Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How To Achieve Good Results

In Behavioral Psychology, we talk about reinforcing successive approximations to a goal.  Overnight Saturday, world leaders reached a six-month agreement with Iran concerning their uranium enrichment/nuclear program.  As John Kerry emphasized, it was not the ultimate goal for which they had hoped.  It was, instead, a temporary baby step toward a nuclear free, bomb free Iran.

Every Sunday for some long time, I have watched Joel Osteen's sermon and then This Week.  Today I was struck by the difference in attitude of the two programs.  Joel's message of hope and favor is in large contrast to that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and U. S. Republican negativity.

Joel Osteen quotes scripture of how those of us who believe and declare have God's favor.  Netanyahu follows up the news of a temporary deal with how it is an historical mistake and gives off a general attitude it won't work.  This comes from the mouth of the leader of God's self-declared chosen people. 

Joel Osteen quotes scripture saying God's people, Jews and Christians, have His favor.  He says if we are stuck instead of reaping the benefits of that favor, it is because we have not stayed in the faith.  We need to declare that favor, expect that favor and leave the house each day having told God thank you for the favor we are about to receive.  The Republican response to the announcement of the deal with Iran was they needed to forge ahead with more sanctions on Iran.

On the one hand, we get hope and faith brings an abundance of favor.  On the other hand, negativity.

Joel Osteen and Christians are not the only individuals who believe a positive attitude can make a difference in the abundance of good things the people of the world can expect if they positively believe and assume the best.  There are other movements that purport that if we expect good we will receive good and vice versa.

Benjamin Netanyahu, of course, has no clue that this column exists.  He would negate these thoughts from Joel Osteen, as repeated by this author, with a flick of his hand.  In fact, just as easily as he negated the small step toward the common goal of a nuclear free Iran.

The Republican Party as a whole, however, purports to be representative of religious and family values.  They hold themselves up as leaders of the country who propose to show us all the "right" way to live.  Then they follow up every bright, albeit small, achievement toward success we make with criticism and a bad attitude..

During President Clinton's campaign and presidency, it was common to hear the remark "get with the program".  Well, I would like to challenge both Netanyahu and the Republican Party to get with the program.  Perhaps you can put your supposed faith in God in gear.  Believe in the favor of God.  Express and declare your faith in Him.  Maintain the positive attitude that faith will achieve.  Accept with gratitude the small baby step this agreement brings.  Use it as a stepping stone toward the final desired goal and build from there.  What can it hurt to have faith this will work?

Shakti Gawain, in her book Creative Visualization, encourages the world to visualize positive results in order to achieve positive results.  Can we all do this and abandon this destructive negativity?  Perhaps it is time for America to crack out and dust off The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale.  Oh, yes, and then read and reread it.  There is a better way to achieve results.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Proper Reporter

In The White House Diary of Jimmy Carter, the former President has an entry about a press conference.  His comment was that the journalists attending seemed much more interested in their questions than his answers. That goes ditto and possibly double for the recent press conference with President Barack Obama.

Back in the Dark Ages -- the fifties and sixties -- student journalists were taught and required to report the news as it happened.  In The Student Journalist by Edmund C. Arnold and Hillier Kreighbaum, they state "a reporter has no editorial policy."  I might suggest that a reporter is not supposed to have an editorial policy.  He is supposed to report the news in as unbiased a manner as possible.

Editorializing is for the editorial page not the front page.  Editorializing is for columnists such as George Will, Joe Klein, louhough, etc., not for the representatives of major news broadcasts who are assigned to cover press conferences.

We, of the American public, are mostly capable of formulating our own opinions as long as we get the facts as they happen, not some representation of the facts as warped by a reporter's own opinion.

In respect to the press conference where President Obama apologized for "fumbling the ball" with the health insurance startup, reporters were even wording the questions with their editorial colors flying high.

Watch it guys.  It is not enough to report just the facts.  We need you to leave your own biases at the doorstep when you enter press conferences.  Commit yourselves to getting the "5 w's and an h" without your own spin on it.

If you want to express your editorial opinion, become a columnist or a blogger.  We need you to be a proper reporter when you cover the news.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Chained CPI Means More Medicaid/Food Stamps

There is a lot of focus recently on methods for saving Social Security.  This was covered in this blog just weeks ago.  (louhough.blogspot.com)

Social Security is a topic of concern to almost every American whether Democrat/Republican, Conservative/Liberal and even non-voters.  Very few citizens are not taxed for and expecting to receive Social Security during their retirement.

As covered in my blog article, possible solutions are to remove the cap that dictates how high a salary can be taxed for Social Security purposes; to lengthen the number of years one has to work; to raise taxes on all wage earners; as well as two ridiculous suggestions that would probably kill, rather than save the program -- opting out and privatization.  And then there is the chained CPI.

Nobody likes having approximately one quarter or more of their earnings deducted for income tax, Social Security, Medicare, and Health Insurance.  And yet, law abiding Americans have dutifully submitted to these withholdings for many years.  No matter how one feels about large government/small government, Republicans/Democrats, or being charitable to others, all citizens who have paid their Social Security and Medicare taxes have a stake in whether or not these programs survive.  Also, your parents, children, grandchildren and future generations of Americans are affected.

Some retirees, already collecting, take a laissez faire view about such issues.  Perhaps they number among individuals who collect at the maximum level of benefits, so losing a portion of their customary Social Security would just cut luxuries.  Perhaps they have couples benefits, so they have not experienced what it would be like to fall below the average benefit as well as have only one person's percentage.  They respond with a ho hum attitude not unlike Leona Helmsley's "them", not us.  Wrong.  It applies to all current and future seniors.

Chained CPI, rather simply explained, means you will not receive the full amount of inflationary increases added to your annual income.  The COLA based on CPI was meant to keep us at a constant standard of living.  Chained CPI will keep us going lower and lower each year there was a rise in the cost of living.  If inflation rises 4 per cent during 2014, you will not receive a full 4 per cent increase for 2015.  You will get only what Congress deems to be the cost of cheaper fruits, vegetables, etc.  You can't buy Porterhouse, or possibly even round steak.  You can't buy 93 % heart healthy lean ground beef, you have to buy the cheapest hamburger, complete with fat, gristle and pink slime.  Your bread won't be crusty Italian.  It will be day-old or stale store brands.  Do you get it?

But the worst part is, cutting Social Security to seniors will actually raise taxes on working Americans.  How?  Because every significant cut adds senior citizens to some level of Welfare.  Maybe they will be forced to use HUD housing.  Maybe they will have to have assistance with heating fuel.  Perhaps they will have to receive help paying their Medicare and supplemental health insurance premiums or go on Medicaid.  Maybe they will, OMG, have to be placed on Food Stamps.

Yes, more aid to retirees means more taxes on working Americans.  Whereas Social Security was meant to be self supporting, Welfare is paid by income taxes.  Welfare is a budget issue.  Social Security is not.

It is totally unacceptable that America's entrepreneurs and our legislators have forced hard-working Americans to suffer the humiliation of needing to be on Welfare rolls in retirement even though they supported themselves proudly during their working years.

We need all our citizens to participate in this issue, before it is too late.  If we just sit here and do nothing, we will probably get chained CPI as a permanent part of our American experience.  We need you to speak out for yourselves, your daughters and sons, your grandchildren, ASAP.  If you don't call, e-mail, speak with, write to or otherwise consult your area Congressmen -- or OMG you could even forward this article -- we are probably going to get the chained CPI option.  Life will just get harder.

You understand, the Tea Partiers, Conservatives, Liberals, Republicans, Democrats, all are considering this as the way to "save" Social Security.  It is not the worst way, but neither is it a good way.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Please Find Another Topic

The flagellation of the Democrats for having a worse than normal startup of a Federal program is apparently beginning to bore the press.  The President, after all, has now apologized that the insurance companies refused to improve insurance policies that were inferior to the new Affordable Care Act requirements.  Believe me, he regrets his promises.

Television and other media are casting around looking for something more interesting than beating a dead horse.  So, the next Presidential election is popping up as a big topic again.  Will it be Christie?  Will it be Hillary?  Really, guys, who cares at this point? Most of us are actually enjoying the break from hateful, spiteful advertising.  If you continue to insist on picking our next Presidential candidates for us, you run the risk of forcing them to declare way too soon.  The result of that is one or the other, if they do decide to run, could peak too early.  Then we would be back to square one.

Surely there is enough news in the world that you do not have to resort to politics this early in the cycle.

Please find another topic.