Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

There’s No Place Like CounterPunch

There's no place like CounterPunch, it's just that simple. And as the radical space within the "alternative media"(whatever that means) landscape continues to shrink, sanctuaries such as CounterPunch become all the more crucial for our political, intellectual, and moral survival. Add to that the fact that CounterPunch won't inundate you with ads and corporate propaganda. So it should be clear why CounterPunch needs your support: so it can keep doing what it's been doing for nearly 25 years. As CP Editor, Jeffrey St. Clair, succinctly explained, "We lure you in, and then punch you in the kidneys." Pleasant and true though that may be, the hard-working CP staff is more than just a few grunts greasing the gears of the status quo.

So come on, be a pal, make a tax deductible donation to CounterPunch today to support our annual fund drive, if you have already donated we thank you! If you haven't, do it because you want to. Do it because you know what CounterPunch is worth. Do it because CounterPunch needs you. Every dollar is tax-deductible. (PayPal accepted)

Thank you,
Eric Draitser

The Radical Extremists of the Building Industry


“No better time to buy a new home, no better place” reads the faux headline in The Miami Herald paid advertisement section for real estate; describing a platted subdivision in Homestead, Florida. It is a line for suckers.

And another line, comes out as a whine:  “If families who want to buy a new home wait for the media to tell them things are better, it will be too late and the deals won’t be there.” It’s pure nonsense.

At, real estate consultant Jack McCabe notes: “There were 272 single family homes sold last month in Miami Dade County. … Puny Tallahassee and Pensacola sold nearly as many even though the areas population and housing stock are but a fraction of Dade.”

The reason there are few buyers in Miami is a massive oversupply of housing, fomented by zoning decisions at the level of the county commission, influenced by builders like Caribe Homes and their compatriots at the Latin Builders Association. To be sure, the builders couldn’t have pressed their case without cooperating mortgage brokers, a fair share of liar loans and fraud, bankers supplying easy credit like drug dealers to crack addicts, and freshly minted MBA math whizzes doing their seniors proud by taking a dollar of equity and turning it into twenty of debt, well outside the purview of regulators who- for their part–were cajoled and wheedled to let the “free” market do its magic.

In Miami, county commissioners whose campaigns were funded by wringing the supply chain of the builders, from suppliers of cement to paper products, never saw an application for housing that it wouldn’t turn down; fine tuning the run-up to the biggest asset bubble in housing since the 1920’s. (AP reports today that Lowe’s Home Improvement suffered an 18 percent drop in first quarter earnings: said one investment analyst, “We have yet to see trends get less worse.”)

In the past year, home prices in Miami have fallen nearly 22% (Case/Shiller S&P Housing Index), one of the most rapid declines in the nation. Loads of homeowners in Miami hinterlands, who thought they were buying cheap land undervalued near the Everglades, now find themselves with unaffordable commutes to distant places of work, stewing impotently in unrelenting traffic.

Today in Miami there is no bottom to the housing market in sight. Hundreds of acres of Mediterranean tiles coat subdivisions on former farmland in South and West Dade like ash from Everglades’ fires; those tiles are the pride of the Chamber of Commerce and the hoi polloi of Miami who blasted critics, at the time, as “elitist” and worse.

“If you don’t buy now, you’ll never be able to afford to” was how the early tranche of buyers were suckered in. There are other tranches of suckers, and their voices are going to be heard loud and clear in the Fall elections.

Those would be hard-working Americans, retirees, and people who balance their checkbook every month, only spend what they can afford on housing, and are now–because they are also US taxpayers–are on the hook for toxic mortgage debt sold by Wall Street and local bankers who already pocketed their billions in commissions and fees for engineered financial products that leveraged down deposits into confection.

Here is the lesson: if you are good and honest and set a good example for your children through fiscal prudence, the housing fiasco shows that as a taxpayer, you are complete sucker. Let’s total the cost, that may ultimately fall on your shoulders.

To the $300 billion in realized losses by investment banks, add $300 billion in private toxic debt accepted as collateral by the Federal Reserve– an unprecedented action by the “independent” lender of last resort– to keep JP Morgan and others afloat, add $300 billion now under consideration by Congress in the bailout of mortgage holders who are at risk of foreclosure.

The trillion dollar financial crisis may not ruin the US economy on which your job may or may not depend, but add to that the wars in the Middle East that the Bush administration claims cost only $600 million but that Nobel economist Joseph Steiglitz estimates at $3 trillion, and suddenly the calamity is a significant chunk of GDP, combined with the loss of investor confidence in the US dollar, and now the trillion dollar financial crisis has to be ratched up two or three times just to factor in malfeasance and other less worse inefficiencies of regulators trying to cover their asses.

And now you get a sense why Caribe Homes’ Leeward Isles II is leeward of nowhere and represents for all its false promise, the failure of the growth model for Florida.

If you want to know what voters think of the mess, just wait until the Fall  election because it is apparent– notwithstanding the tired advertising gimmicks that abound– that while ordinary Floridians were practicing conservative economics at home, in Tallahassee and Washington the party of fiscal conservatism, that would be the Republican Party, was doing the governmental equivalent of “Girls Gone Wild” with the nation’s economy.

The State of Florida, in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, is tapping a $3 billion reserve to cover this year’s budget deficits. No, it’s not the media’s fault.

It’s the builders’ fault for pushing an anti-citizen, pro-growth at any cost agenda, so hard– so massively, that the only way out of the crisis was to turn the Federal Reserve into a political arm of the federal government. And in Florida, the builders’ response to throttle Florida Hometown Democracy: the signature referendum to qualify a measure that would take growth plan amendments out of the hands of elected officials and put it in the hands of voters: who could possibly think it is a penalty to the economy when the Growth Machine has done such a fine and thorough job of running the economy straight onto the rocks?

Citizens in South Florida have every reason to be angry that land speculators, under water, are rushing to turn plans for subdivisions into mines for lime rock; gutting the Everglades to save their hides; and still, in the case of Jeb Bush’s Miami ally Ed Easton and Lennar, trying to get zoning rammed through for thousands additional homes edging westward.

Americans are angry, without fully knowing why. This is a teaching moment, and it is the responsibility of the free and independent press to show exactly how the political forces behind the housing boom caused the entire economy to veer crazily–straight to the point of systemic failure.

And it is important for Florida’s media to show how the influence of our state’s builders and Growth Machine in Washington nurtured this national economic calamity, predicated as it was on the abandonment of regulation or, at the very least, the gutting of regulatory agencies to smooth the way for creative destruction.

Today, the US economy is not leeward of any safe shore. If you think now is the best time to buy into US housing: think again. After foreclosures set new pegs for the housing markets and inflation is supported by the Federal Reserve to be de facto monetary policy, you will see a different set of values– and new values in American politics.

Note: If you would like to learn more about how the radical extremists from the building industry, like Miami’s Latin Builders Association, got away with it: click here.

ALAN FARAGO lives in south Florida. He can be reached at:

Alan Farago is president of Friends of the Everglades and can be reached at

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians