Labor Day 2018

Because of m recovery from an operation, this Labor Day I need to run a repeat from 2016.  It’s dated, yes, but rather than update it I’d like this to stand as a prediction which we only now see coming true.

Labor Day. For most of us, it’s one last picnic as the seasons change over. It’s one last chance to look back over the hot, lazy summer to reflect on where we’ve been and where we are going.

What it’s really for is Labor. Rather than give workers a May Day holiday, the deep suspicions and fear lingering after the Haymarket Riot made politicians wary enough to put the official day clear on the other side of Summer. The US, and later Canada, decided to go it alone in our celebration. Some things never change.

The two of these facts have a lot in common this year as we look back from what is clearly a turning point in the economy. The glass is indeed half-full for Labor – or, if you’re not so optimistic, half-empty. Jobs are being created, if slowly, layoffs are at an all-time low, and wages are finally beginning to creep up. What’s ahead of us? If this keeps up it may surprise just about everyone that a serious labor shortage is in the works – indeed, there already is one in some industries. That’s worth celebrating even more than the end of Summer.

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Happy As A Pig

Cliches
Good ways
To say what you mean
Mean what you say

– Jimmy Buffett

I have to have a small operation, so, it’s time for a re-run.  This is from 2008.

Anyone who’s written a book has heard it from someone: “You need to get rid of a few clichés”. What? I can’t have any of those, I avoid them like a very contagious disease!

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A Density Gradient

This is a repeat from 2015, with a minor update.

Cities are coming back across the US for many reasons. The unsafe, dirty urban core of legend is being replaced by funky, hip neighborhoods with character and charm. Life in the city can be good, now that the perma-haze of pollution has been tamed. Transit helps make life more relaxing and even cheaper. Young people in particular find revitalized cities to be affordable and great places to meet their mate and then raise kids.

The movement owes a lot to New Urbanism, junking the old industrial model for cities as centers for jobs and emphasizing attractive, functional places to live. We’ve learned a lot. But if there is one flaw in this model it’s the constant emphasis on higher and higher density. There’s always a place for high density in the urban world, of course, but it doesn’t work everywhere.

A better way to look at what makes cities great is a model based on the density gradient – a gradual increase towards the core that is economically and aesthetically sustainable.

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Trump’s Minority

So far, approval ratings for Trump are staying in the 35-40% range no matter what happens. We have an identification of his solid base, and it’s quite large. Larger than many of us would like to see, and large enough that removing him through impeachment is going to be traumatic unless something changes.

The media concentrated on economic issues through the election and beyond, but it’s clear that they have little to nothing to do with the situation. They are excuses, code words, and easy answers for the media who assumed we were in ordinary times, but that’s just plain wrong.

So who are his supporters? What motivates them? I’m going to take a stab at this based on what I have seen in the media which appeals to them (ie, Fox Breitbart, et al) and their general response to events. My purpose in doing so is to help us through the coming impeachment, and I do think it’s coming. The nation is divided enough, and if we don’t at least understand each other things are only going to get worse.

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Not-Journalism

Long before there was “fake news” there was the National Enquirer.

It’s not as though obviously false stories written for entertainment, and to make a buck, were anything new. The Enquirer, however, gave the form a brand name. Anyone stuck behind a person with a full shopping cart came to know Bat Boy, Lobster Boy, Bigfoot, and a parade of celebrities doing awful things. It was a chuckle usually wrapped around a sneer – “Who reads this stuff?”

Though this rag was known for publishing nearly anything, what it deliberately didn’t publish turns out to be much more interesting.

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Judgment Time

Sometimes it is best to judge a nation by its worst moments, not its best. Only through trials do we learn the strength of its commitment to law, its character, and its compassion for healing. My nation is only beginning that test.

After the conviction of Trump’s campaign manager and new accusations by his personal lawyer, the end is coming quickly. As a wannabe mafioso, Trump has always surrounded himself with gangsters. While none of them wanted to be the first to “rat” to the authorities, there will now be a rush to not be the last. It’s typical behavior, and we can expect it.

Lost in all of this is the future of our Republic. How will we get through this? What will come after our darkest hour? Like all history not yet written, it’s up to us. But make no mistake – history, and the world, is watching.

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Women’s Equality Day

The long list of calls settled itself into the monotone of routine.  “Hi, my name is Erik, and I’m calling for Jim Scheibel, your DFL candidate for Mayor of Saint Paul.”  The 1989 election was going to be close, so Get Out The Vote (GOTV) calling to loyal Democrats was important.  But just as I let the script propel my calls with their own momentum the soft gravely tone on the other end split the evening open.

“Oh, dear, you don’t have to remind me to vote.  I’ve been voting ever since they let us.”

We’ve been “letting” women vote for 97 years, ever since Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment on August 26th, 1920 by just one vote.  The anniversary of this landmark event, “Women’s Equality Day”, is a good time to reflect on how young and precarious this precious foundation of democracy is for half the population.

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