Holiday Time Off“A key issue is that we’re a more unequal society than all of the countries we looked at, and that creates a different work environment where people feel they may be penalized for taking time off,” Schmitt said in an interview.

In the states, that fear at least partly reflects the widening gap between what top corporate managers earn and what rank-and-file workers bring home, Schmitt suggested. In the U.S., where corporate culture often seems to equate taking time off with slacking, many employees feel they are effectively penalized for going on vacation, as promotions and other rewards go to people more able and willing to work around the clock.

Source: When it comes to vacations, the U.S. stinks – CBS News.

This is probably one of the saddest things to happen to our country. In my younger days we all used to thoroughly enjoy our annual vacations. Now we seem to be pretty much at the bottom of the list in this regard. We no longer have union representation to get us a few more paid days off as we used.  Let’s face it, our employers just don’t see much sense in paying us to not come to work.

There are just too many of us who are so insecure in our current employment to even dream about asking our bosses for a few days off. We are afraid if we do that he will start looking around for a less demanding employee. From the graph above most of the rest of the OECD nations get about three times the vacation/holiday time off as we do.

I’m sure that the upper echelons of the business world still get their vacations. After all they have all those vacation homes they have to visit. But the grunts at the lower levels had vacations stripped away years ago. Since teachers are primarily a publicly funded occupation and have strong, probably too strong, unions they still manage to get huge amounts of time off but they are about the only ones but that will likely change in the not too distant future.  The private sector threw vacations out the window when they jettisoned our pension funds,  healthcare and even our sick days.

They say that we Baby Boomer are probably the last to see our work environment to be better than our parents.  How those who followed us let that happen I have no idea.  I salute all those countries from France to Canada who have managed to keep hold of more than two weeks off a year.  Good for them….

CrackedInstead, three Syrias are emerging: one loyal to the government, to Iran and to Hezbollah; one dominated by Kurds with links to Kurdish separatists in Turkey and Iraq; and one with a Sunni majority that is heavily influenced by Islamists and jihadis….

“The only real outcome I see in the next 5 to 10 years is a series of cantons that agree to tactical cease-fires because they are tired of the bloodletting,” said Mr. Holliday, the analyst with the Institute for the Study of War. “That trajectory is in place, with or without Assad.

Source: Pressure of War Is Causing Syria to Break Apart – NYTimes.com.

With our “policemen of the world” stands it is difficult to see just what to do with the Syrian situation. But to me is sounds like three very different groups are fighting each other in that country. Of course if we look back into history these types of conflicts are rather common lately. Numerous one-time countries are now three or four separate countries due to sectarian conflicts within their once united country. Is this something that is even solvable by us super-cops?

Globe and map-makers have a constantly changing landscape to try to map. When I sit back and think about it isn’t that what is going on in our country today.  Thank the Lord that our sectarian conflicts have at least for now stayed in a verbal mode but they seem to be just about as severe as others. We seem to be permanently locked into two distinctly different groups of people in this country.

I haven’t seen the word “canton” used in this manner in a long time. One definition I came across is “a small administrative division of a country”. That applies to our current red/blue situation.  There just doesn’t seem to be a solution short of eventual split. But how that split would occur is anyone’s guess.  I just hope that if/when we do split we do it without the violence found in most of these similar situations around the world.

About the only hope I hold onto right now is the Centrist Movement. If we could just let the fringes of the two current parties have them then the rest of us could form a Centrist party. That would be a powerful alternative. But in reality I don’t hold out much hope for that in the near term.

Основные RGB

To the U.S. technology industry, there’s a dramatic shortfall in the number of Americans skilled in computer programming and engineering that is hampering business. To unions and some Democrats, it’s more sinister: The push by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to expand the number of visas for high-tech foreign workers is an attempt to dilute a lucrative job market with cheap, indentured labor.

The answer is somewhere in between, depending as much on new technologies and the U.S. education system’s ability to keep up as on the immigration law itself. But the sliver of computer-related jobs inside the U.S. that might be designated for foreigners — fewer than 200,000 out of 6 million — has been enough to strain a bipartisan deal in the Senate on immigration reform, showcase the power of big labor and splinter a once-chummy group of elite tech leaders

Source: U.S. technology, labor unions clash on immigration – CBS News.

I seem to fall on both sides of this debate about job related visas. On the one hand in order to maintain our technological dominance in the world we need people who have the skills to continue to innovate and if our populace doesn’t meet this challenge then we need to look elsewhere.

But on the other side, maybe we should be doing more to get our kids to do the work to meet the needs internally. That is a big problem as it seems that many are just not willing to put in the work to make that happen. The common answer to not having enough people with the necessary skills is to put more money into our educational system but that has been the solution for more than one-hundred years now and money just doesn’t seem to bring about the desired results.

I know my teacher friends who frequent this blog will have some comments about this and I certainly welcome them. How do we encourage more of our children to get the advanced education needed for twenty-first century jobs in this country?  To me the first thing is to take the financial roadblock away from them  that prevents many for attending college or trade school.  Many of the more affluent countries in the world  extend free education beyond high school. Why aren’t we one of them. It has been proven time and again that doing this has a very high buy-back.

I see all the studies about how those in Japan, Korea, and several other countries make education for their children their number one family priority.  That attitude instills the mentality of working hard into the children. I can’t understand why so many parents in this country allow their children to drop out of high school! That dooms them to a lifetime of  want and distress. How can any parent think that is enough for their children?

Yes, we need to do something to convince more kids to make a commitment and do the extra work to obtain technical educations. Yeah it is harder to learn physics and calculus but if  taking the challenge doesn’t happen then by all means let’s do what we can to bring in kids from other countries to fill the gap.

Insanely Too Much!!!!

May 25, 2013

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F35a

From my friends at FCNL. This program is entirely for political purposes only.  We don’t need such an expensive boondoggle.

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AnxiousWhen faced with a challenge, whether you deny the problems it poses or dive in to solve them in a positive way may determine how much anxiety you feel overall.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 40 million Americans ages 18 and older are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder every year. To dig deeper into who may be at greatest risk, investigators from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign surveyed 179 healthy men and women and asked them how they dealt with their emotions and how their answers correlated with their level of anxiety in a variety of settings.

Previous studies hinted that different strategies that people use to handle emotional situations could impact how much anxiety they felt in general; those who tended to focus on positive ways of resolving difficult circumstances, for example, experienced less nervousness, tension and negative emotions compared with those who avoided challenging situations and suppressed negative and uncomfortable feelings. The scientists in the current study, published in the journal Emotion, wanted to explore the relationship further to see whether the more positive emotional strategy could offer more resilience and protection against anxiety than the suppressive approach.

Source: How You Deal With Your Emotions Can Influence Your Anxiety | TIME.com.

This was an interesting article. Of course if you have a more positive outlook on life you will be less anxious. Many times it takes years of studies to understand things that are really just common sense to some of us.  The problems with this approach is that it is hard to be positive about things in our country right now. Our government is totally dysfunctional to the point of breakdown.  We seem to be constantly bickering with each other over almost all topics. How can you stay positive while living in these surroundings?

One way is to just ignore it all and go on with a life of simplicity. As they say ignorance is bliss. :)  Ignore all the negative stuff and just live in your own private world of bliss and hope that all the bickering is just a passing thing. This idea is not new to me. Thoreau discovered it years ago and went off to Walden pond to seek his own simplicity. It took Thoreau two years to fully appreciate a life of simplicity. Timothy Leary discovered it in the 1960s and coined it “Turn on, Tune in, drop out.  His answer unlike Thoreau’s was freeform psychedelic rock music and drugs.

It is indeed true as stated above that our mental attitude about what is occurring around us has much effect on how we deal with it. I am trying to deal with my own anxiety by realizing as my hero Will Rogers taught me that “All Politics is Applesauce”. That term was Jazz slang of the period for nonsense. There is no one way to deal with today’s frustrations either personal or corporate. We just need to understand that  life can go on in spite of them.  Laugh it all off as it is a joke anyway.

Apple CEO

A Senate panel late Monday accused Apple (AAPL) of using what it called a “complex web of offshore entities” to dodge billions of dollars in U.S. income taxes.

via Lawmakers say Apple dodged billions in taxes – CBS News.

If we could just manage to get a Centrist party in control of those folks in Washington one of the first things I would want them to attack is our bloated tax code. The 10,000 plus pages of rules are at the core of the above article. Of course businesses want to minimize their tax load in order to increase their profits.  That is, after all, what the free enterprise system is all about. Profits are the sole driver.

One of my major themes in my life lately has been around the word “Simplify”. Our world is just getting too complicated when it doesn’t have to be. Let’s throw out those 10,000 pages and replace them with just a handful. Let’s take away the means for corporations to move massive amounts of their income into tax exempt entities.

Let’s just make income well, income. If it comes in it is income and you pay a certain percentage of it as taxes to support our government and its business. For the individual that means you pay the same rate for income for profits from your investments as you do from the sweat of your brow. That means if you inherit income you pay your taxes on that amount in order to pass part of your windfall on for the common good.  You didn’t earn it so it is taxable income to you. For corporations money coming in is income; doesn’t matter if it was from a foreign sale or one in the U.S.

Lets Get a Centrist party in power and direct them to simplify our tax code. After they accomplish that then I would want them to give us “real” universal healthcare; not that pretend extremely watered down version called Obamacare. But first things first I guess and that is getting centrists into power in our government. Click on the logo below to see more about that.

Centrist Party

Hunt Out The Good….

May 20, 2013

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“Hunt out and talk about the good that is in the other fellow’s church, not the bad, and you will do away with all this religious hatred you hear so much nowadays.” – Will Rogers, 11 March 1923

This quote from Will definitely applies to the churches in the U.S. but it equally applies to many other things that are problematic in our country today.  As I commonly state on my other blog over at RedLetterLiving.net there are currently more than 39,000 different versions of the Christian church in the world. Most are the result of splits around different beliefs about this or that. We seem to always be looking at why we should be different and split rather than what we have in common. If we only took Will’s words to heart I think the number would be vastly different.

The political parties in this country have now devolved into hatred for each other over our differences. We can no longer seem to come together for what we find good in ourselves. We no longer seem to be able to compromise. Much of this division is totally unnecessary if only we would swallow a little of our pride in believing that we are the only ones who have it right about  this or that.

I have found that sometimes it is better to just say “I know this is not the way I would have done (fill in the subject) but that’s ok. Not everything in life has to go totally our way in order for us to be happy. When we insist on that happening then we most assuredly doom ourselves to frustration and constant bickering. That is not a way to live during our brief time on this earth.

Niagara Falls

May 18, 2013

Niagra Falls

 

I had my first and only visit to Niagara Falls in the Summer of 1999.  The falls were impressive and yes I did put on the rain coat and toured them close up via the little boats shown below.

Bigger Than….

May 16, 2013

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Will Rogers 6“This country is a thousand times bigger than any two men in it, or any two parties in it.” – Will Rogers, 2 November 1932

I seem to often get ground down by the politics of the day. Especially with all the gridlock and bickering that is always there. Thanks Will for reminding me that the country is a thousand times bigger than all those ornery folks in Washington or the two parties that now occupy space there.

Outside the Washington beltway and several State houses there is still a lot of good going on in this country and lets never forget it. As Will says “Politics is applesauce”.

Burnout…..

May 15, 2013

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FrustrationI know I am getting burned out on all this constant bickering in the U.S. I watch little or no news on TV now. All the news channels seem to be about inciting a riot among us. My internet news sites which I visit first thing every morning are now for the most part briefly scanned.  I am just tired of all this stuff. It may just be time for me to go “Walden” as Thoreau did and drop out for a while. I seem to only be able to see the dark side of life and I just can’t live in that mode very long.

Since the Spring and Summer months are the busiest times away from blogging for me I will likely be limiting my posts to one every other day or so for a while and I will likely stay away from politics, at least for a while. I just need time to get things back in perspective again and get all this fighting off my mind….