Now for some good news

Hearing Donald Trump blather on in a 24 hour repeating loop can be depressing, but don’t let it distract you. Far more important things are happening in the world beyond politics and they are fantastically hopeful. This is an amazing time to be alive and things keep getting better. Here are a few examples:

Engineers at Blue Origin have managed to land a rocket successfully.

Solar energy is hitting its tech-efficiency curve. Costs are plummeting, approaching parity with coal on utility scales.

Adjusted for inflation, gas prices haven’t been this low since the 60’s – and still clean energy is booming. Despite cheap fuel, the electric car business continues to experience spectacular sales growth and enormous new R&D investment.

Marijuana has been legal in Colorado for almost three years. Still waiting on the negative impacts. None are evident.

Contrary to popular belief, violent crime in the US has declined to a 40-year low and continues to taper off.

Fewer police officers died in the past few years than in any similar period in our history. Officer deaths are approaching new lows not seen for a century. We are becoming a remarkably mature and orderly society, with an urban life that has never been cleaner, safer, or more prosperous.

Abortion rates have dropped to their lowest level since the procedure was made universally legal. Increased access to contraception, improved sex education, and plummeting rates of teen pregnancy together fed the decline.

In a closely related dynamic, global birth rates are declining rapidly.

Development of Crispr-Cas9 has made human gene editing a practical medical treatment.

Next year engineers will be deploying the first major test of the “ocean cleanup array,” a cheap simple approach to removing garbage from the ocean’s gyres.

Nevermind the hot air, unless a Republican candidate in the US breaks sharply with the current racist tone of the party’s policies and rhetoric, the GOP nominee has no credible path to the White House in 2016 or beyond. The math just doesn’t work.

We are wired to see problems and keen to pick up bad news. Meanwhile the world keeps getting radically better at rates that would have been hard to believe just a lifetime ago. Chin up, this is a great time to be alive.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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194 comments on “Now for some good news
  1. Ed K says:

    I loved this article so much I posted it on Facebook. It showed up today in my memories section. It’s still great. The conclusion should have been true.

  2. 1mime says:

    Guess it’s not too early for a little “good news” Christmas style: Who knew the Germans had such playful natures?

  3. 1mime says:

    By now all have read that an accord on global warming goals has been reached by over 197 represented nations. The harder work now begins as each must take this accord home and garner support and ratification. Agree or not with the premise that humans contribute to climate change, the world will be a healthier, better planet for all with a unilateral effort to reduce some of the more noxious problems.

    Since this is a post linked to “good things happening”, in that spirit, and in celebration of a world accord on climate, let us acknowledge the contribution of some wonderful kids with creative minds and no fear of failure. Enjoy this true story:

    http://www.upworthy.com/her-dad-thought-her-clean-energy-idea-was-just-a-kids-project-he-was-wrong?c=upw1&u=49a541d456a78d16869e762cd52d48dbe89b5b70

    • Doug says:

      “Our Ocean State of Rhode Island may become the Under Ocean State by 2100 if global warming is allowed to continue at the current rate”
      Who are the adults that brainwashed this child? They should be ashamed. Aside from the fact that there is no CO2 signature in sea level rates, Rhode Island has an average altitude of 200 feet. Even under the wildest alarmist claims, it is in no danger of being under water.

      This article is an example of the muddy-headed thinking from the climate change religion. Vegetable oil is a hydrocarbon, and the carbon in it comes from CO2 that the plant has removed from the atmosphere. If the oil were truly being “thrown away” (not likely) that carbon would be sequestered in a hole in the ground. Instead, they’re turning it into biodiesel and burning it, releasing CO2 back into the atmosphere, just as burning regular diesel would. Also, they’re giving it away, so one would assume that the poor people getting it are now cranking up the heat since their fuel is “free.” I’d love to see the calculations that show how they’re preventing CO2 emissions.

      BTW, I was in the restaurant biz 30+ years ago, and even back then we were required to have grease traps to keep oil out of the sewer, as well as companies that collected the used oil from the fryers. We got paid for the collected oil, so I know it was not thrown away, and I believe a lot of it was processed for animal food. I would assume something similar was going on in this kid’s town before she convinced people to burn it. Whatever…she feels good about herself, and that’s the important thing, right?

      “Agree or not with the premise that humans contribute to climate change, the world will be a healthier, better planet for all with a unilateral effort to reduce some of the more noxious problems.”

      Depends on what you mean by noxious problems. I think it’s sad how well-meaning people are causing real environmental damage in a rush to prevent CO2 emissions without thinking through the implications. Europe in particular is doing some stupid stuff. Here are just a couple of articles:
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/how-europes-climate-policies-have-led-to-more-trees-cut-down-in-the-us/2015/06/01/ab1a2d9e-060e-11e5-bc72-f3e16bf50bb6_story.html
      http://www.salon.com/2015/11/03/pulp_fiction_the_european_accounting_error_thats_warming_the_planet_partner/

      • 1mime says:

        Aw, Doug, it’s Christmas season….cut the little kids some slack (-:

        I have been listening to NPR all week (as I could) as the programming focused on climate change in the broadest sense, and the discussions coming out of the Paris Climate Conference. The experts and interested parties added much to my knowledge and hopefully that of others. What was fascinating to learn is the breadth of participants. Business was heavily represented – insurance companies, banks, fossil fuel companies, etc. There were fifteen billionaires present who want to share their wealth towards saving our planet. And, there were scientists, and environmentalists, and the major technology companies (Google, Apple, Alibaba, etc)….ALL of whom acknowledge there is a problem and want to be a part of the solution.

        As for “burning” tree (pellets or logs) for fuel, I am opposed to this practice for more reasons than the harmful emissions. Using trees for fuel removes one of the best filters nature has provided to clean the air. See, we agree on this. There was a great deal of discussion by third world countries in particular, at the Paris conference, about the loss of trees for fuel and to promote other commercial interests. The consensus was that most of the clear cutting had been done in the name of agriculture and mining by foreign interests, and these smaller countries need protection from these harmful practices, especially those in coastal areas, where the loss of land is exacerbated by defoliation. Another kum bai yai (sp?) moment for you Doug? We agree this is bad.

        Let me ask this: What if you are wrong about global warming and it really is as bad as the majority of the scientific community assert? Other than the removal of trees (which we agree upon) , what harm do you see from mankind taking better care of our planet? What do we have to lose?

      • Doug says:

        “Aw, Doug, it’s Christmas season….cut the little kids some slack (-: ”

        No. I don’t believe in “everyone gets a prize.” Or in the spirit of the season, “Do. Or do not. There is no try”. 🙂

        “Let me ask this: What if you are wrong about global warming and it really is as bad as the majority of the scientific community assert? ”

        First you have to ask yourself what exactly the majority of the scientific community assert. Is it that CO2 has a warming effect on the atmosphere? Sure. Very few would disagree with that. So…how much warming and what are the results? That’s where it gets a little squishy. Somewhere between slight and mostly beneficial and a lot and mostly bad. Nobody knows, and those who say they know are lying, but much research and data over the last decade or so suggests it’s a heck of a lot less than the alarmists have been saying. As one small example, did you know NASA just released a study showing that Antarctica is gaining land ice overall, and has been for years? Probably not, because it doesn’t fit the narrative. Are you aware that satellite temperature data is is in line with balloon data but diverging greatly from surface temperature data sets such as GISS. What is the explanation? Are you aware of USCRN, and that it also agrees with the satellite data but not the models that predict doom and gloom? How are these differences explained by the “consensus”? Are you aware that the temperature in 1880 is a lot colder now than the temperature in 1880 was a decade ago? Huh? That’s what NOAA says.

        “Other than the removal of trees (which we agree upon) , what harm do you see from mankind taking better care of our planet? What do we have to lose?”

        What do we have to lose? Lots of things.

        1. The planet. The trees are one tiny example. Ethanol is another. Pretty much everyone now agrees that our ethanol program is a bad idea for a number of reasons, but it means “free” money to lots of people who vote in Iowa, so it continues. Nothing is rational when it comes to reducing CO2. Consider: you can punch a small hole in the ground, extract natural gas, and with a power plant on a few acres provide cheap, clean electricity for a city. Or you can erect huge windmills over hundreds or thousands of acres, that besides being an eyesore kill any bird that ventures near. And then spend billions extending the grid to where the wind blows, and billions more in subsidies, and then you still must have conventional plants available for when the wind doesn’t blow, many of them less efficient, dirtier “spinning reserves.” This is a good thing? For whom?

        2. The planet. The global warming nonsense has sucked huge amounts of money and resources from real conservation efforts. If your pet project, say, saving eagles and other birds of prey, comes up against the interests of the global warming crowd, well, just suck it up. Take one for the team. A couple of oil covered seagulls are a tragedy, but crumpled or fried eagles, bats, and other flying things? Not so much. Don’t talk about that stuff. We’re saving the planet here.

        3. Respect for science, and the scientific method itself. IMO, government money and the warming “groupthink” enforcers are doing a lot of damage in this regard. Cato put out a good paper on bias from funding without taking sides: http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/working-paper-29.pdf Many scientists are much more direct on the topic.

        4. People, especially poor people. Consider this: the United States is no longer the largest producer of CO2 emissions. Not by a long shot. China has that honor now, with India rising quickly. Other developing countries will be burning a lot of fossil fuels in the near future if they want to have any hope of dragging themselves out of poverty. Wind and solar aren’t going to do it any time soon. And they have no intentions or desire to stop building coal plants. If you really believe that global warming will be catastrophic, these countries must be stopped. How far are you willing to go to stop them, and at what costs to their impoverished populations (and ours, if you’re really serious and it ends in war)? On the developed world side, replacing or taxing cheaper conventional fuels necessarily raises energy costs. Who gets hurt the worst? Not me, yet I’m opposed.

        I could go on, but that’s more than enough for now. In summary, feeling good about “saving the planet” is worthless if you don’t consider the consequences and alternatives. Some things are obvious, like conserving where you can (I built a small, energy efficient house and don’t fly a private jet to Paris 🙂 ). Others require some thought.

      • 1mime says:

        Doug, that was a very thoughtful answer. I’m headed to bed right now but I will respond. We agree on ethanol, too, btw. I know you feel deeply about this subject as do I, but there appears to be many areas where we are in agreement. Wish my brain weren’t so fried tonight but I’ve got to turn in…Busy day tomorrow. Would like to know more about your energy efficient home.

      • Doug says:

        mime, I’m going to post a book on the other thread. You may not enjoy it, but it says a lot about the consensus, with direct quotes from 100+ actual scientists.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Doug – Your comments are normally short and concise. Because of the your focused comments you are usually correct.

        However this latest is the longest I’ve seen you post. And I think it wanders from your usual correctness.

        So, would you like to hear/see what I believe are imprecise parts of this comment?

  4. MassDem says:

    My husband saw this bumper sticker in Cambridge this morning.

    “Vote Democratic. We’re not perfect but they’re nuts”

  5. lomamonster says:

    The list of wonderful developments to make us all happy pales in comparison to the news that Blue Bell Ice Cream is ramping up to full production once again! Nothing on this planet is as marfable as that beloved product…

    • 1mime says:

      Who’s buying Blue Bell these days? It’s going to take me a long time if ever, to trust that company again. Loved the taste, not the deceit.

      • lomamonster says:

        Well, 1mime, at least we can be assured that it will be the most currently upgraded production plant in Texas. And a 1/2 gallon of Chocolate Decadence might just revive a bit of that trust, eh?

      • 1mime says:

        I have a lot of other ice cream choices. Knock yourself out, though Loma, I know how tasty BB is but on principle, I just choose not to go back there. (Not to mention I reeely should make ice cream an occasional treat (-: )

      • lomamonster says:

        I’ve had to boil it down to HEB (Creamy Creations) 1905 Vanilla with fresh or frozen blueberries and banana slices on top. Sometimes, with a dash of Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Syrup. Arrrgh!

      • 1mime says:

        Loma….now yur talkin!

      • johngalt says:

        I’m not buying Blue Bell. I was never that enamored with it before, but after killing a couple of people through gross incompetence, without anything that I’d consider to be a proper apology, I will be finding my ice cream from other sources.

      • MassDem says:

        We have all kinds of ice creams up here but no Blue Bell 😦
        On a survey that looked at which states ate the most ice cream MA was #4 & TX was #5 in per capita ice cream sales (#1 was Washington D.C. Which isn’t even a state)
        That’s pretty impressive considering how short our ice cream season is

      • MassDem says:

        BTW there’s a business opportunity right there–bringing Texas ice cream to New England. It could be a branding thing, kind of like Vermont maple syrup.

      • 1mime says:

        Ha! I’ve shared this story before, but it’s cute and apropos. Shoe company decides to expand and decides to try the African market as its first attempt. First guy sent comes back and tells the boss: Boss, that’s not the place for a shoe company, nobody wears shoes over there! Second guy goes over, calls boss and says: Send me as many shoes as you can….nobody has any shoes over here!

        Merry Christmas!

        BTW, food has no season down south…..we eat everything all year long! That’s why we have to be careful with our ice cream treats (-:

      • MassDem says:

        Cute story!

        We could eat ice cream in the dead of winter I suppose but that’s hot chocolate season.

  6. On the motive drive of my next motorcycle:

    “I look at a gas engine now as a bit of a Rube Goldberg comic. If you want to follow the energy path… you get to extract some relatively small, almost like a byproduct, that becomes torque…” – Luke Workman, Zero Motorcycles

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      Way cool. But how do you make that noise. You know, brub-brrub-brrrrub.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Playing card in the spokes?

      • Nah, sounds like Tron!

        I never have understood motorcycles gangs. It’s like their motto is, “Let’s all be lone wolves, together!” LOL. 😉

      • objv says:

        I thought little boys made the brub, brrub, brum sounds practically from birth. I had three little brothers sitting in the backseat with me (no seatbelts in those days). They’d make those brum, brum sounds and pretend they were driving as soon as my mom put them in the car. Very annoying!

        Although I’ve never caught my husband brub, brubbing; I know the sound of a good engine is like music to his ears. (Yes, engineers are weird like that.)

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Screaming electrons! — I haven’t seen tron since it was originally in the movie houses.

        That was great!

    • objv says:

      Cool, Tracy! I will be sure to share this with my husband.

    • MassDem says:

      Very interesting Tracy–thank you for posting!

      These bikes sound much quieter than the Harley that used to go up and down my street late at night when we lived in Attleboro. I don’t miss that experience at all! Now we just get the clubs that go out for Sunday afternoon rides in nice weather–still loud, but at least I’m already awake.

    • 1mime says:

      Tesla has a battery competitor! Smart guy….(to the extent that I could understand what he was explaining ) (-: I thought it was interesting about the lady who is on the cutting edge of battery research. You don’t typically think of women as interested in or involved in this field.

      That is you, TThor, test driving the bike through the winding roads in the mountains…yippie!

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      I followed your link, Bart-1. I have read similar stuff for quite a while. And then I followed the link provided at the bottom of the story. Whew baby! Scary! Talk about harshing a mellow! How can you read stuff like that and not go nuts. Talk about being radicalized. Are you ok, dude?

      At least it will only cost us $19.95 to get some piece of mind. We have found a way to protect our savings by sending part of it to some guy on the internet. Thanks for the link.

      • Bart-1 says:

        I didn’t go to the link. the fact remains that in spite of the Rose Colored glasses about things which have nominal effect on most of us, Pew is reporting most are are definitely worse off economically.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Bart1 – Yep, it looks like the reality of 30-40 years ago does not fit today. I am not sure how the trade off works. We can order inexpensive items directly from China and get delivery within a couple of weeks. Food prices are still very low relatively, and the fact that we can get tropical fruit at the grocery store in the middle of winter still boggles my mind. I remember going into a grocery store in late winter and seeing root veggies and cabbage and apples.

        Maybe the problem is we can no longer go to the neighborhood steel mill or coal mine and get a job (with recommendation from father or uncle).

        I once heard a fellow say if he had a pair of bluejeans and a jar of peanut butter setting on a post somewhere, he would be happy. Does he care now that the middle class has shrunk?

        I think Rob Ambrose is right when he says, “Inequality breeds resentment and resentment, if powerful enough, can topple societies, and its almost never a positive result. Seething rage and resentment provide fertile ground for charismatic leaders to stocks the fires of facism.”

        But I don’t know how much inequality there must be or how it manifests itself. After all, the peanut butter on a post fellow probably has a large inequality threshold.

      • goplifer says:

        ****Pew is reporting most are are definitely worse off economically.***

        Worse than what, exactly?

      • 1mime says:

        Per Pew, the year they start their comparison is 1970. A time frame that you didn’t think was so hot. If you are talking about “quality of life”, that is more difficult to measure as each of our experiences in childhood is so different…driven by age, race, family economics, gender…class.

      • Bart-1 says:

        While I’m not sure what difference a report’s source makes, here is the original link. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/09/the-american-middle-class-is-losing-ground/
        as well as a Bloomberg article showingt hat American Exceptionalism is dead also (if it ever really existed in the first place in making the US the lone superpower in the world). http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-10/5-charts-that-show-american-exceptionalism-is-a-myth
        I’m guessing the guy who was happy with the peanut butter alone is non existent today,unless he is homeless now.

      • Bart-1 says:

        Chris, did you read the article? median Household income, total wealth, what do you think “economically” means? I was just supporting what Creigh had originally sarted.

      • Bart-1 says:

        started

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Unarmed, here’s that link. This is….just mind boggling. How could any adult ostensibly competent enough to get a job and string a few sentences together be fooled by this?

        People are worried about radiclizing homegrown terrorists? This isnthe stuff they need to be worried about.

        http://landing.boblivingstonletter.com/doesnt-matter/LP_01.aspx?SC=B24185712

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Amen Rob. Bob Livingston, I’ve heard that name before. Not sure I would trust with my finances to him.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Bart-1, My comment was about the link you provided. If you had linked the Pew report directly it would have been less contentious.

        http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/09/the-american-middle-class-is-losing-ground/

        The subject does cause me to wonder about our financial lives. Much of this life is a contest, and some people don’t know they are competing. (My opinion only)

      • Creigh says:

        “We can order inexpensive items direct from China.” True, but next to completely irrelevant to what makes life worth living.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Creigh – ““We can order inexpensive items direct from China.” True, but next to completely irrelevant to what makes life worth living.”

        I agree. It is completely an economic matter and has its tradeoffs even there.

        But you did get me to thinking about what makes life worth living. Late 50s, early 60s, small town that came alive on Saturdays. Walking down the street, shouting greetings to friends in cars and walking. Friends shouting back. Kids running to catch the matinee.

        I won’t list all the “progress” that we’ve had, the steps that makes that small town a boarded up row of buildings. You probably know them.

        Not trying to give a complete picture of a good life, but only in terms of our economic decisions. Maybe in the future, we will take these things into consideration and build them into our communities.

      • 1mime says:

        That was a memory I shared from the past as well, unarmed, however idyllic it sounded. It wasn’t that there were no problems, but they seemed so much more manageable…so local. The passing scene has yielded many conveniences and improvements, but I do think society has also lost in important areas. Economic benefits aside, the world is now too much in our lives…For better or for worse, we are interconnected and faced with not only our own personal challenges, but that of the world at large….whether it’s military engagement, Syrian refugees, ISIL threats, or world pandemics, financial crisis and climate impacts. No man is an island could never ring more true than today. One’s money isn’t safe under the mattress anymore (-:

      • Creigh says:

        Mime and Unarmed, there are many things that make a good life, some with economic connections, some not. I like making my own things, everything from gardening to cooking to minor remodeling projects. Heck, when I retired I even bought a violin, to make some of my own music. It’s still pretty bad, but it makes me happy.

        The point is, I guess, that people need to be useful and productive and independent, and for most people at some period in their lives that means a good job, a career. A good job is so much more than the ability to buy Chinese stuff. It’s an educational learning experience, it’s social contacts, it connects us to the community and the larger world.

        All these connections are why I am skeptical of the guaranteed income idea as a stand-alone thing. We need jobs too. Now, it might be that the additional income would be used to stimulate demand enough to solve the domestic jobs problem by itself. That would be fine. But if the economy fails to provide jobs to those who want them as well as stuff, it’s failing us.

      • 1mime says:

        Creigh – I am in complete agreement on the importance of feeling useful, productive and independent as primary to one’s happiness and sense of well being. I also share your love of remodeling….never saw a wall or a ceiling that shouldn’t be moved (-: I should have made this a career, it was such a passion of mine! (I subcontracted building out first family home at the ripe old age of 25….and tweaked and expanded it for almost thirty years, loving every minute of it…..my husband, not so much. I have really never stopped, merely slowed down!) Gardening is pleasurable – watching things grow and produce is life affirming and enjoyable. I loved working, too, whether it was making our home function or assisting with our family business, or within our community, or in a varied work experience. It challenged me and fulfilled my need to contribute and grow.

        One of the big problems seniors face as they age (past their “active retirement years”) is boredom, loneliness and sense of purpose (Read Atul Gawande’s wonderful work, “Being Mortal” for more about this). Children are grown (and hopefully independent), one’s life’s work is behind them, and time is finally available to pursue those things one has always been interested in but too busy to do. I hope all who post here get to this point in their lives – happily and healthily, as it sounds like you have done. Carpe Diem!

        Basic income. I have worked since I was twelve. I don’t think the basic income concept would ever rob someone like you or me of our innate desire to be productive through a satisfying job, but there are others it possibly could. There are those who would benefit from a basic income as a bridge to gainful employment or simply to help meet basic food and shelter needs. The challenge is to offer a basic income to keep people out of poverty without destroying their initiative to be productive. Welfare has offered such a mixed message in this regard, but those who use it, need it and deserve it are grateful to have it when things get really tough….I don’t know that a basic income will be able to replace the need for other kinds of temporary financial assistance (or long term in case of health issues) which is how it would be structured if attempted. Unplanned “stuff” happens in life to people that disrupts the best of plans.

        Personal fulfillment is different for each of us. I applaud your effort to play the violin…badly – or well. The main thing is to live with purpose and try to make the world a little better place for those you love and the world around you. Gosh I wish I could help you with that remodeling project! I love working with the “bones” of a house…

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Creigh – 1Mime – Nicely put. I agree for the most part. Some I just am not sure about. Creigh, As you say, I think the guaranteed wage could co-exist with a jobs for everyone policy.

        I retired to do what I do best, that is, start projects that never get finished. So we live in a old tavern that has reminders of jobs that need to be done at every turn.

        Did you get a violin or a fiddle? I am trying to learn Spanish and Italian and I can’t speak good American.

      • 1mime says:

        Unarmed, my husband used Berlitz “Think and Speak in Italian” tapes years ago to teach himself Italian to support the Sicilian-Italian slang he grew up around (father’s parents immigrated from Sicily, mother’s, Bologna – all poor as church mice but ended up well through lots of hard work and saving). What was funny was that the goal was to be able to communicate with his father’s kin who lived in Cefalu, Sicily when we visited, which we did a few times. On our first visit, my hubby tried out his new language skills on a fruit vendor outside who looked at him quite strangely and said: “Nobody talks like that anymore. That’s the way the old Sicilians speak.” Rebuffed, he resorted to his Berlitz training and did much better….and the price of the fruit went down….He told me his goal was to make the fruit vendor smile at him before we left the Jolly Hotel. He did (-:

        Keep working on it….Fifty would probably suggest that you imbibe some local brew (since you live in a tavern….how cool is that! Man, what a great remodel….you did remodel (-: didn’t you?) and that your Italian skills would improve exponentially! Not sure about your ability to fiddle, however….

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        1Mime we did remodel. Took the horsehair plaster off the bricks. (it had been redone at least once in its lifetime since 1860) so we didn’t try to keep anything original.

        Yes, my opinion about how well I can parlare itialano get better after my daily ration of vino. Seriously, me having a conversation in any language other than English is very unlikely. But I carry on.

      • Creigh says:

        Unarmed, I should call it a fiddle, I guess. Fiddle would be colloquial for just about any member of the viol family, and what I’m doing with it is pretty colloquial.

        On the subject of guaranteed income, it’s possible that guaranteed income alone would completely solve the unemployment problem. It would increase spending by the low end if the income scale, and that would require additional hiring to accommodate the extra consumption.

        Also, I visited Italy in 2000, wonderful people. I used a phrasebook and some broken Spanish and a lot of pointing, and got along fine mostly due to the graciousness of the Italians.

  7. flypusher says:

    On the theme of good news, one of the bad cops got his just desserts:

    http://theweek.com/5things/593760/exoklahoma-city-cop-found-guilty-raping-assaulting-13-black-women

    • 1mime says:

      Ain’t that the truth! I’ve been reading about this….at one point, there was doubt as to whether he would get away with it. I hate that the many good policemen and women are being tainted with the same brush, but thank goodness there seems to be more accountability and greater justice for victims.

    • 1mime says:

      Read this Atlantic article on the OK cop case. As usual, excellent reporting and analysis, including this finding:

      “The case highlighted challenges in uncovering sexual misconduct by law-enforcement officials, which is believed to be widely under-reported. A yearlong investigation by the Associated Press published last month discovered over 1,000 police officers nationwide who lost their badges in the past six years for offenses including rape, sexual assault, and possession of child pornography. Since reliable comprehensive numbers do not exist, the actual number of officers fired during that period could be even higher.”

      Note that last sentence: reliable comprehensive numbers do not exist…..If you don’t have a national registry, the problem can be anything you want it to be…small, large, non-existent. They are taking their cue from the gun lobby which has worked to kill a national gun registry or data sharing information registry on gun violence. No documentation? No way to assess a problem….

      http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/12/daniel-holtzclaw-trial-guilty/420009/

    • 1mime says:

      I just read a follow up article in the Houston Chronicle about this sad excuse for a policeman. Turns out what tripped him up was that the last lady he accosted was one tough grandma who had to submit to his demands but then filed a complaint that led to other victims. As Grandma Lignons stated on public television, “I was innocent and he just picked the wrong lady to stop that night”.

      GEAUX Granny! You’re the best!!!!

      The most interesting part? The jury was all white. In Oklahoma. The victims were all Black, and poor. Of course, the prosecution had assembled a damning case, but that hasn’t always resulted in justice being served. The Black community, though appreciative of the trial outcome, are asking for more Black officers to patrol the northeast side of Oklahoma City. I’d say there is a better than good chance they will get them.

  8. flypusher says:

    “Martin Green, a leading photovoltaic researcher, predicts that the cost will drop to $0.25 per watt over the next decade if other semi-conducting materials can be stacked on top of existing solar cells to convert a wider spectrum of sunlight into electricity.”

    So what’s the magic # that tips the price to affordable for most people? I’ve got a stretch of lower roof that would be perfect for collecting sunlight.

    • Creigh says:

      Depends on the cost of alternatives, doesn’t it? Also, depending on your situation, you might need to store power. Battery technology is improving too, but progress there hasn’t been quite as fast. A third factor is increased efficiency of your loads (lighting, appliances, insulation, etc.) Advances there are also contributing.

      • flypusher says:

        Storage is the big hurdle, but were I live (Houston metro area) solar panels would be very useful for generating power at the times it’s needed most- those hot days in the summer when everyone has the AC cranked up, and the sunlight causing that need is there to power it. So even if I couldn’t go completely off grid, there would be a point somewhere as the costs decline where having solar as a supplement would be worth it.

        There’s definitely a big gap to be filled in terms of energy efficiency. And improving that also moves solar power closer to cost feasibility.

      • 1mime says:

        Utilities are being dragged kicking and screaming into solar accommodation. Many of them do not allow you to “store” or get energy credits. I was sad to read this week that the progressive CEO of NRG, who is so forward thinking in this area, and who had taken many steps to make NRG more renewable fuels based, is leaving the company. Profits have suffered as a result of his innovations in alternative energy and the board is replacing him with an energy traditionalist. I’m sure he will land on his feel, but what a shame.

      • flypusher says:

        I think that even if you could assemble a home setup that covered all your home energy needs, if you were still hooked to the grid ( as a backup or maybe you had extra power to sell back), you should pay a fair share of the cost of maintaining the grid.

        If you want to go totally off grid, then you don’t pay. For example, one of my sisters has a rainwater collection system large enough for her household, so she’s not connected to any water lines.

      • 1mime says:

        Your sister is one clever lady! Good for her…..How did she do during the period of drought a couple of years ago?

      • Tuttabella says:

        Another option would be to cut back on your usage if you can. That goes for all utilities.

      • flypusher says:

        1mime, she and her husband did it years ago when they built their house themselves. They are very frugal. There’s a place in Dripping Springs that sells rainwater collection systems.

        I’ve got a 60 gallon rain barrel for the flower beds, but Mother Nature did most of the watering this year.

        Tutta, 100% agree. I’ve been retrofitting/ upgrading chez-fly bit by bit- radiant barriers, better windows, LED bulbs, more insulation, energy star appliances, etc.

      • vikinghou says:

        The pace of progress in solar cell technology is not unlike Moore’s Law as applied to microprocessors. Each generation of solar cells is cheaper and more efficient than its predecessor. So, similar to computers, when one takes the plunge and purchases a solar array system, it will become technically obsolete very soon. At some point, however, the economics associated with solar power will be so compelling that the transition may occur rather quickly.

        It already has in more remote areas of Hawaii, Australia, Africa where a large utility infrastructure hadn’t existed before. It’s cheaper to install solar arrays than build a big central power plant.

      • flypusher says:

        “It already has in more remote areas of Hawaii, Australia, Africa where a large utility infrastructure hadn’t existed before.”

        I read an article recently about a couple who retired somewhere waaaayyy out in the boonies in one of the Western states. They had solar because hooking up to the grid would have been much more expensive. The article detailed their tribulations with the batteries and how they had to limit power usage at night.

        Being a pioneer isn’t easy.

      • objv says:

        Fly, I also have a big rain barrel for collecting runoff from my roof. Surprisingly, Colorado prohibits rainwater collection for most residents.

        http://water.state.co.us/SurfaceWater/SWRights/Pages/RainwaterGraywater.aspx

      • objv says:

        Fly, I live 30 minutes from the Colorado border and my daughter is buying a house up there, so I’m becoming familiar with the idiosyncrasies in both states. 🙂

        She’s going to be getting a 40% rebate for replacing the incandescent light bulbs in her house with LED lights. That’s a nice thing since she was planning on doing that anyway.

  9. Rob Ambrose says:

    Sam Brownback: Exhibit A for the GOP strategy of claiming a broken gov’t, then going ahead and making that a self fulfilling prophecy. Kansas will be suffering for years because of this idiot.

    http://www.kansascity.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/barbara-shelly/article49118315.html

    • flypusher says:

      You get what you pay for. My condolences to the Kansas citizens who didn’t vote for these vandals.

      • flypusher says:

        Or a kid in a poor, dysfunctional family who needs social services. Go pull on those bootstraps kiddo!

      • BigWilly says:

        I had to.

      • flypusher says:

        So therefore the chuck-’em-all-in-the-deep-end-and-let-’em-swim approach is good because not quite all of them will drown???

      • BigWilly says:

        They said sink or swim.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        BigWilly – Do you have kids of your own?

      • MassDem says:

        New American is an official publication of the John Birch Society. Nuff said.

      • BigWilly says:

        Children? No.

        What’s wrong with the John Birch Society?

      • MassDem says:

        Well, I’m showing my age here, but I remember the JBS as the ultra-right wing group that was too radical for William Buckley and Barry Goldwater. Personally, I would take anything they said with a huge grain of salt. With their derision of “homosexual ‘rights'” (their words, not mine), misrepresentation of the support for Isis by various Muslim populations around the world, promotion of arming everyone in all venues, denial of the primacy of the Supreme Court being the ultimate arbiter of whether a law is unconstitutional etc., it doesn’t look like they’ve changed much over the years.

        It wasn’t just the Democrats fighting the reelection of Brownback–more than 100 prominent Republicans endorsed his Democratic rival. Brownback may have been helped by the presence of Republican Senator Pat Roberts on the ballot–rode in on his coat tails.

      • BigWilly says:

        An article by Mother Jones with exactly the opposite tone appeared upon the page when I searched “Kansas Economy” on Google.

        I can’t really tell where one stops and the other ends anymore.

    • 1mime says:

      Yep, and the good people of KS re-elected the SOB. Hard to feel sorry for those who did, or those who didn’t vote at all, despite knowing his history. Brownback’s policies are the poster child of how not to run state government. I am frankly surprised Democratic leadership hasn’t held KS and Brownback’s failed policies up in a very public way. Sometimes, people have to have a more graphic example of what isn’t working and why rather than assume they’ll “get it”.

      • BigWilly says:

        “I am frankly surprised Democratic leadership hasn’t held KS and Brownback’s failed policies up in a very public way.”

        See Exhibit A above.

      • 1mime says:

        I did, and was surprised to read that, BW. Especially when every other article I have read has been so negative about what is happening in KS. I find it hard to believe, but time will tell, won’t it?

      • BigWilly says:

        If you Google “Kansas Economy” you’ll find that the hits seem to run 50/50ish Garden of Eden/Apocalypse with predictable results if you look at the origin of the article.

      • MassDem says:

        Big Willy, I did Google “Kansas economy”, and I found not a single positive result until a lone hit on the 2nd page, which is a contributor piece in Forbes by Rex Sinquefield, a philanthropist and political activist from Missouri who supports getting rid of their state income tax entirely and instituting a sales tax on hotels, restaurants & child care. A real objective voice there. (Kansas has also instituted a state sales tax to replace lost income tax revenues, thereby shifting the tax burden to the poor.) By page 5 of my search, I saw a couple of positive pieces–one by ALEC and one an op-ed in the WSJ.

        Hardly a case of “If you Google “Kansas Economy” you’ll find that the hits seem to run 50/50ish Garden of Eden/Apocalypse with predictable results if you look at the origin of the article.”

      • BigWilly says:

        Maybe if you capitalize Economy? I dunno that’s what I saw. Must be a conspiracy.

  10. MassDem says:

    Here is a new trend that sounds good on the face of it. In order to attract millennials, companies are helping pay off their college debt.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-08/the-hot-new-company-benefit-student-debt-repayment

    I have very mixed feelings about this, based on what happened with health care. When business took on providing health care to their workers, government washed their hands of health care for years. So you could be locked in to a job you didn’t want for fear of losing your health care, and if you were laid off, you were screwed. For people working at small businesses that couldn’t afford to provide health care (or large ones that provided plans well beyond their worker’s means to afford), they went without, and everyone else had to subsidize their trips to the emergency room. And I have always believed that providing benefits that are expensive and out of the core mission of business to be a drag on our economy, although I am not an economist, so I don’t know if that is actually the case. I see the same problems arising if companies start assuming college debt.

    • flypusher says:

      Sounds like treating the symptoms rather than the underlying disease. What we really need is for college to not put people so deeply in dept.

      • TheMeansAreTheEnd says:

        Treating the symptoms is a good short term solution, so long as one doesn’t confuse it with actually solving the problem. That’s how I feel about “incrementalism” in public policy — progress is made incrementally, but one must not mistake incremental improvements for actual fixes.

    • 1mime says:

      MassDem, At least if an employer offers education as an incentive, that is something a worker can take with him wherever he/she goes. I’d rather the workplace be involved in re-training and enhancing existing skills, but today’s reality is that many young (and older returning students) are in serious debt and it certainly would be a bigger incentive than bonuses which are just taxed….tho the government will probably find a way to tax any repayment of student debt by employer as well (-:

      Health care is a basic need of all people, IMHO. As such, I would rather the employer not be involved in its provision other than to accommodate policy regarding sick leave.

      • MassDem says:

        I admit a bias on this issue as I work in education, but I would argue that in this day and age, a decent college education is no longer a luxury for our young people. Other countries heavily subsidize college tuition; in some European countries students attend university tuition free. If we want to compete with the rest of the world, we need an educated work force as well as not having our young crippled with debt. That is not good for our economy on many levels.

        My concern with having this offered as a employment benefit is it that it lets us off the hook of dealing with the affordability of higher education. To my mind, it’s a bandaid.

      • 1mime says:

        Going forward, I share your view. I think America has got it all wrong with making higher ed and advanced degrees/professional degrees cost-prohibitive. Cost has exceeded affirmative action in terms of barriers to personal advancement. (not everywhere, for sure). I am aware that other countries see higher ed as in investment not only in the individual’s future, but in the country’s economic well being. Not everyone can be an engineer, but all who have the ability and interest should have the opportunity.

        My comment was focused on the current job market, which is what I thought you were referring to. In that regard, that cow is already out of the barn in terms of debt, so if an employer wishes to use this as a hiring incentive to interesting applicants, I have no problem. But, I agree, that this is not how the problem should be solved. I also have a deep interest in quality vocational education and community college programs. Less cost, focused skill development, and job relevancy should be key here….if…the programs are quality.

        BTW, have you seen “Spotlight”? Since that breaking (sad) story was in your backyard, I guess you’ve had a belly full. Movie was wonderfully done even if it makes one sad.

      • MassDem says:

        Spotlight sounds excellent, but as you surmised, I have over the years read so many newspaper articles on the scandal I’m not sure I want to revisit it. Around the peak of the scandal, the Archdiocese suddenly closed many parishes in and around Boston–supposedly not related to the scandal, but people around here believe otherwise. One church that was supposed to be closed in a nearby town has been occupied by its former parishioners for over 11 years now. As far as I know, they are still there defying a recent court order to leave. There was a lot of fallout aside from the obvious ruin of young lives.

      • 1mime says:

        MassDem, What I found so interesting (I knew the scandal fairly well) was the process by which the news team from The Boston Globe dug out the information, witnesses, victims, attorneys, etc.. If it hadn’t been for their incredible investment of time and energy (and skill), the Catholic Church might have successfully covered this up for many more years. The focus of the movie was more on the development of the story as news than a focus on the fairly well know lurid details. It still makes you sick to realize what these priests AND the church principles did to cover up, especially when a priest with known predilections was not released but transferred. I think you would find it worth your time and money.

  11. stephen says:

    “In a closely related dynamic, global birth rates are declining rapidly.”
    Progressives have their myths too. I post this fact several different times in the NYT. This was at odds with many peoples paradigm. I really don’t fit in with Progressives or what goes for Conservatives today.

    • MassDem says:

      You are correct- global birth rates have declined. But we are all living longer, so global population is still increasing, just slower than in previous decades. It’s a time bomb for many countries, as their populations skew older. Our country has largely escaped this consequence due to our generous immigrationAlso, technology is replacing some low-skilled workers so that may help mitigate the effects ocohoyoung people.

      If you like looking at global population statistics, here is a cool site http://www.worldometers.info/world-populatio

      • 1mime says:

        MassDem: The problem with balancing aging against lower birth statistics is that even as people live longer, the pool of income producing workers is getting smaller. And, with so many underemployed or unemployed as was pointed out in an earlier post, the amount of earnings subject to taxation is lower. America’s economy is growing at a rate that is below that of a healthy economy. That needs to change.

      • MassDem says:

        1mime, the US someday may face the same demographic trap now being experienced by Japan, Europe, etc. However, for now we are fortunate in a couple of things: the 80 million strong echo baby boom and the large number of working-age immigrants who keep our population young. I think other factors such as wage stagnation are to blame for our slow growing economy.

      • 1mime says:

        I wonder how many of these working age immigrants are paying income taxes…..or, are citizens? Given the treatment of immigrants, we are seeing a net zero immigration ratio from Mexico, and the signals the U.S. is sending vis a vis the Syrians and visa travelers (which caution I think is well placed), is not going to encourage young people to come here as they have in the past.

      • MassDem says:

        I found some numbers at this site: http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/frequently-requested-statistics-immigrants-and-immigration-united-states

        2013: around 41 million immigrants of all types in the US (naturalized citizens, permanent legal residents, unauthorized etc.)
        Only a little over 520,000 came between 2012 and 2013 so the adults aren’t really moving the demographics much
        But children living with at least one immigrant parent (both native and foreign born) make up 25% of all children under 18 in the US
        There were a little over 11 million unauthorized immigrants (estimated) in the US
        In 2012, Unauthorized immigrants alone paid an estimated 11.8 billion in state and local taxes.
        http://www.itep.org/pdf/undocumentedtaxes2015.pdf
        Everyone with a green card has to pay US taxes on their income. If you are in the country with a non-immigrant visa more than 183 days of the year, you also have to pay US federal income tax.

  12. Creigh says:

    Somebody’s got to be the party pooper and point out that the middle class is now no longer the largest group in the population. Sure, being poor is better than ever but economic inequality is bad for the economy, bad for a sense of community, and bad for democracy.

    I know, there’s one in every crowd…

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Not only “bad for the economy” but the income inequality is bad for democracy.

      Study any populist coup or revolution, and you’ll almost always find wealth inequality a major player. Not that it CAUSES facist regimes, but its almost always a factor.

      Inequality breeds resentment and resentment, if powerful enough, can topple societies, and its almost never a positive result. Seething rage and resentment provide fertile ground for charismatic leaders to stocks the fires of facism.

      I think what you’re seeing now with huge numbers if Americans supporting someone who almost literally fits the standard definition of a facist is, in some part, due to inequality.

      The white middle class is angrry and seething because the American Dream they were promised turned out to be a lemon. They want someone to blame, and Trumo and ppl like him are there to say exactly what they want to hear: “its not YOUR fault. Its the damn Mexicans. And the Muslims. (Or the Jews. Or the homosexuals). If only we could somehow get rid of them , all our problems would be solved!”

      This is how facism and truly evil regimes start. Not saying that’s whats going to happen here, because it won’t. The strength if American institutions and rule of law will (should?) protect against a true facist type dictator to hold onto power, but the same “thing” that Trump is tapping into here is the exact same “thing” Hitler or Mussolini was tapping into in the 30’s. In substance, if not in scale.

      And that “thing” shares a deep connection to income/wealth/power inequality.

      • 1mime says:

        So, Pew is affirming what we already know about the income divide: Middle class – shrinking; poorest class – growing; most wealthy – growing. I do not find this affirming report positive for anyone but those at the top.

      • Bart-1 says:

        I mime, Me neither

  13. David Mulryan says:

    I really like your stuff, and yesterday I put up your analysis of Trump on my Facebook, saying it was yours, but I am wondering if I should have asked you first. Do you have a policy? I will be upfront and say that I have a small number of Facebook friends, less than a hundred, but am sensitive about putting up stuff. To also be fair, I am a white gay guy that has mostly liberal friends, so I usually use your point of view from a decidedly liberal viewpoint. Let me know. Thanks, Dave Mulryan

  14. 1mime says:

    I think this Gallup article is on point with today’s post….concerning because of trends, but clearly an indicator to help point the way forward….if anyone is listening. Knowing where and what the problems are is a big part of being able to make a plan.

    http://www.gallup.com/opinion/chairman/186638/killing-small-business.aspx?utm_source=alert&utm_medium=email&utm_content=morelink&utm_campaign=syndication

  15. 1mime says:

    One other positive development that I head today is that tomorrow, for the first time ever, women in Saudi Arabia will get to vote!

  16. pbasch says:

    Thanks, for two things – first, the post. Very refreshing! Quite right. Second, the tone of the comments. I know you don’t write them, but your tone attracts a better class of commenter. Good for you. Live long and prosper.
    I do have a comment about your good news re abortion – It may be legal, but it’s hardly universally available, at least not to the poor. In all the “pro-life” blather about abortion it is rarely admitted that a middle-class girl can get an abortion any time, because she can get transportation and logistics in place. A poor girl with a chaotic life has a much harder time.

  17. Griffin says:

    A depressing link now. A Tennesee university wins the right to ban women who’ve had sex and LGBT people. Said school applies for federal aid and is accredited…

    http://www.rawstory.com/2015/12/tennessee-school-wins-right-to-ban-gays-and-women-whove-had-sex-this-is-who-we-are/comments/#disqus

    • flypusher says:

      “The waiver allows the school to ban pregnant students, women who have had an abortion, single mothers, LGBT students and anyone else who does not fit their religious ideology.”

      But single fathers, you’re good?

      I’m not really too bothered by them, because any non-virgin woman or LGBT person who wants a legit degree is someone I don’t see applying there. Of course they ought not to get any public funding.

      • Griffin says:

        Liberty University is accredited as well. Why the hell is it so easy for these universities to be accreditied? The standards to meet that requirement must be a joke.

      • 1mime says:

        Here’s another question, Griffin, what does accreditation mean in terms of federal loans, etc for the college or university in question?

  18. flypusher says:

    “Marijuana has been legal in Colorado for almost three years. Still waiting on the negative impacts. None are evident.”

    Last Christmas my sister and I had a bit of a conversation with our mom about that- she was worried about all those bad “California ideas” ruining Colorado. Although my sister and I disagree on a lot if things, we were in agreement here: Colorado would do just fine.

    Don’t be spinning worrying tales about pot with a glass of wine in your hand! Not unless you can cite some creditable scientific studies that show pot is more harmful than alcohol.

    • vikinghou says:

      Some friends of mine live in Manitou Springs, CO, which is located just west of Colorado Springs. Their condo unit sit directly above a bar that has a back patio. In the past, patio patrons who drank too during the evening much made a lot of noise. However, since the legalization of marijuana, the patio has become a “smoking area” and the evenings are peaceful.

    • Sara Robinson says:

      And Washington, which legalized it on the very same day. (Colorado’s law went into effect sooner than ours did, though.)

      Seattleites visiting Denver regale friends with stories of Coloradans plying them with legal pot, expecting them to marvel and confused when they don’t. “Dude — I can get that at home.” Apparently, like Baptists in heaven, Coloradans persist in thinking they’re the only ones who’ve made it into this particular paradise.

      • flypusher says:

        I might be inclined to try some of the edibles someday. But it’d be nice if the laws were uniform across the country and you’re not subject to drug testing at work (excluding the common sense exceptions).

      • vikinghou says:

        I don’t smoke marijuana because I’m allergic to it. Found that out in high school back in the ’60s. I had a bad reaction in front of my friends and couldn’t stop coughing and sneezing. I was very uncool that night.

        Now that weed is legal, I have tried the hard candy. Each piece contains 10 mg of THC, which is considered to be a low dose. After eating one, the effect took about an hour to take hold. I didn’t especially like it. I didn’t feel “mellow,” just sort of dizzy and out of it. Plus, I felt sort of hung over the next day. I guess I’m still uncool. I’ll stick with a nice glass of wine (or two) or a single-malt Scotch.

  19. Tuttabella says:

    Lifer wrote: We are becoming a remarkably mature and orderly society.
    **********************************’
    My reply: I agree society is better off overall, but I’m just wondering why you chose the word “mature?” Did we used to be childish and immature? And “orderly?” Was society chaotic and all over the place before?

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I think we’re actually more youth-oriented than ever, and even a bit disorderly, but that’s due to our having more freedom; and having the freedom to live life on one’s own terms, with less of the rigidity and strictness that existed before, leads to more personal contentment, and as a result we have more peace and “order,” ironically.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Another appropriate title for this blog entry would be “And Now for Something Completely Different.”

      I do think it’s better to hear the bad news first, and then end with the good news. All’s well that ends well.

    • goplifer says:

      ***Did we used to be childish and immature? And “orderly?” Was society chaotic and all over the place before?***

      Yes. The farther back you go in our history the more the mayhem piles up. There’s a story hiding in those numbers about police deaths. When my grandmother was a girl, 10% of babies died before their first birthday and relatively few babies made it to adulthood. Everyone was familiar with death as a common part of their everyday routine.

      It was nearly impossible to solve a murder committed by a stranger and they happened with incredible frequency. Literacy was reasonably good, but access to information was extremely limited.

      Pollution was rampant and caused death and illness on a remarkable scale. The most deadly pollutant was human and animal waste and it appeared nearly everywhere. War was relentless, global, consistent and seemingly unending, claiming a steadily higher rate of civilian casualities until a turning point in the late 50’s.

      The good old days were pretty consistently awful in nearly every way.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        As I said, I agree that things are better now, and I posted some ideas about why “order” came about.

        My main point was about your use of the word “mature.” Were all those bad things of the past symptoms and results of “immaturity?”

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Racism, rampant war, pollution, and illiteracy were symptoms of “immaturity?”

        Maybe the more appropriate word is “ignorance.”

        Just some thoughts.

      • flypusher says:

        “The good old days were pretty consistently awful in nearly every way.”

        Viva la 21st Century!!!

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Or should we say we are more “evolved” as a society today?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Sorry. I like to parse words.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer, I know your general position on trade and government unions, but don’t recall reading any posts dealing with police and firemen unions….specifically. The city of Houston is facing tremendous fiscal challenges right now due to pension obligations….which the state legislature has enabled by tying the city’s hands while requiring them to foot the bill.

        What say you?

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer: “The good old days were pretty consistently awful….” There are certainly exceptions to this belief. Family is the biggest. It was strong and pretty stable. Crime existed but rarely in neighborhoods. Life was infinitely more simple but in many ways, more satisfying. There was value in friendship and conversation, in life long friends….family taking care of their elders…What I am speaking about here is a period of security and well being while recognizing that it existed mostly for a broad middle class dominated by families. Public education was strong. People had pride – even if they were poor. I remember those times even though I was a child, and even though I am very appreciative of the positive changes of today. Yet, I feel today’s society is too rushed and insensitive, prone to criticism and judgement…too harried…not enough time to share around the breakfast table. It was good to grow up in an era where you didn’t lock your doors, and you didn’t have to worry about your kids’ safety while playing in the neighborhood. Heck, girls didn’t wear lipstick until high school! Imagine!!!

      • goplifer says:

        Um. None of those characterizations are accurate.Public education? Fifty years ago barely half of Americans finished high school in the best districts. Family life was almost defined by ever-present violence and the absence of any choices by women (ever watch the Honeymooners?). Murder rates were much, much higher, but those murders were very seldom punished. Someone could just get on a bus and disappear to start a new life. People didn’t worry about their kids safety because there wasn’t anything they could do about it. Your kids could die from bad milk and until about the fifties childhood death was common enough that almost everyone experienced it.

        That Hallmark card you describe is a collection of adorable myths.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer, I guess I lived in a different universe….still happens today, I am told (-:

      • tuttabellamia says:

        There’s always the belief that the passage of time results in progress, that today is better than yesterday, just because it’s today. Can we truly say we are wiser, more evolved, more “mature,”and thus better people than our parents, just because we are of the modern age, and that our kids will be better than we are?

        That’s what I have trouble grasping.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Here are Lifer’s own words from his blog entry of June 8. It would seem he agrees with Miss Mime:

        “As we’ve grown richer and freer, we’ve left behind many of the ties that once bound us together in communities. Greater individualism is fueling an expansion of wealth while tearing down many of the institutions that gave rise to that wealth.”

      • 1mime says:

        Thank you for that wee little reminder, Tutta. There were kinder, gentler times….not everyone was fortunate enough to experience them, but they existed. Funny thing, poverty while still hard, wasn’t denigrated as it is today. People understood poverty. Heck, I remember my mother preparing a plate lunch for the Black man who periodically came to work in our yard. She knew he didn’t have anything to eat, and he was there while we were eating, so she just shared. That is an example that has stayed with me. One of the good ones and it has served me well. I admit to great cynicism about politics but have some very fine memories.

        Women did stay at home to care for families – careers were limited, but most women were content to be stay at home moms. There was no contraception so families were large (or not) and the older kids helped raise the younger kids. Our public education was outstanding. In my family, I was the first to attend and graduate college, but all but one of the six siblings followed and with advanced degrees. Our parents began college but the Depression and war years intervened.

        As for death being more commonplace, at least it didn’t seem to be from such violent events. Guess my memory is selective but I’m sorry more people didn’t experience my childhood.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        1mime, I don’t doubt your memories. But it was not a necessarily good time for women, no matter how content they might seemed.

        I knew of two women who were directed to stay with their abusive husbands by the local priest. No divorces. One husband beat the kids, all 9 of them. The town marshal shrugged off the backyard screams.

        The other ‘husband’ demanded sex whenever, even when his wife was exhausted caring for 3 toddlers and dealing with her own illness. Priest said she had to.

        I don’t think my little town in Ohio was special regarding the appearance vs the reality of good, church-going families.

      • 1mime says:

        Bobo, those situations were certainly out there. There were many women who doubtless had the intellect and desire to do more with their lives than be a stay at home mom, but many chose that life. Bad men and bad husbands have been part of history since time began. My point was simply to say that the era was not consistently awful in nearly every way. Some ways, sure. One of the things I find so reprehensible in the Catholic Church were priests who advised women just as you commented, and town marshalls who ignored the abuse they knew was going on. Many women didn’t have a real choice as they do today, even in the face of efforts by the GOP to turn back the clock.

      • stephen says:

        My Dad told me about people dying of yellow fever right here in Central Florida when he was a child. And several of his siblings never made it out of toddlerhood. Women often died from childbirth because we had no antibiotics to fight infections. I have read that the big bug a boo at the turn of the twentieth century was cities being buried in horse manure. There are several local rivers that were severally polluted in my childhood but now you can safely swim and fish them. I am proud that I and other people of my profession were part of making that happen. The power plant close to where I lived has in no way negatively effected air or water quality . I remember the social upheavals of the sixties and seventies. By comparison the present day protesting is calm. And the Vietnam war had about 68953 US military casualties. So far in Iraqi and Afghanistan about 6751 US military have died according to some Googling I did. I have seen a lot of improvement in my own lifetime.

  20. csarneson says:

    Also, abortion rates are trending lower. Has the GOP war on abortion providers had a meaningful effect on that? Some states like South Dakota have made it nearly impossible to find a provider if you actually want one. My guess is that it must be playing a role.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      I have an intern who does some research in this area, and there was a study out a couple of weeks ago that non-doctor-performed abortions have increased in South Texas as people are getting drugs from Mexico to induce abortions.

      Not shockingly, there are medical problems that go along with doing something like this without doctor assistance.

      I have no doubt that the anti-abortion activities have had an affect, but with rates of contraception usage going up, and pregnancy rates overall going down, it is probably a small affect (as always, making it harder for poorer women than for middle class/wealthy women).

      • Pseudoperson Randomian says:

        It’s relatively complication free before about 12 weeks. It’s not like the olde tymes with the UPT and all…

        Relatively being the key word. All medical procedures are potentially dangerous. There’s a reason why doctors get trained for ~10-12 years and still manage to fuck up occasionally

    • Sara Robinson says:

      The real game-changer with the abortion numbers is improving technology. A woman on the pill has a one in nine chance of getting pregnant in any given year. If she has an IUD, it’s 1 in 800. If she has an implant, it’s 1 in 2000.

      The use of long-acting reversible contraception is spreading rapidly, with an extra boost from Obamacare. The upshot is far fewer failures, and thus far fewer abortions. The research I’ve seen suggests that this is the major reason for the reduction in abortions.

      Which is not to say that clinic closures aren’t also taking their toll. I walked off from a long
      lunch with Chris last month straight into the first public presentation of the Texas self-abortion study results (the lead researcher is a colleague), and it’s pretty stunning stuff. What it proves, more than anything, is that the choice is not between having or not having an abortion; it’s between having a safe abortion or one done in a back alley. One way or another, women will do what it takes. The only question is how many of them will end up dead as a result.

      • Sara Robinson says:

        The other conclusion to be drawn from the Texas study is that if SCOTUS rules to eviscerate Roe next year, one direct consequence will be that the Mexican drug cartels will have a big, open new market in importing abortion medications up from Mexico — and self-abortion, south Texas style, will become the new norm nationwide.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        With a direct increase in visits to emergency rooms with bleeding problems.

      • 1mime says:

        Homer, if TX ER visits expand due to botched abortions, I wonder if Gov. Abbott will do as Gov. Kasich and company have done: make it illegal (read “impossible”) to transfer critical medical cases due to abortions from PP clinics to public hospitals in OH. The ultimate punishment for someone who has made the decision to have an abortion, has a problem? Bleed to death. This is codified law in OH. It is not a stretch to see this happening in other red states.

      • 1mime says:

        Sara, How does long-acting reversible contraception work under the ACA? Who funds it? Who is eligible?

  21. csarneson says:

    I’ve read your “Blue Wall” post about a half dozen times now looking for flaws. The only states I question are Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and those only barely. Clearly they lean blue but are they really behind the wall?

  22. Crogged says:

    And some contentious issues, like abortion, will drift away when science develops more protocols and eventually they end up over the counter. The consumer will ponder the moral conundrum at the cash register, debt or credit?

    • Crogged says:

      debit or credit………

    • Sara Robinson says:

      A lot of people in reproductive rights would love to see all of this stuff go OTC. The only problem is: insurance doesn’t cover most OTC drugs, and Plan B and abortion drugs don’t come cheap (especially the latter).

      So we will find ourselves, once again, in a situation where rich women will get it taken care of, and poor women will find they have very limited access to the drugs. They’re the ones who will end up buying from drug dealers, who may in turn deliver adulterated or fake goods for black-market sums of money.

      So the moral conundrums here also outstrip the question of debit or credit. Does your insurance still cover it? Does your pharmacy stock it? Can poor women still get it?

      And bleeding problems are fairly rare with abortion drugs — under 2%. It’s a far better number — and the problems tend to be far less acute and more controllable — than what we saw when abortion was totally illegal and women were dying by the hundreds of thousands in ERs. Ask any doctor who remembers the world before Roe about which scenario he’d prefer to see, and he probably won’t hesitate for a moment before answering.

      • 1mime says:

        Ask any doctor who remembers the world before Roe…..

        Do you really think you could get a doctor to be that honest in today’s political environment on this issue?

      • Sara Robinson says:

        I’ve talked to them myself. You have to get them in the right venue, but a lot of them will be very honest with you about what the risks and issues are.

      • 1mime says:

        The right venue must mean a private conversation. While that is better than nothing, it would help if more doctors would speak out about this issue from a medical perspective. Even if they spoke simply about the benefits of birth control/family planning, that would help move that issue from the political arena.

      • Sara Robinson says:

        One of the important strategies that’s emerging is to make family planning conversations a routine part of all health care. You go to the doctor, they’re checking off all the wellness stuff, and this is just a question that should get asked. “Do you plan to become a parent in the next year?” If the answer is yes, then there’s a conversation about getting yourself into the best possible physical, emotional, and social shape for that. If the answer is no, then we need to be talking about what you’re doing to prevent it.

        Just asking the question, starting when people are in their teens, also begins to set the general mindset and expectation that pregnancies, when they do come, *will* be planned — that this is something you’re entitled to think about ahead of time, and figure out your own timing on. In a lot of populations, that’s not as much a given as you might think.

        Right now, there’s a push to get this to be accepted as best practice in women’s general health care. But ultimately, everybody knows that we need to be asking men this question, too.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree….two to tango and all that stuff. Sex education in schools, from what I have read, has been a failure – mostly because of the narrow strictures placed upon the curricula and the discussion. Far more effective is making contraception easily available….before the fact. Parents need to have these discussions with both sons and daughters. Doctors can help and reinforce good decision-making, but kids are going to have sex. Better that a pregnancy is avoided. Of course this direct approach acknowledges the reality of teen sexual activity which many parents may not feel comfortable discussing. Part of the job of having kids is guiding them. Kids need to be asked directly: Do you need birth control pills or another means of contraception? Do you understand about the possibility of venereal disease through unprotected, indiscriminate sex? How would your life change if you got pregnant? What are your dreams and plans for the future? How would they be affected? How would you care for your child (not grandma’s child)? I believe in being plain spoken in matters like this. At the very least, the conversation would have been held and a discussion of real consequences broached. What happens from there is up to the kid.

        Then we have the adults…married or unmarried. Babies still are best when planned and I feel this should be the woman’s choice in concert with her partner. Avoid an abortion through prevention and planning. Guys shouldn’t get a pass on this…they need to use protection as well as be responsible. But, women bear the child and thus have a far greater need to control their personal choices. When all is said and done, that baby and that mommy are linked.

  23. Rob Ambrose says:

    “Fewer police officers died in the past few years than in any similar period in our history. Officer deaths are approaching new lows not seen for a century. We are becoming a remarkably mature and orderly society, with an urban life that has never been cleaner, safer, or more prosperous.”

    Just to play devil’s advocate, is it possible that the reduction in police deaths has more to do with new tactics police take that shifts the risk of policing almost entirely ontonthe population (I.e. shooting at the SLIGHTEST sign of risk, such as a perp with a knife 30+ ft away)?

    It’d be nice to contrast the data of number of police deaths with number of deaths CAUSED by police.

    But the FBI doesn’t think its relevent to keep such data on a national scale.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      To further that point, we could reduce police deaths to near zero if they patrolled in tanks and destroyed speeding vehicles instead of pulling them over (always the risk the perp has a gun and will shoot when cop walks up to driver).

      But that’s not policing. Policing requires interacting with the public, and as such is inherently risky. I think cops should be able to protect themselves, like any citizen, but the risk needs to be shouldered equally by both parties (Law enforcement and the public). If you are unwilling to take on some risk, then you shouldn’t become a cop. Easy.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      It is a fair point, but with overall violent crime going down too, I believe police and us normal folks are being killed at an all time low.

    • 1mime says:

      The FBI has announced a major new initiative to track deaths due to police activity….from stun guns, to processing, holding techniques, shootings, etc. This was announced this week.

  24. vikinghou says:

    The technological advances in solar energy have been breathtaking, and similar breakthroughs in battery technology are also taking place. The handwriting is on the wall not only for coal, but for centralized utility grids as well.

  25. GG says:

    Thanks for posting this good news. I’m so tired of all the negativity and the hysteria the media is trying to stir up along with xenophobic, racist comments below those stories.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Amen to that!

      Nice to see you again, GG.

      WHERE on EARTH have you BEEN??

    • tuttabellamia says:

      By the way, a good way to escape the negativity, hysteria, and racist comments is simply to take a break from the media and just not read the comments, to “close down the internet,” at least on a personal level. 🙂

      • GG says:

        Been busy and taking a break from politics for the most part.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I’m curious as to your opinion of Bill King as mayor of Kemah.

      • GG says:

        Honestly, I don’t know as I’ve moved to Galveston. One of the reasons I’ve been busy. I bought an older home I’m updating. The garage used to be a carriage house so that’s how old it is. I’ll ask some friends though. The previous mayor was pretty corrupt and I’m shocked at how corrupt the Galveston police are. Of course, Galveston has always been pretty shady too with major mob ties among the “leading” families down here.

  26. James White says:

    I don’t think any of these listed success were the result of Republican policies. And in several they are in active opposition.

    • goplifer says:

      Or another way of putting it – How many of the most important improvements to human existence over the past fifty years have been spawned by religious or racial extremists?

      How as the religious right anywhere on the planet made life better for anyone?

      • Pseudoperson Randomian says:

        I don’t think it’s quite that straightforward.

        A government ensuring stability and freedom will mean that entrepreneurship will inevitably move the ball forward.

        My favorite example for this is India. It is the most utterly chaotic country. I have no idea how it’s even a functioning democracy, let alone a growing economy.

        That means that IMHO, the ball will keep moving forward no matter who is in power – but the government could have probably gone out of it’s way to damage certain things and I’m glad it didn’t.

      • objv says:

        Hmmm, Lifer, since SPLC at one time labeled Ben Carson as an extremist, it is only fair to mention that Dr. Carson developed many surgical techniques that greatly improved the lives of his pediatric patients.

        Many scientists are at least nominally Christian.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_Nobel_laureates

      • 1mime says:

        I don’t think that the religious right alone has cornered the market on making life “better”….having just seen “Spotlight” – the stunning back story behind The Boston Globe’s research that broke the Boston Catholic Diocese pedophilia scandal. There are a lot of reprehensible things done in the name of “faith”. Despite his role in covering up broad priest molestation of hundreds of little children, Cardinal Law was allowed to resign as Boston Cardinal and was appointed by Pope Paul II as Archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome in 2004. He served there for another seven years before retiring. He was never prosecuted for his role in covering up the scandal within his diocese despite thousands of witnesses coming forward.

        In both situations, innocent people have been hurt and killed. All under the auspices of “faith”.
        Pardon my cynicism. Outstanding film – sensitively handled.

      • objv says:

        Mime, I was responding to Lifer, who asked, “How many of the most important improvements to human existence over the past fifty years have been spawned by religious or racial extremists? How as the religious right anywhere on the planet made life better for anyone?”

        I did not intend to say that Christians had cornered the market on making life better. I just found it amusing that Ben Carson was called an extremist by the SPLC when he had done so much to advance the surgical treatment of children who suffered from seizures and other neurological problems.

        While it’s true that the SPLC was later forced to apologize to Dr. Carson (like the situation with Focus on the Family), the SPLC has done much damage to organizations and individuals who do not deserve to be put in the same category as the KKK.

      • 1mime says:

        My comment was not intended for you, Ob.

      • objv says:

        Thanks for the clarification, Mime.

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