Won’t You be My Neighbor

Fifty years ago, the United States was in turmoil. Dr King was slaughtered, and later Bobby Kennedy. Protests against the Vietnam War turned violent. So did the Democratic convention. It was the year America fell apart, possibly never to be put back together quite right.

But that year a guiding light came into American homes, flickering with the cool glow of a television. Fifty years ago Mister Rogers achieved national syndication from PBS and quickly became the pastor, the psychologist, and sometimes even parent for a generation.

Today, we may need Mister Rogers more than ever.

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Your Papers, Please

The most recent school shooting seems to have tipped the balance. This time, students are protesting and there is a new determination to get something done. Certainly , this particular shooter had a long history of trouble that raised a number of alarms. But what, exactly, can and should be done?

The FBI has admitted “bungling” a report on the shooting by not referring it to the Miami office. But what system do they have for tracking people? How is information gathered from many different local agencies? If there is a database, what protections are granted anyone in it? How can you find what it has on you and correct it?

It suggests some kind of national tracking and identification system is necessary. If there is some action from this shooting, it raises questions as to how any new or existing laws might be enforced. Who is allowed to buy a gun? Or to board a plane? To vote? To buy protected medicines like marijuana? To even be in this nation? To work?

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ICE’ing Fresh Produce

Arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were up in 2017, but not as dramatically as you might think. What has increased is the visibility of these arrests and the fear that they bring. It is generally believed, without only scant evidence, that undocumented immigrants are leaving the US in large numbers. This would continue a downward trend which started in 2007.

Some people might cheer this action, but as a whole the economy probably isn’t. Undocumented workers do jobs that no one else wants to, for the most part. Their absence means that work is not being done and wages are rising rapidly in areas that have depended on cheap labor for years. There may be signs that this is accelerating and will ultimately spark a high rate of inflation and even shortages.

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Dr. George Washington Carver

“Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough.”

In February, it is customary to put up images of Dr. George Washington Carver in our schools as part of Black History Month. Most people see his earnest and humble stare coming from the cheerful posters and think, “Oh, the peanut guy.” But he was much more than that, perhaps even the greatest scientist who ever lived. Black or white.

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Credit the Good Economy

It’s becoming a common theme – the economy is in great shape! Whether you want to give credit to Trump or Obama, it’s definitely all about policy of some kind, right?

Wrong.

Barataria has been revisiting some old arguments to build a new study for how the economy is changing. As the Managed Depression of 2000-2017 moves behind us, the reshaping of how we work, shop, and generally get by is starting to take shape. It’s hard to be sure about much.

One thing we do know – none of this happened overnight. So let’s revisit some old discussion.

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Fractured World

How many articles will you read about the annual conference at Davos? How many will miss the point?

If you are a news junkie, the answer to the first question is “A lot.” The answer to the second question, sadly, is about the same. In a polarized world where everyone is more enthralled with their own opinion than any sense of objective truth most of what will be written on this conference will be colored.

And that’s a damned shame, because Davos has evolved into Ted-talk-o-rama. It’s really accessible and interesting – and worth reading up on whether you agree with the presenters or not.

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Imagine … Better?

One year into the Trump administration, and we have a lot to be thankful for. Yes, it’s true, it’s always good to warm up the crowd by opening with a joke. But seriously folks, is it possible to even look back and imagine a normal presidency at this point?

Everything has forever changed in the United States as a result of Trump, or more to the point everything is going to have to change. This should sound like good news to a nation that never looks back but it means there will be a lot of work ahead undoing the damage when the time comes. As we wait for that opportunity, this might be a good time to imagine how things can or should be different.

Let’s imagine a happy place for a moment with a functioning government and a universe of possibilities …

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