Friday, January 31, 2020

ANS -- I was undecided. Then I saw #NeverWarren trending.

This is a short article about the media dissing candidates.  We should not be doing that.  Just say what you like about your candidate, or even where you disagree with other candidates -- but don't say they are horrible people.  We have to stop the circular firing squad.  

How social media pushed this voter off the fence.

Photographer: Frederic J. Brown (Source: AFP/Getty Images)

For months, I watched slightly qualified person after slightly more qualified person enter the Presidential race. I was underwhelmed as I waited for that 'aha' moment. The moment when someone would enter the race and I'd throw myself into singing their praises with reckless abandon. That moment never came. And then I saw #NeverWarren trending on Twitter.

For all of Bernie Sanders' belief that women can be elected president, he has done an objectively terrible job of tempering his base when they vilify women frontrunners.

The fervor over Elizabeth Warren's prior Republican affiliation sounded familiar — a little too familiar. A former Bernie supporter in 2016 (who voted for Clinton in the general election), I've decided to throw my support behind Elizabeth Warren in 2020. For all of Bernie Sanders' belief that women can be elected president, he has done an objectively awful job of tempering his base when they vilify women frontrunners.

I believe Elizabeth Warren to be the true blue progressive she presents herself to be. I believe she is qualified to lead this country based on both her experience in Congress and her stated commitment to marginalized people and people of color, to include Black folks explicitly (for additional context on why POC and Black people are not synonymous, might I recommend this piece by Lecia Michelle). And, if I'm being honest, I see my own political evolution in her story. Being a born and bred Alabamian, I've embraced far more conservative beliefs than the ones I have today.

Did Bernie Sanders say a woman cannot be President, as alleged? I really don't know. But neither do most of you.

As a matter of fact, I once thought Elizabeth Warren too radical. The year was 2012 and I was living in Boston. Warren was running for her Senate seat against the incumbent, Republican Scott Brown. I can still recall the numerous TV ads about her ultra-liberal ways. What I can't recall are talks of her being a stealth democrat or a snake, as some have recently implied. So, imagine my surprise to learn of her conservative beginnings from the same folks who amplified the Goldwater girl days of Hillary Clinton. Did Bernie Sanders say a woman cannot be President, as alleged? I really don't know. But neither do most of you.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Here is what we do know: two people had a conversation a little over a year ago. They clearly had different takeaways from said conversation. You know what else we know? The current administration is detaining children and families indefinitelyfreezing out refugeesworking to drastically reduce the number of families who can access food stampsboosting wealth among the richest Americans and, to put a cherry on this awesomely terrible sundae, leveraging the Office of the President for his own political gain.

#NeverWarren is a consequence of the media (with the help of Russian bots) manipulating the narrative on Warren's electability and her commitment to progressive policies. Elizabeth Warren may not be a perfect candidate. But guess what? No one is. I sat on the fence, for nearly a year, waiting on the right candidate to emerge and, in an instant, she did.

Like Warren, I hope we all have a few skeletons lurking about — serving as reminders of who we used to be and how far we've come.

If Bernie Sanders wins the nomination, I will obviously vote for him. But I will not abandon a good candidate because of a few skeletons in their closet. While I have no plans to run for office myself, I'm increasingly aware of the many questionable opinions I once held — political and otherwise. But I choose to see them as reminders of my own growth. Like Warren, I hope we all have a few skeletons lurking about — serving as reminders of who we used to be and how far we've come.

Erica Rice


Middle-aged millennial working in violence prevention. Former moderate; social worker; news junkie. Loving dog mom. Twitter: @its_justme_E

ANS -- Tesla: there’s none so blind as those who will not see…

This is a short article about the Tesla.  I include it here because "business people" keep saying Tesla hasn't got a chance.  Oil barons keep saying it hasn't got a chance.  It's doing pretty well though....
the comments were both very enthusiastic and very negative -- and each disapproving of the other side. Commentors calling each other fools for supporting or not supporting it... We'll see who's right....

I've been saying this for a long time, and I'll say it again: the vast majority of analysts were not only overly simplistic in their assessment of Tesla, but completely wrong. On Christmas Eve, the company's share price passed $420, precisely the value at which, in August of last year, Elon Musk said he was considering taking his company out of a market that obviously had trouble understanding it, and that he had secured financing to do so at precisely $420 per share, in a tweet that cost him $20 million personally, along with another $20 million for his company.

For some time now, I've been discussing Tesla's valuation with fellow academics who specialize in finance and strategy: irresponsible skeptics trying to convince their students that the company is overvalued, that its price is the result of some kind of collective hallucination, and that Elon Musk is little more than a charlatan who has amazingly managed to fool a lot of the people for a lot of the time. For a company founded in 2003 and that went public in 2010, things aren't looking too bad at all. At what point, to borrow Matthew Henry's famous question, will the deaf hear, the blind see, and the skeptics understand that we are talking about a different kind of company, one that can only be assessed on its quest to change the world we live in?

Tesla is today's true automotive trendsetter. Its exclusive commitment to developing electric cars, instead of irresponsible hybrids, has forced the industry to speed up its plans to dispense with internal combustion engines as soon as possible. The interior of more and more cars even look like the Model 3, no longer stuffed with useless clocks and buttons like the cockpit of a jet, but opting instead for a large central display and a completely redefined interface. And far from being an expensive, exclusive or a minority design icon, it turns out that the Model 3 is selling like hot cakes around the world as the company strives to build new factories in China or Germany.

When Tesla launches a new model, such as its Cybertruck, the industry comes to an abrupt halt, and for a while, there is talk of nothing else: controversy and argument… while almost 200,000 people slap down a deposit to reserve one, even though no specific delivery date has been set. In short, Tesla launches revolutionary products that change the rules of the game, and all those who initially ridiculed the company fall over themselves to copy them.

In addition to redefining electric cars, the company continues to pioneer ways to recharge them at home with clean energy, while solving South Australia's generating problems with batteries in record time, and above all, is able to generate unwavering customer loyalty of the kind that comes not just from knowing you've bought a great product that improves over time, but because you're taking part in a project that will change the world.

What is a company capable of turning entire industries upside down and ultimately changing the world worth? According to the markets on Tuesday, $420 per share, making it worth $75 billion, greater than traditional carmakers such as Ford or GM. But in practice, Tesla is worth more, much more. Understanding this comes down to really wanting to hear and to see. And that means accepting the evidence and that one was wrong, which in turn requires a certain level of intelligence that still seems to be sadly lacking in many quarters.

Friday, January 24, 2020

ANS -- Finland ends homelessness and provides shelter for all in need

This is interesting.  They have done away with most of the homelessness in Finland.  they did it by using a "Housing first" concept.  


Finland ends homelessness and provides shelter for all in need

In Finland, the number of homeless people has fallen sharply. The reason: The country applies the "Housing First" concept. Those affected by homelessness receive a small apartment and counselling – without any preconditions. 4 out of 5 people affected thus make their way back into a stable life. And: All this is cheaper than accepting homelessness.

Read this article in German here.

Finland is the only country in Europe where homelessness is in decline

In 2008 you could see tent villages and huts standing between trees in the parks of Helsinki. Homeless people had built makeshift homes in the middle of Finland's capital city. They were exposed to harsh weather conditions.

Since the 1980s, Finnish governments had been trying to reduce homelessness. Short-term shelters were built. However, long-term homeless people were still left out. There were too few emergency shelters and many affected people did not manage to get out of homelessness: They couldn't find jobs – without a housing address. And without any job, they couldn't find a flat. It was a vicious circle. Furthermore, they had problems applying for social benefits. All in all, homeless people found themselves trapped.

But in 2008 the Finnish government introduced a new policy for the homeless: It started implementing the "Housing First" concept. Since then the number of people affected has fallen sharply.

Finland has set itself a target: Nobody should have to live on the streets – every citizen should have a residence.

And the country is successful: It is the only EU-country where the number of homeless people is declining.

How everyone is given residence in Finland

It is NGOs such as the "Y-Foundation" that provide housing for people in need. They take care of the construction themselves, buy flats on the private housing market and renovate existing flats. The apartments have one to two rooms. In addition to that, former emergency shelters have been converted into apartments in order to offer long-term housing.

"It was clear to everyone that the old system wasn't working; we needed radical change," says Juha Kaakinen, Director of the Y-Foundation.

Homeless people turn into tenants with a tenancy agreement. They also have to pay rent and operating costs. Social workers, who have offices in the residential buildings, help with financial issues such as applications for social benefits.

Juha Kaakinen is head of the Y-Foundation. The NGO receives discounted loans from the state to buy housing. Additionally, social workers caring for the homeless and future tenants are paid by the state. The Finnish lottery, on the other hand, supports the NGO when it buys apartments on the private housing market. The Y-Foundation also receives regular loans from banks. The NGO later uses the rental income to repay the loans.

"We had to get rid of the night shelters and short-term hostels we still had back then. They had a very long history in Finland, and everyone could see they were not getting people out of homelessness. We decided to reverse the assumptions." (Juha Kaakinen, Director of the Y-Foundation)

That's how the "Housing First" concept works

The policy applied in Finland is called "HousingFirst". It reverses conventional homeless aid. More commonly, those affected are expected to look for a job and free themselves from their psychological problems or addictions. Only then they get help in finding accommodation.

"Housing First", on the other hand, reverses the path: Homeless people get a flat – without any preconditions. Social workers help them with applications for social benefits and are available for counselling in general. In such a new, secure situation, it is easier for those affected to find a job and take care of their physical and mental health.

The result is impressive: 4 out of 5 homeless people will be able to keep their flat for a long time with "Housing First" and lead a more stable life.

In the last 10 years, the "Housing First" programme provided 4,600 homes in Finland. In 2017 there were still about 1,900 people living on the streets – but there were enough places for them in emergency shelters so that they at least didn't have to sleep outside anymore.

Providing people with apartments is cheaper than leaving them on the street

Creating housing for people costs money. In the past 10 years, 270 million euros were spent on the construction, purchase and renovation of housing as part of the "Housing First" programme. However, Juha Kaakinen points out, this is far less than the cost of homelessness itself. Because when people are in emergency situations, emergencies are more frequent: Assaults, injuries, breakdowns. The police, health care and justice systems are more often called upon to step in – and this also costs money.
In comparison, "Housing First" is cheaper than accepting homelessness: Now, the state spends 15,000 euros less per year per homeless person than before.

No miracle cure – but a high success rate

With 4 out of 5 people keeping their flats, "Housing First" is effective in the long run. In 20 percent of the cases, people move out because they prefer to stay with friends or relatives – or because they don't manage to pay the rent. But even in this case they are not dropped. They can apply again for an apartment and are supported again if they wish.

Of course, there is no guarantee for success. Especially homeless women are more difficult to reach: They conceal their emergency situation more often: They live on the streets less frequently and rather stay with friends or acquaintances.

In case of new replublication, please cite Glösel as the Source/Author. The rights to the content remain with the original publisher.
The social democratic magazine covers current political events, both in Austria and in the rest of the world. We view society, state and economy from a progressive, emancipatory point of view. Kontrast casts the gaze of social justice on the world.