Saturday, September 2, 2017

Netherlands shows the way for farming

"Seen from the air, the Netherlands resembles no other major food producer—a fragmented patchwork of intensely cultivated fields, most of them tiny by agribusiness standards, punctuated by bustling cities and suburbs. In the country’s principal farming regions, there’s almost no potato patch, no greenhouse, no hog barn that’s out of sight of skyscrapers, manufacturing plants, or urban sprawl. More than half the nation’s land area is used for agriculture and horticulture.

Banks of what appear to be gargantuan mirrors stretch across the countryside, glinting when the sun shines and glowing with eerie interior light when night falls. They are Holland’s extraordinary greenhouse complexes, some of them covering 175 acres.
These climate-controlled farms enable a country located a scant thousand miles from the Arctic Circle to be a global leader in exports of a fair-weather fruit: the tomato. The Dutch are also the world’s top exporter of potatoes and onions and the second largest exporter of vegetables overall in terms of value. More than a third of all global trade in vegetable seeds originates in the Netherlands."

Great article.

Friday, August 25, 2017

What are smart cities up to?

This looks like a great series;

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Build housing for the poor, not the rich

"So how do we get housing into the hands of the poor? Imagine a Venn Diagram: In one circle is empty housing built for and/or owned by the upper classes, and in the other is everyone who needs housing. The answer is obvious. Merge the two circles by giving the vacant housing and land owned by the rich to the poor. The problem is there’s little political will in hyper-capitalist economies to take over privately owned land. But as the housing crisis continues, that’s changing.
In June, after the London public housing project Grenfell Tower in London caught fire, killing dozens, Jeremy Corbyn proposed taking over the unoccupied apartments of the rich and giving them to the victims of Grenfell. People applauded the City of London for buying up unfinished luxury housing complexes to house Grenfell’s victims. It was a small sign that housing redistribution is becoming politically palatable."

Pretty drastic idea.  But the point is valid; the rich hold land they're not really using except as an investment, while many homeless cannot find a place to live.  I would think if tax laws were changed this could alter the situation.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Riasing the minimum wage does not hurt business

"One common critique of higher minimum wages is that they also raise the cost of living. But last year, an initial study from the University of Washington found that retailers, despite having to pay their workers more, weren’t raising prices. Another is that higher pay will lead to fewer shifts and fewer jobs. And while those same UW researchers are analyzing the data, other researchers at UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) used an innovative model to prove that the city’s increased minimum wage has had no negative effect on job availability."

Still more examples and research needed, but things are looking good so far.

My limited understanding of economic theory is that  money is like blood in an animal. It has to circulate to work.  And I would think that if people had more money in their pocket, money would circulate through an economy better.  No?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

How are we doing? Maybe the Santa Monica Wellbeing Index can help us

I just found out about this so have no opinion so far.  We really need something more than GDP or such economic indicators to know how our society and people are doing.  Perhaps this is a good tool.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Micro loft apartments turn mall into success

"Developer Evan Granoff bought the property in 2005, with the hopes that he could restore the beautiful building to its former glory. And he did exactly that! He converted the upper levels into 48 tiny apartment homes, while the lower promenade is reserved for boutique shops. No major chain stores are allowed here! The smallest units only cost $550 per month, which is a steal for downtown Providence, Rhode Island."

The developer had to think creatively to get around local size restriction rules for apartments, but he seems to have done it.  This is a unique (for now) idea that seems to be working well.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Fear of the Other takes over in Trump World

"A French historian was detained for 10 hours by US customs officials this week while on his way to an academic conference in Texas.
Henry Rousso, 62, a specialist in the history of World War II who has taught at the Sorbonne in Paris and Columbia University in New York, was held for questioning after his flight from Paris landed in Houston on Wednesday."

While on the one hand Trump wants to create new jobs in the US, on the other he is single-handedly destroying international tourism and travel to the US.  No one wants to travel to a country where they will be treated like a terrorist or some sort of criminal.