Societies are not static, they are like pendulums and can swing too far in either direction.


This site is committed to the free exchange of ideas in a civil manner. Leave your flies out of the room. The purpose here is to explore ideas that can lead to solutions that benefit all, if not most, rather than some at the expense of others.


Don’t complain if you’re not willing to make the sacrifice of time to, at least, read about what concerns you. If you abdicate your involvement---you get out what you put in.


To my father---as tough as an authoritarian as he was, he planted the seeds for this work. Did he know what he was doing?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Qadaffy

                                                      

Shithead.  What else can one say?  From the Pan Am flight 103 to the release and harboring of the guy who did it, to the bombing of his house and killing his daughter, to the terrorist activities financed in Germany and the Mideast; and more.  We’ve been living with this elephant in the room for years.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.  We want him skinned alive---right?  But is he the devil we know?  Or do we dare meet the devil we don’t?  He’s sitting on a lot of oil.  Our emotions can get the best of our judgments.

The crux of the matter is that he’s a dictator---he’s suppressed people’s lives.  Are we hypocritical when it serves us or true to our values regardless?  I can’t imagine it’s the first time this question has been asked.  But to compound hypocrisy on top of hypocrisy will never make a compass.  And if we’ve been lost before, doesn’t mean we can’t get the smarts to correct the course---even if it makes us seasick.  All I know is, we’ve spun the bottle too many times in the past for policy, and we continue to pay dearly for those kisses.

If this country stands for freedom and democracy then we must let the chips fall where they may.  It’s a delicate and volatile situation that could always be second guessed by anybody.  But the tumult we’re witnessing is one more reason to have had an energy policy already in place; so we wouldn’t be so whiplashed by the region’s instability.   It’s naive to think otherwise, and self centered not to.  This should be another wakeup call to not stand idle.

Higher energy costs will affect everybody who can‘t afford it. I think that’s most people unless you’re in the oil business or wealthy. Those “everybodys” should think beyond their own priorities.  Nobody likes higher taxes, yet higher energy costs is like a tax that everybody indirectly voted for because their elected officials, they voted for, dealt with it by doing nothing. We don’t want the short term pain, so say the lobbies.  Not to mention the effects on the environment, a conscientious policy can benefit the pocketbooks as well as the job situation and our geopolitical security.  We’re not living in your father’s world.  We need a comprehensive game plan to make this our world and one that works.

In the meantime, because of who we (think we) are, we can possibly influence Libya’s direction by just lending our support for their efforts and trust that we can be more humanitarian when the dust settles.  Too bad we have our own debt problems which weaken our abilities---but to make the effort will be worth the investment.  Even a dog remembers a kind hand---these are people we‘re talking about.

                                                      No Flies           

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wisconsin?

Big hullabaloo. Wisconsin looks like Cairo, Tunisia, Tiananmen Square, Libya; we could be anywhere where there’s unrest.  But one wouldn’t imagine that there’s anything in common with all these places.  Wisconsin doesn’t fit into the, “all the above” box.  But it does. The common thread is human rights violations and oppression.

Wisconsin?  Yes.  Unfortunately, we get our information second hand, at best, so we’re not quite privy to the specific issues, other than what we hear spun in the media. But if the conflict were about balancing a budget, the standoff should be over already (the governor accomplished this goal when the union conceded to the money demands and acknowledged they should pay a fairer share of benefits). But it goes beyond just money. It’s also about the power of management vs. equally fair representation for workers, and what it means to have the ability of collective bargaining. It’s about principles; not the sound byte de jour.  We’re talking about people here and maintaining their status---not lowering their standards of living just to be competitive or arbitrarily lowering taxes. It’s called quality of life, and it’s what has set Americans apart from the rest of the world.

Recently, things were somewhat fine until someone screwed up on Wall Street. Now, the governor is using this scenario as a bludgeon for renegotiating contracts and making the unions the scapegoats for all our financial ills. Mind you, things got screwed up by ballooning the debt to pay for unnecessary wars and tax cuts (intentionally, but that’s another conversation), along with a financial meltdown on Wall Street (beyond main street’s control). Now the governor and this faction want to make a connection with the above to continue decimating labor by manipulating the pendulum of public sentiment against the unions.  I’m not a big fan of unions because of some practices in the past; but even worms have a place on this earth.  Is Wisconsin’s whole $3.6bil budget deficit a result of the teacher’s union?  If you believe the governor, sure.  But one could think there’s a grand conspiracy of the upper 1% to squeeze out the middle class. It just seems like those in power want to return to pre-Magna Carta days.

Yes, contractually, there are some bad deals made. But we learn to live with them and finish our contract. The unions didn’t steal their negotiated benefits. The issue becomes reduced to what are we paying for services, do we need them, what’s a person worth to live in today’s world, and are revenues enough (taxes) to cover our quality of life services?

Just because a new management team (in this case, elected officials) comes in, doesn’t mean contracts get abrogated. They’re supposed to survive. Just like leases, mortgages---they’re binding contracts--they survive.  And you don’t take away the ability of one side to negotiate because the new management changes the rules and says so. There are tactics to use to negotiate which could include layoffs---but you can’t change the rules of negotiation at whim and go backwards. Yes, there’s new uncharted bankruptcy rules being done in the private sector; but that, too, is for another story.

Ideology is, 100%, one sided dogma. Scott Walker, the governor, was only elected with 52% of the vote. Where’s the fairness representing the other 48%? How does that work in the real world when you disenfranchise half the voters and union workers having larger implications? Are some people less worthy of representation than others?  There was obviously a need for union representation 80 years ago in Wisconsin and the rest of the country.  That’s pretty ballsy to undo it 100% by a party with only 50% of the vote.  That’s pushing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction.  Where’s the, “We the people…?”  Unfortunately, we’ve seen the disastrous turns taken by those falsely believing they have mandates (wars, deficits, 2nd rate global performance).  When do we stop the madness of believing all the spin?

When you make a contract to pay car leases, mortgages, or anything, you budget accordingly.  And if you can’t pay, what happens?  When a municipality makes a contract the assumption is that they acted responsibly otherwise taxes go up to honor the commitment and the elected officials pay with their jobs at election time until renegotiation comes up again.  We always hear of such arduous negotiations.  If they have second thoughts now---what were they thinking then?  So where is the integrity of the word of the contract? 

Individuals on fixed incomes today make commitments based on contracts executed years ago.  Those contracts should be honored.  Going forward, it doesn’t mean the contracts have to survive in perpetuity for new hires. This should be a wake up call for unions to review unnecessary bloat.  Times and circumstances change based on market conditions.  Just like any other commodity that floats with the market, perhaps the newly hired contracts should reflect a different economic climate.  But, again, to tell those who have planned on the consistency of a contract that there is no security of that contract-- then what is a contract?  If a deal is not a deal, what is it?

The common rationale or spin is that unions have declined in the private sector; therefore, they should decline in the municipal sector.  The origin of collective bargaining and unions evolved in the first place to combat unfair management practices; to establish essential rights of workers. Now elected officials are going to unilaterally undo that fairness and ram it down the throats of the other side?  The issue might be concessions---which have been addressed---but it appears that the governor and his backers, have another agenda. And add here another take on the Governor’s backroom religious ideology.  If it were solely about money, our American ingenuity, creativity and willingness to share in solutions could prevail.  But if you ask me, apparently not in this case; and others on the horizon.

And, of the top 10, the number 1 reason for defeating collective bargaining; is that it takes power from and weakens the unions.  Labor’s real influence in elections (comprising votes and funding for campaigns) will be diluted.  Consequently, all that will remain will be the governor’s cronies.  With little opposition to refute their agendas and influence, this faction will be free to flood the airwaves with more of their spin.   With no flies, it’s not hard to see the game plan.  Talk about money, talk about outdated work rules.  But not only eliminating collective bargaining, or meaningful representation, will be tantamount to crippling any opposing voice to a whisper. When we’re taking away human rights, we shouldn’t be talking about America; and it won’t end here.


                                                 No Flies           

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What IS it about?

It’s not about us. What’s going on in the Mideast in the Arab world is not about us and what can we do about it to protect OUR interests. It’s about their reaching a critical mass of populations in conjunction with communication and technological advancements that is causing awareness to their history of oppression. They have needs that have not been met and the issues are coming to a head. It’s about their needs.

It’s not about us when there are millions of people dying of disease and famine across the world. Yet some look at it like nature’s population control.

It’s not about us and whose god is better than another’s. It’s not about us because we’re paranoid and think there are some who want to annihilate us because they have nothing better to do. Perhaps we should review our policies to see why they’re so pissed off rather than us arrogantly thinking our way is the only way. Perhaps going forward it’s time to reassess our dependencies and enabling policies that we now find biting us in the ass. But blind faith doesn’t get the job done. As a matter of fact, blind faith helped get us into some of the mess. So on one hand it’s not about us over there; but it is about us over here.

We’ve had a spaghetti bowl of agendas for centuries and some have been at the expense of others. Some have led to our current dilemmas. We don’t even have a comprehensive energy policy and yet we continue to pay for it in multiple ways. What will it take to get the message? When we were untouchable prior to 9/11 our exposure was limited. In today’s world it can’t be about just us---because we have vulnerabilities. We all can’t live in a hermetically sealed condom. It’s not about our world---it’s about everybody’s home.

It’s not about us when people cross borders as a natural process of migration to better their lives. We should welcome them and figure out how they can assimilate into society so we can mutually benefit each other. It’s who we‘ve been, and should continue to be. What’s changed? The conservative’s beloved Ronald Reagan challenged Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev to take down a wall. We’re looking to erect them.

It IS about us when hate crimes are still a part of our lives. When people of one colored skin victimize another because of a different skin color. When people who love each other regardless of sex cannot be considered as equals---and worse yet, be damned in the eyes of some. It’s about us when certain people are shamed about their natural behavior and they jump off bridges because they don’t know who to turn to. It’s about us being selfishly ignorant.

It’s about all of us when we look to deities and demons as causes and solutions to our predicaments. And when the “almighties” don’t answer, we look for labels to make scapegoats.

Health care, education, discrimination, human rights; it’s not about achieving capitalism at any expense. It’s about seeking a system or a balance that works for all. Tax policy, military spending, energy policy enables a disproportionate distribution of wealth and controlling voices creating a vicious cycle of the haves having more and the populous having less. It’s not a system where the pendulum is at rest. What do you get when you eliminate the middle class? It’s about us when we create “us” vs. “them” and ignore the “We“, as in “We the people….”

Human nature has universals that are shared by ALL people on the earth. Not some entitled to more than others because opportunities were different. It’s about acknowledging and respecting other’s rights to realize their potential. It’s about rechanneling resources to do good rather than destruction simply for a win. Sometimes helping others is a bigger win in the long run. We should reassess our priorities and not dogmatically hold on to the outdated. We live in the 21st century---not the era of King Josiah; 7th century BCE Judah. We should embrace the tools and discoveries that 2500 years have afforded us through the advancements of science.

It can’t be about us vs. them since we are not us anymore when we are part of the world community; we are them too. When someone farts in another part of the world---we are affected. That’s how small the planet is because of telecommunications.

It IS about us when we have effectively 15% unemployed, if not more, our infrastructure is in disrepair, and we’re stuck with ideological conversations rather than finding ways to create jobs and maintain our status in the world. And that’s just to keep running in place.

It IS about us when it comes to international competition in the workplace; not arbitrarily sacrificing human rights and integrity for the pleasure and cannibalizing ourselves because of outdated work rules. We have not eliminated slavery when there are those who advocate the elimination of the minimum wage under the idea that we should be more globally competitive. A job at Wall Mart shouldn’t be the aspiration of most. C’mon, we can do better.

It IS about us with the embarrassing response for a country of our stature when spending trillions chasing lies in the Mideast we couldn’t show the world how we take care of our own; Hurricane Katrina victims. And what did we get for the Iraq/Afghani excursion; the blueprint for the worst recession since the 30’s.
We can disagree, but we can also be civil and not permit ourselves to be manipulated by fear mongers and demagogues. We can have our differences in ideologies but must recognize that it’s not winner take all---all or nothing. No one should win at the expense of the quality of the lives of the disadvantaged or less fortunate.

It IS about us when there are people in this country who have not had the same opportunity as others; and they pay for it.

It’s about helping our children to live in a better world. It’s about helping all to get the most out of their lives while on this earth. You’d be surprised, it’s a human nature universal. We should take the time to understand who lives beyond our borders.

It’s not about Republican vs. democrat; liberal vs. conservative. It’s about being open minded to solutions to make it a better world; one with mutual respect for all---without ideological dogma leading the conversation; without believing that one culture is superior to another or that one person of one color is any different in any way than another of a different color. Those days should be over. It’s all about education.

No Flies