Not About Race (II)

As the chorus of people claiming that racism is behind the opposition to President Obama’s health care reform proposals grows — including, most recently, former President Carter — it is gratifying to see that the White House is saying that President Obama disagrees with that sentiment. I think the President correctly understands that his proposals, if adopted, would make significant changes to how Americans pay for and use health care and therefore are bound to provoke some strong reactions and disagreements, regardless of the race of the individual who is advocating for those proposals. I very much respect the fact that President Obama is willing to accept the opposition in good faith and at face value and to defend his proposals on their merits, without impugning the opponents as ignorant racists.

As for former President Carter, I think he continues to demonstrate why he was rejected by American voters after serving only one term almost 30 years ago. President Carter was out of touch with the American public when he was President and he has become, if anything, more out of touch in the decades since he left the office. Has President Carter recently spent time with average Americans during breaks in his efforts to mediate various international disputes? What possible factual basis could he have for contending that millions of Americans who now oppose President Obama’s health care reform proposals — including many people who voted for President Obama less than a year ago — are motivated to do so by racial hatred and bigotry?

Comments like those of former President Carter not only harm America’s reputation abroad, they also are terribly destructive of civil political discourse in this country because they demonize, and do not allow for legitimate disagreement on significant issues where there obviously is ample room for legitimate disagreement. Even if President Carter sincerely holds the beliefs he has expressed, and is not merely engaging in cheap political tactics to try to intimidate or embarrass opponents of the President’s health care reforms, he would do the country an enormous service by keeping those beliefs to himself.

Ten Rules for Making Every day a Great Day !

I was doing some cleaning yesterday and I came across the box that I packed all of my desk items in when I retired from Nationwide. One of the items was a newspaper cut out that I got from the Columbus Dispatch years ago which outlined ten rules for making every day a great day. I had it tacked on my cubicle wall and would refer to it daily. See the rules below:

1 – Think that good things will happen today.

2 – Express gratitude to a loved one.

3 – Put your gripes away in a box.

4 – Be patient with an annoying person.

5 – Do something special for yourself.

6- Reachout to someone who needs comfort.

7 – Focus deeply on each moment.

8 – Learn from a mistake.

9 – Take a walk and enjoy the outdoors.

10 – Smile !

Does the Older Generation Have a Higher Work Ethic ?

After retiring from Nationwide Insurance in April I took a part-time job at Windward Passage. Windward Passage is my favorite restaurant and I host there three days a week. I have a friendly relationship with the staff manager at Windward and we often have discussions about the work ethic of our generation versus the work ethic of those generations that followed ours. The make up of waiters and waitresses at Windward is pretty much an even split between those under 35 and those over 50, but there is a big difference in how they both go about their work !  

I found this survey on the internet and thought it was quite interesting. The survey found that there are big differences between the generations on work ethic, moral values and respect for others and that today’s young adults believe that these differences have arisen because their generation has not lived up to the standards set by older adults.

According to the survey young respondents agree that older people have better work ethic (74%), respect for others (71%) and moral values (70%). It seems that early middle age adults and those slightly younger offer the harshest assessment of young people.

The older workers at Windward typically want to do as much of their job as possible on their own without much help, they are more prompt and are much more willing to pitch in and help fellow members of the team. Some of the younger workers at Windward tend to get by with a bare minimum amount of work, are typically less prompt and don’t pitch in to help fellow members of the team.

These were the findings in a book I just finished reading called Counter Culture – A History of the American Coffee Shop Waitress. According to the author the younger generation has been raised in a world filled with conveniences and inexpensive time saving gadgets, but somehow the more time we save, the less time they seem to have. Older waitresses remember what it was like to live without computers, calculators, cell phones and microwaves.

The author goes on to say that many older waitresses are frustrated with the casual nature and lackluster attitudes of younger servers, however the current generation is the most affluent generation in American history so they have high expectations for life. According to a recent survey many twenty to twenty nine year olds are in therapy due to job related identity issues. These kids are told that once they graduate from school jobs will be plentiful and when they find out that they aren’t they have to take whatever job they can get.

The younger generation, now dubbed the entitlement generation is frustrated and confused because they are starting to live out their lives with a cynical disbelief in the American Dream. Young girls who were bred to believe they were destined for greatness are now faced with the reality that life is full of detours and broken promises. The thought of being a waitress for an extended period of time worries these youngsters because the job entails physical labor compounded by the psychological strain of feeling like a servant or worse a nobody.  

I thought this Simpson video captured it best when Homer says to Lisa if you don’t like your job you don’t strike, but you do it half-assed, that’s the American Way ! I’m also reminded of the motto in the movie Tommy Boy, if at first you don’t succeed then lower your standards. I was thinking had I been asked to take this survey when I was younger would I have rated older people with higher work ethic, moral values and respect for others than myself ? Hmmm…….

Everything I Need To Know About Avoiding Swine Flu I Learned In Kindergarten

Yesterday the HR people at the firm circulated a publication from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that gave people tips on h0w to avoid getting H1N1, the latest strain of “swine flu.” The CDC webpage reflecting the advice is found here.

I was struck by how elementary the CDC advice was. Indeed, it was pre-elementary, because most of it was taught to us by our kindergarten teachers. What are the recommended “everyday actions to stay healthy”? First, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and after you use a tissue throw it out. Second, wash your hands often with soap and water. Finally, you should stay home if you are sick (preferably, of course, tucked into a warm and cozy bed, lathered with Vicks Vap-O-Rub, drinking a 7-Up brought to you by your Mom and reading Richie Rich or Archie comics before you doze off in a thick haze of menthol vapor).

Who can’t picture their kindergarten teacher sternly giving these instructions? “Robert, please cover your mouth when you cough!” “Robert, your hands are filthy — go back and wash them thoroughly this instant!” If I survive the H1N1 epidemic, I will have to find Mrs. Radick, my kindergarten teacher at Rankin Elementary School in Akron, Ohio, and thank her personally.