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Bob Whitcomb’s Digital Diary: Trump and Clinton, Raimondo’s CA Developer, and Warren’s Greatness

Friday, October 14, 2016

 

Bob Whitcomb

Automation’s assaults; head of state?  get another developer; from cranberries back to wildlife; wonderful Warren

 

Many politicians, most notably Donald Trump, have talked about international trade’s destruction of American jobs. But there’s been far too little discussion of how to respond to automation’s assault on well-paying jobs. The losses have been concentrated in such places as factories and many other places employing blue-collar workers, as well as in office support staffs and middle management.  But now computerization and such sidekicks as artificial intelligence and algorithms are destroying work further up the chain, including in such places as the law, retailing, travel and the news media.  (Of course, even in heavily automated factories, you need a few highly skilled people to run “smart machines.’’ For now.)

 

The automation greatly benefits the holders of capital, which include the people in company C-suites who are richly rewarded for laying off as many people as possible.

 

What to do about the many millions of workers who either lose their jobs or, to stay employed, must take frequent pay cuts?

 

Do we tax the holders of capital more in order to do such things as giving everyone a base income whether or not they work and/or to help pay for training for new jobs? Of course at the rate that automation is going, those jobs might soon be destroyed by automation, too.  (Uber has been one way for otherwise unemployed people to make money in the past couple of years. Will self-driving cars soon eliminate that option?)

 

The idea, promoted by Hillary Clinton and many other politicians, that we can cure  many of these problems by creating expensive new  federal programs to send lots more people to college in delusional.  Bigger and more vocational apprenticeship programs, not only for young people starting out but also for workers every few years in their careers to keep them competitive in the world economy, might help but as automation rolls on, perhaps not all that much.

 

Complaining about trade deals is good politics, touching as it does on elements of patriotism and  even xenophobia. But as much as globalization, in which American workers are pitted against much lower-paid workers abroad, especially in China, gets attention, automation poses the bigger problem. It’s past time for politicians and other policymakers to come up with some fresh ideas to address its effects.

 

So what sectors are safe? Among them will  probably be nursing (to which will flow a lot of work now done by physicians),  food service, house repair, personal service, such as maids and  babysitters for the affluent, some graphics work and such trades as plumbing and electrical work. Plumbers and electricians should continue to do very well. And as Woody Allen said: “Not only is God dead, but try getting a plumber on Sunday.’’

 

 

xxx

 

 

Clinton and Trump

Americans often forget that the U.S. president is both head of the executive branch of the government and head of state.  Especially in the latter capacity, the president is supposed to represent in a dignified way the entire nation. In  that sense, then, the president’s role as head of state is similar to that of a constitutional monarch, such as Queen Elizabeth II in the United Kingdom. Being head of state would, you’d think, demand a certain modicum of decorum.

 

Thus the behavior of Donald Trump becomes more and more disturbing. He is crude, astonishingly arrogant and narcissistic, relentlessly dishonest in his private and public life, and he has accelerated the decay of America’s civic life, aided and abetted by the celebrity and the lie-and-hate machines of the Internet and  cable-TV,  where the more you can arouse rage, the better the ratings and profits.

 

What a change from the dignified Mitt Romney’s candidacy four years ago!


Yes, Hillary Clinton, after decades in public life, has baggage, but there is no equivalence with the nationally destructive corruption of Donald Trump. (For what it’s worth, I favored Jim Webb for the Democrats and Mitch Daniels for the Republicans in the primary season.)

 

But rather than blame the candidates, denounce an increasingly ill-informed and lazy electorate, both some of the minority of adults who bother to vote in the primaries and the millions of Americans  who don’t take 20 minutes to  cast their ballots and then complain about the results. H.L. Mencken famously said:

 

“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.’’

 

It is astonishing that a man like Donald Trump has gotten this high, and that millions of Americans would vote for someone who has soiled the reputation of America around the world.

 

But scarier  than his crassness and lack of dignity are Mr. Trump’s despotic impulses. In Sunday night’s debate, he said (joked?)  that if he were elected, he’d put Mrs. Clinton in jail. That, in a way, recalls his remark to another spoiled rich kid, Billy Bush, that “when you’re star, they {women} let you do it {make sexual advances, wanted or unwanted}. You can do anything.’’  As another egomaniac, but one with considerably more self-control, Henry Kissinger, said: “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.’’

 

Donald Trump will probably lose the election. But he will continue to damage the country with  his often chaotic demagoguery while making money off the adoration of his fanatic supporters. But, as he has shown time and again, everything with him is self-referential.

 

xxx

 

 

Raimondo's ties to CA developer Robbins

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo should have moved to swiftly withdraw the $3.6 million in state tax credits and $800,000 in sales-tax breaks for  a Pawtucket project of Lance Robbins’s firm Urban Smart Growth. Numerous signs have resurfaced that he has been a sleazy landlord and developer, and sometimes a deadbeat in paying taxes. State officials should have done more homework. There has been plenty of information on Mr. Robbins in the news media from various parts of the country.

 

They should find an honest person(s) to put up the proposed residential project near Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket that the state currently wants Mr. Robbins to develop.

 

xxx

 

Kudos to Providence officials for thinking big in their ideas for fixing the deteriorating 6-10 Connector to, among other things, knit back together the neighborhoods torn asunder by its construction and free up land for development. The most intriguing part of the city proposal is constructing an elevated rotary structure called a “halo’’ to connect Route 10 north to Route 6 west. Below the halo would be a limited-access parkway that would go from Roger Williams Park to downtown. (It would be terrific if there was space left on the halo for bicycles and pedestrians, too.)
 

The decision is in the hands of the state, which I hope gives the city plan a close look.

 

xxx

 

While New England’s main cranberry-growing region – southeastern Massachusetts – got some beneficial rain last weekend, the area remains in deep drought. My wife and I noticed that on a drive to West Falmouth to see relatives last Sunday. Normally flooded cranberry bogs were dry. So bad is the drought that many cranberry growers have had to resort to “dry harvesting’’ of the sour,  vitamin C rich fruit instead of the much more efficient method of flooding the bogs and then raking up the floating berries. The latter method provides quite a show on a sunny October day  – the bright red berries on blue gray water under azure skies and the swamp maples on the terrain around the bogs in vivid colors.

 

Whatever our drought, not that far away --  in the Carolinas -- some places got a foot and half of rain from Hurricane Matthew as localities reported record measurements of atmospheric moisture. We can expect more of such extremes with global warming.

 

Meanwhile, The Boston Globe, in an Oct. 7 article headlined “Plymouth {Mass.} project aims to return wetlands to natural state’’ discusses efforts to turn abandoned commercial cranberry bogs into wetlands. That’s good news. Alex Hackman, a land-restoration specialist for the Massachusetts Division of Fish and Game, told The Globe: “Wetlands are extremely valuable. They are natural filters that clean out water. They store carbon, they provide wildlife  habitat {including fish}. We have thousands of acres of cranberry farms in Southeastern Massachusetts, and some will be retired in the next few decades. This project {in Plymouth} could serve as a model for other farmers that might want to pursue wetland restoration.’’

 

xxx

 

Warren - one of the best in America

Congratulations to downtown Warren, R.I., for being named  one of “America’s 5 Great Neighborhoods’’ by the American Planning Association for the town’s “foresight, innovation, and cooperation” in building a better place.

 

It has always seemed to me a bit of a miracle that downtown Warren has been able to maintain its shops, restaurants and other signs of being a healthy old-fashioned, pre-mall downtown. That Warren is not a rich town and that its downtown is not an all-too-precious place like, say Stockbridge, Mass. (where Norman Rockwell worked) or Nantucket makes it all the more attractive.

 

Related Slideshow: Trump in Worcester

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump fans like this young supporter made signs of their own to show their support for the Donald. They could be seen dotting the line waiting to enter the DCU Center.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

For Trump fans that left their gear at home, there was nothing to fear. Vendors took advantage of the passionate crowd, lining up near the entrances and selling buttons, hats and t-shirts like this one.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Star-spangled gear could be seen often outside and inside of the DCU Center. This Trump supporter really worse his love for the Donald on his sleeve.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

It wasn't all good cheer for Donald Trump. Protestors lined the streets near the entrance of the DCU Center, and could be hear chanting various anti-Trump sentiments.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

This young man's pants left no doubt. He is a big fan of two things—Donald Trump, and the United States of America.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

These four Trump fans wore their support proudly on their chest, and they weren't the only ones. Many fans could be seen sporting Trump hats, shirts, buttons and more as they filed into the DCU Center.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

These two said they were proud to support Donald Trump in his bid for the Presidency.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

You could call this protestor a "one-issue voter." He mixed calls for the return of his favorite discontinued soft drink in with chants criticizing Trump's immigration stance.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

For these Trump fans, it was a family affair. The whole bunch turned out to support their favorite candidate.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

The cold weather didn't bother this Trump fan. He said he decided to purchase a Donald Trump-branded jacket or sweatshirt inside the DCU Center.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

These two Trump fans were "red"-y to see their hero in action!

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

These clever protestors turned Donald Trump's famous catchphrase around on him. 

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

There were plenty of young fans on hand for Donald Trump's speech in Worcester. These two made their feelings on Trump, and his immigration stance, very clear.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump had the chance to see him name up in lights on the DCU Center jumbo-screen. It must have been quite the thrill!

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Donald Trump made his entrance at roughly 7:30 PM to nearly deafening applause. He paused for a moment to soak it all in.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump walked confidently to the podium after being introduced as the large crowd cheer and chanted his name.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump fans inside were loud, and cheered the Donald often. They also made sure to snap their own photos of their favorite candidate while they had the chance.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump fans in Massachusetts came from near and far to get a glimpse of Donald Trump live and in person.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Standing room only—the DCU Center was nearly filled with supporters who got on their feet early and stayed there for most of Trump's hour-long speech.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Even inside the DCU Center, Trump could not escape the protestors. These unhappy attendees attracted a lot of attention, but were whisked out of the arena by security after only a few seconds.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump said time and time again to the crowd gathered in Worcester that he would "make America great again" through smart immigration and trade policies.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump said he was glad to be in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and pleased fans by talking about the greatness of hometown hero Tom Brady.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump was all smiles when one of his jokes drew big laughs from the crowd of supporters.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump supporters chanted his famous slogan, "make America great again," before, during and after his speech at the DCU Center.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

When Donald Trump finally finished his speech, he drew the loudest applause of the night. Fans waved signs, chanted his name and tried desperately to snap one last photo of their departing hero.

 
 

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