Category: Politics and Society

The Cruz Patrol

Ted Cruz wants to keep us safe by patrolling neighborhoods with a Muslim presence. My neighborhood is about 20% Muslim- I think. The thing is most Muslims are not wearing any sort of badge or acting in any different way for me to know they are Muslim. There are a number of Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhists in my neighborhood too. So, I guess the first step to the patrolling is either to have Muslims publicly identify that they are Muslim or to patrol many different neighborhoods like mine that are made of many different types of people. I am not comfortable with that.

And why would anyone want to do this? Oh – to keep us safe from those who want to kill us. There were over 3,000 mass shootings last year. 3 were by Muslims. Who is saving me from the others, mostly gun-wielding, self-proclaimed Christians? Should we be patrolling neighborhoods of people with gun owners?

This lack of understanding of what the ISIS and Terrorist crisis is and willingness to mark an entire group of people based on actions of a group is insane. We would never accept that for a group any of us belong to. Not all gun-owners are crazed killers. Not all pro-life people are planning to bomb or shoot up a clinic. Not all people with a mental health issue is planning on shooting up a Mall or Movie Theater. Why are we so willing to put all Muslims in a category.

Perhaps it is because most people only know Muslims via what they hear on the news or through the talking points of the Radical Right.

Here is a News Flash – the news only reports what sells and what sells is emotional content. The more emotional they can make the content, the more people will tune in and the more advertising the media outlet can sell. So they take an emotional story, like pretty white people being bombed by terroristic brown people, and they market the shit out of it. It has a theme, it is emotional, and it will keep you tuned in. Then the politicians come in and use those emotions to sway you to vote for them. Right now Cruz and Trump are trying to one-up each other on the extent they are willing to go to in order to keep Americans safe. But we are not safe. We are being killed – by other Americans, and not necessarily the brown ones. If there was really concern about safety – we would be talking a lot more about gun laws – not patrolling MY neighborhood because I live among the brown people.

This war with ISIS is not just a war of Muslims vs Christians. Within weeks of ISIS bombing Brussels, many Muslims were also killed in other countries of mostly brown people.12890882_10154723703323327_6731148473506450796_o The news did not report on that because that story does not sell. It would inform, but information is not the business of the news. Manipulating emotions is.

Before you let your emotions drive your beliefs and decisions and votes, try to understand who and what are making you feel the way you do and is there a vested interest for someone to manipulate your emotions. Look for other perspectives and other sources of information. It may not be the news media’s responsibility to make you an informed citizen of this planet – but it is yours.

Who Should You Vote For?

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I am not going to tell you which candidate to vote for. That is each person’s decision. But considering that many people have expressed that they are not thrilled with our choices this election, I am going to talk about my process and how I decide who to vote for.

First, you should vote. You have an opinion and you have a voice in the process and whether or not I agree with your opinion I do believe that your voice should be heard.

But who to vote for.

Don’t go by who you like as a person. The most evil people the world has ever seen have been the most charismatic people. You have to look beyond charisma. Also, you have to look beyond the words the people are saying because there is a big machine behind each candidate that helps each one learn exactly what their followers want to hear.

You have to try to understand the candidate’s motives and look at their record to decide who each candidate is. Once you do that you will see that none of the candidates are perfect and exactly in line with your thoughts and opinions.

So you have to decide which issues are most important to you and why and which candidates align with those issues. But the why is so important. I mean you really need to line up all the issues and prioritize them and understand the impact on your life. You may be against abortion, but does the abortion issue affect your personal life more than the economy? More than gun laws? More than your privacy rights? Are you willing to vote on an issue that impacts other people’s lives while ignoring issues that can destroy your own life?

Here is my biggest issue. I do not want the government telling people how to live their lives but I do want the government to protect the citizens from the greed of corporations. The greed that leads to poisoned drinking water or unethical business practices. I want laws that protect people from harming other people – and from what I understand, corporations are people too. But I do not want laws that tell individuals what they can and cannot do with their lives. I want a government that provides opportunity for all people. A government that is forward thinking and knows how to prepare us for the future. There is no perfect candidate for me, but there are candidates that are way off the mark. So I vote. I have been lucky enough to vote for a candidate that was aligned with my priorities and I have been and probably will be in a position to vote for the person the least far away from where I stand. But I vote.

Economics Musings from a Dummy

Ok – I am not a complete Economics dummy. I did take Macro and Micro Economics in college and did quite well in both classes. But I don’t think anyone will be calling me to do an interview about the Economy anytime soon. Well maybe Fox News, because they do not really care about qualifications, but I mean anyone reputable.

I have done absolutely zero research on the economic situation of today. I have read a lot of articles that come through my Facebook newsfeed, and I have looked and observed people around me, and I have observed my own finances, and from those observations, I have some ideas…or musings.

Here is what I have seen over the years.

1. Technology, in particular, is in desperate need of skilled and innovative employees. Our school system to date has not caught on to that idea. This is why so many jobs are outsourced to countries that teach real programming skills early in high school and why Americans with such skills are doing well.

2. Technology has replaced a lot of jobs. Meanwhile, it has also shifted the savings of the money that would have gone to employees up to founders, shareholders, and executives, making the people at the top much more wealthy than the average employee. This is the imbalance we are seeing. It is because more money is being generated with fewer employees and the people at the top feel it should go to them, because they are the ones who invested in, leveraged, and innovated with technology. For me, this is a pretty strong argument.

3. There is still a middle class – and it is much wealthier than the middle class of 40 or 50 years ago,  you may not recognize it. These are people in 4 and 5 bedroom houses that would have been considered a mini-mansion 50 years ago. Today it is a normal suburban house. Today they have 2 or 3 cars, whereas 50 years ago 1 car was enough. Today they have a TV in every room, where 50 years ago 1 TV put you in the middle class. Today they go on vacation, eat out, and have many, many technological devices. They send their kids to camps, after-school programs, and private schools. These are people in sales jobs, IT jobs, finance jobs…They are middle class – not even the upper middle class of doctors, lawyers, and executives.

4. We have a working class. They live in smaller, older houses (or rent – which some of the middle class chooses to rent too). They budget more carefully. They still send their kids to camps and after school programs but sometimes they get to qualify for discounted pricing. They eat out less, travel cheaper, but today’s working class looks more like the middle class of the 1960s.

5. We have poor people. We have always had poor people. They struggle to make rent and feed themselves even when they are working 2 or more jobs. They have little and what they do have is a hand me down, old, or bought on bad credit. These poor people look similar to the poor people of 50 years ago.

Here is what else we have.

We have more money in our economy. This means we could use that money to invest in helping people up – through an increase in minimum wage. Will that take money from the upper or middle class, the two classes that are wealthier than they have been in decades? Yes, it would. Is this a handout? Not really since minimum wage means you are working for your money. It also would allow the poor to become better contributors to our society, economically and socially.

We could take some of that extra money that is in the economy and invest in education. Maybe then we could get more people trained to take the jobs that have so many openings we have to search off shores to find the skill set.

We have more cheap technology. Maybe we can give the disadvantage more access to that technology in a way that they can self-educate and connect and lift themselves up.

But the big unfortunate thing we have is people with so much stuff that still want more and anything that might have a chance to “trickle down” is seen as an unwarranted hand out.

So in the end – only a few people who can be happy with what they have will be happy and the rest will either continue to struggle or continue to envy.

And so it goes…

Too Much Information or How the Truth Gets Lost

In 7 years of talking about social media, I have never thought that I would be the one to say, “There is too much information.”

In the early days of social media, there were huge debates about the value of user-generated content vs the media (old media vs new media). Although I rarely participated in these debates I usually found myself on the side of new media. Even some of my early presentations illustrated how new media was just as valuable and trustworthy as old media, and maybe even more so because of the power of the network to call out anything false and for ongoing dialog that will expose the truth.

This was before Marketing and PR hijacked social media.

In 2006 and 2007 I gave a lot of presentations to Marketing and PR professionals. The question that I was asked at every presentation was “how do we control the message?” My answer was that you can’t. I was wrong.

I have watched as lots of money has been poured into social media campaigns to get people excited or inspired to spread the message to their friends thus using the power of the network to imply that the message was true. We can see this in political smear campaigns and branded marketing campaigns, which is to be expected. But the recent Kony2012 campaign is what recently got my attention and has made me quite concerned.

My first exposure to the Kony2012 campaign was when I read a headline in my Google Alerts that basically said a new social media campaign was about to be launched and I should not believe it. I did not read any further. Then my friends on Facebook started posting the video and expressing their heartfelt support for the campaign. I even learned that one of my connections was actually from Uganda and had first-hand experiences with warlords. I thought back to the initial report that warned me to ignore this campaign and made a mental note to do more research. Then my teenage son came home and told me about the campaign. As we talked about it I mentioned the headline I read that said to ignore the campaign. He explained to me that everything, even a good campaign such as this, will have haters. Haters are gonna hate. The hater’s side of the story is there is nothing we can do, or it is not our problem and so forth. Typical apathy. I made another mental note to look into the campaign.

This morning my 11-year-old son was on my laptop. When I was finally able to win the custody battle for my Mac I noticed that my son had not logged off the chat he was having with another 5th grader about the Kony video. At this point, I knew I had to look into this.

But before I began my Kony research I decided to go through my Daily Google Alerts. My alerts were full of articles about the Kony2012 campaign. Most about how well the campaign has been executed. Social Media Today had a great post titled Ripoff or Revolution? which pointed out Grant Oyston’s Tumblr account  which was asking good questions about the Kony2012 campaign.

Then I came across the post How Kony2012 gets it wrong. There are a lot of good questions being asked about motives, message, and facts.

When it comes to wanting to do something good for mankind or to stop horrific evil, we can do little things every day. Those little things add up. But when those little things are part of a misdirected larger effort, then ultimately more harm is done.

Perhaps I was right many years ago in believing that social media brings out the truth because of the ability for others to respond. But what I have learned is that there is so much noise on the web that many people miss the responses. It takes time to research the validity of a story, which is why so much misinformation gets passed around. And unless a response to such a story is positioned in a way that it makes a person look good or feel good to share the other side of the story, the response will never gain the power from a strong network.  How can one feel good about telling their friends that they have been duped, that their good deed for the day may have caused more harm than good? More importantly, how do we keep from getting cynical and apathetic?

More than ever, we all have a responsibility to do a little more than sign our name to a list or share a story with our friends. If we truly want to make a difference in our world, we need to get involved with the world even if it means taking a little time to learn more than one side of the story. There is a lot of information on the web that if we take the time to read more details and ask more questions, the truth should never get lost.

Related Posts:

KONY, Networked Nonprofits, and Transparency

I remember the unity – why are we now so divided.

10 years ago I had just returned back to work after an extended maternity leave. However, my younger son was sick on September 11 and I was home watching Good Morning America or the Today show…I saw the news break. I watched as the second plane hit the second tower. I was in another room when I heard about the crash in PA and DC.

I, like the rest of the world, was shocked and the only thing I knew was that I did not know what to expect next. I went to pick up my older son from school. I was one of many parents there picking up their kids.

I was an IT Recruiter and after September 11th, my career in that field ended. I decided to return to waiting on tables. This gave me the flexibility to be home with my son and attempt to start my own company.

Months later I was working at On The Border. I do not remember the date, but Bush had asked all Americans to light a candle to remember the victims at a specific time around sunset. It might have been the one-year anniversary – but I remember everyone was still so shocked and raw, it does not seem like a year had passed.

The restaurant was packed that night. Each table had a candle on it. At the specific time, every person left their table, walked out to the parking lot and lit their candle. Someone starting singing America the Beautiful. It was like a scene from a movie. Everyone joined in. We did not stand there as Democrats or Republicans, or Tea Partiers, or Libertarians. We did not stand there as Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim, or Hindu. We stood there as people united in grief and in love for our country.

I am sure we have not lost that unity. But we seem so determined to be divided. We want to label everyone and argue every little point. We are against ideas and plans more than we are for anything. Everyone is focused on what is being taken away from them instead of what they are willing to give for the greater good.

10 years later, I can still remember that unity and I wonder why today we are so divided.