47 thoughts on “I like this video

  1. Arkenaten says:

    Won’t happen … it is ALL about expediency. Follow the money.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Excellent. I will spread this around.

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  3. Nan says:

    I like it too!!

    Like

  4. Barry says:

    I had hopes, too, that the pandemic would provide a catalyst for at least a discussion on how we’d like to see the future if not to actually embark on an alternative. There were even noises from up high about permanent changes to life/work balances, energy alternatives, a guaranteed living allowance, a greater emphasis on social wellbeing and so much more. Isn’t going to happen.

    Now that we have eliminated COVID-19 and life has returned to normal (except for the tourism sector) those on high are encouraging those individuals and businesses who have decided to continue work online/remotely to return to the city centres to make those “vibrant places again”. Personally, I think this is nonsense. It would have been similar to authorities in the early part of the 20th century encouraging the public to ride in horse drawn transport instead of vehicles powered by the internal combustion engine so that farriers and stable hands would still have a job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      I like vibrant cities/ places. Like Brian, I would want to see more people outdoors

      Like

      • Barry says:

        I have no objection to vibrant places, but why is it that the so called powers on high think that that only applies to city centres with all the problems of pollution, commuting, rush hours, traffic congestion etc.

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        • makagutu says:

          City centers have highest concentration of businesses.
          Maybe it is an opportunity to develop other smaller satellite cities

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          • Barry says:

            But that is because prior to online communications it was necessary to be in close physical proximity to those you traded with. That is no longer necessary. For the same reason, it’s no longer necessary for the administration side of a business to be in close physical proximity to those sides of the business that interface with other businesses and customers. We continue to set up and organise businesses as if we were still in a pre digital communications era.

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  5. basenjibrian says:

    I don’t know, Barry. A world where we effectively never leave our house and everything is mediated through screens does not sound very appealing to me. Maybe because I am a City planner, I LIKE vibrant places more than Amazon.

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    • makagutu says:

      i wouldn’t want such a world.

      Like

    • Barry says:

      That’s not what I’m suggesting. What I don’t think is necessary is that the only vibrant places be in city centres. Why not make suburban areas more that worker dormitories – make them more lively places? Most people I know have greatly appreciated the options in work life balance created by COVID-19, especially flexibility in places of work and hours of work.

      I’m retired, so my perspective is somewhat different from those in the workforce. But here’s the examples of my children:

      My son works a four-day week. Prior to COVID-19 he was officebound for all those days. During the pandemic he worked entirely from home. Now he works 2 days at home and two days at the office. His line managers agree that this results in better productivity and are happy to continue with this arrangement, but head office (a government department) is mandating a return to the office full time.

      My daughter, who also works for a government department and had negotiated a one day day per week work from home arrangement when she started work there, had been working full time from home during the lockdown. Since lockdown ended she’s been taking the one hour commute to work once per week and working from home the rest. She’d just negotiated an arrangement where she would work one week from home and split the second week between home and office but a directive from high now requires that she be in the office at least 3 days every week and for specific hours.

      One of our larger telcos has, at the request of its support staff, closed the major part of their call centre allowing staff to work from home with very flexible work hours. A major insurance company is moving its head office out of a city centre and splitting it up into several smaller clusters in the suburbs. A number of other businesses are taking similar types of action after the opportunity provided by the lockdown to evaluate how they operate. Government officials and politicians have been critical of such actions as being harmful to the vibrancy of city centres and especially to businesses that make up the “cafe culture” found there. That is what I disagree with.

      In other words, forget about thinking what’s best for work/lifestyle balance, forget about looking at alternative ways of doing business, just keep on keeping on in the same old way regardless of whether or not it’s the best way, just so we can get back to “normal” as quickly as possible.

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      • makagutu says:

        What you suggest seems to make a lot of sense

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      • basenjibrian says:

        Fair enough, barry. Good points, all. I can do most of my work sitting t the kitchen table. I do miss the social aspect of being in the office, but the pandemic is in no way over here in California and much of the staff is still working partly at home. There is not move at this point to go back to 100% in office work.

        I like the flexibility. If I want to go for a bicycle ride in the morning, I do so. I am careful not to take too much advantage, but hey,I am setting up meetings and reading emails on Sunday night, so…it all works out.

        Many California urban suburbs do have a degree of vitality. Not all. It’s largely the wealthier ones that have thriving downtowns with all the mod cons. Even during the pandemic. Walnut Creek, for example, has closed one of its downtown streets to allow for spaced-out dining. And it works.

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      • basenjibrian says:

        I might point out that concentration and centralization ARE at least somewhat necessary for vitality. I sneer less at care culture than you do. Dispersing everything will have costs…a dispersed workforce will not generate the necessary customer base. Sure, some favored (i.e. wealthy) suburbs have and will do OK. but to assume a dispersed, low density environment will generate much high culture is mistaken. Plus, you assume that dense cities are somehow more environmentally destructive. Not really true at all. If you disperse everything, you kill the ability to have effective mass transit. You mandate more and more distant car travel. Your low density suburbs also take up more space as the sprawl spreads into the farmlands and resource areas. So…you make some good points, Barry. But I will ultimately disagree with your urban planning notions.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Barry says:

          You are describing a set of circumstances as they currently exist in the USA. That set of circumstances never has and is never likely to occur in this country. No city has a population density that can support an efficient mass transit system and only two cities have a mass transit system of any sort. There’s only 18 cities with a population of more than 40,000. Many of those cities have no public transport system apart from taxis.

          Our low population density means that many people travel long distances every day. For example my daughter faces a 170 km round trip to and from work. If she had to be in the office every day, that would amount to over 40,000 Km or 25,000 miles per year. She is by no means atypical when it comes to commuting. That is not an efficient use of resources.

          Even though this country is only a fraction of the size of the US, we have more vehicles per capita than the US and travel around the same distance by car each year as Americans do. And unlike the USA, every vehicle and every litre of petrol is imported. Hardly the best use of our national resources.

          For most of my working life (as a customer support engineer for a major I.T. company), I travelled several hundred thousand kilometres every year and typically between 3 and 6 hour on the road every day travelling from one client to the next The population density in the region I worked in was higher than than the national average. If I had been doing the same job for the same company in the US, I would have spent less than half that time travelling even in a remote part of the country. If I was still working today, around 80% of that travel time could be eliminated by utilising modern communications technology.

          We already have a dispersed population, but much of the commercial activity is concentrated in a few city centres with high property costs and a long way from residential areas. The typical Kiwi aspires to and usually obtains a dwelling on its own piece of land. High density housing is almost unknown and urban sprawl has existed here long before the term was coined. It would make more sense to move places of work nearer to where their employees live.

          The examples I gave in earlier comments on this page would actually improve the situation as it already exists in this country. We have modeled our methods of doing business in the same manner as the rest of the “developed” world, never considering they might not be the best practice for this country.

          That model is inefficient in this country because it makes assumptions based on a population density we don’t have. While there might not have been other viable options prior to the internet, that is no longer the case, and we should look to where we might be able to take advantage of modern forms of communications.

          With modern means of communications, there is no need for businesses to be concentrated in commercial centres. This applies to both b2b and b2c activity. Even before the pandemic, about 60% of our household spending was online. That increased to around 90% during lockdown and has now dropped down to around 80%. Less than half of those businesses are closer than 200 Km away.

          We are currently undergoing a 6-week renovation at home. All the purchases for the project was done online. Everything from the fixtures and fittings, the flooring and wall covering, to the contractors and subcontractors. Distance is no longer a barrier to business activity. Why insist that it is.

          I might also add that where businesses have chosen to change their practices in the manner I’ve illustrated, employee productivity has increased and the cost of doing business has decreased. Yet the authorities insist that

          As for your argument regarding sprawl onto farmland, it makes no difference where a business is located, it will still occupy the same floor space. And while you can save space by building up, you’ll lose some by providing commute corridors and parking facilities. Besides, there are very few high rise buildings in this country, be they for commercial or residential purposes. I don’t see that changing any time soon without aggressive intervention by central government, and that’s very unlikely.

          I’m not so much advocating any specific change. I’m not a city planner. After everything has been considered, we might well end up with “business as usual”. This “business as usual” seems to be what the authorities are actively promoting. My criticism is that the authorities seem to be actively discouraging commercial enterprises from looking at alternative ways of doing business in the wake of the pandemic.

          Criticising a business of harming the vibrancy of a city by moving out of a congested centre to reduce costs, increase productivity and give employees a better work/life balance, appear to me to be in stark contrast to what they were promoting during the pandemic. That was to take advantage of the lockdown to look at alternative ways of doing business, not only during the pandemic crisis and immediately afterwards, but long term as well. They even suggested models that they are now criticising.

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        • makagutu says:

          Concentration and centralization makes services cheaper to build

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          • basenjibrian says:

            and provides the customers. I think you can’t have it both ways. Vibrancy doesn’t really occur in spaced out suburbs where the only way to get around is by car. Economies of scale and the benefits of concentration are still there…and that is historically true, not just in the United States. Has a dispersed suburb that requires long drives to get anywhere (as Barry describes) really ever created new industries, new art?

            I am skeptical that Zoom and Amazon can replace the benefits of diversity and concentration. Or if we are indeed in some kind of techno0logy mediated “new age”, I am a little unconvinced it will be as productive, as innovative. Long Live Downtown!

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            • makagutu says:

              You and I are in agreement on this point.
              Zoom and Amazon cannot create vibrancy and would be impractical for some of us. I can’t have a site inspection or meeting on zoom. The contractor would end up showing me the same door.

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            • Barry says:

              The simple fact is that here in Aotearoa New Zealand, productivity has gone up, costs have gone down and staff satisfaction has gone up where businesses have been brave enough to experiment with employees working from home and decentralising the workplace.

              With the exception of Auckland and to a lesser extent Wellington, we don’t really have dispersed suburbs. Rather it’s a case of satellite towns with their own scaled down downtowns, often at considerable distance from the “Big Smoke” In my daughter’s case, she lives in a town with a population of around 40,000, and like almost half the workforce, commutes to Wellington. Most of that journey is through open countryside.

              This simple fact is that Kiwis don’t want to live in high density housing. We prefer a closer connection with nature that cannot be met in congested city centres. But I’m not arguing against city centres, their congestion and polluted air nor against their vibrancy. I’m critical of authorities denigrating enterprises for finding alternatives that work better for them and their employees.

              If an enterprise finds that by moving out of the city centre, they improve productivity, employee retention and staff satisfaction and at the same time reduce costs, then should central and local government criticise that enterprise for harming the vibrancy of the inner city. Essentially what they are saying is that the “welfare” of downtown is more important than the welfare of an enterprise or its employees. That I cannot agree with.

              Taken to its logical conclusion it would mean that the entire population of Aotearoa should move to metropolitan Auckland in the interests of vibrancy and efficiency. Even then it would still be a relatively small city by world standards.

              The nearest downtown, as you envision them, is a 3 hour drive to the south from where I live or alternatively a 6 hour drive north. But I would argue that just as many new ideas are conceived and the resulting startup enterprises begin in small centres such as the one I currently live in. The current thinking almost dictates that to be successful, it must move sooner rather than later to a larger city which then get all the Kudos.

              All I’m advocating is that enterprises not be actively discouraged from experimenting with alternative ways of doing business. Just because we’ve always done something one way in the past doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take the “opportunity” provided by the current pandemic to look at how we might improve on what we’ve done in the past. If there are better models for doing business and for work/life balance, then now might be the best time to investigate the possibilities. That is why I contributed to this conversation in the first place.

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  6. basenjibrian says:

    Work-Life balance, minimum incomes, all that? Sure, though.

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  7. Ron says:

    What part did you like best? The part where he advocates robbing from the industrious? Or the part where he advocates that governments be permitted to dictate and control what private businesses can manufacture?

    Personally, I like mocking the hypocrisy of those who espouse “socialism for thee, but not for me”.

    Because by his own admission, Mr. Monbiot earns £60,769.72 ($77,710 US) as a columnist for The Guardian and collects £9,480 ($12,123 US) a year in rent on a £320,000 (~$409,000 US) home. And on top of that he also receives royalties and speaking fees. So he’s quite content to support capitalism (i.e. the collection of rents from private properties) when it benefits him. (https://www.monbiot.com/registry-of-interests)

    And who gets to define what constitutes “private sufficiency”?

    Because according to the Office of National Statistics, Mr. Monbiet’s average weekly income of £1350 (£70,250/52) is 2.3 times higher than the UK average of £585.

    https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/bulletins/annualsurveyofhoursandearnings/2019

    . . . and his monthly income of £6475 ($8280 US) is approximately 12 times higher than that of $687 average monthly wage of sub-Saharan Africa, and 156 times that of the $56/month (2015) wage received by workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/10/what-do-minimum-wages-look-like-in-sub-saharan-africa

    So based on the above information, it appears that Mr. Mobiet is sitting on that “golden throne” and exploiting the labor of others to live a life of luxury.

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  8. Ron says:

    So it’s the second one: forcing hotels to take in homeless people.

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    • makagutu says:

      We can house the homeless without forcing hotels to take them in. I think it is really a question of housing policy

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      • Ron says:

        Why does it require political will or public policy? Absolutely nothing prevents you and other like-minded individuals from immediately opening up your doors and taking in the homeless.

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        • Nan says:

          That’s a bit far-fetched, Ron. I would be hard-pressed to take in my friends, let along strangers (homeless or not).

          On the same line, there are groups who focus their efforts on the homeless. One such group in our area purchased an older RV (a trailer), cleaned it up and made it available to the homeless for clean-up (not sleeping). So there are groups that do what they can.

          There are solutions, but most local governments don’t want to deal with the problem. They’d rather spend money to “beautify” downtown areas … even though part of the problem is the homeless are hanging out in the downtown areas. Catch 22?

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          • Ron says:

            What’s far-fetched about taking direct action to resolve a problem? And if you’re hard-pressed to do it, what makes you think business owners are any less hard-pressed to pay more taxes for government programs that are long on promises but fall short on delivery? Because if I were a small business owner in a highly taxed city like Minneapolis or Seattle or Portland or anywhere in California, I’d be closing shop and moving to a more business-friendly environment — especially since those cities have abandoned their tax base to looters and vandals and arsonists.

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            • basenjibrian says:

              OK, Ron. Turn off Sinclair Broadcasting (a network that makes Fox seem balanced) and stop clicking on Breitbart. There is no City in the United States that has “abandoned its tax base to looters and vandals and arsonists”. That is just…SILLY.

              Luckily, YOUR MAN HAS A PLAN. Unmarked cars, agents with no badges or uniforms swooping in an solving the problem. I wonder if Eric Prince will get the private prison gig to house the disappeared?

              Liked by 2 people

        • makagutu says:

          Ron, i really don’t know where this comment has come from. I don’t however have the time to explain to you how housing policy affects supply of housing

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ron says:

            How can my comment be unclear? The point is this: if you want something important done it’s more constructive to take the initiative to resolve the problem yourself than wait for someone else to do it. For instance, if there’s litter on the street in front of my house I don’t call the city to come clean it up — I grab a trash bag and litter stick and pick it up myself. Likewise, if homelessness is a problem in your neighborhood, don’t wait for a bureaucratic solution — talk to your neighbors and organize a community response to address the issue. And yes, this will require effort;

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            • Nan says:

              You said “don’t wait for a bureaucratic solution” … and that’s exactly what I shared in my comment. There ARE organizations that take the initiative to help. But not everyone is able to join in such efforts so it’s rather unfair to point fingers. Which makes me ask … what are YOU doing to help the homeless?

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              • Ron says:

                Whose pointing fingers? I used “you” and “your” in a plural form because my comments are usually directed to a wider audience, and not just specifically to the person I’m responding to. As to your second charge, I would never tell someone to do something I hadn’t already done myself.

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              • basenjibrian says:

                Bureaucracy gets bashed. But, quite often, what happens without a good dose of bureaucracy (or even WITH) is favoritism….corruption…money disappearing. I have heard…rumors….that the then-head of the non-profit handling our homeless shelter was, shall we say, visited by the F B I. One new local group crams 30 people into a small office suite every night. No fire sprinklers, one bathroom, one exits. Right next to a hillside that burned this spring. And a population that is just kicked out each morning to wander the neighborhood committing petty theft and relieving themselves on the bourgeoisie’s flower beds. No permits, no inspections, no standards, just JESUS.

                Too many of the private groups, even while they do amazing work, also push their religion on people. Not saying that is the case in your example, but.

                Liked by 1 person

            • basenjibrian says:

              So Ron…you are obviously joining the “Defund the Police” movement, right? Police are amazingly bureaucratic and militaristic. As a good Libertarian Warrior, I am sure you can afford a gated community with an armed guard at the gate, PRIVATE is always better, no? When you leave, your Pinkertons will go with you! Just like the glory days of the Middle Ages!

              Of course, why would you leave? The streets are PUBLIC and largely controlled by (gasp) bureaucrats! Maybe you commute everywhere by private helicopter when you leave Galt Estates?

              Like

          • basenjibrian says:

            At the same time, Maka, you should not suggest it is that simple. There is a substantial population with serious…problems. I agree “housing first” is an ideal, but….

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    • basenjibrian says:

      I am betting many hotels would be happy to take the money. The occupancy rate in California right now is what, 10%, except for favored places.

      Like

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