Think Abouts

Mariner watched an episode of Christine Amanpour when she interviewed Jon Stewart and Dave Chapelle. Both men are astute observers of human life and social discourse. One comment that stayed with mariner was a comment by Jon Stewart; he was alluding to the brashness and unthinking environment that marks our society today. He said our opinions don’t have time to mature because we live at a circadian pace driven by tweets. Think about the rapidness of our society. Does rapidity override social grace?

Words that stir thought from Amanda Kolson Hurley:
“Ah, suburbia, land of the bland. White-picket-fenced realm of white-bread people and cookie-cutter housing. That’s still the stereotype that persists in how many of us think about and portray these much-maligned spaces surrounding cities. But if there was once some truth to it, there certainly isn’t today.

“In the past several years, a much more complex picture has emerged—one of Asian and Latino ‘ethnoburbs,’ rising suburban poverty, and Baby Boomers stuck in their split-levels. And 2018 really drove home the lesson that, when Americans say they live in the suburbs, the suburbias they describe are vastly different kinds of places.

“A century and a half after Frederick Law Olmsted laid out one of the first planned American suburbs in Riverside, Illinois, and seven decades after the builders Levitt & Sons broke ground on the ur-tract ’burb of Levittown, New York, we haven’t fully mapped the contours of modern suburbia—not just who lives there and why, but the role that suburbs play in politics and society.”

Mariner once read in a forgotten sociology book that towns, suburbs and other neighborhoods have a cultural lifespan of sixty years. Since reading that passage, mariner is convinced by continuous examples that it is true give or take a few years. Mariner is old enough to remember the new instant neighborhoods, some large enough to be small cities. Economics required that only one or two models would be available else costs would be too high for profit. Given today’s situation, income and profit slowly have dwindled in these suburbs; new better housing is found elsewhere and newer prices and salary requirements have trapped residents in their homes, unable to move out of the old neighborhood. Think about your childhood neighborhood; is it culturally the same as you remember?
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In mariner’s home town things have changed dramatically over sixty years. Mariner lived in his town in the sixties, left and returned ten years ago. In the sixties, the town was booming and healthy with robust churches, agricultural employment, investment potential for banks and entrepreneurs, active social life with dozens of clubs and social activities. It was a good time to live in his town. But it was the last decade of growth. Since then, the town slowly dwindled; churches are on the verge of closing; the older folk are trapped because their economic model has yielded to relentless inflation; and significantly, the age of electronics, computers, and soon artificial intelligence will totally reconstruct the daily culture and economic model of town citizens. From 1960 to 2020 will be sixty years. . . Think about how a town in the middle of corn fields can energize itself. It is a necessary goal for 800 people – many of them are young with families.
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Now think about this. An increasing number of nations are considering paying a basic income stipend to every citizen. Mariner is neutral on this issue. However, to solve the rapidly growing injustice of income and economic injustice as money gravitates to the upper classes; as a growing poor increases day by day; as an aging population cannot keep up with inflation and earnings; as the ability to produce dwindles in most neighborhoods, towns and even cities (consider the rustbelt on one end and impoverished Native Americans on the other), there are no other recommendations with the dynamic effect capable of reducing class-based economic disparity. Let’s use the Swiss as an example:

“Switzerland has a very direct style of democracy. For example, changes to the constitution, or “popular initiatives,” can be proposed by members of the public and are voted on if more than 100,000 people sign them. If a majority of voters and cantons (Swiss states) agree, the change can become law. This system not only allows individual citizens a high degree of control of their laws, but also means that more unorthodox ideas become referendum issues.

“Recently, there has been a spate of popular initiatives designed to curb inequality in the country. Earlier this year Swiss voters agreed to an idea proposed by entrepreneur Thomas Minder that limited executive (in his words, “fat cat”) salaries of companies listed on the Swiss stock market. Next month, voters will decide on the 1:12 Initiative, which aims to limit the salaries of CEOs to 12 times the salary of their company’s lowest paid employee.

“Earlier this month, an initiative aimed at giving every Swiss adult a “basic income” that would “ensure a dignified existence and participation in the public life of the whole population” gained enough support to qualify for a referendum. The amount suggested is 2,500 francs ($2,800) a month.

“While most observers think that the vote is a longshot, it has certainly sparked debate — and not just in Switzerland. Writing for USA Today, Duncan Black said that a “minimum income” should be considered for the U.S.” [Business Insider]

If ever there were a curse word in capitalism, it is “guaranteed basic income.” Very much a socialist concept, today’s conservatives perhaps even more than the rich, will have apoplexy if such a bill were submitted to Congress. Still, is there another alternative which forces income into communities and individuals who are production negative?” Think about it.

Tangentially, ProPublica published a report saying:

“A new data analysis by ProPublica and the Urban Institute shows more than half of older U.S. workers are pushed out of longtime jobs before they choose to retire, suffering financial damage that is often irreversible.”

Ancient Mariner