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Putin can’t destroy our cities. The Democrats already did.

Posted by John Reed on

Citibank moving from NYC to Sioux Falls

In 1981, Citibank in NYC did something that I as a real estate investment writer recognizes was earth shattering. They moved their credit card processing from NYC to Sioux Falls, SD.
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At the time, that was unheard of. Citibank was a long-time huge bank headquartered in NYC. How and why could they move such a big operation so far away and to the boondocks, no less, not Chicago of LA?

Satellites and no interest rate limits

Two reasons. Satellite communications had been invented and was ready for prime time. I graduated from the first satellite Communications Officer course in the US Army in 1969. And SD ended usury limits on credit cards. SD is not a top state in such processing centers.
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The Death of Distance

They say the three most important things in real estate—also in retail—are location, location, and location. Location really means short DISTANCE from complementary activities like homes, mass transit, workplaces, restaurants, grocery stores, schools, etc.
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But with low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite communications, location is irrelevant, irrelevant, and irrelevant. Every inch of the earth’s surface is equal to whole earth LEO networks like Iridium.
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That is a bit less true for geosynchronous satellites. Those orbit above the equator at 22,236 miles altitude and their orbit is synchronized with the earth’s rotation so they seems to hover over one point on earth 24/7. Because they are above the equator, you cannot connect to them from regions near the poles nor on the opposite side of a mountain. But you CAN use geosynchronous satellite communications in Sioux Falls, SD and most other land places.
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Technically, HF radio also accomplished this in the late 1930s. The waves go all the way around the world by bouncing between the ionosphere and the ground. It is also called ham radio of shortwave radio, but it was cumbersome, required a license to use, and had limited capacity for the whole world to suddenly start using it for routine business calls.
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There was a book written in 1997 titled The Death of Distance. I did not like the book, but the title was profoundly correct. With satellite communications, distance does not matter at all. Distance matters to those INSTALLING cable and cell phone towers and microwave towers.
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But once they are installed, they are also reasons why distance no longer matters regarding those areas who have those communications services.
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Location, location, and location

My second adult career after I got out of the Army was brick-and-mortar real estate investment. In other words, location, location, and location. But space and and other communications technology made location irrelevant for many important purposes. Not all, of course. Distance still matters for the care and feeding of humans and their pets and vehicles.
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Dispersion

This created a sea change potential that I called “dispersion.” I subsequently wrote many articles about the effect of dispersion on real estate in America.
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Picture a map of America. Not a topographical map that shows altitude, just a flat road map. Now add a third dimension showing property values per square foot in the form of squares rising from the real estate in question. Before 1981, the tallest property value squares would have been in the Central Business Districts: Fifth Avenue, Park Avenue, Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, Market Street In Philadelphia, Union Square in San Francisco, and so on.
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Technological ‘erosion’

No more. I said communications technology innovations were falling on that property-value map like rain on mountains and “eroding” the values—“washing” them into the valleys like mountain top dirt ending up as valley meadows in nature. This is dispersion.
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Less vulnerability to nuclear war

Dispersion was the stated goal of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) when it came up with a way to disperse communications nodes so that the US could not be blacked out by nuclear attacks on major cities. The result of that research project was the Internet. It is designed so that if you send an email, and nukes hit say 50 US cities, the email will automatically and instantly be rerouted to other pathways and get through as if the nukes never happened.
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Remote working

I have been working from home as a writer since February 1978. I was not the only one. Slowly, more and more Americans were doing that. Then covid hit and there was an explosion of remote working and Zoom calls. No matter how much covid recedes as a cause of death, it appears we are never going back to the office building work mode for work that can be done via cable or cell phone or satellite.
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Continuing my rain and erosion analogy, covid remote working has been like an atmospheric river rainfall, Noah’s Ark rain. Dispersion on steroids. DARPA on steroids.
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DARPA was about making us less vulnerable to nuclear war disruption. All the new communications technology has accelerated the departure of business activity from the cities that widespread ownership of cars caused starting in the 1950s.
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The Democrat destroy-the-cities party

Also, the 1960s Civil Rights Era caused to Democrat party to decide to become the party of blacks. (Until then, they were literally the party of slavery and segregation. That change was sort of transgender-like before gender dysphoria was cool.)
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More recently, they also became the party of the teachers unions.
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A perfect storm hit America’s cities. Cheap cars and the rise of the suburbs, exodus of middle and upperclass citizens from the cities leaving poor people and criminals, ascension of Democrat mayors and city councils who, in turn, catered to the poor and accelerated the decline of the cities into their current high crime, failed public schools, “homeless” drug addicts, smash-and-grab shoplifters, anti-business laws and regulation, high taxes on business, pro-union, bankrupt municipal governments, backbreaking unfunded pension obligations, crumbling infrastructure, insane woke policies of all kinds, and more.
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China is vulnerable to nuclear attack; us, not so much

In the 1950s and before, most people lived, worked, and studied in the cities commuting on mass transit. They had no car and no place to park one. This is still the situation in Europe and China. So we can still destroy China’s economy and people with nukes on cities. 
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I am not sure about whether Russia is still a big-city, mass transit economy.
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All of America is now Los Angeles suburbanization-wise

Los Angeles was described as far back as 1925 as “nineteen suburbs in search of a metropolis.” Los Angeles is now 88 cities and 140 unincorporated areas in search of a city. What is the main street in the LA Central Business District—their Wall Street or Fifth Avenue or Park Avenue? You can’t say, can you? Me either. They have a little group of mid-and high-rises, but they are a bit out of character.
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Now, more than ever in the suburbanization of America since the 1950s, we have become a nation of thousands of suburbs in search of some cities.
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Few nuclear weapons targets

That also makes us a nation with few nuclear weapons targets. DARPA was intended only to disperse communications hubs. It along with other communications technology and the Democrats becoming the party of big-city destruction has dispersed not only communications, but virtually the entire productive segment of American society into the suburbs which are not cost-effective nuclear warhead targets.
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As with 9/11, there is some symbolic benefit to our enemies nuking Times Square or The White House, but that’s like sinking enemy battleships in WW II. Obsolete targets.
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Not Star Wars, Democrat policies

Gorbachev was worried about star wars anti-missile missiles nullifying his country’s main claim to fame: its nuclear warheads. Now, so stealthily that no one notices, we nullified nuclear weapons, not with star wars, but with the Internet, cell phones, satellite communications, widespread car ownership, remote working. The Russians can no longer destroy our cities because the Democrat party already did.

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