Monday, July 25, 2016

Federal Reserve pumping up an animal balloon. Jobs in the hard to inflate appendages.

My crude attempt at making a cartoon (collage) about the economy. Collage as parts are borrowed images from the net; from people that can draw better than me.

Cartoon is about how Federal Reserve pumps money into the economy to, supposedly, nurture good jobs. Problem is, the new money mostly goes into inflating housing and asset bubbles; like blowing up a balloon. The parts of the balloon where good jobs would happen are constricted while the center part is, possibly headed for another 2008 style explosion.

A big problem with the economy are the clamps and restrictions in the way of good jobs. Environmental restrictions due to global warming and people's aversion to seeing change in their neighborhoods. Another restriction has to do with Congress clamping down on domestic spending due to deficit worries. The third clamp is business leaders worried about uncertainty and the feedback loop of soft markets.

Meanwhile, it seems like house values keep going up in many areas. Asset values go up, but work pays less and less relative to the overall economy.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Police relations with GLBTQ community seem better than with some segments of Black community

Black Lives Matter Vancouver wants police float out of Pride parade.

Not being black, myself, I do have problems understanding the hostility toward police from Black Lives Matter. Seems like that hostility would be better directed against the gentrification and spiraling cost of living in so many cities. Economic forces that are pushing low income people, with a disproportionate share of racial minorities, out of cities. In some cases, the police are the visible edge of this gentrification, but I see them as being caught in the difficult problems also.

Seems like relations between police and most of the GLBTQ community are much better than relations between police and much of the African American community. Police representation in GLBTQ parades has become another way of legitimatizing the GLBTQ movement. The police, major politicians and now big corporations join in the gay pride parades. I have heard, tho, that the big city pride parades have gone corporate. They've become big money, corporate affairs. A hazard of success in our society, unfortunately.

Here in Bellingham, things are much smaller and more manageable. The big corporate money hasn't found our parade yet. We're a backwater. The parade is small. There wasn't a big (imposing looking?) police float, but I did hear that the police / fire department brought out a historic fire engine to be in the parade. Kind of funky and nice.

I'm not sure If I'll go to Vancouver's Pride Parade this year, tho it's during my vacation and within bicycling distance. The cost of staying in the city has become ridiculous. Maybe that's what people should be protesting.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Historic moment about GLBTQ issues at 2016 Republican National Convention

At around the 37 minute mark in Donald Trump's acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican Presidential Convention was an interesting segment. Talk about protecting GLBTQ people. I think this was the first positive mention of GLBTQ folks from a Republican presidential nominee. Historic. Of course the Democrats and Obama have been speaking positive about GLBTQ people for years, but this is a first from the Republican podium.

As part of Trump's "law and order / public safety" theme, he talked about the need to protect our GLBTQ people from the likes of the murderer who killed 49 folks in that Orlando Bar. Talking about this, he presented a very simplistic take on the issue. He made it sound like an Islamic terrorist had come to Orlando to open fire on GLBTQ people. In reality, it's a more complicated issue. The Orlando murderer's father is from Afghanistan, but seems like there was no international terrorism plot. The father was horrified by his son's actions even though the father, himself, does believe that homosexuality is sinful due to his conservative religious beliefs.

This Orlando situation kind of reminds me of the contention, which some gay rights activists make, that conservative religious views create a general climate for disrespect of GLBTQ people which can lead to violence. Religious conservatives usually refuse to make that connection. Conservatives will say that the freedom of speech to point out where they think their scriptures prohibit homosexuality does not relate to disrespect or violence against GLBTQ people. I think the father was taking that position with his faith of Islam. Similar attitudes exist within conservative versions of Christianity as well.

So there isn't some big Islamic conspiracy behind Orlando, as Trump hinted at. It's a bit more complicated with the murderer having frequented the bar himself and said to even have used gay apps on his phone. It seems like more the case of a confused, lone individual. An individual with access to guns, of course. No mention, in Donald Trump's speech, about gun registration.

Still, it's fairly significant that GLBTQ people were championed (so to speak) from even the Republican podium. Also significant that the crowd of Republican delegates was cheering. A historic moment, even though the message gave an inaccurate impression that the US had been invaded. Invaded by organized Islamic terrorists from abroad. 911 was such an invasion, but not everything, including Orlando, should be viewed in as much of a war oriented way.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Police in the news. Here's something the bloggers are talking about in this Northwest Washington area.

I might as well put in my two bits also.

In our multi cultural society, misunderstandings can easily happen due to language barriers and so forth. An incident, in Sedro-Woolley, WA. has been creating buzz in media, talk shows and so forth; especially in this era of talk about police / minority relations. For a while, it was thought that police wouldn't be welcome as customers at Lucky Teriyaki in Sedro-Woolley. Apparently, this was just a misunderstanding due to language barrier.

From Seattle PI it says.

While the deputies were eating, an employee noticed some customers at another table had spilled some soup and water, the owners said through an interpreter. The employee couldn't understand why the customers were getting upset and wondered if it was because the deputies were sitting nearby, they said. An employee asked the deputies if they were about to leave.

An employee didn't understand when law enforcement later tried to clarify what had happened, the owners said through an interpreter.

Law enforcement personnel are still very welcome in that restaurant.

I guess it sounded, to some of the law enforcement people, that they didn't want law enforcement folks eating in the restaurant and word quickly spreads around. That isn't the case. With language barriers, it's hard to articulate and clearly understand the subtleties of these situations.

It's another argument for life in the slow lane. Slow down and try to understand what's happening. Our fast paced culture gets especially harder with things like language barriers.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

My photos from 2016 Bellingham Pride are posted on Flickr

See Bellingham Pride Album.

After biking back from a somewhat unrelated, but also very fun dance at the Lookout Mountain Arts Quarry on Friday, my friend Josh and me had pizza slices at La Fiama Pizza. Also available were rainbow cookies as it was Pride Weekend in Bellingham. Most of the pride festivities were on Sunday.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Personally I don't hate the 1%. I just want a saner economy. Glad Sanders and Clinton are working together

Even though Clinton is a 1%er, herself, I (Robert) personally don't hate 1%ers. I just think we need better economic planning to not be afraid of raising their taxes. I would say (even though it isn't in this article) no more Grover Norquist (the guy having members of Congress sign that pledge not to raise taxes).

Article inspiring my comment, Sanders drags Clinton into his war on the 1 percent.

From article it says.

Sanders shook up the party with his rants on corporate greed and his calls for an expanded welfare state, but he still couldn’t displace the stolid establishmentarian who has served as Secretary of State, New York senator and First Lady.

Sanders does hope, however, that Clinton will join him in attacking America’s elites and pursuing ways to spread the wealth more broadly. “Hillary Clinton understands we must fix an economy that is rigged and sends most income gains to the top 1 percent,” Sanders thundered during his endorsement speech. “Hillary Clinton understands that if someone in America works 40 hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty.”

Also in article it says.

But the revolution against the 1% was misdirected in the first place. It’s not really the top 1% of earners who are capturing all the income gains in the US economy. Hard data shows it’s more like the top 40%. “The notion that only the 1% are doing well is ridiculous,” says economist Stephen Rose of the Urban Institute.” The real wealth gap, he says, is between the top 40% of earners, who tend to have the skills to succeed in the digital knowledge economy, and the bottom 60%, who have less relevant skills.

I see a lot of truth in economist Stephen Rose's talk about the 40%. It's the growing gaps between all income classes that's a big problem.

I'd add that rising house values can add significantly to the gaps. Gaps between renters and owners, more struggle for first time home buyers, gaps between regions.

Rather than just hating 1 class of people, we need better economic policies. Better distribution of wealth, better partnership between government and private sector, investment in domestic infrastructure and so forth.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Finally, a listing honestly says Bellingham, WA. among worst cities in America. Cost of living versus wages.

Interesting Bellingham Herald article. Is Bellingham among the worst cities in America?

Finally, a pretty honest listing that might give some folks pause about moving to Bellingham.

From article it says. The study found that “a typical home in (Bellingham) is valued at more than $300,000, considerably higher than the national median home value of $181,200. While this suggests some level of prosperity among residents, compared to area income levels, area housing is not particularly affordable. The median home value is 7.3 times greater than the median income, making Bellingham one of the least affordable cities in the country.”


While the city scored well for educational attainment – 43.7 percent of residents have at least a bachelor’s degree – Bellingham’s higher-than-average poverty rate also was a negative. In Bellingham, 21.4 percent of residents live in poverty, far more than the national rate of 15.5 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

I'm lucky to be among the few non owners in affordable housing. There are some good things about living here. Friends, activities, dancing, bike riding and so forth, but it's a very hard city to become established in. Expensive housing, due in part to it's popularity as a retirement and college community. Hard to find a niche for middle aged workers, but if one has found a niche and an affordable place to live, it can be nice. A bit of the "Seattle Chill," however. North westerners can seem quite withdrawn and even clickish at first.

Here's this from another ranking in article.

Bellingham rated 15th among the 25 most hungover cities in America, according to Using business and research data, the site says 7.9 percent of people in Bellingham admitted to heavy drinking and 19.6 percent admitted to binge drinking. The city also rated high in the number of bars, alcohol stores and alcoholic-beverage-producing establishments per capita.