Rail is Dead, Long Live Rail

Governor Newsom has officially ended California’s main high speed rail effort, cutting the project to the small section currently under construction. It’s a sad day for those of us who are supporters of high speed rail across the US for many reasons.

The most important reason to find this announcement upsetting is that it simply had to happen. This line, as conceived, planned, and implemented was dangerously flawed. Moving forward with this as the standard of rail in the US would cripple implementation across the nation.

It’s better off dead.  We’re all better off with it being dead.

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Halfway – Still Seeking Solace

As we approach the halfway point of the Trump administration, I think it’s worth re-iterating the message from two years ago, as we anticipated this mess.

Today is the big day. An new era full of uncertainty starts with the inauguration of Donald Trump.

God save the Republic.

I firmly believe it is critical to take the long view on this, since we are about to settle in for what is likely to be a tumultuous four years. We will have to pick our battles, declare victory where we can, and always keep our eyes on the prize. For this reason, and to keep our sanity, the wisdom of the ancients should be a primary source of comfort. Today’s readings are from the Tao Te Ching, as translated by Stan Rosenthal.

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“Civics”

While sorting out the goals and needs of People’s Economics, one thing stands out: how do we wind up with some general agreement on the system(s) of our world?  That’s where this piece, first run two years ago, comes in.  

Driving down the interstate, your safe travel and even your life depends a lot on the competence of many other people. Sure, there is a body of law and court precedent and paid agreements with insurance companies that enforces the basic codes of decency and safety. But in the end it really comes down to the skill and attention of comrades in gasoline and steel being at their best not just casually but constantly.

Of course this fails from time to time, but considering how much time people spend behind the wheel it’s amazingly seamless and simple. The system largely works – we all get there nearly all the time. We depend on each other to not be stupid and the vast majority of the time it comes together.

This basic lesson in civics is a good place to start as the nation unravels into some kind of dark hole that frankly promises to only become darker with time. It’s a thought experiment, a self-taught lesson worth thinking through by malcontents and eggheads alike, by both those in power and those in pain.

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Post -Election Clarity

The election is over. The results will still take a lot of sifting through before we know exactly what has happened, but we do know that both parties have a stake in government now. Democrats took the US House, several legislative chambers, and six Governors offices. Republicans held, and even strengthened, their grip on the Senate.

This is going to be gridlock. But for Democrats, there is a very clear way forward that will point to a successful 2020 and beyond – possibly for a whole generation. It’s a matter of growing leadership and strengthening the position of problem solvers who work for the people of this nation.

I will get back to defining People’s Economics shortly.  It only matters more after this.

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Mid-Term Entrenchment

Electino Day is 6 November. There is likely to be a ‘blue wave” that will change the US House and many statehouses to Democratic control, but the Senate is not likely to change. The net result is almost certainly going to be entrenchment and gridlock, meaning that nothing is going to be done for the next two years.

It’s important to take a break from the description of People’s Economics to consider why this is likely the case, and why the repudiation of Trump will not be complete. The short answer is that while America would like to move ahead in a different direction, it simply has not been properly defined.

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Trade Deficits – Bad?

The nearly permanent US trade deficit is getting a lot of attention. Surely, it’s a bad thing to send so much money outside the US when it could be providing jobs to American workers, yes? The problem largely goes without saying, and is never actually discussed.

But are trade deficits really that bad? As with most things in economics, the short answer is no but the long answer is yes. Let’s discuss.

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