Re-electing the Convicted

I’m upset.

Meet the Press featured a special segment about former legislators who served prison terms. Their convictions involved fraud and racketeering, among other matters. Now that they’ve been released, they’re running for office again (Published October 19th 2014, 10:43 am).

The former Governor of Louisiana is among those who served at least five years in prison for racketeering.

There’s also a clip of him on the campaign trail. He talks with an elderly Black woman. She expresses her favorable impression of him and promises to support his election because she’s aware that he’s focused on the good of the people and wants to help them. Perhaps she isn’t aware of his on-camera quip elsewhere: He’s just fine under the sheets. And there he’s a wizard. The implications of that statement are frightening.

It hints at his private life activities. It seems to forebode a return to old-style practices that seem to be budding throughout all of the Obama administration and especially in light of the anti-Obama tactics being used to put Republicans into office. Collectively, there is a presage of socially returning to practices of a national historic nature.

What is unclear is why these three men are eligible to run for office. They have been convicted of felonies and served time for their crimes against society. At least one has admitted he believes he’s above the law and cannot be caught at involvement in his activities. Again, the former Governor says he can’t be caught unless he’s found with a dead woman in his bed or with a young boy and neither, he says, is likely. Do the others have similar attitudes? It would be good for the Press to devote more focus on these people, to investigate the legitimacy of the candidacies. Usually, one loses their rights of citizenship after being convicted and serving prison time.

Is anyone aware of these previously convicted legislators who appear to still have the same intents and propensities?

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More Than Being the Female Candidate

The District 3 Supervisor debate between Sheila Kuehl and Bobby Shriver just aired on ABC television.

Based on what I heard and understood, this is going to be a close and difficult race. There are very few issues on which the candidates differ. Both come from backgrounds that have built these leaders. Both understand the processes and systems that need to be used, modified, or operated in order to serve the needs and interests of the population.

Both emphasized service to the population.

As I listened to the debate a particular thought struck me that was never an observation before. We have a woman running for a County leadership position. There were no histrionics, no wailing or weeping, no seeking sympathy for whatever feminine shortcoming (or status).

Both candidates were in a flatfooted race. Both were surefooted. They were well researched on their subject areas. It was obvious that when issues arise that are outside of their platform, they will have the vision to adequately address those concerns or be aware of the tools that can be used to address them.

Each knows how to talk with people in order to reach consensus and solutions. Each knows how to carefully listen to what’s being said. This was an extremely civil debate. There were occasional barbs and citing of questionable interpretations that occurred in the past. But there were not aggressive attacks. There were no efforts at character assassination.

Both cited the portions of their career histories that provided them with their strengths that make them qualified to receive the constituents’ votes. They respected the time limits and judiciously used their time allocations.

There was a comment in closing statements that asserted that Kuehl is from Sacramento. In other words, she is not closely affiliated with Los Angeles County (local) issues but is instead more attuned to the broad state government perspective. Both candidates live in the same city, Santa Monica. Kuehl countered the “not local” comment by asserting for the fourth or fifth time that both of them are from Santa Monica. She also pointed out her close affiliation with Los Angeles County throughout her work in film, law, law school professor, and local city college instructor. In other words (and within 15 seconds) she put herself back on a par with being closely attuned to local issues and concerns. As I said, there were no attacks.

Most significantly, it was a woman going toe to toe with a man. And it wasn’t a question of whether a woman is the better candidate. It was a question, pure and simple, of who is the better candidate.

Yes, this will be a very close race. It is not about whether we put a woman on the Board of Supervisors instead of a man. It’s about which candidate can serve well.

The midterm election is on Tuesday, November 4, and also encompasses election of a new Sheriff, as well as other officials and measures.

These candidates also had a radio debate on KCRW on October 15 that can be found on the station’s website.

Learned and Hard to Prove

Bias is an interesting facet of life. It leads to prejudice and, in some cases, discrimination. Some people think of discrimination as a horrible social ill. But it’s good to be discriminating about things, depending on what they are. You can use judgement to not choose a style that does not flatter your figure. You can choose not to live in a place that incorporates materials to which you know you have an allergy. You can (sort of) choose not to eat peanuts if you have an allergy to them or some food that causes you to be ill.

I’ve highlighted certain segments of the definitions of these terms below for the reader’s convenience and to facilitate this conversation.

We tend to think of prejudice in the negative when we hear the word as it stands on it’s own. In that state, it’s considered to indicate bigotry. And we all know that being a bigot is a horrible state of existence.

It’s Taught

How many of us are aware that it’s taught? It can be taught by practices in one’s culture. It can be used for the sake of preserving safety or even heredity. The first lessons come as we are small children taking instruction from parents or care providers. At these tender ages, there is no questioning of the trusted “adult” in our lives. The concepts and practices become deep rooted with practice. As they are put into daily practice, there is little need to consider what is done or said; there’s little to no questioning of the psychology. After a time, choices that are made almost on an instinctive basis.

But some children are a little more precocious than others. They will eventually consider why they are taught to be courteous and considerate of some people but others who are treated with less respect than the neighbor’s pet. One poignant example is the story of the multiracial child. The mother was White, the father a mixture of Black and French. Both parents carried several Native American heredities. One day the mother told the child, “I don’t like people with blonde hair. I think it’s ugly. People with blonde hair aren’t nice.” The child determined from those words that they should feel the same about people with blonde hair.

Of course, the mother had green/hazel eyes and some of the family members had grey and even blue eyes. The lesson avoided disdain for people with certain eye colors. But of necessity, there was some inclusion because it is more likely to find a blonde with blue eyes. But this was a thinking child who learned from others as well as from reasoning out situations and problems. The child realized that they actually liked the look of blonde hair. They admired the fact that pictures of blonde models showed them wearing black ribbons in their hair. The child wanted to emulate the models but was told they could not wear black ribbons. The reason was because no one would be able to see the hair decoration. And the child resented the restriction based solely on the fact that their hair was black.

The child was also taught to dislike people who speak with a Southern accent. The lesson with that was that people from the South did not like Negroes and treated them in an unkind manner. That lesson was reinforced at every turn, in movies, in most of life, in books.

Eventually both lessons were cast aside when the matured person who was then responsible for developing their own value system began to work and associate with many types of people – even blondes with Southern accents. It was discovered that many of those people were not unlikeable. The lesson that replaced the childhood training was that you need to take each person on their own merit and their own proclivities. But no matter what, it is imperative to treat each person with courtesy and respect.

Instintive

Prejudice and bigotry are taught. They can become so ingrained that the reason for the bias becomes obscured. It takes inclusion and association with others to dismantle the myths that strain to maintain their hold on social values and opportunities. Because the manner of dealing with others in a biased manner becomes so fundamental in our dealings, when the one suffering the unfair treatment objects, they suffer further punishment. Their position is further compromised and made even worse than before speaking. In fact, they can face the very real consequence of being barred from the opportunity – or worse. These days, the phenomenon is occasionally referred to as retaliation.

The Rise of Civil Rights

Is it any wonder that our nation heaved a heavy shoulder at the practices that excluded the talents and recognition of those who were not White? The age of the Civil Rights Movement arrived. Movements and demonstrations to advocate for equality in all things. By the 1960s, the Civil Rights Act was born. It’s most commanding aspect are Title VI (having to do with businesses that receive federal funds for the services they provide and under the purview of the Department of Justice) and Title VII (having to do with matters relating to employment with oversight from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). Although the Act has changed much of how we behave toward one another in our daily lives and business dealings, although its initial impact was significant in opening doors that were barred, many have either forgotten the basis for its enactment or have never learned about the opportunity it provided for us to flourish because of our many attributes, both instinctive (derived through specialized, repetitive training) and innate (occurring in one’s makeup naturally by birth).

Definitions:

  • Bias: A particular tendency or inclination, especially one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question; prejudice. Also defined as: mental tendency or inclination, esp. an irrational preference or prejudice.
  • Bigotry: stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.
  • Discrimination: 1. treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit:
    2. racial and religious intolerance and discrimination.
    3. the power of making fine distinctions; discriminating judgment.
    Archaic. something that serves to differentiate.
  • Discrimination: 1. unfair treatment of a person, racial group, minority, etc; action based on prejudice
    2. subtle appreciation in matters of taste
    3. the ability to see fine distinctions and differences
  • Prejudice: A hostile opinion about some person or class of persons. Prejudice is socially learned and is usually grounded in misconception, misunderstanding, and inflexible generalizations.

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Cost of War cf Education

Americans are tired of being thrust into having their troops sent off to foreign wars. There are many reasons for the fatigue. Some of it is the toll it’s taking on lives lost and lives (as well as future opportunities) forever changed once the troops return home. And part of the frustration is that going to war could ease economic pressures and buoy the cost of living. No more.

The Cost of Education

Americans are also frustrated with the downward spiral of quality education, much less affordability of advanced education. The cost of education seems like a space shuttle on its way to a new solar system. If there has been no saving years before entering university, it’s necessary to seek student loans to finance one’s education. And those student loans leave an individual in deep debt for longer than it takes to pay off a mortgage.

The Protests

U.S. warfare cost in scholarship dollars

Cost of military hardware in scholarships. from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, Zach Weiner.

Many cartoons and other symbolic protests against the war and decrying the quality of education, as well as comparing the cost of each in dollars, have been cropping up through social media sites. But the one posted by my author colleague struck a chord.

Patriotism and War

Who remembers what it meant for Americans to go off to war during The Great War or World War II? What amount of patriotism existed during the Korean War? Ah, those were times when economies were still strong and it was entirely possible to live on minimum wage with the realistic expectation that there would be a timely increase in salary (within 3 months) that stayed ahead of the cost of living increase.

Eventually, we Americans started joining other countries that took up the noble causes of foreign wars where it was difficult to identify the allies from the foes. We became embroiled in civil wars. We had to pick and choose which side represented what was right and good.

And now we find ourselves thrust time and time again into religious and cultural wars. We now have civilian aid emissaries and The Press putting their lives in jeopardy in order to report on what is happening or to provide assistance to those who are the resident bystanders caught in the midst of the chaos. That’s just one of the costs of being involved in the war arena.

The Quality of Education

The cartoon compared the military costs in terms of scholarship dollars that could be used to educate our emerging workforce. That, in turn, evoked certain thoughts about the quality of education that is provided to our youth, nationwide. These days we have people “learning” but hard pressed to show evidence that they actually captured and are capable of applying the principles their degree announces they have earned.

At one time, earning a certain grade was indicative of the level of competence one had achieved in a particular subject. It was a time when grading consisted of learning more than 90% of the lesson in order to earn a grade of A. Performance on a test equivalent of *comprehension* of 80-90% of the content constituted earning a grade of B. Lower than 80% meant performing at merely an average level, but passable.

Evidence of Education

And those grades meant when put to the test in real world situations, being able to apply the principles could be called up by the “student” immediately and competently. The worker had incorporated the concepts and principles into their lives. They became articulate about what they were doing and why. They understood how to convey that information without becoming overbearing or having the need to defend their ego at the risk of being shown to be inadequate. They were hired based on the fact that they competently demonstrated a sample of their knowledge and abilities during brief one-hour meetings and conversations with a range of people at many levels of the organization. Once hired, the previews of their abilities proved to be accurate and they continued in their career progress. They got promoted.

More importantly, they maintained their positions and drove their own career progression by remaining up to date about innovations and new principles. They stayed aware of trends that affected the market.

The Cost of War

The cost of military tools has changed the way we do things and how being involved in warfare affects the economy. It’s changed the rate of unemployment – in the negative. It no longer means taking the pressure off of a jobless economy. Instead and for the last eight years, the cost of war has turned into a situation of throwing one set of poorly conceived economic principles in the air with one hand and then another set with the other hand. And this is done in such rapid succession that the rhetoric even becomes blurry.

The cost of war becomes a nation disjointed and dysfunctional. And all of that is compounded by a fractious Congress bent on partisan politics rather than serving the welfare its constituency.

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Tobacco Travails

On NewsConferenceLA this morning, one of the discussions related to ‪‎tobacco ‪‎companies and their lobbying Congress and legislators via ‪contributions to ‎political ‪‎campaigns thereby, influencing ‪‎elections and legislation.

Tobacco and ‪‎smoking have been taken to excess in relation to their original purposes. They’ve become an semi-acceptable vice. In protest to the negative effects of tobacco products, CVS no longer sells ‪‎cigarettes. I haven’t researched this move to ascertain whether CVS has stopped selling all tobacco products nor what the PR basis for this move is.

These matters make me remember a long-held consideration about the issue of tobacco. What are some beneficial ‪‎alternative‎‪‎uses‬ of the product? Would it take a lot of effort to implement those efforts?

The Indigenes did not add ‪‎nicotine to the plant. It was smoked for ‪‎religious and political ‪‎rites‬ (the solidification of treaties), to cement agreements as a sign of unified effort. (Think peace pipe, But the dangerous additives were not part of the cultivation of the product. It was not addictive. It was the 20th Century commercialization of the product that brought about adding chemicals that would cause craving for more.

So maybe tobacco companies can lose the tarnished reputations their signature products and their brand now own if they stop adding the chemicals to the products. (Just a thought.)

But that still leaves us with the troubling matter of election influencing with campaign contributions and lobbying that surpass the usual abilities of the average voter.

Is Anyone Listening?

The age-old complaint has resurfaced. Job seekers place little value in using recruiters because they aren’t reliable.

An applicant will be induced to apply for a very alluring sounding position, whether permanent or through a staffing agency. But when they get past the application, all sorts of little bugs start creeping out of the woodwork that weren’t expect. New conditions, new requirements, new qualifications. Those are predicated on the fact that the office actually exists.

Another amazing thing that happens is, after enduring an hour or so of machine assisted testing and achieving high scores on each test, the position turns out to be something that doesn’t require that much expertise and the firm doesn’t typically send people out who have that much. They only want the most basic skills possible. Next, the new candidate is told they will be called when something comes up. Someone else was sent out on the advertised situation. Or, there is another opportunity but the rate will be a little lower than the one in the ad. Can you start tomorrow?

Some agencies are a reflection of the fact that humans are part of the wheels that turn. Office functions must be done. Sometimes things get overlooked or lost or misplaced or sent to the wrong place. But it’s the temp who gets blamed for the difficulty and the blame is cemented to the worker’s reputation. Applicants are now very wary of temp agencies.

A Drawer Full of Resumes

One recruiter who did permanent placements had an entire drawer full of engineering resumes that had not been reviewed. Needless to say, the applicants had not been contacted at all. Did any of them meet some of the criteria for new orders? Well, they needed to be organized so why not make that determination while doing the sorting and organizing.

I was the researcher in that firm. The engineering terminology and highlights of career accomplishments weren’t part of my vocabulary. I went to the recruiter to seek clarification about the language. Unfortunately, he had about as much knowledge as I did. The resumes went back into a stack and filed away.

The Other Side of the Coin

Applicants and candidates also have some failings that need to be corrected. So let’s not lay all of the blame for failed opportunities at the feet of the recruiter. Stephen cites some very valid counter arguments. Also notable is the fact that he’s willing to own up to some of the errors that are committed.

Mike (another recruiter) groaned one day about a candidate who seemed to be intentionally obstinate. But the candidate hemmed and hawed about setting a date for a personal interview. It must have been their desire to not look too anxious. They agreed to a phone (not an in-person) interview, maybe. And the date and time of even the phone interview couldn’t be nailed down. The situation raised a lot of questions. Perhaps the office was too far in terms of travel. Then, again, with the cost of gasoline, it could be the candidate didn’t have gas money and didn’t want to admit that. Who knows what bugaboos were attacking that candidate’s ability to meet the invitation. The point is, they did not and had no reasonable explanations for their change in direction. Would gentle probing for the reason have helped? No matter. Opportunity lost.

Job Market

News informs us that the job market is softening. There are more jobs available. The difficulty with the news is that we aren’t told what quality of jobs are blossoming. Are they permanent jobs, entry level, across the enterprise, focused in just one industry, or are they temporary jobs?

No matter what types of jobs they are, another concern is the rate of pay. Job seekers are also weary of attempting to make ends meet with minimum wages of $7.25 (federal) or as much as $10 per hour. It simply isn’t a livable wage these days. There are true stories of people who are working two and three jobs in order to support their families. One of the ways they finally manage to do so is by virtue of the fact that there’s another wage earner in the household. But they still don’t have health insurance.

Disabled Sheltered Workshops in Peril

not impossible

Breaking down the barriers

Some of the news from Disability Scoop talks about “sheltered workshops.” Congress Passes Bill Limiting Sheltered Workshop Eligibility, by July 10, 2014).

You may be asking yourself, “What is a ‘sheltered workshop?'” It relates to workforce training and internship for the disabled that is segregated from others who do not have some form of disability. Here’s an explanation from Wikipedia.

Why is this news important? Because those who comprise the disabled population struggle against various types of employment and access discrimination and even voting rights, under certain conditions. They are also paid sub-minimum wage (the minimum wage being, in and of itself, is not even close to a livable wage). If the projections of the IEP are correct, there may be justification for paying minimum, or even sub-minimum, wages to students who graduate with lowered educational attainments.

So we begin to see a picture of certain forces determined to create a population of those who are needy and dependent on government subsidies in order to survive. Even though we see general monthly improvements in our unemployment figures and numbers of jobs created, such is not the case for those in the disabled population. Job Market Rough For People With Disabilities, by July 8, 2014)

In actuality, many in the disabled population, even those with intellectual challenges, are capable of being part of the cog works of industry at all levels and deserve to be compensated  accordingly. We would be wise to not think of becoming disabled or categorized as a senior in terms of a person who is no longer an individual capable of adding value to our society. We err when we classify them as relics who spend their days engaged in hobbies and few to any activities that don’t involve mental, or even physical, challenges that keep one in tune.

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