Saturday, March 20, 2010

Prioritize Before You Take Action.

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Prioritize Before You Take Action.

Dear Readers:

It's not enough to create and abide by a stream-of-consciousness "To-Do" list. I believe it is also necessary to prioritize...that is to say that you must take a look at the relative importance of each agenda item with respect to how time-critical it is, and address the time-critical items first.

A simple example -- if your house is on fire, do you:
A) Put up new drapes, or,
B) Grab your children and get the hell out of there?

Another simple example-- if the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center are under attack, and you happen to be the President of The United States of America, do you:
A) Continue reading a story to some children in a Florida elementary school, or,
B) Assume command and control of your country, put national security status on Red Alert and communicate with your commanders and the public immediately to prevent mayhem, while preparing for possible further assaults?

I am inclined to choose B, in either of the above cases.

In a hospital, this type of decision is called triage...the most critical patients with the most time-sensitive  and life-threatening issues must be attended to first. The  blood-soaked chap with the deep sucking wound in his upper chest should be looked at prior to the  lady with a swollen ring finger.

The following two recent news stories (both from Associated Press, in care of Yahoo! News) show an example of  what I'll call "contrarian prioritization" (to be politically correct, I have avoided the expression "acting like a moron," so as not to insult morons in general, especially as their lobbying power grows).

Social Security to start cashing Uncle Sam's IOUs

Susan Chapman AP – FILE - In this Feb. 23, 2005 file photo, Susan Chapman, director of the Division of Federal Investments, …
By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER, Associated Press Writer Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press Writer Mon Mar 15, 5:09 pm ET
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. – The retirement nest egg of an entire generation is stashed away in this small town along the Ohio River: $2.5 trillion in IOUs from the federal government, payable to the Social Security Administration.
It's time to start cashing them in.
For more than two decades, Social Security collected more money in payroll taxes than it paid out in benefits — billions more each year.
Not anymore. This year, for the first time since the 1980s, when Congress last overhauled Social Security, the retirement program is projected to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes — nearly $29 billion more.
Sounds like a good time to start tapping the nest egg. Too bad the federal government already spent that money over the years on other programs, preferring to borrow from Social Security rather than foreign creditors. In return, the Treasury Department issued a stack of IOUs — in the form of Treasury bonds — which are kept in a nondescript office building just down the street from Parkersburg's municipal offices.
Now the government will have to borrow even more money, much of it abroad, to start paying back the IOUs, and the timing couldn't be worse. The government is projected to post a record $1.5 trillion budget deficit this year, followed by trillion dollar deficits for years to come.
Social Security's shortfall will not affect current benefits. As long as the IOUs last, benefits will keep flowing. But experts say it is a warning sign that the program's finances are deteriorating. Social Security is projected to drain its trust funds by 2037 unless Congress acts, and there's concern that the looming crisis will lead to reduced benefits.
"This is not just a wake-up call, this is it. We're here," said Mary Johnson, a policy analyst with The Senior Citizens League, an advocacy group. "We are not going to be able to put it off any more." ####

Obama seeks to reassure seniors on health care

Mexico gunmen kill American consulate staff Reuters – U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, May 21, 2009. REUTERS/Larry Downing/Files
By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer Ben Feller, Associated Press Writer Mon Mar 15, 5:01 pm ET
STRONGSVILLE, Ohio – With a fresh sense of urgency, President Barack Obama sought to reassure seniors Monday about health care legislation approaching a final vote in Congress, pledging it would make preventive care cost-free and close a gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage. "This proposal adds almost a decade of solvency to Medicare," Obama said in a visit to a senior center.
Obama's trip to Ohio marked his third out-of-town foray as he tries to build support for long-stalled legislation to remake the health care system. Administration officials have predicted the legislation will clear the House by the end of the week, but Democratic leaders had not yet released the measure as the president's helicopter lifted off from the White House grounds.
Even so, the House Budget Committee arranged a mid-afternoon meeting to begin a series of events expected to culminate in a House vote within days.
Guests aboard Air Force One included Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the local congressman, who voted against the administration-backed health care bill that cleared the House late last year.
There was no word on whether Obama lobbied for his vote en route to Ohio. But shortly after the president began his public remarks, someone in the crowd yelled, "Vote yes," to Kucinich.
"Did you hear that, Dennis?" the president said with a smile. "Go ahead, say that again," he encouraged the voice in the audience.
"Vote yes!" came back the reply." ####

As I had mentioned previously in this article, you should Prioritize Before You Take Action. This is not an issue of politics -- this is an issue of common-sense survival, with an entire country at stake.


Douglas Castle
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