The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘Nancy Pelosi’

THE MATHEMATICS OF POLITICS

I remember my first job as though it were yesterday.  I was probably ten or eleven years old when I got hired.  Now I have to admit that I had an “in” getting the position.  My father ran the company.

On many Saturdays my father would go in to his office and take me along with him.  I particularly enjoyed that on days when it was raining and the prospect of spending time in Central Park on the swings had little appeal.  (That was back in the day when a youngster like myself was freely allowed to swing on these wonderful contraptions, before we viewed this as a life threatening exercise and prior to the time when we considered parents who permitted this to be guilty of child abuse and neglect).  Incidentally, with the hundreds of times I played on the swings I never suffered any injury which exactly mirrored the experience of my friends and classmates who similarly played on them.

There we were at Dad’s office.  There was no hustle and bustle as on a normal workday.  At most there were four or five employees in the whole place.  Mr. Chen, who wired lamps, might come in if Dad had received an influx of orders resulting from one of the trade shows that occurred around the country on a monthly basis.  I adored Mr. Chen.  He taught me to count to ten in Cantonese and showed me how to wire a vase and turn it into a lamp.  Under his close supervision I probably made forty or fifty lamps over the years.

I also liked Carmine who was in charge of the shipping department.  He would let me follow him, watching him pick inventory from the metal shelves which housed it, placing each item on one of the carts used to transport the merchandise until the order was complete and ready to go to the packers.  After following him over the course of several Saturdays, it occurred to me that I could pull the inventory and asked him if he would let me fill a small order – just to prove that I could.  After a moment’s hesitation he agreed.

And so off I went with my order and my cart.  By this time I knew in which rows various of the items could be found.  My biggest challenge was reading the handwriting of some of Dad’s salespeople – who would have gotten extra attention from my grammar school teachers who still believed that “neatness counts.”  The other challenge was that the inventory racks were quite high – and one of the items was on the top shelf – way too high for me to reach safely – either for me or the vase.  So I filled the rest of the order and told Carmine that I had left the cart in front of the remaining item but couldn’t get it down.  He smiled at me, I think recognizing that I had been prudent, walked over to the rack and finished the order.  After that he allowed me to help him whenever I asked to do so.

But my favorite department was billing.  Generally, the department was quiet on Saturdays.  But I had gotten an education in how to use the billing machines during a school break from the woman who was in charge of the department.  Her name was Rachael.  She had gorgeous black hair and a beautiful smile and was one of the most warm and friendly people I had ever met.  I asked my father why she was never there on Saturdays.

Dad explained that she was a Sabra, born in what was then Palestine and was an Orthodox Jew.  My father explained that Saturday was the end of her weekly Sabbath and that she was not permitted to do any work on the Sabbath.  My father also explained that he let her go home earlier than usual on Fridays, particularly during the winter, so she could get home before the Sabbath began.

Rachael had fought in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948.  That explained the ugly scar that extended down from the left side of her neck to below her very conservative dress.  That wound had happened as a result of her being in the wrong place when one of the Palestinians used a flame thrower against her.  In that same attack her brother had been burned so badly that he died as a result of his wounds.  So I only got to see Rachael occasionally.  But when my father knew that he would be bringing me to the office, she always gathered a number of orders that were ready for billing so that I could keep myself occupied.

Saturdays at Dad’s office usually started at around eight in the morning and by noon he had caught up with his paperwork and was ready to call it a day.  That meant I was going to get paid for my efforts.  That compensation took the form of lunch at Vito’s, two doors down from our office.  Since I’m pretty sure that my father would have fed me anyway, I guessed that I was really working for free.  But that was okay with me since I felt that I was getting on the job training and was, in some indirect way, helping out and making the business more successful.

Vito’s was – well, it was a dump – but the food was terrific.  Vito had figured out that the truck drivers and office workers who worked in the neighborhood and patronized his restaurant were more interested in getting a good meal at a good price than they were in ambiance.  And there was no better food than one of Vito’s meatball sandwiches served in a crusty Italian roll and slathered with a generous helping of his homemade marinara sauce.  This was not food for the chic because there was no way to consume it without getting sauce on your chin and fingers.   Notwithstanding, I think even Emily Post would have approved of a meal at Vito’s.

I hadn’t really thought much about my first job experience until yesterday when I read that San Francisco had voted to phase in a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour over the next few years.  As I thought about it, my father probably violated Federal and NY state child labor laws not to mention the minimum wage laws which were in effect at the time.  While I was unaware of these back then, I am glad to report that despite this parental “abuse” I didn’t suffer any permanent psychological or other damage as a result.  I didn’t realize that my father was taking advantage of me.  I actually looked at the experience as providing me with an education in how business worked.  As it turned out, those Saturdays at my father’s office helped me in my own business many years later.

Now I realize there are divergent views on whether raising the minimum wage is a good or a bad thing.  Those who support increasing the minimum wage make arguments that include “paying a livable wage is a fundamental matter of equity” and often characterize those with a different view as being “cold, heartless people who put profits over people.”  Together with that assessment is the implied or stated view that these same people would be perfectly happy if all these minimum wage workers just died.  Of course, that  takes the issue beyond the boundaries of having a real debate on the merits or demerits of such a raise and turns it into a name-calling event.

Let’s set aside the counter-argument that any raise in the minimum wage will result in further automation of some of those positions, meaning that there will be fewer workers earning more – or, in fact, anything – and focus on the purported cupidity of businesses – interested in maximizing profits – even at the expense of personnel.  If we accept the credo that businesses are simply motivated by profit, we need to consider what the net cost of a wage increase does to the bottom line.

Wages are a fully deductible expense to a business – so any increase in the minimum wage would, to some extent, be offset by a reduction in state and federal income taxes that would be collected.  Perhaps more importantly, we hear anecdotal stories about minimum wage workers who are unable to make it on the income from their employment and who qualify for various welfare programs.  Wouldn’t raising their hourly rate potentially exclude some of them from being the continuing beneficiaries of these programs – thus saving not only their employing companies but all taxpayers from providing these benefits?  If that’s the case, the intelligent business person should eagerly embrace such a wage increase.

Perhaps the greatest flaw in the minimum wage argument is that it suggests by the mere act of guaranteeing a higher minimum wage, whatever that number might be, it will impel the country into a new age of prosperity.  If that were the case, we could eliminate world poverty by suggesting to the governments of Mexico, Sri Lanka and Liberia among others,  that they adopt an American style minimum wage for all their citizens.

The citizens of San Francisco voted in this minimum wage increase overwhelmingly.  They also returned Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a staunch advocate of the measure, to the House with 82.4% of the vote.  I wonder why she never thought of my simple solution to world poverty herself.

FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD

 

When my parents took me to see “The Wizard of Oz” my mother shushed me for speaking out after the above scene was shown on the screen.  I didn’t understand why Dorothy went around the road at its circular beginning instead of just starting at the part of the road where it straightened out.  I think Mom believed she had released a hellion on the world.  Maybe so.

This, of course, brings me to she of our time who is the queen and diva of convoluted thinking , Nancy Pelosi.  Possibly of all time – although I haven’t reached that conclusion quite yet.

Leader Pelosi has categorized the recent Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court, granting that company an exemption from the Obamacare mandate on providing abortifacients as just one more bomb in the war on women.  Furthermore, she categorized the five male Justices as being participants in that war, if for no other reason, because of their gender.  Well, everyone is entitled to her opinion – however warped it might be.  But let’s see where this kind of thinking on the part of the liberal left, of whom Ms. Pelosi is an outstanding example, logically leads us.

For purposes of this conversation, let’s assume that Ms. Pelosi is correct.  A man simply cannot properly adjudicate an issue that is related to women simply because of a difference in our sexual apparatus .  But the “logic” of this argument would suggest that having a different experience de facto disqualifies a person from making judgments about others whose experience is different from their own.

Certainly if it’s true that a man should have no involvement in questions regarding women, it should be equally true that women should have no involvement in questions regarding men.  While I have never heard anyone on the left make that statement it does seem logical enough to me.  But should we stop there?

Let’s take the case of a man who is accused of rape.  Obviously, a woman should not serve on a jury adjudicating this case as her lifelong experience has been different from that of the male rapist and therefore it is impossible for her to come to an objective determination because she lacks the mindset to do so as a simple result of her gender.

But if that is true, then might we not go further?  Should we not restrict the jury pool not only just to men, but to men who have themselves also been accused of committing rape?  Would they not be the best  equipped to understand the mind of the accused rapist – far better than the general population – and therefore be better able than others to cut through all the legal jargon and actually penetrate to  the crux of the matter?

It disturbs me that someone who holds a position of “leadership” in our government and at one time was third in line of succession to the presidency does not understand that it is not the role of the Congress to critique the Supreme Court but it is the role of the Court to critique the laws which Congress enacts.  More disturbing is that Pelosi will win re-election by overwhelming margins until she dies or retires.

But perhaps there is hope.  I have dropped her an email explaining that the Yellow Brick Road on the way to Oz begins just off of San Francisco near Fisherman’s Wharf and submerged only about thirty feet under the Pacific’s surface.  Perhaps she will lead a brigade of her supporters on a journey to Oz, thereby making the country and the world safer for the rest of us.  Bon voyage!

THE HAPPY HOOKAH

The year was 1971 and Xavier Hollander published her memoir, “The Happy Hooker,” the recounting of her life as a call girl and madam.  The book caused quite a stir since polite people didn’t want to acknowledge the existence of the world’s oldest profession let alone be confronted with a description of a real person’s life as a prostitute.  If the book were published today, it would probably only receive a ho hum reception.  We’ve got far more juicy topics to appeal to our prurient interests.

Society has changed.  Mass shootings only occurred in wars, not schools and movie theaters.  Gay men frequently got married in order to cloak their true sexual orientation and found sexual partners in public bathrooms and bathhouses.  Smoking tobacco was viewed as a chic habit in which sophisticated ladies engaged and was part of being a macho guy.  And marijuana was something that was viewed exclusively as a habit in which only the nation’s hippies engaged.

In 1971 the United States was the world’s leader in steel production, although Japan was rapidly nipping at our heels.  Today the United States has slipped to third.  We are now behind Japan and produce only fifteen percent the amount that China makes each year.  Our national debt in 1971 was $400 Billion, about one-third of our $1.2 Trillion GDP.  Today we are over $17 Trillion in debt with a GDP of only $15.27 Trillion.  That number is the “official” level of the debt – although estimates which include our unfunded liabilities for Medicare and Social Security put the total closer to $100 Trillion.  Does any of this matter to your average American?

The answer, were you to ask your average Joe Citizen probably would be, “No.”  That should not surprise us.  A large segment of our population cannot tell you the year in which the colonies declared their independence, the country from which we separated or the name of the first president of the United States.  When you have teenagers and young adults who think that one of our three branches of government is the DMV, something as arcane as the National Debt is unlikely to garner much attention.

Perhaps the greatest evidence of the public’s apathy toward our debt is the fact that we regularly re-elect individuals to Congress and the White House who are equally oblivious to the problem – or at least a person could surmise as much from the fact that they continue the same policies which have led to these increases.  In fact, they have escalated them.

There should be one lesson that each of us can take from preparing our tax returns and that is that the government has no money of its own – only what it is able to take from its citizens.

“Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.  There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there..”

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.”

– President Obama in a speech in Roanoke, VA, July 14, 2012

Recently, the CBO suggested that Obamacare might cut an additional two million jobs out of the economy.  Most people would construe that as a bad thing since having a job eliminates a person from the pool of the jobless who collect unemployment benefits which adds to the National Debt and causes them to pay income taxes which should help reduce it.  But not the crafters of the law – especially the former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D – CA).

“Yesterday, the CBO projected that by 2021, the Affordable Care Act will enable more than 2 million workers to escape ‘job-lock’ — the situation where workers remain tied to employers for access to health insurance benefits.”

The former Speaker went on to extoll how this would free a person to go out and fulfill their inner dreams – to become a poet or painter.  And if we believe the president’s statement that “they didn’t do that on their own” we realize that he was correct.  They will only be able to be free to explore their inner genie because those remaining on the tax rolls will be funding them.

There were both in Chicago where I lived and in Las Vegas, cities with significant Middle Eastern populations, a number of hookah bars where friends would gather to smoke tobacco using these ancient water pipes and share news of their families and their businesses with their friends.

While currently only Washington state and Colorado have legalized marijuana for recreational use, I believe that D. C. is the next logical candidate for legalization.  If our elected officials were seen coming out of a marijuana hookah bar at least we would have a cogent reason for understanding how they can continue to endorse and promote policies that epitomize total obtuseness.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC?

When I was a child, one of my friends invited me to a Birthday Party at her home.  Her parents had hired a man whose name was “Peter Presto-digitato”.  He was a magician.

PP entertained us kids for about a half hour.  He made all sort of things appear out of thin air.  This included coins, bunny rabbits and a scarf that was long enough to have circled the globe at least once.  We were all highly taken with this young man and his command of the supernatural.

There are some who claim that there is no magic – merely misdirection.  Clearly, former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi is in that camp – particularly the misdirection part.

The other day, Ms. Pelosi organized a “team photo” shoot of the female members of her caucus on the steps of the Capitol.  Unfortunately, four members of that group were late to the party – and because it was a blustery day in Washington, (when isn’t it at least verbally so), rather than waiting for the late arrivals, the former Speaker authorized the go-ahead to take the picture so that the frail members shouldn’t get too much exposure to the mid-50’s weather.

The photo was published – and then re-published.  Presto digitato, the missing four members were included in the second picture.  Of course, the former Speaker defended this alteration, which I found strange since when we took our Grammar School yearbook pictures, children in the class who might have been ill on the day of the photo shoot were merely listed as being absent.

This is the link to the Yahoo News Story and the two photos.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/nancy-pelosi-defends-doctored-photo-women-congress-174037761–election.html

Of course, making things appear that weren’t there formerly is not the greatest trick in the world of magic.  Apparently the former Speaker has learned her craft in the same school as Peter Presto-digitato.  But when it comes to the higher forms of the esoteric art, I bow to the great genius of David Copperfield.  He makes things disappear.

I’m thinking about starting a fund to raise money to hire Mr. Copperfield for a special mission.  Does anyone know the former Speaker’s address in California?

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