Compassion and Vigilance

I’ve been so flabbergasted the past few weeks that I’ve found it hard to write without veering off onto some tangent tirade about how unfit I think number 45 is to fill the office of president. There’s enough of that going around so I decided not to add my two cents on that front (though I just did right there).

The immigration ban number 45 signed this week was extremely short-sighted. No one is arguing whether an immigration process needs to be in place. Vetting is already happening. If changes are in order, then they should at least be thought out and implemented with a plan. Changing the rules on the fly only leads to mass confusion.

The problem with the ban and a large part of the problem in America today is that we give lip service to the individual being paramount, yet we judge people based on everything other than who they are as individuals.

Wide brush strokes don’t work. There isn’t one nation or one race (well, technically there is only one race – human) or one religion that has cornered the market on bad behavior. To be honest, if we really want to keep Americans safe we would ban ourselves from interacting with each other. The number one killer of Americans is by far other Americans and that’s happening less per capita now than at any other time in the past 50 plus years (statistics through 2014). 

If the individual is so important in America, why don’t we act like it? How is it that we can tell everything about someone from the color of their skin or the nation they came from. You can’t. If that was true I wouldn’t have ever given anyone from Alabama a chance. The first five guys I met from Alabama in the Navy were absolute a-holes. Given a larger sampling of Alabama natives over time I found Alabamans to be nice people. I just happened to meet all the jerks up front.

It doesn’t matter where I’ve traveled it’s always the same mix of people. A few are kind to a fault; most are cordial or at worst indifferent; and a small portion are mean, ill-tempered, and not even remotely likable. Bottom line is most people just want to get along  and go about their day in peace. This is every country I’ve visited without exception. It’s the human condition and we’re all a part of it.

Are there dangerous people in the world that would do us harm? Yes. Should we be vigilant on account of a handful who want to harm us? Of course. Being vigilant doesn’t include being harsh and inhumane. Vigilance doesn’t include treating those who are innocent as if they are guilty without proof.

The middle ground is at the intersection of compassion and vigilance.

3863-dalai-lama-xiv-quote-compassion-is-the-wish-to-see-others-free

 

The balancing act

There’s a game my family had when I was a child that consisted of a board controlled by two knobs that tilted to navigate a marble through a maze to the end. Along the way were many pitfalls that ended the game before reaching the goal safely. Some call it the Marble Labyrinth Game, but whatever you call it, it is a game of skill that requires micro-movements coordinated between the left and right hands.labyrinth-game

Our political environment isn’t much different. The left and right don’t have all the answers. Somewhere in the middle is the path to the goal – economically, socially, and politically.

If our political culture were translated to the Marble Labyrinth Game we’d be slamming back and forth violently from maze wall to maze wall continuously falling into pitfalls.

The lack of cooperation leads to slamming back and forth because there is not coordination between the left and the right. This constant back and forth motion has us guessing to what is coming next.

This didn’t start with the election of Donald Trump. He’s just the continuation of the game that’s been in play for decades. The route down the middle of the path is the right answer. A touch of right and a touch of left gets us to the end of the never ending maze.

Stay tuned and stay involved.

 

Fly-over America will bear the brunt of Trump Presidency

Donald Trump rode into Washington on the backs of fly-over America and the rust belt promising jobs and a better day ahead. As he is making his Cabinet picks it is clear the only thing that matters to Trump is business. There’s nothing wrong with business, but its fiduciary duty is to its investors, not workers or a nation.

Unless you are heavily invested in American business ventures, which most are not, what is coming during the Trump presidency isn’t going to make you happy. Good paying manufacturing jobs are not going to suddenly start flooding back into the country. Tariffs won’t force it and lower tax rates won’t do it in the near term.

America has two things to look forward to during Trump’s term; reciprocal tariffs from other nations, making American goods too expensive for mass export and more expensive foreign goods. Welcome to an age of hyperinflation without the benefit of the promised good paying jobs. When the economy goes south where will all the jobs be concentrated? Urban centers. That leaves rural fly-over America, the large swath of America that voted for Trump which is completely devoid of urban centers, to bear the brunt of what’s coming.

us-map_fly-over-america
2016 States by vote and 50 largest urban centers

This is not what I’m hoping for. I love fly-over America. So much so that I prefer to drive coast to coast (at least 10 trips and counting). Stopping and absorbing towns like Bozeman, Montana; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Fargo, North Dakota; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Topeka, Kansas; and my birth place, Omaha, Nebraska always makes me feel a little closer to America.

Because they were largely forgotten during the prior administration, the candidate that paid attention to them got their vote. Who could blame them? What they failed see was that all his amorphous campaign promises would take the form of their ruination. He’s going to stiff them like a small contractor on one of his construction sites.

Many writers have been comparing the start of the Trump presidency to the start of Warren G. Harding’s presidency. Where did Harding leave us? The Great Depression and World War II. What happens when the economy doesn’t improve and an already touchy relationship with China deteriorates because Trump is a deal maker and not a statesman? It’s doesn’t end with Trump Tweet-shaming China into doing what he wants. It ends in armed conflict. Where will all the soldiers come from? Poor urban centers and fly-over America.

There will be jobs, but not the high paying manufacturing jobs promised. They’ll come with a draft notice, a high mortality rate, and low pay.

Where will Trump be? In Trump Tower NYC protected by the Secret Service in a space he rents them at tax payer expense, three times richer than when he entered office. Mission accomplished.

Stay tuned and stay involved.

 

Seeking the truth online

The advent of the internet has led to the rise of a million stars who have not been vetted by the traditional media powers. Anyone with a computer or a video camera can upload content to their heart’s desire (yours truly being one of them). The talented or persistent stick around while the others dabble for a minute and disappear again into obscurity.

With so many opinions floating around, the truth has become harder to find amongst the background noice. The rules for finding truth are the same whether the media outlet comes from big money, a bargain basement budget, or no budget at all. Money doesn’t make the news correct. Truth makes the story. How do you tell the difference between a good story and a bad story? Continue reading

5 reasons Trump may be good for America

The world waits with bated breath for the start of the Trump Presidency. If the transition period is any indication of the future then we’re in for some weird Presidential behavior over the next four years. So far President-elect Trump has shown the polish of a seasoned high school sophomore, but he does have some traits that may be good for America in the long run.  Continue reading

Carrier deal, good for a few, bad for the rest

For the 1,000 or so workers that keep their jobs the Carrier deal is a good thing and that’s something to be thankful for.  Keeping a manufacturing base within the US is also a matter of national defense. Our ability to shift rapidly manufacturing into war time mode was responsible for winning two World Wars. Bravo.

That being said, the way this deal was made isn’t good for America.

Continue reading

Science, Politics, and Leadership

Science changes our understanding of the world so fast it’s hard for people to keep up. The changes in the last hundred years make the world unrecognizable to someone from that era.

In politics people tend to vote for people who share their values. When our school curriculum steers students away from math and science that leaves us with leaders and voters who don’t know it’s value. In our current political system decisions are made not for their merit based on evidence, but how they will influence the next election cycle or line already bulging Congressional pockets.  Continue reading