IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID - 06.15.2022
June 15, 2022
Good Wednesday morning! I'm novelist Richard V. Rupp, writing from Burbank, California. Welcome to RUPP'S NOTES/FBI SPECIAL AGENT HARTMANN SERIES posts.
It's one of those phrases that just stick in your mind. At least mine. In the 1992 presidential campaign between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, James Carville, a campaign strategist, came up with the slogan, "IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID." It worked.
My intuition tells me, "It's the economy, stupid is precisely what the American public is thinking today.
A WASHINGTON POST-George Mason University poll indicates that two-thirds of Americans believe inflation will worsen over the next 12 months, while 21 percent expect it to improve and 12 percent believe it will stay the same. Almost 9 in 10 respondents said they've been hunting for cheaper products. About 75 percent said they're cutting back on restaurants and entertainment due to higher prices. A LOS ANGELES TIMES article indicates, "Shoppers are cutting grocery budgets, businesses are scaling back operations, and low-wage workers are seeing their paychecks eaten away at the gas pump."
Ever heard of the "yield curve"? It inverted this week, which is generally a reliable indicator that a recession is on the horizon. I heard an interesting comment today on CNBC. That cryptocurrency (blockchain) only came into play because of excess cash in the economy looking for someplace to go. Cryptocurrency is stupid. I suspect there are a lot of Millennials who can attest to this today.
My word for this week is 'shrinkflation' – the reduction in the size or weight of retail products, especially packaged food items, with no corresponding decrease in the retail price. I think companies should be required to put a label on the smaller packages indicating 'this package contains 5 % less than our previous packages.'
As an author of crime novels, I wondered what effect the stock market or a recession has on crime. I found that researchers have found that stock market downturns increase the number of violent crimes, particularly domestic violence. A 2013 report by Bushway, Cook, & Phillips, indicated that robbery and property crime rates tend to rise during recessions and fall during recoveries.
Based on the above, I suggest you plan on reading novels (maybe one of mine – DEATH & TAXES, or DEATH ON THE HIGH SEAS) in the coming months to save money and avoid criminal activity.
I loved part of the dedication speech of New York Governor Kathy Hochul for the improvements being made at Penn Station, including a new skylight. She said, "A skylight that reminds you 'yes, the heavens are out there still -- despite the feeling you may be living in hell." Yep, a sign of the times.
My current campaign slogan is "It's the Exercise Stupid." Most of my day is spent sitting in front of my desktop computer, reading a book for pleasure or research, or watching TV shows. A 'Second Half of Live" study by the AARP and NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC indicates that people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s already recognize that regular exercise is key to remaining mentally sharp and independent. Scientists are learning how muscles in motion can improve cognition and shield against diseases like Alzheimer's.
The report indicates that the brain is not this unidirectional organ that dominates the rest of the body, says Christoph Handschin, a muscle researcher and professor of pharmacology at the University of Basel in Switzerland. "Rather, there's a mutual interaction between these systems." This emerging evidence has significant implications for how exercise can affect cognitive health. . . .Saul Villeda, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco, who studies how factors in the blood rejuvenate the brain, agrees. "The body of a 20-year-old is inherently different from the body of a 70-year-old. And somehow, something about exercise can cause a benefit in all these contexts." Villeda says that exercise's impact on the brain is multifactorial—activity seems to increase the brain's capacity to regenerate neurons, calm inflammation, and enhance neuron-to-neuron communication.
The report concludes: "So if I had to say one thing, it would be, Keep yourself active—even if it's walking a few minutes a day. If you can, then do that."
I'm plugging away on my SKYWARD manuscript. Here's part of a revision I made to Chapter 13, which used to be Chapter 9. Yes, it editing and rewriting time.
* * *
The Twins' education was enhanced by the significant amount of time they spent on screens. They didn't bother watching standard TV shows. They wanted material that taught them something. They tried to emulate their mother's love of learning and what she watched. They quickly moved from "Sesame Street" and "Bill Nye the Science Guy" to "Nova," "Planet Earth," and "When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions."
They were brainiacs. At an early age, they had a basic understanding of how electricity works, how hydraulics works, how babies are conceived and born, how plants grow, the Big Bang Theory, Black Holes, the String Theory, about other galaxies, astrobiology, Faraday's discovery of electromagnetic fields and Albert Einstein's famous equation E=mc2 and its aftermath in the creation of nuclear energy. They quickly learned how to spot fake info and loved to call out those who dared to put it up. Google was their go-to site when they didn't understand something. If they weren't satisfied with Google's answer, they went to Dani.
Norm skipped down the stairs from the roof terrace and into the extra bedroom that had been converted to their science lab.
"So what were you looking at tonight," asked Chris?
"The surface of the Moon."
"Yeah. I was studying where the Apollo 11 astronauts landed. It's a flat area called Mare Tranquillitatis. Grandpa's telescope is really great. It gives a clear view of the Moon's features. Big desert areas have mountains, valleys, plains, and craters. Three of the craters near where Apollo 11 landed are named for astronauts Armstrong, Aldren, and Collins. Someday I will have a spot on the Moon named after me."
"You are really getting into the astronomy and space thing."
"I am. And, I've noticed you really are getting into the world of robotics. What is that thing?"
"Mom got me this. " Chris held up the top of a large box with Makeblock mBot STEM Robotics Kit written on it. "I build this thing. You have to program it with computer code, then you can control what it does with this controller." Chris ran the bot on the floor toward Norm. "It's fun."
"It didn't take you long to build that thing."
"Na, it was easy. I went on the Internet and found a more advanced kit. I'm going to ask mom for it tomorrow. I enjoy building these things and then figuring out the coding necessary to make them do things."
"Did you finish our homework for tomorrow?"
Yeah. How about you?
"Nope. So shut up for a while."
With a salute, Chris responded, "Yes, sir," and returned to revising the program for the bot.
After a few minutes, Norm asked, "With all this tribalism between various factions today, do you think the concept of American democracy will survive?"
"So you want me to complete your homework?"
"No, I want to bounce some ideas between us. In developing a colony on the Moon, we will need to figure out how to structure how it should be administered."
"Since you are asking, I concluded that when you have groups or tribes with different mores and religious beliefs and try to bring them together, the result is friction or conflict. It appears that the Founding Fathers recognized this, and that's why the concept of states' rights was included. They wanted each tribe to have their own space, if you will, where they could practice their specific beliefs. Then, as the country grew, the buffers between the states were physically and politically dissolved. That's why I believe we need to expand humans to space. To give them more breathing room in which to develop. And, of course, as a safety valve in the event the Earth disappears. Which it will someday."
"I'm on the same wavelength as you. The concept of our nation being a melting pot was a good idea, but it contributed to the current friction. A belief is established by one tribe, which is not accepted by other tribes. And, a big central government is used to force that one tribe to accept something they don't want to."
Chris responded, "I know one thing. What is happening with our society has spilled over to us white guys getting all the blame. We are now in the minority. And we are being blamed for everything that has gone wrong. Everything. Then add to that, our family was instrumental in developing the fossil fuel industry. I'm afraid to go out on the street."
"The world has literally turned upside down. We are now in the minority, but not to the press. They portray the old minority, who are now the majority, as still being the minority."
"Crazy times is right."
"Yeah, not a good combo. I don't think you and I are in the right place and time to accomplish much here on Earth. And, I do believe Earth's lifespan is limited. Between overpopulation, tribalism, climate change, and the outbreak of regional wars, we humans are shortening it every day. So rather than concentrate on saving humans here on Earth, we need to ensure humans survive forever by taking them out into the universe. To a degree, that's what has driven me to want to develop a colony on the Moon."
"I thought you wanted to go to Mars."
"Actually, I want to go beyond Mars. Here's my plan. First, we need to go to the Moon, which has one-sixth the gravity of the Earth and no atmosphere. That makes it easier to launch vehicles into space. There we will erect a catapult to launch vehicles to Mars. Then on Mars, we need again to build a catapult to launch vehicles further into space. The final objective is to seek out new earths."
"I'm in sync with your plan. Who should we take with us?"
"Others like you and me."
"What does that mean?"
"Look, we are twins, and I know we think alike. Our mother did not bring us up to be prejudiced. And, I know that we don't care about skin color or ethnic background. But, we are prejudiced in another way. And, our mom has contributed to our prejudice."
Chris finished his twin brother's train of thought, "Yeah, we like educated, logical, scientifically-oriented people. Or our mom's type of friends."
"Exactly. And, that's who we should take with us."
Until next Wednesday,
Richard V. Rupp, Author
Website – www.richardvrupp.com
Email – email@example.com
Copyright©2022 by Richard V. Rupp