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

CUNY drops Mr. & Ms., why it matters

gender-balance-612x336

Political correctness gone amok or a much-welcomed end to oppression? There are many ways to look at the CUNY decision to ban the use of Mr. and Ms. in correspondence.

Words mean SOMETHING. So what does Mr. and Ms. mean to us? Well, first let us break this Ms. down a little more Ms. is indicating 1) this person is a female. Before 1971, and the use of Ms., there was Miss or Mrs., meaning that each time you spoke or corresponded with a female woman you gave her a little reminder that 1) she was female 2) and whether she was married or not and 3) if she was married, to whom she was married. Are women this forgetful that they need reminding of this every time people tell them something? If it is indeed so important, then why is the same reminder not reserved for men? Men have the Mr. that reminds them they are indeed male, but it does not remind them that they are a married man and to whom they are married. I think many of us know at least one or two men who sometimes forget they are married and to whom they are married to, but still there is no judgment. They don’t seem to need the reminder each time they correspond with someone. So, what does the salutation tell someone.

It breaks down gender, marital status, and status in a culture. The salutation is there to remind you where you stand in the culture and about how much respect you are to be afforded because of that fact. Is it necessary in 2015 to point out to a person that they are man or woman, married or unmarried, from a particular family or not, before letting them know that there will be a quiz on chapter 4 next Friday?

Am I reading into this too much? I do not think so. Because if these words did not matter so much. Why are so many people upset about losing them? What are they losing? They are losing what they think is entitled them because of the status these words convey. That is what is fascinating about all of this.

State of the Union Bingo Card 2012

Play along with the State of the Union Bingo Card

Response to Ed Show Request

On his November 3, 2011 show on MSNBC, Ed Shultz put out a challenge for someone with an Independent Moderate Centrist Point of View to weigh in on the issues of Education, Unions, and Taxing the Wealthy. Although I am no spokesperson, I thought I’d write down my point of view and others can choose to take the dialog further.

 

As I see it the substantive difference between the Independent Moderate and the staunch Liberal is primary that the Indy Mod point of view is fluid. Not insipid, though I can see where those to the far left or right may at first glance perceive it that way, the Independent Moderate view it is fluid with what reality places before us to decide. No issue exists in a vacuum.  Whereas the staunch liberal and conservative view is set in stone no matter what is going on around it. That is what makes them outdated because the world order is in constant flux and we must be in flux with it.

 

Education

Education is the most powerful tool to combat poverty; a highly skilled workforce is a primary driver of the economic engine of the country. As such, I believe in a full reform of the Education system to comply with the needs of the 21st Century.

This includes:

1)      Starting school at three years old, especially in low-income neighborhoods.

2)      Including more foreign languages in the curriculum.

3)      Education as a national program with room to add local cultural ideals and local history.

  1. This offers the benefit of purchasing power of buying school supplies nationally.
  2. Consistent “branding” everyone truly gets the same curriculum.
  3. Have e-books for textbooks that can be updated easily and more cost effective.
  4. Every child when leaving high-school should have what is the equivalent of an Associates Degree in College now, including the basic liberal arts structure to build from.

4) I would not be opposed to some direct corporate involvement and sponsorship in education. After all we should be educating to the specific tasks needed by the future employers. Yet, we should be educating free-thinkers, innovators and entrepreneurs in every school across America.

So it’s not about throwing money at a broken system. It’s about making the system more in line with the needs of employers and build on that knowledge for the America of  2021 and beyond not the same Educational practices of the America of 1821.

Unions

Unions make companies cumbersome, slow moving and inflexible in many ways. However, in today’s business culture they are essential to workers despite their shortcomings. I am a proponent of a global labor union. Although I am aware in many ways that could be a mess, it seems that the only way to negotiate with a multi-national conglomerate is to be multi-national as well. As the Occupy Movement is world wide it could possibly be the conception of a type of global labor movement. I am in strong support of the Occupy Movement.

Taxing the Wealthy

At this time, because of bad actors and lax policy there needs to be reform to bring things back into balance. As such, I would be more in favor of the Obama plan than the Ryan plan. Reviews of the systems of government is vital to make them more efficient, reduce unneeded redundancy and go line by line to see what is old and no longer serves the public and replace those programs with new innovative programs that are more in line with the needs of modern America. I don’t agree that the wealthiest should have to pay everyone’s tab so to speak, but there needs to be a balance. The economy is like an electrical circuit,  if the money isn’t flowing both ways the circuit doesn’t work.

It is imperative that the tax code become more concise ,  transparent, and frankly fair which is no easy task.

 

I hope this is helpful for Mr. Schultz to get a better idea about where the Independent Moderates stand on the issues.

For more from Sophia Tesch please visit http://www.indymodpov.com which discusses politics from and Independent Moderate Point of View.

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 a watchdog, not a lapdog

President Obama appointed former Jeopardy champion and former Attorney General for the State of Ohio (a swing state) Richard Cordray to head the top consumer watchdog agency the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at the White House on July 18, 2011. The Consumer Financial Protection Agency is set up much like what the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is for law enforcement. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or CFPB will be a centralized department for consumer protection which was previously spread out amongst government agencies.

A primary task of this agency will be to make sure that correspondence between financial institutions and the public are written in a way that the layman can understand. It is also charged with addressing practices which may be less transparent to the consumer so they can better understand what is a good product or not. They will be educated to protect themselves in the marketplace.

I resent the fact that this bureau needs to be in place. That basic best practices are not created and maintained within the industry. However, it has been shown time and time again that the financial industry is unwilling or unable to make these types of ethical standards on their own.

“Self-regulation is to regulation as self-importance is to importance.”
— Willem Buiter

The President side stepped the logical choice for the position Professor Elizabeth Warren the Bureau was her brain child and she was the driving force creating it. Yet, because Republicans and those in the industry that would be regulated did not like that she wanted to do the job and not be dissuaded to water it down and do the usual “make it look like we’re doing something without actually doing something” that is so prevalent in the cesspool of American politics.

See more at http://www.elizabethwarren.com

The concern with the current path is that it becomes a drain on the tax-payer with mediocre at best results. Without Elizabeth Warren at the helm I am concerned that the CFPB will be more of a lapdog than a watchdog.  With Congress holding the financial leash. If Congress is influenced by the 10’s of  millions of dollars of lobbying they can merely strip the Bureau of needed funding to do its work. Sure Obama says he’s fighting now for the agency, but what about Presidents to come? Will they have the same passion to protect the consumer in the future?

“Deregulation is a transfer of power from the trodden to the treading. It is unsurprising that all conservative parties claim to hate big government.”
— George Monbiot

I love the idea of the CFPB. I think it is important that the consumer be offered a fair playing field on which to participate in the game of capitalism. I am just not sure that this is the way to get it done. I  saw on an MSNBC interview with Andrea Mitchell this morning that Professor Warren felt understandably fatigued and ready to spend time at home with her grandchildren. I would hope that she would be willing to head a well-respected non-profit agency. A watchdog for the watchdogs or lap dogs as I suspect they have a high risk to become.

we don’t need an agreement, we need solutions

Whose running the show?

That’s a question many Americans would like to know. It would be helpful to see the obvious ghosts that are in the room with President Obama and the others discussing the debt ceiling debacle.  If we knew exactly who these ghosts were, these shadowy “theys” who are impacting these discussions. If  the specific agenda was brought to light, than perhaps this whole process would make a lot more sense to the rest of us.

My question to our nation’s leaders is “How can you have a real discussion resulting in successful  solutions when you go into negotiations with both arms and one leg tied behind your back in the process?” Meaning, if you go into budget talks demanding  no tax revenue discussions, saying “Our prime job above all else  is to make the President a one-term president”, and we are only looking at numbers, not the human impact associated with those numbers. What kind of real discussion is that? The greatest concern and frustration is that the discussion is about what they can agree upon. It is not necessarily a viable discussion about the best remedy for the debt crisis for the American people.

The people sitting at the table are intelligent and they have made it up the ranks to get to where they are today. These legislators are not novices. So why are they not able to accomplish the task before them? Would it have helped if the President put together his own plan and said “This is it guys,” with a few minor modifications here and there? He hasn’t done that and no one is willing to actually do the work and stick their neck out because they don’t want it chopped off at the polls next Election cycle. Is it reasonable to think that elected officials can make these crucial decisions at all? If they can’t how can this vital work get done in the current system?

Another question comes to mind. Are the voters really as against taxes and reasonable solutions to our current financial situation as the media and Republicans in Washington would have us believe? How much does the Tea Party really represent the average American voter? Also, just because a voter wants something, if it is not grounded in reality should that point of view get to go to the front of the line merely because it is the loudest and frankly, most obnoxious?

Removing the referee adds risk to the game.

Now it is known to some degree that the corporate class would like to see a weak government. It would be their dream to see the Environmental Protection Agency, the Labor Department, the Fed and the Security and Exchange Commission go away so they could have free dominion on the land. Insert mad scientist laugh here.  It behooves the corporate class to have an educated work force and the protection of the US military however they don’t really want to have to pay for that.

There was once a time when the government was the middle-man. The referee if you will,  between the corporate interests and those individuals who may have less clout and power. This system made sure that business could create profits without creating a toxic environment that was not conducive to life. Which was the case during the earlier years of the Industrial Revolution. Government was the referee which kept an even playing field and set reasonable parameters, rules to the free market capitalism game. With no referee there is chaos in which many people get hurt and that is not good for the nation. However, the referees must get paid. It takes money to do the important work these agencies and social programs do.

Too little too late?

It would have been better to have had these discussions about the debt over a decade ago before we got into it. It’s too late now America is in substantial debt to China and other countries up to our eyeballs but that is the past and we cannot take it back now. So what can be done? It’s difficult to understand why talks about closing loopholes are off the table.  It seems a reasonable start to a viable solution. In addition those who would be taxed more in this scenario have been experiencing record breaking profits. They are not looking for where their next meal is coming from.

I’m also tired of this notion that people who are struggling aren’t trying hard enough. That simply isn’t the case. If the cost of living continues to jump with fuel and food prices rising as well as other factors that no one seems to talk about such as how America pays so much in utility, insurance premiums and telecommunications costs. These costs jump sometimes 10% in one year while wages remain stagnant or decrease.

We may need to solve problems not by removing the cause but by designing the way forward even if the cause remains in place. ~Edward de Bono

At the same time people are being asked to take on increased costs relating to the responsibility of saving for college for their children, pay for their retirement, sometimes long term care for their parents and cover unexpected expenses in addition to everyday bills.  The profit margin is simply not there after basic bills are paid. Perhaps a part of the over all solution to this debt crisis is  to raise the base wage. More wages can mean more tax revenue to pay the bills both locally and nationally and be able to take on more financial responsibility for the costs associated with education and growing older.

The other aspect is the human element. Leaders choosing for people to be obligated to work another 10 years of their lives. Why do they get to choose that for people? To pay for their poor planning and leadership? Is this because corporations need to keep people working longer due to the aging work force? Can they not come up with a better incentive than creating an environment of financial obligation one shade away from slavery?

Holding them accountable.

The way these debt talks have gone is irresponsible .  What’s more disturbing is that this is an obvious trend. Should we the public accept this volatile behavior producing mediocre at best policy as the norm? Is there some way to set a higher standard to hold our elected officials to? A standard of statesmanship and decorum. Can we as a nation ever get back to the days of bringing results that are beneficial to the majority of the American people? As an Independent Moderate all I can say is… I sure hope so.