Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I made a mistake because I made a mistake

We all make mistakes, that is, those of us who are human.

But have you ever been asked to explain a mistake? Ultimately, the only way to explain a mistake is to circularly say "I made a mistake," which is not really an explanation.

Can you explain why you accidentally knocked over a glass of milk? Clumsy? Clumsy is just another word for "prone to making mistakes." 

Forget an appointment? "I got mixed up." In other words, I got mixed up because I got mixed up.

So, what is a mistake? Something you did that you did not mean to do? That suggests that the left side of the brain doesn't know what the right side is doing. A circuitry problem.

And there are those who contend that there are no mistakes; that actions are a response to unconscious urges. Calling Dr. Freud. 

Mistakes are a key aspect of atonement, as in the day of atonement, or Yom Kippur, which is observed by Jews next month. In this context anything done in violation of God's law must be atoned for. 

Life would be easier without mistakes.

 But, a large majority of us are human.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Brother can you spare a cylinder of acetylene

Barack Obama does not confer with me about jobs programs, but there is something I'd like to say to him.

Say there are about 14 million people in the U.S. who are unemployed. Construction workers constitute about 1.7 million of that number. That's 12 percent.

Yet when the President talks about creating jobs, he almost always refers to "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects such as bridges and highways. 

Since the bridges and highways in the U.S. are not adequately maintained, they are crumbling and rusting into oblivion, so rebuilding all of those decaying pieces of infrastructure makes sense. 

But where does that leave the other 12.3 million unemployed Americans? The experienced and older white-color unemployed? Those cast off by corporations so that young, inexperienced people can take their places for much less money? 

The newspaper business comes to mind. As the New York Times recently reported,  many news organizations are using people with no professional experience to cover the ongoing presidential election cycle. 

If you can replace someone working for $50,000, who has 30 years of experience, with someone working  for $30,000, who has no experience, that saves a lot of money. Or, so it seems. The public is less informed, but who cares?

This dynamic is apparently happening across the board. 

White collar jobs at hospitals, software companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, consulting firms, etc. are going to young people. If you are 50ish, good luck. 

I wouldn't mind learning how to weld, or lay concrete, or drive rivets, or whatever. But who is going to hire a 60ish welder with no experience? 

As everyone who knows anything knows, the country needs New Deal-type boost, so that people who are otherwise unemployable can get jobs and spend money. No one I know wants to get hand outs. 

"Over my dead body," quoth the Republican majority in the House, a la Eric Cantor.

Not exactly. Over my dead body.