Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga

Structural Patterns

Reflections on Art, Technology and Society

Archive for the ‘2020 Elections’ Category

2021 Vaccine Year

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Following the devastating year 2020, 2021 is a year of hope and expectation. In the United States, the most widely effected country by COVID-19, the Trump administration’s rollout of the COVID vaccines has been poor. Today, the U.S. House and Senate convene to announce electoral votes to formalize the Biden/Harris defeat of Trump/Pence. Trump zealots are gathering in DC to protest an election that over and over has shown to be fair and democratic, however, Trump continues to make false claims that agitate his following. Once the election is finalized, the zealots will grudgingly go home and Trump will decamp to Mar-a-Lago and hopefully a sense of normalcy will slowly return to politics.

Of course, many will remain resentful and angry and the country will remain highly politicized and divided. Meanwhile, I have a few predictions:

There will be a rise of mass shootings. As rage and a sense of injustice is fed from white supremacist parents to adolescents, some will act out in violence.

With the Biden administration in place, vaccine distribution will be handled by professionals and will be accelerated.

As an individual dedicated to public service, Biden will present a solemn and honest message to the country regarding the pandemic. Slowly that message will sink-in through most of the country and the spread will slow.

The Federal government will present a large stimulus aiding many individuals and small businesses.

While the stock market continues to trend up, a correction will occur that will slow wildly over valued stocks.

Global economic inequality will continue to increase.

Biden will recognize the need to help vaccinate underdeveloped and poor countries and will increase a global vaccination movement.

“Exercise snacks” will take off as a viral phrase that excites new micro-workout format.

Written by ricardo

January 6th, 2021 at 7:27 am

Trump the Election Troll

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An online troll attacks people to evoke emotional responses; activity that is considered online harassment. I’ve never taken trolling seriously; I’ve always shrugged it off and dismissed it. In observing Trump’s behavior since loosing the elections, I identify it as trolling. He uses Twitter to make false claims and to threaten other officials (the example below concerns the Georgia run-off, not Trump’s own loss):

What a fool Governor @BrianKempGA of Georgia is. Could have been so easy, but now we have to do it the hard way. Demand this clown call a Special Session and open up signature verification, NOW. Otherwise, could be a bad day for two GREAT Senators on January 5th.
12:03 AM · Dec 14, 2020·Twitter for iPhone

He lost the elections and has turned to trolling to evoke his following to be up in arms. Unfortunately, the effect of online trolling may lead to physical altercation and harm. Of course, beyond trolling the elections, Trump has his personal lawyer attempting a reversal of a democratic procedure. But at the moment, I’m more concerned about the trolling and the continued divisiveness that his online and media trolling is having upon the nation.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to merely dismiss Trump’s trolling as I do with other trolls. Yesterday morning an old friend and journalist txt’d me “did you see how trump is sending alternate electors to Congress? He is now full fledged working on a coup. No respect for our constitution or democracy.” Having woken up concerned that the final Electoral College count would not reflecting the states won by Biden – 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232 and worried that Biden’s win would not be certified, this txt increased my anxiety. In response to my anxious questioning, she wrote “No. It will fail. But it’s just so disgusting.” So I relaxed, but I was feeling the effects of a troll and I was annoyed at being susceptible to Trumps trolling the 2020 Elections.

Today, Mitch McConnell finally acknowledged Biden’s win and even congratulated Vice President Elect Kamala Harris which helps me put anxieties induced by Trump’s trolling further to rest.

However, what is most worrying about Trump’s election trolling is the gathering of many hundred Trump supporters in DC this past Saturday. Watching the video of that gathering and the way these people applauded a helicopter that took Trump to the Army Navy Game reminded me of images of black and red clad Nicaraguans cheering Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. It is a confounding cult of personality.

The last +4 years, I have been dumbfounded at the spell that this egomaniacal liar has upon a large number of U.S. citizens. I find him so disgusting and yet over 70 million people voted for him. And now his trolling activity only continues the divide in this country.

I expect that Trump will be historicized amongst the most wretched presidents of this nation state, but meanwhile, I have be part of a country divided; division that could begin to calm if the trolling stopped.

Some ten years ago when my ex-spouse was trolled by someone in the midwest (we are based in Brooklyn), because he felt that her research and creative work was his domain and was essentially jealous of all the attention she was getting, she felt threatened and forced us to set up an alarm system. This was an alarm system more commonly found in a home, not really necessary in a fifth floor apartment of a Brooklyn coop. However, his messages were so menacing that my arguing against the necessity of an alarm system was ignored. The alarm system was only a costly nuisance, but this is an example of the power that internet trolls can wield. This is nothing compared to when the troll is the president.

Written by ricardo

December 15th, 2020 at 2:36 pm

The Deficit Myth 001

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I recently finished Stephanie Kelton’s book The Deficit Myth and I’m going to create a series of blog entries considering the material of the book. In doing so, I will liberally be quoting the book as part of my goal is to consider and digest my highlights from the text.

Kelton’s goal is to have us understand Modern Monetary Theory and how if embraced, it can help us create a better society. Kelton asks “What would it look like if the government overcame the deficit myths [the concept of having to maintain a household budget] and started budgeting like a currency issuer instead of pretending that it needs to pay for its spending just like the rest of us?” (pg. 42)

Although I think that we should all read this book (though it can be a bit repetitive), I’m going to copy the main points of the United States federal deficit myths that need to be debunked. These points are in the introduction and are given a chapter each:

First Myth:
The idea that the United States federal government needs to budget like a household is pernicious… “MMT demonstrates that the federal government is not dependent on revenue form taxes or borrowing to finance its spending and that the most important constraint on government spending is inflation.” pg. 9

Second Myth:
“It is possible for the government to spend too much. Deficits can be too big. But evidence of overspending is inflation, and most of the time deficits are too small, not too big.” pg.9

Third Myth:
Deficits will burden the next generation. Ronald Reagan was one of the wort perpetrators of the myth that we would saddle our children with too much debt, because it’s powerful political rhetoric. “As a share of gross domestic product (GDP), the national debt was at its highest – 120% – in the period immediately following WWII. Yet, this was the same period during which the middle class was built, real media family income soared, and the next generation enjoyed a higher standard of living without the added burden of higher tax rates… Increasing the deficit doesn’t make future generations poorer, and reducing the deficit won’t make them any richer.” pg.9

Fourth Myth:
“…deficits are harmful because the crowd out private investment and undermine long-term investment… government deficits eat up some of the dollars that would otherwise have been invested in private sector endeavors that promote long-term prosperity. We will see why the reverse is true – fiscal deficits actually increase private savings – and can easily crowd-in private investments.” pg. 10

Fifth Myth:
“Deficits make the United States dependent on foreigners [China and Japan as they hold large quantities of U.S. debt]… this is a fiction that politicians wittingly or unwittingly propagate, often as an excuse to ignore social programs desperate need of funding. Sometimes this myth has used the metaphor of irresponsibly taken out a foreign credit card. This misses the fact that the dollars aren’t originating from China. They’re coming from the U.S. We’re not borrowing from China so much as we’re supplying China with dollars and then allowing them to trade those dollars in for a safe, interest-bearing asset called a U.S. treasury. There is absolutely nothing risky or pernicious about this. If we wanted to, we could pay off the debt immediately with a simple keystroke.” pg.10

Sixth Myth:
“Entitlements are propelling us toward a long-term fiscal crisis. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are the supposed culprits… Our government will always be able to meet future obligations because it can never run out of money. The money can always be there. The question is, What will that money buy? Changing demographics and the impacts of climate change are real challenges that could put stress on available resources.” pg.11

Kelton ends the introduction with a call to arms:

“The fact that 21 percent of all children in the United States live in poverty- that’s a crisis. The fact that our infrastructure is graded at a D+ is a crisis. The fact that inequality today stands at levels last seen during America’s Gilded Age is a crisis. The fact that the typical American worker has seen virtually no real wage growth since the 1970s is a crisis. The fact that forty-four million Americans are saddled with $1.7 trillion in student loans debt is a crisis. And the fact that we ultimately won’t be able to ‘afford’ anything at all if we end up exacerbating climate change and destroy the life on this planet is perhaps the biggest crisis of them all.” pg.11

“These are real crises. The national deficit is not a crisis.” pg.12

“THE CRIME OF the tax bill signed by Trump in 2017 is not that it added to the deficit but that it used the deficit to provide help to those who needed it least. It has widened inequality, putting more political and economic power into the hands of the few… We should tax billionaires to rebalance the distribution of wealth and income and to protect the health of our democracy.” pg. 12

As the many citizens of the United States need a financial lifeline from the federal government to help make it through this pandemic, Kelton foresees the stalling of a second stimulus:

“The federal deficit, which was expected to top $1 trillion before the virus became a threat, will likely skyrocket beyond $3 trillion in the months ahead. If history is any lesson, anxiety over rising budget deficits will lead to pressure to reduce fiscal support in order to wrestle deficits lower. That would be an unmitigated disaster. Right now, and in the months ahead, the most fiscally responsible way to manage the crisis is with higher deficit spending.” pg. 13

VOTE 2020 Find My Poll Site

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If there’s one thing that the last four years of Trump have taught us, it is that we can generally do whatever the hell we want, unless of course it’s visibly criminal (police aside). And through the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have even become more brazen.

This morning, the first day of early voting for NYC – October 24th 2020 – when I saw a bunch of Caribbeans in line to vote at our usual voting site at Caton & Rugby, I told them that early voting is at Queens Theater but they all looked at me suspiciously. I repeated it loudly due to mask and physical distance three times and finally one lady engaged me, repeated what I had just old her and thanked me. However, when I walked away they remained in line. So clearly a sign was necessary. Back home, I pulled out my largest drawing paper and a fat sharpie. First I lettered in with pencil findmypoll.vote.nyc – which is wrong and I need to fix as it is findmypollsite.vote.nyc and then went over it with sharpie. And with it I retuned to the school entrance leading to the gym where voting will occur on November 3rd.

While placing a sign a man with his Caribbean accent approached me “Excuse me sir, where can I vote?” I told him Queens Theater on Flatbush and he asked “is it open tomorrow?” Not sure, I pulled out my phone searched voting site with him went to findmypollsite.vote.nyc, he gave me his address without hesitation and we saw Queens Theater come up, I was slightly relieved I had told him the right place and that it’s open tomorrow. He was grateful. And I didn’t even need to concoct a uniform!

Everyone needs to mobolize!

Written by ricardo

October 24th, 2020 at 11:29 am

Posted in 2020 Elections

U.S. Data Privacy 2020

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On the California 2020 ballot is Proposition 24, Consumer Personal Information Law and Agency Initiative (2020):

“yes” vote supports this ballot initiative to expand the state’s consumer data privacy laws, including provisions to allow consumers to direct businesses to not share their personal information; remove the time period in which businesses can fix violations before being penalized; and create the Privacy Protection Agency to enforce the state’s consumer data privacy laws.

Just as California is leading the United States toward a cleaner environment, California will lead the charge toward a more just internet, one in which corporations such as FaceBook do not profiteer on our personal data. Let’s hope that this proposition moves us toward laws akin to what is in place in Europe. If anyone should monetize on ones personal data is the individual themself. VOTE YES ON PROP 24

Written by ricardo

October 8th, 2020 at 6:35 pm

Biden Absent as Trump Rails

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I’m bracing myself for another four years of chaos. Four more years of lies, manipulation, hate, nepotism, self-interest, tax dodging, racism, tax cuts for the rich (who are better at saving than giving), market deregulation, white empowerment, pussy grabbing, virus magically gone by Easter, the phrase “shit hole countries,” separating families, putting children in steel cages, forking over millions of dollars for faulty three-mile border walls, opening precious forests to oil drilling, funding dirty energy like coal mining instead of presenting a better future, climate change denial, civil unrest, hatred…

The reason that I’m bracing myself is because the New York Times mentions Trump at least twice for any mention of Biden. I saw this during the 2016 elections – mainstream media obsessed with Trump whether positively or negatively, mentioning and covering Trump over and over. It’s like feeding the Slime Monster – whether it’s critical news or not, when only one name is mentioned, that name grows and sticks. I’ve often wondered why liberal, one-sided media channels don’t just go on a “he who must not be named” approach. We all know that any news is good news and Trump knows this better than anyone, his entire life has thrived on it. He doesn’t care if it’s negative news as any news can be spun. Most importantly he is mentioned; he who must not be named is named and his power grows.

Biden is a senior citizen who I think would like to stay alive and is not self-obsessed, so he acknowledges the pandemic. Whereas Trump is so self-obsessed that he considers himself a demigod, immortal, perhaps a god, perhaps the Almighty himself who has been so well informed on COVID-19, that he knows that as long as he allows his germophobia guide him, he can show up in-front of large audiences in enclosed spaces without a worry. After all, his minions on an individual-basis don’t matter, so let them be dumb enough to expose themselves while Trump enjoys their adoration of him and gets headlines for brining the minions together, unmasked and inches from one another. All news is good news.

Trump is also incredibly talented at projecting cheesy, televisual images of grandeur. From disgustingly furnished home interiors to way too many flags in front of the White House topped off with very polished golden eagles. Trump’s motto – “if it’s gold, polish it, cause it’s mine…”

Leni Reifenstahl would be proud of this image.

Trump is effectively capturing the ignorant, televisual imagination of the United States, while Biden Zooms to no audience. And I’m not even mentioning Pence flying around with the racist, pre-Civil Rights “Make America Great” message while Harris tries to not choke on toxic air. We are soooo screwed.

Written by ricardo

September 14th, 2020 at 3:23 pm