Here are links I found interesting on March 23, 2013:
FAA to close 149 air traffic towers under cuts – This is, by far, the most objective article covering the airport tower closures. Full of FACTS, it presents both sides of the issue. Ifyou only read one piece about this topic, make it this one.
Unfit for Work: The startling rise of disability in America – 14 Million Americans now get a disability check because health issues (supposedly) make it impossible for them to work. These people are not accounted for as part of the nation's unemployed and payments to them exceed payments to people on welfare. I'm not the only person who sees this as a serious problem.
Stanislaw Burzynski’s public record – "…not only do we have the right to question Burzynski’s “miraculous” treatments, but an obligation to question them." I cannot agree more. PLEASE help expose this quack for what he is.
Play the Lottery? Don’t Bet On It – "Time magazine has some financial advice for you. The only problem is, if you follow their advice, you are nearly 100% certain to lose money. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think this is the sort of advice Time (or anyone) should be doling out." It's not you, Ted. I agree wholeheartedly.
Gingrich Gave Push to Clients, Not Just Ideas – "Newt Gingrich is adamant that he is not a lobbyist, but rather a visionary who traffics in ideas, not influence. But in the eight years since he started his health care consultancy, he has made millions of dollars while helping companies promote their services and gain access to state and federal officials." And exactly who is surprised by this?
The personal computer is dead – I think Steve Jobs said some of this. But Zittrain goes on to argue that we need to take control of the situation. Sadly, there are too many apathetic sheep in the world to take control of anything these days.
NeverWet: Nanotechnology for Your Airplane – This seems almost too good to be true. What EAA is suggesting is covering the aircraft with a coat of this stuff to repel moisture and dirt and prevent the accumulation of ice. Not sure how that would help a desert-based aircraft like mine, but I'm sure there are plenty of other uses for it.
Fliers Still Must Turn Off Devices, but It’s Not Clear Why – A good point here: "Surely if electronic gadgets could bring down an airplane, you can be sure that the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, which has a consuming fear of 3.5 ounces of hand lotion and gel shoe inserts, wouldn’t allow passengers to board a plane with an iPad or Kindle, for fear that they would be used by terrorists."
Judge Blocks Citigroup Settlement With S.E.C. – "A federal judge in New York on Monday threw out a settlement between the Securities and Exchange Commission and Citigroup over a 2007 mortgage derivatives deal, saying that the S.E.C.’s policy of settling cases by allowing a company to neither admit nor deny the agency’s allegations did not satisfy the law." Could it be? A judge who is both reasonable and has the best interest of the American people at heart? I'd vote for him.
Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks $13 Billion – "The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. Now, the rest of the world can see what it was missing." Read about it.
I’ll voice my own opinion through the words of others.
I’ve been pretty quiet about the Occupy Wall Street movement. And I’ll be honest here: I’m keeping my thoughts to myself because they’re not exactly popular.
And that’s made me wonder whether I’m missing something. Why is it that I’m not all gung-ho about this movement? After all, I share a lot of the same frustrations as the Occupy protesters. Why is it that I don’t feel comfortable speaking out in support of them?
It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I really didn’t support them — not the way most of the people I know do. I think a lot of people have been blinded by emotion and aren’t seeing the big picture. I’m seeing a bit of that picture, mostly because I’m reading the thoughtful words of others who are far more knowledgable than I am.
I’d like to explain where I stand on this issue by sharing three blog posts I’ve read about the Occupy movement that really ring true to me. I’ve linked to these on this blog and on various social networks, but I haven’t really talked much about why they’ve echoed my sentiments. Here are my comments, in the order in which I read them.
Like a Rolling Stone
First off, Matt Taibbi’s excellent October 25 piece for Rolling Stone, “OWS’s Beef: Wall Street Isn’t Winning It’s Cheating.” This is Matt’s attempt to explain why the protest isn’t about envy. It’s about anger — anger over the fact that Wall Street investment firms and banks aren’t playing by the same rules that the American public is. He points out the availability of interest-free loans, forgiveness for missing payments, bailouts for losses resulting from bad/careless business decisions. He’s absolutely right: the average American doesn’t have Uncle Sam to help him out of trouble if he makes a bad investment decision or misses a mortgage payment. Financial institutions do. And because of this, they’re able to reap huge profits and pay their executives huge salaries and bonuses. They’re cheating, Taibbi argues, and that’s how they’re winning. And that’s why the Occupy protesters are angry.
I pretty much agree with this. After all, it explains why I’m angry. I’m angry partially because my tax dollars went to rescue financial institutions that were “too big to fail” instead of creating jobs, improving education, or helping people get affordable health care. I’m angry because the management of those financial institutions — the same people who send jobs overseas, stick customers with huge fees, and take bailout money when they make business mistakes — have huge compensation packages. I’m angry because I know that the reason big business gets all these benefits is because they paid good money to line the pockets of too many politicians, one way or another, and those politicians are taking care of the people who paid them off — not the people who voted them into office.
And here’s another thing: If I make bad decisions in my business, my business would fail. Why is it that big financial institutions aren’t allowed to suffer the consequences of their own mistakes — and I have to? That’s what’s making me — and many others — angry. It’s the unfairness of the system. That’s the point Taibbi is trying to make and I think he does a pretty good job, with lots of examples to illustrate what he’s saying.
But, at the same time, I think Taibbi’s mistaken if he thinks all of the OWS protesters are driven by anger more than envy. Too many are pushing socialistic ideas like wealth redistribution. Too many believe they’re entitled to jobs — not just honest jobs that utilize their skills and give them a stepping stone to move up. They seem to want only certain kinds of jobs with only certain kinds of companies, jobs that pay a high wage without making them “wage slaves.” I blogged about this the other day.
And with people like that in the movement, it’s hard for me to support the movement as a whole.
Who Is Dave Ramsey? Beats Me.
Dave Ramsey’s October 19 piece, “Dear Occupy Wall Street ,” summarizes another reason why I can’t fully support the OWS movement. This is what has been nagging me for a long time — the movement hasn’t been able to adequately communicate exactly what it expects to achieve. In this piece, he critically reviews the slogans found on OWS protester signs. His thoughts pretty much echo mine.
Now I don’t who Dave Ramsey is. From what I gather from his website, he’s some sort of financial advisor. (I see a tab labeled “Church Leaders” on his home page and I find that worrisome, given my own lack of belief.) Is he left, right, center? I don’t know and I don’t care.
One of the problems we have these days is that if we know the messenger, we automatically agree or disagree with what he says because of labels put on him. But do we ever stop to read what these people have to say? I don’t care if Dave Ramsey is an ultra conservative, Tea Party card-carrying wacko — I agree with almost everything in this piece. Why don’t you read it and see if you do?
Words of Wisdom from Alaska
And finally, tying all the strings together in a nice, neat package, is a recent post by Jim Wright in his blog, Stonekettle Station. I like Jim’s writing. He doesn’t beat around the bush. He says exactly what’s on his mind. But instead of just blathering out solid opinion (as I so often do), he backs up everything he says with facts or information from his own personal experiences as a retired naval officer.
These are not peaceful protests. While yes, it’s true that in some instances, police have overeacted (think pepper spray in NYC), in many other instances, the police have just been doing their job to control unruly mobs. Interestingly, he compares OWS protesters to Tea Party protesters and the Tea Partiers come out looking not only a lot more civilized, but a lot more effective.
In a democracy like ours, We the People have the power to make changes like many of the ones the OWS protesters apparently want. That power is granted by the vote. Jim points out that the number of people who bother to get out and vote is rarely as high as even 65%. That’s 35% of the people who — in his opinion (and mine) — have absolutely no right to complain about elected officials and the laws they pass.
Jim’s no-nonsense piece is an excellent critical analysis of the situation, along with suggestions on how it can be improved to be more effective. After getting a lot of feedback, he wrote a follow-up piece, “Occupy Stonekettle Station, The Follow Up,” which attempts to bring rational thought into a reader discussion dominated by emotion-charged excuses and criticisms. But will people listen? I doubt it.
The Way I See It
In my mind, the OWS movement has problems on multiple levels.
Emotions are getting in the way of reason. People are caught up in the anger or envy (or whatever) of the main theme. They’re either for it or against it, period. They’re too emotional to consider the facts.
The main theme (and sub themes) are not being clearly communicated. Because the movement is so disorganized, there are too many themes and some contradict others. Yet supporters focus on the ones they agree with and assume the whole movement is about that. This simply isn’t the case.
Sources of information are biased and are showing just one side of the issue. For example, we all saw a few innocent women get pepper-sprayed for no apparent reason — and that image got many people to support the movement. But did we all see the man defecating on a police car? Or the mob breaking windows at a bank? Or the people hurling burning bags of shit at police officers? If so, did that change your opinion of the movement as a whole?
People trying to engage in a reason-based discussion of what’s going on and how it could be made more effective are being shot down by the blind supporters of the movement. Why do you think I’ve been so quiet? Every time I mentioned my doubts on Facebook or Google+ I was blasted by “friends” who could only shoot back with emotion-based arguments.
It’s unfortunate because the movement is polarizing would-be supporters, thus losing the support of rational, thoughtful people who might help it succeed.
Those are my thoughts on the Occupy Wall Street movement, as voiced by others who have written in more detail about it. I’m not against it, but I’m not for it in its current form.
I’ve been saying for months now that we need to clean house, we need to vote out everyone in office. I’m not blowing smoke. I really think this is true. Politicians are in the back pockets of big business. We need new politicians — candidates who actually care about the people — to move in and make a change. The only way to get that is to vote.
Don’t fight the system. Use it.
Got Something to Add?
I’ll leave comments open here — at least for a while — but I will remind everyone of the comment policy. I will not approve any comments that include a personal attack on me or any other commenter.
In addition, if you want to comment on this post, read the articles I linked to here first. If your comment demonstrates that you didn’t even bother to read what you’re commenting on, I will not approve it. I’m presenting this blog post as an attempt to get a reasonable discussion going. If you can’t be reasonable and back up what you say with facts, don’t waste your time here.
My friend Jim called from Washington state today. He was driving through on his way to Chelan from where he lives in Coeur d’Alene, ID. He passed the town I spent three months in this summer, thought of me, and called.
Jim has some very definite political opinions, some of which I agree with, others of which I don’t. We can speak civilly about politics but I often pull the plug when I get bored with the discussion. After all, I’ll never change his mind and he’ll never change mine.
We talked about a bunch of things and then our conversation turned to the Occupy Wall Street movement. He described a video he’d seen that showed two men at an Occupy camp with a table set up to help connect protesters to employers. What struck him was one of the protesters saying “I can’t do that” for many of the jobs listed. She seemed to imply that those jobs were beneath her.
I tracked down the video and watched it. Watch it for yourself:
Now I’m not naive enough to think that creative editing wasn’t involved here. Maybe they edited out a lot of the more positive responses from protesters. And yes, the whole thing could be fake.
But although I do think that creative editing might have emphasized a certain message, I don’t think it’s fake. And I do think there are a lot of unemployed young people out there — possibly many camped out as Occupy protesters — who think that the jobs available to them are beneath them.
And that’s the subject of this post: the feeling of entitlement among recent college graduates.
My Ancient History
I graduated college nearly thirty years ago. I had a degree with “highest honors” (I wrote an honors paper) in Accounting and was a member of the Accounting Honor’s Society at Hofstra University, which was then one of the big private universities for business. You’d think I’d have no trouble getting a job. But like everyone else, I went through the stressful process of interviewing on campus. I had six interviews and got one offer.
I took it.
It didn’t matter to me that I was making $14,097 — 25% less than a lot of my friends who had the same degree from the same college. It didn’t matter to me that I wasn’t working at one of the (then) Big Eight accounting firms. The only thing that mattered was that I had a job that would pay my rent and keep me fed. I assumed (rightly, it turned out) that if I worked hard and did my job the best I could, I’d get raises and promotions and work my way up.
Two years later, at age 22, I became a supervisor. Everyone who worked under me was older than me.
My raises averaged 10% to 15% a year.
After five years, I realized that the only way to move up was either for someone to die or retire or for me to move out. So I went to another company. And I worked my way up in that company, too.
At 28, I was earning more annually than my father had ever earned annually in his life.
Then I decided I didn’t want to be a number cruncher. I wanted to be a writer. So at age 29, I engineered a career change. After two rough years, my income recovered; after five years, I was doing very well. But I worked my ass off to get there.
At age 40, I engineered another career change — this time to be the owner of a helicopter charter business. But because of the cost and financial risk involved, I didn’t let go of that second career. Instead, I juggled two jobs — and I continue to do so to this very day.
Point: When I was a kid, I was taught that to get ahead in life, you had to work hard. I also later learned that you had to work smart. And guess what? It works.
It seems to me — not just from this video, but from the bits and pieces of what I hear young people say — that they think that just because they spent 4 or 5 years and countless thousands of dollars to go to college, they’re entitled to get a job when they graduate.
As if the world will step back and open up thousands of job opportunities a year just for them.
But its not just any job that they want. They want a cushy job — something that pays more than enough to cover the rent and feed a family. They don’t want to be a “wage slave” — whatever the hell that is. They want to use what they learned in school, that superior knowledge that sets them apart from people who actually work for a living.
I guess you can read the anger in my words. It’s hard to control it sometimes.
I think about my first job, at age 13: a paper route delivering 54 papers a day on foot. I think about my next job, a year later, spent scraping rust off a chain link fence with a wire brush, accompanied by three other underprivileged girls whose families were poor enough to qualify for summer work.
I think about the three part-time jobs I held down while I was carrying an 18-credit load in college just to make sure I graduated within four years. I think about how my weight dropped down to a ridiculous 105 pounds because I simply couldn’t eat enough to meet my energy needs.
I think about my first apartment, a studio four blocks away from a bus station where shootings had become routine. I think about learning how to float checks two days before payday, when the money ran out. I think about buying “no frills” pot pies for dinner at 33¢ each. I think about taking the subway to bad neighborhoods in Brooklyn and the Bronx because that’s where the audit I had to do happened to be. I think about the day a bum near Times Square — the old Times Square — grabbed my butt as I walked by during my lunch break and how I swung around and hit him.
And yes, I think about writing a monthly check to pay my school loans for ten straight years.
The hard times didn’t last long. I worked my way through them. I showed my bosses that I was a step above the others, not by waving a diploma and whining that I deserved a raise but by working harder, better, and faster than any of them. I got the promotions and pay raises I needed to move forward.
Why can’t today’s young people do the same?
No one is entitled to a job. You have to earn it. Earn it by being smart, by being a team player, by knowing what the hell you’re doing, by doing it right. Get off the fucking cellphone, stop texting your friends, and stop whining about “the man.”
This is real life, not a television show. You’re no better than the other thousands of young graduates looking for work — until you prove you are. What the hell are you waiting for?
Go Ahead, Make Your Excuse
I cannot support this entitlement attitude in any way, shape, or form. If you have no job, then no job is beneath you.
Comments are open. I’m sure this post will soon be inundated with excuses. Sound off. This is your chance. Just don’t expect me to accept excuses.