We, as americans, have long been characterized as people who have pulled ourselves up by our boot straps.  We boomed in the industrial revolution and create an economy that has been the largest in the world for decades.  We worked hard, fought for our share, and built the american dream.  We were able to benefit by being on the forefront of production and technology.  Other countries were not so lucky. Many of these countries are on the African continent.  Let’s look at some of their struggles, and let’s see how we have evolved.

Africa has some issues with being short-sighted, most recently an example in agriculture.  Uganda has a booming tobacco industry.  Last years alone they exported 32,000 tons of tobacco leaves.  That fetched $52,000,000 in revenue, and let’s be honest, that’s major cash flow in Uganda.  In order to cure the leaves of the tobacco they need wood to burn.  Well, as an agricultural nation they have some trees to burn.  Fruit trees.  They are simply taking water from the left side of the bucket to put on the right(this is a simple illustration as a bucket does not have sides).  This has driven up the cost of wood in Uganda, wood that is needed for the emerging furniture industry, construction and wood is still widely used to heat homes.

This is a difficult cycle to get out of, where problems are cyclical and one leads to another to another.  Fortunately, for us, we had to opportunity to develop and work through these problems, right?!

The oil spill has been horrific.  Finally it is closed and BP can start to take credit for that.  BP has put away a huge amount of money to pay pack individuals and businesses who have lost money as a result of the spill.  They will pay anyone who can provide them with a tax form showing how much they earned last year.  Well this presents a problem for some of the fishermen who work as a cash only business and didn’t pay taxes last year.  Uh oh.  So they didn’t pay taxes, but now are complaining to the government that they didn’t pay for.  Call it karma, call it whatever you want, seems like if you didn’t pay taxes, you didn’t earn anything or it is tax evasion. Easy decision for the person handing out thecash.

Maybe this wasn’t a good example of how we have developed and advanced as a nation.

Let’s look at another major problem in our country.  The housing crisis.  This is multi-layered issue but let’s simplify it dramatically.  People are buying homes that they cannot afford.  They are then foreclosing, declaring bankruptcy, something to get out of the loan.  The government has come to their aid demanding that the banks help them out.  So the financially irresponsible are getting bailed out and are staying in homes that they cannot afford, while citizens who live within their means are forced to pay for it. 

Maybe we haven’t come that far after all.

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Meet the Press!

July 21, 2010

Insert a tag line here that hooks you, makes you think that you cannot possibly go another minute without reading the below information.  A tag line that gives very little information, in fact, the information the tag line provides probably skews the truth more so than providing any.  If I had the ability to write a good tag line I may have been slightly more successful in my high school Journalism class, instead of paring down random facts into a small group that is somehow related.  I would also be the envy of the journalism community.  Maybe not today’s community.  Today’s mass of journalists seem to be quite skilled in writing tag lines, but horrible at the actual journalism.

Look at the Dwayne Wade situation from this past week.  He issued a quote, seen here.  This is what was reported by AOL’s Fanhouse.

“We’re going to be wearing a bullseye. But that’s what you play for. If we lose a couple in a row this season, it will be like the World Trade (Center) is coming down again.

Here is the actual quote for additional emphasis,

“We’re going to be wearing a bullseye. But that’s what you play for. We enjoy the bullseye. Plus, there’s going to be times when we lose 2-3 games in a row, and it seems like the world has crashed down. You all are going to make it seem like the World Trade is coming down again, but it’s not going to be nothing but a couple basketball games.

And this is what reads at the top of the fan house article,

“Because of a transcription error, an earlier version of this story contained an incorrect quote from Dwyane Wade. The full and accurate version of the quote is contained in this story. We deeply regret the error.”

A “transcription” error.  You could take his original quote to Babblefish and translate it to Spanish, French, Russian, Korean and back again and it would be closer to the original.  Let’s check a fact.  Let’s slow down a little and see what actually happened.  And even better AOL, you don’t have to wait for the information to come over the news wire or Morse code.  You could watch the actual video and write down the quote, hit rewind and listen again.  Thankfully for Wade there were actual reporters present who speak English.

There was an ever more severe case of piss-poor journalism this week.  A USDA employee in Georgia, she actually had a pretty good position but I can’t be bothered to look it up, gave a speech a few months ago to an NAACP group. This speech what chopped up with only controversial bits left behind.  Fox News ( and I hate to jump on Fox News, I tend to think they are slightly more watchable and responsible than others, but shame on them) quickly ran a story saying that the employee was racist and should be removed from her post.  The head of the USDA quickly caught wind of the situation and cut her lose.  After watching The Celebrity Apprentice and seeing Rod Blagojevich use a computer similar to how a primate would use an abacus, I understand that not all people in government work understand computers.  But someone find the USDA guy a computer and look up YouTube.  This is obscene.

Shame on the media for not doing their research.  If I performed my job as poorly as you, Obama would have extended my benefits today.

The Judge

May 10, 2010

The judge is more than a car or a phrase that appears in the guest book from my sister’s wedding.  It is a person, of which you are aware.  But I have little desire to discuss just any judge, especially today.  So I guess this should be called “The Justice”.  As a refresher there are nine Justices, one of whom is a Chief Justice.  They are appointed for life.  A president will nominate and the Senate gets to debate and approve.

Currently, with the retirement of Justice Stevens, all the them went to Yale or Harvard law.  Four of them hail from the five boroughs of Manhattan.  Not exactly what I would call diversity.  I am not saying that some should be Ivy League, some from a mid-major and  one or two with on-line degrees, but it would be nice to know that they had experienced something outside of the high stone walls of over-priced academia.  There is however good news on the diversity front.  There are currently two female Justices and a third has been nominated.  Not quite representative of the 51% in the rest of society, but at least the fairer sex is getting a leg up. But there is something even better going on.

I would hope that a wise White man with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a Latina female who hasn’t lived that life.  Does that sound a bit off to you?  Well that is a quote from Justice Soto-Mayor.  I have of course switched the white male and latina female bits.  When written as it appears here, it’s a bit racist, however when she said it, no one seemed to mind.  I did.  But it was almost a good thing.  We’ve got some real weirdos under the flag.  Why shouldn’t we have someone on the supreme court that represents the crazy ones?

Sure they all meet the Harvard/Yale standard but like a good batch of brownies, why not throw in some nuts.  Maybe Kagen has a lower back tattoo, or participates in roller derby.  Maybe they all deep fry a turkey each year while sitting on the tailgate of Justice Robert’s truck.  I bet there’s a Wii in the chambers and difficult deliberations are settled with doubles tennis.

This would represent America.  That’s what the supreme court is for.  The president was supposed to represent the people, but now only represents a single party and is practically forbidden from stepping across the aisle.  Congress can’t make decisions for fear that their party won’t support them when it comes to re-election.  The Supreme Court is our last hope.  They have a lifetime appointment.  There are like the old man who wears sweatpants tucked into his socks and hasn\’t brushed his hair this decade, they don’t have to care.  They can order a glass of milk at fine restaurants and wear velcro shoes.  Their decisions will be criticized but can’t be thrown in their face at election time.

So, as much as I don’t like Soto-Mayor and think Kagen may be way too out there, especially given the recruiting incident, they should be in the mix.  As a friend of mine once said describing “Lost”  “they bring you slowly into the crazy.”  I don’t want the justices all playing disc golf on the weekends, but they don’t all need to be card carrying members of Martha’s Vineyard country club.