Friday, August 16, 2013

Two Things That Just Do Not Make Sense…TO ME

I don’t have the statistics in front of me, but from what I recall, most firearm deaths of children happen in homes where firearms are owned or kept. Of course, I could be wrong, but I don’t recall having ever heard of a child shooting another child in a home where one child had to transport the weapon from one place to another to accidentally shoot the other child. But as I said, I could be wrong.

Is it a case of the shooting happening so far away from a gun owner’s reality that it just doesn’t seem capable of happening to that gun owner? What I mean, is a gun owner so arrogant (or naïve) as to think that would never happen in her or his own home? I know I have read numerous times the statements from parents who declared that they taught their children from an early age how to handle a weapon.  So, I suppose that means everyone is safe and no more children will be killed by other children. Dilemma solved. Not.

For what it is worth, I was taught as a young teen how to handle a weapon and how to shoot. I grew up in a household of ranchers and hunters. I don’t live on a ranch anymore. Humans never were the target of the hunt in my family.

It just doesn’t make sense that we are willing to risk one child’s life so that anyone who wants one can purchase a handgun or automatic rifle. Is it so inconceivable to think that one child’s life might be one we know and love?

Nuclear power plants are a mystery to me – not how they work but why we are willing to risk hundreds of thousands of lives, not just in the immediate but in the future. At this time, I am 84 miles from the nearest reactor in Missouri. That is not in the 50 mile radius evacuation zone but it is just west of St. Louis. Considering that the winds and weather come from the southwest a portion of the year, it is easily conceivable that I and people I know and love would be personally affected by fallout should there be a nuclear crisis. My parents’ home is 11 miles from the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant in Glen Rose, Texas. That means my dad, sister, and nieces would be immediately and adversely affected.

In light of the nuclear crises in the past – Three Mile Island, Chernobyl to name two – how can we white-wash the damage done? Nuclear reactors are environmental catastrophes waiting to happen – Fukushima is an ongoing frightening example of that.  We have been told a little bit about that current environmental calamity. Why in the world are we not paying attention to the news of the unstoppable leak? Are we so naïve as to think that if we ignore it, the problem will go away? Do we not realize that the ocean currents into which the radioactive streams are flowing will directly affect Hawaii? The West Coast?

This is not something that will affect a way in the future unknown generation. This is something that has the potential to affect people we know, people which whom we have relations. It has the potential to be as devastating if not more so than any terroristic threat we have experienced as a nation.
I know that there is the thought process that the nuclear plants already exist and that to shut them down at this point would be problematic; therefore, to continue these is better than to not. But to contemplate more? Or to allow old and aging plants to continue without immediate upgrades for environmental protection?

Are we so naïve as to think that the word “environment” only has to do with a few unknown plants or animals in a far away land? It means US – humans – and all the things that are necessary to sustain life as we know it – air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat.

It just does not make sense to me that some people in the decision making world would be willing to treat the lives of millions as though it was a game of Craps. They are rolling snake eyes and our lives are the stakes.

But the joke is on them – They, too, are human. The problem is the joke is not funny. We are all in danger. The difference is that they – the politician, the law maker, the rule maker/breaker – They are the guilty ones and the blood of all who have died and will die, those who have suffered and will suffer  is and will be forever on their hands. Any who have assuaged the mind of self or of others with the fallacy that nuclear powered plants are safe are just as culpable as those who made the decisions to allow these.

Riddle me this, Batman…if nuclear power plants and weapons are ok for the exalted United States to have, why do we work so diligently to keep these out of the hands of others? Why do we demand that others rid themselves of nuclear capabilities all the while we continue to use and build up these?

Regardless of the issue, the right to have handguns and automatic rifles or nuclear power plants and weapons, the takeaway for me is this – the lives of others are not important. All that matters is an ideology and for that belief people are willing to actively kill or allow the killing of others who are basically innocent.

Did you know the gun laws in Missouri? 
No permit required, no registration required, no license required, no carry permits needed, yes open carry is permitted, no purchase wait time, and no assault weapons ban.

In Texas? 
No permit required, no registration required, no license required, yes carry permits, yes open carry is permitted, no purchase wait time, and no assault weapons ban.

How close are you to a nuclear power plant?

Are you aware of what is going on in Japan? 

Monday, August 05, 2013

Rule or Be Ruled?

“The balance of power between businesses and their workers shifted in Kansas and Missouri this year — in favor of the boss.”

Unemployment Insurance is a new experience for me. This is the first time I have had to apply for it. It is a strange new land to journey within and one for which I am both grateful yet wish was not necessary.

Although it seems to tie me to a boss with whom I do not wish to be associated, still, I am grateful for the laws in place that protect an employee from the whims of such a boss.

That is what is frightening about this article; it allows whims to be acted upon legally. While I am one of those who believe that arriving at work at the designated time is important, anyone can be late occasionally. Chronic tardiness is a different thing.

But I don’t think we are talking about chronic anything here, except perhaps chronic greed. I think that the whole gist of the new regulation is pettiness. In a state that is supposedly an “at-will employment” state, what is the need for such pettiness?

One can be fired for no reason – at will – at the will of the employer – just because, on any given day, at any given time. Regardless, if the fire is not for misconduct, then the disengaged employee can receive unemployment benefits.

This is good for a minimum of two reasons.
1)      It helps keep employers accountable.
2)     It helps fired employees stay in their apartments/homes.

Homelessness is never ever good for the economy. I know for sure that without my unemployment insurance, my household could have been in a very serious and dire circumstance. As it was, with the UI, it was merely serious.

By the way, for what it is worth, speaking to the issue of accountability, my past employer appealed my benefits. The appeal was lost. That employer was unable to prove that I had violated any organizational rule therefore it appeared that I was fired because I made too much. This was substantiated by the fact that she actually said that I was one of the highest paid employees and that this was a problem. While that is a fully acceptable reason for her ridding herself of me, it is not a good enough reason (at this time) to deny responsibility for unemployment benefits.

So, at this moment, I am very grateful for whatever laws are in place that allow me to receive this benefit.

However, it is likely that these benefits will change. Never having had a need for unemployment insurance before, I am not quite sure how the next step goes.

So, the second scary threat of this article is that unemployment helps people maintain a certain place within the economy as opposed to at the mercy of the economy. 

I only can speak from my own particular place in this situation. I have accepted a temporary part time job which I like a lot. At this moment, it is for two months. I am happy to be doing this particular new job in that it is what I love doing – on the ground floor of ministry. Yet it is at a good bit less than past employment and less than my benefits received from UI. In that I have quite a few weeks left on the benefits, I am hopeful that UI will pay the difference between what I was receiving and what I now receive from the new temporary position. Then, when I am able, I will have another more permanent position (with “permanent” being a relative term).

But at the moment, I am considered under-employed. I am not alone. In fact, under-employment is one of the reasons unemployment figures are lower. More people are working but out of those people, more of them are employed in a much lower paying job with fewer, if any, benefits. Lower hours equal no overtime, no health benefits, no pension/retirement plans.

I get the idea that the world has changed. Corporations no longer care about loyalty or taking care of the employees that make them what they are. Employees are now considered disposable, replaceable. It is all about the bottom line – the profit margin. Employees are considered an expense and therefore, the fewer employees, the less time spent on the job, the less amount of money lost.

I understand that it is what it is. What I don’t understand is that the corporations don’t see the harm to themselves that can be done by eliminating that middle class and increasing the numbers that live in poverty.  I suppose I am not at all surprised that the states – the Red States with the ideas that there are some deserving while the majority are undeserving – are finding yet more ways to lessen the expenses of businesses with no regard for the actual damage done overall.

We talk in quantitative terms of majority and minority with our historical background based in the ideal of “majority rules.” If it is now true that we are “ruled” by a minority of 1%, just how long must the majority have slept to allow us to get into the state in which we now find ourselves? I am fairly certain that very few of the people holding elective office right now are working for me. I can see the good that some have done and I applaud that but seriously…how inept must a group of people be to be so ineffectual in speaking for the majority of the population? How the hell did we wind up like this?

And yes, that is a rhetorical question. I know that indeed the majority has been unmotivated to act if not actually asleep or unaware. And yes, I know that often, life its ownself wraps us up in a time warp that carries us into the future with little understanding how time passed so quickly. I also understand that we are inundated with “causes” – so many as to almost make us immune to the compassion needed to rile us up.

Or we get caught up in causes of the day – a badly mutilated innocent animal, abused and tortured – or the rape of women in the military – or five hundred other equally reprehensive acts of violence perpetuated upon an innocent populace. We look and react at the individual act without understanding that these are all effects of a much larger cause. Just as victims of war or those living and participating in violent cultures become immune to the daily acts, so we too – just likes kids watching too much violence in games and cartoons – become numb to the damage.

What can we do? What can be done? There is so much – so much damage, so much pain, so much violence? How can we change anything? These are questions that we ask ourselves – often to no avail.

That seems to be the point. We are paralyzed by what we know and the magnitude of the damage done. It is like looking into a basement into which years of discarded items have been thrown. Where to start? How to begin to rid the basement of the clutter?

It is difficult to begin. Yet the only way is to start at the doorway and work our way into the crap and clutter, discarding the majority of it…looking with nostalgia at a few things maybe yet knowing that the item has been there for who knows how long without having been missed. One piece at a time; one box of trash after another; tossed into the dumpster.

That is basically where we are at this time politically. We start at the place where we are – ward, city, county, state, national. Clear out, clean out the rubbish, keep those things really needed but put aside nostalgia for a time past. It is gone. We are in a new time and we have been sequestered, cast aside, deemed less than worthy. It is time to reclaim our rightful place as the majority. It is time to reclaim our voices and to proclaim loudly and clearly – corporate rule is over.

We cannot continue to support people that consider the majority as being unworthy of respect. Justice belongs to all – not just a few special people.

We have to look at the broader picture – what allows such injustices to affect such a large group of people? What causes the perversions, the prosecution, the anger and disorder?

No one wants to call it like it is but what we are looking at is the establishment of a caste system – a class order in a society that used to (erroneously but perhaps nobly) proclaim itself class-less.  To overcome a problem, we have to first see it for what it is.  There are those who would rule and there are those who would be ruled.

I don't know about the rest, but as for me, I am damn tired of being ruled...or of people thinking that I should be ruled.