Sunday, November 27, 2016

Saving the earth: What does that do to the employment picture?

Start with part one here.

Everyone talks a good game about retraining coal miners to manufacture wind turbines, for example.

But has anyone actually set up training programs for workers displaced by "clean energy," and even if they have, has anyone figured out how organize and pay for such retraining on a massive scale?

Not only are we talking about hundreds of thousands of workers being displaced, but we have to be clear about who they are.

They're not all truck drivers hauling pipes for natural-gas pipelines.

And they're not all young.

How, exactly, is the 57-year-old  with a Ph.D. in geology who's spent an entire career helping figure out where to drill for oil going to get a new job in a completely different field at that age?

Repeat the old saying after me:  "It's the economy, stupid."

And that's another reason why Hillary Clinton lost--Donald Trump promised to do even more fossil-fuel drilling and exporting, and didn't say he'd close the coal mines, because jobs were at the heart of his campaign, such as it was.

Unless we can figure out how to transition to "clean" energy without leaving a large swath of the country unemployed and possibly unemployable, it's never going to happen.  :(

See also "Humans Need Not Apply" here.

Saving the earth: Is anyone talking about safety issues?

Sure, we have to stop using fossil and nuclear fuels if we want to limit climate change and save the planet.

But the large dams often built to produce water power can fail, creating catastrophic floods.

Wind turbines, I've read, create such strong sound and/or vibrations that they can make humans ill, and presumably, cause animals to flee the area.

Solar farms concentrate the sun's heat so well that they can kill birds flying overhead.

As for nuclear power, we've been looking for a safe way to dispose of the spent fuel, which remains poisonous practically forever, for over half a century, and have yet to find one.

If there's a way for us humans to maintain a hi-tech economy and lifestyle without doing any harm to the environment and/or human health, I don't think we've found it yet, if it even exists.

Is anyone talking about that?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

My feeble attempt to explain why Democrats were shocked

Some have said that the reason many Democrats were shocked by Donald Trump's election was that we assumed that Hillary Clinton was automatically entitled to win.

As a Democrat who voted for Secretary Clinton, I don't think that that's the case.

I think that there were questions of judgment for both candidates.  Regarding Secretary Clinton, there was the issue of her use of a private e-mail serve while Secretary of State.  Regarding President-elect Trump, there was the issue of how someone who claimed to be such a master businessperson could have run several businesses into bankruptcy.

I don't think that the judgment issue was the main cause of our shock.

I think that there were also questions concerning both candidates' possible violations of the law.  Regarding Secretary Clinton, there was the e-mail issue, as well as questions regarding the Clinton Foundation.  Regarding President-elect Trump, there were questions about both the Trump Foundation and the so-called Trump University.

I don't think that the legal questions were the main causes of our shock.

Even differences in policy were not the main causes of our shock, in my opinion.  After all, there have been plenty of instances in the past in which a candidate with views opposed by Democrats won an election, but we never saw protests in the street against the results of an election before, to the best of my recollection.

I think the reason why so many of us Democrats were shocked was that so many voters were so determined to end "politics as usual" that they did the one thing that we never expected:  They chose arrogance over competence.

Our President-elect, who told his supporters, “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it,” and who famously proclaimed that he knew more about ISIS than the generals didwill be the only president in the history of the United States of America to be elected with neither political nor military experience.  You don't have to take my word for it:  See here and here.

Not only does Donald Trump have no idea how government works, but, during the campaign, he showed no interest in learning, either. Khzir Khan's question "Have you even read the U.S. Constitution?" may turn out to have been one of the most defining questions posed during the entire campaign.

So now we have a no-nothing President-elect choosing a no-nothing staff.  Or not choosing, as the case may be.   There was a report on MSNBC last night that Trump's son-in-law asked how many West Wing administrative staffers would remain on staff and was actually surprised to learn that each incoming president replaces all of them.  These folks have about two months to appoint literally thousands of administrative staffers for the White House, State Department, Defense Department, and other agencies, and they neither knew nor had planned for that?

At this point, I'm concerned not only about Trump's policy agenda, but about whether the government will still be functioning after Trump is sworn in.

I pray for the welfare of my country.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Election reflection: It's the economy, and we're *all* stupid

Our son had a few words to say regarding promises made by both Trump and Clinton to try to return jobs to the United States.  And those words were, "Most of those jobs no longer exist--if we force the jobs to move back here, it's going to be cheaper to use robots than to hire people."

The U.S. in particular, and the world in general, has not yet figured out how to handle a society in which there's literally not enough work to go around because so much of it has been automated.  Only so many people can be employed by the so-called "service sector," and "service" jobs don't pay nearly as much as the old manufacturing jobs.  So where do we go from here?  I'm afraid we'll just have to stay tuned--nobody knows yet.

Our son recommended that I watch this video, and I'll do the same for you:  See Humans Need Not Apply.  If you'd rather read about this economic challenge than watch a video, try Post-scarcity economy, which also contains links to some books that our son recommends.

An election view from the other side (politically and geographically)

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The only good thing about Trump's election . . .

. . . is that there were no riots in the streets this morning.  The rule of law prevailed--the transfer of power to Donald Trump as president of the United States may be painful, but, at least, it will be peaceful.

I pray for my country, and for the government thereof.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

I'll let someone *else* rant about Trump, for a change

From DovBear commenter Look A Little Deeper:

"Sure, Trump talks the talk. But does he walk the walk?
Look at his criticisms of HRC during the debate: He said that she has been in politics for 30 years (though she only held elected office for 8 years) and asked how come, in those 30 years, she didn't do the things that she promises to do as President.
Leaving aside the fact that a single senator cannot set tax policy, enact a healthcare plan, deal with college tuition, etc. all on their own; that the First Lady can do even less; and that the Secretary of State has nothing to do with those things, there's another very obvious fact that stares everyone in the face and they all miss it.
That fact is that that very same question can be turned right back around on Trump himself.
He's been in business for over 40 years. He claims to be a multi-billionaire.
Sure, he can talk about his record of building buildings, casinos, and resorts (or leasing his name to other people's projects) and hiring thousands of employees over the decades..
But . . .
If saving manufacturing jobs is so important to him, why in his 40 years of business did he never open any factories himself? Why did he never purchase a formerly successful but now struggling plant and save it and the jobs of the workers? Why, when he put his name on suits, ties, etc. did he not have them made in the United States? If no US factories were adequate to the task (seems unlikely) why didn't he set up a plant to make them?
Trump has had just as much time as Hillary to do the things he is promising. And, if he is to be taken at his word concerning his finances, he has also, for quite a number of years, had the money to do it.
This isn't to say that Trump needed to single-handedly save all of US manufacturing. But he could have at least opened a plant somewhere. He could have at least saved a factory or two. He could have done something to show that he cared about the loss of manufacturing jobs and that he tried to do something about it.
If manufacturing was really so important to him, if it truly was something he was so passionate about, why did he concentrate all of his time and money on real estate, hotels, resorts, beauty pageants, and casinos?
As someone who has been involved in Washington for so many years, it's understandable that some people might be skeptical of Clinton. I get that. Washington is a machine, and Hillary has been a part of it.
However, if one simply peels back the layer and goes beyond Trump's talk (and it doesn't go very deep, either) one will find ample reason to be even more skeptical of him and his promises."

And for Pete's sake, even I, an underpaid employee of a not-for-profit organization, give more to charity than Trump does!


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