Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Trash Talk

We consume too much in this country while recycling too little. It is one reason why we only constitute 5% of the world's population, but consume 24% of the world's energy. The average American creates 1,600 pounds of trash each year. I decided to reduce my carbon footprint by stop buying so much; recycling or repurposing what I have, or obtaining what I want free from either Craigslist www.craigslist.org/ or Freecycle www.freecycle.org/ But I was unable to accomplish that modest objective because site administrators, owners, moderators and, more importantly members on these two websites erroneously believe a member offering a free item has the right to pick and choose who to give it to. It is not true, though, under the ancient premise of "first dibs," which states "there are a number of occasions where the first person to claim ownership or interest in something actually gets it. Such is the case with the term “first dibs,” or in some cases simply “dibs.” Calling first dibs or being offered first dibs by someone else generally leads to the same conclusion - one person has acquired the right of first refusal. A person with first dibs may choose the most desirable of several options, or even elect to pass on the situation altogether. What matters most with first dibs is the exclusive ability to accept or deny ownership rights without competition." In the matter at hand, Freecycle members believe - and the group implicitly shares the sentiment, which has now become reinforced as a direct consequence - that because they are "offering" an item free, that ostensible generosity enables them to rudely ignore members expressing interest in the item, respond vaguely, or coyly frustrate the recycling process. In one example, a member "offered" a 61" Big Screen television on Saturday, July 14, 2012. I immediately responded although I never saw this "offer" until yesterday. She did not respond until relatively late yesterday evening around 8:30 PM informing me it was still available "as of now," although I specifically asked her to call me so I could obtain details and, of course, allay any anxiety she may have had about inviting a stranger into her living space. I wrote back immediately respectfully asking when I could pick it up. Her vague response sent very late at 11:30 PM with not one shred of contact information was "sometime today or Wednesday." If a member is not going to respond in a timely fashion (2 - 4 hours) with the information needed to obtain an "offered" item, after exchanging emails with no conflicts for whatever reason, they need to either delete the post or be barred from posting, period. Simply put, the follow up response was unnecessarily 'vague'. What is "sometime today or Wednesday...?” Now I do empathize with the need to protect one’s person and, concomitantly, property. Since I was neither "rude" nor "creepy,” and included my telephone number so she could actually speak with me but neglected to get a better sense of who was "coming to [her] house," I do not believe her tardy responses were merited. Simply because Freecycle [redacted] has been doing something for 3 years and has 3,000 members is not very persuasive to me as a social scientist because it is not statistically significant. And, more importantly, a single moderator’s experiences with those members (a very small percentage I would guess) would be anecdotal at best, biographical at worst. Slavery existed for 400 hundred years in this country and hundreds of thousands of people agreed with it before it was grudgingly abolished. So, ignoring an ancient rule of exchange does not make it right. But we are not a literate community any longer; people simply may not know actual rules (governing conduct) exist when offering property; a model that has served commerce well for thousands of years. This "its-mine-and-I-do-what-I-want-with-it” mentality is unique to American culture, which has always been individualistic as opposed to collectivistic. President Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act known derisively as “Obamacare” immediately comes to mind here. The issue also illustrates an even broader culture war in this country where a statistically significant segment of Americans across the political spectrum are hell bent on sacrificing “tradition” altogether on the altar of political correctness. It portents a very slippery slope that has given way to the moral relativism we as a society have rushed to embrace in order to justify virtually whatever criminal, immoral, unethical and, in some cases, unnatural conduct with which we wish engage without fear of prohibition, reprehension, or inhibition... selfishness or self-centeredness masquerading as excusable rudeness included. Is it any wonder civility has left the building in our nation’s capital… or, more importantly, why I do not have my 61” Big Screen to watch the Miami Heat www.nba.com/heat wreak havoc in the post-post season…?

Monday, July 9, 2012

"Keepin It Real... phoney"

When former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), speaking to a group of voters in Janesville, Wisconsin on Wednesday, March 27, 2012 was caught on television about to call President Obama a "Nig..." http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=nzyvo8SKa0M#t=2065s while still on the stump, the Reverend Dr. Alfred "I-Speak-For-Every-Negro-On-Earth-But-Cannot-Talk-Or-More-Importantly-Pronounce-Anything-Clearly" Sharpton immediately picked it up on his widely listened to radio show, "Keepin It Real," which is nationally syndicated by Syndication One, an African American owned Radio One affiliate. Sharpton  hit it hard for all of one day, never mentioned it one time on the even more influential MSNBC "Politicsnation," where Santorum's unbelievable flub promptly withered on the vine. So, yes, the Fourth Estate has been deeply vested in shaping popular culture and, concomitantly, our collective perception of the prototypical - ideal - presidential candidate. But this beating up on the skinny black guy really gets my goat and strikes me as being blatantly hypocritical given some of the sources. I honestly like a great deal of President Obama's policies, while I have a significant issue with many others - e.g., National Defense Authorization Act, Patriot Act, and a bloated $3.8 trillion budget that cuts critical funding from vulnerable sectors like higher education, which would disparately impact HBCUs. To their credit, though, and in a concession to racial solidarity, not one of the HBCU presidents has publically expressed dismay over that disastrous budget knowing their comments would hold sway over a significant [read that: voting] segment of the black community. I have embedded some comic relief that illustrates Sharpton in a former life: a human punching bag for his then arch-nemesis, Roy Innis. http://www.youtube.com/​watch?v=XJBXHDYU0KA Roy Innis, the Brooklyn Brawler and former head of the now impotent Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), had a penchant for rudely choking out guests out on national television who had the temerity to call him an "Uncle Tom," or just generally disagreed with his positions... is here pummeling a rather rotund Rev. Sharpton much to his chagrin I am sure on the long defunct Morton Downey Show.

Friday, July 6, 2012

It's All Obama's Fault Blah blah blah and blah...

All we ever hear from Republican pundits, conservative talking heads, and the legions of sycophants and apologists - most notably the “tea baggers” - who slavishly follow and greedily consume this drivel in 24 hour new [read that: propaganda] cycles fueled primarily by FOX is that all our current social and economic woes can be attributed to the skinny black guy in the white house. It’s all President Obama's fault. It was this kind of simplistic, silly even, mindset that brought us 8 years of a disastrous Bush presidency; one where deregulation started in the Carter administration, ramped up by both Regan, Bush 41, and Clinton, took steroids in Dubya's administration. The stated rationale for deregulation is often that fewer and simpler regulations will lead to a raised level of competitiveness, therefore higher productivity, more efficiency and lower prices overall. Opposition usually involves apprehension regarding environmental pollution, quality standards (such as the removal of regulations on hazardous materials), financial uncertainty, and constraining monopolies. Deregulation gained momentum in the 1970s, influenced by research at the University of Chicago and the theories of Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich von Hayek, and Milton Friedman, among others. Two leading conservative 'think tanks' in Washington, the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute, were actively holding seminars and publishing highly partisan, skewed studies advocating deregulatory initiatives throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Alfred E. Kahn played an unusual role in both publishing as an academic while actively participating in the Carter administration's efforts to deregulate transportation, which resulted in a wholesale loss of high paying union jobs in the trucking industry; a critical one for the American economy that transports virtually every good imported, produced or manufactured in the US across its crucial supply chain, which fast forward 30 years, has still not rebounded and, in fact, continues to lose ground. It was during this time that rich American manufacturers raced to off shore the types of jobs that traditionally made a prosperous but now dwindling middle class, which enabled poor black and white folks to achieve upward mobility. Republican leadership wants to disingenuously lay all the blame at Obama's feet for what was essentially a flawed business model driven strictly by greed. The few cents in cost savings per man hour these manufacturers gained through off shoring did not justify this business model in an objective cost benefit analysis. In a scathing piece published by Businessweek in June 2007, staff writer Michael Mandel wrote, “new evidence suggests that shifting production overseas has inflicted worse damage on the U.S. economy than the numbers show. BusinessWeek has learned of a gaping flaw in the way statistics treat offshoring, with serious economic and political implications. Top government statisticians now acknowledge that the problem exists, and say it could prove to be significant.” What really sealed our collective fate were folks voting against their own interest - recent 2010 Mid-term results electing obstructive “tea bag” freshman to the Congress persuasively illustrates this fact - naively believing that because they share the same hue and aspirations, these ultra-wealthy business people would rush to embrace 'em as equals no less. The overarching strategy of rich people in this country has always been divide and conquer, though: they disdain poor and middle class whites just as much every other social class that does not share their station... In common parlance, the term "social class," is usually synonymous with "socio-economic class," defined as: "people having the same social, economic, or educational status," e.g., "the working class"; "an emerging professional class." And until poor and middle class whites begin to understand this simple truth, we will continue to lose ground and, concomitantly, our once enviable standard of living while rich folk like Mitt “Daddy Warbucks” Romney laugh all the way to the bank.