Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “greed”

Whose Shutdown is it, Anyway? – Tom Rossi

The “debate” rages on. Are 1+1 really 2? Or are they 3? Is the Pope Catholic? Does a bear sh… Oh, forget it.

Here’s the “debate”: I want to cut off your legs with a chainsaw. What’s that? You don’t want to talk it over? You don’t want to sit down and negotiate? Hmmm… Well, let’s try something less extreme. I want you to give me 25% of your paycheck… every month. Whaaaaat? You don’t want to talk about that either??? Well, YOU are obviously the problem.

tom-toles-obamacare

John Boehner, Rush Limbaugh, Fox “News”, and just about every Republican politician out there is trying to pin this shutdown on President Obama. This is due to the fact that Obama stubbornly refuses to accept a Republican-crafted budget that takes away the funding for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which Obama and other Democrats worked for years to make the law of the land.

cryingboehner

The right-wing wants Obama to just turn around, let go of victory, and be defeated. And they want the same from the American people. Republicans (publicly, anyway) agree that health costs are out of control. But instead of making it cheaper for people, they want doctors and especially big medical businesses to be largely free from lawsuits, even when they do something terribly wrong.

Obamacare may only be a B- victory for the average citizen of the United States, but it’s all we’re going to get. We will not have “single payer” health care within the foreseeable future (unfortunately) so we have to hold on to our hard-won compromise like grim death.

obamacare card

It’s OK to disagree about this. It’s OK to hold the opinion that Obamacare is a bad thing. But don’t shut down the government and then claim it was the other guys’ doing. Though we can continue to debate health care, out here in the world, the law has passed. We supposedly have majority rule in this country, and the majority want serious health-care reform, and the majority made Obamacare the law.

Obamacare-face-full

As a nation, we badly need to grow up. Countries with nowhere near our natural resource base have thriving economies and universal health care. Obamacare is an imperfect compromise, but a reasonable one. Let’s get on with our lives… and our health.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Are You Greedy Enough? – Tom Rossi

By now I have seen Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, on three different television programs, essentially trying to convince women to be more aggressive in their goal-setting. Sandberg and her interviewers seem to agree that there need to be more women in “leadership” positions, such as corporate CEOs.

I agree with parts of Sandberg’s message for women. For one thing, she points out that women are often not anxious to negotiate the best salary for themselves. I agree that the same work should pay the same, regardless of gender.

What concerns me is that she and her interviewers seem to agree, to take for granted in fact, that greed and/or megalomania are good. Not only are they good, but so obvious and desirable as a characteristic, that it’s hardly worth mentioning.

This was evident by the nature of the discussions during Sandberg’s interviews. In fact, the interviewers were quite careful to cover the angle that Sandberg might be saying that something is “wrong” with women, and that’s why there aren’t more of them leading major corporations. But of course, that’s exactly the point – that there’s something wrong.

A jaw-dropping moment came when Sandberg complained that only about half the percentage of women, as compared to men, want to become CEOs. Wow. Women don’t even know what they’re supposed to want! Get with it!

I can relate. I’m supposed to want a big house, with a three-car garage dominating and uglifying the facade. But I don’t. My wife and I would really like to, someday, be able to afford a decent condominium, maybe three or four flights off the ground, with an OK view, and not overlooking a freeway. We’re such losers.

At least my wife wants to be a successful author. But I basically want a part-time job, where I make a quiet contribution to environmental/economic policy, or something like that. I would love to be able to work in this area full time, but my damaged brain (come on… like you couldn’t tell?) makes that difficult. But even before my brain went bad on me, I just wanted to be a biology/ecology professor.

Docta say, I got dain bramage.

Docta say, I got dain bramage.

You see, my parents (I have four, thanks to the miracle of divorce and re-marriage) never instilled in me the desire to be a chipmunk. A chipmunk is greedy two different ways – in the short run, and in the long run. They pack their cheeks as full as they can with nuts and seeds that they find on the ground, then they hide as many loads as possible in various places in the forest. They never stop working. They never feel that they have enough.

The human chipmunks are the hoarders of society. And you are supposed to aspire to being like them. In fact, the chipmunks are completely certain that you ARE like them, you’re just not as good at being a chipmunk as they are.

Some of us, the non-chipmunks of the world, have non-megalomaniacal goals. A lot of these people, as it turns out, are women. I applaud those who see the world not as a field of competition, but as an organic substrate on which to create happiness and cooperation… and contentment. Even if a person is only watching out for his or her own family, these are much more admirable goals than being in charge of a huge, money-making operation.

It’s true that concentrations of wealth have yielded some benefits, things like MRI machines, for example. But, once again, these represent the exception, not the rule. Most of this concentration simply goes to toys (like yachts) and dominance of geopolitics through power.

I hereby give recognition to all those women (and men) who have chosen a path not acceptable to the chipmunks. No, there is nothing “wrong” with you. I wish you much success… in providing a decent life for your families, in trying to save up enough to enjoy a decent retirement, and in vying for the local bowling-league championship. We all have noble challenges in our own lives, and we don’t need to be told that we “should” want something bigger.

There are worthy goals that don’t involve outrageously lofty ambition, and sometimes those goals are right in front of us. Sometimes our noblest accomplishments are simply getting through our everyday challenges. Heck, my parents deserve a freakin’ medal for dealing with me through my teenage years. I wish I could pay them back someday, but I’m not a chipmunk, either.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Interview with a Blogger – Kymberlie Ingalls

Roger Ingalls has been authoring on this blog for just over a year now, and through his posts, you’ve learned his philosophies and hopes for the world.  But who is the man behind the words?  Here, in this exclusive interview, we learn more about the wizard behind the curtain.

I asked Roger what the most important advice is that he’s ever received.  “When in doubt, fake it. This advice came from Mr. Davis, a high school teacher and it got me through many a tough circumstance. As a leader, you’re expected to be the guiding hand in most, if not all, situations but the problem is nobody knows everything. So you have to fake it to instill confidence in your team. In reality, very few people will challenge you because they’re either scared or lack confidence themselves. However, faking it should be used as a last resort tool and not as a primary game plan.

Roger agreed that books are a most important influence on us as a society.  “I can’t choose just one because they’ve both taught me so much.”  He responded when asked to name his favorite.  “The first book was written 2500 years ago by Sun Tzu called the Art of War. The second book is titled Competitive Advantage by Michael Porter. Both books teach strategy and tactics with one being from the perspective of war and the other from business. They’re both great reads for people wanting to develop competitive thinking skills.”

Having survived decades in the competitive hi-tech industry of Silicon Valley, then transitioning in to blue-collar ownership, how has he survived this downtrodden market and economy?  “Adaptability or willingness to change. If we don’t. we become obsolete. The sure way to gain advantage over a foe or competitor is to change because they will always be one step behind.”

Everybody has a hero, and Roger is no exception.  “Muhammad Ali.”  He goes on to explain: “He was strategically the greatest fighter of all time. He studied his opponents and adjusted his boxing tactics accordingly.  He overcame racism and fought the U.S. government when his beliefs were attacked. He became a great humanitarian and is the most recognized person in the world.”

Roger has touched on religion often in his writings.  I asked him what he considered to be the good, the bad, and the ugly.  “Religion is good for discipline. But it also teaches inflexibility and squelches thinking outside the ‘good book.’. In western cultures, those who routinely practice the three original monotheisms (Judaism, Catholicism and Islam) are the hardest and the most devoted workers. Religions that promote discipline through routine are synonymous with a good work ethic. The down side of this is a lack of understanding of different cultures and religions.”  He paused, seeming to reflect upon his own past.  “Sometimes straying from one’s path is the best plan.”

To sum things up, I asked Roger to give us the world in a nutshell.  “We are a naïve society. Immersed in greed and the belief that Earth has an endless supply of resources to fuel an economic system based on perpetual growth. In the back of our minds we know this is not possible but few of us are willing to step up and say so. It’s a tough situation because the whole world now follows this economic agenda.”

“Only the inevitable collapse will force a change.”

Irony: NFL vs. The Little Guy – Roger Ingalls

By now most sports fans have heard about the NFL scab-referee debacle. In case you haven’t, the NFL locked out the top-tier professional referees once the employment contract between the two parties ended before the start of this season. Replacement refs have been used during the pre-season and for the first three weeks of the regular games. It’s been disastrous.

This past week was particularly bad. Illegal hits and tackles were rampant due to players testing the limits of the scab-refs and finding they could get away with unsportsmanlike play. An Oakland Raider receiver was hospitalized with a brain injury because of a hit to the head. Another player had part of his ear-lobe ripped off when he was illegally hit on the side of his head. American professional football with the big and fast participants can get extremely brutal when the referees controlling the game are not respected.  And that’s now happening. The players don’t respect the authority of the replacement refs because they make bad calls and are indecisive.

Now, the NFL team owners are finally coming to the table and talking with the professional referees they locked out. What brought is all to a head was the last game of the week on Monday night when millions of people witnessed a final second play that gave the win to the wrong team due to bad decisions by the scab-refs. It was awful. Even members of the winning team said they were given a gift because replacements didn’t interpret the play correctly.

Why is this issue important? The NFL by itself is an $11 billion industry and if you consider gaming, food and beverage, fantasy football and other fringe markets, we’re talking about a $20 billion market. It’s a big part of our economy and integrity of the game is paramount.

I find two things ironic about what’s happened in the past few weeks. First, what brought the two parties back to the discussion table was the bad call that put the Green Bay Packers on the losing end of that Monday night game. There are 32 teams in the NFL and 31 of them are owned by very rich men and only one team is from a small market and is owned by the community… that team is the Packers. The little market “people’s team” pays the ultimate price because of the greedy rich.

The second ironic aspect of recent events is how the NFL parallels Big Business. The rich team owners locked out the real refs because they didn’t want to increase pay, wanted to have the ability to replace refs at will and wanted to stop paying into pensions. Keep in mind, NFL refs make anywhere from $25K to $100K which is peanuts compared to owners and players. The owners are bullying the little guys. See the parallel? Big Business pensions have been replaced with 401Ks which are cheaper for business and riskier for employees. They are also trying to make union bargaining illegal which minimizes worker rights and limits collective wage-benefit negotiations.

I’ve always said, “football emulates life” so I guess it’s not a stretch to say that NFL greed parallels the new American economy. What a bummer.

UPDATE: Owners and Referees come to an agreement Wednesday evening.

Bankrupt Earth – Roger Ingalls

Today, humanity is using 50% more resources than the earth can sustainably provide. By 2030, the world will require the equivalent of two Earths to sustain current levels of population growth and resource use. Even more shocking, if all countries consumed like the U.S., we would need four Earths to sustain current levels of resource burn.

World economies emulate the U.S. system which is based on infinite growth and consumption. Earth is a finite planet floating through space; therefore, the infinite growth scenario is an inevitable dead-end street.

picture from animal.discovery.com

There is no magical American bullet or militant-might that will fix this problem. There are no leaders stepping forward to forge a new path. We are now a government of, by and for the corporation and corporations are judged and rewarded on their ability to grow, consume and hoard. Power lies in the hands of big Wall Street massaged corporations and they will not deviate from their current path because doing so means a transfer of power. Why would these corporate Gods give up their power? They will never do so willingly.

Shamefully, history defines humanity’s quest for greed, power and eventual destructive fall. Given this, there is only one true solution; we must bankrupt the earth and deplete it of all economically viable resources as fast as possible. Let’s join forces with the current power structure and fast track the death of a balanced planet. When Earth dies – as we know it – so will the power that killed it.

This is not a sad ending; it is a rebirth. From the ashes a smarter humanity will rise.

The Triumph of Fake Feminism

I’m gonna make some enemies with this one, but this has to be said.

Feminism…

has failed.

At least modern feminism has failed. It has been co-opted, diverted, lured and seduced by false goals – the goals that are deemed acceptable by our society… a society historically constrained by testosterone. It has been subverted by a race that essentially threw away the advances in thought brought to us over 2,000 years ago by the likes of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle in favor of that most masculine form of expression, war. A few early victories, such as gaining the right to vote, still stand as the only significant accomplishments for feminism as a movement.

There are many examples of women who have achieved success and status in America. But, in my opinion, most (no, not all) of these successful women have sold out. I say this because it seems that, to climb the corporate or the political ladder, what’s required of a woman is that she abandon the very qualities that makes hers the finer (again, in my opinion) gender.

The feminine qualities of nurturing, caring, empathy, the ability to not only see the other person’s point of view but to FEEL their feelings even if just for a second, the emotional intelligence, the talent for real, two-way communication, and the tendency to prefer cooperation over conflict seem all too often to be abandoned in the quest for status. Either that, or it’s just the women who least exhibit these qualities in the first place that are able to advance in our society.

Before I get 10,000 pieces of hate mail, I’m well aware that a human being is very complex. Both men and women share qualities that, for the sake of discussion, have been labeled as the exclusive domain of one or the other. These qualities overlap to varying degrees and there is no linear spectrum.

However, our political and business landscapes are largely penis measuring contests. Who’s toughest on crime? I am! Who wants to spend even more on our military? I do! Who’s got the most Leave-it-to-Beaver-like family values? I have! Who wants our company to make the most money at any expense? I do! Who’s the most greedy? I am! Who will sell out every principle of civilized conduct in order to advance “our” interests? I will!

What we’ve (men) said is essentially that we’ll allow you, as a woman, to rise up, but only if you act like a man, embrace masculine behavior, and lead with masculine policies.

We have not seen the rise of femininity or feminine traits in our society. Instead women have gained the right to “succeed” – if and when they act like men. Women who espouse the greed-is-good “philosophy” are allowed to join the man-created rat race to run on the hamster-wheel of materialism, faster and faster, until they die.

Most of the women who have succeeded in our society have done so only by masculine definitions of success. The images of successful women with which we are bombarded on TV and in the movies are of ass-kicking, gun-toting, tough, and sometimes ruthless “winners.” They prioritize money and power and status and they get those things and they let no one stand in their way.

Thankfully, there are notable exceptions to the masculine imperative. Some women have shown true strength in either defining their own goals and their own criteria for success, or in gradually doing their part in turning science or academic thought in new directions. Oprah Winfrey is one example. Oprah is not merely an entertainer; she’s a social-engineer who works to advance the positives of both the feminine and the masculine. Others include many of the women scientists and activists, some of whom I have been lucky enough to know personally, and others whose works I have read.

Women like Elinor Ostrom, Ruth Meinzen-Dick, Vandana Shiva, Sandra Postel and Malin Falkenmark are great examples. The word “hero” get’s tossed around way to much in our country, but these women really are heroes – not to feminism, not to women, but to humanity. They are working to make the world a better place for everyone – men, women, children, and in some cases, animals too.

I make my criticisms with a great deal of sadness. I’m tired, disgusted and damaged by what the men with the biggest penises have done to our world. Certain masculine qualities – logic, rationality, courage, decisiveness, the ability to calculate risk and choose a course of action accordingly – would blend so well with the best feminine qualities if we weren’t all enslaved by violence and misguided competition.

I pray that one day this world will graduate from junior-high and enter a new, more advanced mode. If we start listening to the feminine, it could happen.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com

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