Sunday, February 10, 2019

Almanac. Why my California ballot is soooo large. Part 3. Career Politicians



I’ll finally present my thoughts on the length of my California ballot in Part 4, two weeks from today.

If you did not read the first two blogs in this series, here are links to each.


I recommend you take a few minutes to read as background for this post.

As I write this post, Congress and the President are “negotiating” which version of border security will be in the budget. Chances are there will be another period of Federal Government shut down. See Part 2 for my feelings on that!
  
When the Constitution was drafted and ratified, if there was any thought given to “career politician,” it was not in the minds of most of those who ran for either the House of Representatives of the Senate.

There are scores, perhaps hundreds, of examples of candidates running for the House or Senate intending to champion a cause, then returning to their careers.

Figure 1 and 2 are from Congressional Careers: Service Tenure and Patterns of Member Service, 1789-2019. It’s clear that for nearly 100-years, the idea of running for more than one term in Congress was not the norm. Since 1947, the average number of incumbents seeking reelection is about 85%.

There are many excuses, I suspect that those seeking reelection time after time after time after time… use the term reasons, but I’ll stick with excuses, for this phenomenon. I offer these are options.

Perks of being a member of Congress have escalated. High salaries (average is $174,000 per year),budgets for travel, support personnel, and other expensesand exemption from Social Security are the main ones. Although the perks are not as perky as many believe (some of my research surprised me), the perks are good. See PolitiFact – Ohio for some of the misconceptions.

Other things to consider in why there are career politicians include. 
The House of Representatives has averaged 138 “legislative days” a year since 2001, according to records kept by the Library of Congress. That’s about one day of work every three days, or fewer than three days a week. The Senate was in session an average of 162 days a year over the same time period.

Vacation Time
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 76 percent of private industry workers (who make up 84.7 percent of all workers) receive paid vacation days. After one year of employment, employers granted these workers 10 days of paid vacation, on average.
This number grows modestly as years of tenure with an employer increase. In 2017, the average worker with five years of experience at a company received 15 days of paid vacation and the average worker with 20 years of experience 20 paid vacation days.

There are a total of 261 working days in the 2019 calendar year. Members of Congress work 53% of those days. Senators work 62%. Subtracting 20 days from the 261, means the workers averaging close to the most paid vacation days still work 92% of those days. Even though congress time off isn’t “paid time” in the manner of most vacation time,


Bottom Line. 
Members of congress average $1,160/workday. The average USA workforce member averages $304/workday.

Seems like there might be some desire to become a career politician… 
                                   if… 
you have the right background!

Members of Congress By Profession
So who are these people and what did they do? There are the obvious non-politicians: actor and President Ronald Reagan*, Songwriter Sonny Bono was one-half of Sonny and Cher, one of the most popular rock duos of the 1960s and early 1970s, author and talk-show host Al Franken, who was best known for his role on “Saturday Night Live.” Who can forget professional wrestler Jesse “The Body” Ventura, whose political resume ended at governor of Minnesota?
*Ronald Reagan's background as a repesentative for the actor's guild provided far more preparation for the offices of Governor of California and President than I thought he had. I encourage you to visit his Presidential Library in Thousand Oaks, CA if you have a chance. I suspect visiting any Presidential Library would be of value.

But what about the common members of Congress? Where did they come from? What were their professions?

Business and Law
Data compiled regularly by the Washington, D.C., publication Roll Calland the Congressional Research Service have found that the most common professions held by burgeoning members of the House and Senate are in law, business and education.

In the 113th Congress, for example, nearly a fifth of the 435 House members and 100 senators worked in education, either as teachers, professors, school counselors, administrators or coaches, according to the Roll Calland Congressional Research data.

There were twice as many lawyers and businessmen and businesswomen. (Increased size is my editorial license.)

That’s all for this post. I recommend reading the whole article Members of Congress by ProfessionIt’s quite a list.


The next post in this series is Almanac. Why my California ballot is soooo large. Part 4 - The ANSWER!

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Monday, February 4, 2019

Sir Isaac's Car #BookTour. Book 9


Sir Isaacs Car
And Other Tales of Daring and Disaster
The price of this eBook is 99¢. 

This is an anthology of humorous short stories. All Camped Out provided the main plotline in the story of the same name in Traveler’s HOT LThe Time Traveler’s Resort. A Clubhouse and a Kiss (Traveler’s HOT L Volume 2) is the expanded version of The Clubhouse found in this book.

There are no old versions of any story to which you can compare the version in this book.

Elevator Speech
Henry Langdon and Aaron Fremont are best friends. They've been best friends for a long as they can remember. Aaron narrates all nine of the stories in this volume. Follow Henry and Aaron through a series of grand plans and schemes... and disasters!

Background
I can’t point to a date or event that led me to write Fair Game. I was teaching at Monte Vista High School at the time. I took a correspondence course on newspaper and fiction writing.

Hmmm. That last sentence didn’t come out right.
Upon further review, maybe it did.

After completing the course, I began to write mostly science fiction stories of various length and quality. Fair Game was my first attempt at a humorous book.

The stories are written in first-person. Aaron Freemont is the scribe and Henry Langdon is the ringleader and primary protagonist in each story. “Henry Langdon is my best friend,” appears somewhere in every story. Despite that proclamation, as you read the tales of daring and disaster, you might be tempted to nominate Aaron for sainthood based on his patience and agreeability.

Each story is an episode in the lives of two best friends of middle school age. They live in a small town somewhere in America’s Midwest. The time period is “before cell phones.”

Henry Langdon is a merging of The Fonz and Eddie Haskell. Parents flinch when he comes to visit. Bad guys rethink their ways. He never met a plan he didn’t devise.

ASIDE.
If you are below a certain age, you don’t know who Eddie Haskell is. If you’re younger still, The Fonz means nothing. Click each name for information on that television character.

Aaron Fremont is the quintessential sidekick. Willing to go anywhere and do anything, Aaron is often the first one into situations spawned by Henry’s fertile imagination.

Both Moms are the only other recurring characters in the stories.

The Stories
  • In Fair Game, the boys "help" Aaron's mom in pie-baking contest. Incomplete knowledge of seasonings and science are the recipe for comedic disaster.
  • A Quilted Bee Gathers No Honey finds the duo collecting what's needed to help Henry's mom win a quilting bee. The lack of thinking before doing is one theme in this story.
  • In Meatloaf of the Heart, the boys are unsatisfied by the explanation of what happens at an adult dinner-dance. They creatively—and literally—crash the "All-American Meatloaf Cook-Off Dinner and Dance for Romantic Couples Only."
  • Aaron and Henry are All Camped Out over a weekend with a security system James Bond might admire. The admiration would be short-lived. Bird droppings and wet clothing are featured.
  • Both boys work to rig the local bingo session in Ballistic Bingo. That’s simple, right? I mean all you have to do is get the right Ping-Pong ball out of the air-powered mixer…
  • Who wouldn't predict disaster if two boys visited a glass blower? See what really happens in Crystal Clear. Believe it or not, there aren't many shards of glass generated by the duo in this adventure.
  •  in
  • Henry launches an all-boys club and builds a place to meet in The Clubhouse. Not all the girls think that's a good idea. The ending is the situation most often avoided by middle school boys.
  • Quid is a story of how one can use a reputation to help another. This story is an Arthur Fonzarelli moment that teaches the value of empathy. Something we all need more of.
  • Sir Isaac’s Car. A misunderstanding (AKA not paying attention to directions) causes Henry to miss a key part of the instructions for a science project. This leads the pair into the production of a coaster that's not quite what was assigned. The coaster part is a fanciful version of a “true-life adventure” I had as a 10 or 11-year-old. The photos below are of the inspiration for Sir Isaac’s Car.

That's my dad demonstrating how to use the steering mechanism before my first run in the top photo. I'm primed and ready for takeoff in the bottom picture. Out of the frame on the left is the "hill" we sped down. It might be 12 degrees of slope. We ended up putting a seat back with 7 on the back soon after this. The back really helped stabilize the driver.
 Next on the book tour: NICU - An Insider’s Guide


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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Almanac. Why my California ballot is soooo large. Part 2. More on Federal government

This sample ballot is from California's 2016 Presidential Election. The number of propositions on the ballot is representative of the problem that exists in this state. In what has become all too easy access to placing measures (propositions) on the ballot, elected officials are neglecting their duties as representatives of the people.
Disclaimer
This was originally going to be a two-part series on California's love affair with ballot propositions. However, as I began thinking/writing, I decided to expand the focus. As of 1/28/2019, I predict a total of four parts to this series. 
Parts one and two will look at democracy and America. Part three will tackle the evolution of the career politician. Only part four will deal directly with the title. Remaining parts will post on every other Tuesday through February 12.

If you did not read the first blog in this series, here’s the link. I recommend you take a few minutes to read as background for this post.

As I write this post, portions of the Federal Government just reopened after being shut down for 35 days. The reopening is funded for three weeks while congress and the President “negotiate border security.”

Eight hundred thousand government workers, including Coast Guard personnel, went unpaid while our elected officials (House, Senate, President) bickered over funding for one of the President’s favored projects. I saw photos of Coast Guard families and other civil servants in food stamp lines. News stories included interviews with furloughed individuals revealed their dependence on food banks and other charitable groups to keep food on the table. I suspect much of that was to use whatever money was available for housing payments.

HOWEVER, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE WHO CAUSED THIS SHUTDOWN CONTINUED TO COLLECT THEIR PAYCHECKS. I suspect that their staff didn’t miss a paycheck either.

How did such an event occur in “the greatest democracy in the world?”
Shouldn’t the democratic process be able to deal with disagreements without coercion by either legislative or executive branches? [Note. I did not capitalize legislative or executive on purpose. I don’t think either is doing their job to CAPITALIZED expectations.]

Short answers to the above questions are
Q1. How did such an event occur in “the greatest democracy in the world?”
Answer.
Part 1. Ego.
To be President of the United States requires a sizeable ego. Read biographies of past presidents. You’ll find that at least a super majority of them had sizeable egos. The egos of some were gigantic—even though several of those appeared less egotistical in public.

America elected Donald Trump President. Media today vilify him because he lost the popular vote. (Four other presidents were elected without winning the popular vote. 1824: John Quincy Adams, 1876: Rutherford B. Hayes, 1888: Benjamin Harrison, and 2000: George W. Bush were all elected with fewer popular votes than their opponents.) He’s also brash and abrasive. He is not incompetent and has done nothing impeachable. His ego has to be among the top two or three in presidential history.

It’s a good thing that Washington, D.C., is as close as it is to the equator. Otherwise the collective egos of the major players in the Senate and House would be enough to change the tilt of the Earth on its axis. When major “news” outlets report items under a headline like this: Breaking News! How Minority Leader thinks there might be a scandal beginning over _____” You can fill in the blank.  When did include what someone thinks? Particularly about something that (s)he thinks might happen?

Ego.

Part 2. Power.
Far too many elected officials barter and otherwise abuse the power the system generates for them. The saying
Power corrupts.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
has never been truer. Let's hope we never reach the second line, although absolute power does not appear to be the mandatory prerequisite to absolute corruption as it was in Napoleon's days. 

Q2. Shouldn’t the democratic process be able to deal with disagreements without coercion by either legislative or executive branches?
Answer.
Over time, the conscious manipulation of circumstances by incumbents and a laissez-faire attitude from the electorate corrupted the process. What the United States of American had now is a self-appointed governmental aristocracy who function outside the laws of the country and force those laws on the populace.

Congress members and senators have different health care and pension systems that are only theirs. Neither of those systems remotely resembles the health care system and Social Security system mandated for the electorate by legislation.

I’ll present my thoughts on the concept of career politicians in Part 3.


The next Expressions of Faith is Listen

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