Florida Gutter Birds!

Florida Gutter Birds!

Florida Bald Eagles in SewerTwitter lit up when two bald eagles fighting over Florida fell down the drain.  Both sides of the recent political battle in the US interpreted this to their advantage. Trump was alternately taking our nation down – or rescuing it from – the sewer. If a bald eagle had fought a hawk or dove the analogy might fly, pun intended, but that’s not what happened.
Both were bald eagles – symbolic of our Nation. Both landed in the Gutter, and fell down the drain. And it happened because they were fighting.
It matters not which one was on top, or if the gutter was on the left or the right side of the road. In fact, Right and Left are relative, depending on if you’re facing East, West, North or South on that road. We need to find a way to acknowledge that both visions have merit, and that a compromise is needed, in which both sides work together, harmoniously.
Trump was elected, in my opinion, because even though Obama had a 55% approval rating, more people, at this moment in time, think Trump will lead in the way necessary over the next four years than think Hillary will. Tomorrow their opinions may change, but the election is over.
Republicans certainly don’t all agree with Trump on any given issue. But if they do agree on anything, it’s that they don’t like the direction Obama was taking the country. Republican control of the Presidency, the Senate and Congress means that most, if not all, of Obama’s major initiatives, will be rolled back. They believe Trump understands the average Joe, or traditional majority, if you will, and they want Trump to tackle Washington bureaucracy, corruption, and dismantle big government.  This is true, even though Obama’s approval rating is high.
A reverse in direction like this is the nature of the American system, one of the least horrible on the planet. Whether that is the reason for recent protests / riots and the fear-mongering of the left about Trump’s fear-mongering on the right, the bald eagles of the Democratic and Republican party are in a knock-down drag-out fight, and it doesn’t look like it’s over.
1431875_89afdcb6So, the question is, how far down the drain will the two eagles go, and can we stop long enough to chart a course that leverages the strength and orientation of both the Left and Right Wings of the American Eagle? 
The final popular vote tally will mark this election as one of the closest in American history. Sadly, with the exception of the civil war period, it’s probably fair to say that we have never been more divided.

Will Trump do a better job than Obama did at bringing the country together? While the jury is out, those who are openly opposing Trump before he even takes office have already delivered a verdict.

But having won a democratic election, doesn’t he deserve a chance?

The outgoing president seems to think so, and hopefully those who threw their support so wholeheartedly behind Obama can continue to follow his lead, under a new leader.
Give Credit to Credit Unions

Give Credit to Credit Unions

ENGLISH insurance labelHere’s a short article about the financial health of Credit Unions – which are small, locally owned and managed by members, not for profit Financial Institutions.  Mollie Bell (quoted in the article) and I worked together at CUNA Mutual group which supports the Credit Union Movement.  It is my opinion that all of us should shift our financial dealings from Banks to Credit Unions. Do you agree?  What would happen if people moved away from Banks and towards Credit Unions?

The Banks would probably become even more aggressive in their ongoing efforts to undermine Credit Unions. Their lobby is huge and powerful, and it has been causing legislative pressure against Credit Unions for decades.  But Credit Unions would benefit from  awareness on the part of consumer that they represent a fundamentally different option.  Even a relatively small number of new customers can represent significant growth for these small, local entities, and local communities benefit from local control of financial systems.

Selling OutWhy doesn’t shifting from Banks to Credit Unions get more attention? Is it because corporate interests own too many pieces of our soul – shifting our thinking and decisions away from our own best interest? What can we do in response?

One area of focus is to buy local.  Purchasing local products, including financial products, is a way to make a major contribution to sustainable local economies.

The virtue I drew through which to look at this topic was Peacefulness. Inner calm, tranquility, a sense of harmony with all creation. In reflecting on how that applies here, I realize that participating in a for profit financial institution increases the antagonism and animosity that goes along with our competitive profit-driven age. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a communist – I believe in ownership and that everyone should benefit from their labors. Everyone should profit from applying themselves diligently to whatever craft or trade they have chosen.

peacefulness_by_vitavalian-d7r74n1But Credit Unions help us see that cooperative models are useful and powerful in counteracting the unsustainable aggregation of wealth exemplified by mega banks and “Too Big to Fail” institutions. We can go on the warpath against them, or perhaps simply moving our business to a Credit Union is enough to reverse the trend.  It is certainly a peaceful way to contribute to a change in the dynamic between the extremely wealthy and those who struggle to achieve a stable middle-class income.

1 Percent Now Own 50 Percent

1 Percent Now Own 50 Percent

The Occupy movement emphasizes the enormous gulf between owners – typified by the so-called 1% – and those who are struggling to make a living as wage-slaves or worse. The headline chart for this blog highlights that we’re approaching Great Depression levels of wealth inequality, in which 1% of Americans own 30% of its wealth.  But an article published Tuesday states that globally things are much worse.  50% of the world’s wealth is owned by 1%, which got me thinking.

Emma Lazarus The New ColossusUS style capitalism is no villain. Principles of pragmatic egalitarianism are the foundation of this country, and its success is due to the fact that their implementation has led to shared success on a scale previously thought impossible. Emma Lazarus’ Sonnet The New Colossuswhich graces the Statue of Liberty, sums this up nicely.

The successful creation of a middle class of millions of people generally wealthier than many kings of old drives a sustained global prosperity the likes of which the world has never seen. This is but one reason I’ve resisted a basic premise of the Occupy Movement.  To claim the right to share that which someone else owns is a recipe for unmitigated disaster.  Human misery will spread like a virulent disease when such thinking takes hold.  Nor is there, even with these horrible wealth distribution ratios, a need to radically implement policies based on such wrongheaded “humanitarianism”.

The path to prosperity will never come from trying to occupy that which you do not own.  Rather it will come from taking ownership (in the full sense of that word) of that which we already possess.  Given the democratic institutions which exist, and the tools that enable human ingenuity to work its magic, when people take ownership of their situation they can revitalize our nations, including this one.  Ownership means tapping into the spirit which pioneered and grew new models of human activity, benefiting the masses in ways previously thought unthinkable.

Take Full OwnershipEarlier this year I was honored to present on the topic of The Human Heart of Business to a distinguished audience at a series of conferences in India.  In those conferences I addressed what I believe to be both the problems and the solutions to the conundrum of wealth distribution.  India is in many ways a pioneer in the idea of corporations taking full social responsibility.  It was an inspiring 5 days, in a country that suffers under wealth inequality that is staggering to the Western mind.  And yet the average Indian is hopeful and optimistic that things can be improved.  And they are improving rapidly.

We can make a shift towards a more equitable distribution of wealth without jumping on a wealth re-distribution bandwagon.  And yet I believe we must get very serious about this, very quickly.  If we don’t begin to turn the ship on this and other major problems confronting mankind, we’ll be hitting a global iceberg soon – and we’ll experience the kind of global revolution that will make the French Revolution look like a cakewalk in comparison.

There are many models being put forward globally today in which corporations are extending the idea of who the stakeholders are, to which they owe responsibility to “maximize shareholder value”.  There are many places where you can apply yourself to making a difference.  One tiny example is this group I found on LinkedIn which has the audacious intent of Building Better Societies.

What examples have you found?