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

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

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

Yes, that finger

Look for a moment at the middle finger of your dominant hand. It’s the longest one that’s used to express irritable dissatisfaction. Yesterday mariner accidentally cut the tip of this finger with a kitchen knife. The cut is skin deep but quite small, perhaps three sixteenths long. The cut complains loudly whenever it is touched which is often because it is at that very point in curvature that is the first point of contact when using the finger.

Did you know there is no bandaid designed for this part of the body? Even a little dot bandage needs to be carefully trimmed to avoid edges that cause the bandaid to come off when brushed against anything; in this region there are no parallel surfaces for wrapping. Mariner’s solution, because this finger is in constant use, was a doctored dot over several applications of NewSkin.

Mariner challenges the reader to use the hand without using the middle finger. There are thousands of circumstances where the reader will unconsciously lead the use of the hand with this finger. Can you make a fist? A fist is used to pour morning coffee and hold a handsaw. Try washing dishes, washing the hand without getting the bandage wet, polish the furniture, use a pencil, type on a keyboard, do a jigsaw puzzle, turn a page, unscrew a lid, reset a clock, eat a sandwich or clean yourself after using the toilet.

The other four fingers are more specialized in their use. The ring finger has only to wear a ring; the little finger is little so it can clean the ear; the thumb and forefinger are famous for manipulative grasping – a big deal in evolution – but they aren’t capable of pulling anything without the other fingers, especially the middle finger. Try holding a deck screw and use a hand drill at the same time. Try threading a needle. When your eye itches, which finger comes to the rescue?

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Mariner frequently promotes a list of things to be fixed if our society is to operate successfully. One item on the list is a return to unionism. This piece from AXIOS:

Big Tech rose to power and wealth largely union-free. But a wave of labor organizing is catching the giants at a vulnerable moment, when they’re being challenged by antitrust suits, hostile regulators and employee doubts, managing editor Scott Rosenberg writes.

A high-profile unionization campaign underway among Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Ala., will culminate in a vote count on March 30 —the digital age’s most important labor vote.

A union effort among Google employees that began in January is taking an unconventional path — remaining a “minority union” for now, foregoing the possibility of collective bargaining but allowing the inclusion of contractors and even managers.

What we’re watching: There’s a split between conventional organizing pushes among blue-collar employees (wages, working conditions), and the animating concerns of white-collar employees (climate, diversity).

Our thought bubble: Unions are all about worker solidarity, and the two wings of tech labor would achieve a lot more if they worked together. But doing so would require breaking down a lot of barriers — social divides, and the industry’s ingrained ideology of individualism.”

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This tidbit from WIRED shows how scientific advancement is not a good thing without human-centric ethics – one of those moments when doing it because we can isn’t really a good thing (social media):

“When Erin and Justin decided to adopt a child at the beginning of 2016, they paid $25,000 to sign on with one of the largest, most reputable adoption agencies in the United States. They imagined an orderly process, facilitated by lawyers and social workers.

They didn’t foresee the internet trolls who would call them cunts and psychopaths. Nor did they imagine they’d be filing a police report, or pleading with Facebook to delete posts that called them human traffickers. They didn’t expect the internet to be involved in the process at all.”

As we watch a setting Sun become darkness, so too, we watch personal independence become amorphous.

 Ancient Mariner

In the news

֎ An interesting poll from GALLUP. What’s interesting is that in one year China jumped significantly over Russia as the greatest enemy of the United States:

Americans’ Perceptions of the U.S.’s Greatest Enemy

What one country anywhere in the world do you consider to be the United States’ greatest enemy today?

Feb 3-21    Feb 3-20      Change
%    % pct. pts.
China 45 22 23
Russia 26 23 3
North Korea/Korea 9 12 -3
Iran 4 19 -15
Iraq 2 7 -5
Afghanistan 1 1 0
United States itself 1 1 0
Mexico 1 1
Saudi Arabia 1 -1
Middle East (non-specific) 1 -1
Japan 1 -1
Israel 2 -2
Syria 1 -1
Pakistan 1 -1

The reader must take note that this poll coincides with the coronavirus pandemic. Still, despite the economic catastrophe affecting every nation, China’s size and fast rising GDP (7 percent) makes that nation look more healthy and successful than the US. Further, the cultural differences cause concern as China continues to squeeze individual rights and continues virtual genocide against the Uighur and Kazak Muslims in Xinjiang Province. Finally, modern technology has opened a new arena in spying and warfare that makes every nation paranoid.

֎ While the politicians, public, fossil fuel corporations, press and social media continue bickering whether global warming exists, Federal agencies are taking scientific information seriously. The agencies are trying to figure out models of projection that will predict damage.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Housing Finance Agency and NASA all have met with analytical firms to explore tools that will help protect taxpayers, banks and homes from rising seas, worsening rainstorms and severe droughts linked to climate change.

Mariner advises readers not to invest in coastal properties – especially in Florida where the peninsula will shrink by one fifth including everything below Lake Okeechobee – places like West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Naples and the Keys.

֎ Has the reader seen the news clips of folks on spring break? Sigh. Because mariner’s wife is brave and dutiful and has ventured into the outside world, he has been in virtual quarantine. He has spoken in person only to three other individuals in a year. The vaccination occurred so fast that he didn’t even speak to the technician. Mariner is old and fossilized but he is concerned what this year of isolation has done to elementary school children. Prepubescent children suffer subconsciously and will carry silent aberrations for the rest of their lives.

֎ A growing strategy by the GOP is to blame Joe for immigration numbers. Mariner suggests no President of any party, no authoritarian figurehead can alter the growing migration issue not only from Latin countries but from every country into every country around the globe. The reason: weak global economics and changing climate. Even squirrels know to migrate to mariner’s feeding station when there’s a foot of snow on the ground.

֎ Not in the news but referencing the post about pop psych, mariner is reminded that the pop psych terms ‘inductive’ and ‘deductive’ are similar to ‘what’ and ‘why’.

Ancient Mariner

 

Trends

֎ From NEWSY:

“A White nationalist movement that fueled a new rise for Europe’s far-right continues to gain momentum around the world and is helping to lure in and radicalize new recruits, according to terrorism experts. The French government dissolved the world’s first major “Identitarian” group in February, but not before its underlying ideology spread to at least 16 countries, including the U.S. White nationalist groups have become increasingly emboldened in their efforts to recruit. An explosion of propaganda, stickers and banners warn of a coming “invasion” of immigrants.”

The article documents the growth of far-right vigilantism around the world – perhaps because the numbers of immigrants grow due to collapsed economies and shifting climate and aided by social media. Here in the United States there is enough economy at the moment to curtail the use of field artillery and military assaults. Still, the political force is growing. The target will be the democratic concepts of any government: the government itself (January 6), voting (GOP?) and civil liberties (elect Donald again).

Mariner doesn’t believe that within the United States there will be a collapse of democracy – which already has happened within NATO and middle-eastern nations but for the US it will be a thorn in the side of progress through these difficult times.

֎ GOP: When is it time to put the ol’ horse down?

Here’s the current breakdown of all Senators by age:

80s: 7
70s: 24
60s: 38
50s: 19
40s: 12

So around a third are aged over 70 and around two thirds are over 60.

Term limits would solve the problem. A maximum of three six year terms should be enough to make a decent contribution (mariner believes there should be an age limit as well). The point is this: The GOP perception of conservative government hasn’t changed since 1980. It hasn’t changed because the old fogeys, who grew up and established their career in a time that no longer exists, are still in charge of GOP politics. The turtle is 79; mariner’s senator is 87. Don’t forget our Presidents: Donald left office at 75 and Joe is 78.

The entire Senate is over the hill; of 100 senators, 69 are over 60! What saves the democrats from the same extent of criticism is that the democrats always are trying to change something rather than defend the status quo.

The coronavirus, introduced by godly forces tired of lagging progress, has short-sheeted the GOP. The GOP quickly must remake their bed – much more quickly than the normal evolution of economics and culture would require.

In case a reader doesn’t know how to put the ol’ horse down, it is quick and bloodless: don’t vote for them. Not only that, vote for someone under 55.

֎ Make note of the term XR (extended reality – a term from gaming corporations that has become a term meaning take as much human activity and responsibility as possible and put it on the Internet). Many corporations are redefining their dream income model to be completely online and, this is the interesting part, be the sole owner of entire segments of society. AirB&B sees itself as the Department of Housing and Urban Development for all homes in the US; Uber imagines that all cars – repeat, ALL cars – will belong to Uber. Already Zuckerberg is challenging antitrust lawsuits by saying the Internet is the competition. All money, too, will be bitcoins. A big question: which corporation will own all the banks and credit card companies?

So the government will have a lot less to worry about since corporations will automate everything using proprietary software. Who will own all the votes?

Ancient Mariner