Taking it Local
Each and every day for the past fifteen months, I have shared a breakfast with my elderly parents. The impetus for these meals was, at least initially, to make every attempt to share as much time as possible and as much love as is possible before a time comes when they are gone. What I have found, however, is that these moments to share the past have also turned into an opportunity to open their eyes to the new, ever-changing world around them. Like so many Americans, they have tuned out the goings-on in Washington and having fallen into a "four wall" syndrome where as long as policy decisions don't appear to negatively impact them, then it must be okay. Stage left: eEnter their politically outspoken son.
Over the years, it is apparent that I have been gifted with so much from these two. I guess you could even say that the foundation for my adulthood -- formed under their tutelage -- is the reason I am so observant of the world and so outspoken regarding the failings of our society today.
For sixty weeks I have preached about every political subject that crosses the news wires since Obama took office. For the first two months, I honestly believe that they thought I had been abducted by aliens and reprogrammed only to be sent back to earth as a conspiracy theorist. Nevertheless, I continued and kept opening their eyes to the back stories that have been, and are continuing to be, hidden from the public eye. Benghazi was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. For them, it all started to become real at that point. Then came the Newton tragedy that brought gun control and massive attempts to circumvent the 2nd Amendment. I definitely had their attention now.
It could be said that these two, now entering their 80's, could possibly be the most-educated (politically speaking) senior citizens in Wyoming. It could also be that they are now the most-agitated octogenarians as well. If the two had the energy and weren't paralyzed by the fact that they would be physically molested in the TSA search line, I'm certain that they would be marching on Washington tomorrow. Each day before I depart, however, their question to me is this: "What can we do, as individuals, to fix this?"
From previous stories shared on AT, so many of the comments relay the same concern; "What can we do?" I will give the only tidbits of advice that I have given my parents and that is simply this: 1) Keep God in your life and continue to answer to Him. 2) Pay attention to the world around you. Try turning the channel from the Honey Boo Boo show or the Kardashians take on the swamp hoggers episode and use that time to read the Drudge report or read the UK Guardian news feed out of Britain. Better yet, use that time to question anything and everything that our leaders offer in the way of numbers, figures and policy. Watch how this administration uses every crisis to move their agenda in the direction they want. Decide for yourself if their motives are truly meant to be positive for the people, or just another method to advance that utopian agenda... the fundamental transformation of America.
One of the most important pieces of advice I have given them is to bring everything down to a local level. It's easier to understand hundred instead of billions. Take the employment situation -- yes, the same issue where our president said he would focus on jobs like a laser. For an older generation, they understand the effects of the Great Depression. A couple of weeks ago, Pops asked me how I can say that our unemployment situation is as bad as it was during the Depression. My answer shocked him. "During those dark days" I said, "there were no food stamps or welfare as we know it today. Everybody who needed help stood in front of the world."
"That's right" he offered. "There were food lines. At least now we don't have those damned food lines."
"Really? Imagine this" I continued. "Today, there are 50 million Americans on food stamps. Instead of bread and cheese lines, they take their EBT card into the stores to trade for food. 50 million Americans equates to 1/6th of our entire population." His eyes grew wider. "Now, think of this, dad. Would you think that the employment situation was a bit more calamitous if you saw news programs showing those 50 million folks standing in lines begging for a handout of stale bread?" His eyes grew again. "The electronic food stamp system was sold to the public as a need to eliminate the stigma attached to standing in bread lines. And now the dramatically extended unemployment benefits programs serve the same purpose. Do you honestly think that any administration wants that optic on the television? These programs have served the purpose of those in Washington... keep it under the radar and off the TV screens. Hide the unemployed in social programs that can be cloaked in secrecy or justified as benevolent acts on the part of the pols.
"Now, let's bring it down to a more manageable level" I continued. "Picture our small town here (population of 8000), with the same percentage of folks on food stamps. 1/6th of our town equates to nearly 1400 people. What would you think of our situation now, if you saw 1400 of your neighbors clamoring for food in those lines?" His jaw dropped.
When the administration throws numbers out at you, take the time to break those figures down to a level that can be understood. For example: The most-recent jobs number of 88,000 jobs created was touted by the administration as a "positive sign that our recovery is progressing" in that the unemployment level dropped to 7.7%. To sell the story, the fact that almost 700,000 people dropped out of the workforce, was omitted... dare I say, intentionally. The labor participation rate is down to levels not seen since 1979 and this is good?
Let's bring this to level that is more easily understood. The population of Wyoming is, for rounding figures, about 500,000, or about 1/600th of the U.S. population. "Pops" I began again, "If there were only 88,000 jobs created last month, then how many jobs were (on a percentage basis) created in our fair state?" He thought for a moment and I went on. "If we use the percentage of our population vs. the U.S., then roughly 1/600th of those jobs were created in Wyoming. Using that figure then, only 146 jobs were created in all of Wyoming. Now tell me that the 7.7% figure is a real one. Here, on the front lines, the picture is decidedly different than that being sold out of the ivory towers in Washington."
I explained to Pops that while the powers-that-be use these programs to create the illusion of caring for the citizenry, in reality the programs are not only a safety net for the people, but more of a safety net for the administration to hide the effects of their policies. So many in this country would be up in arms if the American Idol show were to be cancelled, but when nearly 1/3rd of their fellow citizens are no longer working -- and therefore not contributing to a payroll withholding tax -- it barely resonates as an inconvenience.
It's time for each of us to realize that these inconveniences are shaping a nation that is closely approaching a point where the producers will no longer outnumber those that participate in the safety nets of society... Washington's safety nets to obfuscate policy actions. Just how long do you think this scenario can continue? Actions do have consequences.