Category Archives: Judaism

Poverty Myths In America

During the Great Depression which began with the stock market crash in 1929, the unemployment rate was somewhat different than what modern Americans associate with poverty. Of course, there was no unemployment money coming in, Social Security only began in 1936, there was no government medical care programs like Medicare so people made do. Until, that magic moment, three months after President Franklin Roosevelt was inaugurated in March. Thus began the famous 100 days when government program after government program was unleashed and by the summer about FOUR MILLION WERE WORKING AT GOVERNMENT SPONSORED JOBS.

In other words, about 25% of those reading these words had relatives who only survived the Depression because there were government sponsored work programs. In other words, about 25% of those who read these words are descendants of POOR PEOPLE. So, let’s explore the meaning of being poor:

1. Poor people work their butts off because they are hungry and have to feed self or family.

2. Poor people do NOT receive government handouts like making their lunch tax deductible or the hundreds of tax write offs the wealthy possess.

3. Work helps an individual define the Self. It makes no different if wealthy or poor, we all need work in order to have a healthy self concept.

4. Yes, the boss created the company, but its success depends on those who work in the establishment.

5. OK, so five percent of those who are poor seek handouts. Exactly, what percent of businessmen seek government handouts?

6. Believe it or not, those who work at $7.45 an hour at McDonald’s take pride in their work.

7. To be poor means going to bed wondering if there is food in the morning for the children. That adds stress and anxiety to the individual. Hardly the way to keep physically or mentally healthy.

8. Poverty sucks as anyone who has been poor understands. It is NOT a goal, it is a consequence for living in America where those without money lack political power which leads to lack of economic power.

It is time to cease making those who are poor come across as lazy. After all, is that the way you want your grandparents depicted??

Death Never Ceases Wandering In America

I,along with millions, have mixed feelings regarding death penalty. Yes, what would I do if someone murdered my child? It is a complex emotional issue that must be confronted by each individual. However, reality is that if anyone is going to be executed for the crime of murder it will be a black or Hispanic male, not a white one. I do not believe a single person during the entire 20th century was executed in America for murder whose wealth totaled a million dollars. We Americans insist upon being termed “exceptional.” Yes, we are. We lead the world in the number of people in jail, we rank among the top five in executing people for murder. Herbert Smulls robbed a store in 1991 and in the process killed the store owner.

He was just executed despite urgings by his lawyer that due to drugs being used, his death would take time–as it recently did for a man who took 25 minutes to die. We apparently have run out of the right dose of pentabartied that ensures a quick and painless death. Enough with the killing. How about ceasing to be “exceptional” and become like those Europeans and end execution of those who murder?

Banality Of Evil

A half century ago the state of Israel placed Adolf Eichmann, the notorious Nazi who helped organize and carry out the Holocaust on trial for genocide. At that time Hannah Arendt, a famous historian, wrote a book in which she argued that Eichmann was a bureaucrat who carried out orders because they were orders and it was his task as a bureaucrat to carry out orders given by superiors. Arendt was harshly criticized because she employed words such as “banality of evil” as to transform the Holocaust into a process carried out by bureaucrats rather than a systematic murder of millions. Alas, we continue to live in a world in which whoever is in charge employs the bureaucracy that exists to enforce laws because it is the duty of bureaucrats to enforce laws. Barack Obama twice ran for the presidency arguing that he would end the disabuse of rights by the Bush administration and restore basic Constitutional laws that guarantee the rights of individual American citizens. Instead, Obama has become the defender to spying and surveillance because since he is the president then he must do what presidents do-catch the spy and enforce whatever technology has been used in the past to catch the spy.

If tomorrow, someone else became president- Chris Christie or Ted Cruz or even Rand Paul, we could expect that president would continue a campaign of surveillance and disregard of human rights. The power of bureaucracy is even more powerful than the power of common sense and respect for the Constitution. Military leaders, bureaucrats, technicians always argue that in the name of “our national security” certain actions must occur. Edward Snowden, in one sense, was the anti-bureaucrat because he chose to pose questions concerning which comes first, Constitutional rights or “national security.” In so doing, Snowden made clear the choice was NEVER between “national security” and the Constitution.

The evidence is overwhelming. For over a decade we have allowed bureaucrats in the armed forces or the NSA or the CIA to decide what constitutes “national security” and in so doing, have allowed nameless bureaucrats who simply are “doing their job” to continue doing a job that has failed for over a decade to protect “national security.” What is unusual about Edward Snowden is that a nameless bureaucrat who was just doing his job, began to question the nature of his job, and set in motion the concept that those who run the machine of death can always stop and question why this program of death?

Anything For National Security!

It has now become an accepted aspect of American foreign policy whether a Democrat or a Republican or Tea Party or a Vegetarian is in the office of president that one can do anything as long as the action is accompanied by those two very powerful words–NATIONAL SECURITY. If an American president is charged with violating the Constitution, simply whisper NATIONAL SECURITY– and any and all charges disappear. In a recent television interview, Edward Snowden claimed the National Security Agency is not only engaged in seeking out “terrorists,” but it is engaged in the act of industrial espionage. He noted that an important industrial giant such as Siemens in Germany has also been the object of NSA snooping. “If there’s information at Siemens that’s beneficial to the US national interests-even if it doesn’t have anything to do with national security–then they’ll get that information.”

The National Security Agency has spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as upon dozens of leaders in nations throughout the world because it they had information that was of interest to our NATIONAL SECURITY. President Obama argues that he is possession of information which justifies this spying and since he cannot provide it to citizens, we must trust that the NSA is acting in the interests of NATIONAL SECURITY.

Let’s Stop Fighting?

Nations of the world are gathering in Davos, Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum in which those who lead countries sit around talking, eating and boasting as to how their nations are doing just great. The jet carrying Iranian President Mohammed Rouhani was directed to a specific parking slot at the Zurich airport. A few minutes later another jet taxied right next to it. This jet contained Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both leaders hopped into helicopters and headed for Davos, heck good food and drink was waiting for them. Staff on both planes decided to send greetings to the other plane. “How are you” was shouted and received back a “Fine, how are you” comment.

There are no reports of the sky collapsing on anyone. There are no reports of armed terrorists setting off bombs. There are no reports of anyone getting killed. Just imagine, two nations in conflict can have a private moment in peace and friendship without collapse of the world!!

Humans Are Simply Humans!

There is an old French expression, “Plus ca change, plus c’est le meme chose,” which in English translates into “the more things change, the more they are the same.” Archeologists excavating in the Bursa area of Turkey discovered evidence of the existence of torture chambers and dungeons from 2,300 years ago. Pick up a newspaper today or survey the Internet and one encounters images and stories of human brutality that bring back memories of World War II and Adolf Hitler or Japanese soldiers going wild in the streets of Chinese cities. Of course, the Allies also enjoyed opportunities to kill and torture, although, on a much lower scheme of things. So, what did these 2,300 year old dungeons reveal?

There were hangman who cut off heads of people, and then threw their heads into a well while selling off body parts to relatives of dead people.

There were instruments of torture –just like we have instruments of torture in the 21st century.

So, what has changed in terms of human brutality? Just the numbers involved, just the numbers. We have always been part of the human race.

Question: Did our Cro-magnon or Neanderthal ancestors also torture??

Friend Of Israel?

I have repeatedly been informed by members of the Jewish community in St. Louis that I am a “self-hating Jew” who seeks the destruction of Israel, and takes the side of terrorist groups because of my repeated attacks on the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This raises the question as to what constitutes being a “good Jew” and what constitutes belonging to those who “hate Israel.” There is a difference between the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu and the nation of Israel. They are NOT synonymous. The nation of Israel emerged from a war, a war that was initiated by Arab nations, not the Jewish people of Israel. From day one of its existence, the nation of “Israel” included Jews, Christians and Muslim citizens. It definitely was a much needed place for Jews who had experienced horrible torture and brutality during WWII. It, for most, was the only place that would welcome their presence. Jews had inhabited the Turkish province of “Palestine” for hundreds of years, and the UN decision to create a state of Israel was the correct one.

The original leaders of the state of Israel had a vision that included Jews living in harmony with Christians and Muslims. Israel leaders such as Golda Meier endeavored to negotiate return of the West Bank, to Arab control, but were unable due to inept Palestinian leaders. Prime Minister Rabin and later Prime Minister Olmert offered Palestinian leaders opportunities to gain control of the West Bank only to be rejected. Jewish leaders DID work for reconciliation and peace with Palestinians. That is historically accurate. It is the arrival of Benjamin Netanyahu which has altered the situation. He represents those in Israel who, speaking bluntly, hate Palestinians, refuse to acknowledge they have rights and refuse to work for peace who I oppose.

If one loves Israel, then one must work for creation of a Palestinian state and peace between Jews and Muslims in the Middle East. My dream is creation of a Middle Eastern Union that includes Israel and Arab nations. Peace for Israelis will only emerge from such a new institution just as peace for French and German people arose from creation of a European Union. Enemies CAN come together. If one loves Israel then one must support negotiating with Iran for a peaceful outcome and working with President Abbas to initiate a Palestinian state, and then a Middle Eastern Union.

Iran Moves Forward

The worst nightmare for AIPAC in the United States of America has arrived. It has spent years intimidating American political leaders with stories that Iran threatens peace, not only in the Middle East, but in the world and must be halted in its nuclear programs. Republicans and Democrats are rallying behind the Israel lobby’s efforts to increase, rather than reduce sanctions upon Iran. The European Union, Russia and China are supporting efforts to compel the Iranian government to end its nuclear weapon program. President Obama has been working with these allies in order to establish a nuclear free Middle East. In the presence of UN inspectors, the Iranian government cut high level uranium enrichment. Jay Carney, speaking for the White House, noted: “these actions represent the first time in nearly a decade that Iran has verifiably enacted measures to half progress on its nuclear program and roll it back in key respects.”

This Iranian statement of compliance will not be hailed by most American Senators as representing anything other than another attempt at covering up its nuclear weapon plans. They are beholden to the Israel lobby and want votes in the 2014 campaign. Ironically, the ONLY nation in the Middle East which DOES posses nuclear weapons is -ISRAEL! And, Israel has repeatedly refused to allow UN inspectors into its facilities!

In other words, American Congressmen are NOT for a nuclear free Middle East!

Another Civil War Goes On And On

It becomes increasingly difficult these days to pick up a newspaper or wander through the Internet without encountering images and stories about civil wars. I doubt if anyone at this moment could compile a list of existing civil wars. One is led to conclude that the process of establishing modern nations entails throwing together those who differ either in political views, religious beliefs, how one dresses or which sport team does one root for. The nation of South Sudan was recently created when the more Christian southern regions of the country of Sudan decided to end its relationship with the country of Sudan, which is mainly Muslim. So, they divided and are currently arguing as to which one controls oil fields. Naturally, if Christians could separate from Muslims it stands to reason that people of one tribe can separate from people of another tribe.

Vice President Riek Machar who is of the Nuer tribe decided that his folk did not wish to be part of the South Sudan government which is led by a Christian ethnic Dinka. Fighting has broken out. Uganda sent a few thousand troops to aid President Salva in his fight against the other tribe leader. The town of Bor, which was held by Machar forces is now a complete wreck of destroyed cars, bodies lying on the ground and stores empty. I assume they will talk, they will argue, and, just maybe, they will decide to hold off on further fighting.

It sort of reminds we Americans of fighting between Republicans and Democrats.

Planet Earth Rich And Poor

At the Davos meeting, a report indicated there are 85 people on this planet in possession of more wealth than 3.5 BILLION PEOPLE. A simple fact of life for those who live on this planet. It is clear the Republican party accepts these figures as proof that “talent” must be served even though the meal is rather large for a few people and nonexistent for the vast majority. I assume when we humans emerged as Cro-magnons, the disparity between those who had more goods than other Cro-Magons was nothing like the current disparity. I assume during thousands of years when we were pastoral people wandering around for food and shelter, no such gap existed. All Cro-magnons were in possession of pretty much the same amount of clothes or food. I assume when humans emerged who farmed, the concept of “wealth” began to emerge, but nothing like the current figures. Yes, there were kings and queens who lived in a palace, but the disparity between what they consumed daily was not the current figure between the 85 and the 3.5 billion.

I assume it was arrival of the Industrial Revolution that began the current growth in disparity. Emergence of technology simply has accelerated the growth in disparity. It is time to take action-globally!

1. No human should be allowed to possess more than ten times the national average of wealth in a society.

2. All money beyond the Law of Ten should be placed under control of the government.

3. Each society should establish a basic wage for each inhabitant that ensures a healthy life for individuals and families.

To sum up, anyone on this planet, anyone living anywhere, can exist on a million dollars a year!!