Category Archives: Student Loans

Elections, the GOP and more craziness!

Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. : Photo by Ashleighb77

November 6th has come and gone with another Presidential Election behind us!

Wait! Not so fast! We did have an election and Barack Obama was elected to another term in office as President of the U.S.

However, votes are still being counted… Yes, I know we are over 10 days beyond the election so how could that still be going on?

Well, even as Mitt Romney was making his concession speech and President Obama was making his victory speech, people were still waiting in line to vote. Yes, that is true. In South Florida, many people were in line until 1:00 AM. But, they stayed and voted so their voices would be heard.

Why? Voting is their right. People know their vote matters and nothing or nobody will detour them from their vote being counted, at some point… hopefully.

Every election the message gets pushed about the importance of registering to vote, getting out to vote, having your voice heard, etc. But, more and more, it is becoming a divided message.

Plain and simple, who you’re voting for, possibly could determine how much your vote may be sought after or “blocked”.

Laws to protect voters from simply being turned away at the polls on Election Day, based on who you are voting for, but the GOP is working tirelessly on passing new laws to put strains on selected groups depending on different demographics.

As much as one may think law and order is here to protect our nation, preserve our rights and honor our freedoms, that is something that is not only questioned but questionable.

Watch this clip from HBO’s “The Newsroom” to see their look at a very real issue that is only growing worse with each election cycle and is an enormous part of why “Washington” seems to be so bogged down and unable to get anything substantial moved through in a reasonable (if any) amount of time.

“THE NEWSROOM”

Do you think they have some valid points in the segment?  What?

First, the voting fraud issue. The New York Times identified out of 120 voter fraud cases filed by the Department of Justice in five years, only 86 resulted in convictions. In the 2008 elections, between 126.5 million and 128.5 million Americans cast ballots, according to a report by the electorate study center. Compare the numbers.

Rick Hasen, UCI Professor of Law and Expert on Election Law said, “When you do see election fraud, it invariably involves election officials taking steps to change election results or it involves absentee ballots which voter ID laws can’t prevent.

Does that mean there are absolutely no instances of voter fraud that could be caught by enacting voter ID laws? No, that isn’t what I am saying. I don’t think anyone would make that point because it would just be inaccurate.  So, why all the hype?

Well, let’s look at the big picture for a moment.

You have a group of GOP leaders in Washington that have made pledges all over the place. Their biggest job in Washington had nothing to do with the people who elected them but everything to do with some promises, pledges and their possibilities for re-election. Period.

In 2010, the Tea Party took them on and made deals with them. They campaigned to get them into Washington as long as they played by the Tea Party rules. Make President Obama a one-term President, get the government out of our lives, never raise taxes and we will get you re-elected.

It is pretty difficult to go discuss things in Washington and make decisions when your mind is made up for you without having heard both sides of what is actually going on but that is what happened and they willingly signed on the line to get re-elected or elected into Washington.

What was the pledge? It was the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” from Grover Norquist. Two people on the list are Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. You can see everyone by visiting the link.

The problem with this pledge is it includes and excludes too much to be anything close to reasonable. By signing the pledge, it shows an unwillingness to work together, discuss the issues of a very diverse nation or the ability and desire to compromise and/or find solutions.

It is a simple pledge.

The house and senate members basically say this by signing;

ONE – oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses, and

TWO- oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates

The governor says this by signing;

I will oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.

The state legislator says this by signing;                      

I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.

 

 

How crazy is that!

These people’s decisions would and have been affecting people and our entire nation now and for a very long time. Signing short, little summed up pledges with the words, “any”, “all”, “oppose”, “veto” and the rest of the neatly and all-restrictive wording tucked in the little Norquist pledges are unacceptable.

This isn’t new information. This has been known and even so these people have been holding things up with no viable reasoning other than they have Norquist to answer to, voters are still electing them…

As it stands right now, our leaders (I hate to use that word when I am talking about these that sign these pledges) are about to go into their “Lame Duck Session” and try to figure out how to avoid a fiscal debt crisis. How can this be accomplished when all of these who have signed pledges are basically blocked from any type of reasonable negotiations? I mean why are they in there? Why not just send in Grover Norquist? They are basically representing him, right? How do these people get re-elected?

Maybe, some voters need more convincing than others to show them their Party of choice is a complete train wreck at the moment. And, we do have more elections coming up in 2014.

As much as the GOP would like everyone to believe the Democrats, the Liberals or whatever term is being used are trying to take over healthcare, the Internet, the school system or whatever else HASN’T been taken over like it was predicted to be in 2008, let’s focus on what the GOP has been dedicated on changing, pushing through and making into laws.

This is from the same party that says the government should be out of people’s business but somehow want to be a big part of women’s lives when it comes to health care, birth control, unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

This is the same party that can tell a woman if she has been “legitimately raped” or whether her life is really in danger enough for a pregnancy to be terminated to save her life. Yes, they are suddenly ready to jump in the middle of lives there.

These are not doctors or families here. These are just elected officials who are supposed to be doing their job in Washington, not holding someone’s hand at the visit with the OBGYN or at the ER after a rape.

But, are you confused here? I’m not but I will go on.

If they are really so concerned about these unborn lives as they say, then why are they not just as concerned when they are born? Why are they not concerned when they are 2, 5, 10 or getting older? You see they oppose funding healthcare programs, early education programs, free lunch initiatives, student aid and many other things that help along life’s way. They oppose any gun legislation that would limit “the capacity of clips or magazines”. Are they for or against life? Their choices and stance on many issues do not make sense with their stance on others. If they want to protect life, why don’t they believe in helping in assisting those who require assistance and protecting the American people from gun violence? It is one thing to have a weapon to protect yourself. It is another thing to have a weapon that causes massive tragedy in seconds.

Many can say laws of these types or programs for assistance are unnecessary for everyone. How does anyone know? How does anyone know what tomorrow may bring?

A person, or unborn person, can’t decide who or where they are born. Nobody knows what life may bring their way. The fact is everyone deserves opportunity so if this “unborn person” doesn’t end up in a successful, well off family, living in a good area near good schools with access to good healthcare coverage and college, then the care needs to continue past the campaign slogan and stump speeches.

A person watching a movie in a theater, visiting a congresswoman or attending classes at college shouldn’t run the risk of being gunned down in a senseless and often preventable act of violence.

A Party can’t say one thing and live another thing. A Party can’t stand up for what they believe when all they believe in is winning votes.

That is why Mitt Romney didn’t win. It isn’t because Obama bought votes or Americans are looking through “rose-colored glasses” or anything like that. The fact is Mitt Romney was saying whatever it took to get votes from the people he was speaking to on that given day, in that particular location. Different days, different promises, different Mitt. That isn’t compromise or a change of heart.  Those are lies. That much flip-flopping is straight up lying.

It was sad, really.

Mitt Romney was like a GOP experiment to see it just isn’t going to work anymore. Americans aren’t going to buy the promises and lies.

He did get a large amount of votes though. I am not convinced in the least those votes were all for Mitt Romney, not even half. Many of those votes were against Barack Obama. If that was on the ballot ( _ Against Obama), that would have been checked.

Voters need to understand they elect these people into Washington that are keeping things so out of balance. Signing outside pledges is not a way to represent the American people.  That is self-gratification.

Signing pledges is a campaign slogan. Saving unborn babies and turning on them after birth is a campaign slogan. Having smear and fear campaigns are nothing but showing the Party has nothing to promote with their own Nominee or with their own Party. The time for slogans, bickering and pointing fingers as to why Romney lost is over.

Americans voted. We voted our President back and we want action in Washington.

Everyone has slogans. Ours won this time. #Obama2012 #VoiceForChoice #Obamacare

America is strongest as a nation. Stand together to keep it united. Division is never the answer. 

Let Washington be the example.

Romney/Ryan – You do the math

While listening to Romney’s Foreign Policy speech, I was again reminded there is a HUGE disconnect between him and the American people! It isn’t  just that speech. This occurs time and time again with speeches, “off the cuff remarks”, speaking to or avoiding the press and in his views on many topics. This is also very true with Paul Ryan, his choice for Vice President.

It does appear the two of them are trying to avoid answering many specific questions which would allow the American public to see these gaps and disconnect but the availability of video, past speeches and current speeches are always available, in full, online.

Who are Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan? What are their intentions and beliefs on topics that are very relevant to the majority of Americans?

Here is a paper Paul Ryan wrote for the Heritage Foundation in 2010, “The Cause of Life Can’t be Severed from the Cause of Freedom.“  It’s explaining his views and goals on the Rights of “Personhood”.

I am not saying that Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan are bad people. I AM saying they are disconnected from much of what is going on around them.

Their views on pro-life and abortion aren’t backed up with their views and choices in other policies? First, people aren’t PRO-abortion. People do however want to make their own decisions. Women want to be able to make a choice. The vast majority of course don’t want to have to get to the point of having to make THAT choice!

Are there more solutions? Yes, one is birth control. WAIT! Did I just hear Rush Limbaugh scream?? The words, “Birth Control” are not always wrapped in the word “FREE”. No, again, it is a choice, something that should be available. Many people have insurance that will cover theirs and others may need assistance but the fact is (and this is proven), birth control helps cut down on unplanned pregnancies and therefore the abortion rate.

There are all of those that will argue, abstinence helps cut down on pregnancy. Yes, that is true. Most everyone knows that. Now, moving on.

I think about how PRO-LIFE these two candidates SAY they are but then why are they trying to cut back on things that help everyone? They want to decrease funding in educational programs, food stamp programs, job training funds and housing subsidies. They want to cut funds going to Planned Parenthood funds and other funds aimed at helping the “poor” (not one of Romney’s strongest support groups as he sees it).

The question is why are they against the greatest healthcare accomplishment in decades that helps more people get quality care and why they want to cut funds to Planned Parenthood which provides family planning services, birth control and many preventative care services to woman. All of this would fall under Pro-Life.

They don’t want to help fund early education programs or keep job training programs strong and running. These are programs which help get people back to work or train for a better and more productive career. Again, isn’t this something Romney and Ryan run on? Getting people back to work, higher paying jobs? Or, are those just stump speeches for votes when in all actuality they plan to cut the programs that help people and put those dollars toward tax cuts for the rich?

Romney made it quite clear how he felt about those using food stamps, government aide or any type of relief funds from the government so that clears up any questions about support for those in poverty. Does he understand many people in poverty were doing well not too long ago? Does he realize a lack of healthcare can put people in poverty due to outrageous medical bills? Does he realize his lack of listening AND understanding as well as his Parties same ignorance is taking our Country through a different type of recession? While they bicker and fight and refuse to advance on helping this country move forward at an even faster rate, people are hurting. While their number one goal is to make President Obama a one term President, our country has to wait for bills to pass and things to get done.  Really?

Now, Romney and Ryan want us to put that same Party as President? He talks about how President Obama has failed our Country, failed our military and wants people to believe the only way we can fix the “mess we are in” is to bring on more of this Party and our country will get back on track?

I think one big thing Romney is hoping is people will forget about history, not remember who he was years back, months back or even days ago. He hopes voters will not listen to campaign speeches, debates and certainly don’t listen to fact checkers. He claims those are lies.

Romney talks about how America needs to regain its military leadership and how in the past we have always led the world. But, while his speeches seem to be half insult and half anger, he has yet to really acknowledge how far our country has come over this past four years. He gives very little credit to our troops in uniform or our military leaders.

This may be a political campaign to him but this is our country. For those who watch the stock market, the housing market, the job market, we can see the improvements. Of course, there is more to be done and the only way to accomplish that is to not tear down what has been accomplished with lies, implications trying to anger people across the nation and abroad, our allies and other nations but by accepting responsibility in both parties for the deceit that is currently taking place right before time of elections. Be a leader even before Election Day.

For example, in his Foreign Policy speech, Romney was speaking about countries receiving foreign aid from the U.S. He said he would stipulate they respect the rights of every citizen including women and minorities. I’m not sure which Romney was speaking but the one campaigning on TV and around the Nation is running under a Party that wants to take the rights of women’s healthcare choices and are currently making voting nearly impossible for thousands across the U.S. Both of those issues are taking our country backwards by decades and both are rights people in other countries are fighting and dying for, countries Romney was speaking about in his speech, today.

America doesn’t need a President who divides us but sees diversity as the quality enabling us to achieve greatness for generations to come.

If Romney wants a strong military today and tomorrow, invest in education for their children today and the recruits of tomorrow. Invest in healthcare so they know their families are taken care of just as his family is taken care of. Have programs such as the Making Home Affordable programs accessible so their families can keep their homes and soldiers have a home to return to.  Keep the job placement programs for soldiers returning home because it is the right thing to do.  Keep access to mental health programs available and practical. Continue access to student loan assistance for families as well as counseling and job placement programs available at all times.

Be aware of what surrounds each soldier.

Romney speaks about people in his stump speech but has often left them out at moments he could have shown gratitude and honor. Many of the rights our country has, our military has helped us achieve them. Our military is not something we threaten the world with but our freedom is something we hope everyone can share.

The military is not just made up of weapons, ships and soldiers. It is made up of families with individual and group needs both when they join, while they are enlisted both home and abroad and after they return home.

Our military isn’t something to be sent, used or regarded as a threat. They are and always have been people who put their lives on the line for our country and we should be willing to do the same for them at home, in Washington, at a stump speech or behind closed doors.

They are heroes. They are us. We are all Americans.

Communication breakdown

Another day
Photo by: Marshall Astor

Do you get up each day wondering how you will make it through another day of repeating the same steps you repeated the day before?

Did you drop into bed the night before wondering why something just doesn’t seem to be “clicking into place” or that certain moment isn’t happening in your life?

Your “moment” may be different from someone else’s and what may seem repetitive to you may not to someone else but what is lacking more and more in society today is genuine interaction, conversation, listening, being heard and that feedback from someone on a level that is not only listening but being heard and really being tuned into to what is being said.

Genuine interaction with friends
Photo by: Philm

No, this is not an ad for Match.com but our society is changing everyday and with those changes come many benefits but also struggles if there isn’t the ability to adapt. However, is there always a way to adapt an entire society to an ongoing cycle of change?

Let’s look at one part, communication.

How many ways could one communicate 40 years ago?

Write a letter, make a phone call, telegram, or face to face pretty much.

"Old fashion" ways of staying in touch still do exist....
Photo by Muffet

Many people knew people in their neighborhoods, communities, schools, families and kept more in touch with the people around them on a more personal level.

Today, we have grown in the ability to have a much larger number of ways to stay in contact, at anytime, with nearly anyone, all over the world, even meet complete strangers.

We have the Internet which has given us numerous social medias like FaceBook, Twitter, Tagged, messaging, email, live chat, Skype, multiple online dating services, and countless ways which I am not intentionally leaving out. The fact is, the ability to communicate via the Internet is huge!

We have cellphones which allow us the ability to receive and make calls from anywhere and to anywhere which, even if it may seem rude, could mean a quiet movie theater, the bathroom, or in the middle of “nowhere” (can you hear me now?).

Contact ability goes everywhere we go....
Photo by: Anthony Quintano

Plus, with cell phones, there is texting…lots of texting! I’m not so sure if that counts as “communicating” but there are words being exchanged…so I am including it here.

It almost seems old fashion to mention the fact someone can send a Fax but it is a way to communicate….

So, here comes another point. It seems today there is less actual communication. There is far less listening and the ability to communicate and reason a point seems to be going down the drain.

Relationships are being built on the Internet, carried out through texting, and more of what was once built face to face is lost. That emotional connection, expression is becoming more of a lost part in our society.

Again, I’m not just talking about dating relationships. I mean real relationships with friends, family, people with similar experiences.

How well do you really know those you are “in touch” with?

How well do you know your neighbors, schoolmates, coworkers, distant family? Do you just keep up with their FaceBook, Blog or text here and there? Do you ask them questions?

Most of us have become very accustomed to today’s way of life. It’s easier and more suited to our busy schedules.

Our kids have the same way of life. Seriously, we text each other in the house (I have!)

But, we can’t let go of the need to sit down face to face and communicate, really let things go for a while. Ask people how they are doing and about their goals or what they are facing.

Discuss issues at work or social events
Photo by: Gelatobaby

People right next door or at our job may be facing hunger, a death in the family, domestic violence, loss of their home, divorce or a crisis but without asking or showing concern, the day may pass by, a week or a month and just the same, “I’m fine” until one day, they just aren’t at work.

In our country, we are facing some of the toughest times ever. This is not the time to say, “It’ll pass,” and just leave everything up to our leaders in Washington.

These problems started a long time ago. It is not a party problem or a political problem. This is a communication problem.

As many of us have lost close contact with those in our workplaces, schools, communities and even our own families and may not be listening to what is always being said, these leaders aren’t listening either. How can they be making sound and solid decisions without hearing what their constituents, the voters are really calling for, asking for and needing? This is causing consequences for everyone and needs to be understood and addressed. Each person taking responsibility for their own actions and what they have been given the opportunity and trust to uphold.

Here’s an example. As an adult, you have a choice of whether to go to work or not. You can choose to never go. There will most likely be very strong consequences for you choosing not to go and they will probably go into effect pretty quickly.

However, when an elected official in Washington has a job to get done and keeps procrastinating and all of America is on pins and needles, it is okay for them to put it on hold, bicker back and forth like babies and continuously act as though they can’t decide on whether it is more appropriate to help keep funding for those who need it or those who can afford to give up some breaks?

Either way, no matter what, their job isn’t on the line, their pay isn’t on the line, the health care isn’t on the line and their homes aren’t up for foreclosure.

Do they talk face to face to the people who are going through these things or do they just go by reports being fed to them by those working for them? Have they lost the ability to listen or be genuinely immersed in a conversation and have that desire to do something that matters or is it just more important to win?

Washington shouldn’t be about winning. It was supposed to be about representing but you can’t do that if you can’t listen to those you represent.

Instead of just using the phrase, “What the American people want,” maybe it would be to everyone’s benefit to find that out again by actually learning to communicate the old fashion way.

Talks, talks and more talks but who are the discussions about and who are they listening to? How long is this acceptable?

Recovery for America Pt. 2 – Education Reform

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was last reauthorized in 2002 as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Although the NCLB has sparked many controversies due to its tests and the time spent on test preparation vs. time spent on education in other necessary areas of learning, it did shed light on the achievement and opportunity gap in our nation’s schools.

Students should be able to face the future when leaving school and they should have the best opportunity during their early education through their High School years. It should not depend on where they live, their family income or their circumstances.

In America, education is an equal opportunity. It should be.

The question for a High School student should not be, “Can you read?” That should be an expectation in elementary school and middle school. To be competitive in the world, the U.S. needs to ask more of its students which means the educational system needs to be more innovative, diverse and competitive itself, always moving forward.

Can U.S. students form an opinion about something they just read and justify their opinion? Can they create solutions when faced with problems? Are they prepared for college? Do they know what is going on in the world around them? Students of today are leaders of tomorrow, business owners, doctors, scientist, inventors, parents, and teachers. It is up to today’s leaders, teachers and society to help prepare them for their future.

On February 17, 2009 President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The ARRA provides $4.35 billion for the Race to the Top Fund, a competitive grant program designed to encourage and reward states that are creating the conditions for education, innovation and reform. Click the above link to read more about how this Race to the Top fund is expected to change education.

Although some programs come in and seem to work while others don’t and some bills can easily get passed through Washington while others get held up or turned down, the fact is not everything goes as planned or as promised.

During the 2008 campaign, Obama reached many college students. One of the goals he proposed was to raise the $1800.00 tax credit for college students to $4000.00. However, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the existing law currently has the tax credit set at $2500.00 for college students.

As of July 1, 2010 all new federal student loans will be originated through the Direct Loan program, instead of through the federally-guaranteed student loan program. The Direct Loan program is a more reliable lender for students and more cost-effective for taxpayers. This bill will increase the maximum annual Pell Grant, expand the Perkins Loan Program, simplify the application process for federal student aid and boost support for community colleges.

The United States has continued to lose ground in education worldwide over the last 20 years. For the U.S. to gain this ground back, students must be able to do more than just basic studies. They need to be able to use those skills and apply them to real life situations, show the ability to think, reason and problem solve. The educational system needs to provide them the atmosphere to grow and learn.

Students need the ability for further education and the desire to pursue higher goals. Family and community involvement, with the help of schools, will better promote an environment in which a student is able to seek support and focus on their studies.

By being involved in local schools, school districts and knowing what is going on with upcoming pieces of legislation, a person can vote on important matters that will be in effect for many years to come. Education is the key to the future.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela