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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Morning News and Views

U.N. observers reported dozens of children and adults were killed during fighting in Houla, Syria. It is unclear who was responsible for the attack on Friday that left at least 32 children among the dead, though activists blamed government artillery and thugs.

This  is Memorial Day Weekend, the day we are suppose to remember those who died in the service of their country, both military and civilians. Too many Americans think of it as Veterans Day, which honors all veterans, or a day to Barbecue, or as a three day weekend to get out of town. Take the time to remember the reason for the day and what it stands for. Give thanks.

The Golden Gate Bridge turns 75 today (May 27th.) In the 1930s, the expectation for a major construction project was that for every $1 million spent, one worker would die. At a cost of $35 million, the Golden Gate Bridge was the largest suspension bridge ever built.  Then radio host of "Kids Say the Darnedest Things" Canadian Art Linkletter cut the ribbon. Just as with the Hoover Dam, the building of the Golden Gate Bridge was a massive public works effort. Workers from all over the US and Canada, most of them vets of the War to End All Wars, flocked to the construction site. In large projects of the time the rule of thumb was that for every one million dollars at least one man will die. For most of the construction there were no deaths, the one day a catwalk collapsed, while being removed, talking other construction infrastructure with it. Men fell 220 feet, but most survived that fall. Others hit the structure or bridge debris and were not as lucky. In total of 19 men died that day. None of the workers who built the dam survived to celebrate 75 years of the dam's existence. The last surviving person to have worked on the project passed away last month.

The Ironman World Championship takes place this fall in Hawaii. Just in case you feel ready to really push yourself to the limit.

The Butler did it. The Catholic Church has been in the public spotlight a lot this year.  The issues of contraception and gay marriage have been part of the presidential campaign and church leaders have weighed in. There have also been new revelations in a case involving leaked Vatican documents: The butler may, in fact, have done it.  Pope Benedict's butler has been arrested in a "leak" scandal. Paulo Babrellia  is one of what is suspected to be a network of spies withing the Vatican leaking information to the scandal hungry Italian press.

 Earlier this month, voters in North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.  Now, the state's cities and counties, which offer domestic partner benefits to their employees, are unsure whether those benefits will be challenged as they have been in other states with gay marriage bans

Who coined the phrase "job creators" to mean rich? George Orwell's "1984" called this "Double Speak." And if jobs are created, what percentage have been outside the US? 

Jobs calling for mid-level skills have been on the decline ---even as high and low-skilled jobs are still in demand. This means a lot of people are stuck looking for jobs that no longer exist. As an example, a company based in Las Vegas has more than 18,000 openings world wide it cannot fill because the qualified applicant pool is too small and because it is now more difficult than ever to get the needed security clearance. Credit card debt, a mortgage that is not top heavy, no history of moving violation convictions are among reasons applicants are rejected and not hired. Also suffering are middle age and older men,and more recently woman, who have mortgages and obligations but cannot find work that pays enough to make ends meet.

Selfishness and a lack of patience may have ended the American Dream. As a nation we no longer have patience or resources to take our time with education, time to learn a job or profession, time to save up and build credit. We want instant results that reward us. The social conscience that has been a part of this nation since its formation has given way to  every man for himself, or at least major reductions in supporting our neighbor ether with "barn building", or through gifts to charity and organizations that help the less fortunate. As the the price of almost everything goes up for churches and charity, contributions go down. And now there is wholesale of any government social safety net, many of which go back to how we got out of the Great Depression, or further back to Teddy Roosevelt or even Ben Franklin. From teachers to social workers, employment security offices to customer support, we are laying off those who choose to work for less, and expecting those who remain to do work once done by two or even a dozen individuals. We want low prices despite the loss or decline of American workers income and jobs it takes to lower prices. We could care less about the price others pay as log as he have what we want, now and at  a bargain price. We have shifted from  a nation that cares, a country with a heart, to one where everyone is on their own, and we do not want to see or deal with our less fortunate brothers and sisters, at least in person.

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