Austerity

The quote below got me to thinking about the “Common Good”. Does that term even mean anything now? Is Austerity now a permanent part of the world society?

Austerity simply means a lack of investment by societies in themselves, in people, in public goods. Things like healthcare, education, transport, energy, retirement, decent jobs, incomes, savings. The problem is that all those things are what underpin the stability of societies, by ensuring that prosperity is something that is realized by all — not just something greedily seized by a tiny few.

Source: How Austerity Ripped the World Apart

If you look it up on Wikipedia you will find that the term “Common Good” is also referred to as “general welfare”. I seem to remember some words about that.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The general welfare is part of the bedrock of our Constitution, so why is it seemingly forgotten now? Where are those who are promoting investments by societies in their citizens and their general welfare? Why must all the money flow to the top?

It used to be that providing for the public good was a Democratic Party thing, but I’m not so sure it is anymore. Like the GOP, the Democrats have been morphing into something very different in recent years. They now seem to be the party of almost solely representing every minority that they can find. What about the rest of us?

The Republicans are now the party of fear and pull-back. They think their future is in going back to an impossible time when things weren’t so complicated. They used to be about limited government and fiscal responsibility but now that the 1% pretty much control things in the GOP they have morphed into something else. What about the rest of us?

Where is the party that champions the public good and investment into our society and its future? Why has the constitutional right to healthcare, education, and infrastructure become abandoned principles?

Mind Your Own Business!

SOMEBODY IS ALWAYS TELLING US IN THE PAPERS HOW TO PREVENT WAR. THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY IN THE WORLD TO PREVENT WAR, AND THAT IS, FOR EVERY NATION TO TEND TO ITS OWN BUSINESS.

Will Rogers 

It’s been a while since I have posted a quote from Will Rogers who is one of my primary heroes in life. The words above were written almost a hundred years ago and maybe things are different now, but the idea is still a valid one. I know that the world is much more connected now than then. Lindbergh had just made is a solo flight between NYC and Paris, television hadn’t been invented yet, and long distance calls were expensive and not terribly reliable. We were just not as connected as we are now.

It seems when someone coughs in the Middle East now the price of gasoline goes up fifty cents.  In Will’s day when something happened in Europe, it often took days for that news to appear on our doorstep. Whatever happens in the world now we seem to know about it almost instantaneously. 

We are more connected now but we could have avoided many of the wars in my lifetime if we had just minded our own business.   “Minding your own business” is pretty good advice in other areas of life. I kinda think it relates to my pillar #7 of “Live and let live”. There are just too many of us today who think it is our duty to tell other folks how to live their lives.  As far as I see it, if what they do doesn’t affect what I want to do, then I should mind my own business. 

I might shock you, but I am not embarrassed to say that this is one of those areas I agree at least to some degree with Trump. Why are we so entangled in the Middle East? It used to be it was because of the oil. But since we are now almost self-sustaining in that area we don’t need their oil as we once did. Let’s let the folks in that part of the world try to settle their own differences. We don’t need to be involved in everything.

How about you?

The Other 90%

There seem to be all kinds of people who are trying to figure out why we have gotten into where we are in this world. Some point to one thing, some to another.  In my opinion, for what its worth, the reason below is one of the primary causes of our current madness.

[They say] Capital was for capitalists — everyone would be better off that way! LOL. What really happened was as predictable as it was grim — capitalists took all the capital they could possibly get their hands on, plundering society after society, and hid it in treasure chests buried around the world. But the result was that there now less capital for everyone less to spend, invest, utilize, share, exchange…

Source: https://eand.co/why-the-world-is-burning-with-fury-2c68df75f879

It’s hard to say just how much wealth is hidden in off-shore accounts because the ones hiding it are getting very good at it.  We do know that the top 1 percent own more wealth than the bottom 90% combined and that is as high as it has ever been in this country! That alone should shock us.

We have seen this, especially in the US. The Republican party who contains the big majority of extremely wealthy capitalists have been promoting this for 100+ years. My hero Will Rogers had a lot to say about this subject almost a century ago. Will the 90% ever learn that lesson so that some of it will at least pass through their hands.

But the thing that amazes me the most is how the bottom 90% still cling to the idea that they will get their share if we continue as we are.  Trickle Down has been so ingrained in their psyche that many don’t even question it anymore. We need to understand that for the capitalists, it’s not about what the money can do, but instead about the bragging rites for how much that have compared to other capitalists. When will we ever learn??

Some say that “religion is the placebo for the masses” but I kinda think that “Trickle Down” is the kool-aid that too many of us blindly consume by the gallon is a more deadly placebo.

Coping With Deafness And My 10 Pillars

I want to continue on from my 10 Pillars post of last week with a personal story about the second pillar which is “You are not alone”. 

As I have mentioned before I want deaf in 1988 at the age of forty-two, but I had been hearing impaired for years before that. I lost hearing in one ear during my early college years in the 1960s.  Since I had no insurance and I couldn’t afford to pay doctor bills and college tuition at the same time, it would be a few years later when I discovered the cause of my impending deafness.

After I graduated from college and had a job including full benefits I was told that I had cochlear otosclerosis and it would eventually cause total deafness. As the hearing loss progressed I got more and more powerful hearing aids for my remaining ear. 

1988 was a year of struggle for me. When I got out of bed in the morning I didn’t know if I would be able to hear or not. Finally, my doctor admitted that there was nothing else he could do for me so “goodbye”.  There was no counseling, no references to others that might be able to help me cope, just “goodbye”.  I felt like I was just set adrift in an endless ocean by myself.

Now, remember 1988 was before Google and such.  There was a public Internet connection via AOL but it was very crude and almost worthless. In spite of that, I spent hours looking for someone to help me.  Finally, I ran across an organization called ALDA (Association of Late-Deafened Adults) where I finally discovered that I was not alone in going deaf in mid-life. There were others like me out there. 

Now with Google and a very robust Internet, it is quite easy, if you look, to find help and convince yourself you are not alone. But you would be surprised at the number of people who will continue to live a pity-party for the rest of their lives after their traumatic event.

I would love to hear your stories about feeling alone in the world…

Self-Checkouts Kill Jobs

The graphic here came from one of my Facebook friends and I agree with her.  I know I am an advocate for automation but it is not always a good thing. This may be one of those times. Let me explain why.

I know there is a big chunk of our American society who just don’t have the skills to compete in our very technology-driven workforce. Some never learned to take learning as a lifelong goal. Some had learning beaten out of them at an early age. Some are just too lazy to do the work that learning requires.  

I also know that education levels vary very significantly between those who live in urban areas vs those in rural areas.  Much of that probably has to do with the lack of availability of education funding and adequate technology.  Education is definitely not an equal opportunity thing in the urban/rural debates.

If or maybe until all of us have skills not easily replace by automation, we need to keep a certain level of low skill jobs available. Supermarket checkouts should be part of that group.  

Getting to reason #3 on the above list, why would someone want to do all that work instead of letting someone else do it for them? 

What do you think?

Little Steps Are Not Enough…

What will it take to get even a small degree of bipartisanship back in our federal government? That seems to be the question of the decade for those of us living in the US and actually much of the world as well.  My friends at Eudaimonia & Co speak constantly about the dark side of capitalism and we all need that at least a small dose of that to keep us focused on the bright side of life. Here are some of their words in a recent post about that:

There are three great trends which shape American decline — and the central challenge of American renewal is somehow reversing them, not just mitigating them slightly. The first is stagnant incomes. The second is falling life expectancy. The third is that Americans are broke

As people grow poorer, they turn on their neighbours and peers and friends — the rise of extremism. The rise of such fresh poverty in the midst of plenty points to a deeply dysfunctional set of institutions. Living at the edge of ruin, perpetually, brings with it a set of social malaises, with which Americans are all too familiar — and the world reels at — from the rage and disconnection that fuel constant mass shootings to the depression and trauma and loneliness that pervades society, especially amongst the young. Poverty — which is what most Americans live in now, at least the relative kind — costs us more than we suppose: relationships, meaning, belonging, purpose, grief, the deeper consequences of a lack of deserved and fair chances, opportunities, and right.

Running desperately back to yesterday is not the same as moving towards tomorrow.

I give you this quote, not because I agree with all of it, but that it makes me think about the possible causes of our malaise.  We shouldn’t try to fix something until we have looked at it from all possible angles.  As the quote ends we can’t keep trying to resurrect yesterday thinking that will solve all our problems.  I think a significant part of the answer is to get that fact through to those who blindly follow anyone who tells them that he is going to make America great again. His simple answers are what it takes to solve some pretty complicated problems.

There seems to be no shortage of possible causes for why we are where we are in this country.  Maybe that is because there are so many problems that need to be addressed.  But, I gotta come back to my primary reason and that is lazy minds. For whatever reason, people just don’t want to do the homework needed to keep a free society functioning. They seek simple solutions to complicated problems. Why are so many lazy in that regard? Maybe that is at the core of where we are right now?