The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

NIGHTMARES

The other evening I was watching the History Channel which ran a number of episodes of the program, “Ancient Aliens” and followed those up with several episodes of “The Universe.”  I find that the mysteries of the universe are even more mind-expanding and interesting than say, watching a football game or even commenting on political poltroons.  After all, it might be argued (rather forcefully) that the universe is a bit bigger than either of these two – being, as it is, the sum total of everything.

As a child I remember spending summers in the Catskills and, after dinner, sitting outside our little cabin, staring up at the night sky.  I was away from the glare of the lights in New York City and the stars shone bright and sparkly.  Though I didn’t know it at the time, I was just looking at a small portion of our rather average 300 billion star-filled Milky Way galaxy which was only one of billions of such galaxies.  But even with my view that this little subsection of stars was the universe, I couldn’t help but be struck by a sense of true awe at the vastness and the possibilities that must exist in this amazing expanse.

Even the most entrenched city dweller whose view of the night sky is obscured with smog, haze and neon lights has seen the moon, if not the wide panoply of stars.  And the moon has always fascinated me with its changing phases and the images which we project on it, “The Man on the Moon,” or if you’re Asian, “The Mouse on the Moon.”  And it is well accepted science that the moon and the Earth have a symbiotic, gravitational relationship.  We know that the moon is the reason that our oceans have tides and the reason that the Earth bulges as a result of the moon’s influence.  And we also know that the moon is doing what it has done for billions of years.  It is moving away from the Earth, now at the rate of about 1.5 centimeters a year.  Egad!

About 620 million years ago or so, the Moon was so much closer that a day on Earth was only 21 hours long.  But as our satellite’s distance from its host planet has increased, it’s gravitational influence has decreased, resulting in the Earth’s slowing rotation.  One can only imagine the height of the waves in our planet’s oceans back then.  Of course, there was no one around to document that phenomenon.  But it would be reasonable to say that the weather and climate were far more extreme than what we know today.

Having spent a number of hours watching these programs, I retired for the night, thoroughly content with thinking about all the ideas which had been presented.  Who did build all those pyramids around the Earth?  What was the purpose and who could have constructed the Nazca lines in Peru?  What must it be like to witness a super nova as a star implodes?  And then the moon and its distancing itself from Earth sprung through my sleeping thoughts – and I awoke in a sense of panic.

Suddenly, I realized that in a mere 50 billion years the relationship between the Earth and our satellite would be over after a long and fruitful marriage.  The moon would become an errant wanderer.  There would be no more songs written about the moon, blue or otherwise.  The Earth’s tides would cease.  Our symbiotic relationship would be over.  Life as we know it today would be forever changed.

So I thought about this and was going to start a campaign that we immediately develop a scientific project to figure out a way to keep the moon in place where it is today, just where it belongs.  And then it hit me.  Before the moon escapes the grip of Earth’s gravity, in about 45 billion years, good old Sol is going to consume it’s fuel and turn into a red star, forever altering life on Earth by ending it.  I turned my focus to that startling event and realized that this was the predictable cataclysm which deserves our immediate attention.  And we have 5 billion fewer years in which to find a solution than in the moon’s escaping the Earth’s gravitational force.

Astronomers are discovering that our Milky Way contains hundreds of exo-planets which exist around their respective stars.  Some orbit their suns either too closely or too far to sustain life as we know it.  Some are far too large and the effects of their gravity would quickly crush a human being who ventured on their surface.  But with the incredible vastness of space, it seems inevitable that we will find a planet, or perhaps even many, that are capable of sustaining human life.  But that’s just the first part of the equation.  Then we have to get there.

With our present state of technology and keeping in mind Einstein’s premise that the speed of light is an absolute which cannot be exceeded, even if we were to find that our nearest neighbor, Proxima Centauri had planets which could support human life, it is 4.24 light years from Sol.  So picture a massive spaceship with a few thousand pilgrim/explorer/settlers/ on board, confined to a relatively small space for a period of time of longer than four years.  How would they get along for that amount of time when passengers on a plane here on Earth can barely handle sitting next to a stranger for four or five hours?  The solution might be putting them all into cryo-sleep for the time of the journey and resuscitating them on arrival.

This, of course, assumes that we were able to develop a propulsion system which allowed us to approximate the speed of light at 186,284 miles per second.  The fastest man made object to date was the Helios 2 probe, which sped along at slightly less than 150,000 miles per hour – which is about 1/24,000th the speed of light.  That would make our theoretical journey a 100,000 year long trip.  We have a lot of work to do not only in improving our technology to speed up our rate of travel but we probably need some collaboration from the Food Saver System to make sure those cryogenically frozen explorers don’t suffer from freezer burn.

Of course, even if we do find habitable planets in time and even if we develop the technology to shuttle some of our teeming masses to these brand new horizons, there is one factor which we probably won’t know until those stalwart souls show up at their new home.  Those planets may be occupied by intelligent beings who have very strict laws about the immigration to their world of alien creatures and might tell these voyagers to go home and get lost.  Now wouldn’t that be a pickle?

Some people see “global warming” as the issue which most challenges humanity on planet Earth.  But I would suggest they have a very unclear concept of the dangers which truly imperil us.  So I wish we would all get together and recognize that the moon’s wafting off into space and the sun’s ultimate burnout are the real threats to humanity’s survival.  And I wish someone would get busy and try to figure out a plan to insure that we could make it to alien worlds so that I can get a good night’s sleep and put an end to my nightmares.

SALAMIPHOBIA

There are few culinary treats that I find more satisfying than a thin slice of Genoa salami topped with a piece of aged provolone all sitting on a crisp bread such as that Swedish delight, Wasabrød.  What a multi-national treat, blending textures and flavors in an exquisite and elegant manner.   My mouth waters as I write this and I feel impelled to go out and purchase the ingredients to treat myself to one of life’s great pleasures.  And perhaps I had better hurry.

A friend recently forwarded a purported response by the mayor of Dorval, a suburb of Montréal in the province of Québec, Canada to Muslim parents who had demanded that the schools in that city remove all pork products from the cafeteria lunch rooms of the city’s public schools.  The mayor allegedly answered with the following message:

“MUSLIMS MUST UNDERSTAND THAT THEY HAVE TO ADAPT TO CANADA AND QUÉBEC, ITS CUSTOMS, ITS TRADITIONS, ITS WAY OF LIFE, BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE THEY CHOSE TO IMMIGRATE.”

“THEY MUST UNDERSTAND THAT THEY HAVE TO INTEGRATE AND LEARN TO LIVE IN QUÉBEC.”

“THEY MUST UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS FOR THEM TO CHANGE THEIR LIFESTYLE, NOT THE CANADIANS WHO SO GENEROUSLY WELCOMED THEM.”

“THEY MUST UNDERSTAND THAT CANADIANS ARE NEITHER RACIST NOR XENOPHOBIC, THEY ACCEPTED MANY IMMIGRANTS BEFORE MUSLIMS (WHEREAS THE REVERSE IS NOT TRUE, IN THAT MUSLIM STATES DO NOT ACCEPT NON-MUSLIM IMMIGRANTS).”

“THAT NO MORE THAN OTHER NATIONS, CANADIANS ARE NOT WILLING TO GIVE UP THEIR IDENTITY, OR THEIR CULTURE.”

“AND IF CANADA IS A LAND OF WELCOME, IT IS NOT THE MAYOR OF DORVAL WHO WELCOMES FOREIGNERS, BUT THE CANADIAN-QUÉBECOIS PEOPLE AS A WHOLE.”

“FINALLY, THEY MUST UNDERSTAND THAT IN CANADA (QUÉBEC) WITH ITS JUDEO-CHRISTIAN ROOTS, CHRISTMAS TREES, CHURCHES AND RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS, RELIGION MUST REMAIN IN THE PRIVATE DOMAIN.”

After reading the email I did some research and discovered that this interchange was a fabrication, a takeoff of a similar purported exchange between the Muslim community in a town in Belgium and its mayor – also a hoax.  But that isn’t the point, because the sentiment which was supposedly expressed by Dorval’s mayor is exactly what should be said by elected officials at every level in every civilized country in the world when an immigrant minority makes demands of their host countries that they must accommodate the newcomers’ ethnic or religious beliefs.

Those who object to these demands, which are often although not exclusively voiced by immigrant Muslims are vilified as being Islamaphobes. This is, at the least, a mischaracterization of the motivating attitudes of such critics.   A phobia is nothing more than a fear.  And it is my view that it is not fear which directs the outrage against some in the Muslim community or Islam itself.  It is anger, an anger that I admit to sharing, at the outrageous, barbarous and uncivilized behavior of any individual or group which says that, “I and I alone know the truth and if you disagree with my views you should die and I will be the agent of your death.”

Genoa salami is a creation normally made using pork.  I presume the fact that I enjoy it, not to mention a few other thoughts, attitudes and beliefs which I hold dear are sufficient to qualify me as an addition to the jihadi hit list.  I consider myself potentially a victim of what I can only describe as Salamiphobia.  But if I get taken out for my food choices, I am completely confident that I will go to that big deli in the sky where I will be able to place an order for some Genoa salami topped with a piece of aged provolone all sitting atop a crisp bread.  And I’ll say to myself, “Those fools don’t know what they’ve been missing.”

Every so often I get sucked into the manufactured hoopla of the day – and yesterday was one of those days.  It was Derby Day for the 141st time.  I used to enjoy the races until I saw one at Belmont in New York in which one of the horses broke his leg during the course of the race and was destroyed.  That soured me on the Sport of Kings.  But from time to time I have watched a leg of the Triple Crown and with nothing more important to do, I tuned in yesterday.

I had attended one of these events in person – the 100th running.  I had some friends who lived in the Cherokee Park area of Louisville who had kindly invited a friend and me to spend the weekend with them in their home.  It was a festive day indeed, with the ladies wearing outrageously bright, large hats and the mint juleps being poured with abandon.

Unfortunately, perhaps it’s a Yankee thing, but bourbon and I don’t agree.  I think it might be the high sugar content of the liquor – but even a small quantity makes me extremely ill.  But when you’re at Derby Day it’s an unwritten rule that you are expected to go with the flow.  So I accepted the julep after making an appropriate protestation and sipped at it very slowly.  And in the course of many hours at Churchill Downs sipped many more.  The result, of course, was predictable.  To borrow a phrase from Sir Winston, “I was drunk; I was horribly drunk; I was disgustingly drunk.”

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I was able to hold on to the bourbon in my stomach throughout the Derby and the other races after which we returned to my friends’ home.  I teetered to the lavatory in my room and knew that I had to relieve myself of all those mint juleps.  Unfortunately, I was so blotto that I couldn’t distinguish between the toilet (which had water in it) and the aquarium which also had water in it and a fair number of salt water fish.  So I inadvertently lifted up the cover to the tank, thinking it was the toilet lid, and out came spilling many mint juleps.  The result was that I felt a bit better but the alcohol was toxic to the fish – all of whom I killed in this process.

That was the last time that I received an invitation to attend the Derby.  Actually, that was also the last time I heard from these friends.  Alas.

Back in the days when Dad and I would attend the races, I remember that there were some outstanding jockeys.  The names Eddie Arcaro and Willie Shoemaker come to mind.  And as I watched the hour long pre-Derby show, I was struck at how things had changed.  Back in the fifties and sixties, the vast majority of the jockeys were Anglos (although that is a term that wasn’t in common use at the time).  At this year’s Derby, I would guess that at least three quarters of them riding in the big race were Hispanic.

And this, of course, started me thinking.  Is the real reason for Obama’s non-policy on immigration and a refusal to tighten the southern border merely a ploy to get more future jockeys into the country?  Is he merely distracting the public’s eye with his golf games when he really is a horse racing aficionado?  While I don’t have a definitive answer to that question it is something to think about.

We are now all familiar with the term “vetting” as it applies to politics.  Simply stated, it means that the prospective candidate’s background has been thoroughly reviewed (though I’ve never been clear by whom) and that there aren’t any nasty little bits of past history which would disqualify her or him from the office for which they are either running or to which they might be appointed.  The term actually comes from horse racing.  Veterinarians were supposed to examine horses to make sure that they had not been given any illegal substances which would enhance their performance.

This first thought naturally led me to a second thought.  Thanks to our veterinarians and technology, we now have the ability to “chip” our dogs and cats so that if they get lost, there is a record of the person to whom they belong so that they can be returned.  It’s a simple and virtually painless process.  So that thought led me to a third thought.

How hard would it be not only to have an identification chip but to have a GPS chip implanted in our pets.  Rather than wait for someone to turn Hondo or Tinkerbell in, we would be able to determine where they were and go right out and bring them home.  And if it works for our pets, why not do the same for those who immigrate to the country illegally?

Statistically, we know that eighty per cent of those who come into the country through our southern border do not show up at their scheduled immigration hearing and just blend invisibly into the population at large.  We could fix that problem with the use of a chip such as the one I have described.  Don’t show up at your hearing and you get picked up and sent back to whence you came.  “Hasta la vista, Baby.”

We have always and should continue to welcome people to the United States who want to make a better way of life for themselves and their families.  And we should actively develop an immigration policy which favors people with special skills that would benefit the country and its people.  But seriously, how many jockeys do we really need?

WEBSITES AND JUSTICE

A few months ago I was speaking with a chap at the dog park.  This fellow has two dogs of a breed I have never heard and although I’ve asked what they are several times, for some reason, I’m totally unable to retain the information.  It’s some sort of extremely unpronounceable Dutch name – and I’m usually pretty good about picking up foreign words.

Well, Jeff, the dog’s companion person, is a nice chap – although I wouldn’t call him the sharpest tool in the shed.  He would never make it as a politician since he is brutally honest – especially when it comes to past indiscretions for which he has been responsible in his 28 year old life.  I make a point of not asking people personal questions (at or away from the dog park), so I was surprised when I asked Jeff what was new and he explained he was about to go to court for a DUI.  He was quite familiar with the procedure since apparently this was the second time in two years that he was apprehended for the same offense.

In theory and as it appears on the books, DUI is a serious offense here in Las Vegas.  But apparently for around $3000 you can hire legal representation and somehow it all goes away – until the next time you’re caught.  I’ve often wondered if there were some split between the defense attorney and the court system – something that I would never have considered about ten years ago.  But with the general decline in morality and honesty, I suspect that might prove to be how the “system” actually works.  But that’s just a guess.

In previous conversations with Jeff I remember that he had been working part time in one of the clubs doing private security.  Considering his fondness for booze, it’s a good thing that Jeff does not carry a weapon while he is on duty.  In fact, he has expressed a blatant distaste for guns because we all know that “guns kill people.”  (I pointed out that people who drive cars while intoxicated kill about 15,000 per year in the U. S).  Jeff wasn’t overly impressed with that statement – or at least I surmised that to be the case.

I asked him if he was getting his defense fund from his folks.  (He lives at home with Mom and Dad).  He said that he had put up a page on GoFundMe.com to raise the money.  I was unaware of any such site and did not know what it was, so Jeff willingly informed me.  I thought the concept of soliciting donations from total strangers using the internet was incredibly interesting.  So naturally I went home and logged into the site to see what was there.  By the way, in a week, Jeff had raised over $800 towards his goal of $4,000.  You might remember that the actual cost was $3,000.  The extra grand was for “spending money,” although that was not stated in Jeff’s post.

I looked through quite a few of the posts on the website.  Some of them seemed a bit frivolous – but others were heart wrenching.  And I thought to myself, what a wonderful way for people to show their generosity to total strangers.  But when I thought about Jeff’s page and the fact that he was hoping to pocket a thousand dollars beyond the cost of his actual defense, I wondered how many of these appeals were legitimate and how many were merely a scam.  It’s terrible to feel so cynical but the more I look at people, the harder it is to have a great feeling about us as a species.

Well, I had forgotten all about the site until today.  I read a post by Jonathan Turley in which he denounced GoFundMe.com for taking down a page that was attempting to raise $600,000 as a defense fund for the six Baltimore police who have been charged with a multitude of offenses in the death of Freddie Gray.  The site was up for a little less than an hour and had raised just over $1,100 before it was “delisted.”  Apparently the reason for that was that GoFundMe does not allow posts in which the individual is charged with serious, felonious conduct.  I suspect that the logic is that the accused are not entitled to receive a good defense.  I think I read that line of reasoning somewhere in a KKK manual.

But I thought to myself, DUI is a serious crime.  Isn’t it a felony?  So naturally I looked it up.  As it turns out, a first or second DUI offense within a seven year period is normally charged as a misdemeanor in this state – unless there is death involved in one of the incidents in which case the felony charge will be filed.  So I guess that Jeff meets the terms of service of the site this time.   He’s only been caught drunk twice in the allowed time period and he has yet to kill anyone while driving intoxicated.  But I wonder what he will do the next time around.  And more importantly, I wonder if the juries who try these six cops subscribe to the GoFundMe.com philosophy of what is justice, how long they will be incarcerated, with or without the benefit of counsel.

On Saturday, May 2nd there will be a big fight in Las Vegas – just in case you missed hearing about it.  Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao will duke it out at the MGM in what is billed as “the fight of the century.”  (That would seem to be a bit premature as the century is only fifteen years old and who knows what is yet to come).

It is estimated that this fight will generate an insane amount of revenue and that Mayweather and Pacquiao will each earn in excess of $100 million in their 60/40 split.  Since boxing is inherently a violent sport and we know that all liberals would rather hand out flowers and give the peace sign to all passersby than engage in anything combative, I can only assume that conservatives whom the left points to regularly as being instigators of war, dissension and all the ills with which mankind is burdened will be the only people in attendance either in person or via the miracle of Pay Per View.

Further cementing my argument that only conservatives will have the desire to watch this contest is the left’s insistence on bringing to justice and avoiding any of those who engage in perpetrating the “War on Women,” (ISIS being a notable exception) is Mayweather’s rather checkered past in this regard.  His conviction in 2012 of domestic abuse resulted in an 87 day jail term of which he served 60 days.  Apparently the Australian government takes this sort of thing rather more seriously than the American people at large since they denied a visa to Mayweather to come to the Land Down Under to do a promotional tour.

It seems to me rather an anomaly that while we give lip service to the evils of violence, (note the recent protests regarding the violence allegedly inflicted on Freddie Gray in Baltimore, MD by six members of that city’s police department) we not only condone but actively participate in an act of violence because we define it as a sport, boxing.  This certainly demonstrates the human ability to be on both sides of an issue.  While we do not yet know how the charges which have been leveled against the officers who were involved in Mr. Gray’s apprehension and subsequent unfortunate death will be determined in a court of law, we do know that many professional and amateur fighters have died as a result of injuries that they sustained in the ring.

http://www.ranker.com/list/famous-people-who-died-of-boxing/reference

In some regard we have made the “sport” of boxing a bit more civilized than when the ancient Greeks participated in it in the early Olympics.  Then the fighters were matched irrespective of weight and rather than the soft gloves we use today, hard leather straps were wrapped around the fists of the fighters which often resulted in scarring when a solid punch was landed.  Of the three “combat sports,” boxing, wrestling and pantakrion, (a combination of the techniques of the first two), boxing was considered the most dangerous.

As we approach “the big fight” on Saturday, I was startled to learn that a ringside seat in the arena can cost a six figure price.  All to watch two men beat the tar out of each other.  Whatever the outcome of the fight, that we are still so involved as a species in not only witnessing but vicariously participating in what can only be described as a controlled act of violence speaks volumes to our evolution as people.  How much further might we go to satisfy our apparent blood lust?

The left has made the argument that our prisons are bursting at the seams and there is an over-representation among that population of minorities.  Both parts of that statement are true – although the reasons might be subject to debate.  While they have no difficulty supporting abortion on demand, they are horror struck that people are adjudged as having committed crimes that are so heinous as to be deemed worthy of the death penalty.  They point to the fact that we have more people on death row than the rest of the world combined.  That may be because organizations like ISIS don’t normally have a complex process of appeals that lasts for decades and generally dispense summary beheading.  I have also heard some on the most extreme fringe of the political spectrum argue that life in prison itself is “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Here’s a thought that would lower the prison population of people with life sentences or on whom the death penalty has been imposed, would both save us a boatload of money by reducing the numbers of those whom society has to support in our penal institutions and would raise a significant amount of money from blood lusting viewers.  I owe the origination of this thought to the fact that I happened to watch a broadcast of “Gladiator” the other night.

We offer those on death row and those with life sentences the opportunity to get out of jail by participating in a gladiatorial style conflict – a battle to the death. Whether the inmate chose to participate would be at her or his sole discretion.   If the participant survives three of these bouts, she or he is freed.  Now how simple is that?  If we were to implement this it would result in a guaranteed minimum reduction in the number of these criminals by at least 75%.  And consider that if four million people are willing to pay $100 to watch the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight on television, can you imagine what they would be willing to pay to watch a battle to the death?

You might, as a civilized person, recoil from this modest proposal.  I can certainly understand that.  Or perhaps you’re simply concerned that we are going to release some number of known violent criminals back into society.  But we know that under former DOJ Attorney General Eric Holder, hundreds of known violent offenders were let back into the general population.  At least those who were sufficiently depraved would have a few minutes of entertainment and the money from these fights could be heavily taxed to fund research into what there is in our DNA that allows far too many of us to act out violently and hopefully find a vaccine to prevent it in the future.

THUGS

I’m not sure how old I was but my first bicycle came with training wheels.  You may know the type if you’re old enough.  There were two extra tires attached to the back in order to stabilize me as I peddled down the street.  And then came the big day.  My father said that it was time to take off the training wheels and let my bicycle be a real bicycle with only its original two wheels to carry me on my voyage.  That was a day when I had a great deal of fear and trembling as I watched my father remove the two wheels on which I had come to rely.

We came down from the apartment with my newly stripped bike and my father helped me up into the seat.  I practiced mounting and dismounting several times, Dad holding the handle bars until I started to feel comfortable with doing it.  And then we took off, my father running at the side of the bicycle as I uncertainly wobbled down the street.  The wobbling was less noticeable the faster I went – but my father had a little problem keeping up at the faster speed.  And then, he let loose his grip and I was on my own, flying down the street with a big grin on my face.

Off we went to Central Park where I rode around for well over an hour, my confidence in my ability growing by the minute – but always under the watchful eye of my father should something unexpected happen.  This was in the days before helmets or body padding the thickness of the Great Wall of China.  If a kid fell off a bike there was a high likelihood that there would be some abraded skin – but that was life and if that child were smart enough would review what she or he did wrong to avoid a repeat engagement of the same kind.

Several weekends went by and my father always accompanied me on the biking outings.  Even though New York was safer than it is today, my parents were perhaps over-protective of their only child.  Or maybe they just took a deeper interest than parents today.  If I were to go to a friend’s apartment for a party, Dad always walked me there and picked me up when it was time to go home.  Even then there were evil people in the world – a fact that was lost on me but quite evident to my parents based on their own experience.

Well, about three weeks after I first got my taste of freedom, one Sunday Dad and I were off to the park when my father noticed that there was a parking space across the street which would be legal parking until Tuesday.  I think our De Soto spent more time looking for a parking space due to New York’s alternate side of the street rules than actually taking us anywhere, so if Dad could grab this spot he was set for two days.  (He took the subway to work).  So he rushed down the street to our car and left me in front of our apartment building holding my bike and waiting for his return so that we could go off to the park.

As I was waiting his return, a kid, probably four or five years older than I was, ran up to me, pushed me to the ground and stole my bike.  I tried running after him but he obviously had an advantage and he reached Park Avenue way ahead of me.  He turned the corner when I was still half way to the avenue and by the time I got to the corner he had disappeared.  My father saw me without my bike and although he gave up the wonderful parking space to give pursuit, we never saw that kid again.

That was the first time I heard the word “Thug.”  My dad used it to describe this boy’s actions both to me and to the police.  But, needless to say, the young criminal got away with his theft and I never saw that bike again.  If I were to make a guess, I would say that my assailant was Hispanic – probably Puerto Rican as most Hispanics in New York at that time came from that island.  Dad didn’t use the term “thug” to describe him because of his ethnicity but because of what he had done.  Theft and pushing little kids around was thuggish behavior – then as now.

The recent protests in Baltimore and elsewhere throughout the country have caused this word which I considered long dormant to resurface into the vocabulary of our media and politicians.  Obama used it to describe the criminals who earlier this week looted the CVS pharmacy, destroyed 144 cars and set fire to a row of apartment houses.  But there are some in this country who want to make the use of “thug” the center of our focus on what is happening in our inner cities – likening it to the pejorative term, “N*gger.”

Using the term thug proves to their minds that America is indeed a racist country.  What a waste of time – and, sadly, a large percentage of the media, either because of their extreme aversion to asking pithy questions or more frighteningly because they are unable to formulate them, is perfectly happy to play this game.  Media, give it a rest already.

There are some people in this world who are thugs, plain and simple.  They take advantage of others whether it’s through rude behavior or worse, behavior that is rightly illegal.  Destroying a car is an act of thuggery; throwing rocks at other people, police or otherwise, is an act of thuggery; setting an apartment building on fire is an act of thuggery; stealing a little kid’s bike is an act of thuggery.

Thugs should go to jail.  Hopefully, unlike the Mayor of Baltimore who apparently ordered the police to “stand down” as the rioters had their way under the theory that, “It’s only property,” those in positions of authority in cities where these demonstrations transgress the line from peaceful protest to outright thuggish behavior will take the appropriate action.  Society as a whole, black and white alike, would be better off with these rabble rousers under lock and key rather than roaming our streets and endangering our populace.

If there is any statement that we can make on America’s fifty year long “War On Poverty” on which all of us might agree it is that we have spent a great deal of money waging this battle.  In fact, we have spent $11 Trillion fighting the war – a war that by virtually every metric has been a failure.  As I write this, the classic cartoon Pogo came to mind:

 

 

 

For those who still see doing math as a worthwhile enterprise, I did a little bit of calculating of the amount of interest that is attributable to that large expenditure.  And adjusting for the various rates of interest that were current during that half century time span, one way of looking at both the War On Poverty and the National Debt is that if we had never engaged in this losing onslaught, there would be virtually no National Debt.  We’ve spent about $3 Trillion in interest to fund this project.  Of our official $17 Trillion National Debt, we can attribute a total of $14 Trillion to the War On Poverty.

It is rather mind boggling, but even at today’s near zero interest rate, the United States (or more exactly the citizens of the United States) accrue interest on this debt at the rate of an astounding one million dollars a second.  Of this, $820,000 is attributable to the money spent and interest accrued funding the War On Poverty.  Put another way, if we had never engaged in this futile effort in social engineering and justice, we could give a cash award of over three quarters of a million dollars to 86,400 Americans a day and in eleven years we would have distributed that to every American, man, woman or child, irrespective of their financial circumstances.  A reasonable person might argue – that would end the War On Poverty by ending poverty – or would it?

Only infrequently is mankind blessed with the birth of a Mozart.  But it is a common happenstance that we give birth to people who are tone deaf – the existence of karaoke being evident proof of that statement.  Seldom do we find people who have the genius and determination of a Thomas Edison or a Henry Ford, possessed of a vision and who worked to create a workable plan to transform the human experience, making a great deal of money in the process.  And seldom do we have people who understand how to make their money multiply many times over in order to assure a secure future for themselves and their posterity.

If the grand plan of distributing this three quarter million “dividend” to every American had in fact been implemented, I suspect we would see the same thing that we have seen repeatedly throughout human history.  Ten years later, a small percentage of those recipients would be incredibly wealthy; a significant portion of people would have a bit more than the original grant or slightly less; and a large portion of those who received this check would be dead broke and demand that they be taken care of by the government, just as is the case today.

Much of the talk about the cause of poverty is that it is a direct outgrowth of ignorance.  I agree with this premise but it is not the only factor.  In the old days, many workers were paid on the basis of “piece work.”  The greater the number of widgets a worker produced, the more he was paid.  If two workers, both illiterate grammar school dropouts, worked side by side and the first of these produced twice as many widgets as the second, his compensation, even though modest, would be twice the amount the second worker was paid.  So we see from this example that while ignorance is an impediment to success there are ways to overcome a lack of school learning or at least to mollify it.  A person’s willingness to work or work harder than his counterpart also plays a role in his success or failure.  And by inference, a refusal to work – to do something to improve a person’s own situation, is a virtual guarantee that person will be doomed, not by society, but by his own actions, to a life of poverty and need.

If there is a cure for poverty it might lie with science.  Perhaps some genius will be able to isolate the gene that contains the “Protestant work ethic” and implant it in all new embryos.  Or, even better, perhaps they can fuse it into nanobots and give us an injection which will, within a short time, instill that philosophy into each recipient.  Even better, perhaps they can lay their hands on the “common sense” gene.  If that were to come to pass, I suggest they begin the injections on Capitol Hill.

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