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Monday, November 21, 2016

Saying Goodbye to the "Safe" Government Job

As part of the private sector, I've joked for years that if I had it to do all over again, I would have gotten a "safe government job" like my dad told me to.  Instead, I went to for the job in the private sector.  Don't get me wrong, I love what I do every day.  But, I haven't loved watching as benefits have eroded over the years and employee value has steadily decreased.

As the private sector has watched these things happen, those in government positions have held a safety blanket around their positions.  As described in the Washington Post article, "Trump has a plan for government workers.  They're not going to like it", all this could change under President-elect Trump.

Some people will argue that wages for a government job are often less than those of similar position in the private sector and that the benefits are to offset this.  I argue that though that was once the case, it often is not anymore.

As an example, according to Federalpay.org, the average receptionist salary in 2015 for a government employee was $34,434.86, while the national average in 2016 according to Glassdoor was only $24,800.  Over half of private sector employers do not offer health insurance and few if any benefits.  This is a fact of life for much of our country.  To be fair, a position with more schooling such as a pharmacist has an average salary in 2015 for a government employee of $113,926.96 whereas the national average in the private sector was $120,000.

The hit by the recession was felt hard in the private sector as jobs eroded and benefits disappeared.  I am not advocating that they should be completely equal, it is much more difficult to get a government position than a private sector one.  Often times, it also requires security clearances, these things should be taken into account.

However, if the country is going to slim down the federal government and bureaucracy, then making the federal employee benefits more in line with what is now considered competitive in the private sector is something that will have to come.

Many of the benefits for federal government employees are not going anywhere.  They are not at risk of losing their health benefits as many private sector employees have.  Nor, are they going to lose benefits such as leave.  There is little wiggle room with federal benefits to make changes.

But, Mr. Trump isn't just talking about benefits though.  In fact, one of the things he is also talking about is the ability to fire a federal employee.  This can be a tricky slope, and maybe, just maybe, this is one place that the man known for "You're fired" could be person to make it happen.  Employees no matter who they work for should be held accountable for doing the job they are hired to do.  If they don't, then they either need to buck up and do it, or find something else.

Don't be surprised if Mr. Trump puts a hiring freeze, or at least a limit to new hiring, into effect when he comes into office.  I won't be.  And, there is ample precedent to do just that.  Once he is in office and is able to see for himself, we shall see how it turns out.  His hands on approach may help him here.  He has run his companies with a heavy hand at times, now there will be limits on what he can do.  He won't be able to walk in and fire someone if he doesn't like their attitude or even if they are sitting idle at their desk, but he will be able to help craft a budget or act to put things in place to take care of things.

We can only hope that Mr. Trump uses his experience to review, evaluate and take the right action when it comes to the workplace.  I hope he understands that these employees have often never dealt with what it is like to work in the private sector just as he has never known what it is like to be a federal employee.  It's going to be a learning curve for everyone.






Sunday, November 20, 2016

ObamaCare - A Personal Note

Completing my annual healthcare.gov application. For those of you who are against ObamaCare, just remember. It's because of ObamaCare that many people in this country have insurance coverage. Not every job offers insurance. Not everyone can afford a plan on their own. Without insurance, if I were to get sick, I would become a much bigger burden on society than any amount of "subsidy" that I may receive for my healthcare plan.

Actually, let's get even a bit more personal. Without ObamaCare, I would be a danger to drive, I would become a drag on society, I would be practically blind. With ObamaCare, I was able to get the much needed surgery to restore my eyesight. It wasn't an elective procedure, I was quickly losing my sight. In less than a year, I had gone from 20/375 eyesight to over 20/1000 eyesight and it was continuing to decline rapidly.

No, I don't like the uptick on the premiums. Yes, I wish there was a better option. But, if you are going to yell and scream about how bad it is, or that people need to get a job, keep in mind, most of us have jobs. I have a job, it doesn't pay decent, but I have not been able to find another one in my field in this area.

I work. I pay taxes. I am a contributing member of society. I have ObamaCare. And, I am not a slacker.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Upset in the Electoral College

Ah, do I have your attention now?

Yes, technically, the electoral college could elect Clinton as our next president.  Don't believe me, even I wasn't sure that was true.  So, I did a little research.  In a resent article on Fact Check, "Could Electoral College Elect Clinton?" explains just how this could happen.

However, I do not believe it should happen.  Regardless of how I may feel personally about President-elect Trump, he is our next president.  Our system is not perfect, but it is our system for a variety of reasons.  If we do not like it, then, we have an obligation to reach out to our individual states and look for new solutions.  If we are going to complain about the unfairness of the electoral college, then we need to do more than spout out words on FaceBook or post memes on Twitter.  Don't like it, neither do I, but let's do something about it then.

I've had a few lively discussions lately about the Electoral College.  I've heard both sides of the fence on this.  Mostly, I've heard people who are upset with Trump's win wanting to abolish it.  That is not going to happen.  The groundwork of our Electoral College was laid down in the 2nd article of the Constitution.  But, the Electoral College as we know it was refined by the 12th Amendment.

There have been more proposals set forth to amend the 12th amendment than any other constitutional amendment.  Constitutional amendments are the pulse of our changing nation of our attitudes and values.  They reflect how society and this country has matured over the past couple hundred years.  A search of the U.S. Congress website for legislation proposed regarding "electoral" representatives or college resulted in over 1,500 hits.  That's a lot, and it's going to take me awhile to sort through them all to get to the heart of it.  Even so, it is evident that this is not a Democrat v. Republican issue.  The issues have been brought up by both sides at different times.

In 1987, the American Bar Association has criticized the Electoral College as being "archaic" and "ambiguous".  Wow.  That's all I have to say, just "wow".  This particular reference I am still reviewing and researching.  One article of particular interest in 1996, by Joel Goldstein for the American Bar Association Division of Public Education, entitled "Electoral College Is it a dinosaur that should be abolished or a last bastion of democracy?" made some interesting points both for and against the current system.

One of the predominant reasons I have been hearing in support of the Electoral College is that it gives those states with a lower population a say in the elected President.  I agree that it does.  In the early 1900s, that proportional weight was not so great.  The Midwest and many parts of this country was filled with family farms and small towns.  Today, many small towns have all but disappeared and the family farm has lost way to massive conglomerate operations.  Many of those displaced from the rural areas have moved to the cities.  They have brought their values with them.  At the same time, the population of the urban and suburban areas has increased drastically.  Suburbia did not exist as we know it in the 1800s, or even the early 1900s.  It is a creation of our modern times.  As the population of our country increases, the proportional weight of less populous states will carry more and more weight in the election of our President, it will become the rural "gentry" and the country "gentleman" who will make the decision for the country.

I don't see the electoral college being abolished.  I do not see an amendment occurring to the 12th amendment.  That does not mean hope is lost!

We have a chance now to make our voices heard for the coming years.  The upset about the electoral college is not going to happen because of petitions trying to convince an electoral college to change their mind.  It should not, it is part of our democratic procedure.  That doesn't mean that we need to sit by idly and not move for a change.  Do your homework, find out who in your state executive you can contact and what you can do to make a change.  The change will not happen at the federal level, this is a change that needs to happen at a state level.

Let's make our voices by heard.




 




Friday, November 18, 2016

Since the election, I hear a lot about "snowflakes" and adults acting like "children" for being upset about the election.  Here's a little something for you to consider as we continue to talk to our children about the election. 
My daughter has a half brother, who is absolutely adorable and handsome and smart. He is also a quarter Cuban. No big deal, right? Except, that she was afraid her brother would be deported. Her brother who was born here in the US to US citizens. Her brother who has a very respectable grandfather who came to this country and made a good and honest life for himself. She was afraid that Trump would send her brother away and build a wall. 
So, when I worry about how this election has affected our children, take heart, there is a reason, and it is very personal. Her name is Anika and she is 5 years old. She is a child and she cried. I explained to her that no one would ever be sending her brother away or kicking him out of the country. She doesn't understand what a country is. She doesn't understand that there are different religions. She doesn't understand that there are different races. She understands that she loves her brother dearly.
Yes, I understand that President-Elect Trump is not building a wall.  I understand that he is not deporting American citizens.  But, our children don't always understand.  It may takes days, weeks, or even months for them to come to us with their fears or concerns.  
Answer them truthfully, but keep in mind they are children.  And, the thing they first need to know is that you love them and that you will protect them no matter what they may see on the news, or in the schools.
I will continue to teach my children love and respect for ALL people, regardless of race or creed. And, when my children grow up, they will continue that legacy.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Quiet for Too Long

I moved to Florida, life seemed to fall apart, and I shut my mouth.

I didn't talk often about what was important to me, I felt unimportant.

Why?

I was no longer a valuable, contributing member of society.  Or, so I thought.

I needed public assistance and was completely embarrassed.  After all, isn't that what happens to those who don't take care of their responsibilities?  Aren't food stamps for "slackers".  Obamacare is for people who don't work, isn't it?  The answer to all of these questions is a resounding "NO".

I did not want to bring attention to myself and my family, so I kept my mouth shut.

Well, the time has come... I am going to open my mouth.  I am going to speak about what is important to myself and my family.

By keeping my mouth shut and not speaking up, I have added to the problem.  I added to the misconception of the poor being uneducated and not worthy.

My children and I worked hard together.  It may have been me bringing in the paycheck, but they contributed.  They got along when we had no where to live but a two bedroom apartment.  They smiled when I knew they were sad that Momma said, "We are going to Salvation Army for school clothes.  We have to save."

Today, we have moved out of that situation.  Things are still tough, and they will be for a long time.  But, it is time for this Momma to stop hiding in a cave for fear of what the rest of the world thinks, and saying what is important.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Electoral College Number Crunch

Alright, I crunched my numbers... this whole electoral college thing has been bothering me. So, think of it this way.... Why does it take 3.75 people in Texas to have the vote power of one person in Wyoming. Yes, I did a whole chart of the entire country, and will be adding to it. It wouldn't have changed the outcome if our process was better proportioned with their value, or maybe it would have. I haven't finished all my computations yet.
My point is, my vote should not be lesser because I live in a more populous state. If all things were equal, Texas should have 142 electoral votes to Wyoming's 3 electoral votes. Both sides are being devalued by this system. I'm not saying abolish it, though I think it has had it's day. Yet, there is no way we are going to get a constitutional amendment to change it. Our votes cannot be so disproportionate. States need to rethink how these votes are cast.
Another issue, the electoral college is based on number of seats in Congress, which in turn is based on the census. So, if one state has a huge population growth in between censuses, they will not be accurately represented by Congress or the electoral college. As long as we stick with the electoral college, I see no way to change this aspect of it. And, that is a bag of worms, I don't think anyone wants to open up.
This is not being a snowflake or crying about not winning. This is being realistic. The electoral college was not set up to protect less populous states from the big bad city dwellers, who I believe that if we look at it would also be disproportionately minorities as compared to the lower population states ... another column to look at in my chart.
I want my vote to count. I don't want to think, "okay, it will take myself and 3.63 other people in Florida to vote for the same person to be equal to a vote by someone in Wyoming".
Or, how about this, if you want it structured as it is based on Congress, meaning there will not be a higher total than there is currently of electoral votes. Why don't we go on our congressional districts? Then, the two minimum of electoral votes for each state go to the popular vote for that state.
For instance, if the 2nd District of Florida (Tallahassee) had a popular vote for the Democrat, then their electoral vote should go to the Democrat. In the same light, if the 4th District of Florida (Jacksonville) had a popular vote for the Republican, then their electoral vote should go to the Republican. At the same time, if the total popular vote for Florida went for the Republican, then the 2 electoral votes for the state which are allocated based on our seats in the Senate would go to the Republican candidate. Each area then is represented by their constituency. No, I am still not saying it would have changed the final outcome, but at least people would know their vote actually counted. I, for one, feel my vote in this presidential election did not count because of the winner take all consensus of the electoral college.
Don't tempt me, I may also go figure this out as well.