Focusing in on 4 Democratic Party Presidential Hopefuls (for now, at least) … Sherrod Brown, and why he’s important to mention even though he’s not running, and who else speaks for “just folks” now?

I’m from Ohio, and have long thought of Sherrod Brown as “my senator” even though he no longer can be for geographical reasons. He’s always been for-real in my view. For example, here’s a quote from 2017:

“True populism is looking out for the little guy no matter where she works and no matter who he is; we’ve let them steal that away.”

In the interview subheaded by the above quote, Sen. Brown also stated:

“I think we’re not full-throated enough in our defense of economic policy and demonstrating the value of work. Our paper addresses this. If white working-class people think we look down on them and we use terms like the ‘Rust Belt, which demeans their work and diminishes them in some ways, that’s a problem. You counteract that, in part by empathizing, saying that we value work. That means you fight for minimum wage, you fight for the overtime rule, you fight against misclassification of jobs.”

I’m a midwesterner who moved to one of the Coasts, and I resonate with this statement – full-throatedly and full-heartedly.

Regarding the “paper” he mentioned in the above interview excerpt, that would be “Working Too Hard for Too Little: A Plan for Restoring the Value of Work in America”. You can see an outline and/or download the paper here. To me, it’s at least gratifying that any politician addresses the simple truth of what it’s like to live in this country for many or most of us day to day.

The Democratic Party, for decades, has been based on a coalition of everyday folks. It has become a “centrist” party, whatever that means. Some would say “corporate”. Nancy Pelosi, while from the most liberal city in the US according to popular polls, San Francisco, is characterized as being far to the left, which she is not. The daughter of a former mayor of Baltimore, she grew up in politics, and is as pragmatic as she is gracious and experienced. Her number one skill seems to be fundraising. She told a group of students that the US is fully capitalistic, end of discussion, which is far from a leftist position.

The Democratic Party and Labor Unions have not been on the greatest terms for a long, long time. Right-wing populism and Trump have worked this to their power advantage, at least enough to win the 2016 presidency in the Electoral College. A longer analysis than there is room for here can discuss how labor unions became bloated or corrupt or seemingly irrelevant. The point is that laborers, workers, have not been well represented by the Dems for quite some time, as President Clinton’s own Secretary of Labor has pointed out.

The question is, with Brown deciding not to run for president, which candidate or candidates will seek to win or re-win the trust of America’s workers? And how will they do this? Joe Biden? Andrew Yang? Cory Booker?

Sen. Harris enjoys politics and is inspired and inspiring, but there’s the matter of her letting Steve Mnuchin get away with evicting senior citizens in California and not prosecuting him while Mnuchin donated money to her Attorney General Campaign and then becoming, himself, Trump’s Secretary of Labor.

Cory Booker seems sincere, but he’s long had donations ties with Big Pharma.

Joe Biden, who loves to talk about growing up like a true American in good old Scranton, Pennsylvania, yet he voted to tighten bankruptcy laws that put a stranglehold on folks with debt, and this has fueled a long feud between Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.

The following is a speech Joe Biden gave in May 2018 about the middle class, income inequality, education, and rebuilding American infrastructure. I’ll take a closer look at these ideas if he announces his candidacy. He might be doing so right after I post this! He’s long been considered the likely frontrunner, without yet running. Here’s a recent analysis of what might happen among Democratic Party hopefuls if Joe Biden announces he’s not running.

Focusing in on 4 Democratic Party Presidential Hopefuls (for now, at least) … Senator Elizabeth Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren

it just seems super clear to me that if the US government applied the straightforward consumer protections Sen. Warren has proposed since she emerged into the national spotlight that we would not have even had the 2008 mortgage casino meltdown. 
Financial institutions could not have scammed the public with Adjustable Rate Mortgages, which are a euphemism for Pay Less Now Get Extremely Screwed Later and Then We’ll Take Away Everything You’d Thought You’d Bought Plus the Money You’ve Already Given Us.

Nothing would have collapsed. Massive foreclosures would not have taken place. The Tea Party / Freedom Caucus would not have erupted. Right wing populism would not have emerged, at least not in the US. We would likely not have Trump as president.

Even Native Americans who might still feel offended might agree with this. Or not, as they prefer, of course. At least she has apologized, amazingly rare in our candidates or our general culture these days.

I think of Elizabeth Warren every time i talk to Customer Service on the phone, which should instead be called Customer Manipulation, Domination and Exhaustion. 
Adjustable Rate Mortgages were tantalizingly misnamed and that by itself is misrepresentation to consumers. Flat out. On face.

And then all the fine print after that should be regulated and reduced and made understandable. A warning should be included that states in large bold print: Be very careful before you sign this. If you cannot afford this, you may lose everything you own. We strongly advise you to speak to a qualified financial consultant before entering into this agreement. 

Every bit as much as the tobacco warning on packages of cigarettes.

Focusing in on 4 Democratic Party Presidential Hopefuls (for now, at least) … Bernie Sanders

Senator Bernie Sanders

Senator Sanders has shown amazing leadership which has broken through the politics-as-usual doldrums. He was, to the left, what Trump was to the right, and believes he could have defeated Trump in 2016 if he had been given the forum to do so.

Sanders has made “democratic socialism” less of a confusing, dirty, disrespected idea. He has dared to sound other than “American exceptionalist” by simply pointing out that some European countries are able to balance free enterprise with taking care of all of its citizens.

He is accurate about the urgency of global climate change, and he proposes “Medicare for All”, and he is unapologetic about being a truly Progressive candidate. His influence on others who are running, such as Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, is fairly self-evident.

He may still be considered, however, a bit weak on foreign policy. Then again, he might rein in America’s involvement in half a dozen or more wars at any time. He might open fair dialog about Israel and Palestine, but Palestine is home to plenty of right-wing religious fanaticism of its own. Palestinians deserve a decent life, but this is a horribly complicated issue, and peaceniks just have not succeeded there so far (which is awful to admit but true). Mostly, foreign policy does not seem to have been a focus on Sen. Sanders during his political career.

Regarding his calling for college for all as well as health care for all, that’s great. Student debt is obscene. Wealthy people getting their kids into top schools is obscene. But imagining that college for all will solve job and economic problems falls short of giving at least as much emphasis to vocational training to help America’s workforce be nimble for the massive changes that are rolling in like hurricanes or tidal waves. As far as I can tell, only one candidate, so-far-little-known Andrew Yang, is addressing this.

Flight Attendants Unions Ask Carriers to Ground Boeing 737 Max 8 (

  • U.S. flight attendant unions ask their carriers and the U.S. government to ground Boeing 737 Max planes until more is known about the latest crash.
  • Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a Boeing 737 Max 8, went down shortly after takeoff on Sunday, killing all 157 on board.
  • It’s the second major crash for the plane and airlines and governments around the world are suspending the aircraft from their skies.

Economics of the Roman Empire

The Roman Empire emerged from an era of multiple city-states in Greece, most notably Athens and Sparta, which expanded beyond their boundaries, and built spheres of influence and empires. Ancient Rome largely copied (as well as conquered) Ancient Greece in religion, culture, and imperial adventures.

The Roman economic system was mostly agrarian, though with a class of elites. The agrarian economy was largely fueled by labor from slaves. Food production was essential the more nations they conquered.

In this regard, much similarity to the American Confederacy, except for one key difference. The Roman Empire enslaved many of those they conquered. They had no focus on race or ethnicity. Bringing in slaves was simply a part of the riches of the spoils of war. The population of these slaves was as diverse as the imperial adventures of Rome in their endless conquests for empire building.

The Southern States found they could not enslave Native American tribes, and followed the example of Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, British and Arab Atlantic slave traders plus some West African kingdoms as well, by capturing Blacks from the West Coast of Africa. In doing so, with whom they had never engaged in battle, and who were miles and miles away, they established a chattel class which they also came to identify as a racial grouping. They owned slaves (which is awful beyond belief), but even more so (and worse), they owned their children, too (several of whom they fathered themselves), and their children’s children (going on for generations).

Race was not always considered a biological category. There is much evidence that racism emerged to justify the enslavement and disruption of black families and individuals.

The movie, Mandingo, while not the greatest film ever made, does have a sadly gripping scene which illustrates this. The white plantation owner handles the very newborn child of a slave and refers to the child as a source of pride and profit for himself and his plantation and family, effectively stealing the child from his actual father, who painfully looks on.

This is not to say that slaves in Rome were not also treated badly; they were. Sexual exploitation of slaves was common, as were torture and execution, although as time moved on, slaves were given certain legal protections in that by the 2nd century AD slaves could complain against slaveholders for excessively cruel treatment. And slaves were, at least minimally, recognized as human beings in ways that differentiated them from other property.

At its core, Rome was a very patriarchal society. There was a single state religion, and worship took place in the home. The role of women was primarily to bear and rear children. The oldest man in a family was the head of the family. Income was made from farming (especially of grains, olives and graps), mining especially in Roman Britain, business, slave labor which included accountants and physicians, merchant trade, and taxes, which started out at reasonable rates during the Republic and early years of the 1,000+ years period of the Roman Empire, but ended up becoming burdensome and a contributing factor in the eventual downfall of Rome.

From Rome to China, Robots, AI, and “Going Green”

The next few or several blog posts will trace economic history from ancient Rome to the present, in eras or chunks of time. I’m starting with Rome and going through Europe to the US in part because it’s what I know about, and in part because the “western” paradigm is largely dominant in the world economy at present.

But I will also include the rise of the economies of Japan, since World War 2, and China, more recently, including China’s claims, at least, to be going green.

And I will also explore the very imminent jobs displacement and changes impacting our culture by storms and waves brewing currently, as this is written in Feb 2019:

The extraordinary economic and political impacts of Climate Change, no longer in the future, and affecting everyone already in the present (not just our children and our grandchildren)

The False Urgency of Immigration as a Threat, but why this is happening now

The impacts of automation (not Obama environmental regulations) on the coal industry, which has been accumulating steadily for decades

The impacts of job displacement as workers are about to get displaced by technology, such as self-driving trucks replacing truck drivers, and vast reductions in the retail work force

The political-economic push-and-pull of globalization, reactions against it in the form of nationalist populism on one side and socialism on the other.

But first … tracing from Rome to the present … in terms of economic patterns and changes.

“Environmental Economics” is a Thing

In 1992 or 1993, while working as a telephone canvasser, contacting members of the California League of Conservation Voters, I was profoundly intrigued and quite inspired by a guest presentation by Sustainability Hall of Famer Gil Friend, who in 2013 was named one of the 30 most influential sustainability voices in America by The Guardian. Gil is Chief Sustainability Officer of the City of Palo Alto, California – which has its own Climate Protection Plan, and author of The Truth About Green Business:

Everything you need to know to green your business and grow your profit.

• The truth about what climate change means for your business

• The truth about running lean and green

• The truth about future proofing your business

When I first met Gil Friend in the early 1990’s, the environmental movement then was caught in a tug-of-war between “people over profits” and “people and jobs not spotted owls”. I remember attempting a briefing with my mostly 20-something colleagues about how working class folks with families really did need to put food on the table and how an idealist, anti-corporate sloganeering sometimes got in the way.

But Gil did a much better job of connecting the dots between Nature, People, and Economics, and I immediately asked to work for him. He gave me the opportunity to conduct a bit of research, and even get a title page credit for doing so, in the 1993 report he co-authored with Ernest A. Lowe entitled, “Building an Environmental Economy: A Strategy for ‘Environmental Business’ Economic Development for the City of Berkeley” which evolved 4 years later into a paper Gil co-authored with Stuart Cowan, “Regional Metabolism (Resource Flow Analysis) for the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula Planning Districts” (1997).

Eric Sanderson, Ph.D., Senior Conservation Ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), has written books on a similar theme, Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City, Terra Nova: The New World After Oil, Cars, and Suburbs, and as co-author of Structuring Confluence: The Work of W Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

In the years since I met Gil, the success of Tom’s of Maine and Whole Foods Market® helped usher in the the Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) consumer market, as explained recently in an interview of Glenn Rudberg, Director of Brand Strategy at ETHOS, who, around the time I met Gil, was director of brand marketing at Tom’s; see The Era of Ethical Consumerism is Here: How to Market to LOHAS Consumers.

In upcoming blog posts, I will explore the “extractive economy”, the “circular economy”, “triple bottom line”, the evolution from the Roman Empire to the “feudalistic economy” to “mercantilism” and “colonialism” to the “industrial economy” and “post-industrialism” and the “digital economy”, and “capitalism” and “green business”, along with the differences between “socialism”, “democratic socialism”, the “Nordic Model”, the “East Asian Model”, “communism” and “sovietism”, on up to the current struggles between “globalism” and “populist nationalism”.

In the above mix, I will also look at Native American and Australian aboriginal communities in an economic context, informed and inspired in part by M. Kat Anderson’s Tending the Wild which is based largely on oral histories passed down to current descendants of pre-European Californian Native Americans.

I will try to cover all of this concisely and efficiently. We are currently caught in a mindset of “endless growth” which may be the single greatest driving force in the global climate crisis, because we keep extracting natural resources, and now extract financial resources in much the same way. There is also the recent warning from climate scientists that we have “just 12 years to make massive and unprecedented changes to global energy infrastructure”.

I will try to arrive at the meaning, purpose, value proposition, and an overall business-and-ecology model, of “regenerative business”.