Hello Fred

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Leadership | Covid 19

We all are better prepared to sacrifice when we are confident that our leaders are focused on the one issue that will get us closer to normal as fast as possible.

We are close to another election.  The incumbent had anticipated that the economy would be the wave that carried him into a second term. 

  • It would take guts for anybody to order stay at home orders, spend billions on ventilators and masks before we believed it was in our best interests.
  • It would take guts to tell America there was an invisible force coming.   
  • What would not have taken guts was testing.
    • The failure to immediately go all in on testing is unforgivable. 
    • Testing would have primed the nation to accept the next measures.

But that is leadership. It’s the Who, What, When, and How of success.

Great leaders know intuitively who to listen to, what to do first, when to act, and how to tell a nation we are in trouble if we don’t act now and act boldly. 

Great leaders do not try to rewrite history or call truth fake news.  Alternative history is not real.

Leadership requires trust and trust comes from being consistently honest. 

Humility and a since of spirituality helps build trust. Great leaders need to be perceived as straight shooters and not be perceived as deceitful by over half the population.

Who would have been the leader that could have acted boldly and quickly?  We don’t know.  It’s one thing to make a decision while on the hot seat and another while on the sofa. 

I have a neighbor that flies the Flag on their house and we don’t talk politics because we can guess each other’s opinion of Trump.  Today they said New York City (Governor, Mayor) should have shut down their city much sooner; that many living and working in NYC traveled out of the city spreading the virus.

My neighbors also were critical of Los Angeles’ Mayor for too tightly requiring people to stay inside their homes and not even letting them walk their dogs outside.

You know where I am going with this.  Trump supporters are going to blame governors and mayors for the spread of Covid 19.  Not because they think that is the best way to help reelect Trump, but that they actually believe it isn’t his fault.

The problem is that much of the spread of Covid 19 stems from the 70 days that passed from the time Trump was briefed and the day when he stopped downplaying the pandemic.  He was calling it fake news instead of rallying governors, mayors, and us into taking action and investing in ventilators and masks.  Trump did not ask for the stimulus package and when the first one passed he said it was more than he wanted.

Here is a link to an article that I found interesting about the longer term ramifications of Covid 19. …Here is an introductory snippet: “Crisis moments also present opportunity: more sophisticated and flexible use of technology, less polarization, a revived appreciation for the outdoors and life’s other simple pleasures. No one knows exactly what will come, but here is our best stab at a guide to the unknown ways that society—government, healthcare, the economy, our lifestyles and more—will change.”

The Case for Buttigieg

I try to keep this site, HelloFred.com, informational and not opinionated.  But with this post I wanted to try my hand for making a case for Pete Buttigieg for President.

Let’s start with a question.  When do we turn leadership of this country over to a younger generation?  Biden would be 78, Sanders would be 79, and Bloomberg would be 78 when they would take office in 2021.  They would be 82, 83, and 82 respectively when they started their second terms.  Warren 71/75 and Klobuchar 60/64 have yet to be competitive.

China seems to always have leaders that match those ages and typically Republicans have older candidates leading their ticket. Democrats tend to elect younger presidents with the last five Democratic presidents being 47, 46, 52, 55, and 43.

Only three presidents have been over 65 when taking office.  One died shortly after taking office, one finished their second term with Alzheimer’s, and the other was Trump.

Buttigieg was told by a caller at a Town Hall that they didn’t want a President less than 40 years of age.  Well, Buttigieg would be in his forties for 7 of his 8 years as President.

Its no secret that black voters have reason to mistrust white politicians especially in the southern states for they have so often made life more difficult for black people.   So when Buttigieg fired his black Police Chief for alleged illegal wiretapping and one of South Bend’s police officers shot and killed a black person, there was reason to be hesitant about supporting Buttigieg.

South Bend was deteriorating and it had problems when Buttigieg was elected Mayor at age 29.  Buttigieg left South Bend a better place eight years later.  He was a manager. Firing the Police Chief might not have been in Buttigieg’s political interest or the right decision but the decision did not give a window into his soul proving him to be racist either.

Buttigieg has shown in the debates that he keeps his cool and can say what he wants to say with ease and without yelling.  That should carry over to the Situation Room where he would listen and allow knowledgeable people to speak candidly.  Decisions would come out of the Situation Room that reflected what the team of experts had weighed in on and not what one person decided to do based on tendencies and habits and ego.

Buttigieg would be able to coherently tell us the facts and keep us informed.  In 2016 Americans were forced to select from two people that fairly or not were not liked by way too many people.  Buttigieg is likeable.

I like that he is very smart and studied history instead of law. I like that he distinguished himself academically. I like that he can communicate in several languages.  I like that he can play the piano, harmonica, guitar, and didgeridoo. I like that he served in the military and was in a war zone. I like that he was a mayor instead of a Senator.

I like that Buttigieg is a little left of center and not far left of center.  Why?  I say I like left because I believe that the left side is people oriented and the right side is business oriented; and the farther one goes left or right the more extreme the differences. 

Being pro-business does not mean people support greed and being pro-people does not mean people do not want businesses to be very successful.  Being pro-business doesn’t mean someone is materialistic. Being pro-people doesn’t mean someone is more spiritual. We need balance.  Extreme pro business that ignores people leads to greed, lack of inner and outer peace, and war. Extreme pro people without material development leads joblessness.

Honesty is in our nature, and it is one of our greatest means of restoring faith in our democracy among everyday Americans and building a national movement rooted in trust and faith in our country and our beliefs. Internally and externally, our effort will be characterized by fidelity to the truth.

Pete Buttigieg

My faith teaches that the world is not divided into good people and bad people; [it teaches] that all of us are capable of good and bad things. Today, more than ever, politics matters, because leaders can call out either what is best in us or what is worst in us, can draw us either to our better or to our worst selves. Politics at its worst is ugly, but at its best politics can lift us up. It is not just policy making; it is moral. It is soul craft.

Pete Buttigieg

While Americans have moved from state to state, job to job, young to old; there has been a political battle for control of the direction America takes. The direction is dependent on how we incorporate into our voting these words from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:

That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth and shall have a new birth of freedom.

Does America move in the direction where we become a nation where all people are equal before the law and have unrestricted participation in self-governance?

Or, does America move in the direction where  a only some us enjoy the full blessings of liberty; where only some of us can decide on who is granted privilege and who is capable of self-governance?

Lincoln and Washington have clearly told us their preference.

Update: Buttigieg has suspended his bid for the Presidency and endorsed Biden. Maybe this post should be changed to the case for Buttigieg for Vice President. Biden needs to bring new and younger faces into his administration and give them opportunities to evolve and take us into the future. He has already said that Buttigieg reminds him of his son Beau.

Supreme Court Battle for Control

 I don’t know about you but I grew up thinking the Supreme Court was made up of the finest legal minds and that as a team, would arrive at the best interpretation of the Constitution.  The thought that ideological leanings, personal attitudes, values, political philosophies, or policy preferences would influence a Justice’s vote didn’t get on my radar until the court got involved in the Florida ballot issue in the Bush v Gore presidential election. 

 Alright, I admit I wasn’t paying attention.  I still find 5 to 4 votes to be an indication that the makeup of the Supreme Court could be better if it is always the same Justices that vote the same way.  It is a red alert signal that the Court is flawed when the majority vote keeps being made by the same Justices. The flaw is a Court that doesn’t have a sufficient number of swing voting Justices.  The question is then whether a President and Senate will fix the flaw or compound it.

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Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice

A Choice Perspective–

Obviously humans can make physical bodies as can all animals but some will argue that there may be a lack of humility to say that humans also create ever lasting souls that temporarily inhabit those bodies.

For those that believe the everlasting soul or spirit is not created from the human egg and seed but instead by the Divine, might they be allowed to believe that the soul is not created upon conception?

To them the termination of a pregnancy might not be terminating a soul or spirit because they do not have the power to terminate something that is everlasting or something that has yet to inhabit a fetus.

Accepting that someone has the right to believe that is what freedom of religion is about. At the turn of the 21st Century there were  28,000,000 people in the United States that claim to be non-adherents of any religious tradition. A 2015 Gallop Pole showed that half of Americans consider themselves “pro-choice” on abortion, surpassing the 44% who identify as “pro-life.”

The U.S. prison population is more than 2.4 million. – That means more than one out of every 100 American adults is behind bars. Is there a responsibility for society to do more than insist that every fetus is born?

If a woman does not want to give birth to a fetus for health and financial reasons and is legally forced to give birth, who should pay for the cost of growing that child?

If the mother can’t provide a safe and nourishing environment or have the means to feed and clothe the child, should she be legally forced to put the baby up for adoption?

Most of the time people have an image in their heads about a circumstance, like the circumstance of a pregnant woman. Here is an image you might not have thought about.  In 1950, the world population was about 2.5 billion.  In 2000, it was about 6 billion.  The United Nations estimates the world population will eventually level out at 11 billion people in 2150.  Large numbers of the world’s population continue to live in severe poverty.  In 1997 1.3 billion people had incomes below $1 per day.  These people, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, East and Southeast Asia, on the Indian subcontinent, and in Haiti, lived very near the margin of subsistence.  Some of the most extreme poverty is found on the outskirts of rapidly growing cities in developing countries.  In many parts of the world, people have moved to urban areas in search of work.  Often, they must live in slums, in makeshift dwellings without sanitation or running water.  Is the intensity of your right-to-life position consistent regardless of the circumstance of the pregnant woman?

Most of us  want to make our own choices regardless of how difficult they are.  People who would be good parents would have a very difficult time deciding to abort a fetus.  It would be a traumatic decision that could haunt them for life.  They do not need others to add to that trauma.

The longer a woman is pregnant the less likely she is to abort.  Something drastically has to change for a woman who has carried a fetus into late term for her to decide to abort the fetus.  That decision is probably excruciatingly painful and personal.

Pro-Choice supports access to safe and legal abortion if for no other reason than to prevent women from seeking back ally abortions.

Women are different than men.  They can give birth.  They need access to effective birth control and emergency contraception, and reproductive health services.  Why would a man want to take that away from them?

Men, if you were the one that carried the fetus, would that change your opinion about life vs choice?

Are you still a single issue voter?

The Growth of the Independent Voter

The growth of the independent voter is derived from dislike of the dysfunction in Washington DC tied to our-way-or-no-way practices.  Political Parties have become locked in.

If we are not elected officials, the best way to avoid political group think is to just get out of it. How? Well, to get started, we could register and identify as an Independent voter and then we could, regardless of Party, vote for individuals whose ideas most often match our own and stop voting for a Party.

Political Parties are supposed to bring order to the process of policy making. As party members, individual politicians have a ready-made group of allies that will usually cooperate with their efforts to pass and implement legislation. At the national level, this means that a rookie Congressperson is supposed to arrive with a network of allies that would support their efforts and that he/she would support in turn.  That best works when the Party is made up of flexible and willing to compromise INDIVIDUALS.  Otherwise a newly elected person basically votes as they are told.

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Taxes

The first and most important responsibility of any corporation is to be economically viable while being good stewards which means more than optimizing the traditional goal of increased shareholder wealth. Climate change, water shortages, decreasing biodiversity, unequal distribution of wealth and economic opportunity, social unrest, and cyber-attacks are among the acknowledged threats to the sustainability of businesses around the globe.

Sometimes unions and employees have to cooperate and agree to wage and benefit reductions and sometimes there is a need to increase the pay of managers who are the difference between failure and success. Sometimes workers will have to increase productivity without receiving a pay increase. All this is especially true when all are included in profit sharing and the alternative is closing a factory or shifting employment to low-wage sites abroad.

That works for large big ticket companies like General Motors or Caterpillar but not for manufacturers of small lower cost products. Labor intensive, repetitive, low skill jobs will continue to move off shore and won’t come back. In their place should be large scale infrastructure jobs. The exception should be those repetitive jobs that could be performed in American prisons.

America got the cart before the horse when repetitive jobs were either sent off-shore or mechanized. It blew a hole in the middle class before investments were made in infrastructure. America’s infrastructure was crumbling as fast as wages were dropping or disappearing and wealth was shifting to fewer and fewer.

In America’s earlier years, the wealthiest like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford and others introduced the principal of charity. Hundreds of millions of dollars were donated without the benefit of a tax write-off to help the needy. At that time there was no Social Security system, no Medicare for the elderly, no unemployment pay for the jobless. There was no help for battered women and children or the physically handicapped.

Those charities couldn’t keep up with the needs of Americans and in the 1920’s there was a shift from individual philanthropy to corporate philanthropy. Business leaders established pension plans, employee stock ownership and life insurance programs, limitations of working hours, and higher wages. They built houses, churches, schools, and libraries.

There was a depression and a World War.

Then, during the following 30 years, the largest middle class in the history of the world was created. CEOs during that time earned about 20 times what the typical worker made and both the economy and worker wages doubled. That 1:1 ratio of income growth to growth of the overall economy was why we had a great middle class.

The next 30 years was different. The economy doubled again but the incomes of the typical American worker did not increase. CEO compensation did though. During the last 30 years CEO pay has gone from 20 times to 200 times that of their typical worker.

The richest 1% used to have incomes that represented about 10% of a corporation’s compensation costs and now it is 20%.

The rising income inequality has resulted in less money being collected for Social Security. That’s because the Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) collects taxes on wages that are less than $118,500 (the max). People that are out of work or have jobs that pay less than those they used to have, pay less into Social Security. Those whose incomes rose stop paying into FICA after their wages on wages over the max.

Get rid of the max and install a FICA tax on all income whether reported on a W2 or Form 1099 and Social Security is solvent and eliminates the need to increase the retirement age or reduce monthly payments, or squeeze Cost of Living increases. That is not part of any tax plan being considered in Congress. Why?

America’s tax laws are complicated. Corporate tax rates are high but because of loopholes, the amount of tax they pay is reasonable. Lowering the rates and eliminating the loopholes makes sense and take away a myth that corporations in America are taxed higher than elsewhere. America’s GNP doesn’t seem to have a direct correlation to the tax rate.

The wealthiest today, unlike Rockefeller and Carnegie, are less interested in philanthropy and more interested in maximizing wealth. Huge donations have been given to politicians and in return, they want tax laws that benefit them.

It’s not only FICA that people with large incomes are not fully contributing to; they also earn large portions of their income from capital gains and dividends which have a lower tax rate.

Long-term capital gains (stocks sold that were owned one year or longer) tax rates are zero, 15 percent and 20 percent for 2018, depending on your income. Generally, any dividend that is paid out from a common or preferred stock is an ordinary dividend unless otherwise stated. Qualified dividends are dividends that meet the requirements to be taxed as capital gains. Under current law, qualified dividends are taxed at a 20%, 15%, or 0% rate, depending on your tax bracket.

Federal tax brackets on wages go from 10 percent for the lowest earner to 37 percent for the highest. Short-term capital gains taxes on stocks held for less than a year are tied to your federal tax bracket.

Why in a fair world would anybody accept that elites should pay a lower tax rate than the majority of Americans? It takes a closed and gullible mind to think that that benefits anybody but someone that doesn’t need that kind of subsidy.

What America needs is for Congress to pass a huge infrastructure bill that is designed to replace all the jobs that have moved off-shore or become mechanized?
The need for an estate tax is greater now than ever before. The gap between the wealthiest 2% and everybody else has widened. The upper middle class is shrinking and the lower middle class is growing.

Get the tax issue right and we could balance the budget and have a sustainable Social Security and Medicare for all.

Comparing Visions of Obama, France’s Macron and Trump

April 25, 2018

France’s president Emmanuel Macron in front of US Congress — got a standing ovation.  


“I believe that against ignorance, we have education — against the threats on the planet, science,” he explained. “I believe in building a better future for our children, which requires offering them a planet that is still habitable in 25 years. Some people think that securing current industries and their jobs is more urgent than transforming our economies to meet the global challenge of climate change. I hear these concerns. But we must find a smooth transition to a low carbon economy.”


Macron on Trump leaving Paris Agreement– “isolationism, withdrawal and nationalism” can temporarily remedy our fears, but that it won’t keep the changes in the world from taking effect.


“We have to keep our eyes wide open to new risks right in front of us,” he continued. “I’m convinced that if we decide to open our eyes wider, we will be stronger. We will overcome the dangers. We will not let the rampaging work of extreme nationalism shake a world full of hopes for greater prosperity.”

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Millennials

–“The boomers inherited a rich, dynamic country and have gradually bankrupted it.”


By Sean Illing@seanillingsean.illing@vox.com  Dec 20, 2017, 9:00am EST
How the baby boomers — not millennials — screwed America

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Hope Is America’s Strength

The Role of Hope

There will be more peace in the world if developing countries raise their standard of living and quality of life.  There should be hope everywhere.  Our businesses should stop trying to merely maximize profits off the backs of fellow souls in third world countries or from the natural resources of third world countries.  A fair share of profits gained from workers or resources should by invested back into those countries to build infrastructure, schools, and hospitals and resources should never be taken without protecting the environment and beauty of those third world countries.

We can help create more global hope because hope is America’s unique national quality.  It is its outlook for a better and promising future.  Americans approach challenges as opportunities and not as obstacles.  Most Americans look ahead toward aspirations and do not dwell on current circumstance.  Americans do this because that is its history.  Everywhere else in the world there is a history of struggle that has had to be overcome–a history where populations have not benefited from the power of optimism.

The United States has been known as a grand experiment. Its still new. Other countries have joined us in this grand experiment.  Others are either coming along kicking and screaming or have totally rejected it. Optimism and hope are at the heart of this grand experiment as much as is self rule.

America needs to help others evolve.  But how is evolvement measured?  By more of the Earth’s population having adequate food, clothing, shelter, medicine, health, jobs?  Is it that our technology and scientific knowledge is improved and shared?  Is it that we live longer?  Is it that more of Earth’s populations live where human rights are honored, where political systems serve rather than repress?  Is it by looking into prisons and seeing who are inside and the conditions in which they exist?  Is it where more populations benefit from a flywheel effect that constantly increases momentum for improving ethics, morality, respect, and service to others regardless of race, religion, creed, nationality, sexual persuasion, gender, education, handicap, age, addiction?  Is it that more of Earth’s populations are productive, creatively engaged, able to live simple healthy non-addictive lives without the life shortening frustrations of insatiable materialism, greed, hate, jealously, and fear in hearts?   Are lives more balanced with equal parts of spirituality, work, play, family, sleep, and service?

According to Jared Diamond in his book Guns, Germs, and Steel:

When trying to create change and help third world countries we need to keep in mind the role history plays.  Just introducing good institutions to poor countries and expecting those countries to achieve the per capita GNP similar to first world countries ignores history.  Good institutions have appeared in countries with geographic advantages and not randomly.  We must understand the role geography has played if we hope now to produce good institutions quickly in countries lacking them.

Today’s first world countries are ones that were powerful centers thousands of years ago or were repopulated by peoples from those centers and food production was at the heart of their success.

Countries and regions with long histories of state societies or agriculture like South Korea, Japan, and China have higher GNP growth rates than countries with short histories, such as New Guinea and the Philippines even though (or perhaps because) some of those third world countries are much richer in natural resources (like oil or diamonds) than first world countries.

The following indented paragraphs contain concepts originally found in THE FUTURE AS HISTORY by Robert L. Heilbroner, 1961.

Where hope does not exist, terrorism breeds.  Where first world countries have exploited resources of third world countries and put the world’s environment second to growing an industrial base, negative images are created.

Evil breeds in countries where the majority of people still fear that their futures will never change.  Those countries will continue to have religious wars, invasions, coups, and revolutions.  They will continue to have warlords, dictators, and governments that do not serve but instead protect the wealth and power for those that already have it.

Given a chance, the countries where the majority of their people do not evolve will seek to conquer its neighbors for they do not know any better.  Earth will not evolve into a peaceful loving planet until its vast populations evolve.

Evil will exist because there are opportunities for evil people to exist where there is a general lack of education and hope for a better life or there hasn’t been time to evolve because opportunities are too new.  Terrorists and dictators from countries and geographic areas where their majorities do not have optimism for their futures will act like they always have in Earth’s history.

Even with developed nations helping underdeveloped nations give their countrymen hope and optimism, it could take one or several generations before a difference can be made.    Transitioning from a hunting and gathering subsistence level economy to an agrarian level economy to an industrial economy has always included periods of repression and severity.

It should be expected that it would be just as difficult for a region of the world having sharp ethnic and religious differences and an oil-dependent economy without a history of any pluralism to have trouble with leaders, whether democratic or dictatorial, letting power corrupt.  Words will not appease them.  This is Earth’s history and until these changes are made, it will always be its future or as Sir Isaac Newton might say, unless acted upon by some outside force.

Progress is always slowed by history for not only are the economies meager in underdeveloped countries or even in oil rich countries where the wealth has gone to the few, they can’t benefit from any history where change has been gradual, successful, peaceful, and lasting.

Humans don’t really like change but once we make a decision about something including change we are impatient.  Impatience leads to haste.  In regards to terrorism, haste can lead to militant action, racism, and religious nationalism creating opportunities for evil leaders to gain control while the plurality abdicate leadership and become followers of evil rhetoric and self-serving, ego driven, power hungry evil leaders/terrorists.

Terrorism has always existed whether it is right-to-life groups bombing abortion clinics, or gangs roaming through neighborhoods, or people stealing from one another, or people pushing drugs, stealing children, or beating and raping, or ethnic groups campaigning for independence, or super powers expressing cold war rhetoric.  Civilization after civilization have been invaded, conquered, and held hostage throughout the history of Earth.

I find comfort in this passage from John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address:  “Those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of a tiger found themselves inside the tiger.”

 

Imigration

Immigration–

The US population is 322 million and will reach between 323 and 458 million by 2050 depending on levels of migration to the US. There is a need to control population growth in the United States and our immigration policy should include that goal.  School enrollment and participation in programs such as Social Security and Medicare are affected by how quickly and the extent to which the overall population grows.

The current percentages of population by race is as follows: White 63%; Black 13%; Asian 5%; Native 2%; Hispanic 17%. The United States is expected to experience significant increases in racial and ethnic diversity over the next four decades. Asian and Hispanic populations are the primary immigrant groups to the United States and are projected to more than double in size between 2000 and 2050.

The Hispanic population is the only racial or ethnic group projected to maintain fertility that is above replacement level. The Hispanic population is projected to more than double between 2000 and 2050, while the Asian population is projected to increase by 79 percent.

While there is a need to provide a permanent home and citizenship for non-citizens that know no other home than the one they are living, there are going to be arguments that will stem from the white majority that want to remain the white Protestant majority that will influence the path to citizenship for those that are productive law abiding residents that were not born here or approved to be here.

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