Monday, 13 February 2012

The Problem With Titles

It's a curious episode.  There's this group.....Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment....which basically started out originally as a Acorn.  The Alliance has a concern over lacking funds to support the Occupy California folks.  For what they desire....there's a huge gap of funding issues.  They need cash to cover buses, beverages, pamphlets and handouts, snacks, and common regular supplies.

So the Alliance sent out this letter to it's supporters....they need donors.  There's going to be this system where a guy can contribute $20k (enough to get twenty-odd buses) for the protest.  If you donate that much.....you earn a title of "Working Class Hero.”   If you can cough up $5k, you earn the title of "Occupy Ally.”

I sat there pondering over these titles.  I'm not sure what the title would really give you.  Maybe there's some secret listing where a Democratically-run executive committee in California....could hire you or hire your nephew.....if you tossed in the $20k and got "Working Class Hero".  I'm guessing that the $5k contribution and Ally-title....might get you some fancy Democratic breakfast deal at your restaurant, or maybe a state-party contract for coffee and muffins from your coffee shop.

In a way, it's sad that you have to resort this method because even your supporters start to snicker and laugh over the title business.  There's probably another dozen-odd titles, for guys who donate $20, $50, or $150.  For $5, you might get the "Common Man Hero".  It's best not even to bring the 50-cent title.

So if you got some loose cash around, and aren't a member of the 1-percent crowd.....the Alliance folks would like to have your money.  If you are a one-percent guy (filthy rich)....it's best to avoid mentioning just how rich you really are.

Only in America.

Just Something to Think About

In 1840......the Census of the United States....offered one and only one category for mental disorders.

In 1917, there were 59 different categories for mental disorders.

In 1959, there 128 categories for mental disorders.

In 1980, there were 227 categories for mental disorders.

In 2012, there are 347 recognized categories for mental disorders.

My humble guess is that we will hit 500 mental disorder categories sometime between 2020 and 2025.

There are two ways of looking at these numbers.  Either we are getting crazier, year by year.....or some smart guys are getting around to classifying just about anything you do.....as crazy or a disorder.

Eventually, there will be a disorder for guys who continually back-up their data on a daily basis, guys who are addicted to biscuits and gravy each morning, women who wear tube tops on a daily basis, kids who obsessively wear one color of clothing to school, folks who can only drive automatics (can't handle shifting), and engineers who refuse to use programming software that was made after 1986.

The sad thing is that we might all have forty-four different mental disorders....and not even realize it.  Or care that we have mental disorders.

The Class Story

The New York Post had a pretty nifty article this weekend...."The Great Divide" by Kyle Smith.  The emphasis of the piece....since the 1960s, we have embarked on a mission to live in two different Americas, which happen to be socially, economically, and culturally different.

I read through this piece and found its suggestions kind of interesting.  We are a nation of islands, where some folks have packed up and left the regular community.  We've made enough money to live in segregated communities....protected by private security, which better than regular police....sip finer wines and eat expensive cheeses flown in from France....floated over to political affiliations that are a bit more extreme than what people accepted in the 1950s....and run off to vacations in Bali or Paris.

By the end of the article....I came to one brief conclusion....we weren't going to come back.  We were permanently divided.

But there is a piece of this suggestion which I came to ponder upon.  We are continually told of three classes in America (upper, middle, and lower).  The blunt truth is that we are edging toward class system that probably involves ten different groups.

1.  The permanent urban welfare group.  They all live in major areas of the US (Philly, Dallas, Washington, etc).  They all expect the government to come and help them in some fashion.  They vote mostly all Democrat.

2.  The super rich.  These are your billionaire class folks, who own private jets, pay less taxes because they donate to Senators who write tax code, and sip $100 bottles of wine on a daily basis.  They don't really vote....they donate money to political causes....to make their desires occur.

3.  The moderately rich.  These are the millionaires, own $3 million dollar houses, rent out private jets, and pay off state-level political figures to get their needs accomplished.  They don't really vote....they simply donate money to local causes to be noted and accomplish their desires.

4.  The local rich.  These are the guys that you might have grown up with.....got one good idea, and have a $500k house today.  They own a business and turn a good profit.  They've been to the Bahamas, Aruba, and go yearly to Vegas.  They own a boat, spend $3k a year on golf, and have a $40k Lexus in the garage.

5.  The trailer class.  These are folks who finally save enough or borrow enough.....to have their one true home.....a house trailer.  They won't be moving upward....mostly because they are tied to a simple job and a permanent income level.  They split their votes between Republicans and Democrats.

6.  The college elite class.  These are folks who are pretty receptive to environmental causes, Democratic agendas, and always talking about "change".  They drive a hybrid car, live in a urban villa of sorts, and tend to socialize other college elite types.

7.  The union class.  Teachers, car industry folks, and dock-worker guys.  They all vote Democrat in bulk and live in a pretty decent house.  They take vacations to Vegas and Atlantic City.  They rarely socialize with anyone, except their own class.

8.  Heartland class.  These are the guys who vote Conservative, live in moderate homes, and have dreams about moving ahead, but never do.  They take their vacations down to Gulf Shores, Branson, or Orlando.

9.  Entrepreneurial class.  These are folks who come out of high school or college with an agenda, and are working their entire life to get ahead.  They vote mostly Conservative and latch onto political folks who talk tax reform or tax cuts.  Some will never get rich, although they might own their own Tasty Dip franchise, or run their own BP gas station.

10.  Farm class.  These are the folks who provide the pork for your table or the pecans for your pie.  They tend to split their vote.....going from one party this year because of what they think....to another party in four years.  They live a simple life and if they take five days a year off and visit relatives the next state over.....that might be it for a vacation.

I realize I am suggesting something radical.....but there just aren't three classes of people in America anymore.

My Neighborhood

We had an unusual event in DC over the weekend....a public summit.  The mayor came up with this idea....rent out an arena.....toss in enough tables for roughly 1,800 folks....and electronically connect each table to some network to register "votes".

The deal was that you'd come in and talk up a couple of topics....which always get folks excited.  Examples: cheap housing, corruption, traffic, police, fire protection, public education, libraries, etc.  Then folks around the tables would have some time to sell other folks at the table on the need for more cops, cheaper housing, or less corruption.  Eventually, some guy at the front would hollow out to take a vote to prioritize the four talking points, and they would register votes, then move onto the next topics.

There were several issues with this idea and the event.  First, there was no real money in the mayor's budget to cover the cost....$600k.  The city found some money and got donations to cover the rest.

Second, there was this rule tossed out early in the event....NO Twitter.  Folks got kinda upset about this and quickly voiced that you just couldn't stop them from Twiterring.  So the mayor's folks eventually backed down on that rule.

Third, no is real sure if this really does anything....except make 1,800 folks think they are part of the process.  My guess is that a huge portion of the players at this event....were community leaders and they go back to claim that they are part of the city's process.  They feel good....even if nothing ever happens.

The truth here is that you could gather eight guys off the street and probably get the same results in a matter of thirty minutes.  Political folks usually aren't willing to engage the public in that simple type of setting.  They want big results.

As the months go by, a couple of these established priorities will be worked on and the mayor will proudly proclaim that they did take three out of the top ten ideas....and made a success out of them.  In four years, we will likely repeat this exercise.  It makes folks feel good, and that usually make political folks feel good too.  Don't get excited here.....it's not we can all meet in some arena, discuss how we dislike the mayor and the city council.....then agree to fire the mayor or city council right there on the spot.  They'd never be stupid enough to allow that.