Friday, September 23, 2016

Using vacant homes to handle the homeless problem

http://fox17online.com/2016/09/23/non-profit-puts-homeless-into-previously-vacant-homes-takes-121-people-off-the-streets/

"The non-profit Well House is moving people out of homelessness and into permanent shared housing by buying up vacant homes, bringing them up to code, and then renting rooms to people who have no housing. All at a cost of just $275 a month.
VandenBerg told FOX 17 Thursday that Well House has pulled 121 people off of the streets in just three years, and 92 percent of those people have stayed out of homelessness.
In addition, Well House is providing individuals with jobs, hiring them to work on other vacant homes to provide even more housing."

This seems to me to fix 2 problems at once, abandoned houses and homeless people.  I would think this would be especially good for homeless families. There are long-empty houses in my neighborhood that I would like to see filled with people who need shelter.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Blogger promotes universal basic income

https://www.patreon.com/scottsantens

"I'm a writer and now increasingly an activist spending as much time and resources I have working to spread awareness for the idea of a basic income guarantee (BIG) - one whose time has come here in the 21st century where technology is now forcing our hand. Without an income platform set just above the poverty level as a bare minimum, I believe poverty and inequality will continue to grow, the middle classes will continue to shrink, and the livelihoods of all but the top fifth of society will continue to slip away. But it doesn't have to be that way. We're better than that. We can turn all of this on its head, and instead of things continuing to get worse, we can make things better than they've ever been. We can reduce risk and so propel innovation and creativity to new heights. We can reduce fears of unemployment and purposely eliminate low-skill jobs better performed by machines, freeing us to intrinsically do all the work that drives us. We can stop wasting so many resources on fighting the fires of our lives, and instead prevent them from ever lighting in the first place. We need only make the choice. The path is ours to take."


here's  a guy thinking this stuff through.  A good resource.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

a small idea to keep people safe

http://www.the-dispatch.com/news/20160502/denton-police-establishes-internet-purchase-exchange-location

"Denton Police Chief Mark Hicks said his department established the exchange site April 18. The farmers market is located across from Harrison Park and is under 24-hour video surveillance.
“My main goal is for people to feel safe when they do their Internet exchange for items they are buying or selling,” Hicks said.
Hicks said he got the idea after he saw an exchange site in Apex. He thought it would be a good idea because of people making transactions through yard sales pages on Facebook and through Craigslist.
Hicks said there are stories of people meeting who get robbed or even killed. While there haven’t been any of these incidences in Denton, Hicks is trying to prevent them from happening.
Anyone, regardless of where they live, can utilize Denton’s exchange location. Hicks said all of the videotapes of the surveillance from the farmers market will be stored at the Denton Police Department, so officers can go back and look at the footage if there is an incident."

Just a simple idea to fix a small problem.  Makes the world a better place.

strain between capitalism and democracy

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e46e8c00-6b72-11e6-ae5b-a7cc5dd5a28c.html?siteedition=intl#axzz4IvmQnMZl

"High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e46e8c00-6b72-11e6-ae5b-a7cc5dd5a28c.html#ixzz4J1Ut6p56

Yet, as Professor Dani Rodrik of Harvard University has noted, globalisation constrains national autonomy. He writes that 'democracy, national sovereignty and global economic integration are mutually incompatible: we can combine any two of the three but never have all three simultaneously and in full'. If countries are free to set national regulations, the freedom to buy and sell across frontiers will be reduced. Alternatively, if barriers are removed and regulations harmonised, the legislative autonomy of states will be limited. Freedom of capital to cross borders is particularly likely to constrain states’ ability to set their own taxes and regulations.
Moreover, a common feature of periods of globalisation is mass migration. Movement across borders creates the most extreme conflict between individual liberty and democratic sovereignty. The former says that people should be allowed to move where they like. The latter says that citizenship is a collective property right, access to which citizens control. Meanwhile, businesses view the ability to hire freely as invaluable. It is not merely unsurprising that migration has become the lightning rod of contemporary democratic politics. Migration is bound to create friction between national democracy and global economic opportunity."

This is a jam-packed article that brings up a lot of important issues.  I hope it gets widely read and considered.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

More on Universal Basic Income

 https://www.thenation.com/article/a-basic-income-would-upend-americas-work-ethic-and-thats-a-good-thing/

" But there will also be popular resistance. In June, a Swiss referendum resulted in only 23 percent support for a nationwide basic income. This skepticism was not unique to that prosperous and fairly conservative nation. Basic income will generate resistance because of practical matters, like a rise in taxes. But even if those challenges are overcome, the reform will confront resistance because of the cultural upset it will generate. There will be deeper fears in play, not easily assuaged by wonkish arguments showing how the bills can be paid.
Could it be that people are afraid of being freed from wage work, even from a portion of wage work? What would they do with their newfound free time? Watch television or play with their iPhone? A shorter work week, or no work week would make a rich leisure life possible, and it would make a dense social life possible. There would be time to invest in our communities, and time to care for one another, and especially to care for the young, the old, and the sick. But if the patterns of that leisure, the elements of that community, have become invisible to us, well, maybe everyone might as well go to work for whatever camaraderie the workplace provides."

 This article covers some of the skepticism of the plan.  I am a firm skeptic of current economic theory and think this will actually help economies in the long run.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Have we built an infrastructure that's too big to maintain?

http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/transportation/blogs/why-one-vermont-town-tearing-asphalt-instead-repairing-potholes

"Simply, un-paving is less expensive than repaving as petroleum-base asphalt isn’t cheap. Faced with dwindling annual road repair budgets, rural towns like Montpelier are finding that regressing saves a significant amount of cash — cash that might be better used for larger and more urgent infrastructure needs. Case in point: by un-paving in lieu of repaving Bliss Road, a notoriously pothole-y lane just outside of town, Montpelier saved $120,000. With a population hovering just above 7,000, the city’s annual road repair budget is a mere $1.3 million.
If Montpelier’s happens to become flush with dedicated funds for road repair projects in the near future, workers can always go back and repave."

This article fits into my concern that we have built an infrastructure that's too big to maintain.  Here in my home town, the main street needed to be rebuilt.  It will take 3 years to accomplish. That's 3 years with the 4-lane road reduced to 2 lanes.  And then it's good to go for 30 or so years.  But also, it's on to all the other roads in town that need maintenance.

Have we built our infrastructure without thinking about how or whether we can maintain it all?  Roads, bridges, equipment, on and on?