The Sunday Post for June 18, 2016

What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money?

A minimum guaranteed income is a hot topic right now, in advance of technological changes, like self-driving trucks, that are likely to put huge amounts of people out of work in very short order. That will be a huge hit on an already stretched-thin safety net. What if, instead, we just gave people money? That way, they can survive, they can get by, they can live a decent life, and have the resources to be trained in other work they will find more fulfilling. Andrew Flowers explores the concept in this article.

Werner posed a pair of simple questions to the crowd: What do you really want to do with your life? Are you doing what you really want to do? Whatever the answers, he suggested basic income was the means to achieve those goals. The idea is as simple as it is radical: Rather than concern itself with managing myriad social welfare and unemployment insurance programs, the government would instead regularly cut a no-strings-attached check to each citizen. No conditions. No questions. Everyone, rich or poor, employed or out of work would get the same amount of money. This arrangement would provide a path toward a new way of living: If people no longer had to worry about making ends meet, they could pursue the lives they want to live.
‘Could he actually win?’ Dave Eggers at a Donald Trump rally

Eggers is a good journalist — maybe he had preconceived notions of what he would find at a Trump rally, but he went, as an attendee instead of credentialed, to meet people and form an educated opinion of the people that are boosting the rise of the Donald.

I spent five hours at the Donald Trump rally in Sacramento, California, on 1 June. I spoke to and overheard dozens of the rally’s attendees, not as a journalist but as one ticketholder to another – I was dressed in jeans, workboots and wore a Nascar hat – and found every last one of the attendees to be genial, polite and, with a few notable exceptions, their opinions to be within the realm of reasonable. The rally was as peaceful and patriotic as a Fourth of July picnic.

And yet I came away with a host of new questions and concerns. Among them: why is it that the song Trump’s campaign uses to mark his arrival and departure is Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer?” Is it more troubling, or less troubling, knowing that no one in the audience really cares what he says? And could it be that because Trump’s supporters are not all drawn from the lunatic fringe, but in fact represent a broad cross-section of regular people, and far more women than would seem possible or rational, that he could actually win?

A rare, risky mission is underway to rescue sick scientists from the South Pole

An extraordinary tale of logistics and danger, from Sarah Kaplan.

Two small bush planes are flying to the South Pole this week to evacuate workers at the Amundsen-Scott research station — a feat rarely attempted during the middle of the Antarctic winter.

Kelly Falkner, the director of polar programs for the National Science Foundation (which runs the South Pole station), said that at least one seasonal employee for contractor Lockheed Martin requires medical treatment not available at the station and needs to be flown out. A second worker may also be rescued. Falkner couldn't provide further details about the medical motivation behind the rescues for privacy reasons.

Why It's Time to Repeal the Second Amendment

David S. Cohen in Rolling Stone calls for full repeal. He's not alone: the calls are rising after Orlando from people fed up with the ludicrous and absolutist rhetoric of the NRA. If you won't deal with common sense, then we'll start talking about the bigger deal: banning guns altogether. There's nothing in the Constitution that says we can't.

The Second Amendment needs to be repealed because it is outdated, a threat to liberty and a suicide pact. When the Second Amendment was adopted in 1791, there were no weapons remotely like the AR-15 assault rifle and many of the advances of modern weaponry were long from being invented or popularized.

Sure, the Founders knew that the world evolved and that technology changed, but the weapons of today that are easily accessible are vastly different than anything that existed in 1791. When the Second Amendment was written, the Founders didn't have to weigh the risks of one man killing 49 and injuring 53 all by himself. Now we do, and the risk-benefit analysis of 1791 is flatly irrelevant to the risk-benefit analysis of today.

Good Bones

Maggie Smith's remarkable new poem went viral this week, as people processing grief and confusion and frustration over the shooting in Florida. It's a wonderful piece, and gives one hope about the future of poetry that such a finely wrought work can mean so much to so many people so soon.