Sunday, February 25, 2024

People have to change before politics can change.

Eroding support for Biden on the left could be enough to put Trump back in the Whitehouse. I plan to vote for Biden if that's the choice in November.

Democratic politicians walk a tightrope when they get in office with much of the US electorate leaning right wing. Possibly the majority still resides in the middle or left, but politicians also have to deal with our materialistic culture as well. Policies that stand in the way of consumerism usually don't fly.

My personal life tends to be somewhat detached from mainstream culture and I do think things could be a lot different, if most people lived like me. However, politicians have to work with the general public which includes folks on the right. As for folks in the middle and left, politicians still find they have to keep the current economy, that people are familiar with, going; this current economy, fossil fuels and all.

Radical solutions get people nervous if they fear they will loose what prosperity they have, or they can't make ends meet. The changes moderate politicians propose may not be enough, but it's the best they can do given the circumstances; unless our culture really makes big changes in technology and lifestyles at the grass roots level.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Biden still much better than what looks like what's going to be the alternative again.

It seems very foolish to blame Biden for the excesses of Netanyahu's military campaign in Gaza. Maybe Biden could call for a ceasefire and threaten to withhold military aid, but I think Netanyahu would just go ahead and do what he is doing anyway.

Meanwhile, many Republicans, backed by Trump, would be more apt to fully support Netanyahu. Republicans have an aid bill, in the House, with military aid for Israel while removing aid for Ukraine.

Biden is calling for restraint in that war but our country may not have much say in what other countries do; in the short run at least. I would guess that Israel has plenty of weapons without us.

I think it's terrible what Hamas has done, but the rightwing government, in Israel, can overreact.

Meanwhile, here in this country, many American Jews and others are critical of the right wing politics within Israel. Unfortunately some on the left, in this country, are taking their anger out on Jewish people. Left wing opposition would be better directed at some of the Christian Right which is more backing of Netanyahu's politics in Israel.

In pretty much every situation, anger tends to be misdirected and does more harm than good. Anger could bring Trump back to the Whitehouse.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Some Republicans want a more draconian bill than the compromise.

According to many Democrats, Republicans, in the House, sank the bipartisan border bill so Trump could use border problems as campaign talking points.

Republicans have a different take. They will say the border bill was sank because it wasn't tight enough. I would replace the word tight with draconian. Many Republicans want to, basically, close the border and send folks seeking asylum back to their dangerous countries of origin while turning a blind eye on human suffering.

Many Republicans would wish to round up undocumented folks to deport them, or place them in concentration camps. They advocate more draconian policies.

It is true that growing population and the worldwide migration crisis does overwhelm existing infrastructure in the countries that people are trying to migrate to. This situation does tend to fuel right wing politics around the world, including here in USA.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Instead of waiting 30 more years for high speed rail, lets improve regular speed rail and bus service.

I've read a sponsored link from Microsoft and Seattle Times advocating high speed rail between Vancouver, BC and Portland, OR. It says trains could be running by 2050; possibly too late to benefit me in this lifetime; maybe if there's reincarnation.

Meanwhile, if speed wasn't such a prerequisite, we can already go to Mount Vernon, from Bellingham for $2 on the County Connector bus that runs quite frequently. We can go on to Everett, via County Connector and then connect to many destinations in Seattle area.

We could use more frequent train service, besides only one per day, going from Seattle to Spokane that gets into Spokane around 2 am. More train service to Spokane could be provided within the next few years as rail lines already exist.

Train service could be brought back from Seattle to Yakima and Tri Cities on already existing rails.

We could use more frequent rail service between Bellingham and Seattle, but much of that route is only single track and right of way is congested. Meanwhile Amtrak is running electric buses, on I-5, for more service between Bellingham and Seattle, so I hear. The lower carbon future could be closer than we think.

Maybe we could even do both, but the high speed rail would need new right of way and so forth. Stuff that could take decades to finance and do.

Below: A double track line over Stampede Pass near I-90, east of Seattle, that's not super busy. Could do more to link Seattle to points east.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Without compromise, government becomes one party dictatorship.

It seems to me that logical thinking would imply that legislation has to be a compromise. The other alternative is one party dictatorial rule.

Newt Gingrich, recently wrote that the Republicans should not deal with the Democrats at all. He thinks they should just deal with the American people. Problem with his logic is that the American people are divided as well. There are at least as many hard core liberals as hard core conservatives.

I think most people are more in the middle with almost equal numbers of minority opinion on either the extreme right or the extreme left. That means that if government comes from either extreme right or extreme left it must become a one party dictatorship. Otherwise it does have to be somewhat of a compromise.

Compromise tends to maintain the status quo, which, I know, some folks feel is unsustainable. Folks on the left might feel it's unsustainable due to climate change, for instance. On the right, folks feel it's unsustainable due to the growing federal debt or increasing numbers of folks immigrating to USA.

Still, the status quo is what supports the lifestyles of most people. Revolutionary, or catastrophic change would be more like a dictatorship.

Incremental change and at least some spirit of compromise seems to be what works best.

Biden is only slightly older than Trump, but Biden has better policies and a better team behind him.

Both Biden and Trump are up there in the years and subject to gaffs. Who isn't subject to gaffs? It looks like the choice will be between Biden and Trump again and I agree with Biden's policies more.

In Biden's case, he has a better team behind him; including Democrats in Congress.

If you really want a clown show, besides Trump himself, just look at Republicans in the US House of Representatives.

Friday, February 09, 2024

Some thoughts about various grocery shopping experiences in Bellingham and beyond.

If more people rode bicycles, it would look different than this. In the background, the serine view of mountains in Canada.

Recent news, in Bellingham, that Bellingham Food Coop employees have voted in favor of unionizing brings up some of my thinking about the grocery business.

Coops are a different structure than corporations, but all businesses are effected by similar economics. Large corporations often offer lower price due to the reality called "economy of scale." I still go to the Downtown Food Coop due to other factors besides just the lowest price which is often associated with economy of scale. Other virtues, such as being in a location safely accessible by bicycle matters to me and the price difference doesn't seem that much.

I get ready to eat salads at the in store Coop deli. There, I often find folks I know who share good conversation.

Large outfits, such as Fred Myer, owned by Kroger, or Winco, said to be owned by it's employees, have economy of scale and are said to offer low prices. I've almost never set foot in Winco, due to it's unfriendly location for bicycling. That whole area is kind of a traffic nightmare.

There is also a branch of the Coop in that part of town, but I usually go to the downtown Coop. The northside Coop isn't as convenient for me, but it's location is still better than Winco, traffic wise, in my opinion.

Pictured above is the Costco which is popular among progressives, but also lots of cars. One needs to have a Costco membership that I haven't gotten. Being single and living in a studio apartment, I don't need pallot loads of toilet paper.

Whether it's a corporation, or not, economy of scale relates mostly to numbers and size. Corporations aren't necessarily worse, in my opinion, than other arrangements. It's mostly about the people who are there and the overall experience.

From what I read, the Coop management has been okay with the decision of employees to unionize. Another workplace, Starbucks, is also in the news as more resistant to it's employee union efforts.

From what I gather, Starbucks started out as a small alternative favored by progressive minded folks in Seattle, but it grew into being a big corporation. I often think it's not so much the structure of the organization that matters. To me it's more about the people who are there and how they are running things.

It's also about the values we all have; what matters most? Is it traffic nightmare or bicycle / pedestrian access. Friendly conversation or the absolute lowest price.

With rent being my biggest expense each month, I may not notice saving a few cents on price. I save more money by just not owning a car.

The virtues, I value, are not always things brought by economy of scale, but I understand some of that economics and that's part of the reason why I think, just getting rid of corporations will not solve all our problems. That's just the structure of the organizations, but the way we all live and what we value matters the most.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Too many people can be a cause for dread, or a cause for celebration.

Pictured is a climate awareness event I went to at Peace Arch Park on the US Canadian border a few years back.

What one does, when waiting in line, can determine whether there are too many people or not.

One time as I was at the US border crossing and the line was long. I thought, "oh no, a long boring wait," but then someone, in line, saw my bicycle helmet and ask where I'd ridden from. We got into a very nice conversation. It wasn't cars, but pedestrians waiting inside the customs building.

Pretty soon, almost too soon, the wait was over and the conversation ended as we went our separate ways.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Does the smartphone reduce people's freedom from being on call 24/7?

I think not. It depends on how it's used.

I never liked using the phone that much in the era of the landline. Being a bit shy I was afraid I'd call someone at a bad time. Back then, I preferred to write letters and put them in the mail. I also favored face to face conversation.

Today, I have a smartphone, but it doesn't ring often as my connection to people tends to be through things like Facebook posts that aren't necessarily dealt with immediately. My phone doesn't ring often and notifications can be turned off.

I don't have to be "on call" all the time as my life tends to not have those kind of responsibilities. Sometimes I forget to bring my phone with me when I go out.

Ironically, I'm getting to like the phone more these days as voicemail and texting helps me get around my initial shyness. Voicemail means I can leave a message without bothering folks at a bad time.

My friends and me tend to text before we call. I often do engage in long phone conversations after being in touch by text and knowing the conversation is welcome.

I'm a deep thinker so when I do have conversations, they are often in depth and somewhat long winded.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Much of leftist politics is about getting closer to even, wealth wise. I'm more about sustainable living and other values beyond just economic wealth.

I tend to lean to the left, but in many ways I'm not typical of leftist politics (as I see it). Much of leftist politics is about striving for a more fair distribution of wealth; getting even, or at least getting closer to even. Getting even has several related connotations, in some cases aggressive like "I'm going to get even."

Yes, I'm for a more fair distribution including being pro graduated taxes, but my focus is on sustainable living. My focus is more on things that provide for health, sanity and a sustainable environment.

Wealth, as defined by economics, is not always a good thing so just trying to get even with folks who have more wealth is less relevant to me.

Yes, we need enough to survive, but I'm okay if there are people who have more. In some cases, I realize that people, who own businesses, farms and so forth, may need a lot more as the wealth is the business; so to speak. For instance wealth is often the buildings and things that the business uses to serve the public.

My main interest is promoting what I think of as quality of life. I know that is harder, than dollar bills, to measure objectively, but that is still my focus.

Things like quality of relationships with friends, neighbors and community matter to me. Things like the ability to contribute to a better world and low stress are things that matter to me. Enjoying life matters to me as well. Not having a lot of resentment matters as well.

Monday, January 22, 2024

At the Texas border

There's debate in the news between Texas and the US government over who should be in charge of patrolling the border.

Aside from the legal issues, there's also this ethical question. When Texas authorities were controlling that section of the border where those people drowned, did they just let the drowning happen and not try to save the lives of folks they don't want in this country anyway?

Saturday, January 20, 2024

More chaos from both the left and the right if there is another Trump Presidency.

Donald Trump goes from campaign victory, among Republicans in Iowa, to being on trial in Federal Court where he talks back to the judge and almost gets ordered out of the courtroom.

This scenario; a product of the rebellious streak in American culture. There's a rebelliousness against bosses, the system, bureaucrats, or whatever. This can lead to innovation, but it can also lead to lawlessness. I fear that another Trump Presidency could embolden more lawlessness and chaos from both the left and the right.

Interesting to note that Republican candidate Nikki Haley has similar fears about potential chaos from another Trump presidency.

Remember, even the Chop Zone in Seattle happened during Trump's watch.

People forget that the Chop Zone in Seattle and much of the unrest against police happened during the Trump Presidency; 2020. Biden is more into de escalating the situation. Trump antagonized people on purpose and they pushed back. Things do seem to be a bit calmer today. I fear that if Trump were back in office, both the left and the right would rise up in anger and most of us would be caught in the middle.

Walking the walk if you talk the talk. Even lots of conservatives will respect that.

I have noticed, over the years, that some people, who call themselves conservatives, still like my lifestyle of voluntary simplicity, bicycling and so forth. They say, "if it's your choice, more power to you." They tend to not want government imposing this on people. They tend to stress personal responsibility. I feel that I can build a bridge toward some conservatives, at least. Useful in the case of swing voters for sure.

This relates to my idea that people's personal choices, in the marketplace, are big drivers in how society turns out. I tend to blame corporations and institutions much less than many other other liberals do.

I know that corporations aren't totally without blame. It's a vicious cycle, but I do think people, in mass, do have power. People often follow consumerism like sheep. Advertising, laws and the layout of society does have it's influence. As for advertising, I don't watch much TV or go to many movies. I'm out of touch with much of pop culture.

Quite a few conservatives think that most liberals just want a handout and then many oppressed folks will just squander what they have on drugs, aggressive behavior and crime.

I know it's all quite complicated and there is no one answer, but I do see connections between the concept of personal responsibility and building bridges to the wider public; including at least some of the folks who call themselves conservative.

I just thought of a sound byte. "birth control is better than genocide."

I just thought of a sound byte. "birth control is better than genocide."

Another thought about various countries. "Societies that accept diversity are better for the world than societies that so many people are trying to flee from."

Population growth, immigration versus infrastructure.

I recently heard on the radio a good take on the immigration issue from some Canadian economists. They talked about a "population trap." A big question is whether we are building enough housing and infrastructure for people and how much are we using; size of housing, automobile dependency and so forth.

Here in USA, we cloud the issue as the right wing demonizes immigrants themselves while the left wing cries racism. We tend to ignore the logistics of making it work.

Is housing affordable? How are we handling traffic or are we better off relying more on public transit? Are there too many people, versus what we can provide for them as well as ourselves, or does the new human energy, from immigrants, help us develop the infrastructure we need?

Much of it is about planning.

In Canada, there is lots of land, but still the infrastructure is even smaller than ours. 400,000 new folks new moved to Canada last year plus 800,000 temporary student visas; nearly twice the flow from past decades. That's a big number trying to be absorbed into a country with smaller population than USA.

In some cases, cutting back on student visas means universities might go broke so there is that issue also.

In some cases homeowners benefit if home prices skyrocket, but renters and new homebuyers suffer; people divided. This is mostly my own thinking not all from the show.

Both USA and especially Canada have land, but indigenous cultures like to preserve their ways of life; especially in Canada. That often requires lower population densities for fishing, hunting and so forth; not to mention mainstream culture preserving a car based society needing room, in developed areas, for parking.

Add to this the fact that much of the rest of the world is becoming unlivable due to authoritarian governments and theocracies so lots of folks are knocking on the doors of our countries.