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Category Archives: Politics
It’s been a tough year. Tough on the world, and tough on our emotions. Like me, you may have been waking up each morning, with an unsettled feeling that things are not quite right. The news is all around you—you know what has been going on and you can’t escape it. What can you do about it, you wonder—how can you help?
You might also be a bit resentful about it, thinking, “Haven’t I already contributed enough? Haven’t I done my share? Isn’t it time I could just sit back and enjoy my last years?”
The impact of automation on employment is finally making it into the news. It’s not a trending topic yet, but at least it’s no longer the “elephant in the room”. Although books like The End of Work (Rifkin) appeared as early as 2002, and online blogs have been warning about advanced technology for at least 5 years, automation and it’s effect on work has so far avoided the limelight.
In 2013, Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, wrote about the rapid advances in computer technology—blaming recent sluggish employment growth on improved industrial automation, from the use of robotics on the factory floor to automated translation services.
“Even more ominous for workers,” he said, “the MIT academics foresee dismal prospects for many types of jobs as these powerful new technologies are increasingly adopted not only in manufacturing, clerical, and retail work but in professions such as law, financial services, education, and medicine.”
If you listen to any news, if you are aware of world events at all, you are convinced that things are getting worse. Shocking images of the war in Syria, nuclear threats from North Korea, and the behavior of an unpredictable president in the White House leave you gasping and incredulous.
If you’re anything like me, you struggle daily to avoid it, mute it, drown it out, and distract yourself from it. It’s the cacophony of despair that threatens to drag us down. And I’m not alone—only 6% of Americans believe the world is getting better.
My grandson, Aiden, is one of the Millennials, just turning nineteen today. He is perched on the arm of a chair in the front room, his long legs reaching halfway across the carpet, blond hair punked in a short cut, a shadow of a beard on his chin. He takes his eyes away from his iphone momentarily, and asks me,
“Gramma, what do you think is going to happen?”
“About what?” I ask.
“About what’s going on now, across America, across the world.”
I feel a little twinge in my chest, something that always happens when I know I have to dig deep and find a difficult truth that needs to be spoken. Here is my grandson, who I have watched grow and turn into a beautiful young man, with his whole life ahead of him, having worries no young person should have. We grandparents, like their parents, always want to say to the young people in our lives, “You are safe”.
It’s almost three weeks in, and we’re still standing. I’ve done a lot of binge-watching about the new political reality in the US, checking in on CNN and CBC morning, noon and night, reading blogs about the election, writing about it, talking about it—I believe it’s critical to world safety that we all keep pace with it. But I’m pulling back this week, taking stock, looking at my life.
The first thing I notice is the stack of unopened letters on my desk, statements, advertisements, nothing overdue or out of date, but hey. Next, I squint a little and see the dust that’s collected on my furniture. And the outside windows are a disgrace, obscuring my view of the world, which is a bit gloomy right now. Clean,windows would help—even though the sparkling outlook only lasts until the next storm.
It’s less than two weeks since the US election, and already President-Elect Trump and his team have waffled on many of the threats made during the campaign—yet his new administration still seems bent on keeping its promise to repeal Obamacare.
Flush with victory and feeling magnanimous, Trump has rolled back other threats: he no longer wants to jail Hillary, he says, the wall he promised will probably be more like a fence, and the swamp he wanted drained has turned out to be his primary source of staff appointments. Why then, is repealing Obamacare still on his agenda, and the rhetoric against it more vociferous than ever?
With the shock of Donald Trump’s seismic win still settling like volcanic ash in America, a clearer picture of his voting base is beginning to emerge.
Months of mounting frustration over the misinformation and false leads about who actually supports him is giving way to a better understanding of the people who quietly entered the voting booths with a predetermined intention of shaking their country to its core.
These were not necessarily the angry, vocal mobs who went to Trump rallies and shouted offensive slogans, although those people translated into Trump votes as well. These were the millions who went about their daily lives, who muttered about the direction their country was taking, and who didn’t tell a soul about what was in their hearts.
In the waning days of this bitter presidential campaign, while candidates slog it out in a final mud bath of vitriol, let’s go back to how it all began—or at least how we think it all began.
Several attempts were made, during the early phase of the campaign, to identify the average supporters of Donald Trump; to focus on their similarities, and to discover why they attended his rallies in the thousands to listen to his enraged rhetoric.
Analysts had a field day examining the underlying conditions which may have spurred such a ground swell of social expression, a ‘movement’ as Trump slyly and accurately named it as early as last spring.