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Opinion Editorials

Which will win in 2012, universal opportunity or universal equality?

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Paying their fair share

Nearly one of six Americans are now using food stamps. Fully 47% of us don’t pay income tax. We’re taxing the top 1% of income earners — who earn about 20% of the nation’s income — at a rate resulting in that group paying 40% of each year’s personal income tax bill. Meanwhile, those heartily supporting such an inequity, complain loudly, often in a whiny tone, how those same folks still aren’t payin’ their fair share. But that’s not the most alarming factor. It’s the origin — a self-righteous sense of entitlement to others’ hard earned cash.

This year’s coming election will, more likely than not, either strengthen the entitlement crowd, or begin, ever so slowly to turn the tide. In my lifetime we’ve been so damn dumbed down, I suspect it’ll be the former. If I’m correct, and they continue steamrolling their way to a life of complete reliance on government, the disappearance, in one form or another of the producers will begin in earnest. But the constantly erroneous use of the phrase, ‘. . . total reliance on government . . .’, allows them to keep their real benefactors under the radar.

The government doesn’t produce anything. Many of my friends would vehemently disagree, offering examples unfit for these pages. However, what government does, when it comes to money, it two basic things.

1. They take from people and businesses.

2. They distribute it as if it’s theirs.

The entitlement crowd

Ironically, though hardly a shock, most citizens in the entitlement crowd would recoil in horror if asked to agree publicly and unequivocally with the reality that it’s the 53% of us categorized as producers who’re financing the government’s largesse aimed their way. See, when you’re entitled, you’re, well, entitled. You deserve to have your personal cost of living provided by those who work to accomplish the same end.

Back in the day, when the subject of equality came up, it was universally assumed, as a matter of common sense, and rational thought, that ‘equality of opportunity’ was the topic. Over time, this American core value, has been rendered virtually dead.

If you’re a progressive thinker, it’s really all about engineering equal results for all. Many of the unintended consequences of this collective belief system have been hilarious — and it’d be fun and enlightening for readers to contribute their real life examples.

A fork in the road

The direction of our beloved United States will find itself at a fork in the road this coming November. As a nation, we must, once and for all, decide the crucial issue of our times.

Are we a people who’ve shed blood and given lives for over two centuries for the equality of opportunity for all? Or are we destined to follow the path to destruction taken by collectivist nations like the USSR, who tried, stupidly, vainly, to ensure universal equality of results.

As we ready ourselves to vote this fall, we all need to look inside ourselves, with the naked brutality of pure honesty, and decide if it’s universal opportunity we cherish, or universally equal results.

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Peggy

    January 9, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Big Problem with your analysis of how the government spends tax money. They spend it on defense, defense, defense, defense, social security, Medicare. Not much left for the disenfranchised to whom you are referring as the recipients of socialistic handouts. I guess you are talking about unemployment benefits for those who have lost their jobs, the bums! And special needs children with medical probs–what should be done with them so they won't burden the good working people of America? These aren't a drop in the bucket compared to DEFENSE. Who's whining? You are!

    • Jeff Brown

      January 10, 2012 at 6:53 pm

      Nice try, Peggy, but those are your words, not mine. I can speak for myself, and you just read the words.

      Do I think there should be 100 weeks of unemployment payments? No. The government is not our keeper, Peggy. And those who think it is, are destined to learn the hard way what every collectivist in history has learned. It simply doesn't work. There is no problem with my analysis, which is why you attempted to put words in my mouth.

      Predictably, the takers attack defense. Never mind most of them, and most of European takers would be leading lives of virtual slavery, or never been born if it wasn't for the evil insistence on America and it's people to keep the nation strong.

      America was built on producers, not takers. Takers are the pilot fish of any economy. Without producers they disappear.

  2. Korak

    January 9, 2012 at 9:54 am

    You should have just ended that little diatribe with "You kids stay off my lawn!" Your bio indicates you have a fair amount of some level of business experience. (At least with 1031's, etc.) Your stats in the opening paragraph are pretty weak. You pulled the equivalent of switching from per capita numbers to gross numbers like neighborhoods do for crime rates, etc when it helps. Do you actually hold the opinions expressed here or is this just linkbait for AG?

    • Jeff Brown

      January 10, 2012 at 6:56 pm

      It's a fact that nearly one of six Americans are using food stamps. Do you dispute that? I'm not playin' with numbers, Korak. You are. Our country is being slowly brought down by those who're happy for handouts. I'm a producer. You can't have what I produce. You want it? Or would you rather live in a nation founded upon hard work, earning your keep, and equal opportunity?

      The rest is collectivist drivel.

  3. Arn

    January 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Jeff Good buddy you seemed to have touched a nerve. I agree with you on the fundamental question in the 2012 elections. The big 3 entitlements take 40% of the federal budget. Defense is a smaller portion of the budget. My question to Peggy is "why isn't defense spending considered a stimulus?" Peggy where does most of the money go for defense? Answer to American men and women in our military and to American companies that build products needed by our military that employ PAY ATTENTION American workers! Personally, I would rather have our tax dollars go to defense (one of the things the fed govt should be involved in) than Solyndra or to Acorn. Or iis stimulus only money paid to public employees, environmentalists, and other groups sure to vote Democratic?
    I normally have great faith in the American people but like you I have my doubts as the Entitlement Culture spreads. It is so much easier to blame someone else than look in the mirror. I have friends who say the purpose of our income tax system is to redistribute wealth. When I say I thought taxes were to pay for the cost of governing, they are dumbfounded.

  4. Arn Cenedella

    January 9, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    For those that wish to discuss national fiscal policy on the basis of actual data instead of on talking points supplied by MoveOn.Org, please go the the Obama White House Link:

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/

    I beieve you will find the cost of SS and medicare/caid are by far the two largest expense categories about 40%. I will note defense is 20% and the social safety net called in an 1984 Animal Farm twist "income protection" is also about 20%.

    We may disagree about the numbers, but let's at least know the numbers before inaccurate statements are made.

  5. Peggy

    January 10, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Arn, those figures do not take into account retired military pay and the cost of compensation in the form of VA benefits to the former military which kick the cost up dramatically. However, as I stated defense, social security and Medicare are the big ticket items on the budget, not FOOD STAMPS! That was my point.

  6. Jeff Brown

    January 10, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Geez, Peggy, I didn't think readers here needed a Dick 'n Jane writing style. Here's the point, sorry for not bolding it in the post.

    When almost one of six Americans are on food stamps, we're in deep trouble. THAT'S THE POINT.

    Connect that very disturbing fact with another — just short of half of us don't pay taxes. Do I need to spell out the point of that stat too?

    WE'RE BECOMING A TAKER NATION, AND THE PRODUCERS HAVE HAD IT UP TO 'HERE'.

  7. Tim

    January 11, 2012 at 12:27 am

    Jeff,

    Great article. I've shared it on FB in hopes that some of my liberal friends can see the facts in the simplest of terms. Unfortunately, the "Peggy's" of this nation don't do facts well. They refuse to accept that my money is MY money. If the Gov't was held powerless to take MY money and give it to their entitled friends to fund their pet entitlement programs, would liberals feel it was within their own power to come to my home and take it from me? Will liberals acknowledge that they are empowering the Gov't to do their dirty work for them?

    I've been VERY blessed to have had the opportunity to become part of the 1% (EVIL ME)… but it took a LOT of hard work. When I was 9 years old (1970) I remember someone coming to our house to conduct an interview for food stamp eligibility. My dad came home from work at that moment and asked the gentleman to leave. He then brought the family together and apologized for having the Gov't consider us poor… that we'd be fine… and that we didn't take charity from anyone. He never made over $9/hr his entire life and with 6 kids that money didn't go far.

    I started working at 12 and have worked ever since. No college. No silver spoon. No unemployment. No foodstamps… Just a deep seated belief that when opportunity presents itself you'd better jump at it and ride it as long as you can. I, in turn, do my best to offer opportunities to those that need one. Some bite and others don't. I had my own brother-in-law turn down a $28/hr position because his unemployment check was only $200/week less than his takehome would be and he never had to leave the couch. How's THAT for growing the "disenfranchised" population?

    Liberals don't understand the dangers of increasing the power of the Gov't. Liberal leaders don't understand history enough to realize they are useful idiots. Hitler executed his top party officials after he rose to power during Nacht der langen Messer (Night of the Long Knives). They were no longer needed. He got his powerful Gov't and he could use it to give and take as he pleased. (To all the liberal flamers… This does not mean Obama is Hitler! It means that a powerful Gov't SUCKS BAD!!!)

    Without Liberty there is no opportunity. Without opportunity we are all equally enslaved.

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Opinion Editorials

Strong leaders can use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) In the COVID-19 crisis, some leaders fumbled through it, while others quietly safeguarded their company’s future.

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strong leaders

Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how strong leaders can see their teams, their companies, and their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always but is amplified when a crisis occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve their teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything was disrupted and people are adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when leaders game plan, strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

7 sure-fire ways to carve out alone time when you’re working from home

(EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.

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Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need downtime, me-time, and self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health but also our productivity at work will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well-rested, and well-treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time while working from home.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keep us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

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Opinion Editorials

The one easy job interview question that often trips up applicants

(EDITORIAL) The easiest interview questions can be the hardest to answer, don’t let this one trip you up – come prepared!

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Women sitting nervously representing waiting for a remote job interview.

A job interview is tough, and preparing for them can seem impossible. There are some questions you can expect: what is your experience in this position? How would you handle this situation? And so on.

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But what about this question: what makes you happy? Though it may seem straightforward, getting to the right answer is not such an easy path.

Work engagement

According to research, less and less employees feel like they are truly engaged at work. Some blame the work environment but truth be told, it is not a company’s responsibility to make you happy.

Without a passion for what you are doing, you will never enjoy the job.

It is the best case for everyone. More engaged workers are more productive in addition to feeling like they serve a purpose.

Do your due diligence

So before finding yourself in an interview where you have to take an awkward pause before answering this question, the best thing is to do some research. It all starts with the job search.

When looking for a job it is easy to get caught up in high profile company names and perks.

For instance, although “Social Media Coordinator” may not be your thing, the position is open at the cool advertising agency downtown. Or perhaps the company offers flexible hours and free lunch Fridays. The problem is that these perks aren’t worth it in the long run. Working for a cool company can be exciting at first, but it is not sustainable without passion for the position.

It’s important to pay attention to is the position you are applying for.

Is this work that you are passionate about? Take a look at the job responsibilities and functions. Besides figuring out if those are things that you can do, ask yourself if they are things that you want to do. Is this an opportunity that will match your strengths and give you purpose?

Let your passion protrude

With all things considered, when asked “what makes you happy” at the next interview, you will be able to answer honestly. Your passion will be apparent without having to put on an act.

Even if they don’t ask that question, there is no downside to knowing what makes you happy.

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