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Drinking The Kool-Aid

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With the advent of the 2020 elections we sit at the threshold of a fully realized possibility, a change in direction that could provide the citizens of this great nation personal security and financial stability with economic growth for years to come.  For the middle class, it would lessen our burden and for the impoverished it would open the pathway to opportunity. At the core are fundamental principles, ideas about healthcare, education and the environment, public safety, human rights and the dignity of equality. What keeps us from enacting a lasting solution is the fear draped upon us that this is not possible.  It’s too costly.  It’s too complicated.  It’s socialism.  What are we, a nation of sissy-pants and wusses?  Cannot we affect our own future by taking control?  Are we not our brother’s keeper or is that socialism? Lincoln said that the purpose of government was to provide for its citizens that which they could not otherwise provide for themselves.  Is that not socialism?  What the hell’s wrong with socialism that we should fear it so? It is not an exclusive philosophy or governing principle.  It’s an idea with merit and has a proper place in a balanced society, democratic, capitalist or otherwise.

To that end, there is no shortage of ideas in the Democratic party, ideas on how to make our government work for people, to solve our everyday problems and prevent future ones.  These are all good ideas, ideas almost anyone can agree will benefit everyone.  And to that end there is no shortage of candidates, all gathered around the same principles, all with variant diverse solutions.  If there is a problem in any Democrat’s candidacy during this primary season, it is the manufactured objection to the idea itself, over the difference between a fundamentally correct principle and the execution of policy to enact it. Only if we can first identify the problem and agree on the rightness of the principle, can we move forward to developing a solution. But if we first decry a problem because no satisfactory solution is at hand, then we are doomed to live out our past.

The core issues are always economic.  Our leaders would have us believe that to spend money on ourselves is an extravagance. We must not allocate money for social programs because it would increase the burden on the wealthy, cripple corporate interests and deny our troops.  Rather, we should support the upper class in the hope that it will trickle down.  But there is another approach.  What if minimum wage was a living wage?  And what if childcare was provided as a right? Imagine what that would do to the economy.  The average cost of child care for a pre-schooler is $7,000 per year.  Minimum wage provides an income of roughly $15,000 per year.  After taxes and childcare that would leave about $4,000 to live on.  Working makes no sense in that equation.  No wonder our welfare rolls are so inflated.  Now what would happen if we could reduce the welfare rolls and get people working?  Hmmmm… now there’s an idea.

And what if a secondary, college education was provided?  We have to realize in this changing time that the standard 12-year high-school education is failing us. China is taking the lead on innovation and we are lacking the expertise to grow our economy through a quality trained workforce. As the father of five daughters, I know the crippling expense of a college education, expenses shared by my own ability to pay and my children’s capacity to borrow. A college education is minimally between $20,000 and $100,000 per year and in many cases upward of that. Typically, kids graduate into a stagnant job market with debts in excess of $50,000 and no job, only to move in with mom and dad and work a shit job outside of their field of study.  Where’s the future in that?

But what if the burden of providing healthcare was removed from employers?  Profitability increases and employment is encouraged. Currently the workaround is to fill jobs with part-time hourly employees to avoid providing insurance. Hire someone for less than 40 hours per week and “poof” forget about insurance overhead.  There’s always a loophole, a path to channel money back to the source. Is this our perfect world?

What if healthcare was a right, Medicare for all, universal healthcare was enacted? We could be free from the worry of the financial ruin of devastating medical outcomes.  Regular medical care can be preventative rather than remedial.  Overall medical costs would be reduced.  But the arguments against this are that it would end private insurance, or that the government is ill-equipped to handle the management of this system and costs would skyrocket.  Really?  Another argument is that you would not be able to choose your own doctor. Huh?  Who really believes this crap?  I am on Medicare and I get to choose my own doctor and while Medicare exists, so does private insurance.  Cannot the two co-exist?  Off course they can.  Let’s take the Post office as an example.  Who else can deliver daily mail at an amount roughly 47 cents or so. Opponents who favor privatization complain that it loses money, but that is a false narrative.  Profits made by the postal system are siphoned off by Congress to make it run at a loss. Furthermore, the success of the postal system did nothing to restrict or inhibit the growth of private delivery services like FedEx, UPS, DHL and the many smaller regional services. So I say, let private insurance compete for its market share against a base system that guarantees full service medical care for all. Who are we protecting, our families or an industry that makes the rules to benefit itself?

Amy Klobuchar recently appeared in a CNN Town hall.  She was great… smart, well spoken, reasonable, measured, likable, with a record of policy successes and toughness and most importantly moderate…  progressive, but not too far left, all the earmarks that say, “I have what it takes to win.  I am electable.”  Yeah, but is that enough?  Why are we to believe that our dreams are not possible and we should settle before winning, take the deal and plead out, rather than take the risk and get what we fully deserve.  Compromise before you lose all, that is the play with Amy.  So, let’s not categorize the other candidates’ ideas as looney, impractical or impossible. Let’s not admit defeat at the start.

Take Elizabeth Warren’s ideas for childcare as an example.    Here are the key points:

 

Guarantee care from birth until entering school.

Create a federal program that establishes a network of centers.

Free for families with incomes less than 200% of the poverty level.

No household would pay more than 7% of income

Partly funded by a proposed “wealth tax.”

 

This is a reasonable approach to stabilizing the workforce and promoting the economy.  It just has to be made a priority and managed as part of a balanced budget.  We need to look at all the other areas where we spend needlessly, areas like the cost of operating Air Force One as the private plane for weekly flights to Mara-Lago or the cost of a border wall that 68% of Americans don’t want.  We can’t keep losing this battle because “He” has the right, when we have the will. What we don’t have is the support of our congress, but that is changing and we need to maximize the change in 2020 enough so to support a newly elected progressive, democratic-socialist that can bring ideas into policy. The last phrase of the Gettysburg Address is: “…that a government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” The key phrase is “for the people.”  Let’s not forget that, for fear of being called a Socialist.

Also, let us realize that while our problems are complicated they seem vicious because they are intertwined. In reality, they are self-inflicted and interact chaotically in the most turbulent way.  To survive, we must guarantee an adequate food supply, sustainable energy and security through peace with other nations and our own respect for each other.  At the heart of this series of interactive issues is the weather.  Climate determines so much: crop outcomes, a food supply of fish in warming oceans, natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires, draughts and floods. Economic success depends on energy supplies and the battle over oil supply is at the heart of conflict the world over.  Fossil fuel is killing the environment and clean energy is required to sustain life on this planet.  Virtually every scientist and informed politician understands this, yet we languish in the past.  Looking backward is death.  Driving full speed on the interstate using only the rearview mirror will eventually result in a head-on. We have the technology and the means to avert the disaster that merely wearing seatbelts cannot protect us from but we need only exercise the will. Climate change is real and immediate action is required. We must demand the development of clean energy infrastructure, policy and outcome in every possible form and we must transition aggressively to vehicles that do not run on forms of fossil fuel.  We need to cut the crippling shackles of oil policy that dictate political policy and be freed to openly stand for truth, justice and human rights.  We cannot allow dictators, murderers and thugs to define our path and inform our decisions.  Saying otherwise does not make it so.

As our physical world continually changes all around us, as relationships shift and power stolen, as technology redefines the possible, we cannot “Make America Great Again” by solving new problems in an old way. What made us great was hard work, respect for our international relationships, innovation, the ability to adapt and change, and an ever vigilant watch on the integrity of our system with an eye towards compassion and tolerance.  None of these qualities reside in our current President. With 60% executive time and his disdain for reading intel briefs, his lack of prep for treaties and negotiations, he has shown his inability to apply himself to hard work.. He has also displayed nothing but disrespect for our long-time international relationships including NATO.  He despises green energy innovation and rejects climate science.  He cannot change his ways–lying, bullying and narcissistic self-serving action.  He wants all oversight on himself, his organizations and administration to cease and has demonstrated a complete lack of compassion as exemplified by his treatment of children, taken from their immigrant parents and transferred thousands of miles away to be held, many never to be returned.  This man is a leader, yes, but just what and who is he leading?  Can it be us or is it them?  Them, yes that 30%, the deplorables, as Hillary would so aptly say, those who will willingly follow him off the cliff wearing a red MAGA hat, while Trump, the divider, has a mock-bliss teenage, romantic encounter with the American Flag. Is it time yet to break out the Kool-aid?

 

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Editorials

Behind the Lofty SDGs the Reality is People Don’t Trust Governments to Act

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Behind the Lofty SDGs the Reality is People Don’t Trust Governments to Act

By Andrew Cave, Driving Change

Michael Sani is a fervent believer in people casting transformative power with their votes. As chief executive of Bite the Ballot, a program supporting the U.K. Cabinet Office to increase voter registration, he partnered with Starbucks to create “DeCafe” debates, re-invigorating the spirit of the 17th Century coffee shop to inspire participation in elections.

 

The social entrepreneur later took this initiative to France and Colombia to support political engagement in elections and saw its methodology inspire the African Prisons Project, which held events in prisons with key social justice stakeholders.

 

Now CEO of Play Verto, which he says takes a “holistic approach” to accelerating and magnifying social impact through data-led decision-making, Sani’s new target is nothing less than generating the people power to help change the world.

 

The British-born, Egypt-based former business studies teacher recently unveiled The People’s Report, a global poll enabling 17,000 people speaking 43 different languages on the front lines of climate change to submit de-facto annual returns on how it is affecting their daily lives. The aim is for this exercise to act as a flash scorecard on progress toward achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

 

Emanating from discussions in 2019 with Catalyst 2030, a social entrepreneurship policy initiative, and run on a shoestring with a tiny staff reliant on volunteers and funded by friends and supporters, The People’s Report also wants its data to be used to formulate future policies.

 

“Social entrepreneurs want to collaborate in order to achieve the SDGs” says Sani, “but there are many different social entrepreneurs working towards the SDGs in silos across the different thematic areas.

 

“They have the same goals, but collaboration is hard to come by and what often happens is that there’s not enough funding or resources and you end up competing against those you should be working with because of the way the ecosystem has been put together.

 

“A lot of social entrepreneurs are therefore just surviving, rather than thriving, and that’s the piece of the jigsaw that most fascinates me: how do we shift the sector from survive mode and thrive.”

 

A collaboration between Catalyst 2030, the Social Progress Imperative and Play Verto, The People’s Report’s aim is to measure the reality of peoples’ lives in relation to the SDGs. Eleven questions were posed to ordinary people accessed through the partners’ networks. Eleven questions were posed to ordinary people accessed through the networks of Catalyst 2030 and other initiatives including the Social Progress Index.

 

 

 

 

They were answered by people on the world’s front lines: from the townships of South Africa, sex workers in India, Syrians in refugee camps, truck drivers in Australia, rose growers in Bogota, and office workers in Japan.

 

The inaugural survey found nearly two-thirds of respondents stating that they are experiencing the direct effects of climate change in their daily lives. Some 50% said they cannot trust their governmental leaders to address the issue. Asked whether they would choose to raise children in their communities in the current worsening environment, 34% of respondents replied in the negative.

 

The poll found that 34% of respondents under the age of 51 reported worsening mental health since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread evidence that they are living in the climate emergency, with 79% of respondents in the Indian subcontinent and 63% overall saying they had personally witnessed biodiversity loss.

 

The reality of hunger was also evident, with Africa (32%) and the Indian subcontinent (24%) reporting the highest levels, but 15% of North Americans and 14% of Europeans also saying they go to bed hungry. The impact of COVID-19 was clearly seen as 43% of respondents saying they had lost their income.

 

Lack of trust in governments emerged as a real problem, with 57% citing this in the Middle East and North Africa and one-third of all respondents stating that different views were not respected in their communities.

 

Finally, the survey identified a genuine fear for the future, with 42% of people in the Middle East and North Africa expressing little confidence in the future.

 

Sani and his partners are now planning much bigger Peoples Reports over the remaining eight years until the UN’s deadline. “The call to arms was ‘What’s your story?’” he says.

 

“We wanted to get the realities of as many people as possible at a particular point in time, with the goal of taking that back to the UN. It’s not about pointing out where their data is wrong and our data is right, but just to offer up our ideas so we can all work together with fresh and vivid information.

 

“We’ve got nine years to achieve the SDGs and this is the state of our realities according to the people facing them. We hope it can help form a unified voice to help better shape strategies based on need and a better understanding of what’s working and what’s not.

 

“If we’re going to set forth such an ambitious plan as achieving the SDGs, we really need to have our finger on the pulse. Now we have the data to take this forward.”

Source: Driving Change

Andrew Cave

Andrew Cave is a British business journalist who has written for The Daily Telegraph for 24 years in London and New York, rising to be Associate City Editor before switching to freelance writing in 2005. He also penned columns for Forbes Magazine for six years and has written five books on leadership and management.

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Editorials

Rebranding Public Service

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Public service needs a rebranding.

It needs to emphasize that it is one of the best ways individuals can make a significant difference to society, which should help it compete with tech giants and other private sector employers for the brightest and best talent.

By Andrew Cave, Driving Change

That’s the view of Jeffrey Neal, who has spent his career in public sector human resources, including nine years as Human Resources director for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and two years as Chief Human Capital Officer at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

 

Now running consulting firm ChiefHRO, he believes one major problem in attracting the talent it needs is that “government doesn’t promote or market itself very well,” sometimes because it is prohibited from doing so.

 

“There are some people who think that government should never tout government,” he says, “but the reality is that if you want to recruit talent, you have to market. I think an increased focus on public service would be a very good thing.

 

“Another problem is that a lot of federal government agencies don’t recruit well. They do what some people in the HR field refer to as ‘post and pray’, where you post a job listing and pray that somebody qualified will apply for it. That’s not recruiting.

 

Recruitment Strategy 1: Focus on providing people with interesting work.

 

“What it ends up giving you is lower-caliber candidates who are not what you need. Federal agencies need to put some resources behind developing their human resources capabilities. They don’t do that very well in most agencies right now.”

 

Neal’s experience working in U.S. government agencies focused on science saw him recruit physicists, chemists, and metallurgists, while at the DLA he hired supply chain management personnel including buyers and inventory managers to handle material in warehouses.

 

He believes public sector recruitment is misunderstood, partly because it is impossible to generalize about its wide range of agencies, occupations, and skillsets.

 

However, he is adamant that merely focusing on the pay gap between public and private sectors misses the point. “When you look at high-caliber talent, is it about money or also intellect, willingness to work, creativity, and character?” he asks.

 

“I would make the argument that a person who is very bright and who is only interested in making money for himself or herself is not a high-caliber person. They are a greedy, self-centered person. In my definition of high-caliber, I would exclude people who are greedy and self-centered. I think there are very smart people who are interested in things other than going to the highest bidder.”

 

Recruitment Strategy 2: Hire beginners.

 

When working for DHS during the Obama administration, Neal saw how young people were drawn to public service when they thought they could make a difference. When Obama was elected, a wave of smart, energetic, and very enthusiastic people infused the administration with creativity and dynamism after working on the presidential campaign.

 

“They were exceptional young people who any organization would be thrilled to have,” he says. “We have to figure out what’s going to attract them, and we can’t do it with money. Governments can’t compete with the private sector in terms of money.

 

“If you look at what some of those jobs would have to pay to truly compete on a financial basis with the private sector, you’d have to be paying people five, six, or seven times the national average income and that just doesn’t sit well with people.

 

“The fact that it’s what the labor market says you should pay someone is irrelevant because people think differently about government. They don’t want government to be a place to go to get rich.”

 

Neal believes government recruitment should focus instead on providing people with interesting work. When working for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C., a chemist won a Nobel Prize for work he carried out there.

 

 

 

 

“He worked his entire career there,” says Neal. “He could have gone out and easily made ten times what the Naval Research Lab paid him, but the lab allowed him to do basic research in the kind of science he wanted to do so he stayed for decades.”

 

Different agencies use contrasting approaches. At the DLA, Neal says 25,000 people were employed at an agency with annual sales of $40bn but there was such a broad focus that it was very difficult to find private sector applicants with the necessary experience.

 

Instead, the agency hired entry level people and developed talent internally. This added complexity to the hiring process, with the agency having to project forward what its needs would be because training inventory management and contracting specialists took about two years. However, it proved successful, and the agency still uses this approach.

 

At the DHS, meanwhile, there were 200,000 civilian employees, plus 40,000 in the military and U. S. Coast Guard and recruitment had to contend with the scale of operations and with bureaucracy and red tape.

 

“They had to hire a lot of people both at the entry level and mid-career and still struggle with a lot of their hiring,” says Neal. “The contract specialists at the buying end of the operations have to follow the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), which runs to 1,000 pages of requirements.

 

“Whereas you can find buyers in the private sector, they don’t know a thing about the FAR so a very experienced buyer who doesn’t have extensive training in it will fail because they don’t know what’s legal and what’s not and they can’t do the job because they don’t know the rules.”

 

Recruitment Strategy 3: Look to other sectors.

 

With The Transportation Security Administration’s 60,000-strong workforce, moreover, an issue was that the private sector didn’t have a lot of people doing similar work.

 

The solution was to hire straight from school and train people. “It may seem odd, but their hiring is more closely related to hiring for a department store or fast-food restaurant than it is for a law enforcement organization,” says Neal.

 

One skill that Neal finds clearly lacking in government is in cybersecurity, where the labor and jobs market are out of alignment, with huge demand for the limited supply of specialists.

 

As for a world where people can seamlessly switch in and out of public service, Neal feels it will take time to develop. “What it will require is less division in our society,” he says. “I do think it’s possible. We just have to get people interested in being a little less selfish. I’m not optimistic it’s going to happen soon.”

Source: Driving Change

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Agriculture

More than 65 groups call to fundamentally reorient its approach to global policy development on food and agriculture issues.

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On World Food Day, more than 65 groups call for more just approach to policy development and multilateralism
October 14, 2021
Today, in advance of World Food Day, more than 65 United States-based farmers, food and trade justice advocates delivered a letter to the Biden administration urging the U.S. government to fundamentally reorient its approach to global policy development on food and agriculture issues.

Urgently needed reform to agriculture and farm policy must prioritize the rights and livelihoods of workers, food producers and frontline communities; ensure food security through food sovereignty in the U.S. and abroad; mitigate climate change and restore biodiversity; and address corporate power throughout global food systems. A reoriented approach would better align with the administration’s commitments to human and worker rights, racial and gender justice, trade reform and addressing climate change.

“The previous administration did everything possible to further entrench the stranglehold of corporate agribusiness over the world’s food supply by trampling worker rights and denying small scale farmers world-wide their right to grow the crops they wish, in the manner they wish to feed their own populations. We demand better from the Biden administration. Human rights cannot be ‘bestowed’ by governments or corporations, they can only be recognized and respected. Rather than telling people and farmers what they need, the Biden administration must, in the spirit of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ask them what they need. U.S. federal agencies and government officials, especially those working directly with the United Nations, must work to achieve those needs rather than continuing to promote the profit-oriented agendas of multinational agribusiness,” says Jim Goodman, Board President of the National Family Farm Coalition.

The organizations sent the letter amid three major international events related to food and nutrition security: The controversial United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), a forum for advancing corporate agribusiness interests held in New York in late September; the U.N. Committee on the World Food Security (U.N. CFS) plenary currently underway; and World Food Day on October 16. The letter also comes as a response to the experiences of civil society as it engaged in food and agricultural policymaking at the CFS earlier in the year, where the U.S. delegation systematically sought to block human rights centered approaches, even as other delegations sought to advance human rights as key to food system transformations and universal food and nutrition security. In the wake of these events at the summit and during the CFS plenary, the demands of the food, farm and trade justice advocates for just, human-rights centered food system transformations are timely and must be heard.

The letter encourages a new direction for U.S. government engagement with the CFS and the three Rome-based food and agriculture agencies. These U.N. agencies and policy fora are critical spaces for technical, logistical and financial support to small-scale food producers worldwide, as well as political dialogue for inclusive policy development. Yet, in these spaces, the U.S. government has continued to promote a policy agenda that supports the narrow interests of corporate agribusiness, and recently, the U.S. delegation to the U.N food and agriculture agencies has been defiant and obstructionist of CFS policy processes.

“The collective force of social movements and civil society from all regions of the world has uplifted basic human rights to be included in policy negotiations at the Committee on World Food Security. We will defend our space and the mandate of the CFS. We ask that the U.S. government recognize this commitment to end hunger and food insecurity through food sovereignty and agroecology and support our efforts,” says Patti Naylor, member of Family Farm Defenders and National Family Farm Coalition, who facilitates the North American civil society regional representation to the CFS.

The letter identifies five key steps the U.S. government must take to reorient food and agriculture policy. Priority reform areas include human rights; racial justice; trade; addressing the climate, biodiversity, food and water crisis through agroecology; and strengthening participatory, multilateral policymaking.

On World Food Day, as the U.S. is reentering the global community under President Biden’s leadership, the U.S. should fully support the U.N. system as the most transformative multilateral space for international cooperation towards shared goals.

National Family Farm Coalition mobilizes family farmers and ranchers to achieve fair prices, vibrant communities, and healthy foods free of corporate domination.

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Mobilized TV

Mobilized TV on Free Speech TV  takes a deep look at our world, the consequences of human activity on our planet, and how we can reverse and prevent existing and future crises from occurring. Mobilized reveals life on our planet as a system of systems which all work together for the optimal health of the whole. The show delves into deep conversations with change-makers so people can clearly take concerted actions.

Produced by Steven Jay and hosted by Jeff Van Treese.

Mobilized’s TV series Mobilized TV  premieres on Free Speech TV on Friday, October 15, 2021. All episodes appear:

Fridays 9:30 PM Eastern (USA/Canada)

Saturdays; 6:30 PM (Eastern USA/Canada)

Sundays: 8:30 AM Eastern (USA/Canada)

October 15, 16, 27
Many communities of native Americans have been subject to irreparable harm, and now there are some who are trying to indoctrinate them into their form of religion. We take a deep dive into conversation with Lakota Sioux Tribeswoman, Davidica Little Spotted Horse as she brings us up to speed of issues that should concern us all.

October 22, 23, 24
The overwhelming news being shoved down our throats on a daily basis is having a debilitating effect our our mental and emotional health. While many people seem to feel powerless, there are a lot of actions that people can take. Mobilized.news gives you a front row seat to the change that you can create in the world when we speak with Rob Moir, Executive Director of leading environmental organization, The Ocean River Institute.

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Architect Buckminster Fuller said “”Nature is a totally efficient, self-regenerating system. IF we discover the laws that govern this system and live synergistically within them, sustainability will follow and humankind will be a success.” So how can builders, architects and people in the construction industries learn from nature’s design and create healthy living systems that actually work with the natural landscape and ecosystem instead of against it? Mobilized.news takes a deep dive in conversation with Nickson Otieno of Niko Green in Nairobi, Kenya.

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