The Art of Giving – II

The last post, The Art of Giving, introduced the key elements of giving: sacrifice, sharing and compassion. It is not enough to understand the definition of the three words; the words must be integrated into one’s code of living; the experience represented by the words must become an objective that pays a conscious reward. In other words, giving must become a priority experience beyond prejudice.

This sounds irrational but in practice it is more like a commitment similar to healthful practices: committing to walking every day, dieting – even commitment to going to work every day. The responsibility to sustain a viable lifestyle is not set aside. Rather, it is more like adding flavor to a recipe. If one can interpolate adding flavor to a recipe to adding happiness and fulfilment to one’s life, then one understands how the three words function.

However, interpolation is not easy. Consider the following:

Most US citizens decry taxation. Taxes are an imposition. Taxes are misspent by idiot legislators. Taxes do not do anything for one’s immediate situation. How difficult it is to switch one’s attitude from decrying taxation to one of personal satisfaction gained by sharing the load of national need. The three words must be deployed in order to change one’s attitude. To be sure, sacrifice is personal in nature but it also is collective. Democracy, in the hands of idiot legislators (prejudice), is an overhead that must be sacrificed as well. No act in any endeavor is free of inefficiency and inadequacy. But the key is to capture the personal satisfaction gained from sharing instead of paying – belonging to the team rather than being a victim. Compassion is the elixir that drives toxins from one’s spirit.

Prejudice is the worst sin. Prejudice is disruptive to the art of giving more than any other act or opinion. To focus the discussion of prejudice a bit, two of the common prejudices in the US are race and laggardness. Racial prejudice is easily defined; laggardness is widespread but ill-defined. Laggardness can be interpreted as someone who doesn’t appear to want work hard, doesn’t have a job but accepts ‘handouts’, or simply has a lax attitude about cultural worth. It is debatable that the working class has a more intense prejudice against laggards than they do against skin color. The darkest African American can gain respect through hard work; a laggard will never be respected.

If someone has a desire to recognize a need and provide a gift to that need, in many people an unconscious prejudice steers the individual away from nonwhite charity or providing aid to the unemployed. Many will give to abstract charities similar to wounded veterans, orphans, animals, diseases, and other charities that do not focus on race or laggards.

It must be said that in Africa alone 20 million humans are bereft of health and face death by starvation and common disease but are disregarded by those who are better off. This prejudice is associated with economic class. In the US, the world’s most intensely capitalistic nation, this prejudice is the most irrational and most dehumanizing of all prejudices: The successful deserve to be successful; the unsuccessful deserve to be unsuccessful. In other words, if one is lucky, that is their role; if one is unlucky, that is their role. Tough luck, kid.

Sadly, in the US it is this class that is opposed to government providing discretionary funding to their fellow citizens or even providing health care regardless of social circumstances. In other words, government is for the lucky. Otherwise, tough luck, kid.

Having defined these three common prejudices, one realizes how difficult it is to implement the three words sacrifice, sharing and compassion. One would have to suffer a massive change in their attitude and social identity. We can’t all walk the road to Damascus with Saul.

What can we do? What act will help the most? Where do I sacrifice and share to provide a meaningful gift?

It takes a godly intervention to change deeply rooted definitions of self. Fortunately, humans are of different social persuasions. If one were to elect to government candidates that first accepted the role of government to emulate intervention above espousing a commitment to serve your best interests and instead of being an economic hawk, you may have an amazing influence in promoting sacrifice, sharing and compassion as an element in the government’s gestalt.

Hints about a candidate’s understanding of the art of giving are reflected in the candidate’s lifestyle. Is the candidate a racist? Is the candidate an elitist? Is the candidate one who can afford to campaign but otherwise has no redeeming social qualities? Unfortunately, the common answer to all these characteristics is yes. The best gift will be to find a candidate that understands the art of giving.

Ancient Mariner

The Art of Giving

Giving is indeed an art. Few of us cover the art form in its entirety. Each art form, however, provides a different gift to those who give and to those who receive. More often than not, our greatest gift goes unnoticed over a lifetime.

One form of giving is associated with our culture. In the United States, we pay taxes, which is a form of giving – more at sharing – to support millions of people in need; we share roads and infrastructure in general; we help assure that civility and unity prevail. Too often, giving to our cultural norms is the subject of derision and dissatisfaction. Those who dislike taxes do not experience the gratification that comes from sharing. The art of giving is absent and their lives seem diminished – certainly no personal gift is experienced. Hence the word ‘tax’ instead of ‘gift’. Is our culture missing an aspect of humanity?

Another art form is giving without sacrifice. Bill Gates and others in similar financial circumstances give substantial amounts to quality of life programs around the world. There is no question that recipients immensely enjoy the gift. Giving full credit to Bill for his largesse, his own experience likely has little feeling of sacrifice and more a sense of moral responsibility fulfilled. This is very common in gift giving, that is, giving without sacrifice. Knock off a dozen zeroes or so from Bill’s income and assets and the gift is common to most of us – no sacrifice required. True, in form one has given a gift but the experience is light on a feeling of sharing.

There are two circumstances each of which almost qualifies as an oxymoron:

Military basic training inculcates a feeling of intense bonding between recruits. The experience of sharing (bonded commitment) is tantamount to self-preservation.

The second is the offering taken in religious services. One feels little sacrifice and at best that a moral responsibility has been fulfilled. Many congregations will not even commit to a pledge – how dare God impose sharing on a follower. What is this, a tax?

An important art form that, in the midst of great sacrifice and sharing, often is overlooked; the giver doesn’t perceive that they have given a gift over a lifetime. There are many circumstances where lifetime gifting is involved; two are selected:

Parenthood. It is the nature of all mammals and many other species to protect the next generation. In humans, this nature is most complex and requires many years of commitment. Parents, if they are in the range of normal, will sacrifice a great deal to sustain their children in life. This sharing experience is so strong that it continues throughout life even after the children have established their independence. Parents never deny sacrifice. Empathy and compassion are the art form.

Marriage. Perhaps marriage is even more complex than parenthood. A partnership begun in self-satisfaction over the years experiences times of tribulation. Often unspoken, both partners suffer the needs of their spouse. Both have shortcomings to be tolerated. In time, tolerance and mutual support becomes compassion and sharing. Each partner has gifted the other with a bond that goes unspoken, suffered silently and takes a lifetime.

The key words in the art of giving are sacrifice, sharing and compassion. The words together create a sense of sincere commitment and a unique feeling of deep joy – the quiet kind and the most healing for all parties concerned.

Ancient Mariner

 

A new culture for economy – what’s next? Redux

What follows is the very first post to The Blog of the Ancient Mariner. It was posted on April 5, 2013 at 2:AM. He could write the same post today. These thoughts seem more urgent, more dire than when this post was published.

The topic is what next? It’s mostly about us – the masses, the common citizens, the disenfranchised, the young who have no yardstick for the future because there is no means by which to measure the future; the jobless who have lost pride and station in life because automation and the global economy have dropped them by the wayside, the seniors who are hale, hearty, living extended lives but are pushed aside and left with little purpose. Wrapping all these demographics into a bundle, what is their purpose? What binds them? What makes them equal and whole individuals? What is the common social fabric?

The mariner is reminded of the Vietnamese immigration after the Viet Nam War. That was a set of people with no extra resources; all they had was hard work and imagination. Many had higher education, even postgraduate degrees that were of little use in the in the United States. The Vietnamese took labor jobs, families helped families, somehow saved a significant percentage of income, opened small, low overhead businesses like dry cleaning, beauty parlors, finger nail shops and small soup kitchens. Now, their children are going to college or growing the businesses of their parents.

What is the next purpose for the American masses? There must be one; there must be a value that is created by many millions of living people; There must be a unity – that is a natural law inherent in the homo sapiens species. The new hardship is that no one will invent it for us or do it for us; we have to invent it and do it ourselves.

The future is still in darkness but a light, a very, very, very faint light is sitting in the corner. It is, for want of a word unknown at this time, ‘sharing’. Sharing can be a purpose. Sharing can be an economy. Sharing has growth potential. Ah, but the light is so faint. What will common sharing look like? Can it draw from wasteful economies that no longer serve the masses efficiently? Can it invent new businesses – profitable businesses – that are based on sharing? Can local government become a protector of a sharing culture?  Does sharing mean we, the masses, must share ourselves in some way for the common good? The US citizen may be better off than the Vietnamese immigrant but the creativity they have for generating a small economy under the larger profit-intensive US economy seems a good model.

Can those who know share knowledge with those who don’t know without the overhead of educational corporations? Leading edge electronics and upstart businesses have no correlation to formal education. The same can be said for liberal arts, religion, and equal distribution of resources like food, water, manufactured goods – all of which possess extreme inefficiencies and waste when delivering a profit-only product.

Dare we dream that the cultural mandate for hoarding profit be converted to a cultural mandate for sharing profit? There are fragile signs: Habitat for Humanity; zero balance loans to indigent women in Africa; Americorps and the international version Peace Corps; Salman Khan (www.khanacademy.org), Project Hope, the floating hospital, even the woman interviewed on CBS News who shares her sofa by leasing it overnight. All are based on sharing – surviving off the excesses of the profit-only model. Remember Victory Gardens?

The mariner has a friend in Maryland who owns a 40 foot boat. He uses it occasionally but is concerned about the overhead. As a model for profit by sharing, he could lease the boat well below the rate of a profit-only charter service and still make enough to maintain the boat, keep a few dollars and share the rest of the income with another ‘share’ business that may provide a few jobs. The light is still too faint to imagine what an entire culture of sharing will look like but this seems a good example: use what you have to generate income.

The common citizens will have the burden of finding a way to survive financially. Giant corporations are just getting started as a global market emerges. The mariner suspects there will be economic room beneath the global markets. Twenty years ago an American steel manufacturer stayed in business by making specialty steel – something large volume steel corporations that moved overseas couldn’t afford to sustain. Genuinely organic farming still defies the ‘legislatively defined’ organic products produced by large scale producers. Organic growing is time and labor intensive – something that doesn’t fit the profit-only model.

Detroit, Michigan is about to go bankrupt. Population has dropped by a third and there are no jobs. A few years ago, the City had to come up with something to provide food for vast neighborhoods that had no grocery stores. Detroit leveraged the many vacant blocks by turning them into gardens and small livestock operations (sheep, goats). It is a fine effort but doesn’t generate the taxes the missing profit-only corporations provided before they left Detroit. Nevertheless, many common citizens have something to eat that otherwise would have nothing.

The profit-only culture has become so excessive that it can be undercut and still deliver services and provide jobs that profit-only business cannot afford. In Colorado, a one owner bakery thrives near a Dunkin Donuts shop.

For the conservatives among the readers, sharing is not socialism, it is personal profit by sharing what one can invest of his or her own resources; for the liberals, it is not communal living, it is profit through sharing outward – not dividing inward. The Vietnamese immigrants didn’t care what they were called; They were in the business of surviving.

Ancient Mariner

Health Care

Mariner has been pondering the health care issue. As someone once said, it is complex. It is complex because there are many facets to health care. For example, today health is managed as a marketplace rather than a healing place; a patient is a source of profit; medical practitioners no longer run hospitals, business specialists do. It has taken seventy-five years for this to happen. Mariner went back to the 1930’s and 40’s to track health care evolution.
In 1944, when the mariner went to the hospital with his ailing mother for a checkup, the hospital was not a fancy place. It looked more like an old high school with yellowed ceramic tile. The hall was the waiting room and patients sat along the walls on church pews. At night, the lighting was the same as in public schools, a depressing light not quite bright enough and intensifying the same worn, yellow shade.
When a patient was treated for a specific condition, the bill was one simple page. For example, going to the maternity ward to give birth to a child created a single line item: Maternity Care – $150.
Doctors were challenged to have the highest cure rate among patients. Further, doctors seemed to move about more slowly and seemed not jammed with appointments. It was all about the patients, not administrative efficiency.
Today in 2017, hospitals look fancier than many hotels. There are many more private and semiprivate rooms for patients; waiting rooms are expansive and off the halls. Billing for hospital services has become a hodge podge of line items worse than the various schedules of an income tax form. Doctors are encouraged to maximize income to the hospital. For example, tests are scheduled whether they are needed or not.
What happened?
In the mid 1900’s, health insurance was almost invisible. Most folks were covered by insurance paid for by their employers. The cost of services was related to real function and overhead – billed amounts had a close relationship to actual cost; in many ways, payment for services catered to the financial status of the patient. Eventually the mariner’s mother died after spending a year in the hospital. No one mentioned billing until after her death and payments were negotiated. Today, a patient risks being rejected at the door if a credit card can’t be presented.
The public experience was akin to free health: insurance coverage was virtually invisible to individuals. Further, health care was not a profit based market. It was all about patients and curability.
In the 1980’s and 90’s, business types discovered the lack of efficiency in health services. Further, all these MBAs saw a huge profit if health services were managed by what the market would bear rather than actual cost. As a consequence, maternity care today is $2,000 to $5,000 at a minimum.
Further, the one line item on the bill, called bundled billing, was replaced by unbundled billing: an aspirin, billed at $2 has its own line item. Further, a health service like maternity care is billed as a fixed set of services – whether they are used or not.
Health services also have different ways of taking profit from the system. Consider pharmacy markets, equipment markets, rehabilitation markets, specialist markets, insurance markets and many more. Each has their own profit earning model uncoordinated with other providers.
If a doctor thinks he has discovered an absolute cure for cancer, he will not be underwritten by any of the providers because, in effect, the cure will drive them out of business. This has led to a preference for continual care rather than cure.
Mariner could go on but the reader has the idea: health care, not a for-profit market, is treated as if it were. Naturally, over time lobbyists have tailored Federal and State legislation to protect this irrational alliance. Did you know hospital services, clinics and providers do not have to provide their cost for a given procedure or product? For the same procedures, one hospital may charge $1000 while another may charge $400 but you will not be able to acquire this information. It is almost as hard to acquire information about success rates. In general, this block also applies to the various providers; for example, one needs a go-between like a pharmacy to find out price differences in drug and insurance coverage for the same drug.
In government, there are no rational plans for correcting the US health delivery system. Conservatives want to cut cost by (a) cutting coverage and (b) issuing finite amounts of funding to States (block grants) requiring States to cover inevitable shortfalls in health coverage. States will have the authority to cut coverage to save cost, e.g., pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies will participate by requiring huge deductibles.
What goes unmentioned is the power of the State Health Commissioner and/or State Insurance Commissioner. These positions oversee health and insurance regulations, practices and rates. Theoretically, the Commissioner could, for a given state, slowly correct the delivery of health services by setting price limits for services that in turn would push profit market practices out of health delivery. The fatal flaw at this time is that the Commissioner is appointed making it a politically bound position – to say nothing of massive lobbyist interference.
Nevertheless, the best approach is to reduce the cost of health care without reducing health coverage. It is a mistake to assume today’s prices will always be the case making them too expensive to cover for a nation that has debt problems. Restructuring the health market, one-sixth of the nation’s economy, is a tall task. Tying adjustment to a big tax cut for oligarchs does not help.
Ancient Mariner

 

The Forgotten

The mariner deliberately has avoided most of the televised Donald show. One cannot avoid all of it, of course. It has given mariner time to reflect on causes and entropy – the unavoidable erosion of all things as they age. The Constitution has aged; its grand theories of democracy and self-government are romantic but inadequate today. The founding fathers had just emerged from war with Great Britain. They wanted a nation that would be difficult to overturn by a foreign nation. But today, the great difficulties lie in international sharing and global problem solving. Self-government may slow the resolution of international and global issues.

What brought Donald to the Presidency is a base of working class people. Despite the tweets, illegal business maneuvers, petty personality disorders, lies and lack of knowledge, one in three voters stand by Donald. Mariner in no way sanctions their tolerance; he feels the lack of electoral wisdom has brought angst to every citizen. Still, their persistence arises from a truth: they are the forgotten. Sadly, this will not change soon – and they feel this in their bosoms – no wisdom needed.

The truth is ninety percent of US citizens will feel forgotten during the rest of this century. Whether that can be remedied is a long shot. The line in the sand is between profit and sustainability. As long as profit is the reward both economically and personally, the forgotten will not prevail – perhaps not even survive.

Mariner has written previous posts about the philosophy of Will Rogers. His income was distributed among his family, professional staff, farm workers and the cost of maintaining his farm. There was no profit; there was sustaining the wellbeing of every individual. Everyone participated in the benefits of his career.

Can we imagine corporations and businesses reinterpreting profit for the wellbeing of the owners to that of seeing after the wellbeing of common folk – whether they work or not, whether they contribute to the wellbeing of our nation or not. That is the great cultural shift. Forget computer invasion of jobs; it is inevitable. What is the obligation of our culture to assume a responsibility to care for everyone?

The machinations of capitalism ensure “profit.” What is to be done with that profit?

The answer will make or break civilization.

Ancient Mariner

 

Notices

Mariner is a noticer. While watching poor broadcasting content on television, he is prone to dissecting the tiniest elements of advertisements looking for irrelevant but irregular details. The most common error is lack of continuity between different takes of the same scene. His favorite commercial is two young men obviously from a low income neighborhood in Philadelphia, PA. They are espousing the wonderful Philly steak sandwich that is a trademark of Philadelphia. As they speak, there is only the tiniest relationship to English. Their elocution is so bad and is subject to colloquial expression that one cannot understand a word they are saying. Mariner misses that commercial.

He mentions this because though not intended as such, ‘noticing’ can be prudish. He used to be a prude about language. For example, during his teen years, pop music shifted from lyrics that were understood to lyrics that were no more than vowel slurs. Today, the art of incomprehensible lyrics is an art form of its own competing with the lyrics of opera. Elocution, along with cursive legibility, long have been absent from our education syllabus.

Further, mariner is an advocate of having a large lexicon, which is having lots of words at hand to provide specificity and nuance in writing and conversation. He is a fan of George Carlin who believed there weren’t enough words; George pointed this out by focusing on seven ‘unacceptable’ curse words whose meanings were specific emotional expressions that could not easily be replaced by acceptable words. Still, mariner has noticed that easy elocution displaces standard elocution. It has taken years of explanation from his philologist friend Robert to accept that language is subject to changing convenience both written and spoken. He and mariner often exchange colloquialisms like ‘skoeet’ – a full sentence.

One of the most entrenched changes that separates written language from spoken language is the word ‘wud’. For clarification, mariner will use it in a sentence: “Wudjoodo?” Still not sure? How about “Wudydo?”

Oh well, don’t blame prudishness, blame old age. Mariner grew up in a low income neighborhood. It wasn’t until he was sixteen when his father moved the family to a middle class town that mariner realized he said ‘nuffin’ instead of ‘nothing.’

A final thought about cursive. It is truly obsolete. Internet based communication has established a new age where letters, if one must use them, are intensely abbreviated (widely known example: LOL). Letters can be avoided if one chooses to create a glyph. We do the ancient Egyptians proud (We haven’t discussed grammar).

Only recently we have seen that chickens can learn to peck simple decisions. So can smartphone users.

Ancient Mariner

 

Governments and Citizens – Who Maintains the Norms?

Maybe too often mariner addresses circumstances about the future of mankind. Typically, the circumstances are beyond the focus of contemporary politics and culture. Nevertheless, the future presents dilemmas about which we are unaccustomed and we fail to recognize their importance in a timely manner – let alone prepare to deal with them as current political situations.

Even at this moment, the United States is struggling. It is struggling because we are not prepared to deal with global issues that did not exist when our Constitution was created. Suddenly, our leadership among world nations seems inadequate. Why?

In just a few years the attitude of the American Citizen has changed from tolerance to intolerance. Congress suddenly is drawing attention from its constituents. The Presidency has been struck a fateful blow by a wary and vulnerable electorate. Populism has emerged. The American Citizen senses a change in the wind.

Speaking in broad terms, eighteenth century capitalism is insufficient to support the moral obligations of global society. As corporatists and oligarchs leverage international markets which did not exist before the Internet and as data storage capacity expands to unimaginable size, common citizens are left behind in shrinking, community-based markets and economies whose norms, ethics and responsibilities are irrelevant to global economics.

When mariner was a much younger man, he lived near a small town in rural Pennsylvania. A town business, not very large as businesses go but the largest employer in the area, closed. Mariner stood looking at the empty buildings one day wondering why the business owners didn’t sustain their community responsibilities – they owed the town. If the business failed, go into another business; if it was a single-owner business, why not sell it to the community? The point was that the business owed the community something. Certainly the community gave to the business through its workers. The region’s economy failed. The personal obligations of commerce were ignored. The town be damned. Tough luck, folks.

Today, it isn’t a small business in a small town. It is Ford, Aetna, A.G. Edwards, 3Com, Amazon.com, Bank of America, Black and Decker, Cooper Tire… thousands of businesses. Leveraging modern technology, even if the business does not relocate to another country, it outsources jobs overseas or operates out of tax haven countries. These options are new because of computerization. These options have no ties to small towns or big cities or a community’s expected norms. And, to their benefit, corporations and oligarchs are no longer constrained by one nation’s regulations or one nation’s economy or one culture’s expectations; that means they are beyond the imposition of unions, worker benefit regulations, labor regulations in general and especially even paying taxes to support any national activity that may be of benefit to the nation or its people.

The governments of the United States, Federal, State and local, identify themselves in turn as keepers of the economy, of state-centric solutions to economy, and of infrastructure. None feel obligated to be champions for people – just economies and infrastructure. The citizenry senses a change in the wind but the governments are not addressing human exposure to international and global changes already occurring.

The changing wind is the source of the great schism between conservatives and liberals that exists today. Conservatives want to reduce the role of government, even take it back to the role of government in the middle of the last century. Liberals want to regulate corporations and wealth in behalf of the common man, even to the extent of using the economy as a tool to protect citizenry from new abuses occurring in the global economy. Speaking broadly, it is a conflict between capitalism and socialism. Speaking to readers, neither word is bad but they are different. It’s a question of functionality. Which is needed most to provide shelter for community norms, mores, and sustenance?

Ancient Mariner

 

WAR

So very slowly, so very, very slowly, notable numbers of H. Sapiens realize that war is horrifically expensive in every measurable way. War kills people and makes hard core enemies that can last for many generations.

War destroys commerce. Commerce means the way people live, put food on the table, grow families and sustain community scruples; commerce identifies what is fair and expected in daily life and allows people to fall asleep with dependable, secure expectations.

War destroys history. Not only cultures and ingrained identities but also the physical evidence – the identity and presence of nations, edifices, faiths and myths.

War is expensive. One instrument of war can cost more than a billion dollars. War requires armies that consume immense budgets to house, train and transport.

The problem is that war is easy. One person in a position of relative power can launch a war – an act that is personally gratifying and in victory “justifies” self-worth. Avoiding war is complex and difficult. Avoiding war requires compassion and other sophisticated feelings. The old saying ‘might is right’ isn’t right.

This will be an interesting age as humans struggle with a future that will not have room for war. The cost of war will be too high for the resources at hand. Nations will choose other solutions to preserve resources and global-scale economics – to say nothing about saving lives.

Still, this is no guarantee that lives will matter. The right to life is more than a cultish battle about birth control. It is a great mountain to climb in our species. Do we as Harari[1] suggests, ignore people we don’t need? Let two billion displaced and starving humans die because they aren’t needed?

Or does our species take into account the sanctity of life, of the right to breathe and grow and carry out the life we were intended?

Today, we turn our heads away in disinterest as small armies similar to Boko Haram that wreaks devastation and death on small towns in Nigeria. Are Nigerians not necessary in our future?

Eliminating War will be difficult. Saving lives will be more difficult.

REFERENCE SECTION

Mariner hasn’t referenced Nate Silver’s website, fivethirtyeight.com, in a while. Nate offers a weekly email report for free. The latest is copied below:

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

By Walt Hickey

39 states

According to investigators who spoke to Bloomberg, Russian intrusions into U.S. voter databases and software systems occurred in 39 states. [Bloomberg]

69

Three astronomers spotted two additional moons of Jupiter in images they took looking beyond the planet into the Kuiper Belt. This would bring the number of moons of the gas giant to 69. [Scientific American]

196

Number of congressional plaintiffs — all Democrats — who have joined a lawsuit against President Trump accusing him of violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which requires the president to get the OK from Congress before accepting foreign gifts. The suit claims that the president’s financial involvement in his businesses violates the clause. [The Washington Post]

436 percent

Urban areas have tried to cut down on the number of people incarcerated before their trials to reduce the population behind bars, but rural jails haven’t followed suit. The pre-trial detention rate in urban centers has dropped over the past several years, but the rate grew 436 percent from 1970 to 2013 in counties with fewer than 250,000 residents. [Wired]

$4.48 billion

Verizon has completed its purchase of aging internet giant Yahoo for $4.48 billion. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer scored $23 million in severance on the way out. [Business Insider]

If you see a significant digit in the wild, send it to @WaltHickey.

The Morning Story

Donald Trump Is Making Europe Liberal Again

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Ancient Mariner

[1] Yuval Noah Harari, a renowned futurist who has provided books, articles, lectures and opinions about how to interpret today’s reality and project the interpretations into mankind’s future. Citing current human behavior, which ignores unneeded people, he believes useless classes of workers will be set adrift in the future.

Coming of Age

Many years ago, when mariner was learning about world religions, he learned that the land called Turkey today in another time was the origin of virtually every political and religious principal in the western world. Even revered early Greek poetry and Greek philosophical wisdom is rooted in the Hittite Empire.

The land of Turkey is also called Asia Minor or Anatolia. Anatolia, the cultural name for the area, has been the intersection of civilizations since the beginning of political organization. Babylonian documents note Hittite dominance in the region as early as the 17th century BC. Anatolia was the first region in the world to use iron tools, transforming its culture from Neolithic to Iron Age. These changes occurred between 4500 and 2000 BC. Given the Hittites existed at least by 1800 BC, we’re talking really ancient history – which is the point of this post, that aside from not assassinating each king to make room for another one, generally speaking, there isn’t much that’s original in politics. The last somewhat original idea was in the 18th century when the United States decided to let the citizenry run the country.

Today there is an urgent need to reinvent human culture; computers are forcing us into the future. We have no choice: we are facing new rules, new attitudes and new definitions, ergo new politics. When iron was mastered, it changed war, it changed agriculture, it changed politics, and it changed day-to-day life.

So here we are 3,800 years later. We suffer the end game of two ages at once: fossil fuel and a stable mammalian age, and the beginning of a new age – not iron, computers.[1]

Simple ways a new computer age will be noticed:

Today in 2017, 40 out of 100 car drivers drive alone. Almost as many use transit. Only 4 in 100 carpool. Some say the electric car will save the single passenger preference. Some say the electric car will be controlled by the highway just as traffic lights control traffic today. Cars using major highways may be little more than a seat, a cab and some wheels and be hooked electronically to the car in front and the car in back. Toot-Toot!

Another option mentioned is that a driver will pick up a specially built car at a depot like Hertz. Otherwise, one can drive the old clunker but not very far before one must take light rail.

Already emerging are neighborhoods or converted small towns that are designed to accommodate all the needs of a resident. Cars will be unnecessary within the confines of the neighborhood. Any storefronts that still exist will deliver to the home. Amazon will provide everything else.

One of the significant changes will be the definition of work. We aren’t making all these computers for nothing! Several books have been written about this subject and every significant magazine has published articles. A common observation is a description of the dream of every human being: independence and financial security. The way computers are taking away jobs, we all may be independent so financial security can’t be based on human labor or clock time. Whence one’s income?

Hmm, will one be able to vote from home? Miracles can happen….

Ancient Mariner

[1] Fossil fuel is widely assumed to be the cause of climate change. Carbon emissions certainly have exacerbated global warming but the planet has its own life to live and is by itself growing warmer. Much more damaging, and far enough along that it is irreversible, is the mammalian issue – caused entirely by human practices of blatantly destroying habitat and over consuming food sources like fish. Compared to air pollution, the ocean is in worse shape. We are living our way to the Sixth Extinction.

Dear Mister Trump

Dear Mr. Trump:

It is hard to steer a boat in stormy seas. The nations of the world, each and every one, are sailing in extraordinarily stormy seas – each and every one including the United States.

It is especially hard for the United States. Intentionally, the nation was founded with importance given to the spirit of freedom and equality – a new perspective on governance by law that evolved over many centuries of European history. The new perspective paid off with the United States becoming the premier nation of the world – the most powerful, the wealthiest, and the leader of all nations. Some say that the golden years occurred in the middle of the last century. Too soon we have discovered these troubled seas.

We learn from history that humans reorganize themselves according to the circumstances at hand. Some say that in a natural environment we are happiest being members of a tribe. But reality drives a hard bargain. Soon humans had to reorganize into territorial kingdoms. After that, problems were too sophisticated for simple kingdoms. Nations had to be formed usually with authoritarian leadership like Russia and Turkey have at the moment.

However, reality now calls the people of the world to smudge the edges of a nation’s independence. Reality calls not for authoritarians, and not for personal riches that temporarily protect the super wealthy. Reality calls for a global mentality because the problems are too big for individual nations to solve.

Collaboration in economics, population management and planetary behavior is the solution today. Nations are linked together according to the issues they have in common. Today, many issues truly are global – no country can stand alone anymore. The Earth is moving into a new planetary age. It will take all of us participating together to survive.

Blog of the Ancient Mariner