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SRQ Daily Nov 12, 2016

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"We humans love coherence, and a project that requires a semester or more to complete is likely to be integrative and require that the student put together very different things."

- Donal O'Shea, New College of Florida
 

[Politics]  Electoral College Always Slights Florida
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

No state saw more votes cast for president than Florida on Tuesday. Not California. Not Texas. Not New York. Yet when the electoral college meets December 19, more than half those votes will be rendered moot. For the second time in as many decades, the person sworn in as president in January will not be the one who received the most votes for the job. That has renewed scrutiny upon the system we use to elect the more powerful person in the world. In truth, this antiquated system disenfranchises voters every single time a president gets chosen whether the popular vote aligns with the final outcome or not, and Florida voters suffer a greater insult than any others in the nation. 

Every four years, this relic system elevates the Sunshine State votes to the most coveted in the nation, then in an instant renders them the least valuable in a distortion of democracy that should irritate us all. For those who remain confused by the electoral college, don’t feel bad. It confounds the casual voter because it stands in opposition to the basic definition of democracy taught in school and because the logic behind it was patronizing from the beginning. Basically, every vote cast on Election Day for president serves only as a resolution directing a group of electors to cast a limited number of votes on behalf of the state. In some states, those electors aren’t even bound to follow the will of voters or suffer only a fine for violating the public trust. In most states, electors follow a winner-takes-all system, and all of a state’s electoral votes go to the statewide victor no matter the divide in the electorate.

In a swing state like Florida, most residents understand the high premium on this state’s votes. Campaigns spend a tremendous amount of time here because Florida usually boasts the greatest number of electoral votes up for grabs; that certainly was the case this year. Because of this attention, turnout tends to be high when we choose a president. Statewide turnout on Tuesday, according to unofficial final results, ended up at 74.25 percent, compared to about 57 percent nationwide.

But that diligence gets punished when every Florida ballot takes on greater insignificance when results translate into electoral votes.  When the three electors for Alaska vote for president, each represents a little more than 82,000 voters who bothered coming out. Meanwhile, each of Florida’s 29 electors stands in for nearly 324,000 voters diligent enough to participate but unlucky enough to live here. Yes, the more populous states of California and Texas have more electoral votes, but with elections so lopsided there, even Golden and Lone Star state voters endure less indignity.

I’m not casting aspersions on the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s election over Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. The electoral college gives Trump no incentive to campaign in California, where Clinton had enough support to narrowly take the popular vote. And the resentment felt by Florida Democrats should be read no differently than the frustration of Mitt Romney voters in Florida when Barack Obama barely won this state’s votes in 2012. 

Additionally, entering office without a mandate hurts the new president as well, especially with many lawmakers in Congress openly dissatisfied with his agenda. The electoral college diminishes the office itself.

While it would take an amendment to the Constitution to attain a one-man, one-vote ideal, our Legislature could lead the nation to a fairer way without that. Nebraska and Maine already award electoral votes somewhat proportionately. Florida can do the same in future elections. Regardless, Americans shouldn’t stand for this misguided methodology any more, Floridians most of all.  

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor to SRQ Media Group. 

[Higher Education]  The Long Project
Donal O'Shea, doshea@ncf.edu

Governor Scott last May hosted a two-day summit entitled “Jobs to Degrees.” To my mind, the most fascinating presentation was made by the Gallup organization. Their CEO and COO presented the findings of a massive study of 30,000 college graduates done by Gallup and Purdue. The study sought to determine which college experiences correlated with “great jobs” (defined as successful and engaging careers) and “great lives” (defined as thriving in overall well-being) after college.

The study identified six features of the college experience that most closely correlated with great lives and great jobs after college (see www.gallup.com/poll/168848/life-college-matters-life-college.aspx). They were:

1) I had at least one professor that made me excited about learning

2) My professors cared about me as a person

3) I had a mentor that encouraged me to pursue my dreams and goals

4) I worked on a project that took a semester or more to complete

5) I had an internship or job that allowed me to apply what I was learning in the classroom

6) I was extremely active in extracurricular activities and organizations.

Experiencing even one of these six vastly increased the likelihood that a graduate would perceive himself or herself as having benefited from college. Unhappily, many college students experience none of these. I was gratified, of course, to realize that you can’t get out of New College without experiencing five of those six (and we are working on the sixth).

But what really intrigued and surprised me was the fourth. Since the college’s founding, a New College student must complete a project or thesis that takes up most of their senior year, and often part of their junior year.

There is no question that it is a valuable experience. I’ve been struck by how quickly one graduate will ask another, even over a span of three decades or more, what his or her thesis was on. But why should working on a project that takes more than a semester be so powerful? It’s not obvious.

Some reasons come to mind, of course. We humans love coherence, and a project that requires a semester or more to complete is likely to be integrative and require that the student put together very different things. Lengthy projects can be more complex, and often require sense-making, which can be very rewarding. Such projects would also teach limits. No sufficiently complex project ever ends, and you have to figure out where to stop. In so doing, you realize that experience and knowledge have human limits—time and effort are not inexhaustible resources. A long project is also likely to require reliance on others, and while there is something humbling about knowing that you can’t go it alone, there is also something soothing about it.

Perhaps the simplest reason that long projects are so valuable is that they allow students to experience the truth that undertakings that matter require time and sustained effort. Like relationships with spouses, friends, and children, substantive projects take more than a semester to build; they require patience and work. They are far more important than the bite-size assignments that comprise so much of formal education.

There are other views. Faculty members often debate the time investment, both by the student and the supervising faculty member that a thesis requires. It is time that could be used for other worthy things. A student could take another course or two. The faculty member could devote more time to introductory courses. Some students, paralyzed by their perception of complexity, take an extra year to finish, or don’t finish at all. It is surely better to graduate without a thesis, than not to graduate with a half-completed thesis. (Fortunately, that is uncommon, and becoming even less so. New College is strengthening its advising system, and as we add faculty, we will add depth and breadth and build more opportunities for mentoring.)

In the end, we really don’t know why a project that requires a semester or more to complete is so valuable.

One of the maddening, and exhilarating, things about education is how little we know about why some practices work and others do not. But we do know that students learn from them, become more capable, and create fond memories. That may be all we need to know.

Donal O'Shea is president of New College of Florida. 

[Philanthropy]  Goodwill Believes Recycling should be Everyday Action
Bob Rosinsky

While Americans represent just five percent of the world's population, our country is one of the top five producers of waste, generating approximately 30 percent of the world's garbage. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average person generates 4.4 pounds of waste per day, totaling about 1,606 pounds per year; in 2013, Americans generated about 254 tons of trash. Much of that waste ends up in one of the more than 1,900 solid waste landfills in the country and, in some regions, landfill capacity is becoming more limited.

The benefits of recycling are tremendous: it reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills, prevents pollution, conserves natural resources (such as water, minerals, coal, gas and timber), saves energy and money, and reduces greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, while the EPA estimates that 75 percent of the American waste stream is recyclable, we only recycle about 30 percent of it.

Goodwill Industries International is proud of its partnership with Keep America Beautiful for America Recycles Day, the only nationally recognized day devoted to environmental citizenship and recycling. America Recycles Day takes place annually on November 15. Begun in 1997, America Recycles Day brings together thousands of communities across the country by calling on nonprofits, colleges and universities, government organizations and businesses to take a more active role in utilizing available recycling resources.

In the past three years, America Recycles Day has resulted in a total of 9.5 million pounds of recyclables collected at an average of 2,000 registered events each year. More than just a single-day event, America Recycles Day provides a chance to encourage family, friends, classmates and colleagues to recycle responsibly year round.

Locally, Goodwill Manasota is proud to be a leader of the "reduce, reuse, recycle" movement all year long. Our organization subsidizes our mission of changing lives through the power of work through the sale of unwanted goods donated by community members. In 2015, we diverted more than 41 million pounds of unwanted goods – including textiles, computers and components, books, glass, furniture, electrical items, plastic and metal – from area landfills.

Partnerships formed with numerous salvage companies and various other clothing and electronics stores, thrift shops, and bookstores not only keep junk out of landfills, they also generate additional revenue for the partners and Goodwill. Every item that is donated to Goodwill helps to fund job training programs and services in communities throughout our service area. And whatever is donated to Goodwill and can’t be sold is recycled.

We are always searching for innovative ways to transform our local economy and advance our mission. One of the most effective ways to have a large impact is through partnerships with local, like-minded companies; we are proud to work with organizations that have the same desire to operate in a more environmentally-friendly manner.

As America Recycles Day approaches, we urge our friends and neighbors to learn more and be more steadfast about recycling. Whether that means cleaning out your closets and donating clothing and unwanted home goods to Goodwill or another worthy local nonprofit, or making sure that your household’s discarded papers, plastic and glass are collected by Waste Management each week – and encouraging others to do the same – each and every one of us can make a positive impact on the environment.

I hope you will make a commitment to reduce your waste, recycle more, and buy more products made with recycled content. Future generations will thank you.

Bob Rosinsky is the president and CEO of Goodwill Manasota. 

[Investment]  A 'Deplorable' Win for Trump!
Evan Guido

Well…That was an interesting evening!

Republican nominee Donald Trump is headed to the White House as the 45th President of the United States.
We believe it’s important to stay focused on the fundamentals and merits of sectors, industries and companies when making stock market investment decisions. Those fundamentals historically tend to outweigh broad election outcomes.  Government policies and regulations affect every business, but we think individual companies and innovators drive long-term success.

We think the health care, defense, infrastructure and financial sectors will remain in focus during the Trump administration. Health care companies have been pressured in recent quarters by rhetoric about drug pricing and increased regulation. We may see an initial relief rally in pharmaceutical stocks, since that industry was an area of scrutiny for Democrats. However, Trump’s call to repeal the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) could pressure health care services stocks, such as hospitals.

We think defense stocks may perform well in the future because we believe Trump will want to show allies and adversaries that he takes a strong stance on national security. We believe it is likely the defense budget will expand, which bodes well for companies dependent on government-funded defense contracts.

The Trump campaign said they would dedicate double the amount of spending Hillary committed to fix aging US infrastructure. This may benefit materials and industrials. Giant walls cost money.

We think the expected December interest rate hike by the Fed provides a positive scenario for the financial sector. Financials tend to benefit from rising rates because interest margin expands (they make more money), which is likely to create more profit. Improving economic activity typically points to more loan demand. A less-intense regulatory environment may provide an added benefit to the financial sector.

In our view, many investors underestimate the ability of companies to adapt to new policies or economic conditions. Strong companies with great products, services and market share tend to take advantage of opportunities to outmaneuver the competition. We think well-managed companies with solid business models and strong end markets tend to do well under all presidential administrations.

The bottom line is that President Trump, with a Republican Senate and House, has a chance to steer the United States toward much more rapid growth. Tax cuts, regulatory reform and a shift in decision making toward the states and away from the massive (and despondent) federal government will lift growth. As a net result, we expect policy proposals and legislation to favor growth over stagnation in the years ahead.

This is very positive news for US stocks, the dollar, real estate and industrial or agricultural commodities, but could be bad news for long-term bonds and precious metals. Those who count on subsidies from the federal government should beware. The government isn’t likely to be the same as it was in the past eight years.

Let’s describe it this way. In the past, when Mr. Trump bought a hotel, he didn’t fire the chambermaids and the air-conditioning guys; he fired the management. The US government has involved itself in every area of the economy. As one measure of this, compare the size of the non-defense federal budget to GDP—back in the early 1950s it was roughly 7 percent, today it is 18 percent. No wonder politics has become so nasty. Multiple trillions of dollars are at stake, and people will fight hard to keep them.

Mr. Trump has a big task ahead and we hope America will support him and fight for a bright future alongside its new president.

Evan R. Guido is director of The Evan Guido Group.

 

 

 

  



[SCOOP ]  Musical Marathon

The 3rd annual Sarasota Music Half Marathon will be rockin’ with 20 course bands and 1 after party headliner. Following the route along Bayfront Sarasota, around St. Armands Circle and through Selby Gardens on February 5 runners and walkers will pass live music 42 times while completing the 13.1 mile journey through downtown Sarasota, with the Lakewood Ranch Marching Mustangs Band crowning the top of the Ringling Bridge and Might Mongo rocking the finish line after-party. Join 4000 of your friends for the most scenic 13.1 miles on the Suncoast, and end it all with a Mattison’s breakfast, a beer garden and after–party concert.  

Sarasota Music Half Marathon

[SCOOP ]  Gulf Coast Nonprofit Board Institute

Gulf Coast Community Foundation is now accepting applications for its inaugural Gulf Coast Board Institute, a governance training series for aspiring and experienced nonprofit board members. Applications for this four–week program, which begins in January, are available on the foundation’s website at GulfCoastCF.org and due by December 2. Gulf Coast Board Institute will provide a comprehensive overview of nonprofit board governance, with in–depth exploration of key topics and issues. The foundation offers all components of the Board Institute at no cost to participants. Gulf Coast Board Institute is the latest addition to Gulf Coast’s Invest in Incredible I3 initiative, which provides consulting services and workshops to help regional nonprofit organizations strengthen their operations, management, and governance.  

Gulf Coast Community Foundation

[SCOOP ]  Piano Men

Florida Studio Theatre’s second Cabaret show, Piano Men brings the passion and pizazz of some of the greatest known piano players of the twentieth century to center stage. Piano Men runs in the Goldstein Cabaret from November 30 through March 31 highlighting the virtuosity and elegance of artists such as Elton John, Billy Joel and Barry Manilow. Subscriptions for all three Cabaret shows can be purchased for as little as $39. Tickets may be purchased online at FloridaStudioTheatre.org, by phone at (941) 366-9000, or by visiting the Box Office.  

Florida Studio Theatre

[SCOOP ]  Goodwill CARES

Goodwill Manasota has partnered with CARES Outreach and raise HIV awareness in the weeks leading up to World AIDS Day 2016. From November 15 through December 6, Goodwill will display an educational art show in the community rooms at six of its locations in Sarasota and Manatee counties. The displays will feature educational and prevention messages about how HIV is spread, the continued impact of HIV and the responsibility that each of us has to achieve the goal of “no new infections.” Additional participating organizations will provide red paper for young artists to trace their hands, add messages or their names and then assemble into the pattern of the red AIDS ribbon to display at that location.  

Goodwill Manasota

[KUDOS ]  Chutes and Ladders

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) recently released a report about the changing landscape of workforce learning systems. CareerEdge is 1 of 5 national workforce development organizations profiled in the document, titled Chutes & Ladders: The New Rules of the Game for Upskilling Workers. According to the report, CareerEdge's success has been attributable in part to relationships with regional economic development organizations. The council also highlighted CareerEdge's reliance on data to drive its workforce investments, stating that it shows a proactive, demand­–driven approach to workforce development that benefits both local employers and workers. In the Sarasota–Manatee region alone, CareerEdge has helped local workers to receive over 2000 raises, an increase of $2.42 in hourly pay, 540 promotions and $15,200 in bonuses.  

CareerEdge

[KUDOS]  SMH One Of America's 50 Best Heart Hospitals

Sarasota Memorial Hospital was named among the 50 best heart hospitals in the nation by Truven Health Analytics. No other hospital in the Suncoast region made the 2017 list, which is based on how well the nation’s hospitals cared for Medicare patients with heart problems over a five-year period, from 2011 to 2015. According to Truven Health Analytics, if all hospitals performed at the level of Sarasota Memorial and the other top 50 award winners, more than 9,000 lives could be saved and more than 6,000 heart patients could be complication free. This year, Sarasota Memorial also was among just 2% of hospitals in the nation–and the only Florida hospital to receive the nation’s highest 5–Star rating for quality and safety from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid. It also has been repeatedly recognized among the nation’s best hospitals for multiple specialties by U.S. News & World Report and HealthGrades, two other hospital rating organizations, and just last week, received an “A” for patient safety and top spot among America’s safest hospitals in the national Leapfrog safety study.  

Sarasota Memorial Hospital

[KUDOS ]  Sarasota YMCA VP of Development

The Sarasota YMCA announced Tracy Spalsbury as its new Vice President of Development and Marketing. In this newly created position, Spalsbury, with over a decade of experience, will lead fundraising and marketing strategies for the organization. Spalsbury formerly served as Director of Marketing and Communications for the YMCA. “I’m honored to work with our donors, volunteers and staff to continue raising funds and awareness for our incredible programs that serve over 50,000 people annually,” said Spalsbury. “The YMCA has incredibly generous donors and volunteers and to be given the opportunity to connect their passion to our mission allows us to work together in providing life-changing experiences for those that need it the most in our community.”  

Sarasota YMCA

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine and edited by Senior Editor Phil LedererNote: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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