The Child Park

Teresa Hanafin, a columnist for the Boston Globe, covered a report that talked about the increased anxiety resident in children today. The report believes it’s because of a fundamental shift in the way we view child-rearing, in which “the work of raising children, once seen as socially necessary labor benefiting the common good, is an isolated endeavor for all but the most well-off parents.” Parents who have to work are forced to “warehouse” their kids most of the day, and the pressure for success is paramount:

“School days are longer and more regimented. Kindergarten, which used to be focused on play, is now an academic training ground for the first grade. Young children are assigned homework even though numerous studies have found it harmful. STEM, standardized testing, and active-shooter drills have largely replaced recess, leisurely lunches, art, and music.” The kids’ resultant mental distress is overwhelming and dangerous.

 It is true that children need lots of unscheduled time with parents and family, other children and even alone time. The brain is not a computer; it is a bag of highly sophisticated chemicals and special cells. Just because society has continued to accelerate daily life since the early 1900s and looks forward to even more automatic features in future society, that doesn’t mean the brain physically modifies its learning requirements to match social acceleration. It is what it is and while it is learning and developing in young people (including teenagers), parents and society in general need to support not only data learning but must also personally invest time with children to develop their social and emotional skills and to allow time for the playground.

People have learned how important it is to their pet dogs when they take them to a dog park. We can do no less for children.

Ancient Mariner

Get Mr. Fixit

A few days ago, mariner was reading a piece by Clare Malone who writes for fivethirtyeight.com. She was trying to describe the subtleties of this modern era of politics. She cited statistics that suggested US citizens have doubled in number when it comes to those who pay attention to politics on a daily basis; yet the number of citizens that actually participate physically in some manner, even if attending a school board meeting, remained at the same low level (about 12%). Claire also cited statistics that show the citizenry has very low levels of trust toward their government and is unhappy with the whole phenomenon. She alluded to the separation of politics and morality.

Mariner uses an allegory of a beloved automobile that was bought many, many years ago and has performed through wind and rain, hail, children and dogs, long trips, over stuffed during a number of house moves, two accidents, and still plods on. Today it looks rusty here and there; there are scratches and a dent or two; the driver’s window doesn’t open, the gearshift isn’t trustworthy and the steering wheel is way too loose – turns are a gamble. The vehicle still moves and provides transportation but it is clear the automobile is on borrowed time. It is time to restore it.

The government is like this automobile. As a democracy, it has survived civil war, several depressions and recessions, backroom politics and today it suffers mightily from the influence of money in all its forms – from job security for elected officials, to bribery, to pay to play financing, to dollar-controlled campaigning. The dollar has replaced morality not only in government but in business, classism and day-to-day life. In other words, morality has fallen by the wayside and the wellbeing of the state and its citizens is irrelevant. As Cuba Gooding said, “Show me the money!”

Fortunately, the US Constitution has established democracy as the repair garage. In fact, as social issues get tough – slavery, women’s suffrage, international wars and political diseases like Joe McCarthy and Donald Trump – it is the vote of the citizenry that fixes things.

Consider the following repairs:

Term limits for Congress and the Supreme Court

Elimination of the Electoral College

Independent assignment of districts based on the census

Restructure the Senate to represent the population

Federally controlled/funding of US elections including caps and contributions only from related jurisdictions

Use technology to allow voting at convenient places and times

Automatic registration at age 18

Create a national referendum that, among many issues, will let the citizenry decide policy on guns

Is the voter’s mechanic (candidate) willing to fix these parts?

UNNOTICED NEWS

֎ [Science Magazine] The United States is experiencing a public health epidemic of mass shootings and other forms of gun violence. A convenient response seems to be blaming mental illness; after all, “who in their right mind would do this?” This is utterly wrong. Mental illnesses, certainly severe mental illnesses, are not the major cause of mass shootings. It also is dangerously stigmatizing to people who suffer from these devastating disorders and can subject them to inappropriate restrictions.

According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, the best estimates are that individuals with mental illnesses are responsible for less than 4% of all violent crimes in the United States, and less than a third of people who commit mass shootings are diagnosably mentally ill. Moreover, a large majority of individuals with mental illnesses are not at high risk for committing violent acts. Continuing to blame mental illness distracts from finding the real causes of mass shootings and addressing them directly.

 ֎ [Politico] RUSSIA SANCTION VOTE UNDER SCRUTINY — Earlier this year as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell helped kill an effort to keep painful U.S. sanctions on a Russian aluminum giant, a business deal was brewing in his home state that needed those sanctions gone. A key businessman in Kentucky was courting a Russian investor — Rusal, the Russian aluminum producer — at the same time McConnell was blocking a Democratic-led attempt to maintain those sanctions, the Washington Post reports. Three months later, Rusal and the Kentucky company unveiled plans for a major new partnership.

֎ [USA Today] 300 MILES AWAY – Following wildfires there last month, rare lightning has also recently struck the Arctic. Thunderstorms require air that’s, like, warm. Yet multiple lightning strikes were detected “within 300 miles of the North Pole,” according to the National Weather Service. “This is one of the furthest north lightning strikes in Alaska forecaster memory,” the NWS said.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

The Democratic Hoard + 1

Mariner suspects many voters, like him, have no affinity toward any of the twenty-some democratic candidates. It is a montage for sure. Trevor Noah (Daily Show) presents a bust shot of all the candidates in a single rectangular frame; look closely and one sees a cartoon figure in the last bust shot at the bottom. Indeed. All of them are caricatures of something. In his heart, mariner sees no outstanding, Herculean, Donald-proof candidate. A new candidate is becoming noticed: Tom Steyer.

The good and bad thing about Tom Steyer is that he is worth 1.6 billion dollars. If nothing else, Donald’s bluff about his own wealth and business acumen may not be useful running against a candidate worth ten times as much. Another good thing is that Tom is not a career politician; he lacks the cartoonishness of the democratic hoard.

Interestingly, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) isn’t fond of him and wishes he wouldn’t run for President. If Tom Steyer wins, it can be said that he bought the Presidency; in the future any old billionaire can decide he wants to be president and outspend the opposition. In these times of big money elections, it is still the same but no one who typically runs for office is a billionaire. Billionaires would rather pull the strings behind the curtains – which is no better than one billionaire deciding to step out and run on their own. Truth is, the US is pretty much a plutocracy already.

But Tom puts the electorate on the horns of a dilemma: On the one hand, no one should be able to buy the Presidency – maybe a bunch of party people with a bunch of money – just not one person. On the other hand, Tom has a stellar record as a business man, a liberal philanthropist, an advocate of taking on climate change, and a stated policy that resets taxation and minimum wage. On paper, he is the perfect democratic candidate; not only that, he will intimidate Donald just by showing Donald his checkbook.

To increase a democratic voter’s agony, mariner provides a bit of bio:

Thomas Fahr “Tom” Steyer is an American hedge fund manager, politician, philanthropist, and environmentalist. Steyer is the founder and former Co-Senior Managing Partner of Farallon Capital Management, LLC and the co-founder of Beneficial State Bank.

Tom Steyer was born in 1957 in Manhattan. His mother, Marnie (née Fahr), was a teacher of remedial reading at the Brooklyn House of Detention, and his father, Roy Henry Steyer, was a partner in the New York law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, and was a prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials. His father was Jewish, and his mother was Episcopalian.

Steyer attended the Buckley School and Phillips Exeter Academy. He graduated from Yale University summa cum laude in economics and political science, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He was captain of the Yale College soccer team. Steyer received his MBA from Stanford Business School, where he was an Arjay Miller Scholar. He has served on the Stanford University Board of Trustees.

In August 2010, Steyer and his wife joined Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and 37 other American billionaires in pledging to give away at least half their fortunes to worthwhile causes. Business people “are pretty widely mistrusted and seen as overwhelmingly self-interested,” Steyer said. “The point is that business people are not just laboring for themselves. They have bigger responsibilities and belong to a wider community.”

In 2013, Steyer founded NextGen Climate (now NextGen America), an environmental advocacy nonprofit and political action committee. Steyer’s platform emphasizes fighting climate change and structural political reforms such as term limits for members of Congress and creating a national referendum process. Steyer has also been a prominent advocate of impeaching President Donald Trump.

Steyer has been the single biggest donor in disclosed political giving over the 2014-2018 election cycles, spending $245 million dollars over that time span, all to help Democrats. (Though it’s possible that other rich people spent more in undisclosed “dark money.”)

A near perfect remedy to Donald’s abusive shenanigans. But – should one person singlehandedly be able to dominate the airwaves, campaign machinery and beholding to no one – and be our President?

Oh, the agony. Mariner would vote for a dead goldfish over Donald but there are principles. Oh, the agony.

Ancient Mariner

 

On Reading

When mariner was just beginning his elementary school years, he began reading the family library. It consisted of about ten or twelve popular novels and a 1939 Book of Knowledge encyclopedia; the encyclopedia still is in his possession. The novels were best sellers and classics of their time but alas, over the years mariner has forgotten the titles. He does remember not having the patience, and perhaps the maturity, to finish the novels. However, he did, believe it or not, read page by page all nineteen volumes of the encyclopedia (the twentieth volume is an appendix).

Mariner more or less avoided reading fiction until high school – except for the beloved Sunday comic strips and comic books. In high school there were classes that existed only to read fiction. Books like Old Man and the Sea and (horrors) Heart of Darkness. In college mariner discovered fiction ponies called Cliff’s Notes; these helped his experience in those ‘fiction’ classes.

Not that mariner was illiterate or indifferent about knowledge and information. Mariner was the kid who would cut school and spend the day at the public library (not the fiction section). Later in life, after mariner was married, he decided to enroll in a Master Degree program. He knew his weakness for reading and his impatience while waiting for information to emerge. He asked his wife, an ardent reader, if she would read his textbooks for him. Succinctly, with a tone of disgust, she said, “No.”

So mariner had no choice but to learn to read very, very fast. He enrolled in Evelyn Woods’ speed reading program. Mariner must say up front it is a remarkable training program with excellent improvement in reading something extremely fast. Mariner’s words per minute tripled. The sensation of eliminating subvocalizing is a memorable experience. One feels as if they are in a plane lifting off the runway and soaring.

But mariner did not take Evelyn’s classes to read more fiction. In a manner of speaking, he wanted to avoid reading. The class he took to heart was the class about how to read nonfiction!

Mariner was able to dissect a textbook or treatise in a fraction of the time by not reading all the words! Specifically, one memorized the primary table of contents, skimmed through the preface, and then studied the author’s writing style. It turns out most writers habitually use one of three sentence locations within a paragraph to state the specific point or information for the whole paragraph. Most nonfiction writers use the first sentence of the paragraph to state the primary point. Second most popular is using the last sentence of the paragraph as a summation. A few writers set up the paragraph in the first sentence but don’t state the point until the second sentence. Combined with the top down thread of the table of contents, one can literally jump over chapters to sustain continuity. Don’t try this with math or engineering texts.

As the decades passed, mariner remained a reluctant reader unless there was a task at hand or a goal that required additional information or understanding. During his career, he often had to fly to different locations. Any traveler knows that hours in an airplane can be boring. One day mariner decided to try reading a novel.

At the airport bookstore he picked up Tom Clancy’s Clear and Present Danger. On the plane, he started at the beginning. A story line developed and pieces of plot were linked around the person in the story. At the end of the first chapter, the novel started all over again with another person. The second chapter never referenced the first chapter! Hell, mariner doesn’t have time for this nonsense. He closed the book and has never looked at a novel since.

The same pattern emerges when mariner watches movies. His poor wife enjoys movies. Mariner notes the color schemes, the actors, the music and the pattern of camera shots. About fifteen minutes into the movie – to his wife’s chagrin – mariner says he has seen the movie.

Ancient Mariner

 

Some Items You May Find Interesting

[Bloomberg] $70,000 per minute. That’s how much money the Walmart-owning Walton family has made in the year since Bloomberg’s previous list of the world’s richest families. The Waltons top that list this year, with wealth of $190.5 billion. The Mars, Koch, Al Saud and Wertheimer (of the Chanel fashion house) families round out a top five. The 25 richest families in the world control $1.4 trillion, a figure which is up nearly a quarter from last year.

[Endangered Species Coalition] The Trump Administration put rules in place today that will put many more species on a path to extinction.

  1. The Trump Extinction Plan removes protections for plants, fish, and wildlife designated as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.
  2. The Trump Extinction Plan encourages policy makers to calculate the perceived economic costs (but not the benefits) of Endangered Species Act protections to plants, fish, and wildlife . Under the Act, economic factors were intentionally not considered in listing decisions. Listing decisions should be based on science, not on money. This rule upends that.
  3. The Trump Extinction Plan makes protecting habitat much more burdensome despite habitat loss being a leading cause of extinction.

In finalizing their changes, the Trump Administration ignored more than one million activists that submitted public comments and rejected the advice of hundreds of scientists, biologists, and wildlife experts who oppose the changes.

[CityLab] The Online Gig Economy’s ‘Race to the Bottom.’ On digital work platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com, you can also buy nearly any service—often from someone halfway around the world, sometimes for just a few bucks. On Fiverr, one of the most popular of these platforms, you’ll find offers for someone who will write an e-book “on any topic”; a person who will perform “a Voiceover as Bernie Sanders”; someone who will write your Tinder profile for you, and someone who will design a logo for your real-estate company. The people selling this labor live in Nigeria, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Bangladesh, respectively. Each of them charges $5 for these tasks.

 There are members of mariner’s family who are at-home contractors (AKA gig workers). Will other nations drive down living wages for US citizens as these ‘gig’ services expand?

[Atlantic] And Then Job Said Unto the Lord: You Can’t Be Serious. God says to Satan, “You there, what have you been up to?” And Satan says, “Oh, you know, just hanging around, minding my own business.” And God says, “Well, take a look at my man Job over there. He worships me. He does exactly what I tell him. He thinks I’m the greatest.” “Job?” says Satan. “The rich, happy, healthy guy? The guy with 3,000 camels? Of course he does. You’ve given him everything. Take it all away from him, and I bet you he’ll curse you to your face.” And God says, “You’re on.”

That—give or take a couple of verses—is how it starts, the Book of Job. What a setup. The Trumplike deity; the shrewd and loitering adversary; the cruelly flippant wager; and the stooge, the cosmic straight man, Job, upon whose oblivious head the sky is about to fall.

Purchase the book – a rewrite of Job (Job: A New Translation by Edward L. Greenstein, Yale University Press) or see the article in the September Atlantic Magazine or check out:

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/09/job-edward-l-greenstein/594769/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=video-series-editors-picks&utm_content=20190810&silverid-ref=NDkwMjIzMjA1Mjg2S0

Ancient Mariner

Love . . .

(Tevye) Golde, Do you love me?

(Golde) Do I what?

(Tevye) Do you love me?

(Golde) Do I love you?

With our daughters getting married and this trouble in the town

You’re upset, you’re worn out go inside, go lie down!

Maybe it’s indigestion…

(Tevye) “Golde I’m asking you a question…” Do you love me?

(Golde) You’re a fool

(Tevye) “I know…”but do you love me?

(Golde) Do I love you? for twenty-five years I’ve washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cow; after twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?

(Tevye) Golde, The first time I met you was on our wedding day. I was scared

(Golde) I was shy

(Tevye) I was nervous

(Golde) So was I

(Tevye) But my father and my mother said we’d learn to love each other

And now I’m asking, Golde do you love me?

(Golde) I’m your wife

(Tevye) “I know…” But do you love me?

(Golde) Do I love him? For twenty-five years I’ve lived with him, fought him, starved with him. Twenty-five years my bed is his. If that’s not love, what is?

(Tevye) Then you love me?

(Golde) I suppose I do

(Tevye) And I suppose I love you too

(Both) It doesn’t change a thing but even so after twenty-five years it’s nice to know.

These lyrics are from that once in a lifetime play and movie “Fiddler on the Roof.” The reader may have noticed that their marriage was arranged rather than the result of courtship. Every song in that show related to emotional and social accountability that everyone must deal with as life moves along. In his thirties at the time, “Do You Love Me” provided mariner with a more complex definition of love. Love is a formula rather than a singular experience. Briefly, one can name several distinct types of love: a child for its mother; a parent for their children; infatuation; an employee for their job, etc. There are esoteric forms of love: for country; for nature; for the sea; for a sport, etc.

If one could divide love in a pie chart, commitment by far would be the largest piece. Different disciplines use different words for commitment; ponder ‘sacrifice’ for example: Is there a difference between a soldier diving on a grenade to save his squad and Golde spending 25 years sacrificing for her family? Vastly different circumstances but the common denominator is commitment.

The next largest piece would be empathy. It takes empathy to ‘bond’ with someone. Being able to perceive reality from another point of view whether it’s a life partner, a pet or someone on the street is a mental capability that is not evenly available among humans. Most arguments about lack of empathy center on bad developmental experiences when young or the fact that each human brain is as unique as fingerprints.

The third-sized piece is a stable psyche. A synonym for psyche is ‘spirit.’ There’s a trope that says “You have to love yourself before you can love someone else.” A tale from mariner’s life is his prejudice against tennis players who wear their ball cap backwards. He claims he doesn’t want to be distracted by their troubled psyche. Hmm, does mariner have an empathy problem or his own psyche issue?

The last of the larger pieces in love’s pie chart is gratification. Personal reward. That super feel good experience that makes one glad they are who they are; they feel complete; they feel successful. Importantly, there’s only one way to feel gratification: by an act of commitment empathetic to another’s need that grows one’s psyche and is successful in its objectives.

“Love makes the world go ’round” so says the 1961 play “Carnival.”

Ancient Mariner

REPRINT!!

Danger Ahead

If there is any strength the US has to stand up against a hostile world, it is the US Intelligence Service. Coupled with the best funded military in the world, other nations think twice about taking on the US mano-a-mano.

In this most serious sector of US policy, Donald is showing his disregard for US security in favor of money schemes and showing his incompetence as a Commander-in-Chief.

This is beyond political rhetoric, beyond the politics of ‘the base’, beyond the dysfunctional condition of Congress. Donald is, in a seriously inept way, playing with the security of the US – a monkey with keys to the vault. He has no regard for anything that does not add wealth to his pocket. Under his leadership, the subtleties of international relationships are irrelevant.

Unfortunately, there is no Congress to take him to task. The electorate must suffer through an ever increasing dismantle of the US image and its authority. The electorate must endure to the election. The nation is at risk in a way that has not existed since the Second World War.

Ignore the ‘base’; ignore the do-nothing-Congress; ignore the true conflict surrounding the loss of jobs under Reaganism – the security of the US is at stake.

Ancient Mariner

Guruvian Observations

Guru, the alter ego who views humanity and the universe from somewhere around Neptune, predicted during the first Obama administration a Donald-like bowling ball. Not that Guru is a genius – many predictions are whimsy – but Guru hit the bullseye on this one. The federal government had become irrelevant to citizen reality. The election process, indeed the daily ritual once elected, was tightly wrapped around raising money rather than pursuing the American dream. Ex-senator Al Franken confessed on a late night TV talk show that the first five hours of every day were spent calling donors and lobbyists to raise money not just for Al but for the Democratic Party. It was the same with the republicans.

Campaigning had become a traveling carnival complete with snake oil salesmen who did not base rhetoric on problem solving but rather reinforced the insecurities of the electorate should something actually change. Meanwhile, the electorate reality was indeed changing; the economy was slanted toward shareholders and investment, leaving actual labor investment in the dust. Ignoring the wellbeing of the electorate – especially their economic wellbeing – is a recipe for populism. Elected officials were about as useful as bowling pins.

Along came Donald. A bowling ball made to order. Pick any analogy: a bull in a china shop, a landslide blocking the highway, a spilled garbage can. As has been widely reported, three rustbelt states took advantage of the Electoral College to overthrow the popular vote in the 2016 election. Populism took charge via Donald.

What is good about populism is that it forces instability; it disrupts the status quo; it makes things uncomfortable for the irrelevant processes of a stagnant culture.

What is bad about populism is its mindless destruction; it throws out the good with the bad; it wounds the culture in a way that will take time to heal; it ignores opportunity in order to sustain disruption.

The days of the guillotine have passed. Fortunately, the United States is isolated between two oceans and inherited an immense wealth in a newly discovered continent. Otherwise, one wonders whether war, destruction and murder, as observed today in other parts of the world, would be the process for US populism.

Guru still is concerned whether the ship of state and the state of the electorate will be stable enough to receive a turbulent century of unknown disruption to society, economics, environment and day-to-day survival.

– – – –

TO BE NOTED:

Havin’ a heat wave ♪

[The Washington Post] In what has become a seemingly monthly entry, this past July was not only the hottest July but also the hottest month on Earth in recorded history. It was so hot that wildfires ravaged millions of acres of the Arctic and swaths of Europe set record highs, including 108.7 degrees in Paris. July 2019 “beat” July 2016 — a month further warmed by “an extremely strong El Niño” — by about 0.07 degrees, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.

Ancient Mariner

 

Contemporary References

Today’s post is all reference section. Mariner provides a list of intriguing and entertaining articles from various sources that help us interpret daily life in a modern and unconstrained world.

REFERENCE SECTION

This first article from the Atlantic Magazine is about how the business world manipulates how users relate to their smartphones:

Copy website to reader’s browser

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/08/how-dark-patterns-online-manipulate-shoppers/595360/

The linguist Gretchen McCulloch aims to clear some things up with her new book, Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language. The “new” rules, she says in an interview, are emergent. Basically, communicating requires more than just a factual statement pursuing clarity; it also must simultaneously convey a state of emotion associated with those facts. Provided by NPR:

https://www.npr.org/2019/07/31/747020219/our-language-is-evolving-because-internet?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20190801&utm_campaign=books&utm_term=artsbooksculture&utm_id=39748169

 

Just so the reader knows, CRISPR is not something to keep lettuce fresh. “CRISPR = Clustered regularly-interspaced short palindromic repeats are segments of prokaryotic DNA containing short repetitions of base sequences.” Basically, it is a sequence of DNA that has space at the end where specially contrived DNA can be affixed – thereby changing the genome of the creature at hand. Science Magazine shows us how Chinese Agronomists are changing food crop characteristics:

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6452/422?utm_campaign=toc_sci-mag_2019-08-01&et_rid=590596864&et_cid=2929035

Puerto Rico isn’t the only troubled subculture within the United States. At the other end to the North is Alaska, with deep concerns about sexual abuse in communities that have no law enforcement. ProPublica offers this sobering account of life in the back country:

https://features.propublica.org/local-reporting-network-alaska/alaska-sexual-violence-village-police/

Ancient Mariner

What’s a ‘Job’?

Everyone must know by now that the twenty-first century is a century of unbelievable change. Much more upheaval to society than had by taming horses, discovering electricity, inventing gunpowder, defining economic theories, the internal combustion engine, or plastic. War is changing from gunpowder-driven murder to electronic invasion. The weather is changing. The biosphere is in the midst of crumbling. Think of something; it will change – if it still exists by 2100.

Even jobs will change. In fact, the reader must imagine that they’ve never heard the word. Or that particular meaning of the word ‘work.’ Mariner has presented the statistics in earlier posts. Just a few examples that soon will disappear are truck drivers, motel employees, white collar employees, primary care physicians, many creative writers and musicians, many fiction authors. Of course, the list is endless. Truth be told, how the entire economy functions will change.

For the purpose of this post, the word ‘value’ will replace the word ‘job.’ A sample of how to use value was proffered by mariner years ago in a post that said a mother deserves recompense (cash will be gone, too) for raising children. One could ask, “What’s your primary value?” “Raising my children,” she would reply. This is not a new idea.

In 1935 President Roosevelt (AKA FDR) signed into law a bill creating the Works Progress Administration (WPA). It was during the depression and money just wasn’t to be had because the public, in general, wasn’t ‘working’.

“While FDR believed in the elementary principles of justice and fairness, he also expressed disdain for doling out welfare to otherwise able workers. So, in return for monetary aid, WPA workers built highways, schools, hospitals, airports and playgrounds. They restored theaters–such as the Dock Street Theater in Charleston, S.C.–and built the ski lodge at Oregon’s Mt. Hood. The WPA also put actors, writers and other creative arts professionals back to work by sponsoring federally funded plays, art projects, such as murals on public buildings, and literary publications. FDR safeguarded private enterprise from competition with WPA projects by including a provision in the act that placed wage and price controls on federally funded products or services.”[1]

A few things to place in mind: FDR taxed income above $25,000 ($460,000 today) at 100%; the Green New Deal legislation in the House today uses this WPA idea to create jobs that return manufacturing to the economy except it uses private companies to bid for contracts; FDR had no choice but to underwrite WWII in the depth of the depression (the war, however, launched the US into a new economy).

Returning to employment value, it may be that significantly more people will contribute to local projects, volunteer for special needs and create home services and homemade products that improve the value of community life or provide government services similar to the WPA. This interpretation of value for pay can only succeed if government provides a livable base of income for all citizens. True, many if not most individuals still will provide value through typical employment for pay. Even today with a growing number of elderly and retired individuals, and millennials already putting off normal life expectations, a significant percentage of citizens would have a more stable lifestyle if government paid a stipend today.

Two financial conditions must be in place to ease the move from ‘job’ to ‘value’: The tax code must be transformed and cash must be transformed.

TAXES. Everyone will agree that paying taxes is a silly, expensive game. And game is the right word because the complexity is nothing more than years and years of fixes by the wealthy, corporations, banks and lobbyists. Taxes should be nothing more than a statement sent to each individual. In other words, an individual’s taxes are paid through their place of employment – ‘paid’ not withheld. The stipend would not be taxable. In fact, employers would be taxed by size and number of employees as well as by profit.

CASH. Today cash already has started to fade. Increasing numbers of companies will not handle cash – especially retail stores. The next item that should be removed is credit cards. Banks relish being in the middle of a person’s assets, liquid or invested. Banks make huge profits for being nothing more than bookkeepers.

Politics certainly will interfere when the role of banks is challenged but modern technology is so fast and so intricately connected that big banks aren’t needed in the future. The reader may already have come across the term cryptocurrency. Unlike banks, cryptocurrency is one single database called a blockchain that keeps track of every individual’s financial activity. Once cryptocurrency is de rigueur, money will be no more than an electronic transaction called a bitcoin. Historically speaking, humans have progressed from paying bills with chickens and bags of flour to pieces of metal or shells to pieces of paper called money to not having to carry anything to perform financial transactions. Just ask Ethiopians – they’ve been doing it for many years.

The redefinition of job to value, the reinvention of taxes and the conversion to electronic money each will take decades if not generations to be accomplished. But, we have a whole century . . .

Ancient Mariner

[1] https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/fdr-creates-the-wpa