Thursday, July 28, 2011

Public or Private Doesn't Matter When You're Not Working

On the way in to work this morning I was listening to a discussion on the radio about private sector jobs versus government jobs. According to the gentlemen talking the nation won’t recover from its economic issues until the private sector has the freedom to do what it needs to grow and start hiring people again. There are too many government jobs.

I don’t have a government job but I work for an agency that depends on government money. That has its advantages. Your budget is pretty set in stone so as long as there is not a catastrophe you will get paid. You also don’t work any overtime so your free time is always there. You get to meet a lot of good people and feel like you are helping your community. You might even get to travel every now and then for a conference and free trips are good. All of that is cool as long as you don’t mind not getting raises for a long time or having to take a second job if you can find it. I work with a lot of good people but I wouldn’t say any of them are exactly getting rich.

When it comes to money nothing can compare to a good corporate job. The best thing about corporate jobs are raises and overtime. I’m one of those people that actually wanted people to not show up for work or needed a day off so I could take that time. I once made a killing just by covering shifts for LSU graduates during football season. Money making opportunities don’t come along like that in the non profit world. The benefits are better. The holiday parties are better. There’s usually a few perks here or there if you get in good with management. There’s also room for growth in most private sector jobs. I worked nine hours my first week of the first job I ever had and ended up in management. Mostly everyone at the agency I work for now has the position they are going to have as long as they work there.

If I had to choose the job I wanted for the next twenty years there is no doubt in my mind that it would be a corporate job. I actually agree with conservatives when they promote the value of the private sector. The only problem with the way things are in our country right now is that I had a private sector job that I never would have quit but one day I went in and was giving a pink slip with the rest of my team. I desperately wanted another job just like the one I had but when you are out of work five months and are trying to survive that love for the private sector goes out the window. You apply for everything hoping someone will call and you get back in the game.

I think most Americans just want to be in the game and working. I don’t think too many people care if their job is public or private as long as they can feed their families. If I knew anyone that turned down a government job out of principle even though they had responsibilities and no private sector jobs were available I would call that person a fool to their face. We are in this period where American jobs paid for by America somehow don’t reflect American values. If the political leaders of our country are going to start cutting programs as if there’s no jobs connected to those cuts and leave all of the hard working people affected out on the streets looking for jobs then they better make sure that there are enough private sector jobs to make up for it.

The question I don’t here anyone trying to answer is what happens if we cut all these programs from the budget and give all of the tax cuts to the private sector that they supposedly need to start reinvesting in America but instead of investing they deposit that money and use it to keep their management receiving record bonuses? What are regular citizens supposed to do if our own government is shrunk to the point it can’t help us and the job creators who get all of the tax breaks decide they would rather keep their money to themselves and not help the country grow? Why would Americans no matter what they believe let things go the way they are headed without a plan B?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What I Would Do To Solve The Budget Crisis

I’ve been following the debt ceiling debate and I keep hearing everyone talking about all the spending we are doing as a country. It’s supposed to be trillions of dollars we are kicking out with no regard to the deficit. I’m not saying anyone is lying about that. It’s just confusing because it seems like all I read about is state and local governments cutting everything because they don’t have money. Some governors like Scott Walker in Wisconsin said he had to take away collective bargaining rights from his employees just so cities and programs in his state could fix their budgets. If we have more spending that ever before then why is this necessary?

I broke my rule about not reading comments after reading stories on this topic because I wanted to see what other people were thinking about it. It seems to me like once of the biggest problems we have right now is that almost everybody agrees that we need to fix the problem but no one really knows exactly what we are spending money for. One person thinks we should stop foreign aid. Another person may say stop giving money to support illegal immigrants. Another person may blame the debt on housing subsidies and aid to the poor. The question we have to ask ourselves is that what happens if we cut every program that did any of those things and the debt was still out of control? I’m sure there are many people that think if you cut out these programs it would rescue the country from financial ruin and save their Social Security without any new taxes but I don’t think that’s true.

When Governor Jindal in Louisiana took office he started cutting money to all the social service programs and many in this state were happy but as we are finding out those programs were just a drop in the bucket of the state’s budget and now we have to make harder choices. I think this may also be true in America as a whole because the president can’t be willing to discuss cuts in Medicare and lose his advantage in that argument unless he knows that’s the only way to fix the budget without upsetting the big campaign donors and lobbyist by raising taxes back to where they were before the Bush tax cuts.

I think the solution to this problem is for the public to get a complete breakdown of exactly where our money goes. I know you can go online and probably find that but it needs to be broken down clearly for everyone that doesn’t have the time to do a lot of research can pick up the paper and read it. I'm not talking about a pie chart with general categories like defense and discretionary spending because those are vague enough to be used to fool the public. I'm talking about a program by program dollar amount. I don't think that's an unreasonable request since the future of the country is at stake and we are passing massive debt to our children and grandchildren. I want to know where the money's going so I can tell my grandchildren why grandpa doesn't have Medicare.

We should look at just how much do we spend on farm subsidies, defense contracts, foreign aid, social programs, infrastructure, and everything else that depends on federal dollars. We can throw in there how much money we take in from revenue and how much we miss out on because of tax loopholes and other breaks. Our government should make that public and give everyone two weeks to study it. Then, the leadership in Washington should all get together for a public meeting broadcast in prime time and have a serious discussion about what to cut and how to increase revenue. Having the debate this way with all of the information out in the open would eliminate the rhetoric and divisive tactics.

For all we know the government could be spending more money to build an amphibious drone robot to fight the war on terror than we are on all the social programs put together. We need to make decisions based on all the money we spend and not just the few things that get discussed in the media. Maybe if we did it my way we would find that there's enough money coming in to take care of one another but we are spending it on things that no one in any tax bracket think makes a lot of sense. Maybe there's not enough money but at least after we look at everything and need more revenue people won't think it's going to buy poor people new cars or something silly

If this happened it would bring Americans together for a discussion based on facts and not rhetoric. It would probably end political talking points on both sides. It would straighten up the budget for real and expose the power of lobbyists leading to serious reform that the public would demand to keep this situation from happening again. Since all the good things I just mentioned are the same reasons that the powers behind the scenes would never go for it, I guess I am going to stick with my position based on self preservation like everyone else and say TAX THE RICH! I don’t hate rich people or spend any time worrying about what they have but since we haven’t been giving any options besides taxing them more or destroying our own safety net it leaves me with no choice but to pick the side that's going to benefit me.

If you made it to the end of this I would like to invite you to read this post by Drake. It describes exactly how I feel about this debt ceiling drama.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sitting On My Porch Part Seventy

A young man who I consider a brother and friend was just became principal of his own school in Mississippi. He’s coming a long way from the rough streets of Uptown New Orleans and daily journeys from Clark High School to the Riverwalk. Congratulations Principal Brister. I’m proud of you. Stay focus and be humble. I wish all my friends had things like this going on.

I consider it a blessing to have such a diverse group of friends and associates. There’s nothing negative about knowing people from all walks of life. I have conservative friends, liberal friends, Black Nationalist friends, and friends that don’t care about any of that. One thing all these people have in command besides knowing me is that I have never had a conversation about the debt ceiling with any of them. Why is this still going on? If the banks were too big to fail doesn’t the debt ceiling have to be lifted on behalf of everybody? Isn’t the country as a whole too big to fail? Why can’t we just raise the debt ceiling and then work out all the other issues while the country still functions?

I would like to welcome Wal Mart to the old Gentilly shopping mall. I still don’t know why residents voted no to Wal Mart the last time but I am glad they are going to finally do something. The Gentilly mall used to have a lot of different stores and businesses in it but it’s been six years since Katrina and I don’t think anyone was coming back. We might as well let Wal Mart and their money come in and do something with the space. At least some of us won’t have to spend ten dollars of gas to drive for a pair of socks anymore.

I have a prediction. In less than three years Twitter will fall apart because all of the people with so much to lose will realize it’s not worth it arguing or sending pictures of themselves to someone sitting at the bus stop. It’s going to take about three more public figures to fall before the domino effect starts. I’ll be retired from blogging by then but will come back just to gloat about how right I was.

The fan reaction to the NFL players because they didn’t vote for the owners’ proposal really baffles me. First of all it was a lockout. The players weren’t trying to get anything extra. The owners opted out of the last deal. Secondly, people act like if the players were to all of a sudden start playing for half of what they do now that would somehow make the owners stop rising ticket prices and beers wouldn’t cost 12 bucks. These are the same people that think if we keep cutting rich people’s taxes they will hire the rest of us. NFL players make a lot of money but it’s nothing compared to what the owners take in. Drew Brees makes a lot of money but it probably equals up to what Tom Benson makes in interest alone for the year. I’ve been watching NFL network almost everyday since this lockout started and haven’t seen an owner catch a touchdown yet. Let the players take a few more days to make sure they are comfortable with the deal. Losing a week of preseason won’t hurt me as a fan.

I’ve been at work all week trying not to catch a case and learning how to work Spotify. Thanks to them I was about to sit at my desk today and listen to the entire EPMD catalog for free. I don’t download too many applications to my work computer but as long as you can listen to all this music for free and I don’t turn on my system to find a virus with some naked lady dancing in the corner of the screen it’s all good.

This is what I was listening to when our accountant and business manager were trying to ask me about an invoice. EPMD saved my job and possible my freedom.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Window Washing Kid At The Intersection

For the past few weeks at the intersection of Downman Road and Chef Mentuer Highway in New Orleans there’s an old school sight. A young man between the ages of ten and twelve years old is standing out there washing car windows for a few extra dollars at the stop light. The first day I saw him standing in that busy intersection during rush hour traffic I wondered what the hell he was doing out there. You don’t see little boys his age doing that anymore. He’s always clean and neat so I don’t think he’s out there trying to eat or anything like that.

Maybe he’s trying to get some extra money for his school shoes. The shoe peer pressure can be rough at that age so I can understand that. He could be trying to buy a new video game or fresh skateboard so he can roll around like the rest of the young cats I see. Just the fact that he’s trying to earn it made me start giving him my extra dollars and change even though I don’t want washing my windows. As a matter of fact I have seen him collect a lot of money and I haven’t seen him wash a window yet. Last Friday I seen a big dude with redneck tendencies in a truck with oversize tires give him a five dollar bill and he couldn’t even reach the windows of the work truck he was driving.

He’s learning a valuable lesson even though he might be too young to fully understand it. The lesson is that no matter what you look like or where you come from most people respect work ethic. Working hard and doing your best everyday won’t stop you from having problems but it will open the door to other opportunities and keep you out of trouble. I hope he makes enough to get whatever it is he’s out there for because that will be a good positive reinforcement.

What happens to a lot of young black men is they older and gets caught up in what I call twisted dignity. The reason why it’s twisted is that is based on money and not values. We’ll look at a guy washing windows or doing odd jobs to make his money legally as a fool and worship some well paid hustler who’ll shoot our parents if the money is right. We have to reverse that in order to calm some of these kids down and get them to not feel so hopeless about society so they will care about living and in turn will care if the rest of us live or not. Until they start caring our community will never be safe from the violence that goes on now.

I’m a little jaded but the things going on in our society right now and it’s possible the bar for me being encouraged is so low that I am reading too much into that kid standing out there and washing windows. That’s very possible but we live in tough times in a tough city. When I see that kid I think to myself that he won’t make a lot of money but at least he’s not out there at night waiting to stick a gun in my window. That thought makes me wish there was a 1000 more kids like him cleaning windows, cutting grass, washing cars and whatever else they could do to stay out of the cemetery and the penitentiary.

I’m giving that kid a dollar for as long as he’s out there and I catch the red light. I’m trying to hold on to all of the optimism I can.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I Need Football

It might be an understatement to say that so far 2011 has been my best year from an attitude standpoint. I haven’t been a happy person. I thought I had writers block but I realized that I just didn’t feel like posting about 90% of the things going on because all of my opinions kept coming back to “people are stupid”, and “this is a dumb ass idea”. No one wants to blog those conclusions over and over. People get tired of reading negativity all the time. I get tired of feeling it. That’s why I can’t wait until football season starts.

I know the NFL is close to getting their collective bargaining agreement worked out and even though they are the highest level of the best sport in the world I wasn’t just talking about them. I’m ready for pro football, college, high school, little league and any other level in between those. I want to be distracted by something that feels like a life or death situation but it’s really not.

I make no apologies for being totally obsessed with the sport during the season. My daily routine is packed with enough responsibility to make up for the four or five hours of TV and Internet I devote to football once I get home. It takes me back to being a little boy and stuffing towels in the shoulders of my Spiderman pajamas for pads and running touchdowns like George Rogers and Dalton Hilliard through my shotgun double house. That’s where my mind goes when the game is on. I can block out debt ceilings, budget cuts, failed hospital plans, bills, crime, my parents aging, the kids education, levee protection, hurricane season, job security and all the other things that make me want to drink and cuss.

I can’t wait to go to the park around the corner and watch the kids play during the week. I can’t wait to catch a high school game on Friday and hope Clark High School makes it to the playoffs. I can’t wait for SEC football on Saturdays and the week Les Miles calls a triple reverse on fourth down. I can’t wait to watch an Alabama game and wonder what Nick Saban says to those parents to get them to send their sons to play for him without any violations. I can’t wait to see Nebraska in the Big 10. I can’t wait for the prime time game on Saturday Night when Brent Musburger (the greatest announcer ever) says “You are looking live!”

I can’t for the opening Thursday night game when the Saints send Green Bay a message that we won’t go quietly and we want our title back. I’m looking forward to the media still keeping the Brett Favre flame lit until about week 10. I’m ready to enjoy a Bart Scott interview like this one. I’m ready for secret man crush on Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed to continue while wishing they were Saints. I’m ready for Malcolm Jenkins to end my man crush with both of them and make me glad he’s here in New Orleans instead. I’m ready to tell everyone how overrated Matt Ryan is. I’m ready for giving ready Bush one more chance and being one of the few people left on the bandwagon. I’m ready for Drew Brees winning his second MVP and beating Ray Lewis and the Ravens in the Superbowl.

September can’t get here fast enough. I just hope the government isn’t shut down by the time the season starts and there’s no money coming in to cover my paycheck. That situation would put football to a test not seen since Katrina.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Riverfront Fireworks Blog

The feeling of not wanting to be around people can hit me at the wrong times. The latest episode of that came this weekend which is messed up because it’s one of my favorite times of the year. I didn’t do anything Saturday or Sunday because I just didn’t have the energy. I could barely keep my eyes open most of the time while lying on the sofa doing nothing. I felt really lazy and I was upset with myself but I never got up to do anything either. Besides a quick run to Taco Bell I had accepted the fact that Monday was going to end up the same way.

Somehow I got talked into going out to the riverfront and watching the 4th of July fireworks display. I was aggravated when I first got out there because I had to walk three blocks. Once I stopped sweating so much from the walk and got comfortable I took a look around me and checked out my city.

First of all the city always looks great from the riverfront. You almost forget all the drama that lies beyond that. Every demographic was covered. There was a Hispanic family to the right of us. There were a few hippies behind us. On my left were two middle aged white families with matching red white and blue shirts on. Then about 40 people from the hood pushed their way to the bottom of the levee for a good spot and no one told them anything because there are rules to living here. It was almost like waiting for a Mardi Gras parade without the obnoxious tourists.

There was a guy dressed like Uncle Sam walking through the crowd. The Natchez riverboat passed through while the ferry went back and forth. There was an even a second line band that passed through followed by a bunch of people that can’t dance. I felt like I was trapped in a real life episode of Treme. All we needed was Kermit Ruffins playing the Star Spangled Banner on top of Jax Brewery.

Right before the sun went down I looked to my left and could see the Claiborne Bridge. I thought about how from the steps of my Auntie Anna’s house on Tricou Street you could see the entire fireworks display without having to be bothered with all those people and since she’s gone and so is the house there’s no way that’s going to be happening again. That still bums me out and it probably has a lot to do with why sometimes I just tune out the world during holiday times since Katrina started. I’ll stop thinking about that kind of stuff one day.

Despite all my issues and aggravation I was glad that I went. Everybody had a good time and the kids out there really enjoyed themselves. Plus, I have always been into fireworks and the show was cool. I guess hanging out with random local folks isn’t so bad sometimes.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Sitting On My Porch Part Sixty Eight

First Line Charter Schools is taking over my alma mater Joseph S. Clark Senior High School. It will now be the Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School. If there’s one thing about the city’s culture that has taken a hit it’s the high schools. A lot of the old high school names are gone. I still don’t know why they couldn’t give charters and keep the names of the schools like coming up with some new age name was going to take away any issues the kids were having. Nevertheless I want to thank the folks involved with First Line for keeping the name and the colors. We are coming out better than some of our friends’ old schools.

The first week back from a two week vacation was not supposed to be as hectic as mine was but it’s cool. It’s Friday afternoon and I am finally back into the swing of things. It took me a few days to feel like I wanted to be engaged in anything. I was afraid I wasn’t going to snap out of vacation mode. I guess it’s better late than never. I pulled through just in time for a three day holiday weekend. Since I worked so hard this week I am going to do the right thing and stop working to write this blog.

This is always one of the best weekends to be in New Orleans. It’s Essence Festival weekend and the city is full of beautiful black people. Even if you can’t afford to go to the concerts themselves you can just ride around or go to the Convention Center and do some “sightseeing”. It’s good for the city to get the economic boost as well. The strange part about this year’s event is that right down the street from the Superdome there’s a trial for NOPD officers accused of shooting down innocent people during Hurricane Katrina. While the city collects the African American dollars to send to Baton Rouge, we are waiting to see if justice will be served for our rights being violated. That’s just another complicated situation when you live here.

We had our first named tropical storm of the season this week in Arlene. I wasn’t really worried about her Arlene because I used to work with someone named Arlene and she was really nice. The one I’m worried about is Hurricane Gert if it makes it close to land. Gert sounds like one of the guys who used to walk around trying to steal other people’s shoes in the 7th grade. Don’t mess with anybody named Gert.

If the Jefferson Parish sheriffs can shoot coyotes why can’t the New Orleans sheriffs come out to my house and help me deal with the raccoons?

I read a story about Wal Mart and some developers bringing back the Gentilly Shopping Mall which isn’t far from my house. There’s a line at the end of this article that got my attention.

“Neighbors at the time balked at a $15.9 million proposal by Wal-Mart to open a big-box store at the site. While the project would have limited the public's risk and quickly jump-started commercial activity, residents said they wanted a retail mix.”

What retail mix were they looking for? We already got a Simply Fashion, a Rent A Center and a Beauty Supply store in the other new development across the street. What high end stores are you holding out for? Let these people spend this money before we end up with the biggest Family Dollar store in America.

The NBA lockout has started and is going to combine with the NFL lockout to send the sports junkie inside of me into full panic mode. You know the NBA lockout is going to be rough because while the NFL keeps promoting their league like everything is okay, the NBA damn near shut their website down and took all the pictures of players off it. They are going all in on the lockout. The NBA players are not going to get a lot of sympathy from fans and they have people like Stephan Marbury to blame. He hasn’t played a game since I was two shirt sizes smaller and still collecting checks.

My good friend and great blogger Beauty Jackson wrote an article about African Americans in the media. You should check that out.

The Riding Tide conference is coming soon and you can still register. I just want to let everyone know that despite the fact I received the Ashley Morris Award they still make me pay full price. There's no need to call Lee Zurich. There are no hookups in the blogging community.

Essence Festival tickets are getting higher and higher. I thought they would go down a little since black America has something close to 16% unemployment. I guess the ones that are working are doing pretty well. I’m still trying to decide on if I want to come out of my pocket and pay for tickets. If I do decide to pay to get in it will be only to see New Edition with the hope that Bobby Brown is there. I keep thinking he’s not going to be and I have already seen the group without him. He’s on the Essence poster so I figure if I pay and he’s not there I should be able to get a partial refund...............and if you ain't down with the great Bobby Brown you need to question everything about entire life. He's the king of R&B!