Family is where it is!!!!!

Family is where it is!!!!!
Christmas in Disney
Thanks for stopping by. Let me know if there are topics I should be spouting                                   off on.  

Remember that "Life is short. Break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly,                love fully and laugh uncontrollably....."


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A manifesto from Bishop John Shelby Spong concerning homosexuality


Friends of Walking With Integrity,

Perhaps many of you are already subscribed to "A New Christianity For A New World: Bishop John Shelby Spong on the News and Christian Faith." If so you received this note a few days ago, and perhaps shared it far and wide already. We hope that if you haven't, maybe now you will. As you may know, Bishop Spong is one of the most vocal and passionate advocates of LGBT people everywhere. So when this article came across our inbox well, we knew we had to share it. We do so by permission of Waterfront Media, Brooklyn, NY, Website

Thursday October 15, 2009
A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured." Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate "reparative therapy," as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant." I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement. I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric." The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me. I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn't. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to "Roll on over or we'll roll on over you!" Time waits for no one.

I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a "new church," claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.

In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.

I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude. I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world's population. I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it. I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan. My country and my church have both already spent too much time, energy and money trying to accommodate these backward points of view when they are no longer even tolerable.

I make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won. There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be. Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us. Homosexual marriages will become legal, recognized by the state and pronounced holy by the church. "Don't ask, don't tell" will be dismantled as the policy of our armed forces. We will and we must learn that equality of citizenship is not something that should ever be submitted to a referendum. Equality under and before the law is a solemn promise conveyed to all our citizens in the Constitution itself. Can any of us imagine having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women? The time has come for politicians to stop hiding behind unjust laws that they themselves helped to enact, and to abandon that convenient shield of demanding a vote on the rights of full citizenship because they do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy, which this nation has, and a "mobocracy," which this nation rejected when it adopted its constitution. We do not put the civil rights of a minority to the vote of a plebiscite.

I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. No one should ever again be forced to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote.

The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture's various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.

I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union. I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church's participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.

Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: "New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth." I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.

This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.

– John Shelby Spong

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dangers of quoting from the Bible

Allegedly In her radio show , Dr Laura Schlesinger said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, penned by a US resident, which was posted on Face Book. It's sad, funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination ... End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I'm confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan,

James M. Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia

(It would be a damn shame if we couldn't own a Canadian :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Little-Known Fourth of July Facts (Yahoo news)

Most Americans know the Fourth of July celebrates some aspect of American Independence. But do you know exactly what the day commemorates? (Answer below*) Meanwhile, other facts surrounding the day widely known for BBQ and outdoor fun, and the patriotism that stemmed from it:
THE REVOLT: The Declaration of Independence , signed in 1776, was meant to justify a revolt against the British, with a list of charges against the British king.
THE WRITER: As Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration, Britain's army was on its way toward to New York Harbor. It began:
"When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."
THE WAR: The Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 men representing the 13 colonies. The moment marked the beginning of all-out war against the British. The American Revolutionary War is said to have started in 1775, however. The Declaration was signed more than two years after Boston officials refused to return three shiploads of taxed tea to Britain, fueling colonists to dump the tea into the harbor in what became the infamous Boston Tea Party.
KNOCK-ON EFFECTS: Several countries used the Declaration of Independence as a beacon in their own struggles for freedom. Among them, France. Then later, Greece, Poland, Russia and many countries in South America. [How Other Countries Celebrate Independence]
SING PROUD: "Yankee Doodle," one of many patriotic songs in the United States, was originally sung prior to the Revolution by British military officers who mocked the unorganized and buckskin-wearing 'Yankees' with whom they fought during the French and Indian War.
SING PROUDER: The "Star Spangled Banner" wasn't written until Francis Scott Key wrote a poem stemming from observations in 1814, when the British relentlessly attacked Baltimore's Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. It was later put to music and not decreed the official National Anthem of the United States until 1931.
DEATH ON THE FOURTH OF JULY: Three U.S. presidents actually died on July 4. Two of them passed away within hours of each other on July 4, 1826: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. The two had been political rivals and then friends later in life. The other to share the distinction was James Monroe, who died July 4, 1831.
*Answer: The Fourth of July commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. It was initially adopted by Congress on July 2, 1776, but then it was revised and the final version was adopted two days later.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Benefits of Failure

And here’s an excerpt from JK Rowlings graduation address at Harvard:

I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea then how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Teachable Moment or "No Constitutional Right to be Offended" by Leonard Pitts

Kids say the darnedest things.
That's how you know they're kids. Their fondness for rash overstatement is part and parcel of a stage of life characterized by impulsiveness and an unshakable faith in one's own righteousness.

The challenge for schools is to balance kids' impetuousness against their right of free speech.

That question brings us to Morgan Hill, Calif., where several boys recently decided to wear American flag T-shirts to Live Oak High School. It may sound innocuous, but it wasn't. See, the boys, some of whom are Mexican-American, did this on May 5 — Cinco de Mayo, as their classmates (nearly 40 percent of whom are reported to be Latino) were celebrating that Mexican observance, some even wearing the red, white and green of the Mexican flag. Moreover, they did it in the context of a national debate over illegal immigration from Mexico.

In that context, on that date and in that place, the decision to wear those shirts was not innocent, but, rather, a calculated provocation. Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez, calling the shirts “incendiary” and fearing a fight, asked the students to either take the shirts off or turn them inside out. When several of the boys refused, he sent them home.

Ironically, it is the decision itself that has proven incendiary. The school district disavows it and conservative critics have lambasted it as un-American. They're right.

At least, I think they are; the Supreme Court has been less than definitive in setting the boundaries of free speech for students. In 1969, it sided with three kids suspended from school for wearing black armbands in protest of the Vietnam War, ruling that they could not be prohibited from expressing their opinions if they did not interfere with the operation of the school or the rights of others.

Subsequent courts have edged away from that affirmation of relatively unfettered rights, allowing schools to ban sexually explicit student speech in one ruling, and speech that seems to promote illegal drug use.

Still, it is hard to see this latest incident as anything but an abridgement of those students' First Amendment rights — not to mention an act of glaring hypocrisy. By what reasoning does Rodriguez ban red, white and blue while permitting red, white and green? All that said, though, neither of those complaints addresses what seems to me the most regrettable aspect of this affair. The educator missed a teachable moment.

Imagine if Rodriguez had corralled the most articulate of the T-shirt boys and the Cinco de Mayo celebrators and required them to research and represent their points of view in a schoolwide debate. The T-shirt kid could have challenged his classmate to explain why he felt the need, if he is an American, to celebrate a foreign holiday. The classmate could have pressed the T-shirt kid on why he felt threatened by a simple acknowledgment of heritage and cultural origin.

Maybe they reach an understanding, maybe they don't. But in any event they learn a valuable lesson: that reasonable people reason their way through disagreements. And that the First Amendment confers not just a right to speak your piece, but an obligation to allow the other guy to do the same.

Instead, Rodriguez taught the opposite lesson: that it is OK to ban the unpopular or provocative opinion. Few things could be less reflective of U.S. ideals.

See, there is no constitutional right to never be offended. Someone should explain that to the students of Live Oak High.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

74 percent of all jobs created in America will be high-paying jobs for high-skilled workers by 2020.

What Jobs Won't Return by Ira S. Wolfe
Our Misplaced, Displaced, and Replaced Work
By Ira S Wolfe, Success Performance Solutions

Download a pdf version of "What Jobs Won't Return."

Two storms blasted across our labor markets. The first, driven by a gale of creative destruction, was kicked strong a decade back by outsourcing, offshoring, and cybertechnologies that began scrambling whole industries. And the second came last year when bursting financial bubbles magnified the longer term furies with the severe recession. We asked Ira Wolfe to peer through the receding clouds at the employment landscape that’s coming into view again to search for those jobs that were blown away like the buggy whip makers of long ago. And we invited a panel of distinguished educators to review Ira’s discoveries through the lenses of their best strategic information. Here are their views of the emerging job horizon. — Ted Byrne, editor

“The picture of the U.S. economy that emerges is of abundance and poverty,” says Edward Gordon. “Abundance of labor, poverty of talent.” In other words, despite high unemployment rates, the U.S. as it stands does not have enough people to fill the jobs that should be created and an oversupply of people to fill jobs that are or should be obsolete.

The economy now sits in a hole more than 10 million jobs deep. How and when we can climb out of that humongous pit seems to be the linchpin for a full-blown economic recovery. According to Gordon, author of Winning the Global Talent Showdown, the United States is headed for this major talent meltdown with 12 to 24 million vacant jobs between 2010 and 2020, mostly high-paying, high-skilled jobs.

The canary has been singing in the labor mine for several decades warning of our growing lack of talent as we enter a transitional labor-market era. Partially due to ignoring the warning and partially the result of the most recent economic crisis, businesses and government are now confronting a day of reckoning: prolonged joblessness for the unskilled, low-skilled, and under-skilled. “We’ve been hearing alarms about the skills gap for years,” according to Gordon, president of Imperial Consulting. “But if ever there was a time to get serious about helping workers acquire the right skills, this is it.”

Thomas Friedman, of The World is Flat fame, suggests that a critical reason for the recent Great Recession is “an education breakdown on Main Street” that has undermined the ability of the average American worker to compete in the global arena.

The September 2009 Employment Dynamics and Growth Expectations Report from the staffing firms Robert Half International and Career Builder also reported that human resource managers judged 47% of their applicants unqualified. Many of these vacant positions were STEM jobs or those that are in science, technology, engineering, or mathematically-related areas.

Unfortunately change in the way we train and educate workers and prepare students for the future is not what you’re hearing in the news. What we’re getting is the same old theme of denial. To re-boot the economy and sustain growth, we can’t just reframe existing jobs. We need to stop creating jobs that employ the current talent pool of low-skill workers. Instead we need to stimulate middle and high skill job growth and start creating talent. Gone forever are the days of semi-skilled, well-paying blue-collar factory jobs that can provide a 19-year-old dropout or high school graduate with a living wage. Today counting on a low-skill manufacturing or service job to keep you in the middle class is as sensible as buying a BETA tape for a Blue Ray DVD player.

Ten million is the conservative number required to get the unemployment rate back to 5 percent. And because the population is still growing and many unemployed return to the job market, we need to produce 1.5 million new jobs a year just to keep pace. That assumes we can create jobs that the country needs and can match idle workers with the right skills to do those jobs.

According to Gordon’s research, “between today and 2020, it is expected that 74 percent of all jobs created in America will be high-paying jobs for high-skilled workers. While there will be a need for 123 million of those talented people, only 50 million Americans will qualify. By contrast, low-paying, low-skill jobs will shrink to just 26 percent of the total jobs in the U.S. Worst of all, just 44 million people will be needed for those jobs, but 150 million or more candidates will be seeking those jobs.”

Click here to read about job extinction - jobs that are gone for good.

In Pennsylvania, the skills gap is hitting middle skills jobs the hardest. According to the 2007 National Skills Coalition report, about 53% of Pennsylvania’s jobs were in middle-skill occupations. But only 42% of the state’s workers likely have the appropriate training for these jobs. That’s significant because 51 percent of all jobs in Pennsylvania are middle skills, with another 30 percent of jobs in the high skilled segment. If you’re doing the math, less than 19 percent of all jobs will be low-skilled. Pennsylvania’s excess labor capacity for these low-skill jobs is over 42 percent and you just can’t move low-skilled workers into middle- and high-skilled jobs without considerable education and training investment. The report concluded that Pennsylvania would require 4.6 times more annual investment in workforce development and education than was currently funded…and that was before the budget cutbacks of 2010.

Even more compelling is Gordon’s prediction that reducing joblessness might be realistic if a lot of the jobs that were lost were coming back. But that just isn’t going to happen – not now and not in the future. “That’s the hard truth that a lot of people don’t want to face,” says Joe Watson, author of “Where the Jobs Are Now.”
What will happen to those 100 million-plus low-skilled American workers? Unless something changes quickly and dramatically, they will either be unemployed or employed by a manager who believes that a poorly skilled employee is better than no employee at all. That might work short-term for an economic boost but it’s a prescription for disaster for business.

For almost two decade beginning with War for Talent paper released by consulting firm McKinsey and Company , a shortage of skilled workers has been forecast. This crisis is by no means unexpected. Beginning in 2001 and accelerated by the Great Recession, job creation models were shattered. Out-sourcing and automation became a fact-of-life for many organizations. Many businesses resisted change, hanging onto processes and people that were inefficient, unproductive, and costly.
Many people ignored the warnings. Others challenged the logic. They argued that the Baby Boomers would retire, tech-savvy Millennials would replace them, and improvements in education and training would turn any shortage of skilled workers from a disruptive gap into a productive bond.

Well, the Boomers aren’t retiring just yet. The Millennials are unemployed . Gen X aren’t advancing up the career ladder. Education is desperately attempting to play catch up with fewer and fewer resources and dollars. And workforce training is just plain under-funded, under-utilized, and just too bureaucratic to re-tool and re-equip over 100 million workers with the skills they need quickly … and desperately.

The recession changed all that. It’s like the recession justified a business cleansing – wholesale lay-offs, plant closings, and outsourcing for the sake of avoiding bankruptcy or closing a business entirely. “Many businesses took the recession as an opportunity to clean house and raise quality,” says Mustafa Kapadia, an outsourcing advisor with EchoPoint Consulting. “The political and moral sting and backlash from replacing five people with one piece of software or equipment and outsourcing entire departments abated, at least temporarily, under the veil of business survival. Employees weren’t sacrificed for the sake of a few extra bucks on the bottom line but for survival and sustainability.” What happened in 2008-2009 should have happened voluntarily in many businesses years ago. The recession just provided the excuse.

Watson agrees. Up until now there has been a “gradual shift in the United States from an industrial based job market to an information-based one. The recession however precipitated a sudden, radical shift in the market toward information and service jobs, pulling the rug out from under what was left of an industrial-agrarian economy.”
The residual effect of this accelerated shift ultimately left at least 15 million workers out in the cold and potentially another 10 million underemployed looking for jobs. And those numbers don’t even take into account all the under-skilled workers hanging on by a thread. How soon will it be until another wave of workers receive pink slips because their jobs aren’t needed anymore or automation and/or outsourcing can replace them? Finding jobs for all those people is simply not going to happen - at least not quickly – even if re-hiring and new job creation rebounds.

Many out-of-work workers, particularly in construction and manufacturing – simply don’t have the skills to pick up where they left off when the economic train leaves the station. “In a sense, says Gary Burtless, a labor economist with the Brookings Institute, “every time someone’s laid off now, they need to start over.”

“What is happening now,” says jobs and growth expert Tom Gimbel, “is no different than 100 years ago when workers who forged horseshoes had to learn to make tires.” Gimbel, who is also CEO of Chicago-based staffing and recruiting firm Lasalle Network, sees the elimination of many jobs due to automation and efficiencies. He recalls that 20 years ago every attorney in a law firm had a personal assistant. The requirements to be a legal assistant consisted of the ability to take shorthand, type 80 words per minute, and make coffee. Today 4 partners share one assistant and associates are expected to do their own word processing.

Another factor making it harder than ever to fix the joblessness mess is that a significant number of workers laid off during the latest recession were men. And men, for the past several decades, simply haven’t kept up with changing minimum education requirements. Women outnumber men in college and make up over half of graduating classes in many, post-secondary, professional, graduate, and business schools. Many of the men will need to retrain and find new careers. That is easier said than done since re-tooling an assembly line worker or carpenter to become a nurse requires more than just a few years of schooling.

But blue-collar workers aren’t the only casualties of technology and a recession. Many professional jobs in finance, media, and even law and accounting will never be the same. The out-sourcing of white-collar work has become possible. “While the number of law school graduates is up,” says Gimbel, “many of these new attorneys never end up practicing law.” Likewise, medicine has been outsourcing the interpretation of x-rays to India and Australia for years. Accounting firms are outsourcing the preparation of tax returns for a fraction of the cost of hiring young college graduates. Businesses are outsourcing payroll and sometimes even the entire human resource function to online and outsourced firms. And law firms now outsource their research overseas instead of hiring new grads since access to nearly all the documents is available online. And it’s not only about saving dollars – the labor with the skills to do these virtual jobs is abundant and most times equally if not more qualified.

An information-driven company used to require hundreds of data entry workers, according to Kapadia. One of his clients started with 400 employees before they analyzed what the employees were doing and the cost of employing them. His company showed management that by scanning forms, the technology could read the data with 95 percent accuracy. “To deal with the five percent error rate, Kapadia shared, “we hired off-shore workers to review the data – to ensure our human quality check. The U.S. counterparts, mostly data entry workers, in the past now become analysts.” The client is creating jobs, Mustafa reports, but the jobs are fewer in number and the skills required are more advanced. All in all, hundreds of data entry jobs were lost but the quality of the company’s work went up. One new job effectively replaced 4 to 5 others.

While professional jobs will surely be created, the type and complexity of work that the newly hired will be expected to perform will require different and more advanced skills sets. New jobs being created require the ability to work remotely, coordinate different systems and teams, and collaborate beyond company walls and even time zones. The successful project manager of the past worked within one company, experiencing more control over the players and resources. “Today,” says Kapadia, “managing a project is extremely hard to do. You have to manage different mindsets. A project manager today is really” a governance manager, a collaboration manager, an outsource manager. A CIO friend of mine who heads up IT for a 2000-employee semiconductor business runs his entire IT department with only three employees. Their function – coordinate, coordinate, coordinate.”

Employers, workers, and politicians need to come to grip with reality. The theme of denial about joblessness is no longer effective. In fact, it’s destructive. Creating new jobs that match the skills levels of the unemployed is politically sound short term but economic cacophony in the long run. Sustainable long term growth requires the creation of new jobs that will grow and inherently stimulate our economy. Reframing existing jobs is simply subsidizing many obsolete workers and postponing the inevitable.

Read what the presidents of several schools and colleges had to say about education and skilled workers.

The definition of work and consequently, the definition of a job is changing. The evolution from agrarian and industrial age jobs to service and knowledge work is nearing its completion, thanks to the help of the latest recession. The ability to use your “head” as well as your hands, not one or the other, is a requirement today. And yet, we have graduation rates hovering around 70 percent for many high schools and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (S.T.E.M.) scores falling well behind dozens of nations. Today knowledge is power and too many workers simply don’t have the mojo.

Employees in new jobs don’t “go to work” … and if they do, they don’t work in permanent full-time positions. They work in part-time jobs, often working for several employers at the same time. But unlike the past when working part-time was a stepping stone to full-time employment or a means to propping up personal finances, part-time work in the future will be by design. Skilled workers will work remotely, simultaneously interacting with different teams in different places and even collaborating on different projects. People with the right skill sets can do that. The contingent worker, or “just-in-time” worker, will become the norm, especially in lower skill jobs. The less versatile the employee, the more expendable he or she becomes.

People also have long complained that they have been swamped by too much information. In 1917 a manager of a Connecticut manufacturing plant complained about the effects of the telephone: “Time is lost, confusion results, and money is spent.” Despite his objections, technologies like the telephone supported economies build around mass production. Today technology and globalization has created a seismic shift from quantitative change to qualitative differences. Economies, once driven by whoever owned the machinery and raw materials, is now being outflanked by the new raw material of business –data. Joe Hellerstein at the University of California at Berkeley, calls it the “industrial revolution of data.” The Economist called it the “data deluge.” Keeping up with all the new information being created is difficult enough. Analyzing it and extracting useful information is harder still. Ignoring it is economic suicide.

This revolution requires a new skill worker – one who has the ability to process large volumes of uninterrupted data and extract valuable information from it. Gordon in a recent issue of The Futurist called for a “[a] new age [that] will require the reinvention of the education-to-employment system.”

In the meantime, employers seeking qualified workers will face unprecedented challenges to recruit and retain them. And our communities will wrestling with the societal, personal, and economic impact of prolonged joblessness.

Can you hear me now?

Monday, May 10, 2010

"Are you on the sidelines or in the fight?" Baccalaureate Speaker asks Class of 2010

May 7, 2010

Rev. Dr. Brian Blount, the President of Union Theological Seminary and the Presbyterian School of Christian Education, delivered the 2010 baccalaureate address in Belk Auditorium on Friday, May 7.

Blount asked the Class of 2010 where they stood in today’s world full of political upheaval, social problems, and people in need.

“Are you on the sidelines or in the fight?” Blount asked.

“When you walk off this campus, are you heading straight for the sidelines or straight into the fights that need fighting?

“In this moment, in precious future moments, with your decision, with your witness to a life lived with, for, and in support of the people who cannot fight for themselves, you will have your chances to stand on the sidelines and watch or get into the fights and dirty your clothes in the dazzling work of the Lamb who was slain.

“What do you want? Do you want to be safe and clean on the sidelines of life? Or do you want to dazzle?”

A Book of Revelation scholar, Blount related the “mad compendium filled with dragons, multi-headed beasts, apocalyptic wars, a city dropping down out of the heavens, cherubim, archangels, a slaughtered Lamb, and seven churches crowded with first-century crazy Christians” to PC’s graduating class.

While some have said he is obsessed with the book, Blount said he is intrigued by the book’s author, John of Patmos, instead.

“I am intrigued because John is a man condemned to the religious and political sidelines by the greatest power on earth, and he refused to stay there,” Blount said. “Even though he was sentenced to be a bystander to the rest of history, he kept writing about the divine dreams that had gotten him exiled in the first place.

“The man sentenced to prison for his writing had the nerve to keep writing even while he was in prison. That kind of courage, determination, stubbornness, and resolve, I must admit, mesmerizes me. I wonder what it was in him that made him so courageous. And I wonder if that something special is in me.”

Further, Blount spoke about John’s Christians in the Book of Revelation.

“He wanted them to step off the sidelines where they were trying to protect themselves by hiding their faith,” Blount said, “and fight the faith fight that John and others were waging on behalf of the Lamb.

“Those who refused to (witness for the Lamb’s way) stood out because their clothes were bleached with fear, Chloroxed with cowardice, soiled by their refusal to live the faith that had formed them.

“He is redefining the concepts of dirt and dir-ti-ness. Being dirty and being soiled are two very different things for John. John actually wants his people to get dirty.”

Blount went on to tell the story of playing junior varsity football. He said that, although he always sat on the bench, he felt proud to wear his football jersey on game days.

“Over each ensuing week, though, the sparkling clean of my jersey became somewhat of an embarrassment. The lack of dirt embedded stubbornly in the fabric was a clear sign to all who saw me that I never got off the sidelines and into the game.

“I was as much a bystander as any spectator. And that dubious distinction was immediately apparent because of my clean, white jersey. I wanted a dirty jersey. I wanted a jersey that demonstrated that I had been caught up in the muck and the mire of playing the game.”

Blount said that people too often do nothing because of a social phenomenon called the Bystander Effect: “the larger the number of people involved in a situation, the less that will get done.”

Blount said John wants fighters, not people who will stand around doing nothing. John’s Christians in the Book of Revelation, says Blount, are ones whose “clothing was not soiled by inactivity, soiled by fear, soiled by cowardice, or soiled by the refusal to live the faith they professed.”

“Their clothing was instead,” Blount said, “dirtied up in the messy blood of the Lamb’s great witness. In John’s crazy clothing configuration, such bloodied, dirtied, messed up clothing dazzles.”

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A simple parable with a great message

Author unknown. Printed in the March 25th University of Richmond's Collegian Newsletter .

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. “What food might this contain?” the mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.
Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning: “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”
The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said: “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.”
The mouse turned to the pig and told him: “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”
The pig sympathized, but said, “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers.”
The mouse turned to the cow and said: “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”
The cow said: “Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.”
So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mousetrap … alone.
That very night a sound was heard throughout the house – like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught.
The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital, and she returned home with a fever.
Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient.
But his wife’s sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.
The farmer’s wife did not get well; she died.
So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.
The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.
When one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We are all involved in this journey called life. If we are to make a better world, we must work to create a space where all are treated with dignity and worth.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A wonderful and inspiring success story

Published on February 24, 2010 in unsung heroes. 0 Comments
By Scott Allison and George Goethals

Born with fibular hemimelia — missing fibula bones — Aimee Mullins remembers hating her physical therapy sessions as a child. She had to do innumerable repetitive exercises that involved using her legs to bend thick elastic bands to build up her muscles. She hated them and tried to bargain with her doctor to avoid doing them.

Her doctor told her, “Aimee, you are such a strong and powerful little girl, I think you’re going to break one of these bands. When you do break it, I’m going to give you $100.”

With these words, her doctor forever changed her worldview. “What he effectively did for me was re-shape an awful daily occurrence into a new and promising experience for me. I have to wonder to what extent his vision and his declaration of me as a strong and powerful little girl shaped my own view of myself as an inherently strong, powerful, and athletic person well into the future.”

By any measure, Mullins’ life has been a remarkable success story. Mullins competed in the Paralympics in 1996 in Atlanta, where she ran the 100-meter dash in 17.01 seconds and jumped 3.14 meters in the long-jump. She is a college graduate, actress, fashion model, and motivational speaker. Mullins works with numerous non-profit organizations and is President of the Women’s Sports Foundation.

“People have continually wanted to talk about overcoming adversity,” she says. “This phrase never sat right with me. Implicit in this phrase is the idea that success or happiness is about emerging on the other side of a challenging experience unscathed or unmarked by the experience. But in fact, we are changed. We are marked, of course, by a challenge, whether physically or emotionally, or both.

“I’m going to suggest that this is a good thing. Adversity isn’t an obstacle that we need to get around in order to resume living our life. It’s part of our life.

“I’m not trying to diminish the impact, the weight of a person’s struggle. There is adversity and challenge in life, and it’s all very real.

“The question isn’t whether you’re going to meet adversity. It’s how you’re going to meet it. And so our responsibility isn’t to shield those we care for from adversity, but to prepare them to meet it well. We do a disservice to our kids when we make them feel they aren’t equipped to adapt to adversity.

“Find those opportunities wrapped in adversity. Maybe the idea is not so much overcoming adversity. It’s opening ourselves up to it. It’s embracing it. Grappling with it. Maybe even dancing with it.

“Perhaps if we see adversity as natural, consistent, and useful, we’re less burdened by it. Darwin illustrated a truth about the human character. It’s not the strongest to survive, nor is it the most intelligent to survive. It is the one who is most adaptable to change. The human ability to survive and flourish is driven by the struggle of the human spirit. Transformation, adaptation is our greatest human skill. Perhaps until we are tested, we don’t know what we’re made of. Maybe that’s what adversity gives us: a sense of self, a sense of our own power.

“We can give ourselves a gift. We can re-imagine adversity as more than just tough times. Adversity is just change that we haven’t adapted ourselves to yet.”

Aimee Mullins’ entire motivational speech can be seen and heard at