Our Times – The Cities vs Hinterland

OurTimes Banner.png

One of the major splits in the current American society is between the cities and the rural areas. This is obvious when you look at the latest election map. There are vast geographical areas of red with blue concentrations spread out around the country. Obviously the blue dots are concentrated around the cities and large towns while the red is mainly sparsely populated areas.

I am not really sure what the “red” folks hope to achieve with their selection of an extreme narcissist billionaire as president? Maybe it has something to do with one of the below categories?

Abandoned small towns — I have literally traveled thousands of mile on local and State highways in this country.  For the most part they are littered with thousands of abandoned small towns. They were once enclaves for the people of the surrounding area but as the farming populations naturally decreased they lost their purpose. All that remains in many of them is a local post office.

I’m really not sure what they think can revive them. I guess “making America great again” means putting things back to where they were 50 years ago.  Surely they must realize that that is impossible unless you somehow demand the farm corporations who do most of the farming to use manual labor instead of automated stuff. Even tractor will soon be self-driving with satellite control.

Metropolitan areas get all the attention —  Most of the attention and dollars go to sustaining the big population areas.  People in the rural areas just feel neglected and sometimes with good purpose.  A personal  example is Internet services in my area. I continue to struggle with 1 -2 mps Internet speeds while my metropolitan neighbors get speed 20 time faster and for less than half the money than I pay. There is no cable TV or other viable competition for AT&T to force improvements. I feel neglected… but I don’t see Mr. Trump is very concerned about that.

The pace of life is just too fast —  How is Mr. Trump going to solve that?  Maybe make an hour 90 minutes instead of 60?  If you want a slow pace of life then you can by all means have it. Just don’t move too fast…  But don’t force the rest of us to go by your timeframe.

Intellectuals control the country — Intellectuals have been a primary target of less educated populations forever.  But surely my hinterland neighbors know that this is a complicated world we live in and it takes people with intellect and wisdom to manage it.   I love the quote below by Isaac Asimov:

Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’

Isaac Asimov

For the most part I image that intellectuals did not vote for Mr. Trump to take control of the world. They were knowledgable enough to know that just because he turn a few million dollars given to him by his father into a few billion (at least by his own account) by having dictatorial control over a family owned business does not mean that he is up to the task of being the leader of the free world.

It will be interesting to see what becomes of the Trump administration as it slodges through the management of a country of over 300 million diverse people. I just don’t buy into the “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge”.

I don’t know maybe none of my guesses are what made the hinterland so outrageously vote an extreme narcissist for their leader??? It just makes no sense to me…

About Life Long Learning 

If you were an employee on Henry Ford’s assembly line in Detroit in the 1920s, you received a high degree of training and preparation before you ever set foot in the factory. You learned what your role was, and were given all the tools you needed to accomplish your job from Day One. From then on, your role never changed—you did your part to move a product forward along the assembly line, from the day you began until the day you retired, 40 or 50 years later.

Since those days, the business world has transformed — everything that can be automated has been automated. The fourth industrial revolution is upon us, with the forces of AI, robotics, and 3D printing disrupting the status quo and pushing outdated processes into oblivion. The Ford factory workers’ jobs have largely been turned over to machines.

But the workforce training process hasn’t kept up with the pace of change.

The education that the workforce received was designed in the previous industrial age: front-loaded for first 20 years, and expected to apply to their jobs for the next 40 to 50 years. Today, we are in the knowledge economy, and there is new knowledge we are required to learn and apply daily. How can we future-proof our workforces to help them prepare for the rapid pace of business transformation?

Source: In a knowledge economy corporate learning is necessary to survive | TechCrunch

Like many things in the world today our education system needs a major overhaul. To assume that education stops after the first twenty years or so just doesn’t jive with our now ever-changing world. Education is still in the mode aligned with getting a good “factory” job out of high school and then settling down into a comfortable middle class life.  That philosophy might have worked fifty years ago but not now.

Despite what many Trump supporters believe living today requires us to be in the constant learning mode. One good thing about all of this is that opportunities for the most part exist for those willing to put in the effort to accomplish them.

But even discussing the good times of the past seems out of kilter to me. It seems that almost everyone around today have much more than I did growing up in the 1950s and 60s. Back then it was rare to see more than one car in a household and especially for teenager to have his own car. The student parking area in my high school was about twenty feet wide as almost all of us took the bus to school. Our clothes comfortably fit in the three feet wide or narrower closets of that era. Fresh fruits and vegetables were limited by season. And coffee came in only two varieties and cost a dime a cup. We simply didn’t tear out totally functional kitchens because they were out of style.

Getting back to education issues, even though I worked for the same company for thirty years I basically had three quite different occupations that required a much different knowledge base. Except for the first one I equipped myself with the necessary tools to do the job through self-learning. I kept my skills up with the times.

Yes, accomplishments might require more personal work today than they did in the past but if you are willing to do the work they are there for you.

In the Name of Jesus, Stop Executions

I am thoroughly pro-life in all its forms.  Yes, abortion kills a living being but so does war and executions. Pro-life means believing in the sanctity of life before and after birth. Jesus made that pretty clear in his teachings and I intend to follow him in that and most all other regards.

Some folks will argue that the death penalty is necessary for the most heinous crimes, the “worst of the worst.” But it is increasingly clear that when it comes to executions in America, we are not killing the worst of the worst. We are killing the poorest of the poor. One of the best determinants of who gets executed is not the atrocity of the crime, but the resources of the defendant. As renowned death penalty lawyer Bryan Stevenson has said, “Far too often, you are better off being rich and guilty, than poor and innocent.”….

Geography often determines who dies. Texas is the death state, accounting for roughly half of all executions. This year six of the 15 executions in the U.S. were in Texas, and every remaining execution of 2016 is in this one state…

It blows my mind and breaks my heart that we continue to trust our very imperfect government with the ultimate and irreversible power of life and death. It is time to end the death penalty in America. In the name of Jeff Wood. And in th2016-08-20_06-47-21e name of another executed man … named Jesus.


Source: In the Name of Jesus, Stop Executions – Red Letter Christians

It is amazing to me that one State is responsibly for half the executions in this country.  What is it about Texas that makes it the execution capital of the world? Why are they so intent on vengeance, even wrongfully pointed vengeance? There must be something significantly different about the people in that region of the country than the rest of us. Anyone who has read many of my posts know I don’t have much respect for the State of Texas. For being such a bible-thumping State they just don’t seem to care about people, especially people different from them.

Geography,  race, and wealth,  have much more to do with who dies by execution than the type of crime committed. Thanks again Shane for helping me remember that….


Why America’s good fortune won’t last

All we seem to hear lately is how the bottom rung of the employment ladder is stuck at dreadfully low conditions. Part of that of course is the low minimum wage level. Historically, mainly due to GOP gridlock, it has not been increased nearly enough to keep up with the times.

But it is nice to see that significant gains have taken place in recent years.

The 2015 Census data on income and poverty is out — and for the first time since the Great Recession, it’s unambiguously great news.

Median household income was up 5.2 percent compared to 2014 — the largest one-year gain since 1967 at least. Income gains were strong up and down the income ladder, with the biggest percentage gains coming from the bottom income brackets. Poverty fell by 1.3 percentage points….

Second, this huge gain in median income is actually the first statistically significant increase since the recession struck — and despite its size, did not recover the lost ground since 2007. Median household income is still down 4.6 percent from 2007, and 5.2 percent from the all-time 2000 peak.

Source: Why America’s good fortune won’t last

While this report is good news, we still haven’t recovered from the meltdown that  was caused by poor regulation during the Bush administration and the way the GOP still stalling budgeting enough to fully carry out Dodd-Frank there will likely be another meltdown in the not too distant future.

I am going to make a “47%” comment here that might not be acceptable to some but I kind of think that many “trapped” in low wages are there because of their unwillingness to take personal responsibility for their circumstances.  The unemployment rate is now at historically low levels. The median income is rising but still there are those who are not benefitting from these statistics.

Yes, the employment opportunities are different than they were when I joined the job market some fifty years ago. For whatever reasons we have allowed large corporations to shed their pension plans, kill labor unions, and even the idea of a full-time employment.  I worked for thirty years at the same company while it is said that those entering the job market today will change jobs seven times during their working lives.

When a business is making something that is no longer in demand they often recover by retooling for a more modern version. It seems that is what job seekers need to do also. Retool by doing what is necessary to get skills that are in demand. One of the hindrances to doing that is the high cost of education right now. In order to get a good job you need a good education. In order to get a good education you need a lot of money.  Kind of a catch-22.

That is where government should step in. There is no reason why schooling has to be as expensive as it is today anymore than why healthcare needs to be so expensive.  Many European, and especially Scandinavian countries, provide free education and healthcare for all it’s citizens. That seems like a no-brainer to me but stubbornly we in the U.S. refuse to follow their example.