CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change is the biggest, long term problem facing our planet. It has entered a self-perpetuating loop. The average temperature has been increasing for years. The polar ice caps have shrunk to the point where their reflective value will no longer prevent further melting and rising sea levels. The level of oxygen in the atmosphere is decreasing. It is only a matter of time until the oxygen levels reach a point where human life will not be supported. When this happens, and humans cease to exist. The earth will start to regenerate and over some period of time will revert to the level it was 2000 years ago, with one major difference. We won’t be here.

This is preventable. We probably won’t do what is necessary. We will think we are working hard to prevent this, but not hard enough. Humans won’t dump their sense of entitlement to the fruits our planets offers. To prevent the apocalypse, all humanity must turn substantial resources towards not just reducing carbon emissions, which is the current thinking, but to actively clawing back lost ground. We must plant and maintain billions of trees. We must reduce our consumption of animal protein. We must develop nonharmful sources of energy. We need to stop the production of single use plastics. We need to reduce and eventually stop the consumption of fossil fuels. We must abandon the consumer culture. We can live a fulfilling life. It will just be different than the life we are living now.

LAW ENFORCEMENT REFORM

While a great many of the individuals serving in law enforcement in the United States are good people, there are enough bad actors to give many agencies a bad name. I am coming from a limited experience base, but in dealing with organizations, it’s the people at the top that set the overall tone and if the department is acting badly, enable the bad actors. Top management in various law enforcement agencies should be tasked with equal distribution of justice among all groups, regardless of race, religion, etc.

There should be more thorough psychological testing to weed out poor applicants. The Federal government should fund a thorough evaluation and psychological test of all existing law enforcement officers at both the local and national level to weed out those with violent tendencies and white supremacist leanings.  Officers with multiple complaints in their file for violence or other unacceptable activity should be disciplined or terminated. Officers who just stand by and watch while their partners commit acts of violence should be held accountable. Officers found complicit in civil unrest should be immediately disciplined and/or dismissed. The limited immunity laws need to be addressed and changed if needed to hold officers accountable for intentional acts. If it becomes more apparent bad actions will have consequences, actions will become more in line with what is acceptable. There should be increased training in social skills and hiring of trained social workers to handle non-violent situations. Body cams should be worn by all officers while on duty and it should be a terminatable offence to intentionally turn them off during the performance of duties.

As a society, we need to make law enforcement a welcome addition, not something that various segments of society actually need to fear.

A SYSTEM

It is difficult to write after the events of the past day, but I will try.

Political ideals, social justice and economic principles are all part of a system of running the world or country that each of us has. The systems are unique to each of us. My system is unique to me. It will be slightly different tomorrow based on information and thought garnered today. The writing I do helps me organize my thoughts. Although I can’t define everything that has happened in the last two days, there has probably been a great deal of change in my system.

Our Constitution was the best collective thought 200 years ago. It’s been amended 27 times since then. The process for amending the Constitution is very cumbersome and slow. It was a compromise when written and I believe it has slowly become more out of touch with the needs of our country. In my opinion, it has four major flaws: The electoral college should be abolished, the Senate should be abolished, the ERA should be enacted, and voting guidelines in national elections should be governed by national, consistent laws giving everyone the right to vote.

The United States is supposed to be a democracy ruled by the collective will of the people. Unless the above changes are made, the collective will of the people is not being heard. Many times, in the last 50 years, the person receiving the majority of the votes hasn’t been the president. The electoral college and the Senate are relics of the United States’ slavery past and should be abolished as part of a first step to eliminating systemic racism. With the Senate, a small minority of the American population can control what happens and stymie progress. There is ample evidence of this happening in the last few years.

CAPITALISM FLAWED

Imagine for a moment you are fourteen years old and you are bored because social media hasn’t been invented yet. You decide to get together with three of your friends and have a rousing game of Monopoly. Assuming you are all equally matched, what will be the outcome of the afternoon? Of course, one of the four will win, but who that is will be random. The other three will all be bankrupt. That is exactly how capitalism works, but instead of a couple of hours, it may take a hundred years or more. Is this how we want the world to end up? One person or company with all the marbles? Able to sell for whatever price they want? No longer any real need to innovate?

We have many anti-trust laws on the books designed at preventing a single company from controlling a segment of the economy. The problem is most of these laws aren’t being rigorously enforced. This is allowing many companies to engage in unfair or predatory business practices. The first course of action should be to start enforcing these laws vigorously and not allow the enforcement to drag out for years. The other thing needing to be addressed is the shear size of some of these corporations. There are currently four publicly traded companies in the United States with market capitalizations over ONE TRILLION dollars. They are: Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google.

This is just my opinion, but I think corporations should be limited in size. I think the limit should be one trillion dollars in market capitalization. Maybe another measure such as market dominance could be used. At the current time it would affect only the above four companies. They would be forced to evaluate their operations and spin off a portion of their business into another, new corporation. Stock in the new corporation would be issued to existing stockholders in proportion to their current number of shares. There are rules in place about interlocking directorates so the new corporation would start to follow it’s own path. There might be some problems with foreign owned corporations and private equity companies, but these can be worked out.

Capitalism as an economic system only works if there are boundaries that it must recognize and stay within.

PANDEMIC COURSE IN 2021

I am clearly not an epidemiologist or expert in infections diseases. I have just been following along like everyone else who believes in science. Data in this post is of Jan 5, 2021

On December 12, 2020, I created a model of how I thought the pandemic might play through the end of 2021. The factors I took into account at the time were: The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays surge, the roll out schedule and potential problems of the two vaccines, the fact that many people, nearly half, would refuse to take the vaccine, we don’t currently have a plan for vaccinating those under 16 years old, the people who wouldn’t comply with safe practices, and hopefully a decreasing mortality rate due to advances in treatment methods. The thing I didn’t take into account was the introduction of two more virulent mutations which will certainly spread. There is some question if the South African strain is resistant to the current vaccines and may require some modification to the formulation along with testing for efficacy. There will probably be more mutations come along. I have used seven day moving averages to smooth day to day reporting fluctuations. My forecast was a little arbitrary and used many linear functions rather than pretend to have a lot of science behind it. I happen to show February 14, 2021 as the worst day of the pandemic for new cases with gradual improvement until the end of the year. I assumed the Christmas surge would be over by then. I used a simple percentage of new cases to show deaths with a 14 day lag. The percentage I used is a little lower than the historical average because I assumed our skills in saving people would get better. This assumption is currently being hampered by the fact that hospitals can’t even treat all the patients and some are being allowed to die without lifesaving efforts.

My forecast is very grim and we all hope I am wrong. My forecast for new cases on Dec. 31,2021 is: 71,646,642. We are currently 396,000 under my projection but the Christmas surge is starting to weaken that trend. My death forecast for Dec. 31, 2021 is 1,000,029. We are currently running 1,329 over that line.

We are currently 25 days into a 385 day projection, so there is a lot of room for change. I really hope I am wrong on this. I will update the stats periodically.

SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM

Elizabeth Warren, Chuck Schumer, and Ron Wyden recently introduced a plan to increase Social Security payments by $200 per month as part of the Senate Democrats’ phase 3 plan for covid19 relief.  According to the plan, the $200 increase would last until $4,000 had been paid out.

I think the plan has a major flaw. The increase is for approximately 20 months. At the end of this time, we would presumably go back to the old amount, adjusted for inflation. Twenty months is long enough for the recipients to become accustomed to living on this amount. To cut the benefits then would be cruel. Also, on the lower end of the scale, reform is needed. Many of the people on the lower end are homeless because they can’t afford housing. Most economic models show this type of increase would immediately be spent on goods and services because most of the recipients use social security as their major source of income and it’s barely adequate. Because of the immediacy of the spending, a good portion of it would be coming back as tax revenues from the providers of the goods and services. I believe this one-time increase should be permanent. This increase will provide a long-term stimulus to our economy and dampen some of the short-term fluctuations. Over 60M people depend on Social Security benefits every month.  This would be a small piece of the puzzle on how to eliminate some of the income disparity in our country. More about this in other posts.

How to pay for it you might ask? Not really simple, but necessary. First, eliminate the cap on payments into Social Security. The wage cap for 2021 is $142,800. Social Security funding needs to be reformed or benefits will need to be cut in about 15 years even if benefits aren’t increased. The second source of funding would be directly from regular tax revenues. An actuarial calculation on what would be required to keep the fund solvent for 25 years would be made and an appropriate amount would be transferred from the general fund to the Social Security Trust Fund. Any large discrepancy in the first few years should be amortized over ten years. The tax reform making this possible will be the subject of another post.   

POETRY OF FIVE XII

Time for some poetic callistenics. Trying to get my “head right”.

34 constant rare snail magpie witch

Rare is the day that doesn’t bring some joy

Doesn’t take the spell of a witch to employ

Words of doom and gloom are the chattering of a magpie

Periods of joy make me high

Don’t move like a snail when joy is around

Constant attention to life makes happiness abound

35 deluxe swallow nature camp brother

You needn’t swallow a mediocre life

Don’t wait, there is no afterlife

Get out in nature, it’s really the place

For all mankind, it’s really the birthplace

Make a camp, then just unwind

Help your brother, it’s just being kind

To be in nature just feels deluxe

Take it slow, set up two hammocks

36 sand exuberant grace lyric exposition

To live an exuberant life is the goal

Live it with grace, don’t sell your soul

The lyric of life is the exposition of joy

Do not allow naysayers to annoy

Time is signified by grains of sand

Don’t spend your life in a one-man band

JUST POETRY XIX

57 WINDOW

Out the window, a dreary day

No drugs to make the blues go away

Just experiencing it is the meaning of life

Let it in, open the door

Get in the flow, you won’t need more

Allow your passion to run free

Being open to all around is the key

Rest your doubts, let it be

58 LIFE

Take me back to the passions of my youth

Live the real life, that is the truth

Like the song “Nothing Else Matters”

Life is not for the actors

Let it flow, bask in the glow

To do less makes existence bareness

Live life with awareness

59 MATE

Where are you? My soul mate

Searching for you, the time is late

I long for the serenity of your touch

For you to appear is not asking for much

I know you are lonely too

When we meet, will no longer be blue

Our friendship will marvel many

Living our life, we will be free

CREATIVITY

When I was married, my wife was an artist working primarily in oils. Sometimes she wouldn’t paint for days. When I would ask her about it, she would say she wasn’t feeling it or wasn’t feeling creative. I never disagreed with her, but silently I didn’t really understand this thought process. Since I started writing poetry, which many consider an art form, I now understand what she was talking about. There are days I’m not “feeling it”. I was basically not able to write during the month of October. Not sure why, nothing bad happened to divert my thought process, just couldn’t. This is often referred to as “writer’s block”. I’m going to go back to my roots and see if I can force start the process. I miss reading the strange things that spring from my brain.

JUST POETRY XVIII

55 RISK

To live life fully, we must take a risk

We are adults now, it’s a calculated risk

We can’t pull the covers over our head

Some think we might as well be dead

Our life is not anyone’s clone

Neither is it meant to be spent alone

Embrace life’s connection

It can make existence perfection

56 DAY

The sky is gray

It’s a melancholy day

I need something to make the blues go away

The world is full of places to play

A positive attitude is the price we pay

The work is constant, we must not stray

To reach the goal, effort can’t be halfway

You owe it to the cosmos, time to repay

You know you must, do it today

Alternatives are many, do it anyway