Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Untapped Potential for Debating Election and Campaign News

The political party-based system in the United States, in combination with advances in social media and information technology, should present a perfect opportunity for open and helpful debate of the issues facing us today. Instead it seems like the political views that we hear on many political blogs, other social media sites, and chats that follow news articles are so tainted by hyper partisan dogma and inflexible rhetoric that debate and respectful discussion is almost impossible.
Whether you are a democrat or a republican, liberal or conservative, or anything in between, a rational and open discussion of the facts, historical precedents, and theories behind the decisions the political parties are proposing would add real substance to the political discussion. As with any debate, this kind of factual information about political news and views might confirm what you already believe, or it might even sway you to look at the issue differently.
On an even more important level, open, honest, and respectful debate of political issues including the economy, entitlements, healthcare, and taxes, would work to bring us all together - while liberals and conservatives might still not agree afterwards, a sense of mutual respect and understanding would improve the tone and help open the door to compromise between the republican party and democratic party.
The political blogs that we link to below explore four tragic flaws in our political system that are making it nearly impossible for the democrats and republicans to truly debate the issues. In brief:
-  Politicians and the political parties seem increasingly likely to follow the party line across the board. They may fear losing party support and money for their own re-election bids, or for projects they favor if they break on other unrelated issues. They may also be concerned about alienating a particular voting bloc, no matter what they feel is right or wrong.
-  Political campaigns during election season are filled with such animosity and divisiveness that the style of governance afterwards becomes a carryover. The politicians stay locked in to the same exaggeration, omission, and attacks that got them elected.
-  Corporations, unions, and special interest groups have very quickly gained more power and influence in the political process due to recent Supreme Court rulings. Thus politicians can be worried about both losing contributions and even being targeted by these powerful groups the next time around. Thus they must vehemently hold the party line.
-  Our system has a built-in paradox where no matter what they may truly think about the political views of the other party, they want to see its political leaders fail, particularly during campaign seasons. This paradox can lead to a knee-jerk rejection of the ideas of the other - perhaps most vehemently against those ideas that may actually lead to the greatest success.
We invite you to search out political blogs like the ones noted below that are nonpartisan, independent, and respect healthy debate. Both the Democratic and the Republican parties, and liberals and conservatives have good (and bad) ideas and ideals. It is only through rational and open debate and discussion that we can truly ensure we have an educated voter base, the potential for compromise, and a feeling of working together to address important problems. Cutting through the partisan gridlock and conflict is the first step, and political blogs and other social media must become more the answer and less of the problem.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Difference Between a Mennonite School and Public Education

The core of all schools is the same: It's about educating the youth of a generation to take over in the future as the primary driver of your culture. What you teach them, and how, is what makes to difference.
In public schools, the "what" is everything from history, math, and language to geography and physics. As a child progresses and eventually enters higher education such as high school or post secondary, they eventually get to choose almost every single subject they study. The goal is to let them decide what they want to do and who they want to become.
The time they spend in school can vary quiet a bit but usually goes well into their teenage years.
Mennonite children on the other hand learn only three distinct subjects: Math, Language and most importantly, Bible. These are the cores of what they'll ever need in the community so there is no reason to waste time on frivolous topics such as arts or philosophy. All the Mennonite children in will spend their entire school career in a one classroom building with all the other students.
The years spent in school are much less though. On average, most students will attend school until they are roughly 12 - 13 years old. After that, it's time to work on the family farm.
The main and most important difference between the two forms of education is the "how." In the public system, the goal is to teach the adolescents to think. They are challenged to defend a position, form an opinion or argue a view. This is often done in the form of an essay: a way to structure their thoughts. There is not always a right answer but rather a thought to be pondered.
Mennonite schools in comparison teach children how to follow. A child is not asked, nor encouraged to have an opinion of their own. The goal is teach them the basics they need to get by in life and work on the family farm. Also, if they were taught to think, they might ask questions. A big no no. If the child was taught to reason they might have questions regarding the Mennonite lifestyle and having people question your culture can create divisions and separations. Bad News.
So, in order to continue the Mennonite lifestyle, the community has learnt that they need the sheep to follow rather than lead. Allow someone to stand on their own two feet and they may walk of in their own direction. Never good for a closed community looking to thrive from within.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Life Is Not Fair And That Is Great News

"Life is not fair!" This is a phrase commonly used by pessimists, the eternally negative, and the people who actually gain pleasure from thinking that the world is against them. And it's 100% true. Life really is not fair but guess what? That is great news!
Life Really Is Not Fair
If life was "fair" then everyone would have the exact same life. We would all work the same job, get paid the same amount, live in the same size house, drive the same car, and have the exact same chance at having fun. Zero.
Life is not designed to be fair for all and quite frankly it would suck if it was. If life was fair then what incentive would there be to try new things? Would you be motivated to start your own business and/or work 60 hours a week if you knew you were going to get the exact same reward as the guy who plays guitar and surfs all day? Hell no! (Not to mention the fact that if you were working 60 hours and some guy is not then that breaks the whole "fairness" rule anyway...)
In a world where everything was fair then education, skills, attitude, and experience would count for nothing because everyone would be rewarded the same. In fact society as we know it would cease to exist. No one would want to work in those high-stress jobs, no-one would be motivated to achieve more than the average, and science and technology advances would stop (or at least drop off significantly). Things are not meant to be fair and it is technically impossible anyway so its best if you start accepting that life is not fair. Besides that is actually a good thing.
When people cry about life not being fair they are doing so because on a deeper level they enjoy living with a "me vs the rest of the world" attitude. They like complaining about their situation and making it out like they have no control because it makes them feel like their life has been defined by some higher power. A higher power that they can blame, and people love being able to blame someone else.
But life is not like that. Life definitely is NOT fair but it is also not a zero-sum game. It is not a competition. When someone has some success in their life there is not an exact counter-balance of negativity for someone else. For you to make $1000 today, someone else does not have to first lose $1000. That is not how the world works. Your life, and its "fairness", is the sum of all YOUR actions and is not dependent on anyone else.
Find Success in Unfairness
Everyone can achieve success and happiness but only those that realise it is up them (and not pre-determined by god, fate, or any other belief system) will actually do it. These people are the ones that understand that, because life is not fair, they can stack the odds in their favour.
When you understand the positive implications of life being unfair you start to see the world in a new light. Instead of complaining about your situation, or comparing your lot in life to that of others, your mind begins to focus on creating scenarios that are in your favour. New opportunities are presented, ideas are developed, and the possibilities become almost endless.
So, next time you hear someone mutter those wonderful words - "life is not fair" - you should smile and remind yourself that it is completely and utterly true, but that it just means that you can rig life so that it is always working in your favour.
Life is not fair and that is great news!
Zac Sky is a 27 year old entrepreneur, consultant, writer, motivator, data geek, and sports-lover, with a mindset for being positive, loving life, and experimenting. He is the author of " - Positive Happiness" a blog dedicated to personal development, productivity improvement, and lifestyle freedom.
By age 25, Zac had gained two university degrees, drafted his first self-help book, and founded Sixteen Threads, an Australian software development company, which delivers custom mobile applications.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Recession Unemployment and LMS Education

It seemed that there was some good news for job seekers when the employment data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on April 1st reported that the private sector added 230,000 jobs in March, adding jobs for the 13th consecutive month. The unemployment rate fell in March to 8.8%.
However, also in March, government employment fell by 14,000, making it the fifth straight monthly decline. And local governments were especially affected, losing 416,000 jobs since the peak in September of 2008.
Although job gains are getting better, it is still exceptionally difficult for the unemployed to find work. There are almost five job seekers for every opening available.
Unemployment is highly stressful and emotionally exhausting, but it can also be an opportunity to reflect on your skills and long-term goals, and take action. If you are unemployed, you might take this time to build on your skills and expand your marketability.
Especially for women, further education helps while seeking employment to fight the gender disparity that remains an active element in the work force. For many women either working, raising children, or seeking employment, an LMS online program is not only the most attractive option, but the only one feasible one.
The increasingly financially crippling expenses of brick and mortar university education is enough to make anyone seek alternatives, but especially those with mouths to feed, bills to pay, etc.The low cost combined with the flexibility of online courses make it the fastest-growing learning method in the world.
Surprisingly, many women are finding post-recession time to be the most difficult financially. During the recession, men lost more jobs than women overall. However, now that the recession is over, and we are supposedly enjoying an economic recovery, women are losing more jobs. Why is this the case? Part of the reason is government funding-state money has been quickly running out. Government payrolls are shrinking, programs are being cut, and jobs are being eliminated left and right.
So how are women more affected by state budget cuts? Women make up some 57% of the government work force. And among the public jobs that were cut recently, two-thirds of them were held by women.
Another factor is nothing new. Despite affirmative action and other efforts to balance the inequality between men and women in the workplace, gender biases still have a place in society. Specifically, the "breadwinner bias" still holds sway. When given a choice between a man and a woman, historically a female's income has been considered supplementary, despite the case that more and more women are the full breadwinners of their homes.
LMS online training is helping to bridge the gender gap and equip job-seekers with the skills they need to find employment. However, without a concerted nation-wide effort in both the private and public sector to generate more work, education alone isn't enough to solve the unemployment problem.