Current economic conditions are a cause for concern in American and also for the world in general. The gap between wealthy individuals and poor individuals is growing as the middle class disappears. The cost of basic living necessities is increasing at a drastic pace and creating severe strain on the average citizen. The oil industry continues to enjoy outrageous profits with the consumer paying the outrageous price and this high cost creates a rollover effect into all items associated with that fuel cost. The value of the U.S. dollar continues to decline adding to the problem. The housing and credit crisis continues and will do so for an undetermined period of time. The healthcare system is long overdue for change in order to be cost effective. Crime appears to be out of control in many locations. There are many areas/problems that need to be addressed in an effort to create a more desirable society.
I recently viewed a PBS program concerning Sweden and conditions in that country. They appear to have an excellent healthcare system, excellent system to assist the unemployed, protection for the lower class, and a smaller gap between the wealthy and poor. The taxes are higher in order to cover certain aspects of their society. Maybe the American political establishment should study and utilize aspects of their programs. Taxes do not necessarily need to be higher in order to address these issues. The American citizen is burdened with too many taxes now and a majority of the spending waste could be eliminated. Government is too large with too many overpaid and under-utilized employees. This goes for federal, state, and local government. The salaries have increased to levels that are ridiculous and out of line. This has lead to pensions that are way out of line when compared to the average American taxpayer’s retirement, especially the ones depending only on social security. Government employees spend taxpayers’ dollars with no concern for the consequences and apparently no oversight. Take the time to read reports by Citizens Against Government Waste. The time has arrived to operate government in a responsible manner and for the benefit of the public it is meant to serve and not special interest and government employees.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Privacy seems to be disappearing at supersonic speed in America and the world. It is harder and harder for you to maintain any sense of privacy in your life, no matter how hard you try. The technological changes that have taken place over the years may be partial responsible. You can utilize search engines and the internet to find just about anything these days or hire numerous companies to dig out whatever information you desire. Years ago you valued your privacy and most still do today, but the younger generation has grown up with a slightly different attitude concerning what deserves to be private or how much they care that other people know so much about their lives. There are numerous companies that do nothing but create and maintain databases of information on individuals, everything from your financial situation to what you buy at the store. The government is also not reluctant to maintain all types of information. The laws are very weak in this area and need to be much more effective in order to protect the public. There are just too many avenues and sources out there with too much information, along with many individuals that have a desire to misuse that information. We have the right to expect and to have whatever privacy we desire in our lives. Our representatives in Congress should be taking steps to correct this situation with the necessary regulations and the public should be demanding for Congress to address this matter.
Society and business appear to have lost track of what customer service means in today’s environment. I think it started with self-service at the gas station and has progressed to any and all avenues. Now you sack your own groceries, withdraw or transfer money at the bank, order your food, clean up your own table, represent yourself in court, and even wash your pet at self-service pet washes. There seems to be a self-service kiosk for everything today. The thought process being that this creates customer satisfaction and is more efficient. Maybe so in some situations, since real customer service is in such a state of disrepair. Are businesses too lazy, don’t feel it is necessary, or are they unable to properly train the employees to understand the customer is the reason for their job? I would like to see a return to customer friendly employees so you don’t leave a business with a feeling of anger and a promise to never return to that business. Maybe this is why a lot of people seem to be in a bad mood. A large number of businesses say they are working at increasing their customer satisfaction, but I’m not sure they are following through with their surveys in order to verify the results. Maybe there is hope, but does anyone see improvement in this area?
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
The CAGW (Citizens Against Government Waste) reported in their latest book on government waste that over $17 Billion was related to pork-barrel spending by members of Congress. Each year this type of information makes the news in various formats. You have to wonder how government officials can read this information and continue to ignore calls from the public for reform in the way they handle money that actually belongs to the taxpayer. Have they become so lost in their lifestyle that their sense of responsibility has vanished? There are also reports that mention waste in various government agencies and departments. Employees utilizing credit cards for personal use or just plain ridiculous spending that should not be approved in any format seem to be rampant. Where is responsible management in these cases? Are there no controls in effect to monitor excess spending or rogue employees? There is so much that needs to be done in America and could be done with the wasted funds. Try balancing the budget and applying those funds to various worthwhile projects or healthcare. Maybe the next President could make an effort at addressing this matter by appointing someone with the necessary vision and intelligence to a position with the authority to correct this situation. This could begin by eliminating a number of unnecessary positions within the inflated government. The President’s authority may be limited, but the public needs to demand action from Congress and the President along with voting those undesirable individuals out of office. There is so much that can be done to make this great country better and now is the time to move in that direction.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Time will tell if any type of real reform actually occurs in the financial industry related to the recent announcements regarding this issue. It was obvious that some action would be necessary due to the staggering results of poor management and lack of vision. Are the actions by the Fed appropriate? Is deregulation part of the problem? Maybe monopolies and not competition are the results of deregulation, along with higher prices and bailouts. This can be debated at length due to the fact that the results vary greatly depending on what industry is being discussed at the time. Whatever the answers, there is an uncertain and bumpy ride ahead.