Marshall in the Middle

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Media Enable Conflict

By Charles E. "Chuck" Marshall

As much as I like to bash our political parties, I often think it's important to remember that there is an enabler in our midst that fuels the fire of contempt that both parties have for each other.  The media.  Specifically, the television media.  As I watched the Ferguson, Mo. fiasco last  month, I was sincerely disgusted by the media as they prowled around Ferguson, their faces shivering with anticipation over the coming fury.  I watched after the Grand Jury's decision as they paced like caged lions.  "What's going to happen, because this isn't good?" they all lamented very nearly unable to contain their glee.  It was obvious that if nothing did happen they would be very disappointed.

This behavior is one of the reasons nothing gets done in Washington.  The media is most interested in the conflict, not the problems to be solved.   In a nutshell, I believe the media is lazy and greedy and "dumbing" down the topic at hand is in their best interest..... unfortunately for us.

I recently had one of my letters published in the opinion page of the Orlando Sentinel regarding this very issue.  In response to a letter writer that referred to the Republicans as uncaring and void of any new ideas.  I essentially agreed with his entire letter, but I kept thinking about Ferguson, Mo. and I realized that just because the media doesn't report any ideas doesn't mean that there aren't any new ideas.  Since the focus is on the fight, nothing of substance is discussed... only the fight.  So, in a way the entire disgusting partisan politics we see in our government can be equally blamed on the media as it is on the lame-brained political parties and their idiot "leaders".  

Here is the letter printed in the Orlando Sentinel on Dec. 5, 2104.

Media enable conflict
   Letter-writer David Cruise on Thursday criticized the Republicans for not having ideas or compassion. I couldn’t agree more with his assessment as it looks on the surface. I do wonder, however, if this isn’t more a failing of their public-relations tactics than a lack of ideas or compassion.
   The Republicans do have ideas and are not heartless, soulless creatures, but their ideas tend to get marginalized by the “fight” story. The media are selling the fight. As much as the two parties have failed us, the media (particularly television) are the ringmasters for this circus and tend toward simple solutions that are easier for the public to digest rather than the more-complex solutions that would probably be more effective.
   TV tends to stir the pot and provoke (witness Ferguson, Mo). The media gain eyeballs from partisan politics, and we all suffer for our fascination with conflict.
   Charles E. “Chuck” Marshall Clermont

In my humble opinion...........

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Minimum Wage & Will Muschamp

By Charles E. "Chuck" Marshall

Happy Thanksgiving, loyal readers--

Which came first, the turkey or the egg ?  Should the minimum wage be raised ?  Should there even be a minimum wage ?   The proponents say that raising the minimum wage will lift all the working class so they can afford more of the basics of life and that it will also encourage  more work and less welfare.    This increase in consumption would cause an increase in business & commerce.  The opponents say this will hurt "jobs" and that more and more businesses will have to lay off people because they can't afford the hike in salaries to their employees.  It will hurt business, raise unemployment, and make America less competitive.

 I have always been an advocate of free market principles, ie,  that the market should decide the price of goods or  the value of talents and what is the appropriate wage for each talent.  The laws of supply and demand are always superior at providing goods and services to people.   Or are they ?   A truth has recently dawned on me;  The laws of economics and the efficiency of supply and demand for the value of labor would work just fine and dandy in a perfect society.  We don't live in a perfect society.

Case in point.  The coach for my beloved Florida Gators, Will Muschamp,  has been "fired" from his position as their head coach.  Rather than getting into the details of "why" he was fired (or IF he should have been fired) I'm just going to draw some curious comparisons.    Let's say we have a human being who worked hard in a position and who has a great talent and this person was hired to fulfill a need in society the way most of us do.  In this case he coaches young men at the sport of football.    So, using the logic that since a high school football coach's salary is $45,000 per year (google search estimate), if I had just landed on earth from "planet logical" then I would assume a college football coach would make more since college is a step up.  Let's say, twice as much.  OK, College football coach should make $90k per year.  Then if he's a really good and successful football coach ?   A talented person in a specific position should be paid higher than the regular wage for such a position because they're better.  So, let's say then he'll have double the salary as his less talented peers, just to keep things nice and simple.  That makes a salary of a talented football coach at the college level  $180k.  What does Will Muschamp make ?   $3 Million dollars per year.  Now that he failed at his job, supply and demand is sending him away with $3 Million per year for 3 years for doing NOTHING.  Is he worth it?  Is Will Muschamp really 66 ($3M divided by $45k per year) times more worthwhile than your average high school football coach ?   Actually, if you take into account 3 years of being paid for doing nothing, he's really making $12M which means he's making 266 times more  than an average high school football coach.    I know there are arguments to justify all of this exorbitant pay for unique services and the glare of public scrutiny.    The same argument can be made for corporate executives and every manner of famous entertainer.  The true reality is that they're really NOT WORTH THAT MUCH !  But, society pays them anyway.  So, my point is this;  Did supply and demand come up with a logical salary for this position in society ?   No, it did not.

Back to my original subject.  The free market does not adequately compensate citizens for their efforts 'nor is it fair.  It rewards the very few, even when they fail.  Given this fact, I don't think it's such a violation of free market principles 'nor capitalist philosophy to give the working class a small raise to help them deal with the challenges of inflation and to encourage more work.  If jobs are lost, then they weren't very good jobs anyway.  Enterprises of all varieties need to compensate  their employees so that they can adequately take care of themselves in modern society for a day's hard work.   The contradiction, the gap, the inadequacy and the unfairness of paying one man doing the exact same job as another by more than 66 times and then sending him off as an even richer millionaire for his failure is a gap and an outrage that needs to be addressed and looked at by us as a society.  I nearly choke on the injustice of how people are compensated at the elite status as compared to the working middle class.  

In my humble opinion.....

Thursday, November 6, 2014

$20 Trillion Ping Pong

It looks like the balance of power has shifted over to the Republicans from the Democrats in Congress.  I watched the CBS Evening News last night and Scott Pelley made the comment that it looks like the government is "more divided than ever".  I don't follow his reasoning since all of Congress is now one party whereas before Congress was split.  Maybe he meant from the perspective of President Obama since he can no longer manipulate and effectively neuter Congress with his puppet Senate majority leader Harry Reid.    The major networks view things from the perspective of the left and sometimes they let that tendency slip out in their so called "news" pieces.  The narrative was subtle but definitely there;   "Our guy lost".   That sort of "siding" that the media does (I'm certainly including Fox network siding to the right) is an atrocity and it smacks of yellow journalism.  Give me the facts about what happened and save your innuendos for the next cocktail party or a news program with the word "opinion" somewhere in its description.  I could go on and on about the media failing at their job, but I'll save that for another day.  (or you can refer to my blog on the media  Restoring American Democracy, Part VIII from February of 2013- but that's up to you :) )

On to the situation at hand.   Back in 2008 when President Obama won the election and his party swept into full control of Congress I thought it "could" be a good thing.  After all, the Republicans and "W" Bush had shown no ability for leading our nation other than demonstrating how to spend a lot of money in record time.  In eight years they built up a monstrous debt for our children in this new century.  In addition,  enduring a daily barrage of mispronounced English words made the eloquent Mr. Obama a refreshing change.  Fast forward 6 years, and I must regretfully report that  Mr. Obama and the Democrats have managed to outspend the Bush/ Republicans by a substantial sum and our children's debt is now morphing into our grandchildren's debt.   An opportunity to show some fiscal responsibility and leadership was squandered by pretense and outright laziness.   By pretense I mean the subtle attitude of the left that the deficit "doesn't really matter" because capital and money can be manipulated and controlled by their hero, the federal reserve.   Unless the federal reserve can conjure up $20 Trillion in the next few years (that is, $20 Trillion that actually exists !), then eventually the real world and its insistence on REAL money is liable to pop that balloon and its any one's guess what will  be the consequences.   How absurd and disgusting it all is.

So, now the ping pong ball is back over the the illustrious Republicans and I think it's safe to say that they will be trying to get some work done with their new found power and I expect that they will at least acknowledge the reality of the deficit.    Will they be effective ?  That all depends on how reasonable they are and how humble Mr. Obama can be.  In other words, I don't have a lot of hope.  Maybe in 2016.   In the meantime, does anyone have an extra $20 Trillion sitting around ?  Check your sofa cushions !  

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Open Primaries- A Good Start

As I write this blog, my endeavor is always to propose new ways of doing things.  I did a series blog last year called "Renewing American Democracy"   that elaborated on some ideas-  one topic at a time.  Each blog is attempting  to adopt these ways  of thinking so that maybe we can get our crazy government back on to planet earth.   I know sometimes I come across a little harsh  but it is always with the intent to do some good.  

In addition to this blog,   as most of you  know,  I write a lot of letters to our local newspaper (over 30 published and 3 guest columns- but who's counting ?! )  the illustrious Orlando Sentinel.  For most of you who aren't from Central Florida,  you should know the Orlando Sentinel is a very good paper (in my humble opinion) with a circulation of 150k weekdays and 250k on Sundays.   Compared to most newspapers they're downright conservative- but predictably my Republican friends and family think quite the opposite.   Heed this though, in the last election they endorsed Mitt Romney for President.   Anyway, my point is I like to write and elaborate on new ideas in this blog and also in the print media when they're kind enough to print my ramblings.  The Orlando Sentinel is the perfect paper to vent my ideas because they really are politically moderate, ie, in the "middle" as I think all media should be.    A lot of times I don't have time write my blog,  so I just copy my letter that was published in the paper.  So it is today.  Since most of you aren't from the Orlando area it's still new to you !  My letter to the editor was printed this past Sunday, October 12, 2014 in the main opinion page of the Orlando Sentinel.  

Before you read, you should be aware this was in response to a "point-counter point" article in a prior editorial regarding open primaries in our fair state of Florida.  To briefly explain to those uninitiated;    An open primary is basically where you have the primary elections for both parties (and anyone who wants to run for an office) on the same day and where voting is open to ALL registered voters.  The top two winners would then go on to the general election.  As it exists the Democrats and Republicans have closed primaries here in Florida (and in the majority of states) where only registered Dems or Republicans can vote.  Everyone else is excluded from the primary voting.  You can imagine what this opinionated Independent thinks of that !  

So., here it is.  

 Open primaries are elixir for elections  (their title, not mine !) 
 Regarding Friday’s “The Front Burner” topic of open vs. closed primary elections: A big part of the argument seems to be whether open primaries would succeed in creating a more moderate and cooperative government. While that is probably true, it isn’t the point. The parties are subsidized by the government — us — and unless they are willing to argue they don’t need that, then opening the primaries to all voters should be mandatory.
Another argument to maintain closed primaries was that an open primary would violate each party’s First Amendment right to “associate.” With a top-two primary process, I argue that they have a greater opportunity to “associate” since the idea is for the “top two” candidates out of one primary election. If two of their party candidates are liked by the public, they could have both candidates be from their party.  That decision would be rightfully made by all registered voters — not just Democratic or Republican voters.

I am sick and tired of only being allowed to vote for candidates “pre-chosen” for me by the parties.
Charles E. “Chuck” Marshall

In my humble opinion... ! - I savor any feedback ! 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Another One Bites the Dust

By Chuck Marshall

     It seems the US federal government has revealed itself to be as good at protecting our "so called" leaders, as our "so called" leaders are at running the country.  In other words, not good at all.  The breech with the White House intruder a few weeks ago has exposed how weak and ineffective the secret service has become.   I think we've all considered that if a wacko like Omar Gonzalez  (the army veteran/White House intruder)  can crawl over the fence (in broad daylight !)  and get all the way into the depths of the White House, then it is not a stretch of the imagination to consider any terrorist  organization doing something similar to a much more devastating consequence.  

     For now, the Obama administration is offering  up the head of the secret service, Julia Pierson for the unforgivable sin of answering  questions without clarity and/or confidence. It's probably true that she's not  qualified for the job but that should not be of any surprise, neither is the one that appointed her.  The " stink rolls downhill ", and here is the most current example of that cliche.  I only saw a few minutes of Ms. Pierson's interrogation by Congress but I must say it didn't look good.  Her expression is that of a Basset Hound that just peed on the living room carpet.   Since my flavor of today is Cliche's I must say  "The pot is calling the kettle black"  as Congress interrogated her for her incompetence.   Watching "congressional inquiries"  always makes me think of the Spanish Inquisition or the Salem Witch trials, where the sins of the one accused  are far outweighed by the sins of the accusers.  The congressmen that speak the loudest and with the most vitriol are also probably the ones most guilty of leveraging their own position for personal gain.  I see a future lobbyist in those faces.   

"So we beat on, boats against the current....borne back ceaselessly into the past".  That quote by F.Scott Fitzgerald seems somehow appropriate as we examine another symptom of our broken government and its never ending cycle of incompetence.  I sigh with great frustration.  When  does it all end?  "Gatsby believed in that green light, that orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us.  It eluded us then, but that's no matter... tomorrow we'll run faster, reach our arms out further......"    We're on a political treadmill of frustration and incompetence.   A wise and intelligent government seems as elusive as ever... as tragic as The Great Gatsby.  We seem always to strive but never reach that high plateau of governing that America deserves.  

In my humble opinion.....