When we are the most invested in the future but have the least amount of time in the present.

Archive for the ‘opinion’ Category

Standing on one’s feet is better than sitting on one’s ass

 I am not going to sit on my ass as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of my life. I’m going to take a stand. I’m going to defend it. Right or wrong, I’m going to defend it.

Cameron, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 

We’ve come to the point of the election season when people who aren’t politically-minded have had enough of the television ads, news coverage, jabbering pundits, lawn signs, robo calls, flyers, bumper stickers and every other way the upcoming vote gets shoved into the forefront.

The sensory overload is completely understandable. What I don’t understand is the willingness of people to just write the whole thing off as a waste of time and get angry at the rest of the world who actually cares.

Apathy is the reason I started this blog. I found this quote online and it inspired me:

The only time you really live fully is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to dreams; the old servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits.

President Theodore Roosevelt

Most people take this quote as simply something to cheer up someone on their thirtieth birthday. But when I saw it I thought immediately about folks on Facebook declaring that they would ‘unfriend’ people who kept posting political stuff on their walls, decrying that nobody changed their minds about politics from a Facebook meme.

I saw President Roosevelt’s quote as a wake-up call to all of us thirty to sixty. We are the ones who are most invested in both the present and future of our country. We are the ones who have both experience and dreams.

However the paradox of this is that we are also the people entrenched in our lives, our careers, our families. All of our commitments make it so much harder to dedicate any extra time we may have into something as existential as questions of political policy and unseemly as electoral gamesmanship. But those commitments also make these things important.

The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.

Robert M. Hutchins

Political apathy is easy. It’s convenient. It’s ironically hip. It goes well with cynicism and snark.

Ever wonder what your vote is worth?

From Jan 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012 the supporters of Proposition 30 on the California Ballot – which would increase taxes on earnings over $250,000 for seven years and sales taxes by .25 percent for four years to fund schools – received $42,184,479 from donors.

During that same span those against Prop 30 have received $1,990,000.  However in the first two weeks of October  No on 30 groups raised $19,324,719, more than $11 million of which from one man, Charles Munger, Jr. Yes on 30 added $6,122,993 in that same span.

So for just ONE of the ballot measures in California, both sides have raised $69,622,191. Divided by the number of registered voters, which was 17,304,091 in 2008, your one vote for this one ballot measure is worth $4.

Now consider that both leading presidential candidates have combined to raise more than $1.5 Billion as of Sept. 21.

In 2010, 217,342,419 people were eligible to vote. That’s $7.19 for every man and woman who could legally cast a ballot  in this country. The amount would be much more, considering only a fraction of eligible voters will actually exercise that right.

So after you add up the all the races for federal, state and local offices and the state and local initiatives and measures, your vote is probably worth more than a meal at a fine restaurant. Definitely more than the $2 Redbox movie rental you’ll spend to avoid seeing debate coverage.

And it may be worth more than that, but we’ll never know.

A ruling by the Supreme Court, controlled by conservative justices, made it possible for corporations to give unlimited amounts of money and also make donations in a way that does not need to be reported. This process has flooded the system with a ton of money, er, speech.

The difference between keeping the Citizens United decision and overturning it is one appointed justice.  The next president will likely appoint two justices, meaning that either there will be a 5-4 swing to a progressive court or a 7-2, overwhelmingly conservative bench.

Elections have consequences.

The fact that corporations and uber-wealthy individuals have rigged the system so that they can pump millions upon millions of dollars into the market with ads and propaganda just so they can influence the individual vote of each citizen should be enough to let you know just how valuable and important that privilege is. And yet millions of us will ignore that collective power and not participate on election day.

In conclusion, if you don’t like how the President has run things based on your own personal experiences and facts – not because some schmuck on Fox News tells you he’s a secret Muslim, Kenyan, Marxist, Nazi, Socialist, Fascist  etc. – then vote for someone else.

If you don’t like how Congress is unwilling to compromise or how many weeks of vacation they take then vote against the incumbent in your district. Just do some research and pick someone based on facts and not slogans.

If you can’t find enough information about a local candidate race or ballot measure, skip that one and go to the next thing on the ballot. You do not have to vote on every single thing. If you don’t know, skip it.

But vote. Be involved. Care about a bigger world and not just about the person you see in the mirror every morning.

Plus, you get that cool sticker.

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In the beginning…

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Welcome to the inside of my head, conveniently packaged in electronic, easily managed digital form.

I decided I wanted to begin this endeavor by laying out the foundation of why I think that I think the way I do about the world around me.

Let me start by saying that I believe the reason the quote above has been so inspirational for millions around the world is this idea of equality. While that ideal has been less than perfectly executed in reality (slavery, women’s rights, extermination/relocation of Native Americans, etc.) the philosophy behind the idea that all people are equal was truly a beacon in the darkness when published in 1776 and it should be the standard that we, as a nation, should be held to today.

I think one reason the idea of equality resonates is because it echos the sentiment of the Golden Rule:

“One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.”

For me, these tenets should be the litmus test for everything, but that is especially important when it comes to governance.

Therefore ideas that are inclusive — such as marriage for all, healthcare for all, education for all, fair pay for all, access to services for all — should be the goal, as in “all men are created equal.”

The rationale for denying these conditions are often cuddled up to the side of one religious belief or another. However, thanks to the First Amendment to the Constitution, there “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Morality is often a personal perspective, defined as a distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior. While some behavior, like murder, kidnapping, rape, child molestation, arson, etc. are universally reviled and made illegal, most everyday activities are far more subjective. Some believe that baring ones toes in sandals indicates loose morals. Some people believe that tattooing curse words on their forehead is just expressive and cool.

Just as your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of another person’s nose, so too does your expression of personal faith, morals, beliefs, etc. end when you attempt to force others to follow them. For example, Christian Scientists believe that severe food allergies are a myth and health care is best left between themselves and God without the meddling hands of a medical professional. That is fine for them. If they find peace and happiness with that, more power to them. But should anyone of that faith impose their beliefs on me or my family, say by exposing my allergic daughter to nuts because, “Hey, allergies aren’t real!” Not only would their rights end but my fist may meet their nose.

Fundamentalist Christians may believe that gay people choose to be gay and that a few people thousands of years ago with no concept of science, genetics, etc. really know best about such things – good for you, I guess. But not everybody feels that way. So you may not like it, but in this country the “all men are created equal” ideal should trump personal religious beliefs.

Despite the 150 years since the Civil War, there are a lot of folks out there who are convinced that Black people are less worthy of equality than White people. Fine. If those folks want to be racist a-holes, that’s their right. But their personal beliefs have no legal grounding, and anyone who acts otherwise should be thrown in jail or sued until every last penny is gone.

So these are the ideals of the nation as I see them. Reality, though is less than ideal. It is up to the citizenry to stand up and act not just in our own, petty self-interest, but in a way that builds us all, as a people, toward fulfilling that ideal. Once we have settled on the bedrock of our convictions we can move forward,weighing our differences in a civil manner so we can then take on all challenges together.