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Archive for February, 2009

Several folks passed this along via email this week. Don’t know who the original writer was, nor how accurate the numbers may be. But certainly loved the premise!

“The Proposal”

When a company falls on difficult times, one of the things that seems to happen is they reduce their staff and workers.  The remaining workers need to find ways to continue to do a good job or risk that their job would be eliminated as well.  Wall street, and the media normally congratulate the CEO for asking this type of “tough decision”, and his board of directors gives him a big bonus.

Our government should not be immune from similar risks.  

Therefore: Reduce the House of Representatives from the current 435 members to 218 members and Senate members from 100 to 50 (one per State). Also reduce remaining staff by 25%.

Accomplish this over the next 8 years. (two steps / two elections) and  of course this would require some redistricting.

Some Yearly Monetary Gains Include:

$44,108,400  for elimination of base pay for congress. (267 members X  $165,200 pay / member / yr.)

$97,175,000 for elimination of the above people’s staff. (estimate

 

$1.3 Million in staff per each member of the House, and $3 Million in staff per each member of the Senate every year)

$240,294  for the reduction in remaining staff by 25%.

$7,500,000,000 reduction in pork barrel ear-marks each year (those members whose jobs are gone). Current estimates for total government  pork earmarks are at $15 Billion / yr.

The remaining representatives would need to work smarter and would  need to improve efficiencies. It might even be in their best interests to work together for the good of our country?

We may also expect that smaller committees might lead to a more efficient resolution of issues as well. It might even be easier to keep track of what your representative is doing.

Congress has more tools available to do their jobs than it had back in 1911 when the current number of representatives was established  (telephone, computers, cell phones just to name a few).

Summary of opportunity:

$44,108,400 reduction of congress members.

$282,100,000 for elimination of the reduced house member staff.

$150,000,000 for elimination of reduced senate member staff.

$59,675,000 for 25% reduction of staff for remaining house members.
  
$37,500,000 for 25% reduction of staff for remaining senate members.

$7,500,000,000 reduction in pork added to bills by the reduction of congress members.

$8,073,383,400 per year, estimated total savings (that’s 8-BILLION just to start!).

Big business does these types of cuts all the time.

If Congress persons were required to serve 20, 25 or 30 years (like everyone else) in order to collect retirement benefits, there is no telling how much we would save. Now they get full retirement after serving only ONE term. Now ask yourself, where could you find a job with those types of benefits? You CAN’T!

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Dawn

I watched the sun rise this morning, a beautiful shimmer in the distance, growing ever brighter in the chilly air. Not one to get up that early usually, it was a rare treat to see dark transform to light by simply sitting, sipping tea and enjoying the peace of the moment.
 
Of course symbolism couldn’t escape thoughts as I reflected on the idea that dawn brings forth a new day, a chance to start “all over again”, of remembering the “I am going to” promises of previous days. My own do-overs came to mind, not new but not accomplished, things that impact state of mind, health, future goals. If only I could carry the contemplative charge of energy throughout the day rather than watch it dissipate as those “same old, same old” issues come into play, things that zap the will to do better. I realize they are excuses and ask why do I let them win?!
 
I know I’m not alone, many friends talk of this cycle, different issues but same impact – distractions letting the intended road detour. I wonder if that’s a human condition, somehow our genes causing a pause in change so that we don’t jump into uncharted and potentially unsafe waters too quickly. Or is it something that happened while we were children that put fear onto a path that actually is not so scary after-all. Is  it our subconscious putting down stumbling blocks because it’s not really what we want for the future, no matter what we think in the now?
 
I look out and see the sun has risen, the fog is lifting, my eyes are finally open. The mundane filters in — gulp breakfast, get dressed, take out the trash, wondering if there is enough gas in the car… wait – the peace of the dawn is spilling over, making me pause and smile and lift my head to capture the warmth before chaos has a chance to resume control.

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I’ve been called a “Goddess”  while an entire town bowed to me, offering the gift of a shrunken head. I’ve eaten unknown “delicacies” from tops of monkey skulls, inside snake skins or wrapped in what was later termed, “dried dung”. I’ve traveled by plane, train, automobile, balloon, ship, ferry,  tugboat, canoe, rowboat, bicycle, unicycle – as well as camel, elephant, horse and donkey.

I’ve hiked mountains, forded streams, crossed channels, through cities and into many a pub at the end of a long day. I’ve biked up hills, through valleys, in rush hour, all with 60 pounds of equipment. I’ve even been at the back end of a dog sled, with wobbly knees, desperately trying to stay on.

I’ve refused to hang glide, gotten sick in a small plane, dived too far down for my own good and watched as a flight attendent duct-tapped the passenger door of a 747 shut before take-off. I’ve been stopped by Tamil soldiers, held at gunpoint (nothing taken), watched two tribes fighting it out with bow and arrow, and was robbed in one of the finest hotels in Asia.

I’ve traveled by myself, with family, friends, colleagues, and with many a stranger – sharing a close moment for a few minutes, hours or even days. I’ve had a nun promise to pray for me after I accidentally rescued her, a monk stop and whisper prayers on my behalf and a Baptist minister tell me I’m going to “hell”. 

I’ve read many a travel book, parused online travel guides, had a few travel articles published and even found a new one, “10 links a day” that wets my appetite for more. I’ll have to tell the men in my life about their latest post, “Man Spas” talking of new treats.

That’s only in real life – I’m now beginning to add on new adventures via the virtual world! And no, I don’t represent your typical world traveller type, my physique doesn’t match, my luggage isn’t name brand and my wallet is actually pretty small. So for those adventurers out there who may be hesitating — go for it!

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I wrote earlier about women who buy large ticket items and instruct the sales person to put them in white bags so as not to overtly flaunt the money they spent. Now a recent Time magazine article, “How Consumers Shop Differently Today,” actually delves into the habits of real shoppers and describes the changing face of shopping today.

Basically, you have three types of shoppers: those with consumer needs vs. wants, who in essence have “slammed their wallets shut”; those who haven’t lost their job but know somebody who has so are cautious and slammed their wallets from “choice” rather than need; and the last third who still has plenty of money but are not spending to not show off in front of others or are one of those white bag shoppers. Either way, as the article states, “the era of ‘bling’ is over”.

I’m certainly not in the last group but find myself fluctuating between focusing more and more on needs vs wants and looking at all the sale items thinking “if I don’t get it now, I’ll never get it at that price”. Caution still wins and that HDtv that I’ve wanted for several years still finds itself on the store shelf instead of my living room wall.

This weekend I heard reports from “expert economists” indicating that most think 2009 will continue to be bad, but that 2010 will find us starting to get out of the current “slump”. Firstly, who are these expert economists and why didn’t they tell us to watch out from the beginning, when we started heading down the path that led us to the recession/depression. What do they define as “slump” anyway? I think those experts are all still employed for folks not working or who lost their homes or are on the edge of foreclosure would use a different descriptive.

My “ok” today could be my “loss of everything” tomorrow and I know many people feel the same way. Spare change is going into nest eggs vs “shopping” for nonessentials, no matter the sale. Discretion is one thing, reality is another and more of us are facing the latter vs. being worried about the former. It does appear that sales of lotto tickets are rising. I guess investing in possibilities is considered a reality, so I’ll give it a dollar.

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In my earlier blog post about the fires in Australia, I posted pictures of the fire that were symbols of both the vastness of the fire with its resulting devastation and the kindness of man to animal (including that wonderful picture of the fireman giving water to a Koala).

Today I received an update, a slide show of photographs of Bruno’s Art and Sculpture Garden. In the small Victorian village of Marysville, Australia, Bruno Torfs created an enchanted world of wood carvings that a visitor could wonder through and experience while in the forest. Bruno and his family are safe, but apparently many of his woodcarvings were damaged or destroyed. Take the “tour” and see what was that can be again.

Again, if you are interested in helping to the victims of the fire in general, you can also contribute through:

Wildlife Victoria

Red Cross Emergency Services – Victorian Bushfires Appeal

 

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Not the same meaning as in back in the day, well, except maybe “twit”, Twitter and Tweet refer to yet another social networking tool. From the Twitter site itself:

“Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent messages.  People write short updates, often called “tweets”  of 140 characters or fewer.  These messages are posted to your profile or your blog, sent to your followers, and are searchable on Twitter search.”

Hmmm… have you ever watched someone twittering, or even using text messaging while driving? I have, and believe me, I hesitate to drive with them again. I’ve watched cars cross traffic lanes, not stop, even come at me and saw them typing away with one or two fingers while occasionally glancing at the road.

Safety aside, do you think people, other than those or should I say some of those who love you, really want to hear what you are doing every minute? I’ve seen women in restrooms twittering as they told their waiting friend that they were, while, let’s just say, while they were using the facilities.

The most interesting twittering experience was during a recent conference, Fem2.0,  where we followed the twitter link, shown in real time on a big screen behind the speakers. We (the audience)  read the approvals, the questions or even the “get on with it” comments being sent throughout. As a speaker, that would really keep you in tune with your audience and if you were savvy enough, be able to respond immediately. That’s cool.

Twitter, Tweet, Twit. Wonder what the next new communication method to take over the world will be – or maybe already is?! I’ve seen a variety, but not heard any of front runner as of yet. Do you?

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Had several interesting discussions about taking care of parents this weekend, from the perspective of boomers who are now the care givers. The “sandwich” generation, a lot of women – and men – are finding themselves raising their own families while worrying about their parents.

I know of those who are taking the full financial burden of  nursing home bills while their otherwise healthy parent suffers from Alzheimers, but who didn’t expect to be a “burden” and didn’t plan ahead. Or those whose parents, one or both, are now living with them and are finding their adulthood in jeopardy as mom tries to give instructions in the same manner she did when you were 15 – yikes!

And by happenstance, another friend and I compared stories of taking care of our mothers, both now gone, and the trials, tribulations and guilt we went through as little we did or said made any difference in the downward spiral these ladies put themselves through, in one fashion or another. It became apparent that our own mother’s parenting skills left much to be desired (although no one ever owned up to it at the time) and that their perceived role as “mother” made them not listen to what the “kids” suggested anyway.

And then I stumbled on this blog posting by Rita Arens, “Replacing Ourselves: Do We Owe Future Generations our Reproduction Today?” She gives a different spin on the issue, pointing out statistics of dwindling birthrates today and presented a side of the “who will take care of us” perspective. I particularly liked her humorous comment, “I do think it’s a good idea for anyone with fewer than nine kids to purchase long-term care insurance”, serious but with tongue-in-cheek.

Women do make less than men in general and the stress of taking care of the parents often lies with the daughter.  If nothing else, focusing on pay equity for every individual would start easing the “burden” factor for the future. 

Will the parents of today learn from their own experiences and set up a different scenario for the next generation – or is it already too late for the Boomers and it will take yet another generation to know how to prepare so that neither side will be dependent upon the other when adults and seniors, leaving more time to enjoy each other instead.

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