Thursday, March 28, 2013

What Might Be Your Butterfly Effect?

Every day of our lives we could be impacting those around us and maybe even the world at large in ways we may never know. Who knows where an act of kindness might end, or something we teach another, or words of encouragement for someone at a critical time could be the catalyst, the butterfly wing, that changes the direction of someone's life. Who knows the ripples that will flow from such tiny events that can change the world.

Consider the story of Norman Borlaug, the Nobel Prize winner who is credited for saving at least two billion lives from starvation from his research and development of drought resistant grain hybrids. I knew I liked him when I learned that he was a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame who is credited with being the catalyst to start high school wrestling in Minnesota.

"Wrestling taught me some valuable lessons ... I always figured I could hold my own against the best in the world. It made me tough. Many times, I drew on that strength. It's an inappropriate crutch perhaps, but that's the way I'm made". Norman Borlaug.

Okay, so he saved two billion lives, was it him, or should we actually give some of that credit to Vice President Henry Wallace, FDR's second VP? Wallace was previously the Secretary of Agriculture, who through his influence as VP persuaded the Rockefeller Foundation to invest in Borlaug’s research making his discoveries possible. Wallace had a lifelong passion for experimenting with crops to help feed more of the worlds people. Without this passion of Wallace, Borlaug's research was floundering away in Mexico.

So, then should we share the credit with both Borlaug and Wallace, but maybe we should look back further. There was a young college student who was studying and experimenting with crops who a college president had allowed to live with them while he was in school. Part of how he paid his room and board was he helped look out for their young son and often took him with him on nature walks studying the crops and let him watch and participate with him in his experiments. That young boy was Henry Wallace, that student was George Washington Carver. So should the credit then go to Carver as well?

Okay, now we have Borlaug, Wallace, and George Washington Carver who had an impact on saving those two billion lives. However, should we look just a bit further?

In the mid 1800s there was a raid on a community of Free African Americans in Missouri. The village was destroyed and the people captured to be taken to Arkansas to sell back into slavery. One of the youngest was a very small baby. A local farmer and his wife were heartbroken by this attack and Susan Carver was able to find a way to get a message to those raiders and negotiate a price to return that baby. She sent her husband Moses to ride to a meeting place near the Arkansas line where he traded their last horse for that stolen baby. The raiders threw a sack toward Moses and he caught that nearly frozen child inside. He took him and put him under his shirt and coat to try to warm him and rushed back home to Susan who nursed this baby back to health. Moses and Susan a white farmer couple adopted this child as their own and gave him their last name and raised George Washington Carver.

It could easily be said if not for Moses and Susan Carver those two billion people would have starved.

You never know what you may do or say that might make a difference to someone who might make a difference to millions. I know that helps me to keep a bit of perspective and try to leave people lifted.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Fiscal Cliff Poison Pill

Okay, the Republicans capitulated and gave in on most of Obama's demands to stave off the "Fiscal Cliff" so we should hang them and vote a third party right? I truly understand the emotions behind feeling like that. However, right now we need thinking not feeling. No matter what is passed this next two to four years anyone who has any sense, who understands even basic economics or civics will hate it. However, elections have consequences and we are in for a very rough ride. The final verdict is not yet in as to any chance of saving any semblance of our once great nation from the hands of those in power bent on destroying it. One thing is sure, if we stand fast and draw a line in the sand, we won't save her at all.

Let's take a look at what we are up against in this "Fiscal Cliff" debate. Obama controls the White House, the Senate, the Media, and through that the American people who 56% approve of his job performance. I understand that is difficult to grasp if you have ever used your brain for anything but a garbage can. However that is where we are. Most Americans have bought the class envy politics where they want the top earners to get punished, they don't understand they are talking about their boss who may lay them off when his income is diminished. Too many do not understand cause and effect in economics.

So here is what the Republicans have had to deal with, a truly no win situation against an opponent who cannot lose. Negotiating against someone who really wants the "worst case" situation to happen, the only threat you can hold against them being their own best case scenario makes it an uphill climb. Obama and the Democrats truly wanted the Fiscal Cliff to happen, it is their political wet dream, with it they get to raise taxes massively on EVERY working American to where Bill Clinton left them, and get to gut the military as well, even better they would be able to blame the Republicans for it happening.

There are so few who understand what is happening the Republicans couldn't win a dog catcher race in 2014 after EVERY American family sees 300-500.00/month disappear from their monthly paychecks. We would see a recession that would make 2008-2009 look like a Bull Market, jobs disappearing, massive foreclosures both in residential and commercial markets. It would be Grapes of Wrath kind of things. Thousands of military and defense industry personnel would be cut loose and unemployed all at once as well.

Last month Boehner tried something that even the Republicans didn't understand, he took a bill that Nancy Pelosi was pushing last summer and rewrote it verbatim to prove that the Democrats had no intention of accepting ANY bill from the House Republicans. Obama promised to veto it, Reid said it would never be voted on in the Senate. This proved that nothing the House did would ever see the light of day in the Senate, and only a Senate bill would have any chance to be passed.

The Senate Republicans hashed out a terrible bill with the Senate Democrats, but it does limit the damage marginally from no bill at all that the Democrats would actually prefer. It protects the military short term, it gives permanent tax relief to everyone under 400k individually, and 450k as a family, but there is bad news for those making 250k and up with loss of deductions, (read tax increases) just not increased tax rates which Obama wanted both, just got one.

These are the key victories if we want to call them that, maybe better said, the areas we didn't lose as much:

•Raises taxes on incomes over $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for households instead of everyone.
•Raises taxes on investment income for those taxpayers as well
•Limits tax deductions for incomes over $250,000—raising their taxes, too
•Increases the death tax rate for estates over $5 million
•Extends long-term unemployment benefits for one year
•Postpones sequestration’s automatic spending cuts (including those to defense) by two months

Elections have consequences, and we are all going to feel them for a long time. This is going to be ugly, but we MUST learn how to play politics on our side. The Democrats are masters at it, we as a party suck, mostly because our voting base doesn't understand the game. It is like my Daddy always taught me, it is better to get a little of something than a lot of nothing. We will have to fight for scraps and try to save as much as we can, but when we lost the White House and the Senate we guaranteed that we and our country was going to pay deeply and dearly. It is survival mode now.

As to third parties, who knows, but if we don't play this game very well and very smart getting the little things we can, there won't be anything left to save after a third party would come about.