Saturday, October 29, 2011

An open letter in response to the OWS open letter

This is the open letter I'm responding to.

While I'm not the person being addressed, I wanted to talk about the liberal viewpoint and their perception of what is proper work ethic.

Let's start this conversation by stating this fact: I live in a planet that has 2 of 3 Americans overweight (including the OWS protestors that are "poor") and in a world that has people dying every 3.6 seconds due to starvation -- and most of these folks that die hungry are under the age of 5.

Now with that framework, let's continue reading.

Do you really want the bar set this high?

Why not? Compared to the world that has kids dying every few seconds, we should feel lucky that we have the opportunities here in this wonderful country to set any bar "high".

Do you really want to live in a society where just getting by requires a person to hold down two jobs and work 60 to 70 hours a week?

This is a country where there's tons of opportunities to move up in class. College education for high school grads are deeply discounted for those that have good grades. Hospitals and desperate medical facilities will pay for your tuition and license fees if you graduate as a nurse. I know many people that work hard in low paying jobs only to find higher paying jobs by getting an education that the market needs. What is wrong with this?

Is that your idea of the American Dream?

My American dream is that you work hard, get work experience or an education that the market needs, you land a decent job, then you can pay for your expenses and take care of your family. The majority of the world does not have this. I'm lucky enough to understand this concept because I lived poor from another country. From my point of view, the protestors look extremely spoiled. Given mostly free education up to high school, significant amount of employment (91% have jobs), and a college system that gives deep discounts on tuitions or scholarships for folks with high grades. If your state doesn't have that, move. Plus a federal govt that actually pays for education if you join part time reserves in the Coast Guard or other branches that's not directly involved in armed conflict?

The opportunities here are enormous. Wake up to what you have and appreciate it.

Do you really want to spend the rest of your life working two jobs and 60 to 70 hours a week? Do you think you can? Because, let me tell you, kid, that’s not going to be as easy when you’re 50 as it was when you were 20.

The rest of the world does, and I actually love work. Surprise. I don't think I'll stop working -- ever. It's not about the money, it's the love for work. But America has opportunities, there's tons of positions in health care that continues to be left unfilled. It doesn't matter what age either -- you can find work if you really want to. You can get an education if you really want to.

And what happens if you get sick? You say you don’t have health insurance, but since you’re a veteran I assume you have some government-provided health care through the VA system. I know my father, a Vietnam-era veteran of the Air Force, still gets most of his medical needs met through the VA, but I don’t know what your situation is. But even if you have access to health care, it doesn’t mean disease or injury might not interfere with your ability to put in those 60- to 70-hour work weeks.

Doesn't the American govt and taxpayers provide more than enough? If you are poor, Medicaid. If you are a senior, Medicare. If you are disabled?  Social Security.  But are we forgetting responsibility of our family members as well?

Most illnesses that is not caused by lifestyle or personal choices (nearly 2 of 3 Americans are overweight), are the common cold and bacterial infection. If it's bacterial, antibiotics are mainly provided for free by most pharmacies and deeply discounted in retail chains like WalMart.

Let's get educated on health care, let's understand what causes the problems (bad diet/no exercise/smoking), and if we want to talk about specific points or illnesses, let's look at it and how much of that is a personal responsibility and how much of that is an issue that the rest of America has to pay for. (Example: Instead of a $3,000 operation that a US medical facility might charge you due to overhead expenses in labor/minimum wage laws and malpractice insurance, could you take an $800 flight and $300 bill in a professional facility in another country to get it done?)

Do you plan to get married, have kids? Do you think your wife is going to be happy with you working those long hours year after year without a vacation? Is it going to be fair to her? Is it going to be fair to your kids? Is it going to be fair to you?

Lots of subjectivity here and lack of respect for contentment. Travel outside of the world and you will realize what real hunger is. Do you put food on the table? Do your kids have a better chance than you because they went through school? Can your wife work or take up classes in college after the kids have grown? Improve your family status if you want to, and stop comparing yourselves to others -- because if you do, compare down as well as up. You'll realize you are extremely lucky to have not been born elsewhere and instead in America.

But by the time we got through the Great Depression and WWII, we’d all learned some valuable lessons about working together and sharing the prosperity, and the 8-hour workday became the norm.

Are we forgetting the other story?

And then the unions became more selfish and killed every industry it touched (auto/GM/Ford/airlines/etc).  Companies who have investors (70% of American households invest in retirement accounts that invest in corporations) had to move their business to other states or countries to make a profit.

Other Asian companies saw this mockery of work, innovated and built cars and have even built factories in America just to show how it's done.

Let's not totally forget that side of the story -- that the legacy costs of union demands have almost wiped out our once golden industries. Thank goodness for the foreigners that built factories here, learned from GM/Ford/etc, and reminded us of the original American work ethic, innovation, and quality.  We are just now catching up to our competitors.

There needs to be workers rights - sure - but not to the extent where companies go belly up and can't compete.  Unions are no longer about fair treatment but how much they squeeze out of a corporation.

Anyway, do you understand what I’m trying to say?

Yes, you want more stuff for less work.  Your level of comfort is what the "dream" is about.  One statistic tells it all.  2 of 3 Americans are overweight, while in the rest of the world, every 3.6 seconds one person dies of starvation. Usually it is a child under the age of 5. (Source: UNICEF)

The point?  Stop being spoiled, appreciate what you have, and work.

Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of people that agree with your attitude, and it is very much so prevalent in the PIGS. (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain)  Read up how they are doing.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Occupy Wall Street truth pill: About those evil corporations

This video summarizes what #ows (Occupy Wall Street) protests are all about. They make general statements about corporate greed and apparently that's enough to demand for free hand outs. What's worst is that the mindless hordes (aka zombies) generalize corporations as evil.

  • About 70% of American households invest in corporations through retirement accounts. Corporations have to produce profit and create shareholder wealth. In essence, part of their job is to make sure 70% of American households have more money than what they originally started with. Is this wrong? Most logical people would say, no. But zombies, do they understand this?

  • It is wrong when people do fraudulent activities. It is also wrong when mindless hordes say corporate executives who break the law do not go to jail or have not been punished. I have listed just a small sample of people that have gone to jail. But do zombies understand this?

  • Jeff Skilling, former CEO of Enron, Serving 24 years for fraud, insider trading, and other crimes related to the collapse of Enron

  • Bernie Ebbers, former CEO of WorldCom, Serving 25 years for accounting fraud that cost investors over $100 billion

  • Dennis Kozlowski, former CEO of Tyco, Serving 8 to 25 years for stealing $134 million from Tyco

  • John Rigas, former CEO of Adelphia Communications, Serving 25 years for bank, wire, and securities fraud related to the demise of Adelphia

  • Sanjay Kumar, former CEO of Computer Associates, Serving 12 years for obstruction of justice and securities fraud

  • Walter Forbes, former CEO of Cendant, Serving 12 years for fraud

  • Richard Scrushy, former CEO of HealthSouth, Serving 7 years for bribery and mail fraud

  • Joseph Nacchio, former CEO of Qwest Communications, Serving 6 years for insider trading

  • Sam Waksal, former CEO of ImClone, Served 7 years for securities fraud (released last year)

  • Martin Grass, former CEO of Rite Aid, Served 6 years for fraud and obstruction (just released this year)

  • Sunday, October 23, 2011

    Don't be a zombie

    You may have heard about the recent mindless Wall Street protests.  Gotta love the catchy slogans and play on statistics.  I was thinking, not so deeply about this the other day, that I want my own personal slogan too: "Don't be a zombie."

    Good one?

    Here's my quick play on slogans and statistics:
    • I was part of the 15% - percentage of people below the poverty line.  In the Philippines, it's more like 40%, but we're going with American statistics for now.  Yep, I still remember I couldn't buy a piece of bread back in the day because I didn't have 2 cents (price of cheesebread in Cebu).
    • My family did their best to be part of the 55% - percentage of people with some college education in America.
    • Then they became part of the 3%, the percentage of people with professional degrees, thanks to friends and family members like my Aunt Helen.  We then migrated to America (legally) and my parents even chased more degrees.  Yes, even now.  They never stop learning!
    • We also became part of the 3% (again) -- that's the percentage of Americans, who were initially immigrants, that pledged their allegiance to the U.S. Constitution because they believed in the principles of  America, including that if you work hard, you educate yourself enough, you will be part of the "American dream".
    • I became part of the 53%, that's the percentage of households paying their taxes in America. I started my first job when I was 16 years old at a local computer shop.  
    • Life got better, with hard work, the right attitude, and the right schooling.

    Get an education -- one that the market needs -- and you'll find a solid job.

    Live within your own means.

    And the American dream -- will be an American reality.

    Don't be a zombie.

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