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Sunday, October 06, 2019

Is Their Truth Behind the Lies?

Money and power have always concentrated with the few. People with money and power tend to prefer to associate with people with money and power. Wired magazine recently did an interesting piece about this. So, it shouldn't come as any surprise to anyone that there is collusion amongst these folks.

When us regular folks get together and talk about the world and what can be done to make it a better place, our words are nothing more. However, when rich and powerful people have these talks, sometimes real actions can ensue. Sometimes, these actions may not be strictly legal, but with money and power can come a sense of invulnerability. We call this corruption and it is a lot easier to fall into when you're rich and powerful than one might think. There are so many laws to keep track of.

Thus, when Mr. Trump openly attacks the Bidens for corrupt behavior, he may not be wrong. There are probably a bunch of people out there that don't like any Democrats and are happy to see them get burned, but if you want to be serious about going after corruption, start in your own house, because that's where you gain legitimacy for the cause.

Donald Trump's selective persecution of corrupt behavior can't help but look like a political maneuver designed to help him in the next election. Maybe he feels that corruption is corruption and if its exposure helps him personally, so be it. I know he's not alone if he feels this way. There's a small percentage of the population who love to see him call it out despite the risks to his continued legitimacy as president.

The fact is, corruption is bipartisan. If we want to go after it, we should be just has happy about it when our own party's officials are called out. Corruption isn't a game of Republicans vs Democrats. It's more of a game of Whack-a-Mole. Whenever it pops up, we should uniformly knock it down...but we don't. There is no systematic pursuit of corruption, so we're forced to wait until a political enemy exposes someone. It's a lousy system, but maybe it's better than nothing at all. Or, maybe when exposing corruption becomes its own form of corruption, we should call for a better way. I wish I knew what that was.

Monday, August 19, 2019

AI is Coming to Take Our Democracy

Today, Wired magazine published an article entitled AI Algorithms need FDA-Style Drug Trials. They make a good case for how artificial intelligence (or deep learning) software is changing our society at a fundamental level.

The warning is clear, the answer maybe less so. Here's what I would recommend: pick your candidates based exclusively on what you see and hear them say. When words come out of their mouths, they may be influenced by software algorithms, but at least you are getting an unvarnished view into what that candidate chooses to project at the time.

We can no longer trust the spin and byproducts of political campaigns. This will require us to think and use our own judgement about what we believe to be the right path. Too much is at stake, so we should each reflect on what outcomes we would like to see for each issue we face as a society and listen to candidates to see if the outcomes they're proposing align with your own.

Is this more work? Yes, democracy is a responsibility as much as a right. We only get out as much as we're willing to put in. If we put in little to nothing, we'll get the candidate that the Russians and other powerful forces pick for us. I say let's do the work!

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Let's Bring Back Civility

Here it is August 4, 2019 and I am once again saddened by a seemingly random mass shooting in an El Paso, TX Walmart. Every time one of these shootings takes place, we restart our national dialog about guns. "If there were no guns, people wouldn't get shot!" To this I say, "If there were no <your favorite bad thing here>, people wouldn't suffer from it.

The fact is, whether you are a gun lover, a gun hater, or a gun I-don't-give-a-shitter, guns are part of the fabric of this country. We were founded on the principle that people should have the means to rise up and suppress a tyrannical government, and at the moment, those means are guns.

So, let's talk about the real issue here. People. Most of us will go through life and never kill one person, let alone a bunch of people. We're talking about a very small minority of folks who will actually end up killing anyone, even by mistake.

Given the cost and contention around collecting up all the guns, why don't we focus on what makes someone shoot up a store? I read a lot of psychology books because I'm fascinated by the human mind. It is capable of such beauty and terrible ugliness.

Here's a quiz. You are more likely to shoot up a store if you are:

A) Joyous, full of love, contented, and fulfilled
B) Angry, hateful, depressed and scared

I think even the shooters would get this one right. We should all be asking ourselves how we can help people who are described by B.

Parents have two basic jobs: 1) love their children unconditionally, and 2) get them to adulthood with their self-esteem intact. It turns out that this is harder to do than one might think. There's no means test to determine if a parent can pull this off. Rich or poor, it doesn't matter because if your parents failed in their task, there's a better chance that you'll fail too.

Having made it to adulthood while enduring failed parents, even those who want to be an example of category A, have a rough climb ahead. They won't make the climb without help. And, for those who don't realize that they're in category B, I don't believe there's much hope to save them.

What We All Can Do

Call me a skeptic but as a former category B-er, I can speak to how much work it takes to climb out of that hole. We each see the world the way we've been trained to see it. Let's say that you're angry. You go to the store and the checkout person makes a mistake. She's human. We all do it. But, you're angry already, so you let her have it. Maybe her mistake was caused because she's already having a bad day and now you've blasted her. So, she gives you a piece of her mind. You think "what a bitch!" Your world view has just been reinforced.

Now, if you had the presence of mind to take a breath and say something like "I can see that you're pretty stressed out today. Don't worry about it," this would have most likely diffused the situation and garnered you an apology. Your world view has just been reinforced.

Same situation. Very different outcome. The difference is empathy and civility. The great thing is that you don't actually need empathy to be civil. Have you ever watched one of those old movies from the 1950's? They seem so fake to us today. People were so nice all the time. The world wasn't really like that was it? Yes. It was.

Once upon a time, children were taught to respect their elders (even if they didn't deserve it). They were told to ALWAYS say please and thank you. These little lessons caused children to grow up and treat others with a bit of kindness even when they didn't know why or maybe didn't even really want to. It was just expected. In the sixties, the hippies gave us free love, free speech, free expression, and ultimately a major erosion of civility. By the 70's, people had to earn their civility, so if they were having a bad day (as most days are to category B folks), they just may not get any.

All these little encounters pile up to cause a person who already thinks very little of themselves to think even less over those around them. When life becomes devalued, taking a bunch of it "don't mean much." This is where we are now. So, next time you encounter someone who is seemingly having a bad day, be nice. Try to help them have a better one. If all the category A folks do this, we can gradually shrink the number of category B-ers who want us all dead.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

We The People, Getting Played Again!

My sister recently joined Better Angels and then talked me into it, too. This blog isn't about that, although it is about how both Republicans and Democrats are full of shit. They both provide us with a pack of well-crafted lies. I'd like to talk about things I hear from real people and how that connects to the bullshit being propagated out of D.C. and state capitals across this country.

First, some basic data. If it is true that 40%-45% of Americans are hard-core Republicans, it stands to reason that only a small percentage of that group believes in the course the party has set because all the historical data available points to their propensity to enrich the already rich at the expense of everyone who isn't. What I hear from real people is that lots of folks vote Republican because they are really opposed to killing babies. I hear that! Killing anyone sucks. I wish humans did a lot less of it.

To say that the Republicans have done nothing to curtail the killing of babies (in their nymph state, but we won't split hairs for the sake of this discussion), would be patently false. The party has made a considerable effort to reduce access to abortion. The irony here is that this reduced access impacts largely rural areas that are the most supportive of the party. I suppose it makes sense that you'd want your policies to be as visible as possible in the land of your party's base.

However, many folks living in the areas most affected by abortion wouldn't want one anyway. It is the heathen masses of the great cities who are most likely to pop down to the corner "family planning" (oh look! More irony) center for a post sex termination. They tend to work for companies who (remember, companies are people too - thanks Republicans for that one) are happy to pay for insured abortions, AND they actually can pop down to the corner for one.

Republican Lie #1: The party cares about killing babies.
No, they care about the votes of people who care about killing babies. If they really cared about killing babies, they would pass laws that made it harder in the cities, too. But guess what? There's a lot of votes in the cities and there's more rich people there. Some of those people are the very heathens I'm talking about. They won't take too kindly to Republicans taking away their abortions, so with a wink and a nod, everyone gets what they want...sorta.

Let's jump over to the DNC and see what the Democratic party is up to. Basically, the Democrats have given up on capitalism, but don't want to be called socialists. Nobody in the history of the world has ever figured out how to fund a socialist system and the Democrats are no exception. If you give everyone free college educations and healthcare, you're going to have to pay for it with debt, because by the time you collect enough taxes to pay for it, every wealthy person in the country will have moved their money, operations, and maybe even life, somewhere else -- because you can do that now. The rest of us are going to look pretty stupid trying to hold a capitalistic economy without any fucking businesses except fast food restaurants and liquor stores.

Democratic Lie #1: Redistributing wealth works.
We no longer live in a world in which one economy can make decisions for itself without consideration to other international trading partners. China, India, Brazil, Russia and many more countries would be happy to eat our lunch if we'll ship it to them. The choices we make to attract businesses here and keep the money here will affect our ability to pay for social programs. If we screw over rich people and they pack up and take their money with them, we're going to need quantitative easings #4, #5, #6 and possibly #7. By the way, in case you didn't know, quantitative easing is the computerized version of printing money. Maybe the debt associated with that will never affect us. And maybe, if you take a $1,000 to Las Vegas and keep gambling with it, you'll never lose. RIGHT! Even if you win for a long time, eventually you're going down.

The sad fact of history is that the vast majority of wealth redistribution has been at the end of a gun. So, unless we want to start a revolution, the only other option is to convince rich people to just hand over their money for the good of the masses. Yeah, get back to me and let me know how that works out.

As long as we have privately funded elections, nobody's going to be taking rich people's money away. They own the fucking government and if you don't believe that, put your big boy or girl pants on and  go do a little research of the facts. Massive amounts of private money are pumped into winners' campaigns. Do you really believe that there's no quid pro quo? How about the tooth fairy? Do you still believe in her too? Geez!

Was this any good? I've got plenty more lies where that came from. I really wish that people who are aligned with both parties will see that I'm not being partisan here, but rather trying to spark a conversation amongst "We The People" about how we flush the steaming pile of crap that is our government.

Building a Band: Not as Easy as You Might Think

I've been a musician most of my life and because I play bass guitar, being a solo act has always been out of the  question. That has left me with two choices: join a band, or start a band. Joining an established band is pretty easy because someone else has already done the heavy lifting for you. All I need to do is fit in, which has its own challenges, but at least I control most of them.

The thing about joining someone else's band is that its difficult to find something that's just what I want, so I need to come to it in the spirit of supporting the existing mission. By mission, I mean the type of music, the places the band wants to play, and the frequency of rehearsal. Even if all that works out, having longevity with a group of musicians is hard.

Let me be clear, the secret to a successful band is simple -- stay together! It really is that simple. I know what you're thinking. There needs to be talent. There needs to be good material. There needs to be organization. Well, yeah, but that will all come with time (okay, maybe not talent). The old saying that even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while is true for a lot of things. Even a no-talent group of musicians will create some good tunes once in a while, so if they stay together long enough, they will eventually have some good material.

So, what's the secret to longevity? The family model comes to mind. Families are formed when two people fall in love and then they produce some offspring. The Offspring don't get a say in the matter, so building a family is a lot easier than a band, where every member of the family has to be recruited.

Beyond that, the characteristics that go into a tight knit family are similar (with some additions).

Reliability - I have limited tolerance for unreliable people. Others may be more flexible about this, but I expect bandmates to do what they say, so things break down quickly when people don't keep their word.

Passion - I am committed to being a musician and all that it means. Other things may vye for my time, but some of them will need to get in line behind music because I'm not giving it up. People who are just passing through a musician phase probably won't have the staying power needed.

Work - Having a strong work ethic is common across all successful people (assuming they were self-made). I can't tell you how many times we've tossed out a musician who chronically showed up to rehearsal unprepared. It becomes a giant waste of everyone's time and gets annoying really quickly.

Commitment - Commitment to what? Good question. For me, the most important things are goals. Setting them and staying on the path to reaching them. I suppose I could have also called this one persistence because it goes hand in glove with commitment. Commitment isn't something you can have every third Tuesday. It's an every day sort of thing.

Patience - Everything is not going to go right. Well, maybe it will, but I never count on it. When obstacles emerge, dealing with them harshly or hastily can often result in emotional damage that is hard to repair. Not all problems require the kid glove treatment, but sometimes you just need to give people time to get back on track when things happen (family issues, work issues, etc.)

Transportation - This one could be left out, but having dealt with people who did not have reliable means of getting around, I decided that I couldn't bury it under reliability. I've been in bands with a musician that didn't drive and they were always reliant on someone else to get them to rehearsals and gigs. It's never worked.

Now, all the things above could be applied to any endeavor, but there are some things that apply specifically to musicians.

Musical Preferences - Given that there are countless genres and subgenres of music, finding people that want to play what you want to play can be challenging. So challenging in fact, that we often compromise on this one. The problem with this is that compromise has a nasty way of gnawing at you over time. I've left a few good bands because I just couldn't enjoy the music anymore. Hard as it was to walk away from something that was working on all other fronts, I'm in it for the love of the music first.

Equipment - This isn't usually a problem, but I have had situations in which band members had faulty or inadequate equipment and the frustration eventually boils over. I was in one band many years ago in which the drummer was so broke that he couldn't afford sticks. This was compounded by the fact that he was a banger and regularly broke them. One time, he showed up to a major gig with one pair of sticks. In fact, one flew out of his hand during Jimi Hendrix's Manic Depression and he had to finish with his hand while I attempted to flag down a roadie (who was busy chatting up a girl) to fetch it for him.

Skill - I put this one last, not because it is least important, but because it may be the best one of these characteristics to sacrifice. If someone has all the other qualities listed here, lack of skill should be a transient issue, meaning it will be resolved over time. Now, if you're looking to start a jazz/rock fusion band, you may want to stay away from beginners, but most genres of music can be played in fairly basic form. If you have more skill that other members of the band and become frustrated, see patience above.

There you have it! What are the odds of finding a whole group of people that share all of these characteristics? If that isn't enough, it's always helpful when you actually enjoy each other's company. You can build friendships just around music, but it helps longevity if you actually want to be together anyway. I have many lifelong friends who performed with me somewhere along the way, but now don't. We still get together to jam sometimes, but we're not in a band anymore.

If you want to assemble your own band, make a checklist of the things above and make sure all of the members of your newly formed band have them. You're going to be tempted to look past a few of these when you find a really great musician or someone you really like. Good luck with that!

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Rail Guns: Not Just for Quake Anymore

This week, the U.S. Navy puts their very first railgun into the field. That's right folks! Particle weapons are coming to a battlefield near you. No more gun powder for us. Back in the 1960's, when Star Trek first aired, the time frame represented was 300 years in the future. Here we are not even 100 years into the future and most, if not all of the technology in the show is available, under development, or being actively researched.

The XPrize contest to produce the world's first tricorder is over and there were not one, but two winners. Check that one off the list. Now, all we need is the other little thingy that didn't even have a name that Bones waved over someone to fix their broken bones and damaged flesh. At this rate, we may have to wait another 30-40 years for that.

Transporters are a bit  trickier. We have them, but the current models can only transmit a subatomic particle or two. You've got to start somewhere. There are claims of transporting larger chunks of matter shorter distances. The point here is that it is happening. Ultimately, the thing stopping us from transporting larger items is the scanning and computing power required. Of course, we continue to chip away at that too.

Replicators are now available to consumers. Granted, they can't make a hot cup of tea yet, but they can make just about any little plastic thingy you can think of. Specialized 3D printers can now print metal, electronic circuits, skin, and even organs. It is simply a matter of time before these devices are able to build more complex items. As we continue to miniaturize our devices, it is not unreasonable to expect that within the next 50 years, we will have printers that start with base material and rearrange its atomic structure to make anything. The trick to doing this is mostly in the necessary computing power and new graphene based chips will give us that (again - already developed technology).

The impulse (or ion) drive is well developed technology at this point. NASA is considering it for future deep space missions. They need to consider it because warp drive is a bit farther into the future. The more amazing thing is that warp drive is now theoretically possible. There are a number of theoretical models out there. My personal favorite is the Alcubierre drive, proposed by a Mexican physicist of that name (sorry Zephram Cochran - not in this reality).

Some of the stuff they had seems almost antiquated by modern standards. Take those crappy tablets they used. Why did they have to pass them around? Did they not even have WiFi? The original Enterprise didn't even have a holodeck, but we're closing in on that one pretty quickly. We certainly have holo-video systems and new research is ongoing. Of course  the most ridiculous piece of technology was the stupid flip phone. They are so last millennium!

Maybe the greatest invention of Star Trek was the economy-less society. What if people could live a comfortable life with all the basics and pursue their dreams unimpeded by the need for personal assets? Think of all the inventions that could be brought to fruition if anyone with an idea had the resources to fully produce it. Without an economy, there would be no need for greed. If that were the case, most of the people that would have been working to improve their own lives might start focusing on improving everyone else's along with the rest of the planet. Just a  thought.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Speed & Complexity is Killing Democracy

There can be no doubt that the demands on the average human mind have increased manifold in recent decades. Globalization and the Internet have combined to create a tsunami of information which is available to anyone with a smartphone and a data plan. Increasingly, that's everyone in the United States. Here in Ann Arbor, even the homeless are given smartphones with a basic data plan.

Technology has been steadily increasing productivity since the beginning of the industrial age. As productivity increases, what happens in a single day looks more like what would happen in the course of a year of an agrarian society. Consequently, it takes one with an extraordinary mind and the motivation required to keep up with the underlying facts surrounding the big decisions our country faces.

It's no wonder then that most of us are always looking for someone who we trust to distill down to bite-sized, understandable, consumable chunks, the issues we face. Our current president, Donald Trump, is a master at this. "It's gonna be a great healthcare plan" is just the sort of information anyone can process. "Our current trade deals are terrible. We're going to throw them out and have much better ones" is much easier to digest than the complex web of interrelated issues around global trade.

Here's the fundamental problem with the complexity of our issues and the speed with which they evolve: most people can't keep up. Democracy depends on a well informed public to work effectively. This is no longer a reasonable expectation.

This leaves our democracy at the mercy of spin doctors, pundits, and power brokers. Most of us have no choice but to get our viewpoint from people with an agenda that we can't fully comprehend. So, we decide who we trust and we trust them. But, what have the people we trust to tell us what to believe about how to solve our country's and the world's (considerable) issues done to earn that trust?

What can they do? Issues are often so complex and nuanced that verifying what is a fact and what is an opinion or completely made-up bullshit is almost impossible. Unfortunately, some of the people we trust to inform us take advantage of this fact in the worst way imaginable. Is this a fact? If you blindly accept that everything you are told by your trusted sources, you might argue that I'm the one who's full of shit. Unfortunately, unless you take the time to deeply research some of the "facts" you're being given by your new source, you'll never know.

Therein lies the problem. In our country, we have two parties. Each party has a point of view. We are given the option to choose between these two points of view. Do you really believe that there are only two points of view? As complex as the world has become, what is the likelihood that our options can be boiled down to only two that make any sense? THAT doesn't make any sense.

The great thing about democracy is that everyone has a choice. When the system becomes so corrupt that only two points of view are represented, that's not really democracy. It is a mere shadow of a democracy. If we are to get back to a real democracy, we need more voices. We need more points of view. We need people to who we can trust to fact check our leaders and call them out for lying. Realistically, it's unlikely we'll get any of it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Conservative Perspective of a Revisionist

Most of us tend to take up the politics of our parents. It's hard to grow up in a house listening to people taking one position and then change that position later (Andrew Breitbart tried, but couldn't). It happens, but not often. I grew up in a house with two very liberal parents.

I like to think of myself as an independent thinker. Unlike most people, I actively seek out the viewpoint of all sides of any issue. The challenge with this is that the underlying philosophies that inform any particular issue are different. Without the right context, it's always easy to see the opposing viewpoint as tainted.

Realizing this, I've been doing some reading lately to gain a better understanding of the underpinnings of the conservative viewpoint. I've come to realize that there are some stark choices one must make before taking one side or the other. I've tried to sum these differences up in simple terms. Here's what I've got:

Conservatives: believe in freedom first. To have freedom, individuals must own the responsibility for their lives. If more successful people are able to shape the playing field because of their power to do so, those who do not have power must figure out how to play on their playing field.

Liberals (I prefer this to Progressives): believe in fairness first. Those with power stack the system in their favor and make it harder for those without power to gain it. Therefore, the system must have safeguards to even the playing field.

My suspicion is that few conservatives or liberals would argue with these definitions. If you are a liberal, you will see the conservative premise as flawed and vice versa. If I'm right, this is a great start to understanding.

Conservative Roots

So, here's where I think the conservatives have the high ground. When this country was founded, the men who conceived it had lived under the tyranny of a government that imposed themselves on their lives. Our founders sought to create a system in which the people would have ultimate control over anything the government did. They set up a system that would be prone to gridlock right from the start, knowing that these counterbalancing structures would ensure that the government couldn't run away with their power.

Since the states began life un-united, leaders of each wanted to make sure that the Federal government could not wrest too much control from their lives, so they kept as much power in the hands of states as they could. This would ensure that each state could shape the lives of their citizens according to their local desires.

All of this made perfect sense in a new land full of untapped resources and virtually unlimited opportunity. It is in this context that we must understand the mindset of the conservative viewpoint. Every conservative scholar that I've read refers to these roots as the driver of all philosophical positions.

Liberal Revisionism

The liberal view of the world did not even exist in the beginning. While there were differences between parties back in the early days of the union, I suspect that there was little argument about the principles discussed above. So, what happened?

I can only speculate about the origins of modern liberalism. There are undoubtedly too many variables to classify. I believe there are two biggies that ought to be near the  top of the list:
  • Globalization
  • The Federal Reserve
Both of these are game-changers that bring into question the logic of the conservative viewpoint. Let's just take these two apart to see if we can find some justification for the liberal viewpoint.


Large ships, then large airplanes and now the Internet have connected people around the globe in ways that our forefathers could never have imagined. It would be unfair to have expected them to understand what the world would become when the economies of different nations developed the level of interdependence that we see today. If they had, what would they have done differently?

For starters, they may have given the Federal government even more power over commerce and regulating the economy. If they had allowed states to have most of the control over commerce, the "United" States would have not been very united in the eyes of foreign governments. At best, this would make our country a very difficult trading partner.

Most importantly, money flows almost seamlessly from one country to another. This means that government policy plays a very complex role in the health of our economy because capital seeks the best ground and that may not be ours. Key decision-makers in large corporations now control, with there choices about money flow, whether our economy does well or not.

The Federal Reserve

As the Industrial Revolution began gaining steam, the most successful entrepreneurs of the day (also known as robber barons) saw trouble on the horizon. By the way, that nickname is interesting because barons were European royalty and one could argue that they were U.S. royalty. Visit some of their ancestral homes and you will discover that they are castles. The parallels are considerable.

They realized that if the government was allowed to control money, they could disrupt the empires that they had built. With all their power, they created the Federal Reserve, which is a quasi-governmental organization run by bankers. The president is allowed to hire/fire the head banker, but he/she must select from leaders in the banking industry if they make a replacement. Essentially, the bankers are in control of the money in this country. Period. Full stop. No argument.

The Federal Reserve controls how much money we have and the interest rates at which it is distributed. These are the only two levers by which money is controlled. Thus, the government holds no levers to control the medium by which our economy functions.

Why is this a game-changer that motivates liberals? Because, without governmental controls on money, modern-day robber barons can endlessly stack the deck in their favor, thereby leaving everyone else further and further behind and more and more under their control.

The Decision

Each of us needs to decide between idealism and practicality. The ideal of this country lives in the hearts and minds of many of us. We long for the life that the framers promised and we believe that by rolling back the insidious changes made by the revisionists, we can get back to that ideal.

Others look at the reality of today's world and believe that it can't be undone. There are too many factors, which cannot be controlled which make it impossible to recreate what we once had. Further, half measures only seem to make matters worse. Thus, trying to roll back and failing puts us further and further away from the goal.

If you believe we can successfully roll back, you will continue to fight for the conservative attempts to make the government smaller, reduce regulatory control over our lives, and put more money back in the hands of the people who earned it. If you don't think that is possible, then you will want to take steps to level the playing field so that those who have benefited excessively from the changes of the industrial and information ages do not wrest complete control away from the rest of us.

My View

As much as I, too, long for the good old days, I don't think we can go back. Most of the really rich in the world are no longer contained by a single country. Multinational corporations can shift their economic interests to the highest bidder in a global competition for economic resources. If we were to roll back the Federal rules that contain them, they would strip our country of resources and send the money offshore to avoid whatever taxes we decided to charge. As our infrastructure crumbled, our overpopulated workforce may once again become attractive because they would have to work for third-world rates. 

What made us great the first time around was that we led the world in industrial and technological advancement. That is no longer the case and no matter what we do, it will never be the case again. It's too hard to keep secrets anymore and it's too easy to copy what someone else is doing.

Just look around. The countries that have the most growth are the ones with big labor pools willing to work cheap. Do we want that for ourselves? I think not. Our problems are extremely complex and we will need complex solutions or we will need to re-imagine our whole system. Nobody's even talking about the latter option. At least not in Washington.