Category Archives: Politics

The Legacy of American Imperialism

Slave Auction

Americans do not think of their nation as imperialistic, even though it is a common epithet in many parts of the world.  From the day in 1492 when the first European set foot on American soil, the Americas were part of empires, and later established their own empires.  Currently the conflict the United States faces is the legacy of imperialism. 

Empires form when foreign territories are conquered.  Spain, Portugal, England, France, and Russia all took land from Native Americans.  In every case, natives were killed, enslaved, relocated, or died from alien diseases.  The situation has not changed 500 years later.  Indians remain at the bottom of the social hierarchy.  Labor is needed to exploit new land, so slaves were   introduced.  Cotton and sugar cane are examples.  The slaves also occupied the bottom of the order.  The same situation applies today.  Those people are black or  brown, and insulate poor whites from the bottom of the heap. 

Race is the problem.  If people are Quechua, Mayan, Sioux, Navajo, or African-American, they are born into discrimination.  Europeans rule.  Political systems reflect the racial divide.  In Latin America, the oligarchies in power are of Spanish or Portuguese heritage, with most Indians excluded.  In the U.S., the divisions are starting to blur, but Republicans are mostly white and Democrats are more somewhat more diverse.   

In the race to include minorities in the Democratic coalition, the white working class tended to be neglected.  Their economic status has weakened as many good-paying jobs have moved offshore.  Moves to include minorities tend to threaten the status of white working class people’s place in the social hierarchy.  Their anti-immigration stance results from the fear immigrants will take the good jobs.  In addition, immigrants tend to be brown and vote, a threat to white working class men. 

Mr. Trump won the election due to the racial divide.  In the rust belt (and swing) states narrow majorities for Trump tipped the Electoral College.  There is a paradox in this.  The Republication party core constituency is not working-class friendly, but the white tea party folks have joined them.  Trump’s cabinet appointments are mainstream Republican or Wall Street, and offer little to the mass of people who voted him into office. We will see how they react to Trump’s policies in the near future.   

Trump won claiming he can bring back those lost jobs.  It isn’t going to happen.  We are seeing a fundamental shift in our economy away from basic raw material and manufacturing to a service and information based economy.    The traditionally excluded minorities are now joined by poorly-educated white people, many who lost their socio-economic status during the Great Recession.  Neither party is coming up with any viable answers to this problem, which will be exacerbated by race.  The riots will return.   

Mr. Trump’s victory has also encouraged our white extremists.  We will see more racism, anti-Semitism, and violence.  Instant communication accelerates the process.  Tweets are a good example.  I avoid Twitter because I tend toward impulsivity.  Have an impulse, write it down in 140 characters, hit send, and it’s there for all to see.   Mr. Trump is ruled by impulse, therefore, Twitter.  And extremism.

Politicians, Geologists, Engineers, and Water

Mosul Dam

Mosul Dam

This story relies on a report by Dexter Filkins in the New Yorker magazine.  Mr. Filkins,  a Pulitzer Prize winner, is one of the best writers covering the Middle East. 

The Fertile Crescent, where civilization developed, exists because the Tigris and Euphrates rivers flow from mountains in Lebanon and Turkey to the Red Sea.  The terrain along and between the rivers is relatively flat making agriculture feasible.  The rivers flood every spring, bringing water and new sediment to the region.  Those conditions support a significant population, but annual fluctuations have always created problems for the people living there.  During drought years, crops fail and famines ensue.  Wet years bring flooding which displaces people and affects farming.   

These conditions prevail in every arid region dependent on irrigation for farming.  The Nile, the Fertile Crescent, and the Colorado river are prime examples.  In all three regions, the political system has chosen to attempt to regulate the annual fluctuations in the river.  The solution?  Dam the river, store water for dry years and catch excessive runoff in wet years.   

Glen Canyon Dam and Hoover Dam on the Colorado,  Aswan High dam on the Nile, and the Mosul dam on the Tigris are the attempts at a solution.  So, they decide on a dam upstream of the people, hire geologists to recommend a good location, and hire engineers to design and build the thing. 

This worked, to a degree, on the Colorado and the Nile.  Not so well on the Tigris.  The geology above Mosul with its 2.5 million people is a jumble of sedimentary rocks formed in conditions similar to today.  That means flat coastal areas are intermittently flooded by the sea or nearby rivers.  The water evaporates, leaving the minerals dissolved in the water.  That means salt, gypsum, limestone, and a mixture of soluble minerals and mud called marl.   

The layers are deposited in flat layers, but Middle East geology is like Middle East politics, a big jumble with forces pushing from several directions.  Above Mosul, it is quite a jumble, but sinkholes have always formed as water dissolves the soluble minerals, leaving voids that collapse.  It is called Karst topography.  Florida is a prime example, a limestone peninsula in a wet climate surrounded by water.  It rains, the water sinks in,  dissolves the limestone, and goes to the sea.  Florida is dissolving, the rock resembling a sponge.   

The rock above Mosul has both limestone and gypsum.  Gypsum is a sulfate mineral that is called plaster if pretty dry, wallboard if more hydrated, goo if very wet, and then dissolves.  The geologists said “No, no dam, it will fail”.  The politicians then talked to the engineers who said “it isn’t good to build here, but we can make it work”. 

Now, engineers make their money by designing and building stuff, whether asphalt, steel, concrete, earth, or software.  They seldom say “no, we can’t do that”. They would be breaking their rice bowl.  So they proposed grouting the rock below and under the dam with concrete to keep reservoir water from dissolving all that gypsum, which is much more soluble than limestone.  They built a grout curtain under the Dam site, but it wasn’t perfect.  There were gaps. They built the dam, and the increased pressure from the water in the reservoir started dissolving the gypsum at a higher rate.   

Sinkholes developed below the dam before it was built.  They put a big long room made of concrete called a gallery at the base of earthfill dam.  Where their tests show a void is developing, they drill a hole in the floor of the gallery.  Water shoots out, confirming there is a big hole down there.  They then use big pumps to pump grout into the hole until it stops, hoping the void is filled.  They then move to the next place. 

This has been going on since the dam was built in the 1980’s.  All that concrete pumped below the dam has not stopped the leakage, it just moves the leaks to another weak spot.  They will never be able to pump enough grout.  An Italian firm is there now, and they are a bit hopeful they can control the leaks.  The confounding variable is the political situation.  ISIS controlled the dam for a while, and grouting mostly halted, but void creation did not.  The battle lines of the war today are within earshot of the dam.  The Iraqi government is unstable, despite support from shifting coalitions.  The grouting program is at risk.  Maybe that doesn’t matter.  The dam will fail, we just don’t know when.   

Sixty feet of water will inundate Mosul.  Refugee camps with 1.2 million people will be affected.  In two days parts of Baghdad would be under sixteen feet of water. Downstream, an even wider area would be flooded with at least six inches of water.  As geologists always say, “It’s not a matter of if, but when.”  Death toll estimates range from 500,000 to 1.5 million souls.  The Iraqi economy will be destroyed.  Moral, listen to the geologists.

What to Do Now?

President Elect Trump

President Elect Trump

I have a few strategies for dealing with the President-elect.   Why do I oppose him?  He is a Chickenhawk.  I am a veteran and don’t think much of people who dodge the draft and want to send our servicemen into combat.   

 If he requires all Muslims in the U. S. to register, I plan to register and encourage everyone I know to do so.  If millions of Americans do so, the registry will be useless.  What will they do, deport me to Kansas?  I think all religions are proper for people, so I won’t have any conflict with registering as a Muslim. 

The next plan I have is to be more active in organizations I support.  I am an environmentalist, so the Nature Conservancy, Clean Water Action, and the Environmental Defense Fund will have a new volunteer.  I think taking positive action with organizations is a better strategy than blind opposition.   

I am a Democrat, so I am debating becoming active in the Democratic Party.  Years ago I attended some meetings and wasn’t enchanted by the whole thing, so, maybe.

I write, and will continue to do so. I do not intend to go into attack mode.  I don’t think negativity is the proper course for my writing.  I may try to promote some of my writing.  Mr. Trump uses negativity as his main strategy, so my response will to be positive about promoting positive action in our weakened republic.  I will support good causes and good people. 

 

 

Cops and Repression

Cops are a constant presence in our lives.  When I was a young kid, the town marshal in Fruita drove a red Ford pickup with no lights or siren.  It wasn’t long before there were real police with a cruiser.  I have a lot of interactions with police officers because I am a lousy driver.  
Cops

Cops

The first really negative interaction was during all the demonstrations following the invasion of Cambodia in 1968.  We peace creeps stood across the barrier from helmeted Fort Collins police officers who could hardly restrain themselves from bashing heads.  They were putting up with a lot of verbal abuse.  The cop across from me was hyperventilating.  Fortunately, nothing happened. 

Cops today are shooting people and getting shot.  Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore showed the nation how the police are an instrument of repression in some cities.  Fortunately this is not always the case.  After 9-11, Denver Water placed armed guards at the gates to the water treatment plants.  Most of the guards were retired or off duty Denver Police Officers moonlighting.  They usually worked one shift per week, and I got to know many of them at the plant where I worked. 

It was a shock to me to discover that most of them were really nice guys.  That did not fit my stereotype of cops.  A couple of them, however, were not nice guys.  They were right wing bullies filled with fear and anger.  The hate they projected was almost physically tangible.  They did not make eye contact and their speech was formal with an undercurrent of menace. 

I am sure every police department of any size in the land has a contingent of those fellows.  They are the enforcers, using violence to deal with undesirables.  They are relatively safe form reprisal because of the need for police to provide mutual support to one another.  There is a code of silence and even lying to cover for a fellow officer.  This is more common in some departments than others. 

These men serve as instruments of repression, usually to minorities.  Their self-appointed job is to keep undesirables in line, using any method they think they can get away with, including murder.in the USA, their targets are usually black, with Latinos and other minorities as alternate targets.  

Ferguson Riot

Ferguson Riot

At one time, most of the racial repression came from groups like the Ku Klux Klan, with their cross burnings, beatings, and lynchings.  Today, those groups have waned, and another means of repression has replaced them-rogue cops and rogue police departments.  Cops and police departments have always been part of the system of racial repression, but now they are the default lynchers.  There are no cross burnings on South Table Mountain in Golden these days. 

This system has run into trouble because almost anyone with a smartphone can record police violence and get the recordings to the media.  The code of silence is broken.  In times of unrest like today, the violent incidents are on the television screen every evening, just like the atrocities in Vietnam were in the 1960s.  Change in technology has made those conducting the new lynchings vulnerable.  The old system of other cops and prosecutors allowing the lynchers to get away with their brutality is not gone, as  Baltimore has recently shown, but it’s days are numbered. 

It may be that one factor creating the Trump phenomenon is the breakdown of repression.  The white working class, already hit by the loss of industrial jobs, is facing competition from people who were once sentenced to remain at the bottom.  White working class men once had those minorities to look down on.  Now the minorities are on the City Council and the police department.   

 

At the Crossroads in 2016

This is a guest post by my wife, Carol Leavenworth.

At the Crossroads in 2016

By Carol Leavenworth, LPC

Most of the time I try to ignore politics.  But this year the presidential campaign has become so bizarre that I’ve been watching with a kind of morbid fascination.  How did we get here?  How could a man like Donald Trump possibly have become a serious candidate for President of our country?

 As a Jungian therapist, I have to ask myself how I and other politically liberal people may have unconsciously contributed to Trump’s success.  Observing the contrast that emerged from last month’s political conventions between the Democrats’ positive vision for the future and Republicans’ negative and pessimistic view, I think I have begun to understand why these two wildly disparate standpoints appeal to such vast numbers of Americans.

Garden of Eden

Garden of Eden

As a psychotherapist I know that the loss of the fundamental safety and comfort that we enjoyed while we were held in our mothers’ wombs is a universal human experience.  At birth we are thrust into a world of uncertainty and fear where our needs will never again be met instantaneously and our very survival is not necessarily assured.  And life continues to become ever more precarious from there. The story of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden reflects this experience. 

Life outside The Garden is filled with danger and risk.  Growth is impossible unless we embrace this reality.  We must leave our mother’s side and venture out into the world – to school, to work, to new homes that we create for ourselves.  That most of us do this pretty well doesn’t mean we are always comfortable with our lives or that we necessary feel all that safe. 

But we want to be.  A primary motive driving us throughout adulthood is to find the lost wholeness, safety and comfort that some small part of each of us vaguely remembers from the far distant past.

In tough scary times like these, this drive is even stronger.  To allay our fears and satisfy deep needs to feel safe and whole we are inevitably drawn to leaders who  encourage us to lay down our burdens and give over our struggle to a strong parent figure who will make it better for us.  This is a profoundly human impulse, and today Donald Trump is the man who is appealing to that impulse.

 Well good, you might say.  Why not let him do it?  The difficulty here is that it won’t work.  We can’t resolve life’s important challenges by giving in to shadowy fears and returning to old dependencies.  Going back will not help.  In fact whenever we act on these regressive impulses, we risk ending up worse off than before.  Think back on your own life.  Most if not all of us can find instances in our own personal histories when we’ve chosen what we thought was the safe road only to find ourselves with more problems than ever.

But if we can’t go back, what will work? 

It was First Lady Michelle Obama speaking at the Democratic Convention who reminded me of the viable and healing way through dark times.  Her remarks swept away the negative and pessimistic mindset that I had fallen into as I watched the nightly news reports throughout the winter and spring.  Hearing her, I recalled to myself the truths that I try to impart to others in my work as a psychotherapist.  It is the choices we make from our best selves that are the ones that enable us to move forward in resolving life problems, big and small. Even more importantly these are the choices that build the inner capacities and strengths that will ultimately bring each of us to a new experience of the abiding wholeness and safety that can arise only from within.  We heal ourselves and the world in the process of creating, developing and expressing our best selves.

Crossroads

Crossroads

The enormous divide that we see between the two major candidates for President tells us that we have arrived at a great crossroads.  Eight years ago we made a courageous decision to elect the first African American man to the Presidency.  He pulled us back from the brink of worldwide economic ruin and brought us here to the time when we are asked to make the even more courageous decision to elect a smart, politically savvy, seasoned and progressive woman to be our President. 

Hillary Clinton points us to a future where we face the challenges that confront us head on rather than building walls and hiding behind them.  She invites us all to work together to secure our futures.   She affirms that none of the tasks before us can be solved by one person or one group.   She does not promise to take care of us.  She promises to lead us.  And she asks us to dig deep once again and act from our best selves.

When we do, we help the world and we help ourselves.  Acting on our best selves out in the world feeds our souls and contributes to the long and difficult task of rebuilding the inner wholeness that is the true goal of our searching hearts.

 

 

 

Changes

Equanimity2I retired five years ago.  I waited until I was 68 to pile up some more retirement benefits.  I also waited because I was scared of retiring.  When I retired I took two part time jobs which soon went to one.  I felt like I had to work.  That lasted four years.  Now, I am truly retired.  (Funny thing, I wrote tired instead of retired.).  

Another reason I retired from my career in water treatment was noticing I just was not as sharp as I used to be.  I have always been fairly sharp, except for the ADD brain lapses I have always lived with.  The lapses were more frequent.  One of my part time jobs required constant focus.  Not good.  The other one was working with elementary school kids, and meant unremitting joy.  I gave that job up because I didn’t want to work so many hours, and my bad back was complaining. 

Now my back still complains, but I can pace myself more and take a time out if I need to.  Right now it’s my upper back hurting after yoga and shoveling a pickup load of wood chips.  Today I am going for a walk where it is flat. 

About those lapses.  All older people complain about them.  The other day I made four trips to the basement to get something and never did come up with it.  Yesterday I was in the grocery store and upset because I forgot the list.  When I got home without some things on the list I found it in my pocket.   

Well, there is a reason for this.  As we age, our brains tend to shift from the executive function-running things- to inner processes.  It is certainly true for me.  I want to write, read, meditate, and enjoy happy entertainment.  There is a huge obstacle right now.  Politics.   

Prayer

Prayer

It’s hard to hold on to my equanimity these days.  Usually I deal with negativity by praying for the people creating the mood.  I have even prayed for Newt Gingrich.  I have yet to be able to pray for His Yellowness.  Praying for people doesn’t necessarily change them, although sometimes it does, but it does change me.  The changes I experience make me more able to live with myself.  I am even less of a jackass on the road. 

I have more peace.  My body doesn’t work as well as it used to, but I think my mind may be getting to a place where I can actually experience the inner connectedness of all life.  I can find joy in anyone.  Well, most everyone.  I also have trouble feeling connected with the Japanese Beetles who want to eat stuff in our garden.  I can’t go above the second step on the ladder because I tend to fall off.  Some of the evil critters get away because I can’t get high enough. 

On balance, aging isn’t so bad.  I have lived a life of constant stress from trying to be normal when I am not.  Now, I get to embrace being weird and getting weirder, and love life.  Mostly. 

I will know I am really on the right track when I can pray for THEM.

What’s Going On?

His Yellowness

His Yellowness

Here we are in one of the most bizarre presidential campaigns in a land marked by bizarre politics.  In many cases, the underlying reason for the periodic upheavals is race.  Yankee slavers hauled terrified captives to a strange land where they were put to work on plantations.  The plantation-owning Southern aristocracy dominated the agrarian south.  Farming in the north was mostly small family farms.  Industrial cities grew and a diverse economy grew in contrast to southern agrarianism.   

Black people were looked on as inferior and deserved their servitude.  The divided country compromised and made a black person worth 3/5th of a white in the Constitution, that standard of democracy.  The race problem became the dominant issue in the nineteenth century and remains so today.  

The split has always been marked by violence.  The tragedy of the Civil War continued after the war with Jim Crow making his mark across the country.  Some change came with the great migration of African-Americans from the rural south to the urban north.  Race turmoil came with the migration.  The civil rights era focused on the south, but the racial divide is as deep in the north as in the north.  Race violence seems to be nationwide.   

I was stationed in Alabama when I was in the Army in the early 1960s.  I was shocked by the segregation.  I was more shocked by the segregation in Chicago.  The African-Americans moved north to find opportunity.  Some found opportunity, but Jim Crow moved north with them.  Things are now changing.  We have an African-American President who made his home in Chicago.  Black people have more opportunity now than at any other time, but it is not enough.   

The divides remain.  White cops shooting blacks, blacks shooting cops.  Rioting comes in cycles, mostly when the weather is hot.  Poor people don’t have air conditioning.  Much of the hysteria around race violence is fueled by television news.  “If it bleeds, it leads”.  People watch these relatively isolated incidents and feel it is happening just down the street.  Chicago’s south side is something of an aberration; gang violence reinforced by a corrupt police department.  After all, we are talking about Cook County with its rich history of corruption and crime. 

The black neighborhoods are a different place.  Being stopped for driving while black is no joke.  It is a means of race-based repression.  The lynchings have not really stopped; the racist bully cops who are a small part of every police department have assumed the role.  No longer is it a rope, it’s a nine millimeter handgun in the hands of a rogue police officer. 

All this brings me to the Republicans.  Our national economy is changing.  Many working class people are politically conservative, wanting more stability in a changing economy that is leaving them behind.  Good paying industrial jobs are drying up.   

A good example is here in Denver.  Gates Rubber is gone, the production moved out of the country.  The former Gates factory which used to dominate South Denver is being replaced with expensive apartment complexes.  Today, the jobs are in offices and restaurants.  The office people move into the apartments, the poorly paid workers move to decaying suburbs or cram themselves into tiny apartments on Capitol Hill. 

There is one growing industry here, marijuana.  Jobs are being created and rents for warehouses for grow operations are going up.  The warehouses were built for thriving small businesses doing light manufacturing and supporting the construction industry.  The Great Recession created by our friends who run things from lower Manhattan killed many of those small businesses.  The working class lost out again. 

The white working class is angry.  Many of the jobs are gone, the opportunity for small businesses has shrunk, and immigrants seem to be taking the jobs at the bottom.  Until this year, the Republican Party has failed to capitalize on this growing disaffection.  The party’s emphasis has been to enrich the wealthy, ignore the poor, take their safety nets away, and keep the minimum wage at poverty level.  Uh, oh, here comes Mr. Trump.  It is hard to tell what he really believes, but his rhetoric has focused on returning to some past that was better for those angry people than the present.  He mocks the liberal ideals of social progress and seems to advocate a return to a dominant, imperialistic America returning to the industrial prosperity of post-World War II America when white people were firmly in control.  He also wants to remove all constraints on free-wheeling development without regard to social or environmental consequences.  More jobs. 

His own record doesn’t support his rhetoric, but the discontent he is exploiting overrules his inconsistencies.  Democrats want a well-regulated welfare state, and Republicans want to make rich people richer.  Disaffected workers are turning to a man who advocates strength, control, and more jobs by rebuilding the industrial economy that has moved to China.  No more free trade, the USA will regain former worker’s prosperity with protectionism.   

The rich will get richer, but the workers will regain what was lost in the shift to a global economy. Trump and Putin will share the spoils of the new nationalism.  Europe can muddle along, but the rest of the world is there to be shared by the U.S. and Russia. 

The voting bloc Trump tapped into was enough to get him nominated, but he will probably lose to Ms. Clinton.  Her problem is much the same as the old Republicans.   She is a reformer who has always worked for those at the margins, however working class economic problems persist.  Those problems created the Trump phenomenon, and solutions are hard to come by.  The Obamas promote college for everyone, but who is going to do the work?   There needs to be some way to build a good life for the workers.  How?  This is the twenty first century dilemma.

 

More on Discontent

The Age of Steam

The Age of Steam

Our economy has been one of change since the beginning.  When the railroads came to Colorado in 1870, a lot of teamster jobs hauling freight from Omaha and Kansas City went away.  The automobile would not have happened without the new petroleum industry.  Coal retained its strength from powering locomotives, heating homes, and fueling industry.  Industry and manufacturing grew, making the American economy one of the largest in the world.

What a combination, land, natural resources, transportation, a growing population of people with ambition, mobility, and a willingness to try something new.  Some were left behind.  Native Americans, African Americans, and those new citizens in the Southwest who were once part of Mexico with its traditional ways.  As always, immigrants ended up at the bottom because of language and discrimination.

There were troubles.  Low wages, a turbulent labor history, drought, an unstable business cycle creating panics individuals were helpless to influence.  There were some adventures the government engaged in, such as Cuba, the Philippines China, Japan, all the trappings of empire.  In many ways the American West was an empire, won at the expense of those who were living there.

John Deere

John Deere

Agriculture was becoming more mechanized, displacing people who moved to the cities to work in industry.  All the change continues.  There is a tremendous amount of wealth in Silicon Valley, not so much in Michigan.

The West has been boom-bust from the start.  The fur trade collapsed, but the gold rushes started.  The government started giving land to the railroads and individuals.  The short grass prairie boomed with hopeful wheat growers, then the droughts came.  Oil and gas grew and grew, and grew.  As old fields played out, new oil fields were discovered.  A couple of big wars really heated things up.

It all looked great.  Yes, lots of change, but people could find good jobs and things steamed along.  The real upheavals were when the business cycle threw millions out of work.  The 1930’s were a terrible time, but a war healed all that.

The West That Never Existed

The West That Never Existed

The 1950’s seemed like a golden age.  Lots of jobs, the U.S. Ruled much of the world, and television built a myth of stability, prosperity, and a bright future for everyone.  the myth came from relative prosperity and the ubitiquous westerns on television promoting a life that never existed.

The 1960’s brought social upheaval accompanied by a growing shift in how people made their living.  Steel mills closed, imported cars were on the roads, and computer-driven automation started taking industrial jobs.  The word Yuppie became a term of derision, but the Yuppies were the wave of the future.  They possessed education and a skill set many people could or would not obtain.

The skilled trades fell out of favor. It is college or else.  The trade jobs are filled the way they have always been filled, by immigrants.  This time however, the immigrants are not easily assimilated Europeans.  They are Latin, and and bring their culture with them.  Many are just not as interested in assimilating, and many are undocumented.

All this change leaves a huge segment of our society out of the good life.  Many are rural, where big mechanized farms haven taken jobs.  Many just do not have social and intellectual requirements to move into the new economy.  What’s left?  Low-paying service economy jobs, often for an out of date minimum wage inadequate for one person, let alone a family.  It is hard to build a life mowing lawns and doing kitchen work.  Much of the time jobs that used to be stepping stones have turned into dead ends.

The trouble is just beginning.  Those people marginalized by an economy where they don’t fit can be radicalized and turn to violence and terror or Donald Trump, which may be same thing.  The discontent is just not with the marginalized working class.  There are lots of well-educated people from middle class families making pizzas and living in their parents’ basement.  They thought they were doing the right thing going into debt to get an education and found nobody wants them.

This is still a rich country.  There is a huge imbalance in the distribution of wealth which has to change.  The change agent must be government.  A true progressive tax structure and an end to the massive influence of special interests in government are desperately needed.  The nation has the resources to provide everyone with an income providing them some dignity and the flexibility to enhance their station in life.  Given a decent income, most will seek ways to do even better.

We will always have the wealthy and the poor.  Now, there is too much concentrated wealth for a few and too many poor.  Trying to revert to an American utopia which never existed will only add to social instability.

Happy Days Are Here Again

Happy Days Are Here Again

There should be no food banks or coat drives.  There should be no one sleeping on the streets.  People with mental health problems should not be cast out.  Everyone should have the time and resources available to build better lives for themselves rather than being trapped in poverty.

In other words, we need a new time of progressive change, not an attempt to return to a myth.  How to pay for it all?  A realistic progressive tax system to redistribute income.

The Summer Of Our Discontent

What a time!  It’s hot about two weeks early for this area.  I got a replacement toolbox for my Toyota Tacoma’s toolbox.  The old one failed because I haul so much stuff around.  Fortunately it had a lifetime guarantee.  We seem to be spending entirely too much time in doctor’s offices; me getting pre-cancerous patches frozen on my head, Carol with eye trouble, and her son with a broken wrist and atrial fibrillation.

On the positive side, our garden is looking great, no hail this year so far.   We are going to have a big raspberry crop, the flowers are beautiful, and all the veggies are growing away.  Things seem to be going fairly well for an old couple.

There is tragedy in the land.  Murdering large groups of innocent people just trying to have a good time is terrible.  There has to be some means in place to restrict weapons solely designed for killing large numbers of people.

Donald Trump Addresses GOP Lincoln Day Event In MichiganThe reason I am writing this, however, is about the current political situation.  The U.S. Has a long tradition of sending poorly qualified people to the White House, but this is getting ridiculous. This guy the Republicans have chosen to run has managed to combine all the worst qualities of American politicians in one outrageous package.  The man has no qualifications to lead the nation in any direction other than backward, and possibly into chaos.  Just his hair should be a cue.  What are those people thinking?

I understand the discontent.  A lot of people are not liberal and want leadership addressing their problems.  Stagnant wages, a lack of good skilled industrial jobs, and rapid change rather than a safe, stable, comfortable life like Ward, June, Wally, and the Beav lived.  They forget that the Cleavers didn’t exist, they were just a TV show.

They sit in front of the TV watching pretty people having a crisis which always has a happy ending.  Their lives aren’t so happy, and they are angry about it.  So here comes a TV show host who says he can fix everything.  He will get rid of “those people”, give them good jobs, make the country safe, and put steak on the plate and a nice diesel Super Duty pickup in every driveway.  If there is trouble, the Marines can stop it.  The country will regress or else.

The mainstream Republican approach is to make rich people richer, take away benefits, and cut schools, highways, parks, sell the government land off. and send their sons off to endless wars.  Congress is paralyzed.  That plan has run its course.  The only reason it worked at all is the rich ones spent lots of money fooling people and buying politicians.

The result is Donald Trump.  He says he can fix it.  Well, no.  The man seems to have no idea how our government works.  He thinks he can issue commands on impulse and get an immediate response, whether his commands are legal or not.  The only things he really wants are adulation and a chance to get rid of those who ask the wrong questions.

Hillary has done a lot of things well, but she has a past.  Trump will sling as much dirt as he can, hoping enough will stick to her to get him elected.  It worked with the primaries,  let’s hope it won’t work for the Big One.

Follow the Money

Lots of corporations and individuals complain about government regulation of their businesses and lives.  The complaints come with much complaining about high taxes.  Other than the paperwork involved with regulation, regulation is good for individuals and business.  Making regulation a political issue is just that, politics.  In some cases profits are affected, but in most cases, not so.   

Let’s use ozone as an example.  Ozone is toxic to us if we are exposed directly.  It is beneficial in the stratosphere as it absorbs ultraviolet light, which is harmful to living things.  UV light increases sunburns, contributes to skin cancers, and is an immunosuppressant.  Worldwide, governments banned chlorofluorocarbons, chemicals used in refrigeration (Freon).  The refrigeration industry fought the regulation, citing increased costs, lower profits, and job loss.  Guess what?  The Freon had to be replaced, and who had to do it?  The refrigeration business.  The increased regulation actually helped the industry and the ozone holes in the atmosphere began shrinking.  The controversy continues, however. 

Refrigeration prices increased, but were more than offset by the economic gains brought about by the change-over to safe refrigerants.  More jobs, bigger refrigeration companies, more profits, all money going into the economy.  The benefits more than offset the cost of eliminating chlorofluorocarbons.  Public health gained from the reduction in sunburns and skin cancers worldwide.  Everybody gained. 

The same applies to the auto industry with all the safety and emission requirements.  Car prices increased, but accident deaths and air pollution decreased.  Everyone gained, and governments will profit from the fines Takata and Volkswagen will pay. My Toyota dealer profited from replacing dangerous airbags. 

In economics the win-win effect of regulation can be explained by the multiplier effect.  If money is spent, the recipient spends those dollars in payroll, capital investment, taxes, and a host of other things.  Those dollars get spent, and the economy grows.  This even applies to digging holes.  People move to Denver and need a place to live.  A developer decides to build an apartment building.  He borrows money from the bank and hires architects, engineers, and contractors.  The contractor needs to put in the basements and foundations.  Thus, a need for a hole.  He hires an excavation contractor who digs the hole.  He is getting lots of business, so he hires equipment operators and laborer.  He buys a new trackhoe from Caterpillar.   The dirt has to be hauled away, so he hires a trucking company, and so it goes.  Government benefits from tax revenue and the fees for all those permits.  The revenue pays for more cops.  On and on it goes. 

The next time you hear someone say. “Get government out of the way.”, ask them if they know about the multiplier.

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