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March 31, 2015


Isn't it great? It's the Greatest Soap On Earth. Don't bother they're here.

I hope my caution regarding Bernie Sanders didn't seem cowardly. He's been bringing it to the public for years and would probably make as good a case for social democracy as anyone. However, I'll stand by my statement that a huge majority of US citizens don't know the difference between European-style socialism and the workings of the United Soviet Socialist Republic. I've heard this ignorance countless times. Most US Americans don't even realize how big a part in their lives socialism plays already or has in the US past. But in every "keep your government hands off my Social Security" protest sign there is some hope along with the silliness.

Thanks to Peter G for his unflagging cheer. I replied to him in the last post before reading this one and ended on a note very similar to the theme. May we all find the heart to be amused rather than disgusted through one more election. I'm not so sure it will take decades for things to reach a tipping point.

You know what I see Bob? I see progress. The first US election I ever paid any attention to was in 1968. The first book I ever read on the subject was Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail by Hunter Thompson. I've read a lot since then and have witnessed more. Watching history unfold gives me a great deal of pleasure. The progress I see is often glacial and torturous but it is all there for us to watch. I would not have imagined the progress in LGBT rights in my youth for example. When I was at university the police chief in London Ontario made his bones hunting gays. Now he marches in gay pride parades. Who could have guessed that would happen?

The world is richer now. There are less wars and conflicts now than heretofore although you wouldn't guess it by watching the news. More people are educated than ever before and they have better lives. Lots more to do of course. Lots of problems. The biggest one I see is that the relentless march of productivity improvements and efficiencies is going to leave us with a severe shortage of things that people may usefully and productively do by which they may earn a decent living. How exactly are we going to evolve towards an equitable way of taking care of everyone's basic needs? The distribution of the wealth we collectively create is the key. In the science fiction books of my youth (I was a big fan) always managed to gloss over the transition to these Utopian futures. Globally I believe we are still headed in the right direction. Cheers!

In the advanced countries we've already reached a point where robots have possibly replaced a majority of the kind of workers that built our great, post-WWII "middle" class. They've also begun to replace a few professionals. I'm a retired electrical engineer and can state with some knowledge that the trend will continue to accelerate. More equitable distribution via government is likely the only sensible course. To sum up Mill's utilitarian outlook, we need the answer that will do the most good and least harm for the largest number of people. Who makes the judgments, I admit, is something of an ongoing problem. More social democracy seems to be the best answer, but it requires involved citizens instead of the consumers our current system churns out.

I've been a compulsive reader nearly all my life and still enjoy sci-fi. Iain M. Banks writes about, among other things, how societies might react after it's no longer necessary to work for a living in his "culture" series. It's great fun.

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