TED Conversations

Debra Smith


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How can America get out of this mess?

The world needs America to function and what is MORE - we want you to work.

Your own Brene Brown has already told us all how it is done
and believe me we ALL needed to learn this lesson.

I want to hear your story, your input and your ideas or your reactions, please.


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    Aug 28 2012: Strike. Tariff. Stop shopping at corprations, and start investing in local economies. Eliminate the two party system. Return to original copyright length. Stop subsidizing corn and oil. Move out of the cities, and return to a more agrarian and real economy, which can provide the world with the valuable, and cheap product, of food. Sell the mojave national preserve to solar small business investors. Re open mines in California. Have health insurance pay for electronic cigarettes. Buy electric motorcycles. Make motorcycle, and car licenses one and the same. Use the military as a training and labor force which builds our roads, and backs our currency by mining using green technology... Legallize hemp. Legallize gay. Non profitize narcotics... Or... If you want the simple answer, economics wise, which won't help any of our social issues...

    Triple NASA's budget and send people to Mars.
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      Aug 28 2012: YOU have clearly been thinking about this!

      I think this might be the new definition of patriotism - To love your country so much that you are willing to fight with your own gifts in your own way for its highest best outcome.

      **ADDition: It has to be a work in progress with hits and misses if you choose the idea route because that is the way ideas are = sometimes right on and sometimes off the mark.
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        Aug 28 2012: I hope you get what you seek and that those with input or questions will feel safe putting those forward.
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          Aug 28 2012: Thank you, Me too.

          Isn't that the most facinating thought though, Fritzie, that people in AMERICA the land of the free and of the brave - would be AFRAID to put forward ideas !

          OMG! How startling!

          Thank GOD that all those people who died for your country did not put their own welfare in this moment first so that all their progeny could enjoy this mess.
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          Aug 28 2012: (Quote): Isn't that the most facinating thought though, Fritzie, that people in AMERICA the land of the free and of the brave - would be AFRAID to put forward ideas !

          Debra, I sure hope you don't take this reply the wrong way. Hoestly! Because I do value your inputs in all the discussions I have had with you. So...here goes.

          As an American, I AM hesitant (afraid?) to attempt to post opposing views to your posts sometimes. Why?

          You "lump" us all together more often than not. You appear to not treat us with the respect deserving of an individual. "One bad American = All Americans are bad = America as a whole sucks!"

          You have some very valid concerns about SOME of my fellow Americans. We have SOME politicians who have not served with integrity in performing their duties. We have SOME business leaders who have been identified as being unscrupulous in the running of their businesses/corporations, etc. And if I looked hard enough, I'm sure I could identify SOME people in ANY discipline that exits in America who could be tagged as "bad guys".

          But really...is YOUR country any different? Have you NO people in your country who have been identified as misusing their "power" or "position"?

          I refuse to insinuate "The Country of Canada" is a "failure" in any way JUST BECAUSE of the actions of SOME of it's citizens.

          Why can't you do that for MY country? It comes across to me (at least) as an insinuation that SLOELY because I am an American, I AM, as an INDIVIDUAL, being hammered by you.

          Respectfully submitted. No animosity intended towards you at all. Just trying to get you to reconsider your "labeling" tendancies sometimes.

          (In retrospect, Yes...it DID scare me to make this post. Which is a shame considering the type of community it is posted in).
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          Aug 29 2012: @Rick, thanks for your bravery in facing intimidating old me.
          Please allow me to remove a few misconceptions. In a two thousand character limit it is not possible to separate and distinguish among 350 million people I respect the intellect and self representation of your people. It seems to me those who are rapacious, creepy, vicious, opportunitistic persons among you should know who they are or you all as their friends if you are really friends should tell them. This is more serious than bad breathe or dandruff but there is no corporate sponsor to do that work= it is the work of friends and now you have left it up to distant friends like me to do the dirty work. OK I know how to roll up my sleeves.

          I agree that it is SOME but why do the rest of you allow that some to do their dirty business in our countries? Did you know that there are American companies around the world which cannot keep production running for a single day when the companies of other nations goes on uninterputed? YEAH, that is because the nationals hate AMERICAN companies for raping their countries but want to do business and when they can deal with another nation ??they do because they are constructive and helpful.

          If my concerns are sooooooooo valid why is there NEVER acknowledgment or apology? Just denial and excuses. Like we deserved it.

          You expect the world to coddle your corruption about Iraq?

          You act like we are talking about me noticing you have a booboo and I am impolite. The world is not ignorant of your plight. You act as though I am sticking my finger in an open wound - addressing a problem that is gangenous is important for the life of the whole body

          I take absolutely no animosity from this. I know it is a shock to your system to realize that your butt is hanging out and that someone noticed.

          I make NO APOLOGIES whatsoever if you or anyone else is afraid of my intellect or candor. TED edits me so that I do not step over the line, or on the line or near the line.
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          Aug 29 2012: (Quote): "...those who are rapacious, creepy, vicious, opportunitistic persons among you..."

          Well, I guess that about describes my area of disagreement about "labeling". Regardless if the perceived problems we disagree about are dandruff or the survival of the world.
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          Aug 29 2012: What do you want to call those who murder 150.000 and counting in Iraq, who magnify their weath and almost bring down the world economy, who set policies that contravene the laws of our nations and threaten the jobs of those nationals that they insist enforce those illegal policies? Sweethearts?

          If you do not see that this is serious you have never seen what happens to the brains of those who are TORTURED by presidential order or otherwise. It is amazing that they continue to live. But do not tell the truth to an American - that is too bad for words! EVIL.
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        Aug 28 2012: I don't think the matter of feeling comfortable putting forward ideas in discourse always has to do with the country. People (of whatever country) don't necessarily feel like putting forward ideas or asking questions if they expect someone else, regardless of country, to pounce on them for it.

        In terms of discussion here, not everyone is an American and I expect most people are just reading and carefully considering the ideas other people put forward without regard to countries they may live in or come from.

        I think for most people, TED means discourse about ideas rather than teams aligned by countries. I hope so.
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          Aug 28 2012: I think most working poor people in America, and the world, believe that the government is tool that can help them solve their problems... It is not. The government is a tool for applying violent force to dissent. That is the only thing a government has the power to do. This is almost never in the interest of the poor, or the economy in general. If you don't need to force it on people, why not start a charity, instead of a government program?

          I also believe that the senate and electoral college are designed to distribute power to small rural communities, specifically because without constant communication with different perspectives, and the outside world... people in these communities are very easy to manipulate.

          Thus, no one intelligent, who lives in a city, will ever have any real power in this country... We are constantly kept in the dark ages by people who don't like people, and avoid cities for a reason. Meanwhile these "conservative" areas, are where the government spends all its money.

          California and New York just can't wait to give their money to the government to help poor people... They just forget, that people in California and New York, almost never qualify as poor, so really they are exporting their tax money, to the very people destroying their government, and they couldn't feel more noble.

          So, basically... No, it's not just my perspective. We trust the government now, and the government is intentionally stalling portable solar concentration technology, intentionally subsidizing corn syrup making us fat, lazy and docile, intentionally subsidizing oil, more than they tax it, so green technology never has a chance... and intentionally supporting Monsanto in numerous lawsuits against farmers, which basically forced the farmers into poverty.

          The American people have no interest in solving their problems... there is good television on.
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          Aug 29 2012: @Fritzie, you might have a tiny bit of credibility with me on this if you were not intensionallly hiding your own gender. I have NO obligation to support that when I feel that one has NO sense of the higher purpose of truth in such a life and death matter. So, are you honestly suggesting it is another crazy, creepy inalienable right or duty to quash new ideas that might enable change?
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        Aug 28 2012: I am a little confused here, but I think everyone benefits from exchange of ideas and asking questions and most people aren't thinking in terms of teams or winning or who is an American and who isn't or what anyone elses education is.

        People just want to talk and ask each other questions!

        I don't think David was at all offended that I would ask about the safety of motorcycles. He knew I was trying to understand his proposal.

        There is no stacked deck.
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          Aug 28 2012: NO, the post you are referring to was deleted before i could even get back to you. So what do you think now?

          On a fragile thread on a controversial topic, just in a business meeting or in academia it is justified to ask that ideas have a chance to live before they are killed. We might need to see their progeny. Do as you please, Fritzie, but in the rest of the world what is good for the group or the community is nothing that we are ashamed to support. You have the idea that every person's thought should be some hot house flower while we all have lived the reality that you nurture in its stage and expose the adults of the species to all that can be thrown at it intellectually so it survives- but maybe that is a level of rigour that you do not wish to participate at? I can see the others who want their view point coddled here too but pacifists do not get to shut up the soldiers who died for a cause in my world nor do Randians get to forward an amoral agenda on my watch nor are all impulses equal.

          It is not shocking that there is a price for telling an unpopular truth. It just does not make those who suppress it all that admirable.
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        Aug 29 2012: I am not at all hiding my gender. My profile has always said, since my first day here, that I am the mother of three children. Those who check profiles surely know this. Those who don't likely don't care. And my thumbnail is a cute puppy.

        I simply do not correct people who call me Mr. or Sir, because I think my gender is entirely irrelevant and the mistake does no one any harm.
        The mistake people make is only because of my name, which is my proper name rather than a nickname.
        For the same reason, I get snail mail advertisements to Mr.
        In your thread about contributions to TED Conversations, the most mentioned name of someone people admired was Colleen, who from her name and thumbnail is female.

        I am also partial to keeping to the subject at hand rather than sharing personal data online, but I know people have a range of preferences in that area. I respect the choices people make in that regard as well and think we all probably should. I think people are entitled to privacy of person as well as to security from personal attacks.
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      Aug 28 2012: I have been following each of your recommendations out in my head, David, and am stuck on where two of them were going.

      One is the reopening of mines in California. What is the line of thought here?

      The other is the motorcycle one. Is the idea that this would get everyone off the road who could not pass a test to ride a motorcycle and therefore wouldn't be able to get a license to drive a car either?
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        Aug 28 2012: By re opening mines in California we would create some good blue collar jobs alongside our tech industry which would help middle class people feel they have a future. Also, if it was done responsibly, ie green mining, using California energy laws... We would have to invent new technology... and, in my mind... We would. If some of California's best technology nerds were working on green mining technology, we'd be able to sell it to the world in a few years, in my humble opinion. The best example of this would be using concentrated solar energy to drill.

        The reason motorcycle and car licenses should be unified, is because motorcycles are more efficient than cars, but no one learns how to ride them... It's not hard, and we can design safer bikes with roll cages and gyroscopic stabillization, but the fact that no one has motorcycle licenses makes it almost impossible for society to upgrade.

        If you have a long commute, alone, to work, you should not be driving a car, it's incredibly energy wasteful.

        Also, adults shouldn't be forced to upgrade. Drivers ed for young people should.
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          Aug 28 2012: Thanks for the explanation. I understand carpooling and public transit are more energy-sensible than solo driving. I am not confident, though, of the safety of motorcycles, particularly in mixed traffic and inclement conditions. (No, I don't know how to ride a motorcycle but I have been hurt in an accident as a passenger on one).
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          Aug 28 2012: @Fritzie = I am hoping for a white board session here. As my father always says-
          "It takes a genius to come up with an idea and only a tinkerer to improve upon it."

          Not all ideas are created equal but for an entire generation it seems that we have specialized in knocking them down until it has become an art form. They are at minimum an act of generousity.

          I just want people and ideas to LIVE their natural life spans- and i am glad i will survive being 56 because my grandmother never got the chance.
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        Aug 28 2012: Short response http://youtu.be/YQgTne7TAGY

        Long response http://youtu.be/vd2ztw4bXI4
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          Aug 28 2012: Just watched the short one- HOW FABULOUS! and my training makes me scared to DEATH of motorcycles.

          OMG! You addressed so many things by attaching these two here.
          I have always thought of you as Thoreau and now you will forever be Thoreautoo to me.

          America is the PHOENIX and this is the fire! You probably hate to sing BUT I love the one you are singing for America,
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          Aug 28 2012: Thanks for posting these, David, and for understanding my interest in your vision.
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      Aug 28 2012: So, David, are you saying that no, you are not alone in believing city dwellers' ideas would never have a chance to advance, or are you saying that most city dwellers don't realize this or do not care as long as there is television?

      My other area of confusion is the idea that California and New York don't have poor people. A quick fact check suggests that last year 6.1 million people in California had family incomes below the federal poverty line. I did not check for New York.
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        Aug 28 2012: I will explain... Government programs are a form of social welfare. They provide middle class jobs by the millions throughout America... However, they don't provide jobs in California, New York, Detroit, or anywhere else liberals are in charge... It sounds rediculous... but I will cite proof.


        For every dollar in taxes California, New York, Illinois, Washington, New Jersey, Nevada, and Conneticut pay, the government spends one dollar and forty cents, in America. In other words, we tax forty cents less than we spend, so for every dollar we pay, we also take on forty cents of debt... For that, one would expect we get a lot of federal spending...

        California, the most populous state in the union gets 78 cents in federal spending for its dollar in tax, and 40 cents in debt. Washington gets 88 cents. New York 79 cents, New Jersey 61 cents, Illinois 75 cents...

        You know who gets over 2 dollars in federal spending for every one dollar of tax they pay? New Mexico, and Mississipi. Virginia, Dakoda, Alabama, Kentucky, all get over a dollar fifty in federal spending for their tax dollar, and 40 cents of debt.

        Places where liberals live, should hate the federal government.
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          Aug 28 2012: Interesting. Is the "bonus" for infrastructure? Or for what?

          (I hope we are not getting too far afield of the thrust of the thread, but I want to make sure I see your picture. And I hope you don't mind the questions)
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        Aug 28 2012: No, I love talking about stuff like this actually. I write more aggressively than I feel. 30% of it goes to military spending. Most military bases, and training facilities are in the south, save the big port bases. Healthcare costs in rural areas are much higher, because few doctors want to live there. Because of this, and travel cost, more of the working poor are on medicare in the south.

        Obesity, is much worse in the south, again adding to medicare cost. There are private hospitals and universities in cities... Rural communities have one government sponsored school or hospital every 50 miles or so. Oil, corn, and soybean subsidies go straight to the south.

        Roads and infrastructure, also known as bridges to nowhere, are built every year, while California's roads are in utter disrepair, and we have no public transport. Finally... Pork. For all the Republican talk about pork... In order to get a representative from the south to sign anything, the federal government has to spend money honoring somone or holding some event in honor of the state. Meanwhile they constantly complain about government waste, "Don't throw me in the Briar patch!"
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          Aug 28 2012: Very useful info about expenditures, David. I thought you wouldn't mind filling me in:)
          Whereabouts in California are you without public transportation? I spent many years in Berkeley and sometimes commuting into San Francisco, and we had good public transportation there (or I would have been in deep, deep trouble).
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        Aug 28 2012: Good point... I'm just North of Los Angeles. We should have a train to SF and Vegas, but we do not. Also, the trains in LA in general are a mess. The buses where I live aren't quite as bad, but in general it's just all hodge podge and thrown together : (

        Also, just to be clear, I don't have anything against people who live in the south, just that we spend all our money there, and then they say "Screw the Gov' ment". Meanwhile we talk about how we have to help poor people in the inner city... So "Get government involved"... and we send our money straight to the south.

        Also, I'm for tariffs not as a form of protectionism, or xenophobia... I think other countries should tariff us again, I think everyone should incentivize local growth.
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          Aug 28 2012: I totally understood, David, that you have nothing against people depending on where they live. Totally.
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          Aug 29 2012: David, let me also add, though this is more to another of your posts, that I am not convinced that commited urban dwellers cannot make a difference. I know we can. I think we have to think about where our best opportunities are in the areas that grab our hearts most and push on those with all the energy we can muster. This has always been my approach.
          It helps to combine effort with other thoughtful and constructive people commited to the same problems.
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        Aug 29 2012: The problem isn't that we can't do it... It's that no one wants to, and as long as the world keeps having faith in our fiat currency... We don't have to... Hence both major parties proposing 0 pieces of progressive legislation and everyone still voting for them. Also, again every time you convince the federal government to start a new program, you spend 1.40 plus interest... You get 88 cents... and Mississipi gets 2.05. Then unemployment is lower in Mississipi, and they can run on how Republicans are good for the economy.

        The only solutions are to eliminate the senate, and the electoral college. Otherwise a homogenious city dwelling democracy, will out innovate us... It's not so bad, we're already like number 8... We can fall to number 11... It's just a shame the whole worlds going to follow our lead.
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          Aug 29 2012: For me, this is the fruit of the expansive white board approach to discussion - you allow an argument and thought process to ripen. If new ideas are encouraged, they round themselves out and we all learn more than anyone could have imagined.

          It works especially when a person is presenting a new idea- it does not work very well in a staid environment where people take the same old tried and untrue methods.

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