Count your blessings even if there’s only one tiny one

The Global Trends Report, which is compiled every four years, is an example of strategic foresight. Some clips:

“Driving the news: Many, if not most, of those trends identified in the new report from the U.S. government are trending negative.

“Shared global challenges — including climate change, disease, financial crises, and technology disruptions — are likely to manifest more frequently and intensely in almost every region and country,” the report’s authors write.

“They predict that those intensifying challenges will collide with a geopolitical structure that will become increasingly fragmented and fragile, as the U.S. competes with China for global leadership while citizens of both democracies and autocracies grow more dissatisfied with their leaders.

“Another fairly certain trend line is intensifying climate change which will lead to a less secure, more crisis-prone world that will strain global institutions.”

Axios put the full 156 page report online at

https://www.axios.com/global-trends-report-future-2040-f2d496d3-b393-4269-8756-5477379cdacb.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_axiosam&stream=top

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The more mariner learns about Florida the more is his desire NOT to live in Florida. Minimalist government, ignorant governor and cabinet administrators on the take. Plus all the nuances of being located in Dixie. The following story takes the cake – but at least obstetricians are saving money on their insurance premiums.

Ruth Jacques, distraught over the fatal injuries her son suffered during childbirth, couldn’t sue her doctor because of an obscure Florida state law. When she protested at his office, she was told to cease and desist. [The reader should move on to:

https://www.propublica.org/article/she-cant-sue-her-doctor-over-her-babys-death?utm_source=sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dailynewsletter&utm_content=feature ]

Florida has its day of reckoning, though. Climate change is coming.

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Here’s a tidbit from the news: China owns $1 trillion of the US debt, that is, China owns $1 trillion in US Treasury bonds. The open question is whether this affects the power relationship between the two nations.

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Almost half of homes in the United States now sell within one week of being listed. In Austin, the median listing price has risen 40% in one year to $520,000. Across the nation housing costs are soaring beyond the reach of most Americans. America has a record-low number of homes available for sale — just 1.03 million, according to the latest NAR data. That compares to a peak of more than 4 million at the height of the last housing bubble, in July 2007. Where is Congress – or perhaps the sympathy of the Republican Party?

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The blessing we can all count is the increasing participation of private citizens who feel they must help out in these trying times. From wildlife rescue to autism to homelessness to health to house construction to food and shelter, private individuals are stepping up, contributing cash, home space, labor and legal support. Three cheers for the empathetic American!

Ancient Mariner

Movement

Wow, just four days ago Justice Clarence wrote that there should be tighter regulations on social media – This from Axios:

New rules from tech companies are making it harder for users who commit crimes in the real world to become famous online, Sara Fischer and Stephen Totilo write:

“Twitch, the Amazon-owned livestream platform used primarily by gamers, yesterday unveiled a new policy to take action against users in cases of “severe misconduct” off its platform.

That can include deadly violence, terrorist activities or recruiting, credible threats of mass violence, sexual exploitation of children, sexual assault or membership in a hate group.

Why it matters: This more holistic approach may help tech companies protect themselves against criticism for hosting potentially harmful people or groups.

But it’ll be harder to draw the line on activity that’s harder to define as explicitly illegal, including bullying.”

From Protocol:

Pinterest has some new guidelines, called the “Creator Code,” meant to set the tone for how people operate on the platform. It’s also giving creators more tools to remove content and promote good stuff.

Facebook is all-in on context. It’s testing a system that adds labels like “satire page” or “public official” to posts in the News Feed, in an effort to give people more information about what they’re seeing and why.

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Also from Axios: America’s financial titans are coming to a consensus: We are on the early edge of the biggest economic boom since World War II, with the promise of years of growth after the privation of the pandemic.

Why it matters: They might be wrong. But all point to the same data: This expansion will be kick started by trillions in spending from presidents Trump and Biden, the Fed’s easy money, and piles of cash that consumers and companies accumulated during COVID shutdown.

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Amazon warehouse workers turn down union.

The majority of Amazon’s workers in Bessemer, Ala., voted against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. 5,800 people work at Amazon’s Bessemer facility and 3,215 cast ballots in the election. The union is filing papers with the National Labor Relations Board because of unfair practices by Amazon in the campaign.

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China commissioned 38.4 gigawatts (GW) of coal-power plants in 2020. That compares to the rest of the world shutting down 37.8GW of coal plants – the first coal energy increase since 2015.

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It has been proven that muons have magnetic characteristics. This changes everything in particle physics.

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Does the reader feel like an earthquake is starting? Futurists claim this will be a turbulent century and it’s only 2021. Mariner believes this century will be as significant in change as the fifteenth century was for Europe.

Ancient Mariner

Tactics

Tarun Chhabra, now a senior director on Biden’s National Security Council, wrote in Foreign Affairs in 2020 an article titled “The Left Should Play the China Card: Foreign Rivalry Inspires Progress at Home,” Chhabra argued that framing “large-scale public investment” as a way to counter China was the surest way to get conservatives on board.

Asia always has been perceived as a direct competitor. The increased, mindless abuse on US Asian citizens today by the socially inadequate Trumpists and racists reflects how misdirected the US electorate becomes when dealing with sophisticated, foreign diplomacy issues.

Mariner is concerned about Chhabra’s militant attitude. It is very true and proven throughout history that a foreign enemy unifies the home front. It is also proven, even back to the Mesopotamian wars in 2900 BC, that if the home front wins the skirmish, the losers are deliberately killed or made into slaves. (Did the reader see the news clip where a man shoved an older Asian woman to the ground and stomped on her face?) Today it’s a game of teamsmanship not survivorship.

During World War II, Asian citizenry was collected and imprisoned in internment camps until after the war – something like seizing a whole hay pile for fear there may be a needle. Innocent lives were ruined. The same was true for Germans and Italians although their appearance protected them to a great degree. The point is that militancy quickly will unify a nation but at great cost to civilized behavior and especially to a democracy. With the Trumpists running at large and with the nuclear warhead potency of social media, this is a dangerous strategy.

Mariner believes the real war will be fought with international economic liaisons, something like drafting the best players to make a championship team, otherwise known as supply chain economics.

It boils down to this: Who is our most dangerous enemy? Congress.

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But wait! There is another enemy: plutocracy. As if corporate graft weren’t already a major influence in legislation, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon urges companies to play a bigger role in fixing the world’s problems. He thinks government isn’t up to the job. Already Big Data has used the pandemic to install tracking devices in hospitals, police departments and corporate marketing activities with virtually no regulations. Does the American citizen want to place control over ethics, morality and citizen rights in the hands of corporations? God forbid they may be successful instead of our woeful government. (Note that JPMorgan is a prime target of the democrats who want to restructure the role of banks.)

We may appreciate the social awareness of today’s boycotting corporations; we shouldn’t let them be in control of social issues.

As a footnote, remember the TPP? It failed because it was written by corporate interests instead of government diplomats. They wrote it in a way that ignored human and national rights.

Ancient Mariner

From unexpected quarters

On April 5 the Supreme Court reversed a previous lower court decision per a suit filed by the Biden Administration. The decision had to do with the use of social media and freedom of speech on Twitter. The decision was actually just a matter of cleaning up loose ends but the surprise came from no less than the most conservative Justice, Clarence Thomas.

In a separate response to the case Justice Thomas suggested a different remedy for the conflict between first amendment rights and private intentions to abuse truth or otherwise promote special interests not intended by the users of social media.

Justice Thomas suggested that social media be tightly regulated similar to communication companies and utilities in general. Sound theories for managing social media have not emerged, notable because of the obvious free rein by Google, Zuckerberg et al to use private information for corporate gain and to otherwise ignore negative uses that in any other business area would be subject to unending liability suits.

Justice Thomas wrote that just as electric, gas, water and telephone are stiffly regulated, so too, should social media be regulated in all aspects of public consumption. For example, the water utility is subject to regulations about water quality, equal rights to distribution, even the manner in which pipes are laid and the materials used. As an example of abuse, search the Flint Michigan ‘lead in water’ situation. Is conspiracy theory the same as lead in our social media product?

It’s too early to tell how this will emerge but with the republicans growing increasingly wary of social media, they and the democrats may find something mutually compatible that will defend freedom of speech as a delivery product without lead, profiteering, and disregard for public fairness included in the product.

Dealing with the abuse of speech is a deep and wide issue that may never be completely resolved but let’s give Clarence a chance – it’s better than what we have.

Ancient Mariner

The New Global Economy

In a number of posts mariner has suggested that stand-alone national economies have peaked and are not the solution to the economic future. Virtually every economist feels that the economic health of the globe is failing more rapidly on a yearly basis. This may not seem as evident to the rich nations because they have a depth of wealth and assets that continue to produce profit but there are many telltale signs that even the wealthy nations have gathering clouds. (Mariner loves to mix metaphors)

Interestingly, the industry that has forced nations to reshape their economic philosophy is rare-earth minerals. In a report by The Economist the point is made that only a handful of nations have rare-earth resources (US has only one mine in California). Two of those nations are China and Peru.

Couple the disparate distribution of rare-earth minerals with the immense demand in the manufacture of electric cars, lithium batteries, jet aircraft, computers and dozens of lesser products and a classic supply/demand situation arises that will further unbalance global economics, making just a few nations wealthy while more nations succumb to severe trade imbalances.

A second but less focused desire to reshape world economics is the political war emerging among the wealthier nations. In this century China, United States, India, the European Union, Canada and Japan have taken deliberate steps to restructure international liaisons by developing supply chain relationships. Supply chain economics guarantees a dependable GDP for participating nations. The one example in recent times was the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which created an economic role for 11 nations on the Pacific Rim.

As a first time effort, TPP failed by displacing cultural and human rights in each nation in favor of capital gain; in effect the partnership would have authority over national governments. That should be a lesson learned as supply chain economics matures.

One muses that as China seeks to unify the small Pacific Rim nations, might the United States do the same with the Caribbean – yes even Cuba?

Ancient Mariner

On Character

When mariner and his wife moved to Maryland, he had thoughts of entering politics. He and his wife even campaigned actively for Bobbie Kennedy. He quickly became disillusioned. Unlike religion which requires devotion to and belief in morality and advocacy, politics requires just the opposite: make deals about anything – not just legislative language but in terms of self-interest, graft, favoritism, party mandates, graft, quid pro quo and graft.

During this century, mariner is reminded more strongly every day of the fish tank he had years ago. The legislators are the fish and greedily accept the cash and favors fed to them by corporations and plutocrats.

There are a few ideologues, AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) stands out among the few. On the conservative side, it’s the old timers who remember marching under the flag of fiscal responsibility but even they have compromised their principles, going into deep national debt not for national stability but to unnecessarily cut taxes to the rich, underwrite Donald’s wish list and eliminate regulations that controlled corporate quality assurance and required at least some allegiance to citizens.

Whenever a politician stands against opportunism and defends the righteousness of moral responsibility (Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney come to mind) it is noteworthy.

As always, the dysfunction is traced back to the electorate. When Liz Cheney voted to accept the vote of the Electoral College – even though she knew it would provoke an energized primary campaign against her in Wyoming – she stood for moral responsibility. Of course the electorate doesn’t recognize the higher qualities of leadership and representation that transcend party politics.

The simplistic mind of the electorate is why the run-of-the-mill legislator will not let go of Trump policy – competition in the primaries. The naive electorate (mariner cannot for his life sympathize with this mindset) wants controversial, sort of like ‘go big or go home’ politicians. This mindset is a greenhouse in which to grow dictators.

The one legislative action that will placate the electorate is jobs and good wages AKA the infrastructure bill. The minority leader says no.

Just as a footnote, the content of the infrastructure bill counters many of the standards and the government philosophy set under Reagan. Things may go easier in 2122 if younger republicans and democrats replaced the fuddy-duddies.

Ancient Mariner

IF

IF the reader was born before the Vietnam War (1954), their core understanding of reality and related social values is outdated – functional but outdated. Life values accumulate via growth experiences until around the age of 25; developing pragmatic skills through adulthood by participating in society benefits society. The opportunity to successfully participate in society fades after the age of 60 because two younger generations have created a different reality during their growing and productive years.

A good analogy for elders is walking lost on a Manhattan sidewalk at noon. What is important to social stability is that everyone over 60 has earned and deserves a pleasant time during their retirement.

It is true that some personalities will insist on an active, decision-making role in this century but their values and experiences are not quite in tune with the needs of a newer society.

IF

If the reader believes in the sanctity of the Universe, its tough and rugged rules for existence, its rules for sustaining a sensitive balance of life forms and further that all life forms are subject to the rules of Nature – then the reader tends toward being a naturalist. Perhaps the broadest philosophical point for a naturalist is sustaining Nature’s status quo, its balancing act among all matter living and nonliving.

Being a naturalist, the reader is aware that Homo sapiens has tinkered with longevity beyond what Nature would grant. Just in the modern era, the lifespan of humans in 1943 was 53; today it is close to 80. “Why,” the reader might ask, “has society nearly doubled the lifespan of humans but feels no responsibility for the overpopulated outcome not only concerning humans but their imbalance with the rest of the ecosystem?” Three alternatives have been tried that inadvertently limit population but have not become a sustained practice for balancing human population:

(1) Execution. Imposed death of family members and servants was practiced by Egypt for centuries; even today there is a voodoo group that still practices ceremonial sacrifice for the good of the family or society. A small remnant of ritual assassination remains through execution of unwanted criminals. And, of course, before the invention of explosives, changes in culture or climate forced relatively large armies to brutally kill each other in a war.

(2) Limited reproduction. From time to time, especially in Asian societies, a family was constrained by social rules to have only one child. A different variation existed recently when Asian families decided not to have that one child be female because males were more valued for their opportunity to work and bring more resources to the family. In 2015 Xi Jinping removed the offspring limitation for economic reasons.

(3) Prevented reproduction. These methods can be considered to be common practices to prevent pregnancy; for example, abortion, sexual preventatives like condoms and vaginal obstruction, and pharmaceuticals.

If one is a naturalist, given the overpopulation issue, one is confused by a culture that insists on enforcing the birth of children who may not be wanted or who will burden the life of the family beyond normal circumstances and at the same time other factions insist on pregnancy as a personal choice unaffected by reproduction issues.

As is almost always the case, Nature controls biological balance. Does the reader know that caucasians, Asians, Europeans, Russians, in fact the whole world is losing population? Just in the United States, where white supremacists are active, the white race will be a minority in the 2124 Presidential campaign and will disappear as a political entity by the end of the century.

Mariner is reminded of the noted mouse and rat studies in the 1960’s that showed when the caged population reached a point of imbalance in terms of space, mating environments and social bickering, the population suddenly dropped to about a third and stayed there for a long period.

Ancient Mariner

These are trying times

Trying times is an understatement.

The migration of tens of millions of people, exacerbated by a changing climate, will be one of the mega-trends of the 21st century, Bryan Walsh writes in Axios Future:

“For both humanitarian and political reasons, wealthy countries like the U.S. will need to figure out a way to handle a flow of people that may never stop. People make the difficult decision to leave their homes for many reasons, including conflict and crime, political persecution, and the simple desire for a better life.

“But a growing factor is the push of extreme weather and climate change, which disproportionately affect people living in poorer, hot countries that are already a major source of migrations to the U.S. That means the U.S., as well as the rich nations of Europe face a permanent and likely growing flow of climate migrants that they — and the international refugee system — are ill-equipped to handle.

“The catch: Climate change’s precise role in migration is tangled up with more immediate factors, like security and economic well-being.

“A Gallup survey released this week found that more than a quarter of the population of the 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean — which would amount to 120 million people — would like to permanently move to another country.

“42 million of those want to come to the U.S.”

More and more folks recognize that global warming is real. In the United States the political resistance comes from fossil fuel interests, the Trumpist anti-science movement and twentieth century conservatives. The combination of global warming, social modification due to artificial intelligence, a global virus pandemic and an apocalyptic shift in global economy – all at the same time – easily is more disruptive socially than the eruption of Vesuvius was to Mediterranean society or the environmental disruption caused by Krakatoa.

It is true humans are their own worst enemy. There are some egregious habits like death by war, life by stunting the Earth’s natural threats of viruses, visceral disorders, unnaturally prolonged lifespan, and other relationships that would control human population.

Adam Smith’s concept of moralistic capitalism no longer serves the common people. For one thing, there are far too many common people; for another, capitalism is competitive and slowly has separated wealth from the far too many common people; and finally there are far too many common people for the amount of natural resources available.

Humans added to population by inventing self-propelled transportation that easily spreads population centers over greater areas, easily heated homes and technologies capable of wiping out any number of biomass balances from air and water pollution to the directly related extinction of over 16,000 species.

These are trying times!

The trouble is, we can’t go back. We’re stuck with this mess and finally must take drastic actions to restore order – actions that we should have been managing all along but didn’t bother.

Has anyone seen Chicken Little? Is it true Amos went back to the farm? Guru is taking strong antidepressant pills.

Ancient Mariner

Let’s check in on the real news

In 4.5 billion years the Sun will fry the Earth destroying all living matter.

The Moon is drifting away from the Earth at the rate of 1.5 inches per year. Today the Moon circles the Earth about every 27 days; in 50 billion years the Moon will settle into a wider orbit that will require 47 days to circle the Earth. But then there’s the Sun’s interference at 4.5 billion years . . .

Current new studies show that the Americas are drifting away from Europe and Africa at a rate of 4 centimeters per year.

Can survival lessons be taken from the lifestyles of the oldest living things? The oldest Spruce tree is 9,550 years old; a variety of parsley living in the high deserts of Chile is 2,000 years old; stromatolites, a primitive moss/rock creature, lives 2,000 years. Hmmm, as a group they don’t seem to ask for much.

Mariner could continue to list news items showing patience, tenacity and long-term stability. It reminds him that in comparison the destructive, trashy, often incoherent Homo sapiens is like a one-panel cartoon versus a twenty volume encyclopedia. Perhaps it is best that humans live a short life span and will be extinct in less than 5 million years – given no asteroids, climate collapses or chemical destruction occur first. That leaves 4.495 billion years for the biosphere to recover.

If God had a Sunday newspaper, humanity would be on the comics page.

Ancient Mariner

 

Freedom of Speech

A brief quote from Leon Wieseltier in White Rose Magazine:

“After everything that liberalism endured and survived, after the unimaginably savage assaults of fascism and communism, we must steadfastly fight for it all over again, and we must begin again at the beginning.”

Wieseltier defines liberalism as the antithesis of authoritarianism. Liberalism can be conservative or progressive but it exists as a willingness to let things evolve naturally and to stay within sight of individualism. In his article, Wieseltier takes a different view of the terrorists and racists and includes the opposite side of Black Lives Matter and protests against police brutality. All of them, he contends, are starting at the beginning to recapture the individualism that has disappeared more and more rapidly in the last fifty years.

He fears that it will get worse before it gets better. The reader can imagine the cost to individuality from the Internet and its many homogenizing activities; the psychology of orderliness is no longer a person-to-person experience rather it is a form of compliance with the status quo – the path of least resistance, the easiest way to comply with social norms.

Mariner often has cited the 1980 Reagan shift that separated profit and national commitment into the wealthy and their corporations while letting go of obligation to the citizenry at large. (Mariner is not alone in this opinion; it is a very popular assumption among economists and sociologists.) In a vague manner, the common citizen had to take what the plutocrats offered – top down instead of bottom up. Between automation of the soul and oppression of life’s rewards, liberalism has largely disappeared.

The ideological collapse of the Republican Party is a symptom of these times. So is the progressive democrat charge into socialist solutions. Lost in between are liberalism and the importance of individualism. Expressed in Constitutional terms, there is no right to freedom of speech.

Perhaps Wieseltier has it right: we must begin at the beginning, perhaps not in open violence but in rearranging the ethical core of our nation; fighting need not be abusive but it must take physical action.

Ancient Mariner