For some reason, in this battle, the idea of compromise has become bad. As if compromise means losing political ground, rather than as an agreed upon negotiation to a fair end. I’m a Democrat through and through, as most of my readers are aware. At the same time, the bulk of readership is Boomer and 50 plus and hits to entitlement programs are direct hits to us. I’m pretty sure most of us would be OK with medicare being delayed to 67 or our social security starting a year or two later with a few less dollars. It would hurt our pocketbooks as our earnings diminish, but we’d live with it knowing that we make up about 30% of the population that needs support from these programs. To categorically allow companies like Exxon and Chevron to boast profits of 41 and 43% when most of us can barely pay the rent or can’t find work and then say that closing those companies tax loopholes will hurt job creation is more than just hooey. It is a slap in the face to the poor, working, middle and retired classes of America. So to the priveleged of the tea party, those like Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, or child support welsher, Joe Walsh, or any of the other newbies who can’t possibly run the greatest country, I say, it is time to re-examine what compromise means. Do any of them ever compromise in their relationships or it is always “my way or the highway”. Everyone in life has to compromise. It is the way of the world. A bissel of this and a bissel of that, as my great grandmother used to say while making a meshuggenah (crazy) sign behind my uncompromising grandmother’s back.
My daughter, in Grade 5, 10 1/2 years old, has a creative teacher whose experiential teaching background (think LAUSD meets Outward Bound) comes up with all sorts of inventive ways to challenge the kids forward. One of the exercises (pre-pre SAT prep, really) is looking at word derivations and roots. He’s using word roots so the kids get an understanding of vocubulary construction.
Our Friday morning drive to school includes me quizzing her on her words, since Friday is test day and a chance to win stars. Enough stars and you can cash them in for anything from a prize from his secret goodie box, up to being teacher for a day. So my daughter, who likes the idea of being in charge (wonder who she gets that from…) is very motivated to get her 60 stars and be teacher for a day. I say the words, my daughter tells me the meaning. This past week was about walking and stepping. In-gress. E-gress. Di-gress. Con-gress.
Being somewhat politically astute, “congress” caught my attention and hit my sarcasm bone, which used to be a funny bone until about mid-2009. It’s word roots are “con” meaning “together” and “gradi” meaning “walk or step”. Congress literally means “together step”. When you think of the US Congress, the idea is that together, the two bodies — the House and the Senate — step our country forward.
However, when you look at the past couple of years, in fact, it might, should, perhaps be renamed Digress. Or “away step”. No?
The defeat of the Democrat party in the house wasn’t unexpected, but it is a sad day, because it clearly highlights how unable Washington is to move away from political posturing and really working to help the American people. I was a huge Obama supporter in 2008 and I still believe in his views, dreams and desires for the country. He has brought excellent huge legislation into action and solidified our reputation again, internationally. But he didn’t answer the heart of the Amercian people. He wanted the job and knew what he was getting into — the worse mess in the economy since the ’30’s. And as in corporate America, you can’t look back. At a certain point, you have to forget what caused the mess and just work at clean up and a rebuild. You have to look forward and as we all know, you can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome, which seems to be the Washington game plan over and over again…on both sides. Obama was humble and self-reflective and brought up his willingness to bridge gaps, but at the same time, the seeming Republican agenda over the past 2 years was to block Obama, no matter what. If you didn’t see the full press conference, here it is.
I have a proposition to the government — both parties — as they move forward. Cut all their salaries to what they would make on unemployment insurance. Put them all on COBRA. Those that are wealthy won’t feel the pinch, just as the wealthy are barely disturbed in their daily lives in the economic disaster (e.g. Meg Whitman being able to spend $130M on her campaign without a blink). But those who rely on their government salaries will start to feel the same pinch that we all do…granted it may take them a year to feel it…but I’d like to see their attitude changes as their pocketbook pinches. Would that change the political posturing? Don’t know. Just an idea.
And pre-post, I received this from Frish, a friend and reader:
His observations worth sharing:
Individually, human’s are pretty smart (compared to other inhabitants of the Earth). In a group, we cannot act with wisdom. Why people would vote in Republicans, after what Republicans did to this WORLD, is simply further proof.
Last week a friend invited me to the taping of Bill Maher’s Real Time, where Jimmy Carter was the special guest interview. The country is, according to Jimmy Carter, more polarized than almost anytime since the Civil War (see interview below). I agree with him. The country is polarized. A ton of courageous civil servants put their necks on the line to try to move the country in a tough direction…today they are out of their jobs…in fact, they will likely be getting unemployment soon and paying COBRA for their medical health coverage.
The people always speak. I wouldn’t have spoken in the same way (i.e. I’m a Democrat through and through), but seriously, our leader need to get jobs developed and available now, and the Democrats and Republicans have to work together to move initiatives forward…and fast. I, as most of you, hate the polarization. As Obama said “We are stuck in neutral.” We may be at the cusp of either watching the great American empire fall, or if the Republicans look to a future within their own party, a possible way to move foward that strengthens our country rather than kills it. The entire world is watching, so we fail, then we fail on a world stage. You can only be the world’s greatest power once in the lifetime of an empire.
Onto the muddled state I find myself in…all thoughts, comments, yeahs or nays welcome.
Thought #1: Health care. I am one of the self-employed corralled into an individual health plan and therefore subject to limits based on what I’ve been able to afford to buy into. You’ve heard me complain about the cost of my premium, but what I forgot to mention (some of you emailed that your own plans were more costly) is that I’m on what is called a 40/60 plan with no limit on the deductible and no preventive coverage, and a $40/visit co-pay. So if I go to the doctor 10 times in the year (let’s say I had been injured, or got whooping cough), that is $400 for my co-pays, plus 40% of each visit. If I were hospitalized and the bill is a mere $10k, I’m on the hook for $4k, etc. So here is where I’m a bit confounded right now. We are all aware that there is a pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic in California. I’ve received emails and voicemails from LAUSD reminding me to innoculate my daughter with the tDAP vaccine. Because the vaccine is considered preventive care, it is not covered by my plan. It will cost me $85 – $90 each for my child and I to be innoculated.
I’m on a search for the free vaccine, however most free or low cost clinics listed through LA city insist on a full medical exam for each of us prior to the exam, even though we both have regular doctors. The cost for the exams will be the same, if not more, than the cost of shot. So, it will cost me about $170 for the shots, which I plan on paying for. Money is tight for everyone…so let’s say that I didn’t get the innoculations. If I caught whooping cough, aside from potentially dying, wouldn’t the costs for my health care be a whole lot higher than $170? I’m just saying….
Thought #2: Oh my gawd! Watching the lead up to the Nov. 2nd elections is PAINFUL. Painful. Worse than listening to fingernails scratching against blackboard (those days are long gone…only whiteboards and dry erase markers now…) is watching the sound byte lies permeating the ads on both sides of the aisle. However, since the GOP is spending a bit more on their ads, they seem to be even more out there in the “let me lie, but call it marketing” campaigns.
One of my faves is the Christine O’Donnell “I am not a witch” ad. Dressed in somber colors, lit up like a ghoul against a dark blue backdrop, with a bizarrely haunting piano track, I swear I can see ghosts floating around behind her.
Another fave for sheer idiocy is the anti-Meg Pinnocchio nose-growing ad. I can’t stand Whitman, but seriously…this ad is laughable.
But my absolute favorite ad (this time for sheer brilliance) is again, a Jerry Brown sponsored anti-Meg Whitman ad, juxtaposing her sound bytes against Arnold’s bytes from his first campaign. Yup…same words. I’m sure she’s had a conversation or two with her campaign manager and speech writers about it. Enjoy.
Thought #3: Self-esteem. Have you noticed everyone is suffering a bit at the self-esteem front? Could it be because 41% (or just about) of the employable workforce is unemployed? Do you keep hearing people say “well…with 10% of America unemployed 90% are working”. False. Untrue. Bad math. There are about 300 million Americans. You have to take out the retired (forceably or otherwise) and children and other non-working family members as well as those in “institutional” roles…i.e. non general population workforce. Then there are also those who have given up looking for work (about 2 million). Then look at the numbers in the perspective of the American non-institutional workforce. You get a true employment to population ratio is 58.5%. How many of those in America who CAN work are in fact, working. Here is the report…if you head down to the bar graph at the bottom of the report it is easier to figure out. (Look for 58.5% and you’ll see how the labor metrics work.) So 14.8 million are unemployed out of a potential pool of 150M civilian laborers. That’s how it shakes out.
With horror, I’m watching the Tea Party gain popularity through whitened teeth, attractive hair styles, lots of accusation and little substance. With shock, I’m watching the Democrats continue to play humble pie, too fearful to come out swinging for all they are worth. And with the rubber-necking fascination of seeing a roadside accident, I’m crumbling in despair as it seems the Republican policies that got us into a disastrous mess, gain ground. On October 1, Michael Moore penned an article on Huffington Post, that only he can author – on what the Dems needs do…must do…in order to turn around their own failing tide. As an insurance agent said to my sister after her home was red-tagged in the ’94 Northridge earthquake “The squeakier the wheel, the more oil it gets”, so, too must all those who believe in a strong middle class, with a leading government, make their voices heard. There is precious little time to November 2nd.
My experience – being a Canadian/America, and steeped in both cultures and economic setups – affords me, for better or worse, a unique perspective. So, I’d like to share two small examples of where the American system is failing the middle class, and in particular, small business owners.
1) In 2008, I left the corporate world and started my own business venture. With the interest rates low, and a desire to sell my home and purchase a different one, I contacted my mortgage lender, Bank of America, to whom I had been paying a mortgage without one late day of payment for over 10 years, to ask for a letter of approval so that I could use the exact same mortgage amount I currently had, to purchase a new home. I wasn’t asking for more credit…just the same as I’d had for 10 years – essentially transferring the debt allocation to a different address. I was turned down. Because I’d been in business for only 2 years, my situation made me ineligible to qualify.
The business practices small business owners employ put us at a disadvantage when it comes to getting a mortgage. Banks that are proud to partner with small business, would qualify me, so I’m in a positive position, however, how is it possible that this big hefty bank can so quickly dismiss the small business owner and 15 year client? (It’s not just me…there is more coming.)
There is a deep disconnect and a bit of a catch-22. The federal government freed up money specifically so that the banks would lend. However, the banks aren’t owned by the government, so law or no, the banks aren’t accountable to the government. Even if the spirit of TARP was to help get us back on our feet, in reality, the big bullies…umm….banks care not for us and will not share.
2) The Small Business Administration federally mandated a loan called the ARC (America’s Recovery Capital) loan program, intended to help small business pay off debt or notes in order to free up liquidity and stay in business, or pay staff, or buy new equipment. The loan (up to $35,000) was available through different, but not all, banks. The program went up to September 30, 2010 or when the funds ran out. Bank of America did not offer the program. Wells Fargo, who initially held the program open to all, eventually limited it to clients with a 2 year history with the bank. Chase, also open to all for awhile, ended up closing the program early (early September) in order to use the remaining time to process the applications. Gateway Bank was open to all and will continue running until government funds are gone. The loan was a 0 percent loan with a 5 year repayment program. And while the SBA didn’t charge any fees, the banks could – such as a lien verification – for about $600, which they can justify because the insurance that the federal government promises to guarantee the loans is based on the banks doing their due diligence in verifying the borrowers are capable of making restitution. Hmmm…therefore they can decide to lend or not lend based on what they think the risk is (ummm…I’d say very great for most small businesses right about now) and also add fees for verifications that end up adding 2-3% on the loan.
The excellent officer at Gateway took the time to really go through the program with me and it ended up not worth it for my purposes (too much work for very little cash influx), but through Gateway, I could have been approved. It took me about 10 hours of research, including speaking with the SBA representative at my local chapter, to even find a bank to work with. I’ve included here (from the SBA website), a copy of those lenders working the ARC loan program. In California 462 loans were given out. 462. California has 3,320,977 small businesses. Wells Fargo told me, unofficially, that they had received over 17,000 applications. They gave out 176 loans or .01 percent of those that had applied.
If the banks (or some of them) were federally owned, opting into the loan program would not be an…option. It would be mandated and followed, because the banks would be accountable to government. The coffers would have to open up. Do you see what I see? A decent program with lots of money allocated to it, is created. And in California ONLY 462 loans (or .0001 of California small businesses) are given out.
That is why big finance, big banks, big anything cannot continue to hold the seat of power – regardless of which party leads the country. Because middle America is falling, quickly and dramatically. It takes a long time to build up an empire, but even America can fail in the blink of an eye if it continues to forget the people. That is one of the reasons why I can never support the Republican party – it would be like stabbing my own self in the back.
If you think about it, though, one person made the decision to build an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. You can say that a Board of Directors at BP made the decision, but ultimately, one person put the idea out there and pushed it forward. One person did something wrong in the construction that caused a weakness and ultimately an explosion. Doesn’t matter who, for the sake of this argument — but it could have been an overtired worker, engineer, planner, who put or didn’t put, the wrong thingamajiggee in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or didn’t adequately tighten a bolt. Or who was smoking next to flammable materials. Or who approved sub-standard materials in construction. Who knows? But it was likely one person who did one wrong thing that has killed a whole bunch of workers and now, untold amounts of marine and marine-dwelling life.
If a nuclear bomb went off, it would be one person who would be responsible for that decision. In whatever country, at whatever time. One person would say “go”, or one person would punch in a key code, or one person would turn a key, or one person would push a button, and our world would change forever.
The earth will continue, even if we destroy it. But human life and the creatures who live on earth could very well end. Because of one person.
The general belief is that it takes less muscles to smile than to frown. But according to one plastic surgeon, who looked at the basic muscle functions needed to create a smile and a frown, it takes 12 muscles to smile and 11 to frown. One more muscle to go to good from not so good.
Then, there is the myth of the 100th monkey (thanks to reader, Shelley, for passing that along yesterday), which was based on a real study of monkeys using water to wash sand from yams set out for them on a beach. As one monkey washed sand off the yams, other monkeys followed suit. Eventually all the food gatherers washed sand off their yams. They didn’t achieve critical mass in that the behavior didn’t spread outside their small group, but the concept is heart-warming.
I’m going to stick with the one more muscle to smile than frown theory, because as I look around my world, I seem to see more people frowning than smiling. Just a little more effort might be needed to smile. And as anyone who knows me knows…I’m a smiler. I’m constantly using that extra muscle. What if I apply that to the effort I might need to be the one person who adds to the critical mass to make the world a cleaner, healthier, better nutrified, more responsible and respectful place to be? And what if you do that too? Then we all add muscle to positive direction.
My choices? Shopping local — going to the Tapia Brothers farm down the street and to my local Farmers market. To grow vegetables. To compost and put my landfill back into the earth. To eat grass-fed, free-range beef. To purchase only free-range poultry and egg. To avoid corn and soy fillers (and most preserved food). To impact the multi-national businesses with my few dollars and cents. To continue to walk 4-5 miles a day. To be a creature of the planet. To be kind to animals. To give love to my child, my family and to humanity. To be mensch on this planet. One person.
What’s your choice?
an illegal action inciting resistance to lawful authority and tending to cause the disruption or overthrow of the government
Sedition is a term of law which refers to overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that is deemed by the legal authority as tending toward insurrection against the established order. …
The Republicans have stirred up the anger and the threats that are now taking place across America. Here’s a brief Republican reaction.
This morning, my mother said to me, “This is sedition.” I agree with her.
Angry Americans, the ones physically aiming at Democrats — swastikas, gay bashing, racial hatred — are spewing racism and bigotry using the excuse of anger at the healthcare bill. Call me an idealist, but somehow, I don’t think this would be happening if we had a white president.
I’m disgusted with the good ‘ole boys GOP who have provoked this out of control breakdown of societal values and slapping at bipartisanship every step of the way. Yuck. Shame on you. Shame on you for provoking a dangerous, seditious, unbecoming, political free-for-all. This is not why men and women died for freedom.
I’m a Democrat, Jewish, single mother. Are you going to take aim at me, too?
How embarrassing to be a Republican right now. How embarrassing.
My message to anyone who doesn’t believe that all Americans should have affordable healthcare (and yes, I believe 100% in a single payer system, with supplemental insurance plans available to “up” your coverage), then you really need to talk to some of my readers, and some of my friends. For some reason, those against supporting healthcare reform, truly believe that those who don’t have coverage just don’t work hard enough…and that if they DID work hard enough, they could then afford healthcare. Talk to my colleagues who are, at VP levels, still looking for work after TWO jobless years. Talk to the VP next door, who had to fire almost all the people at the company he was working for…and then terminate himself. Two years ago and not a single prospect on the horizon. Talk to me, and everyone like me — small business owners who represent a huge part of the fabric of entrepreneurs in this country…who can’t even contemplate bringing on employees and offer them healthcare.
It doesn’t matter if this particular healthcare reform bill touches on all the bases. The reality is that it is a start toward fostering a healthy American population. Healthy, educated Americans, make for a healthy, educated, and entrepreneurial middle class. I’m all for it.
Aaaahhhh…good idea to take this shower. But the water table is still low, so better not take too long a shower. That’s very green of me. Gee, I hope that man who emailed me about his frustration with retooling his skill set has found a path in renewable energies. Interesting that I’m thinking about jobs when I’m about to sell my home and move up to a new home. Wonder if I’ll get my new home in time for the tax incentive? Wonder if there will be enough inventory on the market to find a home? Damn banks. Anyway, who cares about the banks when there has just been such devastation in Haiti and Chile? Interesting how the news seems to have completely forgotten about both Haiti and Chile and are back to talks of broken government. Such a ridiculous system — two parties that can checkmate each other chronically and never get America moving. Such rhetoric. Wonder what would happen if the politicians weren’t allowed to speak? Only text message?
That really got me thinking. The art of conversation is falling a bit by the wayside — people don’t phone anymore…they text. Men text to ask for a date. Women break up relationships via text. In my business, the majority of communication with my team is via text messaging…ditto with my clients. For those of you who don’t text, basically you have 140 characters to send a message (Twitter works the same way.) So imagine you want to meet your friend for lunch at Il Tramesino on Thursday…here’s how the “conversation” might go…
You: Lunch Thurs? Il Tram in Encino?
Friend: Thurs no. Fri, M, W good. U?
You: M. C u @ noon? Want me 2 pick u up? LMK
Friend: Works, BFF. Pick me up @ home. Calling in sick. LOL! C u Mon. 🙂
Lots of shorthand. C= see, U=you, 2=two, @=at, LMK=let me know, BFF=best friend forever, LOL=laughing out loud.
The shorthand naturally develops out of necessity — not enough characters to waste on longhand. And most color commentary is shorthand, like LOL. When you need to send a more complicated message, there are not enough characters for fluff, feelings, or lots of explanation, sp texts can be quite “cold”. As a result, texters add emoticons (smiley faces, frowns, hearts) to help clarify the tone of the text. It is nearly impossible to spew rhetoric in a text. The message just gets to the point.
So what if politicians could ONLY communicate via text message? All positioning and posturing would naturally disappear, and politicking as we know it would have to change — to focus on just the issues and not the fluff surrounding positioning. Image how…
Dems and Reps wud TM the US re: pros & cons in health care battle.
D: Single payer!
D: Public option.
D: 4 the people?
R: NO! Umm Yes…4 the business people!
D: Insurance Cos not working w/4 all Americans
R: Yes they r. Make profits 4 stockholders
D: Sarah Palin’s family went 2 Cda 4 medicare.
The ten most promising cities for job hunters:
1. Washington, D.C. – 2.0
2. Baltimore – 2.7
3. San Jose – 3.1
4. Salt Lake City – 3.2
5. New York City – 3.4
6. Hartford, Conn. – 3.6
7. Denver – 4.4
8. Boston – 4.5
In a three-way tie for ninth place:
9. San Antonio – 5.0
9. Austin – 5.0
9. Indianapolis – 5.0
10. Pittsburgh – 5.1
The cities with the most applicants per job opening:
40. Orlando – 9.0
41. Memphis – 9.4
42. Birmingham, Ala. – 9.5
Tied for 43rd place:
43. Providence, R.I. – 9.6
43. Portland, Ore. – 9.6
44. Sacramento – 11.2
45. Los Angeles – 11.9
46. Riverside, Calif. – 13.4
47. Las Vegas – 14.4
48. Miami – 15.8
49. St. Louis – 19.9
50. Detroit – 21.6
So, basically, if you live in Washington, DC, or Baltimore….good! Los Angeles or Detroit (no surprise, with the disasters in the auto industry)? … bad! I’m not saying to move, but this sure gives you the picture of what the economy is telling us, right? More info in the article, but certainly an interesting look at where the 10% unemployment is giving jobseekers a real run for jobs.