Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hate your job or just the commute?

I started a new job the other day and have come to the conclusion that working for the most part is not a natural desire for man to pursue, especially within the definition currently accepted within our overworked, underpaid and severely stressed culture.  We try to raise our kids to pursue what they like so the concept of work is mitigated through the more enjoyable pursuit of happiness.

For many the two terms are mutually exclusive and for most the work they perform only serves to provide the means for external adventures that help them forget about their “work”.  Work for the most part is good but having to work at what you do not like is more akin to torture than pleasure, creating a massive gap in emotional response in relation to the two divergent motivations. 

Optimally the perfect job would be directly in line with an individual’s interests and desire’s making the occasional “work” requirements affordable in relation to the everyday gains of living a productive and interesting life.  

One major cause of concern is the amount of time spent commuting.  Especially in the larger cities those commutes can be a major problem in developing that perfect job.  Let’s take education as a general rule.  There are thousands of teachers and most do not teach within the area that they live causing them to commute.  I think it can be generally agreed upon that most teachers are pretty much the same.  The perspective of a parent or student may alter that belief but substituting one qualified teacher for another, at any point in the year will invariably create his or her detractors and supporters helping us all to realize that it really doesn’t make a lot of difference, over the long term, who teaches who.

This concept is also convertible to almost virtually every job and career choice.  One engineer may be better than another but the benefits of one over another in the grand scheme really means very little.  There are those positions that do require excellence but those are rare despite what you think of your current abilities. Even the most exclusive job in the world, the President of the United States might not make that much difference, especially when you view those individuals from an historical perspective.  Those that were truly unique stand out in glorious ways while most simply fade from memory or are hated because of what they tried to be.

Some will proclaim a great affinity for their jobs, their friends at work and even their bosses on occasion but again we can see how easily all of these things and associations could be replaced.  Are our lives so scripted that any suggestion of change becomes unthinkable with no room for new acquaintances or friends and really does the boss really matter?

The reason I bring this up is for one specific purpose, to provide the means to lower our commute times, to lighten the load on our overcrowded roads and perhaps the most important to reduce our ever increasing consumption of oil and also that I may perhaps, in some alternate universe, in some obscure galaxy be able to work closer to home, even if it is just like the one I have now, closer is so much better.

It works like this:  From an open registry interested parties check for like jobs with similar salaries and responsibilities.  In schools this would be easy, one English Teacher for another or a Math Teacher for one that drives an hour to work, they simply swap jobs and presto no drive time.

It would also be nice if employers would sign on as well being less particular about hiring their brother in law rather than hiring a qualified person who simply lives close.  The brother in law might have a harder time finding another brother in law to swap with but that might be the price we have to pay for this system to work.  If employers would buy into this scenario the transitions could be organized so that any swapping that occurred could be done with little or no down time. 

The savings to the employer would be significant as well.  With employees living closer to their work, there would be less absence, more devotion, less stress, more productivity etc…the worst that would happen is that a school district or employer would end up with a lousy replacement but I can almost guarantee that the number of marginal employees currently held would probably go down due in large measure to the happiness factor of employees saving time and saving money.  School Districts would have to soften their grip on tenure and allow for transfers that secure those earned rights but even if they restricted trades to similar experienced teachers the system would be helpful.

All I need is someone to write an app that would allow those looking to meet those that are searching and viola we have a simple solution to a major issue.  One example of how this might help is during the 1984 Olympics in LA,  Peter Ueberroth (the guy in charge, like Romney was for the 2002 Winter Olympics)  staggered work hours for all of Los Angeles County and the effects were amazing.  For the first time in years commuters had an open road, when it was their time to drive that is.  Traffic was gone, gridlock was history, but that solution only lasted the two weeks of the Olympics.   The day after, traffic was a nightmare once again.

I work in Riverside and live in Menifee, it’s really only 20 miles or so but today it took me 49 min to get home and the traffic was moderate.  I know many of you suffer more than I but we don’t have too, let’s see if we can get this EX (employment exchange) started….it might really work.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Perhaps God is the best choice

When trying to decide which road to follow, which decision to make, do we invariably choose that path of least resistance thinking that it is by far the easier way?  We have a lot of sayings that help us choose:  Follow your heart, do what feels right, or do what feels best, what pays the most or my favorite, what’s the easiest and fastest.

They all I suppose have a place, and in different circumstances each could be the “best” choice, the problems arise when we supplant one motivation for another in relation to an important choice thinking that they are all equal in measure and in consequence, we all know that they are not. 

As members of a religious community we all know as well of the power of prayer and the chance to connect to that ever-flowing, eternal stream of perfect understanding.  Our problem perhaps is in our inability to comprehend the messages that some believe are always present, our lack of faith or our incapacity to filter the sweet sounds of inspiration from the drone and constant buzz of our busy lives. 

 In Psalms 46:10 we are taught, “be still and know that I am God” giving us some directives toward quitting our lives, slowing our pace in relation to the things of the world and opening up our heart centered hearing so that those precious feelings from God can be conveyed and understood.

The often constant struggles we all face of trying to make a living, raising our children, getting good grades, making and keeping good friends and staying devoted to the one and only True God can be overwhelming and devastating to our desires to serve when we become too entrenched on activities that subtly move us away from the Spirit of God and the clarity of the pure light. 

Serving God is our primary objective but we also understand that we have to work to sustain our very lives, we have to go to school in order to prepare for life, we need recreation in order to stay healthy but balancing those needs with our primary goal should not be contradictory, even though in many cases they seem to be.  Even in the simple CTR (chose the right) we understand that choosing the right is not always an easy task. 

My CTR ring is a symbol that reminds me of that directive but it’s the spirit of God that dwells within me that prompts me to act toward that right and it’s also that spirit that we all let go from time to time that causes us to choose temporally, without the Devine inspiration making choices based on the criteria above, does it feel good, will it be faster, will it be easier. 

I am not one to give advice but since I’m the writer I can expound and use some literary superiority in trying to persuade and influence, mostly for me but that’s beside the point.  In the Scriptures it says, Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh  quickly, saith the Lord.

We all have to decide what constitutes “an holy place” but for each of us that directive is clear.  Whether we are at work, in our homes or out with friends we should constantly rely upon that glorious spirit that prompts us when we have left that “holy place”, and invariably tells us how to get back.  We are not alone, we will never be abandoned but we can separate ourselves and abandon Him who sent us.

We live in a tumultuous world with evil vying for our very souls.  The desperation of the adversary should not be taken lightly, he knows our weaknesses and our inner desires but he can do nothing, neither his evil minions to dissuade or persuade if we commit to standing with God, stand with your God as He stands with you.  Regardless of your own beliefs the mantra of “God is good” should be enough to prompt us to do good also.

I have a great fear of things to come, of the challenges that will have to be faced prior to the cleansing of the world.  I fear for my family and my grandchildren.  I fear for their salvation as I fear for my own.  But God has granted us His Son to guide and direct, to encompass us with His love that we will be protected from the constant evil that bombards us minute by minute.  His protection is available all we have to do is want it and then live it….I never said it would be easy but well worth the effort.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Money and politics

Believe it or not there is a fairly simple way to mitigate the massive amounts of money needed to participate in our current political system.  As it stands now in order to run for even the most “humble” of elected offices hundreds of thousands of dollars are needed.  If that office is more notable, like that of a Congressman or Senator or even the President, millions and billions are needed. 

During the last election cycle the average spent by members of Congress was in excess of 1.6 million.  For a United States Senator the winning amount exceeded 10 million and a whopping 1 billion was spent combined during the last Presidential race leading us to the conclusion that there has to be a better way, a more efficacious way that allows more options than just the very rich and connected the opportunity to run for office and more importantly serve.

Tell me what you think:

I call it a Political Service Degree and every potential candidate would have to pass the course in order to be eligible to apply to run.  We have to pass a driving test in order to drive.  We have to pass drug screenings in order to work.  There are tests it seems for almost everything we do except for running for political office.  In politics all you need is money. 

Words like experience, ability and honesty have been used to describe our leaders, repeated endlessly in revolving sound bites, sound bites that require lots of money.  For the most part those words are worthless expressions used only within a campaign as platitudes to sway the hapless voters, purchased in large blocks to run over TV or Radio, print and mailers.  Unconnected words are often used without a foundational basis creating the illusion of a moral foundation instead of the needed clearly seen principles that are generally earned through life’s experiences and tell us the truth about who a candidate really is, things that money cannot buy.

Money has always been a part of our political system but now it’s the overriding factor in most elections.  Even though the “most money” spent does not guarantee success it does create a shift of opportunity that very few can exercise, excluding the majority of the population from the very process that is supposed to be a "Government of the people, by the people, for the people…”Lincoln   
It has instead become a government of the rich, by the rich and mostly for the rich, this needs to change.

Let me make one thing very clear, I am not trying to exclude the rich they became rich in some cases through hard work, and have every right to utilize their skills and money toward getting elected, and I for one would rather have a successful individual as my leader than a guy who is just getting by or has a track record of failure.   What I am saying is that money, on its own should not be the deciding factor in any election in the future.

Every potential candidate must be able to show competencies and earn the associated certifications of the Political Service Degree, based on real life experiences prior to the application process and just like teachers, lawyers, Doctors, health workers etc.. they would have to provide proof of continuing education.  So often we complain that our politicians are out of touch with the reality of what most of us have to deal with, so let’s change that, make them prove to us that they do understand.

Step one:  Community service, similar perhaps to the TV show Undercover Boss, the potential politicians would have to work within certain segments of our economy and be able to show competency working behind the counters of American businesses.  They would have to be able to “hold down” a job, for three months, just like the rest of us and deal with the mundane, the difficult, the dirty and the gross aspects of what the rest of us have to deal with on a daily basis.  Maybe Mike Rowe would agree to moderate the show?
Three months of complete anonymity should be enough with hidden cameras to prove that they actually did the job and with the added benefit for us to watch, after the fact of course as they bumbled and fell, screwed up and messed up, just so they can know what real life is all about.

Step two:  Each hopeful leader would have to work as a Substitute Teacher; three months in random assignments, in different grades and schools and most importantly not the schools they send their children too but the everyday schools we all attended including a one week stint in an inner city school, again incognito and recorded.

Step three: This is perhaps the hardest part; each candidate would have to live within a very strict budget, living in an apartment, preferably on the second floor while working for those six months.  They would have to do their own shopping, their own cooking and cleaning, they would have to buy furniture and pay the bills, get the cable company to work and balance their working life with the realities of having little money, less time and in an environment that is less than ideal…hmm kinda like the rest of us.

After the six months they must pass a test, maybe the CAHSEE high school exam, of understanding that outlines their ability to budget their money, live within that budget and successfully demonstrated competence toward the skills of living like those they hope to represent.
For those who have truly come from the real life the six months will be an easy reminder of where they come from, but for those who came from privilege the process may be the difference in determining whether or not they are able and capable to lead with empathy and understanding.

The TV rights and associated revenues would be equally split with those who complete the training but could only be used in the campaign toward their hopeful election.  Those who do not complete the course, decide to cheat or in any way try to subvert the process will forfeit their chances for political office and have to wait at least 5 years before trying again. 

Money is not evil but how it’s used in politics breeds contempt and disrespect for those who fail to achieve that same level of “success”.  Political leaders have for too long been too dependent on the one overriding force of money, they need to learn that in order to lead effectively service and empathy is the key. 

There are three aspects of leadership that must be demonstrated prior to certification.  1.  Ability has to be present; a candidate has to be able to do the job.  2.  Honesty and integrity must be associated with a strong leader, what good is a leader if these traits are not in evidence? 3. They must have the means toward effective communication.  They must be able to explain their vision and their methods in order to garner the support they need to lead.  

Money should not be the issue in politics…your ideas and comments are welcome.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hemet Teachers getting the Shaft....

The City of Hemet has recently raised its incentive of $5,000 to $10,000 to entice veteran police to join its ranks.  Offering an incentive usually means that you’re trying to promote an item or you’re trying to sell an item that under normal circumstances people don’t want.

Working as a police officer in Hemet is a dangerous job and the city realizes that in order to attract experienced police they need to offer a bonus.  In order for qualified cops to consider the extra risk the city has increased that offering in order to mitigate those risks that will be taken each and every day while working in Hemet.

There is another group working in Hemet who has to deal with the same risky population.  Every single day they too must face these same dangers stemming from the same population that caused the City of Hemet to offer its police a $10,000 signing bonus with hopes of attracting the needed experienced police to help make the streets of Hemet safer.

This group is not being offered a bonus, they are not being offered a raise and in fact they have given up nearly 20% of their salaries and are still without a contract.  The interesting aspect of these two groups is that they deal mostly with the same population.  Crime in Hemet is considered high in relation to other cities and areas within Riverside County, only Perris a city to the west has a slightly higher crime rate and that can be explained partially due to its proximity to the freeway.  That level of crime in Hemet is the reason the City has to offer a $10,000 incentive to attract experienced police. 

Since the average age in Hemet is less than 40 years of age and the unemployment rate is nearly 20% those committing the crimes are most likely school aged and are currently enrolled in Hemet Schools and are members of one of the many gangs thriving in the Hemet valley.  The Los Angeles Times and the New York Times recently ran articles describing Hemet as having “…one of the most dangerous jobs in America, being a policeman in Hemet…”

School Teachers deal with the same kids, the same gang members and are in a similar risky profession as their brothers and sisters of the police, but within Hemet the teachers are derided, ignored and severely underpaid, they are currently nearly the lowest paid teachers in the State of California.  The teachers of Hemet, despite the inner city conditions continue to do their jobs, showing up every day, prepared and ready to teach.  Hemet teachers also have to deal with one of the highest student to teacher ratios making their jobs even harder.

As the Hemet Unified School District continues to pay its administrative staff high above the average for California, it continues to cut teachers benefits and salaries.  The Superintendent for Hemet Unified School District and staff has received raises that equal an increase of 14% over the last five years with teachers getting a 20% pay cut.

The community of Hemet is perhaps partially at fault.  They have consistently sided with the bloated administration to cut teachers pay and benefits.  But when you look at the facts and the relationship between the teachers and the police no one can deny the need to pay police for the risks they take.  In like manner no one should deny the teachers their well earned contract and the need to at least be paid near the average for all other California teacher, and especially since these teachers, the teachers of Hemet are forced to work under extreme conditions that are risky and dangerous. 

If we care about our kids we would want to pay for the best teachers to teach our kids so that in the future we won’t have to pay a premium for the police to protect them.  It’s time to increase our teacher’s salaries and restore what was taken away during the budget cutbacks.   The billions given to California schools should not be used just to line the pockets of the superintendents and their pet projects, their friends and relative, they should be used primarily in the classrooms, for supplies and teachers salaries. 

Hemet teachers need to be paid more.  They work in a war zone; they are forced to pay for pencils and paper for their students and are limited to how many copies they can make, they are expected to decorate their rooms having to pay for these supplies as well.   These are our children’s teachers, these are our children’s mentors, coaches, and inspirations, it’s time to reward them for the great job they do.  Return to them what was taken.  Restore what was promised and provide them with at least an average salary increase, they deserve it, just as the police deserve the bonus they will be paid to work in a high risk and volatile area.