No Room At The Workplace

People looking for work > jobs available. Despite the notion that the recession is slowly ending, the impact it has on people out of work continues to be alarming. (themoneyupdate.com)

Over the weekend, two New York Times (credit to SI’s Richard Deitsch for highlighting these links on his Media Matters column this week) articles about unemployment in Europe and here in the United States, reaffirms my belief that the middle class is extinct, or on the verge of it…and it is time to create a new identity and image that best represent what is left of the middle class and the unemployed.

In Spain, young aspiring workers in Spain are leaving their country for better opportunities for jobs elsewhere in Europe. Sadly, those opportunities never come to fruition. The unemployed here in America continue to fall through a downward spiral into parts unknown. Most are considered not hire-able due to being overqualified, unemployed/underemployed for a long period of time, and other various reasons.

It reminded me of the analogy in 2010 that Generation X is the “middle class”: they are in a precarious spot.

Writing from experience, I don’t foresee us returning to pre-recession days, because the culture has changed. Government isn’t creating a WPA and putting people to work, businesses are tightening their belt, or using more discriminatory practices to justify who to hire.

There are a few things I’ve gleaned from both articles and it relates to my personal experience with unemployment.

“Creating” jobs: during this recession, jobs and positions people had were either eliminated or was merged with another job or title. The promises of creating new jobs from elected officials is a silly notion. How can anyone create a job when there are more people out of work than there are jobs that in existence? After all, what is a “new” job?

Unintentional discouragement: phrases like “I hope you find something” or at worst, pat you on the head, feeling sorry for you are the biggest insults to the unemployed today. The unemployed want advice and opportunities, not hollow “feel-good” statements a la Stuart Smalley. They want a chance to feel like they are contributing and learning in the workforce.

This is the new world order we’re living in: it’s better to be in a dead-end job than to be unemployed and be told you’re not hire-able because you’re unemployed. That what it sounds like to me.

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Now, It’s Time to See If It Works

I thought I said my peace with it, but it feels like I’m talking to a wall.

In 2010, I wrote that I am my own health care system. I wrote this in response to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I need to do what I need to do to take care of myself.

Not all health care plans are perfect, and not all will cover everyone, which is what too many people hope the ACA will do.

This past Thursday, political columnist Howard Fineman highlighted a disturbing fact during his appearance in the first hour of the Tony Kornheiser Show in regards to the ACA, in which a major component, the insurance exchange part of the bill, goes into effect today.

Fineman pointed out that 70% of Americans do not understand what this health care bill is supposed to do, how it will affect them, et cetera.

If 70% of the American public are still in the dark on how the ACA will be put into action, then our government has done a very shabby job of explaining something they put together.

Even worse, a recent poll discovered that if you mention “Obamacare”, it provoked a negative reaction, but if you mention “Affordable Care Act” it elicited a better reaction.

The people who were polled were unaware that “Obamacare” and “Affordable Care Act” was one in the same.

Misinformation has done us a disservice once again.

After all, how hard is it to understand, much less try to read 2,000+ pages of a plan or bill, when it might sound like this?

Did you understand what Sir Humphrey said? I didn’t think so.

The only thing that has come close to explaining any part of the ACA was Trader Joe’s. They cut through the mumbo-jumbo by describing each possible scenario with respects to the insurance exchange.

There are legitimate questions that citizens do have about the marketplace exchange, that Fineman lays out (his segment begins at the 15:50 mark of Hour 1).

I don’t usually agree with Fineman, but he is one of a handful of people who makes an effort to make all of this understandable.

After re-reading my post from 2010, my opinion hasn’t changed with regards to the ACA. If it works, fine. If it doesn’t work, review it, tweak it, and run it again. I’m not holding my breath, because I’m going to take care of myself.

People who need health care services are not going to wait and hope that a program will kick in. They are looking for care now.

 

 

 

Don’t Follow The Sheep

You have your own thoughts and opinions that doesn’t always coincide with the group or part of society you belong to. Don’t let anyone bully you into suppressing your own ideas and follow the sheep.

Sheep.

They stick together, graze together, and if one goes, then all of them go the same way.

It’s the human version of silo thinking.  When you think a certain way, then it’s hard to open your mind to listen, read, or see different ideas or viewpoints.

But in life, you don’t have to follow the sheep, because it’s the right thing to do, or because everyone else is doing it.

Be a black sheep.

I’m always interested in listening to different viewpoints on both sides of the political aisle.  I don’t tell people how, why, or who to vote for.  I don’t roll like that.  That’s your decision.

As long as you don’t guilt me, push me, or tell me who to vote for, then we’re cool.  I won’t hold a grudge, demonize you, or whatever candidates and voters are doing to each other these days.  I expect the same out of you.

At least I know where you stand on certain topics.

Voters are sheep.  Democrats and Republicans are leading the herd. People are forced to choose one or the other.  If they choose one, they are either crazy (Dems) or evil (GOP).  You’re not really allowed to question some issues or topics that merit discussion, for fear of ticking the party bases off.

I’m the black sheep.  A moderate.  An independent. I’m your party’s worst nightmare.

In other words, I’m the guy most of you Dems and GOP hate more than anyone, because I’m not following the sheep.

My views are derived from both parties.  There are some I’m favor of, there are some I’m against.  There are candidates and officials I respect, there are those I’m not crazy about.  Don’t expect me to vote a straight ticket.  I have never voted a straight ticket since I was eligible to vote in 1994.

Baa?

As I wrote two years ago, the Democratic and Republican parties are a mirror image of themselves in almost everything, only that their view of the world is different.  Campaign tactics, organization, structure, spinning messages to the public, etc., are the same on both sides.

I knew early on, as a young kid, that my view of politics was different from everyone else’s.  The only problem is that if I was to say what was on my mind, people would shoot it down, scream at me for not having the same beliefs as they do.

Or maybe because I’m not a flaming liberal or a fire-breathing conservative.

Trying to be civil in an increasingly uncivil society when it comes to expressing views in a civil format has become extinct.

I may not agree with everything Ed Fallon does, but he exemplifies being a “black sheep” by questioning fellow Democrats and their issue positions. He’s not afraid to stand out alone.

Which is why I have become comfortable writing what I think on a blog.  I can put it down in writing without being interrupted.  Since I’m a stutter, it’s hard to get a word in during a conversation, even with someone who loves to hear themselves all of the time.

The point here is that it’s alright, no, it’s perfectly normal, to have views that are from both sides.  If Democrats and Republicans don’t like that, screw them.  It’s your own opinion and beliefs that should trumpet over the sheep mentality of blindly agreeing with everything a party stands for or what they believe in.

Black sheep may not fit the prototype, but they are comfortable in their own skin.

Which is what I intend on doing from now on.

Baa, baa, baa.

The Death (or the Evolution) of “The American Dream”?

Is the "Dream" dead or is it evolving into something completely different?

“The American Dream” is a national ethos of the United States in which freedom includes a promise of the possibility of prosperity and success. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.  The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the United States Declaration of Independence which proclaims that “all men are created equal” and that they are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights” including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

-definition of “The American Dream”, courtesy of Wikipedia

A conversation on Twitter prompted me to find the actual term and the origination of “The American Dream.”  Today, to a large majority of Americans, the image of “Dream” is shattered into fine grains of sand.  You can pick it up, and yet it slides back onto the ground between your fingers.   If you asked me, Adams’ statement might have described what people back then considered “the Dream.”

Today, not so much.  We’re quick to say that the “Dream” is dead.  I have no argument with that.  But, rather than say it’s dead, the “Dream” has evolved, but we don’t know what the new definition means to us in 2011.  As Wikipedia noted, the American Dream has evolved during the past two centuries, decades, generations, and eras.

The nuclear family is no longer defined by "The American Dream" that we grew up envisioning.

The “Dream” now has different meaning to so many people.  No longer does it mean a nuclear family living in a house, with a two-car garage and a dog.  It’s a whole new ball game out here, gang.  Some of you can deny it all you want, but Ward and June Cleaver “isn’t walking thru the doors” again.

The same for the business world.  No company isn’t handing out bonuses or salaries so that their employees can keep up with the cost of living (which has dramatically increased as the economy has plundered since 2008).  Everyone’s for themselves these days.  Many have decided to go into business on their own, while many are still looking for the passion that will carry them into the next chapter in their lives.

I know that many of you read this blog when you get the chance to, but never offer comment.  Here’s my challenge:

What is “The American Dream” mean to you?

There is no such thing as a correct answer, because everyone has a different take on it.

I’m not writing this to hear myself talk.  You have a voice (or fingers to type).  How do you see the “Dream”?

Had the Prez Did This Instead…

I couldn’t help but to be amused by the “birthers” and the ongoing debate over President Obama and whether he was born in the U.S., and if he’s a full-blooded American. 

One thing came to mind earlier today that I thought he should have done, but a great friend of mine, Sam Burt, suggested a better scenario, for which I love since it’s from one of my favorite movies growing up. 

Enjoy.

“Don’t Call it a Comeback”

 

Charl Schwartzel
The main story of The Masters should be Charl Schwartzel, who birdied the last 4 holes to win the Green Jacket. (Associated Press)

 

I watched The Masters this weekend and there’s a pet peeve that I have to get off of my chest, if you don’t mind.

I’m so tired of hearing this phrase…

“(Submit player or team) is back.”

“Tiger’s back!”

“The Huskers are back!”

Tiger Woods finished 4th at The Masters. He may be "back", but his putter hasn't...yet.

 

Yes, they are back, but it’s different. There is no such thing as returning to what they once were or used to be.

Has the Huskers returned to the Big Red dominating and overwhelming opponents during the Bob Devaney/Tom Osborne era? No.  Are they a good team and program?  Yes.  But don’t expect them to steam roll opponents like they did 10, 15, or 30 years ago.

Will Tiger return to the form that made the world stop to watch him swing a club? You may say “yes” he is returning to that form. Most of you think he is back.  However, it feels different. It will never be the same as it once was.

It’s hard as hell to replicate something special or important after a few down years or a major event that interrupts it.

We pine for the things that we loved and enjoyed in the past. But when our world evolve and things changes, for good and bad, we can be happy to see someone or something “come back”, but it will not be the “same.”

In other words, stop expecting the good ol’ days and accept the “right now”.

The Health of the Organization

I need help. 

I can’t think of another way in putting this out there but I will. 

Fundraising and talking is something I have feared for a long time.  I hate asking for money and public speaking is something I can’t do at all.  Marketing, well, I couldn’t market or sell you a lemon torte, though if enticed, I would buy one. 

I’m a volunteer and a board member for our local American Diabetes Association chapter here in Des Moines.  The past two years have been, to be politcally correct, tough.  We were the only chapter in America that was in the red last year.  We’ve struggled to get new volunteers, retain long time supporters, and be out front in the community. 

It’s not a very nice distinction to have. 

We want to re-introduce ourselves to Des Moines. Where and how do we start?

In January, we brought in a new executive director to help us assess the health of our organization.  I’m not afraid to say that we have an uphill climb.  No one knows who we are, what we do, and if we try to go out in the community, no one has interest in diabetes, in general, other than to say that their “uncle/grandfather/mom” had and died from diabetes, but never about what they learned about it. 

I hate asking for help, but I have to ask because every non-profit and charitable organization is getting support in Des Moines, financially and non-financially, KCCI will lend their name to every cause, celebrities love riding the coattails of organizations, and I feel like the only person in the world who wants to promote ADA, but I don’t know where to start. 

Why am I supporting the ADA?  Besides being a board member (the youngest) and lending my time as a volunteer (health fairs, office work, working events), I am a Person with Diabetes (PWD).  For the record, a Type 2 diabetic.  I have a full time job in managing how my body functions.  How much insulin do I need to take (Lantus or Humulog), is my glucose level okay for me to indulge in a salad, do my feet look swollen or feel numb, and on and on. 

Dick Clark, America's oldest teenager, was diagnosed with diabetes in 2003. Despite his stroke and limited mobility, he's still rocking-and-rolling.

I believe in the mission of the ADA.  It’s not just raising money to find a cure, as many people assume non-profit organizations only do.  The ADA have support groups, education programs, list of references to specialists, and materials that are as easy as a click of the mouse or a phone call away.  Yeah, we want to end diabetes, but for those who have it, like me, it’s not a death sentence.  Look at Patti LaBelle, Joe Frazier, Sonia Sotomayor, and Anne Rice.  They didn’t stop living when they were diagnosed with diabetes.   I haven’t stop either. 

How do I help ADA “re-introduce” ourselves to the community?