Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Chilling Blurt-Blats of Trumpists
  Jeff Sessions' Hawaii Incident reminds
  us to heed Sun Tzu's The Art of War

Politics in a democracy is a war, of sorts. Or rather it is a substitute for killing each other in power struggles related to economics (wealth and property) and beliefs (religion, ideology, tribe).

The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise dating from the 5th century BC attributed to the Chinese military strategist and philosopher General Sun Tzu. As noted in Wikipedia, much of the text is about how to fight wars without actually having to do battle. It gives tips on how to outsmart one's opponent so that physical battle is not necessary. As such, it has found application as a training guide for many competitive endeavors that do not involve actual combat.

As with too many things in American culture, we kinda, sorta think we know about The Art of War. That is foolish because it is a long philosophical treatise that does not lend itself to the common American understanding limit of 140 characters. For instance, many Americans are aware of "know your enemy" when in fact the wisdom as shown in the image above is:
    So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be put at risk even in a hundred battles. If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose. If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.
In the context of an "opponent" in a competition outside of a physical battle, "know your enemy" means to understand how they likely will respond to the changing circumstances within which they find themselves. To know your enemy, you must know their frame of reference, their "structure of concepts, values, customs, views, etc., by means of which an individual or group perceives or evaluates data, communicates ideas, and regulates behavior."

Everyone has a frame of reference based on a lifetime of experience which sets their standards for judging the world - their perspective, their way of looking at things. Among the elements of a lifetime that create a frame of reference in childhood and adolescence are
  1. the importance of kinship, lineage, and affinity groups and
  2. the cultural quiescence within the hometown region.
These influences can be clearly heard in the blurts and blats that emanate from the Trumpists - members of Donald Trump's team. If I as a Californian really listen to them, I find that trumpeting disturbing.

But, when Trumpists blurt and blat, I know those are an expression of their frames of reference as is my varied and many reactions. In such a case it is important to "know" them and equally important to "know" ourselves.

Last week the Trump-appointed United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions made this comment about a federal judge in the state of Hawaii:
     "I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power."
Despite the subsequent repugnant (to me) discussions and defenses offered that he was just attacking the judicial branch, his statement clearly sounds like he meant to minimize the place - an island in the pacific, maybe U.S. territory, but surely not a place entitled to membership in the exclusive country club known as These United States.

It wasn't a comment that would be outside of Trumpist Session's frame of reference. But as a fellow American whose frame of reference is Californian, I must consider Jeff Sessions' frame of reference in the context of his childhood and adolescence from the facts of
  1. the importance of kinship, lineage, and affinity groups and
  2. the cultural quiescence within the hometown region.
It isn't just that Sessions was born and raised in, and lived most of his life in, Alabama, a geographic region historically different from California, though that might give a hint. It isn't just that since the early 1700's no male in his paternal lineage ever called home a place outside the southernmost part These United States:
Click on image to see a larger version!

Rather it's all that plus the fact that his great-grandfather died at the Battle of Antietam fighting for the South in the Civil War, and that his grandfather, his father, and he are all named "Jefferson Beauregard" Sessions...
  • as in Jefferson Davis was selected as President of the Confederacy at the constitutional convention in Montgomery, Alabama. 
  • as in Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard.
Now I know those names were commonly used among white families in the South after the Civil War. And I know that Jeff Sessions didn't name himself. But most other people likely will not share a perspective, a way of looking at things, with Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III - including most any American whose lineage includes no one from the Slave States indicated in the map below:


Early 19th Century American history isn't as simple as that. Among many people where Sessions was born and raised, there is a shared belief that any state within the land area not a U.S. state before the Missouri Compromise in 1819 indicated in the map below has a somewhat-less-than-equal standing relative to Alabama...

Click on image to see a larger version!
...because in 1819 when Alabama became a state, there were 11 Free States and 11 Slave States. The open furious political/ideological debate after 1819 - regarding what would be allowed in the frame of reference in new states not on the map above - ended after about 1 million Americans were killed in the Civil War.

For many in the South, "These United States" of 1819 was the last map of the nation formed in 1789 pursuant to the 1790 Census Map. The brutal reality of that map is subconsciously embedded in the frame of reference of many who live in those pink states today

However, while the Civil War as a series of physical battles ended on April 9, 1865, when General Lee surrendered at the village of Appomattox Court House, it could be said that the last battle casualty of the Civil War occurred five days later on April 14, 1865, when President Lincoln was shot.

As an aside, the last Confederate General to surrender his forces was Cherokee leader Stand Watie, on June 23, 1865 - while many 21st Century Americans think the only issue of the Civil War was black slavery, members of the Cherokee nation, which was subject to the genocide policies of the United States that continued into the 20th Century, would disagree. Anyway....

So what gut response would you expect from Sessions about a judge on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean overturning a Presidential Order??? Particularly when the response is from someone like Sessions who was in elementary school in Alabama when former California Governor Chief Justice Earl Warren ordered an end to desegregation???

Think about this frame of reference.When the land that makes up most of Alabama became part of the nation under what we know first 13 States pursuant to our Constitution in 1789, slavery was legal in 8 of 13 states, including 87% of the new nation's land area and holding 63% of the population.

When you look at that 1790 map, you may not realize that of the states shown, 75 years later the strongest support in the North for going to war came from New England states and Pennsylvania. Further, consider the irony in the fact that Donald Trump's New York City historically liked to sell stuff to the Sessions and their neighbors:
    ...From Wall Street financiers, to commercial shippers, to merchants selling manufactured goods to a South that produced little of its own, the New York City economy depended heavily on southern cotton. In response to the divisive Compromise of 1850, a group of merchants formed the Union Safety Committee, which pledged “to resist every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest.” During the war years, Mayor Fernando Wood, a “Peace Democrat,” led opposition to the war in the city, which grew as the wartime economy floundered and casualties mounted.
Based on their frames of reference, it's a given that Jeff Sessions and his boss don't understand Californians with their legal pot and their immigrants and their (at least from many like me) constant doubt that the United States is anything more than a fraudulent spin when it comes to liberty and justice for all, much less when it comes to equality.

That some non-white judge from Hawaii overturned the travel ban against some non-Christian brown people must be particularly galling to Trumpists even though the Senate, including Sessions, unanimously confirmed Derrick K. Watson. Maybe when he voted then Senator Sessions didn't know that the "K" stood for the middle name Kahala reflecting Judge Watson's frame of reference differences from a Southerner whose middle name is Beauregard.

When the judge was confirmed it was noted that he became the fourth person of Native Hawaiian descent to serve as an Article III judge in American history. Also the District of Hawaii became the first federal court in U.S. history with a majority of Asian Pacific Americans, as Judge Watson joined Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway and Judge Leslie Kobayashi on the bench. At the time of Watson’s confirmation, Hawaii Congresswoman and Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Judy Chu said:
    I am thrilled that the Senate has voted to confirm Derrick Kahala Watson’s nomination to the U.S. District Court. This decision continues a significant trend of working to ensure that our federal judiciary reflects the diversity of the American people. Judge Watson is a strong addition to the federal bench, and will surely be a great public servant for the people of Hawaii.
Watson, whose mother worked in a bank and father was a Honolulu police officer, after attending the the Kamehameha Schools became the first in his family to attend college getting his undergraduate degree at Harvard. Like Sessions in his native Alabama, Watson has deep roots in Hawaii, growing up in a multi-generational household on Oahu.  Of course, Watson's Harvard Law graduating class included Barack Obama and Neil Gorsuch.

An interesting non-Sessions perspective on Watson's ruling was offered in this article:
    There are indications, though, that Watson’s viewpoint may have been further influenced by his Hawaiian heritage and his long record of advocacy for immigrant rights and civil rights. While with a San Francisco law firm in the early 2000s, he devoted hundreds of hours to pro bono cases defending the rights of Mexican restaurant workers being held in slave-like conditions and to landlord-tenant disputes.
    The complaint filed by Hawaii’s attorney general against the Trump travel ban contained an explicit reference to some of the most painful chapters in the islands’ history – the Chinese Exclusion Acts and the imposition of martial law and internment of Japanese Americans following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. At the time, the US supreme court upheld the government’s argument – similar to Trump’s – that it had the executive authority to defend national security as it saw fit. But the court’s ruling in Korematsu v United States has since been described as a “stain on American jurisprudence” and has been widely repudiated in federal court rulings if never explicitly overturned.
    “If you have an order taking us back half a century to a time when there was discrimination on the basis of national origin or religion,” Hawaii’s attorney general, Doug Chin, told reporters after Watson’s ruling, “that’s something we have to speak up against.”
Jeff Sessions is two years younger than me. The fact is I too have a frame of reference based on the culture of my home state, California. Also I was heavily influenced by the fact that while my Irish Catholic family members were serving in WWII, when stationed in the South they suffered discrimination from Sessions family compatriots. We understood the reality of the 1881 observation written in a letter by British historian Edward Freeman on his return from America:
    This would be a grand land if only every Irishman would kill a Negro, and be hanged for it. I find this sentiment generally approved - sometimes with the qualification that they want Irish and Negroes for servants, not being able to get any other.
When I was 2 years old, then California Governor Earl Warren supported the integration of Mexican-American students in California school systems following Mendez v. Westminster. I was in elementary school when then Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Earl Warren wrote the opinion for Brown v Board of Education. Some of my California high school classmates were born in Japanese-American internment camps. A lot of my California high school classmates were Mexican-Americans.

Why anyone would care about a 19th Century American Civil War in the 21st Century is a mystery to me. The South lost. Get over it. But I also recognize the depth of feelings in Sessions frame of reference.

Most Americans today do not live in the states indicated on the 1790 map above. But wherever they live, what Americans need to learn from history is that our American progenitors screwed up, a lot. They got a lot wrong, more than they got right. We need to forgive our American ancestors, but not make mistakes based on their stupidity. That particularly goes for Trumpists who have acquired political power, such as U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

California Senate Majority Leader Kevin de León when challenging Sessions' threats against Sanctuary Cities was partly correct when he stated:
    It has become abundantly clear that Atty. Gen. [Jeff] Sessions and the Trump administration are basing their law enforcement policies on principles of white supremacy — not American values. Their constant and systematic targeting of diverse cities and states goes beyond constitutional norms and will be challenged at every level.
He is right that the policies reflect white supremacist values. What he fails to openly recognize is not that Sessions and Trump and the Deplorables are white supremacists, but that they are Americans reflecting their values as Americans - American values that consistently go back to 17th Century America. It is clear to me that Sessions' frame of reference retains in him a concept of America that is chilling.

That's a problem for 21st Century residents of Hawaii and California. When a country permits persons with this frame of reference to hold office because of a failed democratic election that gave such persons power not only with less than a majority vote but with fewer votes than the other candidate, the result may be legal but it is a literal threat to non-white Americans.

When "the other" appears on their radar, the Trumpists would be as comfortable as their 1940's predecessors carrying out a racist act under the color of law.

It would be a racist act similar to putting Japanese-Americans in concentration camps because their ancestors lived in a country with which America is at war, while not imprisoning German-Americans nor Italian-Americans.

We so spin this in our history classes that we don't recognize that this happened not because of any danger to our country but because Germans and Italians are white Europeans while the Japanese are Asians.

By spinning it in our grade school and high school classes by not noticing what we didn't do to German-Americans and Italian-Americans, we won't recognize as our core beliefs the tenants of white supremacy when we do it again, such as that Trump immigration order which is clearly a white supremacist act carried out under the guise of threat from "the other."

Not only that, but it is likely that today's Supreme Court full of white Catholic men would uphold it in the name of safety and security despite facts to the contrary.

That's the country Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump and the Deplorables want to live in and actually live in.

As a Californian I have a problem with that kind of America. It was less than 100 years ago, in 1881 when British historian Edward Freeman made his observation about America quoted above, from When Italian immigrants were 'the other' we learn:
    The largest mass lynching in U.S. history took place in New Orleans in 1891 — and it wasn’t African-Americans who were lynched, as many of us might assume. It was Italian-Americans.
    After nine Italians were tried and found not guilty of murdering New Orleans Police Chief David Hennessy, a mob dragged them from the jail, along with two other Italians being held on unrelated charges, and lynched them all. The lynchings were followed by mass arrests of Italian immigrants throughout New Orleans, and waves of attacks against Italians nationwide.
    What was the reaction of our country’s leaders to the lynchings? Teddy Roosevelt, not yet president, famously said they were “a rather good thing.” The response in The New York Times was worse. A March 16, 1891, editorial referred to the victims of the lynchings as “… sneaking and cowardly Sicilians, the descendants of bandits and assassins.” An editorial the next day argued that: “Lynch law was the only course open to the people of New Orleans. …”
    John Parker, who helped organize the lynch mob, later went on to be governor of Louisiana. In 1911, he said of Italians that they were “just a little worse than the Negro, being if anything filthier in [their] habits, lawless, and treacherous.”
If you think Sessions' and Trump's America is different, the writer of that article points out:
    ...In earlier centuries, Catholics in America were in a position similar to today's Muslims. In 1785, when Catholics proposed building St. Peter's Church in the heart of Manhattan, city officials, fearing the papacy and sinister foreign influences, forced them to relocate outside the city limits. In this incident, it's easy to hear echoes of the Murfreesboro protests where there is opposition to the building of a mosque, as well as the ongoing protests against an Islamic center proposed for 51 Park Place in contemporary Manhattan.
    On December 24, 1806, two decades after St. Peter's was built on Church Street, where it still stands, protesters surrounded the church, outraged by mysterious ceremonies going on inside, ceremonies we now commonly understand to be the celebration of Christmas. The Christmas Eve 1806 protest led to a riot in which dozens were injured and a policeman was killed.
When in 2016 San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in protest of racial oppression and inequality in the United States knelt during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, Session's and Trump's America went on the attack in outrage. At no time did, or would, the Deplorables ever wonder why because they and Trump revel in ignorance. As I explained elsewhere, The Star-Spangled Banner is something we should know about but don't because its pro-slavery verse written by a racist slave-owner who thought the British would take away his slaves is deliberately hidden from us.

Read this post About that Star-Spangled Banner.... Remember that this occurred in 2016, not 1816 or 1916, and it was a Californian who came under attack, the same year Donald Trump was legally elected President.

My frame of reference created in me values demonstrated by the actions of Watson and Kaepernick. I know that we are in a political war with "another America" over those values. So when I hear...

...I know the effect will be chilling. meaning those blurts and blats will create a feeling of sudden fear, anxiety, or alarm. It is the threat that underlies my statement in the prior post here Regarding "When We Rise" - How history repeats itself and why we must protect "San Francisco Values":
    How much does middle America respect San Francisco Values? It appears that answer is "not at all." When one realizes that San Francisco Values include love, peace, tolerance, diversity, creativity, freedom, spirituality, prosperity, community, truth, justice, and care for the environment it is a little hard to understand why anyone would not respect San Francisco Values.
But if we understand a frame of reference that is structured around 1790 Christian Old Testament tribal values (not the teachings of Jesus) and 1990 Selfish Capitalism tribal values, we do understand the enemy as recommended by Sun Tzu.

1Any time you don't understand American politics, remember that some 75 years after the ratification of the Constitution in order to amend slavery out of the Constitution, the North under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln decided to take the risk to kill 1 million Americans, more than half from slave states including Jeff Sessions great-grandfather. And there is nothing factually untrue about that statement.

Many feel that strong evidence exists that Americans on both sides did not understand that hundreds of thousands would die. That is true. As with every truth about the general population in a democracy, the voters were basically ignorant about what was at stake, so they voted with their ignorance. The fact is, in 1860 most would not have read the poem The Charge of the Light Brigade an 1854 narrative poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson about the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. Nor would they have seen the photograph titled Valley Of The Shadow Of Death snapped by British photographer Roger Fenton in 1855:

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
   Rode the six hundred.

One of the truths of American history is that many leading American politicians were well aware of the Crimean War, one of the first conflicts to use modern technologies such as explosive shells, railways, telegraphs, nursing, etc. They knew the likely future reality:

    The Civil War is often to referred as the first "modern" war in history as it included the most advanced technology and innovations of warfare available at the time. Some of the innovations and advances of the Civil War included mass production of war material, rifling of gun barrels and the use of the Minié ball, the advent of repeating firearms and metallic cartridges, ironclad warships, advances in medicine, communication (especially the telegraph), and transportation (railroads), and the gradual decline of tactics from previous centuries.
Because, of course, too many Americans today choose their ignorance of history, most are not aware that in 1863, when the Russian Baltic fleet arrived in New York harbor, the Russian Far East fleet arrived in San Francisco. This was probably the most important Civil War related event to occur in California.

Late in the Civil War, the Confederate cruiser CSS Shenandoah was operating in the Bering Sea, where the unarmed, unsuspecting New Bedford whaling fleet hunted the gray whales. Over the course of a few days, 24 vessels were captured – most burned, the rest loaded with prisoners and sent into San Francisco. American whaling never recovered. Without a reliable supply of inexpensive whale oil as a smokeless lamp fuel and premium lubricant, there was now a vast new market for kerosene distilled from that nasty black stuff that oozed out of the ground in Pennsylvania: petroleum.

When an attack on San Francisco by the Shenandoah seemed to be imminent, the Russian admiral there gave orders to his ships to defend the city if necessary. There were no major Union warships on the scene, so Russia was about to fight for the United States. The attack never came as the bloodiest war in history up to that time came to a close.

The point here is American politicians and generals on both sides of the dispute in 1860 were not ignorant of the risk demonstrated by the Crimean War. In fact, John Basil Turchin, a Union army brigadier general in the American Civil War who led two critical charges that saved the day at Chickamauga and was among the first to lead soldiers up Missionary Ridge, was Ivan Vasilyevich Turchaninov. He was a Russian immigrant and former Colonel of Staff in the Russian Guards who fought in the Crimean War.

They well understood that hundreds of thousands of Americans would die in a Civil War.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Slowing the 21st Century Disruption Way-of-Life
  Emperical Egalitarian Progressives act to
  rebuild California infrastructure and jobs

Disruption, of course, is just change at a higher speed. Humans have always had disruption - the death of someone important to you is an instant disruption. We had rituals, better than those we have today, to deal with a death of someone you love and the process of moving forward in time.

But a way-of-life means "the typical pattern of behavior of a person or group." The above definition of "disruption" in the context of a way-of-life creates psychological trauma which is defined as follows:
    Psychological trauma is a type of damage to the mind that occurs as a result of a severely distressing event. Trauma is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one's ability to cope, or integrate the emotions involved with that experience. A traumatic event involves one's experience, or repeating events of being overwhelmed that can be precipitated in weeks, years, or even decades as the person struggles to cope with the immediate circumstances, eventually leading to serious, long-term negative consequences.
The thing is, somewhere around 2012-13 researchers began to notice a change in death age patterns among Americans. The media began to catch on to it in 2016 and The Washington Post did an extensive set of stories beginning with this:
    White women have been dying prematurely at higher rates since the turn of this century, passing away in their 30s, 40s and 50s in a slow-motion crisis driven by decaying health in small-town America, according to an analysis of national health and mortality statistics by The Washington Post.
    Among African Americans, Hispanics and even the oldest white Americans, death rates have continued to fall. But for white women in what should be the prime of their lives, death rates have spiked upward. In one of the hardest-hit groups — rural white women in their late 40s — the death rate has risen by 30 percent.
    The Post’s analysis, which builds on academic research published last year, shows a clear divide in the health of urban and rural Americans, with the gap widening most dramatically among whites. The statistics reveal two Americas diverging, neither as healthy as it should be but one much sicker than the other.
California is not an exception as made clear in this Fresno Bee article:
    Young and middle-aged whites in the Southern Central Valley are dying at an increasing rate, researchers said Wednesday at the release of a preliminary report that they said reveals a “health crisis of white death.”
    The report for the California Endowment found that in four counties – Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern – the death rate for whites was almost 40 percent higher than the overall white death rate in California from 2010-14.
    “The deaths are occurring among a population struggling with unemployment, wage stagnation and poverty rates,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, lead author of the study and director of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University. “The economy is literally costing lives.”
That confirms the opinion Laudy Aron, a Senior Fellow at Urban Institute who co-authored a 2013, a sweeping study, “Shorter Lives, Poorer Health,” from the National Research Council and the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine, who noted for the Washington Post article:
    I think we are undergoing a change that’s comparable to the Industrial Revolution - those of us who are lucky enough to have jobs are sort of clinging to them for dear life.
For California it is has been easier to deal with disruptive Climate Change, a subject which lends itself to advancing adaptive cool new technology for power generation and cars and trucks, plus despite bickering ending municipal treated water wasting in urban areas. In fact, these are part of the California tradition of economic discontinuity and displacement as explained in the previous post.

When you see this, though, you know...
  1. the images below represent the women who are our "canaries in the coal mine" warning as the impacts of economic disruption are not limited to rural white women, and 
  2. therefore California must mitigate the impacts the inevitable economic disruption brought about by the Digital Revolution
...which despite the comparison, is moving much faster than the 200 years of the Industrial Revolution:

Sure, increasing the awareness of the problem will help those canaries. So would better physical and mental health care.

But creating "blue collar" jobs and modernizing agricultural jobs must be a serious goal for the rest of the 21st Century in California. We must lean heavily on our tradition of California Empirical Egalitarian Progressivism.

In fact, these active disruptors will have to get over their Neoliberal tendencies....

...and be happy that a Gas-tax increase to pay for road repair clears California Legislature:
    The legislation will raise the money to pay for the plan over 10 years. It raises the base gasoline excise tax by 12 cents, creates a transportation improvement fee based on the value of a vehicle and raises diesel excise and sales taxes.
    “This bill will provide hundreds of thousands of jobs for poor people who need work and it will stimulate the economy,” said Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, who introduced Senate Bill 1. “For me, this is a wise plan that’s a modest plan.”
    Republican lawmakers criticized the deal for putting a burden on ordinary Californians to pick up the bill for the Legislature’s failure to prioritize spending on roads without raising taxes.
In addition to the fee based on value, electric car owners will pay their share through a $100 vehicle fee for zero emission vehicles as outlined in What Californians need to know about the state’s $52-billion transportation plan.

Senator Beall is correct about the plan. In addition to fixing our roads which are a mess, the taxes and fees will be putting people to work in construction over a decade, mostly in blue collar jobs. If Donald Trump can get Congress to spend some money on an infrastructure program, that would create blue collar jobs.

We need to become job creators in a creative way. Many ways to give people blue collar jobs in California exist.

For instance, At the end of the drought, the Sierra Nevada contained 102 million dead trees. We could, a probably will, let them burn in catastrophic fires. Catastrophic fires don’t stimulate regrowth, as lesser fires do: The hotter temperatures they generate scorch the landscape and destroy the seeds needed for plant regeneration. That leads to severe soil erosion, landslides and devastated wildlife. Megafires also blanket large areas of the state with sooty black carbon, which is toxic to humans and a notorious climate pollutant, with a global warming potential 3,200 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

As the Los Angeles Times points out some clever folks have thought of A beneficial way to dispose of the Sierra's lost trees: Use them for energy. But the political and bureaucratic stumbling blocks will probably blanket large areas of the state with sooty black carbon, sort of a metaphor for 21st Century political bickering.

I hate to say this, but even Trump's wall will create blue collar jobs if it actually gets built. And just maybe it isn't quite as awful as the media and politicians on the left tell us.

First we need to rename it as the California Border Barrier Replacement Program. As I said in a prior post, "Regarding 'The Wall' we might want to look at a picture or two before we get all hot and bothered by that publicity." If you look at that pictures in that post you might discover we have a wall, an ugly wall, built by the Bush and Obama administrations which Trump's Deplorables may not have known about.

And now we learn from Trump's border wall will get its start in San Diego County:
    President Trump’s proposed wall with Mexico will kick off in the San Diego border community of Otay Mesa, U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed Monday.
    The community is home to one of two border crossings in San Diego and will be the site where 20 chosen bidders will erect prototypes of the envisioned wall. Winners will be selected around June 1, the agency said.
    Of the possible border locations in the region, building the prototypes near the Otay Mesa crossing makes the most sense because it allows companies to test out designs in a heavily trafficked area that still has room and flexibility, according to Eric Frost, director of San Diego State University’s graduate program in homeland security.
    Frost added the wall could be a benefit to both nations if, for example, it helps alleviate notoriously slow wait times for trucks crossing through Otay Mesa. He envisions an “intelligent wall” with sensors and wireless technology that can start tracking trucks before they reach a border guard, speeding up the process to move goods between the two nations.
    “There’s a positive in here, if you can design a wall that works way better,” Frost said.
"If you can design a wall that works way better" in this context means not buiildng a new wall but replacing the following mess at Otay Mesa where where volumes reach over 55,000 vehicles daily and annually more than 700,000 trucks carrying more than $20 billion in goods pass through the northbound border crossing after being inspected:

Whether Trump gets any other element of his own infrastructure plan approved, it strikes me that sometimes California's Democratic politicians and media need to become a little more cynically self-serving on behalf of the state. That Border Barrier Replacement Program could put a lot of blue collar Californians to work.

Of course, as I've noted before self-driving vehicles such as the tractor-trailer rigs shown in the pictures will start to eliminate positions for drivers in the next decade. And that "'intelligent wall' with sensors and wireless technology that can start tracking trucks before they reach a border guard, speeding up the process to move goods between the two nations" will reduce employee hours at the borders.

California, the home of Silicon Valley distributive technology, must continue to work to slow the 21st Century Disruption Way-of-Life enough to soften the blue collar disruption trauma. Creating road maintenance jobs over the next 10 years is a good start, but it is just a start.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The 21st Century Disruption Way-of-Life
  The California tradition of discontinuity
  and displacement needs to be mitigated

By the mid-20th Century Californians had become pretty much responsible for The 21st Century Disruption Way-of-Life.

In this context, "disruption" means a series of events that result in
  1. "discontinuity" meaning an interruption resulting in a permanent break in the expected flow of events and
  2. "displacement" meaning moving, shifting, or forcing people from the usual place or position, especially from a job and/or a place of residence and/or a homeland.
Economist Joseph Schumpeter's corollary to this is the new does not come from the old, it appears next to the old and competes with it up until it replaces it. Of course he observed that in 1911 when the agrarian society was being displaced by an industrial society over a period of 200 years from the mid-1700's to the mid-1900's.

By the mid-20th Century, unlike the folks in The Rust Belt, far more of Californians regularly migrated from employer to employer or entrepreneurial opportunity to entrepreneurial opportunity and, because of that, from community to community. In 1950 California's divorce rate was double that of Pennsylvania. Being a resident who was born in California was a rarity - meaning that most adults lived a "far distance" from their birth families.

In the five years after 1940 beginning with WWII, California's population grew by 2.5 million or 30%. Some of that was due to military movement of personnel, but many people came for the jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, which even then were "high tech."

In Southern California, some of the key employers (with peak WWII numbers of employees where available) were Douglas Aircraft (40,000) in Long Beach, Santa Monica, and El Segundo; Hughes Aircraft in Culver City; Lockheed Corporation (94,000) in Burbank; Northrup Aircraft in Hawthorne; North American Aviation in Inglewood; Consolidated Aircraft (45,000) in San Diego and Vultee Aircraft in Downey in 1943 merged to become Convair.

There was Aerojet, an American rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer based primarily in Rancho Cordova, California. Aerojet developed from a 1936 meeting hosted by director of Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology Theodore von Kármán, including rocket scientist and astrophysicist Fritz Zwicky and explosives expert Jack Parsons, all of whom were interested in the topic of spaceflight. Their first design was tested on August 16, 1941, consisting of a small cylindrical solid-fuel motor attached to the bottom of a plane. Takeoff distance was shortened by half, and the USAAF placed an order for experimental production versions. Aerojet employment in California peaked at around 10,000 in the early 1960's.

Perhaps most the important happening was when IBM opened its San Jose Research Laboratory in 1952. One of its first developments was the IBM 350 launched in 1956 with the first commercial moving head hard disk drive. As noted in this article:
    IBM is often overlooked in the valley. It’s seen as an East Coast outfit, despite the fact that for years it’s been among the valley’s largest private employers. (Today those employees work primarily at the Almaden center and IBM’s Silicon Valley Lab, a software development operation.) IBM is seen as stodgy — a suit-and-tie company in shorts-and-sandals Silicon Valley.
    But in fact, IBM brought an innovative fury to the valley long before the founders of Facebook and Google were even born. In 1952, the company sent senior engineer Rey Johnson west to open a lab in San Jose. Years before Steve Jobs launched nimble and independent skunk works to kick-start innovation at Apple and decades before Google launched its “20 percent time,” hours set aside for engineers to think big thoughts, IBM was experimenting with open-ended invention.
    “When I came out here you either worked at Lockheed or IBM,” says [Howard} Bell, 75, who started with IBM in 1958 and eventually managed the utility plant at Almaden. His father had already worked at IBM for 13 years when Bell started at the company. Eventually, his son, two daughters and his daughter-in-law also went to work for IBM in San Jose. Collectively, the Bells put in 127 years at the 100-year-old company.
As a child who was born in California during WWII, I was aware of the growth, but not really of the "dynamic" of life. But by 1970 I first worked with a "room sized" IBM 360 and by 1980, with my wife, started a computer services business. Yet, I wasn't fully aware of the socioeconomic impacts of the digital revolution. It just seemed like we had some better tools.

In reality, of course, disruption was occurring around me. Previous to 1970 I had worked has a reporter for a newspaper, the paper kind. This disruption was happening in the typesetting process:

Still it wasn't until 1999 in the Sacramento Valley when a supervisory employee in his late 20's who had young children observed that he thought his kids might not be able to have the life he had - for instance, they wouldn't be able to buy a home or stay with an employer to gain promotions and seniority.

He could see the economic and social disruption surrounding the beginning of the 21st Century.
I responded noting that the one mandatory skill for his kids' generation will be to adapt readily to change which will require a quality education creating a solid foundation in the basics - reading, math, science, and history.

And then, I noted, they will have to lower their expectations to a life comparable to that of the middle-class in Mexico in 1999 not the middle-class in the United States in 1969.

After I said that, I realized my ongoing awareness of the impending 21st Century Disruption Way-of-Life had heightened.

In 2005 the New York Times published an article headlined In Silicon Valley, Job Hopping Contributes to Innovation examining studies about the relationship between frequent job changing and technology exploring the reality of the change in the work culture, but most of the data was over the prior decade. By 2015 in the Harvard Business Review article Setting the Record Straight on Switching Jobs this is offered:
    Stay in a job for at least two years.” “Never leave a job until you have your next one lined up.” Everyone from your mother to your mentor has advice about the best way to switch jobs. But how can you know whom to trust? Especially since what was true in the job market 20 years ago — even two years ago — is not necessarily gospel now. And the market is constantly changing.
    Consider the power dynamic between candidates and employers, for example. Though it differs across industries and regions, and is dependent on the health of the economy, in the past few years, experts have described the current labor market as “candidate-driven.” Job seekers hold more power than employers, a trend that seems to be deepening.
    ...Fernández-Aráoz points to the advice in The Alliance by Reid Hoffman (the cofounder and chairman of LinkedIn) and his coauthors that life-long employment is no longer realistic but being a completely free agent isn’t perfect either. “The alternative is what they call a ‘transformational alliance,’” explains Fernández-Aráoz, “where through honest conversations you explicitly agree on a temporary alliance, clarifying expectations regarding your contribution to the organization and what the organization will provide you in return, which may well be the support to continue your career elsewhere.” This is popular in Silicon Valley now, and “is probably showing the way to talent and career management over the next decades.”
While the concept of a "transformational alliance" with your employer appears not unreasonable, what is actually meant is a focused employment period where you are drained of your creative skills and ideas. It is not unlike the insurance agencies that hire someone to be a sales person to drain them of possible leads from their friends and family.

In fact in 2015 Business Insider offered this article Some tech workers over 50 are literally working themselves to death — and other things we discovered about their careers. And then this year there is this You Should Plan On Switching Jobs Every Three Years For The Rest Of Your Life which explains:
    Patty McCord, former chief talent officer for Netflix (and responsible for the company’s current innovative work culture), says job hopping is a good thing, and young people should plan to do so every three to four years.
    “I think that the most important, critical change in people’s mental outlook is to view employees as smart contributors from the beginning,” advises McCord, who now coaches and advises companies and entrepreneurs on culture and leadership. ...She adds. “You build skills faster when changing companies because of the learning curve.”
    Why the high learning curve? Because job hoppers are constantly placed outside of their comfort zones. They join companies, know they have to learn fast, make great impressions, and improve the bottom line—all within a couple of years before moving on to their next conquest. As a result, they’re usually overachievers and learn a lot in a short span of time.
    According to Penelope Trunk, serial entrepreneur and author, life is actually “more stable” with frequent job changes. ...She adds: "... I read a lot of research about what makes a good employee . . . and people used to think that the longer you kept an employee, the more worth they are to you, because you train them and they get used to their job and then they do it. But, in fact, an employee who stays on the job and isn’t learning at a really high rate is not as engaged, so they’re not doing as good work. So it turns out, the employee who stays longest, you get the least work out of, and the employees that job hunt are the most receptive of becoming extremely useful, very fast."
    But what about companies? We all know how costly it is to train employees. If companies have to keep training new employees, how does this affect their business objectives?
    This is a concern McCord is asked about regularly by the companies she consults. Employee retention is a big issue, and “it scares the hell out of” employers, says McCord. They’ve invested a lot in hiring big talent. To that, McCord has some advice: In 15 years, when your company is growing rapidly because of all the high, job-hopping achievers that have come and gone, unless you’re an institution, don’t worry that no one has any institutional knowledge of your company.
Then there is this Forbes story Employees Who Stay In Companies Longer Than Two Years Get Paid 50% Less. Economic opportunities pretty much drive the way we live, at a minimum because we need food, clothing, shelter, health care, and Netflix subscription. It would appear that the best economic opportunities come with biennial discontinuity and displacement.

So far, the 21st Century Disruption Way-of-Life is pretty much as expected.

This is not the discussion of "disruption" seen in 2017 media evaluation of technology business innovation, a positive view of the role of destruction and creation of businesses and even whole industries within a decade. That discussion too often ignores the fact that the process destroys communities and regions, and the people therein.

By the year 2000 the inevitable future seemed obvious. But even for someone who had lived in the Salinas Valley and was aware of this...

 ...these pictures of technology affecting California's agricultural economy in the 21st Century still boggle my mind even as the jobs on that graph that existed in 2012 are disappearing:

The pictures provide a more directly informative image than graphs by economists. But most Americans understand the meaning of this graph:

But that doesn't mean that we understand the 21st Century employment picture. This graph from economists provides some further understanding with the explanation below it:

    The primary sector of the economy is the sector of an economy making direct use of natural resources. This includes agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining. The manufacturing industries that aggregate, pack, package, purify or process the raw materials close to the primary producers are normally considered part of this sector, especially if the raw material is unsuitable for sale or difficult to transport long distances.
    The secondary sector includes industries that produce a finished, usable product or are involved in construction.
    The tertiary sector of industry involves the provision of services to final consumers and other businesses. T
he focus is on people interacting with people and serving the customer rather than transforming physical goods. Services also may involve the transport, distribution and sale of goods from producer to a consumer, as may happen in wholesaling and retailing, or may involve the provision of a service, such as in pest control or entertainment. The goods may be transformed in the process of providing the service, as happens in the restaurant industry.
But somewhere around 2000 people became aware of a change which led to consideration of a fourth "sector":

    The quaternary sector of the economy is a way to describe a knowledge-based part of the economy - which typically includes services such as information technology, information-generation and information-sharing, media, and research and development, as well as knowledge-based services like consultation, education, financial planning, blogging, and designing.
The problem is not everyone is in agreement on what are quaternary activities and some are now breaking things down into five activities. An then we don't have adequate statistics that have been graphed but one source has offered this for the United Kingdom which offers some hints about the future:

Looking at the curve on the tertiary line it appears that it peaked around the year 2000 much as secondary activity employment peaked in the 1930's. As we know self-driving vehicles are going to be disruptive for those who drive trucks for a living and retail sales employees are already being displaced by auto-checkout systems and internet sales.

The disruption in the primary and secondary activity employment is still being felt in areas of the United States such as the Rust Belt. Contrary to political rhetoric, those trends will not reverse. Americans who worked in agriculture (consider the pictures above), plus mining, and industry are delusional if they expect a change.

One of the realities is that a Tesla auto assembly plant looks like this:

Perhaps "Trump The Deplorable" would assure you that Tesla is a special case and that workers in auto plants in Mexico stole all the jobs. That is both stupid and a lie, because in that Tesla plant you can actually see some humans doing things because some things are experimental or custom, while in this Kia plant in Mexico there are no workers pictured:

 I''m sure they must employ people there, but my guess is most would be involved in quaternary sector activities keeping those robots working properly. If you're skill is operating a wrench, to work in one of these plants in the future you will have to get additional education and training requiring that calculus you fortunately took in high school because, as I said in 1999, you got a quality education creating a solid foundation in the basics - reading, math, science, and history.

The reality is that much of the technology creating the disruption came from California's aerospace industry and California's Silicon Valley. It cannot be undone nor can those businesses that created the technology employ those who have lost their jobs. There just aren't enough jobs in Silicon Valley. But even if there were, there aren't enough qualified workers - let me emphasize the important word qualified - to fill the millions of vacant jobs. As recent stories noted Cyber security jobs in high demand, currently 1 million job openings and Businesses say they just can't find the right tech workers.

Oh, and if you want to work in retail consider this March 2017 story hiring hundreds of tech workers in San Bruno, Sunnyvale to challenge Amazon Prime:
    The hiring is expected to more than offset recent job cuts of about 175 workers on the Peninsula.
    The retailing giant also has bought e-commerce firms, Shoebuy and Moosejaw in a series of transactions in September 2016 and January and February of 2017.
    “We are shifting our investments and building up teams that can launch two-day shipping and other customer-facing initiatives that further enhance the digital shopping experience,” [said Ravi Jariwala, a spokesman for, the digital arm of the Arkansas-based retailing titan].
    “Every traditional retailer is trying to come up with a winning formula for its online channel,” said Mark Vitner, a senior economist with Wells Fargo.
What possibly would make someone write that the hiring of tech workers would offset retail jobs lost by these folks in nearby Walmart stores?

How many of those WalMart workers will be able to slide right into the tech jobs remains to be seen. But certainly most likely will face stressful displacement and discontinuity in their lives. And for many it will not be the first or last time they will experience The 21st Century Disruption Way-of-Life.

The 21st Century Disruption Way-of-Life is not going to be limited to economic disruption. There is what Obama Administration White House science adviser John Holdren called "global climate disruption" which admittedly is a slower process, though by the middle of the century many places Americans live will not be very "desirable" or even "livable". Unfortunately, the term climate "disruption" was not picked up by the media. Nonetheless combined with economic disruption, it will help form the 21st Century Disruption Way-of-Life.

Scenes like this will become more frequent and, in many cases, will cause displacement and discontinuity, sometimes extreme displacement and sometimes inconvenient permanent discontinuity:

As noted previously in these posts, Californians have their own environmental program working with people in other Pacific Rim, European, African, and Asian nations and states they hope will make the next 100 years of climate disruption less disruptive for their children and grandchildren. We Californians should be doing that because the 20th Century California addiction to the automobile is at least partly responsible for climate disruption.

Now Californians have begun an effort to make the economic disruption less disruptive. We will explore that in the next post.