There has been a lot of talk about a Green New Deal converting vehicles to renewable energy. I don’t see that on the street …yet. I see old gas stations getting new fuel tanks and several new stations under construction. I cover emerging technology but there also is submerging technology. It reminded me of walking around a Blockbuster Video store or Border’s bookstore. I knew at some point that they would close, but when? What was the last VHS cassette you rented or hard cover book you bought? Where will you buy your last tank of gas?
On Feb. 28, 2019 in Washington DC, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a nonpartisan report on child poverty in the United States. Poor health and high crime from poverty costs the US nearly $1.1 trillion a year. In 2015 an estimated 9.6 million children live in poverty or about $26,000 annual income for a family of four. How to solve this crisis? Proposals like promoting marriage, family planning, mandatory work requirements do not work. More effective recommended solutions include increasing the earned income tax credit, increasing dependent care tax credits, expanding housing vouchers and food stamps. It would cost $90.7 billion a year but would cut child poverty in half in a decade.
FBI agent Bill Douglas said in his book MIndhunters “Bill Tafoya, the special agent who served as our ‘futurist’ at Quantico, advocated a minimum of a ten-year commitment of money and resources on the magnitude of what we sent into the Persian Gulf. He calls for a wide-scale reinstatement of Project Head Start, one of the most effective long term, anticrime programs in history. He doesn’t think more police are the answer, but he would bring in “an army of social workers” to provide assistance for battered women, homeless families with children, to find good foster homes. And he would back it all up with tax incentive programs.”
On Feb. 13, 2019 Trevor Noah of the Daily Show appeared on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert proposed that elected positions be limited to one term. Politicians would not have to worry about getting reelected. Most likely they would become lobbyists. At least it would require a constant influx of new talent. Another idea would be to have a probationary period of ninety days. If they seem unfit for office, the candidate who came in second takes their place.
David Wallace-Wells, deputy editor and climate columnist for New York magazine has a new book The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. It talks about the severity of climate change. “Russia could play a bigger, more dynamic role of rival in the future. And the same is true of China.” Regarding green technology “We could save $26 trillion in the global economy just by 2030, which is a very fast return, if we decarbonize quickly.” Regarding sea levels “So, we could see at least a hundred feet of sea level rise, possibly as much as 260 feet of sea level rise, if we melt all of the ice.” Regarding heat waves “You see, you know, projections that many of the biggest cities in India and the Middle East will be lethally hot in summer as soon as 2050, which means you really won’t be able to go outside during the summer without incurring some risk of heat stroke.”
Increasingly there are youth movements calling for action like the Green New Deal in America or the Extinction Rebellion in Europe. On February 21, 2019, sixteen year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden addressed the European Union: “We need to focus every inch of our being on climate change, because if we fail to do so, then all our achievements and progress have been for nothing. And all that will remain of our political leaders’ legacy will be the greatest failure of human history. And they will be remembered as the greatest villains of all time, because they have chosen not to listen and not to act. … And if you still say that we are wasting valuable lesson time, then let me remind you that our political leaders have wasted decades through denial and inaction. And since our time is running out, we have decided to take action. We have started to clean up your mess, and we will not stop until we are done.”
Today is Presidents Day and there are some great deals out there. You can buy a new mattress and put it in the back of your new truck because that’s where you’ll be sleeping if we don’t elect a better president.
We are still trying to get artificial intelligence right with Autocorrect. I got a message from someone who said they were trawling. They meant to say traveling. I pictured them on an Alaskan fishing boat like an episode of The World’s Most Dangerous Catch. In fact, they were eating sushi on a plane.
Last week there were record breaking below zero temperatures in the Midwest and Northeastern United States. It is an example of how chaotic and dangerous the weather is becoming. We need to have infrastructure and social safety nets to help people deal with the change.
The US Federal government is being funded for the next three weeks but last week Trump Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recommended that furloughed federal employees get loans to feed their families. He seems a little out of touch. Let them tweet cake.
It is over fifty years since Martin Luther King’s death. People should remember that he was fighting poverty when he died. He was in Memphis trying to get decent wages for public employees. His words and work are more relevant than ever. None of us is free until we are all free.
Last year about this time the Dow Jones Industrial Average was about 26000. I said it was not sustainable. The DJIA is now about 23000. This means it dropped about ten points a day. Some say it was the worst performance since the First Great Depression of the 1930s. Global trade wars are adding to the chaos, but the shutdown of many federal government services is making things worse. You do not know how important something is until it is gone. While a few people complain about government, there is a reason for a lot of it. Over the years the people have encountered a problem and fixed it with a program of one kind or another. You might be annoyed with a stop sign, but it allows you to drive safely through an intersection. It is better to have a fully functioning civilization and not need one than to need one and not have one. So contact your political representatives and tell them to do their jobs so we can do ours.
A store sent me a ten dollar non-transferable gift card. I did not want to spend any more money, so I bought a ten dollar spatula. They kept sending me gift cards and I kept buying spatulas. I had a drawer full of them. I always had a clean spatula. I started giving them to friends and family. I became known as Count Spatula.
Several years ago I had a rough idea of where things were headed and decided to do something about it. I worked with many other people who felt the same way. If enough people are motivated you can change the direction of history. You just have to keep working at it.
According to NASA, both Voyager spacecraft have left the heliosphere of the solar system. Imagine being on a mission for decades. Sending your reports and pictures to people who were not even born when you left. Going further than anyone imagined. Keep going.
Someone complained that homeless people were being helped after the wildfire destroyed Paradise. They did not like the long term homeless ‘mixing in’ with the new homeless. I have got some news for you. We are heading into very uncertain times. Anyone can become homeless, including you. We have to create a society where everyone is taken care of, regardless of circumstance.