Why Waste My Time Voting?

Went to the mailbox this morning and what did I find?  Right, another “Vote for Me” flyer!  I started to throw it away but as I find it difficult not to at least scan any piece of written literature (I use the term loosely here), I noticed it had pictures of both Barrett and Walker on it. I should mention that it also included a third party candidate named Trivedi whom I had never heard of.  I suddenly was very interested in this flyer. Was it a Walker ad somehow lampooning Barrett or was it a Barrett ad somehow lampooning Walker? It seemed very strange having both of their pictures on the same ad. There was a mystery here. Sorry Wilma\Wanda, I could not resist putting these pictures here.  🙂

For those of you who are not from Wisconsin, I should back up a little. On June 5th we are having a recall election for the present Governor named Scott Walker.  Walker is a Republican who has managed to offend a great deal of the electorate.  To his detractors he is an evil villain out to undo 100 years of labor history by marginalizing unions and stripping public employees of their pensions and other benefits. To his supporters and in fact those who voted him in by quite a margin, he is a hero.  To the latter, he is a staunch defender of free enterprise and the rights of the little man who has been plagued by big government and lazy overpaid union workers. 
After Walker successfully attempted to make some changes in pensions and union rights, a large number of Wisconsin residents drew up a recall petition to force another election.  Over 500,000 Wisconsin voters signed this petition. The election is scheduled for June 5, 2012.  Walker has or will spend over 25 million dollars in advertising and Barrett (Former Democratic Mayor of Milwaukee) will spend about 1 million (Since that is all Barrett has).  I have not a clue how much Trivedi will spend since I never even heard of him until looking at this flyer.
So back to the strange mysterious flyer.  Were Walker and Barrett supporting anything together?  Were they somehow saying anything nice about each other?  Could this flyer be some sort of a bipartisan reaching across the aisle, if so, for what purpose?  Did this flyer signal a shift in electioneering from the negative to the positive side?  Reading the materials they have already sent out, it does not sound like they could be in the same room together without hurting each other.  Both have loudly proclaimed each other to be out and out liars.  What could they possibly be doing together to show any harmony or kindness to each other much less to benefit the people of Wisconsin? Was there some sort of subliminal message embedded in the ad that would induce me to vote for one candidate or the other?  I did not want to be too quick to assume any well-meaning intentions in this flyer.  Some enlightenment might be attained by finding out which one of the many “Friends of” committees paid for this ad.
Well, reading on (the Flyer that is) I was pleasantly surprised. Here is what the ad copy said:
“It’s time to do our civic duty.  Be sure to do your duty and vote. The only way to ensure a positive result for Wisconsin is for as many citizens as possible to vote on June 5.  Your Vote is Your Choice.” Paid for by the Legacy Foundation, Iowa. 
A little investigation shows that the mission of the Legacy Foundation is to:
Advance individual liberty, free enterprise and limited, accountable government. Our efforts center around public policy research and alternative policy initiatives in, but not limited to, these core areas: state fiscal and tax policy, the creation of an entrepreneurial environment, education, labor-management relations, citizenship, civil rights and government transparency issues.

I could not detect any conspiracy theory here.  Thus, I was shocked but also very pleased.  Here was an ad (seemingly bi-partisan) that is actually extolling people to vote.  An ad that is not telling you who to vote for but simply reminding people that it is their responsibility and privilege to participate in the most important process in America.  Despite the wars and deaths sacrificed to preserve this freedom, most Americans do not vote.  In fact, do you realize that only about 50 percent of Americans usually vote in the Presidential election and less vote in most other elections?  It is very likely that more Americans will watch the Super Bowl than will turn out to vote in November.  It is also likely than the upcoming recall election will be decided by a minority of the electorate in Wisconsin.  This is not sad or a shame, it is an outrage.  Below are the actual voter figures from 1960 to 2010.
National Voter Turnout in Federal Elections: 1960–2010
This page provides information about voter statistics, including age of voting population, voter registration, turnout, and more.
Voter turnout
Turnout of voting-age
population (percent)
*Source 2008 election results: http://elections.gmu.edu/Turnout_2008G.html.
The flyer went on to say “ON JUNE 5th, YOUR VOTE IS IMPORTANT.”  Dam right, your vote is important.  Whether you are Republican or Democratic or Independent, it is the most important right and responsibility that you have in America. It has often been said (In fact, I say it often myself) that “People get the government and the politicians they deserve.”  If you would rather be watching the baseball game on Election Day or some idiotic television sitcom, then you have absolutely no right to complain about your government or the quality of the politicians that serve you in office. My good friend and mentor Sister Giovanni often said:  “People want rights without responsibilities.” 
For more than a generation now, we have been hearing about the “entitlement” generation. This is simply people who want their rights without any responsibilities.  This is nothing but lazy mindless thinking and behaving.  Sister G also said “For every right there is a corresponding responsibility.”  If you want to live in a free country, if you want a choice of who runs your country, if you want to be able to walk the streets a free person with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, you have to pay for it. There are no free lunches. Your payment is the responsibilities you must undertake to ensure and protect the freedoms I have mentioned. One of the most important of these responsibilities is that of being informed. Meaning you take the time to learn about the records and backgrounds of those running for office.  Most important (to restate it again) is that you get out and vote.
Are you registered to vote?  Do you know where your voting place is? Have you arranged your time to fit in voting?  Do you know the records of those running? Have you selected a candidate based on a solid knowledge of facts and not rhetoric? Are you making up your own mind or are you going along with your friends and relatives?  Are you looking at who will do the best job both long and short term or are you only worried about who will help you make the most money in the short term?  Are you as concerned with the social, global, environmental and ethical policies of your candidate as you are with his/her economic policies  Do you realize that without a future there will be no tomorrow’s?  

Who is Padre Pio and what can he tell us about how to use our time?

I recommend you to have a firm and generous proposal to always serve God with all your heart.  Do not worry about tomorrow. Think about doing good today.  And when tomorrow comes, it will be today and then you can think about it.” –  Padre Pio, July 4, 1917. 
A few years ago, Karen and I went to Italy to visit. We visited Rome and did all the traditional sites. We saw the Vatican, the Pieta, the Spanish Steps, the Coliseum and many other famous sites that now elude me.  After a week of Rome, we left for the town of Quadrelle outside of Naples.  We love to spend time in both city and country, leaning more heavily to the time we can spend in the more rural areas. Quadrelle was a fabulous little town in the Campania region of Italy. It was close to the Amalfi Coast as well as many attractions such as Pompeii, the Isle of Capri and the Castle at Caserta. In addition, it was smaller and friendlier than Rome.
One of the things that struck me in this small town and the surrounding area was the love that the local people had for a monk named Padre Pio.  There was a statue of him in a little park in town.  Before coming to Italy, I had only passing acquaintance with him and no real knowledge of his life. To me, he was just another “Saint” or perhaps someone whom they were debating over sainthood.  To the locals, there was no question that he was a saint. One might think he became a saint because of great accomplishments, great deeds or great heroics. However, it was just the opposite. Padre Pio was a very simple man. He was not high up in any orders of the church hierarchy.  In fact, for many years, his own church persecuted him as a fraud and psycho.  Today he is loved because he was a very wise and kind man. The quote above is from one of his many letters explaining how to live more fully.
Many great spiritual traditions advise us to live in the present and not worry about things we cannot fix or times that we have no control over. Nevertheless, many of us spend our time needlessly worrying about the future and forget about living for today. What can you do today that would add some measure of good to the world? The Boy Scouts say: “Do a good deed daily.” That’s not such a bad idea. Doing a good deed each day is a great way to live in the present. What is one “good deed” you can do for someone today?  

What is "lost time" and how do I find it?

Have you ever gone “in search of lost time?”  Is it really possible to find lost time?  Is it like losing your keys?  How do we lose time?  Do we simply forget to where we put it or does it fall out of our pockets?  Or is it more like losing your memory?  Where do we go to search for lost time?  Have you ever found lost time in a closet or under your bed?  What do you do with it if you do find it?  
What if you could not lose time? What if it were simply a metaphor for the way we squander and consume our time in wasteful ways?  For instance, how often have you sat in a traffic jam on the way to work or how often have you been kept waiting in a doctor’s office for an appointment.  Or have you ever had one of those days where you just were not able to accomplish anything and then the day was over. Each of these situations probably felt like “lost time.”
Where does all this lost time go?  Somewhere in the world, there must be a treasure trove of lost and stolen time.  It is the greatest treasure ever accumulated since the time of Solomon.  Think about all the time we lose every day in traffic jams, missed appointments, downtimes, equipment failures, poor instructions, missed communications and simple forgetfulness.  Unfortunately, even the most avid treasure seekers will probably never find this fortune trove of time. 
What if you could try real hard and never lose time again?  “Impossible” you might say, “How can I speed up traffic or the doctor?”  If we have no control over our time then it might be proper to blame time robbers and not ourselves for lost time.  “A thief stole my time today.”   How often do we blame others or blame fate for our “lost time?” How many days a year do you lose your time?  How many days a year is time stolen from you by a time robber?  Is it ever your fault when you lose time or is someone else always to blame.  Do you think there are ways you could cut down on losing your time?

Happy Memorial Day

Today among all the other good things you have to celebrate, most of all of course the people that gave their lives to protect our freedom and way of life, I want to remind you all to be grateful that the world will not end in December. By now, I am sure that most of you know the world was scheduled to end (according to the Mayan Calendar) on December 21st, 2012.  However, Good News!   Recent research has uncovered hidden data in the Mayan files that shows the original estimate is wrong.  Without too much ado as to the exact evidence, it is now conclusive.  We have about another 4000 years to go until the earth ends. 
So, please go about your picnics, ball games, cemetery visits and customary day off with a lightened heart.  You will not have to share the graveyard with the brave soldiers and warriors that went before you anytime in the near future. Of course, whatever wild and crazy activities that you undertake may have a deleterious effect on your longevity, but you participate in these at your own volition.  Many of our fallen soldiers did not really have the choice.  Sports risk is a great deal different than the risk of serving your country during wartime. The rest of us (at least those not serving in a current war) can stay out of harms way and be around for many more holidays.  In fact, if the new evidence on the Mayan calendar is correct, we have 56,000 more holidays to go before the end of the world. That is a lot of hot dogs and brats.

Many of our soldiers are not sitting over a grill today eating burgers and drinking beer. At this very moment, they are going about their duties looking over their shoulders for a sniper and wondering if the young child they see coming towards them has a bomb strapped to their person. The football hero may get a bad hit but it is in the rules of the game and he will pick up a hefty paycheck at the end of the week.  A large number of service people will come back with missing arms and legs. They will face enormous medical bills that they cannot pay and may have little chance of any future earnings.  So today, be glad that you have many more years on this earth, but do indeed pay tribute and respect for those who have  gone before you and also to those who are still serving and protecting.  

Who do you celebrate today for helping to support democracy and freedom in the world?  Have you ever thanked a veteran or a service man or woman  for helping to keep you safe and able to live in the greatest country on earth?  Do you do what you can to help our country remain true to the ideas of the founding fathers? Do you vote and participate in the democratic process that is your privilege and your responsibility? Do you sit idly on the sidelines watching the football games or do you pay attention to the politics governing our country and the backgrounds of the people running for elected office?  Do you know as much about your elected officials and you do your paid State Quarterback? 

Reflections on Time: A Post sent by a reader

How much is your time worth?

How much is your time worth?  This is a question often considered by some and seldom considered by many. As we get older, time becomes more precious since it becomes in shorter and shorter supply.  Like everything else in life, time also adheres to the law of supply and demand.  When you start off your life, you have more time to spend that when you turn eighty.  Thank about the last day of your life.  How much money would you give to have one more day to live?  How much of your wealth would you be willing to pay for one more day of life?  
We value our time differently depending on who asks for it and what it is going to be used for.  Some people like to fix things themselves to save money.  Others would just as soon pay someone to do it and then use their time to do what they do best or enjoy more.  The average American spends nearly three hours a day watching TV or movies.  How much of this time is wasted?  Perhaps, it all depends on the perspective of the person.
 I often declare that the present value of my time is 50 dollars per hour.  If I were richer or poorer, this rate would vary proportionally.  I set my “rate” as a means of considering where I might best spend my effort.  Although, my full time consulting rate is considerably higher, this figure gives me some kind of a baseline to evaluate activities against.  I live to think that I take into consideration the fact that I cannot bill 24/7.  Thus, I might decide that it makes more sense to mow my lawn, wash my car or do an oil change then have someone else do it for me.  This is based in part not just on the cost of the service but also the time I would have to spend arranging the service. I have put in a bid on a contract this Monday and 50 dollars was my baseline for my time multiplied by the number of hours I thought it would take to do the job.  This was a minimum bid and for less, it would not have been worth it.  In fact, if it had not been to help a friend out at work I probably would have passed on the work.  
Some folks would argue it is foolish of me to value time that is not billed the same way as billable time, since this time would not have earned any income anyway.  Nevertheless, it helps me to decide what I really like to do and separate that from what I have to do.  I do not need a heart attack to help me prioritize my values although even a diagnosis with Prostate Cancer does help me focus more.  Many are the days that will find me riding my motorcycle when my neighbor across the street is working on his bike in the garage.  Perhaps he would rather work on his bike, but I would rather ride mine.  I can hear the refrains of the song “Live for today, La La, Live for Today.”  
How do you prioritize your time?  How do you decide what to spend your time on or who to spend it with?  Are you spending it on what really matters or are you “wasting” your time on less beneficial activities and with less beneficial people?  How much is your time worth?  

The Final Answer: Is LIfe Fair?

Approximately 15 men attended the Luck Men’s Discussion Group yesterday.  As I noted in my blog on Wednesday, I was the discussion host and the topic was “Is Life Fair?”  We began with some introductions of a new member who was visiting the area and then Dan the group leader turned the floor over to me.  I introduced the topic by reading the blog I wrote yesterday to the group.  I then asked the group to do a sort of Round Robin where each person takes a turn in answering the topic question. I also asked that each person maybe tell a short story or give some reasons why they thought life was either fair or not.   
I have to note as an aside that the group of men who come to these meetings is a very well educated perhaps upper or at least middle class group of Americans who (at least at this meeting) appeared to all be white older men of Northern European descent.  The fact that this might skew our perceptions on the subject did not go unnoticed by any of the men coming.  Chuck first noted the point that many minorities including Hispanics living in the Southwest and Native Americans might not feel that life was fair and that they would be coming from an entirely different perspective on this issue than we were. With that caveat, it appeared that the group opinion tended towards the “life has been mostly fair to me, but I can see a few instances in my life where it has been unfair and many where it has been unfair to others.  Some comments were:
·       You make your own fairness in life
·       If life were fair I would be a Rockefeller
·       Fair might not be a good term to describe life
·       Maybe we should tell our children that life is fair instead of telling them it is unfair
·       Depends on whose perspective
·       What do we mean by fairness anyway? 
My friend Jerry read a scripture verse on the subject of fairness, which seemed to indicate that fairness was in the eyes of the beholder. What is fair to one person might not seem fair to another.  This verse was followed up by a rather cute story told by Dick about another individual who used bible verses from Leviticus to indict immoral behavior.  This story is worth noting and I have included since though it has been around the Web for a while it is worth remembering.  This is only a partial version of the original story. It is about a letter to Dr. Laura who is an ardent anti-gay advocate. Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a US radio personality and has said that as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 & cannot be condoned under any circumstances.  The respondent wrote as follows:

Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

As you can see the group discussion was tinged with humor, pathos, insightfulness, self-awareness, tolerance and a sincere desire to better understand the issue of fairness and how it plays out in our lives and the lives of people we deal with.  Dan opined that the real point was not whether life was fair but what do we do about it. He noted that if we sit still while there is bullying or injustice we are as guilty of injustice as those committing the injustice. I still like the quote by Ralph Washington Sockman that: “The test of courage comes when we are in the minority and the test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.”

So Is Life Fair or Not?

I noticed that the question and discussion started running out of steam at about the time the donuts and cookies I brought had started to disappear. Upon Jerry’s suggestion I visited the Frederic Bakery, which I might add has the best donuts in Minnesota or Wisconsin and I purchased a dozen donuts and a dozen cookies to bring to the men’s’ discussion group.  After the discussion was ended, I think I received more compliments on the donuts then I did on the discussion topic or at least as many.  I wonder what this says about life.  Maybe my next discussion topic should be “How important are donuts to the meaning of life, love and political discussion?”

Has your life been fair?  How would you answer this question? Do you think life is fair for everyone or is fairness somewhat inadequately proportioned among the earths’ people? What do you do about unfairness and injustice and bullying? Do your stand up for the rights of others? For minorities? If not what holds you back?

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