"Millennials feel like they're entitled... to a future."
<<< First of all, I want to express my condolences to the people of Paris and France as well as the families of those affected by the terrorist attacks that just happened. It’s so sad but we have to be careful not to hate just because others share commonalities with the perpetrators. This post, which I had been mulling for some time, is pertinent in a lot of ways. >>>
I wrote more than 4 years ago about how as I became older, I increasingly felt the need to express my opinion. That was back when Facebook wasn’t nearly as popular and things were a little different. I always looked upon my blog as a way to share my thoughts and opinions to hopefully make people think. In this way, I might influence the world. I might as well take advantage of the fact that the internet is an amazing forum from which we can express ourselves. But recently, things have gotten ugly… and hateful… and divisive. It’s getting to the point that opinions are becoming so extreme and polarizing that they keep us from getting along. I blame this on many factors.
Because opinions can be given anonymously, people feel protected to spout off how they really feel and that’s not necessarily a good thing. They don’t have to look you in the eye or meet you to realize that you are also just another human. It’s disheartening to know how many people hate others just for their ethnicity or religion. Ultimately, some thoughts are better kept to yourself. And by sharing such thoughts, the fervor increases and others are emboldened to spread more hatred
It has been almost seven years since the Blog Things I’ve Noticed opened its doors (or rather its web pages. ) A lot has changed in that time both for me personally and for our world at large. But one thing has remained consistent. The world has not changed my “liberal progressivism” as I’ll call it. (That’s right, I’m proud to be a Liberal.) From logic, compassion, and my slowly developing wisdom, I’ve decided that it is the best way for our country to move forward. And for that reason, the staff at Things I’ve Noticed is endorsing Barack Obama for President of The United States in the election on November 6th, 2012. I am staying away from too charts or statistics which can be sliced and diced to make any point. Rather, I’m leveraging logic and principles to make the case that the re-election of Obama is important to keep our country moving forward.A lot has been made of the notion that Obama’s spending hasn’t done anything for the economy but many economists point to the fact it did work and it prevented our economy from going into a depression. Much of the debt that was generated was necessary debt because it made up for the loaning of money that banks stopped doing which had stalled the economy.
With the recent passing of Steve Jobs who has been idolized due to his contributions in creating Apple and leading its efforts in product innovation, I am reminded of how much we as a society focus on leaders. I don’t want to take anything away from Steve. It’s sad that he passed away so early in life and he was a successful visionary leader of the company. But once the company reached a certain size, he just led. He wasn’t singlehandedly responsible for the continued success of Apple. In fact, all leaders just lead. They do not do everything that makes an organization succeed, and without others in the organization, they would be ineffectual.
Every strategy or product idea does not originate in the brain of the leader. The people who had the actual spark in their mind are rarely mentioned to the public. She or he may have made decisions to approve them, but without the few people with the original idea, the leader would never accomplish goals. Those ideas are worth millions. Without the many hardworking people at the bottom of the pyramid and everywhere in between, a leader can never flourish.
In our American press, articles are written about leaders as if that person is almost 100% responsible for the success of an organization. Some leaders eat that up and don’t mind being put on the cover of Time magazine or being interviewed as the star. That’s probably why many of them they ask for high salaries.
They often do work hard and that is admirable, but many of us would work extra hard for millions of dollars. Even when they fail, they are given golden parachutes. A true leader sacrifices on behalf of others who are led. If they made all the hiring decisions, one could say that they put all the right people in place. But they usually don’t. Leaders cannot be experts on every detail and so they delegate to people that can figure things out and provide recommendations. Remember too, that one entry level employee can screw up in a big way to affect a company’s results.
High expectations from a leader can increase the chances of success, but the employees have to have the skills, knowledge, talent, and dedication to deliver. Leaders do help to inspire, but often employees are motivated by other factors. They do it for their paycheck, for their family, for their customers, or in support of their coworkers.
Much of leadership is a façade of invincibility which we inadvertently ask for because we won’t follow somebody who appears as insecure or unsure as they really are. A leader's belief that this facade is real can lead to feelings of entitlement and superiority that often result in failure.
In the end, the mentality of putting leaders on a pedestal, which is something we tend to do in the US of A, leads to the runaway wealth extremes of the Top 1%. The big bank executives feel our economy would collapse without them but they don’t realize that it would also collapse without us. We have continually let CEO’s get the high salaries they demand and now we are powerless to stop it. (It’s interesting that in other parts of the world the CEO income disparity is smaller.) I often say, “high salaries don’t get you the best leaders, they get you the greediest.” These are the ones who take the job for short-term gain, line their pockets, and then leave. It’s our short-sighted culture that exacerbates this phenomenon.
It’s time for some collective appreciation for the everybody in an organization, not leader worship. Only then can we expect economic fairness.
Ten years ago, horrible atrocities were committed against innocent children, women, and men at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and over Pennsylvania. Nothing can ever make up for the physical and emotional pain and suffering that was experienced by the victims and their families. Members of the fire, police and rescue crews went in to help despite the risks holding the lives of complete strangers in higher regard than their own. Many of them sacrificed their lives and we should have nothing but respect for their actions. Despite all this, some goodness did come out of the atrocities as many people helped complete strangers in times of need. The lives of those who died and the lives of their families have forever changed and we should never forget what happened. Additionally, the lives of our military servicewomen and servicemen as well as hundreds of thousands of innocent people who died in Afghanistan and Iraq should not be forgotten. Most importantly though, we should remember how the world has changed and how we shouldn’t let feelings from 9/11 dominate our innate goodness and behavior towards others.
Here is a blog post from five years ago that references an email I sent out right after September 11th. It focused more on the subsequent victims who were also innocent. It's an unfortunate phenomena that many minority groups face. If you're a (relatively) small group, the actions of a few in your group can easily represent the whole minority community in the eyes of the majority. From these events, the reputation of a whole religion and its members were unjustifiably spoiled. I always say that 99.999…% of Muslims are not terrorists. We have no right to judge an individual based on the actions of others who happen to share some religious beliefs.
These events have sometimes led to increased understanding for those who are open minded but often, 9/11 makes life harder for people even though it shouldn’t. My life has personally been affected. I sometimes feel a vibe from others that I didn’t feel before 9/11. Being brown is enough for some people to dismiss me as “one of them.” Much of the American public thinks it’s OK to take away the civil liberties of people who look a certain way or have a certain faith. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t remain vigilant to prevent future terrorist attacks. But our officials have to be smart about how we go about monitoring and investigating for national security, whether it’s the CIA or the airport security personnel.
With the Patriot Act, basic rights were sacrificed in the name of fear. Use of hatred as a political lever is wrong and un-American but it happened. Our country was founded on religious freedom and our strength comes from diversity. Unfortunately, with freedom comes risk. Every time we take away freedoms, the terrorists have scored more points towards winning. Every time we judge based on religion or skin color, the terrorists have scored more points. Let’s not fall for this trap. Let’s allow freedom and respect win out over fear and loathing. The better we understand those from other cultures, the more those other cultures will respect us and like us.
God bless the world. We are all God’s children and we should be hopeful that we can all work towards getting along more peacefully. Let’s never forget 9/11, but let’s always remember how it has changed the world. With conscious effort we can win out over the hatred that led to the despicable events of that day ten years ago.
It’s time that the lone author of Things I’ve Noticed makes his election time statement. It’s the least I can do and I think it can be more effective than phone calls and door-to-door campaigns thanks to the power of the internet. This 2010 U.S. election may not seem as important as the one in 2008 but it is crucial that we as a country stay on course out of this long difficult road back to prosperity, peace, and decency. Keep in mind that we were led astray by the policies of Bush into an unnecessary war and the worst financial crisis in generations. Ask yourself, what went right during the Bush administrations? Environment? No. Economy? No. Foreign Policy? No. Health Care? No. Immigration? No. World reputation? No.
Obama and Congress started in a hole so large that it will take more than two years to come out of it no matter what. They have had two years to stop the bleeding and they have successfully done it. People say the stimulus didn’t worked, but I shudder to think where we would be without it. Government spending does create jobs. If there is a highway construction project money sponsored by the government, there need to be contractors, workers, managers, and engineers that are paid to do the work. It’s ironic that some of the stimulus money went to states with Republican leadership who are more than happy to accept it while criticizing the stimulus plan as a waste of money. This type of stimulus is necessary and those who complain about it tend to be ones who support going into further debt with tax cuts and war spending.
It’s up to businesses to start hiring people instead of squeezing the workers they have left after all the lay-offs with increasing amounts of work. Large companies are generally hoarding cash, earning record profits and not hiring. There is always uncertainty in business but it seems many business leaders have a vendetta against Obama. There is no better time to grow your human resources than when labor is cheap and the pool of skilled candidates is large. And it should be remembered that people without jobs make poor consumers. Who will buy all the stuff that companies sell if 20% of our people don’t have jobs? (On a side note, it’s interesting how nobody seems to be giving Obama and the Democrats credit for the stock market’s recent rise. It’s also interesting to see that the TARP program which was necessary to prevent a catastrophe may actually lead to a profit for the government (according to Bloomberg).
Our largest problem is that we tend to elect the politicians that tell us what we want to hear. We can’t have all the services and support network with social programs like unemployment benefits and Medicare, Social Security without tax revenues to pay for it. Given that the economy is slow right now, people are earning less and governments are getting less tax revenue. The tax cuts for the rich must end. The rates were much higher before and the economy still grew. Jobs were still being created. I haven’t seen it proven that the Bush tax cuts led to job creation and many jobs were created under Clinton with higher tax rates. Don't forget that the wealthy often pay lower effective tax rates than middle class people because they have more deductions. It takes money to save money on taxes. If it is corporate jobs, then the taxes only impact the private taxes of the execs. This has no bearing on whether their companies hire new employees. Corporate tax rates are different (and much lower). And very few owners of small businesses will be affected since few of them make over $250K (although Fox News would like you to think otherwise). Those who say higher taxes on the upper brackets are a disincentive to earn more money are just reaching for excuses to protect the wealth of the rich. Wealth disparity is the highest it has been in a long time. Besides, the jobless don’t really need to concern themselves with income tax brackets if they don’t have jobs. All the people getting wealthy by not hiring you can at least support your unemployment benefits.
Democrats stand for personal freedom, Republicans stand for corporate freedom. We all know the damage that corporations can have on the economy and the environment when left to do as they please. Republicans want to legislate to impose their morals on our diverse people and control what a woman can do with her body while letting the “free market economy” continue its assault on the middle class.
Let it be known that Obamacare is better than Republidontcare. Regardless of your religion, agnosticism, or atheism, there is nothing more merciful and graceful than helping others. It’s amazing how we teach kindergarteners to share and then forget how to do so as we get older. Those who oppose health care for all tend to be the ones with jobs and health insurance. They should remember that healthcare costs are the cause of a large number of personal bankruptcies. None of us should be happy that a child in the most prosperous nation on earth has to suffer from a lack of medical care. Preventative medicine and health care for all might be expensive but they are cheaper than having uninsured patients go to the emergency room or having people unnecessarily getting sick from not getting check-ups.
Environmentalism has taken a back seat to other issues of the day but if we revert back to a Republican Congress and/or Senate, the earth will suffer and our health will suffer while the rest of the world’s countries will begin to disrespect us. Environmental technologies can spur the economy. They can be exported throughout the world and bring money into our economy.
My thoughts have been somewhat disjointed but I wanted to make sure I made some points that are in my mind. The Republican “Party of No” has nothing but a bag of tricks that has proven itself not to work and the Tea Party is unrealistic and often doesn’t make sense. (I jokingly call it the Stupidi-Tea Party). Please vote on Tuesday and please support Obama and the Democrats. Their vision has only begun to take effect and it takes time get out of the hole to get to real change. Change is difficult. It takes sacrifice and plenty of patience.
As I continue to observe the happenings around me, I’ve realized that our society has a few characteristics that don’t really help matters. We only live on this planet for 70’ish years so each of us has a time frame of reference that is not so big in the grand scheme of things. Collectively though, we seem to respond mainly to dramatic happenings in a reactionary way thinking only of the short term. Great examples include 9/11, the Great Recession of 2008, and Toyota’s accelerator pedal recalls. Instead of thinking ahead and preventing bad things from happening, we let things slide for a while until something terrible and dramatic happens. Then we overreact and institute changes that sometimes help, often don’t, and usually do little more than make us feel better.
Policemen keeping cars moving in front of airport terminals is one feel-good “solution. I didn’t know that suicide bombers will only detonate car bombs once their vehicle has stopped completely in front of an airline terminal and that any velocity above 0 mph will prevent it from working. The people at Homeland Security must know something I don’t. The airport security Terror Threat level has been at orange for about 8 years now. I can pretty much guarantee that the threat level, (and caution that goes with it), will only go up if and after another incident happens. When it comes to investing, we tend to jump on board when the stock market is hot and bail when it has gone cold. It’s exactly the opposite of what we should do. We can’t prevent natural catastrophes, but we can take measures to make them affect us less severely, like not live in coastal areas that are prone to flooding and erosion. But we do anyway and ask for help and insurance when the surprise catastrophe happens.
Even personal well-being is an area that is usually overtaken by “Dramatic Reactionism.” We let ourselves go with bad diet and a lack of exercise until one day we end up going to the hospital and to find out (after much expense and hassle) that we need to do something drastic or one of our lives might end soon. Only then, do we take action. Smokers are even worse with this phenomenon. Just don’t light up the first time and you never have to quit.
It’s not just the expense and ineffectiveness of this strategy to tackle societal and life challenges that are annoying, but the things we entertain ourselves with are usually dramatic. There is no show about a preventative medicine health clinic. That would be boring. Instead, there are 5 shows about the emergency room. We like drama. Maybe we want our lives to be more like TV shows; not the reality kind but the dramatic kind. Perhaps we’re subconsciously trying to make our lives more exciting by not planning ahead, enduring major negative occurrences, and by reacting severely.
We should probably stop with this strategy. It’s time we start planning ahead. Look at what’s happened to our planet. We’ve neglected it for so long and now we have to take drastic measures, but those are difficult for people and economies to swallow and now we’re in trouble. If we just had controls in place to prevent the creation of toxic financial instruments, the economy might be better off and never would have gone through such a crisis. Companies lay off employees to increase shareholder returns for the next quarter without regard to how hard and expensive it is to find good employees. Don’t forget all the company knowledge in their minds that they take without transferring it to anybody else at the company.
The other problem with drama is that it gets our emotions going. Emotions don’t usually help us make the right decisions for the good of the general public. Drama and reactionary behavior prevent us from taking a step back to look at the whole situation and to determine how our actions could impact the long term. A lot of violent crimes could be considered “Over-Dramatic Reactionism.”
Of course we are humans and not psychic robots. We can’t plan for every problem with foresight and a cool mind but any movement in that direction would help us all.
I’ve never heard of a lion living in the wild in the United Kingdom. (The British Empire is long gone.) I’ve never seen one in Paraguay either. Yet you see these tough animals as representative of the countries on their coats of arms or flags. This makes no sense and needs to be stopped. If you have a logo to represent your country or region, it should only be allowed to show animals that are from there. The bald eagle for the USA is a fine example, and India has a right to use lions because lions actually live there, (although, sadly, not many are left). Sure, many countries might only be left with deer or rabbits, but foxes are pretty ferocious little animals. Rattlesnakes are deadly too. Michigan uses the wolverine quite effectively, (although I’m not sure those haven’t gone extinct in that state). To use an animal from another area as a symbol is like saying Miami makes the best New York style pizza.
In a similar way, team names sometimes have nothing to do with the places they represent. From the NBA, Los Angeles doesn’t have any lakes and Utah isn’t the home of jazz. I know the teams were moved from other places, but that’s no excuse. Back to animals, perhaps some countries are just jealous of other countries having what humans perceive as mean, dangerous animals. But nobody said they had to use animals on their flags. If they want to show their toughness or military might, they could just use a picture of a mean human soldier with ethnic features of their people. Besides, dangerous animals living in your home country makes living there less safe. That’s not really something to be proud of, (unless you’ve survived an attack).