Posts Tagged ‘Boomers’

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THE NEW BOOM OF PUBLIC TRANSIT

March 23, 2014

“Due to demographics, high gas prices, a recovering economy, and faster, more convenient service, transit use is soaring.”

What a welcoming way to start a new week to read that in the STRIB this morning!

Indeed, Millennials and older Boomers take advantage as public transit sees a boom in ridership and yes, I agree…it’s a quality of life issue!  No traffic to consider, fight, or sit through; no worries about gas prices, parking availability, and cost, or even “where is it and how do I get there?” And certainly, it is nice to be oblivious to that nagging worry especially on icy roads of “what if I have an accident, or what if my car doesn’t start?”  But it is much more than that.

First and foremost, the weather or not wanting to drive does not make me a prisoner in my home; and even worse, a prisoner of the television.  Ugghh!  I may not have achieved it yet, but it is still an overarching goal learned at the Mayo Clinic that I am active and exercise the same amount of time that I am plunked in my easy chair in front of the Boob Tube. And indeed, not all buses to where I want to go depart from the Entrance Circle at the Churchill!  So a daily walk of an hour gets me on my way to balancing the 1.5 – 2.5 hours in a day I am “catching up” on the world via a TV screen.  Add to that, time spent walking to the bus stops, and I earn an added bonus!

I’ve mentioned several times how much more I have seen of the city and its surrounds in the past year as I can look at the surrounding neighborhoods rather than keeping my “eyes on the road”.  I head for a new destination, and I feel like I am on that familiar “City Tour” I knew so well in cities all over the world during my “incentive travel” life.   More important, the $4800 I saved between 2012 and 2014 allowed me to pay for my own medical care and not become dependent on government assistance with that….and maybe this year, it will help me move!

And equally important, I treasure those times when a conversation starts up between me and another passenger (usually with a Millenial-we Boomers still cling a bit too much to OLD habits! – Don’t make eye contact; don’t speak to strangers J) I hear new perspectives and I learn.

In other words, Public Transit gives me a better life!  It is the one thing that concerns me as I consider relocating to RST….their existing system is NOT QUITE  a replica yet of what we have going on here in MSP.

So when I hear the Mayor talk about problems with noise created to build the SW LRT, I can only shake my head and wonder.  That’s pretty irrelevant in the big picture-although realistically, I know I am taking that comment a bit out of context. 

Nevertheless, although it is only a PIPE DREAM, I think it’s time to take a hard stand on the SW LRT.  Maybe we need a city-wide vote or a vote by residents impacted that live within one mile either side of the route, or a vote using some other equitable measurement.  If the majority of the resulting stakeholders do not want the LRT; give it up with a moratorium of x years freeze on any consideration to build; then use the available dollars to invest elsewhere in the emerging system.  Yes, I am aware there is an issue with already approved Federal dollars for SW LRT…but I’m just dreamin’, remember?

The fact that a few are holding the city hostage is not acceptable, in view of today’s news in the STRIB of escalating costs to build the SW LRT for every new period of delay.

Then in my dreams, we also move forward and declare no cars allowed within a defined border of downtown – perhaps the circle created by intersecting interstates- without a permit.  It worked for the Horse and Carriage; maybe it’s time to start the same for cars! 

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IT’S ABOUT TIME

October 15, 2013

 

The headline reads “Half of Older Workers say they’re delaying retirement, poll finds…” and I thought to myself, YES! It’s about time.

 

I’ve said for years….when social security was introduced, it was based on an existing “life expectancy” of about 65 years.    I spent my youth listening to my father complain over and over about the dollars being taken from his paycheck.  His theory was if you work hard all your life, you die when you are 65 – so why is this money being stolen by the government?  Because, after all, HE certainly had worked hard all his life; and thus would die and not claim any of those dollars taken from him.  And surely, there was no thought to my Mom’s needs- who was, after all, over fifteen years younger than him!

 

Wasn’t he surprised back in January of 1963 when he did not fall over dead on his 65th birthday…causing him  to rethink his stance a bit!  In fact, he lived twenty-two more years – without a plan.  In truth, grandchildren aside, he had no other interests than work, puttering in the garage, and working in the garden – hardly enough to replace that one third of his lifetime he had devoted to WORK before retirement.  The “Light plant” was his identity.  So, in retirement, although being a “Grandpa” was his greatest joy, he became a lost soul…and ultimately, a hard burden for my mom.

 

And for me, he became the motivation that indeed, I WOULD approach things differently.  Hence, his stubbornness and the resulting unhappiness and decline of my dad became my motivation.

 

 A few years after he died, I had had sufficient time to develop a plan and I was ready to launch it.  Twenty five years in the corporate world was enough; it was time to start a new career.  In fact, my “plan” said, here’s what I want to do for the next 20-25 years, but keep an eye out for ideas for a third career to follow that as I begin to age. After all, if my dad lived to be 87 and my mom lived to be 93, I could well have another “lifetime” ahead of me once I reach social security age and I need to start thinking of a plan for that.   

 

And now I am there.  So far, I am still physically able to do most things called for in that second career of Event Design, but I am on the lookout now for new ideas-so indeed, I can launch that third career.

 

 All I know at this point is that I am engaged and interested in the world around me; I am excited to see how this digital world that’s just begun plays out; and I have seen enough late “traditionalists” and early “boomers” in my life opt to retire and live a life a leisure to know that I will entertain no thought of doing the same.  I am a firm believer that “ if you do not use it, you lose it”. A life focused on grandchildren is not my bag…A life traveling around, escaping my roots has no appeal – I did that for 25 years in my FIRST career!   Friends and family that have ‘retired” from work often seem to retire from life as well….and I surely understand the difficulties an older brother and sister-in-law are having as, both in their 80s, they sell their business this month.  And, I understand the trepidation my brother has in doing that-despite ill health. He does not want to retire from life and memories of my father’s last days are not what any of us want for ourselves.

 

Over the years, Social Security was tweeked a bit- moved  up to 62; and extended  to 70 years old…..giving options to everyone, but somehow overlooking its intent.  Meanwhile, advances in healthcare and healthy living extended that average life expectancy into the seventies and is ever moving upwards.  And yet, we did not make adjustments to social security to compensate.  And so it became an entitlement instead of a safety net….and has created a lot of boring people who think they deserve to stop using the brain they were given. ..and it created a lot of worry about how the federal government can continue to fund this program and what adjustments need to be made.

 

Which brings us back to this morning’s article in the STRIB.

 

 Of course, the article is positioned with a “poor us” tone- starting with “stung by a recession that sapped investments and home values, but expressing widespread job satisfaction, older Americans appear to have accepted the reality of a retirement that comes later in life and no longer represents a complete exit from the workforce.”

 

Come on, think about that!  Why do you want to go home, sit in a chair when you are not out playing golf (now that’s an UGGHH!  from my perspective!)  when you get satisfaction from working and are still able to think and work?

 

I’m the outlier, I know, but perhaps that means this recession may have some good results.  People are learning that indeed, life is missing something if it only focuses on a “life of leisure” to make one happy.  Perhaps we were pursuing a “false “dream, and now we have been forced to look that in the face and deal with it.  Perhaps being forced to work longer, look for new income streams based on output of effort will teach us new lessons and we will find that if we have the capacity and the ability, we are happier when we keep thinking and contributing to society.  And if we need not work for money; we then can bask in the luxury of volunteering and working for the good of mankind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DEVIL OR SUPERMAN?

August 22, 2013

The headline this morning read “2011 ruling:  NSA violated Constitution”; the subtitle read “The e-mail collection program was later fixed to the court’s satisfaction.”

The opening two paragraphs summarized that the NSA program violated the Constitution for several years according to a top-secret court ruling from October 2011 which was made public yesterday.

And then the third paragraph “below the fold” if you will:

“The release of the ruling, under pressure by a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, was the latest effort by the Obama Administration to contain revelations about NSA surveillance prompted by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.   A side bar in bold in that paragraph proclaimed : ”Volume and nature of the Information [the program} had been collecting is fundamentally different than what the court had been led to believe.”    This quote was attributed to the 2011 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinion.

Eight inches of print into the article, we learned that the problems were relatively small compared to surveillance on non-citizens abroad.  And we learned that NSA quickly fixed the problem to the court’s satisfaction.   Nevertheless, the remaining 5 inches of print indicated the court was still troubled, and that what was being collected was far different than what  FISA had been led to believe.  It reported this was the third time in less than three years in which the government disclosed a substantial misrepresentation of the volume and nature of information.

As I finished the article, despite knowing a small amount about the NSA/FISA Court history rooted in the Bush Administration, I admit I had to take a deep breath and say…wow-this is not only disconcerting;  it is enough to make me think I better think through my support of Obama.

For some of you reading this, I imagine it was enough to send you off to the organizing groups with your donations to support impeachment of the President.   And hopefully, there are some of you out there that know much more than I and recognized this immediately as Press manipulation.

I however, fortunately had a nagging voice in my brain telling me to think through that timeline.  And I listened to it.

 If Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009, how could there possibly have been time to move into the White House, learn all there was to know just about  how the White House itself operated, get all the appointments announced and people in place in all the government agencies and arms that represent the nation, have them get acclimated in their new roles, dig deep, learn the nitty gritty details, review, and report back to the President recommendations and actions; get those actions implemented and enforced  and still have been able to  pull off some MAJOR disturbing practices….all the while butting heads with an opposing party who announced  their mission over the  four years from January 2008, to January, 2013, was to ensure  that Obama would have no second term.    How could one man, who also crafted a major change in US healthcare and GOT IT APPROVED despite that same opposition by the Republicans, and got us out of Iraq, and on track to get out of Afghanistan, and finally found Osama bin Laden and killed him, and weathered a Republican plan – at least in the short term – to bring down the country financially – be able to launch this plot successfully?  How could one man already fighting GREAT ODDS accomplish all this?   He was not a” White Man” with all the privilege that implies; he did not bring decades and decades of experience about how Congress worked, nor decades and decades of relationships within the Legislative bodies, nor did he have the family connections and money of a Kennedy, nor the benefit of being a Governor like a Clinton.

Amidst all that, how could he campaign and be selected to a second term of office – thereby showing the weakness of the opposing party NOT ONCE, but twice?

 And even more perplexing, Obama believes in building a better world through collaboration, listening and learning from one another; in a world where individual people helping others do make a difference.    He set out to change the Best World ever built – that one built by the Boomers  – a world that brought power and fame and money to those that knew how to play by Boomer rules.  Those rules that say  if we just surround ourselves with others like us and boycott, we will be ok….and the rest of the world will go away.   How in the world did he overcome those barriers we put in his way?

The timeline made no sense to me in view of all of that.  And then there was the fact that I knew nothing about the organization that brought the suit.  Who is Electronic Frontier Freedom anyway? 

And so I detoured off to do a little research – fully expecting to find that this group was another Republican propaganda arm – masking as a do-good non-profit.   And I was proven wrong, at least in the short amount of time (about two hours) I have spent on it this morning.

But what I learned as FACT was the timeline.

This organization came to be in 1990 – just a few years into the DIGITAL AGE – as a result of some very forward thinkers imagining a future in which individual rights would be fighting a tough battle in terms of privacy rights issues.  It seemed to be legitimate; it scores well on consumer/public ratings of whether to invest/believe or not.  And it sounds good on its web and in Wikipedia, and its actions to defend personal and individual rights speak well of its intent.

1990 – yes,  in the midst of Reagan/Bush Senior era – but as I read about it, its focus did not show political philosophies, it clearly was focused on what will this digital world we are entering do to our personal freedoms.  I know, you can’t believe everything you read, but my gut feel led me forward.

The initial interest and filings in this specific case went back to 2005-2006. This lawsuit itself was filed in SEPTEMBER 2008.  Hmmm.  That’s a red flag, is it not? 

The Republicans had just nominated John McCain as their presidential candidate; the Democrats had just nominated Obama.  We were in the midst of debates…and the American public was immersed in the issues and teetering on the brink of the worst collapse of our economic world since the Great Depression – an amazing turn of events in eight Bush years.   And there as a candidate was an unthinkable possibility that just maybe we could have a President that would be a mixture of both white and multi-cultural race that could lead us through this transition to that time in 2040 and beyond when whites would become the minority.  And even better, this candidate thought differently.  He did not emulate power and out-trumping an opponent, he professed listening, dialog and collaboration – just what all the futurists were saying was needed around the world in this new 21st century.

 

But I digress.  Back to the timeline.

  1. Issues surfaced 2005-2006.
  2. Lawsuit was filed September, 2008, while Bush was still Presidet of the United States.  Translation:  This was a lawsuit against Republican actions during the Bush Administration.
  3. The ruling made in October, 20ll, with extensive review and necessary adjustments made by the Obama Administration to comply with that ruling.
  4. No data uncovered to date to when plan for those implemented adjustments began, but I presume that it had to be a priority fro mthe beginning in order to have a plan and be able to implement it successfully immediately in case the ruling demanded it.  I would call that foresight.
  5. Although the changes were quietly implemented, there was no publicity at the time and Obama defended the right to keep them secret. (Ed:  Think:  Suporting the right of the Office ofthe President; and hence the person who initiated the action – George W. Bush)
  6. Obama refused to give out details to the Press, but at the same time told the nation in his address this summer that he welcomed the review of this (21st century) issue.

Today, that has all been played out in the Press with a definite slant of sensationalism aimed at Obama.

This feeds right into the damage and trouble that I believe is being caused by the PRESS in this country whom we have allowed to move from reporting facts to telling us what we should believe about those facts- which today are interspersed with non-facts and simply personal opinion of what is rapidly becoming irresponsible commentators looking for ratings to keep their jobs.  

That, and the difficult issues emerging in this century for which we have no precedent, puts us right where we were at the beginning of the 20th century…fumbling our way through a whole new world of individual rights that were expanding past white men to women to native and other non-white men and women at a disturbing pace because of new means of communication.  I’d like to think we learned something over a hundred years, but perhaps we have not.

That aside, the time I have spent on this morning’s STRIB article leads me to one conclusion only: 

Perhaps the sin of Obama is only that his strong morals and thoughts about how to better prepare the United States for the 21st century  led him NOT TO BLAME THE CAUSE  – the Neo-Cons under the weak leadership of nice man – George W.

Many have questioned why he as a ”Constitutional Scholar “could even think that what was being done would not be unconstitutional.  Perhaps what they scoff at is exactly why he did not take a personal stand – his knowledge and confidence in that document may have led him to the knowledge that change would come without his intervention. He did not dishonor a former President;  and did not yield to political pressure to do so as he has no further political aspirations. 

 I listened to that nagging doubt and invested the time to think it through and it brought me right back to where I was in 2008.  I voted for a man I admired for his principles and new thinking.  I stand on that. I believe he has been motivated by those same things as well as commitment to the Office he holds as the leader of the country he loves…even though standing against releasing the details of a system established by his predecessor has made him the bad guy.   

He is neither the DEVIL nor SUPERMAN.  He is not even acting as a politician, although he has done that well  along the way.  He is a product of his time with deep beliefs and motivation to help his country where he can.  And I personally cannot wait until he is released from this sentence we have given him so that he can return to the real world and we learn of how he next intends to influence the world and help guide us through the turmoil ahead for which we refuse to prepare!

That is why I spent today – my first time off in almost 40 days – to think this through.  It was worth every minute.