Tag Archives: America

The Crippling Economics of Inequality


A few months ago, Bill Gross, co-founder and co-chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Company, wrote in his investment outlook letter that instead of approaching the tax reform argument from the standpoint of what an enormous percentage of the overall income taxes the top 1% pay, America’s wealthy should consider how much of the national income they’ve been privileged to make. Gross noted that in the share of total pre-tax income accruing to America’s top 1% has more than doubled from 10% in the 1970s to 20% today, and asked his wealthy clients to “admit that you… did not, as President Obama averred, ‘build that,’ you did not create that wave. You rode it. And now it’s time to kick out and share some of your good fortune by paying higher taxes or reforming them to favor economic growth and labor, as opposed to corporate profits and individual gazillions.”

But favoring average working Americans is not just a matter of fairness. America’s wealthy would actually do better with a smaller share of a rapidly-growing economy than they’re doing now with a large share of an economy that’s still anemic — anemic mainly because the vast middle class doesn’t have the purchasing power to get it out of the gravitational pull of the Great Recession.

Put simply, the wealthy don’t spend nearly as much of their incomes as do people further down the ladder. That means that as more and more of the nation’s total income concentrates at the top, total spending is less than it would otherwise be. As entrepreneur Nick Hannauer says in our new movie Inequality for All, “the problem with rising inequality is a person like me who earns a thousand times as much as the typical American doesn’t buy a thousand pillows.” Or, for that matter, a thousand pair of blue jeans or restaurant meals or movie tickets or insurance policies.

It’s the lesson Henry Ford taught America early in the twentieth century when he paid the workers in his Model T factory twice the going rate, thereby pushing up wages in other factories and helping more workers afford to buy Model T’s. And it’s the lesson America put into practice in the three decades after World War II when nearly everyone’s wages doubled, and the bottom fifth’s wages rose even more than the top fifth’s – creating the largest middle class the world had ever seen, and propelling the American economy to its fastest growth in history.

Reforming the tax code to favor economic growth and labor is one step. Raising the minimum wage, encouraging trade unions, and investing more (and more prudently) in the education and training of all Americans are others.

The voices favoring such reforms shouldn’t be coming only from Democrats, labor unions, and the Left — and a few renegades like Gross and Hannauer. The entire American business community needs to speak out forcefully and clearly in favor of a more broadly-shared prosperity — and against the direction we’re heading. Shared prosperity is essential for faster growth.

Photo: Truthout.org / Flickr

Posted by:Robert Reich

It’s #Winning To Be Poor. Just Ask A Really Rich Guy


February 20, 2014

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Tom Perkins needs to find a hobby.

It seems the billionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalist hadn’t gotten it out of his system after calling attention, in what turned out to be the most-read letter-to-the-editor in Wall Street Journal history, “to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany and its war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the “rich.”

Weird. One might think unseemly. But he wasn’t done. In the same January 24th letter, he warned of, “’progressive radicalism”, which he described as “a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent.” Perkins continued: “This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; its descendant ‘progressive’ radicalism is unthinkable now.”

Kristallnacht, the “Night of the Broken Glass” took place in Nazi Germany in 1938. In one night across the Third Reich, Jews were rounded up; many of whom were killed. More than 7,000 Jewish-owned businesses were damaged or destroyed, along with more than 1,000 synagogues. Yeah, Tom, Occupy Wall Street is a whole lot like Kristallnacht.

Most thinking folks dismissed Perkins comments as the ranting of a publicity-seeking billionaire gone bonkers. The venerable firm he founded, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, tweeted: “Tom Perkins has not been involved in KPCB in years. We were shocked by his views expressed today in the WSJ and do not agree.” Perkins response to the tweet? “They threw me under the bus.”

Given one of several chances to clarify his remarks, Perkins doubled-down on his attacks on the poor at an event in San Francisco on February 13th, saying that “the extreme progressivism of the tax system” is a form of persecution of the top one percent of earners in America. When asked by Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky how he’d remedy the situation, he offered this solution: “You don’t get the vote if you don’t pay a dollar in taxes. But what I really think is it should be like a corporation. You pay a million dollars, you get a million votes.”

I don’t know Tom Perkins – though I’ve read his wife Danielle Steele’s novels – so it’s easy for me to discount his views as outlandish. I do know Kevin O’Leary, of Shark Tank fame, which makes it tough for me to slough-off something he said on the daily CBC show he co-hosts with my old friend Amanda Lang. On the January 21st edition of “The Lang and O’Leary Exchange”, O’Leary and Lang were discussing a recent OXFAM report which stated that the world’s 85 richest people hold the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the planet’s population. O’Leary said: “This is a great thing because it inspires everybody, gets them motivation to look up to the one per cent and say, ‘I want to become one of those people, I’m going to fight hard to get up to the top.’ This is fantastic news and of course I’m going to applaud it. What can be wrong with this?”

It may not be flat out #winning to be poor, but it’s actually pretty good, according to Nicole Miller co-founder and CEO Bud Konheim. Konheim told CNBC that the poor should stop complaining, because: “we’ve got a country that the poverty level is wealth in 99 percent of the rest of the world… the guy that’s making, oh my God, he’s making $35,000 a year, why don’t we try that out in India or some countries we can’t even name. China, anyplace, the guy is wealthy.”

I can’t really decide whether any of these are actually attacks on the poor. Perkins framed it as an attack BY THE POOR on the wealthy, O’Leary pointed out how lucky the poor are, and Konheim wants America’s poor to think they’re not poor because, compared to low income Indians and Chinese.

America is not India. It’s not China. America is the biggest and most prosperous nation in the world. We’re debating raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, from the current $7.25 an hour. If you work 40 hours a week earning the federal minimum wage, you earn about $15,000 a year. The left-leaning Economic Policy Institute says raising it to $10.10 would eventually help more than 20 million Americans. Conservatives argue raising the wage will hurt small businesses and keep them from hiring workers. Both sides have valid arguments.

Leaving that debate aside, let’s look at income which, for our purposes, includes what you earn from work, and what you earn from capital gains, dividends from stocks and interest from bonds. U.S family income roughly doubled from the late 1940s to the early 1970s for almost all Americans. But, starting in the 1970s, income began growing much faster for the top five percent of earners, than for people in the middle or bottom. For the top one percent, their after-tax incomes jumped more than 200 percent between 1979 and 2010. For most Americans, wages make up the vast majority of their income, as opposed to income from investments and wages, adjusted for inflation, have declined nearly six percent for the lowest earners between 1979 and 2012. Over the same time 23-year period, wages jumped nearly 40 percent for people in the top five percent.

Let’s look at this one more way: total wealth, which includes everything someone owns, including their home, stocks and bonds. As of 2010, the top one percent of households owned 35.4 percent of all privately held wealth; the next 19 percent owned 53.5 percent. That means that just 20 percent of Americans owned a whopping 89 percent, leaving only 11 percent of the wealth for the bottom 80 percent. More starkly, the richest 400 people in the U.S. have more wealth than the poorest 150 million. It makes sense when you think about it, because wealth begets wealth. If you started 2009 with money to invest in stocks or property, and the ability to get credit at some of the lowest rates in history, this has been one of the best five year periods in history for you. If you started 2009 broke or unemployed, it may still feel like a recession to you.

Perkins, and his fellow uber-rich, need to comprehend that there is no war on the rich in America. The middle and lower classes are too busy working for their increasingly elusive piece of the “American Dream” to be waging war on anyone. Society’s top earners control wealth, wages and political power. If there is class warfare, they rich are the only ones with the disposable time and income to wage it. Historically, America’s had strong, growing and empowered middle class to work as a buffer; folks who work hard and earn money, but not enough to avoid paying most taxes. We’re losing that in America and, along with it, the dream of millions of Americans of making it into the middle class.

If the rich realized the implications of it, they’d be mad as hell, too.

Photo: Getty Images North America

The Road Beyond Nonprofit Overhead


Last summer I co-signed a letter to the donors of America called the “Overhead Myth Letter.” The letter has gotten a fair amount of attention within the US nonprofit sector (at least among the 1% of US charities that get 86% of the funding each year). In addition, representatives of some of those larger charities have told me that, at least among some of big donors and family foundations; it has been helpful piece of information. The letter urges donors to look at “other factors of nonprofit performance” beyond overhead, because we believe that “focusing on overhead without considering other critical dimensions of a charity’s financial and organizational performance can do more damage than good”. However, for the average donor to charity, the letter may not be all that helpful, because the availability of information on “other factors” is few and far between.

This is especially true when it comes to the most important information of all – data on the results (including outcomes and impact) of a nonprofit’s work. After years of research we have conducted at Charity Navigator, we have come to the conclusion that the vast majority of nonprofits do not publically report meaningful information on their results. In addition, we suspect that the vast majority of nonprofits have NO SUCH DATA to share with the public! That is because they have never built the required performance management systems to measure what they do. Therefore, when I signed the Overhead Myth letter with my colleagues, I said to them, if we are not careful and take at least one additional step, we will have possibly done more “damage than good” ourselves. I said that because following the advice in the letter could lead the donors of America to a dead end. On the one hand we tell donors – don’t consider overhead as most important, but on the other hand – we do not have a place for them to go to get what is most important to consider. This could lead to charities being even less accountable to donors than they are currently. Not good!

I do not mean to imply that it is entirely the fault of nonprofits for this state of affairs. In fact, there is a perfectly logical yet tragic reason to explain (but not excuse) why nonprofits are in this situation. The vast majority of funders do not provide the necessary resources for nonprofits to build the required performance management systems so they can provide meaningful information on their results. Although nonprofits are usually required to generate an endless stream of reports to their funders, they usually are more focused on activities and outputs rather than real evidence of social value (meaningful change in communities and people’s lives). At the same time the funders usually do not supply the resources (money and technical expertise) to help charities develop the capacity to manage, measure and report on their results. So even when the funders ask for such information, the charities typically end up going through a kabuki dance to appear to supply it, when in fact it is simply repackaged outputs.

However there is good news on the horizon on a variety of fronts. A lot of people are working hard to make more information on nonprofit organization’s results available to the public. In addition, there is a growing demand that funders (especially foundations) not just ask for charities to report on their results, but show a willingness to provide the resources for nonprofit’s to build their capacity to better manage and measure what they do. So do not despair! Here are just a sampling of the efforts that are underway to provide nonprofits with the tools and donors with the information they need:

For Nonprofits: Check out these resources that can help you to get on the road to managing and measuring your performance: (1) Perform Well (2) Keystone Accountability (3) Charting Impact (4) Social Solutions (5) Root Cause (6) Leap of Reason (7) The Center for What Works and (8) The Nonprofit Outcomes Toolbox. Whatever size and cause area your nonprofit works in, there is something available on this list to get you started.

For Donors: I admit I am biased but the only resource I know of that has the depth of analysis and scale (i.e. number of charities rated) that is working on compiling information on results for the average donor is Charity Navigator. Specifically, we call our new rating system CN 3.0. You can check it out here.

Finally, at the beginning of this article I mentioned that there needed to be at least one more thing that we signers of the Overhead Myth letter needed to do. That is, to write a second letter to the Foundations and Nonprofits of America, urging them to make sure that they do whatever it takes to build the capacity to manage and measure results and to then supply that information to the donors of America. THAT is the road beyond nonprofit overhead!

Photo: Saad Faruque/Flickr

What I learned by quitting my “good” job and driving around the country all summer long


15 lessons from cruising the USA on local, two-lane roads for 80 days and 17,000 miles.

Early last summer I left my job at a top strategy consulting firm in Manhattan, my high rise apartment, and what would have been a six figure income had I stayed in consulting for a third year. At the time, a lot of people thought I was crazy, and their skepticism made me wonder if what I was doing was insane. However, three months and seventeen thousand miles later, it seems crazy that I waited so long to do it. I returned to NYC last week after, as one of my college pals put it, “living a lot of life” in the last few months. Here’s what I learned on my journey.

Note: Although I originally wrote this post at the end of September and it was posted on Thought Catalog in October, looking over it again in 2014 I felt compelled to share it with Medium’s community of dreamers.

1. Few people will actually take the leap to make a dream real

I heard it over and over again, from people all over America: “I’ve always wanted to take a trip like yours.” I heard it from farmers, entrepreneurs, investment bankers, and hotel clerks. I heard it from sixty-five year olds, twenty-five years olds, and people all along the spectrum in between. They’d all invented reasons for not going. Financial concerns (I did my entire trip for about $6k); family concerns (you can leave for two months — you’ll be back); career concerns (you don’t even like your job, why are you afraid to leave it?).

Although the leap to make many dreams real isn’t too big, most people will never jump. Be in the minority that does — make the leap.

Grinnell Lake, Glacier National Park

2. All the worrying most people do is baseless — it’s your adventure, not theirs

Had I listened to everyone who said, “you’d be nuts to go to _____, it’s dangerous there!” my trip would have lasted three weeks instead of three months. The warnings came in from all directions — family members, locals with an opinion, the news. Ethanol content in Midwestern gasoline is too high; it’ll kill your motor! Williston, ND is full of murderers and rapists. Detroit is more dangerous than Mexico. Watch out for banditos in Arizona. Southerners will run you New Yorkers off the road. Bad shit happens, but in no way is it likely to happen. It’s important to mitigate obvious risks by traveling with companions, packing the right supplies, and checking weather reports (lest you have a scrape with a flash flood). However, don’t be curtailed by other people’s fears unless they are remarkably well informed (which is rarely the case).

A perch high above Canyonlands National Park in Southern Utah

3. The wealth of protected American land extends far beyond National Parks

Everyone knows about National Parks, the crown jewels of the American conservation movement. Less known are the millions and millions of acres of pristine land preserved in national forests, national monuments (think canyons, not Washington, DC), and recreation areas. Places like Glen Canyon (UT), the Black Hills (SD), and the Sierras (CA). And let’s not forget the additional places protected by state and local governments — for example, the Adirondacks and unadulterated stretches of the Pacific Coast. Any traveler would be remiss to draw the line at National Parks.

Sunrise in Land Between the Lakes National Recreation area on the Tennessee-Kentucky border

4. Starting to live simply is easy; staying simple is hard; but the longer you stay simple, the less you come to need

It’s easy to adapt to having less (especially if you have no alternative); what’s hard is maintaining your simpler life when confronted with the expensive, convenient lifestyles of others — gorgeous houses, comfortable cars, hot water all day everyday. That’s what I meant when, one month ago, I wrote, “starting to live simply is easy. Staying simple is hard.”
I found that the lesson doesn’t end there. It’s not just that staying simple gets easier, but that the simplicity curve is sort of exponential — every consecutive day that you live without creature comforts, the number of comforts you rely on will decrease dramatically. For example: after Day 1, you might realize that you can shower once a day rather than twice. After day 2, you might realize that you can wear the same shorts two days in a row and eat a cold breakfast. After day 3, you might prefer answering emails and text messages just once each day, and eating soup straight from the can is just fine, and one pillow for sleeping is such a luxury (you used to need two). Your ability to adapt accelerates with every consecutive day lived simply.

Waking up in Badlands NP

5. All it takes to really “get away” is 2 or 3 days

“I need at least a week. Anything less and it doesn’t feel like I got away.” That’s what I used to say about vacations. I must have been going to the wrong places, doing the wrong things. Any block of 2 or 3 days from my trip would have been the best two or three days of my post-college years. Anywhere in the country, you’re only a few hours (on two lane roads, of course) and a couple of days from a new adventure.

6. Hypothesis confirmed: two-lane roads > highways

The beauty of any community is in the details — the mom and pop diners and hardware stores; the seventy five square foot post office next to the town pool; the different varieties of recreational vehicles that dot yards all over the country. Those details aren’t visible when you’re going ninety miles per hour in the middle lane of some massive highway. No matter where you’re going, there is usually a two-lane alternative to interstates, and it will almost always weave its way through miles of Americana that highways do not.

You do not get scenes like this on interstate highways

7. Stretches of emptiness abound all across America, and no two are the same

I explored this idea a bit in a post I wrote after one month on the road, and I feel even more strongly about it two months later. The vast majority of America is wide open, and every stretch has characteristics that don’t exist anywhere else. I was most surprised by the high desert in eastern Washington, and the unexpectedly lush mountains and meadows interspersed between red rock deserts in south central Utah.

Country roads in South Dakota
Open road en route to the Grand Canyon’s North Rim in the Arizona Triangle

8. No matter where you are you can find both likeminded and people who seem totally crazy

Back in July, I wrote about the prevalence of Republicans in Colorado, which I wrongly assumed was a hippy state through and through. The lesson I learned from Colorado holds in general: no matter where you are there will always be people whose beliefs fall on either side of the spectrums of politics, religion, and pretty much anything else.

This story sums it up well: I worried for weeks about how Southerners would react to my New York license plates. Yet, when I finally drove through the Deep South in late August and early September, the people I met were nothing but nice. In fact, the only time I was called a Yankee was in the place I least expected it: Portland, Oregon. Are you kidding? I never would have predicted that.

9. On the road, there is strength in numbers

It’s more than the idea that experiences are best when shared with others (though I subscribe to that belief bit time). It’s the idea that testing one’s comfort zone — exploring back roads; swimming, climbing and hiking in unknown places; visiting the rough parts of a new city — is easier in the company of other people. They are a safety net if anything goes wrong, and they will (hopefully) keep you from doing anything too crazy. I would never have driven down as many dead end dirt roads or grabbed a stool at so many local watering holes had I been traveling alone. Maybe I’m weak; but if I’m weak in this sense, then so are most people. Travel with company — you’ll experience so much more.

Lumberyarding in NorCal

10. Confirmed: pickup trucks are the most popular class of automobile in the USA

I’ve always been aware of the sales figures indicating that in the USA pickup trucks outsell every other class of vehicle. However, it’s one thing to say and another thing to see. Beyond the outer rings of our cities, America remains a land of the working man (and woman), and pick up trucks — able to navigate rough roads, weather different climates, and carry heavy tools — are America’s vehicle. I ate at several diners where my Chevy Suburban was the smallest vehicle in the parking lot, dwarfed by F-250s and F-350s.

11. For 99% of people, itinerant living will get old after some number of months (though that number is different for everyone)

Drive down the California coast and you’ll meet people who’ve been traveling their whole lives. I used to think they were enlightened, that they’d found something that would appeal to the rest of us if we would just give it a try. Having given nomadic living a try, however, I learned not that they had found some universal nirvana, but that their tolerance for constant movement is exceptional. Most of us will tire of traveling after a certain point. For me, that point was about two months. Judging from the are you coming home yet’s that I heard over and over again from friends and family after the one month mark, most people would prefer less than that.

RV living on the Oregon coast

12. Nothing gets random people in any bar, anywhere, talking like a road trip

If you ever on the road and want a dose of local culture, ask a local what the most popular bar in town is, go there, and mention to the bar tender that you’re on a road trip. People will line up to hear about your route and what you’ve seen, and they’ll be eager to share their own stories. This happened everywhere: Minnesota, Idaho, California, Louisiana, the list goes on…

13. Life goes on in your absence

When I returned to Manhattan in late September I found that New York City, and my minuscule sphere within it, had persisted unchanged. Friends I hoped would leave the jobs they hated are still in them; most people had a “normal” Summer and were looking forward to a “normal” Fall. Embarking on an adventure will change you. However, while you’re out driving American roads (or cycling around the world like this badass Englishman) everyone you know will continue to live life as usual.

14. As hard as it is for city folks, particularly those from the BosWash corridor (i.e. the Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and DC metro areas), to believe, there are millions of people who want to live as far away from big cities as possible

The distance between towns (and, in some instances, between houses) in places like Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, southern Utah, eastern Washington, and southwestern Kansas is shocking. Nearly every day I passed through a town that made me wonder, out of curiosity, not arrogance, “why would anyone want to live here.” In any one of these towns, most of the residents were born either in town or nearby; they love life for what it is in that slow, simple (in my eyes) place; and no matter how befuddling it might seem (cue the Tupac), “that’s just the way it is.”

15. There will always be more to see

Eighty days on the road seems like forever, but it’s a blink in comparison to the time it would take to really get to know America. Even if I had traveled twenty five percent longer, for a hundred days, I would still have had only two days for every state. It would take a lifetime to really see everything in any one state, let alone the entire country. What a gift: there will always be more to see.

The view from High Dune, 600 feet above the valley floor at Colorado’s (yes, this is Colorado) Great Sand Dunes NP

Thanks for reading! To learn more about my trip, check out my road blog. And, if this article interested you, please take a moment to hit the Recommend button below. Thank you!

Further Reading

Storyteller Steph Bradley on ‘Tales of our Times’, red flipflops and “stuff”

 — Following your dreams, Tales of Our Times, story telling, tales of transition.

The Past, The Future & What This Means For Our Developing World.


Peter Thiel SXSW

There are four quadrants used to organize the past and the future views of the developing world.  These quadrants are optimistic, pessimistic, determinate and indeterminate.

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China is currently thought to be pessimistic/determinate meaning it has a clear view of where it would like to be in twenty years but at the same time China is worried about whether or not they will get there in this modern time frame.  China is more likely to save money, then invest money over the next few decades.

“China will be a somewhat poorer version of the developed world, people will become old before they become rich”  -  Peter Thiel, Co-founder, PayPal.

America is thought to have fell in to a quadrant called indeterminate optimism.  Presently, the United States is believed to have both a low amount of investment and a low amount of saving, this is arguably the most unstable position for a country to be in.

“One of the strange things about indeterminate optimism is that its the quadrant that has low savings and low investment.  Is it possible for the future to be better when no one saves and no one invests? Because no one is thinking and everyone is outsourcing all of the thinking to other people.”  -  Peter Thiel, Co-Founder, PayPal.

Both Japan and Europe are thought to be indeterminate/pessimistic meaning the future does not look bright and no body is sure what to do about it.

Big Idea 2014: Banking on Infrastructure


 

 

 

 

This post is part of a series in which LinkedIn Influencers pick one big idea that will shape 2014. See all the ideas here.

America is literally falling apart. We need a publicly-owned, 21-century infrastructure bank that attracts private capital – from investors big and small – to rebuild, improve our climate resilience, and create the next wave of growth.

After a decades-long credit binge, a Financial Crisis, a Great Recession, multiple rounds of economic stimulus, Quantitative Easing, zeroed-out interest rates and all the rest, what have we got? Pathetic job growth rates, a steroidal stock market that’s frothily dependent on Fed stimulus, and Depression-era levels of inequality between the Lucky Few who punch-in in Palo Alto or Greenwich, and the Everybody Elses who find themselves in the Barista Economy.

What we need now is not more of the same, but an engine of inclusive economic growth and sustained prosperity, on the scale of the Internet or the mass entrance of women into the labor market – the kind of watershed event that transforms productivity and powers the American dream.

Our version of this opportunity is staring us in the face, everyday. It’s rebuilding, rethinking, and refinancing our infrastructure.

The need is certainly urgent. The 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure by the American Society of Civil Engineers, gave the nation’s roads, dams, bridges, levees and other facilities an abysmal D+ grade, and estimated that the country will need to invest $3.6 trillion by 2020 just to bring our creaking underpinnings up to par.

And that’s to say nothing of the urgent need to redesign and retrofit our communities to improve their climate resilience. Michael Bloomberg’s post-Sandy plan for New York City cost $20 billion alone. There’s concern that other parts of the country, like Florida, may soon become uninsurable, because, while people continue to spend more and more on insurance, nobody’s doing much to mitigate the actual, underlying risk.

Rethinking our infrastructure requires more than just making sure that things don’t fall down when the wind blows. It also means putting in place the advanced platforms that will spur national competitiveness, like wireless broadband. When Google brought gigabit connectivity to the first of Kansas City’s ‘fiberhoods’, for example, it ignited an entrepreneurial renaissance that has grown by the day. (Indeed, the draw was so great there have since been tensions over the residential vs. commercial intent of the service.)

The above is more than any government could shoulder alone, particularly one in our sorry, gridlocked state. Much of the funding will have to come from the private sector. To channel it, we need a public bank whose sole purpose is to connect private and public capital to build the platforms on which America’s next chapter can unfold.

Investors in such a bank shouldn’t just include huge hedge funds, private equity and pension funds – we should create opportunities for the regular citizen, too. Imagine a savings bond where you could get a rate of return by investing the repaving of your own roads, or the climate retrofitting of your local school. Already, organizations like Code for America are developing tools so that citizens can do things like ‘adopt a hydrant’ in a community – a small example of crowdsourcing civic infrastructure. It’s a small step from crowdsourcing to crowdfunding, and an infrastructure bank could be a catalyst.

Several design considerations are essential to making such a bank work in practice. First, there have to be investment “exit ramps” and other policy considerations so that the bank does not merely become an engine for privatizing what was once public.

Second, the bank has to be of sufficient size so that it can go after big problems in a big way – anything smaller, like the laudable but underfunded proposal by Democratic Senator Mark Warner and Republican Senator Roy Blunt will be too small to get the job done.

Finally, we need to take on a tumble of competing regulatory and jurisdictional issues that inhibit meaningful, climate-smart rebuilding. (For a painful, if illuminating look at these issues, watch Susannah Drake’s terrific short PopTech talk about building resilient infrastructure, in which she shows how there are 200 potential permits required for any waterfront project in New York City – many of them dependent on each other.)

By investing, not in propping up Wall St., but in propping up our actual streets, an infrastructure bank can help employ millions, and catalyze a kind of physical operating system for our country’s future. The alternative OS is outdated, buggy, and just might get us killed.

Image Credit: Pipe Dreams 1 by Carol Von Canon (Flickr/Creative Commons)

A High Level Strategy by Corporate America to Keep Travel Out of the Public Limelight?


Note: I have absolutely zero inside knowledge on this topic, nor was it a result of speaking with (or overhearing) anyone at the highest levels of corporate America.

The other day, I got to wondering: Is there a high high up strategy in corporate America, to keep travel suppressed from the public eye? To keep it mysterious, unknown, and therefore “dangerous”?

Why would I wonder such a thing?

Simple: Follow the money.

Consumers only have so much disposable income. They cannot magically pull another 10k out of their bank account every year (aside from accumulating more credit card debt). They EITHER spend their 10k of disposable income on a 2 week trip to Europe, South Africa, or Asia (or anywhere else) OR they spend that 10k on consumer goods. Very few people save the 10k rather than spend it on one of those two items.

It goes without saying C-level executives would prefer people spend their money on consumer goods here in the USA rather than travel abroad and spend their money elsewhere.

I think it’s universally known that (in general) the more someone travels abroad, the less they spend on consumer goods. Particularly if they are traveling to places where they are not just at a resort being pampered 24/7. From my interactions over the last 8+ years traveling, those who have gone through Peace Corps, been a Kiva Fellow, or just volunteered abroad in any capacity, live life with a different mindset than the rest of society. People change once you realize life in the US is a fairy tale to the majority of the rest of the world, and that the items we enjoy on a daily basis —quality shoes, a warm bed, plenty of food on the table— are extreme luxuries to the majority of the world’s population. We are privileged beyond belief, yet it’s impossible to truly understand that without witnessing poverty with your own eyes.

An America where that socially conscious, experienced traveler is the majority rather than extreme minority? It wouldn’t function and grow the way our economy does now. That segment doesn’t buy consumer goods. They travel instead, and live a minimal lives. And, corporate America would take a massive hit.

Marijuana has been kept illegal for years and years precisely because the alcohol industry has spent millions lobbying year after year to keep it that way (so I’ve heard, from trusted sources). Those running the largest corporations in America are far from dumb. They surely realize mass international travel is a threat to their bottom line. Given the billions at stake, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least that strategic steps are taken at the very highest levels of corporate america to keep travel off the public radar. After all, when was the last time you saw a massive movement backed at the very highest levels promoting international travel?

Call it a conspiracy if you like. I just chalk it up to very smart businessmen not doing anything to help further a movement that will take money out of their pockets (& the US economy) in the long run.

This is likely one of those things I believe that few others do. But that’s okay. It takes all types to make the world go round.

PS: If you are in the camp that believes more people should travel & that great connections make or break travel…join the Oh Hey World community.

Written by

Travel, Microfinance, Real Estate Enthusiast, Blogger, Social Entrepreneurship. Doer. @Zillow Alum. Co-Founder – @OhHeyWorld.

Transformed Into White Gods: What Happens in America Without Love


 http://gawker.com/transformed-into-white-gods-what-happens-in-america-wi-1494266254

It started before a friend told me that he wanted to date white women and before another friend told me “fuck white people.” It started before two 14-year-old girls on their way to a birthday party were crushed to death on the Yangju Highway, before George Bush put North Korea on the Axis of Evil, and even before either of my parents was born.

The Korean government turned a blind eye to prostitution at American military bases so the soldiers would stop raping civilians and the Korean people boiled leftover hotdogs, spams, and beans from American military bases to create “military soups,” once known as the “Lyndon B. Johnson soup.” MacArthur was hailed as a national hero and phrases like “even shit tastes better American” were thrown around while, halfway around the world, America did its best to continue its worst by beating and killing its own people.

A decade later, people in both countries held hands and sang “All You Need Is Love” with four British boys from Liverpool, but neither really started confronting the growing hatred towards each other or their own people. And I am their child. I am the child of these two nations with unresolved past, with public love and private hate, with open disdain and secret fetish, and with sons and daughters who grow up to lose their parents.

Before I knew any of this, I knew I had two passports while my parents only had one. I had the blue passport that they didn’t have and was told that being born in Queens was a good enough reason for me to have it. I had no memory of the place because our family moved to Korea when I was three. But whenever New York City came on the news, my parents would call out and say “Look, there’s your city!”

They told me and my brother that Abe Lincoln and Neil Armstrong were part of our history. They told us that we belonged to the strongest nation in the world. History books said the same thing. Hollywood movies said the same thing. Olympic Games said the same thing. And when another Korean found out that I had this blue passport, I saw in their faces that they were thinking the same thing.

In 1998, I liked being Korean. I loved being American.

Sometime that year, Aunt June came from California with a giant bag of assorted candies. I had been saving up lollipops in my candy box for months and had only collected five or six. So when Aunt June came with enough candies to fill the box ten times over, the message I received was clear: Fuck saving, here’s three thousand candies – there’s more of these where I’m from.

Although I could never get myself to like the Laffy Taffys or the Lemonheads and ended up throwing most of the candies away, I wanted to go where Aunt June was from. And while I sat on the sofa opening a bag after another, tasting candies, and spitting them out, mom sat across from Aunt June and listened to her stories. She heard about Aunt June’s white engineer husband, her two story house with a peach tree in the back, and her son who had just skipped second grade. Three years later, Aunt June called my mom and asked if she wanted to send me to America. My mom and I were so enchanted by the illusion of America that we agreed in a heartbeat.

In 2001, I moved alone to Aunt June’s house in California and my dad told me over the phone that my new name would be David. And at this time, I was more ready to be David than any other. Aunt June bought me a pair of Jordans that she called “Nike IIs,” jean shorts with side pockets, and a bunch of polo shirts in different colors. She suggested that I slip a book in my side pocket to accentuate the cool, so I grabbed a yellow Nancy Drew book and slid it in my right pocket. And in the morning of my first class in America, I spiked my new “four on the top, two on the sides” hair with lavish amount of L. A. Looks Mega Hold.

Over the weekend, I watched cartoon episodes on Disney so I’d have something to talk about with the kids. But when I met the kids in Mrs. Drippes’s third grade class at Desert Christian, they carried Pokémon lunch boxes and backpacks. They watched Dragon Ball Z. Jackie Chan was still cool enough to have his own cartoon show and his Rush Hour 2 was one of the highest grossing films of that year. Even Jet Li had a number one movie alongside DMX around this time. When I arrived in America, kids and adults were already consuming Asian culture and other twisted, distorted, and untrue forms of Asianness.

So in 2001, I let others fetishize my Asianness, because I was desperate to become American.

Along with the rest of the boys, I just watched Dragon Ball Z in which the Asian martial arts gods fought aliens by turning supersaiyen. When a character goes supersaiyen, his skin become pale, brown eyes become blue, black hair turns blond, and the strength increases fiftyfold. I watched and enjoyed Asian characters transforming into white gods without being hurt, because that hierarchy made sense. And it made sense to Asian American kids across America, to the Asian kids in Asia, and to the Asian animators who created this visual endorsement of white supremacy. And after all, that’s what many of our parents wanted for us—to become white, become powerful, and become what they couldn’t be.

These were brave parents who packed their bags and moved their families to America or sent their children to live with friends, relatives, and strangers. But these were also scared parents who renamed their kids as Davids, Daniels, Jessicas, and Amys. They gave up on keeping their family together by sending their children to host families, or they left their careers to become storekeepers; dry cleaners; nail salon, massage parlor, and donut shop owners; cooks;, and domestic workers so that their children would have the choices and paychecks that they could never have. They wanted their kids to be able to permeate the white spaces and escape their horizon of Koreatowns, Chinatowns, and ethnic churches.

“If you’re not white, you’re missing out because this shit is thoroughly good. I’m not saying white people are better, but I’m saying that being white is clearly better. Who could even argue?” Louis C. K. says in “Chewed Up.”

And this is exactly what our parents thought. So when they saw that their children could perform as white, they encouraged it without teaching us or telling us to love our Asian side. And as the line between performing as white and being white blurred, so did the line between thinking white people are better and thinking that being white is better. In hindsight, our biggest mistake was having believed in the line at all.

***

In middle school, we grew out of the Dragon Ball Z phase and entered the Jackass phase. To us puberty-stricken Christian school kids, Jackass and its spinoff shows like Viva la Bam and Wildboyz—in which white dudes ran around not giving a fuck about others, themselves, and the consequences—were not only funny, but even somewhat admirable. Aunt June had a son named Billy who I looked up to like my older brother, and he incorporated this not-giving-a-fuck mentality into himself in the form of Asian jokes. He was the funny Asian kid in his grade who didn’t care about saying racist jokes about himself and the other Asians. That gave him a pass on saying other racist jokes toward other groups of people as well.

As little brothers do, I learned from Billy and performed this character to my friends. On a daily basis, I told jokes involving Asian parents, bad driving skills, nerds, rice and eggrolls, small dicks, dog eaters, squinty eyes, accents, kung fu, and William Hung. And as long as my friends laughed, it felt great. I invited other kids to do the same with their race or ethnicity. There were only about 60 kids in my grade and soon, these racist jokes became a part of our language. Saying one more of these jokes became easier and easier. With no other Asian, black or Hispanic students to tell us that the jokes were hurtful, we just continued with white students laughing at our jokes and encouraging us on. The worst and most hurtful jokes, we often told ourselves. And we thought not giving a fuck, not being so sensitive, but, instead, being “cool with it” was our way of saying that we were not what we made fun of.

But every once in a while, I secretly feared that I wasn’t so different from what I made fun of. I was scared, despite all my Asian disses, that I was still an Asian boy who joked his ass off to become American and failed. So I overcompensated by over-consuming culture. I read books, listened to music, watched movies, and watched television more than any of my friends. I broke every Accelerated Reader record at my school, watched every movie in the IMDB Top 250 that I could find, listened to whatever album got over 8.0 on Pitchfork, and watched whatever television show that kids talked about in school. I figured that if I knew more, read more, watched more, and listened to more of American culture than any of my friends, no one could tell me that I wasn’t American.

In 2004, I hated being Korean, but I was obsessed with being American.

Around this time, however, my parents sensed that I was slipping away. They saw that I spoke English well, that I had white friends and girlfriends, and that I could become—as they wished—a part of “them.” But they missed being a part of my life. And they feared that they would lose a son and never get him back. They feared that I would lose a family and become lost.

So my parents found an international school in Korea where I could continue studying in English. They called me back to Korea in 2005 and I agreed, somewhat reluctantly, and returned to Korea.

The international school was filled with other Korean kids who had American citizenships. They were also sons and daughters of scared Korean parents who’d given them the most boring and safe American names. And even here, the kids didn’t blend in with other Korean kids, but formed their own community of Asian Americans. We were all fixated on consuming and learning American culture, and didn’t even try to learn or love the people and the culture we lived among.

These confused kids watched the Super Bowl without knowing the rules, called each other “niggas” and “G’s” and said shit like, “You’re from California? I’m so jealous!” Kids made fun of Korean accents, and the teachers sent students to the principal’s office for speaking Korean. The school sponsored programs like Habitat for Humanity and volunteer trips to South Asian countries, when, five minutes from the school, people lived in unauthorized housing, not knowing when the government or the landowners might force them to move out.

In 2005, these Asian-American kids and I were bad at loving our Korean side. And like many of our parents before us, we continued to uncritically accept all things American.

After two years there, I moved to Texas with my brother, to the house of a friend of my mom’s. My brother had stayed in Korea after our family left New York, so he spoke little English and had no idea what America would be like. But he had all the same illusions that I had. He willingly consumed American culture like me and dreamed about going to an American college and living up to his blue passport.

But at Paschal High School, teachers proudly talked about the existence of two different schools within one—one school with kids taking honor and AP classes and another with kids taking regular classes—and they didn’t care that the system separated most black and brown students from white students. They used phrases like “better opportunity” and “academic excellence,” but they didn’t love their students enough to teach or motivate all of them equally. The socioeconomic and racial divide was evident even during lunch times, when one group of students ate 40-cent government lunch while the other group ate homemade lunches or bought lunch from the in-school Pizza Hut vendor.

On my first day of school, my English teacher told me that I looked like “the Chinese kid in Disturbia.” I had no idea what that meant. Then a white student said to me during class: “Your eyes are so black, it’s almost like you don’t have an iris.” A couple days later, the school asked me to take an English proficiency test in which a lady asked “Man is big, bears are bigger, and dinosaurs are?” and “Grass is green and sky is?” My soccer coach, when I told him not to call me Bruce Lee, said “Other Asian kids liked it when I called them Bruce Lees.” Then a kid in my soccer team told me to show him my dick, because he’d heard Asian dicks were small.

When I asked for my college counselor’s help because I didn’t even know what SATs were, she laughed and said “That’s such an Asian thing to ask.” Then, the week before my college applications were due, she went on a vacation without writing my recommendation letter. The office ladies refused to call her cell phone, because we needed to “respect her privacy.” After the due date, she returned and said “Oops, sorry.” When I asked my English teacher if she could check my essay, she returned it the next day, unmarked, except for the comment “interesting.” A couple weeks before graduation, some students asked me to be in a photo and represent diversity so they could get Obama to come and speak.

For the first time, I started to feel something that I hadn’t felt when I was with other nine-year-olds in California or the confused Korean kids in Seoul. I knew that I wasn’t seen as an American by these people. And I thought, maybe, I had been deceiving myself into thinking that I was something that I couldn’t ever be. The term Asian American didn’t make sense to me. The people who we described as successful Asian Americans seemed to be the ones who successfully grew out of their Asianness and become Americans.

Nobody I knew had ever articulated what being an Asian American really was. Having an accent was a failure. Not speaking their parents’ language was not. Having no white friends was a failure. Having no Asian friends was not. Having a white partner was a success. Having black and brown partners was not. Many Asian American kids ate kimchi at home, loved ramen noodles, had Asian parents, and had exposure to Asian culture and language. Yet, they hid and distanced themselves from Asianness. They tweaked their last names on Facebook to sound white and separated themselves from Asian kids from Asia saying “I’m from New Jersey,” “I’m from North Carolina,” and “I’m just American.”

In 2010, I didn’t feel Korean. And I felt unwanted as an American.

I have taken language classes, econ classes, art classes, sociology classes, film classes, and English classes in college. I have learned to start sentences with “I feel like. . .” or “I think it’s interesting that. . .” I’ve learned to define people and their experiences. I’ve learned to use and misuse detached academic words like “diversity,” “privilege,” and “safe space” in my arguments and conversations. But I’ve never been asked to see my relationship to the people we defined. I was never asked to use “love” in the place of these impersonal words we leaned on.

I have written about gay marriages, black cinema, Asian images, woman’s rights, but never about love. And never with love. I have forgotten about that word for so long that I couldn’t remember how I wanted to be loved, how I loved, and how I failed to love. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I haven’t ever loved myself.

When I watched Bobby Lee, Ken Jeong, and Psy, I hated myself as a Korean. When I watched a YouTube video of white guys harassing a Korean girl saying “Why can’t you get plastic surgery like every other Korean bitches” and yelling “We gotta get the boobs in there,” I hated myself as an American. But even before these incidents, I have seen Korea failing to love its own people, America failing to love its own people, and both countries failing to love each other.

***

About four years ago, my brother went back to Korea, after three years in America. He started having nightmares, so he would stay up as long as he could until his body gave up to sleep. And when he sleeps, he shrieks. He wakes up crying. My mom called me one day to tell me that he drank alone at a bar and punched through five windows. “What happened in America?” she asked.

And a couple months ago, my friend Daniel said to me after watching Louis C. K. perform: “I think white people are just better.” A couple weeks later, I got a call from another friend saying that Daniel went crazy, ran around Third Avenue barefooted, and the police took him to a hospital. I went through two password-protected doors at Beth Israel to see him, and he told me that he ran for his life because he saw “I’m in your area” pop up on his computer screen. He said that when he tried to run away, a man in a red hoodie carrying a knife came to kill him. He said things that I couldn’t even understand, and then started writing down names of white artists that we idolized for years.

“They always knew,” he said.

What?

What the fuck happens in America? What happens in America that my brother spends three years here and starts having nightmares too freighted to forget? What happens in America that my best friend who loved and consumed American culture all his life says, after spending two years in NYU, that white people are just better? What happens in America that makes him run for his life because he thinks someone is coming to kill him?

I couldn’t tell you what. But I can tell you how America failed to love. I can tell you that America doesn’t love its inarticulate. Instead of asking my brother “How can I help?” or “What can I do?” teachers suggested lower level classes and punished with words and grades. College professors did the same. When he turned in essays much more articulate than his speech, they asked “Who helped you?” and “What did you plagiarize?”

Instead of thinking about why all their friends and girlfriends are white, white students ask “Why do they only hang out with other black kids?” or “Why do they only date other Asians?” They say minorities are being exclusive. And in the classrooms, rather than trying to understand and love, we learn to define and patronize other people and their experiences.

America tries constantly to ignore the weak and break the strong. Korea has no love for itself or for the others. We worship, consume, and imitate forms of whiteness, forms of blackness, and forms of Asianness, but we still label them Yankees, niggers, chinks, and Japs. And America and Korea both don’t love their beautiful or the ugly. We define and limit beauty. Korea decided that double eyelids are beautiful, so we put them artificially on those who don’t have them. America can’t love a crooked smile, so our kids live with metal in their mouth for three years.

We’re bad lovers, so we continue the cycle of hate and self-hate. We let the producers of 21 whitewash Asian characters. We let Spike Lee remake Oldboy and cast Josh Brolin as its lead. We let shows like Friends and Girls show only white relationships and use Asian and black actors and actresses to play interim lovers. We let SNL go thirty-nine years without casting a single Asian comedian. We make talented Asian actors come to America and play ninjas and yakuzas. We cast Asian actors and models with stereotypical Asian faces and un-stereotypical Asian bodies. We fetishize them by giving “sexiest man of the year” or “sexiest woman of the year.” And we ignore Baldwin’s warning that we could “lose our faith—and become possessed.”

We lose our faith in ourselves and lose our faith in our ability to love.

And instead, we partake in phony performances and dialogues of love. Drake singing “Shout out to Asian girls, let their lights dim-sum” is not love. A commercial saying “White, black, brown, yellow, purple, green, we’re all the same” is not love. I want to hear our pop culture honestly try to articulate love. I want to stop reading buzzwords like “safe space” that generate the false illusion of safety and the false sense of invasion. I want to see us love and fight for each other when no one is watching.

I have learned to perform love without loving, I hurt the people that I love. I wrote about them in stories and essays and talked about them in classes and meetings, but I failed to love them when I was alone. I didn’t return my mom’s calls and responded to her five paragraph texts with two sentences. “Sorry, I’ll call when I’m not busy” or “I’m working on an essay” were my responses to her love letters. I didn’t tell my friend to stop taking drugs until he was in the hospital. I didn’t listen to my dad’s stories when he was drunk. I didn’t tell my brother that I loved him. I never even asked how he was holding up. Yet I asked them to love me in all those ways. And, in all those ways, they unreasonably do.

This is a crazy-making environment, but some of us never go crazy—even if we want to. And it’s because we have people who love us too much to let it happen to us. We have people who give us calls, who miss meetings to talk to us, who fight for us, and who try to interpret our jumbled utterances and understand our quietest groans. We have people trying to love us in ways that won’t be on posters and t-shirts and in ways that won’t be written in emails or spoken about in meetings.

In 2013, I thought about love and talked about love. I tried to love, failed to love, tried again, and failed again. But the people who loved me unreasonably kept me sane and kept me trying.

In 2013, I could have been an orphan. But I remained a child of Korea. I remained a child of America.

Now it’s my turn to love.

David Byunghyun Lee is a junior at Vassar College

[Image by Jim Cooke]

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The Dragonball Z = white su

http://gawker.com/transformed-into-white-gods-what-happens-in-america-wi-1494266254

Why I Am And Always Will Be An Independent


The cult-like nature of American politics today.

Politics in America has become cult-like and I want no part of it. I am an independent and always will be.

I prefer to think for myself rather than being told what to think by a few cult, ahem, sorry, “party” leaders that are looking out for the interests of their largest donors rather than the best interest of the nation.

Case and point — Republicans don’t think we have a gun problem in America while democrats don’t think we have a spending problem.

Huh?

We don’t have a gun problem in America; we have a full blown gun crisis.

You are seven times more likely to be killed by a gun in America than any other developed nation on earth. In the past six months more Americans have been killed by guns right here in America than during the entire Iraq and Afghanistan wars…but shush, we don’t have a gun problem.

We are currently spending $3 for every $1 we take in but we don’t have a spending problem?

If a private citizen did that he or she would be bankrupt in six months, yet we continue to do this in America while Democrats continue deny that we have anything even resembling a spending problem.

Leaders of both parties will sit in front of the camera and tell the American people that we don’t have a gun problem or that we don’t have a spending problem, which is essentially like trying to convince logical thinkers that the ocean is actually black rather than blue, but the followers all get in line and drink the cool-aid because that is what their leaders have told them to do.

The entire Republican party is built on small government and less government interaction in our lives, yet Republicans want to tell people who they can and cannot marry, what medical procedures women can and cannot have, etc. — how could government possibly be more involved in the lives of Americans than that?

A true conservative wants government out of all aspects of our lives that it doesn’t absolutely need to be involved in. A true conservative would in no way oppose two men or two women getting married as why should any form of government tell people who they can and cannot marry?

Why should that be any of our business let alone the business of federal, state and local governments?

To the issue of abortion, a true conservative would say that the government should not be telling women what medical procedures they can and cannot have done on their bodies. Government should in no way be involved in these decisions.

Of course a conservative may be very against gay marriage and/or abortion due to his or her religious or personal moral beliefs. But in America we are supposed to be able to live our lives how we want to without others using the rule of law to impose their religious or moral beliefs upon us. Using the rule of law to impose these beliefs onto others is actually a form of dictatorship rather than a truly free nation, which of course goes against everything the founding fathers had intended for this country.

Continuing…

Democrats don’t see a problem with nearly half of the nation paying no federal income tax at all while Republicans don’t see a problem with Mitt Romney (with income of $25 million) paying a lower tax rate than I do.

Both of these views are utterly and completely illogical yet that is what the party says so of course the followers get in line and drink the cool-aid.

The logical question we should be asking is — why don’t Democrats think there is a problem with almost half of the nation paying no federal income tax at all and why do Republicans think there is no problem with Mitt Romney paying a lower tax rate than I do?

Could it possibly have anything to do with the fact that Democrats need the votes of those 47 percent that pay no federal income tax while Republicans need the votes, and more importantly the donations, of the Mitt Romney’s that earn tens of millions of dollars every year while paying a tax rate far lower than most middle class families?

If you weren’t too busy picking out your color of cool-aid you’d probably be asking these very logical questions.

Democrats are pro-abortion and anti-death penalty.

Republicans are anti-abortion and pro-death penalty.

Huh?

I could go on-and-on all day with the contradictory and completely illogical stances of each party. Because followers get in line to support these illogical views is precisely why we have such political gridlock in America right now.

People have become so fanatical about being a Republican or Democrat that politics have truly taken on a cult-like nature in America.

People have lost the ability to think for themselves and to think logically. So, if their leaders stand up and say that the ocean is black and not blue, we literally have half of the nation believing that the ocean is black and not blue. And then they try to explain this in a way that their fanatical brainwashed minds see as logical. But any truly logical and independent thinker would see this as completely insane.

Every major change that has ever happened in America has come from the people and not from government. Getting America back on the right track will also come from the people as soon as we can overcome two key issues:

  1. What our party leaders say is not the word of God and is not coming from some flawless divine force. Party leaders work for people just like you and I. If someone is giving them a job through large donations, are they really going to turn around and say, “Sorry buddy, I’m going to have to raise your tax rate by 12% because we can’t have you paying a lower tax rate than middle class families and this is what is in the best interest of the nation.” Of course not. That would be like being hired by Pepsi and turning around and telling your boss “Sorry boss man, I think I am going to start promoting Coca-Cola because I think it tastes better and is a better product.” Of course no one would do that because they’d lose their job. If Republicans did something about the Mitt Romney’s paying a lower tax rate than I do they would lose their donations which would essentially mean that they would lose their jobs. If Democrats did something about half of the nation paying no federal income tax at all while the rest of us pay for them, they would lose those votes and their jobs. The fact of the matter is that these people whom you blindly follow are more often than not looking out for themselves and their jobs rather than looking out for the best interests of the majority of those that blindly follow their every word as if it were gospel.
  2. We need to lose our obsession with being a Republican or Democrat. Why do you have to be one or the other, and if you do consider yourself a member of one party or the other, does that mean that you must follow every single stance the party leadership takes, no matter how loony that stance may be? Why can’t we be independent thinkers that take a logical view on matters and make decisions based on what is in the best interest of the country rather than basing those decisions solely on not wanting the other side to get what they want, or based solely on what some party leader looking to secure big-time donations for 2016 says?

The sooner that we consider ourselves Americans and not members of one cult or the other, the sooner we will all start thinking in terms of what is best for America.

Only then will we all get off that cool-aid line.

This article was originally published by Ralph Nicklaus at Hear The Nation.

Written by

Hear The Nation is where the people make their voice heard. Become a Hear The Nation writer at http://hearthenation.com. Follow us on Twitter @HearTheNation

Published September 26, 2013

 

Facebook pulls page that denigrates female Marines

Facebook pulls page that denigrates female Marines


Facebook pulls page that denigrates female Marines

WASHINGTON — Facebook has removed a page that denigrated women in the Marine Corps after a House member complained to the Pentagon and called the page another example of the military’s lax attitude toward sexual harassment.

The page was cited by Rep. Jackie Speier in a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and top military brass released Wednesday. She also addressed it to Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos and in it asks officials to tell her how they plan to respond.

The Marine Corps, in a statement released Wednesday by Capt. Eric Flanagan, said “Marines are responsible for all content they publish on social networking sites, blogs, or other websites. There is no tolerance for discriminatory comments. It goes against good order and discipline.”

The pages show photos of women, one of them naked and bound, with lewd captions.

It is unclear who created or updates the page.

“I am confident that if you reviewed the contents of this webpage that you would be horrified by the culture of misogyny and sexual harassment depicted on the web site,” wrote Speier, who has pushed the Pentagon to treat sexual abuse cases with more urgency.

The Marines’ statement said that “based on complaints that have been received, both active duty and reserve Marines have been involved; all instances are referred to commands for appropriate action.”

Facebook removed the page Wednesday after determining the administrators were fake, said a company official speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Facebook, the official said, routinely removes pages that bully or harass people in general.

This page and others like it, Speier wrote, “contribute to a culture that permits and seems to encourage sexual assault and abuse.”

Speier wrote that the Marine Corps inspector general is aware of the site and has been monitoring it for three years. The Marine Corps statement said the inspector general has “been dealing with complaints about social media over the past 10 years” but not specifically answer questions about the site removed Wednesday.

“Despite this monitoring, the cyber retaliation against those who complain about the website’s content continues unabated,” she wrote.

The Marines’ statement said officials have “notified social media sites on several occasions” of offensive content, but “there are difficulties in identifying the individuals responsible for the offensive material due to fake accounts and pseudonyms. Social media sites are not obligated to divulge personal information to the Marine Corps.”

On Tuesday, the Pentagon released a report that estimated 26,000 troops had been sexually abused in 2012, up 35% since the last survey in 2010.

(VIA. Usa Today)