decent wage. So what if LA schools rank near the bottom of the state in a state which ranks near the bottom in the country in a country which ranks near the bottom of the industrialized world? We’ll import people from Asia. 

Oh, lookie lookie! The unimportant items overlap. The Helen Bernstein High School which was built in Eric Garcetti’s CD 13 is contiguous to the onramp of the Hollywood Freeway. Don’t worry about the pesky law that says schools must be 500 feet from any freeway. Just breathe in that toxic dust. But wait, there’s more. Garcetti has built bike lanes in major streets so that our kids can ride where toxic emissions are the most concentrated. Wow, how to make education, air quality and transportation all worse while making developers’ profits higher. Isn’t that called a trifecta? 

Funny story behind these toxic bike lanes. It seems that Garcetti figured that to get people out of their cars and onto the subways and the light rail his developer buddies were constructing, it would help if he clogged traffic with bike lanes. The worse the traffic, the more people would ride subways, and the more rail for the developers to construct, and, I’m just guessing here, the more criminal kickbacks to Garcetti to fuel his Presidential ambitions. 

Wow, it is interesting how the things that contribute to the Quality of Life were excluded from the goals of the 2020 Commission. The April 2014 report did suggest that LA take over the Port of Long Beach so that Mastermind Mickey Kantor’s client BNFS Railway could take over the freight routes for LA and LB harbors. Wasn’t the profitability of the BNSF at the top of everyone’s list for how to improve the Quality of Life of Angelenos? Judge Barry P. Goode (Contra Costa County) sent BNSF back to the drawing boards on its DEIR. So it looks like the entire 2020 Commission was partially a scam to support the corrupt city’s May 2013 approval of the BNSF plan. 

What’s to become of a society whose number one goal is its only goal: to make the wealthy wealthier?

(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: Rickleeabrams@Gmail.com. Abrams’ views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.