Tag Archives: Solutions

My First Solutions Saturday

Time to start delivering on my proposed once a week look at solutions to problems. No telling how long this will be able to run, but I’m going to give it some serious effort, and my best insight. So, let’s start with two BIG underlying problems that very few people want to address. They’re common to all the situations that we’re facing nowadays.

The BIG Common Denominator:

No games; let’s just say it. The one contributing factor to every problem out there is simply a lack of morals. There, I said it. Probably lost half my readers right there also. Morals are old fashioned. Morals are oppressive. Yadda yadda… I call BS! Read on if you want to see why.

First, let’s get one thing straight. I’m not talking about religion. I’m talking about the basic values that are common to almost every religion and spiritual belief system or philosophy though. Things like don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t murder, and treat others the way you want to be treated. Basic concepts that act as a glue to a civilized society.

Religion helps reinforce the idea of treating others kindly, BUT this SHOULD be such a common sense idea that it can stand on it’s own merit. Same is true with other “old fashioned” ideas like honesty and not stealing.

Too much of the world has developed a “I want what I want NOW and you have no right to tell me I can’t have it” or (more simply) win at all costs mentality. And if you can’t get what you want, have the government steal it for you. Who cares about the other person?

Speeding and zig-zagging in and out of traffic? Sure I caused an accident, and nearly caused four others, but *I* wasn’t in it and I got home one and a half minutes sooner! Same thing with cellphone use while driving. MY text or latest Facebook like is more important than your life! How dare you tell me to put the phone down and focus on driving!?!

Oh yeah, you can drive fine while texting. Tell that to my other half who is still having back pain after getting hit by some braindead twit. If we didn’t own a Subaru, the injuries would have been much worse. Twit didn’t care though. It was just one of those things.

Weeks back there was an 86 year old lady with dementia in Brooklyn who was shoved down over social distancing rules. She suffered internal injuries from the fall and DIED. Coronavirus be damned. Where’s the humanity for our fellow human beings? ME ME ME.

This “the ends justify the means” crap extends to the social justice and political realms too. Remember Jessie Smollet in January of 2019? He paid two Jamaican guys to beat him up and then went to the police filing a false report. He claimed it was white supremacists wearing clothes supporting Trump that beat him up. Oh and screaming that SOUTH CHICAGO(!!!) was MAGA country. And the DA was going to let him get away with it too!

It’s striking at racism, and more importantly TRUMP, so EVERYTHING is justified (right Doug?). More like it hurt the cause of equal rights for black people and damaged the credibility of the political Left.

If we’re going to survive as a species much longer, we HAVE TO get to a point where TRUTH is more important than petty ambition and vanity. Where treating others how we want to be treated is valued more than arrogance and greed.

We have to realize “the easy way” isn’t easier. It’s not gaming the system either. It’s faster, more seductive, but ultimately only hurts yourself, those around you and society in general. It also typically damages your self respect because you know you took shortcuts instead of accomplishing something honestly.

That last part is why you have people trying to tear down the whole concept of morals. It helps them justify the crappy things they do. It numbs their conscience. Even more so if they can start getting others to act the same way.

The whole trouble there is that what you have if everybody can do anything as long as they can get away with it is textbook ANARCHY. It’s might makes right. You’re either the big dog, or you’re ground down under their heel. Is that the kind of world any of you want, for yourself or your children?

Think about it. Everything from predatory capitalism, to communist dictators… from lying reporters to crooked politicians could be solved, at least in large part, if people simply valued basic, universal morals and treated others the way they wanted to be treated.

Can we get there?

I’m up and down on this like a yo-yo. There are days I’m convinced that the majority of humanity is lower than knuckle dragging neanderthals and savages. Then there are other days where I see people rising up to show the very best humanity has to offer. Construction workers and local residents digging people out of the Loma Prietta earthquake here in California decades ago. Relief efforts after Malasyia was ravaged by earthquakes. The way people have come together in the midst of this pandemic. Soooo… I just don’t know.

What does concern me is how the shrill voices out there are trying to turn even the most well intended act into an utter evil if it benefits them to do so. If we can shut them down, we MAY just have a prayer of accomplishing the rest of it and surviving as a species.

OH, and that second big issue… Next post. 😉

This one is long enough.

Focus on the Positive and What You CAN Do

My first actual “Solutions Saturday” post since reorganizing the blog a few weeks back. I’ve seen several really good blog posts recently with advice on what to do while stuck at home, and keeping a positive mindset.

Sheltering in place has admittedly been less of an issue for me than many people out there. I have a bad back and neck, and while our income allows us to live in modest comfort, it doesn’t allow for many splurges. That means I’ve spent quite a bit of time at home the last handful of years. I’ve adapted.

After reading over those blog posts, I think I can better put into words what’s helped me survive.

OVERALL ATTITUDE:

Your mindset is going to be the biggest factor in how you deal with sheltering in place. You can look at it as prison, OR an adventure, vacation and / or chance to do new things. The one thing nobody can take away from you without your consent is how you choose to react to things.

Focus on the positive. You hear it from self-improvement gurus all the time, and for good reason.

MAINTAIN YOUR PERSPECTIVE:

Keeping things in perspective helps. Remember that while this outbreak is serious, it’s not as bad as the news is making it out. In just a matter of a few weeks, we should be seeing it dying out also.

FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN DO, NOT WHAT’S OFF LIMITS:

As an example, I could have focused all this time on not eating out as much as we’d like. Instead, I took the opportunity to become an even better cook. My food blog posts are now one of the most popular parts of my blog. I can out-do most of the local restaurants also, and for less money. Think of the fun of being able to wow friends and family with your cooking. Work? Yes, but anything worth having requires it.

Getting away from my own situation, there are other alternatives. Much like finding writing inspiration, it just requires opening your eyes to the possibilities.

Read a book, or watch that movie that you never got to see in theaters

Spend more quality time with your kids. It’ll help all of you feel better about this mess. They WILL remember it down the road also.

Take up a new hobby like cooking or photography

Pick up a new skill also. There are several free online classes to learn how to code for example. Who knows? It could even lead to a career change or new opportunities

If you have a patio or back yard, spend some time there so you’re getting some sunshine. Work in your garden if you have one.

Take care of any DIY projects you’ve got around the house. Doing something productive IS important psychologically and will give you an emotional boost.

Much like the last option, there’s cleaning also. It’s not fun work BUT you have to admit, it feels good to be in a clean house.

Yes, it’s OK to take some down time to self care or recharge the batteries also, just don’t wallow in it. 🙂

CONTROL THE MESSAGE:

This is one I’ve been pushing in my blog for a long time now. I’m talking about what and where you take in relating to news of the world. The media is all gloom, doom and hysteria. It sells papers as the old cliche goes.

Unlike some people, I don’t advocate a complete shutting down here. I believe that just leads to an uninformed public. Consider the source though, and their motives. Not just the media itself but the people they interview.

Likewise, actively seek out the GOOD stories out there. All around us there are tales of selfless health care workers and first responders, people rising up to help strangers, city wide events to applaud health care workers and show the strength of the human spirit. outpourings of donations to charities, etc…

I freely admit that last one is something I need to do more of. I get so caught up in fighting the BS out there that I sometimes forget to look for the good as well. There IS plenty of it to see if we just look. 🙂

CONCLUSION:

There you have it. Those are just a few ideas also. Use your creativity to find others. Look for ways to entertain and improve yourself, find things to do with your kids like building a fort out of blankets and couch cushions (credit to Sarah Krewis for that specific idea). Focus on what you have and put the rest out of your mind.

Remember, this too shall pass. Sooner than you think also.

The Poor: Round 2

My last post on this subject a few days ago raised a few objections that made me realize I glossed over a few key points regarding poverty. I focused primarily upon self-reliance for two reasons:

1) Ultimately, the only one any of us can truly count on is ourself.

2) Many of the poor have bought into the lie that it’s impossible to do it themselves.

Only the second part bears much comment. Even after pointing out that numerous immigrants come to this country with nothing and become successful business owners, even after pointing out that 73% of all the millionaires in the US started out with nothing, and got no inheritance, even after telling how *I* at least managed to tread water and slowly get ahead, it’s just “Luck”.

Well, *IF* we go with the Stoic’s definition of luck, it is. Because Luck = Opportunity Met With Preparation.

Yes, that means thinking about the long term consequences of every decision you make. Even the smallest ones can have big consequences. Suppose you spend just $3 every work day, stopping to get a drink or snack at Starbucks or some convenience store, etc…

5 day work week x 52 weeks = 260 days worked.

260 days x 3 dollars = $780 gone from your income per year.

That just from $15 spent on snacks per week. Change that to $5 a day and you’re at $1300 per year. $10 (the cost of coffee at Starbucks) = $2600 per year. Now what could you do with an extra $780 a year? How about an extra $2600?

This kind of realization is EXACTLY why I preached about how important financial education is.

One comment to the other post pointed out how systemic poverty and it’s mindset is in inner cities. I get that, and I do NOT blame the poor. As I said last time, there are advocates that make ALOT of money “helping” the poor and telling them how abused they are. What they never really do is anything meaningful to help them. Why? They’d be out of a job if the poor were no longer poor.

The same goes for politicians exploiting the poor. It’s all about maintaining their power base. Why do you think that so many social programs are designed to keep people stuck where they are? Got a husband or live in boyfriend? Sorry you might have extra income and don’t qualify for welfare. Gotta stay a single, struggling mother. Food stamps? SURE! Job training and child care while you’re getting the training? HELL NO!

Don’t get me wrong, this is NOT a Left vs Right thing. The frequent call from those on the Right is “let private charity take care of it”. Cut the social programs and save people taxes and they’ll donate that money to charity. I believe people WOULD give to charity too. BUT would they REALLY give to charities that help the poor? I think people on the Right are FAR FAR more likely to give to charities that support first responders, veterans, youth science programs, etc… Almost anything before the poor because they’ve been brainwashed to believe the poor are lazy instead of lacking hope and knowledge.

So what’s my answer to it all?

Reform public assistance programs so that they’re designed to help people get back on their feet instead of keep them trapped. Job training, day care while getting job training, financial education classes, better structuring of benefits programs so that they gradually decrease as income improves, etc… Yes, that’s expensive but not as expensive as keeping people in poverty for generations.

Infinitely better management of the bureaucracies running such programs has to be a part of things also. Both for eliminating fraud by applicants and even more importantly for doing away with mismanagement and waste within the agencies. The amount of graft and waste in all government programs (including defense) is obscene.

All the programs in the world won’t make a difference if people maintain a poverty mindset though. Long work days are NOT luck. They’re not permanent either. They’re paying the temporary price for a better life. Learning to budget and later invest is NOT rich people gaming the system NOR is it “acting white”.

Yes, minimum wage is only a FIRST stepping stone also. Anyone stuck at that point should be looking for promotions, raises and job training to better themselves. You have to have the mindset that learning is a lifelong process also. Reality is, it’s never been easier to start a business. There’s the gig economy like Uber and maid and tradeskill apps and websites. Selling on Amazon or Ebay or Etsy is easy. All you need is a skill and a smart phone or laptop. There are even multiple free computer coding classes out there nowadays, especially for Python and Ruby. All it takes is a Google search.

You just have to be sick and tired of being sick and tired, and hungry to reach for more, even though it will cause some short term discomfort.

For those who STILL don’t think it can be done… Check out Dave Ramsey’s “Debt Free Screams” channel on YouTube. There are people there who became disabled during paying off debt, or who paid off $140,000 while raising 11 kids. I’ve personally found the stories there VERY motivating.

Find and listen to his radio show too!

And yes, this is long again, but one last thing… If you don’t understand the trap of credit, consider the high interest credit card for the typical poor person with a low credit score. You’re probably staring at a 30% APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Interest. That means for every $100 in debt on that card, or furniture store account, etc… you’re paying an extra $30 PER YEAR on that money spent. Take 5 years to pay off that $100 balance (minimum payments will take 20 years), and you’ve paid an extra $150 in interest. So you paid $250 for a $100 item because you bought it on credit and didn’t pay it off immediately. Yes, credit is a trap and “The Borrower is slave to the Lender”.