the only thing we have to fear

Watching a television program on the environment, I asked my husband if he worries about the health of the planet by the time our children are middle-aged. He said, “I worry, but there are other things I worry more about right now. It’s harsh out there. People are harsh. You try to teach your child principles, how to behave…”

“But you need them to understand a good defensive strategy, too,” I added.


I told him then about our daughter witnessing, just a couple days ago, a man eating food out of a wrapper in a parking lot, quickly, and then dropping the wrapper on the ground before he got in his car and drove away. Our daughter was shocked. She could not get her mind around why somebody would litter. She went on about it for a solid three minutes–a pretty long time for a seven-year-old talking to me and her five-year-old brother.

“There are people out there who don’t think that what they do matters,” I offered. “They don’t think it affects other people, or the planet. They just don’t think that anything they could do on their own would bother anybody else. There are people out there like that. It’s almost like they don’t think they matter,” I said.

“Well, littering is really bad.”

“Yes, it is.”

I told my husband I was almost sorry to see her understanding of the world challenged, but also, in a way, relieved. Relieved that she’s seeing that people don’t always do things that make sense.

Because it happens, on a near constant basis. It scares me.

But as long as the kids know that it’s what they do that matters, how they react to senselessness, that they always have control over themselves. They always have a choice… As long as they know that, I’m less scared. For them.

But as for the rest? All those out there that don’t see their own behaviors as contributing to a larger pattern, a greater impact? They terrify me.

I was encouraged though, that our daughter did not conclude that the littering man was bad or scary. She just thought he did the wrong thing; he just didn’t know that it was wrong to litter… that if he just knew what it meant, he would do the right thing.

Sometimes, I wish so hard that I were seven, and fearless. And confident.

debate reaction at our house

My independent spouse, during the first two questions: “Romney is doing well…”

Later, “He’s a consultant. He’s really smart, he talks fast, but he does not know who his audience is. He’s falling apart.”

My independent spouse–he can smell b.s. from about two miles away. That smell rarely fades.

Meanwhile–for all the punditry crying about the President not “fighting back.” Give me a break. He’s the President. (There are also these things called campaign funds and SuperPACs that are going to take Romney’s inconsistencies, lies, and other nonsense and turn them into beautiful ads.)

Here’s what I kept thinking of, where President Obama is wearing the flag shorts…. (click the link. It’s inspirational, really and truly.)


You get what you pay for

Andrew Sullivan notes Jonathan Chait’s examination of campaign spending, by campaigns themselves and Superpacs. Chait discusses ad buys and associated rates, and cites that “Republicans are paying their staff twice the rate Democrats are paying theirs, allowing Obama to have twice as many people working for him for the same amount Romney is spending.”

That’s based on a report from the Los Angeles Times, which found:

[T]he Obama campaign had 901 people on its payroll last month, and paid them a median salary of $3,074 a month, or $36,886 a year. The Romney campaign, in contrast, had 403 people on its payroll, and paid them a median salary of $6,437 in August, which would mean $77,250 a year. A Romney campaign official said the median staff salary is actually $51,500 a year. The August payroll may have been inflated by back pay owed to new employees, the official said.

Even at $51,500 a year… that’s a decent monthly salary. The median salary for a public school teacher in Boston, Massachusetts, is $55,970, for example.

At $36,886 a year, the Obama campaign seems a little frugal. But the median salary for a community organizer in Chicago, Illinois, is about $36,000.

Maybe Romney staffers are much like public school teachers–often with too few resources, too little appreciation, and far too complex a job to do given the directives they receive from their administrations (i.e., Romney) and their students’ parents (i.e., potential voters). Maybe Romney is hoping his staff can fix what he seems to be having trouble doing himself.

Maybe Obama staffers are much like community organizers–who, like teachers, often work with too few resources, and like teachers, often work because of a calling to serve (i.e., confidence in Obama’s candidacy), acted on because of a true faith in the work (i.e., sharing that confidence with potential voters). Maybe Obama is trusting his staff to motivate others, much as he motivates them.

I’m sure I’m not being fair. Maybe, as Mr. Sullivan suggests, Romney simply isn’t as good a businessman as one might have expected.