Shame On Us…….

November 28, 2014 — Leave a comment

2014-11-27_09-00-20“Now someone else has to choose between working and spending time with their family,” Fisher said. Kmart has said that it asks for volunteers to work on the holiday, but other workers, like Kekoa Wailehua from Hawaii, said that they have been explicitly told they cannot request off on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. The petition has almost 10,000 supporters.

SOURCE:  Why the poor can’t catch a break on Thanksgiving – The Week.

Shame on us vapid consumers for allowing this to happen. Why do we insist on others having to be away from their families on perhaps the most family oriented holiday of the year? Why is it so important to get that latest gadget at a slightly lower price maybe 12 hours earlier if it mean others have to give up that special day in order to serve you? Shame on us for allowing this to happen.

What if the corporations that forced their employees to come in on Thanksgiving found that no one came to their store? This condition is kind of like the drug epidemic that grips our nation. If the consumers would just stay away the problem would disappear. I hope at least the retailers are paying overtime pay for that day, but given the times that is unlikely. Shame on us for allowing this to happen.

I know I am just an old coot but I still remember when the vast majority of businesses were closed on Sunday. Sunday was meant for a day to be with your family and for some to attend church. Over the years one business after another gave up that day to make a few more bucks.  Shame on us for allowing this to happen.

Maybe it is just time to chuck the idea of family time together. Lord knows there is little time left for many of us, especially those forced to work two minimum wage jobs, during any given week. Shame on us for allowing this to happen.

Capitalism is a great engine to prosperity as long as it is taken in reasonable doses. When we allow it to take over our lives, especially our family lives, it needs to be reigned in. Why are those on the lower end of the economic scale forced to be away from their families on the one rare day that is meant for family?  Shame on us for allowing this to happen…..

 

Happy Thanksgiving….

November 27, 2014 — 1 Comment

Happy Thanksgiving

I want to give you the Thanksgiving Prayer that I think sums it all up.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Samuel F. Pugh


“O God, when I have food, 
help me to remember the hungry; 
When I have work, 
help me to remember the jobless; 
When I have a home, 
help me to remember those who have no home at all; 
When I am without pain, 
help me to remember those who suffer, 
And remembering, 
help me to destroy my complacency; 
bestir my compassion, 
and be concerned enough to help; 
By word and deed, 
those who cry out for what we take for granted. 
Amen.”

I would like to believe that we are all accountable for our actions. We should all learn that actions have consequences. It is something every father should teach every son and every mother teach every daughter. But there are also things in life that tell us otherwise.

Some of us Christians have the idea that since we are just miserable sinners God does not hold us accountable for their actions. We therefore believe that God doesn’t really mind whether we do what he says because he knows we are so weak and pitiful and therefore expects nothing from us, including accountability.

Some of us say our actions are a result of their genes. Our ancestors were less than honorable so we are too. 

Some of us say we are the way we are because our parents mistreated us or did not teach us how to live a fruitful and accountable life.  They gave us bad examples of how to be.

To ALL those ideas I say poppycock!!

God did not put us on this earth to be “poor miserable people”. She put us here to love Her and to love each other and that certainly includes being accountable for our actions. I have come to believe that the primary purpose of Jesus coming to earth was to teach us how to live our lives in a Godly manner. Yes, I admit that we don’t do a very good job of that and haven’t since our creation but that is not because God wants it that way. Jesus Christ came to earth to clearly tell us that and to show us a better way. It is sad to me to see so many Christians who discount that fact in favor of saying we are not accountable for our actions or maybe more appropriately inaction.

Sure we all have different life experiences that affect our current situations. For me it was an extreme narcissist mother who thought primarily of herself. Little including her own children mattered as much to her as her own personal circumstances. Even though my exposure to her was somewhat  limited due to her abandoning me at the age of nine, it had a definite affect on me and that was to go to the other end of the spectrum with my self image. So our parents might have not given us much to go on things about life but it is nothing that can’t be overcome within ourselves.

We are all accountable for our actions, or at least we should be…..

 

About Inequality…

November 25, 2014 — 4 Comments

There are various complex models for this, but the general explanation is fairly intuitive: Modern economies are built on a mass market. But if the great majority of people don’t have much (or any) disposable income, then there is no mass market, and it’s harder to start a business relying on any kind of mass sales. And with weak consumer spending, existing businesses have little reason to invest in growth, and instead disgorge their profits to shareholders, exacerbating the trend. In the end, you get a hollowed-out, bifurcated economy, where low-grade goods are sold to the broke masses on razor-thin margins, while incomprehensible sums slosh around weird luxury markets.

SOURCE: What Democrats get wrong about inequality – The Week.

The words above do the best job I have seen lately explaining how prosperity happens.  It is no secret that when Henry Ford started paying a living wage to his employees the birth of the middle-class started in earnest. If he had paid the then current minimum wage his workers and others like them could never have afforded the cars they make. Mass markets depend on a large customer base to be successful. That is as the article says is fairly intuitive.

There is a reason the Walmarts of the world are displacing so many local vendors and that is because with their mass marketing potential they can get their products at a lower cost than local competitors.  Paying wages that are not livable wages is the logical result of Walmart’s success.

I am a “car” guy in that I enjoy watching all the car fix-it shows on satellite TV especially the Velocity channel.  There seem to be hundreds of companies that take 40 – 50 year old cars and renovate them for their nostalgic  customers. Most often the price of these cars are from $80,000 to as high as several million. Obviously the customer base for these companies are the upper 5% or so of the population.  It is great that companies can earn a good living from these business but there are only so many people who can afford the products they produce.  as the article says incomprehensible sums slosh around weird luxury markets.

It seems like our downfall as a middle-class nation is the result of not providing enough people an income that will allow any kind of discretionary spending. The national minimum wage has remained stagnate for more than a decade due to GOP resistance. In fact some in that quarter want to even abolish the minimum wage entirely and leave it up to individual companies to determine what they pay. There is said to even be some house bills to that effect.

They say statistics show that the income inequality is the worst it has been since the robber-baron years of more than 100 years ago. But we don’t, like we did a hundred years ago, seem to have a person with the character of Teddy Roosevelt to get us out of our most recent downward spiral. I don’t know what it will take to turn it around this time? But I do know that if it continues as is it currently going we will drive ourselves into an almost third-world status. I’m sure China will be more than happy to take over as the world economic leader if we falter.

Almost all of these states give their electoral votes based on a winner-take-all system. A candidate receiving 50.1% of the vote in New York, for instance, will garner the state’s 29 votes. Collect 270 total votes, and the presidency is assured.

As the National Review’s Jim Geraghty explains, however, there is no constitutional requirement that states allot their electoral votes this way, however. They could do it based on a simple vote in the statehouse. They could even, legally, decide to apportion them based on a coin flip, or whichever candidate is taller.

Both Maine and Nebraska, for instance, divvy their votes based on the winner of individual congressional districts.

SOURCE: BBC News – A rule change that could lock Republican 2016 victory.

I love the look from a different angle that my British friends give me over at “The Week” website. Given the extremes that the GOP seems will do to maintain control of U.S. politics I can clearly see more red States going the way of Maine and Nebraska in making their own rules in how to cast votes in presidential elections. That seems to be the logical next shoe to drop. But I have a radical view that would thwart that plan.

Lets allow the people to elect a president. Let every vote count! I know that is a radical idea but I think its time has come. :)  The electoral college served a purpose during early U.S. history when information took days or even weeks to pass through the country. It made sense for each State to send people to report their State’s votes.  Flip forward to today and this concept has no validity whatsoever!

Let the people’s voice elect the president as it does for all other Federal and State offices. Quit this electoral college stupidity. I hear there are laws still on the books in various State that deal with the times that a horse driven vehicle approaches a motor driven one. I know the one in Indiana that was finally nullified a few years ago said that the motorized vehicle had to leave the road until the horse passed. Its time to get rid of this archaic election rules and let the people elect the president.

I have lived in Indiana most of my life and have voted in each presidential election since 1968. But my vote has only counted during two of them. My first vote was for Richard Nixon. I was a naive Republican in those days, The second time was  in 2008 when most people in Indiana were, like me almost overwhelmed by the rhetoric of Barak Obama. All the other times my vote was thrown out. It is time to allow people, not State governments, to decide who will be their president.

2014-11-23_08-46-10

A Snippet here…. A Snippet There…..

Modern Day Prophets…

November 23, 2014 — Leave a comment

“Why does Jesus want us to talk to him if he never talks back to us?”…

May we empower, listen, learn and be led by this tribe of prophets. Maybe, just maybe, they will show us once again what it looks like to tangibly love God and neighbor

SOURCE:  Girls: The Hope of the Future | Jon Huckins | Red Letter Christians.

The quote above came from a four-year old daughter of the author of the article. The article was mainly about the most recent announcement of a young Pakistani girl receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace. Jon Huckins thinks maybe she is a modern-day prophet who just might drag the future church into more actions and less doctrine. He holds hope for that and so do I.

Kids just don’t seem to know what is an “appropriate” question to ask. Earnest curiosity has not yet been driven out of them.  They have not yet been drummed with a strict religious doctrine that says you must believe things without question. To say that Jesus never talks to us is heresy in most Christian bodies.  But I know that I too frequently ask the same question and so did Mother Teresa during her long life of servitude to others.

We all think we would like for Jesus to come to us directly and talk to us but do we really?

Some people in many different religious circles have very different definitions of what a prophet is. Some think that prophesy ended when King Constantine put together our biblical text or maybe even before Jesus. To say that anyone who has come around since then is a prophet is simple nonsense to them But as usual I kind of have a different take on that.

Lets look at a simple non-sectarian definition of prophet:

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If a prophet is “an authoritative person who divines the future” then there can certainly be prophets around us today. Even the second definition does not preclude that possibility. You could say that anyone who interprets the will of God is a prophet, even me!!

I kind of think that anyone who tries to show us a better way to God is worthy of the moniker of prophet and that certainly should include all of us.

Macimack

I can’t remember how many times I have been to Mackinac Island, I think four but maybe more. It is a peaceful place without cars. Bicycles are the main mode of transportation.

2014-10-30_08-32-58AT&T has completed upgrading its fiber-network in Austin, Texas, to 1-gigabit-per-second broadband speeds, the carrier said Monday.The Dallas-based company, which started the Austin upgrade in August, has been working to increase the speed of its U-Verse with GigaPower fiber network from 300 megabits-per-second to 1Gbps. AT&T is racing to bring faster Internet to customers before its competitors.

SOURCE:  AT&T finishes rollout of 1Gbps connection in Austin – CNET.

I am one of the fortunate ones along my road in that I am within the 1.5 mile distance from the AT&T central office. I can get my Internet connection at 0.003 Gbps. That is 300 times slower than folks in Austin get.  To put that in perspective what takes them one second to get takes me 5 minutes. Sadly those north of me are limited to 0.0002 Gbps.So when I run across these types of announcements I often say “SHAME ON YOU”.

We all know that in the 21st century information is power. Those with it have opportunity; those without it have almost none and of course the Internet and access to it is fundamental to the 21st century information age.  Why are those of us in less populated areas denied access to the Internet speeds that our urban neighbors take for granted? Of course the answer is profits.

I look out my front door and see a couple of two-inch diameter cables strewn between two poles across my front yard. In some places along my road these cables sag to just a few feet above the ground. They have not been improved in many decades. The picture above shows that both of those cables could be replaced by a single small fiber-optic line but to do that would require an investment that currently goes to the owners as profit.

Looking at the history of utilities in rural America I see where this is nothing new. It wasn’t until the 1930s that electricity or telephone was widely available to the farmers who provide the rest of us with food.  The New Deal of the 1930s would finally help remedy that situation via the REMC. Here is a little about that from my friends at Wikipedia:

Many such cooperatives exist in the rural United States, and were created by the New Deal to bring electric power and telephone service to rural areas, when the nearest investor-owned utility would not provide service, believing there would be insufficient revenue to justify the capital expenditures required. Many electric cooperatives have banded together to form their own wholesale power cooperatives, often called G&Ts for generation and transmission, to supply their member-owners with electricity.

If we had a functional government in place, instead of the gridlock that is there, maybe this issue could be resolved like it was then. I guess I should be grateful for my 0.003 Gbps Internet connection even though my city neighbors had connections three hundred times faster. At least my snail like speeds are several times faster than all my neighbors north of me.  It is about time for AT&T to spend a little money and put all of us on a fiber-optic system so that we all have a more or less level playing field for the future.  I thought that was the FCC’s mandate but if it is it is being totally ignored. Shame on AT&T for not having done so already…. And shame on the FCC for not having forced them to do it already….

Community Cars….

November 20, 2014 — Leave a comment

2014-07-24_08-21-56Self-driving cars would also create all kinds of positive possibilities in urban design. Tech-enabled transportation companies such as Uber and Lyft believe they can undermine the idea that every household should own a car or two. While the drivers for these companies are all human now, automated cars would be even easier to share because they could spend all their time on the roads. This could be the future—after all, Google GOOG is a major investor on Uber.

Cars that aren’t beholden to a single driver would mean cities wouldn’t have to use up so much valuable land on parking lots. A fleet of robotic drivers could use narrower lanes, shrinking the proportion of city’s surface area taken up by roads.

SOURCE: Why self-driving cars will mean more traffic – Yahoo Autos.

Will all cars become like NYC taxis? That is an enticing thought to me. I, like most teenage boys I suppose, was in love with cars. My first new car after college was a 1970 Mustang muscle car.  I spent hours each month making sure it was clean and had a fresh coat of wax. The car was my identity as far as I was concerned.

But like the bible says, when I was a child I did childish things but when I became an adult I put childish things aside at least for the most part. Now in my old age I think of cars mainly as just a way to get from point A to B. A car is just not that important to me anymore. So, when I read this article it got my attention. Why not share cars with everyone. That is an idea that needs a LOT of work for some, especially those California folks who simply adore their cars to the point of absurdity.