Saturday, January 14, 2017

MLK was for the guaranteed minimum income!

Turning Chernobyl into a solar farm

"The 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine also resulted in vast areas of land being contaminated by nuclear fallout, with a 30-kilometre exclusion zone, which encompassed the town of Pripyat, being declared in the area round the facility.
Now two companies from China plan to build a one-gigawatt solar power plant on 2,500 hectares of land in the exclusion zone to the south of the Chernobyl plant.
Ukrainian officials say the companies estimate they will spend up to $1bn on the project over the next two years.
A subsidiary of Golden Concord Holdings (GLC), one of China’s biggest renewable energy concerns, will supply and install solar panels at the site, while a subsidiary of the state-owned China National Machinery Corporation (Sinomach) will build and run the plant.
'It is cheap land, and abundant sunlight constitutes a solid foundation for the project,' says Ostap Semerak, Ukraine’s minister of environment and natural resources.
'In addition, the remaining electric transmission facilities are ready for reuse.'"

This is such an excellent idea!  Using land that has no other purpose (except maybe a preserve) and making pollution-free electricity!

Friday, December 30, 2016

robots take more jobs

"The first phase of Foxconn’s automation plans involve replacing the work that is either dangerous or involves repetitious labor humans are unwilling to do. The second phase involves improving efficiency by streamlining production lines to reduce the number of excess robots in use. The third and final phase involves automating entire factories, “with only a minimal number of workers assigned for production, logistics, testing, and inspection processes,” according to Jia-peng.
The slow and steady march of manufacturing automation has been in place at Foxconn for years. The company said last year that it had set a benchmark of 30 percent automation at its Chinese factories by 2020. The company can now produce around 10,000 Foxbots a year, Jia-peng says, all of which can be used to replace human labor. In March, Foxconn said it had automated away 60,000 jobs at one of its factories."

I mentioned before that when I was growing up, the rosy view of the future was that robots would be doing most of the work, which meant workers got more and more leisure time.  Instead, robots get more and more work, while we get less and less income.  The savings go to the corporations, not the workers.  Should known...

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Millenials screwed royally by my generation

"Between 2005 and 2015, those under 30 went from owning their home at about a 34.5% rate down to 27.7%. Over the same decade, we went from owing $350 billion in student loans to over $1.3 trillion by the end of the first half of 2016. It’s likely that graduates coming out of school with a significant amount of debt are putting on buying homes out of necessity, at least for several years after they are done with college."

My generation used to brag that we needed to make sure that the next generation was better off than us, just as our parents had done for us.  Phht.  What a joke.  We let the 1% soak up all the money and left you all in horrible debt.  I apologize.  And I hope this can be reversed somehow.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Economic growth versus quality of life; how to gauge progress

"Therefore, as we try to reform the Democratic strategy, it's necessary, as Herbert Marcuse once said, to promote a values transformation, away from the cruel, competitive performances and unrestrained expectations of consumer capitalism and toward a simpler, less hurried, more cooperative way of life, where work sharing is at least as important a strategy to reduce unemployment as federal jobs programs.
It's necessary to understand that the values of affluenza, about which I have written at length, spur endless competition for scarce resources, and result in the overwork Bernie Sanders criticizes, as well as our declining health, our lack of social purpose, our lack of enough leisure time to be good, informed citizens and volunteer in our communities, and a host of other ills. To begin, we need to make the case that we need a new measure of well-being -- indeed, one former Democratic presidential candidate, Martin O'Malley, has been a leader in developing a Genuine Progress Indicator, but such ideas never entered the debates. They should be part of our future vision.
A less acquisitive society with less focus on 'hard work' will not be a poor one, either materially, or more importantly, in terms of quality of life. This is a point that must be made and something Bobby Kennedy knew back in 1968, when he first spoke out eloquently against the Gross National Product. Swedish Environmental Protection Agency studies show that 30 hours of work a week may well be optimal for well-being -- 30-hour workers outperform 40- or 50-hour workers in almost every quality of life measure -- life satisfaction, work satisfaction, time satisfaction, health, and importantly, in this time of climate change, lower greenhouse gas emissions."

Even a simplistic look at economic theory shows this obsession with growth is impossible. We need to step back and rethink how we gauge where we are as a society.  Are we getting better or worse?  How can we tell if we're going in the right direction?  What can we do to make life for more people better?  What does better mean?  THIS is the discussion we should be having.

Monday, December 5, 2016

More jobs go buy-bye; retail grocery goes high-tech

"The idea is that Amazon's machine-learning technology can automatically identify when a product is added to your cart, so you don't have to do it yourself. When you leave the store, Amazon automatically charges your Amazon account."

We keep making jobs obsolete but still haven't planned what to do with employment.  Universal Basic Income would go a long way toward fixing that.

When I was a kid the coming robots would make for more leisure time for all workers, while their salary supposedly stayed the same.  Instead, corporations just pocket the savings and fire the workers.  That is not a long-term solution for anything, including corporate profits, which require someone with an income to buy their products or services.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

What happens when you can't trust the news anymore?

"Middle school, high school and college students in 12 states were asked to evaluate the information presented in tweets, comments and articles. More than 7,800 student responses were collected.
In exercise after exercise, the researchers were 'shocked' — their word, not ours — by how many students failed to effectively evaluate the credibility of that information.
The students displayed a 'stunning and dismaying consistency' in their responses, the researchers wrote, getting duped again and again. They weren't looking for high-level analysis of data but just a 'reasonable bar' of, for instance, telling fake accounts from real ones, activist groups from neutral sources and ads from articles."

So what happens when the news is no longer dependent on fact?  What happens to our society when we believe things that aren't real?  How can we maintain a news feed that at least sticks to reality?

I blame Fox News.