Sunday, May 12, 2013


As a country, there are many issues that many people feel very passionately about. Sometimes, enough people feel strongly enough to take action and sometimes that is enough to start to make a change in the right direction.

With so many different causes, it is difficult to focus, which is why it is so difficult to get things done. What one person considers the most important thing, another would consider somewhere in the top ten, but not in the top five. Others might not consider it at all.

I also feel very strongly about many issues. Sometimes my opinion is very different than most, sometimes it is closely aligned with the majority. Sometimes, my personal priority for a particular issue is consistent with the majority. Sometimes, it is very different. All of these things are normal considering everyone has their own thoughts, ideas, passions, and history.

 Every once in awhile, there is an issue that affects many others. I believe that issue is corporate money in politics. This issue affects everything from consumer protections to the environment to employee rights to foreign military aid to combating criminal violence and many, many more issues. Because this one thing affects so many others, fighting the individual battles for individual issues is extremely difficult and appears to be a Sisyphean task.

 If, as a nation, as the citizenry, we focus on this one task, in a very short time, we can get the constitutional amendment to get corporate money out of politics altogether. Then, we can focus on the next thing without having to fight against the politicians that we elect.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The worst of worlds

Slavery today is not just forcing people to work, it is often rape. But first, the abductors ensure the victim cannot escape. They bring them to a different country, usually with the promise of good work, then take their identification (passports). This does two things. It takes them away from everyone they know and puts them in an environment with which they are unfamiliar.

It's only rarely that we hear or read about this on the news, which is interesting because according to the Freedom Center ( there are between 12 - 27 million people in some form of enslavement today. Many of those are children while about 75% are female. There are approximately 600,000 - 800,000 people trafficked internationally every year ( If it is so prevalent, why do we not hear more about it.

Obviously, those in control of the slave trade do not want it to be front and center. They prefer it stays a non-issue. Also, many people would prefer not to admit it occurs.

It is interesting to me that we have a "War on Drugs" that most Americans know is a miserable failure, but we do not have a "War on Slavery." It may be challenging, but I think it is worth it to begin reallocating resources to stop slavery. The resources wasted on the war on drugs can be reduced by decriminalizing some drugs (for example, marijuana). This would also have the positive effect of increasing taxes, just think about how much in taxes is collected on tobacco (many millions of dollars).

We are starting to wake up. There are more resources available to educate people about human trafficking, both government and non-profit. There have also been some successes with convicting those guilty of trafficking. However, it needs to be a bigger issue. When people are oblivious to the fact that thousands of humans are brought into the country specifically for forced prostitution, how good can we feel about our society?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

A lot of effort has been expended on treatment, and rightfully so. The women who are subjected to breast cancer should be treated as best we are able. However, the other side is prevention, which some effort has been expended. Figuring out why women get breast cancer in the first, and subsequently figuring out how to prevent it should receive a significant amount of effort itself.

How to balance the two is challenging. By using money raised to learn about prevention takes money away from those suffering right now. Using money for treatment instead of prevention causes many more women to be subjected to breast cancer. There may not be an easy answer to this dilemma.

In my opinion, equal effort should be expended on each side of the equation. This has the obvious "it's fair" factor, but also, it shows equal respect to those who are suffering now and those for whom we may be able to prevent that suffering.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Finding Meaning

People need to have a feeling of purpose. However, for many, the job we are doing does not seem meaningful. This causes internal strife. We want our lives and what we do to mean something, to have some lasting effect.

"If you are not serving the customer, you should be serving those that do." I read that quote on a motivational poster. If you look at most jobs in this world, it does not seem like they contribute to something larger, in other words, to have some larger meaning. A data entry operator may see their job as tedious and even meaningless. However, almost every job contributes to the continuation of our society in some way, however small.

Take the data entry operator (DEO). If that job did not get done, the information may not be available to someone else. As an example, suppose the DEO is entering medical records for archival purposes. They may think it has no purpose, the paper copy can just be kept somewhere. However, some researcher may be interested in finding some cause and effect from either a treatment, symptoms, or some other medical situation. They may be able to use the information that was entered to discover something no one had discovered before. That discovery may even save lives in the future.

You can take most jobs and discern some value from them. It may not be apparent today, but there should always be hope that what you do will contribute, in some small way, to the betterment of humanity.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Diffusion of Responsibility

In psychology, there is a concept called diffusion of responsibility. This concept was created sometime in the 1960's when a crime that was witnessed by many, but reported by none, caused many people to wonder how that could happen. Why would 30 people who see a violent crime occurring with an obvious victim, in this case a woman was being raped, not report it?

Psychologists almost immediately began to think about what kind of person would not at least call 911. What they discovered was that if only one person had witnessed the crime, that person would have called 911. It turns out that the more people that are present, the less responsible each individual person feels. For example, if 30 people witness a crime, in addition to thinking that someone else will call the police, each only feels 1/30 of the responsibility for actually making the call.

Interestingly, I'm going to use this as a segue into the issue of climate change. Science has all but proven that climate change is occurring and is a result of human actions. However, many people still feel compelled to deny it exists or that humans are responsible or cannot do anything about it. Those that deny it either have a hidden agenda or are unable to grasp the magnitude of the issue. Admittedly, it can seem daunting. However, it must be dealt with.

I believe that diffusion of responsibility plays a part as to why many people do not take action. Many likely feel that their small actions will not make any difference. The responsiblility is diffused by over six billion! How could one person's actions make any difference? Well, it can, and here's how: Each persons actions may be small, however, like a pebble in a pond, there is a ripple effect. When one person does something different for the environment, it is likely that someone else will notice, whether it's their child, a friend, coworker, etc. That persons actions may spark someone else to make a small change in their behavior which may spark a change in someone else's behavior, and so on.

Another ripple effect is what their behavior means for others. When I recycle, it not only recycled that material, it also let the recyclers know that there is a market for recycling. As more people recycle, the recycling companies or municipalities will increase capacity. Each person represents a small, incremental increase in the need for that capacity. The same applies when buying eco-friendly products. Buying one product may not seem like a lot. However, your example may cause someone else to buy, which may cause someone else, etc. This demonstrates to the company that there is a desire for that type of product. Increased production usually leads to increased efficiency and lower cost. It ends up being a win/win/win, the person gets a good product at a good price, the company makes a good product for a profit, and the environment is not damaged and may even be improved as a result.

So, I guess the important point to walk away with, or navigate away with, is to not think of yourself as one in over six billion-and-so-what-I-do-won't-make-any-difference, but to think of yourself as one who can make a difference. Your responsibility is not diffused. It is 100% with you.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Religious controversy

Recently, Pakistan has blocked Facebook because there is a group that encourages people to post images of Mohammad. Basically, Muslims are telling the rest of the world that everyone else must respect the rules of Islam. If they want others to respect their rules, then Muslims should respect the rules of other religions. Most specifically, do not murder. The culture should not encourage people to blow themselves up to kill others. Admittedly, other cultures have murder. However, it is against the law and when offenders are caught, they are tried and hopefully convicted.

There is a sub culture in Islam that encourages murder and not just of combatants, but civilians, people not engaged in any type of warfare. When Muslim countries start going after those offenders, convicting and punishing the orchestrators, then, maybe, other cultures will have more respect for the rules of Islam.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jobs bill going in wrong direction

Some of you may have heard that there is a jobs bill that some politicians are trying to pass. I actually believe that a better way to create jobs is to put more pressure on banks or the Small Business Administration to make credit available to small businesses. Passing a jobs bill will cost tax payers money. The banks have money, thanks to the tax payers. Granted, most have paid it back, but we bailed them out when they screwed up, and now they are flush with cash.

I have heard experts talking about how banks are not giving loans out, virtually at all, to small businesses. I can understand being conservative, but many of these small businesses have borrowed and paid them back in the past. Sure, increase the criteria for borrowing, but don't make it unattainable. If banks would loan money, small businesses would have access to the money they need to expand, and hire people.