Inequality and the 1%

Funny thing how humans work.  And even funnier to hear about monkey’s behaving like humans.  I love this short video which explains the complaint of the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Apparently it’s not just human’s who are upset about not being paid fairly.Wealth Inequality in America The actual distributions of money in the US in a video infographic

It’s funny because I just heard about a TED Talk (first story) that explains in more detail the research on how monkey’s can understand the concept of money and the consequences of treating them unequally.  The rest of the show covers other talks about money which are just as fascinating.  Especially the third story, Does Money Make You Mean? which studies the effects that wealth has on changing people.  Really it just points out how self-centered we can be, and how ignorant of the factors contributing to our success we might be.  If you think for a moment this may not be true, then listed to the third story in this episode of the NPR Ted Radio Hour.  It’s fascinating, and it’s important to understand how money affects our perception, and our compassion.

I’m not in favor of handouts, but decent pay for decent work just makes sense to me.

Parks or Profit?

This battle wages in many countries.  Last summer the unrest in Turkey started with an act to protect Gezi Park in the middle of bustling Istanbul.  Similar conflicts are erupting everywhere.  In the nearby country of Georgia, Guerrilla Gardeners are trying to preserve Vake Park, which they consider their version of Central Park from New York City.

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Central Park, New York City

As a person who needs access to nature to rejuvinate my energy, the desire to protect the parks is high.  When I’m having a stressful moment, or something emotional is bothering me, a walk along the river near work, away from the noisy road, helps calm my emotions to get through the rest of the day.

Given that parks generally contribute to budget shortfalls instead of profits, what is the incentive to cities to protect these public spaces?  How can we fight the drive for profits?

When you buy an iPhone, where does the money go?

Where people expect the money goes

Where people expect the money goes

Where the money actually goes

Where the money actually goes

I find this pretty surprising myself.  For the 5 minute explanation from Robert Reich, see this video on Upworthy.com. It’s funny that he talks about the economy and the decrease of unions being linked to income inequality.  Today I saw another video explanation, also by Robert Reich, on the rising gap in the U.S. economy, talking about the number of unions rising after WWI.  It’s part of a series of videos called Inequality for All.  Another in the series talks to some people working at an energy plant, and really brings home the question about corporate profits and what is the value of the work people do.  Productivity has been increasing and stress is so high.  I support the recent discussion to raise minimum wage.  It’s not a simple answer, and it may not fix the problems as John Green explains here.   Personally, I can’t believe Walmart can use the catch phrase “Save Money, Live Better” in their ads, as it turns out, we pay $6,000 or more per Walmart Employees due to their low wages.  The government is busy chasing their own tail in elections, they will never fix the problem, because corporations have no incentive.  But someone out there has the answer, and collectively we have the ability to make things better.  That’s why I have increased my spending at stores offering a decent wage and benefits to their employees.  If it means I have to eat out less to save money, that is fine.  If it means I buy more second hand, no problem.  We have more than any other country in the world, we will not suffer. Personally I love the work Mike Rowe (former Dirty Jobs TV show host) is doing.  His promotion of skilled labor is idea for getting people into decent jobs, and improving the situation in the US.  It’s time we stop doing crappy work because we’re being treated like crap.  Personally, when I go on a construction site, I want to see the work being done well.  Check out his website Profoundly Disconnected.

One last tidbit, how does this relate to health care costs in the US.  Yep, saw a John Green video on that today too.  Because we don’t have bargaining power with the providers of medical devices and medications… sounds a lot like the problem of not having bargaining power for salaries due to the lack of unions.  I wonder…

Extreme Politicing

I had a good conversation with friends today.  When did politic change from electing representatives to “represent” our views and interests, to now electing people who think they have political capital to pass laws while ignoring the priorities of their constituents.

Seriously, through Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Instagram, … I can’t avoid learning the most intimate detail about the lives of friends and strangers alike.  But we haven’t figured out how to use social media to communicate our instructions to the Elected Officials?

Purple StatesHow did we let the failure of private enterprise to provide services catered to our needs progress into extreme Democratic views that it’s solely the government’s responsibility to give everyone an equal playing field, resulting in a safety blanket and handout for all?

And why do we allow Republican ideals of social networks to provide community support individuals need, to convince us that the government cannot effectively provide these services.  Have you heard about health care in Canada?  Compared to the US where individuals have to fight for profit health insurance companies to get the services they are rightfully owed?

The wealthy are using both systems to manipulate the US population (the Americas are comprised of 20 countries across North, South, and Central America).

  • They tell us government programs are inefficient so that they can create a private enterprise that will make a profit and may or may not be a useful service.  But they make it work for the Congressional benefits.
  • They convince of trickle down economics.
  • The only way for non-wealthy people to hold anyone accountable for their behavior and the effectiveness of their goods/services sold is to spend a fortune in legal fees (that they don’t have).
  • They convinced us to eliminate institutions for the mentally ill, who now end up in correctional facilities with no rights to seek treatment they need.
  • Conditions are even worse in detention centers for illegal immigrants, Amnesty International and others have shown the human rights abuses that occur in these centers, often held by private corporations.
  • The wealthy have learned when they can make extra profits, such as non-bid government contracts that no one is complaining about!

How might our costs for welfare, Medicaid, and criminal justice be reduced if we improve education and opportunities to decent paying jobs (where someone can pay for housing, food, and health care in their community)?

Federal Spending

We’re all connected throughout society.  I did not learn to read and write on my own, I did not invent my own internet technology or small pox vaccine, all of which helped me get to where I am today.  We can’t act as if we accomplish everything on our own.  We also can’t act as if people aren’t responsible for their own actions, however corrective repercussions will help society more than punishments.  This Radiolab show about Blame explains how our understanding of the causes of behavior is improving our ability to respond to behavior.

Reaction to Treyvon’s death

I can’t imagine the sadness that Treyvon’s parents are suffering, and I sympathize for every person in the United States who is preconceived to be a criminal.

Although I have not  followed the details of this case, I do have an opinion.  It’s sad when the means to improve a person’s community results in violence and death.  I heard the Black Eye Peas singing “Where it the Love?” today, and it reminded me of Treyvon”s death.  why can’t we find a better way to solve social problems?

I also just listened to the On Point episode discussing the race issue behind the Treyvon and Zimmerman case.  An interesting point, could Treyvon have killed George Zimmerman, and relied on the Stand Your Ground law to avoid punishment?  I suspect not.

 

“Where Is The Love?”

What’s wrong with the world, mama
People livin’ like they ain’t got no mamas
I think the whole world addicted to the drama
Only attracted to things that’ll bring you trauma

Overseas, yeah, we try to stop terrorism
But we still got terrorists here livin’
In the USA, the big CIA
The Bloods and The Crips and the KKK

But if you only have love for your own race
Then you only leave space to discriminate
And to discriminate only generates hate
And when you hate then you’re bound to get irate, yeah

Madness is what you demonstrate
And that’s exactly how anger works and operates
Man, you gotta have love just to set it straight
Take control of your mind and meditate
Let your soul gravitate to the love, y’all, y’all

People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practise what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek

Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love (Love)

Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love, the love, the love

It just ain’t the same, old ways have changed
New days are strange, is the world insane?
If love and peace are so strong
Why are there pieces of love that don’t belong?

Nations droppin’ bombs
Chemical gasses fillin’ lungs of little ones
With ongoin’ sufferin’ as the youth die young
So ask yourself is the lovin’ really gone

So I could ask myself really what is goin’ wrong
In this world that we livin’ in people keep on givin’ in
Makin’ wrong decisions, only visions of them dividends
Not respectin’ each other, deny thy brother
A war is goin’ on but the reason’s undercover

The truth is kept secret, it’s swept under the rug
If you never know truth then you never know love
Where’s the love, y’all, come on (I don’t know)
Where’s the truth, y’all, come on (I don’t know)
Where’s the love, y’all

People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practise what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek

Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love (Love)

Where is the love (The love)?
Where is the love (The love)?
Where is the love (The love)?
Where is the love (The love)?
Where is the love (The love)?
Where is the love (The love)?
Where is the love, the love, the love?

I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I’m gettin’ older, y’all, people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin’
Selfishness got us followin’ the wrong direction

Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema

Yo’, whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness and equality
Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity
Lack of understanding, leading us away from unity

That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feelin’ under
That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feelin’ down
There’s no wonder why sometimes I’m feelin’ under
Gotta keep my faith alive ’til love is found
Now ask yourself

Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Where is the love?

Father, Father, Father, help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love?

Sing with me y’all:
One world, one world (We only got)
One world, one world (That’s all we got)
One world, one world
And something’s wrong with it (Yeah)
Something’s wrong with it (Yeah)
Something’s wrong with the wo-wo-world, yeah
We only got
(One world, one world)
That’s all we got
(One world, one world)

Facebook could be the answer for “Peace in the Middle East”?

It’s amazing how people are improving major problems in the world.

  • ViolenceRonny Edry is a graphic designer who is using Facebook to to spread love between Israel and Iran, but it has now spread to all nations around the world.  Just as violence begets more violence, we learn how Love can be spread as well, and multiplied.
  • EducationbuildOn is teaching kids in the US how to make a difference in the world and building schools in the most remote locations where the lack of education leads to extreme poverty.
  • Domestic Violence and Women’s Rights: the book and documentary Half the Sky gives a detailed view if education, violence, and sexual issues women face around the world, but also shows the local programs and support networks being developed by those same people suffering from the abuse.
  • Child Abuse: the Children’s Trust Fund in Massachusetts is focused on supporting families and parental development as a means to stop child abuse, we have to stop the cycle.

How To Stop the Bad Guys?

armed guard

armed guard (Photo credit: micmol )

So the Executive VP of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre thinks we can stop guy violence with guns? “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

First, this would not prevent killings, but it might reduce then. Of course we must consider the impact this environment would have on children, learning each day in a prison instead of a school. And how do we protect the area around the school where kids play, enter and leave the school, and get onto buses? What about libraries, parks, swimming pools, basketball courts, and shopping malls where kids play and congregate?

I know, he thinks we should build a bubble in each town and arm the 1 entrance to protect the children. Kids can leave only at night to stay with their family.

We need to address the problems because trying to control the impact of problems is an eternal game of cat and mouse.

But if we decide that armed guards will help, I’m all for taxing gun sales to cover the cost of this measure. Violence begets violence. And I would prefer to move away from violent actions and solutions.

So you think you live in a Red or Blue state?

Mark Newman at the University of Michigan has created maps of the United States representing the election results in different ways to show the real voice of the people.  The featured image shows areas in red that voted strongly republican (70% or more) in the election, blue for democrat, and purple for the middle 40% between republican and democrat.

So many of us do not strongly identify with one party or another.  And as long as we have the electoral college, we will have the 2 party system.  See description of the pros and cons of the electoral college on see this description by WiseGeek.

Back to the election results, so maps are created showing the variability in the votes, and he also makes cartograms which distort the map image to represent population size and therefor influence on the outcome.

Since the election, many discussions have recognized this moderate voice, that the election was about compromise and middle ground; not one extreme and severe partisanship.  I hope the politicians follow through on that idea.