IT’S A LIE, FOLKS. THERE ARE NO PENDING BILLS TO RAISE TAXES FOR THOSE EARNING UNDER $75,000.   4 comments

I’m so sick and tired of lies, lies, lies in this never-ending election season. When I first moved to Minnesota, one of the local TV channels had a fact checker who at least once a week could spot some of the most egregious lies. But now we don’t have even that. So here’s the scoop. “There are no pending bills in the House or Senate that would raise income taxes on those making less than $75,000 (or less than $400,000 for that matter.}” That’s the answer I got from my financial planner after finding that even google had a politically biased answer to my question.

And why was I looking for an answer? Because there was a shockingly dishonest commercial smearing Angie Craig, claiming she voted for an increase in taxes for people making under $75,000. She did not!  It’s a lie, folks. It’s a lie.

It certainly isn’t the only lie being told, but most of them are vague enough that it’s difficult to search for specific information to confirm or deny. In this case, the lie was so blatant it was easy to check

That’s all, folks. Just please don’t waste your voting power on a choice based on a lie.

(By the way, notice how often the accusation claims exactly the opposite of what the person has done.)

I OWE YOU AN EXPLANATION/ELABORATION   2 comments

Why I’m no longer mad at Viking. Some of you let me know it wasn’t fair to leave it at that without telling you why. I’ve thought about it, and I think this is the answer.

I wrote the book(s) on forgiveness and know I’m personally better off without the anger.

Also, my demands have been met. I did get a call from customer service and the young woman did very well at the job she was assigned. I still don’t know how they chose us to bump. I suspect she didn’t know either. But I did get the apology I sought and some practical satisfaction. Being mad is no longer functional.

So, at this point, I have respect for myself, for the customer service agent who called, and for the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General.  I strongly suspect that her call was in response to the letter from Ellison’s office giving Viking a limited amount of time to respond to my complaint.

In conclusion, I hope Viking learned something about treating clients with respect, and I’m feeling sufficient confidence in them to keep the cruise reservations we had already made, admittedly not with the same degree of joy and enthusiasm.

But I’m glad I’m not mad. Stress level is much better that way, as is sleeping.

I’m not mad at Viking Cruise lines any more   10 comments

I just completed a very pleasant conversation with Samantha of Viking Customer Relations and am totally satisfied with the apology and explanation. She does good work.

Posted October 20, 2022 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

PRO-LIFE?   9 comments

Every stage of my career has called for making complex things simple, but no matter how much sleep I lose, or how much thinking I do in between, or how much I focus on the issue when I do my daily half-hour walk, or how long I sit in front of the computer and try, there’s just no way I can make it simple. The killing of the right to abortion reaches into every aspect of life like athletesfoot creeping into the tissues. So I’ve decided to focus on just one piece of it, ignoring the women and their families who are impacted, the chipping away at freedom, the children who are threatened with the loss of a parent, the pain suffered by women denied palliative medication …. Nope, I’ll pretend the only thing that matters is that every zygote should be allowed to develop into an embryo, every embryo should be allowed to become a fetus, and every fetus should be allowed ultimately to be expelled from the uterus on its path to the outside world.

It seems to me that the first thing that matters is that the environment in which the development happens should approach an ideal if we want to reach our survival-to- birth goal. But there seems to be a problem when we look at the evidence.

“According to this year’s America’s Health Ranking Annual Report, the U.S. infant mortality rate is 5.9 deaths per 1,000 live infant births, while the average rate of infant mortality among the OECD countries is 3.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. Compared with other OECD countries, the U.S. ranks No. 33 out of 36 countries (Figure 62). Iceland is ranked No. 1 and has the lowest rate with 0.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. Mexico is ranked last with 12.1 deaths per 1,000 live births. New Hampshire and Vermont are tied for the top state in the U.S. with 3.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. These two neighboring states have achieved an infant mortality rate equal to the OECD average. As the bottom-ranked state, however, Mississippi has an infant mortality rate more than twice that of the OECD average at 8.9 deaths per 1,000 live births and internationally ranks below all but two of the OECD countries. Over the past 50 years, the decline in the U.S. infant mortality rate has not kept pace with that in other OECD countries. When examining sex- and age-adjusted infant mortality rates from 2001 to 2010, the U.S. rate was 75 percent higher than the average rate in 20 OECD comparable countries.” (Copied from the web.)

If you’re curious, OECD refers to “the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) [which] is an international organization that promotes policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people worldwide” (Also copied from the web).

Since this kind of information is easily available for anyone dedicated to the “pro life” position, it’s obvious that the next step, after requiring every pregnant woman to give birth, is to press for the provision of ideal health care for pregnant (and potentially pregnant) women. That, it seems to me, would require lobbying on a federal level, or at the many state levels, for funding for universal maternal care.

Also, given that human infants are born helpless, requiring many years of care just to stay alive, one would assume that those who are pro the life of all fetuses would lobby to follow through with the project by funding parental leave for a sufficiently long period of time as well as providing perpetual support of the health of the parent(s)/caretakers with adequate insurance. And, of course, there would be the need for food and shelter throughout the years. That would require lobbying for sufficient affordable housing for all families as well as sufficient incomes to provide food and clothing.

I said I’d keep it simple. None of this says anything about the overall quality of life of the individuals as their lives develop. Just the basic demand that life be required.

Letter to the editor, Pioneer Press   9 comments

I just sent the following letter to the editor of St Paul Pioneer Press  Minnesota.

“Viking Missed the Boat.

With honesty, Viking could have enlisted our sympathy with their problem. Instead came a last-minute automated e- mail telling us  “… some bookings need to be cancelled, and we are contacting you today because yours is among them.” Thus we were thrown off the Mississippi boat after we were among the first to pay in March, 2021 and some twenty days before departure.

Honest customer care could have enlisted us as friends. A personalized a message explaining why we were bumped. An offer of a possible future departure. Asking other passengers to give up their spots in return for a future reward. Enlisting our understanding from the first sign of trouble. Even now they could reach out in a more personal way to apologize and sympathize.

Viking does a great job of marketing. Not so with customer care. Any psychologist could have foreseen a human relations disaster.

Mona Gustafson Affinito, PhD, LP””

The full length version which had to be edited to meet the Pioneer Prsss length restrictions was as follows.

“Viking Missed the Boat.

It didn’t have to be that way. My stomach curdles at the sight of the “Viking” symbol. I know, there’s a lot of misery in the world and by comparison this is nothing. But my body isn’t that smart. If only they had followed their founder’s claim of the basic values he learned in his little red house in Norway they could have enlisted us as sympathetic sharer’s in the problem. Instead, a week after sending us the confirming luggage tags and only twenty days before the joyfully anticipated departure date they sent an automated e-mail with the warning not to respond. After confirming our booking number and thanking us for choosing Viking they went on to explain that they were “working around the clock to ensure that all are able to have the Viking experience for which we are known – and that you expect and deserve.”

The next paragraph goes on to explain they are still “refining the onboard operations …” ending with “… so, some bookings need to be cancelled, and we are contacting you today because yours is among them.” And in that manner we were thrown off the boat after we were among the first, or maybe even THE first to sign up and pay our money in March of 2021. No explanation of why we were chosen. Thud. There goes my stomach. And now I have to anticipate going on the next Viking cruise for which we’ve already paid. My stomach doesn’t want to go, but it’s too late to withdraw.

Instead they could have used this event to enlist us as friends. All it would have taken is honest and effective customer care. They could have called or sent a personalized email sympathizing and explaining why we were among the chosen. They could have offered us a choice of possible departures in the near future. Instead, they are completely booked through 2024, well beyond the time when I’m likely still to be able to go and enjoy. They could have done as the airlines do and asked other passengers to give up their spots in return for a future reward so that we early birds wouldn’t be dumped. Most of all, they could have enlisted our understanding from the very first time they realized they were running behind in construction. Even now they could reach out in a more personal way to apologize and sympathize.

As it is, my stomach is stuck with going on an upcoming cruise which was once highly anticipated and now feels like a punishment. Viking does a great job of marketing. Where is their customer care service? Any good psychologist could have foreseen a human relations disaster. No, I can’t accept the job. My years of practicing and traveling are pressing against the end.

Mona Gustafson Affinito, PhD, LP”

 

Posted October 2, 2022 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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VIKING CRUISES: SHABBY AND HURTFULTREATMENT   21 comments

VIKING CRUISES: LOTS OF HYPE; LITTLE HEART; SHABBY TREATMENT – AND HURTFUL

We thought we’d found a gem in Viking – great cruise options, no nickel and diming, wine with meals, excursions included …Exciting new cruise options with fabulous new boats being built for specific purposes. Trustingly we jumped on the bandwagon. At my age there is constant awareness that the end is coming. (I claim I’ll leave this earthly mess at 104). There isn’t space to say, “Someday I’ll take that trip.” The time has come. So the promise of a new ship built specifically to cruise the Mississippi sounded wonderful. Doug and I were among the first – if not THE first – to sign up in March 2021 and pay in full for the maiden season – summer 2022. Some 100 people here in my senior living place have known how excited I was about it – even about celebrating my birthday on the cruise. Many had done river cruises with Viking and seconded my enthusiasm for the line. When they commented on my faithfully walking for a half hour every day my response would be, “I need to stay in shape because I want to keep on cruising.” They also heard me say, “I don’t want to wish my life away, but I can hardly wait for October 2022 to go down the Mississippi.”

And then came the hype this summer as local TV channels reported on the excitement in St. Paul when the “Mississippi” arrived to begin cruising the river. “That’s the one we’re going on” they heard from me – no doubt to the point where it was a bit boring. Excitement grew as we began to get emails that began “Dear Viking Guest, thank you for choosing Viking for your upcoming voyage along the Mississippi.” About a week-and-a-half ago we received the luggage tags and instructions for preparing to sail. Of course we’d been working all along to rearrange schedules so our time from October 15th to the 31st was free to enjoy the cruise.

With travel enthusiasm at its highest, on September 24 we arranged a Viking cruise for August of next year, talking with the agent about our excitement over all the upcoming cruises. Then , only two days later, on September 26 I received an email from Viking listing, as always, our booking number, warning, as always, “This is an automated email. Please do not reply.” and beginning “Dear Viking Guest, thank you for choosing Viking for your upcoming voyage along the Mississippi” It then went on as follows:

         As you may be aware, circumstances beyond our control delayed the construction and ultimate delivery of the Viking Mississippi earlier this summer. Since then, our team has been working around the clock to welcome our first guests on board and ensure that all are able to have the Viking experience for which we are known—and that you expect and deserve.

While the ship has now begun sailing her inaugural season, we are still refining the onboard operations and the overall experience along this great river. As we continue to ramp up service and adjust navigational details along these new routes, we must operate at a reduced capacity on your scheduled departure. To do so, some bookings need to be cancelled, and we are contacting you today because yours is among them. 

We share deeply in your disappointment and offer our sincere apologies for these unavoidable circumstances and for delivering this news on short notice.

That’s it! It goes on to describe our financial options for recouping our money.

No, we hadn’t been aware of the difficulties. Yes, we were glad to know they were working “to ensure that all are able to have the Viking experience for which we are known – and that you expect and deserve.”

Imagine the shock at– “some bookings need to be cancelled, and we are contacting you today because yours is among them.” Didn’t the author of the letter realize how hurtful that would be? A description of how hard they are working to make it the good experience we deserve, and then suddenly telling us we can’t have it. We don’t deserve it?  Imagine the feeling, like the time my little daughter went to join the party at the neighbors and was sent home, told she couldn’t stay. Like the experience too many minorities experience too often.

Missing out on scheduled cruises is not new to us given the cancellations due to COVID issues. But this time we were chosen to be bumped from a cruise that would be operating. No reason given. Nor was there an offer for placement on a future cruise. In fact, they are completely booked through 2024. We were just dumped. Calling the agent for information didn’t help. Our call was the first she’d heard of the situation. Just like everyone else, she could only guess why we were chosen for elimination from the trip.

Word has spread through my senior establishment and the common response is, “I used to think Viking was wonderful, but this changes my mind.”

OK: If I sound like I’m whining, I am. I’m hurt; I’m sad, I’m angry, and I’m mad. I’ve already complained to the Attorney General. Under the questions, “What do you want the company to do?” my number one request was “Provide a courteous explanation why we specifically were bumped.” For a company so good at hype, wouldn’t you think they’d know enough to be more personal in delivering such devastating news? And to offer us an option for doing it another time?

Finally, I asked for a guarantee we wouldn’t be bumped from future cruises, like the one we have scheduled for the Antarctic (also a new ship – hope they manage to finish it on time) in January 2023 and another in August of 2023. I confess, I’ve lost much of the joy in anticipating those. Can I even assume I’ll be on them?

By the way, in all the years we travelled Holland America we never experienced such shabby treatment.

Thanks for listening.

I just added this review of “The Rose Code” by Kate Quinn to amazon.com and Goodreads   Leave a comment

My back loved this long book as I spent two days comfortably lying on my loveseat, giving it a rest as I made my way through this page-turner. Many books get five-star reviews, maybe deserving them or maybe not, but the truth is this one deserves a six or better. And by the end I was envisioning it as a movie – an exciting action movie.

So let me start out with the negatives – the length. As I read it, I tried to imagine what I might cut. I found quite a few things that weren’t essential to the story, but oh so good I’m glad they weren’t removed. Kate Quinn is an excellent storyteller.  The other negative is more my own failing. I gave up on trying to understand the decoding process, but the real story was in the decoders, not the process.

The characters were a delight, and it’s always a pleasure to read love stories with men who are just like we women would like them to be. Of course, they weren’t all so ideal. I did giggle a bit, or maybe longed for the past, when at least one of the women was naïve about the process of sex, and the men didn’t demand it. It seemed like they reflected the time – WWII era – when our dates were expected to be gentlemen. Except when they weren’t. Speaking of gentlemen, I enjoyed spending so much time with the British upper class – the kind we read about in the news. A relief from the heavy reading I’ve been into lately. It seemed to me from what information I’ve picked up that she portrayed them accurately. Like all her characters, they were well drawn and real.

It was a pleasure to be reading about a period of time I personally shared, though not in a country being bombed and at the top level of society. Details like painting legs brown when silk stockings, or even stockings, weren’t available because of war shortages — and the description of clothes.

The author did a wonderful job of conveying the very special comradery of definitely-not- ordinary people working together in stressful secrecy to decode crucial documents – a job major to the war effort. And of the strain of sworn holding-the-work-close-to-the-vest.

Great character development, wonderful usage of real people in fictional ways, intriguing mystery, and just plain growing up and surviving in a world of terrible danger. Sadness, anger, grief, silliness, hope, love and sex. It’s all here in a mix that makes sense and draws the reader in to donate major time to taking it in.

Posted September 3, 2022 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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WHY I APPROVE OF GOVERNMENT FORGIVENESS OF STUDENT DEBT   2 comments

To be upfront about it, I’m coming from some 35 years as a college instructor/professor/administrator – not my primary occupation since 1986. There are so many changes I could rant about since my happy years in academia. I still experience feelings of coming home when I’m attending some event on a college campus.

But that’s not my topic today. Now I want to talk about what I would call false advertising – being sold a bill of goods – that a degree is the magic entry into a high-paying career. Yes, there is a correlation between obtaining the degree and financial career success. But the degree itself doesn’t hold the magic key. To put it bluntly, college was the place where people of some means to begin with met others with connections. It was the place of learning intellectual and interpersonal techniques that helped to find and keep appropriate and successful jobs. It was above all a place to meet the right people – to network. It was the place to go for advanced training to become a physician, dentist, lawyer … you name it. It was the place to go if you aspired to be a college professor.

Let me stop right here to point out that it’s extremely difficult today to become a tenured professor. Financial demands have emphasized the use of adjunct faculty, who, like me in my early years, could be hired to teach one or two courses at a fixed price if enough people registered for the course. No health care, or savings for retirement. No guarantee of an option for next semester. A far cry from the financial goals to which one might aspire. [I am forever grateful that I hit the field at the right time. Luck really.]

And the appeal of the college loans was to those of limited means, most of whom were ready to work hard to achieve the degree, often while working another job – to give the “right” answers on the test. At one point I supervised a PhD who took a job teaching a psychology course in an on-line degree program. The teaching was scripted, included a run-through of what should have taken four years to approach mastery, and distributed good grades if students could mark the right box on a multiple-choice test. That degree program is still approved. My supervisee refused to accept the job again. Students can still acquire such a degree, which, as far as I know, still rarely provides the networking and other skills that lead to outstanding financial success.

Or maybe they’ve gained an excellent degree like the PhD adjunct professors to whom I’ve referred above, but they’ve graduated into a world where the jobs don’t exist. All of that would be okay if the cost had not been signing their futures away with huge non-negotiable loans with regular interest payments to be met. It’s like taking out a huge loan to buy a highly desirable piece of property sight unseen that turns out be an unbuildable marsh on the edge of a rising sea.

I sympathize with my friends (and people better known) who feel it is inappropriate to forgive debts to which people have committed themselves. It could encourage future pledges that they don’t intend to keep. I can’t back up my next statement with data, but I’ll bet most of the people set free – or at least partially free – of their debt – would just as soon not go through the stress again and get on with building a life.

To summarize my own point of view, I think people who could least afford it were advertised into taking out a non-negotiable mortgage on a future home without being given an honest visit to it, or even a clear picture of it and its neighborhood. only to find it was a wreck of a house, perhaps never well-constructed in the first place, clearly misrepresented – really a fraudulent sale. And still required to continue to pay on that pile of nothing. And maybe I’m wrong.

Call me a bleeding heart.

But it doesn’t hurt the economy to have that money flowing.

US SUPREME COURT ENCOURAGES GAMBLING   2 comments

The Supreme Court in overturning Roe v. Wade has validated the legitimacy of gambling. It’s Russsian Roulette not only permitted but required.

The US maternal mortality rate for 2020 was 23.8 deaths per100,000 live births compared with a rate of 20.1 in 2019. What will happen to those data in the future? And who will be the [un]lucky women struck by the bullet.

Feel free to click on the attached site for more detailed and complex information. There’s nothing simple about requiring people to give birth.

THE COMPLEX ISSUE OF MATERNAL DEATHS

Posted August 27, 2022 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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“THE COLOR OF LAW.”   Leave a comment

I JUST POSTED A REVIEW OF THE COLOR OF LAW: A FORGOTTEN HISTORY OF HOW OUR GOVERNMENT SEGREGATED AMERICA. Richard Rothstein.

Definitely needs reading. Definitely not at bedtime.

With a Doctorate in Social Psychology and years of professor-ing, plus a year of shared readings and discussions via a Zoom group during the COVID quarantine, I thought I had constructed a pretty strong cognitive structure of knowledge and understanding about racial matters. But Rothstein’s book has revealed and repaired the cracks in my structure one nail of reinforcing fact at a time. As a person with a pretty hefty load of compassion ability I found it painful reading – not to be read at bedtime.

At about an eighth of the way through the book I looked at the remaining width of the softcover book in my hands and thought, “What more torture/horror can there be?” And there was more – and then more. Now that I’ve finished, the thoughts keep coming. How can humans be so cruel to each other? How can one deal with the fact that inborn appearance condemns one to limited options no matter what one can do or accomplish that would evoke honors in the white world? How frustrating to suffer the physical restraint of red-lining and then be blamed for the results of living in a crowded space.  How would it be to raise a productive and healthy child in a world where he or she is defined from the beginning as inferior? How would it be to have one’s productive and successful neighborhood destroyed to make way for a highway to convenience the people who can live where you are not permitted to live? How could it be that I didn’t notice in graduate school that none of my classmates supported by the GI bill were black?

I’m ranting. But then there were my other thoughts. What have been the strengths of a people so deliberately restrained who could still be loving, joyful, dedicated patriotic contributors to our country? What might I learn from that?

 Finally, I find myself wondering how this knot in the freedom of our special country can be loosened? I find myself thinking how beautiful it would be if all our people could enjoy the kind of responsible opportunities described in “My Father’s House.” If this were fully the land of the free? Remember that simple point from your Intro Psych class? Punishment prevents behavior. Reward encourages it … ?

But this is a book review. What did I think of the book – as if I hadn’t already told you? It’s an important book but I wouldn’t choose it for the first assigned text in an advanced course in racial equity. I’m afraid it would drive some people to resign from the rest of the program. It’s painful.

Now I’ll go look at the other reviews of this book.

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