It is time.

Mariner, for the sake of sanity, has stepped back from daily behavioral response to frightful, deliberately agitating news programs. Saner are selected on-line news sources, books and magazines. He is careful, as a citizen, to maintain his obligation to a national democracy; he is responsible to elect meaningful representatives to HIS government.

But mariner has begun to wonder. Is democracy becoming old fashioned? Is it the right philosophy of government for an era where international politics are growing more influential than national politics? Is the new global economy too expensive for a typical citizen to invest in and participate? Will each nation simply play the role of a labor union to reconcile humanistic virtues vis-à-vis international corporate politics? Will, in fact, super-sized corporations replace national governments? Who will govern the corporations?

As though to tease our brains, many of these questions already have emerging answers that seem to be pulling everyone into an age of supersizing – certainly causing stress on religion, secularism, humanism and the old fashioned descriptions of capitalism, socialism and communism. At the moment, without exception, the new frontier is fed and run by money.

Immediately important today is our concept of taxation. The rich have won the war on taxation: the richer one is, the less percentage tax they pay to the point of paying none; the same with corporations. It is the excessive wealth among a few that can launch a global plutocracy.

Ironically, the distrust between citizens has led to populism and identity politics, in effect dividing citizens one against the other while the rich unify their economic purposes.

If humans are to remain the significant influencer in human history, it may be that democracy is the last defense against authoritarian oligarchy. Democracy depends on an identity that evolves from human ethic while authoritarian oligarchy vacuums profit that denies human ethic. An excellent example is that Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have the finances to underwrite a useless trip into the solar system while billions of humans live stressed, inadequate lives.

In short, our defense is to unify, to become one human force that controls its ethical experience. It is not a time to destroy democratic election processes; it is not a time to quibble over a measly trillion (many individuals in the world could pay out a trillion by themselves). It is not time to pretend superiority by hiding behind race and other social issues. It is time to defend the very core of humanity.

Will someone tell the electorate?

Ancient Mariner

Skipping through the news

֎ A quote from Politico news:

“The Wall Street Journal recently revealed that Facebook treats users’ posts differently depending on their wealth, privilege and status. That and other findings based on internal Facebook documents indicate Facebook “presented different, contradictory versions of these policies in public and private. From a securities regulation standpoint, any big lie could potentially defraud investors and invite an investigation” by the Securities and Exchange Commission, per Jena Martin, a former SEC attorney and now law professor.”

‘nuff said. Big data needs regulation.

 

֎ Remember TPP? Congress failed to approve the treaty and Donald cut off political ties later. What was agreed by the other eleven nations became the ‘Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership’ (CPTPP). Today, China is attempting to join the agreement which, of course, would destroy the original purpose to control China’s influence in the Pacific Rim. CPTPP representatives are begging Joe Biden to hurry up and join the treaty. International supply chain treaties need an anchor economy that only two or three nations can provide.

 

֎ Mariner had a romantic image of Venezuela, once a wealthy member of OPEC, even though its governments traditionally have been faux democracies dominated by authoritarianism. Today Venezuela is under an abusive dictatorship which has led to seven straight years of excessive inflation. Ironically, gasoline is heavily rationed and very expensive. Having no transportation, few citizens can find work. The nation has 28 million citizens; 21 million live in extreme poverty.

Several South American nations are struggling economically. China has been investing heavily in these nations to become the key economic provider. Hah! Not America – South Americans aren’t Caucasian and they are immigrants.

Stupid America.

 

֎ Britney Spears at least has booted her father off the conservatorship. Let’s hope she can kill the remaining control held by a CPA firm. Conservatorship is one of those conditions mariner groups under ‘Matrix Management’, referring to the movie The Matrix and the control by intelligent machines over humans – using them only to generate electricity and feeding them a false reality. The street term is ‘bloodsucker’.

Anyone who finds themselves in a position of being the middleman between a person and the world cannot help but become a bloodsucker. This condition expresses itself across many social phenomena from stock fund managers to anti-abortion to domineering parents to sport coaches to abusive spouses. If there were not some benefit to the bloodsucker, they wouldn’t bother with the overhead.

Go Britney.

 

The reader may not hear from mariner with regularity during October. He and his wife are traveling the nation to catch up on the wellbeing of family and friends. Besides, the news needs a break from mariner’s effusive commentary.

Ancient Mariner

 

Immigration, Climate Change and Housing

These three subjects eventually will be at the center of political, economic and cultural life not only in the United States but around the world. ‘Eventually’ means in about ten to fifteen years from now.

Immigration. The current increase in immigration along the Gulf Coast and Mexico largely is Central Americans escaping brutal, terrorist-controlled nations. But recently it includes Haitians – a first of its kind wave due to global warming. Each year the number of immigrants easily could grow by a power of ten (10, 100, 1,000, etc.) as coastal areas around the world force inhabitants to relocate due to flooding and sea rise. In Bangladesh already 4 million people have been displaced. The coastline between Houston, Texas and Pensacola, Florida already has suffered extreme and prolonged weather conditions that are permanently displacing thousands of families. Austin, Texas, a city only on a river and away from the coast,  had to buy large acreages from the public to let the land return to a wild state that will protect shorelines.

In a few years American migrants will outnumber foreign immigrants. The current Congress and Administration tinker about trying to retain reelection leverage rather than facing a rapidly growing dilemma for which there is no plan, no allocated resources and no idea of a solution. The issue is so dire that mariner suspects eventually the Government will create an independent, apolitical commission to deal with the issue. Of the three topics in this post, Immigration/migration will be the most disruptive in the shortest amount of time.

Climate Change. It isn’t just flooding by rising seas and turbulent storms. Between 2040 and 2060 extreme temperatures will become commonplace in the South and Southwest, with some counties in Arizona experiencing temperatures above 95 degrees for half the year. The entire southeast sector of the United States will be too warm for current farm crops. This affects a significant part of the agricultural economy and in its own right will force thousands of farm workers and farm owners to migrate north – even into Canada.

Still, it is flooding along the coasts that will drive large migrations. As many as eleven major metropolitan areas in the U.S. will have to deal with total destruction or major Dutch-style dams and walls. The exact number is hard to project given all the variables but several estimates suggest that as many as 13 million Americans will be displaced in the next few decades.

Housing. Mariner remembers inflation during the 1970s. Housing costs rose by 17 percent; many entrepreneurs became millionaires just by buying and reselling their homes every six months. Climate change will induce a similar inflation in the cost of homes. Anyone can guess how bad inflation will be but it will be significant and disruptive. Even today there is inflation in housing cost because there aren’t enough homes due to the impact of Covid and the reorganization of large corporations.

Concern. Recent polls of the younger population indicate that climate change already is the number one concern. Second is lack of confidence in any U.S. government – which they blame as the cause of global warming. Mariner will cite only one of many telling clues that Congress has no idea how overwhelming global warming is: One Senator from a small coal mining state willfully prevents funding for climate change because he won’t be reelected by his coal mining electorate. Multiply this attitude by all the elected officials in this nation. Who to blame – the official’s greediness or the electorate’s ignorance?

Ancient Mariner

Changing the Sails

Mariner saw that the reconciliation bill in Congress is available for review and download. He was eager to scan through the document to have a sense of its direction. The first page of titles came on the computer screen. In small print it said the bill has 2,465 pages! Scanning this document would be like crossing the Atlantic Ocean one glass of water at a time. It is true that the reconciliation bill is a benchmark bill that if passed would shift the national philosophy in a direction that hasn’t been active since the early 1960s.

Despite the Vietnam War and the racial riots during the sixties, there was an air of emerging freedom and opportunity. This air of future happiness (it was called Camelot) faded quickly after JFK’s assassination in 1963 and died along with Bobby’s assassination in 1968. The 1968 election was as raucous as the 2020 election.

LBJ took over after the JFK assassination and pushed through the remaining key legislation (intended to build A Great Society) that in those days made exceptional progress for civil rights, tax cuts, Medicare and other liberal programs that haven’t been headline news until the current Presidency. When Lyndon did not run for a second term and diminished support for the Vietnam War, the war was doomed very much like Afghanistan today.

So the nation has come full circle. Shamefully, the nation has made little progress toward racial equality, has put back rich-friendly tax rates and now faces competition from the planet itself. Further, the third branch of government, the courts, is not the neutral arm it is supposed to be – despite Justice Breyer’s new book to the contrary[1]. The public trust of the courts has fallen into the 40 percent range. This is serious because the courts are the trusted ballast that prevents storm waves from coming over the gunnel and sinking the ship – something that destructive bias causes.

It is a hellish time, in the midst of a hurricane, to try to turn the sails toward a new image of nationhood. Mariner fears that the sails can’t be turned during the next several election cycles. The nation needs a new crew in Congress; the rudder of electoral representation is broken; the electorate is as clueless as the government at this point. In the midst of this hurricane is a tornado called climate change which will make current issues about immigration and housing seem like child’s play.

However, let’s hold onto hope that the electorate is tired of this crap and may surprise us in coming elections.

Ancient Mariner

[1] The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities.

Let it Be

Here’s a humbling statement from mariner’s desk calendar:

“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”

– Helen Keller

“Fidelity to a worthy purpose.” Everyone understands the virtue of fidelity. It represents commitment to something which requires personal value and personal discipline. Anyone, without regard for faith, politics or personal circumstances has some obligation to an idea or behavior that shapes their life and sets the standard for daily behavior.

No one would make it through a day without some set of values that keeps them anchored to who they are, what they need and how they interact with reality. While it is true that many of us need to improve our skills when dealing with daily life, the real issue is fidelity to what?

One can’t fault the fidelity of Trump followers; the question is whether that set of values is worthy of fidelity. One can’t fault the fidelity of socialist liberals; the question is whether that set of values is worthy of fidelity. This criticism can be made about any opinion. The question that must be answered is, “are these values worthy of fidelity?”

Frankly, the world, its nations and its societies are in great transition – some may say dysfunctional. What will future society look like? Taking into consideration the fact that many social institutions are on decline, e.g., churches, colleges, social service organizations, governments at all levels, reduced income opportunities and the intense interruption of global warming, what institutional structure will rise to overcome all the trauma?

Mariner suspects it will be small communities; perhaps urban neighborhoods as well; populations of about 1,500 – 10,000 or so. What has slowly disappeared is community bonding. The large agricultural family has all but disappeared; the ease of travel and a broad range of employment opportunities leave much of the population without the friendly surroundings of large families, local clubs, or common career familiarity. In mariner’s small town, the glue provided by large, multi-generational families is gone. The many clubs and organizations that afforded social gathering have dwindled to a precious few and no longer set the pace for the town; the common employment base of agriculture is a memory.

Nevertheless, in the name of sanity people must belong to something meaningful in their daily life. Without community, society cannot heal, grow or reorganize. Without community fidelity, more sophisticated institutions cannot be stable.

The best thing you can do to weather this era is to be friendly and helpful with your neighbors.

Remember the words from the Beatles song ‘Let it Be’?

“And when the broken-hearted people living in the world agree

There will be an answer, let it be

For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see

There will be an answer, let it be”

When government fails, when society is disheveled, when calamity and uncertainty are in the air, people will gather into small groups to minimize fear, provide social stability, and establish common fidelity.

Evolution has declared that Homo sapiens is a tribal creature.

Let it be.

Ancient Mariner

 

Evangelical Similarities

At the top of the news these days is the social conflagration occurring in Afghanistan. Women are being shoved out of a male dominated, religiously-based power structure that will run the nation and its culture for the foreseeable future. Ironically, a similar situation exists in the United States where religious denominations suffer the same ‘divine male power’ syndrome.

The book that delves into this issue is ‘Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation’ by Kristin Kobes du Mez. The book documents ideas about masculinity in the white Evangelical church and its politics which, while not as violent or intrusive as the Taliban, are eerily similar. Kristin Du Mez said “Trump’s four years in the White House made painfully clear just how deep these divisions ran.” About a quarter of Americans describe themselves as evangelical protestants; that’s tens of millions of people according to polling by Pew Research Center. 14% are white evangelicals, according to the Public Religion Research Institute, and that evangelical population grew among white Americans during the Trump administration.

This is another fissure opening in this age of social change rife with computerization, racial upheaval, women’s rights, and an increasingly oligarchical economy. The ‘white Christian’ tag is present in other denominations as well.

Americans must admit that national legislation, whether Federal, state or local, still limits women’s rights and underplays male accountability to be fair and nonjudgmental. The fact that years of rape cases documented in police records have gone unprocessed is just one example. The fact that sexual abuse to women is as blatant and ignored as to tolerate gross abuse to an entire team of female Olympic gymnasts is just one example. The fact that a woman does not have the right to make decisions about her own body with respect to abortion is just one example. The fact that the rate of pay for the same job across the United States even in modern industries pays women 82 cents for every dollar a man earns.

Perhaps Americans should take note of the Taliban and cast the mote from their own nation.

Ancient Mariner

Interplanetary Travel

Mariner is an old codger – almost as old as many legislators. The truth is, the world today is quite alien to him. It is not his planet. Back on his planet, there is a President named John F. Kennedy; in fifteen minutes Charles Kuralt tells the news of the world with no gossip, no allegiance to viewer share, no conspiracy threats. Social media does not exist, only thick daily newspapers with pages of funnies and sports; mariner delivered them every day for a few years.

Computers are around but they don’t poke into everyone’s business. The U.S. is at war, as usual, but it is a strange no-bullet war with Russia. There are no mass shootings of children every month or so. In fact, when mariner was 12 years old, he would take the streetcar downtown without even knowing about the social dangers that lurk the streets on this planet. On mariner’s planet policemen walk their neighborhood beats and stop to pass the time of day.

Mariner could go on and on about how different his planet is from this planet. On this planet, he feels out of place and irrelevant because he does not understand this world. He is not rooted in the life of a child who is given a computer tablet in kindergarten. It likely is appropriate training for children on this planet but mariner finds himself confused about social values. Humanist philosophy is at a nadir.

Even television on this planet seems irrelevant. Mariner switched to a modern ‘smart’ television to no avail; little is of interest. The few programs he watches are broadcast on his planet. Listening to news today speaks only of Armageddon. Mariner’s planet, while it has issues, has no reason to fear the future demise of humanity.

But mariner can visit his planet. There is a dimension called ‘music’ that has a direct link to his planet. He steps into this dimension by listening to what people on this planet call golden oldies. Golden, indeed, and eternal.

Stack up the old 45 with names like Penguins, Everly Brothers, Presley, Ronstadt, Platters, Domino, Brightman, Little Richard, Carpenters, Ray Charles, Joni James and Cline. Or capture the next decade with Diamond, Denver, Peter, Paul and Mary, and ABBA. Mariner settles down in the music space ship chair and travels back to his planet.

Ancient Mariner

How important is the extended work family?

Mariner has discussed the extended human family and its newer version, the nuclear family. Nuclear families consist of one parenting unit and growing children. In recent times the benefit of having several generations nearby and even several in-laws provided a more fulfilling experience for all kinds of reasons from babysitting, to great holiday festivities, to fiscal assuredness, to a frequent communal sharing of love and association. Today, only the lucky families have brothers, sisters, cousins and older generations close by.

It turns out that there are benefits to an extended workforce that are similar to extended family relationships. A benefit of everyone working at the same workplace encourages allegiance to the business. Another important element is the cordiality among workers that makes tenure and job satisfaction more stable. The business benefits from team creativity and team commitment.

The new work force imposed too rapidly by Covid is one where an employee works in a nuclear environment at home or from anywhere in the world. Business administrators have noticed a drop in productivity not necessarily from individuals alone but from  general business production. Most notable is less spontaneous creativity by employees yielding only task-based productivity.

On the one hand, business can take advantage of dropping the overhead of large office space; for example Disney has a huge office building in Burbank that is virtually empty today. On the other hand, babysitting large employee operations that are spread all over the place has added a layer of coordination that is not easy to manage.

Administrators are tinkering with new ideas that will help manage a ‘nuclear’ workforce. For many reasons every business needs large scale coordination of its employees, e.g., changes in corporate policy, legal changes for employees and, importantly, a unified production force.

How about prepaid vacation for three days for employees while performing corporate-wide business? Palm trees and shorts are more inclusive than shirts and dresses!

How about overnight team retreats to work on specific issues?

How about restoring the old company picnic that looked almost like a fair? Maybe smaller businesses could take employees to a major league sports event.

These suggestions are among many serious ideas emerging to restore the magic of an extended workforce – the word ‘extended’ referring to the cohesiveness of an extended family.

Ancient Mariner

 

Today’s News

This excerpt is taken from a Politico news item today. The survey was taken by several elite colleges and was peer reviewed:

“HUMANITY IS DOOMED” — Climate change is taking a toll on the mental health of teenagers and young adults in a way that could be broadly damaging to society and even democratic institutions. That’s among the findings in a first-of-its-kind survey of 10,000 teens and young adults aged 16 to 25.

“The numbers: 83 percent said people have failed to care for the planet; 75 percent called the future frightening; 39 percent said they’re hesitant to have children.

“Most worrisome in the big picture was a widespread mistrust of government. Among U.S. respondents, only 21 percent said government could be trusted, the worst showing of any country. In India, nearly 3 in 4 teens and young adults said humanity is doomed. In Brazil, 78 percent said the government lies. Ninety-two percent of Filipinos called the future frightening.

“We’ve heard this story before. Teen activist Greta Thunberg took on former President Donald Trump. Teenagers are marching in the streets. Young adults are suing the U.S. government in a case that could go to trial next year. Large employers say they’ve been forced into climate action in part by demands from their young workers.

“The survey is the first time climate anxiety has been quantified and documented in young people.

“You needed the proof? OK. Here’s the fricking paperwork,” said van Susteren, a forensic psychologist. “The era of denial and disconnecting is over.”

– – – –

Mariner was in a doctor’s waiting room today. Five others were in the room as well. He overheard the following short conversation between ‘Bob’ and ‘John’.

Bob – Hello, John. It’s been a long time. How old are you now?

John – too fuckin’ old.

You must at least be in your 90’s. What’s your secret?

John – I fucked everything I could get my hands on, ate everything I could get my hands on, did whatever I wanted and went anywhere I wanted when I wanted. [Mariner assumes this was a stock bravado answer that evolved because everyone kept asking him that question.]

Bob – Wow. That’s how to do it, John. How are the wife and kids?

John – ‘Mona’ died 7 years ago. The older boy lives in Panama; haven’t heard from him in years. The younger one lives in Dallas; he calls me every Christmas.

Bob – That’s tough. Where do you live now?

John – I live in Mona’s niece’s converted garage over on ‘South Street’.

The conversation dwindled.

– – – –

And that’s the way it is.

Ancient Mariner

 

How are consumers in charge of global warming?

A few posts ago mariner wrote a post in response to an article that suggested “If everyone in the Nation would stop eating beef for one day each week, the Colorado River disappearance would be reversed.” The implication was that private citizens, as consumers, can have a more immediate effect on global warming than is possible through government and corporate politics, which are burdened with self-interest and ignorance.

The idea of consumer-managed reversal of the causes of global warming extends to other causes as well. If each citizen would not use air conditioning or heating for one day each week, carbon dioxide emissions would be reduced by a notable percent. The same applies to automobiles, airplanes, buses and trains. Perhaps if everyone wore each day’s clothing two days instead of one thereby using less water for laundry, the amount of potable water in the world would stabilize.

These observations are relatively true and the impact would be significant. The fallacy is how does one ensure that 350 million citizens participate? Nevertheless, as an old trope says, ‘A dollar has 100 pennies.’ Even if a small percentage of citizens accept this responsibility, it helps.

In that recent post, mariner cast about looking for substitutes for beef one day per week. He thought Friday may be more acceptable because of various religious traditions of meatless Friday. He was dismayed that so many seafood options are suffering from overharvesting; one source cited that only ten percent of the world’s original large fish population exists today. Wild salmon and tiger shrimp have become a delicacy.

The vegans have the moral high ground with the meat issue. Still, mariner thinks our ancestors may not have made it without meat, if only carrion. Isn’t it true that the bone marrow, liver, heart and brains were the magic sources of protein that allowed today’s human brain to develop? . . . Maybe the vegans have a good point.

However, dealing with global warming is not a game. Around the world already weather and flooding have caused trillions of dollars in damage, wiped out family sustainability for billions, leaving not even a home or possessions. The rich nations have been able to hold their own in covering the obvious financial cost to the economy but certainly have no means to restore lives and families of those who suddenly have been wiped out.

The United States is in a cantankerous mood today. Irrelevant political conflict prevents the governments from performing with rationality in the face of a worldwide global crisis beyond any that humans have faced. In the US alone, millions will be forced to move away from disaster at a time when housing is inadequate, expensive and likely the economy may suffer accordingly, suffering a severe stagflation.

While wearing one’s clothing for two days is admirable, it is inadequate. Disaster will come anyway. The electorate’s job is not to stop beef or automobiles; its job is to elect rational individuals who will turn the politics around and start doing the representative job they are supposed to do.

Ancient Mariner