With my ingrained altruist and “Follower of Jesus” worldview I am naturally drawn to and inspired by Sojourners magazine. This month’s issue is centered about making sure those in impoverished neighborhoods have access to quality education. I hope some of you will consider subscribing. No, I am not being paid anything for this endorsement.
Archives For September 2012
I can’t understand why Ohio is supposedly one of the swing States in this election. They have gone from 48th in Job creations in 2008 to 4th in 2012. That is the most dramatic change of any State in the Union. Of course this is the result of President Obama giving loans to the auto industry which is a large employer in Ohio. I could really say the same thing about my home State of Indiana. It has gained much from those same loans but of course it is usually a solidly “red” State so sadly to say it is not on the fence.
I seem to be locked into the political mode lately with my posts! But there is just so much material available to make it that way. But as a result I have been forgetting another major part of what this blog is about and that is to learn lessons of those who have come before us and that certainly includes Will Rogers. I will try to strike a better balance in the future.
I just recently came across this quote from my hero Will Rogers. I was pleasantly surprised by it but I guess I shouldn’t have been. I know I am an avowed pragmatist but I really never knew for sure if Will was one before me.
Many of my posts on this blog are about taking things that work well in other countries and implementing them here. We in the U.S. seem to have a paranoid belief in the “not-invented-here” syndrome. If we didn’t come up with it then it is not worth our consideration.
Thanks Will for re-enforcing my beliefs in your great wisdom.
I know there is a lot of fury going on now about how President Obama has increased the national debt. So, when I came across this graph it got my attention. I have had several ranters here lately who proclaim that “that idiot Obama is bankrupting the country”. They go on and on about the increased deficit and how it is their sole reason to drive that “idiot” out of office. I am going to try and give you some insight into this situation but as President Clinton said recently you are going to have to pay attention…
Source: Recent email from FCNL (Friends Conference on National Legislation – Quaker)
Do your members of Congress and candidates know what you think about Pentagon spending cuts? What they hear from you now could influence their decisions this December and into next year. Urge them to support Pentagon cuts of $1 trillion over the next 10 years, as recommended by experts from across the political spectrum.1
39 cents out of every one of your federal income tax dollars is going to feed the Pentagon and its contractors, and the Pentagon budget has nearly doubled in the past decade. This is a bad investment for our country, no matter what angle you look at it from.
I always welcome information from my Quaker friends. They are about the only ones who have shown a centuries old commitment to peace. As shown above we spend 39 cents of every dollar of the taxes we send to Washington on our war machine. No other country in the world spends more than 5 cents and most spend less than 2 cents! If you wonder how we got so far into debt just look at the off-books wars we spent the first decade fighting.
Let’s stop being the super-cop of the world and let others take back some of their responsibilities in that area. It makes no sense for us to have thousands of our young men stationed in almost every country in the world. It not only put their lives at risk it costs us a fortune that no other country is burdened with. Do we eventually go down in flaming ashes or do we sensibly get out of this suicidal spiral of spending?
Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” Vanity asks the question, “Is it popular?” But, conscience asks the question, “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right. ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I spent a good part of my life not being concerned with much of anyone except myself and later my wife. It wasn’t that I didn’t have any empathy but I just didn’t give it much of a priority. I suspect I am pretty much like most people in that regard. I saw the need but just didn’t feel enough compassion to do anything about it. Continue Reading…
When Big Apple Pizza owner Scott Van Nuzer bear-hugged and hoisted President Obama off the ground during their brief meeting in Fort Pierce, Fla., Sunday, it wasn’t only the (startled) press corps that took notice.
Earlier today, users flooded the rate and review website Yelp, sending Big Apple Pizza’s overall rating in a tailspin.
“Talk about committing business suicide. After picking up Obama, your (sic) books are gonna be in the red pretty soon. Not too smart,” wrote one commenter, who delivered his one star (out of five) rating from Cottonwood, Ariz., about 2,200 miles away. Continue Reading…
I just returned from a trip to northern Wisconsin. The picture above is from a large orchard adjacent to Lake Winnebago (shown in the background). We were there for a wedding but managed to get some touring in. Like so many others the apple orchard is suffering from the worst conditions in 30 years. The majority of their crop was lost.
“I think that I’ve learned some lessons over the last four years, and the most important lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t change Washington from the inside, you can only change it from the outside,” Obama said. “That’s how I got elected, and that’s how the big accomplishments like health care got done – [it] was because we mobilized the American people to speak out. That’s how we were able to cut taxes for middle-class families.”
Mr. Romney’s attack:
“Well, we are going to give him that chance in November — he is going outside,” Romney said. “I can change Washington; I will change Washington. We will get the job done from the inside. Republicans and Democrats will come together. He can’t do it. His slogan was ‘Yes we can.’ His slogan now is ‘No, I can’t.’” Continue Reading…
Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown, who is running for re-election in a close race against Democrat Elizabeth Warren, a former Harvard University professor, told The Hill newspaper: “That’s not the way I view the world. As someone who grew up in tough circumstances, I know that being on public assistance is not a spot that anyone wants to be in.”
It used to be that a man’s word was the primary definition of his character. If you didn’t keep your word how could you be trusted with anything else? A man’s word was his word. But it seems that somehow this idea has been lost in America or at least in the Republican party.
When the super-committee, one of whose members is the current GOP vice-presidential candidate, was formed everyone in congress gave their word that if they could not reach a compromise on how to reign in the deficit then all of discretionary spending budgets would take a 10% hit. Every member of congress put his word on the line by passing this compromise resolution.
Now it seems that almost all Republicans and even some Democrats want to renege on that promise and go back on their word. They say that our military can’t possibly take a 10% cut without threatening our security. Of course if you have read much of anything on the blog you know I think that is hogwash. We, five percent of the world’s population, currently spend more on our war machine than the rest of the world combined. If we only quit being the policemen of the world and left part of that task to the people of the affected region then we could reduce our military budgets by many more times that the ten percent promise.
So here we are with a building full of the people’s representatives who can not be trusted. What should we do about this situation? In my mind we should remove all those who can’t be trusted to keep their word. If you agree then watch in the coming months how your representatives in congress address this issue. If they go against their word then toss them out. We can only bring back integrity to our political institutions when we can trust our representatives and yes they should answer to us and not their political leadership. They speak for us while they are in Washington.
But what do I know…..
Why is it that Germany seems to be just about the only country in the world who is not struggling with a disappearing middle class? They are doing well in that regard because they are the most unionized country in the world and their increased wages drives their demand. How do they manage to keep their wages high in light of the pennies-on-the-dollar labor found elsewhere? They do it by government regulations prohibiting companies from exporting jobs. Of course this is something that the “free traders” among us say is impossible but it seems Germany didn’t know it was impossible and went ahead and implemented it anyway.
Could the same thing be done in the U.S.? Could we actually drive up demand by driving wages back to where they were twenty years ago. In the last decade the auto industry’s starting wage has gone from $28/hour to less than $15/hour and there are similar numbers throughout other industries in the country. The middle class is quickly disappearing as a result. And with the middle class disappearing so is the discretionary income and resulting demand. We are in a catch-22 until we can figure out a way to bring the middle class back to existence.
The conservative elements in our country insist that the door to the middle class is pretty much now closed and we must depend on trickle-down from the rich to maintain any semblance of prosperity in this country. I just don’t buy into that logic. If our once mortal enemy of Germany can maintain their middle class through corporate regulations prohibiting the export of jobs then certainly the biggest economy in the world can do something similar.
Germany is now pretty much bailing out all those other E.U. countries with their affluence. And this is just a score of years since they incorporated the very destitute East Germany into their country! Maybe we should take a plan from their play-book and duplicate it here in our own American style. But like our healthcare debacle we can’t seem to learn that the rest of the world has pretty much learned to control their medical costs through a universal single-payer system so how are we ever going to learn how to bring back our middle class through lessons from elsewhere?
Now don’t get me wrong here; I am not saying that Germany is a better country than we are. They have some restrictions on their citizens that should never and would never be acceptable to us. We don’t have to become another Germany to learn some ways of doing things better. Pragmatism is finding what works and then using it regardless of where it came from.
But what do I know….
Here is a quote from a letter I recently received from my friends at American Friends Service Committee (AFSC.org)
Who wins when our country goes to war? Defense contractors!
Who profits from the highest imprisonment rate in the world! For-profit prison corporations!
Who benefits by cutting agencies charged with mine safety and the protection of workers rights? Mining companies!
Each year a handful of corporations pour millions and millions of dollars into lobbyists and campaign contributions. Why? To push for legislation and procurements that increase their profits. Who benefits? Certainly not the average taxpayer! When the quest for bigger earnings leads to corporate meddling in state and federal budgets and policies, 99% of the American people lose. Continue Reading…
I got the above plaque from a Facebook friend’s page and it struck me as being filled with wisdom. I don’t know who wrote it but it is certainly worth making note of. If any of us just lived by these rules we would find a level of happiness we might not otherwise realize.
- Free your heart from hatred — The old saying that hatred consumes you I’m sure is true but I don’t think that I have ever really hated anyone. But it seems that during the current election cycle hate, or at least extreme anger, is abundant. So many of my conservative friends seem to hate anyone they deem as a “liberal” but especially our current president! It used to be that even if you didn’t agree with the policies of the president you at least had respect for the office he held. The current leadership of the Republican party have thoroughly trashed that noble concept. As President Clinton said in his convention speech he has never seen this level of hatred for anyone holding office. It really scares me to look into the eyes of some of these folks. I’m really not sure what they hate. It could be that president Obama has increased the nation debt but if you look at the data it a went up more as least as a percentage of GDP while both Reagan and Bush II held office and they didn’t seem to be hateful then. It could be Obamacare but why would people be so hateful over given everyone a change to get affordable healthcare or to just join the rest of the world in getting our healthcare spending under control? Hatred seems to be draining almost all happiness from many of my conservative friends.
- Free your mind of worries — We have become a nation, and maybe a world, of worriers. Some seem to worry that they are not worrying enough. Most of the things we seem to worry about are beyond our control so it does nothing but sap our happiness.
- Live Simply – This is one that my wife and I have been doing for a number of years now. It is not that we are financially challenged in our senior years, at least not as much as many, but we simply choose to live simply and are happier because of it.
- Give More — Of course to me this means giving both my time and money to help those that are less fortunate than I have been. To some it means supporting their church in paying the bills and to others it means other things. The more you are focused on someone else besides yourself the happier you will be.
- Expect less — This is a tricky one for we consumer oriented capitalists. We are conditioned to expect more and more.
In looking at this list I can discover why my life seems to have so much happiness right now. If only others could get on board with this list we might be able to accomplish things that seem impossible in our world today. Let’s all try to be a little happier tomorrow that we are today. Chill out and don’t fret over small things and for the most part they are all small things.
Since Hank convinced me to get off my butt and get involved in this coming Presidential election I will occasionally be bringing up what I call “A grossly blatant political ad”. I promise I won’t become a raving lunatic and start calling everyone horrible names. I will be more civilized than that. These ads will be tongue-in-cheek and one-sided so you have been forewarned. To my conservative friends, don’t take them too seriously and flame me. I likely won’t respond to your usual long parroted litany of reasons why I am wrong so don’t bother to send them. They would be a waste of your time. I won’t listen to you anymore than you will listen to me while I am doing my “grossly blatant ads”. Now let’s get on with it…
I live in Indiana and when they built the latest football stadium with mostly tax dollars we couldn’t name it like we originally did for the first stadium which was called the “Hoosier Dome”. Instead the name calling rights were up to the highest bidder. It turned out to be some Texas oil company named Lucus Oil. I never managed to get inside the first tax payer paid domed stadium that they tore down to make room for this one so for me personally this one like the last one is a waste of my tax dollars. So when I came across this editorial cartoon by Kevin Kallaugher it struck a nerve. Will everything in our company be up for sale in Romney’s America.
I know here in Indiana the current Republican governor who was Mr. Bush’s “my man Mitch” sold our northern turn-pike to a foreign company to balance his budget there was a significant protest but not enough to prevent the asset from being sold. It was readily acknowledged that he gave up billions of dollars of future income for his short-term gain but that didn’t seem to matter to him or his backers.
So is selling America’s assets the reality of Romney’s America? Will we start calling the Washington Monument the “Steve Jobs Finger to the Sky”. Will the Pentagon then be known as ”Halliburton Protection Agency”. Will our police cars be covered with Krispy Kreme ads.
Is the Republican idea of getting rid of government actually to privatize the whole thing? That makes for a great conspiracy theory doesn’t it? But I really don’t want to find out if it is true. In November let’s put the GOP back on the shelf of history where it belongs.
My regular viewers you know that I have recently had some discussions with a commentor on this blog named “Hank”. Of course since the Internet is a virtual gathering place I really don’t know for sure if Hank is a male or female but for the sake of this and maybe future posts I will call him “he”. Now Hank made several comments to posts about the political conventions. On each comment I got to know Hank a little better than before. In Hank’s last post ( which is his last comment by my choice not his) he gave me an important personal insight.
I have said many times on this blog that in order for something to be real you have to “put a face on it”. Until you can put a face to something it remains in an abstract state and somehow doesn’t quite become real. What Hank managed to do for me was to put a face on the radical right Tea Party. I don’t know what Hank really looks like or if he really belongs to that group but he now there poster boy to me. Some of his words that fixed his face to that organization was when he commented on my post about the Clinton speech as the DNC.
‘Shared opportunities and shared responsibility’ is code speak for taking from the rich and those who work hard for a living and giving it to the poor and the clueless. I am aghast at how just a speech from a lying president, Clinton (who BTW slept with way more women than Monica) can change anyone’s mind with rhetoric.
Previously Hank had made angry comments about President Obama but I let them slide as just being caught up in the moment. But with the above quote it seems obvious that he despises much more than that. So, with this post I want to thank Hank for opening my eyes as to just how critical the election really is. We cannot allow the Tea Party to get a further hold on our political institutions. If we do then serious irreversible consequences will likely result. Suddenly those who are struggling to find jobs or those who need a temporary hand up will become those who are taking from the rich and those who work hard for a living and giving it to the poor and the clueless.
Because the Tea Party now has a face I just donated a healthy sum, as least with my limited income, to the re-election campaign for President Obama and to help defeat the Tea Party candidate in my State’s Senate race. Hank made me realize that we as a country can’t become complacent about our political processes. If we do that all of us but especially “the least of these” will likely suffer the consequences. Thank you Hank for opening my eyes. I am officially taking my head out of the sand because of you….