“We’ll show the world we are prosperous if we have to go broke to do it.” – Will Rogers, 18 November 1927
This phenomenon seems to be so prevalent in our world today. Everyone wants to live a higher lifestyle even if they can’t really afford it.
“We’ll show the world we are prosperous if we have to go broke to do it.” – Will Rogers, 18 November 1927
This phenomenon seems to be so prevalent in our world today. Everyone wants to live a higher lifestyle even if they can’t really afford it.
Prosecutors had accused the two officers, who approached Thomas near a bus depot in July 2011 to question him about reports of vandalized cars, of turning a routine police encounter into an unnecessary and savage beating that cost the unarmed homeless man his life.
Attorneys for Ramos and Cicinelli argued that Thomas was dangerous and that the officers responded according to their training. Defense lawyers also said Thomas suffered from a weakened heart brought on by drug abuse.
“These peace officers were doing their jobs, operating as they were trained,” said John Barnett, who represented Ramos. “There was no malice in their hearts that night.”
I certainly don’t know all the facts about this incident but I do remember watching a few minutes of the video capturing it. From that it seemed like the police officers were simply stomping and beating on someone who was just lying on the ground screaming for help. Of course this is not the first time officers of the law have killed unarmed men. It seems to happen almost weekly.
For that reason, the first feeling that comes to my mind when I encounter a policeman is trepidation and maybe even fear. The main reason for that is because I can envision a time when I will be stopped by an officer who could shot me because I am deaf and couldn’t hear what he commanded me to do. I can remember another incident where someone was simply reaching in his pocket for a cell phone was shot seven times. These incidents scare me! I even remember an incident several years ago when a deaf man was severely assaulted by a police officer who was unaware of his hearing impairment.
I know a police officer has a right to defend him/herself when they feel they are in danger but I also fully realize that most officers have had very little if any training in encountering someone with hearing loss. I certainly deeply appreciate and respect what they go through on a daily basis to keep our streets safe but unfortunately that does not ameliorate my fear…
It Forces Human Interaction
The common response among many believers is that God commands us “to be a good steward” of our wealth, which is the Christian way of saying “I don’t want to give away any of my time, energy, or resources to people who are just going to flush it away.” Thus, the accumulation of wealth is quickly adapted as a form of spiritual virtue, highly esteemed among American believers and attributed as a sign of God’s favor.
But giving directly to the poor forces us to actually interact with humankind, with the people God wants us to be with! Christians have a nasty habit of donating to charities and organizations simply because they don’t want to be uncomfortable or get their hands “dirty.” It’s their way of “helping” without having to actually do anything….
We now come to the final reason given my Stephen Mattson for helping the poor. I am a strong believer in the idea that you must give a face to something in order to make it real. In other words just talking about the poor in a general way does not give it much meaning but when you see a small child crying because he is hungry you see the face of the poor.
We Christians have a way of insulating our ourselves from the very people Jesus meant us to be fully engaged with. We also have a way of justifying our inaction with phrases like “I will pray for you”. Strip this most common Christian phrase down to its reality is the same as saying “I don’t want to be involved with it so I will just pass it on to God to take care of.” Jesus insisted that we, like him, get our hands dirty and be our brother’s keeper. To lack in doing so is well, unChristian…
“A fool that knows he is a fool is one that knows he don’t know all about anything, but the fool that don’t know he is a fool is the one that thinks he knows all about anything. Then he is a dam fool.” – Will Rogers, 7 August 1927
This is one of Will’s more philosophical quotes. Those who think they know everything are just damn fools. I have certainly run across my share of these folks. Many have even passed through this blog on occasion but thankfully they don’t stay long.
Its time for a new category of posts here at RJsCorner. Like all my successful blogging buddies out their we must be constantly changing in order to remain fresh. This new category is called “The History Of…” and it will become an integral part of my daily afternoon snippets.
I am a lifelong U.S. history buff. The bookshelf presently behind me is loaded with biographies of our best people. Questioning how we got to where we are as a country is always on my mind. So, why not target that for some specific posts?
This category will mostly take the form of pictures and maybe some brief words on the topic at hand. Of course, these snippets will only be a small fragment of the complete story. If you want to start a discussion of any of the topics just leave a comment and see what happens.
Part of the reason conservatives have historically opposed the growth of the welfare state is the belief that it grants people a sort of karmic exemption, allowing those who are lazy or irresponsible to draw resources from those who are more industrious (see Mitt Romney’s “47%” comment). Hence conservatives agree that the world would be a better place if we “let unsuccessful people fail.” That also includes unsuccessful countries (like Greece) and companies (like GM).
Liberals, by contrast, would prefer to live in a world governed by compassion. They are more likely to give people second and third chances. For example, they are more likely to endorse this statement: “It is generally better to show mercy than to take revenge.”
The law of karma is not real. In free-market societies, hard work does pay off much better than laziness, yet cancer, unemployment, and other forms of bad luck can strike anyone. And cheaters, exploiters, and law-breakers do often prosper…
I can see some truth to the thoughts above but I think the article paints with too broad a stroke? It basically says conservatives align with karma and Liberals with compassion. That may be generally true but other factors certainly come into play in how we react so differently under the same conditions. I think fear is an even more dominant emotion in discerning this difference.
But the purpose of this post is to talk a little about the idea of karma. Karma is actually believed to originate in India and is an integral part of Buddhism and Hinduism beliefs but generally the phrase has a different meaning in its western interpretation. Here is what Wikipedia says about that:
Karma — The Western interpretation
Many Western cultures have notions similar to karma, as demonstrated in the phrase what goes around comes around. Christian expressions similar to karma include reap what one sows (Galatians 6:7), violence begets violence and live by the sword, die by the sword.In Hinduism, God plays a role and is seen as a dispenser of its version of karma. The non-interventionist view is that of Jainism and Buddhism, the latter originally a non-theist religion. Generally, Western popular culture portrays karma as more of a supranatural mystical force than a perspective on causality. This is more similar to Hinduism’s concept of karma than Buddhism’s.
To state it as simply as possible I don’t put much credence in the idea of karma. I don’t think there is some supranatural mystical force that I have little or no control over that drives me to be what I am. We are not destined to be a certain thing. The other aspect of karma is living with the consequences of your actions. Of course we must live the with consequences but that does not mean that one mistake at some point in our lives should doom us to an eternity of grief and inhumanity.
Top Democrats said they would revisit the cut, which raises $6 billion over 10 years, before it takes effect in two years. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash. — Ryan’s negotiating partner on the budget agreement — was grilled by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., on whether she knew the cut could reduce by $80,000 the lifetime benefit of a soldier who retires in his or her early 40s.
“I would suggest the senator ask that question to Chairman Ryan,” Murray said. In a document defending the cut, Ryan’s staff called pensions to middle-aged military retirees “an exceptionally generous benefit, often providing 40 years of pension payment in return for 20 years of service” and noted that “most begin a second career after leaving the military.”
I believe that one of the major fiscal problems with our current deficit stricken government is that they promise way too much to those who won’t collect on those promises until the person who voted for the bill is long gone from congress. Providing a lucrative 40 year pension for 20 years of service is definitely one of those things. This is way beyond what those of us who spent 30+ years in the private sector could ever hope to get.
I know that cutting benefits to anyone is onerous but it is especially so for our soldiers. When this cut was announced there were an infinite number of criticisms shouted across FaceBook pages. They typically showed a severely injured soldier in uniform and then shouted “How can we cut benefits to someone who has given so much for their country!!” I certainly agree with those feeling but for these cuts that is certainly not the case. Disability benefits will continue for those maimed in our many wars but for the 97% of our soldiers who went through their service with no injuries, they will have to face the reality that our country just can’t afford the very lucrative pensions that many may have promised.
Of course lucrative public employee pension benefits go way beyond the military. There are many public employees who have been promised sizable future benefits for sacrificing some current pay. This certainly includes postal employees, police officers, and firemen as well as a many of others. We simply can’t afford to continue to dole out future lucrative programs that put the expenses onto future generations.
It is not often that I agree with Mr. Ryan but in this case I think he has it right.
Mother Teresa was once asked in an interview, “What do you say when you pray?” She replied, “Nothing, I just listen.” So then the reporter asked, “Well then, what does God say to you?” Her answer: “Nothing much, He just listens.”
– Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers: Prayer for Ordinary Radicals (Shane Claiborne;Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove)
You are hardly alone if you believe that humanity is divided into two great camps: the left-brain and the right-brain thinkers – those who are logical and analytical versus those who are intuitive and creative. For years, an industry of books, tests and videos has flourished on this concept. It seems to be natural law.
Except, it isn’t.
I think this story is missing the point when it comes to right brain vs. left brain. It is not so important to whether the differences are in the left/right or the top/bottom but that they do indeed exist. Many times in my life I really wish I was more creative than I am. But it seems I am stuck with the analytical prowess over creativity. That allowed me to become a pretty proficient information tech guy who designed and wrote several “specialized-killer-aps”. But I just can’t seem to come up with a really creative header for this blog. Even after hours of attempt.
There is no doubt in my mind that a degree creativity is something more ingrained than learned. Some of us are just much more creative than others. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that I am without creativity. I understand that starting and maintaining this blog requires creativity. I pride myself in being able to look at things from a different view than most. After I left the corporate world I spent seven years designing and fabricating cabinets and furniture for some pretty discerning customers. I know that is my creative side coming out but I sure wish I had more of it. Then again, maybe I am just a creative hog and can’t ever get enough of it. I seem to always want more!
Getting back to the source story, being a scientist I understand the need to be precise in our understanding but I kind of think the left/right brain thing is more conceptual than physiological in nature. We all hear the stories about how the brain is able to re-wire itself after some traumatic injury.
There is much to be still learned about the function of the brain. I believe we are on the cleft of some pretty outstanding discoveries in this area.
Amazon spokesperson Mary Osako, meanwhile, told Businessweek that “our employees have made it clear that they prefer a direct connection with Amazon.”
“This direct connection is the most effective way to understand and respond to the wants and needs of our employees. Amazon’s culture and business model are based on rapid innovation, flexibility and open lines of direct communication between managers and associates.”
Lets face it unions today have a pretty bad reputation with many of us. In the past they have tended to make an enemy of the people who hire their workers. It was always an adversarial arrangement. Whatever the company wants the union is against. With that reputation it is hard to form unions today. I know I just finished a post recently about a paradigm shift needed to solve the unemployment/education problems in our country but this is another one that will require a similar shift. I hope Amazon is doing just that.
Unions of the past just have to move beyond and adversarial relationship with employers if they hope to have a place in the 21st century. Likewise employers must do what is needed to rekindle the loyalty that many mid-twentieth century companies had. They must once again start treating their workers as assets instead of liabilities.
I admit up front that I have only a limited exposure to the employee side of Amazon but from what I can glean they try to treat their workers with respect and they do pay more than the prevailing wages along with attractive benefits. Jeff Bezos is one of the few present CEOs who seem to look mainly to the long-term future when mapping out his company’s strategies.
Here is a quote from an article about Amazon along with some info about salaries.
The company deserves praise for heavily investing in its business and hiring full-time workers at a time when many other firms are playing it safe. Even an extremely healthy economy is going to include jobs that don’t pay very well. But the fact that President Obama has chosen an Amazon fulfillment center as the backdrop for a speech on how to bring back strong, middle-class jobs illustrates the difficult position the government finds itself in as it tries to encourage a more robust recovery.
SOURCE: Amazon’s Hiring Spree Shows Difficulties for American Middle Class | TIME.com
I certainly hope that Amazon is serious that its culture and business model are based on rapid innovation, flexibility and open lines of direct communication between managers and associates.” To be competitive in the coming years will demand a loyal workforce who is willing to adapt to changes as needed. It will require companies to treat their employees with respect and as valuable member of a united team. If unions can adapt to this new paradigm then they will have a place in future society. If not they will, as the current trends indicate, simply go the way of the dinosaur.
ZURICH (Reuters) – Two more Swiss banks said they would work with U.S. officials in a crackdown on wealthy Americans evading taxes through hidden offshore accounts, a trickle that could rise to about one third of the country’s private banks.
It sure would be nice if we could get the rich to somehow pay their fair share of taxes. Swiss banks prosper because they help them hide money to avoid taxes. As the article says still less than one-third of them have joined this new procedure. I think those that are resisting see the writing on the wall that the 1%ers will simply move their money someplace else if they can’t hide it in their banks.
Will Rogers had a lot to say about bankers and financial people during his day and not much of it was good. I wonder what he would say about today’s world in that regard?
Poverty is systemic and government must have a role in reducing it. This is not an ideological assertion but a basic truth given the size of the problem and the complexity of modern society. The Census Bureau reports that government safety net programs cut the poverty rate last year by nearly half. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, kept 4 million people out of poverty, and most of that support went to families with children and a wage-earner with a job that didn’t pay enough to fully feed their families. Without a safety net, the poverty rate would have been 29 percent in 2012, according to an analysis of the Census report by USA Today. Government benefits protected 41 million people, including 9 million children, from poverty.
Conservatives need to stop saying that government programs don’t reduce poverty, because the facts demonstrate that is just not true. Referring to safety nets as “hammocks” simply betrays a lack of knowledge of, or relationship with, people who are struggling and need help. Government is not always the enemy, but often a valuable partner.
Yet, liberals cannot imply that government alone is enough, or that the safety net is capable of completely lifting people out of poverty. After all, the whole idea of the safety net is that it catches you after a fall. There are vital programs that protect people from poverty during hard times and keep many people from falling into further impoverishment, but they do not eliminate the root causes. The problems of family breakdown in our society need to be taken seriously and the cultural pathologies poverty creates require a response. Both social and personal responsibility are needed to end poverty. Economic opportunity must be actually available to everyone, especially lower-income people and families. This is a basic premise and goal that should be the starting point of the conversation between liberals and conservatives.
I just received another moving email from my friends over at Sojourners. Above is part of that message. As usual in our political system the truth lies somewhere between the two-party extremes of wanting to eliminate all help for citizens struggling and trying to fix all the problems with government programs.
There is a medium point between blaming those who have for one reason or another gotten themselves into trouble and those who think their problems can be totally fixed with government resources without doing something to address the underlying problems, and corresponding lack of responsibility, which caused the distress. As mentioned above BOTH social and personal responsibilities are needed to end poverty. You can’t do it with only one of these solutions.
I can only dream that someday those yahoos in Washington can put aside their petty bickering and come to an agreement on this very powerful problem.
Love Trumps Efficiency
Even if the poor waste their resources, who cares? That doesn’t mean we should give up on them. Imagine if God started forgiving only those who deserved it? (Gulp!) We’d all be in big trouble. The amazing thing is, Jesus wasn’t what we would consider fair or efficient—His love was radically unfair! His disciples continually failed, yet Jesus didn’t abandon them, even after one of them (Peter) denied Him three times while Jesus was in the process of being executed (after being betrayed by another disciple: Judas)….
Unfortunately, many churches and Christians today are acting more like big banks, treating “charity” like a loan application, dispensing aid and resources only to the specific poor they deem “worth it.” Are they sober, mentally stable, spiritually healthy, and capable of work? Ok, sign these papers and we’ll give you a Gift Card to the local grocery store—but if you misuse these funds don’t come back!
This is a big one for me. So many Christians readily recognize the grace of God for themselves but will not personally pass it on to others around them. I am just a “there but for the grace of God go I..” person. I can see where some of the decisions I have made in my life could have resulted in me being one of “those people”. I can imagine that my going deaf in midlife could have turned me into a completely different person if my wife, and God, had not be in my corner.
The church that I was recently a member of did an admirable job of adopting a couple of families during the Christmas season. They provided them with gifts for the kids and some food for a couple of meals during those special holidays. But that was pretty much the sum total of their capital spent during the year to this area. For several months I put out the monthly bins at the church to collect food for a local soup kitchen only to see a pittance of cans at the end of each month. Finally being discouraged I stopped even that effort. I was told by the pastor that people’s lives are so hectic with their families they just didn’t have time for the poor. A poor excuse in my mind….
It is just very hard for many to see that Jesus intended love to trump efficiency every day. We all have to try to keep the words of Jesus in our hearts and in our actions on a daily basis, not just those special times of year….
Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders. – Ronald Reagan April 28, 1966
If ever there was one quote that distinguishes the present difference between the two political parties in Washington this is probably it.
Nothing else needs to be said….
“If we can just let other people alone and let them do their own fighting. When you get into trouble 5,000 miles away from home, you’ve got to have been looking for it” – Will Rogers, 9 February 1932
The world is a much smaller place now than it was in 1932 when Will spoke these words. The first multiple channel trans-Atlantic cable would not be laid for almost 25 years and communications satellites where also decades away. 1932 was just the beginning of our addiction to the automobile so it would be again decades before we became dependent on middle-Eastern oil. The world is a much smaller place now…
But I still kind of believe that Will got it right even for today. We seem to go out of our way to find some use for our massive military complex. I see the recent budget agreement tacked another $60 billion for Afghanistan on top of the other $600 billion already approved. Those yahoos just can’t spend enough money on our fighting capabilities or too little on our peace making efforts. If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail…
I have stated often on the blog that I have spent much of my life asking myself “What do I want to do when I grow up?” It just seems that I never really found my own personal unique way to put my mark on the world. This question popped up yet again while I was sitting on my throne a while ago and suddenly the most obvious answer flooded my senses. I was meant to be an editor!!
This calling should have been obvious to me before now. I can’t believe I have lived this long without fully realizing it. A big part of blogging for me is editing my first thoughts into a more coherent and nuanced version for the official post. This is usually a three or more stage process over at least a week long period. I try my hardest to get it down to just the right words.
Throughout my life even when I say things, five times out of six (don’t ask me why I chose that number) I end up re-voicing the same thought with different, more appropriate words. As a matter of fact I do the same thing when I am just thinking of something. I have been editing myself most of my life! How come I just realized that fact?
Regrettably I realize that his epiphany has come much too late to do me much good as far as an occupation goes. That time has come and gone. It is kind of like the old saying of locking the barn door after the cow has already gotten out. I wish I had had a good guidance counselor in my high school days. I’m sure the above traits were there even then. I might have missed my calling in life as far as an occupation goes (I think I would have made a darn good editor).
But I do kind of think that my natural editing abilities have served me well in life. I don’t have a large following here even after more than four years at RJ’s Corner but I think I have a pretty loyal one and that certainly gives me a very pleasant level of satisfaction. You think enough of my editing abilities and the stories I tell to come back day after day to see what I have to say. Thanks for that.
Always looking for just the right words is a valuable part of my always questioning why things are the way they are. As Einstein said in one of his famous quotes
“The important thing is not to stop questioning.” – Albert Einstein
Even though I came to the epiphany too late to use it as an occupation I think it has served me well in this life. But I kind of wish I could have had the opportunity to try to become a world-class editor.
Fine dining at Michelin-starred restaurants around the world can come at a price. But what you get for those high price tags (which can often be accompanied by sticker shock) are outstanding dining experiences that can take you to a castle in Switzerland or to an underwater culinary experience in the Maldives. From Japan to Europe to the Big Apple, luxe dining menus are often designed tasting courses paired with wines, which substantially adds to the consumer’s bottom line.
I guess there are people, especially the 1%er who don’t mind plunking down between $200 and $600 per person to eat at one of these top ten restaurants but 4TheRestOfUs that will usually be the day when hell freezes over.
I guess I could eat at one if it managed to sustain me for the rest of the month as that is about the total monthly food budget for my wife and I. We do eat out at least a hand full of times each month but that is often a Big Mac and Coke or on occasion a visit to the Olive Garden or similar place.
I am somewhere between the “eat to live” vs. “live to eat” categories. I enjoy good food but don’t relish and sometimes I just wish I didn’t have to eat so often. While I celebrate that a few of us can afford to eat a $600 meal I think I will limit myself to a top of thirty bucks or so in almost all cases.