BIAW: environmentalists caused the Great Recession

mccabeThe Building Industry Association of Washington’s Tom McCabe is an idiot, an asshole and a liar:

So this is what it looks like when the extreme environmentalists get their way.

For two decades, enviros in our state have been striving to shut down homebuilding.

No-growthers have argued, litigated, legislated, and lobbied for every law, regulation, tax and impact fee designed to stop homebuilders from building homes.

Enviro groups with righteous-sounding names like Futurewise and Earth First! fight against virtually every single development and every single homebuilder.

State and local government agencies such as the Department of Ecology and the Puget Sound Partnership join the fray as well.

All these self-anointed priests of nature want to stop growth. Well, they succeeded.

Growth has stopped. Housing starts in our state have been reduced 67 percent (from 52,000 to 17,000) since 2005.

The enviros won.

McCabe then goes on to list the litany of economic woes allegedly caused by environmentalism run amuck, including skyrocketing unemployment, a ballooning, multi-billion dollar state budget deficit, a decline in charitable giving, and even the collapse of the newspaper industry. Which begs the question: how confident is McCabe in the rationale behind the BIAW’s political and policy agenda that he and his organization seem so keen on aggressively courting the stupid vote?

Really, how absolutely imbecilic or even anencephalic do you have to be to believe that the Great Recession was caused by excessive environmental regulation rather than, say, the catastrophic, nationwide collapse of the housing bubble and the fantasy-collateralized mortgage industry that inflated it? I mean, doesn’t the minimum mental capacity necessary to read McCabe’s column already make one too smart to fall for his laughable line of unreason? Hell, I feel kinda dumb just bothering to refute him.

For years, the BIAW and its members profited handsomely off an unsustainable housing market fueled by cheap-money induced visions of endless double-digit appreciation, and now that they’ve come down from their trippy, mortgage-fraud-huffing high, they blame the enviros? (You know, just like they blamed the enviros for the Holocaust.) No wonder the BIAW is attempting to pad its coffers with a self-serving, workers compensation privatization initiative; all that crack they’ve been smoking must cost a lot of money.

(And for those of you who have trouble discerning the difference between metaphor and allegory… yes, I am accusing McCabe of smoking a lot of crack. He’s a base crazy, crackerjacked, political bag bride. How else to explain his column?)

I’m just sayin’.


  1. 2

    Bluecollar Libertarian spews:

    There is some work to support the idea that environmental regulation drive up the costs of housing but that did not cause the problems we are seeing today.

    There are two articles on the issue that make for interesting reading. One is from Business Week, Oct 9, 2008 titled “They warned us about the Mortgage Crisis”. An excellent look at the office of the Comptroller of the Currency during the Bush Administration. The second is from the Mercator Center of George Mason University and titled “Gambling with other People’s Money” by Russell Roberts. Both of these provide some excellent insight into the problem. I’ll let someone else dig for the urls to these two articles. I have other work to do. Enjoy.

  2. 3

    SuperSteve spews:

    The “newspaper” that ran this crap – the Port Orchard Independent – has a long history of supporting right-wing propaganda, even letting it bleed over from their editorial page and into their news coverage – they claim to be a local, hometown newspaper while running anything submitted by Republicans from far outside their community but either ignoring or editing-to-death anything a local liberal submits.

    That paper is about as “independent” as Fox News is “fair and balanced.”

  3. 5

    slingshot spews:

    Uncle Tom McCabe seems to be simply following the right wing play book. Propose the most off-the-wall concoction, and lay it at the feet of “liberals”. The nutniks are pounding their drums and beating their chests out in the hinterland.

  4. 6

    MikeBoyScout spews:

    There’s a grand opportunity to begin real estate development on the now broken away 250-square-kilometre behemoth Petermann Glacier-described as four times the size of Manhattan.

    Get in on the ground floor of this once in a generation chance to live in a tax free paradise, unencumbered by nationalist tax policy, with no need to run an air conditioner during record setting summer heat waves.

    Don’t wait! There are not many glaciers left and space on the Petermann Glacier is expected to disappear fast.

  5. 7

    Deathfrogg spews:


    “Fascists seek to organize a nation on corporatist perspectives; values; and systems such as the political system and the economy.”

    – Wiarda, Howard J. Corporatism and comparative politics. M.E. Sharpe, 1996. p. 12.
    – ^ E.G. Noel O’Sullivan’s five major themes of fascism are: corporatism, revolution, the leader principle, messianic faith, and autarky. The Fascism Reader by Aristotle A. Kallis says, “1. Corporatism. The most important claim made by fascism was that it alone could offer the creative prospect of a ‘third way’ between capitalism and socialism. Adolf Hitler, in Mein Kampf, spoke enthusiastically about the ‘National Socialist corporative idea’ as one which would eventually ‘take the place of ruinous class warfare'; whilst Benito Mussolini, in typically extravagant fashion, declared that ‘the Corporative System is destined to become the civilization of the twentieth century.'”

    I submit that the BIAW, being a private club that really only seems to exist for the purposes of extracting taxpayers money in the form of workmens compensation refunds for itself, and refusing to disperse that money back to the actual construction companies that paid into the system, is in fact a sponsor and supporter of the fascist concept of economics.

    Most small start-up construction companies are told from the beginning that they cannot even be allowed to do business as such until they pay a certain minimum of “protection money” to the BIAW, who then will carefully select what contracts and projects they are allowed to do as long as they continue to pay for the privilege of membership.

    You want better contracts? Pay us. You want to bypass inspection requirements? Pay us. You want expedited permits? Pay us. You want lower payouts to the workmens compensation fund? Pay us, but then we keep the yearly refund, even if you had no workers injury claims at all that year.

    Non-member companies are often prevented from even accessing the market, slandered and libeled in the industry and are subjected to a privately run complaint process that has no accountability to anyone except for the organization itself, and that organization is corrupted in favor of the largest shareholder construction firms.

    All the BIAW is, is a “union” for well connected and wealthy large construction firms to lock up the market for themselves, and exclude anyone who doesn’t want to pay into their system or submit to their own bizarre notions of what constitutes good construction practices, all while extracting taxpayers money and funneling it back into itself for use in political campaigns and lobbying efforts in the Legislature.

    The member companies consistently build large, elaborate and highly decorated houses or condominiums that really have no real craftsmanship to them, and the construction tends to be cheap, shoddy and fast. Cheap materials, cheap, minimalist structural engineering and cheap, unskilled labor is the totality of their construction methods.

    When farmers have to compete with large construction corporations for usable land, the well-heeled and politically connected construction companies will always win.

    Farmers cannot sponsor and finance expensive political campaigns and pay for lobbying by $400 an hour lawyers to re-write land use laws. Construction corporations can, and do every day, at the National and State and local levels.

    We cannot continue to bulldoze forests and watersheds and farmland to build cheap, overly decorated mega-mcmansions on, when so much farmland and natural landscape has already been paved over and covered in mini-malls and condominiums. We are running out of places to put farms, and running out of trees to cut down for lumber, and running out of fresh water resources.

    You want to see what large conglomerates do when they are allowed to ignore and manipulate zoning restrictions and bribe inspectors, look at the east Oakland Hills, Orange and San Diego counties in California. Ken Behring made his fortune this way. Gigantic housing tracts, with no open spaces, no parks, no schools, and no traffic mitigation. Then everyone who buys into these new neighborhoods get the wake-up when they try to send their kids to local schools, walk to the local park and drive to work in the morning.

    So they blame the environmentalists, who pointed out these and other potential problems before the construction processes even began. They blame the environmentalists when their gigantic housing complexes don’t sell out as fast as their own projections said they would. They blame the environmentalists when the banks foreclose on their construction firms when they borrow too much against their own companies to finance the pleasure boats, racecars and mcmansions they buy for themselves.

    BIAW is just another mafia, another protection racket. As long as they continue to operate as such, they will be treated as such. Whatever tools it takes.

  6. 8

    Zotz sez: Puddybud is just another word for arschloch spews:

    That was some righteous shit, frogg. Well done!

  7. 9

    Zotz sez: Puddybud is just another word for arschloch spews:

    @4: Lary Coppola with well known connections to Timmah! and his crap. It’s all of a piece.

    Note context: Kitsap is in the process of updating its shoreline rules. There will be blood…

  8. 10

    Salsamanca spews:

    Number of the Week: 103 Months to Clear Housing Inventory

    The BIAW hasn’t accepted the fact that the party is over. How will building more when there is no demand help people who cannot sell their home or raise the value of existing homes? Let the taxpayers worry about that detail?

    In regard to crack. Without mega campaign contributions all the crack kissing will dry up. But then I thought the BIAW was against crack lovin.

  9. 12

    YellowPup spews:

    Where is Joel on journalistic decorum?

    BTW, great photo, it really puts the comments into proper perspective.

  10. 13

    slingshot spews:

    @7, You hit the nail on the head, Frogg.

    @9, Larry Coppola is now the mayor of Port Orchard. He got busted a while back for DUI after having “dinner” with the chief of police. He’s also the publisher of the hard core pro-business Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal which, coincendentally contains a multi-page section of BIAW bullshit every edition.

  11. 14

    Steve spews:

    I wonder if Goldy plays into McCabe’s hand. I’m not saying that McCabe’s is a winning hand. It’s a loser, as is the larger ideology behind it. But it seems to me that if they get a draw out of it, BIAW effectively wins. They obviously want the subject of storm water runoff through developed land to descend into some pissing match about commie-fascism. They may be evil, but they’re not stupid. They cunningly favor the simplicity of the left-right paradigm. I wonder if this is where Goldy plays into their hand.

    Civil engineering, one of the disciplines involved in state SEPA law, involves a little more than just an understanding that water runs downhill. heh- They learn that in Civil Engineering 101. Now, you can take something like the previous sentence and use it to get a rise out out of a civil engineer. And I can tell you from personal experience, it’s a lot of fun. I wonder if what would be really beneficial would be to have someone step up who has a deep understanding of the issues, a wicked sense of humor, who has an eye to improving the flaws in storm water law, who can slice and dice the likes of a McCabe, educate the reader, and leaving them laughing with tears.

    OK, maybe we can’t find that guy. In lieu of that, I’d like to see Goldy consider finding a collaborator to assist him in steering this issue away from the commie-fascist pigpen where McCabe wants this to go. I suggest that Goldy go after McCabe with a combination of the two things he must fear most – education of the people on the issue, and having those same people laughing hysterically at him and the BIAW.

    I showed up here a couple of years ago because I was pissed at the BIAW and Goldy was going off on them. Then I would have lapped Goldy’s post up. Today I find myself mildly disappointed.

  12. 15

    notaboomer spews:

    ot purity troll post of the day: Indicted lobbyist gave generously to Rep. Norm Dicks


    Chris Stefan spews:

    Purity troll much? Unless you are a Republican DelBene is going to be 1000 times better than Reichert.

    For that matter she’ll likely be better than McDermott because she’ll actually be able to get something done and move legislation. Will she be better than Inslee or Dicks? Probably not, but those are both very high bars to clear.
    08/06/2010 at 5:37 pm

  13. 16

    Mike spews:

    You would think the dude would notice all of the money to be made by embracing sound environmental practices in the building trade.

  14. 17

    Chris Stefan spews:

    Oh sorry, my bad for thinking any elected official could meet your high standards.

    I guess we should just throw the incumbents out every election to “teach both parties a lesson”.

  15. 18

    ArtFart spews:

    @16 All McCabe knows about is hiring non-union (and largely undocumented) crews to nail two-by-fours together into gingerbread McMansions and Leningrad-esque cardboard condo blocks. Somehow, he and his pals’ beer-soaked brains are incapable of comprehending that the reason they’re not able to do that anymore is that nobody’s paying them to, because nobody has the money.

  16. 19

    ArtFart spews:

    We returned last week from a stay at our timeshare at Kala Point, which we picked up for a song because after 20-plus years a lot of the original owners were selling because they were getting too old to use them.

    We observed that in Jefferson County (not so much in Port Townsend as elsewhere) there appear to be a lot of campaign signs for Rossi, Clint Didier and other Republican/Tea Party candidates. Somehow it seems a great many of those are posted in front of homes that also have “FOR SALE” signs.

  17. 20

    Siberian Dog spews:

    Not sure what growth the jackass is claiming was stopped by environmentalists in Port Orchard. Kitsap County has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years, with new housing developments and giant shopping centers all over the place, including in Port Orchard. Doesn’t look to me like you need a building permit there at all, let alone having them get stopped by environmentalists. This guy is just full of shit. Plus he’s ugly.

  18. 21

    Milo spews:

    I’m no economist, but all those streets and driveways with no homes in North Bothell aren’t stalled by no environmental laws,,,they wiped out alot of greenbelts for nothin

  19. 22


    Really, how absolutely imbecilic or even anencephalic do you have to be to believe that the Great Recession was caused by excessive environmental regulation rather than, say, the catastrophic, nationwide collapse of the housing bubble and the fantasy-collateralized mortgage industry that inflated it?

    Only as much as you had to believe the CRA caused it all.

  20. 28

    MarkS spews:

    Hey Dipshit McCabe

    In 2007 some developer tore all the trees and existing houses down across the street from me to put in a 47 homes. Streets were paved, utilities run in and lawns were seeded. That was it. Then we the bottom fell out of the economy

    Three years later not a house has been built on that land. The geese loved eating the lawns however which are now mostly scotchbroom and other weeds.

    The freewheeling unregulated banks are to blame not the enviroment movement. Remember we had eight years of G DUhHbya.

  21. 29

    Don spews:

    If the BIAW wants to see what their handiwork has wrought, take a look at Las Vegas. The highest unemployment in the US, because after the building boom there, they are waking up to one massive hangover.

  22. 30

    sparky spews:

    Its not even the megamansions that are the problem…I see more an more ultra-cheaply built shack tracts, acres and acres of idential dwellings no more than a couple of feet apart, springing up all over. It is especially bad in east Pierce county and east Thurston county. The developers give them romantic sounding names such as “Sunset Ridge” or “Eagle Grove” but they are all ticky tacky developments that spring up overnight, and are pretty much just sitting empty right now.

  23. 31

    Deathfrogg spews:


    This is exactly right. Those housing tracts are overbuilt and mass-produced, with very few variations in the floor plans. It is the old Eichler method, basically modular design, much of it pre-manufactured and using inexpensive materials. Eichler was a mathematician who was really the first to apply modular, simplistic designs to architecture. California has housing tracts that are nothing but Eichler-based designs. They are all firetraps, and my dads house leaned over six inches during the Loma Prieta earthquake in 89.

    I could take you to several new developments in East King Co and Snohomish Co that are exactly like that. The houses are built to the maximum allowed for the lot size, and the lots are small. The nearest schools are miles away, and services like grocery stores and such are often left out of the picture when the developments are being initially planned. Public parks are considered wasted land, and are left out entirely unless local development requirements mandate them.

    The houses are extremely cheaply built, which in some ways is alright simply because not all home buyers can afford to have the best of everything, housing needs to be inexpensive and easily aquired for the common working citizen. That is what the American Dream is supposed to be about. Owning property, having a real place to call ones own.

    But when the drywall starts turning black after only a few months, and the pipes are dripping after only a couple years, and the driveway is cracking, and the softest corner of the foundation is settling into the mud that wasn’t drained properly, thats when seriously expensive issues become too much for that new homeowner to deal with.

    There are thousands of houses all over the country that are having such issues, in massive housing tracts that have already been sold out and the contractors and developers have already washed their hands of. The BIAW member companies all specialize in this sort of mass construction, and they are fully aware of the fact that they have no culpability where real quality is concerned. There is no craftsmanship anymore. Its just another form of mass-production. Quality is dead last in the list of priorities. Profit is first and foremost.

  24. 33

    Michael spews:

    Most of that ticky-tacky housing in East Pierce and Thurston counties will be vacant and moldering by 2015. The question is how are we going to reclaim that space so that drug cooking squatters don’t move in.

  25. 34

    Salsamanca spews:

    Evidently the enviros didn’t try hard enough otherwise we would not have the severe housing overhang. In Snohomish County this includes building all over the Swamp Creek Watershed, huge cheap houses, tiny lots, streets so narrow emergency vehicles have difficulty navigating, no sidewalks, and undesirable traffic. At all levels, the public can no longer provide the subsidies the BIAW has become accustomed to and so at some point they will have to function in a free market like everyone else.

  26. 35

    rhp6033 spews:

    Deathfrog @ 7 said:

    Most small start-up construction companies are told from the beginning that they cannot even be allowed to do business as such until they pay a certain minimum of “protection money” to the BIAW, who then will carefully select what contracts and projects they are allowed to do as long as they continue to pay for the privilege of membership.

    I’m no fan of the BIAW, but I have to wonder how you get to that conclusion. Exactly what barriers to market entry does the BIAW create?

  27. 36

    rhp6033 spews:

    Hey I’m willing to concede that environmental regulations add somewhat to the cost of new construction (though not nearly as much as the BIAW claims). But it’s not money “wasted”. The cost is paid by somebody, down the road – taxpayers who have to put in infrastructure to support the new development after the fact, salmon fisherman who see reduced catches after the streems become silted by runnoff, ect. Many of the environmental regulations are just making sure that the person who benefits most from the project pays the cost of reducing it’s impact on others to an acceptable level.

  28. 37

    rhp6033 spews:

    Gee that picture of McCabe reminds me of someone…

    Bubba, is that you? What got you out of the pig holler and all the way to the big city? You mean, somebody actually pays you to make up this stuff? Golll-eee-darnnnn!

  29. 38

    ArtFart spews:

    @31 It would somehow seem reasonable that housing at least be constructed well enough that, with reasonable maintenance, it will still be standing at the end of the terms of the initial mortgages.

  30. 39

    ArtFart spews:

    Speaking of drugs and banks, it’s now coming out that once they couldn’t make much more money writing sketchy mortgages and trading in derivatives, the big banks moved into a new line: laundering huge amounts of money for the Mexican drug cartels to buy jetliners to ship their products in.

  31. 40

    Salsamanca spews:

    The picture and the message remind me of something out of the stone age like: Barney Rubble from the Flintstones.

  32. 41

    Contemplate this, on the Tree of Woe spews:

    Why doesnt Bawney Fwank own up to the housing crash…after all, he’s the chairperson of fanny and freddie

    nah, he finds it easier to lie instead…

  33. 42

    rhp6033 spews:

    Art @ 39: There are currently hundreds of older commercial jets parked in the desert right now, a by-product of the downsizing that went on in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse, which hit the airline industry with like a boilermaker to the gut. Cargo shipping dropped to a fraction of it’s former level, and passenger traffic wasn’t much better. Airlines reduced capacity by parking all but the newest (and most fuel-efficient) aircraft in the desert, many never to be recalled.

    Right now Japan Airlines has announced it is going to get rid of all of it’s 747-400 short-range domestic configuration aircraft, as part of it’s bankruptcy reorganization. Lots of other airlines already had plans to take older aircraft out of service as they reached their maximum cycle limits. Lots of them are going to be scrapped because there simply isn’t enough of a market for them, especially with the heavy maintenance cost of “C” and “D” checks before they are airworthy again.

    So if the drug cartels are really buying airplanes, now is the time to do so. But I haven’t heard of them doing so, at least not on any scale which would form a blip in the markets. If they were, I would have seen it.

    But that doesn’t mean they aren’t buying some smaller regional jets, although their cargo capacity is terrible.

  34. 43

    Chris Stefan spews:

    Well a 747 full of coke is kind of obvious and hard to hide …

    If you want to move really large quanities of drugs you have to find a method where the drugs kind of get lost in the noise. Trans-border trucking or the odd container or two on a ship would seem to be better methods.

  35. 44

    Progressive TreeHugger spews:

    Trees are a renewable resource.
    I was disappointed when the environmental groups went too far several years ago and millions of acres of trees in Idaho/Montana/Wyoming burned. This could be another bad fire year with all the rain this spring. Seems like in trying to save every tree, we often kill billions and then chalk it up to ‘a natural event”.

    Can I remind my fellow progressives that convenient progressive Howard schultz of Starbuscks fame cut down dozens of old growth trees in a park below his Seattle home. He willingly paid a huge fine as the fine was peanuts next to the increase in his property value as a result of butchering those trees in a friggin’ park.

    We need a consistent balanced approach to the environment. If the R’s take control, a lot of regs could be repealed and trees unnecessarily taken down out of fear over-exuberant progressives might take control again and impose tough regs.

    Remember please…all developers need is there guys in total control for 1 year to repeal reasonable regs. If we go to far, this will eventually happen.

    We need to be more reasonable.