Tuesday, December 20, 2016

This is all so maddening

This election highlights many of the issues that have strained and may eventually cause the collapse of our country.  (READ THE UPDATE BELOW)

Over a month of disturbing stories have come through the news about clumsy and dangerous political moves from the president elect. Regardless of what you believe, not all of those stories can be the makings of a "crooked" media. I am still stuck wondering how unedited video recordings of a person answering questions can be "twisted" into fake news. I do not understand it and I never will. Yes, I will agree that it is deception to turn a portion of what was said into conjecture thrown out there by a random columnist. Here it is though in very plain English. You are president elect. Stop tweeting and start leading. Stand out in front of us and tell us what  your plans are. No filters. No mixed words. I dare you to be 100% honest. Tell us how you plan to use the Presidency for personal and business gain. Let us decide if we are okay with those plans. If you have all the ideas to fix things let us know what those are and then stick to that plan for more than 24 hours. Regardless what you have been doing for the past 50 years it does NOT even hold a candle to the responsibilities and nuances of being a leader of an entire country. It is not a reality TV show. It is not a beauty contest. It is not a real estate deal. It is not even about aircraft. There is no script. We the people are entitled to ask questions. Unless you believe that is no longer the case. If so, you lied to the very people that voted you into office. You have an uphill battle already and you have not even started the job yet. Get to work. Fix it.

- Some non-elitist and non-classist questions I have in mind -

1) What is the plan with Russia and Putin?
2) Are you going to purposely start a war?
3) Are we going to strip back regulations on things that protect our water so that it can be consumed safely?
4) Are you planning on starting an aircraft manufacturing company to supply planes to the government? If so, are you going to hire the Boeing employees that you put out of work? Are you going to pay them the wages they currently earn?
5) How is this mass deportation going to work? From where does the funding come? How then are we going to fill the jobs that have to be done that very few people in the US now know how to do?
6) Remember when you said you wanted to reunite our country? Do you not think that the over generalization of entire groups of people will not continue to grow the divide?  For example : Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers. Would it not be more appropriate and accurate to characterize humans as either currently criminal or not criminal?

-- UPDATE -- 12/31/16 -- How do messages like this serve to reunite our country? "Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don't know what to do. Love!" From Trump Twitter.

7) Who is going to resume the protection of the common worker? In order to "Make America Great Again" do you not, in part, mean that the middle class should be allowed to make far more than "a livable wage?"
8) If the middle class disappears and the corporations take over the top portion of the economic stack, will you commit to lowering prices and inflation to allow the lower class to continue to consume products? If not, then what is the sustainability plan for the future?

Here is the real issue. We have bred a nation of people that are SO focused on competition that the overarching message from voters is still about losing and winning. I know that me whining about competition on a blog that was once focused on my triathlon racing competitions is hypocritical. Think about this for a moment. My triathlon racing and my wife taught me that I too was overly obsessed with competition. I shun what you are thinking right now. I do not think competition is bad AND I do not think that all participants should get a trophy. What I do know is that our competitive nature has people on both sides focused on the WRONG issues and thus the wrong outcomes.

As a child, I spent many nights worried that the Russians would finally lose their grip on being humans and bomb the United States. Fast forward through some great adult years and I am back to those same thoughts.

Here is the deal. We know the president elect has deep ties to a Russian dictator that acts very similarly ... narcissistic and hateful. We know that the selected SoS has even deeper ties to the Russians. This is very dangerous. The world is a much smaller place than it was during the Cold War.

Can someone out there apply some logic and reality to this situation?  The further the US gets down the road of being tied to a communist dictator, the more the rest of the world loses respect for our strength and purported values. The further the president elect goes down the path toward other podium screamers in the past, the more the rest  of the world senses a weak populous that is likely ripe for the taking.

It is no longer about popular vote or electoral college. This is about some blatantly non-democratic decisions put forth that could literally end it all ... or at the very least do the exact opposite of what needs to be done. Remember those promises about jobs? What wage goes with those jobs if we are paying a heavy set of fees to foreign interests? What benefits go with those jobs if the leader of the country has a very real set of conflicted interested?

Unless someone with a loud voice wakes up and calls a spade a spade, we all may as well get ready to stand in line for our government cheese. The lunacy has to stop. This is supposed to be of the people and for the people ... but it cannot be those things if it is not done by the people.

Please see the real issues. Put away the gun argument. Put away the abortion argument. They used those against us to get the vote. The promises of jobs were just of "jobs" not necessarily good jobs.  "Jobs" can mean a lot of things. Put away the blame and praise of past presidents. Start focusing on what the future might be and see how important the choices are right now. In four or eight years a cunning dictator from a foreign land can literally destroy a country from within and not fire a single shot.


The day AFTER I posted the original piece - the president elect proved my point that the focus is completely wrong and his spinsters are keeping the focus on the win ON PURPOSE. "But we won and it was Yuge!" Give me a break. The election is over. Focus on getting us out of the hot bottled Trump water you are already stirring up.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

This guy gets it - a great way to rebuild America - invest in the people

This is from:
Blodgett, H. (2012). Let's stop maximizing profits and start maximizing value. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/lets-stop-maximizing-profit-and-start-maximizing-value-2012-12
I encourage you to read the above link if you like the small bits I have put here.
Since the late 1970s, when American companies were fat and complacent, the focus of American business has been on the bottom line.
Spurred on by activist shareholders, private-equity firms, and bonuses based on stock prices, corporate managers have become obsessed with maximizing quarterly profits.
This new focus has produced remarkable results.
Corporate Profit MarginsCorporate profits have hit an all-time high as a percent of the economy.Business Insider, St. Louis Fed
Over the past three decades, big American companies have gone from having below-average profit margins to the highest profit margins in history (see chart at right).
Unfortunately, this obsession with profit maximization has come at a cost.
By focusing their entire effort on the bottom line, many American companies have reduced their value to the other constituencies that truly great companies serve, namely customers, employees, and society.

One result of the profit obsession, for example, is that big American companies are now paying the lowest wages as a percent of the economy in history. (See chart).
Wages To GDPWages have hit an all time low as a percent of the economy.Business Insider, St. Louis Fed
This means that a record-low percentage of the vast wealth these companies have is being shared with the people who help earn it.
Another result is that companies are now scrimping on capital investments, which have also dropped sharply as a percent of the economy. (See chart).
Both of these efficiency initiatives help "maximize profit," at least in the near term.
But they hurt the economy.
And they also hurt our companies' overall growth rates. (Blodgett, 2012)
They need to aim to earn a reasonable profit, not a "maximized" one.
And they need to reinvest their excess profits in creating more value for their other constituencies, namely customers, employees, and society.
"Fairness" and "sharing" have become dirty words in our country, words that immediately get the speaker branded a "liberal" or "communist." This is depressing. "Fairness" and "sharing" aren't political concepts, and the fact that they're interpreted that way shows just how polarized the country has become.
But given that half the country now associates "voluntary sharing" with "communism," arguing that companies should share their wealth because it's the right thing to do won't get us very far.
So let's just base the argument on self-interest.
It is very much in companies' self-interest to pay employees more. 
(Blodgett, 2012)

-- Bryonman's turn.
My message is simple. I am afraid we do not have people in charge in the WORLD that are capable of understanding this simple message. An even deeper fear is that I believe we may have people in charge that have no interest in the folks below them.
All this us versus them has to stop. It has to stop now. Pay attention to what is happening. The powers that be are fleecing all of us in one way or another. It is a corporate driven machine that has grown so powerful that it will take much more than some screaming from behind a podium to turn it around in the people's favor. 
We are at an important crossroads. I say we because I actually mean we. Stop admiring power and money. Start admiring people like yourself that are doing what you can to keep your family safe. Start admiring people that volunteer their time. Start admiring teachers. By all means feel free to recognize someone that has a real world talent or skill that you do not possess.
I am far from a communist. I have come to loathe the endings IST or ISM because it is a fancy and easy way to divide people. I do believe in sharing knowledge and encouraging people around me to open their mind and do not be afraid of learning something new. I also want to put an end to people who actually ridicule others who pursue an education. That is so backward. When you stop learning you are nearing death.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Wedge Issues : Purposeful distraction and division

It’s time to stop listening to candidates and pundits who use wedge issues to stoke our fears and divide us. We have to agree to disagree on those subjects and stop voting against our own interests. While people argue about guns, abortion, immigration and religion, the income inequality problem continues and the middle class shrinks. (Williams 2016)

We have to support LEADERS (notice I did not say politicians) who will focus on economic issues that will benefit workers, not the billionaires. So the questions to ask ourselves in the upcoming election are: Who will support policies that will improve the lives of working people? Who will support a worker’s right to form a union? Who will  make it easier for workers to collectively bargain with their employer? Who will address the wealth disparity in the country? It’s time to mobilize DEMAND the right people to govern our country and communities. (Williams 2016)

The good people of the country just continue to get tricked by these wedge issues. I refuse to fall for it.

I believe in the Constitution. The founding fathers were wise. They knew to separate church and state even though most  of them were devoutly religious. Stop voting against yourself. Please. I beg you.

Running a country is not like running a business, no matter how many ways you can compare and dissect.  If we do not protect the middle class and use "middle out" economics, even the giant corporations that many politicians pray to will cease to exist because there will be no one left to consume the products and services provided by these corporations. It is not hard to understand.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Haven't posted in almost a year

So it has been a crazy 11 months. On the very last bike ride I did - I tweaked a knee pretty seriously. I don't even remember any pain during the ride but for about four months I struggled with swelling. Finally one of the three cortisone shots worked. I think it was about April before it was finally all resolved.

Since then I have done a bit of stage acting at the Market House Theater in Paducah. I was the Doctor in a show called The Outsiders. This book and play were the basis of the popular 80s movie with Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, etc. That was fun. It was my first acting since 2005 in Phoenix. Fun project.

In June I resigned from my Software Engineer position at CSI in Paducah. I have no ill will toward anyone there. It was just time to do something different in life. 17 years in a cubicle is plenty for me.

So now I am doing landscape and lawn care on 20 + lawns. I am still doing some software and web work on the side. I am still an Adjunct faculty member. I have done some handyman type work on some local homes.

I've also become a "bee haver". Meaning I have 12 colonies of bees and my intent is to keep those and grow more bees. We started our education with the bees about October of 2015. In May of this year we got our first two colonies. In August we added 10 more. If I manage to winter these colonies over until the spring nectar - I will say that I kept those bees. I will probably never proclaim to be an actual beekeeper -because ultimately they will do what they are going to do. All I can do is try and provide them a good place to live and help them out when they need my assistance. It's not really about the honey. It's about making more bees.

I know the country is mired in some very negative emotions right now. I have a take on it. Some of you might not like it, but this is my journal so I will type what I want and let the chips fall where they may.

1) Remember that respect is a two way street. You have to earn it AND you have to give it when it is earned.

2) There's no substitute for hard work. You can't rely on "zany" YouTube videos to make you rich. Get out and work.

3) Don't be a troll. Keyboard bravado is a major contributor to our angst as a country. If you would not say it to your Grandma - you ought not to post it on Twitter, Snapchat or Facebook.

4) Before you post claims as fact or repost someone else's post on "social media" - take the time to do a little  fact checking before spouting off. Right now some incorrect messages are being posed as fact and it is feeding the negativity.

5) Work within the locus of your control. Meaning - if you can effect change in something to the positive in your neighborhood - then by all means do that. Don't worry about things that you cannot effect. This is simply fodder for those in power to distract and manipulate.

6) If you cannot be genuinely nice and helpful to someone - just walk away from the situation. Do not fake nice. Do not fake caring. More people than you think can detect a disingenuous person.

7) Stand up for what you believe but do it with facts and do it with respect. Name calling is playground behavior that should have been stopped years ago.

8) Protect what is yours by being wise about the information you share. I post things here that I often shouldn't. Not because I am speaking with ill will - but because what I share is permanent and is sometime too revealing. It's a different world.

I am going to work on being more positive in 2017. I am not a super negative person but I do sometimes let my practicality get the best of me.

Be nice. Be smart. Be human.