Beyond the Cusp

February 15, 2014

Let’s All Celebrate the End of “Joblock”

A new term has been coined in Washington DC to describe virtually every job I have ever had over my forty plus years of employment with one or two exceptions. Even though the majority of the employments I have held can optimistically be classified as joblock positions which lacked the spiritual fulfillment of a supposed non-joblock position, not once was the primary reason that I worked at these positions hinged on the health insurance provided. The health insurance was a perk, not the main reason for working, the main reason was called a salary. I even had one position which I remained in a few years longer than the changed management team was tolerable, due to their generous retirement plan, but never have I kept or taken a job because of the fantastic health insurance, even when I worked for a leading thousand bed hospital in a major American city. So, I am led to wonder what the world must be like for those politicians who believe that people are working in order to have health insurance or some health care plan. Then, I should not be too critical of people who mostly have never held an actual real-world productive job and spent their entire lives, since running for Junior Class President, running for the next position where they simply sold influence and invented requirements for those not as influential as they and their fellow political class members. But the recent past since the CBO report that Obamacare will eliminate over two-million job seekers there has been a parade of Democrats and Administration people speaking on the great advantages of people being freed from the necessity of working for one’s health insurance will be for Americans in the future under Obamacare.


I have been trying to look at the bright side of this situation and not dwell on the fact that taxes will necessarily skyrocket, to use a phrase Obama liked to apply to electrical prices after Cap & Trade gets passed, in order to pay for the health insurance for those no longer victimized by joblock, and I may have found a few. This now explains why Obamacare forces parents to provide coverage for their non-joblocked children up to age twenty-six. The reasoning must be that by twenty-six even the most ardent refusenik avoiding joblock will have figured out that a salary is another bonus of joblock and surrendered to taking a joblock position even if they must explain to their future employer their demand for health coverage over their need for a salary. It also explains why the Democrats are pushing to raise the minimum wage one more time, for now. They are making it so that there will be no entry level positions forcing people into joblock. Now those tasks will either be outsourced or demanded of lower management or the new guy depending on the size of the company. We will now finally allow more starving artists to starve in good health. After visiting some art museums a few years back I decided we had enough artists and judging by the “art” and their price tags, I would like to call for an investigation to find out how they could be starving. As an example, one group of pieces consisted of pieces of driftwood painted one color and they were named “Yellow Driftwood #4” and “Green Driftwood #7” and I wondered how did they manage to sell any color driftwood numbers 1, 2, and 3? This will also be a new approach to minimizing the unemployment rates as it will manage even better than the Obama Presidency to encourage people to leave the job market thus removing any possibility that they will be counted among the unemployed still seeking employment. Perhaps the government will see its way to making the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) pay all the new self-proclaimed artists some form of subsistence remittance kind of similar to welfare so the funds they receive can find new avenues for their use.


The introduction of more people simply enjoying a life of leisure will stimulate the leisure industry which supplies the tools for such pursuits though how these people will have funds to purchase anything is still a mystery. Then again, it also explains the rumblings in the political circles, particularly the far left, that are calling for a guaranteed minimum wage which having this many idly avoiding joblock will make a necessity. There has to be additional item I have failed to realize as this is nowhere near sufficient plans to keep the over two-million people who will not become job seekers employed in other pursuits. Of course, if I understood the implications from some of those speaking in favor of this set of statistics, they were speaking more as if most people will simply not be working the long hours they currently work and instead will have part time work. Of course this part time work will always be under thirty hours per week thus not providing any health insurance making the position a non-joblock position. You see, only those positions which provide health insurance qualify as joblock as nobody takes a full time position except for the health insurance. Who needs a full time salary; especially if they can simply get the minimum wage up to a more respectable level of say twenty-five dollars an hour. I am still scratching my head trying to get my arms around the concept that all these years I was laboring away simply for the health insurance, who knew?


Beyond the Cusp


January 23, 2014

Politics Teaches All About Language and Statistics

Many commentators decry the state of political debate complaining about the polarization and the ever increasing gap between the right and the left. They tend to see nothing to be gained as gridlock and harsh discourse is all they are able to see but there are lessons if not in the actual debates, then in the way the arguments and validations are fashioned. Language is probably most defined by the position of the user’s politics more than any dictionary could ever intimate. There are key words whose meaning is in doubt until one realizes whether the user is arguing from the right or the left of the political spectrum. One such word which is brutalized by both sides is equality, especially when applied to the economy and the consequences of the different degrees of wealth as well as opportunity. Where one side using equality it means that the result after everything has been said and done and the government has acted will result in near equality in levels of wealth while the other side defines equality as everybody working in the same system under the same rules on a level playing field thus having the same opportunity and any difference is determined by many factors of which they will stress the extent of effort and natural abilities. One side believes that equality means leveling out the inequities resultant from the disparate outcomes while the other believes that at birth we all start with the same potentials for the most part and any differences result mostly from efforts and being able to grasp opportunities and that government should not be there to take from the successful to give to the less successful.


Another word which has unique definitions is charity. One position is that charity should be left to the individuals or to religious and private organizations and should never be a consideration of government as government enforcing charitable giving through taxes and redistribution is simply a form of theft. The other definition claims that the inequities are too great and that many are too greedy and selfish resulting in the necessity for government to enforce some degree of charity otherwise the needy would end up neglected. The definition of a fair tax is another area of disagreement where one side would claim that a fair tax would levy the same percentage in taxation on every citizen while the other side holds that a fair tax would levy the percentage in such a way that those with more wealth and income would pay at a higher rate while those below a predetermined level of income would be left untaxed. Experiencing the uses of words in the political domain constantly provides examples of how varied and opposing words can be used in supporting opposing ideas and ideals. Probably the most mangled words are those used as the names of the sides in the political arguments. Somebody who is called a liberal no longer means that they are a libertine who believes in individual independence with minimal interference by the governing bodies. A conservative does not necessarily hold views which demand that things remain exactly as they are or desires a return to how they were in the recent past. Those claiming to be independent voters often have a voting record which would rival the most ardent party member of any of the parties and simply claim to be independent in order to avoid having to explain or defend the party which they actually support almost without exception. Another term which has been completely coopted to mean, in many cases, whatever position you desire to support is choice. Those who support the Second Amendment adamantly claim that people should be free to have the choice of whether or not they wish to own a firearm and that as long as the individual accepts all the responsibilities and consequences of carrying a concealed weapon, they should be free to exercise that choice. There is the pro-choice position which most are familiar with where it allows for women to have the option available to terminate a pregnancy. Many libertarians claim that people should be allowed to have the choice to use drugs and claim that the War on Drugs interferes with personal choice and freedoms. Libertarians actually are very liberal when it comes to choice as they support personal independence almost to a fault. The one place where choice is often restricted to the point of absurdity is within the walls of government where they seem determined to pass laws which restrict people’s lives to the point where there will be no opportunity for choice as they will all have been legislated out of existence.


The one place where words are most often twisted and manipulated in order to produce a predetermined and defined desired result is in polls. Many polls which are commissioned by PACs, organizations, political parties and virtually any other source one can determine what the end expected result is simply by inspecting the phrasing of the questions. Politics is a place where words are tortured and polls are where they are executed. Even the time of day chosen to take the samples or the location where the polling is taken also will determine the results. Often polls will use emotional phrases which engender a certain reaction early in the poll in order to skew the rest of the answers to the poll questions. This is not to say that there are no polls which are crafted fairly with great attention paid to using unbiased wording and phrasing and avoiding hot topic words which might skew results, but these types are usually commissioned by businesses and not political entities. Polls can be slanted by having qualifying questions which limit those who are questioned and included in the tabulations, often this is done by age though whether one is employed or regularly votes are other qualifiers often implemented.


The other thing which is often related to polling that is mutilated and twisted in order to portray a particular political position is statistics. As the old saying goes, “There are lies, damn lies and statistics.” Statistics when utilized in politics is the precise science of massaging numbers to produce a predetermined result. One easy to understand example is the wealth gap. If one takes the statistics of those who are in the top ten percent of income earners and those in the bottom ten percent of income earners over a period of years the result will currently show that the income gap is growing significantly. But if instead one takes the people in the initial year who were in the top ten percent and those in the bottom ten percent and followed these individuals over the same time period the income gap will be shown to have shrunk. The reason for the disparity is simple, the people in the top and bottom ten percent change from year to year and those initially in either extreme will both slide towards the median income over time while other people take their place at the extremes. Thus, if one wished to exaggerate the income inequality they would use the first set of statistics while if instead one desires an accurate description of the fluctuations in income and the constant flux with people changing their income potentials as they move through life and their opportunities and conditions change, then the second set of statistics will serve you better. Another way of misrepresenting numbers but not necessarily statistics is by comparing apples to oranges, as the adage states. An example was the claim that Warren Buffet’s secretary paid greater amount in taxes than her boss. There is a very logical reason but the emotional response to this truth is being played for all it is worth when this unequal and unfair comparison was used. The taxes they were referring to were payroll taxes which are levied on one’s salary, not one’s wealth. Where Warren Buffet has great wealth and most of his wealth comes from investments, he thus has little salary per se but has wealth which would be taxed under capital gains while the secretary does have a salary and pays income based taxes but she likely pays negligible if any capital gains taxes compared to her boss. Language, statistics, numbers, emotions and truth all take a back seat in the political arena if not a total vacation. The real lesson is we need to take care and carefully inspect anything we are presented with which has political implications as when politics is in play the truth takes a well-deserved holiday.


Beyond the Cusp


January 14, 2014

Israel and Her Jewish Problem

While I understand there are Jews who are not Zionists but even the vast majority of these non-Zionist Jews still do not take an antagonistic position when it comes to Israel. Many of these non-Zionist Jews may become Zionists given the right stimuli and certain situations. That aside, I cannot understand why any Jew would go beyond being a non-Zionist, and would actually take an antagonistic, anti-Zionist position seeing wrong in every action of the Jewish state. I am even more baffled when those who hold such an anti-Israel view also choose to remain living in Israel if they feel the Jewish state cannot do anything right and it causes them such angst and embarrassment. But even more puzzling is that a group of Rabbis from Israel have taken up the Palestinian cause against Israel to the point of manufacturing grievances and aiding the Palestinians in their lies when they assault and caused major physical harm to fellow Jews. This happened recently in an incident near Eish Kodesh where a large mob of Palestinians from a neighboring village used trucks and assistance from Palestinian police to corner and abduct Israeli hikers and dragged them to a remote house at the outskirts of their village beating them even after IDF troops arrived and eventually bartered their release. Thanks to video reports depicting, recounting and praising the Palestinian actions but which contradicted the claim that they intercepted the Jews entering their town with the intent of doing damage by committing what are called price-tag crimes, these videos distributed by the Palestinians showed their chasing down the small group of two dozen Jewish hikers across fields assaulting them with rocks and clubbing them when they had sufficiently closed the distance. Despite the evidence to the contrary, the IDF subsequently arrested a number of the youngest Jewish hikers largely to interrogate them to force a confession to validate the Palestinian story line. This was simply the latest example of the truth being inconsequential and any claims made by the Palestinians being taken as the unadorned fact never to be questioned by Israeli authorities when the subject is the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria.


As long as there are Israelis in positions of authority who will believe any lie they are told if it reinforces their disdain for the Jewish residents of Samaria and Judea and also any claims against religious Jews then Israel will continue to have detractors who quote these Israeli leaders before the world as they condemn Israel at every turn. I am not sure if it is due to these authorities fearing or having feelings of animosity against religious Jews and/or Jews living in the settlements, as residents of Judea and Samaria are maligned by their detractors, which drives them to believe any charge which supports their intolerance. Where I would want the authorities to investigate any reports of criminal activity, the over the top persistence that authorities have taken against these two sectors of Israeli society makes one question their real motives. The fact that much of the political elite in the Knesset, the Prime Minister’s office, the Attorney General’s Office, the Courts and other government institutions often do not react and investigate what appears to be an obvious series of injustices one after another finding the truth and communicating it immediately, instead there is often animus displayed when many government officials are queried by the press about such instances, an animus which is totally unjustified if one simply would have inspected the record which shows that the Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria along with the religious communities have almost uniformly been found innocent despite the herculean efforts to find them guilty of anything they can throw at them. Israelis need to demand of their government that they support all the citizens of the nation, especially against spurious accusations originating out of pure animus from Israel’s enemies. The problem is that in order to do so the Israeli citizenship would need to challenge far more than those in government but would need to challenge the hierarchy of the individual parties and the manner in which Ministers of the Knesset are chosen. Those parties which use exclusively a primary system without any interference from the Party officers would not require as much of an adjustment as those where their lists are decided in back rooms by the so-called elite of the party. In any case, there needs to be some manner in which a person can run for a seat in the Knesset and gain that seat independently from the political machines run by the individual parties. Establishing such a path would allow for populist candidates who lack party influence but have general popular support are able to run and gain a seat in the Knesset without having to bribe some established politicians into forming a party in the hopes of gaining at least the minimum percentage to be rewarded seats.


Israel has sufficient enemies throughout the world without having her own citizens turn against her and makes consistent attempts to destroy the nation at every turn. Honest questioning is one thing and universal rejection of almost every policy and decision is something worthy of question. Many of these Israeli Jewish detractors hold Israel in such dispute that they have even, as Yariv Oppenheimer of Peace Now has, taken the side of those whose stated intent is the destruction of the State of Israel. Such actions border on if not qualifying the perpetrators as traitors to their country, yet these very same people are often the go-to-first people by many from the far left media within Israel as they also back anybody who takes a stand detracting Israeli efforts. Between these and the existence of Ministers of the Knesset who also take every opportunity to speak against Israel from within the Knesset itself, such leaves the defenders of Israel with a rough road to tread always up a steep slope and filled with obstacles in order to counter the damage and lies spread to a world seemingly veraciously hungry to believe every accusation leveled at Israel. One of the Knesset Ministers was a former advisor and aide to the late Palestinian arch terrorist Yasser Arafat yet is permitted to hold a position in the Israeli Parliament. When running for the Knesset, this Minister was validated by the Israeli Supreme Court as a valid candidate who could not be restricted from entering the Knesset simply because he used to be an aide to the arch enemy and stands for the eradication of the Jewish State. Israel has to get past its peculiarity of questioning its every action and going to the greatest of lengths to see every side of every issue and investigating every accusation to be completely assured that they had done nothing untoward before announcing any position which is supportive of its citizens, military, officials, and general positions. Perhaps it might be possible that Israel find the courage to believe in itself and refute these scurrilous accusations until somebody else has taken the time to attest to the validity of an accusation before apologizing for every action even before their own full review has been completed. Israel must stop apologizing for existing and instead demand the respect she deserves but will never receive until she believes in herself. That confidence will come once the Jews realize that they deserve a nation as much if not more than any other nation’s peoples.


Beyond the Cusp


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