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Turn it Around

November 6, 2018

Roughly 50% of eligible voters in America don’t vote. Millions of eligible voters never register to vote.

Their chief reason: It won’t make a difference anyway.

Imagine if 100% of eligible voters actually cast ballots. What would happen? They could provide a landslide win to someone who had no hope of winning (like my guy for Governor). We wouldn’t be limited to two parties, either. You think non-voters actually follow parties? If they were to be activated, they’d spring for Libertarian, Constitution, Communist, Socialist, Green… not all I support, of course, but will of the people, man!

Who are the people who don’t vote?

  • The infirm elderly is a tiny percentage. Most elderly know how important voting is and if they can’t get out will make sure to get an absentee ballot.
  • Students – high school and college. This floors me. They complain about income inequality, student loan debt, rights for every made-up category they can think of… yet don’t vote.
  • People in poverty because of learned helplessness, inability to plan, or other sad reasons.
  • People too busy with their businesses to vote… ignoring that the wrong candidate in office will wreck their business.
  • Lazy people. People who don’t know how to plan. People who can’t be bothered.

Image result for vote or shut up

Most of these groups could swing the tide a different direction if they chose to vote.  Frightening as it is, the school-age vote alone could have put Bernie in the White House.

So, what can be done?

We can’t make failure to vote illegal, since free speech allows people to be as dumb as they want.

We can’t even prevent people from complaining when they’re one of the reasons there’s a problem, because free speech again.

In the instances where I’m talking to a would-be rebel, I can’t ask them if they voted and ignore them if they say “no” because I’m polite and have to love even stupid people by listening to them rant.

I have people at church I admire. I love their hearts, I love their children, I love their smiles. If they were citizens THEY WOULD VOTE. Why do people outside our country get the importance of voting while half of us can’t be bothered?

Vote. (I’m too polite to say, “Vote or SHUT UP!” so I won’t.)

 

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I’m Wasting My Vote… Please Join Me!

October 30, 2018

You have three candy bars in front of you. Two are giant-sized and one is fun-sized. Which do you pick? Would it make a difference if the two giant candy bars had some dog poop in them? Suddenly the small candy bar looks good, right?

Now let’s look at voting. If you’re a staunch Dem or Rep, fine, vote your conscience. If you are an independent but vote R or D because you don’t want to waste your vote, you are part of the problem.

We have the same problems we did decades ago. The two-party system has failed to solve any of them. We still have people in poverty, we still have a poor healthcare and education system. The old policies don’t just fail, they’ve never worked.

The divide between both parties is now extreme. And it’s you “no vote wasted” folks who are responsible.

The last presidential election had frightening choices. Our current governor’s race has bad choices. Things drift to the extremes because they think they can get away with it. And they’re right.

Political operatives look at the vote. Sure, no independent is going to win any time soon. But how many people voted independent? How many refused to go with the status quo?

If that’s a bigger-than usual number, if it is an expanding number, the parties would adjust, change their platforms, adapt.

Stubborn and Sad

But why bother if the independents don’t vote independent? You embolden them!

My vote went for a nice Longwood pastor who made it on the ballot. He hasn’t got a hope of winning, but I can’t vote for someone who will be a bad governor espousing bad policy, or on the GOP side, no policy at all.

Independents may not ever carry a race, but scare the parties enough and they’ll give us better candidates.

Waste your vote. Good may come of it.

Tone-Deaf and Faulty Logic

October 11, 2018

Facebook has not been fun of late.  I have a mix of friends, and it seems half are saying every woman should be believed, which is patently ridiculous, but to make matters worse, I’ve had the other half mocking a woman who claims to have been assaulted.

Yes, friends, women lie. Not all, not most (on this topic), but some. And friends, mocking people is wrong. Our president was a dolt for doing so, and so are the people loudly cheering that you-know who is a liar and you-know who was confirmed.

People are not wrong that we must change the tenor of our voices to make it possible for women (and men) who have been assaulted to come forward. We have to check our first reaction and verify. And when a woman is found out to be a liar (like some claims in the past), the response should be measured and the ears of others taken into account.

We are in an ugly place where it isn’t always possible to prove something did or didn’t happen. We MUST make it easier for those who have been wounded in the worst of ways to immediately come forward. That isn’t achieved by people being tone-deaf, or others offering false promises that all will be believed.

One of the reasons I’ve abandoned both parties is because thoughtfulness has been lost (if it ever existed in the political arena). Politicians will be politicians, and at least this president will be childish, but we don’t all have to be. We don’t have to hide behind nonsensical memes that flout logic with false comparisons, we don’t have to crow and chant and shout down dissenting voices.

We can learn to listen again. We can learn to think of others as better than ourselves. We can be decent people.

Please.

Adieu, Cru!

September 3, 2018

Fourteen years ago, I bought my first new car. I’d had good cars in the past, and some great ones, but I’d always bought used. For some reason, this time I stopped into a dealership looking for a Toyota Matrix, but upon test drive, discovered it was gutless. No zip, not acceleration… In Florida, zip is necessary to survive the worst drivers on the planet.

So we stopped into another dealer and they just happened to have a cherry red 2004 PT Cruiser. I’d never had a red car before, and I liked the retro look. When I got it, man! it was so spacious! We drove off with it, feeling apprehensive and elated. Such a nice car need to be garaged, and it was.

A few months later, we moved, and because we were moving in, I parked it in driveway. A neighbor kid who knew use from church pedaled madly down the street, waiving at us, came over the easement, flashed over the sidewalk, lost control in grass and thumped the side of my car, leaving a golfball sized dent. On my precious new car. Fourteen years later, that is still the only dent in the car.

I hid it in the garage after that, away from marauding bicycles, but eventually, I built an office in my garage and the Cruiser had to live under the trees, sick birds, and assault squirrels. The paint began to fade. Newer cars had bluetooth and backup cameras. The Cruiser had manual locks. And the CD player broke. No one else like to drive it (score!).

I’ve had to replace the radiator, brake system, a few things here and there, but overall, it’s been a great car. Recently the check engine light came on. Catalytic Converter issue. The door chime started going off all the time, and a weird rattle came from right side of the car, like something was stuck and vibrating in the speaker. When I stopped the car, water burbled in the engine. There were probably frogs in the engine. They were certainly in the cabin. I started talking to the Cruiser, telling her she was a good girl and not to quit on me now.

Yesterday, we traded her in for a new car. I had to remind myself that cars are objects with no feelings. My jaw stood firm, if gritted.

Our new car has Bluetooth. And a backup camera. And other bells and whistles we discover as we go. It’s not brand new, just new to us. We buy our cars at CarMax now. It’s a dark green Chevy Cruz. Pretty slick. We call it the Jalapeno. My wife drives it. I get the Gerkin, our pickle-colored Kia Soul.

It has Bluetooth.

I’ll my my PT Cruiser and hope her new owner, or owner of her various parts, will treat her well.

SPAM or Help?

August 16, 2018

I got an email from passwordhelp@wordpress.com saying my password has been hacked and that they’ve locked me out of my account. It looks real.

And yet here I post.

Yet why would someone want to hack my WordPress account?

I’m baffled.

(Baffled is an interesting word. It can mean I’m confused, or rigged to run silent.)

I Love America, Flaws and All

July 6, 2018

I did heavy eye-rolling at all the people posting they weren’t proud of America because of Trump. As if America could be dimmed by a single person. America is an idea, a dream, a symbol of freedom, and continually defies her attackers.  Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump… they are a footnote in tiny print of the document that is America. If America was the government, we’d all be in trouble. It’s not though, it’s the people, seemingly hopelessly divided as we are, that constitute the beacon on the hill.

The government blows.

Really.See the source image

England sneered at our concept of democracy. It’s a horrible form of government, doomed to mediocrity by its very definition. They didn’t think it would last.

Make no mistake, Democracy is horrible, but it’s the best in the world (God help us).

By definition, democracy is government by committee. We’ve all been part of a committee, every member with their own hairbrained idea. You can come in with the best idea, but by the time everyone’s done picking at it, the idea is watered-down, scuffed, and humbled, becoming even worse in execution.

This is why the government doesn’t do anything well. They can’t. Mire that committee down with political agendas and bureaucracy and a mediocre idea becomes leaden with inefficiency, waste, scope creep and drift.

All that and it’s still better than a monarchy or dictator, because the same issues burden those bastions of slavery. In this case, the committee is of the dictator’s immorality (much like our watered-down politicians), which makes for an ugly country. Socialism and Communism are dictatorships in sheep’s clothing. In none of these but democracy are individuals given a voice.

I like to think I have great ideas for running this country. I’ve even half-heartedly considered running for some office hire than dog-catcher, but realism intervenes. Great ideas don’t survive. Government is the answer.

My siblings on the left believe government is a solution. Balderdash. It’s more like sludge.

Government should only do what it must and not a drop more. Politicians like to come to Washington with buckets, though, and continue to grow the government beyond its purview. That’s left and right alike.

Government should get out of America’s way.

Corporatism isn’t the way to go, either. But at least capitalism is run on the only reliable emotion, and is therefore predictable. That emotion is greed.

So, what is America to do?  The right move is to strip government down and allow greed to truly sicken people (and it will). Imagine if all those people protesting for the government to reform, instead sought private sector solutions. I envision a growing non-profit movement.

Imagine if the protestors clamoring about immigration and children being separated from their parents decided to actually do something, like setting up immigration go-between services; becoming educated on human trafficking to recognize many kids aren’t with their parents, but coyotes.

I’ve come to believe protest is worthless. It makes people feel like they’re doing something when they aren’t. It allows people to know nothing and just yell and chant to feel morally superior. If you want to be part of a solution, understanding the problem is paramount.

Stop yelling “government change!” and start recognizing “I must change!”

That’s America. Sweat equity and helping one another out where their passion is high. The government can’t do it, only America can!

 

Give me your poor… My who now?

June 30, 2018

A friend on Facebook was ranting about how current policy isn’t good for the “poor.”

My question is, “Which poor?”  I think he meant the homeless, which is a growing problem, but there is no archetype for the poor or homeless. Just as there’s no black, white, or Asian representation of the whole group, the poor/homeless are a mixed bag, and no one solution can work for all of them. I’m going to break it down to categories, yet even these have subcategories. That’s what makes homelessness and poverty a thorny knot to cut.

I call them the Crazies, the Lazies, the Dazies, the Staysies, and the Not-Staysies.

The Crazies are the mentally ill. They need help, can’t hold a job and are a job for the government. However, they have human rights, too, so the mentally ill who aren’t a danger to others can’t be Baker Acted. They have to ask for help, and for some, it’s beyond them.

The Lazies are those who choose to be poor and/or homeless. They are capable of work, but don’t want to. They want handouts from people and the government. There is an educational component to this, but it’s really a mindset.

The Dazies are drug addicts. Again, they need help, but different help than the others.

The Staysies are the persistent poor, victim to institutional racism and damaging self-talk. Education either wasn’t possible or it was believed to be irrelevant.  It doesn’t matter if the institutional racism is gone, it’s still alive in the culture. The lack of education and marketable skills make them poor. The derision of education keeps them there.

The Not Staysies are the victims of circumstances. This happens a lot. For some it’s a bad business decision, a recession, bad choices, medical disasters, but they won’t stay poor or homeless. They have the ability to get back on their feet and the will to do so.

Welfare can help the Not Staysies, yet it can hinder the Staysies; they need some, but they need a lot more than that.

The Dazies and Crazies need medical help. If the government pays for it (re: taxpayers), I think the Dazies need to work off the debt. The mentally ill, less so. They didn’t ask for the problem, they didn’t necessarily make bad choices that took them there.

The Lazies and Staysies require more than just education. They require a cultural adjustment. Yes, some cultures are bad and need to be abandoned. All the money skills in the world are meaningless if the cultural pressures make you incapable of handling money (I’ve gotten away with it, but my middle-class culture has some redeeming qualities, such as work-ethic and prizing education).

This is America, so any programs HAVE to be voluntary. I think people on welfare who are in their 40s and beyond need continued access to it, unless they choose the new programs, but I also think anyone under 40 needs a deadline on welfare. Long enough to see them through programs (that they don’t have to take if they don’t want to) but not much longer.

The biggest fight would be the re-culturalization. “Who are you to say what cultural traits are good or bad?” I think we could rely on the research, which says valuing education, marrying and then having kids, and understanding proper money management are proven positive factors. Our current dominant culture would fight the statistics about marriage and kids within marriage.  Perhaps with the welfare benefits curtailed, that might change since welfare encourages having more children out of wedlock.

We flat-out need continuing education availability. While it’s true kids who drop out of school make that decision themselves (most of the time), immaturity has to be taken into account. Online free GED and remedial education needs to be available. And I still think another branch of the military that isn’t a fighting force needs to be created. Skills training, re-culturalization, and then a number of years served using those skills in service of infrastructure and helping in Improvement Zones (areas of blight fixed up for free, including tenements and low-income sectors).

Our “throw money at it” philosophy doesn’t work. We would still have poor and homeless, but it would be their choice, and no benefits other than the programs to help them.

We need to rethink America’s problems so we can actually fix them.