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

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

 

Times are changing more than one realizes

For example, using bitcoin did you know you could buy a piece of art that exists only on the Internet? No physical representation exists. You can buy the art but you don’t own it. You can sell shares to people who won’t own it either. “Oh,” you say, “isn’t that just like leasing?” Perhaps but unlike leasing you can’t use the art or take it anywhere. Besides, thousands of other bitcoin investors are buying the same art so they can sell shares, too.

Try to set your mind in the most abstract position possible. This buying and selling of art shares takes the place of a bank and associated trading of debt between banks. Bitcoin was invented the year after the 2018 recession which was caused entirely by crooked bank dealings with something called collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). Passed off as triple A mortgages, the mortgages in fact were not triple A and contained all manner of mortgage failure.

Eventually, the false value of the CDO, very high because the whole intent was to make profit, came to light as mortgage after mortgage failed due to nonpayment. Caught ‘holding the bag’ so to speak, banks suffered unexpected losses; simultaneously real estate values plummeted because of the collapse of mortgage valuation in private investment markets.

So instead, bit coin users don’t buy real estate debt, they buy an artificial internet object that takes the place of real estate and is not subject to CDOs or any other bundling of debt because in the bitcoin world, every transaction is saved in one massive database where, to coin a TV theme, “everyone knows you’re name.”

Unless you have extra Monopoly money, don’t run out and buy an emoji. The bitcoin world is very fluid because it is not anchored to a three-dimensional world of physical things and human investment like jobs and commerce. It behaves more like a commodities market where prices are flexible based on availability instead of the value of the dollar. Bitcoin values – there are several different coins – can fluctuate wildly for no realistic reason. Still, one can avoid the shenanigans of Wall Street and the banks if one has a lot of Monopoly money to invest.

Eventually, paper money and even credit cards may disappear as the cloud and Internet become the financial platform for economics. Mariner wrote a post in February 2020 comparing North American Indian wampum to Kenya’s “first nation to do so” no-bank system by transferring cash with smartphones since 2007. The smartphone application world already has the software that can handle cash transfer but there are legalities in the way. For now, one needs a bank or card number.

Mariner still carries cash in a wallet he bought ten years ago. The bitcoin, bankless world doesn’t fit in the wallet. Where’s a cashier when you need one?

Ancient Mariner

GIG Work

Mariner is acutely aware that the Internet and its future iterations definitely will change the world of work. One of the new work models emerging is the GIG world of employment. GIG means that jobs are in response to corporate need rather than in response to career development and all the trappings of lifetime security that the +60 crowd understands.

Gig workers, generally, enjoy the freedom of earning an income providing the link between corporate automation and the corporate need to have personalized service. A simple but common example is food delivery services. With the Internet as a tool, GIG workers have unparalleled  opportunities to live where they want, with their lifestyle from living in cars with an Internet link to living in Thailand to enjoy better benefits than are available in the U.S.

Statistical studies have shown that the freedom to travel, to live eccentric lifestyles, to earn just enough to sustain their lifestyles, is all that’s needed. While it is a world of independence, it suffers from the lack of unions, standardized employment models that provide insurance, retirement and minimum wage. In the United States, a more traditional labor relations society, these shortcomings have become a court issue.

In some respects the GIG movement and the homesteader movement have a lot in common: Society has become an intense competition for assets – not lifestyle. It is not possible for everyone to be successful in the world of dollar security; especially not in the world of self-identity and personal gratification in life.

Mariner discovered a pleasant review of GIG work (that is, not politically abused) on PBS Passport/ROKU. It may be available as a local PBS documentary – mariner doesn’t know since he switched to a smart TV. The program is titled “The World Of Work – The Next Generation: Why I choose to live and work in my car”. It provides an insight into the conflict of pressurized economics versus the desire to live an unencumbered life.

Check it out.

Ancient Mariner.

Consumers have control

Here’s an interesting quote from ProPublica about the two-decade long drought conditions affecting several western states and the disappearing Colorado River:

“A majority of the water used by farms — and thus much of the river — goes to growing nonessential crops like alfalfa and other grasses that feed cattle for meat production. Much of those grasses are also exported to feed animals in the Middle East and Asia. Short of regulating which types of crops are allowed, which state authorities may not even have the authority to do, it may fall to consumers to drive change. Water usage data suggests that if Americans avoid meat one day each week they could save an amount of water equivalent to the entire flow of the Colorado each year, more than enough water to alleviate the region’s shortages.”

It isn’t just cows. Mariner knows for certain that blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay have a shrinking population; Maine Lobsters are moving to cooler waters in Canada; the wild salmon are threatened by new open faced mining near the Arctic Circle; Australia has drought conditions, too, so there goes ostrich and emu; Has anyone priced bison lately?

What consumers need to do is have cities and towns change their ordinances so consumers can raise rabbits, chickens, geese and invasive species like the Burmese python or the Tegu lizard – both in Florida.

But give up thick, juicy T-Bones or country ribs? It’s a lot to ask but consumers are now in charge of climate change.

Ancient Mariner

Removing Polarity

Mariner was challenged to describe how polarity could be overcome. He did imply a few things that need to be corrected but it is true that he did not address ‘how’. So here are a few examples; some already are ideas that have been discussed in the press and documentaries.

֎ About colleges. Already a ‘socialist’ issue in Congress is legislation that would abate or eliminate the cost of a student’s tuition. If college administrators were smart, they would know the swings in population and the races of that population are swinging away from the white, financially capable market served today. However it occurs, colleges will be forced to step back in line with inflation. And students haven’t been asked yet to pay their student athletes’ salaries.

Mariner and his father went to a high school that had a full community college on the top floor so this is not a new idea but it may become popular. Mariner is aware of several small liberal arts colleges that are considering mergers with other colleges, community colleges and even independent locations; examples include public libraries, large corporations, labor unions and other agencies that focus on special careers. One mariner is familiar with is agribusiness classes taught in state department of agriculture offices.

Another idea already being discussed is a student body selected not only by grades but balanced by appropriate representation based on where the students live – even to the extent of which neighborhood. Public schools already abuse representation selectively by using it to keep unwanted students out; the intent of the new college version is to assure representation from every quarter. This instantly would correct several issues:

֎ The implied failure of nonwhites because they have no college degree.

֎ Reduce by a significant amount the tendency for a person to say “I’m successful, you’re not.”

֎ Focused more on public schools, build curricula based on real-life interest and talent, e.g., shape classes around teams of students with a curriculum that includes dealing with life experiences along with the abstract subjects that are typical today. If nothing else, the student experiences what a team relationship is, thereby softening much of the identity conflict present today.

Mariner has been reading about Anabaptists. Each colony is such a tight team that no individual is paid for their labors and everyone receives support from all members. Admittedly, Anabaptists practice a communist economy that would not work in open markets but the United States could use a little ‘communisty’ accountability.

֎ Perhaps another old but good idea is to require that a police officer live on his beat and/or walk the beat. Mariner has made this suggestion before; the change in behavior of the policeman can only be positive. Not that cruisers would disappear but the beat cop would be the first contact for residents and for crime response. With a beat policeman on a response team, incidents like entering the wrong house and killing Breonna Taylor may not happen.

֎ As to reforming the government, mariner is quite positive that regular readers already know his attitude toward American governments. He will not pursue further abuse to his readers in this post.

Ancient Mariner

Government stats about workers

In 2020, the number of people who did not have access to adequate food increased as much in one year as it had in the past five years combined.

֎ The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that median weekly earnings of the nation’s 113.6 million full-time wage and salary workers were $990 in the second quarter of 2021. This was 1.2 percent lower than a year earlier, compared with a gain of 4.8 percent in the Consumer Price Index for all consumers over the same period. Inflation rose by 5 percent.

[Mariner notes that wages did not keep up either with the Consumer Price Index (how much food and purchases cost) or the rate of inflation (a lack of unions and more generally, the effects of Reaganomics)]

֎ Over the past three months, the economy has added an average of 832,000 jobs per month – the fastest job growth since August 2020. That’s a sign that economic confidence is returning, even as concerns about the pandemic continue.

֎ The unemployment rate dropped 0.5 percentage points in July. Sometimes a drop occurs because people give up looking for jobs but the Federal government reports that the labor force participation rate and employment-to-population ratio are both up. That suggests people are looking for work and finding jobs.

֎ Statistics suggest employment has recovered 75% of jobs lost in 2020.

֎ Despite the fact that the number of unemployed people fell by 782,000 to 8.7 million in July, long-term unemployment is still far too high. More than 3 million people have been out of work for at least 27 weeks, with 2.5 million of those out of work for 52 weeks or more. Black workers are over represented in this population.

Ancient Mariner

 

Cryptic Cash

Mariner always has preferred paying cash. There were times though, when having credit was a life saver; credit cards and mortgage loans made life doable. Fortunately, mariner still uses credit cards only when cash is not acceptable. What mariner likes about cash is that it is relatively untraceable; no one knows mariner bought some trendy toy or paid for a trip to a vacation spot. The nosiness of social media and big data don’t know except through post-purchase commercial services that don’t have his profile data. Mariner’s vehicle tracking is disconnected so he can drive where he likes without big data knowing.

But now mariner must learn about a whole new banking system: crypto cash, the bitcoin world. We must all adjust. Even today banks and retail are planning conversion. The U.S. government already is deep into having taxes paid with bitcoin – or as the news media calls it, govcoin.

Understand that bitcoins are not physical and only exist in the digital world! One cannot trade a silver quarter for a bitcoin. That’s why bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are often called digital currencies. The reader won’t need a wallet, only a computer. The reader won’t need a credit card, only a computer. In fact, the reader won’t even need a bank – only a computer. It should be noted that significantly large areas of the U.S. don’t have access to the Internet.

The simplest way to convert cash/credit to bit coin is through a crypto-exchange. One example for demonstration purposes is COINBASE. Bitcoin was invented to remove one type of middleman — the banks. Banks are famous for taking fees for transactions. Banks played a big role in the financial crisis of 2008; bitcoin started in 2009, just after that crisis.

This is a deep statement: In a decentralized network, the data is everywhere, it can’t be shutdown. More important, however, is bitcoin behaves more like the stock market than a bank account. There is a limit to how many bitcoins are available (Bitcoin has a limit of 21 million coins; once there are 21 million bitcoins, no more coins can be created). This means that bitcoin values can rise and fall just like any real estate or stock market investment.

As a new investment source, bitcoins and other self-defined coins are a heady investment but the downside is the coins are not regulated like the reader’s local bank. It truly is like gambling on the stock market hoping a rise in value will pay your tax bill.

Mariner likes his twenty dollar bills.

Ancient Mariner