Beyond the Cusp

April 25, 2015

Israel Has Some Wonderful News to Ears Seeking Something Positive


There were a few tidbits of news which may have snuck by many of us during the rollercoaster of one’s emotional equilibrium of the last couple of weeks. It happens after Pesach where we have in rapid succession Holocaust Remembrance Day and then the topsy-turvy of Memorial Day immediately followed by Independence Day where we for from the solemn remembrance of those we have lost, both soldier and terror victim, to have brought us to this day and at sundown of this day of remembrance we immediately shift gears, pop the clutch and within a few dizzying hours we fire off fireworks and are celebrating our hearts out in joyous rapture celebrating like tomorrow may never come the anniversary of the rebirth of the nation of Israel. During all of this some lists and reports came along with these days. The first is likely the less critical in importance, but it is still nice that somebody outside of Israel took notice. It turns out that last year Israel rose a couple of more slots towards the top of the list of happiest nation of people on Earth. Such steps are difficult once a nation hits the rarified atmosphere of being within the top twenty. Israel is about to enter an even more exclusive club as she has made it to number eleven happiest nation. This is not an expected slot for Israel to hold when one reads the accountings in the regular news every day about Israel in the mainstream media but then again, many of us have known all along that they had a slight bias against Israel. Apparently being demonized in the media day and night has not taken off the shine of our smiling faces and cheerful outlooks on life. But wait, there is even better news.


Believe it or not, the old story about the “demographic time bomb” has also been laid to rest. The birth rates for Israel also were released recently and the news should fill every heart with joy if they are believers in the future of Israel. The predictions of doom and gloom claiming that Israel would soon be overrun by the Arab superior fertility rates have been struck what might be a fatal blow. The significant figure was the fact that Israel has reached a population total of 8.345 million people. This includes the births of the last year which were numbered at 136,000 Jewish births and 40,000 Arab births. Compare those numbers to the 1995 statistics where one finds that there were 80,000 Jewish births and 36,000 Arab births. This means that the Jewish population inside Israel has increased from a ratio of 2:1 to now an ever more respectable ratio of 3:1, imagine that. Further, since 1995 the Israel rate of Arab births has increased by ten percent while Jewish birth rate has increased by over forty percent. That is a rate of change respectably higher than have Arab births. The immediate response from the ever seeking the darkest possible news with which to bludgeon Israelis and their supporters into submission would be that these numbers are for within Green Line Israel and ignore the numbers in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.


OK, let us go look into the reports given on these numbers but instead of using the inflated numbers provided by Abbas to attempt to frighten Jews that their days are numbered, let’s use numbers from World Bank. According to the World Bank, the birthrate in Judea, Samaria and Gaza has declined from as high as 6.5 in 1990 down to about 4.0 today. Quoting Ambassador Yoram Ettinger speaking on the reasons behind the decrease in the Arab women’s rate of births per individual, it is mostly a result of higher levels of education such that, “Instead of having kids as early as 15, they are waiting until their mid-20s and that number is approaching age 30.” Additionally, “family planning has proliferated throughout the Muslim world – possibly because of economic reasons but maybe also the increased standard of living.” Ambassador Ettinger concludes, “The surge in Jewish fertility has to do with communal responsibility, patriotism and roots.” There is an interactive graph where you can plug in any set of greater regions or their individual countries and contrast and compare nearly anything you desire provided by Google. By doing a comparison of the individual groupings of nations Israel was ahead of every grouping with the sole exception of Sub-Saharan Africa. Every area, even that of Sub-Saharan Africa at a birth rate per woman at an astounding 5.11, has shown a serious and marked downturn in their population statistics from their high at 6.79 births per women and with every other national group reaching a reproductive ratio of between thee births per woman and just below 2 births per woman with the highest coming in at 2.75 births per women for Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and the lowest coming in at 1.72 births per women for Europe and Central Asia. East Asia and Pacific came in at 1.82 births per women followed closely by North America at 1.85 births per women with the next being Latin America and the Caribbean at 2.18 births per women, thus being the first region to be equal to or above replacement rate in reproduction. Continuing we find the World’s average at 2.47 births per women with next being South Saia at 2.59 births per women followed by, as noted above, MENA at 2.75 births per women, and also reported above, Sub-Saharan Africa having by far the highest at 5.11 births per women. Meanwhile, Israel had hit a highpoint of 3.97 births per women in 1960, the first year figures are provided and ending at 3.04 births per women which was a rebound slightly higher than the low of 2.7 births per women in 1992. One can expect that the numbers for Sub-Saharan Africa to drop precipitously at some future date which will be marked by greater levels of education and the industrialization of their societies after which the human population of planet Earth, or if you prefer the population doomsday predictors’ favorite phrase, spaceship Earth will finally reach a steady level of minimal growth with times of feast having a steady if slow increase and times of turmoil and frustrations giving a slow rate of decline.


When one looks at the birth rates per woman of the world compared to the individual sectors it becomes readily apparent that it is the high but still dropping rate of births per woman of Sub-Saharan Africa which force the rate for the entire world to a higher than otherwise expected level and once they drop to the range of between 1.7 and 3.3 births per woman then the World replacement rate will fall just under 2.5 births per woman, a steady level of measured and manageable growth ever so slightly above replacement rate numbers. Equally important has been the decline towards replacement rate rather than the far higher rates over the Israeli reproductive rates for Judea, Samaria (West Bank) and Gaza which had buried the demographic time-bomb which has been touted and predicted by those who would seek out any statistic to prove that Israel had no choice but to give the Palestinians anything they demanded if they would only permit the Israeli Jews to survive and keep their ever diminishing numbers against the super-reproductive rate of the Arab Palestinians which promised to drown them in a sea of births. This does not for an instance mean that we will stop hearing the sky is falling doomsayers from touting old data over and over ad nauseum predicting the demographic destruction of Israel because they need to have something to show to back up their demands that Israel completely surrender and beg and grovel for table scraps which the rest of the World including the Arabs who would reproduce Israel into extinction or the Europeans who would end Israel through an embargo if Israel does not comply and surrender or the United Nations will bury Israel in paperwork responding to the human rights charges which would end if only Israel would surrender to the Arab Palestinian human rights demands or any of the plethora of doom and gloom woe is Israel who will be subsumed by whatever calamity that can be found in the statistics if they do not surrender to the Arabs as is their sole chance to survive-mongers. The frustration those who seek ever more diverse ways to attack Israel and claim that Israel is a pariah amongst the nations, the new Apartheid, a genocidal raging, the force behind every calamity, the reason for every ill, the one holdout from a past era, the remaining anachronism amongst the nations and whatever else that can be dreamed up from the furtive minds of conspiracies and intrigues who will borrow through mountains of statistics even to the point of reformatting them in such a manner as to provide the data they require to damn Israel once and for all. It is at this point we must stop and pay homage to the originators of the quotation, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” which many attribute to Mark Twain who himself attributed it to Benjamin Disraeli thus we must conclude that it is insightful, humorous, erudite and witty as both men were long and stood tall in all those areas abilities. The one thing that those who are in love and pay tribute to the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland, you will never run out of reasons to need to defend her nor will you ever reach a period where there are none who seek her destruction until the day arrives that all the Earth finds peace and harmony and are ruled from Jerusalem, not by the Jewish people but ruled by a divine source.


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


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