Monthly Archives: August 2016

Protesting The Protester

Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick.  You’d have to have been in a coma the last week to not have heard his name.  Mr. Kaepernick is the NFL football player that decided he would protest “oppressed people” by sitting during the National Anthem.

Never minding what he considers ‘oppressed’, how he measures it, how he thinks his sitting during pre-game will be different than his sitting DURING game or how he thinks his protest will affect change – the pop-culture conversation has been all about Kaepernick and his decision to sit.  And for how long.

I’ve mostly stayed quiet on this one save for a few face-to-face personal conversations with friends and neighbors.  The usual eye-roll* is quickly followed with ‘pass the beer nuts’ and we move on.  It’s the same thing.  Cause de jour is being highlighted and is amplified by the media in an obvious method to stoke agita.  I mean serious; who could care less about what Colin Kaepernick thinks about anything?

So whatever.

But then I have seen the trending or viral Facebook post on the topic authored by Jim Wright:

If Americans want this man to respect America, then first they must respect him.

If America wants the world’s respect, it must be worthy of respect.

Much more at the link  – but this was the part that got me.   Now, to be fair – I doubt that Mr. Wright expected his post to go viral.  That being said, the moving back and forth between America and Americans is misleading and confusing.  There are concepts that are unique to each – to America the Nation and then to Americans the Citizens.

The First Amendment chief and first among them.  For example, you have no First Amendment Right in my home, nor me in yours.  Don’t like my speech or religion?  Force me to leave; you can.

But AMERICA can’t do the same.

So when Mr Wright laments Americans who want Mr. Kaepernick to respect America by first demanding they respect him – he’s off.  His thesis has no logical continuity.  America the Nation is not interchangeable with Americans.  I am under no moral, or other, obligation to show respect to Kaepernick.  And his respect, or disrespect thereof, America being predicated on such is ridiculous.

Here I do agree with Mr Wright:

The United States isn’t a person, it’s a vast construct, a framework of law and order and civilization designed to protect the weak from the ruthless and after more than two centuries of revision and refinement it exists to provide in equal measure for all of us the opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Yes.  More or less, the United States is that.  And if you don’t respect that, or feel that America is living UP to that, then sit.  Or stand.  Or clench a fist.  Or turn your back.  Or walk out.

Whatever you wanna do – do it.

And yes, THAT is what our veterans have fought and died for.  The right to protest your government for redress.  The privilege to offer speech, or not, free from lawful persecution.  The right to agree – or not.  To vote – or not.  To stand at attention, or burn, the flag that represents the very freedom you are exercising.

To protest free from tyranny.

But it DOESN’T mean that you get to protest in amnesty of MY right to protest.

So, if Mr. Kaepernick wants to sit his entitled ass on the bench where he will earn north of $100 million dollars while doing nothing to *change* the conditions he’s protesting, that’s his journey.  I haven’t seen anyone denying him that.  I haven’t seen calls for his arrest, or his detention, or his forceful demand to stand by threat of State sword or gun.  All I’ve seen is a massive and rather resounding protest of the protestor telling him that he’s a dumb ass.

America can’t tell Kaepernick to stand to, but Americans most certainly, and rightfully, can.

* This is in two parts:

  1.  What is it about people who demand change without active participation?
  2. Does Kaepernick comprehend that by relinquishing the change agent within his own self he is only buying into the power structure he claims to hate?

Interesting Wage Gap Insight

Gender Pay Gap

The article in whole is great – read the whole thing.  But this was interesting:

There’s something importantly different between a job in science and a job in business — and that matters more than you might think in explaining the wage gap

Think of your prototypical businesswoman. She has a standard 9-to-5 schedule so she can meet with other businesspeople or clients.

Maybe she’s a venture capitalist. Maybe she’s an accountant. Either way, her clients want to deal with her specifically. Her employers won’t think she’s doing a good job if she isn’t there at the hours others need her.

Now think of your prototypical scientist, lab coat and all. Most of her work is self-directed. She has experiments she needs to run — but it doesn’t really matter to her lab when, exactly, she does them. So long as she’s getting the work done, her supervisors will think she’s doing a good job.

This is, of course, a simplification. But it speaks to something important about the situations where women earn less.

Certain hours are more important than others in some jobs — and those jobs have especially high wage gaps

Goldin’s research has found that workers in the industries with large wage gaps are more likely to say their jobs value those who “develop constructive and cooperative working relationships” and that their company generally determines their “tasks, priorities, and goals.”

Workers in these industries often face steep penalties for any interruption to their career. One study estimates that among lawyers, a year out of the labor force causes an 8.4 percent salary reduction.

Now, is this fair?    Yes.  Yes it is.  It is not the corporation’s role to determine what social norms are, or are not, more valued or valid.  If you think that this woman should earn more money, then you should remove the time constrains that limit her hours and/or flexibility.


Welfare Reform


I don’t mind the giving – heck, I give plenty on my own without the government getting involved.  And on *some* level, I don’t mind the government getting involved.  But what I DO mind is the breaking of the social contract all while being chastised for being greedy.

If you are truly down and out – a victim of circumstance – then by all means it is the mark of a civilized people to reach out and provide a hand out and a hand up.

But when you are simply living off the labor of another man for no other reason than because you can – the time has come to end it:

…during the recession, the food stamp work requirement for able-bodied adults without dependents was suspended as part of President Barack Obama’s 2009 stimulus package. (The work requirement limits able-bodied adults without dependents to three months of food stamp benefits in a 36-month period unless they work at least part time, participate in a work program, or do community service.)

Maine, one of the most proactive states in reinstating work requirements for food stamps, saw its caseload of able-bodied adults without dependents decrease by 80 percent within just a few months after re-establishing the work requirement.

Kansas has experienced similar results, seeing its caseload decline by 75 percent. Accompanying the decline in caseload has been an increase in employment and earnings for able-bodied adults without dependents.

The Foundation for Government Accountability identified that nearly 60 percent of Kansans who left the food stamp rolls following the establishment of food stamp work requirements found employment within 12 months and, “their incomes rose by an average of 127 percent per year.”

Indiana has experienced similar outcomes. Indiana reinstated work requirements in July 2015. Six months after reinstating these requirements, the state’s caseload of able-bodied adults without dependents decreased by 68 percent.

According to Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration, “Nearly 5,000 Hoosiers who were receiving benefits in July are no longer receiving assistance because they obtained gainful employment and now have an income that exceeds eligibility standards.”

If you CAN work but don’t, and have no dependents living with you, the time has come to admit that you are simply taking free stuff – all the while, likely receiving wages under the table in the form of cash.

What Matters?

Question Mark

Some number of years ago my father passed away from a brain tumor – like the one Senator Kennedy had.  The type of tumor is called glioma.  During his treatment and for awhile after his passing I was involved in raising money for glioma specific research.  In fact, I even entered, trained and <strike>ran</strike> finished the Twin Cities Marathon under the banner bearing the brain tumor research colors.

During these years when I was most active in the cause I was often approached by other such organizations – by the dozen.  We all are.  Diabetes, breast cancer, HIV, cardiovascular and the list goes on and on.  All noble and valid causes in their own right.


And, when scrutinized closer, may have a greater claim to my resources than glioma research.  Maybe the death rate was higher than is for glioma.  Perhaps more people are claimed than are by glioma.  Perhaps research is making massive strides in this area but not in glioma and every cent could be the one that pushes the ball across the line.

But my passion was glioma.  And that didn’t mean I disregarded the importance and nobility and tragedy that came contained in all the other equally noble causes.

For me – glioma mattered.

I suspect that how I embraced my passion then is how some people have come to embrace Black Lives Matter today.  Right now, there is a segment of our population, my friends and my neighbors and my brothers who feel that the system is keeping them down.

They may be wrong!

But they may be right – and so now, their sense of feeling is valid.

It might be, after careful analysis, that our nation’s police are not seeing color – it might be that they are.  It might be that our education system doesn’t serve our communities of color – it might be that such communities don’t prioritize such education.  It might be that jobs are and are not given to people based on the tint of our skin.  It might be that government policy has served our population – or it might be that such policies are destructive to that population.

But for now – there are people who have this feeling and we are obligated to at least listen to their grievance.  And their solution.

I’ve thought a lot about those three words – Black Lives Matter.  And I’ve come to the conclusion that there are most likely two, possibly three, messages being given AND heard when read internally.  As below.

The first is the least likely interpretation :

black *lives* matter – this as opposed to liberty and say, property.  To me, this interpretation makes it sound as if the LIFE of someone who is black matters, but nothing else.  This reading of the phrase doesn’t ring true nor have I ever heard anyone speak as if this is the way they take it.

The second is how the right, for lack of a better word, takes it:

*black* lives matter – this as opposed to white lives or brown lives.  Or red or yellow.  This interpretation makes it sound as if ONLY black lives matter.  All other lives matter, well, less.

The third is how I think the sincere Black Lives Matter advocate means it to sound:

black lives *matter* – this as opposed to NOT mattering.  This reading makes the implicit case that right now, in our society, it feels like the lives of our black neighbors don’t matter.  That’s how I hear it.

Now – that’s a lot to unpack.  And if you’re with me so far, hold on.

This is NOT to say that the valid reading of the third example is grounds for the lawless behavior being demonstrated by the folks in the streets, and focused on in the media, that stoke and encourage violence and division.  Far from it.  Such behavior is not part of our culture and every effort should be made to eradicate it.  But my point is –

My point is this.  Just because someone has decided that they wanna “run the Twin Cities Marathon under the colors of BLM” doesn’t mean that they can’t simultaneously acknowledge other, perhaps more valid, ills that face our society.  For some reason, most likely highly personal, this individual has, in this moment, decided to pick up the flag and take his turn carrying it forward.

Maybe tomorrow, when the pain has passed, he’ll turn to his left and hand the banner to someone else to dedicate his resources somewhere else.  But not right now.  Because right now, RIGHT NOW, glioma lives matter.

But what I really wrote this post about is not so much what matters – not because it’s not important, it is – but because I wanna point out what is destructive:

Roughly 20 people showed up on Sunday, some with the red flag and assault rifles, others holding up a “White Lives Matter” banner, in a protest against the NAACP, according to local media reports.

White Lives Matter has formed as a directed response to the Black Lives Matter movement, a civil rights campaign stemming from 2012 that advocates against anti-black racism and is known for its involvement in protests against police killings of black men across the country. Some counter-protesters, using the phrase “White Lives Matter,” argue that the Black Lives Matter movement is anti-white …

Look, I have issues with many individuals inside BLM, but the idea, or my reading of it, of the movement is noble.  I am not so far gone that I can’t agree that agents of the state given permission to stop, search, frisk, arrest and use force can’t be corrupt at some point.  Such is the nature of The State.  I frown on the many examples of destruction carried out in the name of BLM in the same way that I frowned on the Occupy Wall Street jokers that carried on the way they did.

But bringing guns, the stars and bars and marching in front of the NAACP offices?  Pathetic.

Get up, grow up and go back home!