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Los Angeles and the ‘Good German’ Syndrome

The city
cries out for leadership and all we get is a freeloader for mayor and a bunch
of know-nothings for Council members who quibble about whose motion goes first
and who’s more ignorant than the other.


It’s just
not good enough anymore.


We’ve got
to do better.


The quality
of our lives and our hopes for the future are at stake.


Our city
should be a celebration of freedom and justice and opportunity where ordinary people
from all over the world stake out their dreams of happiness.


Isn’t that what
the spirit of Los Angeles
is all about?


Instead, we
are a failing city. FAILURE. It’s unthinkable that the promise of this blessed
City of Angels should be so broken, that the city should be so broke, so bankrupt
of leadership when so many from the richest to the poorest, from every race and
class, knows how wonderful our place in the sun should be.


What we have
made of this paradise is a crime — from our gang-infested neighborhoods to our
polluted waters and air, from our congested roads to our aging infrastructure.
It is as if we are in a downward spiral of self-destruction, a city divided into the rich and poor with a vanishing middle class.


But why? Greed?
 Selfishness? Stupidity?


I, for one,
cannot explain it. I cannot explain how so many smart, educated, influential
people can stand by and go along with this death dance when they all know
better. Even the fools and crooks glimmer something better. And most certainly
the vast majority of ordinary people see exactly what is going on and all too
often look the other way, lock themselves in prisons of apathy, defeatism and


Are we all
like the Good Germans of another era deluding ourselves that what is wrong will
soon pass and all will be right again, that what we see around us isn’t really happening?


Our world is changing in fundamental ways, economically 
environmentally, socially, culturally.


A new age
is being born and we are living in the past. What was normal has been and is gone. The future is uncertain. Only change is
certain. Yet, every day we continue behaving as we have long behaved, only making
matters worse. It’s same old, same old all the time.


We must
embrace change and reform our ways of doing business in the marketplace, in the
halls of political power, in our communities.


We must
restore honesty and integrity to our relationships and dealings with one
another. We must respect each other, and prove that we deserve each other’s


I struggle
all the time to find the words that express my deepest experience and always
come far short. This is just one more attempt.


So is my
latest effort to trigger reform through LA Clean Sweep (, just
another blind man’s stab in the darkness to find a ray hope, to find a way to
change the balance of power so that every segment of our society and every
individual feels at least a small piece of ownership, at least a small power to
affect things, a sense of belonging and being part of something greater.


Where are
the leaders who will guide us into the unknown? Who among us will find the
courage to speak the truth and face the wrath of the voices of the past
striving to hold us back?


It doesn’t
have to be this way. This is a democracy and we are free to make different
choices. We can come together and work for something better. We can turn
failure into success. We can achieve great things and make this a great city.


Yes, we can
… or we can passively stand by, like helpless children, victims of a system
that holds us captive and is failing us all, rich and poor and everyone in between.

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10 Responses to Los Angeles and the ‘Good German’ Syndrome

  1. Anonymous says:

    I ponder this question almost everyday.
    It’s as if the system will have to break first in order to get enough people to pay attention (i.e. vote) so that it doesn’t break again. People just don’t seem to want to spend enough time to learn about the issues to the depth we have to know just how bad the lack of leadership already is and the consequence it has already had.
    I sometimes think that a huge corruption scandal is part of our evolution as a city, something NYC and Chicago already went through in centuries past.
    Keep up the message Ron, people are listening and good people are searching for ways to steer us back onto a true course of serving everyone…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ron, it seems that you are fighting a lone battle. There are thousands who benefit from the current system and don’t want any change. For eg. developers, the pot shop owners, the billboard companies and similar parasites; the city employees all 50,000 of them who are doing extremely well under the current leadership. Who is left. The wealthy who don’t care and the uninformed poor. If we can galvanize the remaining middle class, we have a fighting chance.

  3. Walter Moore says:

    The only thing that gives me any hope is that the turnout for these elections is so breathtakingly low, that good candidates could win if even a handful of normal people wake up, pay attention and vote.
    Some of these clowns are in office with fewer than 10,000 votes — in a City with four million people, and something like 1.9 million registered voters.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Walter, politics is all about timing. Which District do you live in. I believe you have earned your colors in the last few months. Run for a Council seat. We need a few good men and women.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The Mayor has brought ridicule, dishonor, disgrace and shame to himself and to the city, and yet we have a major LA Slimes columnist writing about how popular the Mayor is. Either everyone in this city is deluded about celebrity or we have no ethics or morals left where we can no longer distinguish between right and wrong. It is a challenge either way.

  6. Anonymous says:

    What you describe Ron isn’t happening only to Los Angeles, but to the entire country.
    For over two months, one-third of country has been facing environmental destruction on a scale none of us can really grasp. Where is the anger? The outrage? The riots?
    Instead, night after night, people sit in front of their various tubes feeling more and more distanced from all of their environments – home, work, everywhere. They listen to a profit driven media which fills their heads with worthless and fear based knowledge that haunts their dreams and thoughts and wearies their hopes.
    I think our forefathers would be ashamed of all of us if they only knew what Walter said – that the minority could dictate the future of this city (or country)if they voted.
    Do I have hope? I do. I have to.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The general public can’t handle the truth. Perhaps Jerry Brown will speak the truth, he has nothing to lose…Is reality that stark? We’ve created our realities, policies, dysfunctions…Has the age of Enlightenment given way to modern techno-social dysfunctions? What happen to our great universities? Is regentrification the answer? Why do we study Max Weber, and his “iron cage”? Emile Durkheim’s concept of “anomie”?
    Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy”? Paulo Freire’s PEDAGOGY of the OPPRESSED?..Voltaire?…ETC..ETC…It seems the rules have changed…to whose benefit?…Where does this leave our changing Civil Societies? No matter who sits in our political offices, these “leaders” will not be able to do the “incredible” alone…it will take the everyday heroes who we share work, conversations, and meals with…the Mayor and his team need to pause, and start making it better for everyone…not for themselves or a few…normally, when people do the right thing, everything works out…anybody can break rules, but it is a lot harder to follow them…Thank God most people don’t drive through red lights….maybe it’s self-preservation…for whom?

  8. NoHo Mom says:

    People are being really philosophical on this thread…
    I think the main issue is that so many people move here for the entertainment industry, and once you do your whole mentality is based on hope for the future. So much relies on luck for you to be successful. Luck and the right people knowing who you are. It forces you to be very focused on yourself, and your allegiance is to the people who can get you work.
    Once I became a homeowner my relationship to the city changed, mostly because I was forced to deal with it and its endless fees and stupid policies much more than before. The problem is so many young, middle class residents never get to homeownership in the entertainment business. They rent while living hand to mouth. They don’t have time to pay attention to the city, they’re still worried about the SAG/AFTRA rift.
    Frankly, the case needs to be made that the city’s boneheaded policies (and the state’s) have resulted in some reduced production here. That might get their attention…
    Okay, back to regularly scheduled programming.

  9. Anonymous says:

    “I sometimes think that a huge corruption scandal is part of our evolution as a city, something NYC and Chicago already went through in centuries past.
    Keep up the message Ron, people are listening and good people are searching for ways to steer us back onto a true course of serving everyone…”
    This says it all for me, we cannot give up and
    you are our reporter and we need you. You inspire people, like Moore, James, McIntyre,
    and all the rest of us. I think I have a ride
    lined up for July 17 (LACLEANSWEEP). Hope to see a lot of people there. TH

  10. Anonymous says:

    To anon 8:06 p.m., honesty always extracts a price and everyone has something to lose. Greatness lies in willing to pay that price for principles, just as some rules need to be broken to achieve a more just society. To quote Shelley from the “The masque of Anarchy”,
    “Rise like Lions after slumber
    In unvanquishable number,
    Shake your chains to earth like dew
    Which in sleep had fallen on you-
    Ye are many — they are few”

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