The above title is a fact. It does not mean that Mrs. Romney hasn’t worked hard to raise a family. But working hard to raise a family can not be compared to experiencing the work-a-day world up close and personal. In fact, both Mitt Romney and Mrs. Romney are shockingly inexperienced and tone-deaf to the issues that those who live in the work-a-day world discuss at their kitchen tables.
The Wealthy Perceive the World As Fair & Square - Perception Is Their Reality:
Full confession here: I was raised in a wealthy family. Nothing approaching the Romney’s or any of the super-rich that define wealth in the 21st century - but fears about financial security were notably absent. My Grandfather was a CEO, my father was a lawyer and we all lived very, very well.
My mother worked and had a career prior to her marriage, she did so in the freelance world and did not have to take every job that came her way. After she married, she lived a life not unlike Ann Romney’s. And like Ann Romney, she saw the world of business and work as a decent place where people were reasonable and advancement was based on a meritocracy. During my teen years, our situation gradually changed but I didn’t have to face the work-a-day world until I was almost 20. And I confess that I was totally unprepared for how capricious and unfair it could be. And my late mother, learned vicariously through me, that her vision of the world of work was flawed. You have to experience it to “get it”.
It doesn’t seem so long ago…the halcyon days of my misspent youth. The year was 1992 and my mother had just been admitted to the hospital for a potentially fatal case of the flu. She had inflammatory lung disease of unknown origins - and a case of flu could be a fatal complication. Indeed - when she arrived at the ER her condition was critical. Here, in a nutshell, was how my passion for molecular biology was born. From my Granfather’s diabetes, to my mother’s life-shortening lung disease, I was consistently exposed to the limits of modern medicine - not its marvels.
Like many - I was fooled by ”scientist shortage” reports of the 1990’s:
On that day, I said goodnight to my mother and talked briefly to her attending physician. After assuring me that my mother’s condition was stabilized, the conversation turned to research. I mentioned briefly what I did for a living (I was a lab manager/technician) and my plans to get a doctorate. The doctor nodded sagely that it was well known that the U.S. needed more Ph.D.’s in biomedical science.
How many times does a lie have to be repeated for the general public to be hoodwinked into thinking it is true? In those days, it was quite true that getting a reasonably high-paying job in biotechnology straight out of graduate school was completely doable. What no one seemed to grasp was that the flood of graduate students post-docs coming to the US from abroad, was already sowing the seeds of the massive glut that I would face upon graduation from a doctoral program. By the time I was out of the pipeline, there were no industry jobs for new graduates. Freshly minted Ph.D.’s were shoved unceremoniously into the post-doctoral logjam into which most would disappear for 10 years of further “training” at coolie wages before “qualifying” for a real job with a salary and benefits.
Here we go again - the great STEM career shortage rides again:
So it was with a feeling of deja vu that I heard the president’s senior advisor and assistant for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs say that the thing to do was to encourage women and our youth in general to train for those valuable STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and math) - because this was how to secure their future!
Are you kidding me? A career in any of these fields involves a long and arduous education generally involving several YEARS of post-graduate study. A lot can change in those years. Shortages turn into gluts as people chase the career tracks that are profitable - for the moment. Once a critical mass of “bodies” is reached, the field becomes commoditized and you can kiss that nice salary and secure future good-bye.
Right now people are flooding into computer science and programming - again. Efforts to encourage women to enter this field are in full force - again. The reason I say “again” is because we have heard this all before - back in the 1980s. One such effort appeared in the New York Timestoday. (”Giving Women the Access Code” by Katie Hafner.
Ask many of the graduates of higher education in STEM fields how valuable that degree has been and more than half will laugh hysterically. My computer science counterparts learned the hard way - as I did - that employment opportunities can turn on a dime creating a situation where long term educational commitments are nothing more than a crap shoot.
We need more than a bandaid for this problem…
Encouraging students to enter STEM fields without first understanding the cyclic dynamics of these industries is the height of irresponsibility. These types of degrees promote “hard skills” that are not easily transferable to alternate disciplines.
So it should be no big surprise that women and men are shunning these fields in favor of a softer skill set in business where sliding from field to field is not so difficult.
A couple of weeks ago I was in running my dogs in the park and an acquaintance of mine came in with her two dogs. I mentioned the stock market and she started asking about commodities prices. For about half a second I wondered why this was a concern. Then it hit me - she is the owner of a coffee shop which is also a roasting establishment. Commodities prices have a massive impact on her life and profit margins - and coffee has gone crazy over the past year. Admittedly some of this was due to weather issues - but much of it was sheer speculation.
The same holds true from the oil speculation that was one extra nail in our fiscal coffin in 2008. High oil prices drove the cost of living sky high in the middle of recession in 2008 and helped lead the country off a financial cliff. But the impact goes even further than that. People die from commodities speculation. When food products are involved - such as wheat death and malnurishment result. In poor countries such speculation driving prices sky high can mean the difference of eating or not. Indeed, the high price of wheat was a big factor in rebellion in Tunisia and in Egypt.
As of this writing Obama has presented his plan before the American people and a joint session of Congress - A Congress that graciously begrudgingly gave him a time slot at their convenience.
The republicans are probably somewhat chastened by a brutal August among their constituents. I know for our part - New Yorkers gave Nan Hayworth little peace. The heckling started the minute she returned home and she was shadowed by angry constituents every day of her recess. One even stripped off her shirt (she was wearing a bathing suit) saying that she was losing her shirt to tea party policies. Ironic, since she was a “job creator” with her own (now outsourced) business. But I digress. It appears to have been a similar period of purgatory in other districts throughout the county. Sooooooo - doing nothing is probably not an option. But giving Obama a victory is also NOT an option.
From - http://www.flickr.com/photos/speakerpelosi/
I have long been an Obama apologist - after all we have an entrenched “tea party” of freshman congressmen along with massively corrupt DC infrastructure thanks to unlimited campaign funds from big business. Obama entered office at the worst possible time. There is a common saying which is actually a curse: “May you live in interesting times.” A worse curse might will be “May you win high office in interesting times.” Politics - after all - is the art of the possible. Those who dig in and won’t budge - in the end won’t last.
However, the president’s performance this week tells me that he may not have what it takes to govern in this environment. He is first and foremost a constitutional lawyer and a scholar. Nothing wrong with that. I would rather have a scholar than a cowboy like Bush as POTUS in such a challenging environment.
The republicans have basically branded themselves as the anti-Obama. They aren’t for very much except low taxes low taxes on the wealthy and corporations. So they have to frame their rhetoric around what they are not. Bill Maher in his “New Rules” segment has decided that only solution to this hypocrisy is for the republicans to own their rhetoric lock stock and barrel and have as their presidential nominee a true anti-Obama Karab Amabo is Bill Maher’s choice for the Republican nomination. After all, even the name is Barack Obama spelled backward.
Tonight I am going to a “State of the Union” party in my hometown. Several progressives decided to get together in a group and enjoy each other’s company and watch the spectacle from a wide screen TV in a rented room in downtown White Plains.
Many of my friends in this group have been bitterly disappointed in Obama’s performance over the past two years. At one meeting there was a woman crying over the fact that she was a progressive and had expected a great deal more from the Obama Administration.