Sojourners….

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.

Why Aren’t They Thanking Him???

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.

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A Monopoly On Good Things….

You know no Nation has a monopoly on good things, each one has something that the others could well afford to adopt. – November 30, 1930   Will Rogers

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.

About That Debt….

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…

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Military Spending Cuts…….

Here is another poll that shows when it comes to making cuts in Medicare or Social Security a big percentage of people think we should cut our bloated defense spending instead.  If we could somehow manage to get our war machine budgets in line with the rest of the world, yes I mean the other 95% of the world, then most of our budget and deficit problems would be almost immediately solved.

Why don’t the politicians listen to us? I’m sure the answer like always is mainly politics and power struggles. God didn’t rule that somehow we are supposed to be the policemen of the world. When we get that into our heads we will be on their way to prosperity again. Let’s give some of that responsibility back to the rest of the world. We just can’t afford it anymore if we ever really could in the first place.

But what do I know……

Do Members of Congress and candidates know what you think???

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?

Is It Right????

 

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.

Martin Luther King Jr. was definitely one who did something about it. His words rang into my heart more than a few time in the 1960s but not enough to rattle me out of my complacency. I was a country boy and really didn’t see anyone of color until my college years. I didn’t understand why so many seemed to hate people who were a different from themselves.  I was often fed the small rural town Indiana rhetoric of the 1960s that all those negroes (I use the “polite” word here; they did not) were just lazy welfare takers. Since I had no exposure to them I just assumed that was true.

Then I went to college and found out otherwise. The first two African-Americans about my age that I got to know lived in the dorm room across the hall. They were both diligent students, at least they seemed to study just as hard as I did. They didn’t seem lazy at all!  As I came to know them they became good friends and thoroughly destroyed the myths I had grown up with.

Since that time over forty years ago I have always treated stereotypes of people whatever they are with great skepticism. As I grew older I became totally intolerant of people who put others in their pre-conceived boxes without so much as trying to determine if they might be wrong.  In other words I started questioning “Is it right?”

I don’t know when I turned into such a radical altruist that I am today? It wasn’t a drastic change but instead increased in intensity as I aged and became wiser. When I went deaf at forty years of age and started seeing some prejudice up close and personal my feelings for others who had it much worse than I do came to the front.

Since those years I have often asked “unsafe questions” whether it was expedient or not and I have become somewhat unpopular with some groups when I bring matters of their prejudice to the forefront.  I am telling you this so that you might understand some of my previous posts. When political candidates start writing off whole groups of people as lazy welfare takers I get angry indeed.  Thank you Martin for showing me that the final question  for all of us must be

“Is it right?”

Vicious Retribution…..

Source: Pizza Man Bear Hugs Obama, Starts ‘Yelp’ Troll War – Yahoo! News.

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.

Twenty two hundred one star ratings from people thousands of mile away! Another example of the hate that has enveloped our political process. If someone shows enthusiasm toward your political “enemy” then they are deemed a heretic and it is your goal to destroy them as quickly as you can.

How sad our society has become when we attack someone’s business because he is passionate about a political candidate. I’m sure most of these attacks are from those who call themselves Republicans and are supposedly pro-business. Joe the Plumber should be very grateful that the Democrats are not as vicious.

Lake Winnebago…

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.

Mr. Romney Doesn’t Seem To Have a Clue….

via Romney ridicules Obama on ‘change’ remark – Political Hotsheet – CBS News.

President Obama:

“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.'”

Does Mr. Romney know that ordinary people can check out the source of his constant criticisms of the President?  He doesn’t seem to have a clue that all of us can “fact-check” his words.  When he wildly takes things out of context it relates badly on him. When the president said that change in Washington is done at the voter level he took it to mean that the president had given up! Of course the President actually said the opposite of that.

Mr. Romney just seems to be in a panic mode lately. He somehow thinks that if he says absurd enough things about the president people will believe it and then vote for him. Doesn’t he know just how desperate that makes him appear? He reminds me of the kid that is running around the school yard playground trying to fit into first this group and then that one. In the end he ends up sitting by himself in a remote corner of the yard. I felt sorry for that kid and in the same way I feel sorry for Mr. Romney.  He has spent the last five years and millions of his own dollars trying to get something that seems out of reach.

I am certainly looking forward to the coming debates to see if he can make credible showing. He just seems to be flailing about looking for anything to attack lately. I’m sure he still doubts that even though he is flipped on so many of his moderate stands that the radical right base of his party is still not in line.  I hope he doesn’t embarrass himself when he is standing  without his coaches on the stage with the President.

But what do I know…

There You Go Again….

via Romney Reframes Donor Remarks to Refocus on Economic Issues – Businessweek.

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.”

While Romney said he was talking about people who don’t pay income taxes, his comments about Americans who feel “entitled” to government help prompted some Republicans to say that they might alienate veterans as well. Richard Armitage, former deputy Secretary of State under Republican President George W. Bush and a former Defense Department official, said the remarks showed “that Mr. Romney doesn’t know what this country looks like, and he has no idea how government works.”

If Mr. Romney stands any chance of winning the presidency he needs to quit coddling the Tea Party folks in his Republican base. He continues to alienate one group after another with his remarks meant to keep his base in line.  In yesterday’s post here he called me a freeloader because I collect Social Security and Medicare. In today’s source he does the same for veterans!

I don’t think Mr. Romney really believes that we seniors or many in the military are leeches but his messages seem to say that. It is getting so bad that now many in his party are also coming out against his statements. Especially those who might be in close elections. They don’t want to go down in flames because of his remarks or reverse coattails. Most of these types of comments come when he is addressing those $50,000 a plate fund-raisers but surely he knows that he can’t keep those messages in the room. They always get out one way or another.

I really don’t think that Mr. Romney is the uncaring person but he is just too embedded in the business mentality of profit at any costs. He seems to forget that the government is primarily in the people business. You can’t turn a profit, or in this case, reduce a deficit by downsizing or outsourcing U.S. citizens as it is typically accomplished lately in his business world.

I do believe that we are for the most part a Christian nation who believes in being our brother’s keeper and giving a helping hand to the “least of these”. I don’t know how the Mormon religion aligns with that philosophy but maybe Mr. Romney needs to bring some of his spiritual compassion into his persona. It might cost him some Tea Party votes but it would show his human side to the rest of us.

But What do I know…..

My Word….

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…..

I Guess I Am One Of Them…. Or Maybe Two Of Them….

Source: Mitt Romney video fact check: Is 47 percent of US ‘dependent’ on government? – CSMonitor.com.

That is one of the questions that has been raised after Mother Jones magazine on Tuesday released a video of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaking to donors at a $50,000-a-plate fundraiser May 17. “There are 47 percent who are with him [President Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it,” Mr. Romney says in the video

According to the fact checker Mr. Romney is saying I think I am a victim and entitled to food and housing and YOU NAME IT… He includes me and every one else who are over 65 in that group. He wants to get all us freeloaders off the government doles.

I must admit that I do collect Social Security and am on Medicare (I think maybe he is including me twice for that) but I must tell Mr. Romney that I paid 6%+ of my wages and so did my employer for over forty years to get those payments.

Since he has been in the campaign mode for over five years I know Mr. Romney drastically wants to be President. It is a “power” thing to him so he will do whatever he has to do to take up residence in the Oval Office.

But please Mr. Romney take me off your list and put some real number up there. Don’t call all of us who are seniors freeloaders. That attitude won’t get you many votes. But I guess since he was talking to $100,000 donors everyone except the 1%ers are thought to be the “takers” as Mr. Ryan’s hero Ayn Rands says it….

About Germany….

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….