Ask the grumpies: how to prevent the Earth from dying

omdg asks:

Is the earth dying? What’s the best way to prevent this from happening?

The BEST way to protect the environment is to get governments to legislate governmental protection.   Companies need to be competing on an even playing field in which they all have to be good stewards of the environment.  Otherwise firms have an incentive to cut corners in the interest of profit maximization.  Government regulation can take away the ability to cut corners.

All the little environmentally friendly things you can do (reduce/reuse/recycle) are great, but they alone are not enough.  Voting and contacting your legislators to support climate-friendly initiatives are really the only way to make big dents.  Think of it as the latte factor vs. large fixed expenses– the stuff we do individually is like cutting out your latte factor, but the stuff big organizations do makes a bigger difference faster.

Here’s a good article from business insider that breaks down the benefits by thing we can do.

In terms of “is the earth dying”… no, but we are having a mass extinction.  The more immediate problem is that climate change is moving climate around bringing drought and floods where there were none.  This will increase costs and cause mass migrations which will cause political/social/etc. problems like, I dunno, war, famine, death… standard apocalypse stuff.

So yeah, if this is something you care about (and we all should), make sure you vote for science believers, and keep contacting your elected officials on the topic.  They won’t know it’s important if we don’t tell them.

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Ask the grumpies: Do you know anything about where your political donations go?

rose asks:

How is money raised by political campaign’s spent? Why does Congressperson in state A ask for donations for someone in State B? Are they buying power like corporate lobbyists? How can you tell if contribution money is going for family-hire-salaries or to pay off people who are claiming sexual assault/harassment? Why can a judge/congressperson pay off such claims with taxpayer money? How much of ‘Swing Left’ type organization’ money goes to overhead and how much to campaigns? How can a person judge which organization is the best impact for the dollar to contribute to? Are any organizations looking at this?

We really don’t know.  If it were a charity, you would have charitynavigator.  Back in the day there used to be a lot more regulations for things like PACs, but now the regulations are laughable.  Still, it turns out there is a nonprofit that tracks what is trackable if you know what to look for and how to analyze it.

Here’s the open secrets website from the Center for Responsive Politics.  You can search Swingleft within it and it will give you spreadsheets and stuff.  (Look, Paul Graham donated 250K)

There’s no ratings, but you can get the raw numbers.

Other than that, we have no idea.

My family and WWII

Nazis suck.

My father was a child in one of the countries the Nazis trampled.  He doesn’t talk about it.  He still has an odd fascination with fire that shows itself with birthday cake candles.  And he’s 5’2″ because although he never went hungry, he didn’t get a lot of nutrition either.  His mother and siblings moved to the US after the war.

I found out recently that although my bonmama was Catholic (along with most of my family on both sides), her father was Jewish.  Her husband (I’m not clear if this would be my grandfather or my step-grandfather) moved to Argentina with his mistress after the war (taking all the money, and triggering Bonmama and her children’s migration), and it is thought that he was a Nazi sympathizer.  Funny what one learns when Nazis are in the news again.

My mother’s mother joined the war effort as a nurse.  At her (Catholic, military) funeral, this time period featured prominently as the most important time in her life.  She rose up the ranks in the air force to become a Captain.  When she taught me how to knit, she gifted me with the knitting needles she’d used to while away the time flying towards a battlefield.  On the way back, the needles would be put away while they tended the wounded.

She met my grandfather during the war.  He wasn’t an enlisted man.  I’m not sure why not– whether it was preference or a medical condition.  He was a counselor for the American Red Cross.  While my grandmother treated the physical consequences of war, he treated the mental and emotional consequences.

My maternal grandparents’ commitment to public service filtered down to most of their children (I guess technically my horrible Trump-loving uncle is a forest ranger).  My uncles are veterans, one aunt is a federal judge, the other is a nurse practitioner who ran a hospital system.  My mom, the professor, was elected to our local school board for several terms.

We can’t let Nazi values of hatred and fascism take hold in the US.  We need to honor the ideals of this country that fought against evil in the second WW.  It is true that our own history is full of horrors like slavery and internment and xenophobia.  But we can’t let those forces win.  We must keep fighting.  Concentration camps didn’t start killing people overnight.  Germany didn’t start out evil.  We cannot tolerate injustice.  Keep calling your representatives.  Keep protesting.  Keep recruiting people to vote and donating and encouraging campaigns.  It’s a long slog to freedom.  But the alternative is something our grandparents lived.  They fought with their lives.  We should fight with our time and money and words so that we don’t have to get to that point.

What did your family do in WWII?  How was your family changed by it?

One reason not to consolidate bank accounts

Bank of America freezing accounts of customers suspected of not being US citizens.

When you have multiple accounts, you have access to multiple streams of money.  If the US government infiltrates one and steals your stuff, chances are that they won’t get everyplace at the same time.  There will be some warning.  So if something of yours gets seized, you’ll be able to live off of one of your other accounts while finding a lawyer (or, if we continue going the pre-WWII Germany route, getting your ducks in order to flee the country).  If, say, Bank of America is your only account, then you’re going to run up a lot of credit card debt (or worse) while waiting for things to be sorted out.  If you can get them sorted out.

Now, of course, it doesn’t have to be fascism that causes inaccessibility to one of your accounts.  Sometimes your account will get compromised by theft or there will be some kind of clerical error that freezes an account.  When DH’s debit card got spoofed and our Wells Fargo account was temporarily frozen, I was grateful to have access to a checkbook from a credit union account with money in it to pay the monthly bills.

How would you access money if your main account got frozen?

 

Spread the word! Protest Trump’s interference in Mueller investigation Thursday 5pm local time

You can find more information either here:  https://act.moveon.org/event/mueller-firing-rapid-response-events/search/

or here:  https://www.trumpisnotabovethelaw.org/event/mueller-firing-rapid-response/search/

The info on both pages is the same, but you may have trouble with one or the other if they are overloaded with traffic.

This is really important– if you’re in a family and one person can make it while the other watches the kids, do that.  We have to protect the Mueller investigation with a strong and immediate response.  Tell your friends.  Bring them along.  Tell them to bring their friends along.  The administration will think they can get away with it if the protests are small or non-existent.

My small town has an event scheduled– we don’t have to go into the city to protest, though the second time I clicked my town’s name it said nothing scheduled (the first time it had the original info– I think they’re updating the webpage in real time).

VOTE!!!!

US Readers who have not yet voted–

Vote today as if people’s lives depended on it.  Because they do!

Here’s google with where to vote based on your registered address.

Vote to save democracy.  Vote to save the constitution.  Vote to save the children.  Vote to save the planet.

Vote Democrat and double check your final votes to make sure they didn’t get switched by the machine because of machine errors.

Special Thursday Activism Post: What I’m doing this weekend! (Also: Early voting has started in some states!)

So… I have to confess that although I’ve been really impressed with the postcards 4 voters things I’ve been seeing people do online, it’s really intimidated me.  I am the opposite of artistically talented.  So as much as I’d like to send postcards and NOT CALL PEOPLE (I hated being phone-banked at last election), I thought that maybe my efforts wouldn’t be good in that respect.

Then one of my friends showed me these:

And I was like… wait… I don’t have to hand draw/color in the cards?  I can just GET cards that are already decorated?  Where do I get these cards?!?!?

And she said, “Amazon sells them.”  And I was aghast.  Amazon DOES sell them!  And many other cuter options as well!   I feel so dumb.  I ordered 200 postcards and they should be coming in the mail today.   Then I went to the USPS stamps website and got 200 shell postcard stamps.  (Sadly seashell is the only option.)   I’m gonna give half of them to some undergrads to do with as they wish and I’m going to see what my little family can get done with the remaining.

(If you don’t want to do post-cards but do have a printer and some regular stamps, this looks pretty darn cool:  https://votefwd.org/ — my sister lives in one of those districts… do her a solid!)

In addition to that:

On the day early voting starts, my department head will have sent out an email to all majors with an email I drafted that encourages those registered out of state to get their absentee ballots now if not sooner, explains how, when, and where early voting happens for people registered locally, where to get information on candidates and local races, what to bring to the voting booth, and how to vote on election day.

(Academic readers– can you do something similar at your school/ in your department?)

And:

I’ve been going crazy giving money to local campaigns.  Bogart just sent this link and I gave.  November 2nd isn’t very long from now.  Presumably my political giving will die down at that point.

I’m going to hand out more campaign pins since I got another 100.

I have never done much of anything for an election before.  Like, I’ve voted, and I’ve given money to candidates here or there, but never this level.  This is my first year of registering voters.  This is my first year encouraging people to vote.  This is my first year of buying pins.  This is my first year of buying a yard sign (we have 3)!

My only hope is that if someone like me is doing something for the first time, then lots of someones like me will be doing something, and all this doing something will make a real difference in the outcome of the election.

Because I can’t stand another year of kids torn from their parents and a president getting a pass on tax fraud and constant worries about health insurance…and everything else (climate, social justice, women’s rights…).   We can’t count on a blue wave– we have to BE the blue wave.

Tell us what you’re doing!  Even if you’ve told us before!  It means so much to hear we’re not alone.