Tag Archives: Koch Brothers

What’s With the Middle Class? (The Monday Fits)

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“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein


It’s time to be a little direct. There is something wrong with the middle class. Politicians, theorists, and writers tell us time and time again, that the middle class is the social class that matters most. “Depending on the class model used, the middle class constitutes anywhere from 25% to 66% of households”, but the most legit models all have the middle class as the majority. (Source)  More pointed, many believe that the continuing existence of America depends on the success of the middle class. I would say the middle class has a lot of power.  The upper and lower middle class, create the largest voting bloc, yet we do very little with this power to influence. Instead, we are the ones who are influenced, let others speak for us, and define our future. (Trust me – Google – What does the middle class care about, middle class priorities, what is important to the middle class, the results are interesting)

So let’s look at #BaltimoreUprising. Many ponder how the events over the past two weeks could happen in an American city in 2015. Why they are pondering, I am not exactly sure, Ferguson feels like yesterday to me. I ponder more about what could be done to fix the problem, and do we really care enough to fix the problem? I found, as did many other Americans, the major network’s media coverage of the riots to be a farce and self-serving versus a balanced, honest coverage of the events that were occurring. More and more, we can’t rely on our mainstream media. There was peaceful protesting. There were rioters. There was unnecessary violence. But more times than not, there were teenages, adults, gang members, church members, and even local politicians protesting the violence against our young black men in America peacefully. Luckily, last week ended on a positive note, with indictments being served to the officers. Not because the officers are automatically assumed guilty, but justice, as best as it can be, will be served in a trial for those innocent till proven guilty officers.

Now back to the media. Would we, the middle class, ever protest and stop watching the inadequate mainstream media that continues to feed us crap. Would we ever demand more from them so that we could be a more informed class since we consume more of it then any other class? NO, NO and MORE NO. The first episode of HBO’s NEWSROOM so eloquently makes this point, and yet, we still allow ourselves to be bamboozled.  And the sad reality is that these passive behaviors do not only occur in the media we consume, it’s everywhere. So when I look at the events of Baltimore, yes, I do believe the middle class is the biggest problem. We are not demanding more of our politicians, of our cities, our governments, and we are not giving enough. We might not have enough time, our lives are stressful just like everyone else, but we also have the power to change things in the lives of our citizens who are less fortunate than ourselves.

There is no denying that we hold the largest voting bloc, and can potentially have the most influence. Yet, we do not use this power to our advantage, which would be fine, but when the results of our passivity comes upon us, we cannot act like we have no hand in the matter. If middle america doesn’t start waking up to the America as it is, the working class, and lower class will continue to grow. Karlyn Bowman and Jennifer Marsico write:

“In an Allstate/National Journal poll, 85 percent said that over the past few years, the number of Americans who had fallen out of the middle class is greater than the number who had earned or worked their way into it (11 percent).(source)

Many would think that we should look to the wealthy and those with more resources to fix the problem. Do you know what they spend their money on? They spend their money convincing us of whatever they want us to believe, and we fall for it every time. They know more about us, than we know about ourselves: that we have more power to fix our problems than we realize. Reihan Salam  on Slate writes:

“We often hear about the political muscle of the ultrarich. Billionaires like the libertarians Charles and David Koch and Tom Steyer, the California environmentalist who’s been waging a one-man jihad against the Keystone XL pipeline, have become bogeymen for the left and right respectively. The influence of these machers is considerable, no doubt. Yet the upper middle class collectively wields far more influence.These are households with enough money to make modest political contributions, enough time to email their elected officials and to sign petitions, and enough influence to sway their neighbors. ” (Source)

And he’s just talking about the upper middle class. We choose to fall for advertising and what the “machine” give us. When the Koch brothers came out a few weeks ago about having Republican candidates vie for 300 million dollars, where was the outrage? It was like the Koch brothers were ring masters making them perform like circus animals. Every republican candidate or potential candidate should have been appalled and ALL of them should have revolted. I found it very insulting, but I guess I was the only one. Because all of the candidates understand one thing, that they need the money. Not because they need money, most of the candidates have more money than you or I, but they need the money to FOOL us, TRICK us, to feed us some story. Now, it’s not a Republican thing, Hillary and the other democrats are ripe to play to middle america too, cause we got the power and we don’t know how to use it. We have the ability to go against policies, regulations, or actions that are not in our best interest, and make everyone pay attention! Not to be trite, but if we had just an ounce of the revolutionary spirit of our forefathers, we may could get things on track. Its time to throw tea off a harbor.

Anyone should be able to see from the Baltimore riots, that there are systematic, generational problems that are plaguing the community as  in other urban cities across the country. Some people cannot recognize this. They are the ones who want us to focus on buildings and the damage. Seriously, CVS can afford to fix that damn building, trust me, but some of the families in the community do not know if they will have a roof over their head next week AND their caregiver IS working 2 or 3 jobs. The next group of people believe that money is the biggest problem, and having more money or throwing money will fix the problem. Well, if we’re talking about giving more Americans working a living wage, then YES, more money could help. “In 2012, 2.9 million Americans worked full-time jobs and still lived below the poverty line. Some 22 percent of our children live in poverty, and it’s worse for African American youth—38 percent—and Hispanic children—34 percent”. (source) 

But the reality is that it takes people. It takes creating capacity in our communities to help break through the strongholds poverty has on these  families, and not let those in charge fall into corruption. It takes more than a village, it’s takes us all. And since we’ll never get 100% participation, make sure you’re not one of the  people who is unwilling to make a difference.

I don’t like to be too definitive in my posts, because I prefer for people to make their conclusions and start their own conversations. We just are not doing enough. I may have a slight bias, because I am raising money for my community, and I see people who will not offer a dime to it, but will pay all kinds of money to see artists who do not NEED their money.  But more importantly, I see too many people in my own sphere, not just my close friends and friends, but people I work with, drink with, network with, are more likely to be doing everything to make their lives and loved ones better, but not much else. If the only things you can do is go to work, take care of your family, kids, and not much else, just imagine doing the same thing, each and every day but what you do isn’t enough to put food on your table, pay your rent, you’re not on welfare because you have a job, your spouse has a job. You are not a “statistic”, but you can’t make enough to get by. And every time your child walks out the house, you have to worry if they will make it home alive. Wouldn’t you cry out for help? Poverty, more times than not is a systematic, generational curse, that is easy to leave only for a few. You can continue to be passive and act as if it’s not your problem, and wait till it’s at your front door. Will you be more worried about the buildings and pass the blame, or will you look at the mirror and realize that you could’ve done more. Don’t let that happen, just do more now.

M/P

Sweet Home Alabama: The Litmus Test of America

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“If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey, he’s obligated to do so” – Thomas Jefferson

Since the story broke about the same-sex marriage fiasco in Alabama, my mind has been kind of in a frenzy. The story infuriates me on so many levels that I see red. I mean in 2015, the fact there were judges who were trying to justify not following the law because of personally held beliefs, knowing what all lawyers know, including myself, before you walk into your first law class:  a federal judge always trumps the almighty State Supreme Court Chief Justice on any given day of the week, until a higher authority tell the courts otherwise.

(ICYMI:  On January 23, 2015, a federal judge in Mobile struck down Alabama’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Then on February 10, 2015, the Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice instructed probate judges they didn’t have to follow the Federal Judges order.)

I would like to say as a lawyer, and a conservative, and a millennial. This action was wrong. It was wrong on so many levels. Not because I want to sit here and argue whether or same-sex marriage is right or wrong, I am not an advocate nor a critic,  but because a Federal court judge ruled as such, especially after the Supreme Court’s decision to not temporarily block the Federal Judge’s decision, and I’m not the only one.  “Judge Enslen, a lawyer for more than 40 years and a Republican, said he disagreed with the Supreme Court’s action but had to be guided by it. “Those seven justices went out of their way to slap Alabama,” he said, sending a message that they saw little chance of Judge Granade’s decision being reversed. “We’ve got the highest federal court siding with the District Court,” he said. “The ballgame’s over.” (source)

Many conservatives see it as the Federal court is budding in on a state’s issue, and that the state has clearly declared it as a constitutional amendment…. in 2006. Since 2006, the support of same-sex marriage has drastically changed across America, even in Alabama. In 2006, when the constitutional amendment passed, only 39% of people supported same-sex marriage nationally… let’s forward to 2014 people.

Gay Marriage Polls Support Oppose Undecided
Princeton Survey Research Associates/Pew Research Center  (2006) 39% 51% 10%
Pew Research Center (2014) 49% 41% 10%
Gallup poll (2014) 55% 42% 4%
Family Research Council (2014) 55% 39% 6%

(Source)

So things ARE changing, yet it doesn’t quite seem that way with the headlines in Alabama, or is it what they want us to believe? In my opinion, which I rarely give in my posts, we need to start having real conversations about the opposition to same-sex marriage, and not let the actions of a few people foolishly speak for the masses.  I started this blog to talk about things that nobody wants to talk about, but as I started blogging, it came very apparent why that is. If you start monitoring your viewer ratings you know what people want to read about, and the things they could care less about. So as a writer, you have to decide to be true to yourself or true to success…. and today, I choose the former.

Why is the refusal to issue marriage licenses so frustrating to me, because many conservatives cannot add to the conversation in a meaningful way. It is all or nothing.

Conservatives are not able to talk about gay rights, because for many, not all, any deviation from total utter and complete rejection of same-sex marriage, you will be going down the road of political suicide. Many younger conservatives, like myself, wish the older people in the party would just jump off a cliff (figuratively not literally) for a whole slew of reasons. But unfortunately, despite the uptick in voting among young people, older generations overwhelmingly outnumber us at the voting booths. (45% of ages 18-29 voting, 59.5 % of ages 30 – 44 voting, 72.0 % of ages 45 – 64 voting, and 67.9 % of ages 65 and older? (Source).

But if you looking at the national polling, even in good ole’ backward leaning Alabama, the numbers are still telling, “ 48 percent of Alabamians under 35 favor gay marriage—not a majority, but a plurality. (Only 21 percent of those older than 65 do.) The strongest predictor for supporting gay marriage nationwide, according to some experts, is having close gay friends, which is far more common among younger Americans.” (Source)

Maybe that’s why the first couple married, was from my Alma mater, Tuskegee University. Heck, even the Koch brothers support same-sex marriage. (If you believe them, they just think the economy is a more important issue, so they support candidates who oppose same-sex marriage).

So Thomas Jefferson is correct, if a law is unjust, you should not be required to follow it. Laws that have allowed same-sex marriage are not unjust. You do not have to agree with same-sex marriage for it to happen where you live. You do not have to support it, and if you feel like your salvation is doomed, because America is conducting same-sex marriage, maybe you should move out of America. Because imagine an America where some states allow same-sex marriage, and others do not allow same-sex marriage, oh wait, that is what we are living in now; a divided America. Will companies begin to move their offices based on marriage equality? Will people have to pick which state to live based on marriage equality?

America was built on certain freedoms, including the freedom of religion, not just your religion, or one religion. People ask how do I merge the two as a conservative. It’s not about what I believe. You might not see me out a gay pride parade, but I sure as heck ain’t not damning nobody to hell, or saying the wrath of God is going to come out against the State of Alabama now. (Thanks Alabama GOP chair for that one, you’re ridiculous). It’s about equality, and treating people as human beings.

I have worked in civil rights ever since I left law school, and over the years I have thought long and hard about the subject of same-sex marriage. While in law school, it was something that we debated all the time, because we have a friend who was gay, and another friend, who was much more staunchly a conservative than myself.  But at that time, I still hadn’t made it to the point where I am today. I was fortunate for a couple of years to work at a  Human Rights Commission in a small Indiana community to work very closely with the a couple of the gay rights organization there. They made this video that discussed growing up in that community being gay in a very conservative state and at times, the city.   Never had I heard such gut wrenching moments, and stories of triumph even remotely close to those of Blacks during the Jim Crow era. Or maybe I had never taken the time to listen. Hearing their struggles had a definite impact on me, and not because it changed my personal beliefs, but I realized in that moment, it is not up to me to judge or decide, and I have to be more than just “tolerant”. Nobody wants to be just tolerated.

Whether you do or you don’t believe in same-sex marriage, the right for them to marry is not to be based on your personal beliefs, if it is the law as according to the people of this country. Minds and thoughts are changing progressively towards same-sex marriage, what are you going to do when it happens?

M/P

 

Matthew 22: 15 – 22 (NKJV)

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him (Jesus) in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.”

So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.