Posts Tagged ‘industry’

Where to now, Homo Developus?

January 16, 2019

Everybody knows that a few years ago we had a big economic breakdown. There were many reasons to explain  what happened in 2008.

Let’s step back in time a little and consider what has taken place on Planet Earth.

During the 1800’s and 1900’s our developed nations undertook a vast, worldwide surge of industrial development, which was accompanied by a universal expansion of business and corporate prosperity. This hyper-expansive phase of human development required very large-scale extractions of natural resources, which were then transformed into mega-stocks of consumer goods.

An abundance of consumer goods brought forth an abundance of consumers.

Consuming.

Consuming the goods, consuming the planet.

The end of the 20th century brought a vast slowdown. It happened in the fall of 2008, and regardless of what the bullish analysts and stimulus-chasers declare, we are still mired in that big slowdown of ’08.

And will continue to be. This is going to morph into a vast leveling out. The industrial age is over. Our planet will not tolerate another 200-year extraction expansion.

Now we have entered into the Age of Sustainable Technology and Appropriate Industry.

And herein a question arises.

Who will run the world?

Is there a cartel of Carnegie, Rockefeller, Edison and JPMorgan-types out there who will forge a new system to transform the old Industrial Infrastructure into the new Sustainable Society?

As the next surge—the post-industrial phase— is being initiated by a new breed of Industrialist . . . the Gates, the Jobs, the Bezos and Buffets . . . the industrialized Civilization stumbles into a new Electronified Zone.

A digitized twilight zone, as it were.

In the wake of the great ’08 Slowdown, we encounter a host of questions that define the logistical problem of where to go from here.

During the Investment Segment’s breakdown of ’08, a lot of very complicated financial engineering became unwound.

One financial analyst, John M. Mason, recently offered an explanation that includes this analysis of what happened in the financial world during the decline of our industrializing phase:

But, in the developed world, the presence of lots and lots of liquidity means very little in the way of corporate capital investment. The environment of credit inflation, built up over the last fifty years of so, has created a culture of financial engineering in the business community and, consequently, corporations act differently now than they did when most of the current economic models were constructed. Government stimulus gets built into greater risk taking, greater financial leverage, and financial investment, like stock buybacks.

   (https://seekingalpha.com/article/4233178-supply-side-world-europe-well-united-states?ifp=0&app=1.)

So it seems to me that the financial guys—the wallstreet wheelers and dealers, etc—having running out of real new industrial infrastructure to invest in, turned to MBS schemes and CDO games in order to keep their game going. Instead of their oversized financial whirligig running on old Industrial Growth stimulants, they rigged it to run on the fumes thereof.

Now in a post-industrial age, we find ourselves as a species, Homo Developus, scratching our heads and wondering where do we go from here?

It just so happens that, in the wake of the Great Industrial Expansion of Planet Earth, there emerges a vast bureaucracy of Smart People—number crunchers, economic theorizers, technocrats, academics, programmers, bureaucrats, not to mention the mysterious ghosts of AI —who propose to reconstruct the detritus of the industrial age into a systemic quasi-social Union that will make sure everybody is taken care of.

And so I’m wondering, what’s the best way to administrate such a civilization?

What’s the best system for governing a federation of post-industrial nations?

What’s the the most effective strategy for managing a cushy, highly-developed Society?

What’s the most humane political structure to assure income and health for all citizens?

Should Europeans, for instance, appoint multiple layers of bureaucracy to enforce labor laws so that every person has a guaranteed income?

Should the State take control of business so that everybody gets a minimal piece of the pie?

And these philosophical, or sociological questions arise:

What motivation compels some individuals to seek opportunity and then develop that opportunity into abundance and prosperity?

What drives the go-getters to excel in economic pursuits? What motivates them to acquire work, money, property, resources, and then manipulate those assets into an overflow of wealth?

What incentive impels them to take care of themselves and their families?

On the other hand, what compels some other people to, instead,  take charge of bureaucratic agencies in order to administrate a Society that assures everyone a minimum of economic assistance?

What drives some analytical people to write laws and devise policies for systematically managing governmental bureaus to assure that everyone is taken care of?

Who is in charge here?

Who is going to run the world?

Will it be the go-getters, the pioneers, movers and shakers, developers, entrepreneurs, rule-breakers, industrialists, business mavens?

Or will it be the wonks who manage the world—the academics, the specialists, bureaucrats, rule-makers, policy-crafters, the tweakers of governmental largesse?

EURomeHdq

Consider Esther Lynch’s observations:

The ETUC has watched the rise in precarious working conditions in Europe—platform working, zero-hours contracts, bogus self-employment and so on—with deep concern. Research in the UK found that young people on zero-hours contracts, for example, were far more likely to report mental and physical health problems than their counterparts in stable jobs. A study by the University of Limerick in Ireland warned that people on non-guaranteed hours could become ‘trapped in a cycle of poverty which strengthens employers’ control’, generating a fear of being penalised if they raised grievances about working conditions. In response, the Irish government has taken steps to prohibit the use of zero-hours contracts, unless the employer can show a genuine business need. Guaranteeing transparent and predictable working conditions would have wide-ranging benefits, in terms of workers’ health, work-life balance and employee retention.

  (https://www.socialeurope.eu/tackling-insecure-work-in-europe)

What does the peaceful development of Civilization require? Management by one, or the other, of these two types? Or Both/and?

Is Civilization founded upon a principle of every man/woman for hmrself?

Or will it settle into BigBrotherSister administering a vast Guarantee for All?

Or something in between.

Keep your eyes open to watch what develops.

Smoke

From Digging to Digitization

October 26, 2018

The history of mankind has consisted of humans pulling stuff out of the ground and reworking it to suit our own survival purposes.

As people became more and civilized, and organized, the underlying survival instinct took a back seat to other motivations—gathering surplus, tribal organizing, development of skills and trades, cooperation and competition. . . eventually industry,  government, education, business, recreation, sports, entertainment.

The progressive developments of all these human activities required something that was necessary and common to all of them:

Resources.

Stuff from the earth itself. Raw material. Basic stuff:

Water, dirt, plants, rocks, ores, animals, hides.

As civilization moved forward, these basics were refined by us— reconstructed, manufactured to fulfill the requirements of human development.

Locomotv copy

The list of basic stuff (above) was revised to include:

Drinks, processed foods, fertilizer, livestock, leather, pets, tools, machines, lumber, metals, trains, cars, planes, appliances, telephones, radios, televisions, computers.

Computers–aha! With these, human development embarked upon a new phase.

Information itself becomes as useful (or at least we think it is as useful. . .) as all the other stuff that we’re using to make the world a more convenient place since the beginnings. Knowledge itself has became a resource. Yeah, though I dare say it—a commodity.

So we notice that over the course of human progress we did move steadily from pulling stuff out of the ground, and reworking it so that we could improve our life, to—

Pulling information out of our data machines.

Like it or not, this is the outcome of human history. We have come to this. Now development is largely about retrieving and using data files to improve life or capitalize upon its developments.

In the same manner as we traditionally removed natural resources from the ground and turned it into our good stuff.

And bad stuff. Let’s not forget that part. Our progressive high-tech life now generates bad stuff. Pollutants, toxins, noxious substances and, of course, shit itself, which still happens every day on a very large scale.

A consequence of our globally massive improvement project is that more and more persons are being driven into knowledge jobs.

Instead of all that plowing, digging, mining, constructing that we did all through history—more and more of us are typing, cataloging, programming, sitting at desks and watching computers do our so-called  work for us. Such activity (relatively, it is inactivity) becomes the order of the day for us as far into the future as many of us can see.

This digitized transformation of human development will bring us to some huge changes. I read an article about it this morning:

  https://www.ips-journal.eu/regions/global/article/show/the-false-hero-called-digitalisation-3050/n

Seeing as how we now have entered the age of information retrieval slowly overtaking natural resources recovery. . . seeing as how we gaze collectively at what seems to be the setting sun of human physical toil, I offer a tribute to the noble enterprise of Human Labor.

RailEngn

This tribute I offer in the form of a song. Gordon Lightfoot wrote it years ago.

It is one of the best songs ever written about the glory of human labor. You may listen to the songwriter’s rendition here:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXzauTuRG78 

I also offer my own rendition of Gordon’s “Canadian Railroad Trilogy”, a song that I dearly love to sing.

    Gordon’s Railroad Trilogy

As you listen to both versions, imagine you are watching a sunset—the disappearing brightness of human labor accomplishment, being supplanted by a foggy dawn of. . . whatever is ahead for our collective endeavor.

King of Soul

New Robber Barons?

March 24, 2018

Somewhere back there, way back in time, we humans discovered how to make use of fire.

By ’n by, another great development happened. Somebody somewhere started using wheels to transport stuff.

The centuries, the millennia, of time rolled and rolled on and on, passing the past, penetrating the present and ultimately forming our future.

In 1439, Johann Gutenberg’s printing press changed, forever, the development of human writing and literacy.

In 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered the undeveloped Western continents that we now call America.

In 1781, James Watt’s steam engine changed forever the development of industry and technology.

But those advances were only the beginning. They set the stage for further developments.

We Americans got hold of these emerging technologies to convert a 4000-mile-wide continent into a New World. And we did it in a magnitude, and on a quickened time-scale, unprecedented in human history.

In the 1800’s, we Americans found ourselves in the right place at the right time to accomplish the largest expansion of commerce and industry in the history of the world.

As it developed, our Revolution morphed into something far more significant than the merely political implications of our Constitution could indicate.

We grabbed hold of Mr. Watt’s steam engine and proceeded to energize an entire continent. As the great zeitgeist thrust of our westward expansion reached full-steam, pioneers reached dizzying heights of exploration and accomplishment.

But a funny thing happened on our way to unprecedented Progress.

A few very smart guys took charge.  Our great, broad-based 19th-century industrial leap was eventually commandeered by a few very smart, very powerful business leaders.

You’ve probably heard their names: Rockefeller, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Morgan.

John D. Rockefeller was the “baron” of Railroads

Andrew Carnegie, baron of Steel

Cornelius Vanderbilt, baron of shipping

J. P. Morgan, finance

~ These men were smart enough to identify strategic developments in the expanding industries of their time period.

~ They then acquired manufacturing and/or distribution facilities that ultimately enabled them to assume control of vast swathes of the emerging industries.

~ They were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, recognize their advantageous positions, and develop those positions into incredible accomplishments.

These tycoons, through their respective working lives, assembled huge industrial assets by which they ultimately consolidated emerging industries into vast swathes of economic power.

Others followed. From the “inventor” category we find these names that you have probably heard:

~ Edison, electricity

~ Bell, telephone

~ Ford, automobile assembly line

By ’n by, as 20th-century civilization powered its way into history, other pioneers, not quite so high-profile as those already mentioned, blazed new trails of invention and progressive consolidation.

In the areas of merging electricity and telephony, new pioneers built upon the legacy of Edison and Bell. Marconi is the name we associate with radio’s transmission.  On the old Continent, German physicists Eccles and Lillienfeld developed the triode vacuum tube which further enabled emerging electronic communications.

By the 1940’s, scientists Shockley, Bardeen, Brattain at Bell Labs developed the transistor, which enabled solid-state circuitry.

Nanotechnology, Fairchild, Lucent, Intel—brought forth the computer and the IT revolution of latter 20th-century digitized lifestyle . . . which is now morphed into . . .

Eface

Cell phones, tablets, pads, pods, all kinds of miniaturizing, convenience-enabling “devices.”

Social Media.

And as we look back . . . not as far back as the consolidators of the industrializing 19th-century, not quite as far back as those old-time “barons”, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Morgan . . .

As we look back at the in-our-lifetime pioneers of IT, who have now become the “barons” of Social Media . . .

Gates, Jobs & Wozniak, Zuckerberg, Page & Brin, Bezos . . .

we find that these men are human, just as we are, human and in some ways faulty, possibly unable to comprehend or anticipate the full consequences of their incredible accomplishments, perhaps culpable in matters of ethical ambiguity, maybe even “guilty” of . . .

“manipulating” people’s profiles, and thus

manipulating people’s lives?

Shall we now accuse them of being power-trippers? Will we judge them as predatory opportunists? Will we call into question their integrity, will we revise our hind-sighted historical assessments of them, as some have judged the barons of a former Era to be “robber barons?”

Zuckerberg a robber baron? I don’t think so.

Give the man a break. He has apologized.

He has done all you guys a favor! by presenting your pretty face to the the runways of this world. Everybody gets their fifteen minutes . . .

or fifteen likes, or 1500 likes, whatevuh

As for me, I don’t do Facebook . . .   well maybe every now and then.

Glass Chimera

The Tweaking of the Technos

September 2, 2017

‘T’was about two hundred year ago that the world tilted toward changing at an exponential pace.

The advent of the steam engine had a lot to do with this. Imagine, for instance, what native American tribes, living primitively, must have thought about the first locomotive when they saw a big huffn’puff thing speeding toward them along the steel track.

It was a terrible sight to behold– belching steam and screaming along across the landscape like it owned the place.

Locomotv

And in terms of world history, that wasn’t so very long ago. We humans have definitely picked up the pace of our progress.

We’ve come a long way since those groundbreaking days of the steam locomotives. Back in those early techno times our big deal was extraction. By means of steam-powered locomotion we extracted vast amounts of resources from vast landscapes for a vastly long time and then we transported those extracted elements vast distances, to industrializing cities where they were converted into vast products that were sold and distributed to vast markets of people whose consuming habits were fastly becoming vast.

All this vastness was enabled because our new powering technologies made everything happen on vastly larger scales, and in vastly faster timetables.

Eventually, the trains went the way of the buffalo when our cars and trucks began to roll off mass-production assembly lines and then all across the globe. Before you knew it, everybody and their brother were driving around via internal combustion vehicles of one type or another, spewing carbon emissions and additives and whatnot all around the globe.

Because so many people had jumped onto the industrio-techno bandwagon we found ourselves with vast labor markets which consisted of vast numbers of people cranking out all these vast inventories of consumer goods and services.

That whole industrial revolution thing wrought the humanic world into being a carbon-belching machine. After a century or two it has become an emissions-emitting perpetual motion device. But nowadays our whole vastly spinning automaton of techno progress is being re-evaluated. For the sake of equality-based prosperity, those vast labor markets are being tweaked by office-loads of technocrats who want to do what is best for mankind. But in a world of expending (used to be expanding) resources, it becomes more and more problematical to keep everybody busy in production.

By ‘n by, for management purposes more and more folks have become involved in producing information, so we can be smart about stuff. Information  used to be stored in libraries, but now is stored in digitized files. Our terminology has morphed. As we used to shovel dirt and ore and coal and whatnot we now move vast loads of information. For simplicity sake we now call it info. Furthermore, as our  exponential changes are happening at a vastly stepped-up pace we have  spun into calling it “data.”

We notice that, while the world economy used to run on vast extractions of elements, it now runs on vast iterations of data. And if you believe that, I’ve got some swampland in Houston I’ll sell ya.

But I digress.

In our 21st-century techno-world we have generated vast hordes of data-analyzers, experts, number-crunchers and technocrats, whose mission is to  keep everything cruising along on an even keel.

Their informed consensus is that we need  a steady state, which eventually morphs into a steady State. Old style capitalism is dead, y’all.

The most potent example of this trend is the Fed.

A century ago, we had banks that were fervently financing the great industrial expansion. Now all the banks have become mere bit-players; the real mover and shaker is the Federal Reserve, the financier of last resort, as they are moving vast file-loads of reserve fiat currencies around the world the way JP and John D used to move their earth-shaking  investments.

Now the Fed keeps it all humming along on an even keel, not too fast not too slow. No more boom or bust, no more depressions, but rather one long macro-recession/expansion whereby we perpetually power the world economy at a predictably stable theoretical 2% expansion rate so as to assure that the main characters have assets to pass around  like peace pipes and, along with that, generally everybody has a job to do so we  don’t have too many folks fall into non-productive dependency on the system.

Good luck with that, y’all.

Therefore,  let us henceforth have everybody producing something, but not anything that will aggravate the emissions hockey-stick curve. Let’s keep the proles fat n’ happy—or, excuse me—fit n’ happy, if possible without deepening the carbon footprint, lest we fall into deep sh_t.

A good way to do that is convert everybody to being producers of data instead of them being producers of carbon-spewing autos and such.

In olden days we had vast factories where workers cranked out trains and trucks and autos and washing machines and TVs and then microwaves and computers and now data and data and data and more data.

So now the world runs on data, don’t you know. And if you believe that I’ve got some swamp land in Houston I’ll sell you.

But I digress.

How ‘bout I give you an example of what it means to be living in a blahblah new world where our collective assets are studiously maintained by  tweaking  technocrats.

Check out this data from an analysis of labor/welfare incentives in Europe, posted  last week by Daniel Seikel.

https://www.socialeurope.eu/activation-work-poverty  

“If it were true that employment is the best route out of poverty, including in-work poverty, then, logically, the share of working poor should at least not increase if there is significant employment growth. The combination of employment growth and increasing in-work poverty suggests that activation policies might shift poor jobless persons/households to poor working persons/households. Therefore, it is necessary to analyse the effects of different labour market policies on in-work poverty. In particular, what impact do the different elements of activation policy – conditionality, re-commodification and active labour market policies – have?

In theory, two effects are possible. First, active labour market policies can improve the qualification of job-seekers and enable them to get better paid jobs. This can lift formerly poor households above the poverty threshold (disposable household income below 60 percent of national median income). Second, the demanding elements of activation – strict conditionality and a high degree of re-commodification – can force unemployed individuals to accept job-offers even if the pay-levels are low. In this case, the income of the successfully activated might be too low to lift the household above the poverty threshold – poor unemployed would become working-poor.

That’s true, Daniel, I suppose. I’ll take your word for it. But whatever happens, however all this turns out, I can see we’ve come a long way from

Locomotv

to

TweakTek

In the olden days, the command was:

Move that barge; tote that bale!

The new program is:

Tote that phone; send that file!

This is progress, and this is what progressives have called for. It’s no wonder the outcome is Twitter, in which all the complexity of former times is dumbed down to 140 bits or pieces per event.

Good luck with that, y’all!

Glass Chimera 

Where is the new Frontier?

November 9, 2016

We will need some kind of new frontier in order for significant growth to take hold.

LadyWork

In the early stages of our nation, that growth came from westward continental expansion.

In the 1920’s, growth came from unprecedented expanding consumer markets.

In 1950’s-60’s postwar America, growth came from rebuilding our nation and the world after the Depression and WWII destruction.

In the 1980’s-90’s, growth came from the computerization, digitization and online expansion of American life.

If we are in for a new expansion, what industry or circumstance will be the basis for it?

If the next expansion is going to truly benefit the little people– the losers in that theoretical “income inequality” gap–then our expansion must begin with them.

It’s time for the bootslingers that tread upon American streets, sidewalks and soils to pull themselves up by our bootstraps, because such a thing as prosperity cannot happen as a result of .gov programs.

The advanced, post-industrial condition of our economy indicates, I believe, that the next wave of innovation/expansion can, and must,  come only from the economic micro-units of our heartland.

That is to say, from the garage tinkerers, the workshop wonders, the flea-market marvels, the home front hopefuls, the lemonade-stand lovers of our land who are unwilling to waste away in social media mediocrity and cabled corruption.

Now is the time for grassroots level renewal.

Now is the time for all men and women to come to the aid of their families, their neighborhoods, their communities, our country.

Donald Trump, bless his heart, may be an amazing guy, off the charts and all that, but he cannot pull prosperity out of a half-empty glass economic base.

The glass half-Full mindset will be based, in our future, on learning how to do more with less. The milking of this planet’s resources can only go so far without seriously strategic enterprising  innovation. That principle will be the lesson and legacy of the Obama years.

I hope we have learned, or will learn, that lesson of resourcefulness, and I hope that President Trump will facilitate our building upon that great base of American innovation and enterprise.

Don’t you Americans be looking for no handouts. That well has run dry. It’s time to drill a new one, but it may have to be in your own back yard.

In this way we may perhaps make America great again.

Glass half-Full

The American Deal

July 13, 2016

Way back in time, hundred year ago, we was movin’ out across the broad prairie of mid-America, slappin’ them horse teams so’ they would pull them wagon out across the grasslands and the badlands, and then blastin’ our way ‘cross the Rockies and Sierras all the way to Pacific and the promised land of California.

GoGate35

And it was a helluva time gettin’ through all that but we managed to do it, with more than a few tragedies and atrocities along the way, but what can you say, history is full of ’em: travesties.

Troubles, wherever men go– travesties, trials and tribulations. That’s just the way it is in this world. If there’s a way around it, we haven’t found it yet.

  But there has been progress too, if you wanna call it that. Mankind on the upswing, everybody get’n more of whatever there is to get in this life, collectin’ more stuff, more goods, services, and sure ’nuff more money.

Movin’ along toward the greatest flea market in history, is kinda what we were doing.

Taming the land, transforming the planet into our own usages, improving, or so we thought, on God’s original versions.

After that great westward expansion transference/transgression, had been goin’ on for a good while, and a bad while now that you mention it, we Americans found ourselves high up on a bluff overlooking history itself. At Just about that time, them Europeans had a heap of trouble that they’d been brewin’ over there and they dragged us into it on account of we had become by that time quite vigorous, grasping the reins of manifest destiny and ridin’ along, as so it seemed, on the cusp of history, seein’ as how we had been raised up on our daddy’s Britannic colonizing, mercantiling knee.

Then long about 1914, them Europeans dragged us into their big fatally entreched mess over there and we went and fought the first Big War, fought them high and mighty Germans that first time and when we got done with it and got back over here the world was a different place.

I mean the world was a different place, no doubt about it.

For one thing, everybody in the civilized world was so glad to have a little peace in 1920, we just went hog wild.

Everybody got out there a-workin’, roarin’ ’20s zeitgeist, scrapin’ crops out o’ the ground, building great machines, skyscrapers. Edison had electrified us; Bell had sounded the bells of modern communication; Ford had tinkered us into a vast new world of mass production with a horseless carriage in every garage and a chicken in every pot and and we were skippin’ right along like a cricket in the embers.

NewkDev

‘Til ’29, when the big crash came along.

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39RKRelTMWk

Some folks said that Mr. Hoover, great man that he was, was nevertheless clueless, and so the nation turned to Mr. Roosevelt for new answers. FDR, young cousin of Teddy Roosevelt who had been the father, so to speak, of American progressivism– cousin Franklin D., Governor of New York, took the bull by the horns and somehow managed to breed it into a donkey.

So from Teddy’s bullmoose progressivism there arose, through 1930’s-style unemployed populist cluelessness, Americanized Democratic Socialism;  with a little help from FDR’s genteel patriarchal largesse, the New Deal saved Capitalism, or so it is said among the theoreticians and the ivory tower legions who followed, and are still following, in Roosevelt’s wake.

Well, by ‘n by, between Lyndon Johnson’s grand Texas-size vision for a Great Society, Clinton’s good-ole-boy nod to residual crony capitalism, and then the 21st-century-metamorphosing, rose-colored proletarian worldview as seen through Obama’s rainbow glasses, and now the upswell of Bernie’s refurbished wealth redistribution wizardry– we’ve turned this corner into a rising tide of  flat-out Democratic Socialism.

It will be, quite likely, soon inundating the tidal basin inside the beltway as in 2017 we slog  into the mucky backwaters of full-blown Americanized Socialism, dammed up on the other side of the slough by that other guy whose oversimplified version of the nation and the world seems to want to land us in a brave new world of American National Socialism.

And who knows which way this thing will go; only time and the slowly softening sedentary, dependent American electorate can tell.

Looking back on it all, today, my 65th birthday, having lived through Nov22’63, April4’68, 9/11, yesterday’s disruptions wherever they may be, and everything in between, I find myself identifying with all the old folks whose weary outmoded facial expressions bespoke disdain,  while I traipsed errantly along life’s way. Here’s to all them ole folks who I thought were a little out of it, one brick shy of a load, peculiar, decrepit and clueless. Now, I can relate.

How I wish America could be back at real work again, like we were back in the day.

We’ve pushed through vastly extracted frontiers that yielded to massive infrastructure networks punctuated with skyscraping towers of steel and concrete. Now we’re lapsing into solid-state, navel-gazing nano-fantasies, living vicariously through celebrities in our pharma cubicles.

Maybe there’s a new frontier in there somewhere but I’m having a hard time seeing it.

But hey! let me conclude this rant with a hat-tip to the man–he happens to be a Canadian–who best eulogized the essence of that once-and-future great North American work zeitgeist, which seems to be disappearing into the dustbowl of history, because it looks like  there’s nowhere left to go.

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjoU1Qkeizs

Well, maybe there is somewhere.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38bHXC8drHc

Glass half-Full

Chicago

June 21, 2014

I say

America moved, I say, back in the day.

She just came bustin’ out from the East.

She came rolling in on wheels, gliding through ship-tossed spray.

She was blowing past some old dearth, yearning some new feast.

We heard her skimming’ o’er Erie, Michigan, and along the deep blue sky,

plucking plunder low, grabbing gusto high.

And when the dust had settled,

after Illinois mud had dried,

when ore’d been changed to metal,

while papa sweated and mama cried,

the new was born; the old had died.

Where dreamers come and workers go,

‘t’was there arose:

Chicago.

 

Born of rivers and the Lake,

she was cast in iron, forged in steel,

bolted fast as rails n’ timbers quake,

careening then on some big steely Wheel

making here a whippersnappin’ deal,

and there a factory, a pump, a field,

o’er swamp and stump and prairie

tending farm and flock and dairy

in blood and sweat and rust

through boom and blust and bust.

ChigLRust

 

They carved out block, laid brick and stone;

our groundwork for America Midwest they honed

with blade and trowel and and pick and shovel.

They swung hammers through dust as thick as trouble.

ChicDNBldg

 

They dug a canal there that changed

the whole dam world; they arranged

to have goods shipped in, and products go.

Reminds me of Sandburg, and Michelangelo.

ChiTribBldg

Many a man put meat on the table;

many a woman toiled, skillful and able.

Thousands of sites got developed, selected,

while many a factory got planned and erected.

(ChiFinkl1)

ChiFinkl1

Many a Chicagoan had a good run,

caught lots of ball games, had a whole lotta fun,

while working, playing, praying and such

with friends and families, keeping in touch.

ChiBldCh

 

In all that we do, the plans we make,

 

there’s forever more going down than we think is at stake.

 

When people wear out, they sit around and play cards.

 

When widgets wear out, we pile them in scrap yards.

ChicScrap1

 

If we’re lucky, or resourceful, or blessed,

we’ll end up with a little something at the end of our test,

a hole in the wall, or a piece of the pie,

maybe a nice little place, by n’ by.

 ChicagoIvy

While Democrats convened in Chicago in ’68,

antiwar protesters got stopped at the gate.

Mayor Daley sent his men out to poke ’em in the slammer.

‘T’was Chicago style justice: no sickle, just hammer.

DaleyPlaza

Today in downtown, Chicago Mayor Daley’s name is all over the place,

though about those radical protesters you’ll find not a trace.

So what does that tell ya about Chicago, or America, today?

We’re like the Cubs’ in the Series;  that’s all that I’ll say.

Glass half-Full

Extraction contraction

January 5, 2013

When the industrializing European culture hit American shores half a millennium ago, there wasn’t much here except what God and the native peoples had made.

This was a virgin continent for sure.

Our English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian et al forebears got busy developing the unspoiled continent, slowly metamorphosing raw earth into commodities and products useful for civilization.

This development process required extraction.

For a few hundred years we were busily pulling stuff out of the land. We planted crops, harvested them, ate the food thereof. We chopped down forests and converted all that wood and pulp into houses, furniture, and paper. We dug and drilled the ground, pulling out water, oil, gold, silver, and iron.

We melted and we smelted; we forged and we gorged; we built and built, strove and drove; we ate and drank. Then while we slept, the wheels of commerce kept rollin’ on, while profits an paychecks rolled in.

We woke up on Monday morning and did some more; we toiled in the day, we worked into the night.  We manufactured, fabricated, alternated, generated; we designed and aligned, we account-padded and value-added. We sold and rolled. We were productive and we were bold ; we were young and now we’re old. Now it’s time for reflection in the evening, perchance goodbyes in the evening. May old acquaintance be not forgot, and always brought to mind.

By God’s grace, we shall rise tomorrow morn.

But in in our human wake, the earth is torn.

So nowadays we’re phasing out all the extractive stuff, or at least thinking about it.

We’ve discovered the terrible price of tearing up earth in order to pull resources out of the ground for further development. Slowly we convince ourselves that our planet can no longer afford to supply, with its raw investiture, the extractive extravagant carbon-spewing, fracking-cracking excesses of our past. It seems we can’t keep going like this without depleting Earth to death.

So we begin to pull back on all the extraction. We outlaw clearcutting timber. We pooh-pooh open pit mining, criticize deepwater drilling, wail over crude oil spilling, regulate rapacious milling and legislate 24-ounce overfilling.

We convert our economies to service industries. Now we’re cutting each other’s hair, laundering each other’s clothes, keeping the books, complimenting the cooks, filling the nooks, filling the crannies, taking care of each other’s grannies.

We develop software, digitize hardware; we’re playing whack-a-mole with malware, while whacking at the cost of health care; now we’re virtualizing virtuosity, corralling creativity, curtailing suspicious activity. Let us now securitize mortgages, consolidate storages, collateralize the debts, take vacations in the sunsets. Surely It’s time to securitize airports, containerize  seaports, and spectate the extreme sports,  while we salivate to tip a few,  or sip a brew, and channel-surf on cable, while we’re still able. We used to surf the net; now we milk it for all we can get.

For the best deal possible.

It used to be we sweated out holes in the ground to pull stuff out; new we’ve come to cruising the lanes of cyberspace, California-style, and exploring the overstocked waters of Amazon. Sometimes we still have to roam the aisles of China-mart to find what we’re looking for.

But we may never find it until we ourselves are extracted from this present arrangement of things.

Glass Chimera

Tappin’ the laptop rap

July 28, 2012

While we nodded, nearly napping, suddenly

There came a tapping, rapping on my laptop door:

 

Let us build a free nation, they said in 1776,

Let us mortar it with liberty; we’ll use this vast continent for bricks.

So then came our great exploration, on horses, on wagons, then on rails,

in a century of expansion, steeped in sweat, and debt, with bundles of tall tales.

‘T’was an age of corn and wheat, a time of tobacco and great toil,

boiling in a cauldron of soil and coal and oil.

On farms and orchards swelled our sweet fruits of sweat labor;

in pastures and ranches our blooms of prosperity’s favor.

Iron horse came a roaring over trestle and prairie

through a land ripe with harvest, rich with mineral and dairy.

 

We were milking the dream, skimming the cream,

moving on muscles and running on steam,

Across the tracks and over the roads, here rode the passengers, there the heavy loads;

extracting the mother lodes, knocking up white picket abodes.

Sodbustin’, soon with internal combustion, we rode, driving cattle and pigs with our pokes,

we volks and them blokes, all manner of folks with their yokes, ever now ‘n then tellin jokes,

we came casting off troubles, heaving the rubbles, and wielding our worn steel shovels,

we went building our houses, our stations and shacks, and nailing up mansions and hovels.

we’re blazin’ trails with ole Dan’l and Davy, eatin’ biscuits and gravy, ‘bibing a wee nip o’ liquor,

through sagebrush the saga and ragtime the raga with bustin’ raw rigor and unlimited vigor.

 

Let us build a rich nation! Let us form companies;

Let us develop, and envelope, opportunities.

We’ll raise capital, and stock it and sell it, until all the shares are sold.

Let us hammer out a Great Northern Railway, on tracks of steel, burning Appalachian coal;

We’ll wrangle our way to the West, dear partner; we’ll wildcat our wells while we roll.

Out of raw earth we summon a Standard Oil, a USSteel, and a B&O;

Across the wide prairies we’ll fence ranches and dairies, with windmills and farms, high and low.

Let’s sign up the hires and string up the wires, tapping Morse signals all the while as we go,

Till we’ve rolled and we’ve tolled and we’ve bought and we’ve sold all the long way to San Francisco.

~~~

Mr. Edison says let’s turn on the light; Mr. Bell says oh yes, and hello

Mr. Morgan proffers finance and wealth, while Mr. Ford cranks up our engines to go.

Summon the lawyers for incorporation, in big divisions, with a company town.

Call Wilbur; tell Orville: let’s drum up some capital, and get this great work off the ground!

Pack me a sack of groceries, will ya, from the corner at the A&P,

and buy us some trinkets and widgets and blinkets from the dime store, or the big new Kresge.

Here in our houses with spouses, in our homes with our loans, we’ll make and we’ll do and we’ll prosper;

now we’ve adorned Lady Liberty with a fashion outfit, and fed her and bled her, and yet we’ve not lost her.

And ‘though the folks in the old country drag us into their wars,

we’ll not lose sight of our stripes, nor dim our bright stars.

 

Let us run our great machines on American dreams!

Drive our Chevys to the levees for beer and ice creams.

Punch us an IBM card and we’ll flip out the bucks, at Kmart and Walmart and Radio Shack.

Bring in this Microsoft, this Apple, this modem and fax. Hey, buy me some Windows and Cracker Jacks.

Truck in the autos; pump in the gas; toss me a loan and float me a boat.

Fling wide the fridge!  Bring me some chips; hook me up with the tube. Where’s the remote?

Sign me up for a card; don’t make it too hard.

Just give me some credit; you won’t need to vet it. Approve my home loan; I’m ready to get it.

You know it don’t matter I’m makin’ half what I used to; I’m presently performing some credit jujitsu.

 

But our great yankee contraption having now been built,

and the boomer consumers all leveraged to the hilt,

the guys down on WallStreet were feeling the pinch.

With fewer and fewer equity opps, they’re no longer a cinch.

Traders squinting for spreads, on margins and bets,

our great growth machine slows, then it sputters and spets.

So let us whip up some synthetic collateralized debt obligations! they said

We’ll bundle those low-grade mortgages in convoluted configurations, and we’ll follow the Fed.

Let’s slice em and dice and twice em and thrice em

to pump up a million, trade up a billion, swap up a trillion, maybe gazillion.

Slap me some MBS, shoot me some CDOs and credit default swaps;

those sub primes are hot, triple-A, so S&P say, too complicated for regulatin’ by SEC cops.

 

So our great American ranches morphed to securitized tranches.

Maybe we shouldn’t have let the big players get in with bank branches.

Was this dot.com trouble– that real estate bubble, our last great Kapital hoorah?

Is this all we got left–this bubblin’ Booyah?

Have we bought for too long on the troughs, have we sold out too short on the peaks?

Are we so severely crippled by our insider leaks?

Have we reached the end of this long leveraging line? With our great capitalist expansion now running out of time?

Has our American Dream Machine run out of steam? Has it sputtered in the gutter  of avaricial schemes?

Say it aint so, entrepreneurial Joe!

Quoth the Trader, “Nevermo.”

 

Now that’s a rap,  on my laptop tap.

Glass Chimera