My Feathered Friends..

5star-banner  One of the advantages of living in a rural forest area are all the feathered friends that come to visit our feeders. We go through tons of feed and suet each winter but seeing the birds makes the winter a little less dreary for me.


Part 3 – How Did We Get Here –Everyone For Themselves…

When a ship is sinking are you the type of person who would try to save others or are you the type to say “everyone for themselves”? It seems the answer to that question is the later if you use much of  the American electorate as the source. Here is a quote to start us out on this subject:

Here’s a good game to play with yourself: Try to figure out whether or not you can make it through Donald Trump’s presidency unharmed.What are your liabilities? What has Trump already said about your sexuality, about your culture, about your family, about you? How many promises has he made on the campaign trail, and how many of those promises have been not promises, but threats, and how many of them have been about hurting you? Really think about it.

It’s hard for me to avoid trying to convince myself that the pain I feel, in the aftermath of this election, isn’t really real. I’m a little too good at talking myself out of pain in general…

What some of us have lost — what I have lost — is a way of seeing America, and, by extension, a way of seeing ourselves. We want to believe that America, as a country, is basically good, basically just, basically principled, and basically capable of protecting the freedoms that are not just our joys, but our rights.

Source: Grieving America

I know my conservative friends call me a “bleeding heart do-gooder”. They mean that as an insult but I actually take pride in that label. Yes I do grieve that not everyone one in this country gets a fair shake. Some are born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouths and some are born almost doomed to a life of poverty because of their surroundings.

When I think about it there is not much a Trump presidency can do to harm my personal way of life.  Yes, he could get us into WW III or a nuclear holocaust but that is simply something that is futile to worry about. He could with the enthusiastic help of Speaker Ryan take away my social security but since a very big part of his base seems to be fearful seniors I don’t see him doing that.

So, why am I worried so much about a Trump administration?   He can’t write laws, he can’t spend money not approved by congress so in the end he doesn’t have the power to do a lot of permanent damage by himself. We have survived weak and even dangerous presidents in the past and come out ok so I suspect we will survive a Trump presidency too.

I hate to see our country go into an “everyone for themselves” mode but sadly  that seems to be where we are right now.  Given that that has been the theme of the GOP for the last several years it shouldn’t come as a surprise now that they control two branches of our government.

Elizabeth Warren in 2020!!  I’m ready to contribute right now to help make that happen.

Grounds For Sculpture…

ISOA Banner   One of the most unique places I have ever visited in this country is the “Grounds For Sculpture” in northern New Jersey.  It is a fascinating place where you sometimes don’t know if the person beside you is real or a sculpture. To give you an idea of the size of some of the sculptures that is me under the sculpture of the famous kiss in Times Square celebrating the end of WWII.

click on any picture to see a larger slideshow view

America’s missing male workers

In Part 2 of my “How Did We Get Here” series on Thursday it was mentioned that there are 7 million men who have quit looking for work. I couldn’t understand that given that our unemployment rate is at historic lows so I decided to look into this further and found  the quote below:

More than 7 million men between the ages of 25 and 54—prime working age—have dropped out of the labor force. That means they’re not only unemployed but have also given up looking for a job

Why aren’t they working?

2016-11-13_16-38-23.pngThere is no one single reason. Men have been dropping out of the workforce at roughly the same rate for the past half century, through boom times and recessions alike. The decline in manufacturing jobs has almost certainly played a role. In 1970, more than a quarter of American workers, most of them men, had jobs in factories. Today, it’s fewer than one in 10. Nevertheless, only one in seven men outside the workforce says a lack of available jobs is the reason he’s not working. Another problem is the explosion of America’s prison population. By some estimates, 12 percent of adult men have been convicted of a felony, not including those currently imprisoned. Employers are reluctant to hire ex-cons, so many of these men have found themselves virtually unemployable. 

Who supports them?

Their families and taxpayers. About 57 percent of men outside the workforce received some form of disability benefits in 2013, according to the Census Bureau. Overall, the number of Americans receiving disability has doubled to 8.8 million people since 1996, costing the federal government $260 billion per year. The U.S. now spends more on disability insurance than on food stamps and welfare combined. For others, especially younger men, it’s often relatives who pick up the slack. Some 70 percent of lower-skilled men in their 20s who didn’t have a job lived with a parent or close relative in 2014.

Source: THE WEEK – November 11, 2016

It is surprising to me how many reasons there are that men quit looking for jobs. It is also surprising to discover that this population has not changed much for many years! Only one in seven reasons given is the lack of jobs.  What are the other reasons?

Being a fiscal conservative I am pretty sure that the doubling of those on disability insurance in the last twenty years  needs to be investigated.  Are those now labeled as disabled really unable to hold down a job?  I suspect there is a lot of fraud in this number.  Too many people gaming the system?

I am personally familiar with the inability of those who have felony convictions unable to find employment. A good friend of mine is in that category.  When he was hooked on drugs and therefore got into trouble he was convicted of a felony. But for the last several years he has turned himself around and I am proud to call him my friend. He has applied for many jobs but only gotten one temporary part time one.

We need to recognize that when we hear the statistic that 7 million have left the workforce there are a number of reasons and almost all of them are not because of the lack of jobs…