Category Archives: Values

Posts that address our share humanity

Black Lives Matter should mean so much more

Random Spotter was going to stay away from the Black Lives Matter topic because I believe a lot of good can come from the movement. However, I think it’s broken in its current form.

A so-called analysis by Vox’s Dara Lind that included 2012 FBI data, in which she stated that “Black people accounted for 31 percent of police killing victims in 2012, even though they made up just 13 percent of the US population” is just the kind of manipulative, crap data that makes people believe in racial conspiracies and leaves the Black Lives Matter movement in a single issue universe. Let me review some truth, and then I’ll tell you what I believe Black Lives Matter can do for humanity.

The primary reason that a disproportionate percentage of arrests and deaths occur in the black community is that crime is rampant in the community. Compare Ms. Lind’s “13% of the population is black” statement with FBI arrest statistics for the same year. 28% of all arrests were of African-Americans, and it’s much higher for violent crimes. In fact, of those under 18 charged with murder, 52% were black. I know all arrests are not just, and all convictions are not fair. But, it’s difficult for me to imagine a huge conspiracy that invalidates a majority of arrests and conviction for any segment of the population.

And, if we review 2012 murders – we see that 2,412 of the 2,648 black deaths were caused by a black assailant. That’s 91% of the murder deaths in the black community. Most estimates of black deaths at the hands of police in 2012 list the figure at about 260. Of those, we would need to exclude the justified killings of offenders who threatened the lives of police and others. I have no legitimate estimate, but let’s guess that 30% of these were improper police killings. This is a pure guess, and I think it’s high, but I don’t want to minimize the unknown figures at all. So then, 78 police killings would have been unjustified, and of course, the entire judicial system should slam the killers down.

The sadder figure is the revelation that we could eliminate ALL improper police deaths, and we’d still see over 30 times as many deaths of blacks at the hands of other blacks. Unfortunately, those numbers are higher in 2016. That’s my beef with Black Lives Matter: it focuses exclusively on police killings, and that’s not the bigger problem.

I can actually see this movement evolving, as have the NAACP and National Urban League, to promote the importance of a multitude of community issues. It could, as have other organizations before it, promote parental issues and economic and career opportunities for black Americans so that the apparent dynamic of despair will change. We can’t solve this with affirmative action or more programs; we need to build a social message of hope for every man, woman and child. Black Lives Matter can and should continue to champion causes of racial justice, but not from a perch of accusation that targets emotional responses to a symptom of the disease. Eliminating every police killing will not cure black crime and violence. Only a hard, honest look can bring healing. If Black Lives Matter focuses on improving visibility of the problems in the black community and champions a mission that solves what ails communities and drives children to crime, more black Americans will be rightly envision a good and safe life for themselves and their families. And the vision will become a reality.

I’m with the Black Lives Matter I see down the road, but I’m very opposed to the movement that fixates on a partly-fabricated police brutality agenda. The facts just don’t support it. Let’s expand the dialogue and invite all Americans to participate in the solutions that a thoughtful and positive Black Lives Matter can bring.

The Wisdom of Compromise according to Nancy Reagan

An ABC report this morning reminded us of an interview of Nancy and Ronald Reagan in which, when asked the secret to keeping romance in their marriage, Nancy Reagan said “I think it used to be that one of you thought that it had to be, everything had to be your way. Or 50/50. And it isn’t always 50/50, sometimes it’s 90/10. And you have to be willing to give the 90. Or he has to be willing to give the 90…But it’s something you want to do.”

It’s easy for compromise to be perceived as a battle of wills that is only successful when each side loses and gains equally in the endeavor. Chalk it up to our competitive nature, our modern perceptions of acceptance, or the FOMO (fear of missing out) in our modern society that spurs us to reject delayed gratification. But, when we take stubborn stances in the name of fairness, we rarely recognize the losses these positions bring to our relationships.

Mrs. Reagan must have understood this well. She knew that compromise only worked when perceived over the long term. The very long term of a lifetime. Her support of her husband, indeed of his legacy after he had passed, demonstrated a deep commitment to her marriage. This was not a principled commitment, but a personal, loving devotion to a relationship formed by two imperfect people who recognized that perfection in love was achieved by compromising in unique ways and included ratios that might feel very different from 50/50.

Thank you, Nancy Reagan. Random Spotter is humbled by your wisdom and wishes more people felt the same way.

American Airlines: “Toxic” and “Misaligned”

So much for the lovefest that was the new American Airlines. A statement today from the Allied Pilots Association (APA) accused American Airlines of not making good on promises delivered to pilots at the outset of the merger between AA and USAir. I wish I could say I’m surprised.

Airlines are in an ugly place since deregulation. They suffer hugely when the price of gas and labor goes up, and there are no protections (in the US) to mitigate the negatives. Fortunately, due to American’s position of not hedging future oil prices, the tank in oil prices made it one of the most profitable airlines in the world this past year.

So, put your money where your mouth is, AA. I already hate what you’ve done and threaten to continue to do to gut the value of my AAdvantage rewards. Just remember that, even if customer loyalty is only advertising-speak to you, disrespecting the loyalty of your pilots and employees will have a more immediate impact on your business if they decide to walk away from you.

The President thinks we should all be safe, educated, and successful. Duh.

RandomSpotter is somewhat amused by the President’s State of the Union address this evening.  Perhaps amused is the wrong word.  It’s more like I am like a child who knows a secret and finds it comical to be in the presence of those who don’t know it.  What is this secret?  I’m afraid it’s only a secret to those who choose emotion over intellect, and by now you should know that I make every effort to NOT do that.

Here it is:  When someone makes emotional appeals for anything from quality, early childhood education, to revitalization of cities hit hard by manufacturing movement offshore, to not hurting those who need federal entitlement programs, there is no real opposition to the statements.  All of these were made tonight by Mr. Obama.  It’s like saying America should be the home of the free and the brave.  Only a fool would take an opposing position to statements that espouse positive values and human prosperity.  And, if you’ll forgive some honesty here, there is no courage in these statements.

Courage is found in those who don’t just form attractive ideas in their mouths but who actually do the difficult work of identifying the painful sacrifices that must be made.  At a time like this, with another sequester threat looming, the President chose to continue to present mostly hollow, emotional pleas, as usual.  We again heard that Mr. Obama has many big ideas that will solve all of our problems.  But those of us who need a little more meat with our potatoes can’t just agree robotically and sing Yankee Doodle.  First of all, as offensive as the logic of this statement may be to the weak thinkers among us, Mr. Obama had four years to create the harmony that he promises will soon be upon us.  However, I give his first four years failing grades, and the logical conclusion – again, our emotion-driven counterparts will object – is that we will get plenty more of the same in this next term.  Secondly, if he is to be an activist President, I would expect to hear a deeper commitment to compromise and even a little bit of acceptance of responsibility for certain failings from Mr. Obama.  A strong sense of mission and humanity can spur great admiration in a people.  Instead, we got the same threats that, if we don’t do what he wants us to do, he’ll continue to issue Executive Orders to get his way.

So, Mr. President, I say that you were a coward this evening.  Not the kind that runs from a fight, but a coward, nonetheless.  Tonight you elected to expound cheaply and to lead weakly.  No collaborative cost-reduction strategies that could accomplish real economic change.  Instead, you dug in your heels and said that any cuts would be unacceptable and that flat spending is good enough.  Where’s the brilliance, sacrifice or leadership in that?   But, I’m still grinning.  Unlike so many who fall victim to the empty poetry of your emotional appeals, I can see right through you.

Pushing for change? So am I but not today.

On this holiday of Thanksgiving, Random Spotter was moved to a deeper sense of gratitude about life in the United States in 2012.  Today is too important a day for anyone to poison it with messages of discontent.  Instead, RS wants to acknowledge a few moments in history that have personal meaning to me.

Barely 10 years after the American Revolution, the political leaders of the time negotiated a document that would be ratified in 1789.  The Constitution was to be a document that embodied collaborative agreement for the protection of citizens’ rights and the advancement of a nation.  Equal parts recognition of the benefits of government and despise for abusive political control, the document they drafted was meant to bind future leaders to this compact to prevent zealous and corrupt individuals from usurping the rights of those they sought to lead.  Our nation has been an example of freedom and political judiciousness for over two hundred years because of their vision, and RS is thankful to them for these foundational efforts.

RS is also grateful for the welcome that this nation has afforded its immigrants, including my parents.  Although immigration policy continues to divide us, the undeniable historical fact is that the United States has never been a nation of closed borders.  Our leaders have sought to create immigration policies that protected our economic and security interests.  Today, we are as diverse as any nation on earth, and millions wish to join our imperfect horn of plenty.  I was born to parents who left their homeland to start life anew in this country, and I have been blessed with freedoms that are recognized as among the greatest in the world.  Our individual and collective journeys have not been easy.  No system is perfect in fairness and performance.  Our systems of religion, government, business are extensions of ourselves, and we all have our failings.  But Random Spotter is grateful for the miraculous ability of the human animal to recognize that so much more can be achieved when we roll up our sleeves to make our goals a reality.  In so doing, we continue to build a society of opportunity.

I am grateful for this Thanksgiving meal with family, the opportunity to work and make a living, the security that I enjoy when I walk down a city street, and the future I see in my mind for those who will follow.  I won’t deny our deficiencies, but we can discuss flaws tomorrow.  Today, Random Spotter will focus on the good things in life.