History’s lessons

It was Mark Twain who once said “History does not repeat itself but it often rhymes”. It seems appropriate to review history given the times we are in. Over the past several decades we are a country that has become so divided we dare not speak to anyone who we consider “on the other side”. Each side viewing the other with contempt. The murmurs of a “stolen election” based on rhetoric, not fact. In a time of iPhone videos not even a stream of a crime being committed, but if you yell loud enough you will be heard and you will be followed. We seemingly scream anything these days in social media, many times ignorant of the historical context. We should not underestimate the power and reach of social media to amplify whatever sentiment we may support, to increase are level of anger and its sister, stress.

Donald Trump during one of his MAGA events said, “I am a Nationalist” to great applause. Given my personal history it made my stomach turn. Had we forgotten our history lessons or had we just become numb to what they meant? There are those that dismiss history and those that choose to learn from it. There are also those that get mired in a past that they elevate to some form of glory as if despite all the progress mankind has made we were better off before than we are now. A sentimental but sometimes dangerous tune to be swept away by. Yes as history has proven from time to time humanity chooses insanity over compassion.

Nationalism was a time in history where more was made of the leaders who led it rather than what it stood for. We are all familiar with their names: Hitler, Franco, Mussolini, Salazar (ok little shout out to Portugal there) etc.. We know the promises that were delivered and the tragedy that ensued. They created a cult of personality. They were worshipped like idols so decried in a biblical sense, but believing themselves above scripture and ordained by the heavens, self ordained gods. It was a cult of personality. We are seeing a new form of Nationalists come to the forefront in Trump, Putin, Bolsonaro, Erdogan, etc..each long on marketing and showmanship but short on details. Promising to the crowds and the applause a greater life and then returning to the safety net of individual wealth and luxury. Speaking not to the nation but only there loyal supporters. Many confuse nationalism with patriotism.

When I was born in in 1966 we were only 20 yrs removed from WWII. We were 50 yrs removed from WWI. There were still many veterans of both wars who remembered the horrors and atrocities of those dark years. We had a connection to the past and it was still vividly taught in our schools. because it was closer in time the atrocities of WWII were covered in greater detail – from the holocaust to Hiroshima. In my own home my father had participated in the Danish underground. He has walked streets that were marked with armed soldiers of the Reich. We all knew and were fairly well versed in Nazi atrocities. How had a country become some so seduced by one man? That would lead to a World War and cause levels of cruelty deemed unimaginable. Hitler came to symbolize evil. To represent a part of humanity that was hard to acknowledge that it existed or believe that it could ever happen again.

Time causes humanity’s senses to dull. WWI is now a 100 years in the rear view mirror and World War II over 75 years. A generation of young adults has little direct connection to those wars probably being steeped more in the latest wars in Iraq. Though brutal neither can hold a candle to the World War’s , where tens of millions of people perished in gulags and gas chambers, or simply on the firing line. We have begun to forget the consequences of war. In the United States the suffering caused by war was really only experienced in the South during the American Civil War and that is over 150 years ago, though the results of America’s experiment with slavery linger to this day. We now see globally a shift to the right and a return to the ideology of nationalism. It is different so far, but it is still early. The further we drift in time from ahistorical events the more clouded our mind becomes in remembering and undertstanding the consequences of those events.

One thing that has been implied but not spoken is what is the vision for the future of this nationalistic ideology? Make America Great Again makes for sound marketing, but it does not promise to build a future. To date it is a future where liberal ideas do not exist and how we rid ourselves of them has not been suggested. If we return to history we may find the answer. When I think of that my mind does not look to Fascism in Germany or Italy, but to a lesser know but equally brutal war: The Spanish Civil War. Prior to the war Spain had been mired in political dysfunction as various ideologies took root and competed for popular sovereignty(the early 20th Century was full of political ideology – communism through to fascism and everything in between). In the end it led to a civil war with land owners, the military and the church on one side and the republic, anarchists, communists, labor unions etc..on the other. Franco led the well organized military and the solution to opposition was simple – either put them in jail or shoot them. Atrocities were committed for the greater good of Spain. The dictatorship would last for 40 yrs until Franco’s death in 1975, even then Spain chose to put the past aside and focus on the future.

The mere fact that civil war is suggested in some circles is cause for concern. There would be no Mason-Dixon line this time to separate the nation, there would be only political divides. In Spain if your found to be holding any papers sympathetic to trade unions or papers that were left leaning that was enough. If you want to learn more about this period, view the documentary “The Silence of Others” (can be found on Netflix). In some ways it is more in line with modern warfare which is not driven by state lines or national borders in pursuit of political enemies. If anything America learned alot about this after 9/11. In begs the question of the future of the nation state, but that is for another blog post. Could the US actually descend into a state of chaos of civil war, Reagans beacon of shining light shred to pieces? It seems far fetched given the strength of our government institutions. But for too long we have taught a generation to distrust government and with that comes consequences, which we are only starting to face now.

It all seems a bit bleak, the classic if we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it. There are things that have changed in our favor. We cannot help but be in awe of the advances in science. Both in technology and the bio sciences. We are connected, but in a strange way we are also more disconnected. Living lives virtually and not really living. Seeing nature’s great beauty and rather than enjoying the moment, choosing to post it. If emotions could determine our fate then where we are headed seems a futile endeavor. Governed by humanities simplest and unkindest of emotions and descending into hatred and rage. These are not the emotions of rational people, but of suffering people. People who feel humiliated forgotten. Welcome to White America and Black America. On one side we have a group of people who saw their jobs vanish oversees and technology claim their position (these are blue collar folks, not the white power brokers). On the other side we have over 400 yrs of grievances dating back to the first slave in 1619. It is not surprising that we are endring something of a stress test. Many say it is a constitutional crisis, but I am rather dismissive of that argument. It is far greater than a written document, it is a crisis if the human spirit.

Good Night and Good Luck,

Hans Henrik Hoffmann Oct 28, 2021

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A Soulless City Called Seattle

Many years ago I read the book “Ghost Train to the Eastern Star” by the travel writer Paul Theroux, written n 2008. One passage stood out to me in the book as he toured through Japan. It read, “All travel is time travel. Having just arrived in Japan, I felt I had traveled into the future, to a finished version of all the cities I’d passed through on this trip. In time if they made plans, American big cities would evolve to become the same sort of metropolis,just as big, just as efficient and intimidating: Los Angeles and Seattle and New York already had the same shape and bones and the general shape of Tokyo and would soon be just as soulless”. I cannot speak too much on LA and Tokyo, but Seattle is my hometown and I can speak a lot on it’s soul or lack thereof. Probably of most concern is that as time has passed in Seattle I cannot disagree. We have become a plastic city. Seeking to teardown the old, in search of the new.

The Seattle I grew up and the Seattle of today are much different cities. The Seattle of the seventies was still a smaller city by US standards, locked away in the northwest corner of the continental United States. It seemed a sleepy city with the local economy driven by the airplane giant Boeing. It still had a very blue collar feel to it. My father was a carpenter and would be out of the house before 6am and be home a little after 4 in the afternoon. The downtown area had high rises but still a lot of older building including one that had a Woolworth (a rich legacy from a different era). The restaurants were older (who remembers the Dog House?). The streets were mainly empty at night. It was certainly not New York or LA, but it was comfortable. There were skyscrapers but not too many, you could count them, the tallest being around fifty stories. It was a good place to live as it did not suffer from the illnesses of the larger metropolitan cities. In my youth is seemed the biggest city in the world.

As the seventies came to a close and the eighties began a new era was about to dawn and a major hub of that era would be born across the water in Redmond. The rise of Microsoft sparked a new a era for Seattle and not far behind we had Starbucks, McCaw Cellular, Amazon and a number of high tech companies. We soon had a who’s who of the very wealthy – Gates, Allen, McCaw, Bezos, then divorces created some of the wealthiest woman on the planet (McKenzie and Melinda). Seattle had problems but the economy and money were not a part of the problem. We had transitioned to a new era in Seattle. Growth in the city would accelerate the once sleepy downtown sprung to life. The number of residence in the inner city would explode as we moved into the nineties, making the city itself no longer a 9-5 lifestyle as the days were extended to well into the night.

With the technological boom the city of Seattle began to rapidly change. When you have wealthy people you pretty soon have homes that are estates. Real Estate prices started to sore and they continue to soar. This meant the death of neighborhoods. The Central District which was traditionally Seattle’s black neighborhood quickly succumbed to gentrification, which is a fancy word for capitalism gone wild The idea of traditional inner cities has left Seattle, sure there are still small foot prints but they are shrinking. A house bought for under 100k now fetched close to a million, maybe more. Some say that is great, but then the next question is where do you move and how far out of Seattle must you go to find something you can afford? The city had stated to become too expensive to live in.

The skyline of Seattle had grown into a stale architectural disaster. A bunch of capitalist developers creating a series of rectangle’s that dot the skyline which they call art. We all can draw stick figures, we are just not all vein enough to call ourselves artists. In the end it looks blase. For a city that likes to think itself modern its amazing we cannot think beyond the idea of a rectangle and look to some of the cool buildings being constructed in Europe, Asia or the Middle East. We are capitalists and think in terms of maximizing profits. Looking at the short term, unable to grasp the future. Mistaking dollars spent and dollars made as a way to beautify the skyline, not realizing we have shamed ourselves into ugliness.

When you think of cities that have a soul, you probably do not think of many in the United States. Great cities of the world like Rome, London, Madrid, Cairo Etc…have deep roots, deep histories. Seattle on the other hand seems intent on selling its history for the future. A future that at the surface looks blank and rather sterile. There are still some historical sites and we have Public Market, though developers seem intent in destroying it Underground Seattle still exits and Pioneer Square is alive and well. Areas like the International District (formerly China Town) are shrinking as new development comes in and sterilizes the neighborhood. It probably is a bit unfair to compare Seattle to really old cities like Rome or Paris, as we have nowhere near their history. however at our current pace we seem to change everything, tearing down the old (which by historical standards is not that old), to embrace the new. No matter how anyone tries to depict it the future never looks that great.

Walking around Seattle a few years ago waiting to meet a friend I was struck by all the slick, trendy and swank restaurants. All filled to capacity and even on a Tuesday night. Everything was made for the technology sector. Everything had to be new, modern and trendy. At some point it all looks rather stale. When everything is new and modern, you start to lose focus of who you are and where you have been. Youth however never appreciates the old, always thinking whatever is around the corner must be exciting and fulfilling. Only to lose interest not long after the discovery. Maybe in a thousand years Seattle will have developed some charm, some character, maybe even a sense of soul. In the meantime we race ahead seeking the new and shiny. Looking at shapeless highrises stretching towards the sky. Perhaps looking to heaven to find Seattle’s soul.

Good Night and Good Luck

Hans Hoffmann

Sept 20, 2021

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The poor, the homeless

It seems to be front and center in America, for some a daily struggle to survive and for some a thing to be shunned and shoved in a corner, out of sight and out of mind. Somewhere along the way in America it grew so it it no longer could be hidden. It greeted us every morning. In my hometown of Seattle it is a constant reminder of our failure as a society. Debates rage on in the city council on what can we do to help our homeless. How can we house? feed? Provide treatments that can help? How can we get people to a level where they can take care of themselves? We are asking the right questions, but questions without answers are just complaints. What we are also learning is there are different levels of being homeless and different reasons. One thing is clear and that is there are no easy solutions. It will take time and cannot simply be washed away.

In Seattle homelessness is a epidemic. It greets us everyday as we drive on the freeway, in the city and it branches out to the suburbs. As we gaze upon it there are common scenarios. A whole lot of trash and filth littered around the encampments . Usually accompanied in the litter are a lot of used needles. Sometimes nearby they defecate. The tents we throw away or donate to Goodwill can be found here. The people themselves wore torn clothes that are filthy, they smell horrible, usually of urine, They loiter about most of the day. At freeway entrances and off ramps asking for money, usually holding a cardboard sign with some plee or story begging for sympathy. Leaving it to the donor to decide if it is real or fake, most of the time these drivers are simply numb to its existence, having grown used to seeing it everyday. Becoming only more uncaring and disgusted as the number seemingly grows. The encampments they live in sometimes grow to be rather large, so large they may even get a name, like “The Jungle”. They are occasionally torn down, but in the end they just move somewhere else.

No matter where you walk the signs of the homeless are there staring you in the face. As you walk peer into a wooded area and you are likely to see a tent dwelling. Sometimes these dwelling are solo other times there may be 15-20 dwellings – tents in the woods, RV’s parked alongside the road. There are always a few people hanging around. In once instance I saw two men giving each other a clean shave the old fashioned way, with blade in hand. Sometimes there is ambition as a artist tries to sell some of his or her paintings. But in each landscape there is the over arching theme of hopelessness. The american dream has passed them by as if it never existed, to them it was a great white lie. We used to dream of owning a home but now it is just the right to survive.

One question with no answer is where do these people come from? Many are not local residents. Like so much of the globe however people are moving towards the big cities. Leaving small rural communities, where opportunity is dwindling. Real estate is booming and the American dream of owning a home is fading into the past. Rents are increasing and wages remain stagnant. In the book “Nomadland” many of the people are not suffering from homelessness but suffer from houselessness. They are usually over sixty and have given up on owning a home and all the expenses that come with it that they our challenged to meet. They turn their vehicles into homes on wheels and travel the land taking up work where they can. Some companies like Amazon even have programs to recruit them for seasonal work. A luxury of wealthy companies, pay them like dirt with no benefits and then sell it to them like they are the lucky few. These nomads are everywhere many of those filthy RV’s parked around town are Nomads. Many people you see suffer from some form of mental health issue, they need treatments and medication, but in a country of tax cuts for the wealthy programs need to be cut. We have a tendency in America to think if I do not benefit from it why should I pay for it. There is a downside to this view point.

Some argue that people come to big cities for the services they are able to provide the poor. In Seattle they do offer some housing, medical assistance, hygiene, restroom facilities etc..In addition there are volunteer services like food banks. These are fundamental service and do not offer the bigger picture service such as addressing mental health, substance abuse, job training etc..All these services need funding or donations, nothing is free. Everyone wants clean streets. But in an era where we all cry for less government this is one of the results, whether it be municipal government or federal governments, we feel they intrude on our lives. However there are some problems private industry cannot fix. The private sector works for profit and homelessness is not a profitable business. Government has always been called on when we have needs as people. But in an era where we are shrinking government finding the money to fund “big thinking” is near impossible. So the homeless continue to grow.

The problems we face did not happen overnight, it was decades in the making. White people seem to immortalize the 50’s in America as a golden era (if you were black you were under Jim Crowe). At the time labor unions were at their peak and manufacturing jobs provided steady work at a good wage with benefits and a pension plan. Then came the economists. Disciples of Adam Smith and the “invisible hand”, claiming the free market could solve all, for a price. Milton Friedman said it best, The only social responsibility a corporation has is to maximize profits”. Labor was expensive, we need to reduce. Along comes Harvard Prof Michael Porter and “Theories of Competitive Advantage” and off-shoring was born. Reduce Taxes which translates to cutting social programs, the people at the top are doing great, the rest not so much. Over time this sentiment grew and middle America seemingly began to die.

By this time we all know the data – we have put a system in place that allows the top 1% to excel to heights we have not seen since the early 1900’s when the Rockefellers, JP Morgans, Vanderbilts, etc..built empires of gold. Now they have been replaced by Gates, Bezos, Zuckerberg etc..Living in realities which we can only dream. In the meantime the numbers at the bottom continue to grow. But rather than chip away at empires we go down the path of reinventing slums. Where we are today did not happen all of a sudden,. We have chipped away at social safety nets in search of the free market that will care for all, not realizing the free markets true god was Charles Darwin, which in the end cares for no one. The American crisis will continue to grow, but right now it is taking a back seat to other issues, like COVID-19. The solution will not happen overnight it will take time and money and is entirely dependent on the willand resolve of our citizens, but for now that desire to correct the wrongs of over a half-century does not exist, so we will ineth short term only see the problem metastasize until we have no choice.

Good Night and Good Luck

Hans Hoffmann August 16, 2021

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Covid-19 – 18 months on

It has been a historical last 18 months in the battle against against an invisible enemy. One which we cannot see but has claimed over 600,000 lives in America and over 4 million globally. It has dominated our airwaves as we have struggled to get back to some semblance of a normal life. What has been most upsetting is the ability of the media, politicians and public to turn this into political theater. We have argued about the origin of the virus, have looked to others to blame for our own failures in dealing with the outbreak. When a solution was offered we were slow to accelerate the delivery of a vaccine. We are a society ripe to be seized by outrageous conspiracy theories, creating elaborate schemes out of thin air. We choose to live in fear rather than enjoy what life provides us every day. Reviewing the past 18 months of life can be both upsetting and therapeutic. It has been a journey none who lived through it will forget.

From my own perspective it has made life in some ways simple and mundane. I have worked from home since March 2020. I have no commute time, I simply get out of bed walk down the hall and grab my laptop and log on. Things I did before work, such as shower, eat, get dressed now occur during the day – sometimes early, sometimes later – all depending on what the days schedule has in store for me. The end of the day comes quickly and routinely. No need to worry about commute home, which has made my life at home simpler and more enjoyable. In how our family has interacted outside the home we have abided by the scientific recommendations and done our best to socially distance and wear mask coverings. I never found this to be an infringement on my individual rights as outlined in the Bill of Rights. In many ways life was better as it allowed me to focus on what are my core values. I was lucky on some fronts my children were all over 16 when the pandemic began and the adjustment to online learning was somewhat routine and easy. Not a lot of parental intervention was needed. They maintain a high GPA and one even graduated from college and had a job lined up, so our stress levels were low. Life mor eor less has been on cruise control.

What of course happened around me was of another concern. Anti-Vaccers claiming they knew the truth, they just could not explain it. They claimed they were better read than the rest of us, but cited no sources (or sources were on the fringe of the political spectrum). When vaccines were made available they would not be in line. What the alternative they were proposing as a solution to Covid we will likely never know. We had the anti-mask people who placed their individual liberties above the health and well being of their fellow citizens. If they truly believed what they were saying they should have gone to hospitals and told those on the front line they were being deceived, but they seemingly lacked the courage. Social distancing? Many hosted their own super spreader events, seemingly not understanding its not just what spreads when you are at the event but when you leave the event. It was there individual right to spread based on their own warped logic. Determined to make their way of life continue, while spreading death to those closest to them. What was frustrating is Covid is a influenza, just like the flu that comes every year (which many get a vaccine for). It is a airborne illness. It can spread just by someone close you breathing in your general direction. I think we all know at this point in life that if a friend has the flu I am not going over to their house and giving them a hug or a kiss, because we all know how contagious the flu is (in short we are practicing social distancing). With Covid-19 which is more transmissible and far more dangerous we have decided to plead ignorance.

There were of course those who could not understand why we would shut down the economy and to them I do extend sympathy as the way this was handled was not equal. Large retailers were open while mom and pops were closed. We needed to social distance. Where as large stores offered wide open spaces, the small stores were deemed dangerous. In a country where the economy looms ever larger we had to take a step back and those that got hurt those most were those that could least afford it. Once again the poor were asked to shoulder more of the burden of a nation’s suffering. In the meantime my stock portfolio continued to boom, i was doing well. Rich states who had advanced industry were much better positioned to weather the storm. If you worked for a Apple, Microsoft or Google working from home was a simple email and the rest was done via Zoom. Our service workers suffered the most as restaurant’s and many other social gathering places were forced to shut down

During this time there were things that happened that caused what was already a distressful situation to further escalate. We had the killing of George Floyd that led to Black Lives Matter and mass protest across the nation. We had a President, whos own words never masked his stupidity. We had an election that was contested without evidence, but has led to calls for recounts (recounted – unsuccessful). We had a Michigan militia plot the kidnapping and murder of the states governor. Wild fires ravaged the west, destroying the city of Paradise, CA. It seemed like over the last 18 months we could never come up for air. Everytime we tried to turn a corner and take a step forward we took two steps back. It highlights the fact that no matter the crisis they cannot shield you from social unrest, especially in an age where information is everywhere

Now that in the US we near the finish line, though covid variants and anti-vaccers will push that line out a little further, the war rages on. In the US it has become a state by state test as to who will succeed and who will fail. How do we define success? Vaccination rates. Because the vaccines were approved as an emergency measure there is fear among some in public that the vaccines are not safe. I worry about this lack of urgency to get vaccinated as numbers start to rise again with a new variant on the march. The numbers are clear where states low on vaccination rates versus higher, the lower is not doing well. Death rates will start to increase again as the newer Delta variant which has proven to be more lethal and more selective. We seem to vilify experts, with more emotional reason than scientific reason. In the end we will get what we deserve. As the Delta variant begins to encroach on our lives and pull us back down a path we have been before. As I write a large part of the world does not have access to vaccines and now must battle the variant and in parts of the US the numbers have started to climb due to ignorance.

I wish I could say we are at the end, but there are those who view this as a hoax, a government conjured scare. An attack from the left of the political spectrum. At the end of the day it will be self created and self inflicted fake news. The only thing that ever mattered was saving lives and nursing to health those that had been infected with COVID-19. In the end we will get the death toll we deserve and the historians will be left to write the epitaph of our nations failure, because politics was more important than life.

Good Night and Good Luck

Hans Henrik Hoffmann July 28, 2021

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Terminal Velocity, Technical Atrocity

I grew up in the tech industry, more by accident than by design. I grew up in the suburbs of Seattle, where not far from my house, Bill Gates had an idea to start a company. After college I would join that company, more by luck than by intelligence and drive. It would challenge me and change me to be a disciple of knowledge. I would be wrong more than I was right. I would fail and be humbled. Once shy and easily shamed, I would develop thick skin and welcome criticism rather than turn my back on it. I would question those I felt needed to be questioned. I learned my limits but developed new areas to explore. I embraced change as it wrapped its arms around me. I always looked over the horizon, trying to learn and understand what was to come next It would open a new world for me, one I have not once regretted in over 30yrs.

At the end of the day technology is really about disruption. When I first started, the word processor was killing the typewriter. The spreadsheet was reducing the need for a handheld calculator. Companies that made these devices all of a sudden needed new revenue terms, some made it and some did not. That trend would continue through the dawn of the internet and the birth of the cloud. As humans we feel naked and vulnerable without a smartphone. We are always connected and any information we need is accessible at our fingertips. Financial market move at the speed of light. People make millions at the click of a button. As we moved forward more disruption will take place as the move to autonomous vehicles is underway (Domino’s will deliver Pizza via autonomous). Artificial Intelligence is in full swing allowing us to make better decisions based on data (the more data the better), across any vertical Oil and Gas, Financial Services, Legal, Retail etc… Internet of Things (IoT) allowing us to capture and analyze data on billions of sensory devices across the globe. All of these technologies have one thing in common, the desire to eliminate or minimize human involvement. To kill jobs.

Throughout our history in the United States we have tended to dominate new industries and rush forward at breakneck speed, often with little thought given to the consequences of our actions.. Sometimes they were environmental costs, such as the Cuyahoga RIver Fires in Cleveland back in the sixties. Sometimes direct assaults on the US labor force as we crippled labor unions and offshored manufacturing in favor of shareholder value. Leaving a wasteland across the middle of the United States. We now enter a new phase as technology moves at an ever faster pace and displaces jobs at a foreseeable record pace – paralegals gone, cashiers gone, taxi cabs drivers gone, FedEx drivers gone, Long haul truckers gone, lawyers gone (ok we can stop and cheer this one) etc..The refrain from many will be they just need to find new jobs. My immediate response is – What new jobs? How long will it take to find? Do they need to get more education in this new the profession? Professional certifications? All while they still have expenses – families, typical children expenses, mortgages, rent, food, cable bills, mobile phone, etc..

How quickly can humans adapt to change? Part of it is generational. Younger generations have grown up comfortable with technology, being wired shortly after they are born. We can thank Steve Jobs.. Older generations struggle more just to keep up with change. We have watched our middle class slowly shrink as if caught in a death spiral. We have a real unemployment rate hovering around 9% (unemployment sits at 5.8% but that does not include people who have just dropped out of US workforce). It gets back to education in the end and for all the emphasis on STEM, not all school districts in the US are equal. If you live in a poor area of the country your chances of a decent education go do, since a large part of public education is funded locally, usually by property taxes. Not everyone learns the same, not everyone has an aptitude to learn, but they are still human and have a right to dream and hope for a better future,

If tech has brought something along with a movement away from big government to free markets, it has brought a boom for the mega wealthy. The below illustrates how wealth is distributed across the globe. Global wealth distribution 2020. % of adults worldwide whose wealth is:

<$10K 55%

$10K-$100K 32.8%

$100K-$1m 11.1%

$1m+ 1.1%

-Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2020

Wealth is power as it has always been and as we consolidate it among a smaller and smaller percentage while the gap between top and bottom increases, we do so with little discussion of the ramifications. In America we talk of the poor we just don’t like to see them. But as we displace jobs at an increasing pace, without change the number will only grow and more and more poor people will suffer the wrath of displacement. While the 1% will grow at an exponential pace.

The thing that I think a lot about is as we rapidly move towards a future based on technological progress, how many people will be lost or left behind? Will real unemployment rates increase to where 15%? 20%? 25%? becomes the norm. History has often taught us when change occurs so do jobs. As we moved from agrarian age to industrial that the jobs created would benefit society. As we moved from industrial to the information age this once again happened, but now as we look at transformation again the jobs created story will not be so simple. According to 2018 census data the US employs 9.8 million cashiers. Amazon is mastering cashierless checkout. Companies as usual will look at cost savings while increasing margins. Where do 9.8 million people go for work? Many are working jobs that pay at minimum wage or just above. They likely receive minimal benefits (paid vacation, health care, retirement etc..not available). This is not skilled labor, but what they are is human. They deserve the right to a decent life. I understand the movement against left wing elitists, who claim to have answers without a core understanding of the people they are talking to. It is easy to propose solutions when the solutions you offer will never cause you any pain.

The new world we head into will be disruptive in ways never imagined in human history. It will transform how we live and how we work. It seems futuristic and dreamy but it will also create new challenges and new sufferings. Technology has the ability and opportunity to make us far more efficient in how we operate – managing energy infrastructure, transportation, water supply, food production etc..these are all things that need to happen and will happen, the only question is when. The flip side is it will create displacement. There will be many who either do not have the opportunity to participate or the inclination to participate. As I said at the outset Technology by definition disrupts and that disruption knows no boundaries, least of all being human life.

Good Night and Good Luck

Hans Hoffmann 6/29/2021

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