All posts by anthonyuplandpoetwatkins

https://www.goodreads.com/AnthonyUplandpoetWatkins born in Jackson, The United States August 04, 1959 gender male website http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?contributorI... genre Poetry, Historical Fiction influences James M. Lancaster, Brenda Black White, Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, and Al Filreis member since March 2011 About this author edit data As one of the most public lives ever lived by a private citizen, there is little about me that isn't already available at Facebook or Shelfari and countless other places. Poet, writer, construction worker, salesman, truck driver, climber into the attics of total strangers, father and husband, and all around one of the luckiest men on the planet. My luck continued with a win in the June Goodreads Newsletter Contest! What an honor! http://anthonyuplandpoetwatkins.wordp... Additional Influences: Bob Dylan, William Faulkner, Barbara Kingsolver, Gloria Naylor, Eudora Welty

The Great American Garage Project

tinkers in garageAs you probably are aware, at least according to modern mythology, much of the great American economy was started by folks tinkering in the garage. This includes everything from Henry Ford and the entire American automobile industry, the Wright Brothers bicycle shop (not exactly a garage, but certainly not the Boeing factory, either) to HP computers and the whole PC computer market.

Undoubtably, many great industries have gotten their starts from mostly middle class to upper class white men (yes, mostly men, and mostly white) tinkering in their garage. In fact, a recent study these tinkers add about $41billion to the annual economy, and if you think of the major industries that got their starts in someone’s garage, it’s a lot more than that.

Here is the thing, our total economy is about $21 trillion, so $41 billion is a small piece of the equation. But, if you think about it, there are a few things that limit the number of great ideas that are tinkered with in a garage until it turns into something that contributes to Americans’ (and others’) quality of life:

A garage, and a little spare cash to “play at something”, maybe a dozen ‘somethings’ before one turns into a winner.

Probably in the history of America, of the 30 million men or so who have had garages and a little pocket money to play with, very few, say 1 in 100 have seriously used their time, disposable income and space to create something, and one of ten or even one hundred tinkers produce anything worthwhile to the economy, or even to their own personal wealth. Yet, we traditionally have had about 20% of America who have both access to a physical and enough disposable income to have a hobby of tinkering. Of course, if we changed our attitudes, or maybe we already have, this 20% would quit being a “for men only” club, but that still leaves 80% or 250 million people who cannot realistically follow their dreams and ideas and theories and build the next big thing or maybe just the next million-dollar idea, or even one hundred thousand dollar idea. If the 3,000 or so men who live in a house with a garage and who have a few hundred dollars per month to invest in their ideas, schemes or dreams, somehow turn those ideas into useful products or services, and they generate $1 billion dollars in wealth every year, what would 30,000 people, suddenly given the opportunity do?

As an extension of my thoughts on a Universal Basic Income, where I thought about how creating a system of “Social Security for All” in which we tax everyone the same percentage (10%-15% of all wealth created), and then disperse the same amount back to everyone ($500 per person, per month and an additional stipend for the head of household/rent-mortgage payer), I began to think about the creative freedom this small stipend would give us all.

Pretty quickly I began to think of the “garage economy”. And then I thought, “What if we also gave people, almost all people, the same opportunity to turn their creativity into wealth creation like we have always done for those of moderate to high income and housing?”

It is easy to guess we might end up expanding the $41 billion to $200+billion in additional GDP. We might also figure that our odds of hitting the next HP/Ford/Kitty Hawk Flyer will be increased at least four-fold. At a minimum, we could increase the national GDP by over $160 billion dollars.

As this began to become more and more of a real possibility, at least in my mind, I was discussing it with teenagers. And one of us thought of garages that functioned like libraries. The next thought was maybe actually connect them to public libraries. But when we started thinking about what tinkers do in garages, we decided that might not be such a good idea, but then we thought about police and fire stations. Most police and fire stations around the country are conveniently located near the population and often located in low and extremely low income neighborhoods. There are about 8000 urban fire stations out of about 50,000 nationwide (most of the fire stations are located where people have access to garages, though another 10,000 or so serve rural communities where the percentage of poor people outnumber the well-off).

Around 15,000 police departments serve our country, including about 5,000 in urban areas with well over 7,000 stations and substations in urban areas with much less coverage in rural urban areas, but altogether, there should be over 15,000 government owned and operated locations of fire or police where there is enough space to build a 15 foot by 20 foot building, adjoining the existing structure. To build this sort of structure, and add it to the water, power of the existing building would range from about $50,000 in places where both land and labor were not very costly to well over $100,000 in some cities. If you use the number of $100,000 per structure and you built 15,000 garages, total capital outlay would be around $1.5 billion, or a one-time penny on the dollar of the likely return of $150 billion annually.

There is also the matter of both allocation and disposable income, as well as results. My thoughts would be anyone between the ages of 18 and 100 who expresses an interest, can prove they have a household income below the median for that area, do not live at a home with a garage, or at least a garage they have access to, should be eligible on a first come, first serve basis. I don’t think asking for a planned project is needed, though it could be added, depending on what others think. While some projects take years to develop and finish, many projects could be accomplished over a summer or over a 9 month non summer stretch. So, if we allowed 15,000 adults to use the garages around the country, for 9 months, and gave them a stipend of a few hundred dollars per month for materials. Probably at the end of 90% of the “rentals” the tinker would have nothing to show for their work, except maybe a pile of scraps to carry out to the dumpster, but every once in a while, they will invent a better dryer filter, or insulated drink cups or some sort of minor miracle, and on very rare occasions, they might invent a world changing something, at the very least, they will had the opportunity that we in the middleclass take for granted, the opportunity to give it a try, to see if it will work, and to possibly make a go of something.

Then in the summer, we could allow a school aged child, with some degree of adult supervision, to spend three months and a few hundred of the taxpayers’ dollars trying out their young dreams.

In any case, because the buildings would either be attached to or very near either a fire house or a police station, with 24 monitoring by government employees. This arrangement has several advantages over a freestanding system. The interior of the garage could be easily added to the video monitoring of the overall complex, allowing for a safeguard both against self-injury and illegal activity. It would also allow a great community outreach between police and fire departments, allowing a long-term casual relationship to develop between the tinker and the department employees. And there might even be a good recruiting tool to let local community members consider working in whichever department they tinker at.

If every year 15,000 adults have 9 months to tinker and each summer another 15,000 school children get a three month turn. If there isn’t anyone waiting on line, and a tinker wants to extend their usage, that would be okay, too. If we were to implement this at once nationwide, besides the $1.5 billion capital one-time and a smaller annual maintenance, we would need between 50 – 100 million dollars for stipends and utilities.

Of course, more likely we would build a test group and see how it works, not so much looking for immediate results but to make it work as smoothly as possible.

Over the long run, we could allow 2 million or more people access to this ultimate creative space would give us many new ideas, solutions, things, from leisure to life saving devices, and in the process increase our national GDP by several hundred times the investment.

 

Social Security for All

1908_Ford_Model_T

There is much talk of a Medicare for All, known as M4A. If done properly, with Obamacare-like subsideis for those who make less than $50,000 per year, this can be a real cost saver for individuals, for tax payers and for small businesses.

But there is a second universal idea which is just beginning to make it into conversations here in America, Universal Basic Income, or Social Security for All. Just as a good uninvesal health care system would improve both the corporate and government bottom line and the quality of life for all Americans, so would a system that we all contributed to on an equal basis and all recieved and eual share in return. It would not threaten our capitalist system, in fact, it would open the system up to everyone and offer opportunities for creativity and innovation unlike anything yet seen anywhere in the world.

 

 

Universal Basic Income

This plan actually costs money, at least at first, but in the long run makes so much sense as to create a net improvement in the lives of over 95% of all Americans, and the remaining 5% are the richest Americans and they would not be significantly negatively impacted. If we added a 15% surtax on every individual and corporate tax dollar earned in America, we could pay each person living in America $500 per month, with an additional $500 stipend for “head of household.” Note: everyone pays in an equal share of their income, and everyone, from the homeless guy under a bridge to Jeff Bezos, gets the same amount back!

This would mean, a family of 4 would receive $2500 per month in a cash payment. It is very important that this money does not count against ANY subsidy any person is already getting, this is to leave our entire current system of taxes and benefits as is. If you are a family composed of two minimum wage workers and two children, you would still get your food stamps, your housing assistance, and your earned income tax credit as the end of the year. The 15%/$500 system is completely outside the regular structure, and is completely self-funded.

Let’s look at two examples:

Family one, is as described above, they earn a combined income of $640 per week, they pay Social Security and Medicare or about $50 per week, and a tax of $12, for a net annual income of $30,056 plus an Earned Income Credit of around $5,600, for a total household “take home” of just under $36,000 per year.

With basic income, this family would have to pay $4,500 per year due to the surtax, but would receive $30,000 in stipends, so their actual “take home” for the year would be just under $61,000.

Now, lets look at Family Two, two spouses and one child, earning $100,000 combined. with a mortgage on a $250,000 home at 4% interest, they can deduct about $10,000 per year in interest costs. They pay $7800 in Social Security and Medicare and $6,000 in Federal taxes, leaving them with a “take home” of around $86,000 per year.

With basic income, this family would pay a $15,000 surtax, and receive back $24,000 in stipends, leaving them with a “take home” of $95,000 per year.

By creating a secure base, we would allow, not only the rich and the middle class the luxury of experimenting with ideas that might lead to the next Henry Ford, or HP or one of hundreds of other ideas a person of moderate means and a little free time tinkered into something that changed our lives forever.

The Future of the Democratic Party

At the national level, for most of my life, when we nominated a liberal Democrat for president, we lost, when we nominated a moderate or conservative Democrat, we won, but things have changed.

There isn’t the same sort of middle America there was from 1960-2010. today, we have a black and white America, with about 50% on each side, yes, there is a small number of folks on the right who hate Trumps style, but they mostly agreed with his substance. A moderate is not going to draw them away from the GOP, then there are the 50% of us. I will not vote for a moderate GOPer, because I understand that the Kasich/Romney/Flake GOP is as evil, if not as stupid as the Trump GOP.

And yes, there may be a few moderate Dems who would vote for a “moderate GOPer if they were set with either voting for Flake or Alex Ocasia-Cortez, but today, the real key is getting another 10% of your side to the polls. exciting progressives can do that. they did it in FLA and GA, look at the turnout in the past several statewide elections in both states (and others), moderate, centrist candidates mean the young, the marginalized stay home. They believe it doesn’t matter.

They believe the candidates are not in touch with their no-health-care/no-day-care/not-enough-paycheck-for-survival real world. good, charismatic leaders who have fought thru the system get it, and voters sense that. if the DNC move back to the middle (who am I kidding, they never left the middle) we will go back to a minority opposition party, even though, with good progressive leadership, we could be on a cusp of an era similar to the FDR-LBJ era, where Dems dominated, because they were in touch with the people.

They promoted generations of progressive ideas. for nearly 40 years, Dems had great, progressive liberal ideas, SS/MC, Civil Rights (though it took a fair amount of outside agitating), human rights, workers’ rights, and so many other ideas to bring us to a “Great Society.”

In 1972, McGovern was a little too far to the left for mainstream America, or more likely, we let Nixon and his dirty tricks (boy, that sounds familiar) persuade America that McGovern was too extreme… Anyway, we turned our back, we nominated liberals like Mondale and Dukakis, both men I respected, but both were less than charismatic.

We need Alexs Betos, Gillums Staceys. In fact, we have them! we need them on the ticket in 2020, we need them in congress and the senate, we need to build on the victories of this week.

Yes, we lost some close ones.

Yes, they were probably stolen.

Yes, the challenges will probably fail, but the exciting progressive candidates are leading the way. They are not the problem. The “middle is best” mentality is the problem.

Jesus and the “Caravan”

from (KJV) Mathew, Chapter 25, reading from verse 34 onward:

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

Three points to change America

This does not directly solve the three biggest problems we face as a society, (race, environment/climate change, and immigration), but it gives us the tools to work on those issues as well, because a healthy, well educated financially secure population can better tackle those issues, too.
1) Fully fund a public education for every student who wishes to go to college or a tech school.
The difference in taxes paid, over a life time, of a college grad and a high school grad more than pays for the cost of a public university degree, so long term, this program would be free to the taxpayer
(schools must meet specific academic criteria and accept the equivalent fees of the state college system as payment in full).
2) Fully fund single payer style healthcare for every person in the USA.
As the costs we are currently spending on private insurance, copays and costs to taxpayers for indigent care, all of which has led to the expensive and ineffective system we currently have, plus the costs of lost productivity from employees either working sick (and spreading illness), or missing work due to illness, add up to a cost that is greater than the costs of a single payer universal health program.
Again, long term, this system would save the taxpayer money, while providing us with a nation full of healthy productive people and a net zero cost.
3) Universal Basic Income
This plan actually costs money, but in the long run makes so much sense as to create a net improvement in the lives of over 95% of all Americans, and the remaining 5% are the richest Americans and they would not be significantly negatively impacted. If we added a 15% surtax on every individual and corporate tax dollar earned in America, we could pay each person living in America $500 per month, with an additional $500 stipend for “head of household.” Note: everyone pays in an equal share of their income, and everyone, from the homeless guy under a bridge to Jeff Bezos, gets the same amount back!
This would mean, a family of 4 would receive $2500 per month in a cash payment. It is very important that this money does not count against ANY subsidy any person is already getting, this is to leave our entire current system of taxes and benefits as is. If you are a family composed of two minimum wage workers and two children, you would still get your food stamps, your housing assistance, and your earned income tax credit as the end of the year. The 15%/$500 system is completely outside the regular structure, and is completely self-funded.
Let’s look at two examples:
Family one, is as described above, they earn a combined income of $640 per week, they pay Social Security and Medicare or about $50 per week, and a tax of $12, for a net annual income of $30,056 plus an Earned Income Credit of around $5,600, for a total household “take home” of just under $36,000 per year.
With basic income, this family would have to pay $4,500 per year due to the surtax, but would receive $30,000 in stipends, so their actual “take home” for the year would be just under $61,000.
Now, lets look at Family Two, two spouses and one child, earning $100,000 combined. with a mortgage on a $250,000 home at 4% interest, they can deduct about $10,000 per year in interest costs. They pay $7800 in Social Security and Medicare and $6,000 in Federal taxes, leaving them with a “take home” of around $86,000 per year.
With basic income, this family would pay a $15,000 surtax, and receive back $24,000 in stipends, leaving them with a “take home” of $95,000 per year.
Yet, most of those earning anywhere between $50,000 – $150,000 would object to this plan, even though it is fair, and would put more money in their pockets!

Are Open Primaries the Answer?

I know people, good people, sincere people who think opening the primaries to all voters is better than the current system of requiring a voter to be a member of a party to vote. They point to the fact that more and more voters are registering as independents. If we leave the primaries closed, that means less and less voters have a say in the nomination process. Which means fewer people are motivated to vote in the general for a candidate who they did not help select.

While I understand the logic, I think this is treating a symptom as a cause. The reason so many people, especially young people are registering as NPAs is because they have become disgusted with both parties. They rightly see the GOP as the party of the white male and the radically conservative, and they see, with rare exception, the Democratic Party, is ineffective and out of touch with their daily lives. These voters are typically both low information voters and low turnout voters. Opening the primary would only allow people with less interest in promoting the platform of the Democratic Party more influence based often bad information from whatever candidate or dark money PAC managed to feed them.

If we reach out, as a grassroots party, invite these disaffected voters to help us build and maintain a party and a slate of candidates they can support, they will come into the tent, and be the next generation of leaders, instead of occasional and casual bomb throwers from outside. By election day, no matter what kind of primary system we have, it too late. We must restore the Democratic Party to be the vibrant political voice of the poor, the young, the old and the working class (blue and white collar). An open primary does nothing but put a band-aid on a gaping wound.

We don’t need a way to encourage people who are not invested in the party to disrupt the party (think Bernie Sanders), we need people who feel welcome (that’s on us), and people who give a good goddamn (that’s on them). Let us focus on opening the party to new-comers and shed our mostly white ole boy (and ole girl) teams at the local level. If we take the party to the streets, year-round on year and off year, build party activities that mean something to the people we want to be part of the party. Party activists vote in both the primary and the general, and because they were involved through the whole process they are invested in the winner, even if the winner wasn’t their first choice.