blueollie

Depressing state of politics

Ok, it is no secret that I never considered Donald Trump to be suitable POTUS material. Enough of my countrymen disagreed enough for him to squeak by in the Electoral College though he lost the popular vote by about 3,000,000 votes (and if you start complaining that is a fake statistic because of “illegals voting”, you are too stupid to be reading my blog, so just get lost right now).

Now our rough, tough, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN president is…whining?

Pathetic. But it probably plays to his hard core supporters because, well, many of them are also whiny little victims. A great explanation is here: (and he uses a King Solomon story to help make his point)

Upshot: remember those pitiful “what has happened to my country” whines when President Obama was in office? (if you want to be nauseated, watch at 1:15)

They had an idea of what their country was like (no, it never was that way), and they had a skilled con man running to saying “he would make it great again” by…well, sticking it to the liberals. Sure the real agenda is the same as it always was (tax cuts for the wealthiest among us), and they sold it to the base by, well, attacking people like me.

So that brings me to the Democrats.

And I’ll say it: as evil as I think the elite Republican mission is (the tax cuts for the wealthy above all else), they are better politicians than we are. And their “message to the base” is an easier sale; all one has to do is to cherry pick a few ridiculous college campus incidents to get people fired up about how ridiculous liberals are (like this one)

(for the record: there are crackpot professors…but it has gotten so ridiculous that people who have never set foot in a college classroom see fit to tell me what goes on in colleges and how *I* brainwash students into not working hard, hating American, etc.)

So, what are Democrats about? We are supposed to be about a society that works for all, including the less talented, the disabled, the poor, the sick, those born into tough circumstances, etc.

And guess what? That is a tough sell. The Republicans glorify the rich…and well, most all of us want to be rich, or at least moderately comfortable.

Who wants to be poor, sick, laid off, mentally ill, or disabled?

We Democrats talk about safety nets (e. g. Medicaid) and minimum wages. BUT FEW WANT TO HAVE TO USE SAFETY NETS, TO BE ON MEDICAID OR TO WORK FOR MINIMUM WAGE. These policy issues are tough to rally around and those who would benefit the most vote at low rates. (directly, anyway; the economy does benefit from safety net programs). “The poor” is not that big of a voting block and much of the “working class” really isn’t poor.

Yes, there are people who will never grow much past a minimum wage job and Democratic policies might help them, but no one wants to face up to the fact that they are doomed to be stuck on that rung for life.

And so we get critiques of how well the Democrats are doing (and yes, “pathetic” is accurate). Oh, true, we did win the popular vote in 6 of the last 7 Presidential elections (2004 was the exception) but the EC hurt us in 2000 and really hurt us in 2016.

So we try to critique ourselves, and get, well, pathetic articles like this one. Example:

When the poll came out saying that “Democrats stand for nothing more than opposing” Trump, I thought to myself, ‘If only that were true!’” But they can’t even do that well. When House Democratic Caucus chairman Joe Crowley was asked by the Associated Press just what his party’s core message was, he “hesitated” and then said, “That message is being worked on.”

It was as tone deaf (but honest) an answer as when Mother Jones writer Kevin Drum – as sycophantic a representative of the Democratic party in the punditocracy as there is – wrote about how people would have to be “crazy” not to “have a reflective disgust” of people who are homeless and mentally ill.

Considering homeless people are also disproportionately black, LGBT, disabled and, of course, poor, Drum managed to reveal the disdain the liberal elite has of wide swaths of Americans.

Uh, I think the latter is just reality. Most people do have at least an internal “yuck” reaction to many of the homeless and mentally ill.

My response is that we need to use our morals and intellect to work past that “yuck” response ..and to realize that our discomfort might be born from fear that we are just a single (or a few) unlucky incidents from being just like that homeless or mentally ill person.

Example: what if I sustain a head injury that harms my ability to even do math, much less teach and research it? Oh sure, there is enough in the bank to have the home free and clear (and pay taxes) but what about that income? I have disability insurance, but times would get tougher, very quickly.

Nevertheless, articles such as the one I quoted attempt to throw cold water on what I think are needed, frank discussions.

And there is the old “Bernie would have won” bullshit. Yes, I am aware of the polls that showed him beating Trump head to head by bigger margins than Clinton was leading by..but you don’t think that the Trump analytics team would have absolutely vaporized Sanders? Please.

And some are saying he is the 2020 front runner? Oh, spare me. Oh yes, Hillary Clinton is not a great campaigner and I think that she is done, just as Al Gore was in 2000. But Bernie Sanders? Nope.

Oh well, this is why I haven’t written much about politics this year. I consider Trump to be dangerously incompetent and temperamentally unsuited for the job. But I consider my party to be politically incompetent.
In short, the Republicans can win elections but cannot govern; the Democrats can govern but suck at elections.

And yes, I think that the extreme political skill (and policy chops) of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama hid many of our party’s weaknesses. How many of these “purple unicorns” (blessed with show business AND policy skills like Pres. C and Pres. O) do we have?

It is just too depressing right now.

July 24, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, economy, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics, social/political | | Leave a comment

Trump’s budget

Ok, President’s budgets are almost always DOA in Congress. But they do provide some insight into what the administration wants, will sign onto and…yes, competence. And yes, Trump’s budget has a yuge accounting error. This is the kind of mistake you might expect of high school students.

But there are other issues. For one, it cuts essential science including the NIH budget, some of which is used in disease prevention.

Think of it this way: there are certain, non-profitable things (things that won’t make money for a business) you want the government to do. Public safety is one of those things, and things like preventing the spread of disease, tracking and countering the mutation of things like the flu virus would be a proper function, right?

And basic science, in general, isn’t profitable enough to attract business funding. But it is still important and something the government should fund.

So what about Trump’s proposed cuts to the social safety nets?

Conservatives tend to support reforming welfare policies because they think that government programs trap families in a state of dependency, cutting them off from work and immiserating their children. In fact, research shows that the opposite is true. Several recent papers have found that the children of low-income mothers with access to prenatal coverage under Medicaid later had lower obesity rates, higher high-school graduation rates, and higher incomes in adulthood, and were less likely to receive welfare payments, like SNAP. Meanwhile, a Brookings analysis of SNAP found that 65 percent of mothers who receive the benefits would fall below the poverty line without the program. There is practically no question that reducing support for working parents by hundreds of billions of dollars will increase the number of children who grow up in poverty.

Tuesday’s proposal comes two months after the president released a so-called “skinny budget” previewing changes to discretionary spending, the 30 percent of government that is appropriated each year, unlike “mandatory spending,” like Social Security or Medicare. In that budget, Trump sought a big increase in military and border spending offset by cuts to science funding, the State Department, and environmental protection. The skinny budget was notable for shutting down some of the few economic programs that specifically help the Rust Belt and Appalachia, starving research universities of the funds that often power local innovation.

In short: Trump’s budget would almost certainly increase the number of uninsured Americans while hurting poor families, especially those that rely on government support in Appalachia and the Rust Belt. But that’s not all.

It’s critical to assess Tuesday’s budget along with the White House’s tax plan. Its centerpiece is a proposal to lower the tax rate on “pass-through” income to 15 percent. This change might seem like a middle-class tax cut, since most businesses are small pass-throughs, like small barbershops or sole proprietorships. But 80 percent of all pass-through revenue is actually taken in by the richest 1 percent of small business, which means a large rate cut for pass-through income turns out to be a windfall for the rich. According to the Tax Policy Center, the proposal “would add $2 trillion to the debt over the next 10 years, while distributing nearly all the benefits to the highest-income households.”

Yep, it is just more “trickle down” bullshit.

However, some of the discussion about this budget really turns me off, at least on an emotional level. Yes, money into safety nets is more effective stimulus than tax cuts (poor to lower middle class people spend what they get..so the money goes into the economy, whereas a wealthy person can buy only so many luxury items) and said money can actually reduce future dependence on public aid.

Nevertheless, what I’ve seen (appeals) have been emotionally unappealing; it is mostly “feel sorry for me” or “feel sorry for them” stuff. And the poor, statistically speaking, do exhibit quite a bit of social pathology (parents that make more kids without supporting the ones that they have; here is an extreme example) Poor people tend to be fatter (really!) and tend to smoke more.

Then there is personal experience: many (most?) families have that one moocher who ALWAYS has their hand out; they are the ones that you don’t pick up when they call because they call when they want something. And I think it is human to extend your own experience to a larger setting, where it …just does NOT apply.

And so, am I spend more in taxes to give them more money? Well, the truth it…our society is better off when we do exactly that. Sometimes, the best policy helps those that you do not care for.

And, the playing field is far from level. Yes, even with a level playing field, there will be some poor people. Some are there because of bad luck, some because of a lack of ability (think: “special needs” people), some are suffering from untreated mental and emotional health problems (which COULD be treated, IF they could afford it, or if we had single payer health coverage) and yes, some are just no good (every income group has a percentage of these).

So, how should we effectively “sell” funding anti-poverty programs? I try to bring out the spreadsheet but am not sure if that is an effective way or not. But I think that this method might answer the question that an increasing number of middle class people are asking: what is in it for me?

May 24, 2017 Posted by | economics, economy, political/social, politics | | Leave a comment

Beggars can’t be choosers: perpetual takers are rarely respected

I should make it clear what I am talking about: yes, there are physically disabled people that are widely respected; perhaps Stephen Hawking is one of the best known examples of that. They require quite a bit of care from others, but have produced to much of value that they are widely admired. In the world of columnists, Charles Krauthammer (who I almost always disagree with) is similar.

And, of course, there are elderly people who have retired after long, fruitful careers. They have laurels to rest on and, in many cases, quite a bit of wisdom to offer the rest of us.

And the other thing I am talking about: I am NOT making some philosophical statement about “inherent value of a human being”; I am talking about how people are going to be received by others, on the whole.

It has been my observation that those who are always on the public dole or those who perpetually mooch off of friends and family members are not going to be respected. Their opinions are not going to be asked for and people will not seek out their companionship. When they offer their opinions, “I think…” will be met with versions of “no one cares what you think..”, perhaps couched in polite language.

It is a bit like this in action.

That is why I think that “bottom up” movements such as the drive to raise the minimum wage or more health care for the poor are doomed to fail unless others who do not need these programs can be convinced that it is in their best interests to get aboard such programs; perhaps that is why I am such a fan of Paul Krugman.

April 16, 2017 Posted by | economy, social/political | | Leave a comment

Sticky place for Democrats

This isn’t yet another postmortem on the stinging Democratic defeat in 2016. But this is more about “how do we go forward”?

Yes, there is a lot of protest about Trump, but where does this protest come from? My guess: not from Trump voters. 🙂

So, one goes to the rust belt to talk things over with Democrats in power there. And they say the same thing: what national Democrats appear to care about is not what the local people care about:

But worst of all, they said, the party hadn’t learned from what they saw as the biggest message from November’s election: Democrats have fallen completely out of touch with America’s blue-collar voters.

“It doesn’t matter how much we scream and holler about jobs and the economy at the local level. Our national leaders still don’t get it,” said David Betras, the county’s party chair. “While Trump is talking about trade and jobs, they’re still obsessing about which bathrooms people should be allowed to go into.”

Others around the restaurant table nodded.

Since the election, Democrats have been swallowed up in an unending cycle of outrage and issues that have little to do with the nation’s working class, they said, such as women’s marches, fighting Trump’s refugee ban and advocating for transgender bathroom rights. […]

He warned Clinton that she had lost all credibility with working-class voters by waffling on trade and offering tepid solutions. He urged in his memo that she talk about infrastructure instead.

“The workers we’re talking about don’t want to run computers, they want to run back hoes, dig ditches, sling concrete block,” he wrote. “They’re not embarrassed about the fact that they get their hands dirty. . . . They love it and they want to be respected and honored for it.”

He sent his memo to Clinton’s top campaign adviser in Ohio and other senior party officials. But Betras never heard back.

Months later, he said he thinks his party leaders still haven’t gotten the message.

Yes, we get it. Making sure that “Loretta” can use the bathroom that, well “she” wants to use is not what is on most people’s minds..nor are women in pussy hats.

But wait…don’t Democrats push for…Medicaid expansion and minimum wage hikes, stuff that helps out those at the bottom of the economic ladder? Well:

Manly dignity is a big deal for most men. So is breadwinner status: Many still measure masculinity by the size of a paycheck. White working-class men’s wages hit the skids in the 1970s and took another body blow during the Great Recession. Look, I wish manliness worked differently. But most men, like most women, seek to fulfill the ideals they’ve grown up with. For many blue-collar men, all they’re asking for is basic human dignity (male varietal). Trump promises to deliver it.

The Democrats’ solution? Last week the New York Times published an article advising men with high-school educations to take pink-collar jobs. Talk about insensitivity. Elite men, you will notice, are not flooding into traditionally feminine work. To recommend that for WWC men just fuels class anger. […]

The terminology here can be confusing. When progressives talk about the working class, typically they mean the poor. But the poor, in the bottom 30% of American families, are very different from Americans who are literally in the middle: the middle 50% of families whose median income was $64,000 in 2008. That is the true “middle class,” and they call themselves either “middle class” or “working class.”

“The thing that really gets me is that Democrats try to offer policies (paid sick leave! minimum wage!) that would help the working class,” a friend just wrote me. A few days’ paid leave ain’t gonna support a family. Neither is minimum wage. WWC men aren’t interested in working at McDonald’s for $15 per hour instead of $9.50. What they want is what my father-in-law had: steady, stable, full-time jobs that deliver a solid middle-class life to the 75% of Americans who don’t have a college degree. Trump promises that. I doubt he’ll deliver, but at least he understands what they need.

Understand Working-Class Resentment of the Poor
Remember when President Obama sold Obamacare by pointing out that it delivered health care to 20 million people? Just another program that taxed the middle class to help the poor, said the WWC, and in some cases that’s proved true: The poor got health insurance while some Americans just a notch richer saw their premiums rise.

And those who are genuinely poor: THEY DON’T WANT TO REMAIN POOR…they don’t want a minimum wage job. They want the jobs that Trump promised.

And here is the dilemma: those jobs are not coming back. Neither are those towns. Automation is not going away, and that is what is killing many jobs.

Example: now-a-days it takes a grand total of 30-35 man hours to produce a complete car:

When Harbour adds up all the man-hours it takes to build a car or truck, including stamping, assembly, engine and transmission manufacture, Hyundai was seventh of seven majors, at 35.1 hours per vehicle in North America. Ford Motor Company was sixth, at 33.88 hours, a 3.7-percent improvement over last year, Nissan was fifth, at an estimated 32.96 hours, or 8.8 percent more time than the previous year, and GM was fourth, at 32.29 hours, a 0.2-percent improvement. Honda was third, at 31.33 hours, a 2.3-percent improvement.

In 1932, it was 92 man-hours.

We simply do not need as many workers to do the same tasks.

So…what to do? The awful truth is that many of those who have lost those good blue collar jobs will either have to retrain for the jobs of today (IF they are capable of doing so) or…be poor.

Trump’s solution was to lie to them and it…just barely…worked.

What will our solution be?

April 6, 2017 Posted by | 2016, Democrats, economy, social/political | | Leave a comment

Politics: a candidate I would support would help those that I do not like

I’ve linked to these articles before. One is about Trump supporters remaining loyal to Trump..while being horrified by cuts to programs that they depend on. And I am ashamed to say that one of my deep down reactions was…”hmmm, maybe I should support Trump for reelection since he is sticking it to these bastards”.

But of course, that is terribly shortsighted; after all, people that I do not like spend money that helps the economy overall, and the evidence tells me that demand side economics works. So it is in my long term interest to vote for someone who will benefit people that I do not like.

But my gut reaction to vote to punish is a strong one, and one that others feel as well.

And this is why I think of this notion of “let’s turn to Bernie Sanders” is bullshit. Raising the minimum wage won’t help most right away; besides who wants to spend their life at a minimum wage job anyway? Who wants to be stuck on Medicaid? And, even worse, who wants to face up to the fact that, for at least an uncomfortably large minority of us, that is as good as it is ever going to get?

Now before you scold me, yes, the minimum wage should probably be higher; it hasn’t kept pace with inflation. I believe that there is an optimum minimum wage, and that optimum is probably higher than it is now. But my point is that these issues will NOT create some social tsunami that will lead Democrats back to power. That will NOT happen unless things get a whole lot worse, as in Depression Era worse. We are talking about 25 percent unemployment followed by a world war.

But, if we can elect a candidate who can explain how a “bottom up” economy and “demand side” economics works; that putting more money in at the bottom will make it easier for businesses to have more customers…MAYBE we can peel off just enough support to tip those swing states back.

April 3, 2017 Posted by | economics, economy, political/social, politics/social, social/political | | Leave a comment

I am almost sorry I didn’t vote for Trump

Ok, yes, I still consider Donald Trump to be an unqualified amateur who lacks the necessary deportment and humility to be President of the United States.
I fear that his recklessness will get us into a shooting war; that his ham-handedness will wreck our economy and heaven forbid what will happen when we get our first genuine crisis.

But, well, look at what is happening:

1. A Trump supporter in Chicago is whining about being…bullied? Uh, Trump is the quintessential bully. Oh, let me make it clear: I do NOT approve of threats and the like; if I saw someone vandalize their business, I’d report it to the police right away.

And for what it worth, I do business with companies that are run by Republicans all of the time; I go by things like customer service, how I am treated, how they treat their workers, etc.

But if others want to make choices with their dollars or to denounce their choice, well, that is just “freedom”, no? And remember that Trump bullies people all of the time.

2. Many Trump voters are…worried about losing their Obamacare and/or Medicaid. Seriously? Hey, Trump made much of his money via cons and stiffing contractors. And you thought that he’d tell the truth to you? OMG…I am dying with laughter:

An aim of Republican legislation is to reduce private premiums, but Ms. Sines’s son, who along with her other two grown children signed up for Medicaid under the expansion, has been warning that their coverage could be “in trouble,” she said. She cannot believe Mr. Trump would allow that to happen.

“I can’t imagine them not keeping it like it is now,” said Ms. Sines, who runs a group home for the elderly.

Mr. Waltimire said he hoped to return to the police force, and the health benefits it provides, this year. But with no guarantee of good health — he was injured in a fall in 2009 and has had circulatory problems ever since — he also hopes other options remain available.

“It’s kind of hard for me,” he said of having free government coverage. “I’ve always worked all my life. But like my counselor said, sometimes you just have to say thank you and move forward.”

3. And those who live in impoverished areas just KNOW that good jobs are coming back:

“I voted for Trump 100%,” says Barbara Puckett, a 55-year-old mom, who lives in the small and friendly town of Beattyville. “It’s the most hopeful I’ve been in a long time now that he’s in there.”
Trump won 81% of the vote in Beattyville. People here love that Trump doesn’t “sugarcoat” anything. They feel he understands them, even though he’s a billionaire.
“Donald Trump’s got all the money he’ll ever need,” says Steve Mays, judge-executive for the county and life-long Beattyville resident. The 49-year-old says he’s never been more excited about a president than he is now. “Trump will be a president for the common man.” [..]

“If you got a job here in Beattyville, you’re lucky,” says Amber Hayes, a bubbly 25-year-old mom of two, who also voted for Trump. She works at the county courthouse, but is paid by the Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program (K-TAP), a form of welfare.
Coal, oil and tobacco made Beattyville a boom town in the 1800s and much of the 1900s. Locals like to bring up the fact that Lee County — where Beattyville is located — was the No. 1 oil-producing county east of the Mississippi at one time.
“Growing up in the ’70s? Yeah, this was the place to be,” says Chuck Caudhill, the general manager of the local paper, The Beattyville Enterprise. He calls the town the “gem of eastern Kentucky.”
Today, the town is a ghost of its former self. The vast majority of Beattyville residents get some form of government aid — 57% of households receive food stamps and 58% get disability payments from Social Security.
“I hope [Trump] don’t take the benefits away, but at the same time, I think that once more jobs come in a lot of people won’t need the benefits,” says Hayes, who currently receives about $500 a month from government assistance. She’s also on Obamacare.

Uh huh. I am sure that businesses are itching to set something up in this town. ROTFLMAO.

Hey if you vote for a known con artist, you are voting to get conned.

March 20, 2017 Posted by | economy, politics, politics/social, poverty, social/political | | 2 Comments

Elections matter: our post competence government.

My goodness, I started this blog post in the early morning (rounded up articles) and stuff has already changed.

First of all: what does President Trump want to do? (in terms of the big picture) I do not think that he is serious about the national debt. He mentioned eliminating funding for the arts, PBS and the like. Here is a Neil Degrasse Tyson tweet from 2012 (when Gov. Romney wanted to eliminate funding for PBS)

But it really isn’t about the national debt. It is more about tone; “Make America Great Again” means deemphasizing the international and the intellectual for, well, COMMON SENSE. So it is no surprise that anything to do with science is being attacked. So government agencies like the EPA are being ordered to not communicate science to the public (in terms of official agency statements unless it has been cleared by the political arm first. Yes, their scientists can still publish in peer reviewed journals and the like; the policy is better explained here. And NASA has decided to make its sponsored research free to the public.

Still, what a mess.

President Trump seems to be pressing ahead with his ridiculous claims that 3-5 million people voted illegally. The House Oversight Committee Chair doesn’t see evidence of that and neither do state level officials. Of course, President Trump refuses to back down and refuses to acknowledge that something like “being registered in two different states” really doesn’t mean “voted twice”; people move and voter rolls sometimes do not get updated.

And there is this whole “Mexican Wall” thing. Yes, the meeting between the heads of state (US and Mexico) have been cancelled; Trump floated a 20 percent “border tax” and has since walked it back. It does not appear that Trump is getting the best advice from his professionals.

And yet, do not expect this to mean much to the strongest Trump supporters; they have trouble reconciling that they see with their own eyes if it is not favorable to Trump. Here is such an experiment.

January 27, 2017 Posted by | economy, political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Weather aches, hypocrisy and football

Paul Krugman noted that economic conditions are different (no longer zero interest rates..and companies are interested in borrowing and employment is up) and so we should look at deficits differently. Yes, public investment should be done, but not upper end tax breaks. OF COURSE, the right wing is calling him a hypocrite. And OF COURSE, they are wrong.

The idea that the best thing to do often depends on the situation is not a subtle concept. Why do conservatives have so much trouble with it?

Think of it this way: ask ANY football fan “what is the best play for a team to run” and they will tell you: “it depends on: down, distance, field conditions, time in the game, the score, the defense, the strengths and weaknesses of the respective teams, etc. Obviously, 3’rd and goal from the 1 with 1 minute to go in the game is different from 2’nd and 15 from your own 20 in the middle of the second quarter.

Of course, there are different philosophies; some teams are option teams, some are running teams, others are passing teams, and the play call also depends on the philosophy of the team (pass on 3’rd and 1 vs. run on 3’rd and 1). But the call is very situational. No one disputes that.

So why is this hard when it comes to economic policy?

Speaking of hypocrisy, why is hypocrisy bad? After all, if a coach has a good reputation for developing an athlete, I won’t call the coach a hypocrite for being a bad athlete and a workout slacker himself.

The article I linked to offers the following answer: those who say one thing and do another often use their moralizing to bring credit to themselves; a kind of PR. So when they don’t live up to their preaching, we get angry for them for putting up a false front. In the “out of shape coach” case, the coach is NOT billing himself as a good athlete when he coaches you. The moral scold who is themselves immoral IS billing themselves as a moral person, and that is where the resentment comes in.

Weather Yes, at one time, I bought into this “knee aches with weather changes” stuff. But more studies have been done…and I’ve come to understand I’ve run reasonably well during some very rainy days. It turns out there is no solid evidence that weather changes causes joint pain.
runtoremembercrop1

January 14, 2017 Posted by | economics, economy, science, social/political, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Yes, Trump is my President. Maybe some hope here?

Seriously. And I insist that my Presidents treat political opponents with respect (at least public respect), so this is unacceptable:

And I will be a vocal critic. He wants to be President of the United States? Then he has to represent all of us.

Now, there may be a little bit of hope here:

Even Trump has sent mixed signals, telling The New York Times soon after his election that infrastructure wouldn’t be “the core” of his first years in the White House. “We’re going for a lot of things, between taxes, between regulations, between health care replacement,” he said at the time. He added that infrastructure wasn’t a big part of his plan to create jobs, saying, “I think I am doing things that are more important than infrastructure.”

So if his package is going to get a big push, lawmakers expect that it will have to come from Trump himself. “I think it’s going to be driven by the administration,” Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) said Wednesday. “At some point they might come and consult with us about what that might look like.”

Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), a Trump transition team member, indicated the same thing Tuesday.

DeFazio suggested Democrats may just bypass their GOP colleagues, saying: “We might have a dialogue with the Trump administration. I don’t think we’re going to have a dialogue with Republican leadership in the House. They’ve closed that door pretty well.”

This isn’t much, but who knows: perhaps the Democrats plus some moderate Republicans (if there are any left) might work with Trump on some sort of stimulus compromise?

And there is something else. Obstructing and “saying no” is pretty east. Coming up with good policy and getting it passed and signed into law is far more difficult Are THESE Republicans up to it? My guess: probably not. They are good at throwing tantrums; I am not sure they are good at anything else.

January 6, 2017 Posted by | economy, republicans, social/political, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An economy based on jobs, self esteem, automation and all that…

Donald Trump was elected, in part, to bring good paying jobs back to America. Sure, the Obama administration has shown some job growth, but, in general, the new jobs simply didn’t pay as well as the jobs shed under the Bush administration. And there are some real questions with regards to Trump’s promises. He has promised faster economic growth which can occur either by making workers more productive (and thereby reducing the need for having as many) OR by increasing the size of the workforce (which will mean more immigration).

The promise of increased automation might lead to an interesting quandary: what if this means that even more well paying blue collar jobs disappear? So assuming that we will still make new human beings (else where is demand going to come from?) this can lead to some serious issue. How can one who doesn’t have the rarer high tech jobs make ends meet? One answer might mean that governments might provide some sort of universal basic income.

Now, of course, this can lead to some issues as well. Here is one big one: in our society, you ARE what you DO, so what if you “do nothing”, even if your basic income needs are met? I can see this being a devastating emotional development for males (though females who have suffered long term job loss have reported self-esteem effects to me). One might even call this a “spiritual crisis“. Now, I don’t agree with some of what the article I linked to says; after all, part of the blame for the rift in our society…perhaps most of it (?) can be laid at the feet of our overglorified “white rural/working class”. The idea that THEY are “real America” and the rest of us are some type of “guests” is bullshit. But, the main point, and yes, Rep. Ryan made this, is that there is some type of dignity that comes with a good job (still...not a good reason to cut safety nets).

So, while there will always be a need for some to work (and I sure hope that I am one of them!), are we approaching a time that goes beyond “everyone has a job” era?

There is a lot to think about here. I probably won’t live to see the “post job” era and I might not want to see the “growing pains” period, if one such era indeed comes.

Now as far as the self esteem thing: yes, people will be drawn to successful people; there is really no way around that. That, IMHO, is harsh reality. You might think of yourself as having all of these wonderful attributes. But ultimately, at least for males, you are what you do. You are your performance; “you are your W/L record” as they like to say in the NFL.

On the other hand, well, one’s success is often tied to factors well beyond one’s talent and one’s willingness to work hard.

Of course, there is society itself. For example if most of one’s day is devoted to gathering food and finding shelter so as to survive another day, one is not going to have the time and resources for “self improvement”. And there is era. Example: Larry Bird is certainly wealthy, and he was known as a hard working basketball player who developed his talents. But what if he were born, say, 80 years ago? It is highly unlikely he would be such a success; professional sports (save baseball) were not that big of a deal then. The ace computer programmer or the successful hedge fund manager would probably not have flourished 100-200 years ago.

So there is the factor of having a “talent suited for the times” as well.

In my case: yes, I am affected by the choices I made. I chose a lower paying, lower stress path for my specialty (pure math rather than applied math or engineering). But I had the type of talent needed for this time; there was a market for college mathematics professors. Yes, I worked hard to exploit my talent, and I was fortunate to have a public university and NSF money to help me along the way. I am doing ok, though that could change in a flash! And I believe that most who are doing ok to “much better than I am” fall into a similar category.

Others have skills that are less marketable in this era, or have had bad luck (e. g. serious illnesses, accidents).

Don’t get me wrong: some don’t have much talent, and some have made some terrible choices, and some of the “good for nothing” crowd (most?) will not accept responsibility for their own actions. I know such people; they are not pleasant to be around. We’ll always have those: I might call them “members of the basket of deplorables”.

But that is hardly everyone who is struggling. And many good people are down on themselves.

Note: I have no answers and make no predictions; many of these ideas are new to me and I have not thought them through.

December 28, 2016 Posted by | economics, economy, political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment