The Youth of America

I look around, and I can’t help think… It’s a breaking system. Yet, time and again I see that as it continues to fail, someone starts picking up the pieces, putting them back together, and doing it better. And I’m heartened by that.

We’ve had two significant movements coalesce in the first fifteen months of the Trump Presidency: Me Too and Never Again. Two slogans, each started some time ago, but both with more traction now than had ever been seen.

I believe the older generations have grown complacent. Even the older millennials are guilty of this. We’ve been frogs slowly boiling in pots of water, watching the rise of the age of information, instant access to nearly everything, as well as the reduction of privacy. We’ve slowly been acclimated, so it’s not something we specifically noticed. By the time the heat is too high, it’s too late for us.

The country has made some frightening changes. Amid record levels of prosperity and renown from abroad, we’ve upended system after system. Healthcare. Education. Gun laws. Civil rights. Military service. Worker’s rights. Women’s rights.

And in 2016, it seems even Democracy itself. We Americans of an age 30 or older are in no real place to fix this. Though it’s not impossible, it certainly seems unlikely. We can’t seem to cooperate long enough to take a bathroom break, let alone try and fix the system.

In come the youths!

It’s the younger Americans, and youthful citizens around the world, who are seeing this and saying, “Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Something is wrong.” They’re taking up the causes, and will only continue to do so, and improve on it.

As education moves to more testing and less teaching, the students will find ways of educating themselves. Maybe even reinvent the system that is currently failing them.

As levels of debt increase in the Nation, the young Americans will get behind spending moratoriums. Pundits have decried the millennial non-interest in driving as laziness. Yet, maybe it is a subconscious, or inherent move against the rampant consumerism that faces this country. Why does a family need three or more cars? What’s wrong with public transportation? And, if living somewhere where public transportation does have something wrong with it (anywhere not heavily metropolitan and without significant investment), then they’re going to get busy fixing it!

As race relations seem to endlessly be a matter of debate (white vs. black; white vs. Latino; black vs. black; white vs. white; white vs. very nearly everyone it seems), students who were raised according to the golden rule (do unto others) or general codes of ethics (everyone deserves to be treated with respect) feel that their parents and grandparents are acting irrationally, either cussing Trump and the Republicans, the NRA and anti-choicers; or cussing Obama and the Democrats, gun control and pro-choice. (I’ll rarely use the term pro-life to describe the Conservative Christian side in this, for as long as you can support the death penalty, you have no right to call yourself pro-life. I know there are those who are completely pro-life, but not all who call themselves pro-life fit the title.)

Seeing this irrational behavior, the kids are crossing boundaries. They’re more likely to find friends of different races, religions and creeds. It’s the parents that are trying to instill fear into the children. “Watch out for people from X. They are the enemy.”

Kids know better.

We’re a young nation, struggling for identity. Struggling to see who it is we are. I’m for one optimistic about what our future looks like. Yes, it seems that we have some form of derailment every other day. Yes, we have racism and misogynistic behaviors still shaking us to our core. Economic inequality and mass hysteria brought on my faulty media sources (or sources claiming to be media). There are dangerous people and damaged people. And sometimes, just sometimes, it’s scary to be out among the Americans. But it also seems that we’re doing better, averaging in an upwards trend. And the youth are leading the charge.

We’re not perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination. But each and every citizen, I believe, feels a desire to make the world a better place. And it is the youth of the Country that, I believe, hold the key to brushing off all the problems currently facing us, and moving us into the bright new future that is America.


A derailment of American Politics

I’ve been reading David McCullough’s American Spirit, a collection of speeches he’s given over the years. And it has me thinking.

We’re on the 115th Congress of these United States. The 45th President. A Nation that has been trucking along for 242 years, and doesn’t show any real sign of slowing down. Yet, all we talk about in the court of public opinion is how bad one side is doing compared to the other, or how bad both sides are doing.

Look, no one has the answer. If they try to sell you goods saying that it’s the only way, don’t believe them. There is no only way. But the level of discourse in this Country has spun sickeningly out of control.

So, what to do about it? I could cite a hundred news stories this week alone that are divisive, inflammatory and (sometimes) downright wrong. I’m being conservative estimating only a hundred.

I trust newspapers more than I do television, and I trust television more than I do the internet. It’s a matter of timing. If it takes longer to get a story to the public, it seems sensible enough that it will have had more fact checking involved.

When it comes to news, we should demand more fact checking.

But it’s cheaper to have the talking heads rehashing events, asking questions to avoid defaming someone, rather than reporting the news.

In Dan Brown’s Origin, protagonist Robert Langdon muses, and I paraphrase, “I remember when breaking news was printed in the newspaper delivered the next morning.”

News isn’t sensationalism. Yet that’s what the internet and even television provide. Sensationalist stories to grab viewer’s attention and entice advertisers with the eyeballs those stories can provide. So we get more President Trump, more heated rhetoric, and more of the things that I bet comedian George Carlin would find hysterically funny, were he still alive. (I think of the 7 Dirty Words all the time when watching the news.)

We’re getting less news. Less research, and less objective analysis. And we’re suffering as a Country because of it.

Election day

For being the year after a presidential election, this past Tuesday was pretty hopping on the national political scale. Special elections and combative party politics left the people wondering if a message had been sent to the presidential administration or not. If you’re Republican, you’re probably thinking not (especially if you’re a Trump-supporting GOPer). If you’re Democrat, much of the day may have left you hopeful for next year’s midterms and the coming 2020 election.

But ultimately, what does it mean? When is our Country going to find its leadership again? The politicians fight and jockey for favorable position, seeming more interested in staying in power (or gaining more) than in fixing broken systems.

They call out to their prospective sides, bell ringing the “major issues”, and practically ignoring all others.

I heard a very interesting perspective the other day, regarding immigration. One person described it not as an issue of illegally crossing a border, but rather an economic issue. Here are people of South American cultures, growing up in tight-knit family units. The land they live on is fertile and usually quite gorgeous, and yet they can’t make a living wage working in that area. And that’s even taking into account the dramatic reduced cost of living in those areas.

So what option do they have to leave their homes, and their families, hoping to safely cross borders and make enough money to send back home, either to bring family here or to help them live down there? An issue of economics. Rather than increasing the money spent on detaining immigrants, on border patrol and on some kind of Great Wall of America, invest in means to provide South American countries to promote living wages.

Certainly there are those that would argue for the same in the US. And I agree. When families can’t afford to live by working full-time, the capitalist system is just as broken, especially when stocks markets continually break records, in earnings reports, valuations, and sales targets.

So many issues to tackle, and the nation’s leadership can’t seem to find ways to cooperate. Hell, we’re lucky when the majority of them are being civil.

How do we politicize everything?

Another week, another controversy (or three). Still we’re on the NFL players taking a knee. Still we’re seeing Puerto Rico suffering in the aftermath of the storm. White nationalist speaker at the University of Florida. President Trump’s seeming callousness in response to solders’ deaths overseas. 

The right is calling the left out of touch with America. The left is calling the right out of touch with American ideals. Both sides are calling the other elitist. Former presidents are critical of the current administration, and the current administration seems able to be critical of everything. 

Nothing can occur in this environment without someone taking issue, and sides forming, bolstering one or the other. I’ve imagined it would have come to a head already, but it seems to keep going.

This is the environment that has led me to investigate how I feel about politics. About what the nation is doing right, and wrong. The citizenry is on the whole disconnected from our elected officials, and in the highest echelons of the political spectrum, it seems that corporate interests have more sway than the common voter. 

We weren’t supposed to be this way. The American experiment is facing another critical moment, one of who knows how many in its 240 years, and there is nothing but the disconnect that seems to be guiding us. As I continue to write, post, and focus my thoughts into what I hope will be more informed (and better written) going forward, I fear that for the forseeable future we wlll have more controversy to cover. 

Divided Nations

Dear Abby:

I’m torn. I’ve been in an open relationship for quite a while now. We share partners between us. There’s a few. Occasionally one will quarrel with another, but on the whole it’s worked out really well. Until recently.

Within the past year one of the lovers has become increasingly erratic. He takes time to berate some of us, then tries to be nice. Though, we don’t actually believe he’s sorry for what he said. Actually, he doesn’t even apologize.

He lauds over us his superiority and says that his stuff is more important than ours. He has always given more to the communal property in the relationship, but now he’s saying that he’s been doing too much.

I just don’t know how long we can last with him. Some of our neighbors are actually threatening him. He just goads them, tells them to go ahead and try. I’m afraid any fight is something some or all of us will get dragged into.

We’re at our wits end! What should we do?


-Formerly United Guys and Gals

Of course, this is a thinly veiled commentary on President Trump’s rhetoric regarding the United Nations.

The United Nations, or UN was founded by president Franklin Delano Roosevelt and 50 other member states in 1945. Its function was mainly to provide defense and secure against another world war.

Intergovernmental associations of OC the utmost importance to national security and prosperity, and downplaying the cooperative nature of the United Nations is a danger to all.

America the hateful?

What a terrible week for the Country. External threats, such as North Korea and Iran loom large in the political arena, but it’s the domestic disturbances that are invading the national consciousness.

  • On Tuesday, President Trump retweeted a cartoon of a train bearing the Trump logo killing a CNN reporter, just days after a protester at a white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was fatally run down by a driver who participated in that rally. The cartoon reads “Fake news can’t stop the Trump train.” Thirty minutes later it was deleted from Trump’s Twitter feed.
  • Texas A&M University has called off a white-supremacist rally that was scheduled on campus next month. The rally organizer said he was inspired by the Unite the Right demonstration in Charlottesville for his White Lives Matter event planned for Sept. 11. Known white supremacist Richard Spencer was invited to speak at the event.
  • Charlottesville riots left one dead and nineteen injured, following a car slamming into a crowd of people. The gathering of alt-right protestors coming to oppose the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee collided with leftist counter-protestors, and a large-scale riot erupted, with white supremacist driver plowing into a crowd of people.
  • Protesters in Durham, North Carolina, brought down a Confederate monument Monday night. The monument, which is engraved with “The Confederate States of America,” is of a Confederate soldier. Activists had previously campaigned for its removal. Protesters tied a rope around the statue and pulled until it fell over, doing extensive damage to the piece.
  • Boston Police arrested one person suspected of shattering part of the city’s New England Holocaust Memorial. The person is suspected of throwing a rock at one of the memorial’s six glass towers at around 6:40 p.m. Monday. The memorial was also vandalized in June. A 21-year-old man was arrested for the first incident.
  • The Lincoln Memorial was vandalized with red spray paint, stating what appears to be: “Fuck (law, or perhaps Islam)”.
  • A Google software engineer wrote a contentious memo that has “enraged advocates of greater diversity in the technology industry. The memo has also served as a rallying cry for conservatives and the alt-right who view Google — and Silicon Valley — as a bastion of groupthink where people with different opinions are shamed into silence.” The memo proposed that differences between men and women — like a woman having a lower tolerance for stress — help explain why there were fewer women in engineering and leadership roles at the company. He said efforts by the company to reach equal representation of women in technology and leadership were “unfair, divisive, and bad for business.”

-Stories as reported in New York Times, Daily Beast,
CNN, Fox News, and Washington Post

I get through all of these, and there are more that I could list, but I feel sick. This is what we’re dealing with right now.

But, I continue on, finding that the father of the poor young woman who was murdered at the Charlottesville rally forgives the man who had driven the car. His compassion, even in the face of unimaginable grief, is something that I think many of us would have a hard time practicing.

Yes, the world is terrifying. Or it can be. And it’s contentious being an American. But we can do better. We can be better.

America is beautiful because of its diversity, and its tenacity.

It’s the “W-Word”!!!

The W-Word? What in the world is that?


Welfare. Certainly many a number of opinions on it.

So, sometime over the last week I was playing cards. We usually play once or twice a week. At this game topics range from business affairs, the political landscape, entertainment; whatever happens to come up. There are some strong opinions expressed. Oftentimes there’s no small amount of agitation. And yet sometimes I get filled in on things I may have missed.

During this particular game, the discussion of President Trump’s war on welfare to work was brought up. I was admittedly not familiar with this aspect of his policy, so I started where I always start when it’s time to begin research: Google.

Basically, it comes down to the Trump Administration’s budget proposal, which shows significant cuts given to various welfare programs, and requirements proposed for recipients to either work or volunteer if they are able to do so. Well, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

But what is welfare?

definition (Oxford Collegiate Dictionary):
1wel•fare \ ‘wel-,fare\ n [ME, fr. the phrase wel faren to fare well] (14c) 1: the state of doing well esp. in respect to good fortune, happiness, well-being, or prosperity 2 a: aid in the form of money or necessities for those in need b: an agency or program through which such aid is distributed
2 welfare adj (1904) 1: of, relating to, or concerned with welfare and esp. with improvement of the welfare of disadvantaged social groups (~legislation) 2: receiving public welfare benefits (~families)

And that seems okay – caring about the well-being, happiness, fortunes, and prosperity of others.

Yet, anytime legislation is created to focus on the public good, there are going to be conceptions of winners and losers.

What of American policies in welfare?

Early welfare systems in America were based on the British “Poor Laws”: “These laws made a distinction between those who were unable to work due to their age or physical health and those who were able-bodied but unemployed. The former group was assisted with cash or alternative forms of help from the government. The latter group was given public service employment in workhouses.”

Changes were made throughout the 1800s, including a push to use caseworkers to evaluate claims. According to the Constitutional Rights Foundation, “During the Great Depression of the 1930s, local and state governments as well as private charities were overwhelmed by needy families seeking food, clothing, and shelter. In 1935, welfare for poor children and other dependent persons became a federal government responsibility, which it remained for 60 years.”

This “federal government responsibility,” known as the Social Security Act, was enacted to provide for the general welfare by establishing a system of Federal old-age benefits, and by enabling the several States to make more adequate provision for aged persons, blind persons, dependent and crippled children, maternal and child welfare, public health, and the administration of their unemployment compensation laws; to establish a Social Security Board; to raise revenue; and for other purposes.”

Welfare history continued to be made when in 1996 President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. Under the act, the federal government gives annual lump sums to the states to use to assist the poor. In turn the states must adhere to certain criteria to ensure that those receiving aid are being encouraged to move from welfare to work. Though some have criticized the program, many acknowledge it has been successful.

Which finally brings us into the current charged political climate. Under the Trump Administration’s budget proposal (introduced now nearly two months ago), the proposal was for the reduction of spending to welfare programs “from food stamps to tax credits and welfare payments by $274 billion over a decade, largely by tightening eligibility for these programs, according to administration officials.

According to Statistic Brain, who pulled stats from the US Dept. of Commerce, the number of Americans receiving welfare government (non-Medicaid) assistance was 67,891,000 in 2016. This breaks down into roughly:

  • 41 million people on SNAP
  • 10 million on unemployment
  • 7.5 million individuals living in a home that receives housing assistance
  • 4.3 million received TANF (during previous 12 month period / graphic below shows TANF from 1996-2010)
  • 4.5 million received some other type of assistance



This remains a hotly debated topic, with arguments on both sides. Each can give statistics to back their case, such as:

“Three quarters of households using SNAP contain children, seniors, or people with disabilities, said Elaine Waxman, a senior fellow in the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute. Without SNAP, the country would have had 3 to 4.5 million more people in poverty during the recession, she said.


“In December 2014, in Maine, the local government chose not to renew its waiver of the Welfare to Work program. At the time, there were 13,332 people who were claiming Stamps and were not exempt from the program; by March, the number of claimants had dropped 80%! More than 9,000 people had decided (or coincidently happened) to either get a job or choose to not claim.

The thing is, I can find statistics from different research organizations, and the results appear contradictory. It’s all in how the information framed. If it comes down to a matter of policy, than the proposed welfare to work provisions seem okay. If it comes down to a consideration of citizens, maybe not so much. For me, I’ll always err on the side of helping those in need, even though there may be some who would take advantage of that.

“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”
Mahatma Gandhi