In the world today, there are probably over fifty-thousand problems or more still in need of solutions and certainly some better ideas. Online there is an explosion of wonderful things, innovations, inventions, discoveries and small business start-ups seeking to solve some of these problems.
And then what happens to them? That is a good question. And in one of these posts, I’m going to try and answer that. But, before I get on a tangent about only 1.9% of women owned businesses getting any venture capital and how start-ups, especially women owned start-ups are ending up with loan packages at 40% interest rates and having to pay off investors at the two or three year mark when the business should be getting established, then taking a hit instead – I’ll cover some of the things still needing solutions.
But first, I found this article in my twitter feed and went over to read it –
It describes why the US may have missed out on millions of inventors. Their research indicates that –
WHY IT MATTERS
Innovation has slowed in the U.S., stymying economic growth. To get back on track, the U.S. needs more low-income children, women, and minorities to become inventors — but that won’t be easy.
The research also shows that innovation in the U.S. could quadruple if women, minorities, and children from low-income families became inventors at the same rate as men from high-income families.
Whatever policies are eventually adopted, policymakers need to think in terms of long-term solutions. “You want is to increase the pipeline of people on the supply side who are great inventors,” Van Reenen said. “You want to take the talent that is already in America and get those kids imagining themselves being an inventor or potential inventor. It is not a quick fix, but in the long run it is going to be a more effective policy.”
It is worth going and reading that article, however, I just about hit the ceiling when I read it and even now with a four bullet point list of what I want to say about it – well, angrier about it than I can even express.
There’s a Different Response & Support When A Man Creates Something
When a man, young man, or boy in white upper class America comes up with an invention – what happens next is tremendously different than what happens when someone from any other of those groups, gender or income levels invent or innovate something.
There is more than whether someone can believe themselves to be an inventor. It takes being able to have some help and support, protection from theft of the invention and massive amounts of money and networking to get the invention patented, prototyped and then into investor backing processes. Women and minorities don’t have that.
One of these 50,000 plus problems still in need of good solutions and inventions is a way to take mining tailings out of the water system once they’ve been allowed to get into it. Obviously, that continues to be a problem in the United States and around the world.
What Happens When A Woman Creates Something or Innovates Something
Let’s say I have designed something for this purpose and am a woman without any real support from friends and family to back my idea to fruition. How often that is the case for every woman, every person without a strong financial foundation and most minorities, people that are poor and people who have disabilities specifically.
There are no family members going to network an attorney friend or blueprint maker to any of us as they would if a white male from an upper class family has the idea. There are no instances of getting some family members to financially back having the prototype made or getting the patent process done or pitching it to other people for us as happens for those guys and their idea.
So, when the researchers in this MIT/Sloan study support putting in place programs to help people who are women, who are poor and who are minorities believe we can invent and be inventors, it is very disingenuous.
Women Do Create, Invent Solutions, Innovate and Make Inventions To Solve Problems
We do create, invent solutions, innovate and make inventions that solve real world problems, but without the other components that are obviously available to white men who do it – from family, from friends, from investors, from bankers, from the community at large, from attorneys, from skills in their family’s networks of acquaintances – our inventions are lost to mankind and to our country.
These inventions and innovations either don’t get brought to fruition, are stolen by those who have means as we try to do something with them, or are ignored by companies until the patent we do manage to get doesn’t have the fees paid or runs out – then takes it for nothing.
Families of middle class and below, economically disadvantaged, working poor and outright financially destitute individuals simply are denied the access and equal opportunity for processes of protecting the invention or innovation or idea from inception to realization to be available to us.
Inventing and inventions, innovations and concepts for an innovation that could be brought to the marketplaces are not treated with value in these arenas either because everyone has seen that there is no chance of realizing any rewards from those efforts and bringing it to the marketplace.
Even once the patent is made, prototype created and market analysis is done for some product or invention, there is no money to go forward from that point for people in these groups either. Investors want to see 2 -3 times their money back in short periods of time and see that it can be done without any risk to them whatsoever.
New Things Don’t Have An Existing Track Record and Appear More Risky So They Often Fail To Get Needed Support
No matter what invention or innovation it may be, there is typically no existing track record of what it will do in the marketplace because it is new or a new approach or has not been done that way already or would have to supplant something else in the market that is currently being used for whatever problem it approaches. That makes it appear to be unworthy of the risk involved of backers putting the money with it that the process would take to bring it into the market successfully.
Some investors, angel investors, venture capital investors, banks and sources intended to serve minority run businesses won’t even approach these new ideas without a track record. And, some loans to do it if not denied, have interest rates of 40% which rob the business potential of the idea at every stage. Then, about the time the business with this new invention or innovation are getting established, investors pull their money out – after 2 – 3 years, if anyone from any of these groups even get that far with it. Most often, the access for funding is simply non-existent no matter how many are approached.
This Is What A Male Experiences But Females Don’t – When They’ve Invented Something Or Have A Great Idea For Something
To show the picture a little clearer – if a white male in a family has an idea for an invention, the first thing that happens in his experience with it is to receive respect for his value and the value of whatever he has come up with. Next, family members hook him up with friends of theirs and from their networks of acquaintances, that can help the idea be fleshed out into drawings and plans or they pay for it to be done outright.
Then, family members and business friends hook that guy up with an attorney to write out a non-disclosure agreement so the innovation, invention or idea can be shown to potentially interested companies.
Then, they call their friends and extended family members and pitch the need for backing this idea financially FOR HIM, and line up funds to get the thing going so the patent can be filed and a prototype created.
They might even get drawings or computer work done from a friend or family member or hire it to be done, to show off the idea, invention or innovation so it looks slick when they take it to bankers and friends who have access to invest in it.
An Ad Hoc Army Comes Together From Friends of Family To Help Men Realize Their Invention or Business Idea To Fruition And Success
Then, rather than the person – the white male from an upper class income in this case, having to pitch the idea, invention or innovation through his own efforts, there is already a team of family members, friends of the family, extended family and business acquaintances of the family supporting him, supporting his efforts, supporting his idea or invention, protecting the invention with appropriate legally binding elements, but also pitching it for him, pitching it to funding sources and rounding up money for it – for him.
That is not what happens to women, people who are poor or even middle-class, minorities, disabled people, elderly people, and children of every other group that is not financially well-off.
But, we do hear a lot of “who do you think you are?” and “why should I give any money to you?” As well as, we do get a lot of ideas, inventions, innovations and fully fleshed out prototypes of inventions and marketable products stolen from us that we’ve invented or created, hijacked from us, diverted from us participating in any of the rewards of them despite having created them.
This Failure Of Our Nation To Support Women’s Inventions And Business Concepts Is Costing Our Future And Present Economic Well-Being As a Nation
The stories of that are far and wide, common in so many iterations that the experience of those around me without great financial means match my own in this area.
It is apparently been and continues to be a common practice, to not allow rewards of our inventions, labors, ideas, innovations, new characters, new processes, new possibilities for things to come to us. It must be intentional without those in our society doing it having any understanding of the cost to all of us and our nation’s potential when they do it that way.
About CricketDiane –
I’ve been creating nearly every day since I was a kid and that is over 50 years. I’ve created in numerous ways in a range that moves from art to problem-solving to inventing, creating music, sculpting and painting to writing and doing various computer / online based projects.
“It is better to make the effort to move forward and release the flow of ideas to work with them and do things creatively, create things and invent and write and make – I definitely know that by experience.” – cricketdiane, 2018
As teachers in several states have made walkouts recently, and now Oklahoma teachers are continuing to do so, and having seen video of schools in Oklahoma that look like they are from a third world country after Republicans have run the state so long, I thought of a few things. And, after getting to the bottom of this post – I discovered that Oklahoma has over $5 Billion of their treasury money in an investment portfolio, that in 2016 / 2017 they had revenues of $2.7 Billion for the first six months of the fiscal year up from the year before AND that they have information that suggests they are continuing to get rising revenues rather than lowering ones.
I’m just going to say what I think has happened to Oklahoma’s State Education Budget and to other states, as well – then try to find sources so you can see what I’m saying.
Back in 2007 – 2008, there were a lot of things that became obvious that most of us had not known about state budgets, education trusts, state treasury money and other large pools of money. It had been happening for years before that point, but it didn’t become obvious until those resources were in trouble from the financial crisis that was happening in credit markets, Wall Street and from toxic financial products they had sold to everybody.
Several school systems at the time had people who came out publicly about the education and state treasury budgets having bought financial products from Wall Street as investments using the pools of available money that was supposed to cover the needs of the state and its education system included.
That means, instead of cash resources sitting in the state treasury and safer security types, maybe T-bills or bonds, the treasurers were motivated to have bought other financial products at the overwhelming information they were given from Wall Street brokers about “no-risk” financial products they could use.
When the financial meltdown occurred, many of those “no-risk” financial products turned out to be extremely costly to the treasuries and others holding them. Payouts on those losses had to be made and then absorbed by the states and the state budgets. Some of that became obvious at the time and some of it continues to this day.
What most people don’t seem to know, is that in order to facilitate trading, buying, selling and managing those portfolios of state money in financial products, armies of broker / analysts in finance had to be hired into the state’s team of personnel and most of them are paid well over $150,000 a year salaries each.
So, not only were state budgets and education budgets decimated by the lost revenues which had to be paid out to satisfy the liabilities of those financial products they had bought from Wall Street, instead of paying to buy textbooks, keep up with school costs and teacher’s pay, those funds were used to pay financial teams to buy, sell and trade securities and other financial products using the state’s pooled funds.
This is from one of the cities / towns in Oklahoma describing their investing city funds and pools of money into securities and other Wall Street financial products – excerpt –
pg. 4 –
A. The authority for the investment of funds of the City is granted by the City Charter1 and Oklahoma State Statutes2, to the City Treasurer. The City Charter3
authorizes the City Treasurer to employ and supervise such employee or employees as may be necessary for the efficient discharge of his duties. In accordance with these provisions, the City Treasurer or his designee may buy, sell and trade investments in accordance with the goals, objectives and restrictions of this investment policy.
pg. 5 –
A. The City Finance Department shall keep a written record of all investments and shall forward information to the Accounting Division to be posted in the financial records.
Records of the Treasury Division and Accounting Division shall be reconciled on a
monthly basis and at the end of each fiscal year, under applicable accounting standards.
The City Treasurer shall provide summarized and/or detailed investment reports to the Finance and Audit Committee and the City Council on a monthly basis.
The City Treasurer should design the reporting to meet the needs and requests of the Finance and Audit Committee and the City Council.
There are also fees being paid to Wall Street every time these financial products are bought, sold and traded. Some cities, state treasuries and education budgets are paying for the securities to be held by a third party or Wall Street brokerage as well. Plus, paying massive interest payments being made to Wall Street for loan products and bonds when state treasuries, agencies, education funds, county and city budgets borrowed to make good on covering the losses from 2008 – 2010 and other times over the course of doing things this way.
In the various associations and conferences where state treasurers and their staff attend and participate at taxpayer’s expense, the sponsors of those events and often the speakers at those events for many years now have been straight out of Wall Street and the financial brokerages hoping to access those tax funds in large pools for new sales of their products and that includes strange exotic financial products that are still allowed.
Now, the revenues of our state budgets, city budgets, education budgets, education trusts and other large pools of tax money and state revenues are not liquid capital nor locked into safe asset types, Plus everywhere these financial products are having to be purchased, held, traded, sold and managed, financial analysts are being given the salaries of what would be four teachers but for only one person who isn’t doing any teaching.
The tax money / revenues no longer is available to pay teachers, hire teachers, buy supplies for schools, upgrade schools, do upkeep at schools – and the same is true for every agency, budget, city and department where this is being done this way.
Every time Republicans who have led Oklahoma to this point, talk about what is causing these education budget difficulties in the state, they point to everything else except the way the financial industry and Wall Street in particular has diverted the funds to their own profits. And, that includes hiring financial analysts to oversee the process rather than teachers while paying those analysts far more than any teacher is ever allowed to earn in the same state from the same resources.
From a June 2017 article –
Between 1994 and 2004, average per-pupil spending across the nation increased by nearly 24 percent. But after 2008, state revenues plummeted — some by as much as a quarter.
It would be my bet that using the Wall Street originated financial products to invest state revenues and education budget moneys began somewhere just before 2004. But, it would be a guess. And, it is a fact that for some time, every conference and convention attended by elected officials, state treasurers, legislators and their staffs, has been sponsored by and covered over with Wall Street sellers who, without regard for what could happen to those resources when financial products failed to be safe, secure or pay out in the black with some advantage sold away state’s and taxpayer’s rights to their own moneys.
That means, when a credit default swap was sold to the state education budget and a large pool of those financial resources were tapped to make that purchase – not only did it tie up the original funds intended for the education system to use since they were now a piece of paper describing the terms of the financial product, but also, because these often turned toxic – became a payout of tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars further from that same budget.
Therefore, the original money from taxes and revenues was no longer available because it was sunk into purchasing something that was risky, then that money used to purchase it was gone plus having to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars on top of that. Then, if they borrowed to satisfy paying out that much at once since the budget’s funds were tied up into all these other financial products, the loan service has to be paid, the interest, the management fees of the loan and paying it back at the same time absorbing the loss of the original investment.
It is more than just opinion that the process was used in Oklahoma and elsewhere which has resulted in these destructive forces in the revenues and taxpayer funds that should be sitting in the state treasuries and every other budget serving the public, but no longer are real and adequate funds in place.
Clicking on the National Association of State Treasurers above and looking at the 2018 Member and Conference Brochure – shows on the first few pages who the sponsors are –
• Bank of America
• JP Morgan Chase
• Natixis Global Asset
• RBC Global Asset
• Verus Financial
• Wells Fargo
• Fidelity Investments and
Fidelity Capital Markets
Bay State and Keynote
• Federated Investors
• BNY Mellon
• JP Morgan Chase
• MA Liquor Store Association
• PFM Group
• U.S. Bank
• Wells Fargo
• Bank of America
• BNY Mellon
• Capital Group
• Hilltop Securities
• JP Morgan Chase
• KeyBanc Capital
• The Nottingham
• People’s United
• State Street and
State Street Global
Annual Hotel Sponsor
• State Street and State Street Global Advisors
Minneapolis and Boston Sponsors
• Aon Hewitt
• Boston Common
• Broadridge Financial
• EnTrust Permal
• Intuition College
• The Nottingham
• AKF Consulting
• Audit Services
• Empower Retirement
• TD Bank
• UBS Global Asset
• Weston Patrick
Indeed, the recovery nationally has been slow, particularly for schools. Some state budgets still haven’t fully recovered when inflation is taken into account. Today, 23 states are providing less education formula funding — which typically accounts for half of elementary and secondary school budgets — than they did in 2008, according to the CBPP. Schools have restored just one-third of the 351,000 jobs cut in the aftermath of the downturn.
In April, for example, Oklahoma schools were notified that their monthly payments from the state would be shorted by an additional $17.4 million. That brought the total reductions since January to nearly $87 million.
Approximately $10 billion is deposited each year at the state treasurer’s office into the Oklahoma State Treasury. This includes state tax revenues, such as income tax and gross production tax receipts; federal funds, such as matching funds for highway construction; and other tax revenues, such as the motor fuel tax, which are collected by the state but then apportioned to the counties and cities.
The state treasurer has no power to impose taxes, set tax rates or collect taxes; only to make sure all public funds are properly accounted for once it has been collected or distributed by other executive branch entities. Also, the state treasurer doesn’t formulate the state’s annual budget nor does the office have any authority to impoundfunds allocated by the Oklahoma State Legislature.
To earn additional revenue for Oklahoma, the state treasurer invests money which is not immediately needed to fund government operations. The office has an average of $5 billion of taxpayers’ money in its investment portfolio. The Treasurer’s investments are strictly governed by Oklahoma statutes and the Treasurer’s investment policy.
The Office of the State Treasurer is the state agency which supports the state treasurer. The office provides banking and investment services for state agencies, reuniting individuals and businesses with their unclaimed property, and promoting economic development Statewide. The agency consists of the treasurer’s staff. Staffers work in the treasurer’s offices in the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City.
As of 2013, the agency has an annual budget of approximately $8.4 million. The budget provides funding for approximately 49 full-time employees.
Chief deputy treasurer
Investment portfolio accounting and reporting
Finance and budget
Deputy treasurer for policy/chief of staff
Deputy treasurer for communications and program administration
TO: Oklahoma State Board of Education
FROM: Superintendent Joy Hofmeister
DATE: August 24, 2017
SUBJECT: FY 17 Adjusted Budget – Returned Funds
On February 21, 2017, the State Board of Equalization took action to declare a state General Revenue failure. This failure reduced General Revenue allocations by 0.7% for all state agencies.
For the State Department of Education, 0.7% resulted in a $11,125,889.31 cut. On July 20, 2017, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) notified state agencies that these funds would be returned to the purpose for which they were originally appropriated.
As a result of these reductions, the attached FY 17 Adjusted Budget (Returned Funds) is
submitted for your approval.
• FY 17 Adjusted Budget
OKLAHOMA CITY — General Revenue Fund collections in December were $512.6 million and came in at $36.6 million, or 7.7 percent, above the monthly estimate. This amount is $93.1 million, or 22.2 percent above collections in December of 2016.
Total collections over the first six months of the fiscal year were $2.7 billion which is $75.2 million, or 2.9 percent, above the year-to-date estimate and $278.1 million, or 11.6 percent, over the year-to-date for 2016.
Total income tax collections were up by $29.7 million, or 15.9 percent for the month, with individual income tax collections coming in 21.8 percent above prior year collections. Corporate income tax again made no contribution to the General Revenue Fund due to erratic patterns.
Major tax categories in December contributed the following amounts to the GRF:
Total income tax collections of $216.9 million were $29.7million, or 15.9 percent, above the estimate and $38.8 million, or 21.8 percent, above the prior year.Individual income tax collections of $216.9 million were $29.7 million, or 15.9 percent, above the estimate and $38.8 million, or 21.8 percent, above the prior year.Corporate income tax collections made no contribution to the General Revenue Fund from December collections and none were estimated to be received due to previous years’ history.
Sales tax collections of $184.6 million were $8.1 million, or 4.6 percent, above the estimate and $24.8 million, or 15.5 percent, above the prior year.
Gross production tax collections of $24.5 million were $15.3 million, or 38.4 percent, below the estimate and $9.2 million, or 59.8 percent, above the prior year.Natural gas collections of $20.6 million were $4.9 million, or 19.1 percent, below the estimate and $7.2 million, or 54 percent, above the prior year.Oil collections of $4.0 million were $10.4 million, or 72.5 percent, below the estimate and $2.0 million, or 98.7 percent, above the prior year.
Motor vehicle tax collections of $16.0 million were $1.3 million, or 7.7 percent, below the estimate and $628,000, or 4.1 percent, above the prior year.
Other revenue collections of $70.5 million were $15.5 million, or 28.1 percent, above the estimate and $19.7 million, or 38.6 percent, above the prior year.
While the proposal would send an extra $30 million to the Department of Health during an investigation into financial mismanagement, the revised state budget would force the state auditor’s office, which is investigating, to trim more than $84,000 from its budget.
Oklahoma is one of 20 states that continued to cut education funding this year, even as the economy recovers, leaving per student spending $857 below pre-recession levels after inflation. Although the Legislature and Governor Fallin provided a $41 million increase to the school funding formula in this year’s budget, it was not enough to keep up with inflation and rising enrollment. This year Oklahoma’s state aid funding per student dropped another $21 after inflation. Total state appropriations for the support of schools is $172 million below what it was in fiscal year 2008, even before accounting for inflation.
But, today when I made my first google search I found this –
Deputy Treasurer for Debt Management
Department/Agency of position:
Oklahoma State Treasurer’s Office
Location of position:
Oklahoma City, OK
$125,000.00 – $165,000.00
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Saturday, September 9, 2017
Serve as Deputy Treasurer for Debt Management within the Office of the State Treasurer (OST) and transition to the position of State Bond Advisor on November 1, 2017. Reports directly to the State Treasurer and the Council of Bond Oversight Responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Debt Management Division of the Oklahoma State Treasurer’s Office, including assignment of responsibilities of staff, which currently includes two (2) positions. Responsible for initiating and maintaining effective relationships with state agency officials and administrators, legislators and their staffs, bond counsel, bond holders, financial advisors, bond rating agencies, and the financial and bond communities within the state of Oklahoma. Responsible for providing state officers and legislators with advice and assistance on matters relating to capital planning, debt issuance and debt management. Responsible for reviewing applications for financing and providing summaries of the requests to the Council at its monthly meetings. . Responsible for coordination of State debt issuance Assists the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) with staff support for the Long-Range Capital Planning Commission Responsible for development, review, and issuance of the Oklahoma Debt Affordability Study. Responsible for development, review, and issuance of the State Bond Advisor’s Annual Report detailing state debt. Provides guidance and support services to State Governmental Entities in the planning, structuring, and issuance of debt. Serve as a member of the Oklahoma Commission on School and County Funds Management. Serve as a member of the Oklahoma Development Finance Authority’s (ODFA) Program Development and Credit Review Committee. Responsible for management of the Oklahoma Private Activity Bond Allocation Program.
Bachelor’s degree in finance, economics, business or related field. Advanced degree preferred. Minimum of ten (10) years’ experience in public finance.
Visit website for full job description and application instructions.
This chart shows the pay / salaries of the administrative part of the Treasury in Oklahoma State but not the finance geeks working for them as analysts who are brokering the $5 billion in investment portfolio the state has.
State government has four core responsibilities – education, health care, public safety and transportation. It is those fundamental services on which the people depend to have productive lives. For businesses, those services done right provide an environment in which they can thrive.
Analysis of data released this month by the U.S. Census Bureau, along with the most-recent data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Federal Highway Administration, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, shows that, even when adjusted for Oklahoma’s relatively low cost of living, funding for core services still lags the region and the nation.
Oklahoma State Auditor unveils compromise plan to state’s budget woes
Thursday, February 15th 2018
State Auditor Gary Jones announced the compromise Feb. 15 alongside the House Democrats, who endorsed the plan. Jones’ plan includes an increase in the oil and gas gross production tax to five percent for the first 36 months, a 75 cent tax on cigarettes and little cigars, a three cent tax on gasoline and a six cent tax on diesel.
It is likely that every state treasury now is playing shell games with the revenues whereby huge pools of state revenues are plowed into financial products from Wall Street with large salaries going to financial teams to manage it and fees to trades, purchases and sales of those products depleting resources from where they were intended. And, the videos and pictures made of the Oklahoma schools above from teachers there are evidence of that process diverting resources from rather than making greater resources available to the things the revenues are supposed to be supporting.
– cricketdiane, 04-08-2018
January 5, 2018
Finance officer for state Health Department won’t testify yet
Chief Financial Officer Mike Romero won’t testify yet about what he learned at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, despite a subpoena to produce thousands of pages of documents detailing alleged financial mismanagement at the agency.
Romero was among the first state Health Department employees to speak with auditors about problems he discovered under the leadership of former top health officials Terry Cline and Julie Cox-Kain, who resigned in October.
Under state law, investments by the Treasurer’s Office are limited to full faith and credit obligations of the federal government, obligations of certain federal agencies or instrumentalities, repurchase agreements collateralized by those securities, collateralized or insured certificates of deposit and other evidences of deposit, negotiable certificates of deposit, Bankers’ acceptances, limited top-rated commercial paper, certain money market mutual funds, obligations of state and local governments, including obligations of Oklahoma state public trusts and bond notes, debentures or other similar obligations of a foreign government that meet specific requirements.
Just found this also – from 2017 – for Oklahoma City –
It is the policy of the City of Oklahoma City and the duty of the City Treasurer to invest the public funds in the custody of the City Treasurer to provide the highest investment return consistent with maximum security while meeting the daily cash flow demands of the City in conformance with the constitution and laws of the State of Oklahoma and the Charter of the City of Oklahoma City. In order to further ensure that these policy goals are accomplished, the City Council may hire independent professional investment consultants to advise the Council and the Treasurer.
Certain public trusts have formally adopted the City’s deposit and investment policies as a whole and the City Treasurer has been delegated the authority for managing the deposits and unrestricted investments of these trusts as reported in the City of Oklahoma City’s Comprehensive Annual Report.
They are as follows:
Oklahoma City Public Property Authority (OCPPA)
Oklahoma City Environmental Assistance Trust (OCEAT)
Oklahoma City Municipal Facilities Authority (OCMFA)
Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust(OCEDT)
Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area Public Schools (OCMAPS) Trust
Oklahoma City Riverfront Redevelopment Authority (OCRRA)
Any financial dealer and institution who desires to become an approved broker/dealer for investment transactions shall respond to a broker/dealer services solicitation questionnaire and certification approved by the City Treasurer. An evaluation committee and/or the City Treasurer or City Treasurer designee and/or the City’s independent professional investment consultant shall review the responses to the solicitation and questionnaire.
Based upon the evaluation, the City Treasurer and/or independent professional investment consultant will recommend a listing of eligible broker/dealer institutions to the City Council. By resolution of the Council, an eligible listing of broker/dealers shall be established for the purchase and sale of investment securities and further resolved that all prior resolutions establishing broker/dealers be rescinded. A list of broker/dealers will be established and approved at least annually.
The City Treasurer shall maintain a list of security broker/dealers approved by the City Council who is authorized to provide investment services for the City and registered to do business within the state. The approved broker/dealers may include a combination of primary, regional, and local dealers that qualify under the Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 15C3-1. A current audited financial statement shall be on file for each eligible broker/dealer with whom the City transacts investment services.
The investment strategy employed by the City Treasurer, with or without the assistance of an independent professional investment consultant, for the City’s portfolio shall be designed with the objective of obtaining a market rate of return throughout budgetary and economic cycles
In March, the legislature asked state agencies how they would deal with worst-case budget reductions of nearly 15 percent. A cut that deep at the Department of Tourism could cost Oklahoma half of its state parks.
Since 2009, the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department has lost about 40 percent of its legislatively appropriated funding, agency officials say. The agency’s response, in part, has been to shed some of its state parks, angering park-goers and and rattling local economies that depend on dollars from visitors spent on goods and services at area businesses.
The $6.9 billion budget signed last week by Gov. Mary Fallin delivers 5 percent cuts to most state agencies. On paper, it looks like two environmental agencies received funding boosts, but a closer look at the numbers shows the increases aren’t what they appear.
The effect of this hidden cut will likely result in more staff reductions, and fewer people tasked with water quality monitoring and work with farmers and ranchers to keep water clean, Lam says.
The March for Science is going to be on April 14 this year. It is important this year more than ever to stand up for Science and for STEM in the United States as it is all under attack daily throughout our government in its current iteration.
At a time when America needs science and technology to make significant leaps forward to catch up with the rest of the world who has been supporting education, higher education, science, math, technology and engineering with massive efforts, our nation’s leaders have chosen to make war on science at every opportunity and in every agency, every policy, every possible way.
We need education to support STEM now more than ever and to support education for our children and adults to be competitive in a global playing field where we have fallen behind. Now, rather than supporting our nation to be in a leadership role in science, technology, innovation and education, it is being de-funded, demeaned, derided, discredited, dismantled and destroyed.
These actions will set our nation behind by years upon years against other nations’ efforts supporting STEM, higher education and science, in particular. Please join the March for Science – whether you are a scientist or not to show America’s business leaders and political decision-makers that we stand together supporting fact-based and evidence-based decision making, scientific reason and educated thinking.
112.311 Legislative intent and declaration of policy.—
(1) It is essential to the proper conduct and operation of government that public officials be independent and impartial and that public office not be used for private gain other than the remuneration provided by law. The public interest, therefore, requires that the law protect against any conflict of interest and establish standards for the conduct of elected officials and government employees in situations where conflicts may exist.
(2) It is also essential that government attract those citizens best qualified to serve. Thus, the law against conflict of interest must be so designed as not to impede unreasonably or unnecessarily the recruitment and retention by government of those best qualified to serve. Public officials should not be denied the opportunity, available to all other citizens, to acquire and retain private economic interests except when conflicts with the responsibility of such officials to the public cannot be avoided.
(3) It is likewise essential that the people be free to seek redress of their grievances and express their opinions to all government officials on current issues and past or pending legislative and executive actions at every level of government. In order to preserve and maintain the integrity of the governmental process, it is necessary that the identity, expenditures, and activities of those persons who regularly engage in efforts to persuade public officials to take specific actions, either by direct communication with such officials or by solicitation of others to engage in such efforts, be regularly disclosed to the people.
(4) It is the intent of this act to implement these objectives of protecting the integrity of government and of facilitating the recruitment and retention of qualified personnel by prescribing restrictions against conflicts of interest without creating unnecessary barriers to public service.
(5) It is hereby declared to be the policy of the state that no officer or employee of a state agency or of a county, city, or other political subdivision of the state, and no member of the Legislature or legislative employee, shall have any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect; engage in any business transaction or professional activity; or incur any obligation of any nature which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his or her duties in the public interest. To implement this policy and strengthen the faith and confidence of the people of the state in their government, there is enacted a code of ethics setting forth standards of conduct required of state, county, and city officers and employees, and of officers and employees of other political subdivisions of the state, in the performance of their official duties. It is the intent of the Legislature that this code shall serve not only as a guide for the official conduct of public servants in this state, but also as a basis for discipline of those who violate the provisions of this part.
(6) It is declared to be the policy of the state that public officers and employees, state and local, are agents of the people and hold their positions for the benefit of the public. They are bound to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the State Constitution and to perform efficiently and faithfully their duties under the laws of the federal, state, and local governments. Such officers and employees are bound to observe, in their official acts, the highest standards of ethics consistent with this code and the advisory opinions rendered with respect hereto regardless of personal considerations, recognizing that promoting the public interest and maintaining the respect of the people in their government must be of foremost concern.
History.—s. 1, ch. 67-469; s. 1, ch. 69-335; s. 1, ch. 74-177; s. 2, ch. 75-208; s. 698, ch. 95-147.
It seems obvious that most, if not all states have laws similar to this as well as the Federal government. Why are these laws meaningless in today’s political environment? I don’t get it. I just happened to pick the Florida law because it was easy to find and well stated.
Again, we have had a horrific shooting at a school in America. There are a lot of people screaming their thoughts about it today and every day since it happened.
I know that people want to help. And, it is easy to say that because of a gun, because it was an assault rifle, because people can buy these weapons – that is what must change.
It might help and it might not, but long before that, people need to know that there will then be other weapons, other ways to do it.
And, there are people screaming right now about mental health or mental disorders being the problem or “issue”. But, what if it isn’t that, considering how many people with those issues either get some help for them or find other constructive and non-harmful ways to resolve those mental “issues” without shooting or hurting anyone. There are millions of people doing that, in fact.
But, what if the real reason these young men are stepping off the edge of reason and sanity to find a gun and equip it with thousands of rounds of ammunition has nothing to do with being able to get the gun nor the mental health industry who has many times been serving these same young men who’ve committed these mass shootings?
What if it is something else that indicates an underlying massive real cause of pushing many people including these men into a desperate anger and frustration that makes it seem to them that they have nothing to lose and can’t stand feeling that way another moment? Or, that they must get even and take it out on others to fix it and make those feelings and thinking change or go away, be satisfied that they’ve done something about it no matter how wrong they know it to be in doing it that way?
Our society in America has completely disenfranchised entire groups of our nation’s people. Most of us don’t do this as our reaction to that fact, but not everyone’s reaction is going to be the same.
Have we been throwing money at mental health programs hoping some psych drugs and a therapist can get people including these young men okay with never being anything but poor, or ever to be able to accomplish anything, or for their entire lives to experience being excluded and rejected from fully participating in having things and doing things with their lives?
Is it really right to believe that some mental health approach is going to fix it all and there will no longer be any responsibility on ourselves, in our communities and in our nation towards people who are never going to live out the expectations of the American Dream for themselves the way things are now?
When there are no jobs available to them but those which won’t pay the support of living independently and doing well for themselves? When there are no real ways to build friendships that are stable and rational nor to have healthy relationships with a girlfriend or boyfriend blossom into the kind of real relationship everyone has seen and read about where couples build their lives together?
When there are no opportunities to have a home, to have a network of supportive and encouraging people they know or to have opportunities to make money, build to have their dreams realized as once was possible in this country?
When there is obviously no way for the principles of fairness and equal opportunities to all Americans to be practiced in this environment of all the resources and opportunities being isolated and available to only a few at the top rungs of our society?
Across this country for years now, our young men especially, have been reaching out to extremist groups from criminal ones to religious ones to white supremacist and racially charged groups to massive underground subcultures to find there – a sense of belonging, acceptance, purpose and value for who they are.
It is obvious they didn’t get that from us as a community or as a nation, otherwise these young men and others would not have sought to find it there in extremist groups. And, the groups know that their members are becoming weapons in their own arsenal for whatever purposes and agendas these groups serve. None of it is a building, constructive, strengthening lives and communities agenda either.
Every time there is a mass shooting or horrific crime of this magnitude, we ask ourselves again about access to guns and suggest mental illness has made this happen. Maybe this time it is finally a moment to take a look at, why is it happening in our country and what we can do to form options that leave guns and going crazy over all this stuff wrong in people’s lives from being the only choices left for them.
Guns, Gun Violence, Mental Health and Disenfranchisement
The Women’s March on Washington aims to send a message to all levels of government, including but not limited to the incoming Presidential administration, that we stand together in solidarity and we expect elected leaders to act to protect the rights of women, their families and their communities.
Before showing the article for what to bring – I’m sharing this article that I found about what not to bring and what is banned from the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. – January 21, 2017. Then right below that will be a great article about things to bring and preparing for the Women’s March event – including snacks and really good walking shoes.
The U.S. Secret Service, the Metropolitan Police Department, U.S. Capital Police and other agencies are collaborating on security efforts for the inauguration. The following items have been banned from public events during inauguration week:
Weapons of any kind, including ammunition, explosives, firearms, mace and pepper spray
Animals other than helper/guide dogs
Backpacks and bags larger than 18 inches-by-13 inches-by-7 inches.
Drones and other unmanned aircraft systems
Coolers and glass, thermal or metal containers
Selfie Sticks, and other sticks and poles
Any other items determined to be potential safety hazards
Only cardboard, poster board or cloth signs will be permitted, and all signs must be less than 3 feet in width, 20 feet in length and one-quarter inch in thickness. Sticks and poles are prohibited; do not attach them as supports to any signs you bring.
Due to Security Considerations – D.C. Area Law Enforcement has enacted the Following Policy for the Women’s March on Washington
Please note all bags may be subject to search.
Backpacks are not permitted.
Bags should be no larger than 8”x6”x4”.
Specifically for people who would like to bring meals, each marcher is permitted one additional 12”x12”x6” plastic or gallon bag.
For marchers who have medical needs or for mothers who need baby bags or breast pumps, one clear bag or backpack no larger than 17″x12″x6″ will be permitted and subject to search (colored transparent bags are not permitted).
That is an absolutely brilliant article – and definitely worth using to prepare to go to the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. on January 21, 2017.
If it’s cold, organizers also suggest:
Thermal underwear beneath your clothes
Winter gear such as a scarf, gloves, balaclava and hat
A coat that is insulated comfortable and waterproof with a hood
Waterproof shoes or boots that have been broken in and are suitable for walking long distances.
Travel-sized wet wipes and/or tissues
A paper map of Washington, D.C.
Be sure to charge your cell phone battery and consider bringing a backup battery. Plan to carry essential items, like identification, cash, credit cards and a pre-purchased metro card in a water-resistant pouch, neck wallet or cross-body purse.
If you are a member of the press, covering the event officially, and have equipment that will not fit into bags of the above dimensions: please contact the National Communications Team to get press credentials in advance in order for your equipment to be allowed into the rally site.
If you require disability accommodations or related equipment, that will not fit into the above bags, please enter via the ADA Accessible route: 4th St. SW from C St. to Independence Ave. For anyone using Metro, please get off at Federal Center SW and use 4th St. to enter the rally area.
Canes, walking sticks, walkers, and portable seats are allowed for individuals who require them for mobility and accessibility on a regular basis.
If you’re breastfeeding or have other medical needs, you are allowed to bring an additional clear bag or backpack no larger than 17 by 12 by 6 inches, but no colored transparent bags are permitted. There will be breastfeeding stations along the root, and the FAQ page will be updated this week with information about where they will be.
As to kids, it’s your choice as to whether to bring them, but they are welcome. There is a Facebook page for parents who plan to attend the march with kids, which is a good resource for coordination.
If you want to roll up your sleeves and volunteer, head over to this Google Doc to sign up.
The main site organizing the event for the Women’s March on DC – says the start time is 10 am. and although it isn’t required to register, nor to have tickets to the event, they are asking people to register to have a better understanding of the numbers of people coming to the Women’s March.
March organizers said in a mission statement posted to their website that participants will unite to end violence and promote rights for women, LGBT people, workers, people of color, people with disabilities and immigrants.
“The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us,” the site says.
FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/Womens-March-on-Washington-1338822066131069/
INSTAGRAM: http://www.instagram.com/womensmarchRSVP on our OFFICIAL EVENTBRITE: bit.ly/womensmarchrsvp (not required, but greatly helpful for planning!)This is an INCLUSIVE march, is FREE to join and EVERYONE who supports women’s rights are welcome.PLEASE SHARE, we need to spread the word everywhere!
OFFICIAL STATEMENT, National OrganizersOn January 21, 2017 we will unite in Washington, DC for the Women’s March on Washington. We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us–women, immigrants of all statuses, those with diverse religious faiths particularly Muslim, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native and Indigenous people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished and survivors of sexual assault. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all. HEAR OUR VOICE.
After Trump won the presidency, a retired attorney in Hawaii posted to Facebook about marching in Washington, The Washington Post reported. By the time Teresa Shook went to sleep, 40 women said they wanted to march. By the time she woke up, that number had ballooned to 10,000, the Post reported.
The idea for the march took off, and Shook and the initial organizers handed the reins to a group of experienced activists: Bob Bland, a fashion industry entrepreneur; Tamika Mallory, an organizer and gun-control advocate; Carmen Perez, executive director of the Gathering for Justice, a criminal-justice-reform group; and Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York.
The march, the organizers declared via an ambitious platform released last week, is for gender equality, racial equality, LGBTQIA equality, economic justice and reproductive freedom; for equal pay, paid family leave, labor protections, clean water and air and access to public lands; and for an end to violence against women, police brutality and racial profiling. If that seems like a lot, well, that’s the point.
Sarsour, who serves as executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, tells Rolling Stone that the message the marchers want to send is that “from climate justice to racial justice to immigrant rights, reproductive rights, Native rights, we are united. We are committing to work together.
“We think that that hasn’t happened in a very clear way in a long time – bringing all the movements together and … saying, ‘We are watching you. We are ready. We are fired up. And we’re ready to fight back and protect our communities,'” she says.
What to do if you encounter counter-protesters at the Women’s March on Washington
Be prepared for trolls of the highest order at the Women’s March this weekend
1. Counter-protesters are not a possibility, but a definite entity
There will be counter-protesters whose goal is to goad you into confrontation and violence. So if you’re marching this weekend, coming across counter-demonstrators is not so much an “if” as a “when.” Be on the lookout.
GO READ THE REST OF THEIR SUGGESTIONS – REALLY AMAZING and absolutely do-able.
Will the National team have march etiquette information on the National site?
There will be specific safety information posted on the National site related to children’s areas, medical stations, etc. Resources for safety, march etiquette, and peaceful demonstrations can be found through other sources, such as ACLU or googling peaceful demonstrations, rights at demonstrations, etc. Most important – stay positive during the March. We are unified and making sure our voices are heard for the concerns closest to our hearts!
Remember: Only sign up for information through the official site of the Women’s March, and be sure to download the app to have access to the latest information at all times. Familiarize yourself with the FAQ and only give your information via this questionnaire, which was created by march organizers. Remain alert — and stand up for women’s rights everywhere.
Want civil disobedience training in your community? Contact Alexis Danzig at email@example.com
What about cell phone service interruption from so much use in one area?
This is a known issue and risk of a large march. Suggest to use Firechat app. This app is fueled by bluetooth technology. You do not need cell phone service or wifi to use. The more phones on bluetooth, the strong the signal. You can use this a form of communication to direct message your group or bus captains.
FireChat is an individual and group texting app that works on your phone yet doesn’t need phone data to function. You only need your wifi (even if it says there’s no wifi, keep it on) and Bluetooth turned on, and it uses that to create a mesh network, not a cellular network. FireChat doesn’t need cell service- full stop. It has been used successfully in disasters and protests around the world. The app has private messages and you can make public chatrooms- think of them like Twitter hashtags. It works on iPhone and Android and is free. You don’t need to use your real name to sign up, people don’t see your phone number when they interact with you- they just see the image you choose and your user name. You can make a private group so all the organizers can communicate privately and quickly.
1. Download the app to your phone or tablet. Add something to your username to emphasize that it’s your official account.
2. Encourage people to sign up.
3. Make a private group message for all your organizers or for your travelling group
WATCH: Democracy Now! Broadcasts Live from the D.C. Women’s March
SPECIAL BROADCASTJANUARY 21, 2017
On Saturday, January 21, Democracy Now! will bring you a special live broadcast from near the Women’s March main stage area. Tune in from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. ET. This special coverage will include speakers and performers from the stage and interviews with people from around the world who are attending the march and rallies in D.C., as well as reports from other actions around the country.
Use the hashtag #DNlive to join the conversation on Twitter.
How to Watch
Stream this coverage live on this page on Saturday, January 21 starting at 10 a.m. ET.
I’ve thought about it for two days now, since seeing a tweet from the DAV asking, What does freedom mean to you after so many have died protecting it? or something close to that.
Maybe my thinking is skewed by so much of the GOP garbage being spewed out right now, or the Brexit nightmare next door across the pond, but I retweeted that freedom to me means not being beat half to death every other day in my own home as has happened most of my adult life in America.
But isn’t that really the way it is? During my adult life, I’ve never lived in a prosperous America where equal opportunity awaited. I’ve not enjoyed the freedoms to purpose my life in some way that is given respect and opportunity with some accompanying success. It has not been like that.
And, maybe because all the best of the best men were sent to fight in wars throughout my teen to adult years, leaving behind a store unattended to be vilely ravaged by any pantywaist son of a bitch left behind, is why many women including me, have been at the negative end of human behaviors and men’s choices.
As Fourth of July approaches, and I’m thinking about those freedoms which I hold so dear that so many have fought and died to protect for me and for my family, I am grateful to them for doing that and grateful to their families for doing without them while they did that for us.
But, at the same time, I recognize that for the vast majority of my adult life, I’ve lived in a third world America and much of its riches and opportunities, prosperity and access to wealth, business “equality” and opportunities were as inaccessible as to the point they may have well not existed at all.
And, even though I did make every effort to act on those opportunities, had I been a man rather than a woman – resources would have been available to me that otherwise were not and still are not today.
So, on top of being vilified as the reason America’s downfall has occurred by every right wing extremist radio show host making $78 million a year or more to spew misogynistic, racist and bigoted views into the public’s mind, I’ve consistently heard that there is no reason to support any efforts I might make either. It is obscene.
I’ve watched as churches, politicians, extremists, violent right wing proponents, conservatives, radio show hosts, right wing tv news stations, right win pundits, Tea Party and GOP ultra conservatives have blamed me and women like me for everything wrong with this country short of the weather.
At the same time they were (and are) blaming us, it is while refusing to make good to me (or us) on any of the freedoms, diversity inclusions, equality, equal rights, equal opportunities, business opportunities, business funding, business resources, freedom of speech and thought, freedom of movement, freedom of religion or anything else they maintain for themselves and the corporations at my expense.
Unbelievably, I’ve never been in a position to deny contracts worth millions to an American industry as many GOP and right wing business people have. And to deny those contracts to American businesses literally cost their demise, denied them access to necessary sales to thrive and to survive.
And yet, supposedly their freedom to do that comes with no accountability at all because now the businessman running for President claims to be for supporting American businesses and people claim it must be true.
So, the perverse men running things at high levels of the right wing camp, as politicians, as political candidates, as political and economic policy makers and as CEOs of corporations, banks and oil companies, they get to lie, to vilify, to incite violence, to worship those like Gaddafi who were truly evil tyrants and give them the best of everything our country has to offer – but me, I’m considered the bad guy in their scheme of things.
Apparently, I am (and other women like me), the enemy they claim – not themselves, not their own habits and perverse diversions, not their sexual escapades, not their lack of compassion and empathy, not their choices, not their ideas and not their incapacity to know what is right. Yeah, freedom.Theirs, not mine.
And, I look at businesses that are hugely profitable making no efforts to restore or invest in the infrastructure in America that they used up, tore up, overused, misused, required for their business, didn’t make, didn’t secure, didn’t keep safe, didn’t make better, didn’t fix, didn’t maintain, didn’t design, didn’t invest in the first place and didn’t support the tax funding for any of us to do anything to keep it going or make it better either.
They were given that freedom, not me or others like me. We weren’t given the grants, tax breaks, tax schemes, resources, supports and teams of people that they had to make their profits and to make them profitable from the first step and at every place throughout the process – even after establishing good profitability.
Nope, I didn’t get any of that, nor will my daughters or sons or friends, or anyone I know, in fact. Why is that? It seems obvious that had I been given $4 million to work with, my business would look a lot different and be doing much better today than it is with nothing but my efforts and the couple hundred dollars a month I can put into it.
Obviously, I wasn’t given the freedoms that these other businesses had, from start to finish to cover every operating cost, salary, overhead, piece of equipment, materials, advertising, promotion and marketing, raw material, shipping costs and every other damn thing possible they could think of. Plus their attorney fees, land acquisitions, buildings, building funds for their new buildings, software and computers, machinery, automation, consultants, accountants and entire workforce costs.
And, then when profitable, these same corporations paid less taxes than any single or married individual in America pays while using up more of every single thing we have. Unbelievable. Is that supposed to be the freedom I have that veterans fought for? The freedom o watch as my nation has been raped, pillaged, plundered by marauding business leaders, junk bond raiders, bankers, Wall Street brokers, politicians and right wing extremists, fascists and neo-nazis? And some of that time, I personally suffered at their hands even in my own home?
Is that the freedoms that were the result of those fights – to be saddled with student loans forever that are resold and resold and resold until I owe $30,000 for a $2300 loan, and never get to be employed nor employable, to never get to buy a house or own any successful business, to never be accepted or a part of the America I love? Is that it? Because that is not just my experience, but that of many, many women across this country – those freedoms that our nation’s soldiers have fought for have been hijacked to belong to only a few and those few are so perverse in so many ways, that it leaves my mind reeling to even try and understand any of it.
For nearly all of the thirty some odd years before President Obama took office, this nation has been run literally into the ground by Republicans from the Federal level to nearly every state government and by extreme right wing conservatives, by extremist conservatives and right wing religious viewpoints and their religions, by elitist economic policies, by inequality perpetrated by the wealthier few and their insistence that everyone in America must be the same, do the same, act the same, think the same, speak the same, look the same and live the same as them or be disenfranchised, excluded, isolated, demeaned, vilified, discredited, defunded, economically impoverished and restrained from economic opportunity, subjugated, devalued, demonized, criminalized, subjected to “mental health behavior modification” programs, disparaged, discouraged, suppressed, ruined, destroyed, decimated, and beaten nearly to death or literally beaten to death.
And, the GOP, the right wing proponents, the Republican Party politicians and pundits, the right wing propaganda machine with all its tentacles, the churches they’ve hijacked, the Tea Party grass roots movement they hijacked and every other social institution they’ve been running, have literally been given the freedoms to do whatever they damn well please to anybody for any reason at any time.
And they have so many reasons to hate, vilify and demean, that their freedoms allow them to perpetrate their decimating tactics across a broad swath of the American population – the reasons for them being hateful and destructive to individuals and various groups of people being the only real difference. I’ve dealt with it for over forty years now and frankly, I’m sick of it. Those right wing bastards are not “real” Americans, no matter what they say that makes a claim to that.
Nor are they right. Beating homeless people to death is not the freedoms that men and women have died to protect. Beating women in their own homes and excluding them from economic opportunities, raping, pillaging whatever she owns or giving her nothing for it rather than fair market value and destroying her household are not the freedoms our soldiers have died to protect. That isn’t it at all.
And those freedoms that the extreme right wing and its GOP political machine are claiming in order to act on hate and to incite violence based on their hate mongering ideologies, are not happening in an isolation that is without consequence, no matter what it seems to the people doing it and to those inciting others to do it..
The freedoms won by our US Constitution and Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence, as well as all the wars that have been fought defending them have managed to secure the freedoms that the extremists and extreme right wing proponents enjoy that allow them to do whatever they like to whomever they like, but for the rest of us? No, I would not call the shit, horrors and poverty I’ve experienced in America at the hands of “their freedoms” to have honored the freedom that was supposed to be mine.
But, I still love America. And, at least today – I can say something about it, so that is something that was worthy of the lives lost protecting my rights and freedom.
Is it the barbecues, picnics, going to the lake, family holidays and fireworks? Well, not really. Is Fourth of July a note to the freedoms we enjoy everyday? Sort of. But really, what does it signify anymore? Is it a time to sell more hotdogs in ads that show us grilling out in our backyard, or simply an excuse to buy three cases of beer for the weekend? What is Fourth of July anymore anyway?
A few days ago, my granddaughter who is six stopped in the living room as the ballgame crowd was singing, God Bless America with hands over their hearts and scenes of the American flag blowing in the breeze over the ballpark. She stood proudly, put her hand over her heart and started singing with them, God Bless America in our living room. And a good friend over for a while sitting to watch the ballgame made a comment of embarrassment that would have shamed her for doing it. And I said, “well sometimes, something has to be important.” That’s true. It can’t be that we are all to sophisticated to join and support respect for our country and what it stands for.
And for days now, that scene rolls about in my mind, of my granddaughter innocently and grandly showing her patriotism in the safety of her own space joining with others on the tele box at the ballgame doing the same thing. And, more and more, I’ve thought about those few minutes of our friend’s reaction being so out of place and bizarre in a sense, and yet, understandable in a time when overt shows of pride in our nation are not for the modern and sophisticated every day person (unless at the ballgame in person or at some public rally specific to it.)
And, I’ve thought about the freedoms to do what we would choose in our own homes, how it is very bizarre for it to be socially unacceptable to stand and sing the National Anthem or America the Beautiful, to join in saying the Pledge of Allegiance, to salute for a parade of soldiers on the tele (even in person at the parade), or to put hand over heart and stand when appropriate to the event we are watching on the TV singing with the National Anthem as the crowd does. How bizarre a lack of freedom that is, in the very country where those freedoms have been fought for, paid for, died for, won for and firmly established. Really, that is strange.
As I think about it, I’m reminded of a recent conversation with one of my daughters in their late 20’s who told me when I was designing tshirts for the Fourth of July and things with the American flag on them, that it has been unpopular and not trendy to wear a shirt with the American flag on it for the Fourth of July. And, yesterday she explained that most people don’t want to wear or carry things in red, white and blue for the Independence Day events, whether it is a headband, party sunglasses, hats or a stick with streamers on it.
I’m not sure if this is true because around the Fourth of July weekend there is lots of those things sold, but maybe it is unpopular or has been recently unpopular for people to embrace those things to use for celebrating the Fourth as an expression of their love for America. Maybe it is okay to have red, white and blue balloons attached to the mailbox to show their barbecue is happening in the backyard for the Fourth of July, but not to wear a shirt that shows those colors or an American flag or says USA. That is bizarre too.
It’s as if we’ve all taken on that contempt found in TV shows’ character dialogs and one-liners that belittles and shames all things expressing our belief in something important and of expressing any feeling of caring about something.important. So is it easier to not engage the moment and express those feelings of oneness with our nation, our pride of place and honor for those who’ve fought to defend it, than to risk being vilified and demeaned even in our own homes for doing it? Really? To be called crazy for standing up and singing the National Anthem or God Bless America even in our own homes – in the privacy of our own homes? Is that what it is to live in this great nation of ours, that even in our own homes, we don’t actually enjoy THAT freedom?
NO. Sometimes, some things have to be important – fashionable or not. It is, in my estimation, not trendy, not fashionable AND it is not sane to belittle anyone as they do on TV shows, sitcoms and even the kid’s shows. It isn’t funny, no one is laughing at it anymore – not for many years now, and despite the popularity of re-running things to hell and back, those dialogs are not the real dialogs between real people in real lives, nor would we ever want them to be. Their ideas of my patriotism and expressions of it cannot be what works in my house nor the definition of what goes in my house and what my choices are for my house. And, it shouldn’t be either, that social conventions described by popular TV sitcoms, reality shows and animated adult humor shows choose our expressions of or reactions to patriotic feelings being expressed, or any damn thing else for that matter.
What Fourth of July means to me is that we all stop for a moment and say together in one voice that it matters, that what has been fought for, defended, protected, lives lost for, tremendous efforts made for and hard won to be a nation of freedom and full human rights honored and protected for everyone – matters. And, that we all agree despite everything on which we disagree – that the United States of America is more than a legacy, that it is ours and together we promise to protect what she stands for , to further what she offers to all, to strengthen and keep her safe from those who would destroy her, and to continue her grand ideals of freedoms and inalienable human rights, opportunities to thrive and equality today and in the future.
And, Fourth of July means that we will honor those efforts made that came before we were ever part of this great nation, to hold her dear, value her ideals, cherish her strengths and make her stronger still.
And frankly, I don’t care what tshirt anyone wears and whether it has an American flag on it or not for the Fourth of July holiday events. I am proud to say that my America lets you wear what you damn well please and I’m an American who supports your freedom and rights to do so. That is what matters.
I pledge allegiance, to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible with Liberty and Justice for ALL. – means we agree on some things being important, despite the many things on which we disagree. It is our duty, our responsibility AND our honor to uphold these Truths noted in the beginning of our Declaration of Independence and structured to be protected by our US Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Some things simply do have to be important. And sometimes, we really do have to show that it matters. Happy Fourth of July!
These porcelain plates I designed are available on Zazzle so that you can customize them with your family name, this year or another year of special commemoration and use them to hang on the wall as collectibles and family commemoration plates. Simply use the template field to change my family name and this year, to whatever you want with your family name. Wonderfully pretty.
I’ve been creating nearly every day since I was a kid and that is over 50 years. I’ve created in numerous ways in a range that moves from art to problem-solving to inventing, creating music, sculpting and painting to writing and doing various computer / online based projects.
“It is better to make the effort to move forward and release the flow of ideas to work with them and do things creatively, create things and invent and write and make – I definitely know that by experience.” – cricketdiane, 2018 ** You can find more of my art and designs here –