Sunday, June 12, 2022

Address wealth inequality between races with higher capital gains tax on assets and residential real estate.

I am not a big fan of reparations, but it is true that there is a large gap in accumulated family history wealth between average people in different races. White race having the most accumulated wealth per capita.

One idea would be to more highly tax assets and property when these assets are sold, if the assets have large windfall profits. Houses that go way up in value, stocks or whatever.

Break multi generational wealth advantages. Money could, at least, go toward better social safety net, reducing carbon footprint and needed infrastructure in everyone's community.

Ya, my idea would probably not be that popular among both liberals and conservatives.

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Washington State's economy at top of WalletHub's list. Are we business friendly or what?

Some people might be surprised, but according to WalletHub, Washington State has the strongest economy in the nation. Are we business friendly or what?

I would guess that a lot of things like our strong high tech economy, innovative traditions, emphasis on education and legalization of pot help. Remember, pot is a revenue source.

We also still have water. Quite a few states, in the west at least, are coming under more and more restrictions on water use which can have devastating effects on agriculture.

Monday, June 06, 2022

Dropping the gas tax? How about switching to a mileage tax to pay for roads?

To appease fossil fuel addiction, some states are temporarily dropping gas tax due to rising gas prices. Gas taxes tend to go toward paying for the roads so this could lead to cuts in highway budgets.

This also relates to the question of how to pay for roads if vehicles use no gas, such as electric vehicles. Maybe this could be seen as part of a transitioning toward mileage tax versus a gas tax to pay for roads. In the future, mileage and weight taxes make more sense than fuel taxes.

Given concern about climate change, with it's potential reductions of investment in fossil fuel infrastructure, gasoline may remain expensive. Carbon taxes could serve as the new gas tax.

Some folks might be weary of their vehicle being tracked by GPS to calculate the tax. They might say, "Big Brother satellite in the sky." On the other hand, I hear that car theft is on the rise. Knowing where the vehicle is, at all times, makes it easier to catch the thieves. The growing car theft problem could be significantly reduced.

In the future, even bicycles might pay the mileage fee, but they could get a huge break on weight. It's also harder to rack up lots of miles, on a bicycle, so the fees wouldn't be prohibitive.

Car insurance could take mileage from GPS into account also. Thus eliminating the insurance penalty for car owners who only use the car on rare occasion.

As war seems to just bring bloody stalemate in today's Ukraine, maybe Ukraine can win in the sprere of economics and public opinion instead.

I could see maybe Ukraine letting Russia have the areas it has stolen, for now, if it means a pause in the war. Remembering that the long run could be a different story.

In the long run, there is also the competition in fields like economics, quality of life, public opinion and where people most wish to live. More freedom can win in the long run.

People might not wish to live, or be able to flourish, in the areas occupied by Russia, compared to the rest of Ukraine and Europe.

About cities that Russia has bombed, there is the pottery barn rule. You break it, you own it. Hopefully the people who want something better can escape to a new life elsewhere.

Thursday, June 02, 2022

Why I might have flunked mindfulness 101, but made up my own version.

A practice called Mindfulness is quite useful for many people. On the other hand, I sometimes think I flunked Mindfulness. Part of that practice, which admittedly I'm no expert in, has to do with focusing one's attention on what one is doing at the moment.

Often my mind tends to wander to what seems like more interesting thinking than the day to day things in my life. Working as a custodian, for many years, I spent quite a bit of time sweeping floors, vacuuming carpets and so forth. Hard to just focus on those repetitive tasks. Of course one would want their brain surgeon to be focused on the task at hand, but not all tasks are of that high an order.

I have my own definition of something that may be related to Mindfulness. That is accepting the tasks in my life as if they are legitimate and valuable. If sweeping the stairs is the task, it's worthy of my effort. It doesn't necessarily require ultimate "flow state" (another concept discussed in psychology). It doesn't necessarily require full attention.

For many of my custodial tasks, I listened to podcasts about such topics as economics, theoretical physics, travel and so forth. If I wasn't listening to the radio, or podcasts, my mind was often wandering to thinking that would sometimes end up in my writing.

Another part of accepting what my life is, has to do with my writing and photography. The effort is legitimate even if I'm not writing for a major publication; like the New York Times. Often it just goes on Facebook, but I still feel like it's worth the effort.

Like keeping my apartment at least reasonably organized, visiting with friends, writing and photography, it's worthwhile.

I try and keep up with the tasks life wants me to do. I tend to procrastinate less than some folks. Often I do find joy in what I am doing, including simple tasks.

As for flow state, it isn't always there. That would be a tall order, like we put ourselves under lots of pressure. I do find myself pretty close to flow state when I'm writing, talking with friends, dealing with my photos, organizing things and even cleaning.

I sometimes get close to flow state when I am physically active, such as bicycling or dancing. With dancing, the music makes a big difference. Not all music hits the spot for me.

I'm no pro dancer, but I do enjoy flopping around and at least moving.

My dad met well, but he often said, "pay attention to what you are doing." I had teachers that said I was a daydreamer. Most of them let me slip by anyway even though things like my spelling (back in the days before spellcheckers) was horrible.

Paying full attention is good advice if one is driving, or piloting a jet. Partially for that reason, I never learned to drive.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

At the Friday Peace Vigil in Bellingham.

Picture of me at May 20 2022 Friday Peace Vigil. I happen to be listening to my little radio as when the vigil happens 4-5 pm on Fridays, there is also a good local talk show on KGMI Radio. 4-5 weekdays KGMI Konnects (spelled with a K).

I like interactive local dialog from many sources.

At the vigil, I mostly go to chat with friends and I often meet new people walking by. Some folks go out to local eateries after the vigil.

I'm more into the conversations than holding a sign, though sign holding is one of the big features of the vigil.

I just feel that the cars zooming by, at the vigil's corner of Magnolia and Cornwall, just see a sound byte at best. A few folks, in cars, give the thumbs up, or occasionally the thumbs down, while most zoom on by.

Some try and comment from a passing window, but drive by discussion can be garbled from engine noise and then truncated when the light turns green.

The tradition of folks gathering at that corner has been going since 1966, so I hear.

Electric car is better than fossil fuel car, but bicycling and public transit and more compact neighborhood planning is still best.

The pedal bicycle is still my main and almost only form of transportation. I've never driven a car. Designing cities around public transit and the density for walking / bicycling is best.

As for the electric car, I would guess it's still much better than the fossil fuel car.

My brother, Bill Ashworth is a big fan of the electric car. He has a blog called Driving on Sunlight.

Much of his energy comes from solar panels on the roof of his home. Nothing is perfect, but materials for the batteries can be recycled. Mining is needed for the steel and other materials in fossil fuel cars. Remember, the fossil fuel car has a battery as well; just a smaller battery. The materials that are used in making the car and battery are used in the manufacturing, but once made, they don't continue to require consumption in the form of gasoline; especially if the power comes from solar.

Still reliant on fossil fuels, but opposing oil infrastructure. Are you cutting off the limb you are standing on?

In a world of lifestyles and economics still reliant on fossil fuels, opposing fossil fuel production is like cutting off the limb one is standing on. Opposing production and then complaining about rising gas and food prices seems like an oxymoron.

Yes, oil company profits seem to be rising, but I guess they could invest in more energy production (besides just oil) versus keeping money on the sidelines. Oil is what's still selling.

Seems like if consumers could find ways to reduce fossil fuel consumption, that would be less disruptive to our precarious economy and especially to our precarious political situation where Biden and the Democrats seem to be struggling in the polls.

Otherwise it might be back to "drill baby drill;" that famous quote about Sarah Palin who was the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008. People keep reacting to what puts food on the table and what pays the bills.

Conservative religion can lead to sex abuse like a repressed spring bounding out.

The news is full of sex abuse scandals in Southern Baptist and some other fundamentalist churches. Seems like the fundamentalist churches are more vulnerable to this than liberal churches. When sexuality is strictly pushed under the carpet and repressed, it often finds a way to spring out; like a spring recoiling.

Another factor might be that folks, who have trouble controlling those emotions, are often drawn to stricter teachings as they attempt to use the strictness in their struggles against temptation. Maybe some of those people would flounder even more in liberal environments as they need the stricter limits to try and contain themselves. They occasionally slip up, however.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

So called "right to life" doesn't seem to translate into compassion for living children and adults

My thoughts about the so called "right to life" issue, being ruled on by the Supreme Court, is not so much about the topic itself. It's about a glaring irony. So many of the people, who push the so called right to life agenda, seem to have little regard for the lives of children and adults already born.

Often so called right to lifers are the people who are into guns. When there are lots of guns around, some of them are bound to get into the wrong hands; especially when there's extreme opposition to any form of regulation of firearms.

Large segments of people who claim to be for right to life have little regard for the lives of children seeking asylum at our borders. They often are the same folks who stand against attempts to extend medical coverage to low income people in this country.

A few of the folks, who claim to be right to lifers, aren't into these other deathly things, but it seems like the majority are. This is a very strange irony to me.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

The future of oil drilling is dubious in a world of climate change. Still, demand for oil keeps rising.

I hear oil company profits are up. When supply is tight, either price goes up, or maybe it could stay down, as with price controls, and supply runs out. Supply running out and gas lines was what happened in the 1970s.

I'd guess oil companies might be holding onto their cash (profits) versus investing more in oil drilling. Money kept on the sidelines. The future of oil drilling, in a world of climate change, is dubious.

If a way could be found to shift that money to alternative energy and public transit; that would be great.

Friday, May 20, 2022

The road away from racism reaches a point of diminishing returns. Maybe try a road to income diversity; another path to nearly the same goal.

For decades, this country has been trying to resolve it's racial divides. Progress has been made, but it also seems like little progress has been made.

It could be that directly trying to solve the racial issue is like trying to walk through a brick wall. Maybe it's easier to find a new path around the brick wall. In the end, the path could lead to the same, or similar goal.

Promoting income diversity, in neighborhoods and so forth, rather than purposely trying to promote racial diversity could, ironically, lead to more racial diversity as well.

People of color still, on average, are lower income and of much lower accumulated wealth that white Americas, so I read. If there was a big push toward income diversity, that could bring more racial diversity.

We often think that the pathway to better life is a pathway of more wealth, but financial wealth is not the only virtue. Then we try and push all our various cultures through the corporate road to greater wealth as it's been defined by this society in the past.

Lower income people are often stigmatized and kept out of nicer neighborhoods, but low income doesn't necessarily mean less virtue. Low income could mean more time spent in fields, such as the arts, that often don't pay as much. Low income can mean more time spent volunteering. It can mean lower carbon footprint and more laid back lifestyles.

Promoting income diversity might hold the key to reducing other divides, such as the racial divides in our society. Trying to just solve it as a race issue just seems to bring us back to the same impenetrable brick walls.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Mount Saint Helens shared the national news with a riot in Miami that day in 1980. What I was doing that day.

Another year goes by with it's May 18 time to remember Mount Saint Helens eruption here in Washington State. My memories, here in Bellingham, WA. were from the 😮 media, that day, as we were upwind with hardly a rattle.

After finding out, I was glued to the radio for a while. On national news, the mountain's explosion was competing with another top news story. The 1980 Miami, FL. Riots.

Just today, I looked up said 1980 Miami Riots and found it in wiki.

In the weeks before the big eruption, we'd been following, news of Mount Saint Helen's rumbling with small eruptions. Wondering what might be in store.

When the big event happened, I didn't know until I was mowing someone's yard on a nice spring day in Bellingham. The woman, I was working for, invited me into the house and said, "have you heard what's been going on?"

I hadn't, but there was the TV, in her living room, full of local news from Seattle TV stations via cable. Woah.

"And I-90 all the way from Ellensburg, WA. to Missoula, MT., a mess ..."

As soon as I was done mowing her lawn, I went home and turned on the radio. National news was alternating Mount Saint Helens with the Miami Riots. Local news was all Saint Helens.

Then the radio talked about the blast being heard as far away as Vancouver, BC.

I sat on the couch I had in my apartment, back then, and wondered, "what had I been doing at that moment, soon after 8 am?" "Did I hear anything?"

Aha, I was at work cleaning a pizza oven. It sounded like someone was rattling the front door of the Pizza Parlor against a deadbolt that I had locked behind me. The rattling passed and I had forgotten. I pieced it back together. That was shock waves through the air from the mountain.

Early that evening, I wondered if I could see the plume.

I strapped my bulky, but portable, radio to the back rack of my bike to try and stay informed while I seeked out a high hill. It was awkward and hard to lash on with bungie cords, but it was the only radio I had, back then.

I managed to get it up on a hill looking south, but couldn't see anything.

I kind of wished I was back in my hometown of Pullman, WA. where the skies were said to be dark as midnight, by late afternoon due to the ash cloud going that way.

Later, that evening, I went to a place called Campus Christian Ministry, at WWU where there was a TV lounge open to the public. I watched the coverage.

Late that evening, I was back home and got a call from my sister, Lillian, in Pullman. She was able to get a phone call out. She said, "It's been dark a long time and we don't know if the sun will come out again tomorrow morning."

Next morning the sun did come out again, in Pullman and my other sister, Judith, said that it looked like a cement plant had just blown up.

Monday, May 16, 2022

The 2016 presidential election's far reaching mark on today's US Supreme Court

2016 Clinton vs Trump election has certainly had a big effect on the Supreme Court and it was a very close election. It was like a perfect storm of circumstances. Due to various circumstances there are now 3 Trump appointees on the court with far reaching consequences.

Like the perfect storm, Trump was only a 1 term president, but he was able to appoint 3 justices. The circumstances of that period in history.

I hate to rehash, or beat people over the head about soft voter enthusiasm over an election that's long into history. I only wish to say that change toward a better society often does come incrementally.

Similarly to our own personal lifestyles and consumption habits, politicians are never ideal as well; Clinton included. Often change comes in small and incremental steps which I think are usually better than shooting for the moon; so to speak and then falling backwards.

Nothing against the fact that we did make it to the moon in 1969, however. We can look at the bright side that progress is possible, but it does seem like it usually has to come in many little steps.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Not just an elite. In this era, we have a mass wealthy class. 20, maybe even 30% of the population. That could be both good and bad. It's a new way to articulate the situation

Foundation work on a large condo project in our waterfront redevelopment district.

I hear, through the grapevine, that it's got plenty of buyers. It's considered high end with condos around the million dollar range. These days, being a millionaire is middle class, or at least slightly upper middle class.

There is a mass class of millionaires, a product of prosperity, but also a distortion because owning a home has lead to such great wealth appreciation, over the years, that it's pushed lots of ordinary people into millionaire class; on paper at least.

I often enjoy watching construction and I realize that large private investments help to jump start new things in the city; such as redevelopment of the waterfront. Lots of people complain about these projects, however.

Our city is experiencing changes and construction. Too much of it is thought of as for "high end." There are waiting lists and bidding wars for high end homes. Waiting lists implies lots of people. Seems like this isn't just a small elite. High end is just the middle class, or at least slightly upper middle class.

Not just in Bellingham, but nationwide, we seem to be experiencing the effects of a mass wealthy class. A product of prosperity and home value appreciation. This is having an effect on the landscape.

Most people, in this mass wealthy class, don't think of themselves as wealthy. Maybe they aren't. Everything is relative.

The term upper end may need to be redefined. Upper end is now actually just middle class. True upper end are now the multi millionaires and the billionaires.

Much of the focus of criticism, on the left, is focused on the 1% which are well into the multi millionaire and the billionaire class. Still, the bidding wars over homes and the lack of affordable housing, for lower middle class, may have more to do with the large number of people in the upper middle classes. It has to do with a large population which also relates to population growth.

Immigration is a factor in this country's population growth, but immigration isn't necessarily bad. It brings in labor, prosperity and vitality. A certain percent of immigrants do rise to the upper middle class thus helping to feed the bidding wars for housing. Bidding wars; especially in areas, like Bellingham, that are still considered nice places to live.

I think we do need to consider not just the 1%, but also the effects of the upper middle class on our landscape. It isn't all bad, but it has a big effect due to the large number of people involved.

Much of upper middle class is willing to tax themselves more for the benefit of the larger community.

There are a lot of voters in upper middle class, but if upper middle class doesn't feel gratitude for it's situation, it tends to vote like it's poor. It tends to support the politics of austerity and tax cuts.

Tax cut politics seems to always benefit the 1% and the billionaires as well. People often vote for tax cuts to middle class while complaining about the 1%. Seems like this tax cut politics always benefits the 1% also. Seems like practically nowhere has been able to pass a billionaire tax. Tax cut politics for the upper middle class does seem to always benefit the very top as well.

Much of the consumption of resources also comes from the middle class. Policies that can lead to higher gas prices, like restrictions on oil drilling, effect the middle class. If the middle class feels poor and barely getting by when gas prices go up, the politics can shift against environmental rules that restrict oil production. So much is still governed by supply and demand.

If the vast number of people, in the middle class, really started pushing for a more fair and ecologically sustainable society, changes could really start happening much faster.

I think the 1% would have to change also as the power of mass markets would be shifting. The 1% stay on top by knowing how to play the market. If the market changes, they would feel the pressure also.

The vast number of voters in the middle class could change the market forces and political landscape.

Maybe I am naive, but I think the vast middle class could come from more of a mindset of gratitude versus a mindset of fear and the feeling of poverty. I think much of the feeling of poverty comes from constantly comparing oneself to people who make more money. Ultimately comparing oneself to the 1%.

It's our whole culture of emphasis on material wealth, I guess. Something pushed in the media, pushed by most of the 1% and bought by just about everyone else.

A mind shift in the middle class could move both the mass markets and the political landscape toward a better and more sustainable culture.

There is a disconnect between the sense of urgency that is found in discussions about climate change and business as usual in people's day to day lives.

Seems like there is definitely a disconnect between the sense of urgency that is found in discussions about climate change and the business as usual day to day life in our society. The disconnect can contribute to the anxiety of our times.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Now the need for police is likely more appreciated than in summer of 2020.

Telephone exchange bldg. in Bellingham becomes a magnet for graffiti.

Increasing crime, in this county, is becoming a topic of discussion. Quite a few conservatives are blaming Democrats for rules that place undue limits on the police.

To some extent, I agree as I was not a fan of the big focus on police reform that was prevalent during the summer of 2020.

As for situations that discriminate against the poor, I tend to look at things like exclusive single family zoning, rather than focusing on the police who do have a difficult job. More recently, that phrase, "defund the police" has fallen by the wayside, however.

Washington State may have passed some badly designed laws making policework more difficult. The Legislature is trying to step back from some of these reforms, more recently, but they might need to do more.

I'm okay with more funding for social services that are less expensive than police, but police are needed. I'm sure some police reform is needed; especially depending on which city one is talking about. Still, I think there was too much focus on police reform when other things in society cause more of the problems people are complaining about.

Seems like there has been some hatred toward police; enough to cause low moral so it's difficult to retain and recruit police. Quite a few positions are unfilled locally, from what I gather. A big problem in Seattle as well.

Seems like some of the anti police rhetoric of 2020 wasn't the best focus, but liberal politics has been tainted by it. I tend to think that politics, based on anger, creates problems.

Now that the crime rate has risen and people are getting scared, liberal politics may be tainted by the tendency of folks to paint everything with a broad brush. Some of the reforms that came out of 2020 likely went too far, but that situation could be an anomaly. I've often thought conservatives are not friendly to public safety as well. There is the gun culture. Also, people forget that it takes taxes to fund police and conservatives are often anti tax.

Here in Whatcom County, we have a convergence of liberal and conservative values that lead to the failure of new jail construction. Lack of space in our old jail is leading to problems. Dangerous people being let out as room in the jail is very limited.

I'll admit, I voted against the new jail, back then as well, but eventually we will need to do something.

The stereotype liberal thought the new jail proposals were too large and needed more focus on alternatives to hard core incarceration. At the same time, there is a tendency, among stereotypical conservatives, to vote down big taxes. The new jail would have maxed out our local taxing authority for quite some time, at least in that category of taxation.

Washington State has some limits that it imposes on local taxation. Limits imposed by popular initiatives on the ballot. Remember Tim Eyman?

Some kind of solution to the jail issue will be back on the ballot eventually.

The crime rate is now a big topic in local discussion.

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Little strategy games, like Wordle, are popular. How about making a game out of sorting one's recycling well. The winner creates cleanest and most useful recycling stream.

The game of Wordle seems to be a fad now.

As for little games of strategy, I often think that we should make sorting one's recycling into a game. Figuring out what goes where, what types of plastic go into different bins so less types of plastics are mixed. Might sound too complicated, but it could be fun, like other games.

We could even keep score among folks and buildings that have recycling bins. Who can create the cleanest recycling stream. Who can create the stream that is most useful for industry as a recycled resource.

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Over procreation, over working, over consuming and hoarding. Traditional ways rooted to survive the austerity of ancient times. Not serving us well today.

I keep thinking that a lot of our "traditional values" need to be updated and in many cases changed. Our technology has changed since ancient times while many of our old moral values have not.

Much of our values have come from times of austerity, like ancient times, when life expectancy was much shorter. There needed to be lots of procreation to maintain the population as death often came early.

Hard work and hoarding material things was a survival skill in difficult times when food and basic needs were hard to come by.

Now we have technology that can make life easier, but many people still act as if running on a treadmill. People are working themselves to burnout while eating to obesity. Some folks are building and hoarding in a time when our footprint on the planet is so strong that we threaten our survival with too much abundance and overpopulation.

We are still running a rat race as if we have to do this for our mere survival, As if basic needs require this. With today's technology and over 7 billion people on the planet, we do need to change.

Conditions in the wealthier parts of the world, such as USA, are still different than much of the Third World, which also adds to the problem. Survival needs in much of the world are still spartan which continues to drive ethics based on running the treadmill for survival. At the same time, some folks, in the Third World, are extremely wealthy; such as oligarchs in both poor and rich nations alike. Oligarchs so often set the pace, where ever they reside.

In some ways, we need to relax more, but society, and some say capitalism, is set up to keep us on that treadmill.

Looking back, I think we needed to be on that treadmill more as things didn't come as easy in pre technological times, but today, we have a different set of problems.

Even abolishing capitalism isn't really the answer. As long as our old values and cultures remain, we will find a way to run the rat race, whatever system we create. We need to look deeper. It's our cultures based on ancient times that are the problem.

Some old ideas and traditions are fine, but we need to update, somehow. I also believe that achievement, work and things like scientific progress are good. Our constant curiosity and wish to make a better life for ourselves and future generations is good, but we need to update cultural assumptions, traditions and our expectations. I keep thinking about quality of life versus lots of possessions.

Technology does often allow for sophistication with less consumption. I think of the transistor versus burning wood or needing to have a horse. How much hay does the horse eat compared to the electricity used in a transistor? Think about comparing the transistor to the vacuum tube in terms of power consumption.

We need to let go of so much of our baggage that came from times before most lifespans were as long as they are now. We need to update our ethics to beyond the era where it required more brute force to survive.

The leak that "fast tracked" the Supreme Court

A flap about that document leak from the Supreme Court is allover the news today.

I've been thinking, if they really think abortion is murder, maybe they should have announced the verdict real soon after they heard the case. Save more lives? Instead, I think they tried to follow the normal procedure, but now the leak has "fast tracked" it a bit.

I am, of course, in favor of keeping Roe vs Wade.

The need to pay high housing costs keeps the work / consume / waste treadmill going.

Labor saving technologies could mean a shorter workweek. Less time at work would certainly help a lot of stretched and stressed people. One problem is that the increased efficiency of labor leads to more prosperity which leads to inflation in property values and the cost of living.

If one can afford the cost of living, in an area, it's not that much more to be able to afford other things; like airline travel and fancy electronics.

If one is paying thousands of dollars a month for a place to live, who wants to live like a church mouse? Might as well go a few steps farther and have these other things that are available at bargain prices; relative to the basics.

It is kind of like a treadmill. The more we produce, the more we consume, but part of the problem is that the fastest belt on the treadmill is the basic cost of rent, or first time home purchase. Another fast moving belt, that is considered a basic, is health insurance.

If one is keeping up with the treadmill, to begin with, it's almost stupid to not reward oneself with these other joys in life.

In my case, I did have affordable housing. I was fortunate to have landlords who rented, to me, below market. I spent much of my working years working part time so I did have the luxury of time. The belts on the treadmill were never going too fast for me. I didn't have a family either. I was able to enjoy the luxury of just having time.

My guess is, if people are less able to enjoy the luxury of time, they need something to enjoy. Few folks just want to run on a fast treadmill for nothing. Might as well book that jet flight or buy that big screen TV for just a little bit more.

Consumption is also pushed by business and advertising as the economy does need the jobs that consumption creates; so people can afford the cost of living.

Twitter Don't Litter.

Looks like Elon Musk has bought Twitter after all. I don't use Twitter anyway. I prefer somewhat more detailed posts and comments. I like being able to edit posts, however. Facebook has had that for a long time. Odd that Twitter didn't think that was important before the Musk era. I hardly ever use Twitter, but it's in the news today. For some reason, there was this sign in a field out along Washington State Highway 23 between Davenport and Harrington, WA. I passed it in 2017 when I biked from Bellingham to Pullman that year.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Maybe Ferndale aluminum refinery should include in it's restart plan the ability to mothball the plant temporarily during periods of low aluminum prices.

Price of aluminum is going up again and there is talk of restarting the mothballed aluminum refinery near Ferndale. They say it could bring back hundreds of family wage jobs. The state has tossed in some money to help, if the plant can restart.

Main issue now is negotiating a new electric power contract with BPA. Aluminum refining uses lots of power and usually gets it at a cheap, bulk rate.

I got to thinking that the plant may only be able to operate while aluminum prices are high. If the price goes down, the plant could have to be mothballed again. As they negotiate the power contract, they might be hoping to set a lower power cost as they take periods of lower aluminum price into account.

Instead, maybe they could agree to a higher power price, assuming the plant mothballs again, if aluminum prices drop.

I realize I don't know that much about running such a plant and power contracts. People might say I don't know what I am talking about, but this is my blog. I can toss out an idea for what it's worth.

A somewhat higher cost of electricity could be seen as being like buying power at the "green power rate." Sometimes rate payers, like the city of Bellingham, voluntarily agree to pay a bit more for so called "green power." This puts money toward green sources, such as solar and wind, which can be a bit more expensive.

I know that the refinery would still get a bulk rate, cheaper than smaller users, like the city government of Bellingham, but this concept could be considered as they negotiate the deal. It might mean the plant has to operate with a business plan that takes mothballing into account, during times of low aluminum prices.

Mothballed, of course, means layoff for workers again.

Due to world economics and climate change, it seems like things need to be more flexible. Plants closing and reopening, given conditions.

That would also imply more flexible housing, in this area, for workers who would have to come and go with the price of aluminum.

More things like mobile home courts, RV parks and what they call "man camps" (non gender specific) in the county. More flexible housing arrangements than the standard American dream.

This might be good for some personalities, who like change. Americans have been somewhat of a nomadic people, in past decades, but high housing costs and low vacancy rates have been making it harder for people to follow their jobs and dreams during more recent times.

Sometimes, when a mill closes and jobs end temporarily, folks can take advantage of those times for career change, vacations, schooling, or whatever.

Back in the 1980s, it seemed like corporations transferred people a lot. Maybe, due to less mobility, these days, this happens less often now?

The Pizza Place, I worked at right out of college, had a reputation for transferring the managers to Burian, WA.; for some reason. Moving around can be bad for establishing roots in a community, but some people like it. Folks often look forward to change. A new location and a new adventure.

At a time when so many folks are hanging onto old versions of the American Dream; hanging on with fear, we might need to plan for more flexibility; especially due to things like climate change.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Inflation may be the inevitable price for our quick economic recovery from the pandemic.

Seems like inflation is almost an inevitable price for prosperity.

The problem of income inequality still persists so some folks have trouble just keeping a roof over their heads, but prosperous times have come back since the pandemic.

Here in the US, government relief saved a lot of businesses and people's well being during the pandemic. It's brought prosperity back, to some extent, but new money does push inflation. Home values, wages and all that. An alternative would be deeper recession. We can't have it all.

Gas prices go up again as travel and commuting is returning to pre pandemic levels and beyond. There are natural limits to how much fossil fuels we should be burning.

Birth control would be better, but a higher death rate might bring the silver lining of a more stable world population.

Warning. Some morbid thinking.

Headlines say US death toll is highest in history. I would guess that it's partially because our population is highest in history. All the numbers are bigger.

I would think that there were times, in the past, when the death rate, per thousand, was higher. Times before modern medicine and safety standards, back during the Civil War and so forth.

At the same time, our death rate, per thousand, has increased in the past few years. Worse than in some other countries. This, because of the pandemic, vaccine hesitancy, income inequality, general cultural things; including mental health and the opioid problem.

Worldwide, I fear that humankind is in for higher death rates as well. Less wheat production, due to the war against Ukraine, is likely to be among factors increasing world hunger.

World population has been projected to reach 10 or even 11 billion in the near future before eventually stabilizing. Given the state of the world, we are having trouble just keeping our 7 to 8 billion current inhabitants alive and thriving.

Increasing deaths may keep the world from reaching 10 billion which, in a morbid way, may be sort of a blessing in disguise.

Russia's anti GLBT attitudes and it's attempts to increase it's population, is backfiring. It's population is already more sparse than other countries, due to less people per land area, but people are dying from the war and fleeing both Russia and Ukraine. Less people to innovate and work. Less to pay into whatever Social Security they have.

Meanwhile, here in much of the West, we still see no shortage of refugees seeking a better life in our societies. No shortage of potential workers to pay into our Social Security who are, at least, chomping at the borders hoping to get in, if only we could accommodate them with affordable housing and so forth. Plus we have our worries about the impact on the environment, that so many folks with their aspirations, can bring; especially if they try and live the traditional old American dream as unmodified.