Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Open unions up to more people for more political clout? Some ideas about the future of unions in the Uber age

I thought of a new way to organize labor unions (this may have already been thought of). Instead of union membership being tied to one's job, how about allowing anyone to join the union regardless of what job they have? This might work better in the modern age; especially among young people who often don't stay at one job for more than a year. As people change jobs constantly, they could keep their union membership. Make it portable. Then they could still use some of the legal resources that union membership can provide, plus it would be a benefit to the union as there would be more dues paying members.

Union membership has been in decline for many decades. I have never been a big fan of unions as the solution, but do see them as having some merit. Looks like the unions are all but dead today.

I remember, back in the early 1980s, when getting into a union seemed very difficult. There were some apprenticeship programs for trades, such a plumbers and electricians, but one would hear that apprenticeship slots were hard to come by. To try and keep wages high, unions would constrict who got in. Usually union membership was based on employment, such as in the auto industry or working for the state. Wages were higher, but most people couldn't get into those jobs. Back then, it seemed like the unions didn't really care much about most workers who were not in the union; such as in restaurant workers and so forth. These days, it seems like what's left of the unions are getting better in their concern for the welfare of workers in general. They advocate things like affordable healthcare and raising the minimum wage. It may be a bit late, but modern unions seem less exclusionary than they were a few decades back, from what I gather.

Still, in today's "Uber" self employed work world, it seems like membership based on workplace is an out dated concept.

I can imagine some people asking how can a strike happen if union membership is voluntary, open to the public and not based on any one workplace? How can a strike happen if it's not closed shop all the workers unified in the union? I guess, the way it is now with practically no workers in unions, anymore, one worker can sometimes still create a stir by walking off the job. This can still get attention of management. What happens if, say, 20 or 30 percent of the workers, who happened to be members of a union, walked off the job. That would still have clout.

Union membership wouldn't have to be "closed shop," so there would be no need for the company to hold a vote to go unionized or not. Just a certain percentage of workers could join a union if they wished and carry that membership to whatever job they work at. Then, in some cases, groups of those workers could ban together using the union's organizing tools, if there was a need for that. A partial walkout as not all employees would be in the union. Better than no union, at least.

Maybe this has already been thought of; like trade associations. I remember, back in the 1980s, quite a few people joined Allied Arts Association, here in Whatcom County, as one of the benefits was getting a group rate on health insurance. That membership was open to the public.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Biggest stumbling block to Republicans devising replacement for ACA; Republican adversion to income transfer needed to subsidize premiums for a large segment of Americans

The biggest obstacle Republicans face as they try and replace Obamacare is the fact that Republicans don't like anything that smacks of wealth transfer. A plan will not work for a big percent of the population and workers unless there is enough wealth transfer to provide subsidized premiums at the low end. Income inequality is just too wide, in USA, for universal access to health insurance without subsidy. This is a major stumbling block for Republicans.

Bringing overall healthcare costs down would help also. Part of the second solution is healthier lifestyles and diets. Politicians tend to not discuss that enough.

Reforming healthcare and the way insurance is handled can help also, but may be third on the list for solutions; in my opinion.

Main stumbling block for Republicans. The need for a subsidy.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Were gay issues talked about in Pullman, Bellingham in early 1970s?

A personal perspective.

I just got to thinking that I didn't hear much derogatory talk against gay people, until I got to Bellingham. That was back in 1973 when I came to Bellingham for Western Washington University. Back in Pullman, where I grew up, being gay just wasn't discussed. It was kind of a "conspiracy of silence." That was a different era and the subject was pretty much deep in the closet. There was a naive silence, but I don't remember much scorn. Pullman is a fairly liberal, college town, but back then the gay issue was very hidden.

When I came to Bellingham, my freshman year, it was suddenly more out in the open. There were gay symposiums on campus, but back in my freshman dorm, folks were telling lots of faggot jokes.

Coming from my liberal background, I didn't have much respect for the people in my dorm. They seemed superficial and shallow. It seemed like the folks, in my freshman dorm, were either "Jesus Freaks" (a big term in the early 1970s) or drunks. I missed the slower, more thoughtful ways of Pullman High School. Just about everyone's dad, in Pullman, was connected to Washington State University so there was an academic feel. Here in Bellingham, many of the students, in my freshman dorm, were from more commercial backgrounds. They seemed less genuine, more phony and hurried. Also more materialistic.

I went to some of the gay discussion groups, on Western campus, in part to (sort of) jokingly horrify a "Christian" who was living across the hall from me in the dorm.

As time went on, I started meeting more varieties of people, here in Bellingham. It took some time, but I did find a variety of intelligent and genuine people scattered around.

Ironically, as I got somewhat involved in the gay student group, I found many of those people to be shallow and superficial as well. I've always been an outsider and never fit, very well, into any of those boxes. I've usually gotten along fairly well being on the edge, rather than in the middle, of various clicks. Some of the intelligent and genuine people, I find today, are gay.

I think things are quite a bit different today, than back then. I sometimes wonder what being in a freshman dorm, at Western, would be like today?

Friday, January 06, 2017

Less uninsured Americans is the new normal

Obamacare has created a "new normal" for this country. The new normal is 20 to 30 million more Americans with health insurance.

Now that there are plans to repeal and possibly replace Obamacare, the reality of the new normal gives, even Donald Trump, some pause. Taking health insurance away from nearly 30 million Americans is more than just bad politics. It can be done, but it's not pretty. It can be accomplished by turning the clock back to before Obamacare when many more people went without insurance. It wasn't that long ago and the situation can return, but it would never be quite the same.

It wasn't good to begin with and it would be worse now as the number of people, who can't afford insurance premiums without subsidy, keeps growing. Larger numbers of indigent patients would further overwhelm charity care. Hospitals in some areas; especially in many rural areas, would go under and likely have to close their doors under the strain of providing so much uncompensated care. That is why even some Republicans, and Donald Trump himself, are worried about trying to find a replacement. Replace would be better than just ending the coverage that comes from Obamacare's Medicaid expansion and the lower end of the subsidized exchanges.

Can we make medicine cheaper? Yes. Can we be healthier and reduce the need for medicine? Yes. I don't see that many politicians, especially Republicans, pushing much in the way of things like healthier diets and so forth. Meanwhile it looks like ending the subsidies and just pulling the plug on millions of lower income Americans isn't a good option.

Monday, January 02, 2017

When the market niches don't fit

I had a funny dream this morning. I dreamed that I had, possibly, found a way to make a living from my thinking, photography and writing. It was some kind of app installed on my web sites and Facebook feeds that brought in money. Turns out it brought several customers who thought I was going to deliver hot coffee on Lummi Island. I ended up talking to one of the disappointed customers saying I wasn't the person to deliver piping hot coffee to Lummi Island as I don't even drink coffee myself. I'm not set up to brew or deliver coffee; especially to scattered residents on Lummi Island. For those who don't know, Lummi is an island in Bellingham Bay and it's even quite a bike ride to the ferry dock from where I live in downtown Bellingham.

I woke up thinking the free market economy must be kind of screwy. It needs to do better than that at finding a niche for me.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Heralding in the new year. My little video of colors changing on the Herald sign

Heralding in the New Year 2016 - 2017

Heralding in the New Year. Little video I just uploaded to my Flickr album. Letters changing colors. Another feature of the "new technology" Herald sign.

My thoughts after listening to Secretary of State John Kerry's recent speech on the Israel, Palestine situation

Secretary of State Kerry made some really good points during his Dec. 28 2016 speech.

Continued building of new Israeli settlements on the land that Israel was (sort of) agreeing would be the new Palestine in the "two state solution" puts the two state solution in total jeopardy.

It looks like the current right wing government, in Israel, has given up on so called "two state" and is pursuing "one state solution;" a larger Israel.

Personally, I wonder if two states would work anyway. Kerry, the US and most of the world's countries are still committed to the two state solution, but seems like momentum is headed elsewhere. Maybe, in my opinion, a one state solution is where things are going? The one state would need to provide equality for both Israelis and Palestinians. This could no longer be a state based on any one religion. It would have to be a multi cultural state. A country like Canada, for instance. Or the US, for that matter.

Kerry said it in a different way. Basically, he said it would have to make a choice between being the Jewish state that it calls itself now, or a democracy. A full democracy would have equal rights to all the citizens within its borders, Israelis, Palestinians and anyone else living there. It can't really have it both ways.

I also feel that Islamic states, based on a single religion, are a bad idea so I'm not just picking on Israel.

People, on the right, are blasting Kerry for his logic, but I think he has stated the problem well. I understand some of the right's feelings as Israeli society has a lot going for it. It has many good things in terms of democratic ideals and institutions. Better than what exists in other parts of the Middle East. Maybe a lot of the institutions and traditions of Israel can continue, in my opinion, even with the one state being an equal state for both Palestinian and Israeli residents. They are both living there; especially if the two state solution is scrapped.

Who knows what our new President Elect Trump will do as he wades into these same muddy waters.

Friday, December 30, 2016

My wish for Santa. Peaceful bike paths.

Tammy Bennett, a fitness instructor at YMCA, dressed up like Santa before Christmas. She was taking wishes. I happened to be wearing a t-shirt commemorating the 50th anniversary of Bellingham Peace Vigil, so I wrote on the Santa wish list chalkboard, "Peaceful Bike Paths."

Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Balancing prosperity and voluntary simplicity

See the thinking I recently posted on Flickr after a visit to Sushi Collective Household here in Bellingham.

I find Flickr to be a good place to put essays. People think "pictures" so there isn't the work of reading, but I often put long descriptions with my photos. Fairly unique on Flickr where often there's hardly a caption. Seems like my writing gets readership there. Must stand out in a caption less world.

Below, image of a solstice tree at Sushi House made from driftwood. Artwork of Zack Robertson and driftwood gathered at Squalicum Beach.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Political correctness is mostly just window dressing

A lot of people criticize the push for politically correct language, thinking and so forth. I see political correctness as being mostly window dressing. It's about using the right terms, not telling the wrong jokes and looking respectable. Problem is that underneath, one can still be a bad boss, greedy landlord, hostile customer, bad driver or bad neighbor and still use all the correct terms. For me correct terminology is less important that trying to be kind hearted underneath.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Just more prosperity doesn't always solve income inequality and lack of sustainability

Another idea from Portland, Oregon. Charge higher B&O taxes to companies that pay their CEOs over 100 times the median pay of their workers.

Some business groups, like Portland Business Alliance, don't like the idea and propose, instead, the commonly suggested solution of economic growth; like rising tide raises all boats. Problem is, in my opinion, that's the solution which has been tried all along for years. Income inequality is getting worse. How much overall economic growth do we need? Maybe it's time to try some other strategies.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Where's the Salish Sea?

West coast North America, Washington State and British Columbia.

Conservatives, or at least people who think in the past might jokingly ask, "where's the Salish Sea?" Why not just call it Puget Sound?

I guess the Salish Sea is a term to describe what used to take 3 names to describe. Puget Sound, Georgia Strait and Strait of Juan De Fuca. Those 3 names are still used to describe the 3 main sections of Salish Sea. Salish Sea is kind of a bio region so the name highlights that. Also related to the native people's who have lived around its shores. Still part of the Pacific Ocean.

Window display in old Penny's Building on Cornwall Ave. A building that's been hard to find uses for, from what I can gather, since Penny's moved out in the late 1980s. Several years ago, I saw a real estate office in that large storefront. The desk and file cabinets were spread out quite a ways from one another to, seemingly, try and fill the big room.

There's lots of retail space in Bellingham, but a shortage of housing. More housing is, hopefully, being built around town to help reduce the shortage. People keep moving here to study or retire, but who's shopping? Lots of people are "doing." Doing things like art, music, discussions, but not stuff that necessarily pays in Bellingham. Pathways to what I see as a potential new culture of less consumption. Ways into a more sustainable future, but many of the old economic trappings remain.

On the shores of the Salish Sea. Culture, but can people afford to live here?

Monday, December 12, 2016

One problem with mainstream liberalism

One problem with mainstream liberalism is that it's like playing a game of Topple Tower. It's often focused on removing things piecemeal, like a pipeline here, a factory there, but still relying on the consumptive economy that these things are pillars in. Like pulling pillars out of a topple tower, the structure becomes more precarious. The tower (economy) is still needed to provide things that people want like social services, home values, teacher salaries and so forth. The tax base is still needed. I think a better strategy is to look at the situation more holistically. What changes are needed in overall consumption and business practices, such as weening ourselves off of fossil fuels. What changes are needed in lifestyles, expectations, technology, our population growth, city planning and so forth to bring a more sustainable future.

Another example of Topple Tower is the rule, in Obamacare, that keeps insurance companies from discriminating against folks with preexisting conditions. That rule can't work alone without the overall system of premium subsidies and so forth that Obamacare tries to provide. Donald Trump is kind of like some liberals in being a populist. He wants to keep that one popular part of Obamacare, but discard most of the rest. Economists usually point out that just keeping that one part wouldn't add up. The premium subsidies (wealth transfer) parts would need to be there also or else the premiums go too high so only high income people can afford them.

Topple tower is one reason why liberal leaders, like President Obama and Canada's Prime Minister Trudeau, often disappoint more left parts of their liberal base by supporting things like Trans Mountain Pipeline. Leaders do not wish to have economic problems during their watch so they are careful about doing things that significantly disrupt business as usual. Here in Washington State, one of the first things our liberal governor did was to push for tax cuts to Boeing Corporation so Boeing wouldn't move production of the Dreamliner Plane out of the state. No Washington governor wants to be the one that looses Boeing, a large employer for middle class jobs, from our state during their watch.

We need to see how the pieces fit together and look at the big picture.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion. As long as we keep using fossil fuels, pipelines keep being proposed

Even Canada's liberal prime minister, Justin Trudeau has approved the expansion of Trans Mountain Pipeline; the pipeline that already exists between Alberta and Vancouver area. A spur of Trans Mountain comes to right here in Whatcom County serving the two big oil refineries just north of Bellingham. As far as I know, there are no plans to expand the Whatcom County spur.

This pipeline expansion to Vancouver area still may never happen as there is always opposition along the way, but Trudeau has decided that it makes more sense to expand capacity of an already existing route than build a new route. I guess there was a proposal to build a pipe from Alberta to farther north on the BC coast that was scrapped as part of this deal. I just heard the proposal is part of a package that includes a carbon tax. I think carbon tax is a good idea at least.

Building, or expanding, any pipeline would fly in the face of climate activists, such as Bill McKibben, who says, about Alberta tar sand oil, "keep it in the ground." Oil plays a big role in the Canadian economy. It's a hard habit to kick, or find alternatives for.

The oil that travels through Trans Mountain's spur, just north of Bellingham, supplies our refineries that mostly serve the driving, and the flying (jet fuel), public of the Pacific Northwest. As far as I know, there is no expansion plans for the Whatcom County Trans Mountain spur.

Personally, I'm not totally anti pipeline. Pipelines are safer than oil trains if that's the only choice, but this is all part of running our economy on fossil fuels. Should Canada just keep it's Alberta tar sands oil in the ground or is that oil too important to the economy? Leaders, like Trudeau and Obama, do have to walk a tightrope between long term ideals and keeping our economies solvent (assuming they are solvent which may be debatable, but another topic).

National leaders often think of oil and gas production as a transition till we get something better to feed our economy and lifestyles.

I say, we have to keep looking at the big picture. I'm not necessarily pro, or against the single "piecemeal" parts, like a pipeline here or there. I think about the big picture of all the automobiles on the road, rents being due and so forth. How can we create a sustainable economy? We can, but maybe we need to push it along faster. Donald Trump wants to go the other way.

Also see Northwest braces for its own Standing Rock.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Anti Trump protests

I see quite a few people holding signs saying "not my president." If I was to hold a sign it would say, "Trump has no mandate." Trump is the president, but with Hillary Clinton's lead in the popular vote, there definitely is no mandate. A mandate would require more of a landslide vote for the winner. This means the Republican dominated government will need to be open to ideas from both sides of the aisle and also from outside the duality. In other words, no absolute refusal to listen or compromise. If this doesn't happen, the majority of people will be against the government.

This little piece of news is interesting also.

I guess maybe there IS a difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Even Jill Stein and the Green Party cares about the results of this election enough to put up $4 million dollars needed to attempt recounts in several swing states; article: Jill Stein raises $4 million for 3-state recount effort.

Seems like some of the Green Party supporters didn't think there was much difference between Democrats and Republicans, but now it matters enough for a recount and the Greens are leading this recount effort.

Also they are pushing for a recount for the sake of having a clean voting system, according to this article.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Time can be an important part of the filter against fake news on Facebook and other media

How does one guard against fake news on Facebook and in other media? Time cures a lot of things. I find that waiting a while, or even a few days, when I see a news story helps. With time, the false stories usually fall by the wayside as people do fact checking and so forth. Breaking news interests me less than the long term issues. This may not be the total solution to the fake news problem, but it's one strategy that can help. Wait, take the long view. Don't necessarily re post right away. Let fact checking take its time.

This can be a strategy for media consumers (readers), but it also might work for companies like Facebook that are looking for algorithms to combat fake news. How does one design an algorithm that's not got its own built in biases? Well, the march of time gives no preference to anyone. Time can be considered when articles are highlighted. In other words media shouldn't be too "trigger happy" to get the scoop. I know that kind of patience might not be the best business model, however.

I read that companies, like Facebook, are considering having a tag to certify that certain stories have been verified. A good idea tho there is still the question of who decides what to tag and what is the process to decide this? One thing that any process, like that, would do is slow down the news a bit. It takes time to verify and process stories for placing the "verified" stamp on the item. Of course all postings would still go onto Facebook as they do now, but certain things would have the verified tag. Since there would likely be a wait for news items to go through whatever process created the tag, this might automatically favor the longer term "slower" news over the "breaking" news anyway.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Our sexuality: one of the legitimate aspects of our being to lead us toward health

At a free form dance I go to, the DJ offers wisdom. "Let your feet lead, let your hands lead, let your torso lead, let your hips lead, let your sexuality lead."

Yes I heard that right, tho muffled through fun sounding music.

At the end of the class there's a little sharing session. The concept of leading with various parts of our beings comes up again; including leading with one's sexuality. I put my two bits in to the discussion saying that my sexuality leads me to the dance in the first place. I'm often motivated to go, wondering which attractive folks might be there tonight to see as I twirl on by? Who, of the attractive men (I notice the men) might have their shirt off. Then I said, even if there's no one that interesting this time, I'm at the dance anyway, enjoying the movement, music and ambiance. I've arrived and that motivation is one of the things that gets me to go in the first place. Not the only motivation as the music is usually great, tho also a mixed bag. Movement feels good to me.

People received my two bits very well. Whatever helps to keep the energy flowing in a healthy way. I feel quite fortunate that there's a lot of richness and multidimensional experience in this kind of exercise. It doesn't really feel like a chore. Free from ecstatic dance, sometimes called Five Rhythms Dance, but it can go by many names. One doesn't have to learn dance steps. Just let the body lead. One of my favorite of the "five rhythms" is "Chaos," but not all free form dance uses Five Rhythms terminology.

The free form dance will sometimes end with a cuddle pile. Touchy feely liberals? Lol.

I'm somewhat indifferent to touch, but I don't mind. My fetishes are more visual, but fetishes aren't the only reason people touch. One thing I really like about something like the cuddle pile is that folks who don't necessarily know each other very well, are still willing to participate. One thing I like about a free form dance is that it isn't too much governed by "stranger danger" fear. I'm quite cautious as I approach people, but I appreciate openness. There's a lot of unpleasant politics around touching in most of today's society. The cuddle pile is totally voluntary, but pretty much everyone participates; in a small way at least. Maybe just sitting near the circle. It happens rarely, but in today's stranger danger society filled with distrust, animosity, clicks, couples and competition, it's a nice thing to experience. Community and the families of humanity coming together.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Does this mean Washingtonians are just hypocritical yuppies?

Seems strange that even in a blue state, like Washington, there is still lots of anti tax sentiment. Someone like Tim Eyman (our state's anti tax initiative booster) can still thrive in such a state where people talk about the need to tax the rich. Unlike most states, in the USA, we still don't have a state income tax. Income taxes can be a good ways to tax the rich if they are graduated taxes. Our state tax system tends to be regressive even tho we are a blue state. Washington relies heavily on a sales tax.

Being politically blue also relates to being prosperous. At least in my opinion being innovative and somewhat left leaning politically can lead to prosperity given the emerging "information" economy. At the same time, we still have lots of problems in our state related to our regressive tax system. Does that mean Washingtonians are just hypocritical yuppies? We want the good things of being a progressive state, but not some of the costs?

Large areas of Washington are rural and the rural areas tend to vote more conservative so that's one explanation, as far as tipping the balance come election time. Also a lot of progressive and prosperous people are Libertarian. Libertarians tend to be suspicious of government. Libertarians want small government which sounds like conservatives, but they tend to also be for personal freedoms, like for the legalization of marijuana.

It's true that government can't be all the solution. Still, I think one must be willing to give in order to get. Pay your taxes, especially if you are upper income. Pay your taxes if you want things like well funded education and state services.

The good news, here in Bellingham, our Greenways Levy was renewed again during the 2016 election. Greenway trails and parks are popular as people definitely see what they are getting for their money.

Photo: Entering Washington sign at Wallula Gap on the Columbia River. Picture taken during my 1989 bike tour around the state.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Is robust economic growth an impractical goal in the west?

Robust economic growth may be a thing of the past. Not likely to happen again anytime in the foreseeable future.

Interesting to read economist Paul Krugman's review of this book "The Rise and Fall of American Growth" by Robert J. Gordon. Krugman, himself, is an advocate of using stimulus and good (basically liberal) economic planning as a road to prosperity. On the other hand, in reviewing this book, he acknowledges that the growth and prosperity that many of both liberals and conservatives advocate may be all but impossible to achieve again in our economy.

My own take on this is that an end to any hope for robust economic growth is, at least, likely. The whole idea of future growth based on innovation and things like Moore's Law bringing down the price of technologies comes into question. One of the problems, as pointed out in this article, is that we don't really factor in the benefits of things like smartphones into our economic equations. A smartphone can do wonders, but if it doesn't cost much to buy, it doesn't add much to the economic measures of prosperity that we use. The question of how we define prosperity is a big factor in my own thinking.

For various reasons, the surge of economic growth that we saw between the late 1800s and 1970 may not be repeatable. A law of diminishing returns?

To me, this thinking is important because traditional liberals and conservatives keep bashing each other over conflicting roads to economic growth and prosperity. Maybe this prosperity is an impractical goal. If that is the case, we will need to find new roads to better lives. Maybe we should learn to love each other and ride bicycles? I actually try and do that, myself.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The possible need for civil servants to disobey crazy orders that might come down from the top

Protesters should try and be kind to the police. We might need the police, as well as other lower level civil servants, to disobey crazy orders that could come down from the top. The top being Trump Administration, Congress, and eventually Republicans on The Supreme Court. We might need our mid level government workers to maintain common sense. These people can help us; especially if we don't alienate them.

A few weeks back, I heard that some mid level military folks were saying that they were ready to disobey illegal orders (about torture and so forth) that might come from "the commander in chief." They might have to disobey orders that violate Geneva Conventions; for instance.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

To wear or not to wear the safety pin

Article in Huffington Post. Thoughts that I put on my Facebook Wall below.

I know that some of us white people try to be good and caring, but the safety pin is kind of a thing of hollow symbolism. There's too many "show your support symbolic steps" out there and not enough living a responsible life.

I wore a safety pin at a local protest. It was handed to me by a white woman from the Islamic Faith. She wanted her frightened children to see a lot of supporters around them in the crowd. I felt kind of funny and token wearing it, however. I'm not that much of a "sound byte sign" guy. The pin I wore was tiny and hardly anyone could see it. Not very effective. There was a run on local stores for safety pins so some stores had run out of all but the tiny ones.

The anger tone in this Huffington Post article doesn't appeal that much to me, but the idea is worth considering. The pins might be sort of silly. By the way, I am a gay person.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Politicians barking up the wrong tree. Jobs going to the cities and to automation. Not as much to overseas.

We hear that too many jobs have gone overseas. This is true, but here's another thing that's happening. The jobs are going to the cities. Lots of Trump's support comes from rural areas that are suffering from economic stagnation. The jobs have gone to metropolitan areas. The economy is changing from market forces and so forth.

This past election showed a big divide between urban and rural voters where urban tended to vote more liberal while rural voted conservative. I'm sure there are many reasons for this divide, but the economic stagnation of rural America plays a role. It's being talked about in the media. People complaining about manufacturing jobs going overseas. Well, it may not be as big a problem as Trump and even Sanders supporters claim. I also read that manufacturing is strong in America. Manufacturing is strong, but it's just not creating the jobs that it used to create. Automation may be the biggest factor. Economists are talking about the effects of automation. Why isn't Trump discussing this? For that matter, why didn't any of the major candidates, in the 2016 election, talk about this?

Politicians are usually barking up the wrong tree.

Automation may be the biggest issue, but another issue is the jobs going to the cities. No wonder there's a political divide between urban and rural areas. Cities tend to be more prosperous in today's economy. Lots of service industry jobs, but still, there are jobs in the cities. Much of rural America has a more stagnate economy.

Conservatives might say that it's environmental regulations which have hampered rural economies. Lumber mills closed due to logging restrictions and so forth. There is some truth to this, but some environmental protection is there for good reason. Also there is more reason for rural stagnation than just blaming environmental regulation. In rural North Dakota, there has recently been an oil production boom. Something conservatives are quite proud of. They often talk about America's new "domestic oil boom." Well, now it's kind of a bust as oil prices have gone down. The success of fracking and oil production has lead to a glut on the oil market and lower oil prices.

Many rural economies are based on extraction of one resource. Oil, or maybe timber; like in the case of a timber town. Large urban areas tend to have more diversified economies. In some ways, urban areas are better suited for today's economy than rural areas. Better suited for the service/information economy. Rather than just lashing out and looking for scapegoats, we need to figure out what's happening and figure out how to make it work for our benefit.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

How progressive ideas might work with, or in spite of, a Trump administration

At least Trump's victory speech wasn't real bad. He was gracious toward Hillary Clinton and mostly talked about things that lots of people would agree on, like folks of different parties, races and religions working together and plans to rebuild infrastructure. At least that speech omitted some of the more negative things he and other Republicans pushed on the campaign trail.

Promises, promises. As for infrastructure improvement, where's he going to get the money?

Lots of things that I push for weren't even discussed by any of the candidates in this campaign. Hardly having any of the ideas I embrace be part of campaigns, at the national level, I still thought Hillary Clinton was the safest bet. Not exactly discussing my agenda, but at least a safer bet than Republicans dominating both Congress and the White House.

Government dominated by Republicans is what we got. It's kind of a product of mainstream American culture. Competitiveness, greed, unwillingness to compromise and so forth. Seems like most American people don't understand things we need to do to deal with climate change and how to adapt our economy to automation and technology.

The Republicans in Congress have done badly. Trump isn't really like them either. He's kind of his own wildcard. Not an establishment Republican. More a loose cannon and a populist.

It's important to realize that the popular vote did go for Hillary Clinton. The popular vote was for Clinton by a slight margin, but the electoral vote went to Trump. The result of an outdated aspect of our government. There is no total mandate for Trump and the Republicans. The country is still close to evenly divided. Who knows what will happen.

Here's one possible scenario. Trump might start courting support from Democrats as he faces the difficulties of office and struggles with the Republican establishment. Established patterns are being disrupted for sure.

I hope for improvements in our culture and the dialog of national campaigns. It's still up to the people how we build society, starting at the local level. Our lifestyles and how we build our communities. How this all fits the current needs with climate change a reality. We need to figure out ways for benefiting from the changes in technology that we are experiencing. Rethink economics. For instance having something like automation bring shorter workweeks with more quality time rather than it leading to more unemployment, stress and problems.

I still don't think most of the American people get it about the changes we all need to make. There are many pockets of society where these changes are being discussed and experimented with, but this discussion has not filtered to the level of the national political scene.

We still have a lot to learn.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Sharia law in USA?

Some people worry that there might be enclaves of Sharia Law in USA. Well, maybe there are, but not law imposed by government. Rules based on religion do persist in certain families, churches and communities. For instance many fundamentalist Christian families and communities are hard on their own children who happen to be gay while growing up in those settings. Also, there are enclaves of folks who, for instance, don't believe in things like vaccination. Children often suffer in these settings. The government and things like Child Protective Services aren't always able to rescue people from these situations. Enclaves, families and communities where badly designed religious rules reside can come in many forms and from many religions including, but not only, from Islam.

Religious law is the law of the land in some countries. Hopefully we have separation of church and state here in USA so religious law will not be the law of the land here. That would be bad from any religion; especially a fundamentalist religion. It is a problem in, for instance, Saudi Arabia. It could be a problem in a fundamentalist Christian country as well, but at this time in history it happens to be bad in some of the Islamic countries of the Middle East. Leviticus Law could be bad also. Glad USA has separation of church and state even though we have private communities and families where religious rule can be heavy handed.

When someone asked; Name me a country who bases their laws on a strict Christian sin!

My answer was.

Oppression of gay people in Uganda is often said to be based on fundamentalist Christianity. Also in some other African nations. Russia is getting stricter on things and justifying this, in part, on Christian and family values. Catholicism has a strong hold in some parts of Latin America. Maybe the problem of Islam rule in the Middle East is the most pervasive these days, but looking at history can tell a different story; like back in the times of Medieval Europe.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

News aggregators could set up per article charge system for paid content. My suggested revenue model for journalism.

I've noticed that more and more quality content on the internet, such as newspaper articles, are behind paywalls. Who's is likely to subscribe to such a large number of different publications just so an occasional link they find on Facebook or Yahoo works?

I got to thinking that large sites, like Facebook and Yahoo, could provide a subscription system where people would buy a supply of tokens that work on a whole bunch of participating media. Then, instead of having to subscribe to a hundred, or so, of different publications that one might only click on occasionally, the tokens would be available to pay for individual articles.

I've seen a few sites that use tokens to access participating sites, but it seems like a rare practice. This system could help with the problem of how can journalism be compensated in the internet age. Sites like Facebook and Yahoo are in good positions to provide this as they are, what could be called, multi site aggregators.

On another note, with more and more content disappearing behind paywalls, I appreciate the vast amount of free content and podcasts available from various radio stations, including NPR. Radio offers so much for free that I am spoiled.