U.S. Federal minimum wage SHOULD be $20

One huge and unsustainable dynamic of the U.S. economic system is the growing gap between rich and poor.

That’s going to reverse direction. One way or another.

BEST would be the Democrats taking power. And effecting a small part of the changes they’ve claimed to want.

Worst would be another 4 years of Trump stupid, incompetent and wasteful corruption.

Read No Mercy / No Malice – What We Leave Behind

I support free trade

Free trade is one way to ensure efficient use of resources.

In government, free trade is predominantly advocated by political parties that hold liberal economic positions while economically left-wing and nationalist political parties generally support protectionismthe opposite of free trade.

So when you see Trump impose tariffs, know that he’s a protectionist. And nationalist. Not a fiscal conservative.

Since at least 2005 there’s been increasing distrust in ‘globalisation’. We ended up with idiots like Trump making decisions, his unsuccessful trade war with China, for example. Both sides lose in trade wars.

Expect everything to get more expensive and/or unavailable as free trade continues to decline.

Singapore is the #1 ranked nation as of 2016 in the Global Enabling Trade Report published by the World Economic Forum.

It is made up of four sub-indexes:

  1. Market access
  2. Border administration
  3. Transport and communications infrastructure
  4. Business environment

USA is #22. Canada #24.

Trade with Singapore

There is a broad consensus among economists that protectionism has a negative effect on economic growth and economic welfare while free trade and the reduction of trade barriers has a positive effect on economic growth and economic stability.

One bit of good newsUSMCA Free Trade Agreement will come into effect soon. That’s NAFTA 2.0 with minor tinkering of auto exports, steel and aluminum tariffs, dairy, egg, and poultry markets.

The agreement also provides updated intellectual property protections.

 

The End of October by Lawrence Wright

The Kongoli virus in the book is much more deadly than COVID-19.

Kongoli kills hundreds of millions. Leads to world wars.

But, for the most part, readers are shocked at the many parallels between this fiction and COVID-19.  

It’s a cautionary tale. And an excellent book.

The central figure is an American microbiologist named Henry Parsons. His personal story is engaging.

Henry tries to discover whether Kongoli arrived naturally like past viruses, or if humans (Putin) had been experimenting with bioweapons.

Lawrence Wright is a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, and fellow at the Center for Law and Security at the New York University School of Law.

In 2007 he won a Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. A book about Islamic terrorism.

The End of October is fiction.

Wright’s fictional tale is about a mysterious virus that starts in Asia, sweeps across continents, cripples the health care system, wrecks the economy, and kills people worldwide.

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“I knew from talking to all these medical experts that something like this was going to happen,” Wright says. “They all knew it. They just didn’t know when.”

Wright began writing the novel in 2017 and turned in his final draft in the summer of 2019.

This Is ‘Creepy’: Lawrence Wright Wishes His Pandemic Novel Had Gotten It Wrong

Wright had started thinking about this plot line after Ridley Scott asked him what kind of disaster could cause what happened in the Cormac McCarthy novel The Road.

Netflix is among the studios considering making The End of October a film.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

 

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

I really enjoyed these 3 books by Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari.

Like Bill Bryson, he can make academic subjects interesting and lively

Critics call it sensationalist infotainment.

He is a simplifier. I like his frequent analogies to well known references.

There are endless interesting factoids.

Critics complain he gets some facts wrong by over-simplifying.

In Sapiens he postulates that humans now rule the earth because of our ability to organize and coordinate in large numbers.

Bees, ants and other species cooperates even better, but they are too inflexible to evolve. And have comparatively small numbers.

We are the only animal that can believe in things that exist purely in our imagination, such as gods, states, money, human rights, corporations and other fictions, and we have developed a unique ability to use these stories to unify and organize groups and ensure cooperation.

TED

He feels humans will continue to evolve, likely into some computer / human hybrid.

Click PLAY or watch his TED Talk on the topic on YouTube. (17min)

My favourite podcasts 2020

During COVID-19 many of us have more time to listen to audio. Here are some of my favourites.

Search for them by name on your preferred podcasting platform, if interested.

Online audiocasts are as old as the internet.

But we have the silly, unintuitive name podcast because Steve Jobs called the Apple device an iPod.

BBC journalist Ben Hammersley first suggested the name “Podcast” (a portmanteau, a combination of “iPod” and “broadcast“) it in early February 2004.

I try to call the audio only version “audiocasts“. Leo Laporte still uses the term “netcast” for both audio only and video podcasts.

Dave Winer is most often credited as the inventor as he decided to include new audio functionality in RSS 0.92.  Dave demonstrated it worked on January 11, 2001 by enclosing a Grateful Dead song in his Scripting News weblog.

 

FAVE Podcasts – Pivot & Prof G Show

One MUST LISTEN for me twice a week is Pivot.

That’s Tech guru Kara Swisher and my business guru Scott Galloway.

Galloway is hilariously cynical and critical. 😀 And smart.

Preview or subscribe on iTunes.

… a sharp, unfiltered look at the technology industry, with provocations, predictions and insights from two leading voices in the worlds of journalism and marketing.

Scott Galloway just launched his own podcast called the Prof G Show.

Unfortunately the first episode coincided with the pending economic collapse of the world. Galloway opted to bring in as his first guest one of the most respected Finance experts in the world Aswath Damodaran.

I came away feeling much more optimistic about the other side of this crisis.

IF corporations (and we individuals) have enough liquidity to last out the shut down, the economy could boom again.