Nick Hanauer gives us a 21st century view of the economy: a healthy economy is one that is creating new solutions to human problems. To solve problems, we need a diversity of ideas and approaches. To foster more ideas, we need to give more people the opportunity to participate. Bill Gates had a good idea, but giving him tax breaks will not suddenly get him to have more ideas. Rather, ensuring that every citizen has the education, training, and access to capital necessary to convert their ideas into solutions is the surest-fire way to grow a healthy economy. In other words: we need a thriving middle class, not a thriving oligarchy.
Since I became a mother, it has occurred to me that advice about parenting, relationships, and workplaces is largely the same. Here is Google’s advice for building the perfect workplace team: create psychological safety. Team members must have a sense that the team is a safe place for interpersonal risk-taking; a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish someone for speaking up. (The article doesn’t really get to the point until nearly two-thirds through, so scroll down if you are impatient.) Remarkably like the advice for a good marriage or a healthy kid.
Have I ever mentioned that most jobs are headed towards automation, and we need to adjust our attitude towards work and livelihood, starting with a Basic Income? Oh, I have? Well, here it is again: software is quickly replacing even highly skilled, highly paid jobs on Wall Street. “The Robots Are Coming” evokes images of hardware, which is misleading because it plays into the systems-defender scenario that we will create new jobs to manage the robots, as we did in the 1980s when IBM and Dell started building computers and created new jobs to build and deliver the hardware. Not this time. A small team can build software and then—poof—sell it to firms around the world who fire humans and don’t hire new ones. The only new jobs in the US are lower-paying service jobs—retail, barista, personal trainer—to serve the elites who own the software. We can’t just continue on blithely hoping jobs will magically appear. We need to create a 21st century economy in which it is fantastic news that software is doing mind-numbing tasks like scraping huge amount of data because it frees us up to be humans.
How to win an election: a leading political strategist explains how winning candidates use the art of storytelling. (Spoiler: A powerful narrative arc has a threat, opportunity, heroes, and villains.)
North Texans for Natural Gas has created a pro-fracking answer to BuzzFeed, and they’re calling it FrackFeed. FrackFeed tries to create hip memes using the internet’s favorite things: cats, celebrities, and GIFs. If you stumbled across their Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter, you’d probably think it was too bizarre to be real. Take, for example, the e-cards they posted on Valentine’s Day.
Not hip enough for you? How about a meme with Jay-Z lyrics?
Listening to an episode of 99% Invisible last week, I learned that Exxon was the only gas station that carried The Green Book during the Jim Crow era. The Green Book listed establishments that were safe for African-Americans to stop at while they were taking road trips on the shiny new interstate highway system. The book was started in 1936 by an African-American postman from New Jersey named Victor Green. He used the postal union to gather information from African-American mailmen across the country about establishments that served African-Americans. The postmen also sold the books within the community by word of mouth. PBS has links to full editions of The Green Book as well as an interactive map of the 1956 Green Book. Perhaps you’ll find that you know a location that was listed.
With Super Tuesday results upping the odds that Trump’s nomination could actually happen, the burning question is, why? Over at Vox, Amanda Taub has a disturbingly plausible explanation:
“Not only did authoritarianism correlate, but it seemed to predict support for Trump more reliably than any other indicator.”
“This trend had been accelerated in recent years by demographic and economic changes such as immigration, which activated authoritarian tendencies, leading many Americans to seek out a strongman leader who would preserve a status quo they feel is under threat and impose order on a world they perceive as increasingly alien.”
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“And the extreme nature of authoritarians’ fears, and of their desire to challenge threats with force, would lead them toward a candidate whose temperament was totally unlike anything we usually see in American politics —and whose policies went far beyond the acceptable norms.”
Meanwhile over at Strong Towns, Charles Marohn, riffing off a blog post by author John Michael Greer, connects the Trump dots all the way back to incremental city building and resilient, neighborhood-based economies.
Greer contends that Trump’s rise is driven by the resentment of the “wage class,” which has been decimated over the past 50 years, much to the benefit of the “salary class” (my class, that is, and most likely yours too, dear reader). Greer:
“The man is brilliant. I mean that without the smallest trace of mockery. He’s figured out that the most effective way to get the wage class to rally to his banner is to get himself attacked, with the usual sort of shrill mockery, by the salary class.”
“…incremental investments, resiliency over efficiency, adaptive and bottom-up provide opportunities for hard working people to bootstrap their own success… Don’t turn your back on wage earners.”
I’m still mulling, but I will say this: Greer now has me questioning whether blaming authoritarianism for Trump is but a different flavor of shrill mockery, politely cloaked in salary class intellectualism.
This came to my attention because of a one-page article in New Scientist titled This Car Makes a Little Hydrogen Go a Long Way. Normal cars powered by hydrogen require a bulky fuel cell so that they can compete with combustion engine-driven cars. Rasa was designed with the car around the fuel cell, thus requiring a lot less power for ordinary driving while using the fuel cell and brakes to power a “supercapacitor” to generate bursts of energy for acceleration. (The nontraditional approach used in designing the Rasa is the basis for its name after the Latin phrase tabula rasa, “clean slate.”) One advantage over electric cars is that the energy density of the fuel cell is greater than an electric battery. The problem with Rasa is the embryonic state of hydrogen fuel cell supply. But that too will change as more fuel cell-based cars come on the market such as Toyota’s Mirai and Honda’s FCX Clarity.
Louis Poncz is a Sightline volunteer who occasionally submits material to Weekend Reading.