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My Reaction to the Election Result November 11, 2016

Posted by shwaldman in Family, Politics, Society.
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Over the last few months, weeks really, I finally had to chime in an voice my opinion here. It should not come as much of a surprise that my reaction to the election results includes the feeling of disappointment. But there are many emotions flowing through me in the days since the election results became final. Among them are shock, fear, hope, but disappointment is the one that rains supreme. That word, disappointment, is one that hurts. When my mom would tell me I disappointed her, it is the word that caused me to know what I did or did not do or what I said or did not say that created that feeling in her that hurt her. I never wanted to hurt my mother.

And here we are. In the days since the election, I have struggled, like many Americans to come to terms with this new reality. A man who ran his presidential campaign with wild abandon has been elected and will become our 45th President of the United States of America. I have tried to tell myself that he said things only to stir outrage, start conversations, create media buzz, and, ultimately, to get elected. He has this “problem” where he says whatever is on his mind, stream of conscience, without thinking, without being concerned with how people will interpret his words.

But in the days since the election, I have heard personal stories, like the ones found in this Twitter storyline. Personals stories, friends, co-workers. These stories are NOT okay. This is not okay!

I get that I have different feelings than Trump supporters. We believe our country, our shared nation, should be run in different ways. We can have different beliefs and I can accept that Trump will try different things to “Make America Great Again.” But the statements that the continue to divide us as a nation are not acceptable. WE MUST COME TOGETHER NOW!

I have tried to live my life with the belief that everyone has the right to live their life the way they want. As long as their life and their actions do not infringe on others, we should be able to life peacefully. But we can’t stop there. We need to do things for each other. We need to take care of each other. Each of us have strengths. And each of us have weaknesses. We must use those strengths to raise the capacities of the weak who in turn are using their strengths to improve our weaknesses.

When I was 14, my father passed away from lung cancer. There is nothing I was able to do as I watched his strong body be destroyed by the cancer and chemotherapy. As a freshman in high school, I had to see this cancer up close. When I was 17, my mom introduced me to blood donations. This was a way to give back. In less than an hour, this was a way to help people who are sick or hurt. It felt good. When I was about 31, I got a call from the National Bone Marrow Registry. I was a match for a sick leukemia patient who would benefit by receiving my bone marrow. Though I hadn’t given it much thought, when I donated blood that first time in 1989, I also gave a sample of my blood to be included in the registry.

And a couple of years ago, I was called by the Red Cross and informed that my blood was of a quality that would make blood platelet donations an option. It is almost the same as whole blood donations, though it takes a little more time, it can be done more often and helps more people. (whole blood can be donated every 56 days, while platelet donations can be done every 7 days.) When I learned this, I started to realize this is how I can help people, this is my strength. So now, I donation as often as my schedule allows, a few hours of my time to potentially save the lives of strangers. Seems like an acceptable trade-off.

Now, let’s get back to Trump and his vision of our future of America. One of the things Trump as said from the beginning of his campaign was that he will repeal the AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (also known, unfairly, as Obamacare). I don’t know what other things Trump will do, but along with Immigration, Marriage laws, Gun Ownership, Women’s Rights, he is going to change the landscape and direction we have been on for the last several years. I fear these changes. Without a doubt these changes will have a dramatic impact on our lives and those of our children. When you put these changes in the same conversation as the hatred he has instigated and condoned during his campaign, it becomes a scary conversation.

I write these words because I have read Facebook in the last few days and there is still a great divide among us. There is a lack of understanding on both sides. We have elected a new President and we do not know the direction he is going to take our country. This uncertainty results in fear and the fear causes people to lash out. We must restrain our fears, resolve to create our own certainty and stop lashing out. We are ONE NATION, let’s come back together and move forward. But know this, moving forward means, we move forward together, all of us, all of our neighbors, Republican, Democrat, Rich, Poor, White, Black, Brown, Yellow, National, Foreign, Man and Woman. Please! For our children! We must use our strengths and our capacities to make our neighbors stronger. Please Join me in whatever way you can.
Thank you for taking the time to read.

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Privacy is so 20th Century January 13, 2011

Posted by shwaldman in Society, Technology.
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I was reading this article on the MIPro Consulting web site. It raises some good questions about privacy and current examples in the news. There is a lot of concern that our Constitutional rights are being violated when government or corporations use our information for any reason. As a global society now, we need to break down that sentence for it to really apply.

Although these examples are not exactly the same, I cite the following headlines to draw the connections…. The Italian courts recently ruled that web sites are responsible for the content they host. The Amazon, the largest book seller in the world, was recently forced to stop selling books because they contained offensive content, despite free speech laws. We have Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) that can provide clear images of any location in the world, regardless of fences or “Private Property” signs. And of course, every time Facebook, the digital social network of 500+ million people, changes their security scheme, a new uproar starts. Each of these headline stories have ties to privacy rules and raises the question: Where do we draw the line?

I think it is time for a real world discourse to begin on how our privacy works in a global world. We live in a world very different from the one in which our Founding Fathers wrote our founding laws. I am pretty sure the only things they thought would float in the sky above were stars or planets. Now we have planes, satellites, unmanned drones… and we keep talking about flying cars.

Changes in Technology have forced changes in laws. Before the 1900s, there were no laws about cars, prior the 2000s there were no laws about texting. Each iteration of the improvements in our world warrant changes in how we have to enforce individual safety. And unfortunately for us, the faster technology seems to bring life at us, the slower our law makers seem to adapt and accept these changes.

Now is the time to accept that Privacy is over. We need to stop thinking that the information on digital devices can be kept inside the walls of the “owner” or even that there was an owner. I can not say I am happy about this either, but I have come to accept it. And here is the (most recent) reason… this past week our country watched as a gunman opened fired on a public crowd in an open parking lot for a political event. How do I draw this link, you ask?

In the days following the attack, people have asked how could this have happened? Each day more and more details come out about how this individual had mental challenges. People knew he was unstable. The government had denied his applications for service. His father even had a conflict with him that very morning. And yet this individual was able to buy a gun and ammunition. He was able to freely walk up to a dedicated public servant in a crowded open area and shoot her in the back of the head before turning on other innocent individuals.

If you think nothing could have been done to prevent this incident, you need cross-reference this with the futuristic movie, “The Minority Report.” The information is the available. The computer horsepower is there. What we need are laws that actually protect people and property, not rights. The right to free speech is limited to protecting people. The right to everything else should be the same way. If what you are doing, or could do, is a danger to other people you should be held responsible. And we need to build our social system around that concept. That means, yes, public health needs to come back as a priority. It was eliminated in during the Reagan Presidency and there certainly still individuals preventing it still. But without a public oversight, the private sector will never be safe.

Healthcare Plan: A new idea September 15, 2009

Posted by shwaldman in Politics, Society.
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While on my lunch time jog to/thru/from a nearby park, I came up with a “new” idea for the healthcare debate. I was thinking about how our society has become a bit of “us vs them.” The political environment is Republican vs Democrat, our economic world is rich vs poor…. how can we come up with a solution that meets everyone’s needs.

So, here it is. We need to change our tax approach. Clearly this would be harder and more expensive to implement than what we already have, but it would reduce the strain on those people who think we don’t need higher taxes while still supporting the services that other people do need. I will call it Vested Taxes. The new system would allow people to opt out of certain taxes. However, by doing so, they would be opting out of the services that those taxes support. At the local level, people could opt out of supporting the library, however if they went to use the library, they would pay a premium (more than $0) to utilize those resources… obviously, this would require more system integration to allow instant information to the services on every individual, but the Patriot Act already opened the door to this possibility.

At the national level is where we find health care, and social security high level examples. I really do not like the idea of having to do this. But I certainly like it better than where we are headed… talk of states succeeding and individuals saying, “if you don’t like it, why don’t you move?” We don’t want to divide our nation into classes, but look at us now.

The vesting comes in if individuals suddenly need help and change their minds. The government response can then justifiably be, “sorry, you haven’t been contributing, so we have to deny you.” Everyone gets what they want!

Healthcare Plan in the News September 8, 2009

Posted by shwaldman in Society, Technology.
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I am not sure if you have heard, but there is talk in the US of health care reform. Yes, a little sarcasm, but look what this article has to say about how well the INFORMATION is being report…. 8% – that is pathetic. We should be having town hall meetings to discuss how poorly the news media is serving us. Unfortunately, it is all about the ratings and sensationalism and very little to do with the facts.

Quality News Reporting,… NOT!

Equally disturbing to how this debate is unfolding is how little concern some people have for the well being of others. I really do not understand how people think the whole “death panel” was a real thing. Some people are either too gullible or just plain ill-informed. We watched a moving real-life story about Nathenial Ayers last night. The movie is called “The Soloist” and starts Robert Downey Jr and Jamie Foxx… two of today’s best actors, for sure. Anyway, Ayers life was spent mostly as a homeless man in Los Angeles. Watching this film really brought home the problems we have in our society. Seeing the living conditions of the people on the streets – and they were lucky, living in such a mild climate like LA – shows our society can be so inhumane. Because we don’t know what to do, we do nothing. That is unacceptable and that seems to be where this debate on healthcare reform is going.

Why are we so stubborn? A Case for Universal Healthcare February 11, 2009

Posted by shwaldman in Politics, Society.
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In my last post, I talked about how it took Americans sixty years to abolish slavery after it was made illegal in Britain. It was the right thing to do, but why did it take so long and why did it require a Civil War? Obviously, the Civil War had so much to do with agriculture and the industrial conditions in what was still a relatively new system. Compared to European nations, America is still a baby.

And yet, or maybe because of this, it seems like Americans refuse to look at the way things are done in other countries and seem to find their policies deplorable. I am thinking mostly of universal healthcare. This issue seemed so divisive in the last election. And it seems like the our legislature is so wrapped up in big business lobbyists, there is no chance it would come from them. By becoming an federally elected government official, they are guaranteed healthcare for the rest of their lives. And yet all the people who elected them have to fend for themselves.

There is no reason in one of the richest, most sophisticated countries in the world should cause people to go bankrupt because they can not afford basic medical treatments. I am quite surprised that in all this economic stimulus package that is being discussed, there is no revisiting of bankruptcy laws. During the Bush Adminstration, there were some major changes to the laws that did not help the individuals.

President Obama has said all along that he wants to move toward digital medical records and is backing that up by ensuring it is written into these stimulus packages. I think that is the first step in centralizing our system. By requiring our medical institutions to communicate in a common system that allows them to pass patient data back and forth, we can move to a system where the patient is the most important factor. Until we can remove the money hungry health insurance companies out of the picture, we are not taking care of our people.

Being sick September 13, 2008

Posted by shwaldman in Family, Society.
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After 35 years of experience, I have come to understand my own body and when I am not feeling 100%. How can you tell when your children are not well. Alec’s eyes are hurting and he is blinking frequently. Ian had a running nose and a nasty cough this week. On Friday I took them to the doctor and Ian has an ear infection and Alec seems to have nervous tick (or just very irriated eyes).

Treating Ian at 3 months with antibotics is concerning. I hate he is already on medicine… just like Alec was. If nothing else, I want them to be strong kids, but I am fearful that these medicine will weaken there immune system in the long run. There are so many bad things in the environment these days, how do you protect you kids? They are developing so fast and there bodies are vulernable that I feel like we need to watch everything that they encounter.

And now Alec has another running nose… it ALWAYS leads to another infection! We just can’t keep him healthy! What is going on?!!? We had a great, healthy summer, but now… not so much.

What is the USA becoming? December 7, 2007

Posted by shwaldman in Politics, Society.
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It has been over a year since my last entry. I seem to only make time to add something when I come across something truly thought provoking. Tonight, I finally watched the Micheal Moore movie “Sicko.” It is an amazing,eye-opening film. Whether you believe him or think it is propaganda, their are some obvious facts in the movie that can not be disputed. Get rid of the very specific detailed facts and think about the things are can not be questioned. The Health care industry is making millions of dollars and there are still millions of people that are refused coverage and care. If you don’t believe that your head is in the sand, or you are rich enough that you can ignore the facts. Every day people make decisions that we don’t know how things are going to turn out, but sometimes there just some obvious things happening that have to be fixed. Health care, education and the government all need to be fixed in the US.
 
It does make one consider moving to another country. I just left a well paying job at a large consulting firm for a decent paying job withing the local education system. I did it so I wouldn’t have to travel and my family could be closer to other family for support. Does it have it’s down sides? Sure. But there are just some basic needs that have to addressed before all else.
 
I think the biggest problem we have in the US is that the rich have too much power and influence. It is quite clear that greed runs this country, not what is best for its people. One of the subtle points that Moore makes in his film is how the community will come together to help people in need. But “we” are so fearful of paying higher taxes to take care of the people in need. We wouldn’t have to have fund raisers all the time if the government was doing its job and taking care of those in need.
 
Would people take advantage of the system? Sure. But would the system take care of that? Absolutely. I realized when I was first out of college, in a great job, living in a downtown apartment that if people need things they are going to take them. So when my apartment was broken into and $700 or $800 dollars worth of “stuff” was taken from me, I could afford to use insurance (and my regular paycheck) to buy them back. The person(s) that stole from me probably don’t have the luxury.
 
The middle class is disappearring and we are developing such a large lower class because the rich are getting richer and greedier and more powerful. Just ask Congress, if you work in a job that you approve your own salary increases, how hard it is to make yourselves rich? We need to find away to make our government accountable and honest. The jokes about not being able to trust a politician are not funny anymore.