May 27, 2018

Bills Signed to Improve Employment Opportunities for Disabled People, Continuing Civil Rights Division and Commission, and More

Since Friday, May 18, 2018, Governor Hickenlooper has signed 22 bills into law. To date, he has signed 251 bills and sent two to the Secretary of State without a signature. Some of the bills signed this week include a bill to continue the Colorado Civil Rights Division and Commission, a bill to implement “employment first” recommendations regarding people with disabilities, a bill extending and renaming the affordable housing tax credit, a bill allowing for equipment grants for rural fire departments, and more. The bills signed since Friday are summarized here.

Friday, May 18

  • HB 18-1319 – “Concerning the Extension of Services for a Successful Adulthood for Former Foster Care Youth who are Between the Ages of Eighteen Years and Twenty-one Years, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Jonathan Singer & Dave Young and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill allows county departments of human or social services to extend the provision of certain services for a successful adulthood to foster care youth between the ages of 18 and 21 who have exited the foster care system, including assistance with employment, housing, education, financial management, mental health care, and substance abuse treatment.
  • HB 18-1400 – “Concerning an Increase in Fees Paid by Stationary Sources of Air Pollutants, and, in Connection Therewith, Prioritizing the Use of the Revenues Generated by the Fee Increases to Reduce Permit Processing Times and Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. KC Becker & Hugh McKean and Sens. Cheri Jahn & Ray Scott. The bill increases statutory caps on the fees paid by stationary sources of air pollutants.
  • SB 18-039 – “Concerning the Wildfire Matters Review Committee, and, in Connection Therewith, Deferring the Date on which the Committee is Scheduled to Repeal and Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Matt Jones & John Cooke and Reps. Tony Exum & Dan Thurlow. The wildfire matters review committee (WMRC) is currently scheduled to repeal on July 1, 2018. The bill defers the repeal date to September 1, 2025.
  • SB 18-145 – “Concerning the Implementation of Employment First Advisory Partnership Recommendations to Advance Competitive Integrated Employment for Persons with Disabilities, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. John Kefalas and Rep. Joann Ginal. The bill requires the Department of Labor and Employment and the State Medical Services Board in the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to promulgate rules that require all providers of supported employment services for persons with disabilities to obtain a nationally recognized supported employment training certificate or earn a nationally recognized supported employment certification relating to supported employment services.
  • SB 18-254 – “Concerning Reforms to Child Welfare Services, and, in Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing an Appropriation,” by Sens. Kent Lambert & Dominick Moreno and Reps. Dave Young & Bob Rankin. The bill addresses numerous reforms to the funding structure for the state’s child welfare services.

Monday, May 21

  • HB 18-1003 – “Concerning Measures to Prevent Opioid Misuse in Colorado, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Brittany Pettersen and Sens. Cheri Jahn & Kevin Priola. The bill establishes in statute the opioid and other substance use disorders study committee, consisting of 5 senators and 5 representatives from the General Assembly, and provides for tasks for the committee to address.
  • HB 18-1007 – “Concerning Payment Issues Related to Substance Use Disorders,” by Reps. Chris Kennedy & Jonathan Singer and Sens. Kent Lambert & Cheri Jahn. The bill requires all individual and group health benefit plans to provide coverage without prior authorization for a five-day supply of at least one of the federal food and drug administration-approved drugs for the treatment of opioid dependence for a first request within a 12-month period.
  • HB 18-1360 – “Concerning the Expansion of the Number of Directors on the Board of Directors of the State Historical Society,” by Reps. Faith Winter & Polly Lawrence and Sens. Beth Martinez Humenik & Nancy Todd. The bill increases the number of directors of the Board of the State Historical Society from 9 to 13.
  • SB 18-022 – “Concerning Clinical Practice Measures for Safer Opioid Prescribing,” by Sens. Jack Tate & Irene Aguilar and Reps. Brittany Pettersen & Chris Kennedy. The bill restricts the number of opioid pills that a health care practitioner, including physicians, physician assistants, advanced practice nurses, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists, and veterinarians, may prescribe for an initial prescription to a seven-day supply and allows each health care practitioner to exercise discretion to include a second fill for a seven-day supply, with certain exceptions.
  • SB 18-024 – “Concerning Modifications to the Colorado Health Service Corps Program Administered by the Department of Public Health and Environment to Expand the Availability of Behavioral Health Care Providers in Shortage Areas in the State, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Cheri Jahn & Jack Tate and Reps. Brittany Pettersen & Jonathan Singer. The bill modifies the Colorado health service corps program administered by the primary care office in the Department of Public Health and Environment.
  • SB 18-270 – “Concerning Establishing a Statewide Program to Coordinate Referrals of High-risk Individuals in Need of Behavioral Health Transition Services, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Cheri Jahn & Tim Neville and Reps. Brittany Pettersen & Cole Wist. The bill establishes the community transition specialist program in the office of behavioral health in the Department of Human Services. The program coordinates referrals of high-risk individuals to transition specialists by certain behavioral health facilities and programs. High-risk individuals are under an emergency or involuntary hold, have a significant mental health or substance use disorder, and are not in consistent behavioral health treatment.

Tuesday, May 22

  • HB 18-1208 – “Concerning the Expansion of the Income Tax Credit for Child Care Expenses that is a Percentage of a Similar Federal Income Tax Credit,” by Reps. Crisanta Duran & Faith Winter and Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik. The bill expands the state child care income tax credit by allowing a resident individual with an AGI that is less than or equal to $150,000 to claim a credit that is equal to 80% of the individual’s federal credit.
  • HB 18-1255 – “Concerning the Creation of a Childhood Cancer Awareness License Plate, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Crisanta Duran & Terri Carver and Sens. John Cooke & John Kefalas. The bill creates the childhood cancer awareness license plate. A person becomes eligible to use the plate by providing a certificate confirming that the person has made a donation to an organization chosen by the Department of Revenue based on the organization’s assistance to children with cancer.
  • HB 18-1256 – “Concerning Continuation of the Regulation of Civil Rights Issues, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Recommendation in the Department of Regulatory Agencies’ 2017 Sunset Review and Report on the Colorado Civil Rights Division and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to Continue the Division and Commission and Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Crisanta Duran & Leslie Herod and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill implements the recommendation of the Department of Regulatory Agencies in its sunset review of the Colorado Civil Rights Division and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to continue the Commission and the Division and their respective functions for 9 years, through September 1, 2027.

Wednesday, May 23

  • HB 18-1008 – “Concerning the Financing of the Division of Parks and Wildlife’s Aquatic Nuisance Species Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Creating an Aquatic Nuisance Species Stamp for the Operation of Motorboats and Sailboats in Waters of the State, Increasing Penalties Related to the Introduction of Aquatic Nuisance Species into the Waters of the State, and Combining Two Separate Funds Related to the Aquatic Nuisance Species Program into One Fund,” by Reps. Daneya Esgar & Jeni James Arndt and Sens. Don Coram & Kerry Donovan. The bill updates a legislative declaration concerning aquatic nuisance species to encourage the federal government to dedicate sufficient funding and resources to the detection, prevention, control, and eradication of aquatic nuisance species for federally owned or managed aquatic resources and water infrastructure in Colorado, and makes other changes.
  • HB 18-1423 – “Concerning Grants to Provide Equipment to Rural Fire Protection Districts,” by Reps. Donald Valdez & Larry Liston and Sens. Leroy Garcia & Larry Crowder. The division of fire prevention and control in the department of public safety is currently authorized to use money in the local firefighter safety and disease prevention fund to provide grants for equipment and training to increase firefighter safety and prevent occupation-related diseases. The bill transfers $250,000 from the general fund to be used for these purposes.
  • SB 18-143 – “Concerning Measures to Increase Revenue for the Parks and Wildlife Division, and, in Connection Therewith, Setting Certain Hunting, Fishing, Parks, and Recreation Fees,” by Sens. Stephen Fenberg & Don Coram and Reps. Jeni James Arndt & James Wilson. The bill makes several statutory changes concerning hunting and fishing, including raising the amount of residential and nonresidential license fees, stamp fees, and surcharges for certain hunting and fishing activities.

Thursday, May 24

  • SB 18-042 – “Concerning the Creation of the Agricultural Workforce Development Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Kerry Donovan & Larry Crowder and Reps. Marc Catlin & Barbara McLachlin. The bill requires the commissioner of agriculture to create, by rule, the agricultural workforce development program to provide incentives to agricultural businesses to hire interns. Qualified agricultural businesses may be reimbursed an amount not to exceed 50% of the actual cost of hiring a qualified intern. The rules must include specified criteria for qualifying businesses and interns participating in the program. Qualified internships must include at least 130 hours of work experience and cannot exceed 6 months in duration. The program is repealed on July 1, 2024.
  • SB 18-066 – “Concerning an Extension of the Operation of the State Lottery Division Beyond July 1, 2024,” by Sens. Jerry Sonnenberg & Leroy Garcia and Reps. Jeni James Arndt & Cole Wist. The bill extends the scheduled termination on July 1, 2024, of the state lottery division in the Department of Revenue to July 1, 2049.
  • SB 18-085 – “Concerning Providing Financial Incentives for Educators to Work in Rural Areas, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Nancy Todd and Rep. Barbara McLachlan. Current law allows the Department of Higher Education to provide up to 20 financial stipends annually, not to exceed $6,000 each, to teachers in rural schools or school districts who are seeking certification as a national board certified teacher, seeking certification as a concurrent enrollment teacher, or furthering their professional development plan through continuing education, and who commit to employment in a rural school for a minimum of 3 years. The bill increases the number of available stipends to 60 and expands it to include teachers completing an approved alternative licensure program leading to initial licensure and full-time employment in a rural school or school district that serves rural schools and individuals completing the required course work leading to certification and employment in a rural school or a rural school district that serves rural schools.
  • SB 18-229 – “Concerning Criminal History Record Checks for Educator Preparation Program Students Seeking Field Experiences in Schools, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik and Reps. Kim Ransom & Barbara McLachlan.  The bill permits a student in an educator preparation program who is seeking field experiences in a school to submit his or her fingerprints to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for the purpose of performing a fingerprint-based criminal history record check for the student. Upon completion of the fingerprint-based criminal history record check, the bureau must forward the results to the Department of Education. If the fingerprint-based criminal history record check of a student performed pursuant to this section reveals a record of arrest without a disposition, the department is required to perform a name-based criminal history record check of that student.

For a complete list of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2018 legislative decisions, click here.

Utopia Already

“If you had to choose a moment in history to be born, and you did not know ahead of time who you would be—you didn’t know whether you were going to be born into a wealthy family or a poor family, what country you’d be born in, whether you were going to be a man or a woman—if you had to choose blindly what moment you’d want to be born you’d choose now.”

Pres. Barack Obama, 2016

It’s been a good month for optimists in my reading pile. Utopia is already here, they say, and we’ve got the facts to prove it.

Harvard Professor Steven Pinker is his own weather system. Bill Gates called Pinker’s latest book Enlightenment Now “My new favorite book of all time.”

Pinker begins cautiously: “The second half of the second decade of the third millennium would not seem to be an auspicious time to publish a book on the historical sweep of progress and its causes,” he says, and follows with a recitation of the bad news sound bytes and polarized blame-shifting we’ve (sadly) gotten used to. But then he throws down the optimist gauntlet: “In the pages that follow, I will show that this bleak assessment of the state of the world is wrong. And not just a little wrong — wrong, wrong, flat-earth wrong, couldn’t-be-more-wrong wrong.”

He makes his case in a string of data-laced chapters on progress, life expectancy, health, food and famine, wealth, inequality, the environment, war and peace, safety and security, terrorism, democracy, equal rights, knowledge and education, quality of life, happiness, and “existential” threats such as nuclear war. In each of them, he calls up the pessimistic party line and counters with his version of the rest of the story.

And then, just to make sure we’re getting the point, 322 pages of data and analysis into it, he plays a little mind game with us. First he offers an eight paragraph summary of the prior chapters, then starts the next three paragraphs with the words “And yet,” followed by a catalogue of everything that’s still broken and in need of fixing. Despite 322 prior pages and optimism’s 8-3 winning margin, the negativity feels oddly welcome. I found myself thinking, “Well finally, you’re admitting there’s a lot of mess we need to clean up.” But then Prof. Pinker reveals what just happened:

The facts in the last three paragraphs, of course, are the same as the ones in the first eight. I’ve simply read the numbers from the bad rather the good end of the scales or subtracted the hopeful percentages from 100. My point in presenting the state of the world in these two ways is not to show that I can focus on the space in the glass as well as on the beverage. It’s to reiterate that progress is not utopia, and that there is room — indeed, an imperative — for us to strive to continue that progress.

Pinker acknowledges his debt to the work of Swedish physician, professor of global health, and TED all-star Hans Rosling and his recent bestselling book Factfulness. Prof. Rosling died last year, and the book begins with a poignant declaration: “This book is my last battle in my lifelong mission to fight devastating ignorance.” His daughter and son-in-law co-wrote the book and are carrying on his work — how’s that for commitment, passion, and family legacy?

The book leads us through ten of the most common mind games we play in our attempts to remain ignorant. It couldn’t be more timely or relevant to our age of “willful blindness,” “cognitive bias,” “echo chambers” and “epistemic bubbles.”

Finally, this week professional skeptic Michael Sheerer weighed in on the positive side of the scale with his review of a new book by journalist Gregg Easterbrook — It’s Better Than It Looks. Shermer blasts out of the gate with “Though declinists in both parties may bemoan our miserable lives, Americans are healthier, wealthier, safer and living longer than ever.” He also begins his case with the Obama quote above, and adds another one:

As Obama explained to a German audience earlier that year: “We’re fortunate to be living in the most peaceful, most prosperous, most progressive era in human history,” adding “that it’s been decades since the last war between major powers. More people live in democracies. We’re wealthier and healthier and better educated, with a global economy that has lifted up more than a billion people from extreme poverty.”

A similar paeon to progress begins last year’s blockbuster Homo Deus (another of Bill Gates’ favorite books of all time). The optimist case has been showing up elsewhere in my research, too. Who knows, maybe utopia isn’t such a bad idea after all. In fact, maybe it’s already here.

Now there’s a thought.

All this ferocious optimism has been bracing, to say the least — it’s been the best challenge yet to what was becoming a comfortably dour outlook on economic reality.

And just as I was beginning to despair of anyone anywhere at any time ever using data to make sense of things, I also ran into an alternative to utopian thinking that both Pinker and Shermer acknowledge. It’s called “protopia,” and we’ll look at it next time.

 

Kevin Rhodes would create workplace utopia if he could. But since he doesn’t trust himself to do that, he writes this blog instead. Thanks for reading!

Utopia for Realists, Continued

Like humor and satire, utopias throw open the windows of the mind.

Rutger Bregman

Continuing with Rutger Bregman’s analysis of utopian thinking that we began last week:

Let’s first distinguish between two forms of utopian thought. The first is the most familiar, the utopia of the blueprint. Instead of abstract ideals, blueprints consist of immutable rules that tolerate no discussion.

There is, however, another avenue of utopian thought, one that is all but forgotten. If the blueprint is a high-resolution photo, then this utopia is just a vague outline. It offers not solutions but guideposts. Instead of forcing us into a straitjacket, it inspires us to change. And it understands that, as Voltaire put it, the perfect is the enemy of the good. As one American philosopher has remarked, ‘any serious utopian thinker will be made uncomfortable by the very idea of the blueprint.’

It was in this spirit that the British philosopher Thomas More literally wrote the book on utopia (and coined the term). More understood that utopia is dangerous when taken too seriously. ‘One needs to be believe passionately and also be able to see the absurdity of one’s own beliefs and laugh at them,’ observes philosopher and leading utopia expert Lyman Tower Sargent. Like humor and satire, utopias throw open the windows of the mind. And that’s vital. As people and societies get progressively older they become accustomed to the status quo, in which liberty can become a prison, and the truth can become lies. The modern creed — or worse, the belief that there’s nothing left to believe in — makes us blind to the shortsightedness and injustice that still surround us every day.

Thus the lines are drawn between utopian blueprints grounded in dogma vs. utopian ideals arising from sympathy and compassion. Both begin with good intentions, but the pull of entropy is stronger with the former — at least, so says Rutger Bregman, and he’s got good company in Sir Thomas More and others. Blueprints require compliance, and its purveyors are zealously ready to enforce it. Ideals on the other hand inspire creativity, and creativity requires acting in the face of uncertainty, living with imperfection, responding with resourcefulness and resilience when best intentions don’t play out, and a lot of just plain showing up and grinding it out. I have a personal bias for coloring outside the lines, but I must confess that my own attempts to promote utopian workplace ideals have given me pause.

For years, I led interactive workshops designed to help people creatively engage with their big ideas about work and wellbeing — variously tailored for CLE ethics credits or for general audiences. I realized recently that, reduced to their essence, they employed the kinds of ideals advocated by beatnik-era philosopher and metaphysicist Alan Watts. (We met him several months ago — he’s the “What would you do if money were no object?” guy. )

The workshops generated hundreds of heartwarming “this was life-changing” testimonies, but I could never quite get over this nagging feeling that the participants mostly hadn’t achieved escape velocity, and come next Monday they would be back to the despair of “But everybody knows you can’t earn any money that way.”

I especially wondered about the lawyers, for whom “I hate my job but love my paycheck” was a recurrent theme. The Post WWII neoliberal economic tide floated the legal profession’s boat, too, but prosperity has done little for lawyer happiness and well-being. True, we’re seeing substantial quality-of-life change in the profession recently (which I’ve blogged about in the past), but most have been around the edges, while overall lawyers’ workplace reality remains a bulwark of what one writer calls the “over-culture” — the overweening force of culturally-accepted norms about how things are and should be — and the legal over-culture has stepped in line with the worldwide workplace trend of favoring wealth over a sense of meaning and value.

Alan Watts’ ideals were widely adopted by the burgeoning self-help industry, which also rode the neoliberal tide to prosperous heights. Self-help tends to be long on inspiration and short on grinding, and sustainable creative change requires large doses of both. I served up both in the workshops, but still wonder if they were just too… well, um…beatnik … for the law profession. I’ll never know — the guy who promoted the workshops retired, and I quit doing them. If nothing else, writing this series has opened my eyes to how closely law practice mirrors worldwide economic and workplace dynamics. We’ll look more at that in the coming weeks.

 

Kevin Rhodes would create workplace utopia if he could. But since he doesn’t trust himself to do that, he writes this blog instead. Thanks for reading!

Utopia for Realists

Dutchman Rutger Bregman is a member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe Class of 2017. He’s written four books on history, philosophy, and economics. In his book Utopia for Realists (2016), he recognizes the dangers of utopian thinking:

True, history is full of horrifying forms of utopianism — fascism, communism, Nazism — just as every religion has also spawned fanatical sects.

According to the cliché, dreams have a way of turning into nightmares. Utopias are a breeding ground for discord, violence, even genocide. Utopias ultimately become dystopias.

Having faced up to the dangers, however, he presses on:

Let’s start with a little history lesson: In the past, everything was worse. For roughly 99% of the world’s history, 99% of humanity was poor, hungry, dirty, afraid, stupid, sick, and ugly. As recently as the seventeenth century, the French philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623-62) described life as one giant vale of tears. “Humanity is great,” he wrote, “because it knows itself to be wretched.” In Britain, fellow philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) concurred that human life was basically, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

But in the last 200 years, all that has changed. In just a fraction of the time that our species has clocked on this planet, billions of us are suddenly rich, well nourished, clean, safe, smart, healthy, and occasionally even beautiful.[1]

Welcome, in other words, to the Land of Plenty. To the good life, where almost everyone is rich, safe, and healthy. Where there’s only one thing we lack: a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Because, after all, you can’t really improve on paradise. Back in 1989, the American philosopher Francis Fukuyama already noted that we had arrived in an era where life has been reduced to “economic calculation, the endless solving of technical problems, environmental concerns, and the satisfaction of sophisticated consumer demands.”[2]

Notching up our purchasing power another percentage point, or shaving a couple off our carbon emissions; perhaps a new gadget — that’s about the extent of our vision. We live in an era of wealth and overabundance, but how bleak it is. There is “neither art nor philosophy,” Fukuyama says. All that’s left is the “perpetual caretaking of the museum of human history.”

According to Oscar Wilde, upon reaching the Land of Plenty, we should once more fix our gaze on the farthest horizon and rehoist the sails. “Progress is the realization of utopias,” he wrote. But the farthest horizon remains blank. The Land of Plenty is shrouded in fog. Precisely when we should be shouldering the historic task of investing this rich, safe, and healthy existence with meaning, we’ve buried utopia instead.

In fact, most people in wealthy countries believe children will actually be worse off than their parents. According to the World Health Organization, depression has even become the biggest health problem among teens and will be the number-one cause of illness worldwide by 2030.[3]

It’s a vicious cycle. Never before have so many young people been seeing a psychiatrist. Never before have there been so many early career burnouts. And we’re popping antidepressants like never before. Time and again, we blame collective problems like unemployment, dissatisfaction, and depression on the individual. If success is a choice, so is failure. Lost your job? You should have worked harder. Sick? You must not be leading a healthy lifestyle. Unhappy? Take a pill.

No, the real crisis is that we can’t come up with anything better. We can’t imagine a better world than the one we’ve got. The real crisis of our times, of my generation, is not that we don’t have it good, or even that we might be worse off later on. “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads,” a former math whiz at Facebook recently lamented.[4]

After this assessment, Bregman shifts gears. “The widespread nostalgia, the yearning for a past that really never was,” he says, “suggest that we still have ideals, even if we have buried them alive.” From there, he distinguishes the kind of utopian thinking we do well to avoid from the kind we might dare to embrace. We’ll follow him into that discussion next time.


[1] For a detailed (1,000 pages total) history of this economic growth from general nastiness to the standard of living we enjoy now, I’ll refer you again to two books I plugged a couple weeks ago: Americana: A 400 Year History Of American Capitalism and The Rise and Fall of American Growth.

[2] See here and here for a sampling of updates/opinions providing a current assessment of Fukuyama’s 1989 article.

[3] World Health Organization, Health for the World’s Adolescents, June 2014. See this executive summary.

[4] “This Tech Bubble is Different,” Bloomberg Businessweek, April 14, 2011.

 

Kevin Rhodes would create workplace utopia if he could. But since he doesn’t trust himself to do that, he writes this blog instead. Thanks for reading!

 

Utopia

“Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back”

John Maynard Keynes

We met law professor and economics visionary James Kwak a few months ago. In his book Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality (2017), he tells this well-known story about John Maynard Keynes:

In 1930, John Maynard Keynes argued that, thanks to technological progress, the ‘economic problem’ would be solved in about a century and people would only work fifteen hours per week — primarily to keep themselves occupied. When freed from the need to accumulate wealth, the human life would change profoundly.

This passage is from Keynes’ 1930 essay:

I see us free, therefore, to return to some of the most sure and certain principles of religion and traditional virtue—that avarice is a vice, that the exaction of usury is a misdemeanor, and the love of money is detestable, that those who walk most truly in the paths of virtue and sane wisdom are take least thought for the morrow. We shall once more value ends above means and prefer the good to the useful. We shall honour those who can teach us how to pluck the hour and the day virtuously and well, the delightful people who are capable of taking direct enjoyment in things, the lilies of the field who toil not neither do they spin.

The timing of Keynes’ essay is fascinating: he wrote it right after the original Black Friday and as the Great Depression was rolling out. Today, it seems as though his prediction was more than out of time, it was just plain wrong. Plus, it was undeniably utopian — which for most of us is usually translated something like, “Teah, don’t I wish, but that’s never going to happen.” Someone says “utopia,” and we automatically hear “dystopia,” which is where utopias usually end up, “reproduc[ing] many of the same tyrannies that people were trying to escape: egoism, power struggles, envy, mistrust and fear.” “Utopia, Inc.,” Aeon Magazine.

It’s just another day in paradise 
As you stumble to your bed 
You’d give anything to silence 
Those voices ringing in your head 
You thought you could find happiness 
Just over that green hill 
You thought you would be satisfied 
But you never will- 

The Eagles

To be fair, the post-WWII surge truly was a worldwide feast of economic utopia, served up mostly by the Mont Pelerin Society and other champions of neoliberal ideology. If they didn’t create the precise utopia Keynes envisioned, that’s because even the best ideas can grow out of time: a growing international body of data, analysis, and commentary indicates that continued unexamined allegiance to neoliberalism is rapidly turning postwar economic utopia into its opposite.

But what if we actually could, if not create utopia, then at least root out some persistent strains of dystopia — things like poverty, lack of access to meaningful work, even a more even-handed and less unequal income distribution? Kwak isn’t alone in thinking we could do just that, but to get there from here will require more than a new ideology to bump neoliberalism aside. Instead, we need an entirely new economic narrative, based on a new understanding of how the world works:

Almost a century [after Keynes made his prediction], we have the physical, financial, and human capital necessary for everyone in our country to enjoy a comfortable standard of living, and within a few generations the same should be true of the entire planet, And yet our social organization remains the same as it was in the Great Depression: some people work very hard and make more money than they will ever need, while many others are unable to find work and live in poverty.

Real change will not be achieved by mastering the details of marginal costs and marginal benefits, but by constructing a new, controlling narrative about how the world works.

Rooting out the persistent strains of economic dystopia in our midst will require a whole new way of thinking — maybe even some utopia thinking. If we’re going to go there, we’ll need to keep our wits about us. More on that next time.

Kevin Rhodes would create workplace utopia if he could. But since he doesn’t trust himself to do that, he writes this blog instead. Thanks for reading!

 

The Perils of Predicting

“We were promised flying cars, and instead what we got was 140 characters.”

Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder[1]

Economic forecasts and policy solutions are based on predictions, and predicting is a perilous business.

I grew up in a small town in western Minnesota. Our family got the morning paper — the Minneapolis Tribune. The Stars ubscribers got their paper around 4:00. A friend’s dad was a lawyer — his family got both. In a childhood display of cognitive bias, I never could understand why anyone would want an afternoon paper. News was made the day before, so you could read about it the next morning, and that was that.

I remember one Tribune headline to this day: it predicted nuclear war in 10 years. That was 1961, when I was eight. The Cuban missile crisis was the following year, and for awhile it looked like it wouldn’t take all ten years for the headline’s prediction to come true.

The Tribune helpfully ran designs and instructions for building your own fallout shelter. Our house had the perfect place for one: a root cellar off one side of the basement — easily the creepiest place in the house. You descended a couple steps down from the basement floor, through a stubby cinderblock hallway, past a door hanging on one hinge. Ahead of you was a bare light bulb swinging from the ceiling — it flickered, revealing decades of cobwebs and homeowner flotsam worthy of Miss Havisham. It was definitely a bomb shelter fixer-upper, but it was the right size, and as an added bonus it had a concrete slab over it — if you banged the ground above with a pipe it made a hollow sound.

I scoured the fallout shelter plans, but my dad said no. Someone else in town built one — the ventilation pipes stuck out of a room-size mound next to their house. People used to go by it on their Sunday drives. Meanwhile I ran my own personal version of the Doomsday Clockfor the next ten years until my 18th birthday came and went. So much for that headline.

I also remember a Sunday cartoon that predicted driverless cars. I found an article about it in this article from Gizmodo:[2]

The article explains:

The period between 1958 and 1963 might be described as a Golden Age of American Futurism, if not the Golden Age of American Futurism. Bookended by the founding of NASA in 1958 and the end of The Jetsons in 1963, these few years were filled with some of the wildest techno-utopian dreams that American futurists had to offer. It also happens to be the exact timespan for the greatest futuristic comic strip to ever grace the Sunday funnies: Closer Than We Think.

Jetpacks, meal pills, flying cars — they were all there, beautifully illustrated by Arthur Radebaugh, a commercial artist based in Detroit best known for his work in the auto industry. Radebaugh would help influence countless Baby Boomers and shape their expectations for the future. The influence of Closer Than We Think can still be felt today.

Timing is Everything

Apparently timing is everything in the prediction business. The driverless car prediction was accurate, just way too early. The Tribune’s nuclear war prediction was inaccurate (and let’s hope not just because it was too early). Predictions from the hapless mythological prophetess Cassandra were never inaccurate or untimely: she was cursed by Apollo (who ran a highly successful prophecy business at Delphi) with the gift of always being right but never believed.

Now that would be frustrating.

As I said last week, predicting is as perilous as policy-making. An especially perilous version of both is utopian thinking. There’s been plenty of utopian economic thinking the past couple centuries, and today’s economists continue the grand tradition — to their peril, and potentially to ours. We’ll look at some economic utopian thinking (and the case for and against it) beginning next time.

 

Apparently timing is everything in country music, too. I’m not an aficionado, but I did come across this video while researching this post. The guy’s got a nice baritone.


[1]Peter Thiel needn’t despair about the lack of flying cars anymore: here’s a video re: a prototypefrom Sebastian Thrun and his company Kitty Hawk.

[2]The article is worth a look, if you like that sort of thing. So is this Smithsonian articleon the Jetsons. And while we’re on the topic, check out this IEEE Spectrum articleon a 1960 RCA initiative that had self-driving cars just around the corner, and this Atlantic articleabout an Electronic Age/Science Digestarticle that made the same prediction even earlier — in 1958.

 

Kevin Rhodes writes about individual growth and cultural change, drawing on insights from science, technology, disruptive innovation, entrepreneurship, neuroscience, psychology, and personal experience, including his own unique journey to wellness — dealing with primary progressive MS through an aggressive regime of exercise, diet, and mental conditioning.

Check out Kevin’s latest LinkedIn Pulse article: When We Move, We Can Achieve the Impossible.”

The Perils of Policy

Economics articles, books, and speeches usually end with policy recommendations. You can predict them in advance if you know the ideological bias of the source. Let’s look at three, for comparison.

First, this Brookings Institute piece— What happens if robots take the jobs? The impact of emerging technologies on employment and public policy — written a couple years back by Darrell M. West, vice president and director of Governance Studies and founding director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Institute.

Second, this piece — Inequality isn’t inevitable. Here’s what we can do differently — published by the World Economic Forum and written last month by a seriously over-achieving 23-year old globe-trotting Italian named Andrea Zorzetto.

Third, this piece — Mark My Words: This Political Event Will be Unlike Anything We’ve Seen in 50 Years — by Porter Stansberry, which showed up in my Facebook feed last month. Stansberry offers this bio: “You may not know me, but nearly 20 years ago, I started a financial research and education business called Stansberry Research. Today we have offices in the U.S., Hong Kong, and Singapore. We serve more than half a million paid customers in virtually every country (172 at last count). We have nearly 500 employees, including dozens of financial analysts, corporate attorneys, accountants, technology experts, former hedge fund managers, and even a medical doctor.”

The Brookings article is what you would expect: long, careful, reasoned. Energetic Mr. Zorzetto’s article is bright, upbeat, and generally impressive. Porter Stansberry’s missive is … well, we’ll just let it speak for itself. I chose these three because they all cite the same economic data and developments, but reach for different policy ideals. There’s plenty more where these came from. Read enough of them, and they start to organize themselves into multiple opinion categories which after numerous iterations all mush together into vague uncertainty.

There’s got to be a better way. Turns out there is: how about if we ask the economy itself what it’s up to? That’s what the emerging field of study called “complexity economics” does. Here’s a short explanation of it, published online by Exploring Economics, an “open source learning platform.” The word “complexity” in this context doesn’t mean “hard to figure out.” It’s a technical term borrowed from a systems theory approach that originated in science, mathematics, and statistics.

Complexity economics bypasses ideological bias and lets the raw data speak for itself. It’s amazing what you hear when you give data a voice — for example, an answer to the question we heard the Queen of England ask a few posts back, which a group of Cambridge economists couldn’t answer (neither could anyone else, for that matter): Why didn’t we see the 2007-2008 Recession coming? The economy had and answer; you just need to know how to listen to it. (More on that coming up.)

What gives data its voice? Ironically, the very job-threatening technological trends we’ve been talking about in the past couple months:

Big Data + Artificial Intelligence + Brute Strength Computer Processing Power
= Complexity Economics

Which means — in a stroke of delicious irony — guess whose jobs are most threatened by this new approach to economics? You guessed it: the jobs currently held by ideologically-based economists making policy recommendations. For them, economics just became “the dismal science” in a whole new way.

Complex systems theory is as close to a Theory of Everything as I’ve seen. No kidding. We’ll be looking at it in more depth, but first… Explaining is one thing, but predicting is another. Policy-making invariably relies on the ability to predict outcomes, but predicting has its own perils. We’ll look at those next time. In the meantime, just for fun…

                           

If you click on the first image, you’ll go to the original silent movie melodrama series. A click on the second image takes you to Wikipedia re: the 1947 Hollywood technicolor remake. The original is from a period of huge economic growth and quality of life advancements. The movie came out at the beginning of equally powerful post-WWII economic growth. Which leads to another economic history book I can’t recommend highly enough, shown in the image on the left below. Like Americana, which I recommended a couple weeks ago, it’s well researched and readable. They’re both big, thick books, but together they offer a fascinating course on all the American history we never knew. (Click the images for more.)

                    

 

Kevin Rhodes writes about individual growth and cultural change, drawing on insights from science, technology, disruptive innovation, entrepreneurship, neuroscience, psychology, and personal experience, including his own unique journey to wellness — dealing with primary progressive MS through an aggressive regime of exercise, diet, and mental conditioning.

Check out Kevin’s latest LinkedIn Pulse article: When We Move, We Can Achieve the Impossible.”

Bills Signed Requiring Commercial Drivers to Receive Training in Human Trafficking Prevention, Modifying Water Court Process for Substitute Water Rights, and More

On Thursday, April 12, 2018, Governor Hickenlooper signed 23 bills into law. To date, he has signed 149 bills and sent one to the Secretary of State without a signature. Some of the bills signed Thursday include a bill allowing a water court process for mitigation measures, a bill requiring commercial drivers to receive training on prevention of human trafficking, a bill authorizing insurers’ agents to access the electronic motor vehicle title database, and more. The bills signed Thursday are summarized here.

  • SB 18-011 – “Concerning Treatment of Students who are Excused by their Parents from Participating in State Assessments,” by Sens. Chris Holbert & Andy Kerr and Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Paul Lundeen. The bill clarifies procedures for parents who excuse their children from taking state assessments and students whose parents excuse them from testing shall still be allowed to receive rewards designed for students who complete the assessments.
  • SB 18-079 – “Concerning Classifying Sake as a Vinous Liquor for the Purposes of the ‘Colorado Liquor Code,'” by Sen. Lucia Guzman and Rep. Dan Pabon. The bill classifies sake as a vinous liquor (wine) for the purposes of the “Colorado Liquor Code.”
  • SB 18-087 – “Concerning In-state Tuition at Institutions of Higher Education for Certain Foreign Nationals Legally Settled in Colorado,” by Sen. Stephen Fenberg and Reps. Dafna Michaelson Jenet & Faith Winter. The bill contains a legislative declaration about the circumstances facing special immigrants and refugees and the benefit of access to education.
  • SB 18-106 – “Concerning Obsolete Statutory Provisions Related to a Local Government’s Pledging of Sales or Use Tax Revenues to Pay for Revenue Bonds Issued for the Purpose of Financing Capital Improvements,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Rep. Don Thurlow. Current law specifies that a county, city, or incorporated town may include the creation of a sales and use tax capital improvement fund (special fund) when the county, city, or incorporated town seeks voter approval to levy a sales or use tax. The creation of the special fund does not have a purpose for a county, city, or incorporated town post-TABOR because the question of using sales or use tax revenues for financing capital improvements is asked when the county, city, or incorporated town seeks voter approval for the bond issuance. Thus, the language regarding the creation of the fund is unnecessary.
  • SB 18-110 – “Concerning the Repeal of the Requirement that Each State Agency Annually Report the Amount of Federal Money it Received in the Prior Fiscal Year,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Rep. Jeni James Arndt. During the 2017 legislative session, the statutory revision committee put forth House Bill 17-1058, which, in part, repealed a requirement that the state controller submit to the general assembly a report of all federal money received by state agencies during the prior fiscal year. State agencies are still required to submit an annual report to the state controller of all federal moneys received by the state agency in the prior fiscal year for the state controller’s use in preparing the report for the general assembly.The bill repeals the state agency reporting requirement as the state controller is no longer required to prepare a report for the general assembly.
  • SB 18-127 – “Concerning the Repeal of the Department of Revenue’s Requirement to Publish an Historical Explanation of Income Tax Rate Modifications Enacted in the State on Every Income Tax Return Form,” by Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik and Rep. Dan Thurlow. The bill repeals the requirement that the Executive Director of the Department of Revenue publish an historical explanation of income tax rate modifications enacted in the state on every income tax return form.
  • SB 18-129 – “Concerning the Nonsubstantive Reorganization of the Law Exempting from State Sales Tax Certain Drugs and Medical and Therapeutic Devices,” by Sen. Dominick Moreno and Rep. Jeni James Arndt. The bill makes several modifications to the laws exempting certain drugs and medical devices from sales tax.
  • SB 18-136 – “Concerning Fees for Advising Clients About the Selection of an Individual Health Benefit Plan,” by Sen. Tim Neville and Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Lang Sias. The bill allows an insurance producer or broker advising a client on individual health benefit plans to charge the client a fee if the producer or broker does not receive a commission related to the individual health benefit plan selected by the client and if the producer or broker discloses in writing the fee to the client.
  • SB 18-161 – “Concerning Repeal of the Behavioral Health Transformation Council,” by Sen. Jim Smallwood and Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Lois Landgraf. The bill repeals the behavioral health transformation council.
  • SB 18-162 – “Concerning Substitute Child Care Providers,” by Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik and Reps. Janet Buckner & James Wilson. The bill creates a license within the Department of Human Services for a substitute placement agency that places or that facilitates or arranges placement of substitute child care providers in licensed child care facilities providing less than 24-hour care.
  • SB 18-170 – “Concerning a Water Court Process by Which an Owner of a Storage Water Right Allowing Water to be Stored in New Reservoir Capacity may Release Water into an Identified Stream Reach in a Manner that Protects the Water Releases while Complying with Mitigation Measures Identified in a Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Plan Approved by the Colorado Water Conservation Board,” by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and Reps. Chris Hansen & Hugh McKean. The bill establishes a water court process by which an owner of a water storage right allowing water to be stored in a newly constructed reservoir or an enlarged existing reservoir may comply with the mitigation measures identified in a mitigation plan by contracting with the board.
  • SB 18-172 – “Concerning Testing of Horse Racing Licensees for the Presence of Prohibited Substances,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Rep. Pete Lee. The bill adds to the responsibilities of the Colorado racing commission the protection of all participants, human and animal, involved in horse racing.
  • SB 18-176 – “Concerning Changes to the Requirements for Meeting Dates for the Board of the Southwestern Water Conservation District,” by Sen. Don Coram and Reps. Barbara McLachlin & Marc Catlin. The bill requires the Board of the Southwestern Water Conservation District to meet once every three months and makes amendments to the terms of the board members and board president.
  • SB 18-182 – “Concerning the Authority to Allocate a Portion of the Source Market Fee to Statutorily Authorized Purse Funds,” by Sens. Don Coram & Lucia Guzman and Reps. Marc Catlin & Jeni James Arndt. Current law requires persons outside of Colorado who accept wagers from residents of Colorado on simulcast horse racing events to be licensed in Colorado and to pay a source market fee into the racing cash fund. The bill authorizes the Director of the Division of Racing Events to allocate a portion of the source market fee to be paid to any horse purse trust fund established pursuant to existing law, if necessary, to maintain a sustainable and competitive purse structure in Colorado.
  • SB 18-183 – “Concerning Authorizing Agents of Insurers to Access the Electronic System that Insurers Access for Owner and Lienholder Information of a Motor Vehicle,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Reps. Jeni James Arndt & Larry Liston. Current law authorizes the creation and maintenance of an electronic system that vehicle towers, insurers, and salvage pools may use to access motor vehicle title records if the vehicle is insured or possessed by those entities. The bill allows an agent of an insurer to use the system in the same circumstances.
  • SB 18-184 – “Concerning a New Permit for the Short-term Extraction of Construction Materials,” by Sen. Don Coram and Reps. Hugh McKean & Daneya Esgar. The bill creates a new class of limited impact construction materials permits for one-time activities that produce construction materials as a by-product and are not intended to be ongoing mining operations and authorizes an application fee of $400 for the permit and an annual fee of $200.
  • HB 18-1017 – “Concerning the Adoption of an Interstate Compact to Allow a Person Authorized to Practice Psychology in a Compact State in Which the Person is not Licensed, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Dafna Michelson Jenet and Sens. Bon Gardner & Stephen Fenberg. The bill enacts the ‘Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact Act’ allowing psychologists licensed in any compact state to provide telepsychology services to clients in any other compact state, or temporary in-person client services in any compact state not exceeding 30 days in a calendar year.
  • HB 18-1018 – “Concerning a Requirement that Education to Prevent Human Trafficking be Included in the Training to Obtain a Commercial Driver’s License,” by Reps. Terri Carver & Dominique Jackson and Sens. Rachel Zenzinger & John Cooke. The bill requires that the training to obtain a commercial driver’s license to drive a combination vehicle contain education to prevent human trafficking if the training is conducted in a driving school. The department must also publish information about human trafficking for commercial driver’s license holders and trainees.
  • HB 18-1049 – “Concerning the Department of Human Services’ Authority to Continue to Lease Portions of the Grand Junction Regional Center Campus to Third-party Behavioral Health Providers,” by Rep. Dan Thurlow and Sen. Ray Scott. The Department of Human Services currently leases portions of the Grand Junction regional center campus to third-party behavioral health providers. The bill authorizes the Department to continue such leases until June 30, 2020, and each party to such lease may terminate the lease early provided that the terminating party provide the other party with 90 days notice before vacating the property or requiring the property to be vacated.
  • HB 18-1056 – “Concerning the Statewide Standard Health History Form that Members of the Fire and Police Pension Association Complete when Commencing Employment,” by Reps. Kevin Van Winkle & Dave Williams and Sen. John Cooke. Every member of the fire and police pension association (FPPA), at the commencement of employment, is required to complete a health history on a statewide standard health history form. The bill clarifies several aspects of the form.
  • HB 18-1078 – “Concerning Court Programs for Defendants who have Served in the Armed Forces,” by Reps. Lois Landgraf & Tony Exum and Sen. Bob Gardner. Under current law, the chief judge of a judicial district may establish an appropriate program for the treatment of veterans and members of the military. The bill states that, in establishing any such program, the chief judge, in collaboration with the probation department, the district attorney, and the state public defender, shall establish program guidelines and eligibility criteria. The bill requires a court, in determining whether to issue an order to seal criminal records of a petitioner who has successfully completed a veterans treatment program, to consider such factor favorably in making the determination.
  • HB 18-1154 – “Concerning Consumer Protections Relating to a Solicitation to Provide a Copy of a Public Record for a Fee,” by Reps. Edie Hooten & Kevin Van Winkle and Sen. Cheri Jahn. The bill requires a person who solicits a fee for providing a copy of a deed or deed of trust to give a copy of the document that will be used for the solicitation to each county clerk and recorder where the solicitation is to be distributed; not charge a fee of more than 4 times the amount charged by the county clerk and recorder; and include specified disclosures.
  • HB 18-1239 – “Concerning Continuation under the Sunset Law of the Environmental Management System Permit Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Recommendations of the Sunset Report by the Department of Regulatory Agencies by Allowing the Program to Repeal,” by Rep. Lois Landgraf and Sen. Ray Scott. The bill implements the recommendations of the sunset review and report on the environmental management system permit program by allowing the program to repeal.

For a complete list of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2018 legislative decisions, click here.

The Fatal Flaw

Several years ago I wrote a screenplay that did okay in a contest. I made a couple trips to Burbank to pitch it, got no sustained interest, and gave up on it. Recently, someone who actually knows what he’s doing encouraged me to revise and re-enter it. Among other things, he introduced me to Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc, by Dara Marks (2007). The book describes what the author calls “the essential story element” — which, it turns out, is remarkably apt not just for film but for life in general, and particularly for talking about economics, technology, and the workplace.

No kidding.

What is it?

The Fatal Flaw.

This is from the book:

First, it’s important to recap or highlight the fundamental premise on which the fatal flaw is based:

  • Because change is essential for growth, it is a mandatory requirement for life.
  • If something isn’t growing and developing, it can only be headed toward decay and death.
  • There is no condition of stasis in nature. Nothing reaches a permanent position where neither growth nor diminishment is in play.

As essential as change is, most of us resist it, and cling rigidly to old survival systems because they are familiar and “seem” safer. In reality, if an old, obsolete survival system makes us feel alone, isolated, fearful, uninspired, unappreciated, and unloved, we will reason that it’s easier to cope with what we know that with what we haven’t yet experienced. As a result, most of us will fight to sustain destructive relationships, unchallenging jobs, unproductive work, harmful addictions, unhealthy environments, and immature behavior long after there is any sign of life or value to them.

This unyielding commitment to old, exhausted survival systems that have outlived their usefulness, and resistance to the rejuvenating energy of new, evolving levels of existence and consciousness is what I refer to as the fatal flaw of character:

The Fatal Flaw is a struggle within a character
to maintain a survival system
long after it has outlived its usefulness.

As it is with screenwriting, so it is with us as we’re reckoning with the wreckage of today’s collision among economics, technology, and the workplace. We’re like the character who must change or die to make the story work: our economic survival is at risk, and failure to adapt is fatal. Faced with that prospect, we can change our worldview, or we can wish we had. Trouble is, our struggle to embrace a new paradigm is as perilous as holding to an old one.

What’s more, we will also need to reckon with two peculiar dynamics of our time: “echo chambers” and “epistemic bubbles.” The following is from an Aeon Magazine article published earlier this week entitled “Escape The Echo Chamber”:

Something has gone wrong with the flow of information. It’s not just that different people are drawing subtly different conclusions from the same evidence. It seems like different intellectual communities no longer share basic foundational beliefs. Maybe nobody cares about the truth anymore, as some have started to worry. Maybe political allegiance has replaced basic reasoning skills. Maybe we’ve all become trapped in echo chambers of our own making – wrapping ourselves in an intellectually impenetrable layer of likeminded friends and web pages and social media feeds.

But there are two very different phenomena at play here, each of which subvert the flow of information in very distinct ways. Let’s call them echo chambers and epistemic bubbles. Both are social structures that systematically exclude sources of information. Both exaggerate their members’ confidence in their beliefs. But they work in entirely different ways, and they require very different modes of intervention. An epistemic bubble is when you don’t hear people from the other side. An echo chamber is what happens when you don’t trust people from the other side.

An echo chamber doesn’t destroy their members’ interest in the truth; it merely manipulates whom they trust and changes whom they accept as trustworthy sources and institutions.

Here’s a basic check: does a community’s belief system actively undermine the trustworthiness of any outsiders who don’t subscribe to its central dogmas? Then it’s probably an echo chamber.

That’s what we’re up against. We’ll plow fearlessly ahead next time.

 

Kevin Rhodes writes about individual growth and cultural change, drawing on insights from science, technology, disruptive innovation, entrepreneurship, neuroscience, psychology, and personal experience, including his own unique journey to wellness — dealing with primary progressive MS through an aggressive regime of exercise, diet, and mental conditioning.

Check out Kevin’s latest LinkedIn Pulse article: When We Move, We Can Achieve the Impossible.”

Colorado Supreme Court: Only Privilege-Holder Can Waive Physician-Patient Privilege, and Only By Injecting Condition Into Case

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Gadeco, LLC v. Grynberg on Monday, April 9, 2018.

Physician-Patient Privilege—Implied Waiver.

In this original proceeding, the supreme court considered whether the trial court abused its discretion when it found that defendant impliedly waived the physician-patient privilege as to his mental health records by asserting counterclaims for breach of contract, requesting specific performance, and denying the opposing parties’ allegations. The court affirmed its rule that only privilege holders—patients—can impliedly waive the physician-patient privilege, and they do so by injecting their physical or mental condition into the case as the basis of a claim or an affirmative defense. Correspondingly, an adverse party cannot place a patient’s mental condition at issue through its defenses, nor can a privilege holder do so by denying an adverse party’s allegations. Applying those rules, the court held that defendant did not waive the physician-patient privilege through his counterclaims or answer. The court concluded that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering defendant to produce his medical records for in camera review and made the rule to show cause absolute.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Bus Riding Economists

Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man
Tryin’ to make a livin’ and doin’ the best I can[1]

A couple economists took the same bus I did one day last week. We’ll call them “Home Boy” and “Ramblin’ Man.”. They made acquaintance when Ramblin’ Man put his money in the fare box and didn’t get a transfer coupon. He was from out of town, he said, and didn’t know how to work it. Home Boy explained that you need to wait until the driver gets back from her break. Ramblin’ Man said he guessed the money was just gone, but the driver showed up about then and checked the meter — it showed he’d put the money in, so he got his transfer. Technology’s great, ain’t it?

Ramblin’ Man took the seat in front of me. Home Boy sat across the aisle. When the conversation turned to economics, I eavesdropped[2] shamelessly. Well not exactly — they were talking pretty loud. Ramblin’ Man said he’d been riding the bus for two days to get to the VA. That gave them instant common ground:  they were both Vietnam vets, and agreed they were lucky to get out alive.

Ramblin’ Man said when he got out he went traveling — hitchhike, railroad, bus, you name it. That was back in the 70’s, when a guy could go anywhere and get a job. Not no more. Now he lives in a small town up on northeast Montana. He likes it, but it’s a long way to get to the VA, but he knew if he could get here, there’d be a bus to take him right to it, and sure enough there was. That’s the trouble with those small towns, said Home Boy — nice and quiet, but not enough people to have any services. I’ll bet there’s no bus company up there, he chuckled. Not full of people like Minneapolis.

Minneapolis! Ramblin’ Man lit up at the mention of it. All them people, and no jobs. He was there in 2009, right after the bankers ruined the economy. Yeah, them and the politicians, Home Boy agreed. Shoulda put them all in jail. It’s those one-percenters. They got it fixed now so nobody makes any money but them. It’s like it was back when they were building the railroads and stuff. Now they’re doing it again. Nobody learns from history — they keep doing the same things over and over. They’re stuck in the past.

Except this time, it’s different, said Ramblin’ Man. It’s all that technology — takes away all the jobs. Back in 09, he’d been in Minneapolis for three months, and his phone never rang once for a job offer. Not once. Never used to happen in the 70’s.

And then my stop came up, and my economic history lesson was over. My two bus riding economists had covered the same developments I’ve been studying for the past 15 months. My key takeaway? That “The Economy” is a lazy fiction — none of us really lives there. Instead, we live in the daily challenges of figuring out how to get the goods and services we need — maybe to thrive (if you’re one of them “one-percenters”), or maybe just to get by. The Economy isn’t some transcendent structure, it’s created one human transaction at a time — like when a guy hits the road to make sense of life after a war, picking up odd jobs along the way until eventually he settles in a peaceful little town in the American Outback. When we look at The Economy that way, we get a whole new take on it. That’s precisely what a new breed of cross-disciplinary economists are doing, and we’ll examine their outlook in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I suspect that one of the reasons we don’t learn from history is that we don’t know it. In that regard, I recently read a marvelous economic history book that taught me a whole lot I never knew:  Americana: A 400-Year History of American Capitalism (2017)  by tech entrepreneur Bhu Srinivasan. Here’s the promo blurb:

“From the days of the Mayflower and the Virginia Company, America has been a place for people to dream, invent, build, tinker, and bet the farm in pursuit of a better life. Americana takes us on a four-hundred-year journey of this spirit of innovation and ambition through a series of Next Big Things — the inventions, techniques, and industries that drove American history forward: from the telegraph, the railroad, guns, radio, and banking to flight, suburbia, and sneakers, culminating with the Internet and mobile technology at the turn of the twenty-first century. The result is a thrilling alternative history of modern America that reframes events, trends, and people we thought we knew through the prism of the value that, for better or for worse, this nation holds dearest: capitalism. In a winning, accessible style, Bhu Srinivasan boldly takes on four centuries of American enterprise, revealing the unexpected connections that link them.”

This is American history as we never learned it, and the book is well worth every surprising page.


[1] From “Ramblin’ Man,” by the Allman Brothers. Here’s a 1970 live version. And here’s the studio version.

[2] If you wonder, as I did, where “eavesdrop” came from, here’s the Word Detective’s explanation.

 

Kevin Rhodes writes about individual growth and cultural change, drawing on insights from science, technology, disruptive innovation, entrepreneurship, neuroscience, psychology, and personal experience, including his own unique journey to wellness — dealing with primary progressive MS through an aggressive regime of exercise, diet, and mental conditioning.

Check out Kevin’s latest LinkedIn Pulse article: When We Move, We Can Achieve the Impossible.”

Bills Signed Regarding Fiduciary Duties of Title Insurance Entities, Public Official Oaths and Affirmations, and More

On Thursday, March 29, 2018, the governor signed 17 bills into law. He also signed 16 bills into law on Monday, April 2, 2018. To date, Governor Hickenlooper has signed 114 bills this legislative session and sent one to the Secretary of State without a signature. The bills signed Thursday and Monday include a bill concerning the fiduciary duties of title insurance entities with regard to funds held for closing, a bill exempting physicians who treat patients with rare disorders from non-compete agreements, several bills updating outdated statutory language, bills regarding financing broadband for rural areas, a bill requiring reporting when title to a motor vehicle has been transferred, and more. The bills signed Thursday and Monday are summarized here.

  • HB 18-1012 – “Concerning Vision Care Plans for Eye Care Services,” by Reps. Jon Becker & Susan Lontine and Sens. Kevin Lundberg & Irene Aguilar. The bill prohibits a carrier or entity that offers a vision care plan from requiring an eye care provider with whom the carrier or entity contracts to provide services at a set fee, charge a person for noncovered services, or participate in a carrier’s other vision plan networks.
  • HB 18-1091 – “Concerning Dementia Diseases, and, in Connection Therewith, Updating Statutory References to Dementia Diseases and Related Disabilities,” by Reps. Susan Beckman & Joann Ginal and Sens. Jim Smallwood & Nancy Todd. The bill updates statutory references to Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases and reflects that dementia diseases have related disabilities impacting memory and other cognitive abilities.
  • HB 18-1099 – “Concerning Criteria that the Broadband Deployment Board is Required to Develop with Regard to an Incumbent Telecommunications Provider’s Exercise of a Right to Implement a Broadband Deployment Project in an Unserved Area of the State Upon a Nonincumbent Provider’s Application to the Broadband Deployment Board to Implement a Proposed Broadband Deployment Project in the Unserved Area,” by Reps. Marc Catlin & Barbara McLaughlin and Sen. Don Coram. The bill requires that the Broadband Deployment Board’s criteria include requirements that an incumbent telecommunications provider exercising its right to implement a broadband deployment project for the unserved area agree to provide demonstrated downstream and upstream speeds equal to or faster than the speeds indicated in the applicant’s proposed project and at a cost per household that is equal to or less than the cost per household indicated in the applicant’s proposed project.
  • HB 18-1103 – “Concerning the Ability of a Local Government to Require a Driver to Meet Safety Standards for the Use of an Off-highway Vehicle,” by Rep. Barbara McLaughlin and Sen. Don Coram. The bill clarifies that a local government does not violate state rules if it imposes certain requirements on a driver of an off-highway vehicle.
  • HB 18-1130 – “Concerning Increasing the Availability of Qualified Personnel who are Licensed in Another State to Teach in Public Schools,” by Reps. Dave Williams & Jeni James Arndt and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill changes requirements for special education teacher requirements from 3 years of continuous experience to 3 years of experience within the previous 7 years.
  • HB 18-1137 – “Concerning the Scheduled Repeal of Reports to the General Assembly, and, in Connection Therewith, Continuing the Requirements for Reports by the Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety,” by Rep. Hugh McKean and Sen. Rachel Zenzinger. The bill continues reporting requirements of the Departments of Transportation and Public Safety.
  • HB 18-1138 – “Concerning Standardizing Public Official Oaths of Office, and, in Connection Therewith, Providing a Uniform Oath Text and Establishing Requirements for Taking, Subscribing, Administering, and Filing Public Oaths of Office,” by Rep. Jeni James Arndt and Sen. Rachel Zenzinger. The bill establishes a single uniform text for swearing or affirming an oath of office and the requirements regarding how and when an oath or affirmation of office must be taken, subscribed, administered, and filed.
  • HB 18-1139 – “Concerning the Removal of Outdated Statutory References to Repealed Reporting Requirements that were Previously Imposed on the Parks and Wildlife Commission with Regard to its Rule-making Authority to Set Fees,” by Rep. Edie Hooten and Sen. Rachel Zenzinger. The bill removes obsolete references to a statutory subsection that was repealed on September 1, 2017.
  • HB 18-1158 – “Concerning a Supplemental Appropriation to the Department of Corrections,” by Rep. Millie Hamner and Sen. Kent Lambert. The bill makes a supplemental appropriation to the Department of Corrections.
  • HB 18-1171 – “Concerning Adjustments in the Amount of Total Program Funding for Public Cchools for the 2017-18 Budget Year, and, in Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing an Appropriation,” by Rep. Millie Hamner and Sen. Kevin Lundberg. The bill adjusts the minimum amount of total program funding specified in statute to reflect this intent for the actual funded pupil count and the actual at-risk pupil count.
  • HB 18-1196 – “Concerning Authorization to Verify the Disability of an Applicant to the Aid to the Needy Disabled Program,” by Rep. Tony Exum and Sens. Nancy Todd & Beth Martinez Humenik. Under current law, in order to receive assistance under the aid to the needy disabled program, an applicant must be examined by a physician, physician assistant, advanced practice nurse, or registered nurse. The bill adds to the list of persons authorized to perform an examination a licensed psychologist, or any other licensed or certified health care personnel the department of human services deems appropriate.
  • HB 18-1233 – “Concerning a Consumer Reporting Agency’s Placement of a Security Freeze on the Consumer Report of a Consumer who is Under the Charge of a Representative at the Request of the Consumer’s Representative,” by Reps. Crisanta Duran & Polly Lawrence and Sens. Stephen Fenberg & Bob Gardner. The bill authorizes a parent or legal guardian (representative) to request that a consumer reporting agency place a security freeze on the consumer report of either a minor less than 16 years of age or another individual who is a ward of the representative (protected consumer).
  • SB 18-002 – “Concerning the Financing of Broadband Deployment,” by Sens. Don Coram & Jerry Sonnenberg and Reps. KC Becker & Crisanta Duran. The bill amends the definition of ‘broadband network’ to increase the speed of downstream broadband internet service from at least 4 megabits per second to at least 10 megabits per second and the definition of ‘unserved area’ to refer to an area that is unincorporated, or within a city with a population of fewer than 7,500 inhabitants, and that is not receiving federal support to construct a broadband network to serve a majority of the households in each census block in the area, and requires the PUC to allocate money.
  • SB 18-028 – “Concerning the Repeal of Certain Requirements for Where a License Plate is Mounted on a Motor Vehicle,” by Sen. Ray Scott and Rep. Jeff Bridges. Current law requires each license plate to be at the approximate center of a motor vehicle and at least 12 inches from the ground. The bill repeals this requirement for the front license plate and replaces it with a requirement that the front license plate be mounted horizontally on the front in the location designated by the manufacturer.
  • SB 18-073 – “Concerning Reporting to the Department of Revenue when Ownership of a Motor Vehicle has been Transferred,” by Sen. Jim Smallwood and Reps. Kim Ransom & Leslie Herod. The bill creates a voluntary program administered by the Department of Revenue that authorizes the owner of a motor vehicle to report a transfer of ownership of the motor vehicle. If the previous owner reports the transfer to the Department, the previous owner is not subject to liability for the misuse of the vehicle.
  • SB 18-074 – “Concerning Adding Individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome to the List of Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities,” by Sen. Nancy Todd and Rep. Chris Hansen. The bill adds Prader-Willi syndrome to the list of persons who have mandatory eligibility for services and supports and also to the definition of an ‘intellectual and developmental disability’ for the purpose of receiving services and supports.
  • SB 18-082 – “Concerning a Physician’s Right to Provide Continuing Care to Patients with Rare Disorders Despite a Covenant Not to Compete,” by Sen. Rachel Zenzinger and Sen. Chris Kennedy. The bill exempts physicians who provide care to patients with rare diseases from non-compete agreements.
  • SB 18-090 – “Concerning ‘Rights of Married Women,'” by Sen. Rachel Zenzinger and Rep. Edie Hooten. The bill modernizes the language in statutory sections concerning the “rights of married women” to be inclusive of married men and women.
  • SB 18-095 – “Concerning the Removal of Statutory References to the Marital Status of Parents of a Child,” by Sens. Rachel Zenzinger & Beth Martinez Humenik and Reps. Edie Hooten & Hugh McKean. The bill removes or modernizes outdated statutory references to a ‘legitimate’ or ‘illegitimate’ child and a ‘child born out of wedlock’. Colorado only recognizes parentage of a child and acknowledges that the parent and child relationship extends equally to every child and every parent, regardless of the marital status of the parents.
  • SB 18-098 – “Concerning Amending a Statutory Provision Relating to Interest on Damages that was Ruled Unconstitutional by the Colorado Supreme Court,” by Sens. Jack Tate & Rachel Zenzinger and Reps. Edie Hooten & Dan Thurlow. The bill amends C.R.S. § 13-21-101 (1), concerning interest on damages, to reflect a 1996 decision made by the Colorado Supreme Court that ruled certain language in that subsection violated the equal protection clause of the constitution.
  • SB 18-099 – “Concerning the Alignment of Early Childhood Quality Improvement Programs with the Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System,” by Sens. Michael Merrifield & Kevin Priola and Reps. Brittany Pettersen & James Wilson. The bill amends the application and eligibility requirements for the school-readiness quality improvement program and the infant and toddler quality and availability grant program to align with the Colorado shines quality rating and improvement system to streamline the administration of the programs.
  • SB 18-102 – “Concerning the Requirement for an Odometer Reading when a Motor Vehicle’s Identification Number is Physically Verified,” by Sens. Jack Tate & Rachel Zenzinger and Reps. Edie Hooten & Dan Thurlow. The bill repeals the requirement that the odometer be read when a motor vehicle’s identification number is physically verified.
  • SB 18-104 – “Concerning a Requirement that the Broadband Deployment Board File a Petition with the Federal Communications Commission to Seek a Waiver from the Commission’s Rules Prohibiting a State Entity from Applying for Certain Federal Money Earmarked for Financing Broadband Deployment in Remote Areas of the Nation,” by Sen. Kerry Donovan and Reps. Yeulin Willett & Barbara McLaughlin. The bill requires the broadband deployment board, on or before January 1, 2019, to petition the federal communications commission (FCC) for a waiver from the FCC’s rules prohibiting a state entity from applying for federal money earmarked for broadband deployment in remote areas of the nation through the remote areas fund created as part of the connect America fund established by the FCC.
  • SB 18-111 – “Concerning the Removal of an Obsolete Date in the Law that Designates State Legal Holidays,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Rep. Jeni James Arndt. Current law specifies that if executive branch employees who are in the state personnel system are required to work on a state legal holiday, the employees shall receive an alternate day off or be paid in accordance with the state personnel system or state fiscal rules in effect on April 30, 1979. The state fiscal rules in effect in 1979 have been amended numerous times since that time and are no longer applicable or relevant. The bill removes the reference to April 30, 1979.
  • SB 18-121 – “Concerning Certain Expenses Allowed to a State Employee when the Employee is Required to Change his or her Place of Residence in Connection with a Change in Job Duties,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Rep. Jeni James Arndt. Current law allows an employee in the state personnel system his or her moving and relocation expenses if an appointing authority requires the employee to change his or her place of residence due to a change in job duties. The bill specifies that moving expenses, including the reasonable expenses of moving household goods and personal effects and the reasonable costs of traveling to a new residence, are reimbursable in accordance with rules promulgated by the state controller and in compliance with the regulations of the federal internal revenue service.
  • SB 18-125 – “Concerning Fiduciary Responsibilities of Title Insurance Entities to Protect Funds held in Conjunction with Real Estate Closing Settlement Services,” by Sens. Bob Gardner & Daniel Kagan and Rep. Pete Lee. The bill requires title insurance entities and affiliates or subsidiaries to hold funds belonging to others in a fiduciary capacity. ‘Fiduciary funds’ means all funds received in conjunction with real estate closing and settlement services.
  • SB 18-131 – “Concerning Modifications to the “State Employees Group Benefits Act,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Rep. Edie Hooten. The bill modifies several provisions of the State Employees Group Benefits Act to bring it into compliance with current state and federal law and to eliminate obsolete provisions.
  • SB 18-134 – “Concerning the Exemption of Nonprofit Water Companies from Regulation by the Public Utilities Commission,” by Sen. John Cooke and Rep. Jeni James Arndt. Under current law, the public utilities commission is directed to grant simplified regulatory treatment to water companies that serve fewer than 1,500 customers. The bill expands on this concept by deregulating water companies that are registered as nonprofits, so long as their rates, charges, and terms and conditions of service are just and reasonable.
  • SB 18-135 – “Concerning Updates to the Colorado Code of Military Justice,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Reps. Terri Carver & Pete Lee. The bill updates several parts of the Colorado Code of Military Justice.
  • SB 18-138 – “Concerning Authorization for Retail Sellers of Alcohol Beverages for On-premises Consumption to Sell Remaining Inventory to Another On-premises Retail Seller of Alcohol Beverages with whom there is Common Ownership when No Longer Licensed to Sell Alcohol Beverages for On-premises Consumption,” by Sens. Bob Gardner & Andy Kerr and Reps. Matt Gray & Larry Liston. The bill allows persons with certain retail licenses to purchase alcohol beverages from another retail licensee when there is common ownership between the licensees and the seller has surrendered its license within the last 60 days.
  • SB 18-160 – “Concerning the Authority to Operate Certain Teacher Development Programs, and, in Connection Therewith, Establishing Alternative Licensure Programs and Induction Programs,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. Under existing law, school districts are permitted to operate induction programs for teachers, special services providers, principals, and administrators, and alternative licensure programs for teachers and principals, who do not hold professional licenses. The bill clarifies that charter schools and the state charter school institute may operate such programs.
  • SB 18-165 – “Concerning Requirements for Public Administrators,” by Sens. Tim Neville & Nancy Todd and Reps. Faith Winter & Lori Saine. The bill The bill increases the amount of bond public administrators are required to maintain to $100,000 and clarifies additional requirements.
  • SB 18-173 – “Concerning the Ability of Certain Establishments Licensed to Sell Alcohol Beverages for On-premises Consumption that Serve Food to Allow a Customer to Remove One Opened Container of Partially Consumed Vinous Liquor from the Licensed Premises,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Rep. Leslie Herod. Currently, certain liquor licensees may sell one opened container of partially consumed vinous liquor to a customer if the licensee has meals available for consumption on the licensed premises. The bill expands the requirement to include licensees that makes sandwiches and light snacks available for consumption on the premises.

For a list of all of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2018 legislative actions, click here.