Men's Issues Article
VOTING WITH YOUR FEET
(50PlusPrime) LATHRUP VILLAGE, MICHIGAN --
As SO many of us try to keep our noses to the grindstone in today’s ‘survival strategy’ mode, there seem to be more negative ‘viral stories’ on the Internet and in the media than ever.
Of course, some are strategically timed and placed to keep such items as the political election machines oiled and humming (read that as ‘money solicited’ by both parties with year-round election cycles now!?!). One was Mitt Romney’s adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, who said “everything changes” for the fall campaign. “It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch” he said. “You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.” (Detroit Free Press, 3-22-2012). I wonder about the worth/importance of the tens of millions of campaign dollars that were spent (as well as volunteers’ hours for each of our 50 states and providences, and by both parties), only to ‘start all over again’?
Then there was the resignation letter Greg Smith, an executive director of the huge Goldman Sachs international investment bank, sent to the New York Times that ‘accused the bank of losing its moral fiber and putting profits ahead of customers’ interests. On Wall Street, the editorial may have been shocking in tone, but was not surprising in content. Goldman’s peers, even some of its customer, take its pursuit of profit as ordinary business.’ (Detroit Free Press, 3-15-2012, page, 5B).
I read today how the Bank of America gave its CEO a pay package worth $7.5 million last year, six times as large as the year before. It happened while the company’s stock lost more than half its value, too. (Detroit Free Press, 3-29-2012, page 5B).
Metro Detroit waits to hear whether a single emergency manager, a financial consent agreement or a financial stability agreement will be agreed to by the governor to run Michigan’s largest city during its financial crisis and avoid bankruptcy. Seems people can’t even agree what the ‘inal day for discussion and voting is!?! Seems everything runs down to the wire these days, with the old fashion game of ‘chicken’ being the current route for pushing limits to see who will ‘cave in’ first - winning by default?!?. I keep writing about the concepts of ‘cooperation’ and ‘negotiation’ but they don’t seem to be getting any consideration, whether between the state and the city, or even between the city mayor and city council!?! Also, over the last several months of hearing Detroit is down to the wire of running out of cash and having to declare bankruptcy, we are hearing how this crisis was begun some 4 to 5 DECADES ago!?! How can such huge messes go for decades without being exposed, and more importantly dealt with!?! I suspect, as with our national bank, auto and mortgage financial crises, our leaders will be ‘too busy’ tending to the media fires to take time to learn from the past, as an ounce of prevention towards the future (as Goldman Sachs director Greg Smith wrote in his resignation letter)???
Finally, there was the actor Clint Eastwood’s Super Bowl television ad where he referenced the idea that, perhaps, it may be ‘half-time in America’. “The country has been in the doldrums for some time, and it’s gotten to the point where nobody seems to be running it. Nobody knows what the left hand or the right hand is doing”. (Detroit Free Press, 2-11-2012, page 1C).
Are people taking notice of these powerful statements and idealogical approaches to how ‘forces’/companies/parties are conceptualizing America and how it runs?!? I fear, like I have so often said of late, that people are too busy focusing on the fears they personally perceive and then react to, that they are not noticing the sources of those fears, the anticipated/EXPECTED reactions for the masses, and thereby these ‘leaders’ are getting people to forego ‘thinking’ in its most basic terms, and simply react (usually out of ‘fear’). The thought of the lemming animal running off the cliff comes to mind!?! Who can we trust to be sincere and authentic these days, rather than simply being good at charades???
I had a friend who spent nearly an hour trying to simply purchase an electronic device from a local discount store. When he finally got too frustrated with their process of needing to order it online (while talking with a salesperson on the phone) they didn’t seem to care that he decided to cancel the purchase (stating that it was their difficult process that drove him away, and not just from this sale). Someone later commented that it wasn’t surprising to be happening at that store, since many such businesses don’t seem to care what the customer thinks or feels any longer. They are about making money - period! They expect their customers will tolerate it to save some money...
IF we think about the Goldman Sachs director who resigned, he says the bank hasn’t changed since they, along with other banks, were bailed out three years ago with $700 BILLION American tax dollars. I recall these were the institutions that were ‘too big to fail’, and now one of their own is saying they still haven’t learned or changed their operating procedures or attitudes (I believe I also recall they were quick in returning the loans, stating that this was so they could forego the imposed restrictions on corporate bonuses). IF the processes that got them into trouble are again true, or even possibly true, why isn’t anyone in Congress, or one or more of our many U.S. Congressional oversight committees, running to look into this!?! Where is some healthy ‘fear’ when it might prevent another possible banking ‘meltdown’??? We just got the banks to agree to pay $25 Billion towards the effects its had on our mortgage crisis (without agreeing to being at fault!?!).
The friend who tried to purchase the electronic device was attempting to hurry so we might go to a favorite garden to enjoy the unusually early Spring flowering trees and bulbs (as a result of record warm temperatures, an upside to the debated global warming???). When we got to the gardens we found they still had their winter hours in effect (to change the following week, even though daylight savings time was already in effect, and a large number of visitors were present on this Sunday). There were signs warning visitors to not get locked in when they closed at 4 PM (and in red letters no less). We went to relax, expecting to be able to take our time until a typical 5 or 5:30 closing time of most public institutions, until their Summers hours of closing around 7 PM. When we enquired of the posted 4PM closing, we were told by the ticket person that indeed we needed to be gone so we didn’t get locked in (and not in a friendly voice, either). Four of its five mission statements on its website mention the public, but it didn’t feel or sound ‘public friendly’??? So, we had rushed through a commercial store to get to a public institution, only to feel we didn’t find the ‘island of tranquility’ we desired in the first place... so we might get some refreshment towards an upcoming work week. What’s ‘wrong’ with this picture?!?
Another shocking picture is the recent ‘viral story’ of the ‘pink slime’ hamburger meat byproduct. It was Gerald Zirnstein, a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture microbiologist that first coined the term in a private e-mail to coworkers. While approved by the government as ‘safe’, it wasn’t until the public got hold of his vivid description (and the facts of the process) that the public put pressure on suppliers and retail sellers to not use such product, whether assured safe by our government or not. Perhaps, once they accidentally became educated and informed, an example of how the public can have ‘clout’ and power when it chooses to (when it is possibly not lulled into thinking everything is OK by a government seal of approval or commercial marketing strategies???). Perhaps, this again/still raises the question of ‘who’s watching the watchers???’ Could these be examples of the ‘half-time in America’ actor Clint Eastwood was referring to???
We often still say we are the ‘leaders of the free world’, but these stories further raise doubts in my mind, especially when I now know what other countries are trying and having successes with. And, even this may be changed with the Supreme Court decision that corporations and private donors can now give unlimited amounts to the recently created Super Pacs!?! In Michigan there is an effort to create laws that would limit this new ‘process’. I suggest an equally important concern is the ‘values’ that are determining the direction of the investment of those dollars, any dollars of any public, private or commercial enterprise.
Now I’ve gone and done ‘it’... I publicly mentioned the concept of ‘values’ in America. We pretend we don’t have to have any, so no one individual or group is offended, which has merit in itself, or declare it is about ‘free enterprise’. However, by not having any stated values, I suggest we are allowing/encouraging those without regard for ‘limits’ or ‘boundaries’ to ‘go where no person dares to tread’ and with ‘no fear’, either!?! This I suggest has lead to our current political, governing and commercial organizations touting the extremes they continue to create and then exploit.
I recently realized I’ve been writing and talking on the issues of men for three decades now!?! One of my first writings was “The Value of Values” and here we are, again, 30 years later!?! I’m still optimistic we can get through this unique period in America’s history, but fear the number and depth of ‘emotional scars’ that are being inflicted upon our citizens... until we better understand the importance of some ‘standards’ by which to measure and relate our ‘boundaries’ and ‘limits’. Perhaps, more of us need to vote by walking away from what we are dissatisfied with, and equally important to move towards what we desire and believe in???
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