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Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Clinton and the lesser of “who cares.”

In Economy, history, National News, Opinion, Politics on April 14, 2015 at 7:37 am

DIH LOGONow that Hillary Clinton has finally confirmed her run at the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, there is growing concern that the next election will be all about electing a woman, rather than choosing the right candidate for the job.

America’s political landscape has changed a great deal since Clinton’s first run at the Oval Office in 2008. After eight years with a Democrat in the White House, and with Barack Obama’s job approval numbers struggling to maintain a tepid 47-percent, the country may simply be ready for a change. But is a female president too much change?

Back in 1984, the Democrats put the first woman on a presidential ticket, selecting former Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro as the vice presidential candidate alongside former Vice President Walter Mondale.  Despite her strong political background and experience many saw her as somewhat of a publicity stunt, designed to appeal to women and a rising number of younger voters.

Ferraro’s albatross, however, turned out to be, not the indecisive voter, but Walter Mondale, a stale, crusty relic of the 1960s who really had no chance against an incredibly popular incumbent by the name of Ronald Regan. Many experts still suggest that the democrats might well have prevailed had the ticket been reversed, with Ferraro as the presidential candidate.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin suffered a similar problem having been anchored to old-guard republican, John McCain. But Palin also lacked Ferraro’s professionalism, legal education and political clout and she was often viewed as little more than a tactic to draw votes from Hillary Clinton.

clintonWomen always seem to be held back from being in the real fight. Vice president is obviously a great job – the photo ops, the ribbon cuttings, the pacifiers. But if anything is going to be accomplished in the name of social evolution, the female candidate is going to have to be strong enough to lead the ticket; a trait Hillary has certainly demonstrated in her various roles throughout the last couple of decades.

However, if the next election turns out to be all about social popularity, breaking the glass ceiling of the Oval Office and a long campaign of “he said,” “she said,” then the smartest thing the GOP could do to increase their chances of winning in 2016 is go out and find an African American republican woman with impeccable professional and personal credentials. Actually, they already have someone in their camp that fits all of those qualifications – Condoleezza Rice.

Former Secretary of State Rice is one of the few conservatives (male or female) who could potentially give Clinton a real challenge. A republican ticket led by Rice could very well offer conservative voters something besides the lesser of “who cares.”

Unfortunately, based on her previous statements, she would be unlikely to run at all and, from a public relations standpoint, she’s been out of the limelight for some time. With such a hard-hitting campaign expected, Rice would simply not have the time to help voters get reacquainted with her and her platform.

In the opinion of objective observers, President Obama may have achieved a few things, but his current approval demonstrates that he fell short in many ways. If a well-suited opponent ever surfaces from the conservative sea, Hillary Clinton will have a tough time convincing people another democrat can improve things further.

Sadly, if the voting public is true to their tunnel-versioned pattern, they will once again miss an incredible opportunity to elect the right person for the job, rather than simply pulling the lever to motivate an agenda. Regardless of how seriously Americans want social evolution, it will never be a good idea to vote for someone – to any office – solely because of race, gender, religious background or party affiliation.

For once, if politicians would speak honestly and if voters would take just a moment to consider qualifications, character, and intent, American politics might finally be productive, compassionate and properly serve the people. But, as long as human beings still act with more emotion than good sense, any change would be nothing less than a miracle and Hillary is a sure thing.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

 

A national, online university is impractical.

In Economy, Education, finances, history, National News, Opinion, Technology, Uncategorized on March 9, 2015 at 12:59 pm

DIH LOGOA recent CNN.com article by Kevin Carey proposed the idea that America could bring to reality George Washington’s dream of a national university by utilizing the Internet-based programs of existing institutions. Colleges and universities already receive millions every year in federal money, so some of that could be allocated towards low-tuition, online education. Good idea in concept, but not practical.

Although Internet-based programs have been in place for some time at universities around the country, many educators still believe that online education lacks the face-to-face contact necessary for students to connect with the subtleties of concepts and ideas. Questions cannot be answered immediately and written communication skills become more vital since intent and personality don’t always come across the same way virtually as in person.

Obviously, online options are not well-suited for every course of study, particularly where hands-on work is vital, such as the physical sciences or engineering. The ITDL article notes that videos would need to be produced, substantially increasing costs, while still lacking in the ability for students to get direct, immediate feedback. Flaws aside for a moment, online options have some positive aspects as well.

booksA few years ago, one article in the International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning noted that some educators employ online discussion boards to compensate for absent face time. One professor referenced in the article also suggested that, “a virtual environment reduces gender differences,” creating a more equal educational setting for men and women.

A national university could potentially be cobbled together from existing web-based programs and at a considerable savings. With online education there are fewer administrative issues, no buildings to construct and no libraries to collect.

But if the intent of such a program would be a stepping stone towards achieving President Obama’s promises of free community college education, further examination is probably needed. On the surface, a virtually-based, national community college program looks like a great solution to a daunting issue. Digging down, however, the financial and educational factors that sparked the idea in the first place would also be its greatest hindrance.

In order for such a program to be of value, it would need to be within the reach of the poorest of American citizens. Computers, for all they seem readily available by the upper-middle class, are still fiscally out of reach for those of lower income.

A computer at the local library is great for submitting job resumes or checking Facebook, but long-term study on public computers is impractical and insecure. Add to that most public computers are painfully slow and out-of-date, with restricted web search capability, and they seem like a thoroughly impossible option.

Additionally, free (or nearly free) dial-up Internet access would be wholly insufficient for higher learning programs so students would need to use high-speed broadband service. Once again, pricing and accessibility become the major issues. It simply costs too much for most lower-income families to afford high-speed Internet service and, in rural communities, availability remains shockingly limited.

Finally, there is the issue of prerequisite education. Besides whatever background might be needed for enrollment and future success in any particular program, a lack of computer skills can also hamper online class work.

The average computer user has a parenthetical set of skills: they can surf the web (but tend to stay on websites they know how to navigate), use a simple word processor, send a basic email (without attachments), print something and turn the machine off and on. That’s pretty much it.

Some of college coursework would require the student to possess advanced computer skills related to online research, clerical software manipulation, media production and so on. That might be a problem for someone coming from a background of limited resources or a family where technology didn’t play a major role.

None of this is impossible, but the limits on infrastructure, funding and practicality might be too great a challenge to reach those who would most benefit. An online program alone is just not the answer to America’s higher education deficiencies. Sorry George, no national university just yet. But, hopefully, there are some smart people out there trying to make something like it a reality in the near future.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

Reward yourself for a job well done.

In Business, Economy, National News, Opinion, Uncategorized on June 3, 2014 at 8:28 am

DIH LOGODo you hate your job? You might be surprised how many people despise their work. Even those making upwards of six figures can find the grind most tedious and would do nearly anything to change it. So why don’t they? Chances are, especially at the high end, people have locked themselves into a lifestyle that requires a certain level of money and position that becomes inescapable, or so they think.

If you were one of the millions of folks displaced from a job during the recession, you’re just counting your blessings and dealing with whatever unpleasantness comes along at work. Whatever the reason for staying, there are many reasons why people hate their jobs.

Much of what causes people to dislike their jobs has to do with a lack of obvious appreciation or recognition for your efforts. It takes more than a paycheck to feel fulfilled in your profession and most people don’t get the recognition they feel they deserve for hard work and dedicated service.

Recognition can also come from promotion and a change in responsibilities which can offer more challenges to your day, as well as a better paycheck. If you don’t have opportunities to grow within an organization, you’re likely to feel stifled and unproductive. That will eat away at you over time.

Another reason for someone might feel badly in their job is when they feel they’re meant to do something else or went to school for something entirely different. We all have had moments when we thought we should be something else. I grew up thinking I was going to be a doctor. When I finally enrolled in a pre-med program, I found I really didn’t like it and transferred into an engineering track.

girl_bookDespite what the academics would like us to believe, very few people really know what they want to do at the age of 18 when society is telling us to choose a lifelong career. The fact is we’re just not that grown up yet and, if we think we are and choose a direction, it often change with age and experience.

So what do you do if you are one of those who is just plain unhappy at work? First, it might be a good idea to try to find another job. Don’t wait until you lose the one you have to be looking for something better. Knee-jerk reactions to an employment crisis rarely bring about good change in life, instead just leading to more of the same mediocrity. Get out there and start looking and interviewing for the kind of work you really feel like you want to do, provided it meets your financial and professional qualifications.

Secondly, if changing jobs isn’t a practical option right now, try to provide yourself with some self-rewards and do things throughout the week to make your situation more enjoyable. As an independent worker and small business owner, I don’t get “rewards” for what I do all day. There is no employee of the month or chance for promotion. I’m as high up as I get and, unless the cat learns to use the printer, it’s doubtful I’m going to receive a certificate for outstanding performance anytime soon.

I still need to stay motivated, though, and so do you. So set up rewards for yourself throughout the week. For example, say you have a big project coming up that may test your patience and tolerance of others. Instead of going home stressed every night, establish yourself some rewards for hanging in there. Schedule a special lunch with a friend or ice cream after work. Go to a movie with your significant other in the middle of the week or even plan for a day off if possible.

These observations merely brush the surface of why people might hate their job, but it’s a start. Having a plan to help yourself better enjoy your work will reduce your stress level and increase your productivity. It will also make you less dependent on others for personal growth and self-worth. More importantly, developing a system of self-reward is something you can take with you.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, OH. More at http://www.gerydeer.com.

Reduce spending, the deficit and congress

In Economy, Education, Jobs, National News, Opinion, Politics on October 16, 2013 at 12:38 pm

DIH LOGOHow long can the national debt continue to increase before it finally collapses under its own weight? Congress seems to think it’s indefinite but when the debt is growing twice as fast as the economy, the country’s financial stability is so compromised it’s making the rest of the world nervous.

Just like having a credit card with an over-extended balance that racks up fees and penalties when defaults occur, the federal deficit grows exponentially with time. Even knocking a few billion off here and there won’t make much of a difference if the economy remains as stagnant as it has in the last several years. America cannot simply keep borrowing more money to cover debt that should have been reduced far earlier.

Photo Courtesy USA Today - www.usatoday.com

Photo Courtesy USA Today – http://www.usatoday.com

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what it means to raise the debt ceiling. But continually increasing the amount of money the country is allowed to borrow will only add to the problem. Amid the congressional battles and strong-arming is a dance that averts the actual problem – the only way to reduce the deficit is to cut spending – period. That’s a tall order when all congress seems to want to do is sit by and watch the country hemorrhage money.

As the government shutdown enters a third week, congress is no closer to a solution than it was on October 1st. Government employees are still either furloughed or working without pay. Sure, they’ve been promised back pay, but how does that help when a family has mouths to feed and an upside-down mortgage to pay?

The real question is, apart from the small percentage of Americans who work for the federal government, who has really noticed the shutdown? Many experts say, very few. There are even those who say the park and memorial closures were done more as a publicity stunt to elicit public outrage towards the Republicans than to save money.

Looking at it objectively, that actually makes sense considering that government workers will receive back-pay for any and all days missed on furlough or unpaid time. If the shutdown of national parks services was really because “there was no money to pay them due to the fiscal crisis” during the shutdown, why would there be back pay to offer?

It has also been suggested that the shutdown has exposed another inherently expensive issue within the federal government – redundant or unnecessary employees. Excluding the military from the discussion for the moment, a certain level of redundancy is necessary for various reasons, but there is such a thing as overkill, even at the federal level. That overkill could be costing the taxpayers billions spent on unneeded civilian, contracted and other extraneous personnel.

After all, if you were running a small business and hired six employees when three would have sufficed, your business would soon be in financial distress. After a period of time, even large companies feel the effects of that kind of waste. It’s entirely possible that the government hires many more people than it needs (yeah – shocking, right?). This happens for a number of reasons from bad accounting to nepotism, but it does happen.

Which brings back the original point – Reduce spending and the deficit will come down. Clearly there are cuts that could be made without affecting the government’s overall operation or causing widespread layoffs. Reducing congressional salaries and perks would be a great place to start – particularly their perks. But the shutdown is proving that there are other areas of waste to be addressed. The trick is going to be finding the ones that are genuinely wasteful compared to those that need to be funded.

The difficulty exists in coming to an agreement about what needs to be cut and how much. Different sides have opposing ideas about the definition of “necessary” and required. Eventually they’ll have to come to some common ground and work it all out, but for now things still seem stalled.

The president’s approval rating, according to the Associated Press, is down to 37-percent and congress still lags behind at less than 20-percent. If people re-elect any of these people to congress they have only themselves to blame when this all happens again.

 

27th Amendment: Congress gets paid no matter what.

In Economy, history, National News, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized on October 1, 2013 at 9:57 pm

DEER IN HEADLINES

By Gery L. Deer

Did you know that the 27th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States prohibits Congress from changing its own pay? The exact wording is, “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”

congress 1Although the amendment was submitted to the states for ratification way back in 1789, it was not adopted until 1992, more than 200 years later. It was conceived to prevent the legislative branch from giving itself unwarranted and outrageous increases in pay, but it also works in the reverse. So, according to the constitution, congress gets paid, no matter what happens.

Amid a government shutdown unnecessarily created by a congress that simply refuses to compromise (on either side), it is thoroughly reprehensible that they are not also deprived a paycheck. Compensation certainly outshines performance, particularly by congressional leaders.

According to an article published in 2011 by the Center for Public Integrity, “No legislator – living or dead – has been paid a higher salary by the taxpayer than Speaker Boehner.”

The article notes that the Speaker earns the highest annual salary of all his peers, at $223,500. On the other side of the dome, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other congressional leaders are paid much less; just $193,400 per year.

Poor folks; It’s hard not to feel bad for them. Really, it must be terrible to have to struggle by on a measly couple-hundred-thousand a year. Yes, that was sarcasm.

There should be some way to cut Congress’s pay in midterm when they’re not living up to expectations and actually doing more harm than good. If they had to work a normal job, the current level of unsatisfactory performance would have gotten them all fired a couple of years ago.

con1Apparently, the only way to do have any financial impact on these people is to amend the 27th Amendment, allowing for congressional pay reductions at the will of the people. Administering such a procedure would be something of a logistical and legal challenge, but working it out would pay off in the end.

Direct and immediate job performance accountability, like everyone else endures at work, might actually motivate congressional leaders to the action of the people. At the moment, the only action they are taking is that which gives them the most spots on the Sunday morning news shows.

While hard-working government employees and their families go without pay, some struggling to put food on the table due to recent sequestrations, congressional big wigs luxuriate in the perks of the office, content in their jobs and in the foolhardiness and shockingly short memories of their constituencies. While there may be a few normal people on Capitol Hill, they are greatly outnumbered and hopelessly meek-voiced. A whisper from the back of the hall is nothing to the roar from the leadership seats.

Congress is currently enjoying its lowest approval rating ever, 87 percent of Americans disapprove of Congress’s performance according to an October 1st CNN poll. But until the American people say, “enough is enough,” this pointless bickering over the country’s finances will never cease. It’s as if the House and Senate are like an old married couple arguing over the checkbook register and who spent too much on the new blender they both needed.

Ridiculous filibusters and other Washington-style temper tantrums accomplish nothing, except to secure free press by presidential hopefuls no one has ever heard of now clambering for the spotlight. But, if members of Congress suddenly knew their pay would be cut and their jobs were in danger – now, not two years from now – they might make some effort to straighten all this out.

Until the 27th Amendment is amended, however, every single ineffectual member of congress will continue to collect their overstuffed paycheck. It’s time to show these people how the rest of America has to live because they clearly have no idea.

 CLICK HERE TO SIGN A PETITION TO AMEND THE 27th AMENDMENT …

Is Big Brother watching too closely?

In National News, Opinion, Politics on June 19, 2013 at 2:06 pm

DIH LOGO

In his book, “1984,” author George Orwell noted, “If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.” Even though he published his most famous work in 1949, Orwell seems to have had a sixth sense about the future of government scrutiny.

Orwell’s dystopian society may seem too dark and ominous to be believable, but given the recent events surrounding the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance operations, it may be more reality than fiction. As more information is revealed about these activities, congressional hearings are turning up little in the way of explanations by those in charge.

So why is it so offensive that the government would eaves drop on phone calls and emails to help prevent another 9-11 disaster? According to officials, hundreds of potential threats have been thwarted thanks to the tireless efforts of those who invade the privacy of law-abiding Americans. Unfortunately, since all of that information is classified, there is no evidence to show the public that corroborates their claim.

Civil liberties watchdog groups pounced on this story as soon as the information was leaked to the press. The question begs asking, however – under which rock were the leaders of these groups living where they didn’t think this was going on already? To the bigger point, who cares?

Modern society is full of surveillance cameras, listening devices and internet-based tracking systems, only a tiny fraction of which are used by government agencies. Most of them are operated privately to collect marketing or usage information or provide security. And people just accept it. It’s there, there’s nothing that can be done about it and just part of life in a technologically advancing society.

ringyIn the early 1900’s, “party lines” were the main method for which residential customers were provided with telephone service. Everyone on the same circuit would have to wait their turn to use the telephone and simply agree not to listen in on each other’s conversations. Of course, this was a source of great amusement in early radio and television comedy sketches. Today, it would be viewed as a huge invasion of privacy and thoroughly unacceptable.

Barreling through continually updated technology requires that people must adapt at a faster pace. Users of that technology should be aware that anything posted on the internet or passed through an electronic broadcast system (i.e.: cell phones, Wi-Fi, etc.) could be intercepted without their permission or knowledge. There’s no telling who is listening or reading any of it or what will become of that information.

If the NSA or other government agencies are tracking information, the assumption should be that there is something worth listening to. If they’re violating the law based on having no just cause for acting on that information then it’s probably best to let the courts iron it out, not congress. The last thing anyone wants is for the one group in America with the most detrimental secrets – and with the hardest time keeping them – to be in control of everyone else’s.

Whether there is legitimate cause for any branch of the U.S. government to spy on its own people is still debatable. As it is, President Obama now finds himself in defense of an administration whose platform for election included condemnation of the previous one for the same kinds of anti-privacy actions.

In a post-9/11 America, the Bush administration was constantly under fire for what liberals saw as a violation of privacy and infringement of civil liberties all in the name of national security. As it turns out, what’s good for the goose really does appear to be good for the gander. The truth is, Democrat or Republican, as long as terrorists threaten the free nations of the world there will always be some loss of personal privacy in the name of security.

In “1984,” Orwell presented a future devoid of personal freedoms and independent thought, not protected from terror but from free choice. America’s leaders have a choice – to be diligent or let history repeat itself in the name of popular opinion. In the meantime, the citizenry will have choices to make as well – in the next elections.

Gery L. Deer is an independent journalist and business writer from Jamestown, Ohio. More at the new website, http://www.deerinheadlines.com.

Don’t Panic. Really, we mean it this time.

In Books, Literature, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, sociology on April 17, 2013 at 7:00 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

dontpanicIn 1978, a radio comedy called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, written by Douglas Adams, aired as a series on the BBC. Hitchhiker’s was a wholly remarkable radio show that eventually became a wholly remarkable television program, and a series of wholly remarkable – not to mention lucrative – novels, five in the so-called trilogy. A sixth novel was completed by a different author in 2009, eight years after Adams’ untimely death.

Commonly known by fans as, “HG2G,” Hitchhiker’s was essentially a parody of age-old science fiction with a satirical spin. The story line is filled with political satire and a pinch of sarcastic banter, the focus of which was the “establishment,” whatever that meant to the reader.

The story begins with one ordinary man’s adjustment to being transported from Earth only moments before it is destroyed to make way for a bypass for space ships. Suddenly thrust into a galaxy of crazy characters and a manically depressed robot named Marvin, human Arthur Dent is dumbstruck by his complete lack of ability to adapt.

Arthur’s friend Ford, an intergalactic researcher who rescued Arthur from his doomed world, finds his way through the galaxy hitchhiking and following the advice of an electronic book, whose cover is inscribed, in large, friendly letters, with the words, “Don’t Panic.” As the pair travels through the stars, Arthur finds little comfort in his new life except for the constant search for a nice hot cup of tea and the friendly inscription on the cover of his electronic guidebook.

A prolific writer and avid environmentalist, Douglas Adams may be single-handedly responsible for inventing the concept of the e-reader (which is essentially what the “Guide” was) nearly three decades before Amazon, the iPad or even the Internet ever existed. Adams also managed to show us the world more as it really it is than how we’d rather it be. I think that’s where, “Don’t Panic,” came from in the first place.

As Adams’ character, Arthur Dent found out, there are simply things we cannot control so the best thing to do is try to keep our heads and move through it. By a curious coincidence, as I watched the tragic events of terrorism unfold in Boston this week, I found myself thinking about the cover of Adams’ book and those large, friendly letters. “Don’t Panic” seemed like just the kind of thing you’d want someone to say to you at a moment like that.

I’ve never been in a situation like a terrorist bombing, but I have had my share of life and death scrapes over the years. From a head-on truck crash that should have certainly killed me to dealing with the painful helplessness of watching my mother whither away from Alzheimer’s disease, I have learned which things I should panic about and what I should try to just push through. And I don’t believe I’m alone in that practice, by any stretch of the imagination.

Given the circumstances, there is no level of security that could have prevented what happened in Boston. But when it did, people clearly pushed their fear and panic aside, stepped up and did their best to help each other through a horrible situation. Human beings are resilient, even though some might seem like they’re not. We’ve managed around 15 million years of evolution so there must be something to us, right?

I had the good fortune to meet Douglas Adams in 1992 when he came to Dayton for a book signing. Thanks to a fortuitous hiccup in the autograph line, I found myself standing in front of the author for several minutes. He was as gracious and humble, kindly asking how I liked his work.

As we chatted, I asked him what it meant – Don’t Panic. He said simply, “Whatever you need it to.” He also told me I should continue writing and not let the problems of the world interfere with my creativity and positive outlook. I’ve tried hard to do both. So the next time you’re faced with a tough situation just remember the Hitchhiker’s cover line: Don’t Panic. After all, what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at http://www.gerydeer.com

Congress is robbing Peter to pay Paul … and Mary

In Business, National News, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized on January 8, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

debt calamityAnytime you take resources originally allocated for one use and direct it towards another, you are “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” Although there’s some dispute about the origins of the old saying there seems to be no doubt about its meaning, particularly with the United States Congress. Given the scope of the debt and the amount of money coming in, perhaps the saying should really be, “robbing Peter to pay Paul and Mary.“

Now that we’re past the overblown, media-hyped and mostly imaginary fiscal cliff, the next challenge is to get both sides of the congressional aisle to come together on how to pay America’s bills.

Just like the rest of us, the government takes in a certain amount of revenue every day and congress decides how it is going to be spent. In recent years, however, money coming in doesn’t come close to what has to be paid out – an issue all too familiar to their constituents.

To be fair, juggling America’s money is no easy task and trying to comprehend the full scale of fiscal goings on in Washington would be impossible in this short essay. So, let’s just focus on a single day in the life of the almighty federal dollar; say, February 15th.

On that day alone, according to a recent CNN report, the Treasure will take in only $9 billion. Sounds like a lot of money, right? Not when you consider the government is already committed to pay out $52 billion. Deciding how to allocate spending is the major challenge taking into account the kinds of bills that need to be paid.

On our random date, February 15th, again from the CNN report, America’s bills include $30 billion in interest on the national debt; $6.8 billion in IRS refunds; $3.5 billion in federal salaries and benefits; $2.7 billion in military active pay; $2.3 billion in Medicare and Medicaid payments; $1.5 billion to defense vendors; $1.1 billion in safety net spending, including for food stamps and unemployment benefits; and $4.4 billion in other spending.

Just like balancing your home checkbook, there is only so much money to go around and you have to decide what to pay and when. The stakes are a bit higher at the federal level, of course. If you don’t pay your electric bill the power company disconnects you. It’s inconvenient, but unless you’re on some kind of life-sustaining device, you aren’t likely to die from it.

If congress fails to pay Medicare or Medicaid or the salaries of our military, it becomes far more than an inconvenience. People could lose their homes, hospitalization and child support.

That said, the danger is also a bit over dramatized for the evening news. What happens next is a game of musical bucks, shifting and reallocating funds from one program or department to another until the immediate needs are covered without causing too much uproar in the area from which the money originated. Sound familiar?

It should. This is how most middle-class families balance their budgets every month; choosing which bills get paid over the ones that are less urgent. It’s more about weighing consequences and trying to keep from adding more debt to the pile than actually paying off the amount owed.

The debt ceiling is one of the determining factors in reallocating resources. If the debt ceiling is higher, they get more time to cover certain bills, thus allowing them to pay other, more critical ones.

Every bill passed by congress has “pork” in it; pet project funding that really benefits no one but the congressman or senator who sponsored it. In most cases elimination of that kind of spending would ratchet up the country’s bank account and allow more debt to be paid down, instead of using it for a study like how long it takes a cockroach to eat a bar of chocolate.

Congress has several fiscal deadlines coming up and, as usual, Democrats and Republicans are already posturing to gain ground before debate even begins. But in the end, the American people will be the ones paying the price; higher taxes, higher energy costs and more wasted money on a congress that has simply failed to do its job.

 

Voting With Conscience, Not So Easy

In Economy, Education, Home Improvement, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, Science, sociology, State News, Uncategorized on October 30, 2012 at 8:34 am

 

 

 

 

DEER IN HEADLINES

By Gery L. Deer

In just a few days, Americans will go to the polls to elect a new president or retain the old one for another term. It’s been a heated race almost from the start but now that we’re down to the wire, the candidates are running in a dead heat.

Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are neck-in-neck in the polls and pounding the pavement in battleground states like Ohio and Virginia, Hurricane Sandy notwithstanding. But with so much negativity – some say far more than in elections past – how will the non-partisan and undecided voter make a choice come November 6? It’s probably going to end up, for most, to be a vote of conscience.

Voting your conscience may not be easy, but it’s often the only way to feel as if you made a difference and chose the candidate that best serves your values and interests. Sometimes, you have to say, “What’s in it for me?”

Unfortunately, it’s hard to say how any individual might benefit from this election especially since most of the campaigning has been about one candidate saying why the other is bad, rather than telling us what he or she is going to do to once in office. Individual benefit will be based on a kind of trickle-down effect depending on which way the national election goes and how much change there is likely to be at the congressional level.

Once again, as noted previously in this column, it’s the local elections to which people should be giving more attention. It’s at the ground level that things actually get done in a way that directly affects the voter, regardless of how much we’d like to believe otherwise.

When weighing the issues of economic distress and job scarcity, the average person only has his or her experiences to call upon for reference. Discussing these problems on a national scale is almost pointless since the changes needed to affect these issues have to occur at the local level. That leaves the voter even more stymied.

Once more, we’re back to voting with our conscience. If you’re undecided, look at the following characteristics of the candidates – whether local or national.

First, is he or she right for the job? Do they give of the ‘air’ of a president or whatever position they intend to hold? Take the time to surf the internet and review video and read speeches they’ve given before and after becoming a candidate for office. Try to see around the fluff and the ‘marketing’ done to promote the candidate and look for threads of the person underneath. Do they seem genuine? Do you think they believe what they’re telling the people?

Do they share your personal values? I’ve long said that it’s simply a bad idea to choose a presidential candidate based on their religious beliefs or because of their take on subjects like abortion. But, when left with a tied score on the business issues, moral issues have to be taken into consideration, so you have little options at that point.

Does the candidate seem to flip-flop, only saying what his people are telling him to say or what he thinks the voters want to hear? Or, do you believe he holds to a set of ideals? This is probably the most important part of choosing a candidate in any election. Most politicians say what they expect the constituents want to hear. If he or she is a republican, conservative ideology comes across more prominently, and the same with being a democrat; the liberal voice will be louder.

But in order to capture a broader audience, the candidates will “pad” their ideology with sprinklings of the other side, or implied agreement with the opposition in small, virtually insignificant ways. This makes them seem more bi-partisan in an attempt to interest the other side.

Voting your conscience is much harder than voting based in facts and issue stance. Try to do your homework before you go to the polls. Choose the candidate you can feel good about supporting throughout their term and remember, no matter who you vote for, get out and vote.

Is PBS television for rich people? Ask Mitt.

In Children and Family, Education, Entertainment, Health, Media, National News, Opinion, television on October 16, 2012 at 9:22 pm

DEER IN HEADLINES

By Gery L. Deer

Poor Big Bird; he was just walking around Sesame Street minding his own business, collecting a government paycheck – just like Mitt Romney – and the next thing he knew he was the topic of national political debate. The former Massachusetts governor has made it clear he intends to end funding to the Public Broadcasting Service. If he were old enough to vote – and human – he would go to the polls and help re-elect President Obama, if for no other reason than just to keep his job.

Sadness has gripped Hooper’s Store. No one’s buying sodas. Oscar the Grouch is even more cross than ever, and Cookie Monster is so distraught he turned down a plate full of chocolate chip raisin. If that isn’t bad enough, Charlie Rose might have to get a personality and stay on morning news television, evicted forever from his blackened studio.

If Mitt Romney has his way, hard line left wingers will have to find somewhere else to distribute their propaganda besides public television. But, aren’t the republicans the ones who are always saying that PBS is television for rich people? So, if that’s true, shouldn’t Romney be trying to preserve this refuge for every 20-year-old British television show ever produced? Nope. In Romney’s eyes, PBS is a complete and total waste of taxpayer dollars.

Seriously though, make a list of all the wasteful spending Congress will pass in a single year and the resulting torrential flood of pointless programs and pet projects funded in the billions by tax dollars would stagger the imagination. There’s nothing wasteful about PBS and it costs more to fill the presidential limousine once than public television costs the individual taxpayer for a year.

Fact: PBS accounts for only 0.00012 percent of the country’s budget. That’s about $1.35 per person, per year. That’s it. That’s what Romney is saying should be cut from the budget to reduce the deficit. He needs a calculator and some fact checking – something that’s not happening much in the current campaign.

In a country where we underfund schools and undervalue teachers, the American educational system needs all the help it can get and PBS offers that support.

Perhaps a more practical way to ensure the public is getting its money’s worth on PBS is to check over their spending. Paula Kerger, the PBS CEO earns just over $623.000. Is there a need for such a high, six-figure salaries at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting? What about the the political side?

Is the overall message coming from PBS programming too liberally biased? If the tax payers are funding the programs, they should be neutral – fair and unbiased. But that’s not the generally sense.

Most conservatives believe that PBS is harshly liberal, anti-American and catering to the rich, democratic elite. Most liberals think that people who don’t watch Upstairs Downstairs, or PBS Newshour, just for example, are uninformed, unsophisticated and brain dead. Well, there’s probably some truth to both of those statements. But the value of PBS is not in the news or bad English sitcoms.

The majority of those who benefit from public television are underprivileged children. In defense of PBS, commentators and pundits are saying that PBS is one of the most valuable video resources for school teachers and students, providing a type of professionally-made educational programming that is free to the public.

No, Mr. Romney, Big Bird isn’t the problem with the deficit. Your overpaid, over privileged friends in Congress are responsible for the out of control spending. Never do they have to watch a true budget, forever dipping into the bottomless pocket of the suffering tax payer.

Additionally, with all of the economic difficulty befalling the country right now, should the focus of the candidates really be on Big Bird and PBS? It just offers more proof how out of touch both of these candidates are with the problems faced by the regular people of America.