Where Would I Fit Into Romney-Ryan’s New Economy: The Way I Am

Put forth by XicanoPwr

Editor’s Note: This is part two of “Where Would I Fit Into Romney-Ryan’s New Economy?” series of what it is like being part of the 47% that Mitt Romney said he doesn’t “worry” about, and of the Americans Ryan has called “moochers.” This series is an invitation to break the wall that often separates participants into passive audience or active actor. You can find part one here.

At the root of America’s economic crisis lies a moral crisis: the decline of civic virtue among America’s political and economic elite. Jobs and the economy remain Americans’ number one concern. While President Obama and Mitt Romney have promised to create millions of jobs if they are elected President, it is not enough if the rich and powerful fail to behave with respect, honesty, and compassion toward the rest of society and toward the world.

Like many Latino/a, I looked to Barack Obama and the Latino leadership as the hope for a breakthrough. Change was on the way, or so they told us; yet there has been far more continuity than change. Unlike the squeaky wheel that has adopted instant gratification in lieu of the sober judgment, I also know President Obama can’t do it alone.

We should never lose sight of the challenges: to fully recover from the current economic crisis remains a long and uphill journey; various difficulties confront the President’s effort to make all his changes; and there exist serious resource and capacity shortfalls regarding legislation and institutional development.

We live in a complex, divided society. We are divided by wealth, income, education, housing, race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. These divisions are discussed; but rarely do we devoted time examining the growing income divide. We know it is there, we feel it everyday when we enter a grocery store, go to the mall, drive downtown, or at an intersection.

The Crazy Uncle Syndrome
And I am/Whatever you say I am/If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am?/In the papers, the news, everyday I am — Eminem, The Way I Am

We all have heard the metaphor how every family has that crazy uncle in the family who is seen as the black sheep of the family. Some family members act like they are not part of the family while others tolerate him. When it comes to poverty you can’t help but feel like the crazy uncle desperately clutching to the last vestiges of hope and aspiration.

I have experienced several bouts of poverty in my life. Each one occurred at different points from my life. The first time you experience poverty as an adult you quickly discover the secrecy attached to it. Poverty slowly sucks your own power. But of course you do not admit it — you pretend everything is still normal. Like a fly caught in a web of lies, each lie you tell yourself entangles even more. You begin avoiding friends who are not in the same situation because don’t want others to know you are struggling with money. Regardless that over 15% are also struggling, societal and cultural norms still dictate how we judge people and not “making it” makes you look like a failure.

When you are down and out, you learn quickly there are a panoply of rules, taboos, and penalties. Without thinking, you are isolating yourself from people. This happens when you run into them online or offline; you avoid eye contact or you mumble some excuse, either way, they think you aloof and no longer interested being their friend. Sure some of them understand, but there is a constant nagging feeling that you are taking advantage of them or as Rep Paul Ryan a “moocher.”

It is hard to deny that we live in a world where being part of a powerful, exclusive group gives you power, whether that group is educational or professional. At some point friends and family members advise you not to talk about your situation because it will make others uncomfortable. There’s that sense that you might jinx others by concentrating and admitting the desperateness of the situation, you will perpetuate the momentum of your bad luck. And why not, aren’t we told to succeed in life and to be happy, you cut the negative people in our life.

All around us we are bombarded with these messages that drives people around like a roller-coaster, while for us, the messages does nothing but keep us up all night; and steal your friends and peace of mind. You try to find a balance by keeping your troubles to yourself when you are suffering. They are your troubles, after all! No need to tell other people your struggle.

We hush up for other reasons. Men are told women will write us off if we financially stable; just go to any dating site. It is true this is not limited to women, but those social norms are ingrained in what MEN and WOMEN need to bring to the party to be viable mates.

Then again, when was the last time you tried to pay the rent with love?

Poverty feels like a rot. You can see and smell it block away. When Mitt Romney talks about the 47%, we know he and people like him view us and than willing to use other labels for us – Those People, The Dregs of Society, The Underclass. We are the very people they try to avoid at their own peril. When they are confronted by it, they are threaten by it. Powerless in the face of it. That’s how strongly we are indoctrinated with this social rule.

Then the question arises, Why are the 47% despised? — in truth, they are despised, universally; one side tends to be open about it. It is for the simple reason that we fail to earn a decent living. In practice nobody cares whether work is useful or useless; as long as it is profitable. In our current capitalist system, the end game is simple, “Make money and make a lot of it.” Money has become a product of virtue. By this test the 47% fail, and for this they are despised.

The isolation poverty pushes you into is painful. The last thing you need is isolation. We are social creatures. we need community. You need a shoulder, an ear, another human to remind you that you are not contagious, or catastrophic. And that your problems don’t make you a bad person, but that they are part of a larger network of faultlines. And that you are not alone.

Open Letter To Jason Staford and Tom Pauken Regarding KXAN’s Poorly Advertised Townhall Meeting

Put forth by XicanoPwr

Dear Jason Staford and Tom Pauken:

Texans want something more – and different – from you. And you’re running out of time. They want you to occupy a certain space in our political discourse which is wide open, if only you will seize it. It’s there for the taking. People will revere and respect you for doing so this state will be better off.

The time allotted for a true discussion of the propositions that are on the ballot is not only inexcusable but disingenuous to the democratic process. I tuned in by chance while channel surfing, Having watched several primetime lineups during the week, not once did I hear or see any announcement about last nights televised Townhall meeting. Yet, you had no problem airing ad how KXAN reports the news that matter to us. Here is my question to KXAN after noticing that the two moderators looked unprepared and uninterested. Why wasn’t last night’s Townhall as important to you as it is to me?

One of the issues that were asked why there was a low voter turnout in Texas. Your answer revealed how out of touch you are with the Texas voter. When people say, we want more from our political leaders, it doesn’t mean creating more volume or being more contentious or exhibiting more bravado. Last night, near the end of the night what began as swipes at one another, turned into a brawl. All it proves both of you can throw a good punch. So what!

But what if as a political party both your platform and party membership is no longer in tune with the majority of the country?

As I watched the debate Friday night, I wondered if audience were people off the street or friends of the panel. If they were off the street, I wondered if their questions were truly being answered, assuming KXAN asked for their input prior before the Townhall started. Yet, the panelist seemed to looked right past them, like a school child sitting at the edge of their seat waiting for the school bell to go off.

The Texas Democrat Party love to point out how Republican party has a Latino problem. Once Democratic consultant Jason Staford saw his opportunity remind former GOP Chair Tom Pauken, we were off to the races with the typical denial. There are several reasons for the complacency. This is Texas, Pauken has the typical “conservative” attitude of the stereotyped southerner regarding race relations. The word “conservative” here follows the literal dictionary definition, meaning “disposed to maintain existing institutions or views; opposed to change.” What follows from this attitude is a situation which sees no real concern in problems comes to race or situation. The general attitude toward these matters is that the situations of which we complain are normal and natural and should be expected to exist as long as long as we continue to believe we are “victims.”

Nor should one be led to interpret the absence of open racial conflict in the Texas Democrat Party as an indication that Jason is correct all that is needed was more funding to the Democratic Party — as if these actions alone will meet people’s true desire to reengage and reconnect. Sure may very well enable some individuals, and other interested groups to win an election, a policy debate, or appeal to more new members or supporters for their cause. They may result in greater attention for one point-of-view or another.

Question: As one of the state’s top consultant and part of the party’s inner circle, how was it that you could not see that the state budget cuts affected your child’s education? Were there no discusses between the elected officials and you and other campaign? I have no quarrel with you, but with all the moaning and groaning about how voters skip down ballot candidates, somewhere along the way, we no long mattered, you were in it for the prize. It seems this time around, your daughter’s education future became collateral damage. I hope you will reflect on this and do some soul searching because it wasn’t your daughter’s education you jeopardized, it was all of Texas.

On the same topic, Tom Pauken, last night you mention you are part of a collation to end the high stake testing. Does this collation know you took an indirect role implementing Texas’ current model of mandatory testing that was put into place when George W. Bush when you were chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. At that time it was teaching to pass the TAAS. Using HISD’s rising TAAS scores under Rod Paige as a model of good policy, Bush was able to pass No Child Left Behind, regardless of the warning from educators and parents that policy is a diversion from real learning. As this policy under your watch, this is what Barbara Bush had to say in her OpEd plea to save our schools:

“We rank 36th in the nation in high school graduation rates. … We rank 49th in verbal SAT scores, 47th in literacy, and 46th in average math SAT scores.”

Why the low voter turnout? Because the 100 politicians who came before you abused our trust, stole our time and disrespected my attention.

Why the low voter turnout? Perhaps I’m not buying from you because the last time someone like you earned my trust, they wounded us.

Unfortunately advancing the happiness of humanity is so far from being properly improved given the current path we are heading. Lulled by the siren songs of power and domination, the states political elite into the means of obtaining their nefarious ends.

Your task is to lower the noise and prove me and who also feel this way wrong and help people gain a sense of possibility and hope about a way out – and a way forward. It is to engage people in what they can do, together, not just what you promise you’ll do for them.

We can’t afford a 47% write-off. We must not give up on restoring our humanity.

Where Would I Fit Into Romney-Ryan’s New Economy?

Put forth by XicanoPwr

Editor’s Note: This is part one of “Where Would I Fit Into Romney-Ryan’s New Economy?” series of being part of the 47% that Mitt Romney said he doesn’t “worry” about, and of the Americans Ryan has called “moochers.” This series is an invitation to break the wall that often separates participants into passive audience or active actor. We will see how it goes.

Hispanic Heritage Month has come and gone again like past years and depending where you live you would hardly know it. This year is to be different. After seeing the Castro brothers at the Democratic National Convention, as a Hispanic, seeing them take center stage, our moment as a community has finally turned a corner.

The creation myths in America often provide a glimpse into a circumstantial account of people and events during a historical event. Our judgments concerning these myths, big or little, depend on the feelings the things arouse in us. How we judge a myth depends how we frame it, this is only because the myth is associated already with a feeling. We are bound to these narratives because they describe our existence in this country.

Given this this considered the Decade of the Hispanic, it is no surprise after the convention the Latino community were abuzz there was excitement as the Castro brothers became the convention’s darlings and overnight media sensation.

However, we are also limited how we view the world. The impact of associative connections on personal perception tended to overestimate the correlation between things when they are not. Hence the stupidity of our opinions and judgments on the value of other persons’ conditions or ideals.

Short of genius a rich man cannot even imagine poverty. — Charles Peguy

This was quickly demonstrated once Mitt Romney’s secretly recorded video was made public. During a May 17 fundraiser the GOP presidential nominee told attendees that 47% of Americans—those who back President Obama—are “victims” who are “dependent upon government” and “pay no income tax.”

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.”

With the U.S. facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, communities of color are suffering a major set back. Mitt Romney is not only disingenuous, but after reading the full transcript flies in the face of pure logic – irrational, illogical and counter-intuitive. He argues he doesn’t need them to win, and the country doesn’t need them in order to succeed. I take issue because I fall in that 47%. What that message comes across to me, we can be discarded like trash.

Romney also went on to address his audience that he would have a better chance of winning if his parents were from south of the border. I will addressed in a future post.

We often hear from pundits and experts about what poverty is and how to fix it, but rarely do we hear from those who are experiencing poverty themselves.

In many ways, my story isn’t unique. I’ve met so many folks that have gone through a near-bankruptcy, business betrayal, and divorce. It matters little if it was all in a span of a year or three or ten. I think what’s important is not so much the turning points themselves, but the aftermath. How we learn, digest, integrate, rebuild in that in-between time to use the lessons and wake-up calls fruitfully.

Since the I started blogging, I’ve always wanted my writing to matter, to be relevant. I’m not entirely motivated to speak about the past. The beauty and freedom of blogging is writing about the here and now in the here and now.

Looking back, I was fortunate enough to have so much go so wrong. As I look back and see exactly where it started, it wasn’t one exact event, it happened in waves. I was stripped of everything I thought significant and I was stripped of being a know-it-all.

Like it or not, we are all affected by our environment. Poverty is an unhappy scene; and we’re not talking about the presence or absence of one or two niceties. Living hand to mouth is much more complex and all-encompassing than not being able to afford one or two amenities that might make life a bit more enjoyable.

For my short time here in Austin, I was bringing home a very average paycheck, but it was a salary. It was not minimum wage. It was pretty okay. Floyd Mayweather Jr. called money “nothing but comfort,” and it is true. For that period of time I can honestly say was the most comfortable of my life. I actually had money that I could do something with — go out, buy clothes, buy gifts, save…live. Absent is the constant fear and shame and worry and self-loathing that can potentially accompany a lower income lifestyle.

Friend: How’s your spouse?

Economist: Relative to what? –An Unknown Pundit

This quip reflects the tendency economists use to measure almost everything. That’s an important part of what I’m writing here. That must always be considered: the context of our culture. After all, poverty, which is a “lack of wealth or material comfort,” is a relative standard. Relative to what others have, to what is required to do or acquire certain things; relative to how others see poverty; relative to what it means to live and survive without having money.

Everyone might agree that any one without the physical means to sustain normal life is absolutely impoverished, but in this country rhetoric and our value system is to demonize the poor and worship the affluent—it is very hard to be poor.

When you are beset by these wrongs…well, you barely admit to yourself, let alone anyone else. When you’re in the thick of it, you don’t stop too long to marvel at the misery of it. That’s not sensible. You do what you have to do. From moment to moment, and from day-to-day. That’s all there is to do. You try not to become so weary that you think of giving up as more comfortable than continuing to fight. Nevertheless, you keep your eyes focused on the next step, and you don’t give yourself time to wallow.

After all, inspiration doesn’t pay the bills.

A Short Update From Somos Tejanos

Put forth by XicanoPwr

Somos Tejanos has always been a work in progress, and even as creating and spreading awesome content by amazing people will continue to be a critical part of what we do, this was a step we felt was important to take as we pursue a refined strategy to inform, connect, and empower the community of people who give a damn.

We’re excited about the the road ahead. We are hoping to relaunch to relaunch our site the first week of October. We hope you’ll stay tuned and be ready to join in. It’s going to be fun.

Please continue to follow us on:

Somos Tejanos Site Redesign Update

Put forth by XicanoPwr

Just wanted to give y’all a heads-up we are in the process of redesigning the Somos Tejanos website to better reflect our identity and what we do.

Our previous website was functional, but it didn’t do a great job answering the number one question when it comes to a website: “Who are you and why should I care?” This works the same way for all types of businesses and organizations. All organizations must sell and how they go about it will differ. An organizations success depends on the people associated with it, both formal and informal. People often forget their every action is either constructing or deconstructing the organizations brand and reputation. Every thought, every action, every policy, every marketing promotion has the effect of either inspiring or deterring brand loyalty in whoever is exposed to it.

Most people still haven’t figured out the distinct line between work and play. I have oftentimes run into people, both friends and family, who feel is definite line between work and play and conversation comes to a complete halt until the next day. Unfortunately, this is not true. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, explains:

For example, if you happen to meet an employee of Company X at a bar, even if the employee isn’t working, how you perceive your interaction with that employee will affect how you perceive Company X, and therefore Company X’s brand. It can be a positive influence, or a negative influence. Every employee can affect your company’s brand, not just the front line employees that are paid to talk to your customers.

Whether you’re a nonprofit, for-profit, or a political candidate, you will never be truly social if you silo social activity within a consultant or a staff manager. The internet is a connection machine. Each person has to play part within the Internet’s ecosystem. A brand are judged by the value they generate through their ecosystem, not by the value their platforms directly capture.

It was evident when a majority people felt Somos Tejanos of a group blog instead of an organization with a mission to increase civic participation. People knew who we were but nobody had any clue what we are supposed to be accomplishing — a digital hub for people to communicate, get information and share information.

In today’s connection economy, it is all about connecting. So when we go live, don’t call it a comeback we never left.

So as we begin our next journey, we would like to hear from you making this site better.