Saturday, August 1, 2015

But what is middle class?

Working through my own explanations for important things in our world is something I enjoy doing, which I think helps my understanding. And sharing really seems to help me clarify things as if putting it out public gives more focus, and I like to think my musings useful, as long as it is clear these are opinions.

And I've posted several times recently including this recent post where I noted that years ago I also thought it a good idea to come up with ideas for a new political party with a middle class focus. But what is middle class?

To me when you talk about middle class where naturally my focus is on the United States you mean people who are not on direct government or other charitable assistance, who feel comfortable in their community, and feel in control of their lives, for the most part.

Money I think gives a certain amount of freedom.

Pushing on to wealthy I think requires that a person be able to purchase things not necessary for a comfortable life which then are luxuries.

So to me in general differences between middle class and wealthy are about scale, like a middle class household may have from two to four cars, while a wealthy man may own a dozen classic cars.

Or with a home, a middle class family may want as much space as needed. While a wealthy person may occupy a huge mansion.

Yet a person with a great deal of assets--including vast amounts of money--may occupy a middle class home. And in my opinion can be functionally middle class. To me wealthy presents at the point of luxury.

The functional perspective is where I think it gets interesting, as a middle class family occupies I think that optimal place where their efforts in terms of their community are on balance greater than or equal to what they receive.

Then an impoverished state from the community perspective would mean that while a part of a community you have needs which require help from others to a degree greater than you have given by the standards of that community.

May sound convoluted but for example you may have invested a lot in the people within your community where I will not try to define that and they may readily help you as you age without it being considered a debt on your part. In that case I would say if you are comfortable then you are middle class regardless of what money is involved.

Take it from me, being impoverished means loss of comfort and control. Which is to cover when someone is deliberately uncomfortable, like out camping with limited amenities when it is by choice versus really being irritated by uncomfortable things when there is no choice. For instance one of the problems for those who are homeless can be as basic as finding a bathroom to use.

And that's it. My opinion on the middle class is not necessarily how others might see it.

Like you can check out the Wikipedia on the American middle class.

Not surprisingly I think healthy communities want people with choices, able to pursue their interests in ways that help the community, without requiring much if any assistance from others. While members of such a community will assist each other greatly providing services for each other.

So how does money change things?

In my opinion ALL that money does is allow strangers to do things for you under social contracts that limit trust needed.

For example you can go to a coffee shop and have a complete stranger make you coffee, which is a fun experience I often enjoyed. Contrast with making it for yourself or having someone in your close community like a spouse make it for you.

By limiting social trust, society allows SO much more to be done between peoples and lets them share favors with money. Which is what allows modern society to function.

Then millions can support each other in a nation.

Notice though we still have deep social trust at the larger scale of the nation.

So yes, politicians can send young people off to defend their nation knowing that some will likely be killed, which is as huge a sacrifice as these brave young people can give.

James Harris

Monday, July 27, 2015

My opinion on money, risk and stagnant wealth

Found a need to talk out my opinions on money in various posts, and mentioned stagnant wealth in a post where I speculated that it can be a key component in generating unemployment. To me that's just fascinating to consider, but if I go back to some of my thoughts for my idea of money as an abstract enumeration of a favor, there is the wonderful question I've not yet tried to answer, how does money get created?

Trying to find a simple explanation for money, I came across the notion that it is really just a social IOU, where your society promises to pay you back for some favor you did some other entity, but how does that entity get the money in the first place to give you?

Seems simple enough if I think about banks. Let's say a person with lots of valuable things goes to a bank and has them keep some of those things in a vault, like say, piles of gold bullion. The bank hands what was for a time called bank paper to that person, and off he goes and uses it in a way we would associate with money. But it's NOT money.

In the United States, long ago, a federal bank was created, and banks were pushed to using federal reserve notes instead of always issuing their own bank notes as their notes were more risky--if the bank failed their notes were worthless!

But the federal reserve notes are backed by the federal government of the United States of America and are money. So money removes most risk, so that the entire nation has to fail versus some bank for it to be worthless. That's much better, now isn't it?

So the money flows through collateralized loans. Easy. Federal Reserve System loans federal reserve notes to banks, which loan to other entities through collateralized loans, and the money flows into the system, which most of us just call the world. Technically the flows are into the nation, but reality is the currency of the United States travels the planet. Other flow is through salaries to federal employees, of course, but that's negligible compared to the loan flow.

Now on to how wealth can be stagnated. Imagine a well-known and successful individual in a community needs someone to do something but for the moment has nothing but an IOU to give in return! The other person agrees, does the favor, and accepts the IOU. And imagine these IOU's from this high status individual are used in a way we might associate with money. And the person with the IOU gives it to someone else in exchange for a favor. And this goes on indefinitely, but eventually someone decides to call it in. And the trustworthy high status person gives something in return as promised, in exchange for the IOU. But what if at some point in this process some person just sits on it? Then there is no return on the favor. Someone did something without getting anything back for it.

Notice plenty of people can get a return on favors as the IOU travels, but the last person to do something, for some reason sits on it, and the original person has to pay nothing in return, even though he would. The original favor stagnated.

So something like money can be created very easily and people generate IOU's to each other routinely. For instance I think of corporate paper, where I found out just now with a search there are corporate bonds which are long-term and others with shorter terms called commercial paper as an example where there is a HUGE market. But it's still NOT money. What makes money is the IOU is from society itself with a guarantee from that society, so the risk is lessened greatly.

Now imagine some wealthy person does enough favors to gather a lot of money, and sits on it. For instance puts piles of actual cash money all in a vault.

The social IOU's are not fulfilled and are removed from the monetary system. That is stagnant wealth.

Notice if instead the wealthy person buys gold bullion with the money and puts THAT in a vault, it's not the same thing, as the favor was repaid. That is, if you do someone a favor, and they give you money, and you buy some gold with it, then the favor was repaid. You can do what you want with the money as long as you do SOMETHING. If you do nothing with it, then it stagnates.

Money is to be used. And society has to see that it gets used.

Notice that savings are use of money as long as the money is saved in a bank or with investments, as the bank loans the money out, or the investments are a loan in and of themselves.

Without banks you can't have a modern monetary system, as then there is no bulk way for the government to inject new notes into the system. That new money flows out from the banks through collateralized loans only.

There is no way to get the bulk of monetary flow to the people without banks.

Loans are critical to the modern monetary system in getting money into that system in the first place and in maintaining liquidity of the monetary instrument.

Wow that sounded fancy, but I'm no expert. But I like writing things like that here and there.

When money dries up, people have less money with which to pay strangers to do services as explained with my idea of limited social trust. So they may instead turn to close community or do without some services. For instance, you might rely on a close family member to fix something--or try to fix something--versus taking to a repair person. Or build a garden in your backyard to allay costs in shopping at the grocery store.

That pulls more money out of the system and maybe the repair person is no longer employed, or someone working at the grocery store gets laid off, and the impact expands outward causing higher unemployment.

Flush with money though the middle-class which drives most economic activity can hire someone to do repair work. Shop at the grocery store. And may even get pedicures. I've never had a pedicure, but I find them fascinating to contemplate. To me pedicures explain so much about why you need a robust money supply for a healthy economy where most people are gainfully employed.

In the modern era you can collapse an economy easily--just convince enough people to be prudent, do as much as they can without money, like grow gardens for their food, and eliminate expenditures like pedicures. You can crush an entire nation that way.

Money is a powerful tool, but it comes with consequences.

A healthy economy in the modern world requires that we depend on others and have a much larger community in many ways than at any other time in human history. That's a great thing.

James Harris

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Thoughts on my story

When I was a teenager back in 1987, was looking at taking the SAT's for the third and last time, but was severely disillusioned, and for some reason just didn't apply. Luckily before it was too late, one of my teachers Ms. Mary Jane Tipper asked me one day at school was I ready for it and I told her. She freaked out. Got an application, had me fill it out, and send it in, where she paid the application fee plus the late fee. What happened next is like a Hollywood ending, but it's relevant to first go back into the past some years.

You see, Ms. Tipper had been the one who tested me for the gifted program which I entered in the fourth grade when I was nine, and somehow she was there again at a critical moment in my life, when she saved my future.

Where were my parents? In many ways very supportive their support had faltered after a messy divorce. They didn't even know this story until I told it to them recently as I reflected upon it. And I don't like to blame race, but their backgrounds in racist society? The in's and out's of getting your kid into college weren't part of their training. But I should add there was a heavy religious component involved as well.

I was saved by a White teacher in the Deep South, as I grew up in the area of Tifton, Georgia, USA, and my life points to a different reality than most wish to see.

My avid love of reading caught the attention of one of my teachers in elementary school, which is how I'd been sent to Ms. Tipper to be tested. And yup, teacher was White. Wish I remembered her name. Remember her face though. She was young and I never forgot how important it was to her. Even as a child I could see: education is a BIG DEAL as it was written all over her face.

After I got into the gifted program, which in Georgia was called ILP back then, not sure what it is now, for Independent Learners Program, I found most of my classmates were not of my race, as I ended up in the college track. At one point I think there was just me and one Black girl, whose name was I think Hope. I was expected to go to college.

Turns out your peer group has a vast impact on you as a teenager, and as far as my peer group was concerned I was not only one of them, I was just expected to do similar things to them, like most were headed for college.

But as I noted a high score on a test for adverse stressors in childhood in a previous post I had a LOT going against me. Product of a broken home, with so many things I'd just as soon remain private. My parents had always at best been lower middle-class, but poverty had come after the divorce when I and my brothers were with my mother. Being poor is no fun, and is crushing to the ego. It saps your strength, and makes it harder to do important things, like work on your education.

The rest of the story amazes me to this day and actually refreshed with Ms. Tipper recently in a phone call, and was surprised at what I didn't remember. Turns out she also enlisted the help of a classmate of mine named John Dorminey who had a car. He picked me up on the day of the SAT's, and dropped me off back home later.

And when the scores came back, guess what? Already hinted at a Hollywood ending, so yeah, I had the highest SAT of my graduating class.

Mailbox filled up with letters from colleges and universities from all over the country, and for some reason only place I applied was to Vanderbilt University. Thankfully, they accepted me and gave me a full tuition scholarship, and I graduated in four years with my degree in Physics.

Was I in any way a victim of a racist society? I ponder that question but in a different way from most, as yes, to some extent as to what my parents knew, but no, of course not, as to the unbelievable support I got from community, where yeah, important people in that community happened to be White.

Reality is complicated. We oversimplify at our peril.

All kids need community support. And they need knowledge about what best to do.

It's not enough to have opportunity: you have to know it's there, and also seize it, where a prod here and there can make a world of difference. Someone has to be there for you looking out for what's best. I was lucky enough to have that someone.

Thank you Ms. Tipper, a teacher who made a difference. And, John Dorminey for being a great classmate when I was in serious need.

The South will confuse you if you think you understand it without looking deeply. It is so much about community, at its best.

Community is what matters. How we help each other is what makes a difference.

James Harris

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Pushing to unemployment theory?

By my own admission ideas I have around curbs in monetary flow leading to unemployment are speculative, as I don't see a sufficient framework as of yet to consider these ideas to be a science. But it is fun to consider them more and see if the outlines of one can emerge.

First off, the concept is incredibly simple: money represents an abstraction for a favor and monetary flows are required for people to employ each other, where unrealized abstracted favors lead to unemployment.

That is, if someone just sits on cash, for instance, rather than spend or invest it, then they drive up unemployment, is the speculation which I'd like to see lead to scientific theory.

And I noted in a prior post that you can look at agriculture, where if necessary the bulk of a human population can be employed by it, but the rise of modern agriculture and agricultural machinery means that few people in the US, around 2% of the workforce, are needed for it! So clearly people simply shift, which is good news as it means robots will not drive up unemployment, if these speculations are correct.

So let's push this speculation and imagine a person in the US makes $100 million US in some way, and imagine avoids mostly paying taxes, and proceeds to sit on $50 million US in cash.

Only a very wealthy person could do such a thing, as consider someone making $100 thousand US, which would be middle-class, though upper levels. That person would pay a certain amount in taxes, and spend or invest the rest, possibly in a 401 k, so that the entire amount goes to the US economy, and helps support it.

If we speculate a direct relation to the lost $50 million US that is stagnated by the wealthy person, on a one-to-one basis, roughly five hundred people are blocked from employment at the $100 thousand dollar level by this person's behavior. Or one thousand lose employment at half that level, where $50 thousand US is still middle-class.

But where do you draw that wage line then? My guess is that in a full theory it will follow a mathematical curve. So a mix of people at various levels will be unemployed as a result of the stagnated wealth. Usually one starts with the gaussian distribution, which most know as the bell curve. But I'm not going to play with any math here.

That this concept can be mathematized though could mean that economists could.

Interesting, then you could potentially look at a spike in unemployment to get numbers with which you could actually calculate how much money is being stagnated.

Of course there may not be a one-to-one but that's easier to consider for admitted speculations. If this line of questioning is correct, then the actual correlation would be of extreme interest.

So there is an easy to discuss practical use then for an economic theory of this type as if these ideas are correct, they could tell you how many people become unemployed when a wealthy entity stagnates wealth by sitting on it. Governments might penalize such behavior.

And I'm all for a person keeping what they made, and getting a benefit from it, so I'm not someone who looks to higher taxes as a solution! But the tax argument may be far less relevant anyway.

Another way that curbs in monetary flow can lead to higher unemployment is when a worker is underpaid, like say someone makes 80% of what they should make on a job, based say on what others generally make doing the same work, assuming no drop in quality simply that the person is unable or unwilling to get proper pay for his or her work. From this concept that 20% that should have flowed into the monetary supply for the community is simply destroyed money. So it's not even locked up like in the prior example, it's simply destroyed. Which is weird.

But imagine a small village where a wealthy powerful man, has armed some as he begins to slowly stop paying other villagers until he pays them nothing, but his armed ones force them to work, so that they are now his slaves. And not surprisingly the village store goes out of business! Because none of them have any money.

So that thought experiment to the extreme helps to understand at the 80% level.

So underpaid workers actually directly destroy money, under this speculation on the basis of that thought experiment. So they lead to unemployment whether they wish to do so, or not, and governments should work to ensure they don't do that whether they wish to work for less or not.

It could also mean that criminalizing deliberate underpay of workers is an option for governments as underpay directly destroys money, and in so doing leads to higher unemployment, by shrinking the money supply.

So that was fun. It may take a while to firm this up into a consistent framework. But also need some real world information. Theory is worthless without supporting data.

James Harris

Friday, May 29, 2015

Contemplating work, agriculture and our employment future

For most of humanity's existence, finding food occupied the bulk of human activity, and was surprised when researching this post to read that four years ago agricultural activity still accounted for 1/3 of human employment globally. But less than 2% in countries like my own, the United States:

As of 2011, the International Labour Organization states that approximately one billion people, or over 1/3 of the available work force, are employed in the global agricultural sector.

Source: Wikipedia Agriculture--Workforce

Doubt much has changed since, though guess there's a lag in someone actually figuring out such information, so will go with those figures.

Less than 2% of the workforce needed in my country for agriculture? Versus the bulk of humanity if you go far enough back? And it occurs to me that what most people call "work" has changed dramatically.

So what is work?

While I would like to call it human effort, especially difficult human effort like writing something that people find informative, I think functionally employment is needed for a useful definition, and money. So I'll say that generally when people use the word "work" when it comes to employment, they mean efforts done in some kind of socially limited contract for someone else, for some amount of money.

When you consider how societies shift as to employment it makes sense to me it's driven by: who pays whom for what?

You could find someone making lots of money restoring antique furniture, or writing, or making a lot less, restoring furniture, or yup, writing. Actually you often see people making nothing for writing. Like me here.

When people DO make money for writing it's all about the market.

The good news with this assessment is that employment in the future will be driven by what people with money need other people to do for them, and how much they monetarily value it, as well as, of course, what other people are willing to do on a limited contractual basis.

So robots will no more necessarily unemploy everyone than agricultural machinery did.

What does unemploy people?

Other people unwilling to release favors.

I came up with a favor definition for money, seeing it as merely a social IOU, which is an abstraction enumerating a favor. But if a group of people simply gather IOU's without releasing them by using them--that is, buy something or hire someone--then that system is broken.

That doesn't impact normal savings like a rainy day fund or retirement savings though as eventually the bulk of that will be released. Only a tiny percentage of people can just lock up vast sums of money indefinitely with no pressure to release that money. That is, have vast hoards of wealth which they do not need. And that doesn't include investments either, like into new businesses, as that helps drive the system. Am talking about money that is in essence simply locked away.

People who somehow gather favors without ever releasing them, end the system, for those favors.

So vast concentrations of stagnant wealth may reflect a flaw in the abstraction of the monetary system, and apparently lead to vastly higher unemployment, presumably because fewer people are able to pay other people to do things for them.

What people do for each other on a limited social contract seems to expand as possibility expands, if unconstrained. Which is what happened as agriculture dwindled as the bulk employer and you can see the vast array of jobs available today.

So then I can postulate that unemployment is actually an indicator of a problem in the flows of the monetary system. It reveals it. Fascinating.

That's not really intuitive. But IS consistent with prior ideas, as I considered how Henry Ford greatly helped the global economy.

And it really is kind of odd, as I'm saying that those who give favors doing things for others, and receive the social IOU that we call money in return, if they don't allow others to do them favors and hand them money in compensation at a high enough level, they shut down the monetary flow for those favors. It's kind of an odd thing to contemplate.

So there can be a hitch in the monetary system. Vast sums of abstracted favors can be received by some entities which not releasing them back, constrain job creation.

Good news though is that even in a totally automated society people can be fully employed--finding things that strangers can do for each other on a limited contractual basis.

So each of us simply must find things we wish to do, which someone wants done, to establish limited social contracts which both parties find agreeable, to get to a monetary exchange. Yeah, people will keep doing that indefinitely.

James Harris

Sunday, May 17, 2015

What I mean by center-right conservatism

People can toss around words without clear meanings which I think can be problematic, as you get things that might seem weird, like I claim to be a Progressive, but also see myself as a center-right conservative.

But what does it mean to be conservative?

Well I'm going to explain what I mean, as I see it as focusing on society, where a far right conservative sees society as most important. In contrast, I will assert, a far left liberal sees the individual's rights and freedoms as most important.

So a far right conservative would say you must do what it takes for your society to survive and thrive, even if that means you lose out as a human being, like even if you die as a result. Or maybe have a miserable life with no hope or happiness if your society deems that necessary.

While a far left liberal would say that the individual is most important and that all members of a society should, well, get everything. And that individual freedoms and rights trump the needs of society, which should always bend to the needs of the individual.

I take a position away from either side, which seeks to balance the needs of the individual with the needs of society, while leaning more towards society, like seeing protection of the United States of America as more important than protecting every individual American.

Which allows me to say that our soldiers can be sent off to war to protect us, while from the most liberal position, not only should there be no war, but no persons should ever be asked to give their life for others, as those others are no better than they are, and no more important.

Different societies can have a variety of rules, where some of them are rather arbitrary, and from far right conservatism, it doesn't matter. To a far right conservative you do what you are told, and your society makes the rules and you MUST follow them to the letter without question. But from center-right conservatism, the needs and rights of the individual matter more than arbitrary rules and restrictions.

To some the arbitrary rules of conservatism are what makes it evil, as it seeks to crush out dissent, or force people into accepted roles. At its limits conservatism is about control: Forcing each member of a society to be a cog in a social machine, with a purpose dedicated to that society above all else.

While to others, liberalism leads to anarchy, as it gives individuals too much freedom without accountability, and ignores the danger human beings can be to each other. At its limits liberalism is about complete freedom. And liberals assert the rights of individuals to make their own lives without interference, finding out who they are and what their purpose is, without in any way having to defer to others who they see as no better in any way than they are.

Finding a perfect center between these two positions is I think impossible. You have to be far right, right, lean center-right, or lean center-left, or be left, or far left.

If you lean to the right, like center-right, as I do, then you see preserving the State as paramount.

If you lean left, like center-left, you see preserving individual rights and freedoms as paramount.

James Harris

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Equality under the law

Some of the most thrilling words in the history of political thought for a long time seemed bittersweet to me:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...

From the Declaration of Independence

Much has been said about Thomas Jefferson, and as I contemplated his political genius along with his contradictions I realized something: our world was better for the ideal.

What if instead he'd said, you know, it would be really great for everybody to be equal, but some of us are, and some aren't, and, um, I got slaves, so there.

The ideal of equality is a wonderful one, and in practice I find it easier for myself to grab hold of "equality under the law" which is something the United States took its time in getting. But it IS there now. And increasingly so, as new groups of people find protections.

Today I feel simply pride for a political framework which could shine a light in a direction that could move a world. And expressed my mature opinion in a tweet:

Back then I didn't capitalize in tweets. Kind of regret that now. It was a fad kind of thing.

Imagine our world if the Founding Fathers had eschewed ideal for a more brutal reality, or chased pragmatism about what they could make people actually do in their time, instead of vision for a better future.

To me the greatness in the American ideal is not in our reality but in our sense of promise for our future. And as each generation faces its tribulations and trials we are committed to our ideals, as one nation, one people, with liberty and justice for all.

We are "the people" of the United States of America.

So much political wisdom in our history, isn't there? And I relish it, here as I have so much from which to draw from as an American and I'm very appreciative of that as someone who can speak freely as I do here. And in my own way, express myself.

As a nation we are not just what we are now, nor are we what we were, as our best is yet to come I firmly believe.

We will get better. That's what we do. We are Americans.

James Harris

Friday, May 8, 2015

What I call political science

Did a post where I suggested that wealthy people might prefer to loan the government money through bonds than simply lose that money through taxes, because then they can get it back, which can lead them to push for more government debt, which I see as a hypothesis in political science.

And to me science is about a predictive framework, so it's interesting to talk about political science as the art of prediction in politics, which to me is a functional basis.

That is, I suggest to you that "science" is meaningless without predictive value, so political science is the art of prediction in politics, with the certainty that science brings.

If things I suggest in this post make sense to you, then you can be in this context a scientist, and I like that maybe politics offers a way for more people to experience the joy of science in a way relevant to themselves, and also meaningful to their society.

And first of all, a hypothesis does not mean necessarily true in science. Which gives me leeway to explore the hypothesis that wealthy people deliberately push national debts on the world to avoid taxes, without saying that must be the case.

Its value in a potential scientific theory is predictive, if it has value: What can we predict with such a hypothesis?

Well, we might expect government debt to be intractable, and rise regardless of economic reality. We also might expect to see behaviors that would increase the debt, like wars. And we might expect to see wealthy people flooding into politics to protect this system from being dismantled.

Notice, no mention of political parties or ideology. No need to worry about Republican or Democrat, or liberal or conservative.

That ability of science to simplify, or reduce a problem to simpler parts is something called reductionism. And for some people that might be something they hate about science which seems to suck the life out of things, reducing them to cold, hard, and maybe even, inhuman consideration.

One interesting thing I think that follows from this line of inquiry is the possibility that there is a maximum for tax outlay from wealthy members of a society with a balanced government budget. Then their monetary support of government would be completely by taxes alone, with no money that can be returned to them directly, as is possible with bonds.

That is a statement about a mathematical curve. Of course running a surplus might mean higher taxes for the wealthy in the short term, but not sustained indefinitely.

Government bonds are like money with a string attached, allowing payment for government services, and later yanking back the money which paid for them, even if the citizen benefited as well. While taxes do not have that return possibility.

The next thing that science allows is testing.

That is, in a true political science as I see it, which is a functional reality, you can test a hypothesis, in order to see if it's true. And there are multiple ways to test the hypothesis that wealthy people, for instance, actually get into politics primarily to keep their taxes low, by running up government debts, which in essence is like tying a string to their money, to yank it back, versus simply losing it, as they might see it, in taxes.

So what about people who claim to be political scientists, or political pundits or commentators, why would they maybe not call out such a system?

Well presumably wealthy people would be smart enough quite simply to pay them off in various ways.

And we could check that hypothesis as well, looking for monetary transfers of various types in order to preserve the hypothetical system.

And yet, this entire political science hypothesis, could all collapse if reality revealed, none of the above, or too low a level to consider the hypothesis to be correct.

So then, isn't science fun?

I love it.

The point of science isn't to win an argument. It's not to convince people of one thing or the other. The point of science is to get predictive certainty.

Like flipping a light switch.

James Harris

Friday, April 17, 2015

Reality check on government bonds

My understanding is that the primary way governments raise revenue for government services is with taxes, but also there is the issue in our modern world of government bonds.

One way bonds can be convenient for a government is if there is a sudden need for revenue, but it's not feasible to rapidly raise taxes on its population, so instead it issues bonds--letting its citizens loan it money, temporarily.

So what if some of those citizens loan the government money for continuing operations on a longterm basis, yet receive services?

Imagine some situation where the government instead, say, rose taxes by $1 trillion US instead of issuing bonds, then it would take that money directly from its people, where in a progressive tax system that means the wealthy would pay the bulk and just lose that money.

Money paid for taxes is just gone. When you pay your taxes, just say bye-bye to that money.

Instead, let's say the wealthy loan the government that $1 trillion US, and get the services anyway, so now they didn't lose the money! The government owes them for services it provided to its citizens, including them.

So the government still provided the services! In one case they just taxed people to pay for them, while in the other some people got to loan the money in, meaning they can get it back!

See how that works? If it were taxed, they'd just lose the money, though they would also get government services in return. But if instead, they have a government run deficits, they can get it back!

Understand why the wealthy might prefer such a system?

But can it work forever? No. The government is providing services! Those cost money, which have to come in taxes, so it's deferring the costs to later generations, or the government will default down the line.

That means the total national debt rises. But guess who get most of the interest payments?

The wealthy who own the bulk of it. For instance most of the US debt is owned by Americans, so don't get distracted by which foreign power owns a chunk of it. Most of it is owned by American citizens.

That money is owed to them where to pay it the government needs to tax, where presumably they would pay the bulk of it, to get the money owed, yup, to them!  Unless they can live to a ripe old age and die first, of course.

However, if you're some wealthy person who has your taxes cut down by a huge level, do you necessarily care who has to pay for services you received along with others?

I'm not wealthy, so I don't know if they consider that or not.

But, if money is your focus, I wonder if you'd care who has to finally pay for those government services you loaned money to the government to have, versus being taxed for them.

Government services have ballooned under this system. It's not clear to me, if it's fixable, as I see it as a problem. Conceivably we could balance budgets, and run surpluses until national debts are eliminated, but I'm not seeing evidence of a movement in that direction around the world.

Like, our politicians seem remarkably uninterested in making that happen, despite talking about it quite a bit, but um, anyone notice how many of them are rich?

James Harris

Money, trust, and politics

It surprised me recently to realize it had only been about three and a half years since putting up publicly my own ideas for a political party. Seems longer. And it is fascinating to contemplate how quickly the creative excitement faded after talking to just a few people.

Turned out I gained #1 in web search--which has sense faded--rather quickly, which means I had a conversation starter and actually remember just one conversation in an Irish bar where it's so much fun to talk politics! And was talking with a nice Irish couple, as yup, plenty of Irish hanging out there, and we were mentioning things a political party should have. And I was so excited as we kind of mutually came to the same conclusions, and then I mentioned my search. They could do it on their smartphone. They did. And I got smiles.

Of course later I'm like, wait a minute, what if? What if I DID come up with a new political party which went on to become the dominant party in the United States of America?

Was one of my favorite hangouts, now closed. Picture from 2008.

With money in politics a big deal, I can gleefully state years later there's no money thrown my way. Core Middle Party is an idea of mine, without an infrastructure, and NO money whatsoever. But of course money is a big deal so I figured it out, and came to the conclusion that our monetary system depends on and benefits from limited social trust.

Money means you only have to trust that person in a transaction, so much.

Money lets you get a lot done without the deep social trust had between close friends, family, and close community.

So money enables modern civilization. Without it, we'd all need to live in small villages.

But limited social trust only goes so far. That person you pay is only obligated to the limits of the contract, which may be stated, written, or implied.

Which is why we don't like bought politicians.

Whether we, the people, like it or not, the people have to have deep trust in political leaders who are trusted with leading the nation in its defense against all enemies foreign or domestic. They can literally agree to the sending of our young people to die on missions necessary for our defense as a nation.

There must be a deep social trust for modern society to function.

But if a politician is actually money-focused then he can be bought by the highest bidder. All you need is enough money.

Turns out you can see if money is corrupting your politics easily: politicians get rich.

Thought it was hard? Why?

Have you seen many people just fall into wealth without doing anything for it?


It doesn't work that way. People don't just make you rich for the fun of it, in general. And people don't just happen to get rich by accident.

And you know? Our modern society rewards money-focused people who can give so much in their pursuit of riches.

So you can say that modern society needs money-focused people.

We just don't need them in politics.

Yeah, some people get vast wealth forced upon them, but I think that's a small club.

Usually, you have to try to make money to get money. Believe me, I know.

Politicians dedicated to public service don't have time or inclination to get wealthy.

Yes, it can happen anyway. You can get lucky, like winning the lottery. Or have a great investment firm, but it's not like it would be important to you, you know? After all, what could it possibly represent that is better than community? Service?

The best of us, get what they aim to achieve. Your focus determines your direction.

And if you are community focused, there your most proud accomplishments will be found.

Someday I wonder if I'll face hard questions about money. But regardless have calmed down a lot about many things. Like the best thing about my story of the Irish couple was that we were chatting along easily enough about politics and agreeing.

Consensus is a wonderful thing, as it's not really about my ideas after all. I very deliberately went in search of our best American ideas. And maybe the best thing isn't whether or not those lead to a new political party or not, but that we remember.

Our politics will be ok, eventually. After all, it's not like you can hide when money is your focus, and plenty of people want better.

It doesn't take many conversations to figure out the politics that people want from their best selves either.

So I know I'm not alone.

James Harris

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Link to original Core Middle Party PDF

Back October 2011, I put up a post with my own ideas for a political party that I decided to call Core Middle Party.

And I have decided to put up a link to the original PDF that I created of it soon thereafter, which goes to my Google Drive.

It's interesting as I was debating with myself if I should update it somehow, but it's easier just to share the original though some things have changed as I am no longer registered as a Democrat, but am an Independent--should that really be capitalized? Oh well, will leave it that way.

Am happy though that I think I covered the bases rather well, and will admit that I use the original to help me figure out positions on things. And I decided back then not to edit the original any further so it's what I typed up that day exactly.

You know? With over 3 years distance I'm getting that weird thing where I can detach myself from it a bit, which is making me value it more.

Will there ever be a working Core Middle Party with other members? Right now it's just an idea I had where I don't know of anyone else that wants to lay claim to being part of it, but I'm kind of keeping that light burning you might say.

For me though it already is my identification, so I like to think of myself as a Core Middler. Officially though as that's not recognized I'm just an independent voter.

James Harris

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Money and resource allocation

Have spent a lot of time talking about money, and I think for many there is the idea that money has its greatest benefit in helping societies allocate resources. After all, it lets us put a monetary amount on the value of something, but I have already spent some time talking about limited social trust and how people tend to use money for things they value LESS, which is not something only I noticed.

When searching on the web I came across a Wikipedia article on the paradox of value, which brings up water, which is great, as water is an important resource.

Not surprisingly in my country water is SO important, most people pay very little for it, though others pay more by buying bottled water.

In fact, water is so important that I suggest to you that the only reason people pay any money for it at all in the United States, is to limit overuse.

However, there has been corporate interest in the area, where water rights can be bought up in some communities, where conceivably people could be unable to pay the corporation for water down the line, so what would happen then? Well the government would step in of course and simply take the water rights back--without regard to money.

People can't live without water. And in fact if you take water from a person for only a day, he will be in distress. If you keep it away from him for over a week, he will die.

Even if he's a billionaire, what good is his money if no one will give him water? Like if he were kidnapped?

Yet water is one of the most important resources where money clearly is NOT good at allocating, and in fact, I think most resources in society are actually allocated on community needs.

More than most may realize I'm saying societies allocate most resources, especially important ones, by other means than money, and then may simply slap a monetary value on something after the fact, which can be entirely arbitrary. For instance, how much is a nuclear weapon actually worth? Or any medical cure? Or a college education?

Why? Because money is NOT a system for resource allocation as water demonstrates, but is a way of enumerating the value of a favor. It has limited utility, as it requires limited social trust. And in fact, when things get VERY important, people act without any regard whatsoever for money, as it is then irrelevant.

After all, paper money is just scraps of paper with stuff written on them. It is, in and of itself, utterly worthless. But it is a symbol of a favor which can have value. But very limited value in carefully socially circumscribed areas!

Resource allocations in society actually follow different rules, like how do you pay firefighters?

You can't pay them per fire put out, right? You can't give incentives for setting fires so that firefighters can get paid by putting them out.

If you ponder how a community figures out how it should pay people like firefighters, police officers, and political officeholders, it doesn't take long to realize that mainly you want to give them enough to live, support a family, and have a certain amount of social stature within the community.

Which means, of course, that people who want to get rich don't take such positions, though in corrupt societies, unfortunately, they may take such roles which is a CLEAR sign of corruption. So, someone becoming a police officer to get rich, may do it to take bribes from drug dealers. And a politician may get elected in order to parlay political favors for wealth from wealthy people or corporations.

People who are more community oriented, who treasure family, friends, and human beings working together for the good of all, are NOT going to be money motivated.

While people who are money motivated are unlikely to be any of those things, as their focus is on gathering favors from others.

For instance, it is cliche to talk about a man pursuing his fortune utterly ignoring wife, family, friends, community needs, etc. in his relentless pursuit of it. His focus is NOT on community.

Can a society operate without money? And the simple answer is, not if it's a big one, as money provides the important mechanism of limited social trust. It limits how much we need to trust people. And in so doing allows business as we know it in the modern world which has given so many in our world so much. Reality is that trust is a BIG DEAL. Being able to limit it, is the foundation of the modern monetary system.

Your community has to trust that firefighter. So you do as well, and if your house is on fire, you do not have the right to question his orders, as he tries to save your life and property. Which he may do at great risk to his own life and personal safety!

But that guy just out to make a buck? Need to trust him? Thankfully, not nearly as much.

James Harris

Want a PDF? Trying out sharing from Google Drive. Just click this link.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Wealth versus ruthless behavior

One of my favorites from last year was a post concerning Henry Ford. He is an icon of American business for good reason with good and bad elements to his story, but one thing that impressed me the most was the bravery and audacity he showed by more than doubling the salaries of his workers. Can you imagine today? What if your boss, if you have one, doubled YOUR salary?

And it was a fierce fight for him to get that done, though he controlled his company. There was a lot of opinion against, but thankfully he was brilliant enough to see the possible, and make it happen.

But what about the fierce rich? What about the cruel wealthy who ruthlessly fight to limit pay to their employees? And the reality is that we more often associate brutal, ruthlessness with the wealthy, even though there is plenty of evidence it's not the best way for them to gain greater wealth.

Surprised? I'm sure plenty of people believe all kinds of things not true about how you build a fortune, including ruthless back-stabbing, lying to your employees, regulators and anyone else. Avoiding paying taxes. Cutting salaries and endangering employees by not paying attention to safety. And many other ways of cheating that are often associated with wealthy people and corporations and every single one of those things is horrendous for actually making profit in the real world.

Customers don't exactly like shoddy products that fall apart as soon as they try to use them. Disgusted and angry workers don't exactly build the best things. Bad safety practices, well, can burn down entire buildings. And you can dream of beating people into doing what you want, but reality is people don't exactly respond well to it. Would you?

Fantasy is one thing. Actually running a business is another.

So why do people believe otherwise? Because I think there are plenty of businesses that engage in those behaviors and claim it's to make money.

Why do they make that claim?

While there are cases where bad business practices, or changing business climate can push people to cheat, I think usually it's because they like doing it.

That ruthless boss who is so hated by his staff that they dream of his death, probably enjoys inflicting pain on them--even if it hurts the company's performance.

That supervisor who humiliates and demeans employees, just likes to do it, even though it hurts company profits.

That person who cheats and cuts corners, may just be lazy, or even stupid, possibly in a position because of who he knows, or whose son he is, when he has no clue what he's doing.

And I could go on, and on.

People make excuses for bad behavior because it IS bad. Claiming it's a way to make money, even when it's not, is easy. Easy is appealing to some.

But the best in business can't afford the business consequences of stupid behavior.

Henry Ford went on to become even more fantastically rich, where doubling the salaries of his employees was just one part, but an important part of his success. Those around him who thought it would bankrupt him were just plain wrong. It helped do the opposite.

It's weird to consider: but if Henry Ford had listened to those people American history would have been drastically different, and he would probably never have become as rich as he did! They were counseling against the path to far greater wealth and stature on the world stage. Those who thought he was wrong to do it, even though also wealthy, were just not as good at business.

And thanks to his stubbornness he helped invent modern America.

Appropriately Henry Ford is given a lot of credit for the rise of the modern middle-class--around the globe.

Today with that group under siege by ruthless wealthy, who dedicated tremendous efforts to unraveling this country's economy, it's worth thinking back to how much has been undone.

Some wealthy will always be convinced that inhumane ruthless behavior is the key to success, but who ever said that being wealthy meant you were also smart? I sure wouldn't.

These people lost American lessons that go back to Henry Ford.

Ruthless people have made their way in business. I'm sure. But who gets to make America?

Thankfully, we're learning again that paying people what they are worth, or at least trying, is a lot smarter than ruthlessly trying to exploit them, as not only does that not best build profit, it breaks down the economic base of the United States of America.

We need a country that works for everyone. Lets everyone work best. And puts wealth in its proper place.

Our country does not limit how much you can make.

So no one in this country should limit this nation's potential.

James Harris

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Money and limited social trust

Been pondering the subject of money for many reasons and realized recently that we tend to NOT use money for plenty of things where deep trust is important, like personal relationships, but find it most useful in areas where trust needs to be limited.

For example in many civilized countries you can meet a stranger, have them sign a written contract, give them some money, and expect that person to do very important things for you, without fear.

That trust in the situation is backed by the machinery of your society, which will work very hard to ensure that such transactions can take place, for the good of the society. You do need a business trust that the person will fulfill the contract--but it is a limited social trust.

In contrast if I meet a nice lady, and we fall in love, there is a deep trust. And there is no written contract in the world that can cover all the bases, so most people go with simple vows in a public wedding.

That trust is so deep that society expects a couple in love to care enough to die for each other if necessary, which is as deep a level of trust as you can get. It is then, unlimited trust. Pick the wrong person for unlimited trust and God help you. (Though it occurs to me should add, wealthy often rely on a prenuptial agreement as well.)

So money is most effective in areas where people need limited trust, and means you can do work for someone, say, in the state of Georgia, USA, and get a promise of value in return in the form of scraps of paper called money, which you can use just about anywhere in the world you might travel as long as US dollars can be exchanged for local currency or are accepted.

That is a HUGE thing which allows the world economy to function, as money allows people to trust each other, even complete strangers, in a way that is limited versus the potentially unlimited trust of members within your community.

So for instance firefighters are willing to give their lives in defense of their community as are soldiers, and we wouldn't even think of allowing that to depend on monetary reward! While the best people willing to do it, wouldn't either. So there is a deep social trust involved.

In contrast, we happily give money in limited social trust situation, where contracts of various kinds specify exactly where those limits might be! And in society there are written contracts and verbal ones, as well as socially understood ones, so for instance, if you go into a store, and make a purchase you don't have to sign a contract to have legal protections.

Why emphasize these basic points? Because the web has created seemingly muddled situations where people can do things of great importance to community, with very little or NO money in return.

And others get very wealthy, where it can seem very unfair.

However, consider that person who does things for others for the benefit of humanity, versus that guy who maybe becomes a billionaire looking out mostly for himself, whom would you rather be?

Different people may have different answers.

Better might be to be that billionaire who does things for others for the benefit of humanity, but really, how many do you think there are?

And how many billionaires can there be? But how many can do their best for the benefit of humanity?

Each of us can ask ourselves questions, and see how it shifts how we look at people in our world.

Like can you imagine if firefighters arrived at a burning house and started a bidding war for how much you'd be willing to pay before they put out the fire?

Or what if top US Army generals informed you that pay up, or defend yourself?

And what if--what if our military leaders were the wealthiest people in our society as they made you pay for what your life is worth before they would defend you?

Would you give control of nuclear weapons to such people?

I wouldn't. Bad enough anyone has such weapons, but think of how much worse things could be, if the people controlling them cared only about money, and God help you if you didn't pay them what your life was worth to you.

Seem like too much? Well those things are out there whether you like it or not, or think about it or not, and there are people who control them. It matters what kind of people they are.

Throughout human history I think MOST people have figured these kinds of things out on their own, after all, deep social trust has been around as long as humanity, while money is a recent invention. But lately I think there has been quite a bit of advertising pushing the notion that money is what truly matters. People with lots of money kind of have a lot of ability to push things on others you may have noticed.

But that's not necessarily a bad thing. We need modern society.

Modern societies can push things that I say are about limited social trust as that is required for them to function, so they need you to plunk down your hard earned cash and buy something. That helps fuel the vastness of modern human enterprise which has done so much for so many. But there must be a balance. Most of us also treasure deep trust, and the unlimited nature that can make it terrifying, but without it...well go back to that part about firefighters.

We are so very lucky to have people who will put their lives on the line for us and yes they should be well paid, but money is not the reason.

Whether you accept it or not, I'm certain that deep social trust will define how well your life is lived, while limited social trust through the invention of money, helps your society to function, but will never guarantee you the best that life has to offer.

So yeah, sorry, but you can produce something of tremendous value to VAST numbers of human beings who will thank your commitment to community, and not pay you anything at all, as it's not about money then.

The most important things in life are about our humanity.

James Harris

Sunday, March 22, 2015

So what is capitalism?

People can toss a word around where the meaning can get a bit fuzzy and hearing lots of talk about "capitalism" I thought it worth it to post about what it is. And will start with what the Wikipedia claims it is:

Capitalism is an economic system in which trade, industries, and the means of production are largely or entirely privately owned and operated for profit.[1][2] Central characteristics of capitalism include private propertycapital accumulationwage labour and, in many models, competitive markets.[3] In a capitalist economy, the parties to a transaction typically determine the prices at which assets, goods, and services are exchanged.[4]

For instance, if you make money from a store you own in a neighborhood, you are a capitalist. Your store is your capital, as well as the products it sells, which you presumably buy on the free market. And the living you earn from selling goods to others from your store is your profit.

For a country, the alternative in general to private ownership is that the government owns, for instance the store, and provides goods to a population.

And that's it.

So what if the neighborhood owns the store? Then the owners in the neighborhood are capitalists, if they operate for a profit. If they don't then they aren't.

Is there any scenario where people other than the government own the store which does not make the owner's capitalists?

Yes. If they don't make a profit from the store. But no, if they do.

That is, if you follow the definition, then the neighborhood store is capital. And those who own it, if not the government, are capitalists, if they make any money from it.

If they don't, then no.

And you can build from there.

The alternative from private ownership is ALWAYS the government owns.

So how can people operate something without a profit? It depends on how you define "profit".

My own view is that what you call profit is a matter of community.

What's interesting to me is that if you go with a person owning a store in a neighborhood who does NOT make a profit, then I guess that person would need to be independently wealthy to run the store.

But a community might be able to run a store without profit, assuming members of the community have income from some other sources.

While the government can run a store without profit, as it can rely on taxation.

And we can see an example where primarily the government runs things, where also there is private enterprise with education.

Here in the US below college level, schools are primarily run by the government, though there are private schools. At the college level, there are government run colleges and universities, as well as a lot more private ones, but even those are still for the most part non-profit.

And government pays for running schools at all levels primarily through taxation, though students are also at the college level often asked to pay fees.

And it can show how a community can move something outside the realm of profit motive as American society sees a benefit in educating its children. Yet things shift a bit with young adults, who aren't guaranteed a free college education. Though some have suggested such a thing.

But at this point in time, it's not clear what the value is, as college isn't for everyone, while EVERY American child needs school. Where I'm sure there is no real debate in this country as to whether or not that is true as it's a cultural value of this country.

James Harris

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hypothetical: What might a President Snowden do?

Let's use our imaginations. Imagine that the efforts of Edward Snowden are revealed to have also outed an unbelievable plot by a foreign power to infiltrate the US and nuke Washington D.C. using our own nuclear weapons which almost succeeded. It nearly succeeded because of unbelievable lapses in security, which Snowden helped reveal. That information is currently classified, but is revealed in the next couple of months. Mr. Snowden becomes a national hero, returns to the US in triumph, is enlisted into a presidential campaign and is elected president of the United States in 2016, and inaugurated in 2017.

In this fictional scenario, what might President Snowden do next?

I think he might direct his Justice Department to begin a series of high level investigations which could lead to federal prosecutions for violations of the US Constitution.

But do we even need to go to such an extreme? Couldn't the next president do that anyway? If so, how is it that we have people who seem to behave as if no one will ever check them on the constitutionality of behavior which Snowden revealed, where we know they violated the US Constitution as you can just read it, see what they did, and know.

Or, if that's too far-fetched for people who haven't actually read the US Constitution, what about those CIA people who were torturing prisoners? What if the next president prosecuted them?

Why are they not afraid?

Our system of government is robust in that in principle it has an indefinite mechanism for the continued life of the nation which involves elections. Last I heard no one has a crystal ball as to who will get elected, which is another barrier against wrongdoing.

Yes, one group of elected leaders might protect you now, but what about the new ones later? You should NOT have any guarantees there, right?

But we're seeing people behave as if they DO have guarantees. They're acting as if they already know who the next president of the United States of America will be!

Hadn't noticed? Then think again. If I noticed, then other people have as well.

We have people behaving today as if they know the political game is fixed, so they will never be prosecuted, which explains why they went so wild! They were not afraid.

But if so, on what basis do they have this certainty? And if they think it is fixed, by whom?

Wish I could get an answer from one of those people, as maybe they already know, to a simple question: who will be the next president of the United States of America?

James Harris

Thursday, March 5, 2015

American politics and learned helplessness

Was glad to hear about a Justice Department review of the police department in the city of Ferguson, Missouri. That review is part of what is often called a breaking news story at this point, as it just recently happened, and I'll link for reference to one article addressing it at The Atlantic from Conor Friedersdorf here.

And national attention has apparently revealed much that should have been known and addressed a long time ago, in a nation where racial issues have long been problematic.

So why wasn't it?

Another recent example involves allegations against a wealthy team owner which lead to his loss of his team, and for me it was strange listening to extremely wealthy and powerful athletes, who seemed certain that as Black men they could do nothing except accept.

Which has me thinking about learned helplessness.

In a country where Black people dominate at many levels from the presidency, to giants in the entertainment industry, and yes, in business though less visibly, why would it be taken for granted that there's just no way to address these kinds of situations as in Ferguson, Missouri until they explode?

How could the Justice Department have a Black Attorney General, who somehow can't handle a police force like in Ferguson, until intense national attention forces him?

Isn't it the job of his department to protect American citizens?

And why did those powerful Black athletes, tolerate what they did for as long as they did, until a dramatic story forced people around the globe to wonder?

As a Black man myself I am often amazed to listen to others tell me how hopeless the situation supposedly is, how supposedly impossible it is in this country, which they believe is just relentlessly hostile to Black people where they also believe it will never change.

When pressed they may calmly inform you that nothing has really changed in this country for Black people. And they are certain it never will.

Absorb that for a moment: the history challenging belief that NOTHING has really changed in this country for Black people and never will.

Psychology covers this area well. And it turns out there are basic reasons for why people can learn that there is no reason to try, when they have been oppressed for long periods of time.

If someone believes such a thing, why would they address injustice? What would be the point?

Too many supposed leaders of all races, as I don't think race is actually a real political issue any more in the US, get away with not addressing real concerns of citizens, based on a de facto belief that the system is too rotten to support justice.

So what makes them think they are then loyal Americans? If they no longer believe in their country?

Science has many of the answers we need. But it takes leadership to protect the people.

James Harris

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Adverse stressors in childhood matter

Just watched an incredibly important TED talk and wanted to post to include the video and link to the website for the ACE study mentioned in the talk. But it's not just a public health crisis that is incredibly important where there is a lot known know about how adverse stressors in childhood literally change the human brain, it is also a personal one.

I just took the ACE quiz before making this post, as it is online and it didn't take me long, and it's a way to mention things I've kind of wanted to mention without giving way too much personal information, and I scored a 7.

Here's the video:

In the video Dr. Nadine Burke Harris--not a relation as far as I know--talks about the health impacts of early childhood traumas. It's important to emphasize these literally change the developing brain. Someday a brain scan may be all that's necessary to detect and diagnose, but for now there's the ACE quiz. And yeah, it's scary to contemplate for me with my score and she talks scores in the video so you can hear its implications.

And I grew up in a lower middle class home to very religious parents. Went on to Vanderbilt University on a full tuition scholarship. Have 5 years active duty service in the US Army working at large medical centers, and left with a honorable discharge. Along with a host of other positives I could mention, which I think can maybe hide so much.

And I've struggled with massive issues mostly in the dark, where I will hold my privacy as to the details, and will admit to recent issues with high blood pressure. It can be hard to face these kinds of things as I think we all either wish we had idyllic childhoods, and figure no one does, or have gotten tired of people seemingly making excuses for their lives blaming supposedly bad ones.

The science, however, is where there can be a clear path both to mitigation and treatment without any loss of adult responsibility for one's actions.

Adverse Childhood Experiences Study website:

Science here can make a difference for so many people, including protecting their dignity, and helping them get the medical treatment that works best.

James Harris

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Biggest gamble in human history

People don't debate the physics of the gun. Sure they debate who should have them, but what Republican would stand up and argue with you about what usually happens when you pull the trigger on a loaded gun? So why this bizarre rejection of science all of a sudden when it comes to the climate?

Right now the United States of America leads the world in many ways. For that reason the world looks to us to look out for ourselves and them, which may to some extent be misguided. But nonetheless it is a responsibility that requires sober consideration of consequences if we are a horrible leader.

If you make the bet against climate science, and you're wrong it's like looking down the barrel of a loaded gun thinking your opinion matters.

I doubt any Republican or any climate denier would dare.

So why pick on Republicans here?

Because more so than any other party they claim to be conservative when their bet could be considered traitorous to this nation. No true conservative would so dare.

They need to be called on reality.

Throughout human history, plenty of people have bet against science. Some have confronted guns certain in their faith.

The guns won.

Science is a tool. Leadership demands that you respect reality, not play pretend, not dream of a fantasy that you wish were true.

Reality dictates. We just live in this reality.

When you start wishing on a prayer to save you, then don't be surprised when reality blasts you out of existence. Oh, maybe when you get to Heaven you can argue with God about what happened to you, if that's where you're going.

Here on planet Earth, the true leaders will be making the right decisions. Because that's what the best leaders do.

You may not like guns, but you respect them, if you understand reality.

And before it's all over, humanity will learn respect for climate reality too. I guarantee it.

So you make that bet against the science of the climate. Science will win.

But whether you live or die as a consequence, humanity will find the leaders and follow them.

These people who think their opinion matters to our climate are as ephemeral as all who have come before them, and soon enough they will, as will I, find their place in the dust, but humanity will endure. This nation will endure.

But with what consequence?

If the power of the delusions of a few means the United States steps aside from its leadership role, people will know who to blame.

Don't bet against my country.

You will lose. I guarantee it.

James Harris

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Home on Google+

There is a Google+ home for this blog which focuses on my ideas for a new political party that I call Core Middle Party.

Interested people are invited to check it out, add it to their circles if they are on Google+, and of course feel free to comment:

Why not check it out?