Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How will we work?

Considering what work is has intrigued me and in our times people have to ponder the question of automation and wonder what might be left for humans to do? And I was comforted to note that there was a time when most people did agriculture while now in major countries like my own few do. So huge shifts in how humans work have been ongoing for millennia.

And another huge one actually is about done as factories changed so much as our world industrialized and I think much of the idea of work as a horror came with factories as well. Sure farm work is hard, and can be difficult but the idea of dehumanizing labor, outside of slavery should add, I think really came with factories. And robots and automation are changing that story.

Took it for granted that our education system was long designed to create good factory workers. And the needs of the factory may have pushed more education for everyone, so should add that as well.

Now information technology is pushing for a different kind of worker in many areas, while many are also more likely to go into services.

That reality of 10.3% of workforce over 16 in manufacturing in the US tells the tale I think, and so much was focused on factories, but reality now is few people work in them. And thankfully today here in this country at least such jobs are not the horrors they were in the past, when humans were treated like, well like machines.

Technology has transformed how humans work for a long time. But the one constant is that we work for each other.

I think what humans do for other humans is where focus should be, and in the past to feed each other was in agriculture, and later for a bit factories needed human effort. Now? Well we're figuring that out.

It is important to value human effort though. My own view based on my analysis of money as best thought of as a return for a favor where that favor is abstracted is that it is important to return that favor in equal exchange. The idea that businesses can cheat workers with less pay than deserved I think will go away, as a challenge to nations.

If you want your people employed? You can't let them be cheated as you discourage your workforce, limit your economy and in a world where information travels well, you are likely to be held accountable.

Wealthy individuals in the past could rely on gatekeepers to hide information for their benefit, while today the web zips information around with great facility.

And if your people find out they should be paid more, why should they like you?

The reality I think is that with the collapse of the factory system, and the growth in shared knowledge, we will do well in valuing what we do for each other.

Just like machines took over much of farm work and still have more to take, and are taking over factories, with a freeing of humans to do other things for each other, so will technological innovation stress more and more, giving value, so you can make that money for value returned.

Money facilitates commerce between strangers, helping us appreciate the input of others and think about how we can bring value to others. Sure it's had its problems lately, but with our species? Figuring things out is what we do.

Human beings seem to have a joy in figuring things out, which I think is so grand.

James Harris

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ringing phone reality and my vet care

As much as care for veterans and problems with it get in the news it bothers me that in my experience am still facing the most stunning problem to me in terms of access to care, which is hearing a phone ring, and ring, and ring...until you give up.

At least in the past I remember getting to an answering machine, and waiting days for a callback. That didn't even happen this time this morning.

Not someone who wants to share lots as it is my personal life and medical information is very personal but thought could talk about some things related to my experience with care through US Department of Veterans Affairs. And very much appreciate that it is there and like that changes are being made but just this morning? I made some calls and once past the auto-answer, trying to get to a person found that the phone rang, and rang, and rang, until I gave up.

But I know am looking at a peak time so will try again later as you learn strategies and the basic answer I think is, there aren't enough people available to handle the phones. Why aren't there? Because I believe the bureaucratic system in place refuses to set up a working system so that phone lines have enough people. Which is my opinion.

There ARE more options for contact though like online which are being developed but if you're a veteran in crisis? At least you repeatedly get the advice which works which is to call 911. Yup. New message with the recorded voice after the auto-answer, I think, as do notice now after the recommendation if in crisis is to call a suicide crisis line, if you are suicidal, which thankfully I don't need but I fear if I did, would I get a ring, and ring, and ring? I don't trust that I would not. I think that's new. Sadly the need is there. I'm not so sure about the support. But I am not in a position to check, thankfully. The problem with getting a human being to answer at the VA is bizarre to me.

Have debated talking more about what I see as problems with veterans care, and having been in a VA facility in the past, was lucky enough to have my curiosity satisfied somewhat, as I heard a phone ring, in an office, of a VA staffer who was really good, but overworked in my opinion. The staffer was not in the office. I heard the phone ring, and ring, and ring, until it stopped. That person, back then as was over two years ago, probably went to an answering machine.

But it was weird seeing the reality and understanding why. Just were not enough people for that phone line. The person to whom it went probably should not have been answering directly as was a counselor who needed to be working all the time with veterans. To me is a wacky system.

May talk more about the subject and what I see as the primary problem rarely discussed properly with the VA system now in place. But there is a debate with myself and a simple reason to fear talking too much as really believe could impact my care.

To me the system in place makes it very hard to talk against it. The ability for retaliation against veterans is real, and there is very little help and HUGE hurdles to get over if you are wronged. The system is definitely setup to make it hard for veterans like myself to raise the alarm. And reality is for those who need it, the VA care that you can get DOES help immensely.

I greatly value the care I receive through the VA, and hesitate to mess that up. But this post should be ok, I think.

And to update as have edited this piece a bit, did call later and promptly got to a person which is great! But to me is a lot about technique, experience as timing is important. And yeah keep trying.

James Harris

Monday, August 15, 2016

Our grand national tolerance

The United States of America has faced some serious challenges, like emerging as an independent nation after the bold declaration that founded it, which required a fierce war of independence, and also surviving a bid to destroy it by states seceding from it, which was sort of the opposite, as the American Civil War was about inflicting death to bind, while the American Revolutionary War was about enduring death to escape.

"...give me liberty or give me death!" -- Patrick Henry

Both events had people who really thought they were bad ideas. Not all colonists wanted independence from the British Empire. They were loyal citizens to it, and guess what? Can we say they were wrong? Our nation's founding citizens were mostly traitors to their nation of birth--not all were British--hellbent on starting a new nation, and thank God they succeeded and we get to continue the freedoms for which they fought, and many died, to have.

And when some time had passed and some decided the United States of America was no longer a good idea, were they wrong? How do we know? Nonetheless they were defeated in a war that forever changed the nation and the world as it introduced modern battle field techniques and ruthless war. The immensity of the slaughter can be lost on people today and hard to grasp, though later wars would greatly magnify it, peeking with World War II.

Flags have become extraordinary symbols, and for nations can help exemplify.

Our American flag has stood against the challenges to the life of the nation and emerged triumphant on the battlefield.

That fact is definitive for so many lives and maybe taken for granted by many Americans, though they might deny it, as some would rather fly a defeated flag in a nation that is very tolerant of dissent.

Wishing the United States of America were no longer here is not something I think most would display proudly, but those who wish the Confederacy had won the Civil War are stating that boldly with a symbol, and I welcome their freedom to say it in a nation brilliant for its tolerance. Don't believe me? Ask someone flying that flag: Do they wish the Confederacy had won?

Call it tradition if you will, but that defeated flag would not be bragging rights except for hope that maybe, just maybe, if those who believe work at it long enough, they can finally defeat the United States of America.

Won't happen though.

There were quite a few British who weren't exactly fans of that independence thing, and some went home, but for others this country was their home, still. As much as they might hate what they knew was treason, as it was.

They stayed in the new nation, and had children, and their children had children, and so on.

And somehow we all kind of get along together most of the time.

Too many may fail to appreciate the various forces hellbent on destroying this nation, from people who probably feel confident they are correct, who are citizens of a nation born in fire and blood. Which endures through it all, not because it forgets its history, but because it understands it.

The revolutionary spirit which created this nation still fires it in so many ways, and the freedoms that keep it alive are an inspiration to a world.

Thank you Patrick Henry and so many other patriots throughout this nation's history, as you gave us liberty. And it's up to each American generation to remember that liberty is a really cool thing to have.

I know I like it.

James Harris