Friday, June 18, 2010

What shall We Call This One?

The Exxon -Valdez oil spill was named after the tanker that was transporting the oil, not the Captain who allegedly made the mistake of running the tanker onto a reef. This spill was caused by an "error in judgment" on behalf of agencies who allegedly turned a blind eye when it came to short cuts and safety regulations. Shall we call it "The BP-Black Gulf " "The New Black Sea" or the "New Dead Sea"? How about "The Drill to end all Drills" ?

The tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico needs to go from a name game to a solution game. People are so busy juggling names, trying to shift blame, and working on ratings, that the realities are getting lost in the shuffle.

Face facts: As long as there is a disaster for us to debate,  then there is a reason to watch the news. Thinking back, we had some problems on television a few months ago when Conan O'Brien and Jay Leno were fighting over who deserved the Tonight Show... The debate boiled down to who got the news better ratings, and Leno before the news did not cut the ice...

Something Ted said gave me pause for thought here: During the early days of President Obama's term of office, Sarah Palin was constantly in the news. She seemed to have something to say about any issue that concerned the country, and she couldn't wait to tell everyone that she would be campaigning for President next election. Sarah Palin has always said that her time in office as Governor of Alaska gave her special knowledge and skills for dealing with the "Big Oil Companies"... So where is Sarah? Wouldn't you think that this would be the perfect time for her to show everyone how good she is at dealing with oil companies, wildlife preservation, and disaster? Isn't it her duty to step up to the plate and use her skills as a negotiator? Wouldn't that seal her destiny, if she did in fact believe that she would make a better President of the United States?

Ted says that while he is a card carrying democrat, and a member in good standing of the local union, he was not a supporter of Barack Obama (who Ted refers to as good ole Barack). "I didn't vote for him, but he is our President," Ted says "and I can't see how he could really do a better job in this particular case." Ted went on to say that as a group, the American people have criticized President Obama for every thing he has done. In the early portion of his term everyone said they didn't want him to bail out big companies because "government should not be involved in corporate business" and yet everyone seems to want President Obama to take over BP.

So what do you think about all of this? What should President Obama do? What would you do? Oh, and about Sarah... If she isn't doing anything right now, when it counts, why should she get America's vote in the future. What would you do, if you were Sarah Palin? Why is it that Hollywood moguls such as Kevin Costner and James Cameron have a plan to help, but our politicians just point fingers at each other and debate? 

Where is Sarah anyway, Ted's kinda got me worried about her now. He watches the news, and I don't... Anyone know where Sarah Palin is?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

What are we teaching our kids?

Ted's latest call was about how our kids have grown up. When I was a kid the neighborhood kids had chores, but when Ted was a kid, most kids actually went out and did jobs for neighbors. I remember one family who charged their kids board, so that the kids would understand that they had to pay their own way when they grew up.

I am sure that many of you have seen a paper boy or remember that newspapers used to be delivered by kids. When it became an adult with a pick-up truck delivering your daily news is when the world changed.

Now it is the computer that delivers your daily news, and some of the newspapers you find on line aren't even really newspapers at all! I have to say the Associated Press should be having a field day! Everyone is a reporter now!

Even I am a reporter and so are you. We see the news in our feeds, and the news is heard round the world in dozens of languages, almost as quickly as it happens.

Ted talked about how as kids we would play a game in school, it was called "Party Line" or "Telephone" and probably had other names as well. The teacher would whisper something in the ear of the first student at one end of the class, and each student would repeat to the next. By the time the story reached the last student, it no longer resembled what the teacher had said. Raising our kids has somehow started to look like that. We had parents who taught us the value of honest hard work, and then we forgot how to teach our kids.

When your children leave home, are they as prepared as you were? Have your children been taught the value of a dollar by hard work? Or have they been given everything they got? When your child graduates from High School, will that child get a job and rent an apartment that is within their means? Or will they take out loans to go to college and then never repay the loans, filing bankruptcy on them because they thought they could pay... 

The economy is bad enough as it is, but how much of that "bad economy" is due to the fact that people lived way beyond their means. The only thing that keeps the economy going is if people are spending money. Well, if the people don't have money to spend, what then? The banks decided to extend people credit that would have been unheard of twenty years ago! Who in their right mind would think that a family of four with a gross income of $80,000.00 per year for two incomes, could afford a $500,000.00 home?

Who in their right mind would ever think that a 2 BR 1 Bath home was worth $225,000.00? But that is what happened a few years ago down here in Florida. It got so bad that working class families could not afford to rent or buy, and were going to leave the state en masse.

The banking institutions offered all sorts of deals so that the working class could afford to live here. I personally told people not to buy, but who is going to listen? They thought people were getting rich off of house flipping and they would do it too. My landlord raised my rent so high I had to take roommates, and eventually so high I had to move...

The bottom has fallen out of that and now everyone points a finger here or there... Really? Think about it... What was the problem with that picture? Just because the tag on the house was $225,000.00, did not mean that was what the house was worth.

The house you live in is worth what you are willing to pay for it, end of story, and not one penny more. Is it worth losing everything for? We all know people who got destroyed by these banks, but were those people educated? Did they know you don't get something for nothing? I have to admit, from my end, it looked like younger people getting caught up in the problem for the most part, and some few who were my age that thought their ship finally came in.

Many who were affected by this crunch were not taught the value of hard work, because they saw easy money being made all around them. Many of the people who lost money in the stock market over the last fifteen years lost it because they didn't know they could lose.

Make sure that you teach your children that nothing comes easy, and that people sometimes lose through no fault of their own. It is not a crime to fail or to lose. You must know that you are not alone, and teach your children so that it doesn't happen to them. There have been plenty of boom times, and they are always followed by recessions. Teach your children the history of the economy, teach them that the dollar has never been stable, and teach them that what you own is not a mark of your worth.

So, what do you think? What can you add to our debate? What are we teaching our kids, and what should we be teaching them?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ted has a habit of telling me about the News.

It seems like every time you turn on the television there is more bad news. I am not talking about the oil spill, although that is a national disaster. I am talking about people who do something drastic because they can't cope with their life. Because of this, I rarely watch the news.

Ted can't help but tell me what is going on in the world. 

Most of the time when you turn on the television, the news will be based on bad choices, and wrong courses of action. This is not about freedom and civil liberty, what makes those choices wrong, is that they did nothing to make the situation better.

Back when Ted was growing up the news would have been a much different variety. If there was someone on the television they would generally be made famous by trying to make other people's lives better. There were people who became famous for singing or acting, but also those who wanted to change the world for the  better, or the worse.

When we turned on our televisions, if there was someone famous for a terrible action, such as an assassination, it was because they shot someone who was fighting for civil rights. Now people are getting famous for killing their children, or their friends, girlfriends, wives and lovers, some get famous for killing themselves in the process.  

What happened? Why are people killing each other and their children, their teachers, even complete strangers... What world did we wake up in?

This is a terrible subject and one that must be addressed in order to fix it. The reason it is in the news, however, does not seem to be so that we can fix it. More often than not, it seems the commercials for the broadcast are to entice us to watch the news. Sometimes it seems the issues are put up to us so that we can debate them the next day. 

If we are busy debating the actions of others, are we taking the time to better our own lives?

I want you to ask yourself what you can do to make your life better, but I want you to remember that violence and death are not ever the solution. Never let yourself get so upset that you think violence is the only solution. What kind of world would it be if violence was the only solution?

When life gets so upsetting, when the bills mount up, or the responsibilities seem too heavy to bear, have a back-up plan. 

For some the back-up plan is as simple as a glass of wine or a special song on the radio. For others it is a good friend you can call. 

Obviously, for me, I have Ted, among others, who I can call for good advice. So, that's what this is all about.

Ted wanted to open up a Q and A. If there ever comes a time when you want to ask a question, the comments section is open for you. If you need a friend like Ted, who will help you find your own answers, without "telling you what to do" but rather telling you what he did in a similar situation, just ask. 

In the meantime, a tool that will serve you throughout your life, is a notebook or journal. If you make a list of the things you want out of life, you are more likely to get them. I am talking about specifics here, not just generalities. "I want to be Rich" is not a goal.
"I want a home of my own" is. Make your list of concrete goals. My personal goal is to get rid of my credit cards! I worked so hard to build up my credit, and now I realize it is easier to get than to control. 

So, make your list. Make sure that you are focusing on concrete needs. What do you really want? Most of the time, people have a vague idea of what they want, without ever defining the fact that they just want to be happy, and safe.

I wanted a home (roof, four walls, furniture... Not a mansion) and a family. I have that. My needs are met, and I am happy. Many people think they need a big house, a fancy car, and a platinum credit card to make them happy. Your income bracket is not in any way an estimate of your worth. 

Your worth is about what you think of yourself, not how much you make, or what you own.

So, what do you think? What do you really need? What do you really want out of life?