On the death of John Glenn and men like him: the real heroes did not have to brag…

December 9, 2016

The death Thursday (12-8-16) of John Glenn at 95, first American astronaut to orbit the earth in space, reminded me of how different it is now than then, then being the early 1960s. It was an exciting and exhilarating time. We had a young Democratic Party president from a super-rich family who did not see government as the enemy but more of an engine to do good for a nation on the move. And he did not spend time bragging on himself (even if his father had bragged on him).

I don’t recall Glenn bragging on himself either, it was just apparent. It did not need to be said.

President John F. Kennedy declared that we would land a man on the moon within the decade, and we did, and this was done by the government, but that government mission also had a major spinoff of so many uses and products in the private sector. And think of all the government contracts for private industry — all the employment. But only government could have gone out on a limb to do this.

The populace as a whole was not anti-government but it did buy into the argument during the new president’s campaign that our country was in stagnation and needed to move forward. There was an economic recession. And the Democrats argued that we had fallen behind the Soviets in missile technology and production and the space race during the Republican Eisenhower administration. In 1957 the Soviets had shocked the world by launching the first space satellite. It looked like they had surpassed the U.S.

I remember the family going out into our backyard in the Central Valley of California and watching Sputnik pass overhead like a moving star.

But the reality was that we were not really behind, maybe just a bit more cautious. For one thing, the Russians had sent up some capsules previous to their official flights, with dogs and reportedly even with at least one human cosmonaut, who did not survive. We sent up at least one chimpanzee before sending a man up. Both the chimpanzee and the man made it back.

But then after the Soviet Union beat us in manned flight into space, we soon sent Allan Shepard up and then Gus Grissom, both flights simply going up and then down, and then John Glenn, who actually orbited the earth. We were solidly back in the game and took the lead over the Soviet Union.

Glenn was lucky he made it back to earth. On the way down the heat shield on his capsule was disintegrating. He could feel the heat and see the sparks or flames, but later said he knew the only thing to do was to keep calm and apply his training — if the worst happened it would be over in an instant.

JFK of course was assassinated in 1963. But in 1969 we were the first and only nation to put a man on the moon.

All this glory thanks in large part to a president who had been a World War II hero and astronauts like Glenn, veterans too. Glenn served in both WWII and the Korean War.

Glenn went on to be a U.S. Senator from Ohio, a member of the Democratic Party, but a centrist in public policy for most of his long tenure, and he had other successful endeavors throughout his life. By all accounts he was an unassuming man, more given to hard work and service to his country, not so much boasting.

Today we have a billionaire headed to the White House who made his money by questionable means and who is boastful and who is disrespectful to the institutions of government and to war veterans — bashing John McCain, who served years in North Vietnam as a prisoner of war and refused to succumb to their propaganda trick of offering him an early release so they could make it look like the son of a Navy admiral got special treatment and maybe even betrayed his country.

President-elect Donald Trump claimed he was not impressed with McCain because he got captured. Trump dodged his way out of the service during Vietnam. Trump also insulted the family of a fallen American soldier in the war in Iraq. Trump may or may not have rescinded some of his remarks in both cases or had others do it for him, I forget, but that is what he does when someone criticizes him or he thinks they did — he lashes out like a child, usually on the social network device of Twitter, where you can spew out random thoughts without thinking in an instant for the world to see.

I can’t imagine such actions from the likes of JFK or Glenn or men of that stature.

Our society has changed. It seems we no longer revere such people or there are few such people to revere.

Trump says he will “make America great again”.

But I think it is the likes of people as him that is threatening our decline.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Is the electoral college past its time or is it just not doing its job? How about a parliamentary system?

December 7, 2016

NOTE: I continue to have great reservations about Donald Trump becoming president, although I realize it is all but a done deal (current challenges aside). Time Magazine has named him Person of the Year. But that is not necessarily good, it just means he has had the most impact — and I cannot argue that. Adolf Hitler made Man of the Year in 1938. And I will say that despite the more distasteful aspects of Trump (his bullying, his ignorance, incivility, sexism, acceptance of bigotry if not his own bigotry itself, to name a few) sometimes when I read about what he is doing I wonder if there could be some positive aspects to his chaos theory-driven method that seems at times to displease all political factions — right and left and middle and Democrat and Republican. I know as a former professional journalist it is said if both sides of an issue think you have written an unfair story then you probably have done your job correctly.


Either the electoral college has outlived its time or usefulness or maybe it is not being conducted properly so that it can be useful.

The Founding Fathers thought in terms of a representative democracy rather than a direct democracy. They were afraid that factions would take over and one group of citizens would seek advantage for themselves at the expense of others. Better to have elected representatives who represent the people as a whole run things, that was the idea. Unfortunately I think the way it works out is that the elected representatives as often as not represent factions or special interests at the expense of the people as a whole or minorities.

The framers of the Constitution provided for a system of electors chosen by each state to cast votes for the presidential election. Supposedly the people’s desires are to be considered by the electors, but the electors, being wise men (or women too nowadays) have the final say and responsibility as the final filter against the unworthy or unqualified, or too dangerous.

The thing is, the way it has evolved all the electors do is rubber stamp what the people voted in each state. All but two states, Main and Nebraska, allot all of their electors (the number based on the size of their congressional delegation) using the winner take all (electors) system. Seldom does an elector vote any other way, although he or she could. There is a movement afoot currently to get electors pledged to Donald Trump to not vote for him. Electors could face penalties for breaking pledges or state laws in doing so, but as I understand it all this has never been tested in court.

If an elector cannot vote his conscience, then what is the purpose to have electors?

The electoral college system has allowed smaller population states to have as much or more power to elect presidents than the larger ones.

(In addition, in the days of slavery the southern slave states wanted to have some equalizer over northern free states who had different economic and social interests.)

Yes, it is ironic that an original fear was that the larger more populated states would hold sway to the detriment of the lesser populated ones. Not necessarily true, especially in 2016, or in 2000 (Bush v. Gore). We have now seen two elections in recent times where the candidate with the most votes does not win (Al Gore and then Hillary Clinton).

To make matters worse, we now have a president-elect who in any other time in our history or at least in my lifetime would have been seen as wholly unqualified for office due to his lack of experience and knowledge, insulting manner, recklessness, unabashed disregard for the truth (actual evidence means nothing to him), his luring or tacit acceptance of racist organizations to his side, conflicts of interest between personal and government business, and sexism, and more.

There is a recount going on in battleground states but it is being challenged and does not have much chance of changing anything anyway, even by the admission of those who called for it.

And as I mentioned earlier, there is also a movement to get pledged electors to not vote for Trump, the president-elect. I doubt there is a chance there will be enough of them to change the outcome (although, as I must note, my record of political predictions is maybe something like 0 for whatever).

As far as I know, in all of this Mrs. Clinton still has no chance to win — she has lost. Possibly the election could go to congress —  or the high court?

It seems a bit late in the game, even though the electors don’t vote until Dec. 19.

But I ask again, if the electors are not free to vote their conscience, why have them?

It would take a Constitutional amendment to completely abolish the electoral college and that would be difficult. There is at least one scheme floating around that involves a compact between the states to circumvent the electoral college, but there are questions as to the constitutionality of it and whether enough states would agree.

I have not formed an opinion on whether we should keep the electoral college. It seems it is true that if we simply went by majority vote, then candidates for president would just go after votes in the high population states to the detriment of the smaller ones. But as said before, now they concentrate on battleground states. Damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

But if we are talking about change, why not figure out some way to get beyond the stodgy old two main parties? Maybe Mr. Trump is a step in that direction, but a perilous one for sure, it seems.

Should we look to a parliamentary system where there could be more than just two political parties vying for or sharing power? I think it would be useful to have more points of view because despite the labeling of the Democrats as left of center to left and the Republicans as right wing, over the years the elites from both parties have seemed to have agreed an awful lot, maybe to the detriment of the majority and minorities among the populace. That is kind of what led to the improbable election of what appears to be a demagogue of the first order who has scant knowledge of the world beyond his gold-plated chairs and tables and sinks and luxury golf courses.

But the U.S. has built a history around strong presidents or at least the need for strong presidents to lead the executive branch independent of the legislature.

But back to the electoral college. Trump’s actions and his demeanor portend danger for the public and the world. Certainly responsible electors should take note and vote accordingly.

p.s.

And this is Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Day. Pearl Harbor Day and 9/11 remind us all of the need for someone fit and responsible to be at the helm and ready to act and act correctly at a moment’s notice. And unlike in the days of Pearl Harbor (1941), in this fast-paced world, with instant electronic connectivity and nuclear weapons, we don’t have the luxury of time and two oceans that can still form a defensive barrier.

 

 


Lots of noise but how will Trump react in a real-world crisis?

December 5, 2016

So, President-elect Donald Trump is making news even before he assumes office, what with his twittering about things as silly as complaining about Saturday Night Live satire on him, his possible cabinet appointments, and his upsetting of the world order by contacting what used to be called “Nationalist China” or referred to as “Formosa” and now is called “Taiwan” via phone call, thus angering what we used to call “Communist China” (but now just “China”).

(Of course the reality is that Communist China is China because it incorporates the huge land mass, and the other China is but an Island and would never likely be able to reclaim the mainland. The U.S. tries to balance everyone’s feelings by recognizing Communist China as the real China and only informally recognizing the other China — and to think we once were willing to go to war to protect that other China.)

And meanwhile Trump is bragging about the deal he made with the Carrier Corporation to save some of the jobs (not all) that were headed for Mexico. He did this by a combination of pressure via his status as the next president and promised government giveaways to the corporation (tax incentives).

But the real test I think will be how he handles his first crisis — and I assume it would be some type of foreign policy crisis or international incident (or attack on the U.S.?).

Then all of his bluster will be meaningless. What will he do?

And I am not saying that he would not perform well. We just don’t know. Would he overreact? Would he be flustered and not know what to do? Would he under-react? Would he be calm and handle it correctly?

Through the magic of the computer I tried to do some quick research on how other presidents in my lifetime handled things — but I am relying mostly on my own memory here.

Early on President John F. Kennedy was faced with the Bay of Pigs in Cuba (seems like that is apropos to mention here being as Fidel Castro has just been put into the ground after a life of 90 years that included taunting the U.S. among its highlights).

Kennedy had inherited a secret mission from the Eisenhower administration. I suppose he could have cancelled it but I imagine that would have been against his own policy. In fact he had criticized the Eisenhower administration during a debate with Eisenhower’s vice president, Richard Nixon, who was JFK’s opponent in the 1960 presidential contest, for not being tough enough on Cuba, which was becoming a Soviet satellite nation under Castro’s leadership, just 90 miles off the coast of the U.S. Nixon could not disclose that the Eisenhower administration had a plan in the works to assist anti-Castro forces in overthrowing Castro.

But because Kennedy was trying to keep up the charade that it was totally the work of anti-Castro forces with no help from the U.S., he refrained from providing enough assistance, particularly air cover, to the invaders. The Bay of Pigs invasion was a disaster and a major embarrassment to the U.S. because it was clear the nation had backed the miserably flawed and failed invasion.

Kennedy, quite understandingly, did not want a nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union.

So on the one hand, Kennedy did not handle the crisis well. I mean if you are going to invade someone you better use the strength you have and If you are not willing to do that then you should not even try.

But he averted that nuclear confrontation and it probably prepared him for an even bigger challenge, the Cuban Missile crisis, where he stood up to the Soviets and in my estimation the Soviets blinked. But he did not do this with bluster. It took calm, calculated thinking on the part of Kennedy and his staff to pull that one off. The historical record now shows that the world was a hair-trigger away from nuclear holocaust.

This is the point where we all have to wonder how Trump, so used to bluster, would act.

I would say that George W. Bush outwardly displayed a cool demeanor in his public appearances during the 9/11 crisis (that famous shot where he was being informed in his ear while reading a story to kindergarteners). But it seems he overreached and went after the wrong enemy.

On the domestic side of crises, I would credit President Barack Obama with presiding over a recovery from the Great Recession (although in economic matters it may often be more of a matter of the markets working through things on their own — but the president gets both the credit and the blame). On the foreign policy side it would seem “indecisive” would be the most appropriate description of Obama actions. He did have a big win with the snagging and killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden. In my opinion he failed miserably with his drawing of a line in the sand over the use of chemical weapons against its own people by the Assad regime in Syria, only to let that regime cross the line without further challenge. In my estimation he also blundered in Libya by letting the U.S. take a back seat approach. Seemed like a prudent approach at the time maybe. And I am so tired of writing that there is seldom any success in limited military action, especially if you are committed to permanent limitation.

Trump, clever, if dishonest too, in some things, such as using other people’s money and the bankruptcy courts, has demonstrated that when it comes to world affairs he is ignorant. He would have to depend on those around him (kind of like George W., and we know what happened there). And, narcissist that he is, he would be subject to his own over-sized ego.

But we will see what we will see — Heaven help us.

 

 

 

 

 


On burying Fidel Castro rather than praising him…

December 4, 2016
To paraphrase William Shakespeare, I say: “I come to bury Fidel Castro, not to praise him” — well I come to this keyboard anyway.

When I wrote the post on the death of Fidel Castro I just did it out of memory and thought maybe I’d research a little and say more, but I think I said all that was worth saying in the original, in fact in its headline, something like a dictator of the left replaced a dictator of the right (that is Castro replaced the military dictator Fulgencio Batista).

But I add a few thoughts here:

I’m not Cuban. If I was I would likely have a more personal or intimate reaction. I know he is both loved and hated among Cubans (in and out of Cuba). The hardliners who fled in Castro’s early days, many of the middle class I think, despise him for his anti-capitalist ways and for the fact he took away the private property of a lot of people and nationalized industries. But those people are either dead or getting quite old and a younger generation does not have the history and may even be indifferent to him. In Cuba, people younger than I have known nothing else.

And in one interview I heard, a Cuban said that although she did not like Castro’s politics she admired his swagger and his brand of Cuban pride (and I am paraphrasing).

But for someone like me, and I imagine a whole lot of others, there is just one thing I cannot get past: the man was a murderer. He shot adversaries, sometimes personally I imagine, and via firing squads without trial, even reportedly people who had tried to support him.

In short he was ruthless.

And he left political prisoners languishing in jail — some are still there, ones who have not died after all these decades.

Oh he had charisma, he had style. Loved to wear 1950s-type olive drab military fatigues and had that beard and big Cuban cigar. In later years he took to wearing track outfits (what’s up with that?)but he was a dictator. Dictators and democracy don’t mix. I mean how come only he was in charge for all those decades since 1959 (until he handed it over to his brother a few years ago)? I think they needed term limits.

I understand his two achievements are supposedly improving education (upping the literacy rate) and health care in Cuba. As far as his state-run economy, a disaster.

If some Cubans want to hail the fallen leader as a hero, well fine. But anyone outside of Cuba who thinks he was, is as far as I can see not seeing clearly.

It is interesting how in this country, as an unknown quantity, he fooled so many with his freedom fighter man-of-the people masquerade (and/or charade).  I even ran across a video clip of Ed Sullivan giving him a softball interview and gushing over the dashing young man fighting to save his people from a cruel right-wing military dictatorship.

And I recall a cozy interview with Castro by none other than Edward R. Murrow. Watched that on television as a kid with my family. The young Castro was playing the part of a democracy-friendly-to the-U.S. revolutionary fighting to free his poor land from the grip of a harsh military dictatorship (little did they know Castro’s own harsh dictatorship would follow).

You know, the bullets from a Castro left-wing firing squad are just as deadly as from a right-wing firing squad. And the lack of freedom is just as bad in any kind of dictatorship.

But sometimes in desperation or in uncertain times people think a strongman is the answer. And they often will follow one with charisma or chutzpah. And sometimes if one class of people despises another enough or has fear or suspicions of another group and they think somehow the strongman represents them, that brings on tyranny.

Sound familiar?

Anyway, like an elderly relation of Castro said of his death: “it had to happen”.

He really was not larger than life, but he was colorful I will admit, and deadly.

They are putting him into the ground today (Sunday).

Not to worry, brother Raúl is in charge these days anyway. But with him it has to happen too.

So Cuba might evolve into a modern democracy or who knows? The trend in the world today seems to be toward so-called right-wing populism, which at times seems close to what was once called fascism (just another type of tyranny).

 

 


Despite political rhetoric, neither Trump nor Clinton could do without Wall Street, Goldman Sachs it seems…

November 30, 2016

I posted this earlier but I should have led with this quote or paraphrase from — well I forget who, possibly one of President-elect Trump’s cabinet picks or candidates — I’ll try to find out. But he said:

The Great Recession was caused by the government (both Democrats and Republicans) pushing for easy money to home buyers, the greed of Wall Street, and borrowers (the home buyers) taking on more debt than they could handle.

I can agree with that. There is a price for easy money.


Could not find the name for sure or the exact quote I heard on NPR but I think it was from Steven Mnuchin, a financier with a long history at Goldman Sachs in his past, and a hedge funder who made money buying failed mortgages in the Great Recession and going heavy on foreclosures it has been charged. But he is said to be more of a pragmatist than and ideologue and that he has donated to both the Democrats and Republicans. He has been selected by Trump to be Secretary of the Treasury.

At any rate it will be interesting to see what Trump and his team can do. In the news of course is a supposed deal to save some of those Carrier jobs from going to Mexico.


And back to my original version of this post:

I think I made more than one post during the presidential campaign noting Hillary Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street at the same time she was campaigning in the fashion of representing the public as a whole rather than Wall Street or the investment bankers.

And of course Donald Trump played that up big too.

But now, and I suppose it should be no surprise, the billionaire president-elect is turning to some Wall streeters, especially the infamous Goldman Sachs firm, to fill some cabinet posts and for advice.

So not too surprisingly, after reportedly being locked out of the Washington power circle under Obama and since the Great Recession for which it took much blame, it looks as if it will be back to business as usual with Wall Street playing prominently, or did it ever not? I notice Obama never did make the bankers pay for their mistakes like he promised he would.

I don’t have much to add except in our society money rules.

p.s.

And by the way, the notion that there was greed all the way around in the Great Recession is not a novel one — old news of course. I think bad policy by the government, greed by the lenders, and unrealistic thinking and general ignorance in money matters by the general public and the normal boom and bust cycle of a capitalist economy were the causes.


I don’t approve of flag burning but I think the issue is a distraction…

November 30, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump suggests that it ought to be illegal to burn the American flag and that people who do should perhaps be jailed and even lose their citizenship. I guess he tweeted this. That is how he incites things. It can work at least two ways: one he can distract attention away from other issues, such as his conflict of interest in his business holdings he has thus far refused to get his hands off of, even as he gets ready to assume the office of the most powerful person in the world — a myriad of decisions he might make could be affected by how good they are for his bottom line. Two: he tweets maybe to — and speaking of flags — run things up the flagpole, test the waters of public opinion.

Another sneaky thing he seems to be doing is sending out his campaign manager now special aide Kellyanne Conway to criticize her own boss in public, chastising him for even considering Mitt Romney for a cabinet post (Secretary of State it has been suggested) when Romney refused to endorse Trump and even called Trump a “phony”. But now the word is that Conway got the okay from Trump himself to criticize Trump himself.

In using the new technology of twitter, Trump really in a way is just using the old tool of some past presidents, the bully pulpit — going around congress (or the establishment; I know he is not president yet) and directly to the people and even around the press.

That’s another thing. Trump has discovered that in this new cyber world, the established or mainstream press no longer has a lock on the news or dissemination of information. In fact, this past presidential campaign has proven the press can be distracted or almost held at bay by being forced to lap up everything a candidate says in daily tweets or one liners on the campaign trail.

Trump also was able to use his celebrity as a distraction to save having to actually go into any detail on substantive issues.

This is not good. This is just fact. But then again, it is really up to the consumer of news to be discriminating and turn away from the simplicity of tweets or news coverage as celebrity coverage and seek out sources with some established credibility.

And back to the flag burning issue. This is a distraction. On a scale of one to ten, flag burning should be pretty low. Would I burn the American flag in protest? No. Do I think it is proper to do so? No. Do I think people ought to be punished for doing so? No. For one thing the Supreme Court has held it is protected under freedom of expression. I can accept that, even if I would not choose to use that form of expression. For another thing, don’t we have more pressing issues at this time?

Not necessarily in this order, but: The economy, terrorism, health care (must we be in limbo about where we are to get our coverage? we only live once for a limited time), wars in the Middle East, climate change (only flat earthers can think it is a hoax), and the list goes on, with flag burning way down near the bottom I would think. I mean how often do you encounter it?

But Trump no doubt sees flag burning as a handy hot-button issue or wedge issue to manipulate people and use people by having them fight among one another, all the better to distract from his own plans or lack thereof.

On the other hand, Trump and anyone who is opposed to allowing the protest burning of the American flag can be sincere. It is said that Richard Nixon was incensed and puzzled at anti-Vientnam War protestors. He had grown up thinking that one supported his own country and had served honorably in World War II in the pacific theater. I can’t say what was in his head, but I am fairly sure he supported the First Amendment and its protections of free speech but probably thought one could express dissatisfaction without degrading the very symbol of the nation in which we live and that is considered the leading democracy in the world.

In his presidential campaigning Nixon used what was called the concept of the silent majority, who were supposedly the god fearing, patriotic working people against the rabble of college students and draft dodgers. And in reality it was a culture change too, in which young people didn’t just automatically go to war because if their country called them it must be just.

(But people don’t always fit into nice neat categories and those war protestors and flag burners had parents, many of whom might have been classified as being part of the silent majority. Eventually that majority agreed with the protestors — except maybe for the flag burning.)

Whatever, Trump has successfully tapped into Nixon’s silent majority. And he has also picked up the so-called “white nationalists” (KKK, neo-nazis, ect.). I don’t lump the latter in with my perception of the silent majority, but the two are sometimes hard to completely separate, some of those prejudices seep upward into the higher classes or maybe they go both ways.

Before the Trump victory, I like so many others assumed the Democrats would win but I thought even if it looked as if the Republican Party had self-destructed it would come back from near death and rise again. Well, of course the situation is reversed.

We need rival political parties. I wished we had more than two but we at least need two major parties.

I’m not even sure Trump is mentally stable. If not, he would not be the first American president to be considered a little bonkers . But let’s hope people around him can keep some kind of stability and let’s hope the Democratic Party can find itself. Abandoning people who had supported it in the past did not work.


A professor suggests truck driving requires little judgment…

November 27, 2016

Note: The real message, if any, here has less to do with truck driving than respect for and the value of human work. We are headed into a brave new world of sorts, way beyond the industrial revolution, in which we are so clever we can put all of ourselves out of a job. And then what?


Using a quote by itself can be misleading due to overall context of what someone said or wrote — I covered that in a recent post concerning something about journalism, but the following was an insult to me:

“Long-haul truck driving is a great example, where there isn’t much judgment involved and it’s a fairly controlled environment,” Kaplan said.

I’m a long-haul truck driver. Well I hope that guy doesn’t get run over by a truck or that he himself does not cause a collision by doing that diagonal run-in-front-of-a-big-rig maneuver (so common now), almost under its bumper to make the interstate exit at the last minute (or maybe I don’t).

I’m not even going to bother checking back to see who this guy is —  just some college professor.

Actually, looking at the context, he was suggesting that driving over interstates between towns might be work most susceptible to being replaced by autonomous (driverless) trucks. I think it was suggested in the article that what might happen is that human drivers might still navigate in towns and in and out of warehouses and such. He was just saying that what he considered relatively low-skilled jobs (thanks a lot) will be, or are the first replaced by the newest technology.

Well I have news for Mr. Professor, even though I think there is a problem or danger in it, so-called “artificial intelligence” is replacing a lot of what had thought to have been highly-cerebral jobs, requiring much education.

But back to that quote about long-haul trucking not requiring much judgment. On its face that is absurd. Actually, the reality is that judgment is the main thing required in trucking these days. Trucks used to be a lot harder to learn how to drive and just a lot harder to drive period. I got into it all after they had become much easier and they have become even easier since I entered 21 years ago.

But the rest of the story is that drivers must use judgment in so many things they do all day long — how to make schedules, which are erratic and change at a whim (most of it is not fixed-route driving), and how to make it fit into hours-of-service regulations and where to find a legal parking place before your legal hours run out and what to do when held at a place and your hours run out but you are not allowed to stay at the shipper or receiver (I just saw a sign the other day that said even if my hours of service were done I could not stay and would be charged with trespass), and how to drive through bad weather and decide when it is just too bad, and how to find places for which one is often given wrong directions to, and how to deal with motorists who constantly want to drive under your truck bumpers, and even how to deal with some other truck drivers who are not so careful as you are, and how to deal with unreasonable customers or shippers and receivers (fortunately not all are) who you don’t dare get on the bad side of and how to decide what to do about that warning light on the dash that might mean nothing or just that something needs looked at soon or that it means stop now or the engine will blow up (and the lights are not always specific on the problem), and if you do put yourself out of commission, what happens to the load and where will you sleep? And what if you weigh your truck down the road and you are overweight? Do you try to go back to the shipper and use up your limited time or do you hope you burn off enough fuel (which you have to make a calculation based on miles and fuel consumption) before you get to the state scale and risk getting a super-expensive citation that goes on your record? Yeah I’ve just touched on a few of the judgments long-haulers make every day, every hour.

Of course if the truck drives itself then no problem, except the driver then has no job and can’t contribute to the economy.

Now, Mr. Professor, I actually graduated from college myself. And although I would prefer a real human professor, there are robots programmed with artificial intelligence and there are such things as recordings of lectures that can be played on television and on the internet, greatly reducing the need for professors, and only having to be updated from time to time.

We can all be replaced.

Isn’t it wonderful? Look at all the free time we’ll have. I’m not sure who pays us then or how we will all figure out how to divvy up the finite resources of our good earth without the system in which we earn tokens by what we contribute (or in some families by what others have contributed).

But you can’t stop progress. I’m not sure why. I just know you can’t.

But just what is the meaning of life and what is the value of work? I think the value of work goes way beyond dollars and cents. And just how healthy are we going to be when none of us has to work?

p.s.

So I did go back and find the article from which I lifted the quote that insulted my job (and it is an informative one, I must admit):

 

http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-fi-automated-trucks-labor-20160924/