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America is angry. If we don’t speak to this anger, we’re in trouble

July 27, 2016 at 6:30 pm

While taking a short break from work this afternoon, I ran into my next door neighbor. She is an older lady who is about as liberal as I am. She said to me, “I’m afraid Trump is going to win.”

Recently, I’ve heard this from a couple of other people as well. It’s wise to never discount intuition—especially when I have the same feeling. So I started thinking about why I feel this way, as we often intuit things before we’re able to explain them. This was how I wrote about how “Donald Trump isn’t going anywhere” in August 2015. This is just how people’s brains work.

So I threw aside the piece I was going to write this week to think about why.

By now we all know that politics is about emotion, yet often we still don’t really understand this. Why?

Because it’s not translating into speaking to the outrage America feels. Because I keep seeing posts and discussions about policy and how Hillary is adopting policy changes. Because we seem to be talking about policy and relying on anti-Trump sentiment. Because we’re not speaking enough to this anger in a way that isn’t anti-Trump.

If we don’t genuinely speak to the anger America is feeling, we’re in a lot of trouble. Here are some examples and some thoughts on how to genuinely acknowledge the very real pain people are expressing.

[caption id="attachment_2132" align="aligncenter" width="640"]The famous moment where Bill Clinton went off script during the 1992 presidential debate. The famous moment where Bill Clinton went off script during the 1992 presidential debate. (Screenshot/YouTube)[/caption]

7 questions for Derek Bauman, 20-year law enforcement veteran, about police shootings

July 11, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Derek Bauman, a law enforcement veteran of over 20 years, is currently serving a suburban Cincinnati police department. He is the president of his department’s patrol officer union and in 2011 was awarded the Medal of Valor for injuries sustained during a felony arrest. He’s a friend of mine who’s very active on social media and advocates for police being more involved in the community. In light of the past week’s tragic shootings, I thought I’d ask him some questions.

How to get to Planet X, the change we desire

July 5, 2016 at 8:29 am

planet_x650Planet X is that place liberals want to be. The planet people like Bernie Sanders talk about. Where we believe Elizabeth Warren lives. It’s where people understand climate change and don’t think it’s the government testing secret weather machine weapons. It’s where racism is understood as a problem, as well as a key driving factor in economic inequality. It’s where reason and fairness and mutual responsibility live and where democracy once grew.

Here’s the rub. You can’t teleport to Planet X.

So how do you get there?

Big businesses are hurting small businesses

June 29, 2016 at 6:39 pm
[caption id="attachment_2112" align="aligncenter" width="650"]'The Big Fish Eat the Little Fish,' satire on the fall of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, 1619. ‘The Big Fish Eat the Little Fish,’ satire on the fall of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, 1619.[/caption]

We often hear that taxes and regulation are hurting small businesses. As a small business owner and someone who talks to a lot of conservatives, I hear this all the time.

Though it has a small kernel of truth to it (a key to most successful marketing), this ignores the larger part of what’s really happening.

What’s hurting small businesses? Big businesses. A few ways they do this are through consolidation, market leverage, technology, temporary jobs, corporate special interests, media, and globalization. They also do this through tax evasion, government capture, and lobbying for regulations that create barriers to entry.

Here’s a closer look at how big businesses are hurting small businesses.

7 questions for John Schaffer, autism advocacy film director

June 28, 2016 at 6:05 pm
[caption id="attachment_2106" align="aligncenter" width="650"]John Schaffer filming Laura Nadine for The Shadow Listener. John Schaffer filming Laura Nadine for The Shadow Listener.[/caption]

John Schaffer is a filmmaker who specializes in movies about people with autism. He is also one of my oldest friends. I’ve admired his work with the autistic for years and have had many late night conversations with him over a few beers. Movies he’s directed include Vectors of Autism: a documentary about Laura Nagle, My Hiccups are Gone,and premiering online on July 1st, The Shadow Listener: A Voice for Autism.

I thought his work in film making and autism advocacy might be interesting to folks here so I thought I’d ask him a few questions.

Why we have a progressive income tax

June 7, 2016 at 1:51 pm

Pictures are a really powerful way to tell a story. If you can find an easy way to explain something through pictures, you can often make great strides in a very short period of time.

One of the things that often gets brought up in conversations with conservatives is this idea of a flat tax. Many conservatives think this is somehow “fair.”

progressive_tax012

Here’s a simple drawing to illustrate why we have a progressive tax and to show how the flat tax is really just a loophole for the wealthy.

Economists discover people don’t behave rationally

May 30, 2016 at 1:28 pm

“Contrary to our original thinking, I’ve come to believe that people don’t behave like the economic textbooks say they should behave,” wrote Dr. Paul Wingfield, an economist at Cato University. “People don’t behave rationally.” Wingfield and his colleague, Dr. Summer Redaction, recently published an article inHigher Economics titled “Outside our corporate […]

Seven things you can do to do fund change

May 27, 2016 at 8:29 am

This election season has been a great time to talk about change and how change happens. Most progressives will agree that we need professionals fighting for change. This means activists have to be able to make a living. When having conversations with people about spending money to influence change, the […]

The people with the least amount of power are the people most likely to use it

May 10, 2016 at 10:42 pm
[caption id="attachment_2080" align="aligncenter" width="650"]Two agents in a contact center (Diana Varisova/Wikimedia). Two agents in a contact center (Diana Varisova/Wikimedia).[/caption]

One of my first jobs was at a call center. It was a while back but something one of the trainers said to us during onboarding stuck with me:

The people with the least amount of power are the people most likely to use it.

What he meant was that people who feel powerless seem to be more likely to try to exert the little power they have. For example, when someone is calling you and their computer is broken, they feel powerless. For this reason, they’re often quite angry and “demandy,” to coin a term. They’ll often demand that you do something immediately, as if somehow this is going to fix things faster.

Perhaps this lesson has stuck with me because of how often I’ve observed it to be true. Why care? Because I think this has a lot to do with the current state of politics. And if you recognize it, it can help you have better political conversations.

The cultural revolution you’ve probably never heard of

May 6, 2016 at 10:03 pm
[caption id="attachment_2070" align="aligncenter" width="650"]Pair programming, an agile development technique used by XP (Extreme programming). Pair programming, an agile development technique used by XP (Lisamarie Babik/Wikimedia).[/caption]

In the 1990s and early 2000s something happened in the software development world, something that wasn’t good. Software development fell victim to the bean counters and micromanagers of the world and followed a project management script known as the “waterfall method.” The waterfall method was fine for projects that were simple and well-defined, but many many software projects fell out of this realm with either changing requirements, or trying to understand new technology—or sometimes both at the same time.

As a result, many software development projects in the ‘90s were organizational nightmares. Much of the purpose of developing software to begin with (i.e., why are we building this?) was lost as organizations devolved into procedural nightmares and territory fights.

This is the short story of the agile revolution—a term you may have heard of. But you probably didn’t realize was a cultural revolution.