What kind of activism does your community need?

It’s summer– if you’re one of our academic readers, you may finally have the feeling that your head is above water and you can start paying attention to the world again.  If you’re not an academic, this post still applies to you.  :)

Right now, there’s a huge groundswell of support for the resistance.  Change is finally possible.  People want to do things, aren’t sure what to do.

(There may also be some burn-out given how it seems like we’re treading water and still being dragged under.  But things would be much worse if we weren’t resisting at all.  Hang in there!)

What best to do depends on where you live… blue states often have organizations and networks.  Groups tend to know what is out there and they’ve got connections.  It’s pretty easy to join something that matches your interests and become a foot soldier for justice.

Unfortunately, even liberal cities in red states may not have these kinds of networks. Instead they may have lots of separate little groups that each do their own thing.  This ends up leading to duplication of effort, especially if, for example, the local democratic party is small and disorganized and hasn’t tried to pull things together.

There are some things that you can do in these situations that may have a big effect:

Just figuring out what the groups are and introducing them to each other can multiply the effects of what each group is doing.  Leaders can coordinate on bigger events.  They can let each other know what’s going on.  They can do better crowd-sourcing of simple things.  They can share effort.  First you need to find out what these groups *are* and how to contact them.  A more advanced step would be to invite all of the leaders to a leaders meeting so that they can meet each other and share their abilities and needs across the community.  My DH nudged the local dems to do this in our area.  My sister got together the leaders in her major city– she rented out one of the big library spaces and put out the call.  It’s possible this has already been done where you live which is great, but if my sister’s major red state (blue) city was fragmented, then yours may be too.

Another problem with some of these organizations is that they don’t realize some of the problems that they have with their systems.  For example, our local dems had no idea that they had a huge backlog of people signing up to join from their webpage back from November until DH met with the head of the dems in January or February and asked her to look into it.  Turns out their automated email system wasn’t working and they’d had no idea.  If things aren’t running smoothly, sometimes it just takes a small check to find that there’s been a technical glitch.  If you’ve tried to join a group and met with silence, it may be worth following up.  There may be other systems that could benefit from a little bit of streamlining.

Both of the above in our town resulted from a 30 min meeting DH had with the head of the local dems.

More standard things you can do (in order of how hard they seem to us):

  1. Check your voter registration.  Register to vote
  2. Get on a weekly mailing list and follow their instructions (or a subset of their instructions)
  3. Fax
  4. Call
  5. Find and visit the local groups in your city
    1. Figure out who is doing things well and join them
    2. Figure out who is doing things poorly and fix them (either via nudging or taking over small parts– nobody seems to get upset when you fix their technical problems).  Make sure if you take this step that you’re actually helping/doing the work and not just bro-splaining that people are “doing it wrong”.
    3. Connect local groups to each other
  6. Get other people to be active.  I haven’t yet figured out how to get the bros who complain (loudly, in the hallway) but do nothing to lift a single finger, but there are a lot of people out there who want to do stuff but either need a little nudging or a little direction.  Talk to folks– you might be surprised!
  7. Go to protests
  8. Become a voter registrar for your state
    1. Register voters
    2. Get other people to register voters!
  9. Call harder
  10. Write letters to the editor
  11. Figure out where your rep is going to be, be there, and say something
  12. Do a district office visit with your representatives
  13. Start your own #indivisible or #resist group
  14. Run for local office
  15. Run for state office
  16. Run for federal office

BTW, today (Wednesday) is national “Call your senators about the AHCA day”.  Here’s a link from 5calls.  If you can’t get through and would rather fax, you can do that here.

Grumpy nation– what am I missing?  What resources have you found or are you using?  What else should/could we be doing?  Suggestions for activism links?

Musings on decreased childcare costs

With DC2 going to public school right away instead of private school, we’ll be paying a lot less for childcare.  DC2 will be in the after school program, but that’s only $120/month give or take, and DC1 has aged out of that program so really it just cancels out what we had been spending on DC1.  There will also be 3 months of daycamp next summer, but that shouldn’t be much more than the cost of daycare would have been.

What to do with the extra money?

The mortgage is gone.  We’re maxing out our retirement options (except we’re not doing backdoor Roths).  We currently have no debt.  We have a healthy (one might argue bloated) cash emergency fund and a secondary emergency fund in taxable stocks.  We’re not saving for anything in particular.  DH’s job situation is highly precarious, mine is very stable.  We spend a little bit more than half our take-home pay each year now that the mortgage is gone.

Here’s some possibilities:

  • The amount we’re saving annually  is about equivalent to 1.5 months of DH’s take-home pay.  If/when he loses his job, the money can go towards regular expenses.  (He’s on break this month, but we had already saved up for June/July/August.)
  • We could up our 529 saving by another $500/month to 1K/kid/month.  (Currently ~106K in DC1’s and 38K in DC2’s.)
  • We could put it in taxable stocks.
  • We could spend it.
  • We could just let it continue accumulating in savings until we decide to do something about it.

Right now it looks like the most likely option is the one where DH’s company goes out of business and we live on my takehome pay.  Dropping to one income will be a bit easier this time around now that my salary is higher, our mortgage is gone, we have a substantial emergency fund, and nobody is going to be in private school next year.   And yet, we’re still going to be at a point where we spend about what I take home just the same as last time DH was unemployed.  How is this so?  We upped the 529 contributions, we’re fully maxed out on my retirement now, and we’ve upped our charitable contributions substantially.  DC1 is in more expensive summer camps now that zie is older and there are more interesting options.  Both kids have more lessons.  Also they eat more.  And inflation + local (mostly demographic) changes have made our regular expenses like local taxes, utilities, and grocery bills go up.

So I guess this reduced expense is good timing for us.

What have you done when a regular monthly expense (loan payments, childcare, etc.) goes away?

Link Love

The senate is trying to pass the ACHA without input from anybody– they’re hoping to put a vote up right after the CBO comes out without allowing anybody to understand what is in the bill.  It looks like they might have enough votes to do it.  Why?  Because they think they can.  They think we’re all distracted by this whole Comey thing.  They want to do the same thing that the House did and pass it without giving anyone time to understand it first.  Why?  Because it is a bad bill that will hurt Americans.  Even if you’re in a state where you know your legislators aren’t listening to you, it is important to keep contacting them to let them know that you’re paying attention.  Because the more they think they can get away with, the more that they’re going to do.  I’ll try to finish up one of the posts on more ways to activism that’s sitting in drafts, because it’s important to become active again.  Until then, read this excellent twitter thread with suggestions and links and discussion of the ACHA and explanations of what the GOP senate is trying to do.  I know it has been hard and tiring and demoralizing, believe me, I know, but it’s still incredibly important.  Let’s give it another push.  Because every little bit that we do literally saves lives down the line.

Who is human in your America?

Race and government by design

This entire thread by John Hodgman

The Iowa General Assembly cut funding to the long term care office in order to punish Kim Weaver for running against noted racist Steve King in Iowa.

JK Rowling on why “liberals” who attack women for being women are not really liberals.

You don’t get to talk about abortion unless

How sexism played a role in Trump’s election

Ariana Grande, y’all

eighteen hours

Oh yeah, that’s totally a nipple

Can men and women be friends?

Do you enjoy travel?  Why?


Chalk paint

Wish Linda from a windy city gal a happy belated birthday!

Soliciting more Ask the Grumpies!

Ask the grumpies is a feature we run almost every Friday (sometimes we post less-popular but still fascinating google questions).  You ask, we answer, or we punt and ask the grumpy nation to answer.  In any case, you get the benefit of not only our wisdom but the collective wisdom of the far wiser grumpy nation.

What questions do you have for us?  What can we bring clarity or further confusion to?  What can the grumpy nation ponder and discuss on your behalf?  Ask in the comments below or email us at grumpyrumblings at gmail dot com.

I am going to register as a Republican

I mentioned this to two of my colleagues and they told me they already had!  One of them grew up in a red state and said that’s the only way she’s been able to affect politics– through primaries.  The other said he did it after the presidential election.

It seems messed up, but our local Indivisible group has said that their goal is not to run a dem but to find a moderate republican with morals to primary our tea party congressman.  I agree that’s a good goal given our current district stats, as much as I miss the blue-dog dem we had before he was gerrymandered out of existance.

I will still, of course, vote straight blue ticket in the main election, so I hope the dems find someone to run.

Child family labor: Do you let your kids help with your work?

It is legal in the US for kids under the age of 14 to work if it is for the family business.  Even when they’re older, it is legal for them to work for less than minimum wage if it is for the family business.  Labor laws don’t apply the same way when your employer is a parent.  (Note and disclaimer:  consult a lawyer/do your own research before making employment decisions.)

When I was younger (including when I was on break from college and an experienced grader!) I used to offer to help grade my mom’s stacks of homeworks for free.  She would never let me, even when it was just multiple choice and required no specialized knowledge to mark.  I was never really sure why she wouldn’t.

I have friends whose parents are famous economists who learned Stata practically in the cradle.  These skills came in handy when they were old enough for paying work as students and then later when their humanities degrees didn’t really pan out and they needed to change fields.  Data analysis is a valuable skill.

DC1 has played around with programming in Python and likes building things in minecraft.  Zie has also done some Scratch and some lego-robot programming.  This summer I suggested zie might like to try a little Stata and zie said that sounded fun.  We’ve done about three hours now (1 hour of showing how excel works using our mortgage spreadsheet and 2 hours of creating a numeric variable from a text variable from an incomplete but already created .do file) and zie seems to be enjoying it.  Once we’re done with the variable generation (that I actually do need for my work and would normally have an RA do but they’re all off for a week), we’ll start going through A Gentle Introduction to Stata.  Right now I’m paying $7.50/hour which is much more than zie gets for hir allowance.

Zie is mostly booked all summer with summer camps and a keyboarding class and books and sleepovers and games and traveling and so on.  But there are a few days free here and there, so we’ll put in a little Stata training on those days, and if I have scut work to do and no RA to do them, zie will be able to help out if zie stays interested.  Especially if I’m out of Here to Make Friends podcasts to listen to while copy/pasting.

Did you ever help your parents with their work?  Did they pay you?  Would you let your children help?  Why or why not?

What fresh Link Love is this

#2 has gone away and left me some links.  I don’t know what they are.  Let’s learn together!

Don’t let fear drive the bus.

here’s a tweet:

Mosquito repellents suck; stay inside.

Bad junk going on:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-aclu-ice-plascencia-20170524-story,amp.html

Here’s a thing:  http://www.ashleycford.net/interviews/

Here’s a thing:  http://koin.com/2017/05/31/micah-fletcher-this-is-about-those-little-girls/amp/

Here’s a thing about money

Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman: totes adorbz?  More about men & Wonder Woman.  Always remember to punch Nazis in the face!

https://www.ourstates.org/ has a pretty slick interface for contacting your state legislators.  Do itte!

Good news!  Coffee is good for you!

~~~~~~Blast from the past ~~~~~~

Here’s what we were saying 1 year ago:  Ask the grumpies: 401k rollovers

Here’s what we were saying 5 years ago:  A post about Lazear contracts and academics.

~~~~~~~~~Past Blast ~~~~~~~~~~~

Have a good weekend, Grumpeteers!