Mythic Middle Class?

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Is the idea of a powerful and well-populated middle class easily obtainable with hard work a myth or is it provable fact?

That was the focus of a recent study by Pew Research looking at the middle class on a global level. The truth revealed showed more hope than reality.

While here in the US, most people consider themselves middle class, a 56% majority would be considered high income around the world. Yet, inside our borders, low income outdistances middle class and high income by a large margin. The same is shown globally.

Per the US government, poverty level in the nation for a family of four was $23,0021. The study covers the period from 2001 to 2011. The median income in the US was down to $51,939 in 2013 compared to a mean of $55,562 in 2001 before the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

Comparing US income to the rest of the world only 7% of Americans are middle class with only 3% being in poverty. What a difference when we see our lives in America and then look at the lives of those around the globe.

This is not to say there are not issues with poverty and income equality in America the Beautiful. Yet, when put into perspective, America and its citizens are blessed or lucky or any phrase you want to use.

Low income families dominate in the US and not the middle class. There are more of us near the poverty level for our nation than there are of us who think we are middle class. And it is not getting any better or easier to rise into the ranks of the middle class.

While there have been thousands of jobs created over the past few years, the majority of the jobs being created are either low paying or part-time positions. Income, wages, have remained static making mobility nearly non-existent. The disparity between the ones at the top of the economic ladder and those trying to get on the first rung continues to grow.

Check out the full study from Pew: A Global Middle Class Is More Promise Thank Reality.

From the Cornfield, it is not enough to work hard. There must also be the opportunity to move up with a company or business. There must be jobs created which provide a more desirable income base.

Crowing about the number of jobs created is hollow unless those jobs are full-time and pay more than what one can receive on unemployment or temporary aid. When the under-employed and those who have dropped out of the labor market can’t see daylight or reason to hold on, hope itself becomes a myth.

The middle class in America will remain mythic until those wanting a good-paying position can find openings for sustainable opportunities.

With the presidential election campaigns launched, a main concern Americans will be looking at is the position of the candidates on the economy, how to rid the country of the financial sluggishness and a program to create the type of jobs with the income Americans need.

 

That Thorny Immigration Issue

cornfieldlogoImmigration – will the issue sink the Republican ship and prevent a GOP takeover of the White House in 2016?

Wannabes vying to be the party’s standard bearer next year are having a difficult time in addressing the issue and keeping the very conservative base happy. Businessman Donald Trump is soaking up all the sunshine on the issue to the dismay and disgruntlement of his fellow competitors.

But is The Donald doing more harm to the Grand Ole Party than good?

Recent polls show he has displaced former Florida Governor Jeb Bush as the frontrunner. But the party establishment is not happy with Trump’s words and methods.

Trump is now suggesting that if the party does not like his way of doing things, he may take his bat and balls and go home. Well not home, but may pull out of the Republican race and run as an independent.

Studies and information from the Census Bureau has revealed that the highest number of immigrants coming to the US of A is not from Mexico and Latin America, but rather from Asia. Hispanics are, however, still the fastest growing minority in the country.

Can the GOP come to terms with addressing immigration in a way which will not alienate the majority?

Will the conservative base, which are the ones who will turn out to select the nominee in the primaries and caucuses, allow the candidates to promote a sensible path forward and provide real solutions to an immigration system that all agree, on all sides of the political spectrum, is broken?

Legal immigration is of no issue – except:

Legal immigration is too costly and should be revamped.

Legal immigration wait times are beyond the pale to obtain legal residence/citizenship and need to be revamped.

Except for legitimate political refugees, we must find a way to both keep our borders open and secure the borders from those who refuse to play by the rules.

Xenophobia is a sickness – not an acceptable way of life. We must find the middle ground between being proud Americans and accepting neighbors.

When many people’s great-grandparents, grandparents and millions of others crossed both ponds, one of the primary goals was making sure the children (if not themselves) learned English as quickly as possible.

There was an intense desire to renounce allegiance to the Old Country and pledge firm solidarity with the Land of Promise.

Those days are gone.

In some areas raising and flying the flag of the former country takes prominence over that of the American flag. This use not to be.

In some areas parents refuse to allow their children to learn English and insist on education in the home country language rather than the predominant language of their new homeland.

This all adds to the issue and problem especially in the border states and with many rural Americans unexposed unlike their urban neighbors to immigrants – legal and illegal.

Then there is the issue of how to secure our borders and keep our borders open. We have long prided ourselves on not having troops amassed along either our border with Mexico or with Canada.

Immigration is an interesting subject matter with no one-size-fits-all or easy fix.

I don’t have the answers which will provide the cure for a broken immigration system. I do know to do nothing is the wrong move

 From the Cornfield, how do we as Americans move forward on this issue?

How does the Republican Party address the concerns of the base and be welcoming to those of Hispanic and other ethnic descent?

What is the answer?

The Courts keep knocking down President Barack Obama on his unilateral moves on immigration.

Will GOP candidates pander or do and say what is right for the nation?

Rockets Over the River

Dateline The Desert: Tonight I was privileged to view the 25th Annual Rockets Over the River along the Colorado River put on by the resorts and casinos in Laughlin, Nevada. This was the first of such celebrations since I arrived in the Desert and which I will enjoy many more.

From my position in the south parking lot of the Riverside Resort and Casino, the place that started it all, I was able to video the entire show. The video is rather long, but the show is worth it.

If you were not able to get out and view fireworks as we celebrate the 239th birthday of the US of A or because of the heat and dry conditions your locality did not set the “bombs bursting in air” this year, now is your chance to ooh, ah and clap.

Enjoy!

Though from where I was I did not see what happened after the show. There were two sizable fires. The fireworks are launched from the old Pioneer Casino parking lot, which not accessible from the Laughlin side of the river. Two firetrucks were dispatched from Bullhead City, Arizona to put out and contain the blazes.

There have now been reports of 6-7 fires. Last information around 1 a.m. was that some may still be burning.

The firefighters did their duty, but were hampered somewhat by the wind which was blowing about 10 miles per hour. Compound that with the still 100-degree temperature and humidity at 20%.

Kudos to those who made this celebration such a success and to the firefighters who made sure all was well.

From the Cornfield, Happy Birthday, America!

Before & After the Fireworks

Dateline The Desert: People began arriving Thursday for the 25th Annual Rockets Over the River, the spectacular fireworks display put on by the resorts and casinos up and down Casino Drive  in Laughlin, Nevada.

As you can see from the photos the parking lot were I was at, The Riverside Resort and Casino, was full long before the sun went down. Following the “bombs bursting in air”, people were not in that big of a rush to leave.

Traffic was like a zoo as I headed back to Canyon Terrace where the Desert Mark’s Den is located. As I neared Needles Highway traveling up Bruce Woodbury Drive, about a quarter of a mile from the intersection, there had been an accident. An ambulance was loading at least one person.

What a way to end the day’s festivities.

From the Cornfield, let freedom forever ring.

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Happy Birthday, US of A!

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Tomorrow, the US of A celebrates its 239th birthday.

It was, like with any birth, one that was born out of travail, crying, shouts of glee, bloodshed and even death. Truly the continent was in heavy labor as the push and screams of thousands were heard around the world.

That sorrow and agony gave way, however, to jubilation as the nation emerged scathed and covered with the scars and trappings of nativity. But as difficult as that birth was, the struggle was not over.

There would be growing pains, illnesses and diseases to overcome. There would be those who would attempt to reclaim and to destroy that life which was born out of a pledge to devote honor, lives and fortunes to see this epic birth come to be and last through all time.

Through the years, as with any baby maturing to toddler to child to teen to adult, this great nation of states joined to form a “more perfect union” had to go through its share of perils, tests and trials. In each instance, in the end, the US of A emerged on the other side a better nation.

The most trying time is undisputed which is what occurred during what I would call the teenage years, puberty, when literally brother was pitted against brother, sister against sister, sons and daughters against mothers and fathers. The greatest and most costly toll of lives and bloodshed threatened to tear the nation apart. Yet through the trauma of the Civil War, the War Between the States, a united and stronger country came of age.

Dark days still lay ahead, but it seemed the worst had passed.

Through more battles and more wars, we find ourselves today celebrating the nation we’ve become and feeling the pain of the mistakes we have made. We honor the lives who gave their all to keep this nation the home of the brave and the land of the free.

Now, we look forward to the days and years ahead.

We are traveling the rough and choppy sea of economic uncertainty, but which seems to be slowly recovering.

The ship of state must traverse the gulf as the skipper maneuvers the ship to avoid crashing on the rocks of lost hope, despair, keeping an eye on the course and the port of serenity which lies in the distance.

The tides of global unrest threaten to engulf us. We must stay resolute and strong. Together we can ride the waves and dock in safe harbor.

Many have lost hope.

Many no longer aspire to the American Dream.

Many wonder if the flag will still wave for much longer.

But we are Americans.

We will survive.

From the Cornfield, America, may she always be that shining city on a hill to which others seek to aspire.

Happy Independence Day!

Middle Ground – Marriage Equality & Religious Freedom

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We – humans – have a bad habit of making problems or creating issues where there are none.

Following last weeks decision by the US Supreme Court that all legal-aged couples, without regard to the gender of the parties, has a constitutional right to dignity and to apply and receive a license to have their long-term relationship recognized by the state with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that entails, to the right and to the left there were battle cries.

On the right among social conservatives, there was the call to rally the troops to protect religious liberty – even though the Supreme Court majority did not abridge religious liberty in any way.

On the left among social liberals (primarily in the GLBT community) a siren call went out to form the lines to force religious organizations to put their “sincerely held religious beliefs on the shelf or you hate me and are a bigot and violate my right to marry.” This even though the Supremes in no way gave any right or mandate to the GLBT and their supporters to demand religious bodies to abridge their freedom of free exercise guaranteed by the 1st Amendment.

This whole mess is man-made ridiculousness.

There is a simple solution, one which I have advocated for years. Those who read or follow my dribble will recognize this simple solution from my Principles Which I Carry Over, which I have posted for the world to see for the past few years.

To quote:

Same-gender relationships should be afforded the benefit of state blessing just as opposite-gender relationships now are. There is no reason to complicate or not allow equality under the law with all the benefits and protections afforded opposite-gender couples over the use of a word on the state license. Best option is that all state licenses use the term civil union on all state documents. Let the couples have a “marriage” privately within the framework of their religious institutions or according to their moral view. All couples, whether same-gender or opposite-gender, should be afforded the same rights and benefits under the law when receiving a license to recognize the joining of the two individuals legally.

To put it more simply, the Justices upheld that states must recognize all legal-aged, consenting couples right to wed. The Justices did not take away the states rights to regulate marriage in several areas.

States still determine the age of majority and at what age minors must get parental consent.

States still determine how closely related by blood couples may wed.

States still determine residency requirements to obtain a license.

States still determine who may issue licenses.

States still determine who officiates marriages.

On the last issue, states deciding who can and can’t perform ceremonies – this is the solution.

For “official” state recognition in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling, all exchange of vows must be conducted by a civil servant acting in a secular role as an agent of the state.

Those who wish to have a religious ceremony can plan, can spend, can be as lavish as their church allows, but after the official, civil ceremony. Same-gender couples can do the same, but would have to find a church or religious body which agrees that God blesses both gay and straight.

There would then be no assault of religious freedom. There would be no cause for some to try and make a “federal case” by entrapping some preacher in the cross hairs.

From the Cornfield, as a man, who happens to be married legally to another man (at least for the moment), there is middle ground. There is a path we can walk which gives respect for those who agree and those who disagree that all couples should be equal under the Constitution when it comes to state (which is secular) recognition of ones vow to love and to hold.