Friends and Politics

I keep seeing posts from both sides regarding reactions to this election, and I feel I need to make one distinction very clear, from my perspective. What I want to discuss is the difference between civility and friendship, as well as the difference between agreement and respect.

This discussion supersedes personal political beliefs. You may not have liked Clinton’s politics, and you may have been turned off by the scandals the media perpetrated. Fine. I’m not here to debate that, because it no longer matters.  I’m not judging you for your stance on pro-life vs pro-choice. I’m not judging you based on your deeply held religious beliefs. I likely do not share them, but I can respect that you have them.  I’m not judging your stance on immigration, welfare, healthcare, or any of the hot-button issues that make up a political debate. I don’t want my children to grow up in a world where you have to choose your friends based on what party line they subscribe to – although, believe me, between our President-elect and his Vice President, I’m terrified. But this is different. Presidential candidates of past elections have had many different platforms and stances on issues, and we voted based on which side of the fence we fell on such issues. The debates could be heated, but in general we all could move past it. For example, despite what many may think, I did not vote for Obama in either election. Shocking, I know. However, though I did not vote for him, I greatly respect him as a president and leader of our nation and hold zero ill will for those who supported him during the 2008 and 2012 elections. Some of his policies aren’t to my liking, but overall he has had a very successful presidency.

 

“For the first time in anyone’s living memory we have elected a candidate who actively, publicly, and unashamedly stands for hate.”

 

The difference with this election isn’t the platforms, or which political party or candidate you identify with. There’s something greater than that. For the first time in anyone’s living memory we have elected a candidate who actively, publicly, and unashamedly stands for hate. For the first time, we have a candidate who promotes violence and discrimination over tolerance and respect.

Now, when one disagrees with another over a political issue or candidate, both parties are still entitled to the respect of others. That we can all agree on. We can also agree that in order to establish a friendship we have to have some kind of common ground. We have to believe that those we choose to share friendship with have a certain moral integrity, certain views on humanity, and certain views on basic decency. Friendships can develop around shared interests, work or social places, and even politics. But as I said, this is about more than political position. While I do not have to agree with your views, I do have to respect them. However, while I do have to be civil toward you, I do not have to be your friend.  If you have elected to vote for hate, I can assure you that we do not share the same beliefs regarding humanity and basic human decency, which is something I value in true friendships.

The silver lining for me is that Clinton won the popular vote, so on a mere technicality we can say the “majority” of the country did not vote for hate. However, if you were one of the many Americans that said yes to a leader who degrades women; thinks his wealth and television popularity are justifications for his atrocious behavior; publicly humiliates and condemns individuals in every class that is outside of healthy, white male; and is a documented hypocrite then I’m sorry, but I cannot be friends with you. What this means isn’t that I’m refusing to associate with those whose political beliefs differ from mine. I’m more mature than that, and as I’ve explained this isn’t about the politics of the situation.

 

“But this is about the difference between basic human decency and pure hate, and I cannot call someone a friend if they’ve chosen to be represented by the latter.”

 

As a human being with a sense of decency and professionalism, I intend to treat those I meet and have to interact with for one reason or another as I would anyone who shared my opinion on this matter. I do not discriminate based on your politics. But this is about the difference between basic human decency and pure hate, and I cannot call someone a friend if they’ve chosen to be represented by the latter. But I cannot support or respect your choice, and I cannot be your friend. If this means we must part ways, I wish you the best. But do not call me out as being narrow-minded because and pin my decision and my opinions on a difference in politics and a refusal to consider another side, because it’s not. If you want an embarrassing confession, I voted for McCain in 2008 – so I have considered your side. But as I’ve grown and learned, I’ve realized that that isn’t the direction I want the country to go. I’ve also realized that I don’t have to be friends with people who I believe do not share my views on common human decency. Actually, I’ve found it’s far less stressful if I don’t. I do have to treat you with respect when I interact with you outside of social media, and I will. But I do not have to be your friend.

If You Think Politics are Fair, You Need an Education in Hiring

So 24 million people watched the GOP debates last night – and about half of those people, or so it seems, have been blowing up social media crying about how unfair the debate was. How their favorite candidate wasn’t asked as many questions as other candidates received. How all of the candidates weren’t asked the exact same questions. They should have balanced the questions better! It was all just so unfair!

Boo-freaking-hoo. Guess what? Life isn’t fair. Politics damn sure aren’t fair. And as far as the debates go, there’s a few things I want to point out. I’m not going to get into the actual politics discussed in the debate. I just can’t. Well, I could, and I’d love to, but I won’t. I’ve noticed a trend over the past few years – I lose a lot of friends around election time. Actually, it’s more like I lose a lot of respect for people I’ve considered friends in the past, and sometimes our opinions contrast so dramatically we just part ways. That hasn’t occurred this year, and I’d like to keep this post civil, so I’ll bite my tongue. Fingers? Whatever.

What I do want to discuss is the format of these debates. To break elections down to understandable terms, elections are basically an in-depth, multi-year job interview in front of a hiring panel of about 319 million people, where Title VII and other laws governing discriminatory practices in hiring are thrown out of the window and every thing you’ve ever said or done gets factored in. The televised debates are essential a group interview – a “cattle call” in HR terms. Some companies favor this type of interview because they say it brings out the leaders and team-players in the group. They may work, in some positions. Personally, I only advise companies to use this interview format when they’re hiring a large amount of people for the same position – think entry-level seasonal retail or warehouse employees. For other positions, such as a bookkeeper, medical professional, or an executive assistant, they’re the worst way to find what you’re looking for. You need to be able to get one-on-one with candidates in these types of positions and get an honest, upfront answers from them. During the debate, when the moderators don’t just go down a line and ask the same questions to each candidate, they are doing three things…

1.) Avoiding common interview problems…

Here’s the problem with a group interview. If you go through each candidate and ask the exact same questions, you’ll get an honest answer from maybe the first two people. After that, every other candidate is going to be forming their answer around your feedback to the answers already given, so you end up hearing the same answers over and over, with very few original responses. If you allowed politicians to do this – you know, the group of people who you think already lie about everything – particularly while they’re on a stage, in a live interview, in front of millions of people, who knows what answers you’d get. Their minds would be working overtime to say what they think you want to hear, instead of giving spontaneous answers and asking questions of each other. The basic group-interview format also tends to eliminate the necessity of follow-up questions, though there are other interview formats that do that as well. Interviews for government positions, for example, will sometimes be conducted by hiring managers who have a set list of questions they’re not allowed to deviate from, even to encourage a candidate to speak more in-depth on a certain issue. The people who create these hiring systems think that they’re eliminating bias and making the interview ‘balanced and fair,’ when what they’re really doing is ruling out the possibility of obtaining additional necessary information. When you’re interviewing politicians, it’s even more necessary to dig deeper and find out the thought behind the response, so it would be difficult to literally ask every single question (including the follow-up questions and questions from the other candidates) of every single candidate and get a real response.

It would also be somewhat pointless, as the opposite can be true as well. Some candidates have more to say. They give better, more informative responses that actually answer the question instead of dancing around the issue. Some candidates are better informed on some issues than others. It doesn’t do an interviewer any good to continue to probe a candidate who hasn’t really given you anything worth digging into. It creates a lull in the interview and wastes time. If you’ve already found out that they don’t know what you’re asking them, or that they don’t have a concise thought about a particular topic, a good interviewer will move on.

2.) Managing broadcasting time…

Let’s also be clear on this – if the candidates were asked the exact same question for every issue that was discussed, the debate would still be going today. The politicians have their platforms – part of their job in campaigning is to market those platforms. Yeah, the debates are one way to do that, but there are other ways for the candidates to make the public aware of where they stand on the issues. Particularly this year, with the number of GOP candidates that were on that state, if the network allowed them each to talk for equal amounts of time and thoroughly answer every question the moderators had…well, the debate would have lasted until the inauguration in 2017 and the GOP would have lost 24 million votes because viewers would have still been watching instead of going to the polls. This much time spent debating would also put the public into information overload. You know, that thing that happens when your 1-hour meeting goes for 3, and by the end of it your mind is so filled with facts, action items, and general confusion it’s difficult to accomplish anything? There’s no way we’d be able to process that much information and make an informed decision, nor does the public have enough time to take out of their lives to listen to it all.

3.) Meeting the public’s expectations…

This is the reason I like the least, and I imagine it’s the reason everyone is complaining about… but here’s the thing. You people created the media circus! By clicking on articles and sharing your outrage or support for certain candidates, you played right into the moderator’s hands when they were deciding what questions to ask which candidate. They do it for viewers and ratings, people! That’s why 24 million viewers tuned in to watch the debate – because in the weeks leading up to it, there has been a torrent of emotions and views dividing the public on a few key individuals *cough* who seemingly starred in the debates. Love them or hate them, people turned their TVs on to see them. So if you’re upset that your favorite candidate didn’t get enough screen time, think about how many articles and videos you clicked on regarding his (and I can say ‘his’ without worrying about being politically correct because the GOP has zero female candidates) competition in the past few weeks. Sitting behind a keyboard and complaining that ‘it’s just not fair’ is dumb and hypocritical, because you helped create the situation. Hypocritical also, because if your candidate had been the one in the spotlight, you wouldn’t have said a word about the unfairness of the debate format. If you think your candidate deserves more of a voice, get off your whiny butt and give him one. We have a position that needs to be filled next year, and complaining that the interview formats favor one candidate over the other isn’t the way to fix the hiring process.

There’s a reason some candidates shine in a political debate, just the same as in the hiring process. Whether it’s because they have a better, more original and more functional (bleh, those words were bitter) plan for this country, or because their personality is better suited for the role, or because they say things that create shock value that makes for a great story later, is beside the point. Crying ‘unfair’ because the person you like didn’t garner as much attention as you wished they would have isn’t going to make the process any better, and just because they weren’t asked as many questions doesn’t mean they aren’t still in the running. Sometimes the shocking interviews are just stories to be told later at the water cooler – it doesn’t mean that candidate will be hired. If your candidate is the best person for the job, we’ll find out after the election. In the mean time, be positive, quit complaining, and if you’re really motivated, do something about it.

 

For some reason, I feel the need to watch V for Vendetta earlier than usual this year… >.<

Getting Started – The “Put Me In Charge” Piece

In honor of my maiden post for this blog, I wanted to write about the reason this blog now has a hosted domain name. For some time –  years, actually – I’ve been quietly and diplomatically trying to correct misinformation that floats around social media sites like Facebook. Sometimes these corrections turn into long, civilized debates between intelligent people with varying opinions. Sometimes, they end with friends blocking me while they continue to post things that aren’t true. I really hate that. Admit when you’re wrong. For clarification, I’m absolutely not saying that anyone’s opinion is right or wrong, but the “facts” that get shared are often inflated, skewed, or outright untrue.

This particular post has a little of both. A few years old, it’s recently being recirculated and getting some of the same ignorant, fallacious comments it received the first time it made the rounds. Today, it sparked me to take action on an idea for a project I’d been considering for awhile – this blog. A place where I could rant, correct misinformation, and voice my opinion on hot-button political and current event issues without offending friends in my personal social media sphere. So here it is…first, the post, then the facts, and finally, my opinion. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts on any portion of this post.

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“This was written by a 21 yr old female who gets it. It’s her future she’s worried about and this is how she feels about the social welfare big government state that she’s being forced to live in! These solutions are just common sense in her opinion.

This was in the Waco Tribune Herald, Waco , TX , Nov 18, 2011

PUT ME IN CHARGE . . .

Put me in charge of food stamps. I’d get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Ho’s, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job.

Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I’d do is to get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal legations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, or smoke, then get a job.

Put me in charge of government housing. Ever live in a military barracks? You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your home” will be subject to inspections anytime and possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360, then get a job and your own place.

In addition, you will either present a check stub from a job each week or you will report to a “government” job. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you. We will sell your 22 inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money toward the “common good..”

Before you write that I’ve violated someone’s rights, realize that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our money, accept our rules. Before you say that this would be “demeaning” and ruin their “self esteem,” consider that it wasn’t that long ago that taking someone else’s money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self esteem.

If we are expected to pay for other people’s mistakes we should at least attempt to make them learn from their bad choices. The current system rewards them for continuing to make bad choices.

AND While you are on Gov’t subsistence, you no longer can VOTE! Yes, that is correct. For you to vote would be a conflict of interest. You will voluntarily remove yourself from voting while you are receiving a Gov’t welfare check. If you want to vote, then get a job.

Now, if you have the guts – PASS IT ON…”

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Do Your Research, People

First, this article has been mis-attributed. It was not written by a 21 year old girl wearing a low cut shirt to showcase her ample chest, as depicted on Facebook. In fact, it was written by a 56-year-old man who truthfully does not want the responsibility of being put in charge of these programs, but was simply trying to get people to think.  While I appreciate the effort, I think there could have been a better way to accomplish this.

What I Agree With

I know, crazy right. Me, agreeing with click-bait fodder? Believe or not, the author makes a few points that I could see as benefiting the welfare system. For one, I actually do think there should be tighter restrictions on what can be purchased with Lonestar cards, SNAP assistance, food stamps, or whatever your state government calls them. I also agree with creating a system for ‘government jobs’ for those receiving assistance who are unemployed but capable of working. Why not allow them to earn their benefits by setting them to tasks that benefit the taxpayers? This, unfortunately, is where my agreement ends.

Wrong for So Many Reasons, and How to Fix It

Let’s just take this line by line…

Getting rid of Lonestar in favor of meager pantry staples. No. Why? Because you’re creating more problems for taxpayers. Think that rice, beans, cheese, and powdered milk complete a healthy diet? Hah – you’re going to have those people in the hospital for malnutrition, intestinal issues, and heart problems so fast your head will spin. And who’s going to be picking up the tab for that? Yep, you got it – the hard-working tax payers.

What should be done instead? Sure, place restrictions on what food stamps will purchase. Cut out sodas, chips, cookies, over-processed snack food, sugary cereals, and ice cream. If they want to spend their daily food allowance (somewhere in the neighborhood of $4/day/person) on ground beef, tilapia, or fresh vegetables, let them. If they want to buy frozen pizzas, canned tuna, and deli meat, go for it. These types of foods are part of a healthy diet. If cost is what you’re worried about, I’d rather a food stamp recipient spend $5 on a frozen pizza than $20 on a delivery one. The argument is that food stamp recipients are dining on steak and lobster, while hard-working tax payers are scraping by with frozen vegetables and boxed mac n cheese, right? Read this.

Birth control and drug testing. Think that will help? Normally, I’m on the other side of the birth control debate. I believe in women having control over their own bodies, and making decisions about their health with the two people who have any input – themselves, and their doctor. I don’t believe the government has the right to dictate a woman’s birth control. Period. Their job is to make sure women who want it have ample access to it. I could go on an entirely different rant about this, but my stance on this particular instance is that it would be violating women’s religious and personal freedoms to force them to use the birth control mentioned. And a tubal ligation? Seriously? You’re complaining about handing her a few dollars a month to feed herself, and you want to put her through a potentially risky surgery that could prevent her from ever having children? What is wrong with you? Do you not realize that many government assistance recipients aren’t actually milking the system (rhetorical question, obviously you don’t, otherwise we wouldn’t be having this discussion), and are using the funds to supplement a temporary loss of income. Why in the hell would you think it’s okay to take away a woman’s right – her basic, intrinsic, natural right – to reproduce, permanently?

To address the drug testing portion. Here’s my argument against it…it’s expensive. Screw the argument about it being demeaning. Sure, it is, but companies are allowed to drug test their employees, and this shouldn’t be any different. Screw the discrimination argument. Duh, this would affect only the poor, but again, it’s not like they’re the only people in the country subjected to drug testing, so really, it’s not. My argument stems purely from the fact that it isn’t cost effective to drug test welfare recipients. The tests are expensive, and there has been no studies that prove there is a higher rate of welfare recipients on drugs than citizens who do not receive assistance. So yes, there are a few users who would be receiving benefits. But you’re going to pay less to them in food stamps than it would cost to drug test every applicant. Simple math.

Government housing inspections. A couple of things here. For one, there are already government funded homes that are regularly inspected, so I’m not sure what improvement the author was trying to make here. Inventorying possession? I mean, sure, search for illegal weapons or drugs if you feel you must…but really, who the heck has time to go around inventorying everyone’s possessions? Do you realize how many people are on welfare? And do you really think the states can afford to pay inspectors to keep an up-to-date list of every possession in government housing? About shoving welfare recipients into barracks… seriously? Does everyone realize that not every welfare recipient is homeless? I mean sure, there is absolutely a ridiculously high homeless population, and we should channel more funding into getting homeless people off the streets. That’s not what this person is implying. Not everyone who receives welfare lives in government housing or homeless shelters. And to remove people from their homes to shove them in bunk beds in crowded rooms (which will increase the chances of sickness, and the bill for the tax payers who will be paying for the doctors visits and medications) is ludicrous.

– Presenting weekly check stubs, selling possessions, etc. So the obvious dig at this one is, “What if they are paid bi-monthly?” Hah. Anyway, when you apply for assistance you are required to list incomes. If you’re unemployed, they give you a form that you need to have signed when you interview/apply for a job proving that you are trying to find employment. Skipping over the fact that this is truly embarrassing for some, and could potentially subject them to discrimination (I’ve seen this first-hand), it seems like that system is already taken care of.

Selling the possessions they already own… please. I’ve made this argument several times, when people complain that a woman pulled a Lonestar card out of a Coach purse before loading her groceries into a newer model SUV. Look outside of your narrow view and see the bigger picture. How do you know that this woman didn’t just lose her job, is embarrassed as hell to be on government assistance, and isn’t actively looking for work to get off of it? What if the purse was a gift (or a knockoff found at a flea market) and the SUV was borrowed from a friend because she doesn’t have a car? Quit being so damned judgmental just because things don’t seem the way they should be in your narrow-minded view. Yes, there are likely some welfare recipients who don’t manage their money well, who buy things they shouldn’t, and who abuse the system. But there are others who are truly trying to make ends meet, to feed their families, and doing everything they can so they don’t have to receive assistance. Do you think – with the tight restrictions on income for those eligible to receive benefits – that they really are spending that $4/day on food so that they can buy $1,000 purses left and right? Get real.

– You want our money, accept our rules… Sigh. This is where so many ignorant, short-sighted people infuriate me. No, this isn’t about raising their self-esteem. I promise you, what was left of it was crushed the moment they walked into that welfare office to apply for benefits. Here’s the thing though. IT’S THEIR MONEY TOO! Do you honestly think that most of these people have never done an honest day’s work in their lives? And by that, I mean have never, ever worked at a tax paying job. Guess where those taxes went? This applies to people on disability as well. These people, at one point, held jobs, paid taxes, and supported other citizens on welfare. Heck, some of them are working and paying taxes right now. Get off your high horse and stop pretending we’re all doing these people some massive favor by handing them a few dollars a day. They’ve worked for it too. By the way, the amount spent to fund welfare is something like $20/year per citizen. So…really, you’re doing all this griping for $20?

This isn’t a ‘reward for bad choices.’ It’s a benefit, for those who had the misfortune to be laid off, become ill, live in a disaster zone, etc.

– Voting… This is probably the point that infuriates me the most. Do you realize that by not allowing the poorest citizens to have a say in what happens in the government, you’ve effectively turned this democracy into an oligarchy? You know, that system of government where the wealthy make the decisions. Hmm…where have we heard about that before… And who is going to benefit from the rich making decisions? Oh, that’s right…the wealthy citizens. Gosh, now doesn’t that sound like a perfect system? I’m sorry, but when you talk about taking away basic rights of a democracy, you’ve lost my respect and I no longer believe you have anything worth saying.

The Point

I’ll sum it up in a few simple sentences… Quit being so quick to judge. Think before you speak. Google a fact every now and again. And have a little compassion.

You’ll thank me when you get sick, lose your job, then end up on welfare and someone writes an article trying to make your life worse.