Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Panda Bear on Cuts in Boston Area Public Transportation

Mr. Panda  has been mobilized into political action as well many other  public transit users/supporters in the past couple of months fighting proposed cuts in services for Boston Area MBTA(public transportation) users.   Despite the recession and the rise in public transportation ridership, the MBTA says it is going broke and has proposed some drastic service cuts..  However, many people feel that this proposal is an attack on lower income/working people people.  It is part of the ongoing debate that the Panda Bear and many others feel(interestingly enough both on the US political left and right) that the US is run by and for the wealthy elites.   The Boston Occupy movement has taken on the cause to prevent these service cuts;the movement believes that for the rich the government finds the money.

Both the Panda Bear and Mr. Panda have never owned a car and have relied on Boston area public transportation to take them places they need to go.   However, in February the Boston MBTA came up with a set of radical proposals to reduce services and raise fares.   It would personally effect Mr. Panda more than the Panda Bear.   Mr. Panda has gotten very upset and has started writing letters to public officials opposing the service cuts.

Both the Panda Bear and Mr. Panda attended the public hearings about the proposed changes.   The Panda Bear and her husband are going to a meeting tonight.  The audience at these meetings has been very angry. Both local politicians and MBTA officials are at these meetings.

The most interesting meeting was one in Quincy, Massachusetts.   Many people at the  said these cuts in services would leave them stranded and without transportation to get them to work.   There was also anger at the sudden nature of these proposed cuts.   Many businesses opposed these cuts in service saying they would hurt local business.     Three Quincy teenagers spoke at the meeting to the MBTA General Manager and the Panda Bear was very impressed with these teenagers.   They were saying how they, their friends and their families depended on the public transportation system to get to school and work.   These teenagers seemed like a very articulate and reasonable group of youths .

What has made the Panda Bear, Mr. Panda and other MBTA users angry is the that so many of the financial problems of the MBTA come from the fact the Massachusetts State Legislature  which has made the MBTA assume the responsibility of paying the interest on the bonds issued for highway projects.   Many people (including the Panda Bear) believe that this debt should be removed and the MBTA only be held responsible for only  its own operating costs.   The Panda Bear believes that about a third of the deficit of the MBTA comes from debt relating to highway improvement projects.   Also what has got Mr. Panda angry is that the MBTA is not willing to make cuts in the money/default on these debts but rather cut services.   Bond holders are wealthy individuals;the MBTA seems like it more interested in protecting wealthy investors than the public which it is supposed to serve.

In addition what has made the people at these meetings angry(and the Panda Bear thinks rightly so) is that the MBTA has not looked at any other way of reducing operating costs besides service cuts.   Both the MBTA management and employees make good salaries and have above average benefits.    The MBTA has made no move to reduce salaries or cut benefits of its employees.   The Panda Bear has come to believe that when organizations do badly the upper management should receive a pay cut(Mr. Panda Bear thinks this happens in private industry but the upper management seems protected no matter what they do).     In addition, many people have pointed out that the finances of the MBTA have been mishandled; however,  the people who made the mistakes are not the ones who are suffering but innocent MBTA riders.   There has been a lot of financial mismangment and "fuzzy" math at the MBTA.

What struck the Panda Bear at these meetings was how unpublic minded some "public" officials are.   The Panda Bear is no longer opposed to the privatizing of some public operations if private sector can show that the can perform the functions in an effective/cost effective manner.   She has come to feel that there is no intrinsic superiority in certain functions being done by public employees.   Previously, the Panda Bear had been opposed to privatization.  

There is a famous song called Charlie and the MTA.  It was written in the nineteen forties to protest a fare increase of the Boston public transit system which became very popular.   There is a refrain that goes:

Did he ever return? No, he never returned
And his fate is still unlearned
He may ride forever ‘neath the streets of Boston
He′s the man who never returned.

The Panda Bear thinks this song should be updated to reflect the reason for Charlie's non return is sudden cuts in public transit that leave him stranded.

Cynically, the Panda Bear things the MBTA could just put through these service cuts without anyone noticing them.   Fortunately, people are taking note.   Supposedly, as a result of public protest a modified plan has been offered with more moderate fare increases and no reductions in service.   However, the Panda Bear believes that constant vigilance is needed to ensure that drastic MBTA service cuts are not made.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Panda Bear on Bad Habbits Hiding Sad Feelings

The Panda Bear wants to say she enjoys her cat Suzie.   Suzie is the Panda Bear's first "companion" pet(i.e dog or cat).  Growing up the Panda Bear had pet mice, rabbits and turtles.   By companion pet, the Panda Bear is referring to a pet that has a unique personality and can form a relationship with a human.   The Panda Bear as never had anyone purr, meow, jump on chairs, run super fast, jump on the bed and rub noses with her when the Panda Bear comes home.   It is real treat to have Suzie sit on the Panda Bear's lap and purr and knead(it is believed cats do this when they are happy).    The Panda Bear and Suzie play games where the Panda Bear gets Suzie to swat different objects.
However, recently the Panda Bear's health habits have been terrible.   She has never drunk so much coffee, ate so much junk food or exercised so little.   Granted the Panda Bear has been very busy but the Panda Bear felt her health habits have gotten unusually bad.   As the Panda Bear resolved to go back to her better habits, the Panda Bear become that she was feeling blue though she does not know why she feels so down.  

Then the Panda Bear had the realization that this is what many experts believe; badf habbits can be a way of masking or dealing with unacceptable/painful/emotions.   The problem is that these bad habbits don't in the long run help things but they make things worse. 


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Panda Bear on Resumes and Excessive Executive Pay

The Panda Bear is a blog about an average woman in ordinary life circumstances muddling through life.   Readers are welcome to read this blog and feel superior to the Panda Bear.   She things everyone in life needs both some comic relief and someone to whom they can feel immensely superior.   The blogosphere is too full experts and people who have found the secret to complete happiness.   The Panda Bear makes no such claim and she feels many of these people just make her feel inferior.

The Panda Bear is still trying to get back to her normal routines after dealing with the stress of the end of the year and its being business as usual during the holidays.  The Panda Bear is needing a "mental health day" but it is still very busy at the Panda Bear's daytime job so she is not sure when she can get time off.    True, the Panda Bear did have some time off during the holidays but it was spent with family and the Panda Bear needs some Panda Bear time for herself.   The Panda Bear is not exercising as much as she used to, is not keeping up with her rexalation routines, gaining weight and drinking too much coffee,.   In short the Panda Bear is a total mess and is in no position to lecture people on what to do with their lives.

However, one thing the Panda Bear is very grateful is that she is not part of the wealthy and corrupt plutocracy that appears to be running the developed world.   The Panda Bear knows the philosophic and spiritual pleasure of being considered of being a decent ordinary person.   When the Panda Bears feels unhappy about her lack advancement, she tells herself she is not mean enough to get ahead.   The Panda Bear feels it is not necessarily the smartest and best  people that make it to the top but the boldest and most egotistical.

The Panda Bear reads and hears about how to get jobs and so much of it seems to be a game rather than finding the best candidates for the job.   When the Panda Bear was young and innocent she accepted more of this game playing because she felt it showed whether people were street-smart but as she gets older she thinks peoples work history should more speak for itself.   So much of job hunting involves endless amounts of self-promotion-woe to the shy and modest good worker!!

On the radio today, the Panda Bear was hearing how getting a job had nothing to do with being a good worker. The Panda Bear was hearing on WBUR(an NPR radio station) a recruiter discussing resumes where the recruiter was stating it was important that they be in the correct style of the time.   For example ten years ago, people were told to use unusual words in the resume so their resumes would stand out where human recruiters read them.  Now because many companies use software to screen out resumes, people should be using common words so the software can rank the resume,   Companies are turning to software programs to help them in their hiring process because their are getting more resumes while hiring few recruiters.

Companies are hiring fewer recruiters because of the tight economy.   However, as many observe no matter how bad the economy is doing no matter how poorly the company is doing their high level executives make alot of money.   The Panda Bear thinks if these executives really cared about their organizations they would put more money and effort towards getting the best talent for their jobs.   However, the Panda Bear things most executives just care about themselves and their money.

The Panda Bear can not believe that so many "experts" don't know why organizations, governments and businesses can't limit their executives compensation.   The answer is so simple.   The people who set executive pay are very wealthy themselves(or at least aspire to be ultra rich) and don't want spoil the party for the very rich(which would mean ending the party for them).  There seems to be a revolving door in the US at least between the heads of government and the heads of business; therefore the goverment is no longer able to regulate business.   It seems like the US is run by a mysterious business-government-industrial complex.

The Panda Bear has no solution to the problem.   She thinks laws need to be passed to not allow executives to be compensated in advance for work done(so if they do a bad job they get fired and loose pay like the rest of us average Joes and Janes).   However, probably what is needed is a 1960's grassroots type of movement demanding change.    The first step towards this change is to be proud to be a common person.