Thursday, August 16, 2012

Warren Buffett's budget fix

“A balanced budget? No problem,” Warren Buffett told CNBC recently.  “You pass a law that makes any sitting members of Congress ineligible for re-election if the deficit is larger than 3% of GDP.”

Yes, we’d have a balance budget in no time! Most every politician wants to be re-elected. The problem is, Congress wouldn’t vote for it. Unless … there’s enough pressure from the public!  And that means pressure from 314 million people.

Warren Buffett has other splendid ideas, including these proposed in his 2012 Congressional Reform Act:

1. Pay and Pension. Members of Congress are to receive a salary while in office, not a life-long pension and continuing benefits. Their reward should be the very honor of serving their Country.

2. Social Security. Members of Congress will be participating in the same Social Security system they have designed for the American people. It's true, Congress has its own special deluxe system, at our expense, but I doubt that our Founding Fathers would approve of that. The Congressional retirement fund should be merged with the Social Security system. As to retirement plans, Members of Congress are at liberty to purchase their own just like other Americans.

3. Pay Raises. Congress should not be allowed to vote themselves pay raises. Their pay may be increased by the lower of CPI or 3%.

4. Healthcare. Presently, America has two healthcare systems, a deluxe system for Members of Congress, and Obama-care for the people. Since Congress is designing and voting on Obama-care, it should also participate in it, not just we, the people.

5. Same Law for all. Members of Congress will abide by the same laws as the American people, without exceptions.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. Our Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, who temporarily serve their country, not themselves. When their term is over, Congressmen and -women go home and back to work.

What we can do:

How can we get Congress to vote on matters that are good for the country, not just good for their personal advantage? Public pressure, says Warren Buffett. If everyone who reads this forwards it to friends and acquaintances, word will spread quickly.

Better yet, if we collect signatures, Congress will realize we mean business. Public media is another good way to start discussions and collect votes.

It is time to restore America to being the Land of the Free with Opportunity for All.

We’ve all suffered the consequences of recent laws that were motivated by unscrupulous lobbyists, selfish pork-belly deals and legislators who lost sight of America’s future. If Members of Congress have to abide by the same laws they impose upon the people, and be subject to them—such as social security and healthcare—they will give their task more thought.  

Public pressure can work miracles. In record time, Congress gave 18-year olds the right to vote—all because of public pressure. We can do it again.

So spread the word.

Pass this on.

Make it happen.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Olympic Memories

Nothing is more pleasing to the senses and more awe-inspiring than to watch the world’s young Olympic athletes. It lifts us above the daily squabbles of politicians and widens our vision of what is feasible.

My father, an avid lover of horses, was a member of the Olympic team in 1936. The place of the Games was Berlin.

Adolf Hitler was hosting the Games in person. Even the construction of some 150 new buildings, one of them a vast Olympic stadium, he had directed himself. He wanted to impress upon the world that he was the Ruler of the Master Race.

Berlin hummed with activity. Foreign reporters were lavishly provided with microphones and radio vans so they could broadcast to every corner of the world. Huge screens, a novelty then, were placed throughout the city. Hitler wanted everyone to view the German victories.

As a historic first, Hitler ordered a torch to be lit at the ancient stadium of Olympia and had it carried to his stadium in Berlin. And for ultimate splendor, his foreign guests were beguiled on an island of the Wannsee where an Italian Night was staged. Over a thousand guests reveled in luxuriant gardens, and were transfixed by the magic of an Arabian night.

Exhilarated, my father Edgar Leuthold rode in from his last run before the Games. His horse had performed splendidly. Dismounting his Trekener, he was about to enter the stable when two SS officials stepped out and blocked his way. He had dodged them the day before. He could not escape them this time.

Clenching his fist, he ignored their officious “Heil Hitler!” and turned to his horse. Sensing her master’s tension, she whinnied and shook her mane.

“Are you planning to ride in the Olympics, sir?” one of the SS men demanded. The Games were to open in the morning.

Leuthold nodded assent, but thought it better to speak, “Yes, I am.” He had registered for dressage and jumping.

“Then you must sign this paper,” they said and handed him a pen. “Simply a formality.”

He glanced at the form, “Membership in the Nazi Party?”

“Yes sir,” they confirmed crisply. “Only members of the Nazi Party have permission to participate in the Games.”

Leuthold returned the pen and pocketed the document. “Let me think about it.”

They did not let him pass yet; they wanted to make sure he understood. “All Germans who want to participate in the Games must be members of the Nationalist Socialist Party.”

Leuthold walked away swiftly to conceal his indignation. The two uniformed men glanced at each other—this Leuthold needed watching. The older one pulled a black notebook from his pocket and made an entry.

In the dim light of the stable Leuthold realized the bitter truth. He stroked the noble head of his horse. She had won him many trophies over the last three years. He tightened his fist. He had to be a Nazi to ride in the Games! He loved the sport and wanted to ride; he had trained diligently. Family and friends had come to Berlin to watch him. But join the Nazi Party?  He had strong political convictions, but expediency was not one of them.  He thought of Thomas Jefferson’s words, In matters of principle stand like a rock.

Hitler nursed great expectations of the Games. He wanted his protégé, Lutz Long, to prove to the world that the Aryan Race was indeed superior. To Hitler’s intense disappointment, it did not happen. African-American Jesse Owens was the unrivaled victor of the Games. He broke eleven Olympic records and won four Gold, and prevailed over Hitler’s Lutz Long.

Hitler was beside himself. He refused to shake Owens’ hand and present him with his medals. Fortunately, Lutz Long knew better. The great athlete embraced Jesse Owens and congratulated him, while onlookers smiled in relief.

Both my Parents watched from the bleachers, studying Hitler’s anger-distorted face. What ambitions lurked behind those cold and calculating eyes? Father distrusted this man and deeply disliked him. He had torn up the papers for membership, and did not ride in the Games.

The final days of the 2012 London Olympic Games are upon us. Just like the Olympic rings symbolize, so do the nations of the world join in striving for the most extraordinary achievements.

(Excerpts from “The Madman and His Mistress” by Roswitha Leuthold McIntosh)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Guest Author Alison Poulsen PhD "I've fallen out of love with her"

Falling in Love
Falling in love involves an unconscious as well as physical and chemical response to another person, which is much more compelling than simply finding someone to be attractive and compatible. Often, when we fall in love, we get a feeling of wholeness because we have met someone who carries qualities we lack in an irresistible way.
For example, a practical, rational man falls in love with a spiritual or emotional woman, even though most women of that type annoy him. Or a strong, assertive woman falls in love with a sensitive, artistic man, even though she finds most such men to be weak.
The conscious mind seeks similarity and is repelled by the opposite. The unconscious, however, seeks balance, and is drawn to the qualities one needs most, but only when they are expressed in an acceptable and appealing way.
Being in love creates an anticipation of fulfillment because the unconscious senses the possibility of becoming whole, if only we could integrate those unfamiliar qualities that reside in the Other without rejecting our own primary personality. The initial falling in love, like infatuation, overwhelms us with a feeling that involves a chemical response akin to being intoxicated. We’re in a state of awe and wonder regarding our partner, which often inspires our partner to feel confident, happy, and open — three enticing qualities that keep the magic going.
Falling out of Love
Later in the relationship, the chemical cocktail of oxytocin and dopamine from the initial romantic attraction wears off. At that point, unless we are the exception and continue to cherish our partner and integrate some of those needed contrasting qualities of our partner, those same qualities that drew the unconscious in often start driving us crazy. The conscious mind is back in charge, viewing our partner’s differences with negative judgment.
For example, the practical, rational man can no longer stand his partner’s emotional melodramatics. Or the strong, assertive woman is now turned off by her partner’s vulnerability.
The irony is that as partners reject those contrasting qualities, they polarize into extremes, exhibiting their opposing qualities in an increasingly unattractive way. No wonder many people ask themselves, “What happened to the person I married?”
The rational man becomes cold, causing the emotional woman to become histrionic in an effort to get him to show his emotions. When he finally does show his emotions, they are the emotions of anger and resentment, not love and compassion.
Or the strong woman becomes demanding and tough, causing the sensitive man to feel helpless and unseen. “Be a man!” she demands, which only causes him to feel utterly impotent. She loses her opportunity to gain some needed sensitivity; he misses out on developing some needed strength.

Love as a Chosen Attitude
How we treat another person affects the other person’s confidence and often causes him or her to gain or lose desirability in our eyes. The more we appreciate our partner, the more he or she carries the qualities we fell in love with in an enticing way, and thus, the more likely we are to get that loving feeling back again.
The conscious act of love involves choosing to have an attitude of appreciation for our partner, and particularly for his or her differences as we did when we fell in love. Thus, love is in large part dependent on our intention, appreciation, and action.
Invest in the Person
To reclaim the feeling of love, both partners need to choose to invest their time and energy in their relationship, particularly where their most stark differences lie. That doesn’t mean that they should spend every minute together, becoming fused and codependent. However, they both must choose to make their relationship a primary focus in their lives by doing some of the following:
1. Respect each OtherWe need to speak as though the other person has influence over us, without being dismissive or condescending. We need to repeatedly interact with each other in ways that show that we think the other is competent and capable. Again, this requires that we don’t let our conscious preferences, such as being practical, sensitive, or tough, be in charge of our reactions.
2. Plan the Future: When couples no longer talk about their dreams, hopes, and plans, this often indicates that their relationship is in decline. Talking about plans for the future—this weekend, next year, and twenty years from now—creates anticipation for the future as a couple. Current difficulties are easier to deal with when couples have something to look forward to.

3. Trust:
 A loving relationship is based on trust, that is, on having faith that our partner is dependable, honest, and faithful. Showing faith and trust in our partner often helps develop trust. We do this by gradually disclosing more about who we are to the other person without fearing that we will be judged and rejected, and without manipulating the other person into approving and agreeing with us all the time. We must also have the discipline to avoid re-actively criticizing our partner when he or she discloses personal thoughts and feelings.

4. Enjoy:
 Enjoying the other person’s company with his or her differences is an important feature of love. We should get pleasure from doing things together and from supporting and caring for the other person.
5. Take Action: Doing things for another person can be an expression of love. We can create feelings of love through acting out of love, rather than passively waiting for those feelings of infatuation to overcome us. If both people are passively waiting to feel in love again, they are likely to be disappointed.
6. Be Affectionate: With loyalty, affection, and faithfulness, intimacy deepens into something even more meaningful than the initial feelings of falling in love.
7. Cultivate Passion: Sustaining passion requires intense engagement, fascination, and thinking about the other person with desire. This is something we can actively conjure up rather than passively waiting for it.
Sustaining love is an art, which requires conscious cultivation. Yet, it can be deeper, more meaningful, and just as passionate as the initial infatuation. It starts with our own conscious choice to appreciate and enjoy the differences between us.
As the rational man in our example opens his heart and expresses some emotion, his partner may learn to contain some of her emotion rather than gushing, which will benefit both partners and the relationship. As the strong, assertive woman accesses some sensitivity and restrains her desire to be in control, she makes room for her partner to become self-empowered and less driven by his vulnerability. Ideally, both partners strive for more balance within themselves, which is part of the journey toward individuation.
Often, the more we embrace and try to integrate our partner’s different way of being, the more our partner will gain a more balanced way of being as well, resulting in both partners blossoming into more whole and individuated people.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD