What does America value?

In our society money decides how resources are distributed. Those with the most money, have the most options. Sometimes I wonder is money the most efficient way to decide who gets what? In America specifically, status is determined by income. However, it can be argued that the most noble work is done by those paid the least, maybe even nothing–volunteers. At the same time there is a lot of money pooled with those who seem to be lacking a heart of service. They hoard money in off shore accounts. The work done by some of the highest income earners does not appear to be work that is life-giving. The work does not produce anything lasting. If that is the case, we are not doing our best to effectively manage resources to meet the needs of the people who our government represents. We have lost the sense of stewardship that human kind needs to live with peace of mind and in balance with the ecosystems that we occupy.

Life is about more than profits.

The first problem with having money decide who is able to access resources, is that there are many worthwhile endeavors that are not profitable. Adding the profit aspect to health care, education, and prisons creates a business model that breaks the systems they claim to serve. The fact that they are not profitable does not mean that they are not worthwhile endeavors. It simply means that society does not want to pay for them. Many of the social services are not “fun” ways to spend money. Yet, they are vital to the general well-being of the communities that we live in. There are many things worth doing for the greater good that does not make a profit.

Bringing back the balance.

How can things be brought back to balance?

Some say charity is how to solve society’s imbalances. Yet, I am not sure that charity as we know it is the answer. The first reason why that is true is because the work that needs to be done is not always the work that people want to pay for. Some of the work that is needed by society is not considered “sexy” by funders. The process to access grants is lengthy, complex, and limited. The process is cumbersome and does not always address what is needed but instead focuses on what the charity is willing to give.

There needs to be a review of the way America does business. Stockholders versus workers. Which should be the priority? When stockholders do not see the vision of the company and are looking for a one-way street to profits not seeing the long-term vision of community and the way that the organization lives in the community it can be problematic. What then should be done to keep the fiduciary promises to stockholders while still being able to invest back into the company and community.

Our society appears to be economically driven, however the economic cycle is not free-flowing and the stagnant lack of a strong economic flow worsened by the lack of disposable income, makes solving problems on a one-on-one or community level, virtually impossible. The way we think about resources and problem-solving must change and become more egalitarian so that our society begins to reflect the best of all of us manifesting real solutions. Instead of what has been happening which is the worst of all of us manifesting our fears. I still have faith that humanity is capable of amazing things. However, to get there the focus must be on working together. That gives value to all Americans and I believe that is truly what American values is all about.MiamiHeraldValues

Advertisements

we need leaders, not nannies

During my usual morning ritual of cyber surfing,  I saw a post from one of my friends about the Occupy Wall St. phenomenon. I commented on this thread, and so did a Harvard man, telling me I was a hypocrite if I supported the protest and had a 401K or an IRA. I assured the man– I was no hypocrite. He made a remark about America being a nanny state and the protest the equivalent of babies having bottles pulled from proverbial mouths of those who found themselves at the bottom 99% of the economic wealth scale in America. I found the hubris of this comment disturbing. As I moved from that exchange and continued surfing,  I saw a lady’s comment about being so happy to see a comment about Wall St. that wasn’t mentioning the Occupy Wall St. protest, “How are we supposed to take these kids seriously?” She writes over a link for the Zombie walk of  Occupy Wall St. where the marchers chanted “We are contagious!” She didn’t get it. I got it, the idea is contagious and it will spread and it did spread because now there are Occupy Wall St. events happening all over the country  during October, 2011 and maybe beyond.

Just because the elites don’t get it, doesn’t mean the statement has no value, just because they can’t wrap their minds around what it takes to raise a family of four on $1,000 a month doesn’t mean that reality doesn’t exist for a lot of people. Just because they don’t go hungry doesn’t mean that 1 in 4 children in America don’t go to bed at night wondering where their next meal is coming from.  As a matter of fact, I wonder how people who are supposedly so smart (so says their financial portfolio) appear so dumb. Why can’t they figure any of this out? People are tired of mega-bonuses at the top while those working on the front lines with the customers are kept in a constant state of economic uncertainty and stress about paying their basic bills. People can’t believe that after what I call the Wall Street Rape of 2008,  no justice was mitigated for crashing not only the domestic, but global economy, with the sub-prime mortgage scam and the shady derivative markets.

“That’s why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.”
― George Carlin

People are looking at the bleak prospects of their future, not only for themselves, but their children. Americans in their 40’s are looking at the very real possibility that they will be caring for their parents, themselves and their children, meanwhile not being able to plan for it,  because their 401K  is on some psychotic roller-coaster and the Congress couldn’t legislate itself out of a wet paper bag. It is all very disturbing and frustrating as the country gets held hostage over a financial cliff for seemingly mundane decisions. But the legislators themselves are in no risk, their healthcare and pension prospects are not in question, their salary not cut 60% as many of their constituents have experienced in the last two years.

Working American people are not looking for hand outs, we don’t need to be spoon fed by a nanny state. That is not the point, and it’s insulting to say, it is not about entitlement. What about the feeling of entitlement of the upper 1% to assume all the money is  theirs. You may create jobs, but our brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers risk their lives at those jobs. You benefit from the security of the military, but who sends their children to the front line to die? You eat the food that the working class grew and put on your table, as the saying goes the wealthy would be eating money if someone didn’t grow and prepare the food for them. Not that one class is better than the other, everyone has a purpose that makes society work well,  but let’s put some things in perspective here.

If your company uses American labor, it behooves you to pay for world-class  education to have the best in an educated labor force.  You want that investment in employee training to have longevity, especially now that labor needs to work to a more mature age, make sure they have good health insurance so that individuals can work longer and be more productive.  You need military support, make sure they have the best resources, and are taken care of when they return home, thank them for the fact that you and your family didn’t have to be in harm’s way. Allow workers  access to nutritious food and kids great parks to play in and become strong citizens, body, mind and spirit. Allow people the ability to squeeze some living out of this life before they pass on, it makes for better workers.  These aren’t great mysteries. This isn’t asking too much. These are the types of ideas that Occupy Wall St. is about.

We’re Americans. Together we prosper, we all have to work together. It used to be understood that wealth and privilege came with a level of responsibility, of community and stewardship, that we all worked together to make capitalism work. But this bastardization is no longer capitalism, it’s corporatism and it’s killing Americans, it’s killing America, and that ‘s what Occupy Wall St. folks are standing up against. They want to restore the possibility of the American Dream, the American ideal. I support them 100%. This type of guts demands respect. This brand of courage makes me even more proud to be an American.

we need politicians, not puppets

Let’s have the members of  House and Senate dress like NASCAR drivers. Prominently place the logos of the companies and special interests that support them sewn to their suits so we know what team they’re on. Because it certainly isn’t ours. More and more it  seems less like a joke and more like a good idea.  “Show us who holds your strings!” the people demand. As those who would benefit from the death of the Department of Labor, EPA, SEC, Fed and other government agencies that protect the people from those in industry who place poor choices and stockholder profits over the general welfare of the people who are unfortunate to live within their corporate spheres of influence. We (middle-middle class working families making less than $250,000 a year) need protection. Hasn’t it been proven time and again that self-regulation doesn’t work?

Corporations don’t just have legislative representation on the payroll, it seems they’ve found a way to influence the government agencies that are supposed to be regulating them. We’ve seen it in the Energy industry and in Finance. The system can’t work if the systems employees aren’t working for we the people. Government agents must be held to higher standards  and accountability for ethical breeches, those holding important regulatory positions have to care about what they are doing, they can’t just be pencil-pushers because the stakes are too high. This is where our system has failed especially in the past decade and it’s not just Americans who are hurting, the citizens of the world have paid in terms of a crashed world economy and through natural disasters like the BP oil spill. The spill wasn’t so long ago and already we have politicians with amnesia wanting to repeat the same mistakes with no changes, no thinking things through, and I wonder how many huge spills can an ecosystem take? Luckily, things are getting better in the Gulf for now. It makes me wonder are we as a country capable of learning from past mistakes?  Are we doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over?

We need politicians, critical thinking, analytic types; not just winners of a popularity contest, not an employee of a special interest group, but a person who is able to weigh all interests and come up with the best solutions possible. Above party affiliation,  above personal pride, in the best interest of those who live in their constituency and then the nation and the globe accordingly. It seems simple. Yet there is something about DC, possibly something in the water of the Potomac  that seems to make rational people crazy. But it’s not the water is it? It’s the political  sponsors. The Super PACS the special interest interference, lobbyists writing laws. So if DC legislators have sponsors, let’s make it transparent. Have the Congressmen and Senators wear the emblem of their owners on their suits, at least then we can know whose team they are really on.

If it were up to me I’d have more Main Street types voting for the Board of Directors of Lockheed Martin, Monsanto, DuPont, Citibank, Goldman-Sachs and others. If they are truly the ones running our country why don’t we get a vote? It’s supposed to be a representative Democracy is it not? People are so paranoid of a tyrannical government that they allow these tyrants of business to run rampant, it’s a tragedy for America. I don’t think the forefathers and mothers would approve, I don’t think this is the type of life they would have wished for us.

We need politicians not puppets. Is it too late? Time will tell.

we need honesty, not denial of access

We all suspected it right? That the mainstream media is rigged, some outlets more subtle about it than others at first they seemed all the same to me. Then MSNBC became known for its progressive leanings which I likened to artisan whole wheat toast with homemade organic jam, as opposed to the white bread and grape Denny’s jelly of CNN’s bland news fare.

One afternoon in the Spring of 2011 while channel surfing, I tuned in to MSNBC  and was pleasantly surprised (and frankly a little shocked) to see Young Turks host Cenk Uygur taking it to ’em right there on my TV set.  I wondered how his style would translate to TV. I loved his heated and unfettered discussions. I cheered as  he challenged the party talking points of his guests.

All my conspiracy theories about mass media were challenged as I conceded– they let Cenk on MSNBC maybe things really are changing toward more government transparency and honest to goodness debate.  I scheduled my day to be able to be available to watch in the afternoon, something I’d never done before, and then,  one day about a week ago I tuned in and he was gone. Al Sharpton was on in the time slot instead.  My heart sank a bit in disappointment thinking maybe Cenk was on vacation.

And then I saw this:

Part 1

Part 2

Don’t get me wrong I have been to rallies with Rev. Sharpton and I appreciate his work. I just don’t enjoy watching him as host as much as Cenk. He does not seem to be as well prepared  often stumbling on his topics. I don’t see Sharpton giving guests as strong of a challenge nor a new and  innovative perspective. His is the same ball-playing show that other shows offer. It’s not worth scheduling my day for, but I usually check out some highlights online later. Like an interview with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that I’ll discuss on another blog.

If we the people can’t have the access to ask the tough questions through our media representatives like The Young Turks then it is fair to ask the question is  Freedom of Speech and more specifically Freedom of the Press an illusion? What we have is some kind of strange opiate of the masses goop that makes us feel like we have the power of speech but it’s not if the leaders we are trying to speak to aren’t listening.

I felt when Cenk was given access to “the big boys” that some progress was actually being made. That he was asking the raw-meat questions  that I wanted answered. That he was as tenacious as I would want to be; not allowing guest to slip out with shallow party talking points. He was actually an accurate, well-informed, intelligent mouthpiece to the establishment conveying a  point of view that was easy to relate to.

I will continue to support The Young Turks on You Tube.  I think there needs to be a strong message from consumers of news and media to Washington DC if you won’t speak transparently to “our guys” we don’t need to have anything to do with you.  We need honesty, not denial of access.