Part 6 – How Did We Get Here — A Sense Of Dignity..

slice26  This is a continuing post on trying to understand how we got to where we are in America today. Lets start off with some quotes from a recent PBS Newshour:

DAVID BROOKS:  On the issues, they preferred her. She got better marks on the economy and foreign policy. But they just didn’t get the sense she was a reformer. So they want some unnamed change.

I think they also wanted some sense of dignity, some sense of being heard. I mean, in some sense, there is something noble, in that people that was people who felt marginalized, working-class voters, A, taking over their party fromsandb21 basically what had been a corporate party, and then asserting their will on the country, against groups of people who were more privileged than they are, both on the left and the right….

And so there is something nice about that. I think Trump is the wrong vehicle for that. But, you know, you’re living in a town, there are no jobs in the town, you know your friends are dying of O.D.-ing on opiates or something, you’re having trouble paying your bills, you’re playing by the rules, and other people are getting benefits without playing by the rules.

Maybe you’re willing to tolerate a lot of bigotry from Donald Trump if you say, just change things, just change things.

And so I don’t — I think the voters who voted for him certainly are willing to tolerate a lot of ugliness, but maybe, if you’re in desperate circumstances, or you think the country is deeply in trouble, you’re willing to tolerate that without necessarily liking it.

Source: Shields and Brooks on a ‘political earthquake’ and how America can move forward | PBS NewsHour

I think Mr. Brooks seems to have a good sense of what the Trump voter might be like. They are frustrated that the world is moving too fast and their “skills” no longer matter in the 21st century. They don’t see a path forward for them or their children.  And that is where the trouble mainly lies.  It is now a fact of life that in order to make it in this new world order you must be willing to embrace change and lifelong learning and many of our institution are just not set up to make that happen yet. Especially those in more isolated areas. Read more

Part 5 – How Did We Get Here — Democracy Is Not Always Forward…

GetHere Banner  I sometimes naively think that democracy is always moving forward into a better future rather than trying to preserve the status quo or even bring back the past.  Of course that feeling was quickly sapped from me on November 8 when the rural hinterland voters came out in massive numbers for a Trump presidency. It seems that they are just too afraid of what the future holds so want someone who will bring back the good old days and make America Great Again. To me America has always been great so there was no “bringing back” needed but of course2016-11-25_10-20-32.png my neighbors have a different opinion about that.

Having the feeling of being ignored and fearful of a unknowable future is nothing new to our country but it saddens to see it so prominent in the 21st century. I had hoped that we had finally conquered that fear but that just isn’t the case. What can be done to appease the fear of those in rural areas?  That is the major question of our times it seems.

Democracy depends on an informed and active electorate and that just didn’t happen this time around.  It is now known that the minority turnout at this election was the lowest in twenty years and that fact helped lead us to where we are today with a totally unprepared narcissist ready to take over the Oval Office. A narcissist who actually cares very little for anyone except himself. Read more

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. Read more

Being Of Value??

TL Banner   Sometimes I struggle with understanding why there are apparently so many people who complain so much about our economy. I see where personal income in the last year showed the biggest improvement in decades and the unemployment rate is at 4.9% which is the lowest in forty years.  So, why is there so much dissatisfaction around?

Being retired for 16+ years now I admit that I don’t know much about the current job market other than what I read. I know that full lifetime employment is pretty much a thing of the past for many and that the average person will change jobs seven times during their working life. I also know that except for very small businesses assembly line jobs have disappeared. Without those mind-numbing jobs people right out of high school have trouble finding any form of lucrative employment.

Being without some schooling beyond high school means a lifetime of minimum wage and often short term employment. One of the biggest obstacles to getting that education, especially among the lower middle class and below, is the every increasing costs of continuing education. I am hopeful, thanks to Bernie Sanders that when Hillary is president she will try do what is necessary to make educational opportunities affordable to all. That is if the GOP don’t fight it tooth and nail as they have in the past. I know… I am a dreamer..

Then there is another segment of our society for whatever reason have not kept up with the times by upgrading their employment skills. They see the world moving beyond them. Some in this mode go into the permanent  complain mode. I think these are the real base for the Trump campaign. How many of them there are we will soon know.

Now I want to change gears a little in order to try to understand why so many are so angry at our current systems. In order to do that I want to draw a link between these folks and my personal experiences with being retired and the process that led up to where I am at today. Before I retired I was often recognized at a valuable member of a large engineering organization. I provided software tools, they are called apps nowadays, to hundreds of design engineers and was sought out for my knowledge and advice. Then I abruptly retired when a Hong Kong business bought out our division and quickly began to dissemble it.

2016-10-24_08-43-45.pngI went from “the valuable member” to the opposite in a flash. The only person who I had any amount of contact with in those early retirement years that was my wife and she didn’t recognize my skills as being particularly valuable to her. I immediately lost value. I went into a state of depression.  I was in the “poor me” mode to some degree for more than three years. I just didn’t see that I was doing more than sucking air. Is this where so many Trump supporter reside?  I can only guess.

It took a while but I finally found a place outside the home that seemed to value my life and that was volunteering in a local soup kitchen/shelter.  I spent the next eleven years there. I was valuable once again.

2016-10-24_08-47-31.pngI can see the parallels between this and the people currently complaining about their life situations. They just want to feel they have value. They want someone to pay attention to them.  They feel unappreciated. Many in this mode, need to get off their “Poor me” attitudes and do something about it. If you want to feel valuable you must “do” something valuable and that takes work. There are no simple solutions to it… or most other things in life…

That is the way I see it….

When Robots Make Cars….

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I know that robots have taken over many of the repetitive tasks from us humans. Many see that as stripping jobs away from those who don’t care to otherwise be ready for today’s workforce.  The mind-numbing jobs are being taken over my mindless robots and that is as it should be. Let’s take auto manufacturing as an example:

  • Robots don’t make mistakes... They do the same thing over and over again because that is all they are programmed to do.
  • Robots don’t know Monday from Friday…. They don’t take their eye off the task at hand because they are still remembering the weekend or are anticipating the coming one.
  • Robots can do the same thing over and over with the same accuracy…. Not only do they not make mistakes but they do what they are programmed to do with extreme accuracy. They simply don’t have other distractions on their minds.

Let’s face it, compared to today’s cars, the cars of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s were junk. The fit and finish were terrible and the lemons made because of absent minded defects were very troublesome to those who were unfortunate enough to get them. Humans just never did a good job of making cars.

So where does that leave us humans? For those unprepared for anything else but mindless  assembly line work it leaves them with flipping hamburgers or other low skilled work  that were once meant as entry type jobs. But for those willing to put in the effort to equip themselves with the necessary skills it leaves them with opportunity. Many young people today are taking that opportunity but many are not. Some think they are not smart enough to learn, some just can’t afford it. The later needs our help but then again so does the former.

We need to make higher education more affordable, if not free, for anyone who wants to improve themselves.  Free high school education has been the norm now for many decades and now its time to kick that up a notch to at least two years of free trade school or college.

For those who don’t think they are smart enough we need to do a better job of encouraging them. We need to make learning as important to them as high school sports are now.  Part of that is a teacher thing but the biggest share belongs to the parents.