Pressing Pause

Small steps toward thriving families, schools, and communities

Pressing Pause

Maybe I’m Buddhist

I’m listening to a personal finance podcast series geared towards the retirement set. It’s about how to think about your legacy or how others will remember your brief time on this planet.

I appreciate the fact that the host emphasizes positive, non-material contributions to people and places.

But in starting to think about my potential legacy, I get stuck on this question. Isn’t any consideration of legacy the byproduct of ego? Put differently, I suspect the better we manage our ego, the less concerned we’ll be with our legacy.

Again, I turn to my sissy who occasionally reminds me, “It’s not all about you.” But what if she’s only partially right. What if NONE of it is about me?

Odds are a few people will remember me for a little while. And then I’ll be forgotten. Probably like you.

It’s at this point that Dan, Dan The Transportation Man loses it and calls me a real downer. And I tell him I prefer the term “realist”.

Deciding I don’t know or care much about my legacy, I quit the podcast series midstream.

Saudi Sportswashing

In an effort to improve its image on the global stage, Saudi Arabia is financing a new professional golf tour. Some PGA pros are signing on to the LIV Tour as a result of the Saudi’s bonuses and much higher tournament purses. Tuesday, Brooks Koepka received $100m to switch sides.

Professional golfers have never been on the forefront of progressive politics, but this is next-level selling out to the highest bidder regardless of their historic repression of their citizens; their ties to 9/11; their hacking of American journalist Jamal Khashoggi to death; and worst of all; despite no one writing about it, their brutal war against Yemen.

It’s worth noting the (dis)United States sells the weapons that Saudi Arabia uses against Yemen. And it’s worth pressing pause for a second and imagining what you and I would do if a competing employer offered to increase our pay by five or ten times?

Families of 9/11 victims brought moral clarity to the situation yesterday with a letter of appreciation for the PGA tour players who (so far) are refusing to aid and abet Saudi Arabia in its sportswashing campaign.

They wrote:

“To those many of you who chose to remain loyal to the PGA Tour — and did not defect to the Saudi Arabia-bankrolled LIV Golf Series — we thank you and the sponsors who support you. Thank you for standing up for decency. Thank you for standing up for the 9/11 Families. Thank you for resisting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to cleanse its reputation by buying off professional athletes. […]

“To those of you who have chosen what is right over blood money from a corrupt, destructive sports entity and its Saudi backers, please continue to stand strong. You inspire hope and conviction that our long journey to accountability and justice is in reach. We deeply value your integrity and your willingness to stand up for principle.”

This global showdown begs a question. “How much is enough?” Most of the LIV signees are multimillionaires many times over. For some, the answer appears to be, there’s never enough.

What To Do About Gas Prices

Catherine Rampell of The Washington Post argues neither major political party has a serious plan to deal with inflation overall or gas prices specifically. So the choice is between the two parties agendas. “So what do Republicans stand for?” she asks.

“Their national leaders won’t say, even when asked directly; their state-level rising stars are mostly focused on fighting with Mickey Mouse and drag queens. But if you look at GOP actions taken over the past several years, including when they had unified control of the federal government, you get a sense of what Republicans are likely to prioritize.

Mostly, Republicans seem to care about tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. They want to find ways to repeal Obamacare, or otherwise reduce access to health care by (for example) slashingMedicaid.

They care about installing judges who will roll back reproductive rights.

They care about supporting a president who used the powers of the state to further his own political and financial interests, rather than those of the American public he was sworn to serve.

They care about supporting a presidency whose few purported diplomatic achievements, in retrospect, look largely like an excuse to meet potential investors who might fund Trump aides’ new private equity endeavors.

They care about defending, at all costs, a president who cheered on the mob seeking to hang his own vice president.

And they care about undermining the integrity of our election system and overturning the will of the voters, if and when vote tallies don’t go their way.”

In other words, the remote possibility of slightly cheaper gas could come with very high costs to our democracy and the common good.

Paragraph to Ponder

“Over time, wealth inequality became more pernicious to society than income inequality. The problem is not just that a chief executive at a big company makes 33 times what a surgeon makes, and a surgeon makes nine times what an elementary-school teacher makes, and an elementary-school teacher makes twice what a person working the checkout at a dollar store makes—though that is a problem. It is that the chief executive also owns all of the apartments the cashiers live in, and their suppressed wages and hefty student-loan payments mean they can barely afford to make rent. ‘The key element shaping inequality is no longer the employment relationship, but rather whether one is able to buy assets that appreciate at a faster rate than both inflation and wages,’ Adkins, Cooper, and Konings argue in their excellent treatise, The Asset Economy. ‘The millennial generation is the first to experience this reality in its full force.’”

Annie Lowery, “The End of the Asset Economy,” The Atlantic.

Another Balm For My Cynicism

In Little League, I was a good fielder, but I couldn’t hit. Another swing and miss on my last post which The Good Wife didn’t find too funny. Maybe it’s not me that was amazing and now isn’t, just my sense of humor.

Through the Biggest Little Farm, a Canadian television documentary about University of British Columbia graduates committed to urban farming, and related reading and multimedia, I’ve become infatuated with small scale farming. I can’t fully explain it, I’m just extremely moved by small groups of people working small plots. I’m sure I’m romanticizing it, but their commitments, work, and products give me hope for the future.

And that’s hard to come by these days.

This heartwarming story, “America’s Most Luxurious Butter Lives to Churn Another Day” nearly brought me to tears. I just love everything about it—the people, the cows, the cows’ names, the pictures, the incredible serendipity.

I want to support local farmers, but besides buying their products at the Olympia Farmer’s Market, I’m not sure the best way to do that yet. If you have ideas, do tell.

Caring, kind, patient parenting and caring, committed, and sustainable farming keep me going when so much seems to be spiraling downwards.

Postscript. Informative critique of “The Biggest Little Farm”.