About a month ago I had a nervous breakdown.

They don’t call it that anymore.

But it’s what I had.

It wasn’t a panic attack. I’ve had those before. They’re terrifying. Your heart races. Your chest tightens. It feels like you’re having a heart attack. You think you’re going to die that moment. And then it passes. This didn’t pass.

For people who know me casually this might seem surprising. At work I’m calm. I’m a mentor. I’m a leader. I’m a well-read voice of reason. I’m unemotional and honest. I’m the epitome of balanced and relaxed.

I put on…

Last summer my job got all eight of the senior Black people at work together because George Floyd got killed. We all said versions of the same things that every black professional at every job says. Our executives listened. They asked for a follow-up to hear more. Then they went into closed-door meetings and talked amongst themselves.

On Monday we get to find out what the white people decided to do.

I’m not whining. We were part of the discussion and our perspective was heard. Nobody dismissed us and we spoke freely and fully. But the power dynamics are clear…

My father’s last name is Taylor. For very specific Michigan reasons, my last name is my mother’s and not my father’s, but I’m glad not to introduce myself as “James Taylor…no, not that one.”

The first of those Taylors was George. He was my 9th great grandfather. He left England for the Virginia Colony in 1635, fifteen years after the Pilgrims.

I found three records about George Taylor back in 1635, when he was a 20-year-old in the New World.

1. His name on a passenger list (This was before formal arrival documentation, let alone immigration status)

2. A deed…

My daughter Maya is a smart kid. She listens intently. She remembers details. She’s starting to understand how to filter out the stuff that doesn’t matter from the stuff that does. For an eight-year-old there’s a thin line between knowing a lot and knowing it all. She’s not always on the right side of that line. There are also some consistent messages in our house and, “You speak up for yourself and demand what’s fair” is one of them and she’s certainly taken that to heart.

We butt heads. A lot. I’m in my 40s. I have the most patient…

The economy is the #1 issue for Republicans. It’s also where the public generally supports the President. In the beginning of the year consumer confidence was high. People felt good about the economy before the pandemic.

So I took out the pandemic. I’m comparing Trump’s first 3 years to Obama’s last three. I have some charts and a few notes on what I’m seeing in the data. A lot of people have chosen to judge the President as if it’s 2019 and the economic impact of the pandemic didn’t happen. I’ll oblige them.

I want to start with two HUGE…

There’s a point I don’t think a lot of people consider. But I think it’s important.

Donald Trump hates you.

You, personally. You, the person who is reading these words. Whoever you are. Even if you went to his rally and heard him speak. Even if you lined the street to cheer as he passed. Even if you went to the airport to wave a banner. Even if you shared memes on Facebook saying he’s great. All of you. Donald Trump hates you.

Some people like that he hates you. But he hates them too. He hates the girl wearing this shirt.

And I don’t just mean that we keep hearing stories about how he thinks people in the…

I wasn’t going to write about the debate. It was a big event. Thousands of pieces have been written about it. What could I say that’s original? I agree that it wasn’t fun. I agree that it was also hilarious.

But everybody said that. There are a few points that jumped out to me that I just haven’t seen anywhere else. I wanted to share a few.

· We had a debate for President taking place amid a pandemic, the nation’s economic collapse, national protests demanding racial justice and increases in violent crime. The Moderator wanted to act like it…

Donald Trump would not be President if there wasn’t an Electoral College.

Mitch McConnell would not be Senate Majority Leader if not for a Senate that values some votes more than others.

Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and whoever’s next, Ivanka Trump, I guess, owe their jobs to the lack of free and fair elections in America.

A few thoughts about Democracy in America.

At the Presidential Level

  • The President got 3 million fewer votes than his opponent but “won”.
  • Republicans have gotten the most votes in 1 of the past 7 Presidential elections but “won” 3 times.
  • Over the past…

A man at work died.

It was a few weeks ago.

I didn’t know him well. I’d met him. He’d worked there a long time. We’ve said “Hello” but not much more.

They spoke about him on a big conference call. They were kind. They talked about what a good worker he was. How he made the team better. How he was nice at work. That he did a good job on some projects.

They talked about this man, who lived a full life cut far too short, about him being an employee.

It made me sad.

Did he have…

So of course, I’m “Negative Nancy”, but I don’t buy these robust rebound stories that we’re seeing.

They all rest on a few basic assumptions that I just don’t think are true.

1. The US economy was healthy before the pandemic hit

2. Americans are resilient people who work together toward common goals

3. Corporations want to make sure their employees are happy and fulfilled

Here’s the FRED chart showing labor force participation rate.

On that first point, the economy wasn’t so hot in February either.

We know the 2008 recession drove a bunch of people to the gig economy…

James VanElls

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