The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

First, let me thank each and every person who has stopped by, read one or more of my posts and especially those who have subscribed to this blog.  Sometimes it’s hard for a writer to know if there is anyone actually reading this material.  But the most convincing evidence of that is the fact that many of you have taken the time to critique a particular post by leaving a comment.

Your comments are important to me.  They not only keep me on my toes, but they have provided me some ideas which I have incorporated in later posts.  A recent comment left by a reader is, in fact, the reason for writing this post.

This is our exchange from the post

nearlynormalized said:

June 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm

You must understand–BPT (as told to me my my African American friends—”Black People Time.” What’s the rush?

I responded:

I heard it as CPT (Colored People’s Time) and either term is demeaning.  It implies that some people, for whatever reason, should be held to a lesser standard because otherwise, they’re not good enough to compete.  If that isn’t racism and paternalism I don’t know what is.

This exchange grew out of a comment that I had made in the post regarding the fact that if there is one thing which has been consistent about the Obama presidency it is that he is consistently late.

In earlier posts I discussed tardiness several times.  I know that in grammar school I was expected to be on time.  It was so important that children who came to school late received “tardy slips”.  Apparently our educators believe that you can’t learn anything if you aren’t present to absorb the information.

Then there was my father.  He taught me that being on time was respectful of the person with whom you were meeting.  I carried this lesson with me through life.  It caused me to change dentists when the new one I had selected kept me waiting for one hour for each of my three appointments with her.  My thinking was that if she weren’t competent at scheduling her patients, how good was the quality of service she provided me?

Let’s consider this from another standpoint – that of the farmer who gets his seed planted late – and then harvests it late as well.  What kind of crop is he going to have available to sell?  A poor one.  Timeliness matters to the farmer and to those of us who expect these hard-working people to do their job in a timely and efficient matter so that when we go to the produce section of our supermarkets there is actually something there for us to buy.

I believe that timeliness is “mental body language.”  We unconsciously manifest our attitude toward those with whom we have dealings by how we respect or how we disrespect the value of their time.  It is an outward manifestation of our inner view of life.

Let’s consider this in terms of President Obama’s administration.  After three and one half years we have ample evidence to support this suggestion.

When the President took office he was faced with filling important government posts.  Most previous Presidents accomplished that within two months of being sworn in.  It took Obama six months.

The President was faced with a crisis – it was called unemployment.  The person who was capable of prioritizing should have understood that it was the most important issue on the table (and still is).

The first two years of President Obama’s administration were spent wrangling over producing a healthcare bill which the vast majority of Americans oppose and producing Dodd/Frank, a bill whose implications are so unclear that businesses are afraid to hire.   The result is that we still have an official unemployment rate of 8.2% and the rate among African-Americans, the constituency who voted for the President nearly unanimously, has one twice as high.

Whether you accept my logic on punctuality may depend on whether you agree with Shakespeare’s statement, “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”  But I can tell you that when I cast my vote this November, I am going to give it to a person whom I believe has respect for me and for all people in this country.

And I am going to cast that vote early.


  1. Courtesy is a basic building block of relationships.

  2. I don’t comment much these days, because half the time I seem to type invisibly for some reason. Since I can see this one (!) let me say that my mom taught us when we were very young that respect for others demanded that we always be on time–one of the many Courtesies that went to make up a decent human being. She thought that courtesy between people or between countries couldn’t help but make things better, and I’m absolutely convinced that she was right.

    • Thank you, Anita for taking the time to respond. I couldn’t agree more with your mom. It is a simple matter of courtesy and I believe that if we learn courtesy in simple things it extends throughout all that we do.

  3. I want to give you a 100 percent on your post.

    As the son of farmers, and a guy who still works on the farm when home from college, you’re absolutely right about timing and perseverance being everything.

    In business, there’s a saying: “If you snooze, you lose.”

    Guess who’s losing in November.

    All best,

    Jim Zee
    Northern Vermont

    • Thanks, Jim for your comment – coming, as it does from the trenches (or should I say furrows).

      Although I have lived in large cities most of my life, as a child I had the chance to work on a friend of my parents’ farm for several months. It gave me a new appreciation for how hard that work is – and a new respect for people who did this for a livelihood.

      I hope your November prediction is right on the money.

  4. nearlynormalized said:

    Respect, intelligence, communicative, thoughtful add that to a tad tardy–you still have a righteous man who will retain his Presidency because he can think on his feet and we still are not behind the eight ball as is Europe and others struggling with a bit more to lose then we as Americans. Good day swimming….

    • When I met Barack Obama in Chicago in 1997 I didn’t see the qualities you described. When he ran for the State Senate from my district in 1999 I hadn’t noticed any improvement. Sadly, I don’t think much has changed since.

      But the great thing about America is that we are each of us allowed our opinion. At least for the moment.

      • nearlynormalized said:

        We met Barack 5 years ago in Vegas, the man in your eyes has not grown, the man we saw and see has what it takes–Maybe the 1% don’t think so, but such is life. $$$$$$ will buy you Mitt and what else? Same old, same old. See you at the park.

      • I can’t speak for the 1% as I am not a member of the group. But life is, to my way of thinking, a process of continuing education. So please, educate me. What has President Obama accomplished during his presidency that has made this a better country and imporved things for the average citizen?

      • nearlynormalized said:

        What was he given as a President? Congress that is so selfish and can’t get beyond,”Get rid of Obama, make him fail.” Wars that can’t be won, just $$$$, hate is rampant…Come on, what did Bush leave him? What does Rove and his boys do but push the failure buttons to make the Republicans with no answers look like winners. I just want this country to be a country not divided with hate and backwardness. Check out a movie, 1960’s era, called, ‘WILD IN THE STREETS.” Generational warfare and total mistrust. Poor people don’t commit suicide. 111 degrees tomorrow.

      • Here is my problem with your answer – and I always seem to get the same answer from people who support President Obama. I get a non-answer – merely a statement about all the bad things he inherited from others. But to correct your history, during the first two years of his administration he had an absolute legislative majority working with him on his agenda in Congress. That is not a matter of opinion but a statement of fact.

        I couldn’t agree with you more when you say that “I just want this country to be a country not divided with hate and backwardness.” But it is exactly that strategy of divisiveness that I see at the heart of President Obama’s election campaign. And it is precisely for that reason that I cannot support him.

        If you should think of an answer to my original question, “What has President Obama accomplished during his presidency that has made this a better country and improved things for the average citizen?”, please let me know. You know how to reach me.

      • nearlynormalized said:

        What has he done wrong? Think about the animosity that has been going on since he was elected…There is no backbone to make changes in this country–the only changes that are made are for a few, not the majority. I’m beyond the greed of Adelson, Koch brothers and the billions of $$$ that seem to control this country in a separation so deep it is scary. Where are you going to hide, when the crap hits the fan? Unemployed/under employed/ youth fight the wars that old, white, bad hair, phony tanned fool start. Class wars are here and there are no fences to protect.

      • There are two kinds of sins – commission and omission. So let’s think about this logically for a moment.

        President Obama was elected on the mantra of “Change”. In order to change something you have to recognize what it is. I think you would agree with this point. It certainly didn’t (or shouldn’t) have come as a surprise to him on Inauguration Day that we had problems that needed fixing. He campaigned on the exact premise. Blame them on Congress or President Bush – there’s plenty of blame to go around.

        But having been swept into office with the hope and expectation that he had solutions for our problems, what has been the result? We can’t blame Congress for impeding him since the Democrats had absolute control of both houses for the first half of his term. But instead of addressing the vital issues with which we are confronted, President Obama went off on a tangent.

        Please understand that I have no antipathy to him personally – or to anyone else for that matter. I simply believe that he is an average person trying to do the most important job in the world.

        In the absence of a specific answer to my question about what the President has done that has improved the country or the life of the average American during his tenure, I am going to borrow his 2008 campaign slogan and vote for “Change”.

      • nearlynormalized said:

        Average person–don’t you think that belittles the man just a tad…Blame, it goes all around, but I think he if had some support for change it could happen. You still don’t want to recognize the bottom line to Obama’s Presidency–he was never going to make it if the “Boys” had/have their way. He will have a second term and the haters will still hate and put up a puppet front for their greed. Logic? Is fracking logical, are fear tactics logical, is crying about balancing the budget logical, what about saying global warming is not happening…Are those logical? Ramblings from the heart not the mind.

      • “By their deeds ye shall know them”.

        Barack Obama – record as Illinois State Senator: Sponsored NO legislation – voted “present” for 91% of all ballots.

        Barack Obama as U. S. Senator from Illinois. Sponsored NO legislation.

        Average – you’re right – maybe I should revise my estimate.

        P. S. “The Boys” whoever they are, had nothing to do with Mr. Obama’s voting record or his lack of sponsoring legislation. By the way, President Clinton not only balanced the budget but ran a surplus.

      • nearlynormalized said:

        I see a greater picture than $$$$, balance, surplus; there is more to life than being a bookkeeper. I feel Obama as a protector of the United States–I don’t want much more from our Executive Branch, but ability to communicate and dumb us down. Regan, actor, “Great Communicator”, what BS–he read his script well and had the Kitchen Cabinet run his show. Different times, BS money games got us in this crap we are in and a continuing WARS….Honesty, transparency–will that ever happen?

      • There is much more to life than money. I pointed that out to an acquaintance in OWS who wasn’t very impressed with my statement.

        As to “dumbing us down”, the President needn’t bother with that. Our “educational system” is doing a fine job on its own.

        The two most important political and social speeches I heard in my lifetime are Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, “I Have A Dream.” And Ronald Reagan’s speech at the Berlin Wall – “Mr. Gorbachev – tear down this wall.” And Mr. Gorbachev did.

        It’s a sad statement about humanity that in the entirety of our brief history on the planet there has never been a time when a war hasn’t been waged somewhere on earth. It goes beyond the issue of race or nationality to the fact that we humans haven’t “evolved” very far. I guess it’s a slow process.

      • nearlynormalized said:

        Key word in your last statement was process…Keep it it moving–no time for stagnation.

      • I’ll let you have the last word.

      • nearlynormalized said:

        No need, just like to ramble–sense/nonsense–makes me happy for the moment.

  5. I’m not versed in American politics and I think you have to live in a country to know the full extent, but from an outsider looking in, it is always right to question and it is those who never question status quos and opinions pushed on us, that are ignorant. After all, that is democracy.

    • Dear Felicity,

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave your comment. I appreciate your doing both.

      Sometimes when we are close to a situation we are too close to it and our vision turns from the big picture to trivial elements from which it is composed. A foreign viewpoint can be valuable.

      Your perspective is exactly correct, a democracy can only succeed when people challenge the status quo and work constructively together to improve it.

      Most importantly, truth is truth whoever utters it. I didn’t need to meet Gandhi to realize he was a great, courageous and honest man. If people of his stature ran the governments of the world, we would all be in a happier place.


  6. Old Shakespeare had a lot of insights to share,

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