What can we do about the Base?

The concept of a political whole has existed since Thucydides described the Peloponnesian War. In those days, a political whole was necessary to provide armies for war. Today, a political whole is the same as flour in a bread recipe: it holds a nation together despite endless differences in politics, society, technology, religion, economics, international treaties and the state of the planet itself – all part of the same recipe.

A way to feel the presence of a unified political whole, or unified nation, is to feel national pride. Remember in the old days when the phrase ‘I am an American’ was spoken with sincerity? An obligated feeling is to believe that each individual is America. America is each individual. Joined at the hip to use an old phrase. Alas, today the recipe isn’t working; the bread collapses into useless crumbs and bad tasting pieces.

Throughout history when change was in the air, in fact overdue, the idea of a unified nation no longer sufficed. Populist groups rose in rebellion; today we call it ‘identity politics’ and there are fractious campaigns across the board involving abusive class practices, abusive racial practices, abusive sexual practices, abusive economic practices, abusive corporate practices, political party elitism, and too frequently, a relapse into less than moral respect for the nation itself. The Base is among this list of entities. Why?

Mariner points to the over-capitalization of the US given that its resources have shrunk over time – from that time when an entire virgin continent was at hand to let capitalism generate the profits that it can generate so quickly. But in this century especially, there isn’t enough continent to go around and capitalism still reigns as the economic philosophy. Given less resources, those who garner wealth continue to maintain profits while the common citizen collects less and less over time until things obviously are unbalanced and unfair. The time has come that the common citizen knows their children will be economically disadvantaged.

The common citizen points their finger at Federal and state governments that have let this happen. It is a serious issue; savoir faire does not apply. The election of Donald, a pompous bully who is destructive, is not an issue with the Base. His job is to bring down an unsympathetic government – no love lost.

There are just a few ways a citizen can share profits derived from the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP):

Investment – For those citizens and corporations that have ‘extra’ cash above normal living and operating expenses, the cash is invested in things like stocks and bonds and various funds or it is invested in business expansion. Today there are some new wrinkles in capitalization; antitrust laws are ignored so very large companies can supersize themselves to sustain market value and increase profits; investment has become an international reality and significant percentages of money are not reinvested in US interests but invested overseas. Having little or no extra cash, the Base does not participate in profit by investment.

Wage and benefit negotiation – At the beginning of the 1900s, there were some bloody clashes and major destruction as laborers fought to unionize. Today, at the beginning of the 2000s, unions have been outlawed to the point of not being a significant influence in corporate decisions about wages and benefits. Employers can now treat wages as a static overhead regardless of profits. Consequently, the Base is shut out from GDP profits with a net effect of underfinanced retirement. Another side effect is minimum wage; plutocratic influence in governments has pushed against increases even to levels of viability.

Taxation – It is common knowledge today that the tax tables are upside down. As a percentage of income, low income citizens are taxed at severe percentages while wealth in all its forms is virtually tax free. Further, corporations no longer are bound to one government’s tax laws and are able to avoid taxes of any kind. The Base feels it is paying an unfair share of taxes for a government that caters to the plutocracy instead of the tax-paying workers.

Discretionary Programs – Programs in the government’s budget that are beneficial to citizens in general, e.g., health, welfare, social security, worker’s compensation, support for the indigent, and equal treatment programs; add in public education. The Affordable Care Act is the first major program to be added since the Civil Rights Act in 1957 and Medicare/Medicaid in 1965. In the 1990s, the health industry became a profit taking industry; the cost of health services was no longer based on cost plus a margin, it became based on what the market would bear. This increased health insurance significantly; copays increased and many health services opted out of Medicaid and Medicare, forcing citizens to pay huge bills for special services and prescriptions. Major detractors of discretionary programs are Libertarians and conservative parts of the Republican Party. The Base feels that governments are ignoring their needs.

A paragraph must be dedicated to the screwy results of the 2016 election. When surveying Republicans, Donald has 70% of the GOP. When surveying the general population, Donald has 40%. The 40% represents Donald’s Base; the other 30% is the GOP faithful. Unfortunately, Hillary was in the crosshairs of history: the whole Bill thing, the Whitewater thing, the female thing, the Establishment thing – the crossover to vote republican was just enough for the Base to switch to Donald. The irrational Electoral College didn’t help either. Ironically, Hillary won by 4 million votes and in 2018 the Democratic Party rose like a tsunami to take control of the House of Representatives. But Donald, running republican, took the day. Mariner feels sorry for the Base in that they elected the personality they wanted but not the party they wanted.

So what can we do about the Base? Fear feeds populism. The Base feels threatened on every side. Salaries are inadequate; retirement is uncertain; automation eliminates jobs every day; upward mobility is denied (college costs, forced layoff around the age of 50, rising house prices, etc.), governments are awash in plutocracy, children can’t afford to move out and on and on.
Mariner isn’t touting either party these days; government is totally dysfunctional whether Democrat or Republican. Still, the Green New Deal may expand the necessary workforce – especially for the working class; retooled discretionary programs, including the expense of college, may help around the edges of life; the idea of a dole to every citizen may rebalance income conditions especially for the poor and elderly; universal medical coverage may ease the life of just about everyone. It seems that the Democrats need specifically to invite the Base back to their party for 2020. A lot hangs on who the presidential nominee will be.

Ancient Mariner

When Migration becomes Immigration

In a recent post, mariner and Guru discussed migration. It was determined that migration is no more than a choice of action. One chooses migration because they can. There are many, many reasons that provoke the decision to migrate. The vast majority, however, would rather not have to choose migration. Migration is not class-specific; rich people migrate; opportunists migrate; poor people migrate; young people migrate; old people migrate; starving and life-threatened people migrate. Interestingly, the Internet is a new travel route for political motives and corporate investment – both forms of migration.

In this post, however, mariner and Guru explore the other side of the coin – immigration.

– – – –

Migration is replaced by the word ‘immigration’ when nationalism confronts the emigrant’s decision. An emigrant’s desire to migrate to another nation is no longer the deciding factor. Rather, it is the receiving nation that determines whether entrance is acceptable.

For obvious reasons across a range of issues, nations are obligated to have standards for immigration. Economic stability and military security clearly are good reasons to have standards for immigration; illegitimate practices in international commerce, black market products, diseases and animal/plant/insect controls are good reasons to check who and what comes and goes across a national border. Troublesome social issues like slave trade, drugs, and persons intent on criminal behavior also are a concern.

As a procedural relationship, migration and immigration work well. There are procedures in the nation of departure for applying for entry which match closely the standards set by the receiving nation. One cannot forget that government oversight and civil management are required in both nations for the procedural relationship to occur.

Successful immigration is similar to purchasing a plane ticket, passing through airport security and boarding the plane – all before one can depart the initial location. The immigration struggles that have become worse around the world during the twenty-first century will become more troublesome as the world changes on many fronts. In virtually every troublesome case, the decision to migrate starts in a nation that has no government oversight, no civility, and to cite the analogy, no airport.

The typical reaction of most nations is to confront excessive migrants at the border after the migration has been accomplished. Taking a cue from the immigration procedure when it works correctly, the emigrant should qualify at the beginning, not at the end. Mass migrations have legitimate cause to leave nations at war, starving, with collapsed economies and management by murderous gangs, residency applications notwithstanding.

Mariner has more to learn before he can foresee a solution to the global migration issue. Being global and being international, it seems an organization similar to the United Nations would be the only comprehensive enforcement agent to take the pressure off national immigration services and push residency applications back to the nation of departure.

Pulling a process out of the air, perhaps the UN would manage humane immigration at the front end, filling out forms, etc. This would require all nations to agree to the UN’s screening. While nations still have the last say, the experience at the border may flow better.

OBSERVATION SECTION

[Politico] HOW MUCH THE BANKS ON THE HILL TODAY SPENT ON LOBBYING: The chief executives of seven major bank and investment firms — Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and State Street Corporation — arrived on the Hill this morning to testify before the House Financial Services Committee. As you might expect, all of them have a presence in Washington.

The seven companies together spent $14.8 million on Washington lobbying last year, according to disclosure filings. Citigroup spent the most, at $4.5 million; State Street spent the least, at $1.5 million. All of them also have active corporate PACs that give to members of Congress — including, of course, members of the committee.

–> Be honest. Is your vote 100% influential? Is it $10,000 for each representative or is it one person, one vote?

This is just the banks . . . The term for this form of government is plutocracy or corporatocracy. Certainly not democracy.

– – – –

[538] $1,535 rent

Driven by millennials’ demand, job growth and rising wages, the median rent in the U.S. rose 3.4 percent in March compared to the year before, according to data from the online rental housing site HotPads. It’s now $1,535 a month. Phoenix was the big “winner,” where the median rent rose 6.7 percent to $1,520. The median rent in New York, on the other hand, ticked up just 1.5 percent — to $2,380. [Associated Press]

–> It’s good news that citizens are finding somewhere to work. The rent statistics show that the unemployment record doesn’t tell the whole story. Salaries have a long way to go before they return to realistic levels. The other implication derived from the high rents is that the US faces a growing housing issue.

Ancient Mariner

Why Migration

Mariner had a closed door conversation with Guru. Amos wasn’t invited because he is deeply affected by the Donald reality. Mariner doesn’t know where Chicken Little is hiding due to the Russian military arriving in Venezuela.

Guru and mariner delved into the broader ramifications of the migration issue. They had to have some distance from the ravaging of the issue by Donald; his leadership is inadequate and he cannot process socio-political evolution.

As always in a discussion with Guru, the question of ‘why’ had to be answered first. Mariner started with some statistics to determine the scope of the issue:

  • Worldwide, there is an estimated 191 million immigrants;
  • The last 50 years has seen an almost doubling of immigration;
  • 115 million immigrants live in developed countries;
  • 20% (approximately 38 million) live in the US alone, making up 13% of its population;
  • 33% of all immigrants live in Europe;
  • 75% live in just 28 countries;
  • Women constitute approximately half of all migrants at around 95 million;

Between 1990 and 2005 ◦There were 36 million migrations (an average of approximately 2.4 million per year);
◦33 million wound up in industrialized countries;
◦75% of the increases occurred in just 17 countries;
◦Immigration decreased in 72 countries in the same period;[1]

An interesting factoid from PewResearch.org is that the Mexico-to-U.S. link is the most popular bilateral migration path in the world. As of 2013, more Mexican immigrants (13 million) were living in the U.S. than all immigrants to Russia combined (11 million). Russia has the second largest number of total foreign-born residents, after the United States, which has a total foreign-born population of about 46 million.

Also from Pew Research, Countries with the fewest resources send lower shares of migrants. Although international migration is intrinsically tied with the search for jobs, people in the most impoverished countries may not have the money to finance a trip. The Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Niger – countries with some of the lowest U.N. Human Development Index ratings and GDP per capita – all have less than 3% of their population living outside their borders.

Then mariner and Guru focused on why migration happens. The first notable migration was the one 80-100 thousand years ago from Africa into the Middle East and Europe. A popular theory among paleontologists is simply that Homo sapiens, like any species, migrated because it could. Mariner is reminded of the French who have a larger percentage of citizens living around the world than any other nation. There must be a statistic somewhere that describes the high rate of citizen relocation within the US – just because they can. Some years ago, there was a statistic that said Americans move an average of every five years – for various reasons of course – but the bottom line is because they can. The first reason migration occurs: because it can.

Competing for the second reason for migration are economic hardship/opportunity, religious freedom, education, family ties, tyranny and war, famine and disease, and whimsy. All these reasons, save whimsy, can be listed in two groups of migrants: political reasons and economic reasons; the overlap is significant.

Lest one dismiss whimsy lightly, the migrations to the Caribbean, Central America and the South Pacific affect local political and economic circumstances in those regions. Years ago mariner sailed the islands of the Caribbean when virtually every island had a unique culture and distinctive value. In less than ten years, big time commercialism wiped out the colorful, fragile and balanced nature of these islands.

Another top-down migration occurred in Puerto Rico in the early 2000s when billionaires seeking to reduce taxes bought all the good shoreline and built magnificent castles they called ‘resorts.’ This in no way benefited the Puerto Rican economy and put out of reach the better shorelines that Puerto Rico could have leveraged.

Corporations migrate as well and are pushing the world economies into a new age of international finance. And, oddly, the Internet allows migration without ever leaving in the first place but, as the 2018 US election proved, Russian political influence affected US politics as much as a cruise ship docking at a small island in the Caribbean – without ever leaving Russia.

Given the discourse above, whether hardship or whimsy, migration happens because it can. The next post will look at migration from the opposite side, immigration.

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] http://www.globalissues.org/article/537/immigration#Whydopeopleemigrate

Primer for the Electorate in 2020

Reaganomics.

In the 1980s Reagan proposed a four-pronged economic policy that was intended to reduce inflation and stimulate the economy and job growth:

1) reduce government spending on domestic programs;

2) reduce taxes for individuals, businesses and investments;

3) reduce the burden of regulations on business; and

4) support slower money growth in the economy.

If the reader recognizes these policies, it’s because today’s Republican Party still believes in the sanctity of these four policies. However, the issues that confronted Reagan (high inflation and high unemployment) do not exist today. Deregulating industry was so prevalent that during Reagan’s Presidency, businesses were allowed to use assets locked in retirement funds as a source for new venture capital. Unions have been decimated by Reaganomics; Reaganomics is a ‘supply-side’ policy, that is, provide products and people will buy them, raising employment as a factor of profit. However, the net result in today’s economic environment encourages capital investment rather than manufacturing.

By reducing or eliminating decades-long social programs, while at the same time lowering taxes and marginal tax rates, Reagan’s approach to handling the economy marked a significant departure from that of many of Jimmy Carter’s policies. The results spread the gap between the wealthy and working classes versus poverty levels. The number of children, ages 18 years and younger, below the poverty level increased from 11.543 million in 1980, 18.3% of children, to 12.455, 19.5%, in 1988. Also, the situation of low income groups was affected by the reduction of social spending, and inequality increased. Hence GOP resistance to universal health strategies and discretionary spending.

Today, the advantage granted to business and wealth has grown to the point of imbalance. The government is close to becoming a plutocracy as the wealthy, large corporations and lobby support for legislators have grown into disruptive proportions.

What needs to happen in 2020:

It’s time for Reaganomics to end. For both houses of Congress, this is done by replacing the old GOP with young centrist republicans and by increasing the number of democrats.

Lack of collaboration and compromise in Congress.

Newt Gingrich is considered the House Speaker who changed a more or less collaborative legislative process into a contest for party dominance. The old days of party leaders negotiating balanced compromises was replaced by a ‘my party first, the Nation second’ attitude in the 1990s (just like Mitch). The Democrats responded in kind, replacing statesmanship with gamesmanship. This situation has grown worse as big money and gerrymandering have become the tools of political power – causing significant damage to the classic strengths of one person, one vote and the democratic engine perceived by the Founders. Part of the reason for Donald’s success is that the electorate has grown tired of a do-nothing Congress.

What needs to happen in 2020:

The electorate always will be influenced by personality first but add a second awareness in 2020: Does the candidate talk about new solutions for current issues or repairing old ones? Pick the one with new solutions.

Corporatism

Corporatism is multifaceted. What will replace Reaganomics is an economy that engages several nations at once. Think of a strip mall with many storefronts and a couple of large box stores at each end. Each store contributes to the overall GDP of the mall. Different stores sell and buy different things but all the stores are dependent on the mall as a whole.

A couple of years ago a consortium of 12 nations participated in designing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)[1], a classic example of international economics. Sadly, it failed muster in the US because of a rift between Republican Congress and a Democrat in the Whitehouse. There were some rough spots where the corporate authors ignored human rights and economic obligations but the attempt was headed in the right direction to launch a new and different economy.

Another facet of corporatism is taxes. Very large corporations virtually are not taxed; they live in several nations at once so they aren’t really controlled by any given nation. The solution is something similar to the European Union or TPP where economic policy is centralized across all member nations.

A third facet (there are more but these three desperately need electorate assistance) is the issue of human rights, privacy and security. Today, giant multinational corporations have no obligation to provide living wages, decent benefits or working conditions. Further, they totally disregard privacy and security. The old Reaganites are afraid to tax corporations because they will locate in another country – which is true because the countries have not banded together to formulate common taxes. Not taxing is not a solution.

What needs to happen in 2020:

Economically speaking, what needs to happen is expressed in the first issue – it’s time for Reaganomics to end. Consider giving the vote to a candidate that doesn’t spout the four policies of Reaganomics.

Further, take notice of candidates that talk about information security (see the recent post, How someone can live your life for you to understand privacy). The security side has to do with national security and high-tech industries that would prefer not to worry about the expense of national security on a nation-by-nation level. If the electorate can fix one security item, let it be US election security.

Manufacturing

A Chinese Corporation won the bid to build Chicago’s new rail system. Electronic manufacturing for US products largely is performed everywhere but in the US. The US is falling behind other nations in knowledge-based industries. Historically speaking, the US doesn’t make things anymore. Even armchair doilies are made overseas.

This is so obvious that it’s Democrats who know how to fix manufacturing! Their proposal is called the Green New Deal (a reference to FDR’s New Deal). The democrats combined the requirements to meet climate change, improve transportation in all its forms and create new industries for a new era driven by Artificial Intelligence into one sweeping manufacturing economy. Generally, the Green New Deal will turn the US into a nation that builds stuff again.

What needs to happen in 2020:

The Green New Deal is the opposite of supply-side Reaganomics; it’s Keynesian demand-side economics. It’s a Democratic Party program that needs a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress.

Cabinet-Based programs

A citizen is familiar with these issues: health, education, housing, equal rights, immigration, environmental protection, agriculture, and several other state and Federal policies – all managed by cabinet secretaries of one kind or another. Desperately needed immediately is a functioning State Department to restore US leadership in the world and to lead the US into a new economic and social age.

What needs to happen in 2020:

Get rid of Donald.

Ancient Mariner

[1] The TPP was between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. The countries involved produce 40 percent of the world’s total gross domestic product of $107.5 trillion.

How someone can live your life for you

The following article from CityLab’s Kriston Capps expresses the exact fear that mariner cites continually and why he is a privacy advocate:

[CityLab] Ben Carson mentioned you: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it is charging Facebook for violating the Fair Housing Act. According to the charges, Facebook’s ad delivery system discriminated against users by screening who can see ads for housing on its marketplace listings. The site gives advertisers—including lenders, real-estate agents, and landlords—the tools to target potential buyers or renters and block others based on specific characteristics.

The charges from HUD describe how that can translate into housing discrimination. One example in the complaint says users can block people from seeing housing listings if they’re categorized as “moms of grade school kids” or “foreigners,” or if their interests include “hijab fashion” or “service animals.” “Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson in a statement.[1]

–> Most people are not aware that data mining corporations like Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and many others already slice and dice a person’s profile and sell it to other interests. Internet users do not get offers for the better credit cards if their credit history is too low; every time someone uses a search engine, their selections are marketed and the user begins getting advertisements related to that search; does anyone receive only one seed catalogue? And on and on.

While commercial profiling is a nuisance, the HUD violation against Facebook points out the dark side: interfering in one’s private life and intimate issues like health (Insurance companies already are converting policies to require the insured to participate in electronic tracking of everything about the insured; if one didn’t jog today, their premium may increase). As mariner has mentioned many times (and readers know this), if the public isn’t stringent about privacy law, someone else will live their lives for them – saying where they can live, what they can eat, select their spouse, create their budget, limit debt ceilings, alter the cost of retail items – all without the authority and without the awareness of the individual.

Profiling data has the largest profit margin of any industry. It is inexpensive to create and generates political and economic power by suggestion. It takes no effort to slip from suggestion to manipulation by controlling the perceived reality of the individual.

Ancient Mariner

[1] CityLab’s Kriston Capps has the story: https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/03/facebook-discrimination-policy-housing-ads-hud-charges/585931/?utm_campaign=citylab-daily-newsletter&utm_medium=email&silverid=%25%25RECIPIENT_ID%25%25&utm_source=newsletter

More about Swamps and Glaciers

If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere
[CityLab] “Don’t sneeze: It looks like New York may finally become the first city in the United States to introduce congestion pricing on its streets. The New York Times reports that state leaders have reached a consensus to put electronic tolls in place for drivers entering the most heavily jammed parts of Manhattan. Politically speaking, the idea has come a long way since 2008, when then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg floated a version of congestion pricing that was seen then as a non-starter.”
–> Anyone who travels major highways around the US has observed electronic toll gates where a driver does not need to pay cash but has a pre-paid pass that reads the pass as the vehicle drives through the turnstiles. Some toll roads don’t want any cash but photograph the license plate of non-pass drivers; the driver gets a bill via the US Postal Service.
New York City has a two-fold issue: Manhattan traffic jams last all day and the solution is supposed to be a modern, civilized subway. The congestion toll will help pay for subway construction that is over budget in astronomical numbers. If one has need or simply plans to visit NYC, definitely use commercial transportation – leave the car at home.
– – – –
Mariner has a few friends who are preparing to move into retirement communities. One easily can relate to the confrontation of which books to keep, which memorabilia, large and small and dear to the heart and maybe belonged to a beloved grandmother, to dispose of or to keep. Will there be room to keep the entire collection of photograph albums, LPs and 45s? And clothes, and yard equipment, and furniture and . . . The agony of it all.
It occurs to mariner that changing a life style is as difficult as changing from one cultural age to another. Much faster, of course, than the decades it takes to make cultural changes in perceived ethics, economics, and life values in every family and business that is affected.
Many consider the decades after World War II to be the Golden Age of American history, the time when ‘The Greatest Generation’ lived. WWII expedited change by bombing every nation from Norway to Mozambique and from France to the islands of the Pacific. Mariner has mentioned before that many sociologists believe there is a fifty to sixty-year life cycle to a given culture – give or take a few years. This includes small towns, cities, nations and today many nations at once. The sixty-year cycle seems to hold up in recent history:
– From the War of 1812 to the Civil War (58 years).
– From the Civil War to World War II (75 years).
– From World War II to the Vietnam War (50 years).
– From the Vietnam War to the Iraq War (45 years).
It is a shame that cultural life cycles can be measured loosely as the time between wars. It seems the entire planet is at war right now; in fact that’s true. Only 11 nations out of 182 are not at war. The advantage living humans have is that they are aware that more is happening than just war. War is a simplistic and cruel way to respond to insecurity but in the midst of the gunpowder and espionage, people are changing their values. As the values change, increasing pressure is brought to bear on government, business, economic law and daily life to change as well.
And so it is that the US is in a bipolar state: what cultural behaviors and rules will be kept? Which will be thrown out? What are the new rules? Like it or not, the US is at a time similar to mariner’s friends; the nation is moving to a new culture.
Ancient Mariner

Important but Unheralded News

2 times as often

[Wall Street Journal] Philadelphia has become the first major U.S. city to ban cashless stores, which have become a mini-retail fad in recent years. Stores say it saves them time; the city says it locks out poorer residents. The poorest Americans are nearly twice as likely to use cash as the richest ones.

Keep the change: Uber. Sweetgreen. Amazon Go. More businesses are opting to go cashless, and trends show Americans are hopping on board: In 2017, debit and credit card payments made up 48 percent of all transactions. Even more conventional restaurant and retail establishments have cut cash, citing increased efficiency and safety. But lawmakers at the local level are concerned that the cash-free economy will discriminate against low-income people. Philadelphia recently became the first city to ban cashless businesses, and San Francisco and D.C. are eyeing similar measures.

New York City is the latest to consider such a bill. With nearly 12 percent of its residents living unbanked—often people of color and undocumented immigrants—the policy brings a bigger question to life: Is refusing to accept cash a form of racial discrimination? “In the end, I think the need for equity outweighs the efficiency gains of a cashless business model,” says the city councilmember sponsoring New York’s legislation. “Human rights takes precedence over efficiency gains.” [1]

– – – –

27 universities

[The Wall Street Journal] At least 27 universities — including MIT, the University of Washington and the University of Hawaii, according to cybersecurity intelligence group — have been targeted by Chinese hackers on the hunt for research “about maritime technology being developed for military use.” The hacking group may be the same one that hacked Navy contractors last year, stealing submarine missile plans and other data.

– – – –

Cars are killing us. Within 10 years, we must phase them out.

[The Guardian] Let’s abandon this disastrous experiment, recognise that this 19th-century technology is now doing more harm than good, and plan our way out of it. Let’s set a target to cut the use of cars by 90% over the next decade.

Yes, the car is still useful – for a few people it’s essential. It would make a good servant. But it has become our master, and it spoils everything it touches. It now presents us with a series of emergencies that demand an emergency response.[2]

– – – –

40 Years After The Vietnam War, Some Refugees Face Deportation Under Trump

The Trump administration is trying to convince Vietnam to repatriate some 7,000 Vietnamese immigrants with criminal convictions who have been in the United States for more than 30 years.[3]

[1] For full article see: https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/03/cashless-cash-free-ban-bill-new-york-retail-discrimination/584203/?utm_campaign=citylab-daily-newsletter&utm_medium=email&silverid=%25%25RECIPIENT_ID%25%25&utm_source=newsletter

[2] For full article, see: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/07/cars-killing-us-driving-environment-phase-out?utm_campaign=citylab-daily-newsletter&utm_medium=email&silverid=%25%25RECIPIENT_ID%25%25&utm_source=newsletter

[3] For full article see: https://www.npr.org/2019/03/04/699177071/40-years-after-the-vietnam-war-some-refugees-face-deportation-under-trump?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20190304&utm_campaign=breakingnews&utm_term=nprnews

The indifferent Species

[BBC] “The world’s most endangered orangutans could be pushed towards extinction after an Indonesian court approved a controversial dam project, say campaigners.

The 22 trillion rupiah ($1.5bn) dam will be built in North Sumatra’s Batang Toru forest.

The region is home to the Tapanuli orangutans, which were only identified as a new species in 2017.

Only 800 of them remain in the wild and they all live in this ecosystem.

One scientist, who acted as an expert witness in the case, told the BBC the move would “put the orangutans on a firm path to extinction”.

‘Worst area of the forest’

The billion-dollar hydropower dam, scheduled for completion in 2022, will be constructed in the heart of the Batang Toru rainforest, which is also home to agile gibbons and Sumatran tigers.”

–> There is no doubt in mariner’s mind that the human species is disassembling the Age of Mammals. And sea life. And birds. Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction – An unnatural History[1], documents the human’s childlike abuse of climate, habitat, and an alarming, almost unbelievable and unending list of extant species caused directly by human disregard for life.

Humans have assaulted the Planet’s willingness to harbor all life forms in a balanced and, albeit it competitive, a fair sharing of Earth’s global habitat. But humans, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, have met nature by population, by chemistry, and by destruction.

Even as the human species sits in the midst of a man-made climate disaster that kills from the deepest parts of the deepest ocean to the highest peaks of the highest mountain each and every day, humans, like little children, have no perspective on reality. What is important to Homo s. is insatiable consumption of resources for convenience and an artificial asset system consisting of economic engines that destroy the planet rather than heal it, force combative asset challenges on an environment that is not designed for continuous destruction in the name of meaningless, artificially measured profits.

In a past post, mariner listed the species that have disappeared by the hand of man. It ran for pages. Every human being should take Elizabeth Kolbert’s tour around the world to see the obnoxious behavior of humans as they deliberately destroy the planet’s evolutionary balance – at the cost of living creatures.

Dare mariner suggest our attitude toward our planet is similar to that of an incompetent, destructive, uncaring, selfish President of the United States?

Ancient Mariner

[1] The Sixth Extinction, An Unnatural History, Elizabeth Kolbert, 2014, Henry Holt and Company

The New Work Ethic

The only word to describe his history is the word bizarre

While Donald pretends to know what he is doing to stop the nuclear warhead plans in North Korea, he is working to provide nuclear warheads to Saudi Arabia where he and his son-in-law (and the New York Post) have financial interests. Nevertheless, someone nominated Donald for the Nobel Prize for Peace. If Donald could buy one, he’d have half a dozen by now – peace be damned.

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Alexander Hamilton?

[Atlantic] . . . If you want to understand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s bid to remake the economy to fight climate change, you need to read Hamilton. . . Former Treasury Secretary Hamilton (Jan 11, 1755 – Jul 12, 1804) called for policies that sound familiar to us today. Like Representative Ocasio-Cortez, he wanted massive federal spending on new infrastructure. Like Donald Trump, he believed that very high tariffs can nurture American manufacturing. And like Elizabeth Warren, he was willing to bend the Constitution to reform the financial system. . .

“Hamilton, in short, successfully used the power of the federal government to boost manufacturing, to pick winners and losers, and to shape the fate of the U.S. economy. He is the father of American industrial policy: the set of laws and regulations that say the federal government can guide economic growth without micromanaging it. And the Green New Deal, for all its socialist regalia, only makes sense in light of his capitalistic work.”[1]

–> Over most of the Nation’s history, manufacturing was the source of GDP. The North American continent was rich in every conceivable commodity from agricultural crops to steel. The corporate world earned its profits by engaging in manufacturing and innovations in manufacturing from plows to rocket ships. Over the decades, it was noticeable than everything from doilies to washing machines to automobiles left the US bound for other national economies. Since the Reagan Doctrine in the 1980’s, corporate profit has been made from investment first and only indirectly from manufacturing. Now, in an age when manufacturing salaries are a shadow of the past, when an age of investment oligarchs has emerged, and the Nation’s government follows money rather than statesmanship, it may be time to cancel the Reagan Doctrine and return to a manufacturing economy.

But the twenty-first century is not your grandfather’s world of manufacturing. If the fact that 195 nations signed the Paris Accord on Climate Change is anything to go by, there is a new market environment that will provide new demands, new products, and especially a new way in which the world must approach its global economies.

Al Gore years ago made a prediction: “When Americans understood what climate change would mean for their children and grandchildren,” the former vice president warned, “they will demand that whoever is running for office, whoever is elected to serve, will have to respond.”

The new manufacturing policy of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others is based on different things than dishwashers: What will the US economy have to generate and reinvent in order to relocate New York City, Miami, and New Orleans among dozens of other cities that will be swamped by rising oceans? How will manufacturing transfer from fossil fuels to other forms of energy? How imposing will the new climate be that American infrastructure must be retooled with new processes, new inventions and new economic methods for providing salaries and welfare during a time when big hurricanes are nothing compared to the damage of a two-foot rise of ocean front along the Atlantic Coast? How will international policy change as whole nations disappear beneath the waves? How will economies be restructured to survive as Artificial Intelligence arrives and changes the workplace?

Perhaps it is time to go back to the history books. What was important to the founding fathers that we have ignored in the last sixty years? How would Alexander have handled things? Is our current Congress capable of refocusing on a new future not run by investment but by, as the Amish would suggest, putting its shoulder to the wheel and solving new problems?

Whatshisname is a pain in the ass but it is Congress that must take action. Mariner is pleased by the new blood in Congress. Let’s pray the new mindset grows. Alexander would be proud.

Ancient Mariner

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/02/green-new-deal-economic-principles/582943/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=atlantic-daily-newsletter&utm_content=20190219&silverid-ref=NDkwMjIzMjA1Mjg2S0

Identity Crisis

 Taking a break from daily news, in the US at least, where Donald skillfully dominates the public message and the press runs after it like a kitten runs after a ball of yarn, mariner turns to the serious issue of identity politics. In 21 months the US will have another Presidential election. Making this election even more important is that of the 33 Senate seats subject to primaries and reelection, 22 of the 33 are held by Republicans. Will the left swing of Democrats add to the attitude shift that carried the House of Representatives? Will a new attitude change the McConnell Senate? Dare mariner say the Senate will be controlled by Democrats?

Not today. The Democratic Party (and recently the Republican Party) is a montage of special interests. This happens frequently in a party that refers to itself as the ‘umbrella’ party. This time, however, the montage is unusually organized and has heels dug in against any compromise to principles.

Special interest groups have had years to foment dissatisfaction about guns, election tampering, gerrymandering, elected officials owned by lobbyists, grotesque amounts of money thrown at campaigns by special interests; add in the familiar ones: race, jobs, wages, unfair taxation, health, and retirement. Every one of these issues has lain dormant for much longer than a decade. The Senate truly is a do-nothing Senate with a deaf ear to the voice of the electorate.

So the Congress is ripe for a shakeup. There is a threshold to overcome: Primaries aside, to elect a new party Senator the vote count for the contender must be higher than the vote count for the entrenched Republican Senator – an uphill battle in a red or purple State. Making the Senate more important than usual is the messiness of the campaign for the Presidency. Even discounting Donald running for a second term, whoever wins in 2020 will not be the central force of change. Donald has completely derailed the normalcy of Presidential power and the electorate will vote for a ‘safe’ replacement – someone like Biden or Romney – Schultz doesn’t have ‘it’ to overcome other candidates. Consequently, both houses of Congress will have more influence on national policy than usual.

If the Democrats are to make inroads in the Senate, the Party must bring together disparate groups like Me Too, Black Lives Matter, Right to Choice, homosexual rights, Medicare for All, Unions, environmentalists and several emerging Hispanic rights groups. Indeed a montage.

Unification of these identity politic groups is absolutely necessary to compete in the red states. Both Republicans and Democrats will lose middle–of-the-road voters to a safe President; these same voters likely will stay with incumbent Senators.

Ancient Mariner