Persuasion is a responsibility of its producers. The writer’s list project asks what can writers do with a list of billionaires and an interest in shifting narrative strategies  in ways that will improve the density of all media on questions of democracy and great wealth.

Wanted: Writers on the Future of Democracy

Hundreds of writers focus on American democracy and the challenges of self-governance, yet the ability to conference meaningfully toward a collective capacity for persuasion has yet to be successful. Examples of how this practice might improve are sought, here are a few that interested me. Many more are needed.

The Economist’s chief editor (Zanny Beddoes) maintains the anonymity of many writers, so they may “speak with a collective voice.” Kathrine Viner’s leadership of The Guardian seeks the participation of many readers using “be digital first” and “free to the edge” strategies. Small groups snatch-up specific issues such as those organized by the Open Markets Institute. Mission: to “expose and reverse the stranglehold that corporate monopolies have on our country.” The Volokh Conspiracy, (out of the Washington Post into Reason) is forming a conference of writers on exposing the absurdities of journalism and irrationalities of law in a Democracy. The new first family son at the New York Times (A.G. Sulzberger) will find new ways to speak truth to power about lies.

The talent is not missing; there are many others.  Something is needed to pull them together.  I like the idea very much, but except for a shout at the mountaintop what can a blogger from Brooklyn do? The members of institutions in a democracy understand how governance weakens without the fearlessness of writers. They explore uncertainty with the creativity needed to fund that work. Reinventing journalism in news organizations is an opportunity to build a list of highly cooperative persuasion leaders. Starting with online publications is the short, natural step. However, the leaps needed to create an exchange between the investigative journalism and longitudinal analysis of scholars remain. Here are four examples.

One: The Confidence Trap: David Runciman says Democracy favors complacency especially if accompanied by trust. A crisis tests trust by producing an opportunity for leaders to muddle through just enough to make measurable improvements.

Two: In Nation of Devils, Stein Ringen describes “democratic government” as a contradiction defined by the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). At best, the law displays a cloudy vision of an opportunity to develop policies for a healthier nation. The mysterious elements in the details of the ACA did not stop other capitalist democracies such as Germany, Japan, UK, and Switzerland in building national health care systems worthy of imitating. The U.S. “repeal and replace” quagmire spans a decade only to reveal the mediocrity of American democratic governance.

Three: In The Last Vote, Philip Coggan describes how the social contract commitments made after WWII became bankrupt at conception. Nevertheless, the prospect of continued global chaos coupled neatly with interest in building a stable central bank system to sustain a permanent global borrowing cycle.

Four: David Post, like many writers on “the law” has a different interest. His In Search of Jefferson’s Moose ties the importance of Democracy to that of the Internet with an effect on the practices of democracy through a slow combination of new legal constructions. Without national boundaries, cyberspace domains change the world every day. Fine, but when super wealth drives the first steps, “bad” gets first dibs and it is usually authoritarian and in the name of order.

Facebook’s free network recognizes the capacity to use customer data. That its misuse (to some) led to a violation of privacy norms did not surprise anyone. In similar cases, the classic elements of a crisis in trust emerge, in the traditional way: shock, denial, depression, anger and a final stage, acceptance. During credibility or financial crises, the last two stages are most worrying as each occurs quickly. The anger and acceptance stages connect to the decline of the median household income as it rips the sparkle off the per capita metric and the product moving forward appears to be the general acceptance of a long list of appalling disasters.  The duality is difficult to understand The heartwarming creativity of a homeless family being creative with a $10K stake in a food truck and heartbreaking to realize this family’s productivity was more useful than all of the account executives at Wells Fargo or Goldman Sachs.

Steve Brill’s or Eric Posner’s observations over a lifetime cannot change the world, or get agreements on steps. The ideas are good, yet in a word, the results are weak.  Self-governing societies spawn large successful businesses. Applications that extend the capacity of democratic republics through internet communications will strengthen them if protections from intrusions posed by authoritarian regimes are established. Brill’s many books and the personal experience of each of us prove good facts are no longer enough. Today, the narrative rests on corporate balance sheets and income statements that display glorious productivity for the United States, with jump up and down and per capita GDP.  What is missing, the blue planet isn’t blue.  (Website of 2018 map is here.)

Aside from very few countries that are democracies, the “sides” modeled by Democrat and Republican political parties also tend to ignore or get very attracted to sophisticated levels of communication fraud.  The problem stretches from the local to the global.  Negative behavior toward the fact finders and news providers threatens democracies. The Democracy Index (producer of the world map above) is worthy of a detailed look at motives using the filter provided by three issues, 1) energy by type of use, 2) concentrations of wealth by micro-location and 3) careful attention to the internal and external discourse of nations in which events are arranged in strategic time, also known as “wagging the dog.”  Authoritarian behaviors in democratic nations begin when its leaders openly distrust the practice of their institutions in representing the facts.

Conflicting economic remedies from the political left and the right are abstractions of “globalization” aimed at social conflicts. Conflict is natural to diversity but worsens when associated with the corruption inherent to high concentrations of wealth and poverty. The gap complaint is worrisome. It is more than “have vs. have not” economics, it includes separating the “knowing” from the “unknowing”. The opposite of wealth is not poverty it is the injustice.

The ineffective reach of knowledge into the upper levels of the global economy becomes symbolic and ranges in other dualities such as mysterious offshore accounts and the helplessness of refugees. A different way of life is upon us and it will occur in one of two ways, creatively by the thoughtful or forcefully by the thoughtless. Both are embedded in the human heart and the sheer force of Nature’s DNA. Again the question, what will persuade the world to act less harshly?

What is Persuasive?

The worldviews formed by individual writers, small academic teams, and think tanks serving billion-dollar clients lack persuasive power. Demands to “lop off their heads” lack merit for most and only a few seem able to rise above the purposeful din of their making. The result is a failure to communicate followed by an inability to implement remedies to a range of well-defined problems.

What are the questions that lead to improved decision making? We know writers such as Tom Friedman gets his questions by extracting detailed accounts of global conditions. Wealthy Lexus drivers in aging cultures live alongside regions and nation-states that cherish olive trees because they are poor and young. Writers can take the market abstractions of global warming and climate change and make them concrete for the average person, not with facts, but with hope using two words.  The promise of doing no harm in the word “sustainable” is a goal worthy of reaching by building the courage and capacity for resilience against our darker nature.

Whiters can convince thousands of people in Houston that floods will be routine in their neighborhoods. They can lead them to organize and join millions of other households in hundreds of other regions subject to firestorms, drought, and addiction. Who are the writers that will lead people away from actions contrary to their well-being in the caveat emptor world of American Democracy? The Writers Project will look at where people live, examine the failures of their politics, highlight the solutions by design and persuade with the proof held in the heart of ordinary people.

  • Density is the Answer.
    • Density will end unplanned planetary disruptions and the problems they present to life and all of life itself.
  • The Obstacles in Politics.
    • The rise of planet governing bodies will redefine the role of human life on it, and sustain life itself.  Is there time?
  • The Answers are in the Design.
    • Design in all of its meanings and purposes will produce positive urban recurrences.  We control what we make recur.  Wilderness is self-renewing.
  • Proof is the Problem
    • Data has no meaning until found in people standing face to face in a place.

What Can You Do? Name Writers and Find Themes

I want you to pursue one idea as a member of a writers’ group (here). The people on the writer’s list will focus on one group of people in America loosely defined by the phrase “political elite.” Why is this important?

We know the terms; one percent of American households control more wealth than a ninety-plus percent of all other households and 38% of the nation’s total wealth. Statistically, the one percent represents 1.3 million households, but homing in on 12% (160,000 households) gets to the top of the elite pyramid. These are households with $25 million or more in annual wealth accumulation (2010). As nearly half of all billionaires are Americans and the rest can be found visiting in just a few of its cities, the “roost principle” will connect people to place with a bit of due diligence. The following ten counties will yield a significant number of opportunities.

Highest Average Income Counties

  1. Teton, Wyoming $28,163,786
  2. New York, New York  $8,143,415
  3. Fairfield, Connecticut  $6,061,230
  4. La Salle, Texas $6,021,357
  5. Pitkin, Colorado  $5,289,153
  6. McKenzie, North Dakota  $4,709,883
  7. Shackelford, Texas $4,585,725
  8. Westchester, New York  $4,326,049
  9. Collier, Florida $4,191,055

In the Northeast, the five wealthiest counties based on median income surround Washington, D.C. Four of them are in VA (Loudoun, Fairfax, Falls Church, Arlington) and one is in MD (Howard).  For more, see the U.S. Census press release, 12.6.18  (CB-18-18).  Why?

To find the top one percent, go to where the average or median household income is highest and wait. Questions that cause the askance look, a hitch in the step, even the widening pupils of people in service to wealth work well. Well chosen “birds of a feather” communities must be completely understood, getting close requires hooks, levers, and some demographic imagination. The elite households in the $25 million and way above Paradise Papers group are definable (with exceptions) as people capable of promoting a high office candidate (president, governor, senator). The “elites” shoulder tap is heavy – a military deployment in corporate interest areas, the management of armament/gun control emotions, even the disruption (or development) of the public interest in a sustainable and affordable system of healthcare could be a subject of interest. Do they control the framing of every issue?  I do not know.

Digging into the lives of people who own wealth feels personal. It isn’t. If the 1% is to be more than an economic abstraction, the work, purpose, and privileges of these super-rich members of our society require analysis beyond the “who and wow lists” available now. (See source: How Much.) For example, the wealthiest zip code is Fisher Island, located just off Miami. The island is accessible only by ferry or water taxi for its 500 households, and many of the units are investment properties with guest rents averaging $800 to $1,200/day. The island is just 193 acres, its tidy apartment buildings house at peak occupancy about 1,400 people putting the population density at 46,000 per square mile. Nearby Miami Beach is only 5,000 people.

Who understands these contradictions well? More importantly, who are the best persuaders? Who or what injects actors onto the playing fields of social change. I want names that force local debate. A successful dialogue often concludes with goals, objectives, and strategies. Local self-interest problems stimulate debate, and solutions will produce dialogue. For example: Of the wealthiest 100 people in the world, there are 32 Americans ($12B to $100B) in the column on the left (1-32) that follows.  On the right column (1 – 31), there is a list of the poorest of the rich ($4B and $5B).

The names on the list include a link to a profile. The task of writing thoughtful insights concerning the behavior of the elite holders of wealth is an impossible one. Where is the starting point that discovers message controls? The third name on the list below is Buffet. He offers one starting point idea on how to make some progress in understanding the 1% question. Facts are essential to him in the way that Senator Patrick Moynihan (NY-D) talked about them. The Senator often observed that we are entitled to our opinion, but we are not entitled to our own facts.

Warren Buffet’s factual logic makes him confident about the future. Despite challenges that link the concentration of wealth to the lack of engagement in reversing intolerable poverty, he and the companies of Berkshire Hathaway remain billion-dollar beneficiaries that prefer GDP growth over all other indicators. His argument for a positive future is how he connects the rising tide of the annual GDP per capita. The optimism of “averages” draws from population growth of 0.5% (births minus deaths) and 0.3% through immigration for a total of 0.8%. Given a modest increase of 2% in real GDP without nominal gains produced by inflation would allow for 1.2% growth in GDP per capita. Amortized over 25 years $59,000 GDP per capita in 2017 becomes $79,000. Buffet says, adding $20,000 is good news.

The forces that continue to force wealth to the top in ways that prioritize global wealth outside of a regulatory framework tends to discount the leading producer, a healthy and productive population. One can hear Buffet saying, ‘being blind to that is how you shoot yourself in the foot,’ but the following quote from his article in Time Magazine (1.15.18) are the facts he presents on why the nation could end up with a severe limp.

“…the Forbes 400 paints a far different picture. Between the first computation in 1982 and today, the wealth of the 400 increased 29-fold–from $93 billion to $2.7 trillion–while many millions of hardworking citizens remained stuck on an economic treadmill. During this period, the tsunami of wealth didn’t trickle down. It surged upward.”

The compensation of the writer is absolute freedom with no master other than the fellowship of those who seek a fragment of truth worth exploring. For example, Bloomberg reported in December that 500 of the wealthiest people on earth became $1 trillion richer in 2017, the louder point was that it was “more than four times” the 2016 increase. The chart below shows an average of $2.7 billion per day was added.

Critics pointed to it as “shrugging off” growing economic, social and political divisions. The U.S. has a significant presence on the index, with 159 billionaires who added $315 billion, an 18 percent gain that gives them a collective net worth of $2 trillion. The total amounts to a 23 percent increase on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index of the world’s 500 wealthiest people, this compares neatly with 20 percent increase for both the MSCI World Index and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. One in every 20 Americans is a millionaire.

The highest density of people who would consider a million a small amount live in a city-state known as Monaco where almost 20 percent of households have assets totaling at least $30 million. The wealth tracking firm, Wealth-X is a business that focuses on where the super wealthy enjoy the privileges and benefits of tax havens along with the risk-taking of casino gambling.

List of Billionaires

The list holds 500 – pick anyone – study, think, research and write

Shift Strategies

American’s are familiar with the process of collective action. Franklyn Roosevelt mandated a 35mph auto speed knowing it would save energy and tires. Ronald Reagan mandated 55mph to stave off high prices. When asked, New Yorkers put a brick in their toilet cisterns to reduce the demand for water during a 1970s drought. Today, data on the national use of everything from water to energy and from apples to oranges provides data daily and hourly to manage one thing: responsiveness to consumption.

The residents of the world are becoming the product of computational methodologies built to manage metadata on all forms of consumption. The global aggregators of surveillance capitalism provide data loops that require something in trade. With mouthful sentences like that you need a box. The concealment of those on the list above is nearly total, but the wealth these individuals acquired in 2017 was enabled by invading your privacy. I have a box – it sits between me, my family, business, community, and network and the rest of the world as I determine.  In this box, I place my total data stream as I decide. Nothing leaves or enters that box without my permission. It was expensive but worth every penny.

A refined example of positive responsiveness is Browder’s DoNotPay. It offers a “deep learning” artificial intelligence capacity to help people in the U.S. and Great Britain prepare and file legal documents such as small claims suit against a credit report agency such as Equifax. The AI will also write formal complaints to an insurance company, and other related proceedings managed by law. Providing communal service platforms meeting a specific self-interest helps to put consumers in charge.  The development of the GoodGuide and many other applications for that handheld computer called “phone” have a similar interest in connecting the content of products to environmental impact and consumer preference.

These two forces – the data aggregators and consumption guides will continue to mature. As a nation of laws, American social and economic history illustrates the tension between two regulatory structures these forces represent. The first regulatory response focuses on the concentration of wealth with antitrust laws that expanded from the New Deal through WWII and conclude with the formation of public agencies such as the Environmental Protection Administration. Managing the growth and excesses of large corporate monopolies led to a need for a significant government response to assure the public welfare. The environment and the economy improved.

The second regulatory structure sustains productivity with systems for economic fairness. Public resources such as Patent Law enforce monopolies on a product-by-product basis to support a wealth concentration process. Since the mid-20th century, the global integration of trade and communications is fast, and the regulatory framework is slow.

The exposure of absurdities in protected wealth as an indicator of productivity is sharply evident for the lack of results. For example, is it possible to believe an individual can be as productive as an annual increase of $2 billion in earnings suggests? Is it absurd to think a small board of directors managing $20 billion in annual charitable giving can do so with a few studies? They might usefully address a human need with effectiveness, but other than gaining a somewhat narcissistic sense of satisfaction, the processes are designed by tax law to support hundreds of small boardrooms that are incapable of concerted and coordinated implementation. Thus, they may feel “democratic” yet debate the regarding the future of millions of people from these little hideaways of probable caring remain slaves to a sophisticated national system for establishing equilibrium.

National policies support local efforts to prevent the percentage of households who are dirt poor from getting above 15% in the nation but not by region. Those who find themselves on the short and foul end of the inequality stick are part of a continuous computational analysis under the Poverty Rate heading. The public policy concern focuses on containing and in some cases ‘hiding’ concentrations of poverty. The reasons given such as global competitiveness at the start of the 21st century assure those on the long, pointed end of that stick will behave in the common interest. The no longer feel trustworthy as wealth and self-interest are without inhibitors. Here is a chilling example. If the earth had 100 people – One person has 50% of all the money, 56 people have no internet access, 14 people cannot read, 13 people have no clean water (via Vala Afshar). There are a lot of these of “100 people” percentages to review (here), such as 86 can read and write, 14 cannot, or of 100 people, 5 speak English as a first language.

Overwhelming inequality is the breaking point of every society whether it is a few thousand or a billion people. A half-century has passed since the University of Chicago’s thinkers of the 1960s and 1970s argued for economies of scale through (Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan, and Richard Posner). As highly persuasive economists, they proved this practice would yield cheaper goods and services to consumers. The winning methodology altered antitrust policy by placing measures of economic efficiency above all else. The counter-argument warned that top levels would produce large corporations and inhibit the decentralized development of a democratized society and impetus of reform movements in the overall economy.

The U.S./China rapprochement of 1972 and aftermath neatly symbolizes the result of this pathway. The Yale Law Journal examines the issue in a detailed analysis of Amazon’ business model as an antitrust paradox. The resulting excessive concentration of private power in nearly every category has continued since then. (See American Antitrust Institute).

Examples are:

  1. Walmart gets 25% of all dollars spent on groceries in the U.S. In 2015 they began their online version of Amazon, knowing the problems of Sears.
  2. Jeff Bezos (richest on the planet) started Amazon with investors in 1998. Low-profit margins ruled until 2017 when $60 billion in sales revenue yielded $1 billion in profit.
  3. CVS, Walgreens, and Rite-Aid have 99 percent of the pharmacy market, and two of them want to merge, one is attempting to purchase Aetna, a large insurance corporation.
  4. Each year Amazon’s online business model captures a growing percentage of online spending (40% – 2015). It is leading a spending revolution from “brick to click.” More are on the way.
  5. Google and Facebook claim 64 percent of online ad revenue
  6. Google claims 64 percent of all search engine traffic.
  7. Bloomberg reported the top 500 billionaires added over a trillion dollars in 2017.

The extraordinary possibilities of capitalism exhibited in a democracy are evident in the list above. Strong contradictions form in the way one-person/one-vote struggles with dollars per vote, pay-to-play and so on. The former is a central principle of democracy, the others of capitalism. The contradictions are deemed acceptable with one proviso, a free and unfettered press. Frightening.

Media Density

Writers have a media consumption preference that bundles neatly into silos. Some like finding that dark Toffler-laden tea laced with culture-war confrontations, misleading data, others like the opposite. Media trends build on event coverage. From top-tier media to social media posts, data platforms “reason” by an algorithm with print, sound and voice information. The meaning of it eventually emerges in people but plucking concrete data from the digital realm reveals a person’s name, named places, dates, times, as well as all other numbers linked to them hidden in a meta-group. Ideas are inherently abstract, but when directly associated with one or more people they become authentic. With it, I can pick your favorite car, including the one you can afford, and the GPS coordinates of both.

Industry’s use of media is specific to the needs of its users in the digital revolution. Journalists prepare news with feeds; businesses prepare annual reports with technology and both pull concrete data from a wide range of outlets to measure changes in the world. Each provides strategic opportunities to maintain accuracy, cross-referenced by time, date, place and sources. In all fields, but especially in advertising, public relations, and corporate Wall Street, the actions are taken are proof of persuasive communications down to the micro-second.

Time is everyone’s money. My analysis of media companies and their compilers focus on the tiers of persuasion that want the public to trust government leadership. For example, the practical economics of political media services build on tracking press-mentions and analyzing them for impact and a message process that produces trust. Confidence, on the other hand, requires a relationship with journalists in specific industry areas. The resulting “lists” cross-referenced with legislation not only provides opportunities for exposure, but it also produces alternatives in a vastly expanded media environment.  Above all, insight to “messages” will require a thorough understanding of “framing” practices.

Building insight into the strategies of competitors and partners is the essential component of understanding the distinctions in the style of messaging. Building collaborative media relations occurs best by connecting resources such as experts in a series of industries to establish themes, niche components, and trending topics. Ways to stay on top of the television, radio, newspaper or blog news cycles on politics occur by increasing interactions with journalists that purvey issues specific or parallel to their areas of interest. Vehicles such as e-alarms will demand responses as part of an item coverage process quantifiable for impact successes. The abstractions described above are the shrill whispers of many (list), so here are some concrete examples.

More Concrete Examples

Multimillion-dollar fund-raising and candidate-support operations with political party affiliations such as the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Republican National Committee (RNC) are looking more closely at the selection of local candidates based on benefits predicted by regression to the mean formulas. The average family does not exist, but from a data-only point of view, that non-existing family is doing far better in 2018 than in 2009. In the maturation of the Media Era & Digital Information Age (MEDIA), the ability to design formulas that provide a picture of events that move toward an exact middle point in the future verify the consistency of regular human experience.

On the other hand, the confidence provided by this capacity for prediction includes a form of arrogance that fails to recognize the enormous power of the outlier within the overall data framework. Viewing a young man shot down in the street sustains substantial influence because it was repeated over and over. Documented improvements between the behavior of law enforcement officials and the conduct of people in confrontation with the norms of society have occurred. The dynamics of our age requires trust derived from the balanced exposure of wins and losses, but always toward better ways to confirm human dignity during its failures. Trust remains a reasonable objective, and there are people such as Eric Liu fighting to provide it as a product.

Thanks to media platforms such as TED, we can encounter Eric Liu and get to know him without ever meeting. His mission (see him here) as the founder of Citizen’s University, is to train people in the art of urban living as, “pro-social, problem-solving contributors of a self-governing community.” He says we must ‘find ways to “show up” as vital citizens of a community for one reason – the constant examination of our democracy creates the change essential to sustaining our freedoms to do so. Continuing this vitality in the city from suburb to dense core provides opportunities to explore change and power. Liu defines power as change and describes it unapologetically as the capacity to make others do what you would have them do.

Dr. Margaret Mead’s observation of how small groups change the world offers no guarantees on how well, thus the need to pay attention. The evidence is in one aspect of the need to build new kinds of political awareness. The congressional elite represents one of those small groups. Some of the evidence is the use of rules and legislation that are contradictory to a constitutional promise of public well-being in trade for private security. The congressional median income is well over $1 million, but the annual salaries are under $200,000 for all 534 members apart from the Speaker of the House.

Moving toward a more perfect union is confronted hostage and quid pro quo tactics as the source of power. That they appear directed by those who cannot cope with the realities of our democracy is of great concern. Such dispensation will not bring peace to their society or ours. The ordinary citizen senses this as a kind of in their bones evidence. The raw competition for capital supplants the more useful search for agreements and compromises that lay at the core of peace and security politics. The loss of democracy is at stake in The rise of authoritarian practices hints strongly at a loss of democracy and its principles of fairness

More Hot Button Examples

An ordinary citizen can get updates when legislation is introduced and scheduled for debate or votes, even when it gets new cosponsors or hearings because outfits such as GovTrack that will send them to you by email. With your “sign up” to a proposed law, notification of the entire process as it starts toward the POTUS desk is provided in hour inbox. A good example is the quality of questions available when this is done by a small group of writers interested in a topic.  For example, a few seconds will produce a map such as the one below.

Questions: Where are nuclear reactors in the Northeast? Why do you ask?

On Jan 29, 2018, Rep. Eliot Engel [D-NY16] introduced H.R. 4891: Dry Cask Storage Act of 2018 with co-sponsors from New York. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which will consider it before sending it to the House for consideration.  With this, information a citizen can be ready to ask about Dry Cask Storage, what they are, how are they produced, where will they be placed over the next century, and most importantly, why this legislation now? Casks are for spent nuclear fuel that has been “burned” in a nuclear reactor. They remain “hot” for centuries. Since Yucca Mt., NV closed in 2009; all those red dots are still producing “burned” fuel rods. Local storage appears to be the necessary result. Citizens can seek out those who have made the determination that the development of nuclear electric power is a public dollar priority and decide what it means to include local storage. When it is referred out of committee, will anyone know?

Disjointed energy policies create expensive highway repairs and inefficient mass transit. The fossilized power grids, roads, and rail in the United States symbolize the nation’s growing income inequality and support hostile polarization. The time for a strong pull from the heart of people as Americans is now. It may stop them from pushing themselves into the falsehoods of “taking a side” on every aspect of energy policy.  First, it will be necessary to examine this “taking sides” problem.

For example, litigators for wealthy clients use “due process” to stall reform, and they are winning. The guarantee of due process grinds down reform efforts through a maze of courts. Arguments for improving worker safety or regulating the discharge of chemical waste can last decades. Clever due process litigiousness in energy policy turns to high stakes trading and away from long-term community prosperity. Legislative and financial engineering results in two societies, a small well-protected class and the hopeful. As the list of threats to human health and well-being grows, the nation’s trust in a better future is a factor held well past its due date. Wealth streams to the top echelons at an astounding rate.  It may be the rate itself that encourages bankers and brokers to put the welfare of homebuyers and small businesses at risk simply to sustain trade. The darkest example is the exposure of the NINJA home mortgage scheme to bundle loan securities despite a “no income no job application”. Is there “a side” regarding this behavior, other than right and wrong?

Get a Start Button

The global overshoot problem is due to human consumption. Kate Raworth offers methods and arguments for a more beneficial economy. She sees it built on regenerative and distributive systems designed to meet individual and community essentials. The step toward essential from food and water to the production and shedding of complex materials, the patterns of human use extend beyond the earth’s ability to provide. The solutions to these problems have two expectations. The first is the apocalyptic solution. Individuals, communities, and nations build on fear of destruction and deploy a disturbing “fitness” for survival policy. The second is a hopeful focus on scientific and technological interventions occurring throughout history. A variety of direct actions and mitigations can leverage the overshoot problem into an opportunity for human advancements in global asset management.

Raworth’s Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist points to symbols used throughout human history exhibiting habitat as a prime dependency.

A few minutes of her talk (here) leaves you with agreement on nine ecological crises facing human settlements. Climate change is an “easy one” with known solutions. Getting to effective implementation is the challenge. Even if it is incremental, it is crucial for it to recur and thereby exhibit control over a process.

Leadership organizations represented by the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Partnership for Public Service dedicate resources for performance-measured actions. Their politics deal with big issues such as ozone depletion (global) and deadly air pollution (local), while climate change, ocean acidification, chemical pollution, nitrogen and phosphorous loading continue. They evaluate global threats such as freshwater withdrawal, land conversions, and the loss of biodiversity. All of this without a measure for political change capable of demanding prevention as the alternative to repairs after the fact. Known ecological ceilings prove prevention works, but it also links to taxation and the cost of living that leads to local bets on quality housing, health, education, public safety, as well as, important protections from fraud, violence, and lies.

Comprehensive well-being remains a local power through specific actions. The lack of compromise, consensus, and political resolve for the well-being of others who are in trouble stands as a central problem nationally, but not in your neighborhood. However, other actors are taking a global gamble on the low odds of an active resistance capable of lopping off heads yet retain a capacity to sustain the morality of the commons.

A thought experiments. List all the things as regenerative components from the following priorities: water, food, health, energy, education, income and work, peace and justice, political voice, social equity, gender equality, and networks. Each has a social foundation defined by its participants with the power to design requirements that meet the demands of their unique local locations. Apply a set of decision tree questions (Yes/No) that provide for a direct link between a local or regional regenerative need and global concern. I like the idea of starting with the decisions produced by the public powers of large corporations and the private behavior of the super wealthy.

Motivation and Instruction

The wealth of the “one percent” is a problem because their instructions to money managers are boring. Examples might be hey, “don’t lose my money,” or “assure my estate’s growth rate is ahead of inflation with minimized levels of risk.”  There are exceptions of course, but not enough of them to resolve the risk, gender, and the racial wealth gap. The problems in the experience of ordinary working people are reminders that access to reasonably level playing fields are requirements. It used to be your favorite “Anchorman” could be trusted, leading to everyone wanting to be an anchor.

The inequality of wealth and opportunity among different regions of the United States are like those across neighborhoods of the nation’s large cities or the earth. In the city, big problems solve in thousands of small ways. Aggressive efforts in the production and preservation of affordable housing, effective deployment of resources for immigrant families, an extensive re-investment in public education, and a diversity of people capable of standing shoulder to shoulder against forces that would divide are urban tools against intolerance and hatred. Subsequently, the security of future generations is possible unless they are asleep or put there.

I request the names of independent writers on American democracy and the names of the elite among the one percent of interest to them. Each writer will have an interest in a specific set of these elite actors (via political position, corporate employment or investment behavior). One or a combination of no more than two of the following subject areas will drive content: Human Health, Social Welfare, Banking, Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Foreign Policy, International Relationships, Global Climate, Energy and Defense.

Businesses understand goal attainment for ideas like sustainably. The elite are those who set out to acquire the enormous wealth held by the Post WWII American people. The idea of compelling the formation of that wealth to benefit the rest of the world follows an established, model – destroy, build, repeat. William Simon’s A Time for Action (1980) presents the financial details tested against long-term political experience and his core belief that governments that give businesses everything they want can also take it away. Regulatory relief and the aftermath of the 2008 recession proved that the government had to put back a ton of cash. Its many actors slipped into the financial fog of litigant confrontation. Insert expressions of freedom into this give-to-take problem of governance, and you have Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, and Independent dialogue. The Simon-vein of political give and take compromise is reason enough to implement a sustained “what’s next” analysis of the current situation but this alone is not persuasive.

An elite household recently produced a candidacy and a presidency on an apparent disrespect for the politically elite and therein lays the new opportunity. The relationship that the elite has to the issues of the day will give writers a clear opening for a strategic narrative capable of turning the suppositions of the conservatives regarding political power into a set of unique American propositions based on an appreciation for reason and argument.

The political confusion summarized in Tom Sowell’s Economic Facts and Fallacies adds a lot of fuel to the idea that nothing matters more than winning the argument now. Creating this condition is the sole criterion for success. The ability to persuade in the moment or a few weeks or days before an election, or a board meeting, or a declaration of war aims at the immediate release of resources. Such activities are the enemy of creative imagination; they feed thirst and hunger with no thought of drought, they satisfy in increments with a poor view of the fragmented structures that lay in the wake of every act of selfishness.

If American Democracy is no more than a flash in the history of human freedom, it will be a bright one. Alternatives to “he-said, she said” culture-war banter will reduce disdain and distortion, and contentiousness. One source of this problem is the grouping of “people like us” in communities. Cultural segregation has been ongoing since WWII and encouraged through national urbanization policies, the practice of “steering” in real estate, and widespread support for belief systems that sustain the isolation of people. These highly selective forms of seclusion reduce the desire for tolerance and interest in moderation.

Determine Persuasive Capacity

Writers should not avoid using a tabloid-like approach regarding news of the elite and their link to the pocketbook experience of the 99%. Therefore, the use of dates, times and numbers in ways that make sense. One example: the billionaire’s list shows wealth as a multiple of the national household median income to elites. Multiply 1.7 million times $60,000, and you have a wealth of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos around 2015. This forces one question.  How is it possible for one person to be that productive? It will be difficult to unite writers as a highly trained paparazzi aimed at billionaires, but it will happen for two reasons.

In my Literary Criticism (Class 457), Prof. James demanded the thoughtful and thorough examination of written work.  From the first sentence to the last, he asked his students to tease out themes. If we saw symbolism or meaning, our expressions had to come through each character’s experience as reflected in comparison to our time and place in Room 342 every Tuesday in 1972. In non-fiction work, the same principle applied. I learned to reduce a three-thousand-word policy paper to 200 words or less with dates, numbers, named places, and people. An idea is concrete if linked to a person(s) by name otherwise it remains an abstraction. In concrete terms, you know that I took a class in 1972 where Prof. James taught lessons on the uses of concrete data in literary criticism. Writers know how to be concrete, the enemy of this effort in persuasive writing will be too many words.

The second reason is more complex and subject to the contest of assumptions. Over the last three decades, we have become accustomed to the world described best in Deborah Tannen’s 1999 book, The Argument Culture. Since then, hostility combined with the discipline of 140 characters and the power to broadcast them globally leaves one remaining issue – getting as many people as possible to pay attention for a few minutes. In a cross-disciplinary sense, the theme of her bestseller, You Just Don’t Understand catches sight of the debate on the future of American democracy. Add Patricia Turner’s worldview (I Heard It Through the Grapevine) and Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me and the reasoned and well-channeled description of sex and race in America provides the footing for moving writers forward like a force of history fully capable of persuading their readers to resist authoritarian “divide and rule” solutions to governance.

A note with questions to writers with the hope that a few will be persuaded to act.

The challenge to truth is not “the lie,” but algorithms that can target the people to act on a specific issue for best effect in a short time. A revolution in the revenue stream is how the bulk (99%) of new paid advertising in media is alongside user-selected content. No one is non-targetable or immune from a story whether true or false. Producing stories out of “news farms” based in like Macedonia will look the same as value-driven news agencies such as The Guardian, The Economist, The Washington Post or the New York Times. Paywall or not, these and some 120 newspapers in the nation have begun a ready, fire, aim and re-aim process to secure their financial and editorial independence and to safeguard the journalistic freedom and the liberal or conservative values that free them of commercial interference or political control.  Access to an expanding list of recommended writers is (HERE). To suggest names, use this address: As the file acquires thematic consensus (12-18 mo.) and an internal sense of balance, a process that looks to the quality of change described below might begin with persuasive skills.

“For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act not only to create new jobs but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun, the winds, and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And, we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.”  President Barack Obama – Inaugural Address (1.20.2009)

250 on Electoral College

The purple, red and blue election districts, counties, regions, and states of the Republic are reflections of the people who create these colors by voting. The election district image reveals a purple country, it reflects the diverse views and opinions at the neighborhood level. The overall appearance is of a non-decisive experience. It is not until the districts of representatives become state icons are people encouraged to take a “with us or against us” experience in red or blue silos. The left and right model is therefore bankrupt.

Political leadership will always be a force capable of producing extreme attitudes. It can also generate moderate views, rightful independence, and outright nonconformance. A new up, down, from the top down or bottom up image is needed, it also needs to be as sideways, and as wiggle-waggle as possible to help us think and perhaps laugh at the absurdity in much of our discourse. An active localism result and its new and innovative approach will not eliminate the violent polarization represented by the depressed who find themselves lost, perhaps criminally insane in the malaise of disagreement. Animosity does not acquire toward political conformity or year to year compromise. Negotiation, tolerance, and kindness on the other hand work. Where do you find it? I know where because of one truth and one goal, the big cities yield a solid shoulder to shoulder acceptance of the work before us, and when they of if cities ever get their power back, the nation will be healed.

Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” FDR

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