Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The final push for Jim Nichols for State House

This truck loader put his name on the ballot for State House this year to address a number of issues, but for only one purpose: To prove to those that have given up on the political process that participation is not futile. That money and connections are beatable when you have better ideas, a better grasp of the challenges facing your community, and you are willing to put in hard work.

Not voting, not voicing your preferences about our collective future, is not rebellion, but victimhood, at a time when we need to be working together to move our state forward.
I have lost too many friends over the years to drugs, hopelessness, and the jail cell; and we as a community have too much potential that is needlessly being wasted, to just allow out of touch power brokers to steal our future through shortsightedness and greed.

When people organize, participate, and vote in the political process the politicians will follow their lead--everytime. It is how history has always moved forward and it is how we will not only overcome these challenging times in front of us, but how we will come out on the other side a stronger, healthier, more educated, and more prosperous society.

Tonight is an important fundraising deadline.  Please chip in what you can to help me get my message out to voters these last few days of the campaign.  No matter if it is $3, $25, or $500--every dollar truly does make a difference.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fox News reporting doesn't make one a religion of peace and the other not.

The three major Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are fundamentally the same--in their core structure and historical and metaphorical linage.  

To lift up one as a religion of peace is tautologically to lift up the other two as religions of peace as well. You can't have it both ways just because Islam is portrayed in the media another way.  If you don't believe me go read Karen Armstrong or Karl Jaspers and then come back and lets talk.  

Fox news may report otherwise but they do so with sloppy sources and biased talking heads promoting militarism and death at a time when we should go back to the Golden Rule and lift up what we share with one another across geography and human history.

Enjoy your Sunday... 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Submerged State and American democracy

Going door to door has opened my eyes to the importance of this book.

So rather than sleep I was reading my copy of The Submerged State: How Invisible Government Policies Undermine American Democracy

Here is a talk I just tracked down...
 If you think our elected officials should understand and think about these issues chip in a few $$$'s to my State House campaign and help send a truckloader to the Gold Dome in Atlanta Georgia.

Now I'm going to go load some trucks.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What I learned on 9/11...

Paul Tilich wrote that the first duty of love is to listen. Try to be thoughtful to your social media friends and followers, however they may choose to reflect and remember 9/11. Trauma's cut deep and the response, no matter in what form they appear, are vitally important--in that they need to be heard and respected.
As I've read friends FB posts I can't help but wonder what my Dad would say today, and how he would want me to remember.
The memory of that morning is still clear as yesterday, as Dad and I watched the second plane hitting the Twin Towers. The fear, anguish, anger and powerlessness of watching from a TV screen in real time swell up from deep inside me, even now. That morning taught me that in politics there is no left and right in the small details; there is only Tyranny and Freedom.
It also taught me that in the day-to-day affairs of the human spirit; there are those who use fear and hatred and fly planes into buildings, and there are men and women who without second thought run towards burning buildings or at hijackers with boxcutters, to protect and help those in need.
The lives lost that day must never be forgotten; but it is important to also do a quick head count and recognize we have nothing to fear from those trying to destroy civil society and attack what we hold dear. There are way too many good people standing in front of Freedom, defending it from tyranny and hatred, in whatever form it heads our way.
The fabric of our nation and the character of our people is quite strong.
That is what I'd tell me Dad as I look back. I'd tell him that the fabric of our nation, and the character of our people, was stronger than I had ever realized before that day. It was a lesson about the American experience which Dad had always tried to articulate to me; which I'm only now appreciating.
So lets just say I think he's smiling down on me today; with that enthusiastic wag of a finger and grin he'd get when he was excited, saying to me, "now you see what I've been trying to teach you!"
Those simple but profound details of fact about our nation and the character of our people, that one simple lesson is something I feel like many of us learned for the first time that day. Sadly its a truth about our nation and our people that doesn't get a lot of attention in our consumer driven media culture. It is a truth we learned that day in the actions of so many brave men and women, many of whom lost their lives as we watched on our TV screens.
It is a lesson our culture seems to have already forgotten; but it still remains true about our nation and our people nevertheless, I am certain of it. And for that, I am thankful.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Who said blogging was dead?

My alarm clock goes off in less than 3 hours so I don't know why I'm posting this.  But I'm a blogger and this is a really quick point.

I'm pondering (and learning) from Noah Smith responding to Brad Delong's excellent dialogue (which left me utterly perplexed and in need of a second reading) on philosophy of probability.  Then before I get a chance to take a deep breath the next thing to cross my RSS feed is round 4 (I think) of Dean Baker vs Jared Berstein on corporate income taxes.

I haven't even had a chance to digest any of these items at a level they deserve (I just hit save and will be reading all the posts again tomorrow with fresh eyes) but all I can wonder is: who actually thinks blogging is dead?

While its not like with was pre- Facebook and Twitter where micro-blogging sucks up most of the navel gazing and self congratulatory cheerleading; there are still quality blogs and bloggers.  The ability of smart people to write smart things and the likes of folks like me to read, follow up, ponder, link, and question--otherwise known as learning from said smart folks and trying to point other people to and draw attention to smart things happening online--is still very much alive.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Good Hayek and the failure of my State Rep to learn from him.

So the other day Brad Delong sends us over to Robert Solow to remind us of the difference between the Good Hayek and the Bad Hayek
there was a Good Hayek and a Bad Hayek. The Good Hayek was a serious scholar who was particularly interested in the role of knowledge in the economy (and in the rest of society). Since knowledgeabout technological possibilities, about citizens’ preferences, about the interconnections of these, about still moreis inevitably and thoroughly decentralized, the centralization of decisions is bound to generate errors and then fail to correct them. The consequences for society can be calamitous, as the history of central planning confirms. That is where markets come in. All economists know that a system of competitive markets is a remarkably efficient way to aggregate all that knowledge while preserving decentralization.
But the Good Hayek also knew that unrestricted laissez-faire is unworkable. It has serious defects: successful actors reach for monopoly power, and some of them succeed in grasping it; better-informed actors can exploit the relatively ignorant, creating an inefficiency in the process; the resulting distribution of income may be grossly unequal and widely perceived as intolerably unfair; industrial market economies have been vulnerable to excessively long episodes of unemployment and underutilized capacity, not accidentally but intrinsically; environmental damage is encouraged as a way of reducing private coststhe list is long. Half of Angus Burgin’s book is about the Good Hayek’s attempts to formulate and to propagate a modified version of laissez-faire that would work better and meet his standards for a liberal society. (Hayek and his friends were never able to settle on a name for this kind of society: “liberal” in the European tradition was associated with bad old Manchester liberalism, and neither “neo-liberal” nor “libertarian” seemed to be satisfactory.)
The Bad Hayek emerged when he aimed to convert a wider public. Then, as often happens, he tended to overreach, and to suggest more than he had legitimately argued. The Road to Serfdom  was a popular success but was not a good book. Leaving aside the irrelevant extremes, or even including them, it would be perverse to read the history, as of 1944 or as of now, as suggesting that the standard regulatory interventions in the economy have any inherent tendency to snowball into “serfdom.” The correlations often run the other way. Sixty-five years later, Hayek’s implicit prediction is a failure, rather like Marx’s forecast of the coming “immiserization of the working class.”

It reminded me of one of the reasons why, at a very basic level, I'm running for State House.   

My current State Representative has failed to utilize social media and public forums in the district to bring information to the district about what is actually going on under the Gold Dome.  In fact within two months of starting my campaign I had already organized more events in the district than he had his entire two years in office.

Check out his Facebook Page--no mention or real engagement with the issues, just lots of pictures and people being honored.  He has fundamentally failed to grasp what the Good Hayek has to teach us about how information is and should be transferred so that inefficiencies and corruption can be reduced and problems can be properly solved.  

Unfortunately the Gold Dome is a massive black box where what the Republicans running the state actually think is hidden behind platitudes and right wing nonsense.  There is no way to figure out where the compromises can be found, nor a way to shine a light on the bad ideas running around as legitimate--when anyone paying attention can tell they aren't.

While my opponent may be a nice guy, he was failed to understand the Good Hayek and is harming the ability of our markets and our Government to efficiently function.  

Look, i'm no fool, hosting meet up's and discussion groups throughout the year in the district; having an active social media that creates a Habermasian space online for discussion and debate; working to pass IRV so we don't waste money and time in run-offs (that no one votes in anyways); these things aren't going to radically reform our broken process.  But these are the small positive steps towards creating more efficient transmission of information to and from the political class and the citizenry;which helps to sustain and strengthen a market based society for a better more responsive Government and improved social outcomes for all of us.  

Its either we shine a light on the corruption, waste, and mismanagement and start to better address the massive inequities and lack of responsiveness from the political class--or we'll see pitchforks doing the heavy lifting for us.

I don't think my State Rep really understands whats going on at a structural level.  That is why I decided to work to take his job.  Chip in a few dollars if you'd like to help.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Its about jobs--we haven't been creating enough of them for a long time.

All the bad things you see on your TV and in your culture and community that you don't like are in ways the result of a longterm jobs deficit. 
We’ve been experiencing a stagnant economy in varying degrees for more than 40 years now.
I have written about this before. The austerity caucus in both parties has been at this for decades.

It's part of the reason why we've chosen to mass warehouse young males with lots of energy and nothing productive to do.  We haven't created meaningful work for them. The wage stagnation and wage inequality we've seen has been a policy choice, not the whims of a free market.

The militarization of police--directed at young black males predominantly--has been systematic and ongoing and has intellectual roots from right wing radicals.

I mean just look at Michael Brown's high school; its disgusting.   Its about an agenda of creating a permanent underclass.

The answer is to put good jobs and good infrastructure back on the agenda.  Thats why I'm running for State House here in Georgia.

You can chip in to my campaign if you'd like to be a part of this movement to take back our country from an out of touch political class.  This is about movement building.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


"He took risks and said things most of us only think. For it, for taking the risks we all want to and bearing his weaknesses alongside his passion and poise, he is more than respected, he is loved."

Monday, August 11, 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

#ActOnClimate = Protecting property rights, public health, and bringing more efficiency to energy markets

I was at lunch in the district today (I'm running for State House) and was asked about my thoughts on the new steps to #ActOnClimate by the White House. 

Taking action on climate-disrupting carbon emissions will protect property rights, public health, and bring more efficiency to energy markets as true costs to consumers can lead to better allocation of resources and smarter investments in the energy sector. This is a win for public health and economic productivity.
These clean air safeguards will spur innovation and accelerate the clean energy economy to create good jobs here in Georgia-- protecting the health our children, protecting our property rights from polluters, and protecting our state's long term economic security in a tough global economy. 

Georgia Power’s Plant Scherer is America’s single dirtiest power plant–it dumped over 21 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air we breathe in 2012 alone. 

While my opponent spends his time defending policies that have delivered neither prosperity nor fiscal stability I'm focused on our future.  (If you would like to help elect a progressive in Georgia chip in $5, $25... $250(???) today!

Here is President Obama on new steps to #ActOnClimate by reducing carbon pollution from power plants:

I also liked what The Economist Magazine had to say on the new EPA rules: Climate change: In praise of second best | The Economist 
Assuming the plan is carried out (and it will doubtless suffer multiple legal challenges), it would reduce total American carbon emissions by around 5%. That is a lot for one measure, though tiny compared with the overall cuts required to rein in climate change. American power plants have already reduced their emissions by 15% since 2005, so requiring them to cut the same amount over a longer period is not too arduous. The plan will raise electricity prices and kill some jobs, but it will also save lives, most immediately by cutting particulate pollution.
It is far from the best policy. Ideally, Congress would have passed a carbon tax or created a carbon market, putting a price on emissions and letting buyers and sellers decide on the cheapest way to reduce them. Instead, the government is telling a particular sector (electricity providers) how much to cut and when—and then adding layers of complexity by allowing different states different ceilings. As a method of dealing with a problem, this has all the attractions of a blackout in a blizzard.
But it became inevitable once Congress rejected a better approach—cap-and-trade legislation—during Mr Obama’s first term. The current approach is at least better than nothing, the most likely alternative. In climate policy, delay is rarely good. The more carbon is in the atmosphere, the more expensive it is to cut back and the more damage it does in the meantime. Anyway, Mr Obama’s command-and-control approach does not forestall setting up a carbon market later.
The second-best approach is dearer but not dramatically worse than the best would have been. Power plants and electricity consumers would bear the main burden either way. And the plan’s benefits (over $50 billion according to the administration, mostly from improving people’s health) still outweigh its costs (less than $9 billion, mostly from higher prices). One hitch is that the costs are all incurred in America whereas many of the benefits are spread round the world.
In short, the proposal is a net gain as it stands—but the international response could make its benefits bigger. China’s government is mulling over a national cap on carbon emissions, which would mean it is going further than Mr Obama. The regime in Beijing will, and should, impose such a cap in its national self-interest. But China’s leaders like diplomatic cover. If Mr Obama’s new rules help cajole the world’s largest polluter to do more to cut emissions, then second-best would be much better than nothing.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Help send this blogger to the Gold Dome in Atlanta.

I've getting last minute pleas for contributions before the midnight deadline by email from campaigns. 

So here is mine... 

I'm not like the other guy running; I spend more time learning about the policy choices we face, and more time in the district listening to citizens concerns about those policy choices. 
If you are fed up with the status quo under the Gold Dome chip in $5, $25, $250...and lets go win an election.

Did I mention I'm endorsed by Howard Dean's crew up in Vermont: Democracy for America?
Contribute a few dollars and lets work to rebuild our Democracy and build power to take on the organized money that is stealing our Government from the people.
Plus Jason Carter needs candidates down ballot that will help get out the Vote for him this November. 
He won't tell any "Whats the Deal" jokes so he needs troops on the ground more than happy to make them for him.  Plus your contribution can help me buy cool organizing tools like this...

Which i'm a little under $2000 short of being able to afford.

So chip in today and help turn Georgia blue.

If a critic of ObamaCare made a coherent argument in the woods... would anyone believe it actually happened?

So I've seen a wave of ObamaCare criticism hit my Facebook feed of late.

Criticism of the Affordable Care Act is 3 miles wide and two inches deep--I spend five minutes with a critic and the nuances and contradictions within their critique appear immediately. While we need to improve aspects of the ACA we are much better off with it in place. 

About 94.5% (yes exactly 94.5%) of the people who crticize the Afforadable Care Act have zero comprehension of the unsustainable health care system we had before the ACA; nor a grasp of the amalgam of history, health economics, sociology, and policy forecasting of health care costs/treatments that require grasping when discussing health care reform. 

If you don't understand the origins of our insurance system, nor basic aspects of the ACA, maybe you should keep your opinions to yourself and pick up a book (I can recommend a few if you need a place to start.)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Good reads, my state house campaign, and a new Populism in America.

Welcome to the weekend!  Brought to you by the labor movement.  Here are a few items that might occupy some of your free time this weekend.  Enjoy! 

Some good reads to start your weekend:

Instead of Austerity and Slogans, Vets Need a Fully Funded and Accountable VA | The Nation 

Gubernatorial Hopeful Jason Carter Vows Candidacy Free of “What’s the Deal” Jokes 

Leaving Homeless Person On The Streets: $31,065. Giving Them Housing: $10,051. | ThinkProgress 

The 6 Principles of the New Populism (and the Establishment’s Nightmare) 

China's Two Problems with the Uyghurs 

Taxes and the Public Purpose « Multiplier Effect

Most Income Inequality: Congressional Districts - Bloomberg Best (and Worst) 

Republican Colonel Blasts GOP For Focusing On Benghazi Instead Of Cheney’s War Crimes

Georgia Looks To Reopen Some Closed Hospitals As ERs : Shots - Health News : NPR

Income Taxes Aren’t Driving Georgians to Change States | Georgia Budget and Policy Institute 

As union membership declines, inequality rises | Economic Policy Institute 

Report says Georgia is No. 40 in senior adult health - Atlanta Business Chronicle

If some of what you read above is depressing its important to remember you can help contribute to the fight to take back our nation from wealth and power.

Action is the important step step to take if you don't want to give up.  Thats why I need your help...

Fight organized money and stand up for working people by chipping in to my State House campaign. Be it $5, $25, or $500 your money will go directly in to a grassroots effort to bring about some of that new reality based-pragmatic populism is that sweeping across the country.

Something for your viewing pleasure...

Need a book? (buying via my link gets this blogger a small %)

If you are looking for a book or two to dive into this weekend here are a few new books sitting on my bedside table at the moment...

Coming Up Short: Working-Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty

  The Classical Liberal Constitution

What Should We Be Worried About?: Real Scenarios That Keep Scientists Up at Night

 Lucian Freud: Eyes Wide Open (Icons)

  Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Bailout Botched by Centrists

Very good podcast interview over at ProPublica.  Take a listen...

Podcast: A Bailout Botched by Centrists - ProPublica
If former Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has faced his share of criticism for his rocky tenure, Jesse Eisinger says, his new book makes clear that most of it should be borne by his old boss, President Obama.
Following up on his unsparing examination of the book, "Stress Test," last week, Eisinger joins Steve Engelberg in the Storage Closet studio to expand on Obama’s missed opportunities in the wake of the financial crisis.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The State School Superintendent Race here in Georgia is an argument for IRV!

Tonight is the GBP debate. Watch Televised Debates on GPB *TONIGHT*  State School Superintendent Race  - Republicans: (6-7pm) - Democrats: (7-8pm).

With way too many candidates and the need to waste money holding a runoff the State School Superintendent Race is a perfect example of the need for IRV (Instant Runoff Voting) in Georgia

How does Instant Runoff Voting work?

For you Democracy for America fans out there here is Howard Dean making the case for IRV a few years back.

Watch Televised Debates on GPB *TONIGHT*  State School Superintendent Race  - Republicans: (6-7pm) - Democrats: (7-8pm).  But then think about how you'd vote through a rank ordering of your preferences rather than who you think can/should win.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Background to crisis in Ukraine

To put some context for myself to what has been happening lately in the Ukraine I've been picking up some history books.

I highly recommend this book I'm reading at the moment Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

11 Things The Senate Should Remember While Voting On The Minimum Wage

Think Progress has a run down on why increasing them minimum wage is a good idea.
1. Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 and indexing it to inflation would raise the wages of 28 million workers by $35 billion. Raising the minimum wage would provide Americans who work hard a better opportunity to get ahead while giving the economy a needed shot in the arm.
2. In 2013, CEOs made 774 times the pay of minimum wage workers. While the top CEOs made an average of $11.7 million in 2013, full-time workers making the minimum wage took home only $15,080 a year.
3. Nearly two-thirds of all minimum wage workers are women.Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would benefit 15 million women.
4. One million veterans would benefit from a minimum wage increase. After risking their lives to protect our country, 1 in 10 veterans working in America today are paid wages low enough that they would receive a raise if the minimum wage is raised to $10.10.
5. Raising the minimum wage will cut government spending on food stamps. Millions of workers earning the minimum wage make so little that they qualify for food stamps (SNAP benefits). This, in effect, amounts to taxpayers subsidizing corporations paying low-wages. Raising wages for low-income workers would actually cut government spending on SNAP by $4.6 billion a year, or $46 billion over the next 10 years, as workers earn enough on their own to no longer rely on the program.
6. Minimum wage workers are older than you think. Nearly 90 percent of minimum wage workers are 20 years or older. The average minimum wage worker is 35 years old. A higher minimum wage doesn’t just mean more spending money for a teenager, it means greater economic security for the millions of Americans who rely on it as their primary income.
7. Businesses see the value in increasing the minimum wage.Nearly 60 percent of small business owners recognize that raising the minimum wage would benefit businesses and support raising it. In fact, 82 percent of those surveyed don’t pay any of their workers the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
8. It won’t hurt job creation. States have raised the minimum wage 91 times since 1987 during periods of high unemployment, and in more than half of those instances the unemployment rate actually fell. Over600 economists signed a letter agreeing that a minimum wage increase doesn’t hurt job creation.
9. In polls, nearly three-quarters of Americans support a minimum wage increase to $10.10. Pew Research found that 73 percent of Americans back a minimum wage increase.
10. Millions of children will be more secure. If we raise the minimum wage to $10.10, 21 million children will have at least one parent whose pay will go up.
11. A $10.10 minimum wage means a $16.1 billion boost for people of colorRaising the minimum wage is a matter of racial justice: people of color are far more likely to work minimum wage jobsand those who do are far more likely to be in poverty. A $10.10 minimum wage would lift three and a half million people of color out of poverty and add $16.1 billion to their incomes.
BOTTOM LINE: Over the next few days, as Senators take to the chamber floor to debate and then vote on this legislation that would help the economy and millions of American workers, they should make sure they keep in mind these vital facts on why the minimum wage should be raised to $10.10. A vote against increasing the minimum wage is quite simply a vote against working Americans.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Jim in 2014 update; what exactly are those contributions buying you?!

So to give my blog readers who are supporting my campaign for State House an idea about where those dollars are going I wanted to post some examples of Facebook posts that I'm turning into ads.

These ads are cheap highly targeted mechanisms which allow me, for penny's on the dollars to target local demographics and test messaging and ideas with groups of voters i'm trying to organize and engage between now and election day.

Here are examples of my micro targeting in action.

This post on the need to create a top notch Pre-K system in Georgia is very popular (almost 26,000 people have seen this ad with over 100 video views).

This post on the stagnant minimum wage I just posted up is getting a lot of traction.

Finding out about fee hikes is not making local students (nor their parents) happy.

This image was a hit.

Please chip in at any level.  Be it $5, $15, $25, or $500.  Getting posts like this one (which is basically helping increase sign ups for a the email list of a city in my district) help engage voters in and around my district and help build some real local democracy all in one swoop.

Much of these ad buys are getting local news in front of voters who have no idea whats happening at the local level for just a few dollars a pop.

It also helps build my name recognition so that as my canvass teams start working the district and as those mail pieces start hitting towards the end of the campaign I won't be a stranger.  I'll be the truckloading Teamster who wants to work his ass off for voters across the district.

I've already got more "Likes" than my opponent's State Rep Fan Page and I've already organized more events in the district than he has done his entire two year term in office.  I'm going to outwork him; the question is can I keep pace in fundraising so that I can get my message out to voters.  So far i'm keeping pace good enough to start buying a few ads.

This is also allowing me to engage with young Republicans on Facebook locally for some really fruitful discussions where I'm able to harness work from groups like Demos and put them in front of young minds who don't see quality work on Fox News. I get snarky comments when I then engage with some serious dialogue.

Which inspired this post as I was headed to work when the young man first commented.

So please chip in now.  Your contribution will help me engage and build an alliance of educated voters between now and election day.  Help me lay the groundwork for an educated, engaged, and mobilized community locally that will be hitting the polls next November.  We are going to win this seat!  I'm willing to knock on as many doors, hold as many meet ups and discussion groups, and debate as many Ron Paul republicans as it takes to make the case that the GOP is running the state of Georgia into the ground.

Your financial contribution will help make this a win in November for sure!  First we get the truckloader elected; that way we show the Kroger cashier, the Starbucks barista, and the Waffle House waitress how they too can run and win through hard work, good organizing, and smart policy.
This isn't rocket science--but we have to lead the way so others see how to beat the 1% at a game we've sadly conceded completely to a political class who is out of touch with the real struggles of working people.

So thank you in advance for your contribution to my campaign. I think its an investment that will reap good returns over the long term for democracy in Georgia.  This isn't just about winning one state house district---this is about building a movement that spreads across Georgia and the south!