Letter From Claverack via the train… March 27, 2017 The future we can almost touch…

It is nearing sunset; I am riding north after a day in the city, on the 5:47 out of New York Penn.  Todd, one of our most venerable conductors, is conducting a game of trivia in which all of us who ride in the café car are participating.  It is lovingly raucous.  Some are answering the question before Todd finishes asking the question.

The commute, I don’t miss.  The people I do.  There is a mixture tonight of old regulars and new regulars.  Annette, of Rhinebeck, is screaming answers and folks are singing the songs which are the answers to some of the questions.  It is a moment wrapped in warmth.

The sun slips beneath the Catskills in a glow of burnt orange.  With Trivia Time now over, we have slipped back to reading, working, with more than a few yawns stretching faces wide.

As in every day there seems to be a necessary amount of political conversations.  Our google groups email list for the Empire Regulars, got slightly sidetracked into politics today until Maria, our estimable moderator, stepped in and held up the stop sign.  As always, when Maria decrees, the Regulars accede.

While I am far from politically indifferent, the cascade of commentary is wearing. This is going to be a long, long haul and we must husband our strength over time and be laser focused.

Just before I boarded the train, Andrew Mer, a fellow consultant and I had a brief meeting while we discussed the Miller Center a bit and some other things.  He said something I thought wise.  Trump’s election has laid bare the fissures in our society we have papered over.

And Mr. Trump is helping underscore the fissures.

The attempt to repeal and replace has gone down in flames and there is even a tentative reaching out to Democrats to see what actually be done as the Freedom Caucus is intransient.

California farmers, enthusiastic supporters of Trump, are nonplussed at his immigration intentions.  One said: I thought Trump was kidding.  He is now anxious because his farm in California runs because of illegal immigrants.

The agony of Rockford, Illinois and other rust belt cities is now at the surface and the failure to deal with that, under both Democrats and Republicans, is a national shame, building for generations.  We did not retrain people for other jobs to replace the ones not returning.

And the jobs are not returning until we look at and adapt to the revolution technology is shoving down our throats and figure out what else we can do.

The industrial revolution is coming to an end; whatever history calls this one, we need to find a new way.

The coal jobs in West Virginia probably aren’t coming back.  Machines are mining what men once did.  Driverless cars will toss aside the long-distance drivers, once a way to climb an economic rung.  Not today, not tomorrow but someday, in a future we can almost touch, those jobs will disappear and we are not moving to educate all those people for something different.

The Trump Revolution is not dissimilar to what happened as the Industrial Revolution began the change.  People rioted.  Today they voted.  If we don’t address the systemic issues, the next step will be riots.

The hopeful part is we somehow weathered the arrival of the Industrial Revolution and accomplished incredible things.  In the last hundred years, for those in the west, our life spans have doubled, we are more educated, our lives are quite fantastic compared to that of our grandparents.  There are friends of mine who are alive because of what has been achieved.

And we need to focus on the fact we are in a revolutionary period.  Trump isn’t looking there nor was Hillary Clinton.  Our politicians on both sides are facing the past, not the future.

The brilliance of Kennedy was he painted a picture of what could be, not what was.

We have raised the lid on the septic tank and need to clean it now.

What we are achieving technologically in this time has the promise of catapulting us to another level and very few seem to realize it and fewer still imagine how to use it for the common good.

 

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