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Political discussion for normal people

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Why are there no Muslim “Thomas Jeffersons”

September 13th, 2012 · No Comments

– Robert Light

Many people have puzzled as to why, with the advent of “The Arab Spring”, has there not appeared any equivalent to America’s founding fathers such as Thomas Jefferson, a bold, clear thinker who could verbalize, define and motivate his fellow citizens to rally around a cause that will bring the entire society to a much better existence.

In my previous post, The Muslim definition of “Humiliation”, I describe that the concept of “humiliation” in the Arab world is defined as what others do to us – in their society, their individual pride is defined by others, not by their own actions. It is so extreme that a person who has had his honor damaged is entitled to murder even their own child in order to make themselves “whole” again.

Now, imagine that a “Thomas Jefferson” like character appeared on the Arab/Muslim stage of history – by default, if he speaks the truth and says: we must live like human beings, we must demonstrate respect and tolerance towards “the other” – even if “the other” has said something inflammatory… if such a Jefferson-like person were to speak such things, it would be considered an insult to the integrity of the Muslim body-politic – this person would quickly be killed in order to rectify this situation.

Case closed, there will be no Jefferson-like persons appearing on those stages.

→ No CommentsTags: Israel · Political · Uncategorized · War on Terror

The Muslim definition of “humiliation”

September 12th, 2012 · No Comments

– Robert Light

We hear the word “humiliation” spoken repeatedly from the adherents of Islam. Lately, we’ve been horrified by what transpired after a Koran was inadvertently burned by U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan…and then just today we see that the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and 3 others were murdered during riots spurred by the production of a satirical video which focuses on the origin of Mohammed. These ghastly acts were perpetrated because somehow Islam was “humiliated”.

The word “humiliated” gets thrown around so often, it would behoove us in the West to understand what is meant by the word. In the West’s Judeo-Christian ethos, humiliation is primarily caused by our own personal failings – it is cause primarily what we do to ourselves – when we don’t live up to our own ideals. The fact that some other person says or does something to us does not (should not) humiliate us.

This is not the case in the Islamic world. Humiliation is defined by what others “do to us”…it is defined by the respect others pay us and is not determined by what esteem we hold ourselves.

It is because of this that a Muslim can be stirred to the point of murder (even of his own child) because of some perceived or real insult done to his ego.

→ No CommentsTags: Israel · Political · War on Terror

Krugman’s “loose speaking”…and thinking

August 3rd, 2012 · No Comments

– Robert Light

Loose thinking by Krugman – yet again?

Krugman says “Loosely speaking, excess debt has created a situation in which everyone is trying to spend less than their income. Since this is collectively impossible — my spending is your income, and your spending is my income — the result is a persistently depressed economy.”

This is both “loose speaking” and loose thinking.

When people spend less than they take in it is called “savings”… they use this savings to either pay down debt or put it in the bank (both are forms of the very same thing…providing bankers with the capital for which to “lend”). In a normal healthy system, the bank then uses that money to give to business people to invest in things that will create income in the future.

The problem of course is two-fold… banks are unwilling to lend for investments and business people are unwilling to borrow because everyone is pretty fearful that the “future income” won’t be there.

There is really only one reason why the banks and business people are fearful of the future…and that is something that a person like Krugman can’t seem to get his mind around…the only reason is that people don’t trust the leadership (both Congress and President Obama).

They will hold onto their money (in the case of the bankers) or avoid risk (in the case of business people) until that leadership (both Congress and President) are changed in the fall.

→ No CommentsTags: Political · Taxation

What Obama might learn from “Le Petite Prince”

March 3rd, 2012 · No Comments

– Robert Light

There has been much said about Obama’s attempt to force religious organization (and religious people) to violate their religious tenets by forcing them to offer contraceptive and abortion services as part of insurance programs given to their employees. Note that nobody in this discussion is saying anything about whether such medical services should be made illegal or inaccessible to people – only whether or not religious organization and people should be forcibly required to support such services.

On the central point of whether or not it is appropriate for the our government to force me to violate central elements of my religious life, it seems most probable that the courts will rule that the answer is “no”. In the past, attempts have been made at outlawing the kosher processing of animals, there has been a recent attempt in California to outlaw ritual circumcision of male babies – so far these attempts have failed in court. The question I pose here is “why?”.

Yes, I could write here all about principles of “church and state”…I could repeat the 1st amendment to the U.S. Constitution…these would all be “cop-outs” because ultimately the question has to be asked “why is the 1st amendment there in the first place? What is it about the separation of church and state that make it important to bring into the discussion.”

The ultimate answer is to include a piece written by Moshe Feiglin where he falls back on an unusual piece of source material “The Little Prince”….

From Moshe Feiglin

As a result of my attempts to halt the Oslo collapse, I was put on trial for “sedition.” I asked the judges to allow me to read a short piece from a book that I had brought with me. The judges agreed, and to their surprise, I removed “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint Exupיry from my briefcase:

“Sire–over what do you rule?”

“Over everything,” said the king, with magnificent simplicity.

“Over everything?”

The king made a gesture, which took in his planet, the other planets, and all the stars.

“Over all that?” asked the little prince.

“Over all that,” the king answered.

For his rule was not only absolute: it was also universal.

“And the stars obey you?”

“Certainly they do,” the king said. “They obey instantly. I do not permit insubordination.”

“I should like to see a sunset . . . Do me that kindness . . . Order the sun to set . . .”

“If I ordered a general to fly from one flower to another like a butterfly, or to write a tragic drama, or to change himself into a sea bird, and if the general did not carry out the order that he had received, which one of us would be in the wrong?” the king demanded. “The general, or myself?”

“You,” said the little prince firmly.

“Exactly. One must require from each one the duty which each one can perform,” the king went on. “Accepted authority rests first of all on reason. If you ordered your people to go and throw themselves into the sea, they would rise up in revolution.  I have the right to require obedience because my orders are reasonable” (The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint Exupיry, Chapter 10).

It is a mistake to think that the state works within the boundaries of laws. The public does not obey laws.  It obeys rules within the boundaries of a triangle, the first side of which is the law. But the triangle has two other sides: common sense and ethicality.

What if the Knesset would pass a law requiring drivers to drive in reverse all winter? That would counter the logic side of the triangle. The public’s subsequent refusal would be the fault of the government, not of the public. In other words, the fact that we obey the law is not because of the law itself, but because it is logical enough to warrant our adherence.

The third side of the triangle is ethicality. If the government would order us to drive our elderly and infirm out onto the frozen tundra, as per Eskimo custom, we may agree that it would logically enhance the economy. But nobody would obey, because it would be patently immoral. The party at fault for the insubordination would be the government that enacted the law and not the citizens who refused to obey.

How are the boundaries of this triangle determined?

The law is obviously determined by the government. A government has unlimited power to enact and enforce laws. The government, with its Knesset majority, can enact a law that would postpone elections for fifty years. Why doesn’t it do so? For only one reason. Because it knows that the public would not accept it and the government would subsequently lose its credibility. In other words, just like Exupיry’s king, the government enacts laws within the boundaries that it assumes the public will accept, both logically and ethically.

Power always strives for more power and the government will always attempt to test the boundaries of common sense and ethicality. But fortunately, it is not the government that determines these boundaries, but the public. How does the public accomplish this? By using its right and sometimes, its duty – to refuse to obey the law. That is how the logical and ethical platform for the healthy functioning of society is created.

In order to increase its power, the government tries to convince us that insubordination will cause the state to collapse. But that is completely false. The greatest crimes in human history were perpetrated when citizens ignored their duty to delineate logical and ethical boundaries for the rule of law. The societies in which this took place by and large collapsed.

“Good men must not obey the laws too well” Ralph Waldo Emerson”

While I don’t agree often with Moshe Feiglin, his words are good council in these times of social strife. Obama needs to read “Le Petite Prince” to understand why his “rule” is not being respected.

→ No CommentsTags: Abortion · Church-State · Political

Krugman – Keynes was right?

December 30th, 2011 · No Comments

– Robert Light

Krugman views debt as transfer of wealth within a later generation. He is right that it is a good for government to “invest” during a downturn – the investment is cheaper and it helps the economy. He is also right that public debt “owed to ourselves” is not a problem, per se. Krugman is just wrong in two of his fundamental premises.

Public debt owed to ourselves is not a problem
Yes, you are creating a debt for one segment of the next generation and you give an asset to another segment of the next generation. The 1st part of the mistake is that the debt is transferred to the next generation in full but the asset is taxed away via the inheritance tax so the next generation “in total” is poorer. The 2nd part of the mistake is that the next generation doesn’t just have to repay the debt, they have to pay interest too. If the debt was incurred to build a bridge or a dam – that interest is probably “a bargain”…but if the debt was incurred just to keep the lights on (in this generation) it is better to sit in the dark and save the next generation’s money.

Government spending is necessary to “prime the pump”
What Krugman doesn’t take into consideration is that the private sector has plenty of money for expansion but is unwilling to invest it as long as the U.S. is poised to enter a “socialist utopia” under the watchful supervision of our dear leader, Obama.  When the American electorate wakes up from its binge experiment with socialism – business will invest in America – until then, it will keep its powder dry or invest in societies that value building goods and services instead of paying bureaucrats fat sums of money and large pensions to “spread the money around” from those who produce to those who don’t.

Granted, Obama et.al. could just “take the money” from the private sector to fund all his plans – but that would just sink the economy even further…the surest way to get the private sector to hold onto their money is to try to take it away from them.

Oh, you say that the government doesn’t just “take the money”…you’re right..they raise your taxes – is there really any difference? The other idea is to take the money from our children and grandchildren in the form of taking on more debt…instead of raising our taxes, Obama will raise our children’s taxes – is that right either?

→ No CommentsTags: Hot Issues · Political · Taxation

Free speech is a right – it is NOT a weapon.

November 22nd, 2011 · No Comments

– Robert Light

I bid you all to read the article at the NYPost and particularly watch the video of the violence which resulted.

I also suggest that all concerned read the United States Constitution’s 1st amendment which reads, in full:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The constitution, being the covenant which binds our society is very explicit…. people have the right to peaceably assemble and petition their government for a redress of grievances.    It does not say that people have the right to take over private or public spaces – forcing all other legitimate activities to go elsewhere – it does not give people the right to quash other people’s ability to speak (which is what was happening at CUNY) – the Occupy folks were keeping others who had registered to speak – from exercising their constitutional right to speak to their grievances.

It appears as if nobody was telling the Occupy folks that they couldn’t address the board… but they had to “speak” and were not going to be allowed to muzzle the other people who also had a right to speak.

To that end, CUNY and the NYPD were absolutely within their rights to clear the disruption from their midst so that they could undertake the conversation that they had planned.  It is unfortunate that the demonstrators had to resort to violence to the point where the police had to make arrests.

The Occupy movement needs to understand that if they weaponize their “free speech” and use it to muzzle others… that they have fallen out of the 1st amendment’s protection…and will be asked to shut up or go elsewhere.

→ No CommentsTags: Political · Uncategorized

America is lazy?

November 21st, 2011 · 3 Comments

– Robert Light

President Obama recently made the observation that America has become lazy in how America has competed in the world markets.  A lot of criticism has been thrown his way by his opponents for making this statement claiming that it shows disrespect for the American work ethic.

Those who have read my views about Obama know that I am not one of his admirers but on this account, I can say that I agree with Obama – America has become lazy.

Now before you accuse me of criticizing the American worker, please read my analysis.

Imagine that you had an employee who spent 50% of his working hours watching Simpson’s reruns on youtube during their workday.  Four out of every eight hours was spent not being productive.  I suspect that you would come to the conclusion that the worker in question was lazy and would eventually fire him.

Now examine the following graph… America’s workforce has shifted to the point where 50% of the working hours expended in the U.S. is expended in the government workforce.

I will not claim that government workers are akin to the non-productive hours of a lazy worker watching youtube videos – but the concept can be applied in part.  Some government is always necessary to grease the wheels of a productive society… some government is necessary to insure that the rules of the game are observed by all the players… some government is required to make sure that foreign aggression is kept at bay so that our economy can flourish… some government is required to make sure that safety nets are in place for those members of our American family who cannot contribute… some government is required to insure that the next generation is developed to be productive and contributing members of our society.

The point I’m trying to make is that “some government” is a far cry from where we are today…where government has become an industry of it’s own.  We now employ huge numbers of people in government jobs who simply do not contribute to the productivity of America – and worse – are actively making it harder for the rest of the society to produce the goods and services which ultimately are the only things which produce our standard of living today.

Americans are not lazy.

…but, yes, I agree with President Obama – America has become lazy – we spend a huge chunk of our working hours doing non-productive…even anti-productive things.  If that isn’t the definition of “lazy” – I’m not sure what is.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Healthcare · Hot Issues · Political · Taxation

‘Occupy Wall Street’ — It’s Not What They’re for, But What They’re Against

October 23rd, 2011 · 2 Comments

– Robert Light

Sally Kohn has penned a fantastic column on FoxNews’ website – it should be read by everyone because it sheds real light on the Occupy movement…. as much as a “breakthrough moment” might happen in your therapist’s office.

Her basic premise is that what is fueling the Occupy folks is the incredible disparity in income between the so-called top 1% and the so-called “99%”.   Her point is that this is not “class-envy” per-se but a outcry that the very disparity in incomes is an “injustice” that needs to be rectified.  She does complain about “crony capitalism” (without defining it) and in that sentiment, I agree with her and she would find great resonance with the TEA party folks…..but what was really revealing was her statement:

“Sure, bank executives may work a lot harder than you and me or a mother of three doing checkout at a grocery store. Maybe the bankers work ten times harder. Maybe even a hundred times harder. But they’re compensated a thousand times more.  The question is not how Occupy Wall Street protesters can find that gross discrepancy immoral. The question is why every one of us isn’t protesting with them.

I will try to answer her question.

In the interest of “full disclosure”, I will begin by saying that I applaud the Occupy folks protest against corporate interests writing our legislation and controlling our politicians to the betterment of their own financial position and at the expense of the public’s.  I think in this “grievance”, the Occupy and TEA party folks are in total agreement.

What I find with Kohn’s statement is a deafening level of ignorance of what capitalism is all about.   I will illustrate this with a joke.

There was once a manager of a power plant who had a large turbine generator which was experiencing excessive vibrations.  He called a famous MIT dynamics professor to help him solve the vibration problem.  The professor came in, listened to the vibration and then stroked his beard… he called his assistant over and said “please bring me a ladder and a piece of chalk.  The assistent dutifully brought the items to the professor and the professor climed the ladder up to a single blade of this huge turbine generator.  He drew an “X” with his chalk on the blade.  The professor turned to the manager and said “weld a 5 pound piece of steel at the X”.  The professor gently climbed down and went back to MIT.    A week later, the manager of the power plant called the professor  and exclaimed – “Professor, you are a genius…it worked!!  Please send me a bill for your services!”.  The bill arrived…it said “Consulting services $1,000,000.50”   The manager was shocked – he wrote back to the professor “Could you please itemize your bill for us?”… The professor sent a new bill:  ” Chalk…..$0.50,    Knowing where to draw the “X”:  $1,000,000″

What Sally Kohn doesn’t understand is that people get paid money not for how “hard they work”…but because their work is valuable to the person paying the money.  The people paying the money find that the large sums of money they are paying to these people is really a bargain – they are making even more money than it is costing them paying these large fees.

Granted, I am not going so far as to say that fees paid as bribes, graft and corruption should be tolerated – even though those bribes are “worth it” to those paying the bribes – bribes are bribes are bribes and should be rooted out at all levels…. but to cite a ratio of “highest-to-lowest” compensation as some kind of morality-metric is simply stupid.

What the Occupy folks should be asking themselves is ‘what can they do that is more valuable to the person paying them than the compensation they get for doing a particular job”.  If what they are doing can be done by a person in India or China for 1/10th the salary – their job is in jeopardy of disappearing overseas.

The answer to that question is scary and the youth today should in fact be scared – but to sit on Wall Street and scream about and tearing down “the rich” because they do things that other people find valuable is not only unfair and imoral – it is self destructive…. for it is the “rich” who are paying the bulk of the taxes and give the bulk of the charity and employ the bulk of the population.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Uncategorized

Mitt Romney says ‘corporations are people’

August 14th, 2011 · No Comments

– Robert Light

Although I’m not entirely a “Mitt supporter”, I admire any politician when they speak the truth.  It was quite revealing…. the little tit-for-tat that occurred in Iowa.  The hecklers were convinced that corporations are “not people” and the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Shultz used this to explain herself…

“Mitt Romney’s comment today that ‘corporations are people’ is one more indication that Romney and the Republicans on the campaign trail and in Washington have misplaced priorities,” she said in a statement, calling the comment a “shocking admission.”

Just on the face of it, Mitt Romney is correct, the money a corporation makes is spent on labor, management, suppliers & vendors who are all “people”…corporations build buildings – built by “people”. Even when these corporations save money and put it in the bank – the bank then lends that money out to other “people” to build homes as well as lend it to other corporations to fund their activities.

So what is the argument between the the liberals who heckled Mitt Romney claiming that corporations aren’t “people”? These people chant “soak the corporations” – they want to tax the corporations more and take that money to fund the government.

What are these people really saying?

Simply put, they are saying is that they want the money that is fueling the corporations to be used to fuel government programs.

Let’s just examine this for a minute. Every dollar spent in a corporation is evaluated as to how spending that dollar will affect the current or future profitability of the corporation. That dollar, even though it is spent ultimately on people, is not spent unless it can be justified to increase the corporation’s current or future profitability.

What these liberals are arguing is for that dollar to be taken from the corporation, a big chunk of that dollar being consumed by bureaucrats and then the rest of the dollar being given as entitlements to unemployed, poor, elderly or sick individuals. In short, they want the dollar to be taken from the portion of society who produce wealth and given to that portion of society who consume wealth.

Before anyone starts shouting how important it is that a humane society protect and support their most vulnerable members, I am not advocating that safety nets should be removed for that segment of society – indeed it is crucial that the poor, elderly or sick individuals be supported.

What I would like to point out is that government is now a “special interest group”.  Have you noticed that when budgets are tight it is the teachers, the police & firemen, food to the poor, throwing momma into the streets that get put before voters?

It’s always – vote for this tax increase or we will fire 20% of your teachers, police and firefighters.

It’s never – vote for this tax increase or we will have to fire the Co-Assistant Vice Secretary Coordinator to the Under Secretary of Public Management of ….  Please tell me why Michelle Obama needs a 33% bigger staff than her predecessor and not 50% less in this time of budgetary constraints?

Why doesn’t the public ever see the argument:  “if you don’t vote for higher taxes, we will have to cut the mayor’s salary by 20% and then we won’t be able to attract good people to fill the slot?”   When a corporation finds it has to cut budgets, front line people do get cut, but so do middle managers and executives – because the bottom line is how can we produce more for less.

So what these people who scream “soak the corporations” are really saying is that they want to take money from people who try at every turn to build wealth with every dollar they have and give it to the people who are protecting their cushy bureaucrat job by threatening to withhold safety nets from truly needy people.

So Mitt Romney is right – corporations are people too – corporations are people who are bailing the leaky boat as fast as they can – corporations are the people are building wealth where others just want to sit around and spend the wealth – worse yet, corporations are  people  bailing the boat when others want to tie their hands (with more regulations) and poke holes in the buckets they are using (taxes) – corporations are people who are bailing the boat when others want to invite more and more people into the boat (illegal immigrants)….corporations are  people who are bailing the boat when others want to devote more time and effort to those who aren’t bailing the boat (entitlements).

It is natural for people in a lifeboat to argue over resources – but it is pointless to point the finger at people who work and own “corporations” when we have this over-bloated bureaucracy employing huge numbers of people who aren’t really providing enough value to the mission of keeping the boat afloat.

…oh….I forgot… lest you start screaming at how “corporation people” are spending their money making goods and services overseas… please check over the items you purchase at Home Depot, Best Buy or even at your local grocery store…I hope you are not spending any of your money buying anything made in China, Japan, Mexico, Malaysia… because then …

…you’d be doing…

…exactly-the-same-thing.

→ No CommentsTags: Political · Public Schools · Taxation

The war on Truth

July 26th, 2011 · No Comments

– Robert Light

Here it comes.

Barbaric as it was, the Norway nut who slaughtered innocents was indeed deranged in (at least) one significant dimension – that the “ends justify the means” – he was, like Timothy McVeigh, convinced of his mission and that how he undertook his battle didn’t matter.  This led to a tragic end.

The Norway nut was convinced of one truth (that Islam is an existential threat to civilization) and was willing to sacrifice another truth (thou shalt not murder).

Now the NYTimes is leading the charge on the truth-tellers.  Because this nut job read JihadWatch.org or watched the videos on MEMRI – these sites are being labeled “incitement sites”.

Geert Wilders, a Dutch member of parliament, just won his court case where he was charged with incitement because he dared to create a documentary which contained ONLY quotes from the Koran and videos of Islamic Imams preaching from the pulpit….no commentary or over dubs, no announcer, no nothing – just fact – just truth.  Yes, he won his case but not until after a multi year, multi-million dollar legal battle.

As barbaric and as tragic as the events in Norway were and my heart bleeds for the victims and their families….If trying to tell the truth and motivating others to hear the truth is considered “incitement” – we are all in very, very deep trouble.

That is why the freedom of speech is so important – if you have free speech – the truth will be spoken – at least by some.

But unfortunately: The first victim of a war is “truth”.

The Norway nut, terrorist Anders Behring, felt that the young campers he butchered were somehow heirs to their parent’s leftist views. Yes, their parents and possibly the children were ignorant of the truth, chose to ignore the truth, to make excuses for the truth – but you don’t murder the ignorant, the stupid people of this world – you educate them.

…and this is the important part that we can all make use of: if you can’t educate them, if you can’t convince them of the truth, you don’t harm them – you ignore them.

→ No CommentsTags: Political · War on Terror