Saturday, August 30, 2014

Our Demographics Are Unequal

The various communities across America may be filled with equal opportunities, but demographics show that diversity is not equally distributed.  Let's take the two sides of the state line referred to as Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas.

On the Missouri side, non Hispanic Caucasians number 54.9 per cent in the city proper but 81 per cent throughout the state.  On the other hand, in Kansas City, Kansas, the same group is 39.4 (per cent is implied throughout the rest of the article),  while the State of Kansas has 77.1.  Wyandotte County, of which Kansas City, Kansas, is a part has 42.7.

Hispanics total 28.3 in Kansas City, Kansas compared to 11.2 in the state as a whole.  The number in Kansas City, Missouri is 10 --  the state has 3.5.

Kansas City, Kansas Hispanics outnumber African Americans who represent just 26.3, and 6.2 throughout Kansas.

The Asian population is more equivalent with 2.9 in Kansas City, Kansas and 2.5 in Kansas City, Missouri.  The state of Kansas overall, has more with 2.7 than Missouri's 1.6.  Kansas City, Missouri on the other hand has more individuals of at least two mixed races -- 3.2 to 1.7.  Kansas City, Missouri, also has a few less Native American/Alaskan, .5 to .7.

Compare these figures to the following.  San Diego County has 5.6 African American.  Native American/Alaskan represent 1.3 while Asians are 11.7.  Mixed races --  at least 2 --  are 4.2.  Here, Hispanics are 32.9 of the people and white with no Hispanic is 47.2.

In New York City, African American only is 17.5.  The Asian population is just 8.2 and Native American 1.0.  There are 2.3 of the people who are of two or more races.  Hispanics make up 18.4 while white with no Hispanic is 57.2.

Houston, Texas has a whopping 43.8 Hispanic population.  Non Hispanic whites number just 25.6.  There are 23.7 African American/Alaskan and 6.0 Asian.  Biracial people number around 3.3.  Native Americans are just .7.

Tucson, Arizona has just 41.6 Hispanic with non Hispanic whites numbering 47.2.  African Americans are 5.0 of the people with Asian, 2.9 and Native American/Alaskan, 2.7.  Two or more races represent 4.2.

It is curious what conditions exist which encourage the inequality of where individual segments choose to settle.  Is housing more equitable for one group than others?  Do the coyotes have better resources in one city than another?  Do employment agencies, especially temporary ones, encourage specific groups?  Do friends attract like individuals to their neighborhoods?  Just what jobs that U. S. born citizens don't want to work, do Hispanics do in the states with little agriculture?

What are the neighbors like around your home? Are they diversified?  Do you feel surrounded by non similar groups of individuals?

As mentioned in earlier blogs, demographics experts predict that by 2025, or at least 2050, there will be no more majority in this country.  But will the majority simply be changing at least in some areas of the country?

I cannot forget the words of the Hispanic man, standing on his land on the American side of the border -- "We are being invaded."

Yes we are!  And that goes for some of us more than others.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

When Speaking Of The Poor

On a recent This Week Robert Reich said that Paul Ryan was running around Congress with a new budget that includes a commitment for Americans to take care of their poor.  He said that Ryan had experienced some kind of a conversion.  Good for Paul Ryan.  I hope more members of Congress will see the light and let the light shine all the way from increased minimum wages to supporting all of our most down and out.  I'm sure God, Jesus and Pope Francis will all be proud if this takes place.

According to the Paul Ryan interview in the back of the current Time Magazine, Ryan has written a book in which he proposes that we renew the American idea of equality for all.  Government should ensure we all have that right.

He believes the recovery from our recent recession took too long, certainly longer than any other since World War II.  He seems not to have noticed it was the worst recession since the Great Depression.  It should have taken longer. 

So Ryan, with his newly found concern for the poor and his consistent belief in his own ability to solve our problems, has taken upon himself to start visiting black neighborhoods so he can find out how they are successfully beating back poverty.

Now, herein lies the crux of one of our biggest problems  --  those who think and act like those who are in need of government assistance for handouts are limited to African Americans.  There are people of all races and creeds who are poor.  Experts have been quoting stats for years that show that many, many Caucasians have to depend on assistance.  In fact, a huge draw on subsistence funds is being made by formerly hard working Senior Citizens who have fallen victim to Congressional attempts to save Social Security for future generations. That, although a good and laudable goal, is not a good and laudable excuse for forcing current seniors onto the welfare roles.  There have to be other ways to save the fund than this.

Such misunderstandings about poverty are no doubt the cause of much hatred of the subsistence programs.  Some people think the handouts go only to the black community and this interacts with their extreme and deep rooted prejudices.

I could quote you the stats again, but people have ignored them always before and would probably negate them now.  So, Congressman Ryan, write another book which requires you to look them up yourself.  Then, they might mean something to you.  And while you are studying the facts, take a look at who is in the top one per cent, or two, or three or more.

You and I should be so fortunate as to have a small fraction of the wealth of Oprah, Herman Cain, Puff Daddy, Snoop Dogg, etc., etc., etc.

America, the equal opportunity country, is succeeding beyond belief.  And it's time for Congress to get with the program and continue this equalization by keeping jobs at home, taxing those who have, and limiting our contributions to other countries (at least until we seriously reduce our debt).  And also continuing to work for job creation and pleasing the Almighty by extending opportunity and helping those at home as freely as you pass out cash to the unworthy and false friends abroad.   When speaking of the poor, be cognizant of the facts, the stats, and then educate the knee jerk responsive masses of these facts.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Gouging The Public

A friend came by Saturday.  He'd been trying to find a phone number in the AT&T Yellow Pages from a city where he (but not I) lives.  He knew the business exists, because another similar merchant had referred him.  I looked in the Yellow Pages for my little city.  Similar results.  Same for Yellow Book, a Yellow Pages competitor.  They frequently come through when Yellow Pages fails.

I commented on the uselessness of the new trend in phone books -- covering only your own small scrap of space, instead of the previous phone books covering the entire metropolitan area.

"Yeah, they expect everyone to go online for everything, but if you can't be on the internet, that's too bad."

This reminded me of an article I started a couple of weeks ago but never finished.  It's about how the business world controls buying and selling by their individual versions of gouging the public.

For instance, if we want a complete listing of phone numbers even for just our own cities, we must have internet service.  To heck with someone who can't afford internet.  Of course one can go to the library and get an hour of borrowed time, but how often can people make that trip?  And if they go, do they have transportation?  Being poor is being poor.  For the impoverished, being on-line is a distinctive luxury.  I'm not talking about what kind of Smart Phone is inexpensive enough here.  I'm talking about not being able to afford it at all.  The man in question finds the cost over his head, as he found the expense of a car for several years.

Another way businesses gouge the public is to quit making parts for useable, if out of date, equipment.  Perhaps the worst offenders are the makers of printers for computers.  How many times have you had to buy a new printer because you could no longer find ink cartridges or they used a new kind of paper? 

Or how about changing the kind of printer to wireless so they are incompatible with your perfectly good computer. 

In the world in which many of us live, there simply isn't money to replace a computer system just because a printer goes out and the bottom line guys have quit making the kind of printer that goes with it.

This kind of thing is called gouging the public.  It is forcing them to upgrade their equipment or go without completely.  It is one more sign that our world is becoming morally bankrupt.  One more sign of man's inhumanity to man -- of kicking a person when he's down.

I can't imagine a city, state or country where everyone is upper class.  I'm not sure that is even possible.  So why do the fortunate exploit those with less?  I guess money is how they get their jollies.  What do you think?  Oh, yes, same for car companies that quit making parts for useable cars.  I can assure you they won't be getting the sale when the customer is forced to upgrade.  So where's their bottom line then?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Where Are We Now?

Racial tensions blew up once more -- in Ferguson, Missouri.  We witnessed a level of rioting and looting, of anger and hate, that most of us hoped was long behind us.  Certainly, it did discredit to Dr. Martin Luther King and to those who participated with him in a non-violent approach to effecting change.

Those of us across the country, unfortunately have to depend on news sources for our information.  But, after viewing news reports, it seems there were improprieties on both sides of the situation. They caused and prolonged the violence.

The police department is reported not to be very diversified.  Such departments are not adequate if they offer only a token African American or two.  A truly diversified staff can be quite effective in calming a diversified group of people if a situation sparks.

The department was described as not blending and communicating with it's citizens.  If this is true, they have missed a golden opportunity to build rapport and enlist the support of the community as a whole.  Concerned citizens of all races could have stepped in to calm the local community before the situation reached epic proportions.

Some media reports hinted that the police force had a reputation of not getting along well with African Americans.  Before making such reports, more facts needed to be collected.  Hints and facts may be contradictory, so even if an observer mentioned a bad rapport, such statements should have been held back until proof could be presented.  These statements incited wrath nationwide and attracted a more militant and violent crowd to the scene.

Now for Michael Brown, God bless his soul, he is dead.  There is nothing good or bad that is going to bring him back.  Whether he "deserved" it or did not, some courtroom ruling someday is not going to matter a bit to people who ache from the loss of him in their lives.  In one snap judgment, an officer downed an individual who can never get up again.  It is done.  And he had apparently stopped his resistance when he was shot.

According to news reports, the officer stopped the youth because he was walking in the street.  We do that in my neighborhood all the time.  African Americans, whites, Asians and Hispanics walk in the middle of our roads.  It is not construed as a criminal act.

But, was Michael walking in a manner that obstructed traffic?  Or was there a local ordinance against it?  If so, then the officer had probable cause to stop him and insist he get on the side of the road.  You see, this is the kind of fact that needed to be reported, but nobody saw fit to include it.  The nature of the road and it's traffic are essential to knowing whether Michael, the officer, or both were out of line.

Then the next thing that is rather fuzzy is what exactly happened at that police car.  Were Michael's friends and/or cousins up close so they could see and hear exactly what went on or were they across the road?  Was there another officer close enough to see and hear the interchange?  One report said Michael shoved the officer.  Another said he scuffled with him over the gun.  A third said the officer or Michael pulled the other through the window.  Someone said that Michael injured the officer on his face.  How badly?  Apparently nobody disputes that Michael and a police officer scuffled over a questionably important issue and Michael wound up dead with the officer wounded, but still standing.

Next, a national habit -- the habit of not thinking or saying anything bad about the dead -- kicks into gear.  The deceased can be an individual that sold drugs on the corner and is suspected in three drive bys, but once he is dead, everybody is grieving that he was getting his life back in order.  Is Michael being remembered in death as a good and trouble free kid, or was he really good and trouble free?

Enter now the video that shows a suspect, possibly Michael, shoving around a small scrap of a man trying to get the suspect, whoever he is, to pay for $48 worth of cigars.  Not a soda or a candy bar folks -- a $48 item.  Is this really Michael?  Well, we don't quite know, because the family was not shown the tape before it was released.  Yet, Ferguson, Missouri, isn't exactly St. Louis proper.  In small towns where kids spend a lot of time hanging out, most people would know their names.  How well known was Michael to the local police department?  If that is Michael, how often did that giant man in the video shove and bully others?  In what context did the friends with him that day know the real Michael?  At church?  A lot of people behave better at church than they do out in the community.  At family dinners with their parents present?  In school?  Or, were the ones with him that day usually with him?  If so, how did they usually behave -- peaceably or confrontationally?

How do any of us know the truths about Michael or his friends, or even the policeman, since the violence erupted so fast?  The police department and administration of the town wasn't given time to hear the facts much less assess them before the lid blew off.  That's what comes from hordes of people going off half cocked.

This being said, the local police definitely overreacted to the situation.  They armed themselves as if going to war, not crowd control.  They arrested members of the press for doing their jobs.  And, they incited more rioting by their inferior response.  Their behaviors attracted more violence and dissension to the area.

But, basically, whether Michael was a good kid or bad, he brought this on himself by being confrontational with the officer.   When a policeman tells you to do something, you do it immediately with your hands up and visible and your lips sealed.  Right or wrong, racist or not, they hold the power and authority.  You comply until you have your time in court.  And you hire a really good lawyer.

If you scuffle with the police officer, especially if you are as large as the man in the video, you run the risk of getting the officer's adrenaline flowing.  Nobody knows how they will react when they feel threatened.  Can we always turn off a rush caused by threat and fear?

Whether that is Michael in the video, there was not time to assess.  But, to his friends and family, someone needs to say --  if that is Michael in that video, he was no stranger to violent behavior and he needed no gun to cause fear in others, not even a rather large and armed policemen.

To the world outside Ferguson, I have a few observations to make.  Where were the African American and biracial celebrities at this time?  Caucasian celebrities once walked in peaceful demonstrations for you.  And you can't even come out of seclusion to try to calm the scene?  I'm talking to the Oprahs, the Gayle Kings, the Magic Johnsons and Denzel Washingtons.  You couldn't have come out and said chill, get mellow, wait for the facts?  You could not have offered a little class to the situation?  Instead, we get Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, known tree shakers.  And did you hear Reverend Sharpton speak?  Sounds to me like his message was meant to whoop up more anger, more violence.  What else would declaring that we won't tolerate this any longer be designed to mean?

To the peaceful demonstrators I suggest that the Reverend Martin Luther King would be proud.

To the ones who looted, pillaged, ruined the businesses of innocent businessmen and women, who set fires, I have this to say.  Every time you behave in such a vindictive and disorderly manner you simply reinforce the negative and prejudiced beliefs of every white racist in the country. You have not listened even to your own honored and respected Civil Rights leaders and followed their models.  You have shamed yourselves, your parents, your grandparents and the rest of your race.  And, you have put race relations back once more.  That's where we are right now.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Basic Human Rights

Over the course of history, the population has grown too large for people to be completely autonomous.  There was, no doubt, a good deal of sense when individuals began to bond together for hunting and gathering.  There was safety in numbers.  Less animals like buffalo and deer had to be slaughtered when a group shared the bounty. There was less waste that way.  Crops could be grown by some people working together while others tanned the skins or preserved the foods.

But with the advantages of socialization came problems as well.  Alone, man had complete control over himself.  With others he had to learn to adapt to the needs of his clan.  (You know, what we would call being considerate of others and using manners).  It was not okay for individual man to hurt, steal from or abuse others just because he needed or wanted something they had.

Each society developed their own rules and regulations to keep some from impinging on the individual human rights of others.  William Graham Sumner introduced the word mores into our language in the early nineteen hundreds.  Sumner said -- as we can concur -- each society believes their own mores are the right ones.  Sumner said that believing our own mores are the most desirable is ethnocentrism. 

Per Random House Collegiate Dictionary, ethnocentrism is the belief in the superiority of one's own group or culture.  It is also a tendency to view other cultures in terms of our own.  Snobbery or arrogance, in other words.  I'm right, you're wrong, and I don't care what you think.

People believe what they are taught to believe and their way is the only right way -- in their own opinion.  But who made their rules?  Did their mores and then their laws evolve from agreement of all individuals, no matter their sex, age, level of education, temperament, etc.?  Or, did a bunch of bullies bash others into submission and tell them what to do?

We've all seen cartoon pictures of ancient man clothed in animal skins and dragging a large club with one hand and a woman by her hair with the other.  Is that the kind of individual that made our rules, or did everybody have a say?

In the Garden of Eden, after God made woman to be a companion for man, there was only one rule -- don't eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Per Bible history, a serpent enticed Eve to eat the fruit, and then Eve enticed Adam to have some, too.  Adam, of course, could have said no, but did he?  No, he was more than willing to join the fun.  Yet man is never, ever held responsible for his enjoyment.  It is always a woman's fault.

Although most of us know this story from the Christian Bible, which includes books from the Torah in it's Old Testament, other cultures also tell first man/first woman stories and some even tell of the flood.

Much of the thinking and rule making of the Middle Eastern cultures was based on the idea women sinned all by themselves and enticed men to join them.  And God supposedly punished women by making them have the children.  Hence, all things women, especially those related to childbirth, became woman's cross to bear and man should not be involved.

Radical religious people today still blame woman for all sexual exploits, even if a man rapes a woman --  which western cultures now know to be a man's need for power and control over the victim.  It is never a need or aberration of a man that is at fault, it is always the fault of Eve and her female descendants.  Jesus, himself, happened on a stoning where two individuals had actually committed adultery.  He stopped the stoning by saying, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone".  Everybody walked away that time.  But stoning still takes place in non-Christian cultures and religious zealots still sometimes kill their daughters who have been raped.  The family's own pride and embarrassment is considered more important than the child they supposedly loved from birth.  Such love I can do without.

From this environment came early Christians.  None of us seem to be able to totally shed our learning and reconstruct ourselves completely with new beliefs.  The early Christians, such as the eleven remaining disciples and Paul and his followers did the best they could.  Yet, we find hints of previous religions in our current religious practices.  For example, the habit of saying Amen was a holdover from Egyptian religions.  Easter came from a celebration for the goddess Ishtar.  You understand?  Our beliefs, our mores, our practices hinge on our backgrounds and our cultural habits. So, we differ in many ways, yet we all think we are right.

Westerners, particularly North Americans, have learned to fight and stand up for our rights.  The country as a whole fought for freedom.  African Americans, with the help of several generations of Caucasians, have fought for their freedom.  Women and slaves had to fight for the right to learn as well as the right to vote.  Both have had to assert their right for equal opportunities of employment.  Both are still fighting for equal pay for equal work.  Both still have to insist that government men and employers recognize their rights.

The revered papers written by our forefathers declare that all men are created equal.  The problem is they were not speaking of mankind.  Their definition, if you recall, did not include women and slaves.  Both were chattel -- the one meant to serve man as servants and the other meant to serve them as people who carried and delivered men's children, plus supervised the running of their homes.

Men began our country.  Men have served as our presidents.  Mostly men have written our laws.  Mostly men have peopled our courts.  Mostly men have served in our churches, written our religious laws.  In fact, Catholics and Southern Baptists still don't permit women in the ministry.  Women are relegated to the serving roles facilitating the work of the important individuals -- mostly white men.

People who are attracted to power positions in religious and public life are usually people seeking control over others as well as personal recognition.  A lot of these individuals take it as their basic right to tell others what to do through mores and rules and laws.  Often their fervor goes well beyond the necessity for helping us all to live well together.  They forget to focus on basic individual human rights.  They focus instead on their needs to tell others what to do.

When people do point out that the federal government is out of line  --  out of control --  they are usually saying the States should have the rule.  Wrong.  No one body, or two bodies, or even four bodies of power should have the ability to infringe on individuals.  Whether government or religious, no group --  Congress, Southern Baptists, Catholics or Muslims, even -- has a right to try to bend others or design rules to bend others to their will.

Both government and religion should facilitate us living more rewarding and happier lives.  They should not be allowed to dictate how we live our daily lives.  They should not be bastions of power for the ever greedy control freaks.  They should not be places where the weak can be exploited by the strong.  They should be places that foster the growth and dignity of each individual, black or white, male or female, young or old, rich or poor.

And once we seek to right a recognized wrong, we need to see to it that the pendulum does not swing too far in the other direction either.  Change comes easier through rational and reasonable means than it does when a whole mob stones -- literally and figuratively.

Don't mess with my rights.  I won't mess with yours.  As long as I don't infringe on you or others, nobody has the right to infringe on me.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Lest We Misunderstand

Former Chief Justice John Stevens was quoted this year as saying that he thinks the Supreme Court and/or the Congress should rewrite the Second Amendment to show that Americans have the right to bear arms while in the militia only.  As one author said, thank God he is no longer on the court and can do no more harm.

Their has been a lot of debate in recent years concerning what the authors of the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and the Constitution had in mind when they conceptualized our freedoms and rights.  Many people openly state that the second amendment pertained only to arming of a militia.  But, lest we misunderstand, let's look at the remarks of some of our early citizens who actually influenced opinion and the final document, the Constitution.

In the Thomas Jefferson papers, 334, he stated that "no free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms".  He thought the most important reason that we should "have the right to keep and bear arms was as a last resort, to protect ourselves against tyranny in government".

George Washington once stated that the atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere "restrained evil interference".  He thought they should have a place of honor with all that is good.  As most sane individuals, he apparently knew that guns didn't kill people, people kill people.

In The Federalist Papers at 184-188, Alexander Hamilton is shown to have believed that "The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed."  Note, he said the people at large, not the militia.

Patrick Henry, in a speech in June, 1788, said the "great object is that every man be armed [ . . . ] Every man who is able may have a gun."  This assumes that until found guilty of being mentally unable, all men should be allowed to be armed.

In the Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer, August, 1789, Samuel Adams said "That the said Constitution shall never be construed or authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press or the rights of conscience, or to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms."  Not militia arms, their own arms.

Zecharia Johnson, was clear in his beliefs.  He said, "the new Constitution could never result in religious persecution or other oppression because:  [T]he people are not to be disarmed of their weapons.  They are left in full possession of them."

Benjamin Franklin thought that people who gave up "essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety".  Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.

At the Virginia ratifying convention in June, 1788, Patrick Henry is credited with saying, "we should have fine times, indeed, if to prevent tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble the people!  Your arms wherewith you could defend yourselves, are gone . . . Did you ever read of any resolution in a nation . . ., inflicted by those who had no power at all? 

The bottom line is that widespread liberty, and to some degree safety, cannot be maintained without the right for individuals to bear arms.  Without this, the military could succeed in a coup without even having to fire their weapons.  Holding them on the citizens would be all that is necessary.  Our sometimes out of control politicians could pull off a takeover.  Isis, shown on This Week this morning and stating they are coming to put their flag over the Whitehouse, would have no resistance from individuals.  We would have no guns.  If they controlled the militia, they would control the country and we would have no recourse.

Although I greatly sympathize with any parent or other individual who loses a loved one to gun violence, more gun control is just not the answer.  And such controls are not ever going to bring back the one you loved and lost.  It just will not happen.  So in your grief, please keep in mind the words of Patrick Henry that tell us that guns are power and without power, we have no way to protect ourselves.  An assembly of people with no power is fruitless.

What we do need are better means of teaching and identifying problems within our children.  Work toward these goals, not gun control.  We need to offer the services of psychologists to all troubled individuals, rich or poor and young or old.  We also need to remove the stigma which taints people with sufficient courage to go get help.  We need to make this assistance affordable for all and a matter of easy access.  No parent, social worker, teacher or concerned citizen should ever hear the words, we have no beds available to help someone today.  It just should never happen. 

But the most chilling message I saw of all, was that Hitler has been quoted as saying that the biggest mistake they could make was to allow the people to keep their guns.  It must have been too tall an order to carry out, as the citizens apparently did still have at least some of their weapons.  But consider the speaker and his evil intent. 

You have read the words of some of the people who were influential in the formulation of our Constitution.  Do you still believe that they meant that only the militia should be armed?  I don't.
With protecting our freedoms and individual rights, there is some risk.  Don't throw out the baby with the bath water just because a few crazy people betray our forefather's trust.

And really, people, stop trying to bend the Constitution to your own preferences.  The Constitution belongs to us all and to our successors.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Why Did The U. S. Bail Out General Motors?

I learned a huge lesson this week.

I remember being quite proud of our government for bailing out our automobile industry when the recession began in late 2007-2008.  After all, this is the country of the car.  We are the proud recipients of Henry Ford's efforts as well as those of other front runners.

My family had owned two Dodge cars in the past.  One was a Dodge Dart, the other a van.  One or the other of them seemed always in the shop, so I had sworn off Chrysler products.   But saving General Motors seemed to me a worthy cause.  One of my favorite cars had been an Oldsmobile station wagon, and then there was our 1959 red and white Chevrolet.

I've told my readers in one of my blogs that my daughter and son-in-law had given me a 1998 Oldsmobile Aurora about four months ago.  At the time I was told I would receive it, Kelly Blue Book showed the car's value between three and four thousand dollars.

Tuesday of this week, the headlights went on spontaneously three times.  Two times, I finally got them off.  The third they stayed on until the battery died.  Two people tried to help to no avail.  On Wednesday, I had the car towed to the nearest trustworthy repair shop.  It is a Firestone that had done good work for me in the past.  There was not even a GM dealer listed in either phone book I consulted.

The bottom line is this particular brand and model of the car has a chronic history of "spontaneous headlights" due to a faulty switch that controls several of the auto's functions.  The best way to stop the immediate problem is to disconnect the battery, which is not under the hood at all.  Now, General Motors cares so much about its customer base that it decided not to continue manufacture of the part.  This is a 1998 car, so these autos were already known to be defective before the bailout.

Firestone called local General Motors dealers and their usual supply sources and were told not only that the parts are not made now, but they have been out of production so long that there are none in the area.  O'Reilly's said someone is attempting to start a firm making such a replacement part, but it will be several months before they are available.  Besides it will cost a pile.

I went on-line and chatted with Brian at General Motors who gave me a 1-800 number for Oldsmobile.  I called, explained the problem and was told to hold the line.  I got cut off.  I called back and after giving the message again, found I had the same rep.  She could have told me sooner.  She took my phone number in case we got cut off again and said she would call three G. M. dealers to see if she could find a switch.  She scheduled a window of time for calling me on Friday, so she would have a chance to research the problem.  She did not call today.

I called the 1-800 number again.  The rep who answered asked my name, my phone number, in case we got cut off, the last eight digits of my vin #, then my whole vin #.  He could not find my call information under any of them.  He asked my case number.  I had not been given one.  So, he had me repeat everything.  Then he began searching and put me on hold.  He came back on and asked if I had pen and paper.  He was going to give me numbers of nearby GM dealers for me to call because his supervisor had told him I should be the one making the calls.  I reminded him I had said up front that Firestone had already called the "local" dealerships.  I told him if they had had the parts here, I would not have been contacting him.  He repeated that his supervisor had said to give me the numbers.  Then he put me on hold again.  Of course, you already know what's coming.  I got cut off again and the rep did not call me back.

I'm remaining fairly calm and collected considering I have no car to drive and probably will have to have it hauled away for junk.  Aside from practicing assertiveness skills by quietly insisting they do their job, I've done nothing to rile the staff.  I've simply asked for help three times from customer services agents who are unwilling to earn their paychecks. 

I believe that somewhere in the General Motors world, there is probably a switch or two left over, and the logical place to contact is the nationwide General Motors number.  I don't know, perhaps a query could be sent out on-line to all dealers and I could purchase the part to be sent to my home.  But that would require a customer services staff that did not have all difficult to understand reps as well as supervisors who saw their jobs as serving the people who bought their cars.

You couple such behaviors with the current recall frenzy, and it looks as though we, the people, should have let this company fold.  I hope future Congresses and Administrations get this message.  Some companies deserve to go under and this one is apparently one of them. 

In case anybody from General Motors and Oldsmobile Customer Services actually gives a care about customers, here is pertinent info.

The first rep who answered twice said her name was Franzie -- at least that's how it sounded.  Remember she did not call me back when we got cut off and she did not call me during the scheduled time Friday.  She also did not enter (or later erased) my information from the computer.

The rep today said his name was Ben.  He was trying to helpful until his supervisor said the car was so old they had probably discontinued the part --  which was what I had told both reps from the start.  I can just see that supervisor shrugging it off as if the person that needs to fix a $3000 auto instead of buying one of their new death traps wasn't worth the time.  Needless to say, if I ever get dollars to buy another car, it will be a Ford.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What Hath Hundreds Of Years Of Experience Wrought?

We all are imbued with tales of Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the "Indies" which turned out to be the American continents.  We've heard the tales of subsequent ships that came from afar bringing people to colonize his finds.  We know that some of these ships overshot his coordinates and landed to the north of their destinations.

Some of the Native Americans, then referred to as Indians, welcomed the ships while others wanted to slit throats and peel scalps in their rage.  Our first Thanksgiving was the result of natives and Pilgrims declaring a truce and sharing a "potluck" dinner.

We remember the tales of the Boston Tea Party so well that all of us sometimes wish we could hold another today.  We even have a group of people -- no doubt an embarrassment to the original raiders -- who invoke the Tea Party term for their own bizarre political schemes.

Some of the greatest minds of our history worked together to form a Bill of Rights, a Constitution and our country.  Against the advice of the Father of Our Country, they even formed political parties.

Eventually -- well, fairly soon, actually --  the Caucasians and "Indians" began to intermarry.  This includes a set of my ancestors a few generations later.  Their offspring no doubt grieved and resented being called half-breeds, a term now renamed and worn with pride.  We call it "biracial" today.

A lot of descendants of these half-breeds probably wish their ancestors had intermarried a few generations later, because if they could prove themselves to be one-quarter Native American, they would be recipients of all kinds of financial advantages.

Some attention was paid to separation of state and federal rights at the beginning.  At the time the Constitution was formed, it was okay, at least in some states, to own slaves.  But women and slaves (even males) were not considered men and therefore not citizens of these United States.  Now slaves, on the one hand, must have been higher in the food chain than white women.  Their owners could count them as three fifths of a person, but for representation and taxation only.  That was better than the no vote status of women who served as the resident scapegoat (since the time of Eve) and as one psychologist once worded it, a receptacle for men's sperm.  Oh yeah, they also bore and birthed their children.

When the Union beat the Confederates, the states rights issues had reached a crescendo.  One state didn't want another -- or a collection of states -- telling them what to do.  As slavery ceased, Caucasian women moved from their role of supervising passive-aggressive workers to the role of house cleaner.  White men began to have to plant their own cotton instead of riding around on horseback supervising the work.  The world began to make a major change.

It wasn't long before man's focus had to switch to war.  We have World Wars I & II.  We experienced the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, The First Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan collectively.  And many Americans still can't get enough of it.  Many higher ranking Americans still want us in the middle of Egypt, Ukraine, Syria  --  and possibly some day in Iran, China and North Korea -- again.  Oh, yes, and the Muslims want their flag flying over the White House so they can tell us what to do also.  Watching them with our liberated women would be a hoot.

Another thing about Americans is their love of revolutions.  Not just freedom revolutions, but the industrial kind as well.  Or even someone else's war will do.

At one time, when notice of land and potential riches on the North American Continent was broadcast far and wide, we had sane and reasonable immigration policies.  It was controlled by numbers.  There was a stopover place where people could be checked for communicable diseases.  There was a place where people could declare their destinations and who would be on the continent to help them get settled.

Nowadays, people arrive by the plane load, many on visitor and student visas, and fade into the heartland never to be noticed again  --  unless they commit crimes or cause illness.  Others ride here on the tops of trains.  They should be stopped at the border but apparently they are not.  Our newly hired border patrol guards pilot speedy crafts past rafts full of people and point them out --  see there are some of them now.  But do they stop and send them back?  Heck no, they don't even break their speed.  Buses full of them breach both sides of the border and nobody makes them turn around until after they have reached our cities and become our financial burden, our logistics problem.

As predicted by President George Washington, the Spirit of Party is baneful.  The parties can't work together to accomplish much.  Heck, the parties can't even work together within themselves.  Apparently, at least per one expert, there's a problem with John Boehner holding the gavel but Ted Cruz, a bi-racial individual, holding the power.  And why don't I see Hispanic individuals as Caucasian, you ask?  Because a Mexican man, working hard to put me in my place, once told me he didn't like white people.

So, what have we, the people, actually accomplished in all these hundreds of years of practice?  Not very much!

We still quarrel over the meaning of "a right to bear arms."  I wonder what those early Americans would have done for weapons when they heard the words "the British are coming," if they had not had their own.

We haven't lost the foreigners of all ilk who rush to take what belongs to the present citizens.  And that includes the influx of British and Canadian journalists who usurp the jobs of New Yorkers who were born and reared here.

If anything, the quarrels over state's rights versus federal controls have gotten even noisier.

The wish for freedom from the British crown has changed to the wish for freedom from irrelevant laws at all levels of government.  I give you light bulb wattage and high definition television laws as examples.  But then, Congress might have had to do something useful without these.

Americans gave up British taxes on tea for our current situation?  Let's see how many taxes I can remember in a brief session.  City and state sales tax, personal property, tags tax, driver's license, a tax to use a debit card to pay your taxes, real estate taxes, city taxes and county taxes on utility bills, trash removal tax, Payment in lieu of taxes (yes, we actually have this one), city earnings taxes, state and federal income taxes, boat taxes, taxes on phone lines.  I'm sure I've left out many, including some quite crucial ones.  Hence, we have the Tea Party.  But the problem with most of them is that their only ideas revolve around not liking taxes.  They seem to think the roads and bridges pay for their own construction.  They don't believe they should raise taxes even to pay the loans we've already contracted.  Well, maybe they see defaulting on our debts as the American way.  I certainly hope not.

The immigration crisis of today was not such a problem in the beginnings of our country.  There was plenty of land.  Even if the "Indians" minded the Caucasians taking it, there was always the horrible war solution.  Let's see, let me get my six guns.  There seemed no end to the vast natural resources.  People could grow their own vegetables in the back yard and hunt and fish for their meat.  Women knew how to can foods and make quilts out of fabric scraps.  Now we have so many people, we have to live stacked one on top of another with concrete walks instead of land.  We experience water shortages that sometimes go beyond a current drought.  And our ecology worriers moan both about a future low supply of fuel at the same time they moan when we dirty the planet by using it now.
Men had a lot of power in their own domain and didn't have to resort to politics to get their fill of pushing others around.  Women and servants knew their "proper place".  It didn't cost more annually to get your house cleaned than your government paid your teachers.  And let's not even think about the cost of landscaped lawns.

It didn't cost very much to educate people then, either.  Women and slaves hadn't gotten so uppity they expected to read and write. 

The bottom line is we are still quarreling over issues of black and white because we can't seem to get it right to their exact but every changing specifications. 

Women still have to fight for their basic rights.  We still go to war at the drop of a hat -- we just prefer to do it on another turf.

We don't like others micromanaging our lives --  interfering in our individual human rights, so to speak.  We still have others who want to come and take away our stuff -- our jobs, our money, our space, our natural resources.

The only difference is that now our leaders can't find it within themselves to work together to formulate anything.  Glad this bunch wasn't here to do the Constitution.

About the only thing it seems to me we've gotten right is changing the vernacular from half-breed to biracial.  Maybe there is hope for us after all.  Unless, of course, they decide to change their labels again.