Monday, February 28, 2011

Urgent need for America.. A new pipeline to export oil? HuH?

If oil were truly a global commodity as it is always referred to, then it would be portable to all markets and its price from any source around the globe would be the same.  However, if crude oil from stockpiles in Cushing, Oklahoma sells for less on the open market than crude oil from the Middle East or the North Sea, for whatever reason, then it kind of belies that assumption about portability.  And lately the disparity on the open market between West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude has reached historic levels, as high as $17 per barrel.   Interesting topic that I hadn't read about before.  Here are a couple recent stories to get the flavor,  

Wall Street Pit:  Brent-WTI Spread 

International Business Times:  Disparity means higher oil prices

Heres a key detail in this situation that I'm guessing not too many people are up on..

"...That also brings up another important point. When we quote oil prices today, we're quoting West Texas Intermediate, which is priced out of the Cushing hub in central Oklahoma. Currently, there's a meaningful bottleneck of supply in the middle of North America. We have a lot of increased oil production out of Canada, the Bakken and the Permian Basin that all congregate in Cushing, Oklahoma; and at the current time, we don't possess the ability to really move that oil out...
The average investor can't take advantage of structural imbalance. Now, the companies involved with transporting oil will look at that price differential and ultimately react by building more takeaway capacity."
OK, now I get it.  In the USA we have a stable political system, an increasing oil supply base (thanks to the Canadians) and a multi-faceted focus on reducing consumption (including lots of taxes) and since that is apparently creating a glut in the domestic oil storage capacity, the focus now for the oil speculators is to increase the capacity to transfer oil from Cushing, Oklahoma to ports on the Gulf so their oil can be shipped from the USA to foreign lands where it will fetch a higher price for those speculators who essentially gamble with tankers of oil and hope for the blessing of a sudden price spike.

Now, I understand how supply and demand and free markets work.  But I have been under the impression that all of our investing in efforts to reduce consumption and increase supply from North American sources were intended to decrease our energy dependency from the ME and thus improve our National Security.  In fact I have tried to make the point that for the USA's benefit, perhaps oil should be treated like a public utility So I'm a bit surprised/disappointed to read that now there is actually a glut of oil stored here it has become a mad rush in the murky but legal world of oil speculation to increase the capacity to transfer oil from Oklahoma down to the Gulf and out then to the rest of the world so speculators can take advantage of the price spread between WTI and Brent crude.  Of course, as the oil moves out of Oklahoma to ports around the world, it will eliminate the glut and cause prices here to rise to the level in the more volatile regions. Ideally I suppose it would cost the same to all buyers anywhere.  Thats the ultimate sign of an open and free market.  

I'm not quite seeing how that benefits the USA consumers and taxpayers.   I just hope we aren't the ones investing in the pipeline out of Cushing OK that will eventually serve to bring higher prices for oil here. If oil is cheaper here than elsewhere, I don't see any urgency to eliminate the disparity by making us pay more.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cool and Exclusive.. Logan Miller improv tap-off to Flobots "Handlebars"

Molly spent the last couple days at Turning Pointe dance studio in St. Clair Shores learning a new number with the Detroit Tap Repertory.  The choreographer and teacher for the weekend was a 20 year-old amazing tapper from NYC named Logan Miller who came into town to teach the dance to the group of local Detroit dancers from ages 13 to 30-ish.

It was a real treat to catch this impromptu tap-off between Logan and Denise after the class was over and everyone was just kind of milling around getting ready to leave after two straight days of tapping.

To the tune of "I can ride my bike with no handlebars, no handlebars.."   Enjoy!

U-G-L-Y You aint got no alibi. Shocking mug shots reveal toll of drug abuse.

Multnomah Oregon mug shots reveal how drug use will make you uglier,  or maybe the message is you'll be too poor to afford to buy makeup.   

OK, I saw this story yesterday, and I think this is a revolting idea for an anti-drug promotion.  Shocking mug shots reveal toll of drug abuse.  

Its a series of comparisons of two mug shots of the same person, some taken months apart, some taken years apart. The point is to show how drug use accelerates aging and turns you into a butt-ugly, grotesque, toothless, leathery skinned, busted up, acne-ridden loser of a freak show. I bet the guys back at the station had a quite a hoot sifting through all the drug offender mug shots looking for the worst cases of ugliness.

If these were prisoners at Gitmo it would be a violation of the Geneva Convention to wave them around in the media or for propaganda purposes. But hey, these are just some ugly druggie losers in the system, who gives a crap about them? Besides, we did it for the kids. Nice job Deputy Bret King of Multnomah County, Ore. You get the Jerk of the Week award.

Hey why stop there? Why not search for some prisoners who died from lung cancer to scare the kids away from smoking. While you're at it, you could locate a few prisoners dying from AIDS to scare kids away from unprotected sex and sharing needles too. What a treasure trove of free material the Deputy has stumbled across here. No need to worry about signed release forms from these people, heck they're all just lowlife drug offenders anyways. Besides, we did it for the kids.

I think this campaign is disgusting and should be pulled. The Deputy should quit surfing the prisoner database looking for ugly people and go back to doing his real job whatever that might be.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

When looking for culprits of the housing crisis, don't forget your local zoning board

I've read dozens of explanations for how the USA got into the massive housing crisis.  These explanations  are typically political in nature.  1)  The GOP deregulated banking leading to the banks writing mortgages for houses people couldn't really afford.  2) The Democrats forced the banks into loosening credit standards to enable mortgages for houses people couldn't really afford.

The fact is that the global economic downturn caused the double whammy of fewer qualified buyers and a flood of mortgages in default which combined to create a huge glut in the real estate market and we all know what happens to prices when there is a glut in supply.  Better described as "falling off the table" than declining.

I would like to add another suspect to the list of co-conspirators who helped steer us into the abyss.  That would be all the local city and township councils and zoning boards across the Country who forced home builders to abandon building neighborhoods of smaller sensible homes (you know, like the ones in all the older neighborhoods around town..) and meet large minimum requirements for lot and home sizes.  So while for generations a 1,000 square foot home on a 60' lot in a neighborhood represented the American Dream, modern America demanded the builders go no lower than 2500 square feet on 1/2 acre lots.

Of course, a cost-conscious home buyer could always buy a new modular home in a modular home park if they couldn't afford the $300,000 or so for the Township minimum standard house and lot, but then again, the same zoning boards that specified the mega-homes have never been very crazy about "trailer parks" and modular home developments either so that option may not even exist in a given community.  One part of the explanation is that schools are typically funded through local property taxes and property taxes are based on how much a home is worth.  To maximize property tax receipts while minimizing the number of children in the district, the basic strategy for the local boards was to force developers to build large, expensive homes that would fetch big property taxes and not bring so many children into the school district.  For the opposite reason they typically oppose the zoning and building of modular home communities;  the ratio of school-aged children to property tax potential is too high.

SO to sum it all up the big evil bankers on Wall Street with their Beltway-mandated loose credit applications conspired unknowingly with the hack politicians in cities and Townships across the USA to fill all those massive homes in sprawling subdivisions with dupes who really couldn't afford to be there long-term.  And as one development after another sold out, the local boards got more and more greedy for revenue and those massive homes just kept getting bigger and bigger.  Until someone sneezed on the house of cards.

So while we all play 52 card pickup for the next few decades, don't forget that the bumpkins on Township board helped build that house of cards.  It wasn't all evil greedy moneychangers far away.          

Should gasoline be treated as a public utility..

There is little to question that petroleum is the lifeblood of the American economy.  Its not just a discretionary expense for most consumers, but a basic necessity.  True, consumers will find ways to reduce fuel usage as prices increase, but few of us can avoid using our cars or trucks altogether.

The supply of petroleum is not quite a free market system.  More like an oligopoly of a small number of mega-producers competing around the globe to make deals with the locals for the rights to drill there.  Good luck breaking into that business with a start-up firm. Oil is a global commodity, bought and sold in an open market the mechanisms of which I can't begin to explain but I trust is at least somewhat governed by the Supply-Demand curve.  I don't buy into any of the conspiracies that say an evil cabal of fill-in-the-blanks control the price of oil and crank it up and down at their whim.  That's nuts.  However there are some complicated purchasing schemes and speculative finances involved in the oil market, the main purpose of which is to make money for those involved lucky enough to cash in on a price spike from a panicky unstable market.

And that is why I wonder if petroleum shouldn't be treated at some level, like a public utility such as natural gas, electricity, water, etc and our system account for some degree of public oversight into long-term supply and pricing agreements for the Nation.  Do consumers really benefit from the cottage industry of speculating investors scheming to make a bundle trading oil back and forth between the time its loaded on a tanker and arrives at the port?  If they make a killing, its their cash.  If they lose a killing, we'll probably have to bail them out anyway.  Call me a cynic.

I have little idea how transforming the petroleum market here to something resembling a public utility could be accomplished.  Certainly there couldn't be long-term price guarantees, because there is no guarantee of stable long-term supply, and there is no telling how much another Nation might bid up the pricing and take away that supply.  So I'm not advocating that we jump into nationalizing any industry or turning the whole thing over to politicians and civil servant bureaucrats.  The immediate risk from any Government price controls would of course be shortages and no one wants that.  For that reason, I hesitate to advocate any Government involvement whatsoever.   

But I do think that as important as petroleum is to our economy and very society, we should recognize the importance of trying in some small way to stabilize supply and pricing for consumers.  A market this basic to our Nation's economic survival should not be fraught with layers of scheming investors looking to make windfall profits when uncertainty in the world leads to price spikes.  And to those dead-opposed to this, I would ask if its OK for the oil market, then why not open up the same Wild-West financial opportunities for speculative investing in the municipal water supply?    

Just a thought-starter.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Unionized Teachers. Professionals trapped in their job like no other.

Many public school teachers belong to unions affiliated with either the American Federation of Teachers or the National Education Association.  And its pretty well accepted that teachers represented by unions enjoy decent pay and benefits, maybe not the highest of tax brackets, but comfortable and generally secure, and given the shortened work year with all the holidays off, not a bad career choice for a young person, assuming one can actually land that cherished unionized public school teaching gig..

But there is one trade-off that goes along with the union representation.  A near total lack of job portability unseen throughout the range of professional career choices a student might otherwise make.  Teachers are essentially trapped in the first school district into which they are hired.  Engineers can look around and switch jobs to chase promotions and higher salaries, the same goes for doctors, lawyers, nurses, managers, researchers, marketers, therapists, and every other sort of professional.  But not teachers.  School districts are like a Roach Motel for teachers.  Maybe the Hotel California?

Teacher salaries index up from starting wages to top of the scale depending on years of seniority and level of degree.  A first year teacher with a Bachelor's degree might make $30,000.  In that same district a teacher might max out with 10 years seniority and a Master's Degree at $80,000.  Not too shabby.  Now, if that high seniority teacher with the advanced degree decides to leave and take a job in the school district down the road a mile or two, guess what happens.  Their seniority would start back at zero and they would earn entry level pay scale.  So, they never leave.  Of course they don't. The object is to get the Masters Degree and the 10th year index and ride it out until retirement in the same district. Unless your job was an absolute living hell, there would be no decent reason to cut your salary in half or less and start over in a new district.

This is the downside of that wonderful union protection.  Teachers are degreed professionals with negotiated rules governing their pay and benefits that are essentially the same as they are for the floor sweepers union just with different numbers.  Salary based primarily on seniority, not performance or effort or qualifications.  To the district, you are a commodity, a warm body.  They never share that detail with College students looking to become teachers.

On a side-note, this effect has contributed to the underfunded public employee pension mess.  In the past, school districts looking to cut costs have offered early retirement packages to high seniority teachers at the top of the pay scale so they could replace them with new hires at the bottom of the pay scale.  Voila! The district saved money!  But it was only short term savings that turned into long-term liabilities.  Over time, the ranks of relatively young retired teachers receiving pensions swelled higher and higher, while those new hires indexed up to the top of the pay scale themselves.  So the districts are eventually back in the crunch and the pension funds are overburdened as well.  All in the name of austerity.

And its plausible that some of the general malaise in the classrooms might be traced to teachers who see little or no reason to go the extra mile for the classroom or the students when there's no possibility all that extra effort might impact their salary or earn them a promotion.  If you're a sweeper, better not sweep too fast or you'll just cheese off all your co-workers.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Comparing how dictators squash rebellion, pre and post internet.

Interesting how the internet has altered the course of the history by enabling rebellions throughout a number of Mideast nations to grow and become full blown revolutions and by helping prevent widespread massacre of citizens by dictators hell-bent on crushing the rebellion.  The world has reacted strongly to reports that Muammar Gaddafi ordered Libyan military aircraft to fire on crowds of protesters, killing dozens of innocent citizens. This will likely lead to the end of Gaddafi's regime or outright civil war, or both.   Libya launches airstrikes to quell protests as Muammar Gaddafi's rule teeters on brink

Back in 1982 when President Hafez al-Assad ordered the Syrian military to squash a revolt in the Syrian town of Hama there was no internet or Facebook or Twitter to report the atrocities. For three weeks, Syrian forces systematically destroyed the city and killed its inhabitants, first by artillery shells and eventually by mass executions.  Estimates vary between 17,000 and 40,000 people were killed, the vast majority civilians. Wikipedia: Hama Massacre

 And I have no memory of that event even being reported in the news back then.  Perhaps it was reported, but without the imagery and real time reporting from citizen journalists, the story never really "grew legs" in the Western media or in the general population.  Of course we had plenty other things to worry about as a Nation back then so maybe few cared about the mass extermination of those people way over there.  Still, I can't imagine any dictator these days attempting to squash a rebellion Hama style, if for no other reason that they would know coverage of the attack would be on You Tube 10 minutes later.

So who said computer geeks aren't good at History or Political Science?  You could say that the Geeks  have done more to shake up geopolitics, spread political reform and protect citizens than any politician, think tank expert, policy wonk, or pundit has done the last few decades. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wisconsin labor dispute. Good luck kicking that hornet nest.

To help curb the budget deficit in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker is trying to bust the education employee unions by stripping them of collective bargaining powers and ability to fund political campaigns.  Strong and bold measures are needed fast to avoid impending budget disasters in states and localities, not just in Wisconsin but across the Nation.  However, I disagree with Walker's kick the hornets nest, union-busting approach.  The shitstorm he created will do more damage than good and end up costing the taxpayers more than if he had a reasonable plan going into budget negotiations.

Resources are always limited.  The strategy for any enterprise should be to focus on eliminating waste.  Waste in labor, waste in energy, waste in supplies, waste in processes, waste in every level of the operation.   So if I was a Governor and I needed to cut costs in the funding of public education, instead of  boldly cheesing off every single union member into a frenzy of rage and activism, I would propose a few ideas for reducing waste and then challenge others to justify why the waste is preferable.  Not to say I wouldn't upset lots of people with these proposals, but I think the bulk of the people will go along.  That's what leaders do.  Find publicly acceptable and workable solutions.

1) Longer school days but more days off.  Transportation and building maintenance costs are a very large part of the budget.  If schools could implement a 4 day school week with longer school days, there would be huge potential for savings.  As fuel costs rise this will get even more meaningful.

2) Introduce statewide medical and retirement plans in which any district could opt to participate instead of having to negotiate and administer their own plans.  There would still be local negotiations for salaries and extended benefits, but a statewide baseline plan could save costs by increasing the pool of employees.  

3) Publicly promote outsourcing of non-education-related services and be ready to take on the opposition head first.  Schools need to focus resources on education which means they need to minimize resources on non-educational costs such as building maintenance, busing and cleaning.  There is enormous waste in this part of the district budgets and the reason goes to the manner in which the school districts are managed.  Locally elected school boards negotiate contracts and it is far more likely that the non-degreed personnel in the district, namely the janitors, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers live and vote in the district. Teachers are more likely to live outside the district and have less influence in the local elections.  Any school board member who tries to cut into the non-educational part of the school budget won't last long.  Essentially, the non-educational employee unions hold the districts hostage, and the hell with the students, teachers, and  classrooms.  If the typical taxpayer knew how little work is asked from a school district janitor in a normal day they would be shocked.  If the Governor wants to take on any union, these are the ones.  Start by claiming loyalty to the teachers, the ones who actually do the educating, and pointing out the waste in building maintenance and busing costs compared to privatized services to all the taxpayers.  Offer to direct a percentage of the cost savings back into the classroom facilities.  Divide and conquer, just like Sun Tzu said.  If required, put privatization proposals directly for public vote.  This is key for success.   

4. Reduce administrative costs by combining smaller school districts.  Neighborhood schools can retain their names and teams, but it would make sense if at a higher level there was a combining of the school districts to reduce administration costs.

5.  Open up the role of school principal to those with business backgrounds, not just promoted educators.  Schools are very similar to very large business enterprises.  Why in the world do we trust the management of these multi-million dollar enterprises to people whose background is in education?  I'm sure there are a lot of principals who do an outstanding job and keep a close eye on operational costs, effectively manage human resources and focus on long and short term goals and customer satisfaction  but that particular outcome would be more likely if principals had the aptitude, training,and experience managing real-life business operations.  This is another opportunity for waste reduction.  Competent effective management.  Oh and get ready for a union fight there too.  School principals typically belong to their own union!

Well there are a few ideas that I think would accomplish more than Scott Walker's attempt to eliminate public employee unions will.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The evolution of a theocracy

I cringe every time I hear about someone promoting intelligent design as an alternate theory to evolutionary science.  Intelligent design isn't science, its anti-science.  Its a political strategy to force public school science teachers to "respect an establishment of religion" and teach that the scientists might be wrong about evolution and a creator designed it all this way instead.

Some people on the fringe subscribe to the belief that the Bible is a literal, historical account of the story of creation on Earth.  To them, any sort of evolutionary science (or geology or paleontology for that matter) contradicts their religion.  But more than just young earth creationists have joined the political battle for ID in the science classroom.  This issue has had a broad appeal among conservative voters because they have bought into the lie that evolutionary science is hostile to the concept of God and explains how life began on Earth without God.

There is a common false notion that in order to subscribe to evolutionary science you have to be an atheist and reject the notion of God altogether.  Misled believers band together in legal maneuvers that promote anti-science ID in school in order to defend their God.  Odd concept there, a God that needs to be defended in Court.           

A bit of pertinent information..  The part of evolutionary science that deals with the origin of life is highly speculative and not on the same standing as the science regarding how life adapted and the species evolved.  None of the various theories for origin of life (abiogenesis) can demonstrate the chemical processes that might have occurred in the primordial environment to create even the simplest  life forms.  Perhaps future scientists will complete the puzzle and develop a plausible explanation for abiogenesis, but as for now, there is no good explanation, just several poor ones.

Even if a viable theory for abiogenesis on earth emerges, it can't prove there is no God.  And of course, neither can believers prove there is a God.  So this is an argument that can never be won by either side.  Its not so much a useful debate as a tribal shouting match.

I think some basic education on this matter would clear up all or most of the conflict.  You don't have to accept one and reject the other.  Its equally untenable to be certain there is a God as it is to be certain there is none.  So keep your faith or lack thereof to yourself and let the scientists continue discovering and analyzing and educating without fear of political reprisals from the religious folks with sensitive egos.

Besides, Jesus never told anyone to strive for ignorance or defend it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

November 6, 2003: Remarks by President George W. Bush at the 20th Anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy

In light of the historic current events, this speech that President George W. Bush gave to the National Endowment for Democracy back in 2003 has become a masterpiece.  The focus of the speech was the demise of dictatorships and rise of democracy that would soon spread across Muslim nations of the Mideast with the example in Iraq as a beacon.  And to think, all those people thought GWB had no clue whatsoever.  I think this speech will be the one used in the history books to define his legacy and it is most definitely.. worth a read..  I had a hard time picking an excerpt, but I think this works.

 "... This is a massive and difficult undertaking -- it is worth our effort, it is worth our sacrifice, because we know the stakes. The failure of Iraqi democracy would embolden terrorists around the world, increase dangers to the American people, and extinguish the hopes of millions in the region. Iraqi democracy will succeed -- and that success will send forth the news, from Damascus to Teheran -- that freedom can be the future of every nation. (Applause.) The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution. (Applause.)

Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe -- because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export. And with the spread of weapons that can bring catastrophic harm to our country and to our friends, it would be reckless to accept the status quo. (Applause.)

Therefore, the United States has adopted a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. This strategy requires the same persistence and energy and idealism we have shown before. And it will yield the same results. As in Europe, as in Asia, as in every region of the world, the advance of freedom leads to peace. (Applause.) 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Revolution is fun until a chunk of concrete hits you in the head.

Supporters of President Hosni Mubarak (top) and anti-government demonstrators clash in Tahrir Square in Cairo February 2, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
There were those who took the position after Saddam Hussein had been deposed and Iraq was thrust into a violent and bloody sectarian war that perhaps the people of Iraq were better off with a strongman dictator in charge than to have opposing militant tribes fighting bloody turf wars in the villages.  It was a pessimistic view and I disagreed with it.  I referred to that line of thinking as the Saddam the Benevolent Zookeeper theory.  All those animals need a zookeeper.  A fine example of soft racism of lowered expectations.

And now in Egypt, supporters of Hosni Mubarak have taken to the streets to engage the anti-Mubarak  crowd.  And not just by standing on the opposite corner and shouting chants at each other.  No, its more like a scene from Braveheart.  People throwing fist-sized rocks at the other side.   People with whips and chains riding on horses storming into the crowd.  This is some serious anger on display here.  This is a worse situation in my mind than all the people joining together to fight the police.  This is chaos.  It might get much worse before it gets better. 

In a post-Mubarak Egypt, I wonder how long it will take for these opposing sides to come back together and cooperate in some sort of functional representative Government. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Epic Video with a timely theme Foo Fighters - The Pretender

Send in your skeletons
Sing as their bones go marching in, again.
They need you buried deep
The secrets that you keep are at the ready
Are you ready?

Thomas Jefferson, George W. Bush and the events in Egypt

Protesters flee from tear gas fire during clashes in Cairo, January 28, 2011.
REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

The revolution in Egypt has provided a reminder to all those who govern that their power ultimately rests with the people.  They can be oppressed, coerced, imprisoned and controlled for a while, but eventually the human desire for liberty will overcome the fear of recrimination.  One of the greatest political minds of all time, our own Thomas Jefferson had quite a bit to say on this subject and its worth a few minutes to reflect on some of his quotes in light of the current events in Egypt.

In my opinion, George W. Bush (through the efforts and sacrifices of the US Military) did more to enable Jefferson's optimistic vision for human liberty than any other President in my lifetime.  And one could argue if liberty was really a goal or just a convenient excuse for the war in Iraq, but its difficult to argue that GWB "kicked over the tables" in order to preserve the staus quo.  Maybe Bush was right and the example of a functional representative government in Iraq would stir an awakening for others in the region.  Perhaps liberty is not out of reach for them after all.  

Some selected quotations from Thomas Jefferson...  

1775 June 26-July 6. (Declaration of the Causes and Necessity for Taking Up Arms) "Our attachment to no nation upon earth should supplant our attachment to liberty."

1820 Dec. 26. (to Marquis de Lafayette) "The disease of liberty is catching; those armies will take it in the south, carry it thence to their own country, spread there the infection of revolution and representative government, and raise its people from the prone condition of brutes to the erect altitude of man."

1823 (to M Caray, vii 318)  " Possessing ourselves the combined blessing of liberty and order, we wish the same to other countries."

1795 (to Tench Coxe, Ford Ed. vii 22) "The ball of liberty is now so well in motion it will roll round the globe."

1807 (Reply to Address, viii 119) "I sincerely pray that all the members of the human family may, in the time proscribed by the Father of us all, find themselves securely established in the enjoyment of liberty."

1799 (to Elbridge Gerry, iv, 268. Ford Ed., vii 328.) "I am not for joining in the confederacy of kings to war against the principles of liberty."

Now, its also very clear that Jefferson was set against any form of religious authority imposing its will on the people, so I'm sure he wouldn't be in favor of an Islamic regime replacing the current dictatorship in Egypt.  However, I think based on the political strategies he employed regarding the subject of slavery, he would accept that liberty may not come for all at once, rather its a tree that grows from a sapling.  When the masses recognize the ultimate power resides in them, the tree grows roots.