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Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

The Best Interest Initiative is my baby and I am going to think my baby is wonderful if no one else does.  I wrote those non-political blog posts as a whistleblower of sorts to alarm the rural southern public to the fact that fancy people in the political and policy arena use us as minions or pawns to achieve their power and wealth goals.  On the oldies radio station today, a blast from the past better communicates the long-time situation, “I’m Your Puppet.”

Look, I wish I had a 1000 people read these post this year to start a needed conversation.   Of course, most people would disagree with much of the content but from that disagree we can learn what others are thinking and move toward non-political solutions to costly problems.  It starts with people telling the leaders what is on our minds instead of the other way around—like a puppet.  We should shake things up because what’s happening today simply isn’t working.

http://projectlogicga.com/best-interests-initiative/

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Health/Wellness: Diet and Exercise; Wise Food Choices, Moderation; “Own Grave”, Understanding Wellness/Health Care Industry

Health/Wellness is an area of public policy that really hits home because we are talking life and death.  Would someone in the government or a recently retired congressman just drink some truth serum and tell the God’s honest truth.   The average American is personally responsible for their health problems due to bad diet and infrequent exercise.  While some ailments occur naturally, fast food and sugar drinks are the roots of too many issues.

If Baretta said don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time, a similar saying should be “don’t eat everything and anything if you don’t want to do hospital and early grave time.”  Are some foods literally “to die for?”  I had a chubby buddy who was told he was a diabetic but he simply said no…maybe later but for now no.  He learned everything about diabetes and dropped most of his body fat in six months by exercising and eating right.  While he is still a diabetic technically, he doesn’t take medication because he fought the good fight.

The good fight makes me think about Paul’s biblical statement in 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith.   So, you have all these obese church folks up in the buffet spot on Sunday afternoon polluting the temple of the Lord.

Wise food choices are so easy for Americans because the stores are plentiful with variety and T.V. shows tell us what to prepare and why.  We jokingly say that modern-day soul brothers are using low-fat fatback.  Right On.  I decided to walk away from pork and beef until I get my 230 pounds weight under 210.  That was two years ago and I really miss hamburger but pork is likely gone for good.

People drink a surprisingly large number of calories.  Is Mountain Dew worth the health trouble…it’s basically syrup.   High fructose corn syrup and salt kill more people than bullets.  I want to declare my respect for the First Lady Michelle Obama and really all first ladies of my lifetime.  Even Betty Ford turned pill issues into a noble cause.

I have friends who have issues with (hate) Flotus Obama for championing the food choice issues.  From the public policy standpoint, it seems Orwellian that the government and the non-elected first lady would tell (advise)  kids on eating habits or work to remove unhealthful foods from schools.  The eating habits of kids led to a lifetime (sometimes a shorten lifetime) of medical problems.  Oh, health concerns are no problems…give ‘em pills for this and pills for that.

Yes, some people actually take the cholesterol drug Lipitor in Golden Corral before eating a fried chicken…not some fried chicken… a whole fried chicken.  Too often, that person with long-term bad eating habits is the same uninsured person that cost the government over $200,000 as doctors try to save them…from themselves.

There is a different between what Mrs. Obama wants us to eat and what the government can force or compel us to eat.  At the same time, should medical ethics draw treatment lines when someone dug their own grave?

When Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House, he considered changes to the health care system that would reward those who ate right and exercised.  His plan was similar to the auto insurance plans with vanishing deductibles today.   If a person didn’t have a major health care expense in say five years, that person’s premium would be zero until there was a big expense.

Another aspect to consider would be the food kids receive free and reduced as part of the school lunch program.  Should the government have a right to dictate the healthfulness of that food because the taxpayers are buying it?  What about food stamps for veggies only?  Of course, the beef, corn and pork lobbyists aren’t having it.

Moderation: The motto of the great state of Georgia is “justice, wisdom and moderation.”  Friends in the health care profession tell me that I didn’t need to abandon beef and pork totally; I should have moderated my consumption of all foods.   The smart First Lady Obama promotes the USDA change from the food pyramid of old to the new food plate which calls for wise amounts of fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains and dairy.   Like Columbus discovering a place with millions of inhabitants, Americans are discovering what the Greeks and Japanese have known for centuries.  You put a lot of veggies on the plate and add a little protein for seasoning.

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/about.html

As we get older, we apply moderation to many parts of life: one glass of wine, an occasional cigar, ribs on the Fourth of July only.   The workout process starts with moderation because you have to crawl before you ball….it starts with walking.

Healthy choices also involve “relations.”   Like with food, alcohol and drugs, don’t do it if you aren’t prepared to live with the possible consequence.   Relations are likely better for most people without latex but I don’t want to hear a dam word of complaining if the worst results happen.  You knew the risk factors and you made your choice.

Healthcare Industry: Again, everyone has an agenda and it usually involves staying paid.  When I was a kid, you went to the doctor and he tried to figure out what was wrong with you.   Today, the doctors want to give you medications to stop your body from sending pain messages to your brain.  You don’t need pills long-term; you need to correct what is wrong.

The whole Obamacare debate was a political football being kicked around by two political parties with donors from all sides of the private sector.  The reality is this: uninsured people use the emergency room as a doctor’s office and go to the doctor far too late.

If I had my own island nation, we would have universal health care coverage with an annual doctor’s examination.  My doctors would catch a little bump that was going to be cancerous and remove it for a few bucks.  In America, that person would receive half million dollars in government-funded indigent care before dying.  Dam.  The annual exam on my island would give doctors the opportunity to say “you are 100 pounds overweight from poor eating habits and zero exercise.  If you don’t get those 100 pounds off you in two years, the state will not pay for fat-related treatments.  We will however pay your gym fees.”

While the last paragraph was mostly humor, there is nothing funny about the insurance industry making decision about coverage for insured people.   I didn’t say doctors making decisions.  We are talking about insurance company employees in call centers somewhere.  So, do you want to know why I eat wiser and limited Budweiser?   It’s because I don’t like those people making life decisions about me.  Yes, illness is part of life but it’s a part I avoid by fighting the good fight.

Big Pharma is the nickname for the pharmaceutical industry and they sell drugs.  To me, helpful drugs are gifts from heaven but we shouldn’t seek a big pharma solution to a problem that can be addressed naturally..ie. diet and exercise.

Mrs. Obama must be dumbfounded when she thinks that we give bad free foods to poor kids and those kids become adults with horrible eating habits who again cost 500k for healthcare coverage.  We are the greatest nation in human history because the best third of the population makes things happen but the worst third needs to step their game up …with no more excuses.   And yes, first lady and the government should discuss eating habits carefully because the taxpayers often fund medical care resulting from bad choices.

Mental/Emotional Health: People with emotional and mental health issues often self-medicate with alcohol, illegal drugs and wrongful usage of legal drugs.  We should be mindful that emotional eating leads to health problems.  Chris Rock says Blacks folks only go to counseling when it’s court ordered but with all kidding aside, all people need to check their mental health with the care they give their precious cars.

Peace, rest and happiness are good medicines; the soul needs wellness.  Some people go from childhood to the grave stuck on angry – mad at the world for spinning.  You don’t need experts to tell you that constantly boiling blood isn’t good for the mind, body or soul.

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Best Interest Initiative: T.V. and Social Media Influence

Media: T.V.’s high channels; Net and TV as educational tool; Classic TV as a model for family life; positive usage of social media

We must acknowledge the profound effect television, the internet and other forms of new media have on the shaping of our lives.  Gone are the days when country folks raised their rural children based on home, church and school alone.   As a boy, we looked forward to annual visits from our cousins from Philly because they knew the “latest.”  Today, fashion, cultural and social trends are beamed around the globe instantaneously and often without parents’knowledge.

Educational T.V.: Television is a very powerful educational tool—for good and bad.  I cringe at the notion that people in the American heartland formulate their views on Blacks and Hispanics from watching the Maury Show and music videos.   The same could be said about non-southerners learning about rural Whites from that Honey Boo Boo reality mess.

Reasonable people should be intelligent enough to know that T.V. characters and reality show exaggerations are not accurate reflections of real life.  On a positive side, the high channels on t.v. provide detail knowledge of every academic field and much much more.  A kid who wants to be a lawyer can a develop pretty good understanding of the law from watch Court T.V., Cops, Law and Order and C-Span.  The Food Channel teaches people how to prepare restaurant quality meals at home for pennies on the dollar.  Cars nuts and grease monkeys can watch automobile programming to their hearts content.   Of course, the internet and You tube is like the best interactive learning resource ever.

Classic T.V.: From a public policy standpoint, we must admit that many people grow up in less than ideal environments.  Prisons are filled by people who no one showed the path to peaceful, positive living.  If use wisely, certain t.v. shows can assist parents in child-rearing.

As a kid, I loved watching the life lessons on old shows like Leave It To Beaver and Bonanza but those people didn’t look like me.  The game changed when the Cosby Show, Family Ties, and Family Matters hit the box.  The Huxtables showed all of America that Blacks could be high level professionals and Family Matters did the same on a middle class style.  Actually, Good Times was as helpful as Cosby.  While the character of J.J. was silly, James and Florida Evans raised great kids in a rough environment.   Because prime time T.V. today is messy junk, kids should sit down and watch the classics with their families as a model for wholesome family life.

Social Media: Facebook isn’t necessarily the devil and You Tube can be educational.   Like any tools, social media can be used for positive or negative reasons.  Another section of the project went into details about youth wanting to emulate thugs, pimps, dealers and strippers from music videos.  Well, those influences are injected into impressionable minds by T.V. and the internet.  Again, people with jacked-up lives soon turn to the government for assistance.

At the end of the day, no medium should have a stronger role in child development than family.

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Faith/Righteous Living:  Moral Compass; Residual Benefit of Church; Psalm 133:1

We must talk about faith during public policy discussions because people who don’t believe in something will fall for anything.  In America, the state can’t compel a person to develop a faith walk but the government ends up “assisting” when faithless people find themselves in messy and costly circumstances.

Black Americans often ask why would a loving God allow us to suffer so much. (The rest of the select is simple this writer’s opinion and everyone has their own opinion…please share yours)  To me, life on earth is a test for eternity in heaven and longsuffering creates humbleness and humbleness focuses us the other side rather than this side.

Actually, this Christian heard Minister Louis Farrakhan, a man with a detailed knowledge of the three major faiths related to Abraham, answer the suffering question at the Million Man March.  As a congressional staffer, I was behind the speakers on the west portico of the U.S. Capitol Building with my boss Rep. Sanford Bishop but I was trying to hang with Ice Cube and Will Smith.  Farrakhan said wouldn’t you like to have a little hell on earth that forces you to humble yourself, embrace God and make it to heaven rather than having riches and a little heaven on earth, become arrogant, turn from God and find yourself spending eternity in hell.

We must have a moral compass, a device in our heads that leads us to “act right.”  As a Methodist, the foundation of my compass is Jesus’s response to a lawyer.

Matthew 22:35-40

Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Game over, good night, turn out the light.  There it is right there.  The old moral compass is pointing directly toward a heavenly home when your actions are those of someone who truly loves God and someone who  loves his neighbor as much as he loves himself.

If it was only that simple, life in Georgia would be a peach but there are people who clearly don’t love themselves more less their neighbors.  The great philosopher Oprah of Winfrey says that love is an action verb more than a feeling-based noun—show love in your actions.  The cool professor Randy Pausch wrote the book “The Last Lecture” to give directions on life to his children because cancer would take him before they grew up.  He said that his one message to his daughter is “When it comes to men who are romantically interested in you, it’s really simple. Just ignore everything they say and only pay attention to what they do.”

Pausch’s comment reminds me of the Prayer of Humiliation during communion at my A.M.E. Church that says “we are sorry for these our misgiving which we have committed against your divine majesty in thoughts, words and deeds.”  Deeds, deeds, deeds.  You can talk a good talk but what are your deeds….what did you do to back up the words from your mouth… let the works I have done speak for me.

People run around all day talking about their love for God, America, their race and themselves but do their actions support their professed love.  Yea, they love their neighbor as themselves because they don’t love themselves (eating the wrong foods, falling for the wrong person, playing in school, committing crimes, spending too much money.)

President John Kennedy said asking not what this country can do for you…ask what you can do for this country.  I shouldn’t get started on government/public policy related parts of the Bible.  We would be here all day debating “servant, obey your master.”  The passage most related to government is Romans 13, 1-5.

1Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.2Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 

Without order, we have chaos.  People must have a sense of right and wrong.  General Colin Powell wrote that we need to restore “shame” in America.  You have a new car but paid zero child support.  You should be shame (not ashame…good old fashion shame.)

Residual Benefit of Church: People have too much “understanding” these days but remember Proverbs 3, 5-6.  Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.  As a kid, church was often a boring discussion of some ancient dudes fighting each other; you could have the non-Jesus parts.  But, the lightbulb came on for other kids (mostly girls).  They could hear the life lessons in Proverbs and Psalms….oh, don’t let Paul start writing letters to distance churches…what he could have done with a laptop and wifi.

When you go to church, you experience many residual benefits.  The homeboy told me that attending Sunday School every Sunday made him feel better in general but I knew that getting up early on Sunday reduced his hard partying on Saturday night… the Lord moves in mysterious ways.  If a kid can sit still to listen to the history part of the Bible, that ability to focus is vital in school and the workplace.  Of course, confidence in public speaking grows from years of church involvement.  Hearing a pastor craft a message helps with communication skills but pray for the kids who attend church where people butcher proper English.  Where you go to church at?   Have mercy.

For people with questionable family members, church is a place to expose your family to positive, productive folks…most of the time.  My church has so many retired successful people; the fellowship in the parking lot is a bright point of my week.  It is like having dozens of cool aunts and uncles; thoughts of their encouragement might make me teary-eyed over this keyboard and you know I don’t have the extended warranty if the computer shorts out.

We can’t sleep on the networking aspects of regular church attendance.  I am not promoting cronyism in the workplace but you hire people with whom you are familiar.  If Bob has done an excellent job as a church official for years, I have seen the quality of his work product and organizational skills.

Money/World View: This discussion can be controversial but it needs to occur because many of the conflicts involving our nation started about gold/money/treasures.  1 Timothy 6:10 says

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

My high school econ teacher wisely said that every major event in world history was directly or indirectly about money.  When groups and nations start hunting wealth around the world, they often seek a biblical justification for their actions….manifest destiny and divine intervention.

People sometimes wonder why Black Americans would embrace Christianity, the faith of those who enslaved us.  The biblical justification for slavery was said to be based on Africans being the descendants of  Cain, whose descendants were to be cursed, or Noah’s son Ham, who whose descendants were curse because he laughed at his father in a drunken state.  My brother-in-law Pastor Norman E. Kerry says that the simple answer for this question was cover on day one in seminary.  Jesus cleaned the slate for anything in the past so slave traders and Klan were wrong.

We should talk about people your faith considers to be wrong.  Jesus mentioned my sheep not of this flock.  John 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.  That passage could be debated by people smarter than me because some people thinks that means Jesus talked to people away from the current Middle East.  We know he talked to crooks and prostitutes.  On the cross, he even said “forgive them father for they know not what they do.”

Religious, Spiritual and Righteous:  To me, there is a faith difference involving being religious, being spiritual and being righteous—I try to be all three.  A religious person might be deeply involved in the  organizational aspects of church but is that person practicing what was preached on Sunday during the rest of the week.  A spiritual person is at peace in their spirit; they know who they are and why we are here.  A righteous person might not be in church every Sunday but he tries to never do wrong; he endeavors to be a fair dealer in every aspect of life.

Plenty Room In Hell– While heaven wants believers to spread the good news and bring souls into the light, this writer thinks that we must acknowledge that the business of religion creates drama for financial reasons at times.  Some churches seem to have a preoccupation with the “fighting the enemy” part of faith and they can go right ahead because I just don’t energy for that battle.  If you want to save those who are wrong from their doom, you are such a good person but I say there is plenty room in hell for those hell-bent on going there.

Religion has made world affairs a big mess.  The conflict in the Middle East could be the spark that starts the next world war.  Abraham was the father of three major faiths and why won’t people remember that his first son with Hagar is Ismael, who some consider to be the father of Islam.   I enjoyed my visit to Jerusalem and was awestruck to touch a place where Jesus actually sat.  However, I am one American who is fatigued by the constant conflict in that region and the exportation of that drama into every corner of the globe.

The solution begins with respect.  While I don’t want to point fingers, Europeans didn’t respect the history and culture of others when they started their golden age of global greed.   While religion is at the center of the conflict in the Middle East, American interest in the region comes from our dependency on their oil.

When imperialists from Europe saw they could get wealth and resources from the Middle East, they didn’t start by acknowledging the cultural history of Mesopotamia and Babylon.  Hammurabi who? Which Europeans came down to Egypt to construct those pyramids and that Sphinx because clearly these brown people didn’t do it alone?  Oh, the Chinese and the Japanese were more advanced in many ways but the British gave that little consideration when they forced them to trade.  The same arrogant mindset invaded Africa, South America, North America and Australia…all with Biblical justification.   The so-called American Indians are elegant and proud but they were treated as salvages.  Is that the approach Jesus would have employed?  I think not.

Peace: While there is no official religion in America (many folks don’t know that), I prefer leaders who have a moral compass, people who practice daily what is taught on Sunday morning.  If we want to have world peace, we must be respectful and considerate in our posture toward others.  At the end of the day, Ismael and Isaac came together to bury Abraham.

Genesis 25:8-9

Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre;

We should end this faith discussion with the idea that everyone on the earth should be considered brothers and sisters and we should learn to live together.

Psalm 133:1

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

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This is a little too strong

Personal Responsibility: Choices, Decisions and Consequences; Deliberation; Focus; Family Engineering; Self-analysis

Elected officials and others in the political arena spend too much time giving the public the impression that governmental actions can fix what is wrong most of the time.  If you think about it, most of the solutions start with personal responsibility (PR); people owning what they did, will do and what they should teach children to do.

The conservative movement devoted considerable amounts of attention to PR over the years but some of those guys can be mean with it.  A better approach would be to firmly and positively encourage people to select a different path or course of action.  It’s all about mindset.

We should acknowledge that Speaker Newt Gingrich has had the right idea in the past when he wasn’t being playfully mean himself.  Gingrich use to say that the federal government’s limited role was to create a fair playing field; a climate in which people’s prosperity was determined by their actions.  Of course, we haven’t had that climate in America yet but it’s a better approach than the almost socialist method of having people think that the government should act to correct what’s wrong in their lives.  Newsflash: there will be winners and losers in life.  As Prince sang in Pop Life, “Everybody can’t be on top.”

If your life stinks, you should ask yourself if the stench is the result of what you did or didn’t do.  You went to elementary school with people who ended up at Florida State University and people who ended up at Florida State Penitentiary.  While parenting is a factor, most of us could have done more to be the masters of your fates.

Choices, Decisions and Consequences (CDC): While teaching in a job training program, I luckily turned on ESPN to see a speaker breaking CDC down for NFL rookies.   You have choices in life, you make decisions about those choices and you better be ready to accept the consequences of those decisions.  Since the being of humankind, it’s has been about the organic/natural CDC process.

However, government involvement (while well-intended) introduces inorganic or unnatural aspects into the process.  Yes, we need a safety net to help during rough periods but some folks feel that the awareness of assistance encourages risky decision-making.  Hell, some people want to argue more with the government about money for raising kids than with the kid’s other parent.  A trip to the assistance office comes before a trip to the hiring fast food business.  People need to own or live in the reality created by their actions—stop the blame game.

Deliberation: I am amazed by the ease with which people make life-altering decisions. Big choices and actions should require a very slow, well-researched decision-making process.  One must be deliberate in his actions.  It’s sad but true that some young people give more consideration to which pictures to post online than when and with whom to have a child.  “I just happen to be in the car with those guys when someone started shooting at them about something.”

Of course, deliberation starts with research and research begins from the knowledge and wisdom of wiser people. Guys taking life skills advice from friends on the corner is the very definition of the blind leading the blind.  General Colin Powell said that you should never take counsel from unproductive people.

Focus: Once good decisions are made, they must be implemented and executed with focus—keep your eyes on the prize.  Smart people design and map out goals and objectives.

Family Engineering: Can people in the public policy arena openly discuss this subject or does that discussion violate the ethics of public policy; this isn’t China.  I broach the subject because poorly engineered or planned families cost the taxpayers billions.  Who had a baby with whom at what time and under what financial conditions?  Time is big because reasonable people know that folks in their late teens to early 20s are still growing into who they will be.  The moms in my job training program often said that life would have been better if they simple had their kids five years later and after better knowing the fathers (they would have selected better guys who were they husbands.)

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The age-old discussion in college social science classes is the debate between nature and nurture.  Is behavior based on DNA, environment or a combination?  Either way, family members often put their faces in their hands when they discover who a family member is having a baby with, for or whatever. Again, where is the deliberation?  Grandmother is going to spend money for the next 18 years; she might be 65 years old with a net worth of less than $6,500 because she kept helping her family members.  Mercy.

Can we get back to the days when you knew who you were and whose you were?  People once functioned with a sense of community; they were mindful of “how you carried yourself” and folks knew that good families required careful cultivation like good crops.

Self-analysis: Quick, name a close friend who isn’t good at self-analysis.  From the good, the bad and the ugly, improvements in any aspect of life start with taking an honest look in the mirror.   Of course, people can’t be critical of themselves if their mindsets are twisted.  Some people never say or think that they are wrong or could have handled something better.

Why are we having a personal responsibility discussion on a public policy forum?  This discussion is needed because people sometimes make horrible life choice and taxpayers directly or indirectly end up with the bill.  That situation simply isn’t fair and we must find a way to reverse it.

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Everyone in the political/public policy arena has an agenda and the agenda usually centers on getting themselves paid and staying paid.  Hey, income is a fundamental part of life.  A problem grows from regular people not developing an eye for detecting agendas and functioning based on that information.  Cloaking agendas is a talent for some and others are just brazen with their goals.

Why was the world surprised when an Atlanta megachurch pastor asked 200,000 followers for $300 apiece to buy a $65 million jet?  He would have put the jet to good use but we should detect his extravagant agenda.  In education, the teachers’ union has an agenda of defending teachers when fingers are pointed regarding low student performance—Johnny can’t read and he is 17 years old.  Is that Johnny’s fault; what about his parents?  Then, attorneys with a “getting paid” agenda get the bright idea of suing the school system for promoting Johnny for years when he couldn’t read.  Johnny should have had a personal agenda as a kid that focused more on learning and growth and less on hip hop gear and X Box.

A classic agenda analysis in Washington could be had about peanuts.  We love those goober peas in Georgia and our agenda in south Georgia is to get rich ending world hunger by growing and selling that edible nut.  Check this, non-farm people in Georgia sometimes grumble about the constant local news coverage of peanuts when peanut farmers are a small segment of the population.  When Johnny goes to school, the school is funded in part by property taxes on that peanut farm land.

Johnny’s parents have the agenda of cutting their food bill and cheaper peanut butter would be helpful.  But, the peanut lobby wants the selling price to be higher for their growers of course.  One of the biggest enemies of the peanut lobby is based in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  Oh yea, your agenda detector is in the red line zone because those candy bar makers want tons and tons of good peanuts at a lower price point.  Again, everyone in the arena has an agenda and hopefully they will arrive at a conclusion that is mutual beneficial and transparent to all involved parties.

Activists:  Citizens should keep a watchful eye on the agendas of activists because hot drama keeps them paid.  The mission of most activists starts off with sincerity but somewhere during the process they realize they can get crazy paid if 20 people in every town in America send them 20 bucks.  For sake of full disclosure, that formula is the dream of bloggers like me also but it hasn’t happen….yet…keep hope alive.

Governing peacefully is the job of elected officials while activists thrive on conflict.  The National Rifle Association and Handgun Control both benefit from fear of new gun legislation or regulations.  Since the lines have become so confused, citizens need to constantly examine the agendas and motivations of actors in the theater of operation.

The press of old simply reported the news but the current media sources create news that drives drama and ratings.  Also, media sources are often thinly veiled marketing/promotion departments for big money interests and political party bosses…Fox News for the far right and MSNBC for the far left.

Right Wing Media and Hip Hop Culture: In a wild theory, these two forces are unleashing massive amounts of negative energy on certain communities as part of their opportunistic agendas.  This situation brings to mind Psalm 1:1 Bless is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.  Psalm 1:6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous but the way of the ungodly shall perish.  I actually like the version where “ungodly” is replaced with “wicked” because those who will say anything to get money must be wicked.

The Right wing media agenda is a classic example of the tail wagging the dog.  The media drive the political party and controls the elected officials.  Most of the people in the American heartland are decent, trusting folks; they believe what’s on the radio and television.  So, the Right wing segment of the conservative movement is a vocal minority that loves getting people tickled off.  They have absolutely zero good to say about anyone who isn’t a sworn member of their group.  Conflict and demonization drives ratings and donations but it doesn’t improve our nation.

An end to hostilities would cost them millions.  Most of the far right presidential candidates from the last few cycles knew they wouldn’t win the nomination.  They were in the race to push an agenda that would build their brand… a lucrative multi-media, multi-revenue stream brand.  Ultimately,  the climate they created cost the GOP nominee the White House because the political center was put off by their shenanigans.

Another section of this project detailed the agendas of the hip hop industry.  Yes, they are worse than the Klan because these young males and females (I refuse to type ladies and gentlemen or brothers and sistas)  will say or do things detrimental to our community to get money.  The silly aspect of this wicked agenda is that the so-called artists and stars are getting a fraction of the money that music executives are receiving and those corporate types only care about wealth.  Kids killing each other over $200 sneakers isn’t their concern.  Little girls won’t do their homework because learning isn’t needed to be a shake dancer, video vixen or reality show star.  Oh, those girls will learn the hard way that easy money in the club culture isn’t usual part of a healthy personal agenda.

Role of government/unhealthy liberal agenda: Yea, Blacks and Indians had a horrible time during most of American history.  Blacks caught hell here long before America was America.  It was the federal government that eventually and reluctantly protected us on some level so Blacks will always cringe during discussion of state rights and a weaker federal government.  History can repeat itself.

FDR and LBJ were presidents that used the power of the Oval Office to help struggling families however, people can grow to expect assistance.  It’s called entitlements.  Some Blacks quietly content that anything received free from the federal, state or local governments is a form of reparations for our force labor in this nation.  Really?

The agenda of the civil rights movement was to give every American a fair opportunity to live and strive without regard to race, creed, gender and national origins.  As quiet as it is kept, many successful members of the Black middle class feel that the liberal agenda of giving assistance to poor people actually limits those people’s drive to do for self.  Also, the liberals from the two coasts (NY to BOS and LA to SEA) have agenda modifications that cause pause for Southern Blacks who are much more conservative.  Hell, Atlanta Blacks might be more like New Yorkers than people in the rest of Georgia.

Every voice should be heard at the table in the public policy process.  Ivy leaguers on the far right and far left are currently creating the agenda in D.C. and sending the talking points out to the rank and file.  Okay, that needs to end because America isn’t improving, the do-nothing Congress is in gridlock and my high school classmates are stockpiling weapons in preparation for civil war…Jesus take the wheel.

I want to add that the most important Georgian we hear from infrequently is perhaps the key…Justice Clarence Thomas.  As Chuck D from Public Enemy sang about Minister Farrakhan “Don’t tell me that you understand until you hear the man.”  I read Justice Thomas’ book about life according to his grandfather Myer Anderson and that hardworking old gentleman should set the personal agenda for every southerner.  Mr. Anderson didn’t like his family member receiving government assistance because he did want to explain what happens in his house to some other person.

I never knew Justice Thomas was a “power to the people” soul brother in college but he was a radical because black self-reliance was a fundamental part of Mr. Anderson’s agenda.  If you think about it, the Black Panther Party of the 1960s and 70s had an agenda that would be ultra-conservative today.

In summary, everyone has an agenda and every group has one as well.  We must develop agenda detection capabilities then determine how others’ agendas compare and contrast with ours.  And, we need to remember that leaders of movements, groups, political parties and everything else have the sub-agenda of getting and staying paid. It’s all about measurable results and how to get to them.

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Everything starts at home…everything.  Many of the biggest issues facing people in our community grow from weak “home training” and no sense of personal economics.  An individual and/or family should operate like a small business.

I personally love the idea or mindset of applying principles from the business, industrial, commerce and corporate worlds to home life..i.e. Risk/reward, cost benefit analysis.  Investing, training, research, development, risk management, savings, financial foundation, marketing and human resources are all aspects of a sound, healthy family. Hey, some families might actually have a business plan or mission statement.

Investing= college cost, homeownership.

Training= etiquette, faith walk, nightly dinner table discussions and family updates.

Research= what are successful families doing, Do it Yourself home improvement, useful television.

Development= building stronger kids, parents who learn from others’ wisdom, family sacrifices for career opportunities.

Risk Management= nipping problems in the bud, surrounding family with positive people in heathy environments, particular about school.

Savings/Financial Foundation= untouchable nest egg, the retirement program at work, struggle-free living (living inside means, paying this month’s bills with money earned four months ago).

Marketing= human marketing is networking, being around positive constructive people who witness your solidness, dating people who enhance your life.

Human Resources= using the utmost care regarding who you bring into the small business (family members are new employees/partners.) New people come in after an exhaustive interview process and detailed research of history and experiences.

Home Ownership:   The American dream is having a piece of God’s green earth; land, they aren’t making any more of it.  Some people go from the cradle to the grave without developing a desire to own a home (well, grave would technically be owning land.)

A house is the second biggest investment for most people (children being the first in my opinion.)  On Capitol Hill, housing was one of my issue areas but more importantly, I taught a first-time home buyers class as part of my duties with a south Georgia community development corporation.   While a HUD-provided video explained the fundamentals to the participants, I knew this stuff from hearing my daddy constantly advocate for home ownership.  He was a good agriculture teacher but his forgotten legacy was selling lots in our subdivision in the early 1970s. In retrospect, this housing development should have been Black-owned but  the Lord knows it was progress for people to own their first house, their second greatest asset.

Daddy’s first rule was “when you rent, you are buying property for someone else.”  His second rule would have been “with a stable income, buying a house is actually cheaper than renting and the place goes up in value.” When I was about 9 years old, my daddy pointed at a new Cadillac parked next to a shack and asked me what was wrong with that picture; talk about your teachable moments.

Many families in my subdivision are living in houses that were paid off 20 years ago.  Others have moved to snazzier communities but the rent money from the “home house” is investment income.  Oh, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies in the “Sub;” we have our “come on now” drama.  Barbecuing in the front yard—come on now.  Pulling a car engine with a tree in the front yard-come on now.

I like the idea of a person buying a duplex, living in one side and the rental money from the other side covers most of the note.  That situation feels financially magical.

Means: We must live within our means because those who bite off more than they can chew will choke.  One of my favorite movies is “It’s A Wonderful Life.”   My man George Bailey was a hero for getting so many people into homes and wanting to see them actually make the final mortgage payment.

The recent housing crisis in America grew out of having fewer George Baileys.  People were buying more house than they could afford.   They were actually factoring in the future appreciation of the properties.  In other words, they were counting their eggs before they hatched.

Struggle, Stretch, Strain: Yes, some people seriously believe that struggle will always be a part of life but that’s hogwash.  You struggle when you put more on your plate than you can comfortably handle.  As a result, these people are constantly stretching their money and that produces a financial and emotional strain.

Conspicuous Consumption/Bling: the slang term “bling” defines the shiny, flashy items that small-minded people want to make them feel better about themselves.  Wiser folks, those less shallow, have spending habits and budgets that reflect a smart financial plan and personal determination.  For example, a person making $10 an hour can purchase a $20 shirt, double their hourly wage.  But, that same person wearing $90 shirts is foolish.  I bet that person doesn’t have $1,000 in a saving account.  Yes, reasonable people have a problem with folks in the public assistance office in Polo and Versace.  We are talking about young parents who would put $3,000 rims on a $2,000 car that smokes like a chimney.

We need to stop making Michael Jeffery Jordan richer.  Your child has Jordans sneakers but isn’t old enough to walk.  Your teenager wears $200 Jordans but isn’t on the varsity; his crew wears them to play video games sports while watching you clean the house and wash the car.  Oh, what about the adult with Jordans and a matching $30 Starter cap at the bus stop.  $1000 cars can still be found but they wouldn’t be caught dead in a struggle buggy.

Lump Sum: First, most people should thank heaven for putting us around role models with knowledge and wisdom.  Then, we should thank ourselves for being smart enough to listen.  Struggling people who work every day might receive the Earned Interest Tax Credit.  President Richard Nixon started the EITC because he felt working people in America shouldn’t be below the poverty line.  So, this credit gives workers the amount taken for taxes during the year and adds enough money to the refund to bring that person or family up to the poverty line.

maury1

Smart families live below their means, avoid bling and put most of that EITC money away.  After a few years of saving, those families have the income history, decent credit report and down payment for a house of their own.  Hey, USDA, HUD and other governmental programs might get them into homes with little or no down payment.

http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/single-family-housing-direct-home-loans/ga

It warms the heart to think about people turning adversity into prosperity.  From a better house in a community with better schools, the next generation of that family (the current kids) can go to college, move up in a job that requires technical school training or see the world in the military.  A family that will hopefully never struggle, stretch and strain again.

Housing video links

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