Archive for June, 2016

Minimum living standards


Instead of trying to get the wealthy to pay a decent wage to the majority of workers, let us instead focus on guaranteeing that every person in the United States has a place to sleep out of the weather, food to eat, complete medical care, and access to education to the limit of the person’s abilities.  By complete medical care, I mean dental care, vision care, mental health care, and physical health care, including therapy.

The place to sleep might be a room just large enough to accommodate a bed and a chair, and a place to hang clothes, but it would be warm, dry, and the door would lock.  Minimal web access would be available, perhaps in a day room or a study room, and bathrooms would be communal.  A central kitchen can provide meals for those who cannot afford anything, although the fare would be bland, and servings small.

Any person would be able to walk in and say “I need a room”, but they would not have a place to store belongings, other than what would fit in their room.  And people would not need to produce proof of income, because the accommodations would be so minimal that most people would not take them unless desperate.  People willing to work a few hours a week would get bigger rooms, storage, access to more entertainment, and have telephone service.

In this way, we can insure that every citizen is able to sleep indoors, eat a healthy diet, and keep well.  However, we would encourage the citizens to participate in the economy by working or going to school.  Even people with no retirement plan would be able to live indoors and get medical care.  We can do this, it is affordable.


Raising the poverty level


Right now, I charge 15 dollars an hour for my work.  I know that this undervalues my labor, but I think that it makes me more affordable for the majority of my clients, who tend to be older and on fixed incomes.  Probably I should charge $20, but I would be pricing myself out of work.

To hear people talk about raising the minimum wage to $15 disturbs me, because I am not going to work for the minimum wage.  But what would be a realistic wage for me if the minimum is $15?  My fee is double the current federal minimum, so should I charge $30 an hour for my work?  How much work will I get at that wage?

For some reason, the idea of making $600 a week and still being broke does not appeal to me.  That is what a 40 hour week at $15 an hour would get me, before deductions.  Wasn’t so long ago that I made $600 a month working full time.  Raising the minimum wage will merely make it so that the poverty level will double from the income that it currently is at.

The problem is not the minimum wage, it is that most of the workers are making the minimum wage.  That is not right.

Living with no money


Switzerland just rejected a proposal to provide a guaranteed income to every Swiss citizen.  This followed the defeat of a proposed increase in the minimum wage to the equivalent of about $25 an hour.  People are very upset about income inequality, and ideas such as these are becoming more popular.

Instead of promising people a certain amount of money, maybe we should offer a guarantee of a place to sleep, food to eat, medical care, and education.  The place to sleep might be a 2 meter by 3 meter room, the food might be from a cafeteria, but they would be there if they are needed.  Medical care and education should already be assured, as that is in the best interests of all of us.

Providing every American with a safe, dry place to sleep and nutritious food would not cost very much, compared to the social services programs we currently have.  Rather than handing out vouchers, just make housing available, and food, for those who need it.  Basic, plain, simple,  enough to survive, but not enough to encourage lazing about.  Make it so that people can get by without having money, because the money is all in the hands of a few.

Keyboard wars


Someday, I would like to see an elementary school set up some computers with Dvorak keyboards alongside the Qwerty ones, and let the kids try both.  After a while, watch to see which keyboards are used the most.  Then, at the end of the year, test the kids to see which keyboard they are fastest on.  This seems to me about the only way of determining if Dvorak keyboards are actually superior to Qwerty keyboards.

Of course, keyboards may not be around much longer, as computers get better at recognizing words.  But something tells me that we will have keyboards for a while yet, and I would like to see the Qwerty layout get some competition.  I mean, the only reason that it is the standard is that the typewriter that used the Qwerty layout was more successful than other typewriters.

What is the difference?  The Qwerty keyboard layout was developed in the 1800’s, with the intention of making the typist switch hands on as many keystrokes as possible, to avoid causing key jams.  The Dvorak layout was the result of the study of typing, the English language, and typists, and was actually designed to improve typing speed.

Sailing away.


Coming out of the grocery store this evening, the sound of the wind moving the flag around the flag pole, a slapping kind of sound, reminded me of going sailing.  Years ago, my father owned a sailboat, and I went sailing with him many times.  When we would go to the marina, the sound of halyards slapping against masts was everywhere, a sound I came to associate with excitement, adventure, pleasure, and being close to Nature.

Moving through the water at five or six knots, ( about six miles per hour,) using nothing but the wind, is an incredible way to get in tune with the environment.  The boat has to be adjusted, or ‘trimmed’, depending on the direction of the wind, and which way you are trying to go.  Sometimes, it can seem as though the boat is moving very quickly, and everything must be carefully watched.  Other times, even though going the same speed, it can seem like you are barely moving.

And there is no drone of the motor, no fuel gauge to worry about, just the slapping of the waves, and the wind in the rigging.  When you first turn onto the wind after raising the sails, and the mainsail goes ‘snap’, and the boat suddenly seems alive, that is when the magic begins.