Archive for October 25th, 2011

Occupy Wall Street – It’s About Anger, not Jealousy

I’m sick and tired of reading critiques of the Occupy movement from people asserting the 99% are envious of the rich.  These protests aren’t about jealousy, and they’re not about people looking for handouts.  Mainstream America is tired of watching the 1% get rich by stealing, cheating, lying, defrauding, and various other nefarious acts. 

If you don’t understand the distinction, consider how America reacted when Steve Jobs died.  Jobs was an insanely rich CEO of one of the country’s biggest corporations.  Was mainstream America jealous of him or spewing hatred or anger at his success?  Absolutely not.  In fact, quite the contrary – for several days after his death, Jobs was universally lauded as if he were Mother Teresa.  The praise was so over-the-top it made me wonder … “Why?”  As I see it, mainstream America respected Jobs because he earned his money fairly and honestly and provided the country with a valuable service …. something all too rare in today’s society of Wall Street crooks.  

The 99% aren’t jealous of the rich, and they aren’t looking for handouts.  Most Americans fully respect our system of capitalism.  All we ask is that the rich earn their money honestly. 

If this still doesn’t make sense, check out this article from Matt Taibbi, who makes the point quite well – Americans don’t mind rich elitists; we just don’t like fraudsters.

Mark Stopa

Posted in Main | 4 Comments »

Accessibility of JAs – More Proof Florida Courts Need Help

Not too long ago, when I called a judge’s assistant, I’d get a friendly voice on the other end of the line.  I could discuss just about anything – scheduling issues, proposed orders, hearings … whatever.  Judicial assistants often went out of their way to be helpful.

Nowadays, this dynamic is totally different.  If I call a judicial assistant today, I’m almost certain to get voicemail.  Often, that voicemail message directs the caller *not* to leave a voicemail, as it won’t be returned.  Other times, voicemails go unreturned for days at a time, if at all.  The days of JAs going out of their way to be helpful are over. 

If it sounds like I’m being critical of JAs, I’m not.  I’m firmly convinced it is impossible for judicial assistants to do their jobs in the way they did just a couple of years ago, no matter how hard they try, because of the indescribable amount of work thrust upon them.  The Florida court system is like a 5-pound trash bag that’s already filled with 5 pounds of trash, yet nobody wants to hand court personnel a new bag – they just keep telling JAs to stuff more into the existing bag, acting like it’s never going to burst.   

I wish Florida’s lovely governor, Rick Scott, could understand what this dynamic is like (presuming he cares).  I wish he knew what it was like to have a phone hearing scheduled, have opposing counsel refuse to call you for the hearing, to call the court to try to participate in the hearing, and to not be able to get anyone to answer the phone.  Does that sound like a functioning court system to you – a hearing proceeds in one side’s absence because court personnel are so taxed they can’t answer all of the phone calls? 

I wish Rick Scott knew what it was like to try to set a hearing and to be unable to get through for days at a time because he can’t get a JA to answer the phone.  Is this what our court system has come to? 

Again, this is not an indictment of court personnel or staff.  This is an indictment of a governor who has no concept of the resources necessary for a court system to function.  This is a cry for help – a plea to get more staff in place for Florida’s courts.  If that sounds outlandish, then answer me this – do you think Rick Scott has inadequate staff at the Governor’s mansion?

Mark Stopa

Posted in Main | 1 Comment »

Congressional Reform Act of 2011

Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress.  If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption.  If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. … If the next centennial does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.

With our nation in turmoil and the Occupy Movement in full force, you might think the above quote is attributed to a modern political figure.  You’d be wrong.  That’s a quote from James Garfield, the 20th President of the United States, in 1877. 

Read it again.  Fascinating, eh?  It’s also an excellent segway into the elements of the Congressional Reform Act of 2011, which is making waves on the internet as a way to fix the problems inherent in the U.S. Congress and our government as a whole …

1.    No Tenure / No Pension.  Congressmen collect a salary while in office and receive no pay while out of office.

2.    Congressmen (past, present, and future) participate in Social Security.  All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with  the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3.   Congressmen can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4.   Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5.   Congress loses its current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6.   Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7.   All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

Mark Stopa

Posted in Main | 1 Comment »