This Adult Apologizes…

This Adult Apologizes…

To America’s kids:

On behalf of America’s adults – particularly my fellow Baby Boomers (who are still mostly in charge of government & industry) – I want to apologize for the trauma you regularly experience from gun violence; we have failed you.

I apologize for the legislators who could protect your safety through common sense gun regulations that the vast majority of voters support, but instead place their own careers ahead of your lives.

adult apology

I apologize for the nation’s responsible gun owners who, rather than fight for your safety by standing up to the NRA (which represents gun manufacturers), stay silent.

I apologize for the adults who, out of an irrational fear of having their guns taken from them if arms are better regulated, put these groundless fears ahead of your real ones.

I apologize for the adults who would rather turn your schools into prison-like fortresses and compel you to endure active shooter drills than ban semi-automatic weapons.

adult apology 1

I apologize for those in governance who cite mental health as the problem, yet refuse to fund mental health services.

And finally, I apologize in advance for any who say I don’t speak for them, because by doing so, admit to being part of the problem.

It’s up to you, kids.  If/when you’re old enough, you must not just march, but vote; at any age you must not just cry, but continue to hold adults accountable.

Because we’re clearly not able to do it for you.


Why “Child Protective Services” are Not

Prior to focusing my professional attention to advising my generation, I ran programs in NYC for homeless/runaway youth many of whom were in the child protection system at some point (drug addicted/AIDs infected/imprisoned parents) or had their own children in the system. I’ve been a Guardian ad Litem here in FL. I’ve been a foster parent (of a teen) in New Jersey. I know first hand what’s needed to vastly improve the safety of children removed from their home due to abuse/neglect.

children killed by abusersBe warned, it is a solution historically ignored as it unpegs our blind devotion to keeping children with (clearly dysfunctional) biological parents, no matter how incapacitated those people are as individuals let alone parents; our culture’s foundation for failure.

As obvious as this faulty reasoning is in the aggregate (recent series by the Tampa Bay Times & Miami Herald here in Florida as example), when it comes time to set, by law, extreme limits for such people to have the children returned to them, we simply don’t do it. Biology trumps proven incapacity to parent.

Although some parts of the country are ahead of the curve by ensuring quality/innovative solutions to their child protection problems (some major cities like L.A., others less so like Omaha, Nebraska) through the adoption of models that emphasize the child’s well-being over the “rights of the parents,” unfortunately most States, including Florida, currently hold parents’ rights, no matter how unearned, to be paramount.

So to start, we must accept two painful realities: 1) that the ability to procreate does not automatically make someone fit to parent, and numerous attempts to “rehabilitate” a parent while the children continue to suffer is not an approach worth keeping; 2) the systems are grossly underfunded and the funding they have poorly utilized.

Then, we must call for proven alternatives to the current system that fails children miserably.  That means passing laws that use added protective services dollars to make adoption far more desirable and affordable (as do programs like New Life Village in Tampa), and fund highly successful, well researched models of community care that provide safety, professional care, emotional and peer support, and an environment in which children can thrive, such as Girls & Boys Town in Nebraska (you may remember the 1938 movie, Boys Town, starring Mickey Rooney and Spencer Tracy) and SOS Children’s Villages.

We Boomers must no longer be party to embracing mid-20th century solutions to 21st century problems.  And as a member of the most influential cohort in America, you can insist on far better for these hurting children in your State.

Only then will we be able to pick up a newspaper and not read of horrific deeds by disturbed individuals who have been given the State’s sanction to continue abusing their offspring.

Boomer Mojo; Our Time Has Come Again

The guest on this past week’s show (11/6/11: David Mills, author of 10000 Days: A Call to Arms for the Baby Boom Generation that asks of us “what do we plan to do with the last 10K productive days we have left after turning 50?”) believes we Boomers can use our past activist experience, combine it with the wisdom (hopefully) and decades of knowledge we’ve accumulated, and once again fix what’s wrong with our country.

This inspired me to ask this question of our followers on the show’s FB page: “Do you think we Boomers still have the collective to power to make great changes to society like we did in our youth?”  (feel free to go to the page and be heard)

Here’s a few of the responses:

  • “We have the collective power to make tremendous change. Need strong leadership and lots of people talking and sharing ideas.”
  • “We can and we are…”
  • “Sorry I believed we did in my youth but in the end I don’t feel we made a difference.”

Now, admittedly we’ve gotten the proverbial bad rap from the younger generations, feeling that we pursued what was in our own best interest at everyone else’s expense.  And indeed, as I mentioned in my last post, once we got into positions of power, we did all the things we derided our elders for doing (bespoiling the land for profit; taking kick-backs for influence; filling our corporate coffers at the expense of our workers’ well-being) – only bigger and with less discretion.

But as a generation, we also propelled more positive societal changes than any other generation in the history of our nation.  Hey, younger ones, enjoy the freedom to live together before you get married, and divorce without societal derision if you find you married the wrong person?  Thank us.  Ladies, glad you can no longer be overlooked for that big promotion simply because of your gender?  Thank your local Boomer.  And, for those of you who think clean air and water is a nifty idea, that river in Ohio would still be so toxic it’s on fire if not for our unwillingness to accept such polluting ways (for you kids, here’s the link for the back story on the burning river thing).

Well, my fellow Boomers, our time has come around again.  We have the numbers, the power, the finances, and the experience, to make this country proud.  We know how to use activism as an efficient tool for change.  Unfortunately, right now, the only members of our generation using it well are the members of the tea party (45% of which are white, male Boomers).  And I say “unfortunately” not because I disagree with their positions; it’s unfortunate because they are a minority of us – the rest of us are remaining dangerously disconnected from our immense ability to influence positive change.

Here is a brief list of powerful things we can do, individually and collectively, to regain our generational greatness as propellers of the social changes needed today, just as we so famously, and successfully did for those that were needed in the 1960’s/’70’s:

  • Lead by example
    Keep your promises; say what you mean/mean what you say; give more than you receive; be a mensch
  • Get involved in something that betters things
    Now that the kids are grown and if you’re not taking care of an elderly relative, give some of your time to something designed to make our world better, whether volunteering for a cause that tugs your heart, or pushing for needed changes in your community; at the very least, regularly communicate with your representatives so they know just what you want from them, and if you don’t get it, find someone who will do what you know needs doing
  • Agitate for changes to the way Congress handles our nation’s business
    A great place to start is by insisting on changes to the way Congress treats itself; if our little Princes & Princesses in DC are treated like the rest of us, we will have more true citizen representation – those who simply love the power will no longer want the job, and those who want the job will want to get the job done and go home.  Here’s a petition I’ve started circulating to insist on just such changes; download it, sign it, and pass it on: 
    Petition to Congress
  • Be a resource champion, not a resource hog
    Did you know that the improvements to the environment we fought for and won 40 years ago, are in the past few years being undone?  Air pollution is now worsening.  Go back to your roots of good earth stewardship; we can start with eliminating our own wasteful habits, from things a simple as reusing rather than immediately disposing, to driving a more fuel efficient car and downsizing everything.  And, become a proponent of both clean and renewable energy sources.

So, to that last respondent of the FB survey, I say; we absolutely made a difference – refusing to see our accomplishments, and build on them has been our mistake.

I believe it’s not a matter of being unable to make the changes we need, our children need, our grandchildren.

It’s a matter of being willing.

What Would a Citizen Do?

Seal of the United States of AmericaThose who insist that the US government “live within its means” just like its citizens must in our own lives, are absolutely correct!

So, let’s play out that comparison, from which we can then determine the best strategy for our lawmakers to embrace.

Our government owes more than it brings in, so it must borrow money to meet its obligations.  Its been doing this for decades, with the blessing of both Republican and Democratic legislatures.  Many US citizens have done the same thing, a vast majority of them Boomers.  Now, if the government does not borrow more, it will default on what it already owes, its credit rating will be devalued, bills will go unpaid, and an already weak economy will become even weaker just when it needs a boost to avoid a second recession.

Here’s the same scenario but for a US family.

For the past decade, the Highlife family has been borrowing to make ends meet as they spent more than they brought in.  This included a second mortgage on their home.  But now the home’s value is less than half what it was three years ago when they took the second mortgage, and their first loan value is upside down.  If they don’t meet their fiscal obligations they’ll lose their home which will add yet another empty, unkempt property to their neighborhood which in turn will harm the values of their neighbors’ homes, their credit rating will tank making recovery from this bad situation that much more difficult and lengthy, and all who depend on them (children, elderly parents for example) will suffer as a result of their inability to provide the assistance they need to live decently (home care, books for school, etc.).   If you were the Highlifes, what would you do to dig yourself out from under this terrible mess (besides change your name…)?

What the vast majority of us have and would do is:

  • reduce our expenditures as much as possible without harming the basics we need to live (food, clothing, shelter, safety for us and our dependents, transportation, etc.)
  • bring in extra income to bridge the AP/AR gap (take another job, have the older kids work)
  • to avoid the disaster that defaulting on what we owe would bring to ourselves and all around us, we would use the credit and borrowing power we have available to us, but much more smartly, to get us through while the other strategies start to bear fruit, building our 5-10 year plan on the bedrock that, once a certain level of solvency is accomplished, we will no longer rely on borrowing to pay our bills
  • and….we do all the above with the clear understanding that digging out will require years to accomplish safely.

There you have it.  What the US government must do to handle this economic crisis just like a citizen would.

It’s All About Obama?…

barack obamaWow!  According to pretty much the entire media industry, Obama was given a stern rebuke by we voters, akin to getting his hand slapped by his body-politic mothers for dipping one too many times into the cookie jar.

Wow, are they wrong.

As much as both the “liberal” media and the conservative Republicans want us to believe voting outcomes were about Obama – anti “Obamacare”; anti Obama compromises; anti Obama big government – this mid-term election overhaul was in fact about nothing more than people being unhappy and believing the only power they had to do something about it was to vote out members of the ruling majority.

And the truly unfortunate reality of doing so, is voters kind of did the nose-cutting-off-face thing, having not done their homework on what they got from the major legislation enacted while those folks were in office.  And what they could now lose after “voting out the bums…”  Here’s just a few:

  • The healthcare legislation as it stands will reduce the deficit by an estimated $138 billion over 10 years (according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office), and new healthcare plans will be required to cover preventive services with little or no cost to patients
  • The financial regulatory reform law restricts the ability of banks whose deposits are federally insured, from trading for their own benefit, so never again will we see banks trading on their own financial securities like mortgage-backed assets, the big-bank pocket-stuffing practice that precipitated the credit crisis, thus the Great Recession in 2008
  • The EPA’s power to reduce greenhouse gasses shown conclusively to be harmful to our health (such as high levels of mercury & lead spewed from coal-burning plants) as reinforced by the US Supreme Court

Finally, if that doesn’t convince you, here’s an excerpt from a recently published article about possible changes to the healthcare legislation that will be attempted by many of our newly elected, on

“Congress might attempt to dismantle the bill piece by piece.  One provision that many people want to remove is the individual mandate, which will require most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a tax penalty.  This provision also kicks in in 2014, and it’s one that Baby Boomers in particular will want to fight to keep.

Here’s why: Beginning in 2014, private insurance companies will no longer be able to refuse to insure someone because of a pre-existing condition.  But without an individual mandate, there will be no incentive for younger and healthier people to purchase health insurance until the time comes when they need it.  This means those left in the insurance “risk pool” will be older, and that drives up the cost of insurance.

By the time we reach 50, nearly all of us have “pre-existing conditions.”  Some of our conditions are common, and some are not – mesothelioma, for example, is rarely diagnosed in patients younger than 50.  And without Medicare or other good insurance, mesothelioma treatment would be financially devastating.

But without the individual mandate requiring that healthier people share in the cost of insuring all of us, the health insurance premium bills for people aged 50 to 65 will be ruinous.”