A couple of months ago I wrote to President Obama and asked that he appoint me to be the U. S. Volunteer Czar.  I wanted the job because I’m so confident that volunteers could fix pretty much everything that’s wrong with this country.  Instead of the appointment, I got a lousy form letter that thanked me for my concern, but never mentioned anything about my thoroughly researched and thoughtfully written letter.

But I’ve come up with an even better idea.  What we need more than a Volunteer Czar is a Shopping Czar.  This occurred to me yesterday when one of the news channels reported that a cruise missile costs $160,000,000.   In the past I have ignored reports that my government pays $125 for an ordinary hammer and just under a hundred bucks to feed lunch to one of our soldiers.  But A HUNDRED AND SIXTY MIL FOR A MISSILE?  That’s insane!

For the record I pride myself in being a great shopper.  I NEVER pay retail.  A sign reading “80% off” doubles my heart rate.  I’m one of many friends who I consider skilled at this trade.  All of us clip coupons, scout sales and can recite from memory the best place that’s web-based or within 200 miles to buy anything.

I’ll bet I could have gotten us that missile at least half-off.  Maybe we could have found some that were just past their expiration date, or were last-year’s model or perhaps something slightly used or with a couple of scratches or dents.  Once they explode, who would know?

I know I can do a lovely homemade lunch for under eight bucks (maybe ten, with packaging and shipping) and I found perfectly good hammers at Home Depot for under $15, and there were a couple in the clearance bin on sale for  $7.  Some of my friends are positively addicted to shopping and would likely volunteer a few hours for free.  Forget the paid position; I could get hundreds of folks lathered up about shopping for cheap missiles. 

I know exactly how our government makes purchases.  They use a thorough and complicated bidding process.  But their contracts lock them in for as many as 50 years.  That’s craziness.  I sincerely believe that if the contracts were shorter and more flexible, AND if our contractors guaranteed the lowest price in the marketplace, both our national debt and budget would shrink considerably.  With our purchasing power you’d think we could get a volume discount at something close to cost.  Instead we appear to be paying a healthy “sucker” premium. 
Please send me your thoughts.

I never burned a bra, the underwires were so hard to light with a Bic but I have quietly fought against the glass ceiling for all of my adult life.  I remember in my early career complaining to management that the other executive at my level was male and made 40% more than I.  The boss looked stunned at my ignorance when he responded flippantly, “Well of course he does, he’s a guy”.  Laws were there to protect me at the time.  But I feared losing my job and being tainted for future opportunities.  I stayed on and I’ve done OK. 

I’m not a rabid Hillary Clinton fan.  She angered me when she tried to make health care mandatory for all part-time employees back in the 90’s and I was a struggling business owner.   Her plan would have put me out of business.  But I found the March 14th Newsweek article, The Hillary Doctrine most compelling particularly side-bar Gender Matrix.

Here are some of the facts assembled by or extrapolated from the data collected by the World Economic Forum: 

  1. Educating a girl one year beyond the national average boosts her earning power between 10 and 20 percent
  2.  Countries with higher levels of female secondary-school enrollment have lower infant mortality, lower rates of HIV and AIDS infection, and better child nutrition.
  3. The WEF 2011 Gender Gap Index shows that a nation’s prosperity correlates with the level of parity between women and men (in education, health, economic opportunity, and political empowerment).   Countries with the smallest gaps in 2010 were Iceland, Norway and Finland.  Pakistan, Chad and Yeman had the largest.
  4. According to the WEF, the U.S. could boost its GDP by as much as 9 percent by putting more women in leadership positions in business and government and working harder to correct pay inequities.
  5. Women still only earn 77% of their male counterparts for equal work.
  6. In the Asia-Pacific region, countries are losing between $42 billion and $46 billion a year, according to the WEF by restricting women’s access to the workforce.
  7. When women earn their own money, they spend on their families at more than twice the rate of men.
  8. Worldwide, companies perform better and produce better ideas when their highest ranks have gender diversity.
  9. And from another source:  The first woman to rule a country as an elected leader in the modern era was   Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka, who was elected as prime minister of the island nation in 1960 and later re-elected in 1970.    It is interesting that Sri Lanka ranked ahead of the U.S. in the 2010 WEF analysis.
  10. And from my own personal experience:  Women with whom I have worked are frequently more tactile (feelers), men more visual or auditory.  Decisions that are made with the input of both genders and several generations tend to be more thoughtful, fair and enduring.

Please share your thoughts with me..

Posted by: Kathy Harmon on 3/7/2011 | 0 Comments

Those of you who follow my blog know that I frequently share stories about my mother.  She joined a group called Alive and Kickin’ last year and it has changed her life.  The group consists of 18 individuals aged 62-93.  Cal is the eldest member.  One would guess his age at 20 years younger.  He is absolutely adorable both inside and out.   He has a lovely voice, a great personality, and a terrific sense of humor.  Cal constantly makes up lyrics about everyday activities. I swear if we were single and I was 30 years older, I’d stalk him like a cheetah.  This is a story about Cal. A
Alive and Kickin’ gets what they term “gigs.”  They’ve become quite popular.  A couple of weeks ago they were scheduled to sing at a convention of Baby Boomers in the ballroom of a major downtown hotel.  They had to be there at 7:30 a.m.  This created major anxiety over transportation, rush hour traffic and downtown parking.   A rather complicated carpooling and caravan system was devised where several members were to drive to Cal’s home and he would then drive or lead them to the hotel.  As my 86-year old mother was nervous about the event, my sister Sandy stayed the night to insure mother arose at 4:30 and drove her to Cal’s at 6:15.  When he hadn’t emerged by 6:30 they called and woke him.  He apologized profusely, saying that he had overslept and promised he’d be down in a few minutes.  One group left but my mom remained and within 15 minutes, Cal came rushing out with another apology.  Seems he’d fallen in the tub or he would have been down sooner. 

 Once they’d parked and located the ballroom, they climbed several steps to the stage, warmed up for about 45 minutes and then the ballroom doors opened to 1,500 attendees.  When everyone had settled in their seats they were treated to Let it Be, Celebration, We Are the Champions, Stand by Me, We Are The World and ten additional contemporary pieces.  They received a standing ovation.
Now, if you are 86 or 93 you may understand that climbing stairs or even standing for extended periods of time can be taxing, especially after getting little sleep the night before.  When the event concluded some of the group went to breakfast but Cal asked my mom if she minded if they just went home, which they did.

As my mom left the car she reached over to thank Cal for his kindness and noticed that his arm felt wet.  This troubled her; so later in the day she called Cal to check in on him.  His wife answered and said that Cal wasn’t home.  He had gone to the emergency room.  It seems that when he fell in the tub he got a rather nasty gash in the upper portion of his arm.  The group dresses in red, white and black.  Cal’s sport coat is a darker shade of red, which effectively camouflaged the effects of several hours of bleeding.  He finally agreed to get nine stitches after losing a substantial amount of blood. 

 Aside from his comment about a fall in the tub, Cal mentioned this to no one.  He didn’t whine and he showed up to do his part with a serous injury.  What ever happened to that belief system?  Maybe that’s why they are called “The Greatest Generation.”    
I've attached a video of one of their rehearsals in hopes it will make you smile and cheer.

Alive & Kickin' - We Will Rock You


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