Tag Archives: Senate

Communication breakdown

Another day
Photo by: Marshall Astor

Do you get up each day wondering how you will make it through another day of repeating the same steps you repeated the day before?

Did you drop into bed the night before wondering why something just doesn’t seem to be “clicking into place” or that certain moment isn’t happening in your life?

Your “moment” may be different from someone else’s and what may seem repetitive to you may not to someone else but what is lacking more and more in society today is genuine interaction, conversation, listening, being heard and that feedback from someone on a level that is not only listening but being heard and really being tuned into to what is being said.

Genuine interaction with friends
Photo by: Philm

No, this is not an ad for Match.com but our society is changing everyday and with those changes come many benefits but also struggles if there isn’t the ability to adapt. However, is there always a way to adapt an entire society to an ongoing cycle of change?

Let’s look at one part, communication.

How many ways could one communicate 40 years ago?

Write a letter, make a phone call, telegram, or face to face pretty much.

"Old fashion" ways of staying in touch still do exist....
Photo by Muffet

Many people knew people in their neighborhoods, communities, schools, families and kept more in touch with the people around them on a more personal level.

Today, we have grown in the ability to have a much larger number of ways to stay in contact, at anytime, with nearly anyone, all over the world, even meet complete strangers.

We have the Internet which has given us numerous social medias like FaceBook, Twitter, Tagged, messaging, email, live chat, Skype, multiple online dating services, and countless ways which I am not intentionally leaving out. The fact is, the ability to communicate via the Internet is huge!

We have cellphones which allow us the ability to receive and make calls from anywhere and to anywhere which, even if it may seem rude, could mean a quiet movie theater, the bathroom, or in the middle of “nowhere” (can you hear me now?).

Contact ability goes everywhere we go....
Photo by: Anthony Quintano

Plus, with cell phones, there is texting…lots of texting! I’m not so sure if that counts as “communicating” but there are words being exchanged…so I am including it here.

It almost seems old fashion to mention the fact someone can send a Fax but it is a way to communicate….

So, here comes another point. It seems today there is less actual communication. There is far less listening and the ability to communicate and reason a point seems to be going down the drain.

Relationships are being built on the Internet, carried out through texting, and more of what was once built face to face is lost. That emotional connection, expression is becoming more of a lost part in our society.

Again, I’m not just talking about dating relationships. I mean real relationships with friends, family, people with similar experiences.

How well do you really know those you are “in touch” with?

How well do you know your neighbors, schoolmates, coworkers, distant family? Do you just keep up with their FaceBook, Blog or text here and there? Do you ask them questions?

Most of us have become very accustomed to today’s way of life. It’s easier and more suited to our busy schedules.

Our kids have the same way of life. Seriously, we text each other in the house (I have!)

But, we can’t let go of the need to sit down face to face and communicate, really let things go for a while. Ask people how they are doing and about their goals or what they are facing.

Discuss issues at work or social events
Photo by: Gelatobaby

People right next door or at our job may be facing hunger, a death in the family, domestic violence, loss of their home, divorce or a crisis but without asking or showing concern, the day may pass by, a week or a month and just the same, “I’m fine” until one day, they just aren’t at work.

In our country, we are facing some of the toughest times ever. This is not the time to say, “It’ll pass,” and just leave everything up to our leaders in Washington.

These problems started a long time ago. It is not a party problem or a political problem. This is a communication problem.

As many of us have lost close contact with those in our workplaces, schools, communities and even our own families and may not be listening to what is always being said, these leaders aren’t listening either. How can they be making sound and solid decisions without hearing what their constituents, the voters are really calling for, asking for and needing? This is causing consequences for everyone and needs to be understood and addressed. Each person taking responsibility for their own actions and what they have been given the opportunity and trust to uphold.

Here’s an example. As an adult, you have a choice of whether to go to work or not. You can choose to never go. There will most likely be very strong consequences for you choosing not to go and they will probably go into effect pretty quickly.

However, when an elected official in Washington has a job to get done and keeps procrastinating and all of America is on pins and needles, it is okay for them to put it on hold, bicker back and forth like babies and continuously act as though they can’t decide on whether it is more appropriate to help keep funding for those who need it or those who can afford to give up some breaks?

Either way, no matter what, their job isn’t on the line, their pay isn’t on the line, the health care isn’t on the line and their homes aren’t up for foreclosure.

Do they talk face to face to the people who are going through these things or do they just go by reports being fed to them by those working for them? Have they lost the ability to listen or be genuinely immersed in a conversation and have that desire to do something that matters or is it just more important to win?

Washington shouldn’t be about winning. It was supposed to be about representing but you can’t do that if you can’t listen to those you represent.

Instead of just using the phrase, “What the American people want,” maybe it would be to everyone’s benefit to find that out again by actually learning to communicate the old fashion way.

Talks, talks and more talks but who are the discussions about and who are they listening to? How long is this acceptable?

Proposed deficit reduction plan?

Actions speak louder than words, right? The question is, who is willing to stand behind their words now and which actions will be taken?

The nation has clearly had a problem with its rising deficit and President Obama and leaders of his deficit commission understand Americans want solutions much more than words and political maneuvering or campaign slogans.

Bipartisan leaders of the commission released a proposal Wednesday with suggested cuts and reductions estimating it could cut the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade.

Although the full commission has yet to weigh in, there is already mounting feedback around the nation and of course, in Washington, but isn’t cutting the deficit what so many have been asking for?

Why is this causing so much of a debate? These cuts are not only looking to stop wasteful spending, fraud or end programs that are no longer effective or may be out of date. These programs are looking to make some big changes in programs that many Americans and politicians have tried to avoid making changes to.

The retirement age for social security would increase by one month every two years after it reaches 67 under the current law, meaning the normal retirement age would reach 68 in about 2050 and 69 in about 2075. There is a hardship exemption in place for those who are unable to work after the age of 62.

The proposal calls to gradually raise the gas tax by 15 cents beginning in 2013 and have these funds go toward the transportation trust fund.

There are 3 options of Tax Reform proposals; The Zero Plan, the Wyden-Gregg Style Reform and the Tax Reform Trigger. All three are after the same goals, some of which are to lower rates, simplify the code, make America the best place in the world to start and grow a business and reduce the deficit.

Other examples of cuts in the proposal include a freeze of federal salaries, bonuses and other compensations at the Department of Defense for three years. Reduction of overseas bases by one-third, slow the growth of foreign aid, cut federal work force by 10 percent and the list continues.

The commission knew their proposal would be controversial but said putting it on the table would prompt a more realistic national debate.

So, that is where it stands right now. People are speaking out. Members of the House and Senate need to speak out and have dialogue and be able to work together to accomplish a plan to bring down the deficit and although this proposal may be abrupt and harsh, the deficit is climbing and the nation is falling deeper and deeper into debt.

Instead of a country being divided, the country and its leaders should be discussing ideas and working together because although our nation has separate political parties and is a very diverse nation, we must come together and if it hasn’t been made clear enough already that being divided isn’t working, then maybe an even larger debt and a more divided group in Washington will be the road of clarity this nation so desires. But, it seems so many in this nation have already reached the point of willingness to discuss, dialogue and work together to find solutions and work with each other to move forward.

Hopefully that is the feeling in Washington as well.

Help for America Pt.2 – Where are the jobs?

In 2008 alone, at least 2.6 million jobs were lost, the highest level in more than six decades. In January 2009, Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute said, “We’re seeing a complete unraveling of the labor market and are on track for getting beyond 10% unemployment.” That was a little over 18 months ago and unemployment has continued to soar.

CNN wrote an article, “Looking for work? Unemployed need not apply” This article was talking about companies that may be putting unemployed applicants aside feeling they may have been laid off due to performance issues.

Getting a job is extremely tough and having the fact of being unemployed held against an applicant is a crucial downfall. Possibly unknown to some employers and applicants is the HIRE Act which was signed March 18, 2010 and includes incentives for businesses to hire applicants that have been without work.

A petition is posted for people to sign and be heard that companies not wanting to hire the unemployed is just not right. Visit the Care2petition Site to sign.

On the well known social media website Twitter, a hashtag #99ers has been appearing next to tweets about unemployment and people looking for work.

Who are the 99ers? According to an article put out by AOL News, the “99ers” is a term for the group of unemployed workers who have been out of work for over 99 weeks and thus are no longer able to receive unemployment benefits.

Unemployment benefits and extensions are heard about on the news as they go to the senate to pass, expire or get pushed aside for a later date to vote on. Many people feel differently about unemployment benefits and the need for these extensions.

The unemployed want their jobs back and the ability to receive a paycheck, benefits and take care of their responsibilities and families. Many have lost what they worked years to gain. Across America the outcome of this has been seen in the alarming rates of foreclosures, bankruptcies and overall the continuing downfall in the economy. However, many employers are looking to put out the least amount of funds possible making the hiring process difficult for both the applicant and the employer.

Numbers released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics say there are currently 14,600,000 unemployed with 6,800,000 being long term unemployed.

To get jobs back, a lot of small businesses need to be able to build up their capital but also their confidence in the future of the economy and hire the unemployed. Larger corporations need to reach out and hire as well. By putting people back to work, more money goes into the economy and the cycle can begin to fix itself.

As people are able to go back to sufficient jobs, unemployment becomes less necessary for more people. The economy can grow, businesses grow, new businesses can open and therefore more hiring can occur. But, to see America’s economy grow and the deficit decrease, the businesses and employees that need to be supported have to be here in America.

It’s not just about today or next week. It’s not just about numbers, policies, or parties. It’s not about who is getting elected or even who says what in their campaigns when it comes to this. This is about Americans supporting America. Supporting it now, 5 years from now, 10 years from now and continuing to do so from one generation to the next. Helping America to grow and strive, to move forward as the great Nation it is.

Help for America Pt. 1 – What lies ahead for small businesses?

After such a devastating blow to the Nation’s economy that not only was felt by most Americans but also by many people around the world, as one market crashed after the other, it is quite understandable why many small business owners have felt uneasy to move forward without hesitantly looking back.

This past week a bill went before the Senate that would create a $30 billion government fund to help community banks increase lending to small businesses.

“Everywhere I go, I hear from small business owners who simply cannot get the credit they need to hire and expand,” Obama said. “And we’ve been hearing from smaller community banks that they want to lend to these folks but need more capital to do it.”

Obama told Republican congressional leaders that “the provisions of this bill are things the Republican Party has said it’s supported for years: helping small businesses, cutting taxes, making credit available.”

The Small Business Jobs Act would eliminate capital gains on certain investments and increase deductions from new equipment and other expenses.

However, when the vote came to the floor, Republicans filibustered the measure by a vote of 58 (in favor of cloture) to 42 (against).

“It’s not going to die,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spokesman Don Steward noted. “We just want to have amendments considered. They made a start, allowing three…so we’re making progress.”

Across the Tampa Bay Area, businesses have had to close their doors, lay off employees, cut back on benefits, or make numerous other changes over the last years.

Vanessa Karl, a Bay Area dog groomer said, “Due to having regular customers and word of mouth referrals and also having made changes to my location, things seemed to have stabilized. However, we have also lost customers due to their own circumstances.”

Although it is said the economy is coming back and people are getting hired, are people feeling confident enough to once again expand their businesses, start a new business and once again look forward to the American Dream?





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Change Happens

It is what millions of people voted for and it is what we are seeing. Whether a person voted for the current administration or not, what is going on will in some way affect each of us. If there were no changes occurring at the moment, people would be complaining. If there were different changes occurring, there would be different complaints going around work places, coffee shops, on the streets, talk shows, waiting lines at grocery stores and now, social media. That is just the way things are in our country. Things have really changed in that area. People have a large demographic they can share their opinion. Is that a problem? Well, it can get irritating and of course the media can make it very repetitive to listen to but that is what America is about when it comes to the First Amendment’s “Freedom of Speech” right? Look at me, I am sharing my opinion. I read other people’s opinions, a lot. I listen to the news, I read Facebook, Twitter, Email, Blogs, etc. I get it from a lot of different angles. I choose to stay away from Talk Radio.

I don’t mind hearing someone’s opinion or reading their opinion or, in most cases, I have the option to just turn off the TV or not check on the sources I read. We all have those choices. More and more though, it doesn’t matter where I turn, those opinions are showing up in ways that are becoming harder and harder for me to avoid. If I am going to watch the news, I am going to run into story after story of protests that have turned into crimes or protestors that are threatening different leaders for their stance on issues or votes. These are more recent events. I was stunned (maybe I shouldn’t have been but then that would mean I was becoming accepting with the way things are becoming) of the fact people were threatening the families of some members of congress because of the way they had recently voted. I understand protests have gone on for years, decades even that I can remember. Voting is way this country does things in a democratic and civilized way. We elect the members of Congress and Senate that represent us in Washington during these different votes. I know that may sound like I am minimizing the importance of this last piece of Legislation that was just voted on and how much time, effort and discussion went into this and also how large of an impact this will have on many of us but I am also one of those people. I too spent a lot of time researching, calling my local Representative and before I voted for my local Representative, I researched the candidates because I know the Congress and Senate could be called upon at anytime to make very big and long lasting decisions for our country, my state, me personally. It is a personal thing to me, my vote.

When it comes to my vote, this is something I have discussed when I am asked but not something I go around bringing up anytime I have a chance. I don’t feel everyone wants to hear my feelings and everything I am thinking about at any given moment (It is usually quite boring). I don’t believe in heading straight to vote for whoever is running within my “Party”. In fact, what my Voter Registration card says really doesn’t matter to me. I look over all the candidates and start narrowing them down as I learn more and more. I certainly don’t learn about them via the Commentators and Journalist on TV or Emails that are passed around and forwarded. I don’t just listen to what they say about themselves or what they promise. I look at what history they have, what ideas they have. I look at their character, their body language, their voting history and how those that have worked with them speak about them. I look at their families and how they deal with their families, where their priorities seem to lie and how they handle pressure, the media, campaigning and I consider myself a very good judge of character. Obviously people are going to rip into them and attack every angle they can so I also watch how they deal with that pressure as well. I have another good source of decision making to always turn to. Not just for voting or politics but for everyday life. I pray about any big decision. Voting for the President of the United States of America is a huge decision!

This past election, America seemed to turn its decision into more of a witch hunt, a search for reasons to turn against each other and a reason to put common sense behind us and hatred and self first. This has really put our country in a place of a constant spin and it seems that although things are happening and things are changing, many Americans just can’t get their focus back on what is good for America and their families and how working together has always proven to benefit us as a country. Tearing each other down is the quickest and fastest way to run America into turmoil one family after another. Americans need to look at each other and look across their work places and schools, places of worship and remember how many times, desperate times over the centuries we have proven to pull together and make those needed changes and we came out a great Nation, United and Strong.