Friday, August 05, 2022

In spite of technophobia, consumerism is rampant.

Unlike the energy crisis of the 1970s, it seems like hardly anyone discusses cutting back on consumption. Minimalist lifestyles do pull consumption out of the economy so it can create economic disruption; like loss of jobs.

Instead the talk is technological fixes. Clean energy, build back better. I'm okay with technological fixes, but they take time. Ironically, there are lots of people who claim that there isn't a "technological fix." They will say that relying on technology isn't the answer. I believe it can be the answer, but does take time.

Without technological fixes, the answer would have to be reduction in consumption. Both solutions being applied simultaneously could help, however.

Underlying a lot of thinking is the concept that technological society is somehow "immoral." Maybe that relates to the idea that "technology fix" isn't the answer. I guess quite a few folks think we are headed for catastrophe. Little or no hope for us. It's like "party, party for tomorrow we shall die." In spite of technophobia, consumerism is rampant.

I feel that technological society can have more of a future than that. At the same time consumerism, increasing populations, increasing rents and expectations does put a lot of pressure on people's psychology. Somehow, life has become like a rat race for many folks. Myself, having a low tolerance for stress, I have pretty much figured out ways to avoid the rat race. My life isn't very typical, however.

More folks could live the way I do, but it may not be appealing to so many people who seem to be influenced by movies, television, advertising, peer pressure, relationship obligations, mortgage obligations and so forth. They grumble about all of this and they say technology can't save us, but they party on as if collapse of civilization is a forgone conclusion.

Still, I think we need less consumptive living and the hope of technological fixes; such as solar energy and hydrogen fusion, for getting us to what still could be a better future. We need both conservation and technological innovation.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Light rail is so expensive. Maybe Bus Rapid Transit is the way to go.

For decades, the freeway traffic in Seattle has been so congested that commutes are a crawl. One would think after all these years they would figure out a better way to go.

If they could have a transit only lane on all freeways through Seattle metro that had at least 3 lanes of traffic (6 lanes both ways), there could be something called "bus rapid transit." Seattle metro has lots of freeways with at least 3 lanes in both directions.

Bus rapid transit could use existing infrastructure. It would be less expensive than trying to build light rail; something that takes years to develop. They did just finish Sound Transit Light Rail as far north as the old Northgate area and it's under construction farther north into Lynwood and east across Lake Washington. This takes years and billions of dollars to build.

On the freeways, they do have HOV lanes, but populism allows too many cars into the HOV lanes so the traffic is just as gridlocked in the HOV lanes as in the regular lanes. Everything gets stuck in traffic.

If they had bus only lanes, at least the buses could get through. Then there would be more incentive to take the bus thus reducing the congestion of cars in all the lanes.

I remember, a few years ago, the HOV lanes worked kind of well as one had to have at least 3 people in a vehicle to be in the HOV lane. Eventually this limit was lowered to two people so the HOV lane is almost as congested as all the other lanes with single passenger cars.

Everyone is still stuck in traffic after all these many decades.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Rejecting scientific evidence often comes from a position of being over confident in oneself

Too much overconfidence, or self self assuredness, causes people to reject evidence that is different from how their minds are already made up. Strong beliefs and confidence can cause people to reject scientific evidence.

Religious fundamentalists tend to be super confident, but within religious thought, there is the concept of humbleness. Humbleness before God. I think this concept can be used for opening the minds of some people. Few people want to admit they are a "know it all." At the same time, it does seem to me like a lot of religious folks have forgotten the concept of humbleness to the point of being over confident in their own righteousness.

I was brought up in fairly open minded religion so I realize that not all religion is self-righteous. I also know that science, in itself, can be very humbling. Scientists are often reevaluating what they are thinking as new evidence does have a tendency to upset old thinking. Willingness to learn is a form of humbleness.

Self deprecating humor is a good thing. I hear quite a bit of self deprecating humor in science lectures I watch on YouTube. I think more people need the realization that we owe a lot of our successes to the work of others. Another concept coming to mind is gratitude. I've even heard it said in churches as I was growing up. We can be thankful.

Some of my thoughts after reading this article. Overconfidence bolsters anti-scientific views, study finds.

Friday, July 08, 2022

Pictures from my 2022 bicycle trip across Washington State are on-line.

Photo album and descriptions are on Flickr. Free access. No sign in required. Click on pictures for enlargement and the longer stories that come with some of the pictures.

Thursday, July 07, 2022

I may be less vulnerable to crime being a bicyclist

During summer of 2020, I wasn't a big fan of the idea that police are the big problem. I'm hearing that some of the police reforms, in Washington State, have made it harder for police to do their jobs.

Now, people in Bellingham, including folks calling themselves liberal, are starting to get real worried about crime.

Personally, I haven't noticed the increasing crime situation. I still feel safe, myself, but I'm hearing lots about it from other folks. I am sympathetic to folks feeling threatened, but, again, it seems like some of the talk might be over reaction. The anti police talk was over reaction, now people's fear for their safety could be, in part, over reaction.

I'm thinking that my bicycle has helped my own feeling of safety. There are lots of street people and homeless folks around, but I just go by on my bike. Walking can make one more vulnerable; especially folks who must walk with canes and walkers. Being male, rather than female, makes a difference as well. I feel less vulnerable than a lot of women are feeling these days.

Another thing about the bicycle, that adds to my personal sense of safety, is that I park my bike inside my locked apartment. Folks with cars often have to leave the car out in a parking lot or along the street. Car prowls and thefts are up. There's been a big rash of catalytic converter thefts.

I do worry about more lawlessness on the roads. Traffic is getting worse, law enforcement is short handed as it's getting harder to fill jobs in policing. Traffic death tolls are up, but so far I've been okay on the roads. For the most part I've been out of the mainstream traffic pattern. Trails, shoulders and light traffic roads are where I go.

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

A solution to the racial wealth gap that both liberals and conservatives would baulk at.

During the Juneteenth Holiday. There was talk about the wealth gap between white people, on average, and most people of color. How can that be addressed?

One solution that I doubt would be popular, but could be effective. An increase in capital gains tax; like a death tax. A tax on the windfall wealth folks have gained from real estate and other assets. A tax on wealth passed down through families.

Lots of people's goto tax is a tax on business, but business does need it's capital assets, like the building housing the business, to operate and people want the goods, services and jobs that business provides. It could be taxed also, but not smothered.

Seems like personal and family wealth would need to see a boost in the taxes, such as death taxes, that it pays to help address the wealth gap.

Let's bring back Jimmy Carter's 1970s call for less energy consumption

Seems like there is no talk, from Biden or any major politician these days, about conservation. Using less gasoline which may be the best way; especially in the short run, to bring the price down. Supply and demand.

In some ways, I miss my college days during the Carter Presidency. Carter was pushing everything from walking more to turning down (or up in summer) the thermostat. It was a time when we thought we could pull together and make a difference. In many ways, life seems more jaded today.

Things were different back then. The price of gasoline was more regulated so while there were price hikes, the lack of supply was manifested in actual gas shortages. Long lines at gas stations. Odd even rationing based on licence plate number, the 55 mile per hour speed limit, which may have done more to save lives than gas, but it was the law of the land for years.

Carter did have long term goals to increase domestic production. Mining oil shale, coal gasification. The Carter Synfuels program. He also pushed alternative energy.

Back then, the US was hopelessly dependent on oil imports.

Since then, Republican thinking has prevailed. Price controls have been eliminated letting the marketplace regulate supply and demand through price, rather than regulation and rationing. Due to advanced technology, in oil drilling, there has been a miraculous increase in domestic oil production over the past few decades. America is far less dependent on oil imports while gasoline consumption has still risen dramatically to meet our increased, population, prosperity and sprawl.

Still, I miss the days when politicians tried to get people to consume less.

Consuming less would take pressure off supply and bring prices down in the shortrun. In the longrun, oil fracking our way to increased production is problematic due to climate change. Or, maybe we can use another miracle technology; geo engineering to artificially cool the earth? I wouldn't count on that. We will need clean energy sources such as solar and hydrogen fusion.

The future, Florida Governor DeSantis style?

In a future world with climate change, people might be able to adapt. Republicans who aren't that worried about this should, however, remember the saying, "be careful what you ask for as you might get it."

Future tourists might enjoy visits to much of Florida as it's inundated with water. They will ride in shallow watercraft past buildings where the ground floors are unusable. Some entire buildings abandoned and turned to sculpture while others adapted with upper floors still in use.

Less folks will own property in this vision of the future. As neighborhoods change, tennants can just move out. People will become more nomadic. More buildings will be mobile also; like houseboats and mobile homes.

Meanwhile in dryer California, agriculture will giveway to use of the land for solar panels. Much less need for irrigation water. Farming will move to new regions, farther north for instance. Inside agriculture will thrive, but food becomes much more expensive.

Our civilization might be able to adapt, even thrive, but it will have to accept change.

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.

My article about this in The Betty Pages.

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.