Idea #4: Give rural Democrats their own brand

BUY A CLASSIFIED AD CONTACT PETER FOLLOW ON TWITTER FOLLOW ON FACEBOOK

TODAY’S GUEST: Kyle DeBeer, the former executive director of the Wyoming Democratic Party.

Much has been made recently about the white working class, depressed former factory towns, and so-called flyover country’s new role of presidential kingmaker. But while some of the vocabulary is new, the fundamental divide between rural and urban America is not. For a long time now, how you vote has been inextricably and somewhat inexplicably linked to the relative population density of where you live. If you live in a city, it’s probably a bastion of liberal democratic politics, even if it’s located in famously red Texas or Georgia. And if you live in a rural area, it’s probably conservative and Republican, even if it’s in California or New York.

For decades now, political parties have tried to bridge this considerable divide. The Democrats, for instance, maintain a national political movement that, against all odds, seeks to place the young activist at Berkeley in the same big political tent with the retired rancher in rural Montana who belongs to the NRA yet has a soft spot in his heart for single payer healthcare.

The marriage is an uneasy one, to say the least, and the tensions surrounding it get a lot of credit for the party’s current depressing walk through the valley of the shadow of death. The balancing act pleases nobody. Sell the Democratic brand to urban dwellers, and you’ll run into people who think it’s not liberal enough, leaving a wide berth for the likes of Jill Stein and Ralph Nader. Sell that same brand to rural residents, and you’ll likely run into blowback against the urban elites, especially on the topics of guns, abortion, and cultural issues. Whatever poor democratic soul volunteers to run for office in Rural America, they will inevitably be tarred as a stooge of the urbanist Pelosi as they are efficiently led to the slaughter.

Clearly, this is one of those relationships where both sides are hindering each other’s progress and driving each other nuts, so we have a modest suggestion: Get a divorce.

Call a meeting, spread the maps out on the table, and divide up the country by congressional district or something smaller. Those areas with less population density effectively get their own Rural Democratic Party brand. It would probably be a bit more socially conservative, more focused on the second amendment, and more populist, but there would still be plenty of issues to work on in common with the urban democrats once everyone got elected. Every four years, the national organization comes together to elect a president, and no doubt wise primary winners would select a running mate from the other branch. But in most of everyday life, the two camps would be free to pursue their different versions of lefty politics without carrying the baggage of the other. “Nancy Pelosi? Well lemme tell you: as a Rural Democrat, I wouldn’t know anything about her.”

Split one unsatisfying democratic brand into two that more accurately reflect the reality on the ground, hopefully enjoying some electoral success in the process. It’s today’s idea so crazy it just might work. 

This week’s classified ad: 

FROM REBEL SPINNER RADIO: Sure, you could have some computer algorithm plumb the depths of your soul in some freaky Orwellian manner then keep you boxed into your musical safe space, but if you want something more interesting for your life, head over to Rebel Spinner. Curator Travis Parkin is a cool guy with an amazing music collection, and he streams it for you 24/7. It truly is the best music you’ve never heard, at rebelspinner.com.

BUY A CLASSIFIED AD CONTACT PETER  FOLLOW ON TWITTER FOLLOW ON FACEBOOK

Licensing info: “Electric Jingle” by jobro is licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0. “Whoosh” by ztrees1 is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

 

Standard

Idea #3: Triage nurses answer 911 calls

BUY A CLASSIFIED AD CONTACT PETER FOLLOW ON TWITTER FOLLOW ON FACEBOOK

Our guest: Dr. Robert Holman, the medical director of the Washington D.C.’s fire and emergency medical services unit.

911 is for emergencies, but clearly not everyone has gotten that particular memo. There’s not much hard data available on this, but evidence suggests between one quarter and one half of calls to first responders prove to be something quite a bit less than four-alarm urgent – low acuity, in industry parlance. Often, it’s just somebody suffering from a troubling but non-emergency medical problem and a general difficulty navigating the healthcare system. Maybe they’re old, confused, disabled, uninsured, or just desperate. Maybe, despite their best efforts, they haven’t been able to book a normal primary care appointment. Or maybe their symptoms, often arising from poorly managed diabetes or hypertension, seem a lot more urgent than they actually are.

Whatever the reason, they phone up 911, which can offer an expensive ambulance ride to an even-more-expensive emergency room and not much else. All too often, it’s the medical equivalent of cutting butter with a chainsaw.

But in a handful of cities, that is starting to change. Mesa, Arizona, Louisville, Kentucky and now even Washington, DC, are among the jurisdictions trying to divert those non-emergency calls to a crack team of nurses, paramedics and fixers, backed by a collaboration of city departments. Their job is to triage over the phone, give out information, and help out with non-ambulance transportation logistics. The overall goal is to use every low-cost trick in the book to nudge low acuity patients into normal low acuity channels of primary care.

Going the extra mile to help patients get better, more comprehensive care and avoid long waits in emergency rooms, all the while possibly saving piles of money normally spent on specialists and ambulance rides. It’s today’s idea so crazy, it just might work.

MANY THANKS THIS WEEK TODr. Chrysanthi Hatzimasoura and Sam Quinney of The Lab @ DC, a team of scientists that studies new and interesting ways to deliver public services.

 

BUY A CLASSIFIED AD CONTACT PETER  FOLLOW ON TWITTER FOLLOW ON FACEBOOK

Licensing info: “Electric Jingle” by jobro is licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0. “Whoosh” by ztrees1 is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

 

Standard

Idea #2: End the scientific journal stranglehold

BUY A CLASSIFIED AD CONTACT PETER FOLLOW ON TWITTER FOLLOW ON FACEBOOK

Our guest: Mark Johnson, the marketing director at PLOS – the Public Library of Science.

The forward progress of science depends on talented people all over the world following the evidence wherever it leads, but nearly as important is the ability of those people to keep tabs on what everyone else is doing. If all those brilliant scientists are going to avoid duplicating someone else’s efforts or actually attempt to build off one another’s work, they’re going to need to stay in close touch.

Besides conferences and water cooler chats, the main venue for all that back-and-forth chatter is is the scientific journal, and here we find a publishing business model that would make Tom Sawyer blush. Scientists, often research professors who draw paychecks on state government treasuries, pay various publication fees to the journal, which in turn arranges for an elaborate peer review process that other scientists, often likewise publically-funded, perform for free. Written science product in hand, the journals hit print and sell it back to those public institutions – usually university libraries – often for thousands of dollars per subscription. And if your library doesn’t have a subscription, not to worry: You too can get online and personally shell out for reports detailing the work you already paid to have done.

But a growing movement called open access publishing is trying to bring some sanity to the process of scientific communication. The model works like this: Authors pay one relatively modest fee to the journal, which organizes a peer review. If a paper passes muster, it gets published online for everyone to see, sans paywall.

Removing the crazy expensive gatekeepers of scientific communication so we can all read about what we’ve probably paid for. It’s today’s idea so crazy it just might work.

MANY THANKS TO: David Knutson, of PLOS, for arranging the interview.

This week’s classified ad: 

FROM KEVIN IN CRESCENT CITY, CALIFORNIA: Sure I love the taste of home cooking and the warm fuzzies I get when hanging out in my own kitchen. And of course I’m rarely able to blow entire afternoons on gourmet dishes. But fellow Americans, mortgaging your house to pay for meal delivery services with pre-portioned ingredients is not what we need. It’s all based on this dumb idea that if you don’t have time to make braised lamb with cashew couscous and purple baby carrots that somehow you’re going to be stuck eating pop tarts and movie theater popcorn for dinner. Just make yourself a nice salad or a sandwich and you’ll be fine. Soup is pretty easy as well. Most vegetables are great sauteed with a little salt and butter and lemon juice. The food delivery industry makes cooking out to be rocket science, but it’s just basically the creative application of heat to starches and proteins, and I promise you can handle the basics and laugh all the way to the bank while you do it.

BUY A CLASSIFIED AD CONTACT PETER  FOLLOW ON TWITTER FOLLOW ON FACEBOOK

Licensing info: “Electric Jingle” by jobro is licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0. “Whoosh” by ztrees1 is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

 

Standard

Idea #1: Sell Real Newspapers for Real Money

BUY A CLASSIFIED AD CONTACT PETER FOLLOW ON TWITTER FOLLOW ON FACEBOOK

The last couple of decades have been pretty rough on the newspaper business. The internet, of course, created more competition, but it also flooded the market with a practically limitless supply of cheap advertising space. Instead of talking to whomever happened to read a general interest paper, advertisers could suddenly reach specific niches at a fraction of the price. Craigslist killed the lucrative classified ads market. Social media created a fresh identity crisis. It was just one bit of bad news after another, and today, total newsroom employment is roughly half of what it was in 1990.

But while a new generation grows up thinking of printed news as a historical curiosity object, like so many phone books, CDs, and film-based cameras, one former Rocky Mountain News reporter begs to differ. M.E. Sprengelmeyer will tell anyone willing to listen that the future of print journalism is print journalism, full stop. No web sites, no apps, no clickbait, no attempting to compete with Reuters, and no padding out column inches with wire service copy. Just produce a relevant and indispensable word and image product of, by, and for a local community, he says, and the attention of readers and advertisers will follow.

Eight years ago and freshly unemployed after the Rocky’s closure, Sprengelmeyer put his life savings where his mouth was and bought the Guadalupe County Communicator, a weekly paper in tiny Santa Rosa, New Mexico, with a circulation of about 2,000 copies. He became the publisher, editor, chief reporter, and guy who answers the phone more often than not.

The move made him something of a regional journalism rock star, which was probably a contributing factor for at least some of the well-tenured columnists, cartoonists, and photographers who soon found themselves contributing to a small town weekly. One prominent photo journalist, the late Mark Holm, took pictures for Getty and the New York Times, but also trekked out to shoot Santa Rosa High School basketball games.

Investing in a quality print product, then selling it to people who want to buy it instead of giving it away for free on the internet. It’s today’s idea so crazy it just might work.

This week’s classified ads:

RADIO MATERA is a bilingual English-Spanish program from Antena Pueblo Radio in Buenos Aires. Learning a new language is a real slog, but listening to Radio Matera is about as fun as beating your head against a brick wall can possibly be. Join the gang every week for bilingual, learner-friendly conversation about history, personalities, slang, travel, culture, and so much more. The show is live every Monday from 6-8 p.m. Eastern Time, or check out the archive by searching Radio Matera on Facebook.

FROM GINA IN VERMONT: Wanted: A monthly subscription that ships boxes of all sizes to my house so I can send back all the razors, vegan snacks and clothes styled just for me to all those services I can’t figure out how to unsubscribe from. Stop the madness! And ‘hi’ mom and Auntie Jean in El Cerrito.

BUY A CLASSIFIED AD CONTACT PETER  FOLLOW ON TWITTER FOLLOW ON FACEBOOK

Licensing info: “Electric Jingle” by jobro is licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0. “Whoosh” by ztrees1 is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

 

Standard

Introduction: A Podcast So Crazy it Just Might Work

BUY A CLASSIFIED AD CONTACT PETER FOLLOW ON TWITTER FOLLOW ON FACEBOOK

Our modern public life is replete with so-called news, but the subjects behind those headlines are anything but fresh. There is skirmishing over how to pay for government services, nervous rumbling about possible war, hand wringing over how we get information, and bafflement over what the kids are up to these days. It’s a collection of tropes that can be found in your news feed easily enough, but it may as well have come from old newspapers on a microfiche in the dusty cabinet of some library. The actors and even the stages are different, but the play is the same.

There is dramatic change in the world, to be sure, but the roll out is rarely accompanied by an equally dramatic unveiling for the cameras. It just shows up one day and before long, the world seems to revolve around it. You live long enough, and it occurs to you that cancer is no longer an automatic death sentence. The cleverly juiced up email platform known as Twitter lay dormant for years, then played a pivotal role in a presidential election. We can only wonder what will happen tomorrow – perhaps the robots will come for this very podcast.

This program is both a psychological step back from the maelstrom of modern life and an effort to shine the spotlight on those who seek to break our public policy out of the same old arguments. It will most likely not be a forum for the famous and the celebrated. We aim to find and speak to the people who are anonymously trying like hell to build the world you will one day live in. We’re looking for answers, for thoughtful yet outrageous conversation on how we might navigate our modern lives together, and most importantly, for a great idea so crazy it just might work.

BUY A CLASSIFIED AD CONTACT PETER  FOLLOW ON TWITTER FOLLOW ON FACEBOOK

Licensing info: “Electric Jingle” by jobro is licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0. “Whoosh” by ztrees1 is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

 

Standard