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America is in an ideological tug of war: Can we do better?

Too often, American public policy discussions are framed in single issue debates of pros and cons which make for great media theater and water cooler conversation–but never end in solutions… only in winners and losers.  To be sure, the real losers are once again the shrinking middle-class which continues to see a broken Congress continue to destroy the country.  An American dream Hollywood built and the middle-class made  sustainable by working itself out of the working class and buying into the popular media illusion.  This “progress” now seems out of reach for much of the children of that middle-class and for recent immigrants.  So where is America going?  What will happen to an America where honest and bipartisan discussion of real public policy problems is muffled by cable show sensationalism and campaign politics?  Can we do better?

Immigration is not only about people staying in America without a proper visa or citizen status; it is also about the American continent and the millions of people that have called it home for well over a thousand years.  From the perspective of native Americans the question is: Who is the illegal immigrant, pilgrim?   This includes millions of modern day South of the border Latinos whose ancestors have roamed across the Rio Grande for thousands of years.  From the perspective of the Eurocentric 1st, 2nd or 3rd generation American the clamor is: Go back to where you came from; you are not a real American.  As America fails to sustain a middle-class and integrate new immigrants it dies a thousand deaths one broken dream at a time.  Mortgage foreclosures, drug abuse, urban decay, and dead end jobs that cannot pay for healthcare or sustain a family are but a few of the pervasive signs that America is not only divided but headed in the wrong direction.

Complex public policy issues are never about one variable, one social or economic dynamic or simple yes or no choices.  Today’s media industry continually portrays a false choice in a tug of  war  between one dimensional unilateral actions to protect the perceived interests of one side against those of another.  In reality, public policy issues are characterized by complex social and economic dynamics that impact many publics and present several choices in terms of:

  • acting or not acting,
  • who (government or the philanthropic sector, for example) should act,
  • who should pay and
  • how much it will all cost.

The outcome of those choices and the quality of that debate ultimately impacts the cultural and economic health of the country.

American is killing its life source–IMMIGRANTS.  As such, it is killing itself.  For this we can all agree President Obama has failed to lead in this most important of public policy problems.  

“AS A presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama promised to enact immigration reform during his first year in office. Although his party controlled both arms of Congress for the next two years, he barely tried. Instead, he has presided over the greatest mass deportation in American history. As our chart shows, he has tossed far more Mexicans and other illegal immigrants out of the country than his predecessors—nearly 2m so far. Spending on border security is now greater than on all other types of federal criminal-law enforcement combined. Since migrants bring youth, energy and enterprise, this is an expensive way of making America less dynamic (as our leader this week explains). And the human costs are immense (read our story here). Families are torn apart; lives ruined. Yet many House Republicans still insist that they will not back immigration reform because they cannot trust President Obama to defend the border.”

via Daily chart: Obama and aliens | The Economist.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Culture Think, Data Trends - American Demographics and Public Opinion, Demographic Change, ethnicity in politics, Immigration, Latin American Alliances, Latinos, New American Electorate, News, propaganda and spin, Public Policy, symbolic uses of politics

The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World. – NYTimes.com

The business world is always selling us something.  And thank God!  

Buying and selling is a huge part of our culture.  Measuring the value of what we own and what that means to us and those around us is also central to our social experience and identity.  America is about progress and the pursuit of happiness is at its very essence; we must always strive to have things and be places.  Understanding our place in the American social hierarchy  may not be as simple as counting our possessions though.  We are all Americans but we are not all equal–not even close.  Being an American is real.  But what about the so called “Middle Class”?  Have you seen it?  Do you possess a piece of it?  Are you standing in it?  If you can make a good argument that you are in it, will your children share as lofty an address?

Today’s NYTs clamors about yet another elusive metaphor that we have lived by: The Middle Class.  Illusive and metaphor because we cannot be sure if it really ever existed, at least not in all its Hollywood and public media glory.  Like the nuclear family propelled and burned into the public mind by popular TV shows like “Father Knows Best,” the middle class is a very inclusive category which most Americans strive to get into;  and yet another very important segment labors to stay above and beyond it (including today’s infamous top 1%).

For hundreds of years the extended family and agrarian life dominated gender relations, work, time and leisure.    The modern middle class and Levittowns (Levittown was the first suburb and is considered the “archetype” for America’s suburbs America’s.) are an economic creation buttressed by Hollywood and Madison Avenue cultures.  The Nuclear family of “Mom, DAD and Children,” can be similarly understood as an ideal.   Nevertheless, in perhaps a nostalgic way, today’s popular media considers the Middle Class in danger of disappearing, if nothing else, from our imaginations.  In historical terms the middle class was here for about a relative minute.  Gone so soon?

“In Manhattan, the upscale clothing retailer Barneys will replace the bankrupt discounter Loehmann’s, whose Chelsea store closes in a few weeks. Across the country, Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants are struggling, while fine-dining chains like Capital Grille are thriving. And at General Electric, the increase in demand for high-end dishwashers and refrigerators dwarfs sales growth of mass-market models.”

via The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World. – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: access to education, Blogosphere, Children and Poverty, consumers, Culture Think, Data Trends - American Demographics and Public Opinion, Demographic Change, Economic Recession, Economic Recovery, Education Policy, Education Reform, New American Electorate, News, Parenting, Philanthropy, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, Political Economy, propaganda and spin, Public Policy, WeSeeReason

Surveillance in America: Dark arts, black hats

For those of us who have nothing to hide today, the idea that tomorrow’s leaders may be peeping at everything we do that we presume to be private is downright creepy!  Indeed, the so called leak scandal in DC today is giving more and more people some pause.

Imagine that we continue to allow the government to peek in on our lives with impunity.  Tomorrow, a government program that is partly privatized lands your most personal and private information in the hands of a leaker.  But that leaker does not leak to the general public, he or she sells or uses your information for personal gain.   The possibilities are no longer hypothetical.  It  all seems to be unraveling before our very eyes…

“‘WE WANT you to help us do this better,” asserted General Keith Alexander (pictured), the director of America’s National Security Agency (NSA), to hundreds of computer hackers at Black Hat, an annual information-security conference in Las Vegas on July 31st. General Alexander claimed that his agency’s mass-surveillance programmes had stopped 54 potential terrorist plots. He reassured the audience that their privacy was being protected. Still, there were a few heckles.

America’s spies have had a tough time since Edward Snowden, a former intelligence contractor, began leaking information that revealed the massive scale of NSA snooping. Indeed, just as General Alexander tried to charm the geeks, Britain’s Guardian newspaper published another leak by Mr Snowden. This one revealed a system called XKeyscore that lets the NSA glean emails, chats and browsing histories without specific authorisation. The intelligence agency confirmed the programme, but said it was lawful and essential.”

More via Surveillance in America: Dark arts, black hats | The Economist.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, Culture Think, MashCrunchWired, Mass Media and Public Opinion, News, political corruption, Political Economy, Political Facts and Fiction, political plots, propaganda and spin, Public Policy, Technology and You,

Gallup.com – The Gallup Blog: 10 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience

No matter how goods and services change, no matter how the buyer and seller transaction changes over time, the customer will always be king.  To be sure, though, the customer service relationship is rapidly changing–buying things online these days requires little more than a few clicks and a credit card number.

Americans are increasingly buying goods online.  Those parts of the customer service market that remain, after an increasing portion of all goods and services move to the impersonal online market, will need to look at how to recruit, retain and maximize the face to face encounter with their remaining or desired future clientele.   This is an interesting challenge for companies who are trying to squeeze out profits while meeting the demands of a changing market place.

The challenges of an increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse customer pool also brings to mind important workforce development challenges as companies try to customize their customer services approach to buyers with differing buying patterns and motives rooted in cultural mores and tastes.

The Gallup marketing research folks give us an important list to reflect on our human resource and workforce development challenges as these relate to our organization’s ability to win the customer relations challenge.

“Few employees are aligned with or empowered to deliver the core elements of their company’s brand identity and promise. This is according to a Gallup study of more than 3,000 randomly selected workers, which also found that only 41% of employees felt that they know what their company stands for and what makes its brand different from its competitors. This suggests that too many companies are failing to help their workers understand what makes their company different and better than the rest.Executives must start by engaging their employees and then taking these steps to help their workers become effective brand ambassadors:

1. Acknowledge that all employees play a key role in bringing the brand to life. Successful branding is not just a marketing or sales function; it is an essential activity for human resources, management, and leadership.

2. Audit your internal communications to ensure that they are consistent with your brand identity and promise. Invest in making employees aware of your brand promise, and empower them to act on it.

3. Articulate what your brand represents and what you promise to your customers. Inject the core elements of your brand identity into the workplace constantly and consistently across time, locations, and channels. Use these elements to define not only how you treat your customers but also how you manage, coach, and treat your employees.”

More via Gallup.com – The Gallup Blog: 10 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience.

Filed under: analytics, Blogosphere, consumers, Culture Think, News, propaganda and spin, , , , , ,

Surveillance: Spying in a democracy depends for its legitimacy on informed consent, not blind trust.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: analytics, Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, Culture Think, Government Works?, MashCrunchWired, Mass Media and Public Opinion, News, political plots, propaganda and spin, Public Policy, Social Media, social protests, Technology and You, , ,

A Lifeline for No-Longer-Illegal Immigrants – NYTimes.com An interesting comment from this NYT’s comments section …

Contrary to popular belief America was not created by immigration. It was created by conquest and exploration and it was done so on top of many other “native” nations. To this day Americans have not been able to assimilate and fully include those natives into its polity or its economic success. How then can we argue that immigration has been so noble and that immigrants are naturally a part of the American way?The truth lies much closer to Plato’s “necessary untruths.” To romanticize immigration, both in terms of why people leave their native lands and in terms of why they come to America is simply false and misleading. People come to America because they hope for better than they have where they reside as they make the often courageous decision to uproot and venture into the relatively unknown. What never seems to be discussed is how few of us here in America consider leaving this country. In an important way, America was created by people leaving their homeland because they were pushed out by various political and economic factors. That is what we have in common with the new comers. They come here because it is not comfortable where they previously resided. Here then lies the central question that needs to be considered by all of us who want to be fair minded and responsible. What would have become of us and our ancestors if the then native “americans” would have had the wherewithal to keep our ancestors out? Just as many of us want to keep other people out today.

More via A Lifeline for No-Longer-Illegal Immigrants – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Culture Think, Demographic Change, ethnicity in politics, Immigration, New American Electorate, New Electorate, News, propaganda and spin, Public Policy, symbolic uses of politics, WeSeeReason, , ,

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