2014-10-30_08-51-50America needs more Mark Zuckerbergs, not fewer. How to create them? There is no magic formula, but Henrekson and Sanandaji find the rate of billionaire entrepreneurs correlates positively with nations that have lower taxes, more venture capital investment, and less regulation. High capital gains taxes seem particularly harmful.

Worrying about those things would be a good start for Washington. While inequality hasn’t made it harder to get on the success ladder, it does make it more costly to stay stuck at the bottom. A more entrepreneurial U.S. economy generating more high-paying jobs will ensure more people are making that climb to the top rungs.

SOURCE:  Why America needs more billionaires – The Week.

I certainly agree with the title of this article. America needs more billionaires but it is how they accumulate those billions that matter and especially what they do with them later. Those who invent the “better mousetrap” create jobs and wealth beyond themselves are of great value to our country. Let’s look at a century ago when Henry Ford invented the assembly line. He made billions in today’s dollars but he also gave his workers wages much greater than the current standards. Everyone benefited from his new methods. Yeah, I admit that assembly line work is stifling but it was about the only good paying jobs available during those times.

Today there are thousands of Henry Fords around who have made the latest things. Guys like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs are to be celebrated for their entrepreneurial lives. But for every Jobs there are probably dozens who are getting richer by paying slave wages to their workers. In other words they are getting rich on the backs of those they employ. I believe that this condition is as bad or maybe even worse than it was a century ago before a stubborn progressive Republican president took on the robber barons of his time.

Who will take on today’s robber barons? Walmart is an essential part of many small communities including mine. I make frequent trips there every week as they are about the only place to shop now. They are widely known to pay minimum wage for most of their workers while their corporate profits continue to rise and their owners who for the most part inherited their stocks get vulgarly wealthy.

It used to be that corporations were based on a three-legged stool. The three legs were  customers, owners, employees. As long as these three entities were balanced a corporation was considered healthy. But now days the employee leg has been cut off almost up to the seat level. The stability of the stool is no longer viable.

America needs more billionaires that’s for sure….

I Can’t Do It For Them….

November 10, 2014

2014-11-06_09-28-42This is going to be an extremely soul-searching post for me. It has been a week since the GOP route in the mid-term elections and I have been thinking about my philosophical and political leanings. Two things seem now apparent to me that were not so just a few short months ago.

The first epiphany  is that I am not so much a Democrat as I am anti-Republican. There is just too much weight amongst the current Republican party in favor of the elite and so little for the average guy and almost nothing for the guy down on his luck. In my mind too many who currently represent the party believe in the mantra “I’ve got mine so screw you”. They seem to think that if you can’t do what they did then it is your own fault. Too many, like Mr. Ryan of Wisconsin, just have no empathy for others..

The Republican brand is quite simply tainted too much for me. I call myself a social progressive and a fiscal conservative. If only the Republican party would stick to their strengths of being a watchdog of the purse and get away from trying to enforce, or you could say mandate, various versions of 19th century morals on the rest of us. By the same token if only the Democratic party would get over the idea that throwing money at any situation will solve it.

The second epiphany is that I have come to understand that “I can’t do it for them”. That is I can’t help people who won’t help themselves. The majority of those who bothered to get out and vote recently were old and white like me. The young, the disenfranchised, the guy working one or maybe minimum wage job stayed home. He/she didn’t see it worth their time to make an effort to vote for the change makers.

I am probably a typical “bleeding heart liberal” in that most of the change I would like to see in this country would not affect me very much:

I want to see everyone have healthcare while I currently have very good coverage via Medicare and an affordable supplemental policy.

I want to see everyone who works full-time be paid a living wage while I am fortunate enough to have Social Security, a good pension from thirty years with the same company, and a savings account beyond most my age.

I want to see a strong safety net under those who might fall on hard times. I want to see that their families don’t get severely punished for something they had no control over while I, at least in my adult life, have never needed a safety net.

I just overflow with empathy for others where it seems most in this country are more into the survival of the fittest mode. Maybe empathy is a condition I need to overcome, I don’t know. I’m sure that many that I advocate for think they are helpless in changing things. They just can’t seem to realize that in the end their vote  has as much weight as the billionaires who they presently allow to control the money.

Maybe it is time for me to get off my empathy horse and not worry about all this stuff so much. I simply don’t know the answer to that right now. I imagine I have about one more decade on this earth. Maybe I should spend it differently than I have been up till now?

But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know….

 

Six Things Continued…

November 9, 2014

Being Pessimistic

2014 15897… Today’s Christians have a bad habit of seeing the worst in everybody and everything: A natural disaster is surely a sign of the end times. An MTV show reflects our hideous moral decline. A particular nation (obviously not one of our political allies) is being used as the Anti-Christ’s puppet to eventually invade and destroy the United States.

The apocalyptic and hopeless assessments about our world—and Christianity—propagated by Christians themselves are pathetic and worrisome. Do we have nothing to be thankful for?

We treat our faith as if it’s in a rapid decline, as if the “glory years” are over. Really? The past was Christianity’s brightest moment? When racism, segregation, sexism, war, and fear plagued our country—this was the high point of Christianity?

Christianity is about bringing an uplifting and energizing hope—but we’ve turned it into a fear-based horror story.

SOURCE: Six Things I Wish Christians Would Stop Doing | Stephen Mattson | Red Letter Christians.

This post is a continuation of last Sunday’s discussion. This week it is about Pessimism. The first thing I thought about when I read these words above was of the old man I encountered in Times Square during our recent visit. Here everyone was having a good time being dazzled by all the lights and music and in the midst of it was this guy who wanted to tell everyone they are going to hell for having a good time. There are far too many people who identify Christianity by the pessimists among us certainly that includes this guy.

When I regularly attended the adult Sunday Bible study at a small church a few years ago I occasionally got a heavy dose of how bad the world is from several of the others who attended. Being it was a Lutheran church and they still seem to hold a mighty grudge against Catholics they were often the topic of conversation but there was plenty left for several other groups. There was much criticism about this group or that because of their actions or beliefs. They were the enemy…. The glory days are over….

If only more of us  were enthusiastically bringing the uplifting and energizing hope to those we  were condemning. Too many of us say we like the ideas of Jesus but stop short of actually putting them into practice. Shame on us…

I need to end this post by saying that the words above apply to all of us in one degree or another but it is the degree that matters. Yes there are many optimistic Christians out there, I like to think I am usually one of them but of course that is not always the case. I get down on the world just like everyone else from time to time. Each one of us must always be conscious of what kind of Christianity we project to the world. Are we mainly looking backwards to what Christ did for us or are we looking forward to putting his words into actions? That is the critical difference….

Thanks Stephen for bringing out these thoughts in me….

 

2014 15927

While I was writing tomorrow’s post I had to get into my NYC trip portfolio. When I saw this picture of the Empire State building I had to include it in my SearchOfAmerica and on this blog as well. I still remember the pictures of all the steelworker who seemed to dance around on those iron beams. It is hard to believe that only five men were killed during its construction. If you ever get to NYC be sure to go to the observation deck for an awesome site of the city. It is very much a part of the heart of America…

2014-10-27_07-54-31It’s an early battle, so it is premature to say who will win in the long run. Apple appears to have created an ingenious and obviously superior mobile payments system. But retailers control their own checkouts — they get to say who pays with what, not Apple. And Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is backing the retailers’ system via a company it is partnering with called MCX.

Apple Pay is an elegant, universal, simple-to-use system that can be used by any retailer. You just touch your finger on the iPhone Touch ID fingerprint scanner, wave your phone near the NFC checkout device at the store, and approve the payment.

What Apple gets and what no one else in the industry does is that using your mobile device for payments will only work if it’s far easier and better than using a credit card. With CurrentC, you’ll have to unlock your phone, launch their app, point your camera at a QR code, and wait. With Apple Pay, you just take out your phone and put your thumb on the Touch ID sensor.

SOURCE: Wal-Mart Is At War Against Apple Over The New iPhone Payments System — And Apple Is Losing – Yahoo Finance.

Let’s face it, many people resist change at every opportunity. Innovators must have a serious sense of bull dog to get things into the main stream. As Steve Jobs once said people don’t know what they want until you show it to them and Apple has been very successful at that. I believe that Apple Pay and systems similar to it will eventually replace our old magnetic strip credit cards and maybe even cash to a large degree. Those who are battling against this trend will eventually be forced to come around.

I am old enough to remember the VHS vs Betamax wars of a few decades ago. This was during the time that video recording via magnetic tape was coming on the scene. Eventually VHS won the day and Betamax disappeared. The same thing will likely occur with this latest technology.

2014-10-19_09-42-23I have taken leave of politics. I think little of them and say less. I have given up newspapers in exchange for Tacitus and Thucydides, for Newton and Euclid, and I find myself much happier.

Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Adams January 21,1821

I always get a certain degree of pleasure to find that my recent decisions were tried by my heroes before me. About a year or so ago, maybe longer as time seems to be flying by lately, I decided to take my leave of politics. To me that venue has taken a dark turn that I seem to be unable to tolerate now. I decided to leave how we get out of this gutter to those who can actually effect a change. I decided that until things improve, if they even can, I will be voting against anyone currently in office at the State and national level. I see it as the only remaining way to get through to those hard-hearted, spiteful people who have gridlocked our political processes.

Jefferson had been out of political office for about 15 years when he penned this letter to Adams. He finally had enough of it. I find myself in the same mental state.

2014-10-29_08-29-05Without the South, the country could very well be renamed the Democratic States of America.

Secession would have numerous policy implications. The deficit would likely shrink, since despite the South’s fondness for anti-government rhetoric and ideology, the region benefits substantially more from federal programs than it pays into the federal treasury. Serious gun control legislation might actually make it through Congress. ObamaCare would probably work better (the South has led the way in refusing to expand Medicaid), but it might also be possible to pass the kind of sweeping reform of the health-care system (single payer) that proved impossible for Obama.

In sum, the U.S. without the South would look an awful lot more like Canada and Europe than it currently does — while the newly independent Confederate States of America would likely look like, well, nowhere else in the civilized world. Rates of poverty, already among the highest in the nation, would probably leap higher still. Guns would be ubiquitous. Without a meddlesome Supreme Court to uphold reproductive rights, women in the New Confederacy might find it impossible to obtain abortions. Something similar would probably hold for gay rights (not just with regard to marriage, but even including sexual activity itself) and, of course, for African American voting rights. (Ten out of 11 states in the South have passed voting restrictions in the past four years. Imagine what would happen without what remains of the Voting Rights Act and the oversight of federal courts?)

So what do you say? Is it finally time for us Northerners to encourage the South to go its own way?

SOURCE:Imagine: The Democratic States of America – The Week.

I too have often wondered what the U.S. would look like if the southern States were to actually do what they often threaten to do and that is to secede from the U.S. The above words are an interesting take on that possibility. Yeah Obamacare would most likely work better as indicated by the map above. The vast majority of people without  health coverage are from those infamous States. The description above almost sound like utopia to me. So many of our current problems would disappear if you believe what the author says.

I must admit that I too have an ingrown prejudice against the South. I still blame them for our bloodiest war in history. I still blame them for their adamant opposition to civil rights of all our citizens. They just seem to be on the wrong end of history’s lessons so often.

The Democratic State of America sounds good to me but when you look at the maps my State of Indiana is more like the southern States then those above the Mason-Dixon line.  The Republican have a veto proof majority in our State government so they have pushed through some pretty radical legislation of late. And of course Indiana was a hotbed for the KKK about a century ago.  Would Indiana become the “new South” if the South jumps out of the union?

Silliness I guess but this kind of thinking keeps the brain cells active…. :)

VOTE….

November 4, 2014

Duct taped mouthToday is election day in the U.S. If you want to see change in our totally gridlocked government this is the way it happens. We can change over two-thirds of our federal government representatives today if we want. But that can’t happen as long as so many ignore their responsibilities in how our nation is governed.

Anyone who doesn’t vote today should have their mouth duct taped. If you don’t exercise your critical right to vote then you should give up your other critical right to complain about how our government that you didn’t vote for or against is doing.

VOTE…..

Its All About Fear….

November 3, 2014

2014-10-25_06-26-31“Apparently Republicans really are either stupid or insane, since they seemed surprised to learn that their rightward lurch into an all-white, anti-everything party of fear was a big loser in the 2012 presidential election. They promised to lick their wounds and think hard about immigration and ‘the Latino vote,’ but that did not prove to be necessary, since they now find themselves in another midterm election with a bunch of spineless purple-state Democrats on the defensive and an electorate of ‘highly motivated’ base voters, meaning the old, the frightened and the deeply Caucasian.

Ebola and ISIS are pretty much the perfect issues for a GOP midterm victory: They’re scary things from scary foreign places that we don’t really understand and can’t do much about; they call forth alarmist rhetoric and the prospect of wasting lots of money in the name of national security. (All this was manna from heaven for Republican strategists, because Benghazi and ObamaCare had pretty much stopped paying dividends.)”

SOURCE: GOP Takeover Panic: Why the left fears ‘insane’ Republicans running the Senate Fox News.

It is all about fear isn’t it and as the article says we have ISIS and Ebola around now so maybe that is a “perfect storm” for the Republicans. The stock market dropped dramatically in October and so has voter sentiment, or at least white voter sentiment. That fact will likely bring out the WASP vote more than others. We white folks seem to just love to be fearful about almost everything. If there is not something obvious to fear then we invent something.

As a footnote the quote above while contained in the Fox News article was actually from the Salon website. Lord knows Fox News would never make such admissions.. :)

If you do nothing else tomorrow please go to your polls and vote, PLEASE……

Arguing

Instead of having a reputation as being peacemakers, promoting reconciliation, and working towards unity, Christians are known for being loud, argumentative, petty, and contentious. Unfortunately, any semblance of Christ’s gospel message of hope, love, and grace is lost within the endless noise, debates, accusations, division, and hatred.

Christians need to stop obsessing over being right and having all of the answers and start focusing on following Christ’s example: sacrificially serving, helping, comforting, and loving everyone around us.

For Christians, it’s often easier to yell and scream instead of doing the very hard—and humble—work of loving others. Arguing is addictive because it feeds off of our need for self-glorification, self-righteousness, pride, power, and recognition.

Acting like Jesus, a person who ultimately died on a cross and devoted His life to selflessly helping others doesn’t seem that appealing—it isn’t. But we need to try—and the first step is to stop being combative and start focusing on being a peacemaker.

SOURCE: Six Things I Wish Christians Would Stop Doing | Stephen Mattson | Red Letter Christians.

Stephen Mattson’s posts frequently weigh heavily on me. He is a true kindred soul. Arguing is the first of six things on this post. Click on the source above if you want to see the entire post. I will likely be posting on some of the others in the coming weeks.

Insistence of being right is certainly not an exclusive Christian quality. Almost, if not all, religious institutions are heavily involved in “being right”. Wars have been fought throughout human history of one religious group fighting and killing another for their insistence on the other group being wrong. If anything would reverse the seemingly decline in Christianity around the world arguing and particularly being right is probably a primary cause.

I am becoming fully convinced that the principle of coexistence is the path for me. That is to agree to disagree on some topics without having to argue that I am right. Little changes when we insist that we are right and they are wrong. It only stiffens up resistance to learn anything from the encounter.  It is a turnoff for many who just might otherwise find some answers through the teachings of Jesus.  If only we Christians started actually doing what Jesus demanded and quit arguing with everyone who thinks differently. Actions speak MUCH louder than words in my mind. Let’s all do a better job of acting like we are his followers….