Friday, October 25, 2019

Universal Basic Income: Is It Time?

The idea of every adult receiving a universal basic income (UBI) is quite intriguing. Andrew Yang, a Democratic presidential candidate is running on this idea: every adult eighteen years and older will receive $1,000 per month for life, no strings attached, spend it any way you want. He feels that this money will not go for drugs, alcohol, and other such addictions, but will be well spent on necessities of life or making your life better.

UBI positives
The UBI will go back into the economy, which is a valuable thing. It can help people start businesses, or further their education, among other positive things. It can provide people with peace of mind knowing they're not going to starve to death. It can allow a mother to stay home with her newborn child, even until the child grows up, if she likes. I think the positive outcomes are almost limitless.

UBI negatives
I don't purport to know how it all works, the economics involved. One thing I do know is that it would be expensive. If there are two hundred million adults in the U.S. The cost would be over $2.4 trillion a year ($2,400,000,000,000). I think that's how you'd describe that string of numbers. That's a lot of money. Yang says it would be paid for by a Value Added Tax (VAT). VAT is a complicated tax, but I do know it's used in many countries. It seems that VAT is used in lieu of an income tax. I don't understand completely how it works, nor how it would work in this country, nor how Yang would implement it. (One of the reasons I can't get the answer to this, if it is on Yang's website, is that his website locks up my computer every time I try to look at it. I have no trouble looking at the other presidential candidates' websites, and I've looked at most of them. I don't know if this is a problem with my computer or his website.)

Basically, I'm living off of a UBI at this time in my life.

I'm retired and live off Social Security and my pensions. It's a steady, constant monthly income. Yet, I have not stopped working. I'm still doing the things I like doing, writing, painting, and a little bit of traveling. I think that working people who have an extra $1,000 or $2,000 a month coming in would continue to work, because you can't hardly raise a family on $12,000 or $24,000 a year if you're married. But if those families just getting by on their income received a UBI, well, it would change their lives for the better.

People who are disabled, trying to survive on SSI, for example, receiving maybe $600 a month, and another $200 a month in SNAP benefits, well, how do they live at all on that? I guess with a lot of help from others. If they received another $1,000 a month, as long as it does not reduce their SSI and SNAP benefits, it might make them less dependent on others to survive. It might be enough to help them be independent.

I know, if I had an additional $12,000 or $24,000 a year coming in from the UBI, well, hell, it would be fantastic. There are so many things I could do with that money. My imagination runs wild thinking about it.

Here's something to think about. If a young single adult received $1000 a month for life and invested $250 of that money a month in an investment plan for 40 years at 5% growth over those years would have approximately $381,000 when he or she retires.

How about an elderly person needing daily care or to live in housing for the elderly, a UBI could mean the difference between poor care and adequate care.

It's almost mind boggling thinking about how much people can benefit from a UBI. People need to apply the idea to their own situation and decide whether it would help them or make a difference in their lives.

Which politician?

As far as I can tell, there's no other politician out there than Andrew Yang who's proposals would change people's lives as much as getting $1,000 a month for life would. No one. And I think that's what many Americans, especially the middle class and the poor, are yearning for, a real change in their lives.

Can it be done?

Can it be done? I really don't know. But I have a sneaky suspicion that it can be done.

In an economy as enormous as that of the United States, it's just a matter of priorities. It's a matter of what we value most. And that's what I think we voters must consider. Are we going to vote along the same old party lines that now favor the wealthy and the growing disparity between the rich and the poor or are we going to put the interest of the majority of people above that? I think it's something that every American needs to think about, especially the middle class and the poor. If this is UBI's time, then those who think it will benefit them and change their lives the most for the better must consider it and, if they believe in it, vote for it.

Think about it. How would a UBI benefit you?

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Sailing, Research, and Writing

When I was in college, I was on the sailing team. I sailed on a small sailboat called a dinghy. I never actually skippered the boat. I was a crew member and I was quite adept at working the jib sheets and helping to maintain headway. I was happy being a crew member. Sailing was great fun. So, I have in my memory bank the experience of sailing, of the wind in my face, of the heeling of the boat, of hanging out over the water, called hiking, on the windward side as the boat sped along at what seemed like a hundred knots; of tacking and gybing; of following orders and the value of teamwork. Unfortunately, I never sailed again. But I have never forgotten it.

I mention this because I’m working on a story that involves sailing. I’m reading a lot about sailing and watching a lot of videos of people sailing and about how to do many of the skills involved. To say it’s complicated is an understatement. It’s almost baffling at first, but gradually I’ve begun to understand the skills. Does it mean that I’m now ready to go out and sail a yacht? Absolutely not. But, hopefully, I can write about it convincingly in my story.

Here are some of my favorite videos of people living aboard and sailing their boats.

 Adventures of an Old Seadog

Wind Hippie Sailing Holly Martin

Sailing Millennial Falcon

There are many others.

What about you? Do you sail? If you don't sail, watch these videos and you'll probably want to sail around the world.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Raising A Grandchild

Raising a grandchild is not something I planned on doing when I was raising my own children. It can come about in a myriad of ways. But when it happens to us, we have to make adjustments. We have to deal with a new reality, the reality that there are significant differences between being elderly and being a child.

The biggest difference between the elderly and the child is the sense of time. For the elderly, time is going by quickly; for the child, time is going by slowly. This makes for some problems when it comes to deadlines. It makes for conflict. The last thing we grandparents want is conflict, but there it is day in and day out. We grandparents are in a hurry, because time is running out. Our grandchild is not in a hurry; to her time is going by slowly and she has all the time in the world. So, when it comes to getting her dressed, or getting her to school, or getting her to go just about any place, especially places she doesn’t want to go, conflict raises its ugly head.

                “Hurry up, you’re going to be late,” we say over and over again as the child dawdles.

                We’re focused on one thing—being on time. The child is focused on another—the imaginary friend he's playing with, the toy he can’t find, finishing the game he's playing in his mind.

                What are some of the conflicts we encounter virtually every day? Getting the child dressed. Getting the child to eat (eating seems to be the last thing on kids’ minds, at least, until they get hungry). Getting the child to the point of readiness, in general. Getting him bathed and to bed at a reasonable hour.

                What does this mean for us grandparents? It means we have to be patient. We have to control our temper. We have to walk a fine line between prodding the child along without screaming at her, without physically manhandling her and, at the same time, getting her to the state of readiness. It tries us in ways we can hardly tolerate, but tolerate it we must.

                The conundrum is that as elderly people, we want to focus on ourselves and the things that interest us. Of course, one of our interests is our grandchild, and we must focus on him or her first. We must slow down, think, be patient, and manage the conflict.

                What is the reward for this? The reward is that our grandchild loves us. The child wants to shower us with love, and he does. When the child slows down, he or she hugs us, sits on our laps, kisses us. It’s genuine love he or she has for us. And that’s the reward we get for the sacrifices we make to raise our grandchild.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018


Elizabeth Varadan's recently published children's book CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS is a series of tales based on Camille Saint-Saens's musical fantasy of the same name. There are thirteen tales that will appeal to children of all ages. My favorite is "Run Like the Wind." Mrs. Varadan spent much time researching the tales, which shows in the variety of animals and their compelling adventures. Beautifully designed and appealing in appearance, the book will be an excellent addition to any child's library.

Mrs. Varadan is a prolific blogger, traveler, and art teacher. You can follow her at Elizabeth Varadans Fourth Wish and at  Victorian Scribbles.

Her book CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS can be purchased at

Saturday, March 17, 2018

My Painting Journey As Of Today

I've been painting pretty seriously for five or six years now, maybe longer,  (I did go about a year during that time when I didn't paint at all). I started painting again after that hiatus when I took a trip to Washington, D.C. and visited the National Gallery of Art. I was so impressed by the paintings I saw there that I was inspired to start painting again.

I've been focusing on abstract art. I find a great deal of satisfaction when I paint something that, at least in my mind, works. Many of my paintings do not work and I gesso over them and paint something new on that same canvas. I'm constantly trying to make something new and beautiful. It isn't easy. It can be downright discouraging sometimes. But I keep going, because it is good to finally paint something I like. And, to be honest, I'm still developing my skills (but isn't that true of all artists?) and trying to find my own style.

Here are a couple of my smaller general abstracts. They are both 8 x 10 inches.



I'm also trying my hand at miniature abstract landscapes. They are 5 x 7 inches.



Another theme I've developed is what I call 'Swirls.' They are both 8 x 10 inches.



How much I'll continue painting Swirls or miniature landscape abstracts remains to be seen. I'm sure I'll continue with the general abstracts. I'll probably continue with the miniature abstract landscapes as well, at least, for a while. I've done a lot of those that didn't work for one reason or another.

As it always is, doing art, whichever kind it is, requires time and commitment. It's certainly easier to find those two elements when you enjoy what you're doing.

If you're interested, you can see more of my paintings on Etsy here: RichardPHughesArtist .

As is obvious, I haven't mastered the art of photographing my paintings. That seems to require a higher skill level of photography than I have at this time, but I'm working on it.

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Fear I Have of Children Going to School in America

The Parkland, Florida, massacre of high school students in 2018

In light of the massacre of seventeen people and the wounding of many more in Parkland, Florida, on February 14 of this year, I have been preoccupied worrying about children going to their schools, their safety, and the safety of the teachers and other people who work at schools. This is something that no one should have to worry about.

Why is the worry plaguing me at this time? Why not after the many other such massacres in the past twenty or so years? Did I not care? Did I misunderstand the magnitude of the problem and the possibility that it could happen at any school at any time? I did care, but I took no action, in the mistaken belief that those massacres were aberrations and would not happen again. But now, the repetition of these murders is beginning to have a cumulative effect. It's no longer an aberration that happens to a few unfortunate people. It's becoming a common event in the United States, and apparently happens no where else on earth except possibly in war zones. The way things are now, it will happen here in the United States again, and again, and again.

The availability of assault rifles is the main problem.

The problem to me, now that I've witnessed through the media the massacres and the horrible consequences of these assaults, is that the preferred weapon of these murderers is the  assault rifle, especially the AR-15. (This is also the preferred weapon of assassins attacking other soft targets, such as churches and concerts.) If these weapons did not exist, the assailants would be greatly limited in the number of people they could kill. Yes, I admit that no one anywhere is perfectly safe from being killed by someone with a gun, or a knife, or an ax, or an automobile, or by strangulation, on and on and on the methods go. Most of those methods are slow and cumbersome compared to using an assault rifle.

To me this is the correct direction to go in: make it illegal for nonmilitary or non-law-enforcement people to own assault weapons and illegal for these weapons to be bought or sold either in stores or through the mail or on the Internet or at gun shows, or by any other means. We need to remove assault weapons from society. The general public does not need them. That is the most practical way of reducing to virtually none or eliminating entirely mass murder by assault rifles. Make assault-style rifles illegal in the U.S.A.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Reading The Constitution of the United States

Reading the Constitution

Reading The Constitution is something that many of us Americans have never done. It's perhaps the most important document our country has produced, and it affects us everyday of our lives, whether we think about it or not. Written in 1787, there was no way for the authors to know what changes and advancements would happen in the future, especially technological growth. I'm fairly certain they would not have envisioned the influx of different religions and philosophies and gadgets and gizmos that would come to play an important part in our current lives.

I am not an authority on The Constitution, and will not pretend to be one. I'm pretty uninformed about it myself, which is one of the reasons I'm delving into it, to learn and understand what it says. To be blunt, I'll be reading it to see what it says, and to say what it means to me. My interpretation is mine, and I know many other people may understand it differently. So I invite anyone who wishes to do so to give their opinion in the comments. I will not be on any kind of time table for reading and/or discussing this document. As someone said, learning is long and life is short. I will not discuss every line, article, or amendment.  Some of it is pretty cut and dry and doesn't need much interpretation, so I will try to pinpoint the highlights.

The Preamble to the Constitution

We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure Domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common Defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of America.

Besides being eloquently written, it establishes the general purpose of the Constitution. Everything that follows the preamble is meant to support the various values and objectives within the preamble: to form, to establish, to ensure, to provide, to promote, and to secure valuable rights: a more perfect Union, Justice, Domestic Tranquility, Welfare, and Liberty for themselves and their Posterity (you and me and everyone else alive today in the United States). When it comes to understanding and interpreting the meaning of the Constitution, the Preamble guides us on how to do that. Does your interpretation engender the values expressed in the Preamble? That is the litmus test. If it does, then you are interpreting the Constitution in the spirit of the Preamble and the aim of the founding fathers.

An important point being made by the preamble is that each person has a right to the guarantees being established, and that those rights are for individuals. They are for people first and foremost.

All of these objectives mentioned in the Preamble are important and worth dying for, if necessary. The ones that really strike me, and which seem most relevant for today in our environment of gun-toting assassins are the objectives of ensuring Domestic Tranquillity and promoting the general Welfare. I will not elaborate on these now, but I will in the future.