CHildrenDue to these blurred role expectations for adults and children, grown-ups have become a dying breed in America. According to writer and speaker Robert Bly, one-third of adult Americans are actually half-adults. “We have become a nation of squabbling siblings. We have abandoned our children to day-care centers and our elders to old folks homes, while we, like Peter Pan, simply ‘won’t grow up.’” Bly describes a culture in which Americans tolerate no one above them and show no concern for anyone below them.

John Powers of the Boston Globe has also bemoaned the fact that there are a lot of older people, but not so many mature adults. A father of three children wears a tank top and mesh shorts on a plane trip, and women in their sixties wear sports bras as tops. In fact, I saw a father wearing a T-shirt proclaiming, “I’ll never grow up.” According to Powers, adults used to know what to wear and how to behave; they knew not only what to do but also what not to do. Now, however, marketers direct their pitches to these half-adults.

Kim, Eun Y. (2001-07-05). Yin and Yang of American Culture: A Paradox (Kindle Locations 1482-1490). Intercultural Press Inc. Kindle Edition.

I have been posting on this Yin/Yang of American culture for ten posts now. These first ten posts have been on the positive aspects of our culture. We will now start a discussion on areas where we could show improvements, where we could learn from the rest of the world. I am pretty much a pragmatist, I look for good ideas wherever I can find them. The “Not Invented Here” syndrome which is so prevalent in much of this country’s population seems to have passed me by.

In the 1970s I was in my “searching” years and I read deeply in the area of psychology. One of my favorite authors was Eric Berne who invented transactional analysis. It is a theory that all our transactions originate in one of three states; Parent, Adult, Child. I won’t go into more details here than to say that many communications between two people occur in the child mode. Even among people no longer in that physical state. What Berne discovered is pretty much the same as Professor Eun states here.

Americans just don’t like to have to answer to other people. Many of us like to think that we are free from any responsibilities except to ourselves.  The above quote states that one-third of grown ups are not really grown up. As a result they no longer feel much of a responsibility toward their parents or in some degree even to their children. An extreme case of this self-absorption is called narcissism. I have some very direct and personal experiences in dealing with a narcissist parent. To boil it down I think the author is just saying we Americans are too full of ourselves.

Another aspect of not growing up is in our relationships to our children. We tend to let our kids do pretty much what they want. They have learned that if they don’t get what they want all they have to do is to throw a fit. We let them talk back to us. That would be a very serious thing in most other countries in the world. In other words parental authority is grossly lacking for many American parents. Along with this comes parental responsibility. One of the basic problems with America is that too many parents just don’t want to be parents anymore.

Waiting For Wife….

July 24, 2014 — 7 Comments

2014-07-03_08-05-24

I had to clip this from a post of a friend on Facebook. One of the duties I didn’t know a husband had before I got married almost three decades ago was waiting for your wife. Shopping is just one of those areas where waiting is called for. When I go to a store I usually have a list of what I want. I find those particular things and then am ready to check out. My wife has a different strategy. She can spend 20 minutes looking at purses even though she has no need for a new one and doesn’t intend to buy one.  She could easily spend two or more hours in the store and leave with nothing. For that reason my wife and I seldom go shopping together anymore.

Another thing is that when dinner is ready she disappears for several minutes. I do most of the cooking for us and announce “dinner is on the table”. She usually comes in within a couple of minutes and then promptly disappears. Where she goes I don’t really know but I end up waiting for her while the food gets cold.

Waiting should be in some husband’s book of instructions to forewarn us naive suitors. They say patience is a virtue and you will need a lot of it waiting for your wife….

 

 

2014-06-17_07-21-14

The U.S. spends the most of any country on its health care system, and yet it ranked the lowest out of 11 industrialized nations in overall healthcare quality, according to a report published Monday by the Commonwealth Fund.The report, which covered the years 2011-2013, compared more than 80 indicators of U.S. health care spending, quality and performance to the likes of Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and Sweden, among other developed nations. The UK, which was ranked highest, blew the U.S. out of the water, despite the fact that the country spends less than half as much on health care per capita $3,406 on average, compared to $8,508 in the U.S.. The U.S. also spends the most on health care as a percentage of GDP 17% than any other nation.

SOURCE: US continues its losing streak in health care quality comparison – Yahoo Finance.

I am about to finish one of the six or so  books I read at the same time; this one about the culture of the United States. It shows numerous places where we are the most creative people on earth. But then comes our ideas of healthcare. We just can’t seem to understand that our current system of taking care of our citizens is a loser and a big waste of money by almost all standards. We spend twice as much as anyone but get so little for our dollars.

It seems idiotic but it seems we are opposed to doing what has proven to work. Why,  because much of the rest of the world already has it figured out and therefore the solution would not be an “American idea”? We need to get over the idea of shunning anything not invented here and simply go with what works. We need to be as much pragmatists as we at least used to be inventive.

We need to get over the idea that somehow anything socialist is un-American.  We presently allow our government to handle our healthcare needs for about half of us but going all the way seems to be a big problem. Perhaps the most socialist healthcare system in the world is from Britain and of course from the above graphic we learn that they also provide the best care by most standards.

A person working sixty hours a week at a minimum wage job will earn about $21,000.  But according to the above they would likely spend about half that amount just for their family’s health insurance! I know I seem to harp on this topic often and that is because it is an obvious solution that is for some reason vastly ignored by so many of us. We need to take a big bite out of the humility apple and learn what the rest of the world can teach us.

 

 

 

Americans tend to score poorly on financial literacy tests, but it’s not entirely their fault: School systems don’t generally require personal finance classes, and many parents feel ill-equipped to pass on big lessons about spending, saving and investing to their kids. Here are ten basic tenants you should know in order to navigate today’s financial world:

You have to earn more than you spend.

SOURCE: 10 Things Everyone Should Know About Money – Yahoo News.

When I was in high school many decades ago we had various life skills courses that we were expected to take.  I don’t specifically remember a course on home finance but I do remembers some lessons about that subject. Credit cards were not very available to the masses back then so if you didn’t have the money you didn’t buy the item.

But I do remember that when I graduated college at least a half-dozen credit cards were automatically sent to me in the mail. They didn’t need permission to give you a credit card as they do today. I have always been a pretty frugal guy so I didn’t see a need for them. They usually ended up in a drawer someplace.

Now days it seems that every institution has its own credit card and who can blame them.  Most of the items that we buy today have a low profit margin, while credit cards charge an outrageous interest rate. The money you might manage to save gets you less than 1% interest and  credit cards are at 10- 20% interest!  That was called usury in my day and it was illegal. I don’t know when that changed.

Getting back to the subject of this post I can understand how kids today are ill-equipped when it comes to credit card debt.  Our capitalist system depends on consumer spending so it is drilled into us that we can have it all now and pay for it later. Of course for too many that means huge debt that will inevitably come back to destroy many people.

Without some parental guidance, either from parents or teachers, that teach you that you have to earn more than you spend, kids can too easily get into financial trouble. Why isn’t this topic covered in our school system?

SCOTUS Said So…

July 21, 2014 — 2 Comments

2014-07-07_08-52-54My religious belief strongly oppose war. I think our military budgets are totally outrageous! We, 5% of the world’s population, spend more on our war machine than the rest of the world combined.  With the latest ruling SCOTUS (Supreme Court Of The United States) tells us that religious groups can pick and choose which laws they choose to obey. Thanks to you my tax bill just got smaller. Thanks Mr Scalia and your co-conspirators for making it happen.

You guys never fail to amaze me as to how far you are willing to go to reshape this country to your views. You say you are against “activist judges” but you end up being the epitome of that category by your very rulings. First you upend our voting practices and now you are giving religions power they were never intended to have.

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wondered aloud in her dissent, “Would the exemption … extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions Jehovah’s Witnesses; antidepressants Scientologists; medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus?”

SOURCE:  8 Other Laws That Could Be Ignored Now That Christians Get To Pick And Choose.

I certainly align with Justice Ginsburg’s comments. If a corporation says we are aligned with a religion that believes that God will take care of all our medical needs does that give them the right to ignore ACA? The whole argument just reeks of possibilities.

For any IRS  or NSA folks who might read this blog I am only kidding about not paying taxes so don’t come after me. ;)

This is the last post of my blog series around Stephen Mattson’s post about the misconceptions about Christianity.

 Christianity is Illogical and Anti-Science

Christianity is often stereotyped as being anti-science, anti-academic and anti-intellectual. The reality is that many Christians embrace science and the exciting discoveries that it includes.

Additionally, many believers aren’t opposed to doctrines that heavily involve scientific data and research: evolution, global warming, healthcare research and environmentalism.

To be a Christian is to embrace knowledge, critical thinking, innovation, new ideas and the truths they reveal.

There is a segment of today’s Christianity called fundamentalism that the above label typifies. They stubbornly insist that the Bible is absolutely literal in all regards and is 100% the final and absolute word of God. Many of these folks are very anti-science. They seem to insist that you check your intelligence at the door when you come into their churches. I could go into a long and nuanced response to these beliefs but this particular post is not an appropriate place to do that. If you are interested in the detail browse through my blog over at RedLetterLiving.

A majority, I hope a large one, of us Christians see the Bible as containing God’s words and directions for how to live our lives. To us the Bible itself tells us that Jesus said he would give us more knowledge of life as we are able to understand it.  We think that our continuing scientific discovery is one way that God is making that happen.  I suppose it would have been possible for Jesus to talk about DNA to his first century followers but they certainly would have thought he was insane.  It was not until twenty centuries later that we were ready to receive this type of message.

Francis Collins, who was the leader of the Gnome Project that did the first mapping of human DNA wrote a book entitled The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief about scientific discovery and Christian beliefs. It is well worth the read if you need any convincing that God continues to give us knowledge of the universe.

Sadly there will likely always be a population of Christianity who stick to very illogical and anti-science beliefs. They simply fear the consequences  and perceived uncertainty of believing otherwise. But most Christians do embrace knowledge, critical thinking, and innovation. We take the messages of God seriously both those found in the Bible and those given to us through scientific and other discovery.

NYC…. The Vendors…

July 19, 2014 — 1 Comment

This a continuing pictorial post on our visit to New York City recently.  One of the things that got my attention was the number of vendors on the streets selling almost everything. Here are some pictures. Click on any picture to bring up a larger gallery view.

 

 

This is a continuation of my Friday posts about the book “Yin/Yang and American Culture” by Kim Eun. It is a book well worth reading about the differences between America and much of the rest of the world. This post is about remaining active in our senior years.

Old PeopleAlthough America is criticized for its youth-oriented culture, American elders enjoy more productive lives than their Asian counterparts do. From working as independent consultants to serving as volunteers, American elders can retain their zest for life….

In contrast, many Asian elderly expect to stop learning at a certain age. It is rare to see an elderly person visiting a library unless he or she was a scholar. The typical mentality for Asians over fifty-five is, “I’m old, so what is learning for?” Opportunities for elders to lead productive lives or use their energy in positive ways are limited in Asia.

Unlike in America, it is difficult in Asia for senior citizens to get jobs at restaurants, grocery stores, or elsewhere. In Asia, even the volunteer organizations do not appreciate the services of elders. In the United States, an eighty-year-old man who opens the door for patients at a hospital is one of almost 445,000 retired seniors who do volunteer work. They serve their community as public park guides, library storytellers, and literacy mentors, among many other roles….

Kim, Eun Y. (2001-07-05). Yin and Yang of American Culture: A Paradox (Kindle Locations 1062-1094). Intercultural Press Inc. Kindle Edition.

This topic rather surprised me in that I always thought that the elderly in Asia were treated with greater respect than in this country. The author did go on to say that if the elder “earned” respect then it is generally given. I don’t know how that works though. How much is enough for earned respect?

I am very thankful that in America elders can and generally lead very productive lives. I have been retired/semi-retired for going on to fifteen years now and I can honestly say that I think as far as my contributions to society go I have been much more productive during these years than I ever was during my “working” years. Of course it also follows that, despite all my growing aches and pains, these years have been the happiest of my life.

The quote above says that about half a million seniors do volunteer. But remember that this book was written in 2001 and that number has increased substantially since then.  Ms. Eun says further in her book that many Asian elders don’t bother to take care of themselves during their senior years. It seems that all they do is wait to die so to speak. How sad is that? Almost as sad as a woman having to cover her entire body when she goes out in public so that men won’t see her.  :(

I certainly appreciate that things in America are better for us seniors than they are in Asia….

2014-06-28_11-29-19“My hair is arriving at a sort of a blend that it deserves respect if nothing else. A graying head is a mark of respect in any land…” – Will Rogers, 18 November 1934

I don’t know a lot about the year 1934 but I kind of expect it was different than it is here in the 21st century. When I think of that year, which I guess was a measly twelve years before I was born, I see Walton’s Mountain with multiple generations living in the same household and everyone respecting Grandma and Grandpa Walton and constantly seeking their wisdom on life’s issues. I’m not sure this multi-generational household  was by choice or necessity since the “Great Depression” was in full steam about then but that doesn’t really matter.

Anyway, from what I can see with my graying head it doesn’t get me much respect in today’s world. It won’t even get most young people to hold a door I am following them through. It certainly didn’t get me seat on a crowded subway.

It seems that most corporations now days want to get rid of all us old folks so that can save some money by hiring young kids at a fraction of the salary.  They just don’t seem to have much respect for our years of experience. They now see us as a liability.  But they see everyone except maybe their owners as liabilities so maybe that doesn’t apply here.

I’m just not sure that my “hair blend” buys me as much now days as it did in Will’s.

2014-07-05_11-00-20A stagnant economy has undoubtedly put a lot of financial stress on the middle class. And that is bumming out America’s 1 percenters. “Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society,” entrepreneur Nick Hanauer wrote recently in Politico, in an open letter to “my fellow zillionaires….

“If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us,” he writes. “One day, somebody sets himself on fire, then thousands of people are in the streets, and before you know it, the country is burning. And then there’s no time for us to get to the airport and jump on our Gulfstream Vs and fly to New Zealand.”…

The economic trends Hanauer identifies are, in fact, real problems. America as a whole will suffer if the fortunes of the middle class don’t improve. There are solutions, however, and they’ll probably materialize in the usual American way — right before disaster strikes. It’s nearly inevitable there will be government spending cuts and, yes, tax hikes, when the government’s finances become unsustainable, which could take a decade or more. When it happens, the politicians in Washington will find ways to spread the pain around and America will muddle through. The rich will have to pay more, but they’ll still be rich. And they still won’t have to worry about pitchforks.

SOURCE:  The rich can stop worrying about a middle-class revolution | Daily Ticker – Yahoo Finance.

This is an interesting article about the words of a rich guy and the income inequality.  If you want to skip the commentary and go to the original article click here.

I think to some degree Mr. Hanauer has it right. He talks about things that need to be done to stifle a possible revolution against people like him and that includes returning to pre-Raegan tax rates for his segment of society. We as a country have at least in the past  been able to avert crisis right before disaster strikes but I kind of think if we count on that strategy working every time we are might be in for a severe disappointment.

It might appear otherwise from some of my posts  but I personally don’t have anything against rich guys, at least those who earned their riches themselves. I do have a certain degree of disdain for those who came by their wealth through the work of others, even family members. To me that is unearned income and should be very thoroughly taxed as such.

People like Bill Gates become rich by discovering a “better mousetrap”. He gave us a means to quickly advance our business technology.  I grew up near the Army Finance Center at Fort Benjamin in Indianapolis. The building was a huge complex. It took hundreds of thousands of square feet of desks for thousands of workers to process and pay military wages. Today, thanks to Mr. Gates and others that task is now handled by a mere handful of working using computers. Mr. Gates deserves every penny, minus taxes of course, that he earned.