Tag Archives: Norma Shirk

The Prime Directive

One of the concepts introduced early in the Star Trek franchise was the Prime Directive.  This guiding principle prohibited the Star Fleet alliance from interfering in the social and political customs of societies on the planets they visited.  These societies were supposed to develop naturally without outside ethical and social rules imposed on them.

Of course, every Star Trek captain, beginning with Captain Kirk, violated the Prime Directive every time he (and only once, she) visited a planet that offended the captain’s notion of how things ought to be done.  At least Captain Picard debated the matter with his senior staff. 

Their discussions sounded an awful lot like debates at the European Union or the United Nations.  The EU was founded in hopes that economic integration would prevent future European wars.  The UN was founded in hopes that nations would negotiate their differences rather than going to war. From the beginning, both organizations faced Prime Directive problems. 

When Putin’s Russia repeatedly tried to murder Alexey Navalny and imprisoned him on bogus charges, should the EU and the UN have intervened?  Navalny is fighting for an end to the kleptocratic reign of Putin and the creation of a democracy that works for Russians.  Putin and his enablers argue that Navalny’s treatment is an internal matter for Russia.

When China imprisoned a million Uighers in “re-education camps” where they are tortured and used as slave labor, should Chairman XI and his minions be charged with “crimes against humanity”? China claims the Uighers are Muslim terrorists and besides, it’s an internal matter for China.  

Prime Directive arguments pop up in the U.S., too.  Our federalist system allows states broad scope to enact laws on social and political matters.  But sometimes the federal government overrules what states want to do.  Notable examples include creating Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and civil rights laws that ended segregation and reduced voter suppression.  These laws were challenged by states who argued that how they treat their citizens is an internal matter.

The Prime Directive debates will flare up over the next year as each state legislature creates a new districting plan for federal and state elections.  Nearly two-thirds of state legislatures are controlled by the Republican Party. In states like Tennessee, the Republican Party has a super majority. 

Already, the Republican-controlled state legislatures have introduced more than 100 bills to restrict voting rights based on the bogus claims of stolen votes.  The proposed laws include purging voter rolls, eliminating early voting, severely restricting mail-in voting, making it more difficult to register to vote, and cutting the number of polling locations in areas that historically haven’t voted for Republican candidates. 

President Biden and his advisors will have many Prime Directive discussions on whether the federal government should intervene in the redistricting and voting law changes taken by state legislatures.  Expect the states to raise the same arguments as in the past. 

The Prime Directive debates could potentially become a lot uglier over the next year. A recent survey conducted by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, found that 55% of grassroots Republican Party members believe it is acceptable to use violence to enforce their political vision for America.

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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Will We Ever Be Normal Again?

As we say goodbye to the Trump years and begin the Biden presidency, some people are talking about a return to normality.  This talk is premised on the notion that the Trump years, particularly the past few months, are an anomaly.  But what exactly is normal for our country?

True, we’ve never had an armed mob storm the U.S. Capitol in a desperate attempt to block the results of an election.  But our country has always had demagogues, con artists, opportunists, and sleazy provocateurs looking for their fifteen minutes of fame.  Without wishing to diminish the magnitude of the threat the current bunch pose, it is instructive to look at what was normal in the past.  

Long before Trump’s tweets supporting white supremacists, Woodrow Wilson openly supported Jim Crow laws because he believed whites were superior to blacks.   In 1924, a purported one million Klansmen descended on the Washington, DC mall in their white robes and hoods to spout their hatred of blacks, Catholics, Jews and immigrants.  President Calvin Coolidge didn’t condemn them or their rhetoric. 

Before social media platforms amplified the white power movement, a Catholic priest named Father Coughlin hid behind the label of “Christian” while spewing anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi garbage. He was the country’s most popular talk radio host in the 1930’s until some of his supporters were arrested on suspicion of trying to overthrow the U.S. government.   

Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz aren’t the first politicians to endanger the country in the cynical pursuit of their personal ambitions.   John C. Calhoun announced his national ambitions by whipping up an anti-British mob that pushed the country into the War of 1812.  That’s the war we don’t talk about because the British burned down the White House.  Calhoun became a prominent pro-slavery southerner who developed the legally dubious “nullification” theory which Tennessee’s less-gifted politicians periodically drag out of the trashcan of history. 

Hawley and Cruz are also not the first politicians whose cynical ploy backfired on them.  In 1804, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were fading into the political sunset when they decided that fighting a duel would draw attention to resurrect their careers.  Instead, Hamilton was gut-shot and died in agony days later while Burr had to go on the lam to escape a murder charge.

In 1861, Abraham Lincoln traveled to his first inauguration by train.  His travel schedule was supposed to be kept secret and security was increased due to the number of death threats he received. Several last-minute route changes ensured he arrived at the U.S. Capitol on time to be sworn in as president. 

This year, Joe Biden had planned to travel to his inauguration by train.  But last week a brief announcement said that Biden’s travel plans had changed due to the level of violent threats made against him (and V.P.-elect Kamala Harris).   Unfortunately, and depressingly, our new normal looks a lot like the old normal. 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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Nothing New Under the Sun

He benefited from the wealth bequeathed by his father.  He inherited a politically stable country that was militarily stronger than its enemies.  His country was at the heart of a vast trading network that made it wealthy and spread its influence across the world.  Its’ fertile soil provided so much food that it exported the excess to neighboring countries. 

He set out to destroy all that.  He felt only contempt for the competent, experienced government officials he inherited and replaced them with sycophants loyal only to himself.  He built a new capital city in a remote location where he lived in an echo chamber surrounded by his supporters.  The working class that built his new city were underfed and overworked.  They died young while he lived in a palace and treated himself to the best food and wine available.

He created his own cult and demanded that everyone worship his new god.  Traditional religious leaders were unceremoniously tossed aside, and their treasures confiscated to fund the new cult.  His wife and children slavishly followed his lead.

While he was busy dismantling the existing order, his country’s enemies grew bolder.  Other great powers began expanding their territory.  His country’s allies begged for help but he ignored them.  He was too busy attacking his real and perceived enemies at home to notice or care about the threats at his own border.    

When he finally left the scene (due to his death), his country’s hegemony had faded.  Society was fractured, the economy was in decline and his country had lost about a quarter of its territory to other great powers.  His inattention ruined his country’s alliances and its allies shifted allegiance to others, including the new great powers.   

His surviving opponents moved quickly to restore order, reinstating the traditional government structure.   His cult was abandoned and replaced by the former religion.  His name was erased from the written record as was his wife’s name.   His children repudiated him and his cult in a desperate effort to salvage their own lives.

His name was…..Amenhotep IV, better known to us as Akhenaton.  He ruled Egypt at the end of the 18th Dynasty of the New Kingdom.  His son, Tutanhkamon, was the last of that line of pharaohs and died young.  Ancient Egypt never again attained the cultural, political, and military hegemony that Akhenaton inherited.

Today, as we debate good versus bad leadership, Akhenaton is a reminder that there is nothing new under the sun.

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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Fixing Our Broken Electoral System

The sun rises in the west!

The sun rises in the west!

Voter fraud cost me the election!

Repeating a lie doesn’t magically transform it into the truth.  The truth is that the Republican Party’s presidential candidates haven’t won the popular vote since Ronald Reagan’s day.  The only thing keeping them competitive in federal (including the Electoral College) and state elections is gerrymandered voting districts. The Democratic Party doesn’t care; they’re busy gerrymandering voter districts in the states where they control the state legislature. Both parties are happy to suppress voting rights to the other side’s supporters.  

It’s the type of greedy, short-sighted and unpatriotic behavior that motivates warring factions in third world countries, most recently in South Sudan where the two guerrilla forces turned political parties have wrecked their country trying to sate their piggish appetites at the trough of public patronage. They couldn’t care less that their citizens are dying from bullets, disease and starvation, not to mention rape, murder and pillage.

The U.S. is the leader of the free world.  We deserve an electoral system that reflects that status instead of one appropriate for deadbeats skulking in the bush.

There is a better way and the prototype is called “Aadhar”.  Aadhar is an electronic database created by the federal government of India in a public-private partnership.  Every person in India is given a retina scan and a thumb scan and issued a 12-digit unique identifier.  This digital ID is linked to a card that looks like a credit card. The card is tied to a personal bank account which allows poor Indians to receive their government aid directly.  Aadhar is already paying for itself due to the amount of government corruption it has eliminated.

Aadhar is also the platform for an ecosystem of digital commerce. With their card and a retina scan, Indians can apply for a bank loan, pay their rent, buy groceries, a new refrigerator or TV and pay their cell phone bill. 

The U.S. could create its own version of Aadhar that would include a voter registration application.  Voters could register electronically and then vote electronically.  

Amazon, Apple, and Google, to name three American tech companies have the expertise to help set up an American version of Aadhar.  We could use the database as a platform for government services and private industry.  Privacy could be protected with beefed up privacy laws which need to be updated anyway.

So what’s really stopping us from instituting an electronic system that could reduce the threat of voter fraud while simultaneously speeding up election results? 

No politician in this country gives enough of a damn about America to put the country’s interest above her/his own interests.  They’d rather be tribal twits screaming about voter fraud and fighting over their turn at the trough of public patronage.  We’re a first world country with third world pols.  And that’s why I pessimistically believe an American Aadhar will never happen and we’ll never fix our broken electoral system.   

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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Voting Early

Early voting is in full swing. I always try to vote early because I can show up at a time convenient to my schedule and there is usually no waiting.  But this year is different.  For the first time ever, early voting was as busy as a typical Election Day crowd.

When I drove to the public library on the afternoon of the second day of early voting I couldn’t find a parking space. The line wrapped around the building. I gave up and went home.  The next day I showed up at 7:30 am and was happy to find a parking space next door. Then I stood in a line that snaked around the library parking lot waiting for the 8 am opening. 

Voters ranged in age from 18 to 80.  Several neighbors in the line told me that they were willing to wait all day for their chance to vote.  When word spread of a first time voter, everyone in line cheered them on.   I finally voted around 9:10 am.    It was absolutely amazing.   

This year we will probably see record-breaking voter turnouts in every state. The good news is that people are motivated to have a say in the outcome of the election.  The bad news is that they are motived because our society is so polarized that many people see this election as an existential threat to their existence. (If my candidate doesn’t win, the world will end!) 

I suspect that is how voters felt in the past when there was a major political realignment of voters.  Major political realignments happen when demographic changes or political grievances motivate normally uninterested voters. 

The 1876 presidential election was so contentious, it still reverberates.  Samuel J. Tilden received 185 electoral votes, Rutherford B. Hayes received 165 votes, and 20 electoral votes from Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina were disputed.  In a thoroughly disreputable political deal, Hayes was declared the winner in exchange for an end to Reconstruction in the south. 

The south repudiated the Republican Party which had imposed Reconstruction and created the Jim Crow laws that suppressed black voters until the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which included the Voting Rights Act.  The 1964 law moved the entire south back to the Republican Party until this year.

This year demographic changes are reshaping the electoral landscape.  A tenth of the eligible voters are from Generation Z (18 – 23 years old) and a third of all voters are non-white, mostly Hispanic. The Baby Boomers are a shrinking voter bloc.   Although it is too soon to call, the early voting turnout may be a harbinger of a major political realignment.

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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Off Balance but Still Standing

This is the weirdest autumn ever.  Everything feels off balance.

The covid-19 pandemic continues to kill people with no relief in sight.  Our economy is teetering on the edge of recession due to the knock-on effects of the pandemic, like job losses and slowing demand.  The economic blows are made worse by protectionist politicians who ignore what is good for the average consumer in order to protect monopolistic industries run by big campaign donors.

We have a new class war brewing as our society splits between those who can work from home and those who can’t.  The ones who can’t are mostly blue collar workers who are paid less and have fewer employee benefits.   Blue collar workers are also less likely to have options for ensuring their children will keep up with their schooling. Parents who are struggling with fears of layoffs don’t have energy to try to help their kids solve math problems.

As if a pandemic isn’t bad enough, our political lives have fractured due to the ugliest electoral season since 1968 and 1860.  In 1968, race riots caused by racial injustices and protests against the Vietnam War turned most major cities into mini-war zones.  In 1860, half the country was ready to secede and fight a civil war to keep the institution of slavery.  Then as now, self-serving political and religious demagogues got their 15 minutes of fame by exploiting the situation.

But this is the point when I realize that not everything is doom and gloom.  The political violence of 1968 and 1860 can’t happen again in our country.  Today, hardly anyone supports the notion of seceding or going to war to protect racial purity and racial inequities.  Unlike 1968, today people of all races, ethnicities and ages are marching demanding a fairer social bargain for everyone.

Eventually, there will be a vaccine to beat back the threat of covid-19.  That vaccine will be created faster than any other vaccine has ever been thanks to advances in bio-medical research in recent years.

There are also signs that the economy is adjusting to the new ways of doing business. Some old business models will fail and be replaced by new models.  That’s what capitalism calls creative destruction.

We’ll adapt even as we carry the psychological scars of the pandemic and its economic destruction.  Everything feels off balance but we’re still standing.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

 

Norma Shirk is an author, speaker, business owner and an attorney. In 2011, she founded Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, LLC (www.complianceriskadvisor.com), a human resources consulting firm for small employers.

She writes a weekly blog that alternates between human resources issues (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) and history (History by Norma, www.normashirk.com).  She is also a founder and monthly contributor to the Her Savvy blog, www.hersavvy.com.   In 2018, she published, Psycho Bosses and Obnoxious Co-Workers, an amusing look at workplace behavior.

Ms. Shirk frequently speaks to a variety of audiences on topics ranging from human resources issues to historical events and persons.  She may be contacted at norma.shirk@complianceriskadvisor.com.

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The Despair of Poverty

Imagine climbing a mountain with no helmet, no harness and no pitons or belaying ropes to keep you safe.  You constantly slide back because there’s no support to help you succeed.  You keep trying, one attempt after another, until you are physically and emotionally exhausted.  Then despair overwhelms you and you give up.

That’s what it’s like to be poor in America.  Poor people don’t choose to be poor. They are born into poverty and our social welfare programs are designed to ensure they never have the tools to climb the mountain and escape poverty.

Public assistance (“welfare”) programs like Medicaid, Food Stamps and public housing are based on household income.  The income assessment is done monthly and there’s no leeway.  Either you’re below the dollar limit for eligibility or you’re not. You’re not allowed to build up a nest egg, the pitons that could save you from falling.  Getting a job means losing all support and you’ll plummet down the mountain.

Of course, most poor people are too wealthy to qualify for public assistance even though their low paying jobs don’t cover the rent and the light bill, let alone food and school fees. Every day they must decide whether to buy gas for the car to get to their job or buy food.  They can’t do both.

Their kids go to school in clothes bought at a thrift shop or donated by a charity. Other kids mercilessly “tease” them for their shabby clothes and cheap sneakers. Poor kids live every day with emotional stress that would flatten an able-bodied adult.  They are beaten down by the despair of knowing they have no climbing gear to take them up the mountain.

Every time a poor family gets two nickels, a dollar’s worth of bills pop up.  The car breaks down.  The landlord raises the rent.  The unpaid balance on the electric bill plus the “restoration” fee wipes out a month’s pay.  You’re banging your head on rocks as you fall down the mountain.

Then a family member gets sick.  Poor people either can’t afford to buy health insurance or the co-pays, deductibles and coinsurance guarantee there’s no way to pay the hospital and doctor bills.  A collection agency relentlessly pursues payment before a person is healthy.  The now utterly exhausted poor person gives up.

When poverty intersects with American culture, the results are rotten for the poor.  We’re taught that people can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps if they’d only try harder.  Our Protestant tradition encourages us to blame poor people for being poor as if poverty is a punishment from God.

Yes, poor people often make bad decisions. But so do better-off people. The difference is that better off people have helmets, harnesses, pitons and belaying ropes from birth in the form of family and friends who save them from falling down the mountain.  When we blame the poor for their poverty, we ignore the barriers blocking their climb and we accept the despair of poverty.

 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

 

 

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Blurred Vision

Today we’re in the middle of the biggest culture war since the 1960’s. As with every culture war in American history, it’s a fight to shape the future.  Will everyone have a seat at the table regardless of race, ethnicity, religion and gender? Or will some people be more equal than others, to paraphrase George Orwell?

Since no one can see the future, most of us look to the past.  The past is usually interpreted nostalgically as we think about the good things that have happened.  But nostalgia is also a trap.  The past was never as idyllic as our rose colored glasses make it seem.

People of color, whether black, Hispanic, or American Indian, were enslaved by Europeans from the conquistadors to the old South. Then they were airbrushed out of the history books. Women were also airbrushed out of history.  They existed only as a wife, a mother, or a daughter; never as an adult person with an individual identity.

The blurred vision of nostalgia is easy to demonstrate.  Lots of people like to dress up in antebellum clothes and Confederate uniforms and imagine living at Tara.  Not one of them wants to put on rags and live in a cabin on slave row.   Lots of people have a dream-catcher dangling from the rear view mirror of their vehicle. Not one of them wants to be a child torn from their family and sent to an Indian school to be starved and beaten into forced assimilation.

Rather than distorting our vision with nostalgia, we should recognize that times change.  We’ve all learned to use computers and video conferencing.  Our parents and grandparents have too. The current pandemic is made bearable for many of us because we can buy everything we need over the internet and have it delivered to our doorstep.  Yet each new technological change caused fear until we learned to adapt to the change.

Rather than fighting the changes and trying to recreate a false past, we should embrace the fact that our culture has already changed. The proof of our new culture is in our food choices.  From soul food to sushi, tacos to corned beef, fry bread to matzos, and tapas to injera, Americans of all races, religions, ethnicities and gender are already seated at the table. That’s a brilliant future.

 

Norma Shirk is an author, speaker, business owner and an attorney. In 2011, she founded Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, LLC (www.complianceriskadvisor.com), a human resources consulting firm for small employers.

She writes a weekly blog that alternates between human resources issues (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) and history (History by Norma, www.normashirk.com).  She is also a founder and monthly contributor to the Her Savvy blog, www.hersavvy.com.   In 2018, she published, Psycho Bosses and Obnoxious Co-Workers, an amusing look at workplace behavior.

Ms. Shirk frequently speaks to a variety of audiences on topics ranging from human resources issues to historical events and persons.

She may be contacted at norma.shirk@complianceriskadvisor.com.

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It Don’t Mean a Thing, If…

All the protests on social media, the on-line petitions and marching in the streets don’t mean a thing. All the Twitter memes, wall murals, statue removals, and messages painted on streets don’t mean a thing.

If you don’t vote.

Marches won’t do it. Social media rants don’t count.  The only way to change unpopular governments and their policies is to vote.  Nothing will change if you don’t vote.

Yet in the U.S., barely half of the voting age population actually votes in presidential elections. The numbers are even worse for mid-term Congressional elections and downright dismal for state and local elections.

Tennessee ranks 49th out of 50 states for voter turnout and was the 37th state to create an on-line voter registration system.  The state is currently dragging its bureaucratic feet on expanding voting by mail despite a federal court order and a pandemic endangering the health of the voters.

With pathetically low numbers like these, the U.S. ranks near the bottom for voter turnout among democratic countries. But a democracy is only as strong as its free and fair elections; which won’t happen if people don’t vote.  When voters don’t vote, democracy dies.

When most voters don’t vote, it is easy for small groups of fanatically committed people to take over a country. Fanatical groups always have a message that sounds reasonable, like law and order, national security, limiting immigration or some other seemingly innocuous message.  But fanatically committed political groups are always anti-democratic.

Once they have control of the presidential and legislative levers of government, they systemically undermine all democratic institutions that might limit their power. The first to go are inspector general offices which investigate wrong-doing by government officials. Next to go is a free press.  After that judicial independence is wiped out.  Without a free press and an independent judiciary, any citizen (i.e., voter) can be imprisoned any time on bogus charges.  Being an alleged national security threat is a favorite.

By the time the voters wake up to the situation, every election is a sham and votes truly don’t count.  Democracy exists only as a façade.

What does a sham democracy look like?  It looks like Thailand, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Turkey, and most of the countries created from former Yugoslavia.   If the U.S. wants to continue being a democracy, people need to step up to the ballot box and vote.

Because…all the marches, memes, on-line protests, pulling down statues and painting the street don’t mean a thing…..if you don’t vote.

 

 

 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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It’s About Winners and Losers

Our country is again twisting itself into knots over the issue of white privilege and racial injustice.  That issue is at the heart of America because our country’s founders decided to kick the can down the road leaving it for someone else to solve.

We fought a Civil War over it.  The 1950’s Civil Rights movement and the 1960’s Black Power movement were about it.  The most recent spark was the death of George Floyd (and others) at the hands of police officers.

What underpins this issue?  Fear of losing.  Our country is going through a gigantic transition that is changing us socially, economically and politically and people are afraid of what those changes will mean for them.

Our country is turning brown. Within 30 – 50 years, whites will be a minority in the country.  We already have many people who are racially or ethnically mixed.  That scares a lot of people who aren’t sure what a new multi-racial America means for them.

Our economy is evolving due to technology and now the coronavirus and no one knows how many jobs are gone forever.  The losses so far have been borne by the working poor who are fed by food pantries and who face homelessness in the next 60 days as landlords resume evicting tenants who can’t pay their rent.  Their children are losing a chance to escape poverty because they can’t keep up with their school lessons since they live in homes without internet access.

Helping these economic losers would mean spending more money on education, health coverage and job training programs for them.  That scares the winners of the current economic system who wring their hands about social and racial inequities while simultaneously rejecting any tax law changes that might reduce their economic privileges.

Amplifying these social and economic fears is the November election. Most Americans view the election as a zero sum game of winners and losers.  Both sides of the political divide are terrified of what they will face if their side loses the election.

But before we give in to our fears, let’s acknowledge how far our country has come.  In the 1950’s the police officers who caused Mr. Floyd’s death would not have been charged with murder.  The economy has transitioned before and we have always found a way to help the economic losers have a chance at becoming winners.  Our democratic institutions stand strong which allows protesters to march in anger at the injustices that linger.

If we can overcome our fear of losing, we can find the courage to accept the changes needed to finally fix the issue of white privilege and racial injustice.  It won’t be easy and everyone will need to compromise.  But it’s better than living in fear of losing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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