Saturday, December 31, 2016

About California, what happened when we weren't looking, Jerry?

I'm going to focus mostly on California this year for reasons I'll get into in future posts. But I stumbled onto an article Poverty and Inequality Pervasive in Two-Fifths of U.S. Counties which instantly made me assume it was about the rust belt and the South.

And it is, kind of. But it had this graphic...
Click on image to see a larger version!
...which I kept looking at because as you get more red and blue you have high inequality, with red you also have high poverty and blue you have low poverty. What was troubling me was California, so I had to modify the graphic to get this...
...which bothered me. In 1989 there was a lot of green in California - low inequality plus low poverty. Now there is a lot of red - high inequality with high poverty and, in terms of urban population impact, a lot more blue. In fact, the green has almost disappeared.

Just look at it! What happened when we weren't looking, Jerry? (And by "we" I mean California Democrats and by "Jerry" I mean our esteemed Governor.)

The article notes: "Today most of the remaining low-inequality, low-poverty counties are located in the upper Midwest, Mountain, Middle Atlantic, South Atlantic, and New England states."

And what you notice, you have to notice, is that California looks a lot like the worst bands in the Rust Belt and South.

What's troublesome is that Democrats seem to ignore the red areas except where they can play the "downtrodden minorities" card. While that is a related problem, the hard fact affecting those areas is the economy - you remember, "it's the economy stupid" phrase attributed to James Carville working as Bill Clinton's campaign strategist.

But what's even more troublesome is raised in this article:
...The inequality of America’s metro areas mirrors that of the some of the most unequal nations unearth: New York’s is comparable to Swaziland, Los Angeles’ similar to the Dominican Republic, Chicago’s comparable to El Salvador, and San Francisco's similar to Madagascar. America’s largest, densest, most affluent, and most liberal-leaning cities are, in fact, the places where inequality is the highest.
So the inequality in Los Angeles is comparable to the Dominican Republic and San Francisco's situation is comparable to Madagascar. They didn't address the San Diego and Sacramento urban areas, but it appears since 1989 both have shifted from green to third-world blue inequality.

The article hypothesizes that Democratic Mayor's are more likely to take action to address the growing gap between rich and poor and set economic redistribution policies. But when you look at LA and SF in California, you have to know that is pure spin.

For instance, San Francisco's much ballyhooed minimum wage is set to reach $15 per hour in 2018, a wage that is actually $31,200 a year or $2,600 a month. This is accurately representative of the redistribution policies in California's most famously liberal city where the median price for a single bed apartment is $3,500± a month at the end of 2016. Now tell me any discussion of economic redistribution by California Democrats isn't just spin!

We don't have an Electoral College effect for state elections, but we now have a new election system, "highest two in the primary regardless of party affiliation move to the general election", which has resulted in many general elections at various levels of state office having two Democrats running against each other.

It appears pretty clear that California Democrats have failed the working class just like Democrats in the rest of the nation.

You have to wonder if we aren't ripe for a number of Trump-like social media expert candidates to seek out the voters who make up the victims of those county-wide high-inequality population shifts.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Climate Change: The shiny old object catching the eye of some lesser wrong-headed politicians

So here we are in December 2016 and an articulate, well educated Millennial journalist Linda Poon provides us with an article headlined Mayors Set a Tight Deadline to Initiate Climate Action in which she reports
At this week’s annual C40 Mayors Summit in Mexico City, a coalition of 90 cities at the forefront of the fight against climate change detailed everything cities have to accomplish in order to meet the agreement’s long-term goals. Their report, written with the engineering firm Arup, lays out an action plan to deliver on the promise of limiting the rise of global temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius, and critical progress must be made by 2020.
Really??? Local politicians beginning in 2017 are going to save the world from climate change?

I guess people shun learning history because it's a bummer. For instance...

In 1976, after joining the United States House of Representatives, Al Gore held the "first congressional hearings on the climate change, and co-sponsor[ed] hearings on toxic waste and global warming."

Kids, that was 40 years ago, before he invented the internet.

Yes, I know despite decades of media mirth-making about the supposed statement, former vice president Al Gore never claimed he "invented the Internet." But on climate policy 40 years ago, he..., well, kids..., my generation failed him and you.

Simply it's past time for the nation-states to try to prevent significant climate change, and it may be past time to prevent the worst projected climate change.

Most importantly, it's nearly past time for starting to implement climate change adaptation plans at the state and local level (of course I'm only talking about in those states and localities that actually have plans).

In truth only one federal governmental agency in the United States is actively and adequately adjusting its mission and methodology in response to the fact that Climate Change is occurring, the Department of Defense (DOD) - you know, the military. You can read a summary report they presented to Congress last year National Security Implications of Climate-Related Risks and a Changing Climate which only let's you see the tip of their iceberg (yes, that's intentional dark humor).

This is being expanded by the American Security Project's Resilience in the Face of Rising Seas proposal. As explained on the American Security Project's web site:
While coastal cities around the country, from New York to Charleston, Miami to New Orleans, have begun planning for rising seas, this is one of the first efforts that would directly tax residents to pay for resilience measures. This new tax would cost residents $12 a year for the next 20 years. If it passes, it would raise $500 million dollars that would be earmarked for new flood control measures like wetlands or other adaptation measures.
The DOD, of course, cannot ignore what's going on around the world. Consider the implications of this information:
In 2008, 20 million persons have been displaced by extreme weather events, compared to 4.6 million internally displaced by conflict and violence over the same period. Gradual changes in the environment tend to have an even greater impact on the movement of people than extreme events. For instance, over the last thirty years, twice as many people have been affected by droughts as by storms (1.6 billion compared with approx 718 million).
California, as the worlds 6th-to-8th largest economy (depending on the year), does have its own cap-and-trade program and other year 1990 cutting-edge environmental regulations in place. The fact is in 2008, our last Republican (!) Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued Executive Order S-13-08 which directed the California Natural Resources Agency, in coordination with other state agencies, to complete the first California Sea Level Rise Assessment Report, develop a state Climate Adaptation Strategy, and coordinate with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to provide land use planning guidance related to climate change impacts.

That same year the Legislature established the 9-county San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority. On on June 7, 2016, Measure AA was approved by 69% of the voters establishing a tax funding the Authority's marshland restoration program and projects "to use natural habitats to protect communities along the Bay's shoreline from the risks of severe coastal flooding caused by storms and high water levels." It's a good first step towards living with the impact of climate change.

So it's definitely time for the "more-local" governments to start helping their residents, both current and future, to adapt to the what we know is inevitable - and that means at least a 15 foot sea level rise, hotter weather, and more severe storms.

Without implementing adaptation programs over the next 10-40 years we will fail those who in 2050-2070 find themselves in severe impact areas, for instance areas where about 1.3+ million Northern Californian's and a similar number of Southern Californian's currently live, work and play. (Southern California is tougher to project, because while we can figure sea level rise impacts, heat and drought impacts haven't been adequately projected though we do already understand the wildfire problem resulting from drought.)

Note that without implementing adaptation programs over the next 10-40 years, we will be failing Americans in areas where about 2.5 million New York state residents, 7.8 million Floridian's, and over 600,000 Texans, 500,000 Georgians, and 315,000 Pennsylvanians currently live, work and play.

It is the next ten years that are critical - planning based on what we understand now should already have been completed. And it isn't just in the states that have ocean coastlines.

The initial wildfire impacts from prolonged drought are being experienced this year in the Southeast United States. States like Tennessee, which has a climate change denial law, have seen both increased flooding and wildfires. Over a decade it will get worse, much like the Southwest and West Coast states have experienced.

But climate change is a slow process, even when in geological time what's happening now seems at bullet train speed to scientists. What's happening today was irreversibly set in motion while Al Gore, ironically from Tennessee, was holding his first hearings. The choice, of course, is to plan and implement adaptation with tax money or pray for the very survival of your great-grandchildren.

Praying is cheaper. And if we can successfully pray for a large number of future huge volcanic eruptions in the same decade plus a meteor strike or two, climate change as predicted won't happen.