Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Better World & Civic Duty

What do you think about all the trash on the ground? Do you ever pick it up?

Many years ago, a friend of mine was living in Tokyo teaching English, and he occasionally conducted his own little experiments in civic duty. He would walk down the street with an empty Coke can or a chip bag 0r piece of paper, and then he would casually drop it. After walking further on, he would stop and observe the trash he'd left behind. It was never on the ground for longer than a minute.

Ghandi asked us to "Be the change you'd like to see in the world," and since a student reminded me of that - in an essay earlier this year - I've tried to pick up a little trash here and there. Because I walk to work and to the store and around my community for exercise, I've been trying to make the world a cleaner - if ever so slightly - place. It's usually a bottle here or a flyer there, and I don't go out of my way to pick up everything in my view. If I did, I would simply never get where I was going. But it doesn't take that much effort to pick a few pieces of trash up and throw them away.

I know, I know, it's not your problem, and if you pick up other people's trash, they'll never learn to do it on their own. Duh. They're not doing it on their own anyway. And it's not really about them, it's about the community in which you live.

So consider making a small effort to be that change and make the world a better - a cleaner - place. Pick up some trash.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Buffett Congressional Reform Plan

So, what do you think of this?

Warren Buffett, "I could end the deficit in 5 minutes," he told CNBC. "You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election. The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971...before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc. Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure.

*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*

1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their terms, then go home and back to work.

THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!!!!! If you agree with the above, pass it on.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Occupy Voting Booths

The Occupy Wall Street - and Occupy [name city] - movement seems to be pretty motivated and pretty angry about the GOP and the conservative position that the White House - not a finance industry meltdown resulting from mortgage industry malfeasance - is responsible for the continuing economic doldrums. This is clearly a liberal, progressive, and moderate/independent response to the Tea Party, and they seem motivated, if not exactly clear on their goals.

However, as this article very clearly explains that progressives would be much more successful and have less need for these political demonstrations if they'd simply bothered to vote. Rather than occupying Wall Street and other city/state governments, the protestors should simply go home and make sure they are registered to vote - and then file their ballot. Rather than banging the drums of protest movements, they should be banging on the doors of their friends and fellow progressives and make sure these people are registered and voting.

The numbers on progressive votes are shocking. In 2008 65 million Democrats voted, a full 13 million more than the GOP. Yet, in 2010, thirty fewer million Democrats voted and that simple fact may have handed the US House of Representatives to the GOP. Certainly, independent voters have shifted as well. But the drop in progressive voting is hard to ignore. The 18-24 year old voting block dropped by a staggering 60%. That's the difference in the Democratic Party right there. So, the protestors ought to head home and do something that actually works - vote.

My mail-in ballot came today for city council and mayoral races, as well as a significant state revenue bill and several initiatives on open space. My wife will drop our ballots by City Hall tomorrow. Because, rather than get all hyped up in a tent across from the capital, I actually bother to participate in my republic. I actually understand how my government works. I vote for goodness sakes. In every election.

So .... get a clue, Hippies.

Cain Still Not Able

While Herman Cain became intriguing to GOP primary voters, the national media played its inevitable role in digging up the dirt. Certainly, the bizarre rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine," with Cain lamenting a "world with no pizza" is fodder for the late night comedians as well as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Though, GOPers will point to Clinton playing the sax on Arsenio as just as embarrassing. And we won't even talk about Howard Dean's primal scream.

But, it's the policy questions forthcoming that reveal a tale that unnerves me. Cain seems so clearly aloof to basic issues in the world, that I simply can't imagine even considering him as a candidate. And, of course, I am not talking about the "gotcha" questions of the Prime Minister of Sweden. Candidates need advisers to provide all the details on the myriad of national issues. But knowing the term "neoconservative" would seem like a pretty basic question for the GOP candidates. Maybe not. And there is plenty to criticize about the knowledge of many former presidents and candidates. But knowledge really should count for something. And Cain hasn't shown a lot.

This apparent shameless ignorance of the world baffled me with the GOP support of Palin, and it's happening all over again with Cain. I just don't get how reasonably educated and informed people can overlook such vast ignorance in others when it comes to picking presidential candidates ... or even congressman.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Third Party GOP

The current economic and political mess in America is a result of lost opportunities and missed chances. Looking over the past ten years, I can't help but wonder how the country would be faring if John McCain had simply beat George W. Bush in South Carolina. That would, arguably, have changed everything ... dare I say, for the better.

With that in mind, I won't argue the current fiscal crisis would be gone. Certainly, the housing and debt bubble would still have burst, and we would be in a down economy. And, if McCain had won in 2008, I doubt we'd be in better shape - and potentially far worse without the infusions of government cash that has kept the economy limping along.

But how about this? What if, in 2008, John McCain had reached out and made Hilary Clinton his vice-president? That would have changed everything. McCain - like he's done in marriage - simply picked the wrong woman to go to the dance with. America was hungry for change - and a truly bi-partisan ticket could have derailed the Obama Train.

So, with that in mind, I'd propose a new bi-partisan ticket for the GOP. When Romney secures the GOP nod, he should do everything he can to find a moderate Democrat - preferably a woman - to be his running mate. While Clinton is probably a "No," I wouldn't rule it out. And, if not Hilary, then perhaps ... I don't know. Claire McCaskill?

Come on. Mitt! Show us something new. Impress the country with some forward thinking. Let's offset those calls for a moderate third party by creating a coalition government.

Take a chance.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Partisan Politics

So, Henry Reid unilaterally changes Senate rules this week in a power grab, eliciting cries of the "nuclear option" and the GOP vowing retaliation.

And then across the aisle, Colorado's Secretary of State Scott Gessler said this week - at a GOP fundraiser - his goal is not to encourage voting or conduct fair elections or maintain accurate records "but to further the conservative viewpoint."

Crazies to the left of me, nut-cases to the right ... "I'm stuck in the middle with you."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cain is Not Able

As Mitt Romney recovers from the Rick Perry flash-in-the-pan and the Chris Christie tease, he appears to be poised to once again take the nomination ... and very likely the presidency. However, one critical decision could secure or derail that trajectory - the choice of vice-president.

Herman Cain's candidacy will never succeed, and lets hope Mitt knows that when he thinks about running mates. For, mark my words, Herman Cain will be Mitt Romney's "Sarah Palin."

Romney needs a running mate with experience ... and Herman Cain needs to go run for city council somewhere.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Republican on Health Care

After visit to the Italian Fest in Denver - and watching people "enjoy" plenty of pizza and cannoli -I felt a slight philosophical shudder, a shift in my political center. All I need to do is go to a food festival or go to the mall or even go to the supermarket, and I feel an urgent need to "go Republican" on health care.

By that I mean, the issue of personal responsibility for health care is becoming more and more significant to me. Americans who give little thought to their diet, exercise, and health are literally costing me money. And, as cold as this may sound, I don't want to pay for their Medicare. And it may not even be about retirement - the poor eating and exercise habits of many Americans are clearly driving up my private sector premiums right now as well.

Obviously, increased demand and consumption - and advancements in technology/treatment - is what is driving up prices. And, on the national level with Medicare, it is only going to get worse. The biggest problem with our deficit is the millions of Baby Boomers who are retiring and signing up for their "all but free" health care for the next twenty or so years. And, let's face it, millions of these people are doing nothing to decrease their health care costs. They're not trying to get off their blood pressure medicine, they're not trying to decrease their risk of coronary hearth disease, they're not doing anything. And, we're going to be paying for it for decades and decades. And that really bothers me.

Now, of course, there is another side to this. I am under no illusion that this problem is entirely the fault of consumers - especially people like me and my family. Insurance companies are posting record profits, and they are jacking up premiums simply because they can. Some state governments are considering legislation that forces companies to spend a set percentage of medical services and lowering premiums. The insurance companies are certainly taking advantage of the fact that we are all terrified of getting cancer or getting in a car accident or tearing our ACL. And, so we could all get amazingly healthy, and the companies might still raise rates.

But, still. With the survival of Medicare in mind, I'm thinking, "Come on, people. Get a clue." Even conservative Bill O'Reilly has argued for years that we all have a interest in the health of others because their behavior directly affects our pocketbook. As much as a the libertarians want to whine when people seek to restrict and regulate consumption of "crap," one man's heart attack or high blood pressure or type II diabetes is certainly my business. So, lay off the fast food people. Period. Enough with the sodas. I'm serious. Stop plying your kids with processed versions of food, and get a clue about a little exercies.

Recently, after I criticized President Obama's jobs plan, I friend of mine said, "You're turning into a Republican." I laughed, knowing it's not about party for me. It's about money.

Now, go take a walk. And ask someone to go with you.