Thinking Out Loud

The thoughts below are my observations and opinions, nothing more and nothing less.

Understanding Economics

When I was in my late teens, early twenties I had a pal named Bill. He was a fairy close friend and even stood up in my wedding. He was going to college. He worked a part-time job for some extra spending money as well. His parents took care of his tuition, living expenses, and most of his extras, but we can all use a little extra cash. Despite the job money, his parents began to feel the living expense money that they forwarded to him, was going a little faster than they expected. Was he binge drinking or using drugs? It turns out that he hated doing his laundry and when his clothes got dirty, he just bought new clothing. Did I mention that he was in school perusing a degree in economics? Bill tragically died in a motorcycle accident while he was still in school. I have often wondered, if Bill had completed his education, what kind of economist would he have become.  Being economical on the larger issues of society, while throwing money away on what we deem to be unpleasant, is all to similar to how we run our current society.

Bill was in fact a great guy and he was of course, just a young man at the time. Often we do not find our forte, on our first try. Maybe a party planner for the wealthy would have been good for Bill?

Poverty in America

When I watch the anti poverty “experts” giving their testimony on TV, it “could” make me think that America is in fact a third world country. Exaggeration and half-truths reign supreme. Just the same, that does not mean that we are without fault here in the U.S. There are groups that “prove” to be at risk.

The elderly. Often our senior citizens are too proud to admit that they need more help. They have spent their lives taking care of others, not accepting help for themselves. Social security can indeed lift most Americans out of poverty, but it usually needs to be accompanied by a pension or a reasonable sized bank account. Every senior citizen hasn’t completed paying off their mortgage, by the time their working life ends. There is help for them out there, but how do you convince them to swallow their pride and accept it?

Children. There are more than enough programs available that no child in America ever has to go hungry. Unfortunately, children are at the mercy of their parents or guardians. Even in a home with enough money, neglected kids can go hungry. There can only be so many social workers to check, and besides that, most Americans will (hopefully) never accept a government that visits your home every day to see how you are raising your kids. Just the same, the signs of hunger will become visible to neighboring parents, teachers and other authority figures.  What is done about it, is a decision for those beyond my level of competence.  Anytime the subject of children is addressed, the discussion understandably will be emotionally charged.

The mentally and emotionally challenged . This group has always slipped between the cracks. In many cases, these people are homeless and hungry, yet appear normal enough in their behavior. The rest of us just pass it off as drug/alchohol addiction or a personal choice. Those that are passively mentally challenged, or obviously disturbed, are in fact an issue for America and all major nations. Why does it happen, and what can we ethically do about it?  The answers will come from bigger thinkers than I, but it is an issue that can be solved in all but the most extreme cases.

Then there are the anti poverty advocates.  Sounds like a highly justified pursuit. Despite what I’ve written above, those self-proclaimed anti poverty advocates you see on TV panels, are more the problem than the solution. When you take a real look at this amazingly large group that they call impoverished (basically everybody on public assistance), you will find some common threads that run through that group. They rarely mention the groups that I have listed previously in this article.

In most cases, these impoverished individuals are at least 50 pounds over weight. They live in an aging but warm dwelling, have a licensed car, have cable TV, often with a large flat screen, carry a working cell phone and have a computer with internet access. Some practice substance abuse with the money that is given to them. They are of all races and ethnicities.

There are third world countries where millions of people are at starvation level poverty. They die from neglect, disease, starvation, religious persecution, and severe weather, by the thousands. I would suggest that those “oh America is terrible advocates“, move there and become an advocate for them as they usually serve only to exasperate the problem here.

Thinking outside the box, requires balance.

Those who are perpetually living all the way to one side or the other, and often jumping back and forth between the two,  can rarely see the answers that live in between.  They’re a Democrat one year and a Republican the next. The opposite the next.  Not because they have an open mind, but because somebody made a compelling argument. Somebody is always making a compelling argument.  Being easily convinced of anything and everything is not an open mind.

A closed mind is seldom productive, no matter where or what it is closed on.  I never attempt to appease the political or social left, or the right with my opinions.  Sacred cows are demeaning and destructive.

It is always admirable to take a stand for what you truly believe. I am not suggesting that anyone should become a political/social moderate. Taking a balanced approach with an open mind is not the same thing as always traveling down the middle of issues, hoping that everybody can “just get along”, as is the mantra of the political moderate. Everyone should stand for something, I just believe that you will arrive at more just decisions, when your mind is open than when you post do not enter signs at each end.  It is often those who think themselves the most just, who have the least balance.

Love and kindness

There seems to be a belief afloat, that the only way to be kind and loving, is through the use of rose-colored glasses, and a disregard for any hard truths.  You are labeled kind and wonderful, as long as you remain politically correct.

If your four-year old child wants to run out onto a busy highway, should you let them go so they will not have to hear the hard truth, or maybe so they will like you more? That surely wouldn’t be love or kindness. Would you stop them from entering the road, and explain to the child clearly and strongly, exactly what could happen if they did? That is love and kindness.

If your child stole a toy from another child, would you let him keep it.  I mean, he really loves that toy.  It would break his heart to give it back.  Anyway, the child he stole it from has too many toys anyway.  Your child will adore you for letting him keep it.  For telling him what he wants to hear.  That surely is love and kindness…….right?

When that same child is sentenced to prison at 22 years of age for robbing a liquor store, maybe the truth about what is truly love and kindness will look different.

Anybody can tell others what they want to hear. That’s easy, but it is done as much for self-gratification as anything else.  People who are in a position of power, or charged with education or the edification of others, like teachers, military officials or clergymen, who tell people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear……are cowards.

God bless those who are kind enough, loving enough, and strong enough to teach the truth, even when it is sometimes not what many want to hear..

Righteous indignation is a form of anger that is perfectly justified by a common moral code…..unless it is born only of self-righteousness. Hatred cannot be justified, and is a byproduct of our personal egos. Learning the difference in the three, is the definition of personal growth.

Thank you,                                                                                                                                             Wayne

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