Here’s Hoping…..

When you work in hospice hope is not an everyday word. There is a resignation but also a beauty to the process that life plays itself out. I am an incredibly optimistic person so I find it somewhat unusual that I like what I do. Actually it helps me pepper my positive vibes with a dose of pragmatism. It keeps me in line.

I have been thinking a lot about this hope thing. There was a guy from Hope, Arkansas but if you know me that is not where I am going. Also I and a lot of other people got caught up in the Hope and Change thing but that was a nasty letdown. But for so many of us hope is the thing that keeps you going. Young,old. Rich,poor. It goes beyond winning the Powerball. It is an absolute belief things can get better.

In football if you are from Cleveland, Houston or even New York it has to get better. Too many baseball seasons seem shot by the Fourth of July both in Denver and Chicago. But what I am talking about goes well beyond national pastimes. It is sometimes the stark realization if you are not born on the right side of the tracks or in the right town that you are never going to get out. Ouch.

I heard on the radio the other day a woman in Chicago speaking about her losses. She had four sons, the oldest of which made it to 32 years old. Each and every one of them had been gunned down on the mean streets. It’s ironic on New Year’s Day as a city Denver mourned a beautiful 18 year old who had been gunned down in school. She had such a wonderful future as an equestrian who competed at our yearly Stock Show. What sort of a future did those boys have? Ooops, I forgot. Their deaths were a logical outcome not a tragedy.

Now pragmatism tells me this is the way life is. If you can’t escape the urban bowels so be it. There are winners and losers in every game. Survival of the fittest. While a convenient theory the soulful me asks is this civil ? Does compassion fly in the face of  survivalism? Sorry, but I can’t just say tough shit. It is not a bleeding heart liberalism that grabs me but a realization that I am a part of humanity. If not I or maybe all of us have a much larger problem.

There are stories every day of people looking for work. Now I know there are malingerers and nee’r do wells. They play the system and work the angles. And trust me they really piss me off. But there is also some poor devil who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was a steady Eddie who no longer was relevant. Something went wrong for the company or he was replaced by some sort of machine. We can look the other way and say there but for the grace of God go I. Lately the realist and the soft hearted slob in me don’t collide but meet at a crossroads.

Hope is the thing that helps us move forward. It keeps us churning and burning and coming up to bat although we have been doing nothing but striking out. It says make one more call or knock on one more door. I was building houses in the early 80’s in the middle of 15% mortgage rates. Housing starts were down to multi year lows at 900,000. I thought I don’t need 900,000 but just 4 or 5. Somebody had to be buying. And it worked. Yet I have a scary feeling today is different.

I am a capitalist as most of you are. It’s a free country and the world is your oyster. I also have a feeling the economic theory that has served us so well is in danger of running amok. I had a vision of this well oiled machine that keeps churning out products at a fair profit. Take care of people and they will take care of you. But we have a fly in the ointment and it is called greed. In an effort to wring every last dollar out of the process we have optimized and marginalized. Management has cut to the bone and put the cash in the bank. Looks good on the balance sheet but a little on the  short side I fear when it comes to innovation and invention.

As consumers we have done the same. In searching out the cheapest price we have put so many mom and pops out of business. What goes around comes around. The big boxes and bricks and mortar are now being beaten by the likes of Amazon. I love progress but it really does have its problems. Maybe the madness blows up in a fierce conflagration and we just start over again? I dunno.

My solution is this. First is the job market. People have to retrain and relocate. Go where the jobs are. If it means leaving family and friends, you gotta go. Try something different. Be a tradesman. Call a plumber or an electrician or mechanic. See how long it takes to get an appointment or bid? There’s demand.  Sorry but the law degree or MBA does not guarantee success any longer.

This is far reaching. The jobs so many of us used to have are gone. Yes, you heard me. They are no longer. It is a reality that neither we as a people or a government have come to grips with. Worst of all is the fact for a large portion of our populace their standard of living has to change. That is such a bitter pill to absorb but it is more like a truth serum than castor oil. And yes in that moment of sobriety comes another expression of hope.

Secondly, corporations have to put money to work. If they hoard it or just buy back stock it may look good in the quarter but long term it is disastrous. The Supreme Court says corporations are people when it comes to campaign finance. Let’s let them act that way instead of some impersonal resource consuming monolith. As for executive salaries it comes under my definition of obscene wealth. Make money the old fashioned way…earn it, not coin it. Don’t roll your eyes. You know exactly what I am talking about.

Hope is an emotion. It is something in your soul. It is in all of us no mater how desperate our situation. It must be nurtured and respected. But we have to make sure it is there and not just a pipe dream. Hope begets change and innovation and in that prosperity. But we ALL have to be part of it. Not redistributing but sharing. Big difference. Otherwise hope is just an empty promise that can’t be kept. The antonym of hope is despair. I just can’t go there.

As always

Ted The Great

Factoids:

Here in Denver $15-20 per hour jobs are waiting to be filled. We are adding to our light rail system but a combination of a dearth of immigrant labor and people competent in concrete finishing have put us behind.

The unemployment rate in Yuma, AZ is 31%. 700 miles north in Logan,UT it is 4.6%. Bismark,ND, 2.8%. Ditto Sioux Falls, SD. The US Postal Service in Denver is advertising for jobs @$21 per hour. Want ads show jobs for truck drivers, receptionists, bank tellers, technical writers and ramp supervisors fro Southwest Airlines. There are not enough lawyers in Nevada, Wyoming and Alaska. Too many elsewhere but you knew that.

A 2011 study by the CBO found that the top earning 1 percent of households increased their income by about 275% after federal taxes and income transfers over a period between 1979 and 2007, compared to a gain of just under 40% for the 60 percent in the middle of America’s income distribution. Since then most of the growth is going to an extraordinarily small share of the population: 95% of the gains from the recovery have gone to the richest 1% of people. This may be good for them but really bad fro the rest. That’s not Intro toPopulism but Advanced Economics….and I don’t even have an MBA.

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