This post is going to be about some of the lessons I have learned about having challenges in my life. Some revelations come from my readers and some were revealed by other methods. The picture above almost entails everything that is needed to appreciate this post.Read more
This is a snapshot of a post by John Pavlovitz over at StuffThatNeedToBeSaid. (click to see the entire post)
As usual, I couldn’t agree more…
Source: John Pavlovitz – Stuff That Need To Be Said
John Pavlovitz continues to inspire me as a blogger, an American, and a Christian. I can’t imagine being as productive a blogger as he is! I often struggle to find the words to adequately express my feeling whereas he seems to do it effortlessly. This post is about his words above.Read more
I love thinking at the macro level. I guess my attitude is “think big or go home”. We have a lot of problems in this country that desperately need solutions. It would be great if one solution could solve multiple problems. That is what this post is about.
Problem No. 1 – Teachers aren’t paid enough.
Most everyone agrees that teachers, especially those at the primary and secondary levels need to be paid more. One solution is to make the school year longer but I don’t think the teachers’ union would willingly go along with that. Is there another way to solve this problem?
Problem No. 2 – There are too many lawyers
We are a nation of lawyers. We have more lawyer in the US than the rest of the world. That is a major problem, especially with their promises of getting you a lot of money with little effort on your part. They used to call these guys “ambulance chasers” but since that now seems a noble part of the profession, I’m sure it has another name. Another problem here is that most of those folks in Congress are lawyers. We need fewer lawyers in the country and especially in Congress. Is there another way to solve this problem?
Problem No. 3 – There are not enough Doctors.
With all us Baby Boomers getting old now we need more doctors in this country. The problem is critical especially in rural areas. Because they can generally make much more money in urban areas they just don’t want to put out their shingle in smaller towns. Is there another way to solve this problem?
Problem No. 4 – Our Economic Ladder Is Completely Out of Balance.
How can a ladder that is so top heavy even stay up? The very fat cats on the very top rung of the ladder have as much money as those of us on the ladder. We gotta do something about that before the ladder comes crushing around the rest of us. Is there another way to solve this problem?
Here is the drum roll….
Drastically Change How We Are Taxed.
Changing our tax system could solve all of these problems. Here is how:
- Let’s put a flat tax on everyone with additional adjustments layered on top of that. Let’s say 12%. I know you are thinking that is way too low, but wait for it…
- Remove all exemptions and make all income the same. It doesn’t matter where it comes from, it is income. No more capital gains loopholes, no more subsidizing religious organizations who have morphed more into political ones. Make the exemptions so simple that no loopholes at all are possible
- Add a tax adjustment that is occupation specific. I’ll leave it up to the bean counters to come up with the exact numbers, including the base rate above, but will give you magnitude examples here:
|Teachers at the primary and secondary level||-6%|
|Teachers at college level||-2%|
|Doctors in rural areas||+5%|
|Doctors in Urban areas||+15%|
|Income from inherited wealth||+30%|
|Income from… (fill in the blank)|
You get the idea. This plan would go a long way in solving all four problems identified here. Let’s make it a true capitalistic system of supply and demand.
But I also like Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax idea of putting an annual tax percentage on inherited estates based on the value inherited.
There are some people in this world who are just not opened to the possibility that they don’t know everything about everything. It’s interesting to note that mentality was one of the primary causes of “Early Middle Ages”, otherwise known a the “Dark Ages” between the years 500-1000. Basically, the church, which pretty much ruled the world after the fall of the Roman Empire, declared that everything God intends us to know has already been learned. This basically halted all scientific exploration as well as philosophical studies for a five hundred year period. Yeah, the church was that powerful!
Getting back to today’s “I already know everything” people, global warming can’t be true because they don’t believe it. In other words, if something is too complicated then it’s fake. They too often look for that single “silver bullet” that will cure everything. Everything that can’t be solved with gut feeling or a silver bullet just isn’t solvable to them.
Even if they are not formally educated on the subject they consider themselves to be “street smart” and that is all that matters to them. Many of this category likely make up the MAGA base.
In reality, the more knowledgeable you are the more you realize how much you don’t know. That brings to mind something I learned in my only philosophy course in college. The graphic below illustrates the concept.
Just think of the box as the extent of knowledge available to you. The top left corner is what you know. The little box inside that box are the things you think you know but aren’t true. Then comes the bigger box of what you know you don’t know. And finally, there is what you don’t even know that you don’t know. Don’t think of the above as being to scale. In reality, the “what you don’t know you don’t know” will fill a football stadium!
Since I found so many neat illustrations I will leave this post with a few of them.
Getting back to the guy who thinks he is an expert on everything (you know who I am talking about), we must realize that he actually doesn’t know much of anything at all and a big majority of what he thinks he knows is wrong. But, the sad part of all of this is that those MAGA followers are even worse than he is, as they unquestionably believe him!
This sounds like a pretty grandiose title, I hope the post lives up to it. 🙂 I’m going to clue you in on what I found the ultimate freedom to be. It took me almost seven decades to find it. At first, it seemed more like a prison than freedom but I have found that misconceived view to be the case in more circumstances than I care to remember.
The ultimate freedom was cloaked in darkness when I first came upon it. It just didn’t look like freedom at first glance. Ok, the wait is over I will now tell you what the ultimate freedom is. Ultimate freedom is when you no longer have to do something just to create money.
Now I guess I have to explain my personal circumstances in order to support my dark pre-story.
I left the corporate world at fifty-five. After I got my thirty years in and was eligible for a full pension, my corporate division was sold to a Chinese company. We were told that nothing would change, but of course, within six months massive layoffs started. Within a year 95% were gone, including me.
All my life I had lived pretty frugally so I had enough resources along with the fixed pension and future social security payments to be able to live without any additional income. But, as is often the case, I refused to understand what that freedom could give me. It would be several years later before I fully realized what was in front of me.
When I finally went into the full retirement mode six years after leaving the corporate world, the idea of having total control of my time absolutely scared me. The main reason for that is that I didn’t do the work required to really appreciate what I had. Instead, I languished around as pretty much a couch potato for a couple of years feeling sorry for myself and the self-imposed boredom that followed.
Finally, I got it through my head to actually use this ultimate freedom. I finally started doing some things that I had only dreamed about up to then. One was to be a frequent volunteer at a local soup kitchen. Another was to start a blog about my view of the world. I had always enjoyed writing and now I could do whatever I wanted with that skill. Other things would eventually fall in place, but it was not until a few months ago that I decided to try and take my ultimate freedom to a whole other level.
I actually spent the time thinking and dreaming of what I could now do that wasn’t really possible before. That brought up a lot of hidden, or maybe unrealized goals that need to be further pursued. Finally, when 2019 dawned I decided to bring up yet another blog, this one dedicated to creativity. I am now about forty-seven days into this year-long project of becoming a more creative person. If this sort of thing appeals to you, I would like to invite you to come along on my journey. I think we can both learn if we do this together. Click on the CrackingCreativity logo in the right column here to join the fun.
How about you, what is your definition of Ultimate Freedom?
How you describe yourself is a pretty good indication of how you see your place in the world. Most people start off with their occupation, “I am an engineer…”. Some site past achievements, others family relationships.
I think a major source of how you describe yourself must do with your future. It must be how you want to spend your remaining years on this earth. Your self-description should be about your future, not your past.
With that in mind, letting go of your “have been” life how would you describe yourself?
For most of us, this question will probably take some contemplation to get it right. It certainly did for me. I can’t say “I am an engineer” as I haven’t practiced that profession for years now. I can’t claim to be a volunteer in a soup kitchen as that ended more than a couple of years ago. Here is what I can say. I am a now:
- Prolific Blogger
- Nuanced Skeptic
- Progressive Christian
- Amateur Documentary Photographer.
I maintain three blogs and a couple of photography sites and I certainly am a skeptic about certain aspects of life. I only recently started calling myself a Christian again and that is because I shed the Evangelical label and adopted the Progressive one. (see my blog at RedLetterLiving for more about that.) One of my passions is photography particularly documenting the historical places I have visited. Looking to the future, however short it is, these are the descriptions that I put on myself.
How would you describe yourself?
As mentioned in a recent post here at RJsCorner, we in the US have been duped into believing that stock market indexes are the only indicators we need to measure the prosperity of our country.
Since the stock market in the last two years went from 19,700 to 24,000 which is about a 21% increase it sounds like we are living in the age of uber prosperity. But when you look at almost any other measure we fall pretty far behind many far less wealthy countries.
A better index for prosperity would include quality of life measures and that is what the Legatum Prosperity Index does. It was developed by a London think tank. Here is a little about that:
The 2018 Legatum Prosperity Index is based on 104 different variables analyzed across 149 nations around the world…
The 104 variables are grouped into 9 sub-indexes, which are averaged using equal weights. The 9 sub-indexes are:Source: Wikipedia
Safety & Security
For example, Personal Freedom includes freedom of speech and religion, national tolerance for immigrants and ethnic and racial minorities. The Social Capital sub-index includes the percentage of citizens who volunteer, give to charity, help strangers, and who feel they can rely on family and friends…
This index is actually an index of indexes that include:
- Gallup World Poll
- World Development Indicators
- International Telecommunication Union
- Fragile States Index
- Worldwide Governance Indicators
- Freedom House
- World Health Organization
- World Values Survey
- Amnesty International
- Centre for Systemic Peace
As can be seen from the featured image at the top of this post, the United States comes in 17th on this index. It should be of no surprise that most of the world’s social democracies come in ahead of us as do some very small countries.
Money isn’t everything except maybe to the top 2% in our country who actually controls the majority of it.
I don’t think the word “remoralization” is a real word yet but I admire David Brooks for inventing it for the purposes of his weekly article on capitalism. This post is going to be about our capitalist system and the stock market. Let’s start off with Mr. Brooks words:
There’s been a striking shift in how corporations see themselves. In normal times, corporations serve a lot of stakeholders — customers, employees, the towns in which they are located. But these days corporations see themselves as serving one purpose and one stakeholder — maximizing shareholder value. Activist investors demand that every company ruthlessly cut the cost of its employees and ruthlessly screw its hometown if it will raise the short-term stock price.source: New York Times – David Brooks
My three-legged stool analogy about how corporations used to be balanced between customers, employees, and shareholders applies here. When equal attention is placed on the three legs the corporation is healthy. When the legs become unbalanced turmoil results and we are, as David point out, in deep turmoil in the US in the last decades. When did corporations become immoral so they need remoralization?
“Stakeholder” which primarily mean the one-percent of the US population, who control more wealth than the bottom 90%, now demand that they get a lion’s share of the attention of the companies they control. This imbalance is one of the primary causes of the populist movement, even if the loudest voices in it don’t realize it. When a very small percentage of people control the economic assets severe unbalance is bound to happen.
How did we get to the point that the three-legged-stool is so completely out of kilter? How did we let that happen? I think a big part of that is that too many of us have blindly accepted the contrived propaganda on the subject.
We have been fed the line and seem to thoroughly believe that the only index needed to measure the prosperity in America are stock market indexes.
Since the stock market in the last two years went from 19,700 to 24,000 which would be about a 21% increase it sounds like, if we are to take that as the measure of our prosperity, we are living in the age of lavish prosperity. But when you look at almost any other measure the 21% just doesn’t begin to happen. If you want to look beyond the top 2% of the wealth holders there are so many other factors involved. More on that soon…
For this “Seeking Wisdom” Thursday I am going to give you some of my personal wisdom. Unlike some person we all know, I don’t think I am perfect but I have gleaned a fair amount of wisdom during my years on this earth. Much of it comes from the mistakes I have made, but isn’t that where the really valuable wisdom comes from?
I am letting you Millenials, and anyone else who cares to hear it, in on a little secret. No matter how old you get, you are still a forty-year-old but stuck in a decaying body. It doesn’t matter if chronologically you are in your seventies, you still think and sometimes foolishly act like you are forty.
Why forty? Well, that is the age where, in my wisdom, you become fully adult, if you ever actually become a full adult. 🙂 The teenage years of making stupid mistakes actually extends well into the twenties. After that, it is a learning process to find what the world and your place in it is actually about. By the time you are forty, you should have pretty well gotten all that stuff down. Of course, the years after that pile on the wisdom but forty is the point that your body starts on its long downhill grade. So you lock your mental psyche on that year.
I was never much of a Mark Twain fan but when we visited his hometown in Hannibal Missouri years ago I came across the words in the featured image above. Personally, I know not a day passes that I don’t feel young.
So, the next time you visit a nursing home, or other places where old people hang out, remember all those folks see themselves pretty much the same as you. You insult them when you baby-talk them or just plain ignore them. A lesson in empathy when it comes to old people is to go out of your way to say hi and recognize their presence. Why? Because someday, and sooner than you think, you will be the one on the receiving end of that transaction.
That is enough of my wisdom for now. I gotta go replenish my wisdom bucket now. 🙂
What do you think?
I have let it be know many times here at RJsCorner that Thomas Jefferson is one of my main heroes in life. He, and Will Rogers, are who I chose many years ago to how to cope in the best of times and in the worst of times.
Jefferson had a love of words from a very early age. When it came to the written word he was probably the most prolific of all the founding fathers. He was also recognized, even by himself, to be no better than an average speaker. He seldom spoke extemporaneously. In his time in the Continental Congress, he seldom spoke more than a few words. But when given the time to dream, write, edit and then edit some more he was a master of eloquence. It is a fact that even Lincoln used Jefferson’s writing as a pillar for his own.
I have been looking over his words as found in the book “The Quotable Jefferson” as I seem to do on a regular basis and ran across his thoughts about Andy Jackson. Before I get to them I want to re-iterate my contempt for our 17th President. I simply cannot fathom how the Democratic Party can celebrate him as their founder. I admit that I haven’t read a full-length biography but I have read many things about him and have visited his estate the Heritage and read most of the info there. I know from that that he was a threat to our young democracy due to his rash and boastful bravado.
I also know that a picture of Jackson is now hung in the Oval Office as it’s current occupant thinks himself able to compete with Jackson’s legacy.
Before this gets too long I have to give you the quote from Jefferson on his thoughts of Jackson as recorded in 1824, two years before his death and five years before Jackson occupied the Presidency:
I feel much alarmed at the prospect of seeing General Jackson, President. He is one of the most unfit men, I know of for such a place. He has had very little respect for laws or Constitutions, -& is in fact an able military chief. His passions are terrible. When I was president of the Senate, he was a Senator; & he could never speak for the rashness of his feelings. I have seen him attempt it repeatably, & as often chock with rage. His passions are no doubt cooler now; -he has been tried much since I knew him- but he is a dangerous man.
I don’t doubt that Jefferson rolls over in his grave every time his name is mentioned Jackson.
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?
I want to say up front that Google doesn’t appreciate what I do. Their algorithm is prejudiced against me. They sometimes call me a “duplicate content provider”. Argh!!!
When I started my personal blog over ten years ago, I set a foundation for what it would be. The first foundation was that it would pattern what my primary literary hero Will Rogers did. One of Will’s more famous quotes is “All I know is what I read in the newspapers.” That is he took a topic for his articles from what he read and gave it his own twist. I believe I have pretty faithfully lived up to that idea.
The second foundation is that I want to give people different views of the world by presenting them with new sources of wisdom. Even this foundation goes by to Will Rogers. You see here a couple of his quotes about that. All of us should be constantly trying to learn from smarter people. We shouldn’t have to pee on every electric fence to learn our lessons in life. In that regard, I go out of my way to provide you with links to people that might expand your horizon as they did mine.
I think over the years I have directed hundreds of people to new sources of wisdom. I am proud of that fact, even if Google doesn’t agree. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t care to have tens of thousands of readers. I am more than happy to have a smaller group of wisdom seekers rather than a large group of ranters. That suits me just fine. Since it is coming up on the end of another year, I want to thank each and every one of my followers for letting me have a couple of minutes of your day. I appreciate that you think what I have to say is worth your time.
I want to kick off this re-formatted “Seeking Wisdom” category here on RJsCorner with Thomas Jefferson. He is one of my primary sources of wisdom. He was an idealistic rebel of his times. Even by his compatriots, he was considered a writer for the ages. He was a young man when he was drafted to write the Declaration of Independence. Some believed him to be just too much of an idealist and too inexperienced to write it, but looking back that is exactly the type of person needed for the job then and maybe even more so now.
He was a theoretical philosopher when many of his time didn’t really understand what that meant. Here is a little more about him from one of my favorite sources of his quotes:
Jefferson’s skill as a writer has accentuated many of his accomplishments. Partly because of his preference for style over a rigid adherence to rules of grammar, he was perhaps the most eloquent of all American writers…
Abraham Lincoln heavily drew upon Jefferson. The words, phrases, and philosophy of the Declaration of Independence have inspired those seeking equality for minorities and women, and most recently for oppressed Europeans seeking to shake off their Communist shackles.
From the introduction to the book: The Quotable Jefferson collected and edited by Jhon P. Kaminski 2006
When I am seeking wisdom, Thomas Jefferson is one of my primary sources.
For this “Seeking-Wisdom” post, I want to try and bust a few bubbles before diving into this category much further.
We all must recognize that the inspirational figures in our lives are for the most part like all of us in that they are multifaceted. They have characteristics beyond those that inspire us. For instance, Thomas Jefferson is one of my top sources of seeking wisdom. Even today, 200+ years after they were written, his writing and insight simply astound me! But then there is the fact that he was a slaveholder who likely fathered several children from his “visits” to his slave quarters! Does that take away from his writings? In some ways, it has to but we need to realize that our heroes often lived in different times and standards. It’s not much of an excuse but…
Then again, sometimes the history books just got it wrong for one reason or another. They say the history is written by the winners in all conflicts and the “truth” often reflects that fact. One of the primary examples of this is Christopher Columbus. It is now known that he was a money hungry bigotted tyrant who had no respect for the inhabitants he encountered. In cases like this and possibly the southern Civil War “heroes” we need to disenfranchise ourselves from those who didn’t deserve it in the first place.
To close these thoughts out, we need to see our heroes for who they are, not what we want them to be. Sometimes that is incredibly hard one for me to do.
I am still refining my new format for RJsCorner and that will probably be an on-going process for months to come. 🙂 When I first set up the weekly post categories I deemed Thursday as American Heroes but pretty quickly decided that was just too confining for what I intended. After a couple of days of contemplation, I decided to make Thursday the day I post about the people and things that inspire me. Being that I obsessively search for just the right phrase, I want to give you my definition of Inspiration.
So, for this first Thursday Inspiration post, I give you Emmanuel Macron. I admit that I don’t know a lot about him yet but what I do knows makes me think that he is a world leader for the 21st century. He is young (41) but appears to have wisdom beyond his years. Maybe that is because he, like me, married a woman considerably older than him. 🙂
His recent interview on CNN’s GPS piqued my interest to learn more. During that interview, he laid out his 5-year plan for bringing France into a leadership roll in EU and the world. I would highly encourage you to watch that interview. For those who don’t have the time to do that maybe my quick very edited transcript which will give you an idea of why he is inspiring to me. Click here to see that.
I certainly hope that if and when the US falls out of dominance that EU will be ready to take up that mantle. This gives me hope that just might be the case. But, I also hope that other young forward thinker like him will rise from the swamp of current American politics. I am just tired of this country being run by old white men.
Here’s to you Emmanuel, viva la France.
“Best doctor in the world is a veterinarian. He can’t ask his patients what’s the matter. He’s just got to know.” – Will Rogers
This quote from Will came to mind recently while my wife was going to doctors trying to determine the cause of her recent ailments. In the last couple of months, she has had three emergency room visits, two of them by ambulance. We were in the ER practically all day each time. They racked up over $14,000 in tests and billing for their time and still can’t determine the cause for her symptoms. They just say “if it happens again, come back and we will try to figure it out.”
But at least the $14K bill was reduced to a little over $4,000 by Medicare with our out of pocket around $200. Thank heaven for Medicare. Maybe they will find what’s wrong the next time… but I’m not holding my breath. 🙂
I think its time to pull one of the header quotes from Will for this post. “Do the best you can and don’t take life too serious.” I discovered this quote several years ago and practicing it has helped me cope with daily life. I don’t think I am unusual in taking my personal life too seriously. If we were to concentrate on what our FaceBook friends say, we can become convinced that we are the only ones struggling. But once we realize that the FB media is a facade and doesn’t reflect any deeper meaning, we can dispell that make-believe “Ozzie and Harriet” view of the world.
There are a couple of adjuncts to this saying, one of them is that your life, for the most part, has little to do with any world situations. Except for voting and sometimes voicing your opinion to those that can affect change, what you do in your life doesn’t matter to anyone but you and your immediate family. So, just don’t get too serious about what goes on in the world.
Do the best you can where you can affect change and make your life better but don’t get too serious that world tensions are something you can personally do much about. The other adjunct is that you only live once in this world, the time you are living now is not a practice session. If you don’t make the most of it now you have lost any opportunity to do so later.
Good judgment comes from experience and a lot of that comes from bad judgment – Will Rogers
It’s time I put out a post on the new quote in the header above. I think experience and wisdom often go hand in hand and as Will says learning from mistakes is a big part of it. I personally think I can remember more details of the things I got wrong than the things I got right.
Due to my Aspie characteristics, I made a lot of social mistakes. Looking back I can see where opportunities were presented to me that I just wasn’t aware of at the time. People giving me hints that they wanted to have a relationship with me if I would only agree. I was a wimpy kid who simply couldn’t believe that anyone would be interested in me as a person.
Not standing up for myself was another place where I learned from my mistakes. I simply let too many people take advantage of my naivete. Looking back I can see where I was a pretty gifted guy and quite a few people took credit for things I did. I just didn’t realize at the time it was happening.
My mistakes in the past have taught me the good judgment I now have. It is not that I can go back and relive those times, but at least I try to use my current good judgment on today’s circumstances. Maybe this is another example of “Wisdom is wasted on the elderly”. I don’t know.
I know the quote above from Will and the title of the post seem kinda disjointed but hear me out before you pass judgment. 🙂 I have always been a dreamer in life. One of my favorite things in my youth was to lay back on the lawn on a clear night and gaze unendingly at the stars and dream of what my future life would be about. I had high expectations in those years.
I was abruptly introduced to the idea that your dreams and expectations are never as good as you hope or as bad at you dread. Marriage is a compromise between two people of different personalities and desires. It is not a “happy ever after” state as many, including myself, dreamt it to be. I and my future wife were both over forty and unmarried so we had developed our own methods of living and coping with life. After the honeymoon, we would eventually clash on many subjects. Marriage was just not what we expected. But since we have survived over thirty years now in that state I guess we are a success at least on some level and our expectation and reality are now more aligned.
Politics is another matter. It has gotten to the point where a politician can outright lie to our face and not have to suffer any consequences. Some call our current political environment the “Post Truth Era”. I hope there comes a day where I can once again have high expectations about those I vote for.