Helping Colorado Homeless – Covid Pandemic

“Corona Virus (COVID-19) puts people experiencing homelessness especially at-risk. At Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, our Stout Street Health Center staff are working diligently to provide services to our most vulnerable population during this crisis. We are in need of supplies for our staff and patients. Thank you for being a part of this effort! Shipping address: 2130 Stout St Denver, CO 80205 (Stout Street Health Center)”

Here’s their Amazon wishlist if you want to help out:
Amazon

Freakonomics, Andrew Yang Interview

YANG: Now, I studied economics. And according to my economics textbook, those displaced workers would get retrained, re-skilled, move for new opportunities, find higher-productivity work, the economy would grow. So everyone wins. The market, invisible hand has done its thing. So then I said, “Okay, what actually happened to these four-million manufacturing workers?” And it turns out that almost half of them left the workforce and never worked again. And then half of those that left the workforce then filed for disability, where there are now more Americans on disability than work in construction, over 20 percent of working-age adults in some parts of the country.

DUBNER: So the former manufacturing workers, a lot of them are on disability, a lot of them are also — especially if they’re younger men — they’re spending 25 to 40 hours a week playing video games.

YANG: Yeah so it did not say in my textbook, half of them will leave the workforce never to be heard from again. Half of them will file for disability and then another significant percentage will start drinking themselves to death, start committing suicide at record levels, get addicted to opiates to a point where now eight Americans die of opiates every hour. When you say, “Am I for automation and artificial intelligence and all these fantastic things?” of course I am. I mean, we might be able to do things like cure cancer or help manage climate change more effectively. But we also have to be real that it is going to displace millions of Americans.

People are not infinitely adaptable or resilient or eager to become software engineers, or whatever ridiculous solution is being proposed. And it’s already tearing our country apart by the numbers, where our life expectancy has declined for the last two years because of a surge in suicides and drug overdoses around the country. None of this was in my textbook. But if you look at it, that’s exactly what’s happening. The fantasists — and they are so lazy and it makes me so angry, because people who are otherwise educated are literally wave their hands and be like, “Industrial Revolution, 120 years ago. Been through it before,” and, man, if someone came into your office and pitched you in an investment in a company based on a fact pattern from 120 years ago, you’d freakin’ throw them out of your office so fast.

freakonomics

Supermax – “Alcatraz of the Rockies”

Before entering ADX, Powers had no history or symptoms of mental illness, but since being installed there, he has become deranged and has engaged in numerous acts of self-mutilation, including amputating his testicle and scrotum, biting off his finger and trying to kill himself on several occasions.

To give you an idea of why a previously sane person would lapse into madness at ADX, you need look no further than the circumstances of their confinement. ADX was designed to ensure the total isolation of all its prisoners, who are held in cells about the size of an average toilet. The cells have thick, concrete soundproof walls, a door with bars and a second door made of solid steel. The only possible means of communicating with other humans is to yell into the toilet bowl and hope that someone may hear. The inmates are kept in their cell 24/7 for two days each week. On the other five days, they may get to spend approximately one hour in a similarly-sized cage for what is laughingly referred to as “outdoor” recreation.

US ‘supermax’ prison is condemned internationally for its abusive regime
Sadhbh Walshe, September 2012, guardian

Build a better bus stop

Time spent waiting for a bus feels even longer when there’s no place to sit or get out of the rain. I mean that literally: A study from the University of Minnesota found that a five-minute wait at an exposed, “pole-in-the-ground” bus stop will seem like a 13-minute wait. If the transit agency simply offers a bench and some kind of roof, perceived wait time falls to 7.5 minutes.

As Pedestrian Observation’s Alon Levy has noted, the price of such a bus shelter is only around $15,000. That makes them a cost-effective way of making bus trips seem faster, even if a transit agency lacks the resources to increase service frequency. And it is perception that drives human behavior.

VIA, San Antonio’s transit agency, spent $12 million to build 1,000 bus shelters from 2014 to 2017. Correlation is not causation, but the steep decline in VIA’s ridership began to taper off at around the same time the program began, and in 2019 bus ridership grew in San Antonio — bucking national trends.

4 Cheap Ways To Make Urban Transportation Better
David Zipper, CityLab

Gerrymandering, example of

Texas’ 35th district from assholedesign

ghalta
Austin is the largest city in the country that doesn’t have a congressional district centered in/on it, but is instead split into five congressional districts – 21 that stretches out into the hill country, 25 that reaches up into the DFW suburbs, 17 that includes Waco, 10 that stretches to the Houston suburbs, and 35 shown above. The goal of the Republican-dominated legislature that created these districts was openly and intentionally to dilute the influence of Austin’s liberal voters in electing the Texas congressional delegation. In 2018, for example, Democrats won about 47% of the overall state’s congressional vote, but only won 13 of the state’s 36 districts thanks to gerrymandering such as above.

Bounty1Berry
I could see odd shapes if the goals were to try to have approximate equality of population, to follow landmarks like rivers and highways, and to minimize splitting of other government entities (cities/counties) across districts.

Single Family Home Rentals – Institutional Investors And

Wall Street’s latest real estate grab has ballooned to roughly $60 billion, representing hundreds of thousands of properties. In some communities, it has fundamentally altered housing ecosystems in ways we’re only now beginning to understand, fueling a housing recovery without a homeowner recovery. “That’s the big downside,” says Daniel Immergluck, a professor of urban studies at Georgia State University. “During one of the greatest recoveries of land value in the history of the country, from 2010 and 2011 at the bottom of the crisis to now, we’ve seen huge gains in property values, especially in suburbs, and instead of that accruing to many moderate-income and middle-income homeowners, many of whom were pushed out of the homeownership market during the crisis, that land value has accrued to these big companies and their shareholders.”

Before 2010, institutional landlords didn’t exist in the single-family-rental market; now there are 25 to 30 of them, according to Amherst Capital, a real estate investment firm. From 2007 to 2011, 4.7 million households lost homes to foreclosure, and a million more to short sale. Private-equity firms developed new ways to secure credit, enabling them to leverage their equity and acquire an astonishing number of homes.

The Great Wall Street Housing Grab
Hundreds of thousands of single-family homes are now in the hands of giant companies — squeezing renters for revenue and putting the American dream even further out of reach.
Francesca Mari, NYTIMES

The Philosophy of an Epoch, Unknown Assumptions – Alfred Whitehead Quote

“When you are criticizing the philosophy of an epoch, do not chiefly direct your attention to those intellectual positions which its exponents feel it necessary explicitly to defend. There will be some fundamental assumptions which adherents to all the variant systems within the epoch unconsciously presuppose. Such assumptions appear so obvious that people do not know what they are assuming because no other way of putting things has ever occurred to them. With these assumptions a certain limited number of types of philosophic systems are possible, and this group of systems constitutes the philosophy of the epoch.”

Alfred Whitehead, Science and the Modern
Open Library

Hypothetical example – Everything is about Growth. The assumption that growing the GDP is a universal imperative, or that it’s an inherent good. 

In Utah, some public workers are able to fly to Canada or Mexico to buy their medication at a steep discount – WBUR

Utah is pioneering an alternative for its state employees to address soaring prescription drug prices.

The Pharmacy Tourism Program, a part of the Utah Public Employees Health Program (PEHP), allows certain members with high-cost medicines to fill their prescription in Vancouver, Canada, and Tijuana, Mexico, where medication comes at a much lower cost. The initiative even pays for members’ flights.

WBUR

Non U.S. millenials having same problems as the American ones?


US milliennials (roughly 22-37 yrs of age) are facing heavy debt and low pay which prevents or delays them from buying homes (or other large purchases) and starting families compared to their parents, are other countries experiencing the same or similar economic issues with this age group? from NoStupidQuestions

“In the UK almost identical situation.
I’m 43 I own my house and pay £600 pcm mortgage.
My colleague is 34 rents a house on the same street. Pays £900 pcm rent.
He’s fucked. Totally fucked.”

“In Finland, not as bad, but trending towards that. Pay is dragging behind the increasing cost of living, because we need to remain competitive in EU internal and global markets, which apparently can only be done with wages. Not by for example, making Finland more friendly to startups and small and medium sized companies, and entrepreneurs.”

reddit

How many wars is the US in?

According to this, it was 7 as of March 2018. (Closest I could find to now).

The U.S. military is officially fighting wars in seven countries, according to the White House’s latest war report. Known formally as the “Report on the Legal and Policy Frameworks Guiding the United States’ Military Force and Related National Security Operations,” the unclassified portion flags ops in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger — all under the banner of the same war authority granted in the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force to fight al-Qaeda-linked militants.

US at war in 7 countries — including Niger; US Army rebuilds Afghan firebases; F-35s to India?; and just a bit more… https://www.defenseone.com/

Socialists and billionaires in presidential politics. Open Source, Christopher Lydon

The New Red Scare
“The winter round of the presidential race goes to Bernie Sanders, not so much for winning the most votes from Democrats as for coining the key word, the big theme for 2020, which is: billionaires! Not just the billionaires on the ballot and billionaires backstage, it’s billionaire-ism coming to be the argument of this election in a country at odds more and more about money. We’re used to anger, right and left, but suddenly there’s alarm in the air – at MSNBC, the Democrats’ TV network, the bold march of Bernie’s anti-billionaire army reminded Hardball‘s Chris Matthews of the Fall of France to Hitler in 1940. It’s scary, and there’s a pick of scarecrows in this race: the Plutocrat; the Democratic Socialist, and the President.

This was wake-up week among the Democrats nominating a presidential candidate. Some woke up cheering that Bernie Sanders looks like the choice of the people. Some woke up screaming in horror that the rebellion against the Clinton era is real, that their party has been dying for four years, that the end is near. The sound of battle has gone raw, with survival at stake, not just egos.”

Radio Open Source

Parker House Hotel, Boston – Locus of Revolution

“Actor John Wilkes Booth stayed at the hotel April 5–6, 1865, eight days before assassinating Abraham Lincoln. He was apparently in Boston to see his brother, actor Edwin Booth, who was performing there. While in Boston, Booth was seen practicing at a firing range near the Parker House.”

Famous workers:
“Ho Chi Minh claimed to have worked as a baker at the hotel from 1912 to 1913.
Malcolm X, then going by the name Malcolm Little, worked as a busboy at the hotel in the 1940s.
Long before he was a culinary superstar, Emeril Lagasse served as Sous Chef in the Parker kitchens from 1979 to 1981.”
Wikipedia 

If you want to book a room – OMNI PARKER HOUSE

‘We can’t afford healthcare’: US hospital workers fight for higher wages

Hospital and healthcare workers across the US are launching union drives and organizing protests in order to win higher wages and better working conditions, saying their industry exploits them and leaves them often unable to afford healthcare, despite working in the sector.

According to the SEIU, there are about 50,000 low-wage hospital workers throughout the Chicago metro area and about 10,000 are currently represented by the union.

LeChrisha Pearson, a single mother and certified nursing assistant for eight years at Chicago’s Mount Sinai hospital, was one of about 400 workers at the hospital who organized a union in June 2019, and threatened to strike in November 2019 before winning a contract that would raise wages for all workers to $15 an hour.

She works two to three jobs, including as a delivery driver for Uber Eats, to make ends meet while working full-time at the hospital.

Michael Sainato, February 17 2020, Guardian

In the News – Shouldn’t workers be doing better in this booming economy?

Despite unemployment at a near 50-year low, a soaring stock market and the longest expansion in US history, the recovery hasn’t yet reached these millions in economic hard times, say these analysts.

Even as wages overall are rising, about 50 percent of US workers received no pay raises last year, according to Bankrate. And in real terms, some say average salaries are stagnant.

“Today’s average inflation-adjusted wage in America has the same purchasing power that it did in 1978,” Liam Hunt, a market analyst at SophisticatedInvestor.com, told The Post. “That’s despite macroeconomic growth in terms of GDP, salary increases for the highest bracket of income earners and rapidly rising home costs,” he added. “In a growing economy, we should see real wage growth, though we haven’t.”

John Aidan Byrne, February 22, 2020, NY POST

Jeb Bush: People Need to Work Longer Hours – Comment from long ago primary

During an interview that was live-streamed on the app Periscope, Bush made the comments to New Hampshire’s The Union Leader answering a question about his plans for tax reform.

“My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of this rut that we’re in.”

Candace Smith, July 8, 2015, ABC NEWS