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This is an AP Photo of Noah Pozner, age 6, killed in the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. As more details are released about this horrific incident, so were the photos of some of the victims: http://gu.com/p/3chab/tw. As the harsh reality of this violent act sinks in across the country and around the world, what will be the tangible net effect? Will the death of 20 children and several courageous teachers be the tipping point for renewed debate on gun policy? Or will it have an even broader effect?
Public policy alone can never completely alter behavior of a society. Malcolm Gladwell defined a tipping point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” When last night’s Saturday Night Live opened with this poignant and graceful tribute to those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, it reminded me that the impact of Friday’s gun violence was universal enough to, in fact, create that tipping point. Only time will tell.
A support fund has been established for all the Sandy Hook families: http://conta.cc/Z7YLRL
On the eve of the next presidential debate, I learned of a new Obama campaign ad narrated by Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman. Since its weekend debut it has been viewed nearly 400,000 times on YouTube. Many pundits are citing this as what may be the campaign’s most striking TV ad this season.
The evocotive ad, called “Challenges” focuses on the President’s accomplishments rather than attacking his opponent, Mitt Romney. With the election three weeks away, many analysts are wondering about the timing of the ad’s positive tone. Others note that the constant barrage of negative political ads up until this point carries the risk of turning off voters. What do you think?
According to a report in the New York Times, the United States Federal Reserve said yesterday that “a complete economic recovery was still years away.” That grim assessment of the US economy sent global stocks into decline today. Add to that the news of unending gridlock over the President’s jobs bill, new census data on families living in poverty and renewed debate over millionaires’ tax burden – and you can hardly get through a day without thoughts about money.
But what are you thinking? How do you process these news stories?
A few years ago I had an opportunity to work with Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money, preparing a not-for-profit board to embrace their role as fundraisers. Throughout her career Lynne has raised hundreds of millions of dollars and trained thousands of fundraisers to rethink their relationship with money. She has an amazing ability to strip away the myths many of us hold about money. It was a transformative experience for many.
So the headlines of the past few days prompted me to reread portions of her book and I appreciated anew her approach to our cultural beliefs about money – especially her discussion about the mindset of scarcity and the sufficiency of life. I particularly appreciated her reflections on our interconnectedness and her challenging of the current economic paradigm of “us vs. them”, “rich vs. poor”, “have vs. have not.”
So if you’re starting this day with fearful thoughts about the economy, take a few moments to consider this brief 10 minute video from Lynne’s Soul of Money Institute and reflect on your relationship to money. Feel free to share your comments.
- Learn about the thing you fear. Uncertainty is a huge component of fear: Developing an understanding of what you’re afraid of goes a long way toward erasing that fear.
- Talk about it. Sharing your fear out loud with a trusted professional, friend or family member can help put it in perspective.
- Live and take action in the present. The things we fear often reside in the future – and are outside of our control. You can only control your actions in the present – what you think, what you chose, what you do - not the outcomes.
In the news coverage of New York’s legal recognition of same-sex marriage, I noticed in listing other states that have passed similar laws that most news reporters failed to mention Illinois. And then the difference between “civil unions” and “marriage” really sunk in. New York passed same-sex marriage; Illinois passed same-sex civil unions. It is not the same. Even if there were no substantive differences in the way the law treated marriages and civil unions, the fact that a civil union remains a separate status only for same-sex couples represents real and powerful inequality.
As the Chicago Tribune reported yesterday in coverage of Chicago’s Pride Parade: “Asked if they were pleased with civil unions, they answered simultaneously, “Yeah, but it’s not marriage.” Don’t get me wrong. I celebrated when same-sex couples gathered in Chicago’s Millennium Park to enter into civil union. And I totally understand that the use of civil union language is a strategic political compromise – but the effect is more than simple semantics.
When confronting opposition from the religious community, shouldn’t we talk about the difference between “holy matrimony” and “civil marriage” rather than always yielding to fears over use of the word marriage? Thinking about this issue led me to rediscover (Lieutenant Governor of California) Gavin Newsom’s interview on the topic:
My friend Tracy Baim, Executive editor of Windy City Media Group, shared her thoughts on the topic in this Huffington Post article: “If you truly believe we as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered citizens are equal in all ways, there should be nothing in the way of your support for full equality. If you ask us to compromise, to settle for unequal civil unions; you are saying, in no uncertain terms, that we are not the same.” What do you think?
In follow up to last week’s blog post; you probably know by now that a 2-part deal was finally reached late last Friday to avoid a government shutdown. First, the House and Senate passed a one-week spending bill that addressed the immediate threat – giving Congress and the White House time to finalize the second part: a fiscal 2011 spending deal (on which they have agreed in principle) before an April 15 deadline.
By the way, if you are curious about how your Representative voted on the stop-gap measure, you can view the detail of this New York Times map here. The one-week spending bill enacted by the House and Senate contains $2 billion in spending cuts to transportation, housing and community development programs.
With a shutdown essentially averted, attention has already shifted to how the two political parties will likely talk about fiscal matters during the 2012 Presidential election campaign. Obama senior adviser David Plouffe told NBC’s Meet the Press that the President will deliver a speech on Wednesday to outline his ideas on deficit reduction and how to reign in Medicare and Medicaid spending.
As I catch up on this weekend’s analysis of the behind-the-scenes budget negotiations I find myself wondering if the true impact of these spending cuts will be felt fully in time for voters to decide whether we have patriots or mad hatters in Congress. What do you think?
As I write this blog, a shutdown of the federal government seems likely. Congressional leaders, intent on reigning in government spending, can’t agree on a budget for fiscal year 2011 – which ends in September. As this graph points out, we certainly have reason to be concerned about government spending.
But should spending cuts be the only priority? That seems to be the message if you are a Tea Party Republican.
Dante Chinni at The Patchwork Nation has offered an interesting perspective in his blog post this morning entitled “The Shutdown Showdown.” He offers an interesting study of the demographic profile of Florida’s 5th District, represented by Republican Rich Nugent. Dante’s blog essentially poses the question what will voters that have given rise to the ”no compromise” political ideology of the Tea Party do when the government shuts down – or if the kind of cuts to entitlement programs proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan were to be adopted.
While the Tea Party movement prefers to invoke the spirit of Boston colonists in 1773, their influence on public policy is more closely resembling the Tea Party found in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. As you may recall, the Mad Hatter asked Alice a riddle that does not have an answer. The Tea Party Republicans seem to pose the same type of riddle: When is a government shut down like a path to prosperity?
A few weeks back, AdAge Stat featured a great article entitled “The Redistribution of Wealth? It Already Happened.” The authors, Matt Carmichael and Peter Francese talk about the “profound implications for those of us who want to sell products to the diminishing group who have a pile of disposable income”. It is worth a read.
Now Dante Chinni, director of Patchwork Nation, has written a great opinion piece in the New York Times that asks the question “Why do Americans seem unperturbed about the growing gap between the rich and the poor?” You can read it here and share your own comments.
Then take a look at the map that appeared in The Atlantic a few weeks ago entitled “The Twelve States”. It shows pretty clearly how median family incomes have shifted in the past 30 years.
The topic is certainly gaining attention politically…but how about in marketing circles? Are we paying attention to the trendline? What do you think?