Thursday, December 3, 2015

My Syrian Refugee Plan

What to do with all the Syrian refugees that have fled their homeland? The U.S. has committed to accepting 10,000 by year end plus 20,000 more in 2016. Tiny numbers, really, for a country of 330,000,000 citizens, yes, but taking relatively few is better than taking none at all, and better than taking too many. Meanwhile, some U.S. governors have said ‘Yes, we’ll take refugees’ or ‘No, we don’t want them.’ An unconditional ‘No’ or ‘Yes’ is equally unconditionally ignorant.

Many Syrians will be Muslims, sure, some Christians. Who to accept? Who to pass on? Acceptability should be no more a matter of their religion than it should be their physical characteristics. Base acceptability on the values they hold for themselves and family. To blithely say no to a large swath of people makes no more sense than ‘No, we do not want to take left-handed people,’ or ‘Yes, we want those with blonde hair.’ The yes or no must be dependent on the values hierarchy held by that person or family. The U.S. should accept the refugees whose values fit those of America. So then, how to assess this?

Syrian refugees would be accepted based on the quality of their family and friends who are already citizens of this country. Look, every society does not hold the same values with the same level of reverence. The U.S. would do good to take in people whose values best align with those of the United States. As individuals we already do this in real life when we assess someone whether they be a friend, a prospective boyfriend or girlfriend, or an acquaintance. The easiest way to figure a person out is by looking at their friends. What kind of person do they hang with? What are their personality traits and goals? If a person’s friends are goofballs and jerks, odds are you’ve figured out the person in question. If their friends are smart, well behaved, productive people, you’ve probably figured out the person in question. Apply this test to the refugees.

The background checks of which our government boasts will almost certainly prove to be a ridiculous charade. Who can possibly conduct a background check with no documentation and a homeland in chaos. Vet by ‘Who do you know?’ Rate the refugee applicants based on the quality of a sponsor family already citizens in the United States. But not just a sponsor, someone they know or knew from the homeland. If those citizens are productive Americans, then the refugee family goes to the ‘green light’ pile, else the application ends up in the recycle bin. At the end of the process we simply select the best 10,000, then rebalance for 2016.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

In the spirit of giving thanks, the following are a few things for which I am thankful:

[1] The written word. Admittedly, some words are more deserving of thanks than others as evidenced by the works of Alexandre Dumas and Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

[2] Arch support inserts! Walking around carrying out a normal day’s activity would be less pain free without these inexpensive shoe accessories.

[3] We are not insectivores. Thanksgiving dinner and traditional stuffing would not evince the same salivation-inducing reaction if the meal were insect based.

[4] Dogs for their desire to take an active role in a family, rather than a more casual role such as that of a roommate.

[5] The pure enjoyment of junk food. Just as importantly, I’m also thankful for the occasional restraint that makes them a treat rather than a dietary staple.

[6] For having secured the Klem parental college scholarship. This allowed me to imbibe heartily of the college experience without the pressure of bill paying and graduating without the burden of college loan debt. [Thanks, mom and dad!]

[7] Having found my bride and, 17 years ago, securing her ‘I do.’

[8] In-laws that are fun to be with. They were the bonus package to the marriage.

[9] Parents that never lashed out, but instead smartly stated, and showed by example, their positions on life, family, and all things important.

[10] For having two smart and healthy kids that sometimes play nice together.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dirt Storm!

Fall 1998

It was an exceedingly windy morning following a recent and large wildfire in the neighboring mountains. Not merely windy with occasional gusts, this particular morning, but a constant wind visibly loaded with debris. Not bags and litter debris, but minute remnants left over from the burn.

I was at work and burdened with a task necessitating that I leave the clean office confines and drive to an appointment. Staring out the rear glass door into the parking lot I could see the company car 35 feet away. But I was reluctant, not on account of the wind, but on account of the tremendous amount of dirt that was being blown around and carried in the wind. Really, dirt was airborne and in tremendous volume. It was gross.

Action was needed. I stood at the door planning my move, hoping for a break in the wind that would not come. The clock was ticking and my action plan was being mentally formulated. Settled on the course of action I exited the building into the airborne filth, stepped to the car on the double quick, mouth closed tight, eyeballs squinted to reduce chance of dirt intrusion, unlocked doors while en route via key fob, opened door, tossed gear into front seat, got inside, closed door, took a breathe, assessed myself. No grit in mouth, eyeballs were clear of dirt. Success! Wind and dirt blowing around outside, I turned off the dashboard vents so as not to taint my clean sanctuary. Safe! Start the car and drive to the appointment leaving the dirt storm behind. As I pulled the vehicle around to the front of the building, a sight that continues to haunt me to this day!

I approached the driveway to exit the premises and there, horror in plain clear sight caused time to slow down to slow motion. There was a pedestrian, a man, walking on the sidewalk across the driveway, I had no choice but to stop and watch him pass ten feet in front of the car. My first thought was ‘How awful to be out there walking in that miserable dirt storm.’ And then I saw it, the motion of his arm, HE WAS EATING! True. The air aflutter with dirt and this guy was eating. He had in his hand a wrapper from the nearby Jack-in-the-Box, it could have been a Breakfast Jack [those things are delicious]. He was looking straight ahead, walking, moving his handful of food to his mouth, bite and chew. The horror, I thought, how much dirt and grit is he taking down with each mouthful!? How much dirt-induced crunching is he enduring to fill his tummy? Could he not wait three minutes to dine inside the restaurant instead of subjecting himself to this? He appeared in no hurry, stay inside, consume the item indoors in sanitary leisure, then be on your way. But no, he endured. Commendable determination or just dumb?

The slow motion of the scene sped back up to regulation as he crossed the threshold of the driveway and his back was now to me. Even ensconced safely inside the cab of the vehicle my mouth was still closed tight at the thought of being enveloped in that mess. But this man, an exercise in ‘ignore it and it doesn’t exist’ proceeding with his day without so much as an inconvenience to trouble him. I was soon on the freeway driving away from the minute airborne debris. I could breathe freely, the dirt storm behind me. The vision, however, would go on to haunt me in all its glorious horror for decades to come.

Monday, September 28, 2015


He was a kleptomaniac. Not harmful or dangerous, really, actually kind of playful under most circumstances. He had three large taped up cardboard boxes of inconsequential stolen loot buried deep in his closet behind an outdated video gaming console with corresponding game cartridges, a guitar with a couple missing strings, an old pair of favored mid high-top basketballing shoes, two skateboards – both lacking trucks and wheels, several packages of unopened and long forgotten baseball cards, and a leather football – mostly deflated.

He was an architect by trade who enjoyed skiing – except for the cold, fantasy football, intramural basketball at his local community center, and competitive brisket barbecuing. He was a founding member of the city’s unofficial Curling squad and they were hopelessly, and errantly, convinced they had a chance to make the next Winter Olympics! He did yoga thrice weekly, participated in marathons, rode his bicycle on weekends, and blogged monthly. All that plus a thief with a compulsion that could not be sated. There seemed, yet, a meager level of respect, or gamesmanship, by which he attempted to maintain. He would never steal from friends or family, but almost anyone outside that tight concise off-limits circle was fair game.

It began simply enough while vacationing as a youth with his family in La Jolla, California. To his parents’ amusement he hoarded hand lotions, shampoos, and a shoe mitt provided by the hotel. In his early teen years this escalated to a Sports Illustrated magazine from the lobby of his dentist and plastic shoe horns from retailers when trying on shoes. His pilferings were never anything significant [car keys], destructive [asthma inhaler], useful [package of batteries], resale merchandise [a store’s inventory], or expensive [except for the antique crystal-handled letter opener with an image of an Arctic Fox which he swiped from an office while at a client meeting - he thought it was a mass produced glass-handled item from a Pier 1 retail chain store mocked up to look like an antique]. There was one exception to this ‘useful’ thievings classification, aside from the hotel lotions and soaps, the silly waif, writing instruments bearing the name of the host from whence they’ve been nicked. A fine upscale hotel, of which he felt so out of place, should they take an inventory after one of his infrequent visits, would find themselves considerably lighter in the column of retractable pens, especially the variety bearing blue ink.

He’d been operating marginally astray of the law for so long that it no longer phased him when his hands reached out seeking acquisition. When dining out he regularly swiped a single unused utensil before the waiter could remove the unneeded place settings. He even occasionally absconded from restaurants with the bowl of after dinner mints from the reception area. He didn’t even like after dinner mints, nor the bowls in which they were typically housed! He’d get back to the car after dining to find that his hands couldn’t retrieve the car keys from his pocket because there was something in them already. ‘Oh,’ he’d notice, ‘they’ve done it again’ as if his hands behaved of their own volition.

The culmination and turning point of his silliness was the 40th birthday party of an acquaintance. Shortly before the mint chocolate chip ice cream cake was presented the waif went into the kitchen and needlessly, without thinking, slipped the wax candle shaped like a five from the kitchen table into his pocket. The birthday boy’s age did not require the five and it sat in a Pick Up Sticks pile with the eight unneeded numbers.

“Hey mister, what are you doing,” asked a voice from behind.

Without even turning to face the child, the voice of a young girl certainly less than 10, he unslipped the candle from his trousers pocket and replaced it amongst the pile. He shortly thereafter departed the festivities, but not, of course, before taking down a piece of ice cream cake.

The compulsion for his incidental heists faded as quickly as a bad dream from a sudden awakening. The retractable pens, though, proved a weakness not as easily tamed.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Achilles Heel

Winter 1989

Skateboarding was my predominant mode of transport around the college campus in the late ‘80s. Nothing wild or zany, simply transportation. The University of CA at Santa Barbara had a tremendous network of bike paths, really impressive. This guy, however, had no bicycle. Having visited the campus prior to being a student I realized transportation would be a problem if I arrived with only tennis shoes. A skateboard, I figured, would do the trick, and so it was acquired those few short months betwixt high school and college.

This university campus was unique in that the majority of students lived right there in the on-campus dorms or the very nearby off-campus apartments. This was no commuter school. By means of a quick sweaty skate in modest pedestrian traffic one could generally get from one end of the campus to the other in ten minutes. Once I moved to an off-campus apartment, however, the time frame increased to 15 minutes. Not a problem, heck, skate boarding’s a good time, the sun was generally abundantly hosting super weather in that geographic area, the only thing to spoil the mood was actually having to go to class.

As in any physical activity there were tribulations mixed in with the joys. I once munched harshly skating to a math exam and sat in class for an hour taking the test while bleeding from an open knee wound down my leg into my sock. But it was skateboarding on the cold winter mornings those nearly three decades ago that ultimately left its mark. My left Achilles heel reminds me regularly of my numerous efforts trying to reduce the aforementioned 15-minute off-campus skate time necessitated by a late start.

When on schedule, a leisurely skateboarding through campus was really a treat. But when speed was of the essence I was reduced to taking larger strides for propulsion purposes. I recall that cold January morning when the extended release point adversely affected my left Achilles heel for the first time. It was a very quick shooting pain. But hey, I was late for class and slowing down to assess the source of pain was a luxury I was not willing to indulge at that time. The next week, again, running late, extended propulsion strides, and the Achilles heel again painfully notified me of its displeasure. It was this second occurrence where a thought occurred to me, ‘I wonder how old I’m going to be when this pain in my Achilles becomes a regular part of my daily existence.’ Turns out the answer was 25 years!

This was re-aggravated numerous times in my waning college years before greatly subsiding upon graduation when the skateboard was retired. The pain would occasionally resurface post college, but was, at most, intermittent and infrequent over the subsequent decades. It was the winter of 2014 where that troublesome heel would regularly chime in with its reminder during the cold mornings. Bummer, those first few steps out of bed with an aggravated Achilles, but not a life altering ailment.

This pain, though inconvenient, seems to have struck up something in my subconscious that remembers skateboarding. Silly as this sounds, I regularly have skateboarding dreams though I haven’t skated in over 25 years. In these dreams I skateboard effortlessly, gracefully, and with an overriding sense of extreme confidence. Infallible! A level of skating I never equaled in my youth, but I am impeccably smooth in my dream-state maneuvers and I awaken in super spirits.

I enjoy regaling the kids and Wife Klem of these skateboarding dreams and they think, perhaps, that I’m a goof. I’m inclined to agree.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Foul Mouth

I’ve never been a big foul mouth, such behavior makes a guy appear lazy and devoid of intellectual speech. Years of ‘keeping clean’ in this way render otherwise potentially foul scenarios vacant of said foul language. I submit the following episode as supporting evidence.

Summer 2007

My son and I had enjoyed a very warm evening at the local water park, Raging Waters. It was always outstanding walking through the water park with my five-year old son as two great bare-chested men of the world donning only swim trunks and water shoes.

On a certain fine warm evening we exited the park and got settled in the car. I backed up the vehicle, put it back in Drive ready to make tracks and head home, but there was a car in front of me just sitting there doing nothing but blocking the way. No sweat, it’s summer and we’ve nothing but time, I’ll wait until the other driver gathers themself and moves out of the way. And we waited. And waited. Until finally, I don’t know, maybe a mere 30 seconds, my impatience got the best of me. Forgetting that the boy was in the back seat, I spoke in a harsh manner.

“Come on you clown,” I said exasperated and louder than necessary directing my angst to the driver in front of me.

From the back seat in the most pleasant voice, “Where’s the clown, daddy?”

In my impatience I had forgotten that there was precious cargo in the backseat. I was happy that I didn’t foul mouth it.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fatherly Advise on a Happy Father’s Day

I have learned much from my dad throughout the years. I’ve been guided on responsibility, family first, and work ethic to name a few. I humbly share with you here some of the gems of wisdom he’s unleashed over the years. Some gems have played a more integral part in my evolution into an adult than others.

[1] On interpersonal Relationships: ‘Treat people the way you want to be treated.’
[2] On the Manly Arts: ‘Measure twice, cut once.’

[3] On snow: ‘Don’t eat the yellow snow.’

[4] On Home repairs: ‘If something’s broken, you should try to fix it. If you can’t, you can still call someone to fix it.’

[5] On buffets: ‘Don’t fill your plate on the salad and bread at the front of the buffet, the good stuff is at the end.’

[6] On how to become a millionaire: ‘Buy a million dollars in real estate, pay off the loan, you’re a millionaire.’

[7] On Spam: ‘If you’re really hungry, Spam tastes damn good.’

[8] On poor behavior: ‘That’s not according to the Royal Code.’

[9] On work ethic: ‘Do what you say you’re going to do.’

[10] On determination: ‘Don’t say that you can’t do something. You say that and you’ll find that you can’t do it.

Dad, thanks for being there every day through all the big stuff and the little stuff.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

California’s Drought . . . Problem Solved

In southern California we live with a constant reminder about our decades-old drought what with the ‘Be Water Wise’ and ‘Don’t Waste Water’ campaigns. There’s just no water solution in sight. Or is there?

First things first, it’s not a drought so much as it is truly southern California’s coastal desert environment returning to prominence. This ‘drought’ has been in force for more than a 100 years, since well before Mr. Mulholland brought water to southern California in the early 1900s. His resourcefulness bought us seventy years of willful neglect in considering the significant lack of fresh water without bringing it in from hundreds of miles away. Suffice it so say, it’s not a drought, this is the natural environment for the area.

Meanwhile, our valiant warriors in elected office, the fruits of a bountiful slothful ill-informed voter citizenry, have laid down the latest decree. Effective this month throughout the state, we have the privilege of watering our lawns as much as twice weekly. Should that not result in the desired decrease in water usage we’ll further have the privilege of paying higher water rates, too.

Look, I’m not willing to defend the right to have a lawn. It looks nice, but clearly it’s a luxury that has run its course, at least for this area. But I’ll tell what chaps my hide, those arrogant clowns in elected office making us give it up. A more appropriate message from the legislature, rather than June’s ultimatum, would have been the following:

We could have done things better these last few decades preparing for the inevitable, but we kind of blew it. Here’s our plan to fix it.
[1] Water your lawns only twice weekly. That’s the sacrifice we’re asking of our citizens. Many of you will lose your lawn, for that we’re sorry.
[2] For our sacrifice, we’ll give up our silly bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco and redirect the money toward a water plan. And if we get this figured out, we’d like our toy train back.’

In the face of this crisis our legislators in Sacramento have done little more than capitulate. Certainly we can start by trying to figure out what to do with that huge body of water immediately off the coast! Sure, I know, the salt content of the Pacific Ocean is an inconvenience. The contents of the Pacific Ocean could be readily usable without it. If only science had furnished us with some way to remove that stuff. Oh wait, that’s right, desalination!

You’re probably thinking, ‘Klem, you know that’s too expensive to put into practice on such a grand scale as needed for California, don’t you?’ Expensive, yes, but too expensive? If it is too expensive then why is it so widely practiced throughout other parts of the globe? Think about Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and their neighboring Middle Eastern countries and their ½-inch annual rainfall. They exist with the same conundrum of a bountiful supply of salted water and not enough of the fresh stuff. Desalination. Expensive, sure, but the science is there. And, like solar power, the technology becomes more efficient and effective with each generation. So the question becomes ‘How do we fund the desalination plants and the necessary continued research and development?’

That’s the great part, the funding is already factored into the state’s bloated budget. Cross out the budget line description reserved for that ridiculous ‘bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco’ and scratch in ‘Desalination.’ That crummy train is such an amazing financial sinkhole of a delusional bureaucratic dream that the desalination plants could be green-lighted right away, given the amount of money currently being committed to that boondoggle of a high-speed train. [I could show you all the facts and figures, but for the sake of brevity, kindly trust me.] Redirect funds from the train and this desalination plan can be immediately financed in its entirety!

Truth is, this addresses an even more pressing issue. Global Warming! [nudge nudge wink wink] We’ve heard about the impending ocean tides slated to rise three feet by 2100. We owe it to our great grandchildren to drink the oceans down and occasionally sprinkle our lawns simply to retain the current safe ocean levels. California’s drought, as I see it, is the solution to the impending devastating effects of Global Warming. I’ll gladly drink to that.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Anniversary

On a chilly late morning in December 1995, I arrived at my new place of employment. A bunch of hand shaking and hellos, ‘Here’s your new cubicle’, all the nonsense that comes with a change in work location. One bonus feature on this sunny, though, chilly day, I would meet my future bride!

The future Wife Klem had the cubicle immediately across the aisle. We had different job duties and I was in the office only a few hours each week. When our in-office time cooperated we engaged in brief casual conversation, a task in which I was admittedly clumsy. Six months went by, she turned in her two weeks notice! [She was leaving NOT because of me, but for a different line of work.] I was in a state of distress, what was this guy going to do if she got away? ‘I must ask her out before she departs,’ I convinced myself, hoping I’d somehow muster the intestinal fortitude to follow through. If she declined, I’d endure a two-week period of in-office awkwardness and then she’d be gone. Clean slate. At least I’d know she was not my match. But what if she was and I missed out because of my inaction?!

It was 19 years ago today, May 3, 1996, Taco Day at the office. Cinco De Mayo that year fell on a Sunday and Management decided to have a free food day the preceding Friday as a head nod to the Cinco.

As the grub wound down late that afternoon and folks made their way back to work to finish off the week, my aisle was not yet flush with occupants, except for myself and the future Bride Klem across the aisle. I had gathered my gear and was preparing to leave the office, internally I struggled with the important task at hand. Nervously, though doing my best to conceal it, I asked her for her phone number. She smiled, brushed her hair back behind her ear, wrote her phone number on a Post-It note, and handed it to me. As she handed this treasure across the aisle, each of us with a hand on the slip of paper mid-exchange, the eye contact as she looked at me, and the smile! There was a certain thrill and excitement I vividly remember to this day, that exchange looking into her beautiful blue eyes and the smile! I quickly said my good byes and left the office before I could say something silly and ruin the moment.

Two weeks later the beautiful Wife Klem did leave our shared place of employment. We spoke regularly, dated, and eventually married. When Wife Klem smiles at me, it’s the thrill of that Friday afternoon, with a few company-issued tacos stashed away in my belly, asking my future bride for her phone number . . . and receiving it!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Iran’s Nuclear Deal

There’s been much talk lately regarding the nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran. The current deal being negotiated would limit Iran’s nuclear program to only civilian use and scale back their nuclear enrichment program. Unfortunately, they’ll get to retain their advanced [‘military-grade’] centrifuges and plutonium-producing heavy-water reactor [instead of being required to dismantle it]. Great for Iran! Not great for the rest of us. But wait there’s more, Iran will get an assist with nuclear Research and Development, plus, sanctions relief will give their economy a big boost as foreign companies engage Iran to do business.

‘Civilian use, what’s the big deal,’ you say. To be truthful, the deal being negotiated would provide for International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] inspectors to verify that Iran’s nuclear capability remains solely for civilian use, not for bomb-making purposes. This assurance of inspectors, of course, ignores the fact that prior deals have also allowed for IAEA inspectors, but the inspectors had regularly been denied access disallowing this verification. Who would trust Iran to make another similar deal and this time expect them to abide by the inspectors?

“We are powerful enough to be able to test these propositions without putting ourselves at risk,” said President Obama in a recent interview with journalist Thomas Friedman. Iran’s a long ways from us, so he’s likely correct that we would not immediately be at risk. Being a good citizen, however, especially the most powerful good citizen in the world, means looking out for more than number one. It means also looking out for our allies.

Additionally, a nuclear Iran affects a vast circle of influence. This could spike a nuclear arms race as their neighboring countries try to keep up to deter the local bully. What happens when the violence in the Middle East becomes nuclear? At that point, the troubles may flow like an open fire hydrant.

If Iran complies with the details of the deal, nuclear armaments are delayed for 10 years. After those 10 years, however, their bomb making nuclear capability is virtually assured as a result of the shared knowledge and research. To speak clearly, a nuclear bomb is not the issue, it’s a matter of who has the nuclear bomb. France and England have a nuclear bomb, but nobody’s worried that they’d actually put it into play. Iran, however, is a different story! A hotbed for terror and aggression with a newly booming economy - due to the lessening of economic sanctions [sanctions have been in place since the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979], and enhanced nuclear knowledge could energize them with renewed bravado and a willingness to get militarily frisky. Bummer for their neighbors, and our allies – the good guys, they are not in favor of this deal’s success.

“I’ve been very clear that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon on my watch,” President Obama went on to say. I’d find it more encouraging had he stopped after ‘Iran will not get a nuclear weapon,’ instead he seems more content in knowing that they’ll get one, just not until he’s out of office and they’re somebody else’s problem. Here’s an alternative: no nuclear deal, keep talking with Iran, retain sanctions, do not provide nuclear technology, and prevent their bomb-making capability.

Maybe I jump to conclusions, certainly President Obama would not be in favor of a deal that makes Iran a nuclear power. He hopes at least, hope that is neck-deep in a utopian’s perspective. I’m not one of his detractors saying the president is trying to push forward to intentionally compromise the U.S.’s world position. I am, however, one of his detractors who thinks President Obama is regrettably naïve in the things he believes will fall into place as a result of a sporting gesture. Unfortunately, this sporting gesture has nuclear catastrophic potential.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The True Inequality Gap . . . and the Fix

There’s been much talk in recent years about the Income Inequality Gap. The inequality gap, it seems, has become a popular rallying cry to increase the amount of welfare funded by the achievers. Bummer really, because there is a remedy to fill in the gap, but this fostering of government dependence is not it.

Think about someone that you admire or respect. It is probably that person’s achievements, skills, or successes fueling your admiration. That’s a healthy reaction. The alternative is envy resulting from these same successes or achievements. Envy is the basis for the Inequality Gap rallying cry. There are a number of bureaucrats in government, and their obedient citizens, sparking this interest angling for an extra poke through the paychecks of the achievers.

This talk of an Inequality Gap aims to reduce the gap by reducing the take home pay of the highest earners. A true fix would, instead, reduce the gap by allowing for those on the lower end to raise themselves up. Envy fuels an endless cycle of coveting the assets of those on top, even if those on top had once been on the bottom and ascended due to the strength of their success. By this current ‘rallying cry’ formula, they will have become the target of envy and must themselves be taken down.

If, however, praising of achievement became the new rallying cry, the endless cycle would become one of strengthening support as people strive for their own success rather than shaking down someone else’s. The goal should be to raise oneself up to decrease the gap, not bring someone else down to achieve that end.

In fact, let’s dig deeper and find the cause of the income inequality gap. The cause is a result of a Values gap. Find out what compels a successful person to attend night school and seek an MBA? What motivates someone to sacrifice leisurely evenings at home instead to work 70 hours a week to get their business off the ground? What inspires someone to prepare at night for the next day at work instead of watching television deep into the night? How does someone find the stamina to cobble together two and three decades in an industry learning and honing skills that ultimately result in a commendable income? Encourage people on the lower spectrum of the gap, if they are interested in bettering their position as measured in this way, to emulate a few of these values. If inequality resolution is sought, address the cause, not the visible symptom of the gap.

There is nowhere else in the world, outside the United States, where upward mobility is such a realistic possibility, but only if people put in the effort and strive for success. Let the endless cycle of achievement fuel each generation to build on the successes of the generations before them. Filling in the Income Inequality Gap comes with building each other up, not banding together to tear down a few.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Save Brian Williams

Hey, have you heard, news anchor Brian Williams was caught in a lie! There’s plenty of clamor out there for the guy to be fired, but I say ‘Leave the guy alone.’ Really, everyone doesn’t need to be fired every time they do something dumb. Sure, there’s a credibility issue with Williams, but let the viewers decide for themselves if that’s a problem.

Let’s say, for example, that I’m tuning into ESPN SportsCenter for an update on the day’s sports action. If I’m just tuning in for some visual highlights, I don’t care who’s commentating, I’m just there to be entertained. If, however, I’m tuning in for scores and statistics of the day’s action, you know - facts, credibility at that point is integral to why I’m watching.

Brian Williams and NBC news have been exposed. If the viewers are merely tuning in to be amused by a few visual highlights of the day’s action, Williams and NBC remain in play. If, however, viewers want to be informed, they can decide for themselves if another news program provides a better product.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Fruit Roll

It was a bright spring morning in 5th grade and I was surrounded by a couple friends enjoying a grand laugh. It’s an incident I look back on with humiliation.

It was morning recess and my classmates and I had been released onto the playground. I was a little fellow and the blacktop seemed immense, barely could one fathom having to walk from the school building to the far end of the playground. But there was no need to venture so far, three pals had approached me with an offering.

“Would you like this fruit roll,” asked a classmate.

Fruit roll, absolutely I wanted it. Sticky to handle and you’d hope it would peel easily from the wax paper, but a delicious treat regardless. “Yeah, sure,” I responded.

It was already unwrapped from its individual packaging and clinging tightly to said wax paper. It peeled off neatly and I took my first bite. Its flavor . . . I couldn’t immediately place the fruit. This was not grape, not apricot, nor strawberry. Additional bites yielded still no clarity.

“How does it taste,” asked one smiling chum.

“A little sour, but good,” I answered.

“What flavor do you think it is,” asked another.

“I don’t know, is it cranberry,” as I finished it off.

“We don’t know, we found it on the ground over there,” pointing to the galvanized steel perimeter fence.

“No, you didn’t,” I said hopefully. But the hilarious laughter of the three ended any naïve doubt. The grand laugh was at my expense.

A sense of doom enveloped me. What did I eat? How many days had it been on the ground? How many days had it baked in the sun? How many bugs had already eaten their fill before I just finished off their left overs? How much bacteria did I consume?

The bell rang. It was time to line up and return to class. My belly felt unsteady, but it held.