Post ItJust a quick note to let you know I am going to be away from my computer for a few days. Although I have posts scheduled to automatically appear each day I will likely not be responding to comments as I usually do…

Going to visit the in-laws for a few days.

ComingTogetherIn my life’s experiences I have found that it is extremely difficult to get people to cross a personal barrier in order to accomplish a common good.

Politics…… It seems that the common good, that is things that people who have different political views can come together and accomplish, is becoming a rarity in the U.S. the last decade or so. There are a lot of things out there that could be accomplished if only some would learn the art of compromise. Everything doesn’t have to have a political point or exactly mesh with your “principles”.

Religion…. The version of religion that we cling to causes much segregation in today’s world. For the most part Lutherans, Baptists and most other religious groups will not come together with others outside that group for a common purpose. The most striking personal example of that is when I was trying to put together a cross denominational benefit dinner for the homeless shelter/ soup kitchen where I have volunteered for several years. I contacted ten other area churches with a heartfelt appeal to attend a benefit dinner at my church. I spent hours on composing the message to make sure it would not raise conflict on the different beliefs of each group. Out of the ten churches not a single person crossed the line to attend the dinner.

Even my local church group had only a meager representation. I really don’t know if my message even made it past the filter of the leader of the church to the congregants or not. I guess I naively thought that helping the poor just seemed like something all Christians could get behind.  That was my first and last time for me to try anything in a cross denominational area.  Jesus made it clear that we are to be our brother’s keeper, that we are to take care of the “least of these”. This appeal seemed like a natural to me but I sadly found that too many barriers are in place in the church to see this common good issue. The fact that many churches, including the one I attended, actually forbid ministers to join in with other denominations in a common prayer should have pre-warned me of my upcoming failure.

Religion and Politics are two issues that everyone tells us should not be mixed but it seems they are inextricably mixed anyway among so many of us. Sometimes for the good but it seems often to the detriment of both. Too many of my conservative Christian friends allow their politics to shape their views of religion and not the other way around.  Instead of seeing the Good Samaritan as an example to follow they see him as a naive person who doesn’t understand “the poor will always be with us” so why even bother.  Too many let a single issue (abortion, gay marriage, other below the belt issues) get in the way of coming together for the greater good.

How sad is that?????

UPS 1In the case of UPS, the 15,000 spouses are husbands or wives whose employers also offer health benefits. This appears to be a case where they like the plan they have (they’ve opted for the UPS plan rather than their employer plan) and can’t keep it…..

And for the 15,000 who are affected, it’s a bit simplistic to say their options are narrowing solely because of Obamacare.

UPS didn’t say the law was the only factor behind its decision. And some health-care experts argue that businesses are using Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a convenient excuse for continuing a long-term trend: straining to control the relentless rise in the cost of health benefits.

SOURCE:  UPS drops health benefits for 15,000 spouses. An Obamacare bellwhether? – CSMonitor.com.

I’m sure all those wackos in congress, especially the top nut Senator Lee is screaming that this is yet another reason to un-fund Obamacare but to me this decision just makes sense.  If we insist that our private businesses have to fund healthcare instead of like most other countries in having government take on that chore then the employers should be able to play on an even field. I’m sure UPS, like their pay scale, gives their employees a pretty strong healthcare plan. Probably much better than many.  But if a person is covered by their own employer why should they be able to insist that they spouse’s employer bear the burden of their healthcare?

As the last paragraph in the quote says there are many who are using ACA as an excuse for something they would have done anyway. The relentless rise in the cost of health benefits will never be contained as long as we have such a hodgepodge of ways of addressing this issue.  Single payer system such as we currently have with Medicare and Medicaid is the only solution to this mammoth problem.  Until we learn that lesson from the rest of the world, and even from our own systems, we will continue to burden  our employers with an  expense that their foreign competitors don’t have.

Come on UPS, don’t hide behind Obamacare as the reason you did something you should have done years ago. Call it like it is and that is a management decision. For the most part I admire UPS for how they run their business. It amazes me how they can move packages to my door in such a short amount of time.  I also admire that they pay their employees very well. Blaming Obamacare for a good business decision just tarnishes that image.

Egypt

SOURCE:  Across Egypt, piles of ash where church pews once stood (+video) – CSMonitor.com.

While we are meddling in the various civil wars in the Middle East, and aren’t almost all of them in one form of war or another, how do we choose which side we are one? It seems in Syria and Egypt the “rebels” are the extremists who are burning churches that are not muslim whenever they come across them.  How do we choose where to inject a few billion dollars to affect the outcome.

Mr. Obama is trying to make the case to drop bombs and cruise missiles on Syria to “punish” Assad for apparently using chemical weapons. But in the process he also wants to help the rebels get an advantage. But as I, and many others see it, by doing that he is actually choosing one extremist over another. What good does that do.

All of this choosing sides between bad or worse reminds me of my younger days when Mr. Reagan decided to help El Salvador and take down Nicaragua or maybe it was the other way around? I know we spent millions both above and below the table on those wars.  Ollie North who broke so many laws doing it was still considered a hero by many of my conservative friends.  Of course today both countries are considered our friends, that is if we really have any friends in that part of the world.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what would happen if we didn’t intervene in the affairs of another country and just let things happen. I know to all those who are so fearful of everything in the world that seems an impossibility.

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

HeroThis would be a great time in the world for some man to come along that knew something.” – Will Rogers, 21 September 1931

We seem to be a nation that so desperately needs someone that knows something. The problem is that we are looking in the absolutely wrong places.  

  • We look for someone who agrees with us in our entrenched “principles” instead of someone who will show us a better way.
  • We look for someone who can drown us in their insightful rhetoric instead of someone who has actually been there and done that.
  • We look for someone who can defeat our enemies instead of someone who can teach us to love each other.
  • We look for someone who sees God as we do instead of someone who can show us what God really expects from us.
  • We look for someone who will get us out of all our troubles instead of someone who will point out why we have those troubles.

We will never see that someone unless we open our minds to other than our current beliefs and world views.  We are the problem we are trying to solve and until we come to realize that we will be forever mired into our current condition….

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

“Too many people spend money they earned..to buy things they don’t want..to impress people that they don’t like.” ― Will Rogers

To Impress People…..

All About Fox News……

September 14, 2013

“If you are going to write, talk, comment, or argue over any public question, don’t do it by just reading one newspaper….You can tell in a minute a person that only reads one paper.” – Will Rogers, 18 March 1934

Some more words of wisdom for today spoken by WIll Rogers almost eighty years ago. I can say for a fact that many of my conservative friends and past classmates have Fox News running in their homes throughout the day.  I am also sure that is the only source of news many of them expose themselves to.  Well not quite,  some probably get a regular dose of Mr. Limbaugh and his bigoted rhetoric.  I just can’t understand how some can, or even want, to stay in that mode? Loving,  instead of hating or maybe just fearing your neighbor, is a much more satisfying life.  Yes  Will,  even today you can tell in a minute a person that  watches Fox News as their only source of information.

Knowing So Little….

September 13, 2013
Speeches“I don’t suppose there ever was a time when everybody knew as little about what they were talking about as they do today.” – Will Rogers, 19 September 1933

A quote I often cite is “You don’t have to know what you are saying as long as you say it with authority”. That seems to mimic what Will is saying above but I think these times today that has far exceeded what it was in his days.  One example of that might be President Obama. His rhetoric captivated many during the 2008 campaign season (including me ) but lack of experience just did not allow him to begin to actually accomplish what he said.  Of course a totally anti-everything Republican congress didn’t help either.

Another group of people who never seem to know really what they are saying are all the financial advisers out there. The fact that if the average person just put their money into a simple low cost stock index fund they would beat the vast majority of those guys.  Now I am not including those advisers who work for the 1% in this list. Their job is to do everything to insure that the super-rich keep from paying their fair share of taxes or actually any taxes at all. They seem to be doing a pretty good job of that . But then again that is probably due to the yahoos in congress who allow all those loopholes to exist in our tax codes that they constantly swim through.

I guess you could say that I am also included in the group who know little about what they are talking about as I am not an “expert” on any of the matters I discuss on this blog. I am just a simple guy with at least some degree of a way with words. But I do seem to have an opinion on most anything.  I don’t often really know what I am saying but I try to say it with authority. :) :)

Happy Friday the 13th (if any of you actually celebrate that type of thing)…..

Al-Qaeda-linked rebels take Syrian Christian village, activists sayIt is unclear how an historic village just 26 miles from Damascus could be overrun; locals say rebels burned churches

SOURCE:  Breaking News Headlines: Business, Entertainment & World News – CBS News.

It bothers me greatly that there will likely be severe innocent deaths associated with President Obama’s rush to enter into the Syrian civil war. Yeah, million dollar smart bombs and drones are more accurate than huge shells being blasted from the battleship Wisconsin as in the past but they still kill many who are just trying to survive the conflicts around them.

If I am to believe Senator McCain when he says he heard it from Mr. Obama’s lips that he also want to bomb several  sites to give an advantage to the rebels in this conflict. A good percentage of these rebels belong to the same group that we are fighting against in two other Middle East countries.  And almost all of them are probably involved in burning Christian churches, people or no people inside, when they take over the small towns in the region.

Do I really want the money I send to the government monthly to go to this cause?  No way, no how!! Please Mr. Obama, with the exclusion of your lone supporter France, listen to the rest of the world when they tell you to seek peace, not another war. If you really want to hurt Assad then do it electronically by taking away some of his money. Isolate him financially instead of killing innocents with the bombs my tax dollars pay for.

Narcissism And The 1%….

September 11, 2013

Angry driverRecent studies show, for example, that wealthier people are more likely to cut people off in traffic and to behave unethically in simulated business and charity scenarios. Earlier this year, statistics on charitable giving revealed that while the wealthy donate about 1.3% of their income to charity, the poorest actually give more than twice as much as a proportion of their earnings — 3.2%.

“There’s this idea that the more you have, the less entitled and more grateful you feel; and the less you have, the more you feel you deserve. That’s not what we find,” says author Paul Piff, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley. “This seems to be the opposite of noblesse oblige.”

(MORE: Why the Rich Are Less Ethical: They See Greed as Good)

In five different experiments involving several hundred undergraduates and 100 adults recruited from online communities, the researchers found higher levels of both narcissism and entitlement among those of higher income and social class.

SOURCE:  The Rich Have Higher Levels of Narcissism and Entitlement, Study Shows | TIME.com.

I have had some pretty harrowing experiences with narcissists in my life. I just can’t image someone being so self-focused especially those who call themselves religious. Almost all of religions spiritual documents take a very firm stand against that trait.  My definition of a narcissist is someone who has their head stuck so far up their rear-end that they can see nothing but themselves. I simply have no patience or compassion for a narcissist. I know I am told to love them but, with only a few exceptions, I find it almost impossible to manage that feat.

One of the things that often comes with any degree of success in the financial world is ego and that seems be often be a major trait of most narcissists. Those who manage to make a few bucks soon convince themselves that they are the greatest person in the world and that no one knows more about real life than they do.  Now before you start piling on I will freely admit that not all, or probably even most, successful money gatherers are narcissists or have infinite egos and thank heavens for that. But I am convinced that they have their inordinate share and the source above seems to re-enforce that belief.

As the study says the wealthier you are the more likely you are to treat others poorly or to donate  any significant percentage of your income to charitable causes.  I know Mr. Romney ranted about how the 47% of us feel entitled to take money from the real wealth makers but according to this study he simply got it bass-ackwards and the electorate let him know that…..