My Holiday Gift List

I have quite a large gift list this year for the holiday season. I hope you don’t think I’m being greedy or selfish. My wish list is very costly. In fact, the ultimate bill for my gifts would be many trillions of dollars.

  • I want Covid to end. I want the torture and suffering from this horrible disease to cease immediately. Millions have died because of mankind’s inability to protect the world from the onset of Covid. This is not going to happen unless resources are directed away from less existential diseases. Scientists and health professionals had 100 years to identify Covid and they failed. For some reason, less virulent diseases gobbled up the lion’s share of research dollars. The battle against Covid should be universal, and researchers should share their findings with others around the world.
  • I want the war in Ukraine to end this minute. I just can’t help comparing the Russian aggression to the Vietnam War. Over 50,000 Americans died and countless Vietnamese lost their lives in an insignificant part of the world in the 1960s and 1970s. And for what? The US had no right to invade Vietnam, and Russia and has no right to bludgeon the Ukrainians. What makes the Russian situation more dangerous is the threat of a nuclear expansion. If this occurs, a Third World War is imminent and confrontation between Russia and the US will become more probable.
  • I want the illegal and immoral immigration encounter occurring on the southern border of the United States to subside. I feel for the hundreds of thousands of migrants who want to move to the US. Most have legitimate reasons for wanting to do so. But, the illegal movement of people across the border is encouraging many more millions to do so and will eventually end in financial hardship and violence. The US must have empathy when creating policies to deal with the immigrants to prevent chaos on both sides of the border and untold disease and agony.
  • I want Americans to be tolerant of each other regarding race, religion and sexual preference. People of color need support to improve their lives economically, politically and socially. It is the obligation of our government to deliver all citizens out of poverty and hunger. Crime and drug abuse are rampant in the greatest country in the world; it is unacceptable. Anti-Semitic and aggressive behavior towards people with different lifestyles must end. Americans must be kind and allow others to live the way that they choose.
  • I want our country to care for each citizen before redirecting funds to other countries. It is criminal that Americans are sleeping on the streets and sidewalks of our cities.
  • I want our government leaders and lawmakers to work together to improve our living standards in every state. A 50-50 Congress is not helpful in dealing with national and international problems. Wasting time and money by politicians in Washington is  something Americans have identified as a real problem; this is obvious in polling relating to the performance of our government. The current political situation fosters endless debate and  bullying in Washington. We must bring new blood into our city, state and federal governments, something that will only happen with term limits.
  • I want a credible plan from Congress to deal with global warming. The situation cannot be solved if America alone builds electric cars rather than fossil fuel cars. Countries around the world must cooperate or our children will suffocate from polluted air. All of the hyperbole regarding global warming on both sides of the debate is not productive. Once again, comity in Congress is the only way to make progress on this issue.
  • I want a national voting system that ensures that every one eligible to vote can vote, eliminates the ability to cheat and is understood by every American. If 50% of the country does not believe elections are fair, our government will falter.
  • I want an educational system that provides our country with trained people to meet all of our needs. Maybe the present college system is too expensive and unable to provide America with business leaders. Think community colleges and job training.
  • Last but not least, I want every American to have the right to free speech. This means that all are able to express their opinions on any issue, without inciting violence.

These bullet points comprise a big give on the part of Americans and our government. And the list is not complete. The world is getting more complex and dangerous every day. We need our best people in government and in business to retain our leadership in the world.

Have a wonderful and peaceful holiday.

It Is What It Is: Accepting Our Fate

The Cambridge Dictionary definition of “it is what it is” is the recognition that a situation cannot be changed and must be accepted. When we face problems with no obvious solutions, humans are subjected to a great deal of stress. If we accept situations that are irreconcilable, our lives will be more rewarding.

The greatest stressful situation is the loss of a loved one. Accepting the new reality affiliated with the untimely passing of someone we care for should be the last step of the mourning process. It is the moment we are ready to move on and once again live our lives to the fullest and not grieve any longer.

Our personal demise is the most traumatic event in our lives. The moments preceding the transition from life to death are usually sad times for the individual who will pass and his or her family. The angst affiliated with passing can be untenable.

We need to spend productive time recognizing and accepting our mortality. It is not something that should take joy from us. But it cannot be ignored as we age and approach our final days, hours, minutes and seconds. It is what it is. Everyone is born and dies.

What should we do as we age and become more fragile? Physically our doctors can cure our minor and even major problems that occur with the passing of time. But often little problems become more difficult to deal with and are not curable. It is these situations that cause great stress to us as we get older.

I believe that stress is a large contributor to the loss of life. It would be impossible to live a life without some hardships and sad moments, but we must not allow these situations to overwhelm the happier aspects of our life. We should compartmentalize our problems. An individual can have several positive moments mixed with several negative moments.

Personally, I have decided to work diligently to decrease the amount of stress in my life having reached the 70s. This effort entails a concerted desire to not let minor incidents upset me for any length of time. It can never be a foolproof effort because life is a continuum of happy and sad moments. Those of us who are able to set aside minor distractions will likely have a more fulfilling life especially in the later years.

After experiencing some debilitating medical challenges, I was in a dark place. Lethargy caused by excessive concern about my health was dragging me into a state of depression. This had a meaningful impact on the people who care for me and who love me. I needed to find an outlet that would enable me to be more upbeat and look at life more positively.

Two of the things I did that helped me accomplish my objectives were to begin to take yoga classes and to meditate multiple times during the day. It has been a wondrous adventure to gain control of my emotions and to reconnect with my family and friends. I am surprised that medical doctors and therapists do not forcefully recommend these practices in cases of minor to moderate depression.

When I informed my doctors of my new life with yoga and meditation, they were very excited and enthusiastic. I strongly suggested to them that they recommend yoga and meditation, especially in situations where life experiences are affecting their patients’ happiness.

A second project, which is a longer term, is recognition of my mortality. It’s not comforting to think about what occurs after death. But since every person who has been on earth previously has been subjected to death, it’s a subject of great relevatnce. The question is how does one prepare for the end of one’s life? This query becomes more relevant to humans when they are in middle to old age.

One thing that many millions of people do to deal with the specter of their afterlife is to pray to their God. I think religion and spirituality are important tools enabling humans to deal with the end of their life. It certainly is refreshing to believe that life after death is somehow similar to life before death. This may be an unrealistic perspective, but it seems to be one of the most common methods to deal with impending death. Being with God in the afterlife is a comforting thought.

I have casually spent time thinking about mortality in a more philosophical manner. What we leave behind is very important. In essence, our legacy is a critical element in determining whether we have led a successful life. Some people think of success in terms of money and power. I think of it as a human being measured by how they deal with problems facing them during their life. It’s easy to be a great person when there are few hardships.

And so, we return to it is what it is. We must accept and deal with events with maturity and strength to live life to the fullest.

Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program is Illegal and Unfair

Gail Collins and Bret Stephens, columnists, periodically face off on the editorial page of the New York Times. They are a liberal and a conservative, respectively. On Tuesday, among other things, they debated Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program. This proposal is noble in intent but outrageous in cost and unfairness.

First and foremost, Biden has overstepped his authority. “Federal courts have been rightly skeptical of any presidential [money] decision made without input from Congress…” So says Stephens. “It’s an abuse of the separation of powers, an insult to everyone who paid off their loans…”

Collins responded, “We got a generation of Americans who were encouraged to take out big federal loans- often by scummy for-profit schools that never really delivered anything.” Collins indicates that, “Even those who went to good colleges were never given the proper information about the likely future earnings compared with debt.”

Stephen’s retort was that he doesn’t see students who borrowed as victims, rather “beneficiaries who won’t make good on that end of a bargain.” Further, Stephens says “Undergraduates borrow an average of $30,000 for a degree that will raise their lifetime earnings by a half million dollars,” which sounds like a good deal. “This just sounds like a giant giveaway to young progressives who don’t like the idea that loans are things you have to repay.”

During the short debate, Steffens got the best of Collins, which elated me. The most unfair part of Biden’s proposal is that the millions of honest borrowers who paid back their loans, likely parents’ money, get nothing for being responsible. The proposal is a tragedy. And since when is the president solely responsible for the nation’s purse. It’s Congress’s job to appropriate our hard-earned money that gets taxed.

It’s refreshing to think that SCOTUS will likely act with discretion and not allow this unfair benefit to those who are able to pay loans back through hard work.

Perhaps colleges should take some responsibility. They should inform students before they select a major what is the earning power of their choice. Come to think of it, why aren’t colleges assuming some of the financial pain of their high tuitions?