Archive for the ‘Opinions’ Category

Questions

January 25, 2013

I am leaving politics and reality aside for a moment. I want to explore this without any practical, real-life application. The third question is the most practical question and it also meant theoretically.

Question 1: Should someone who hustles, works more hours, works with more dedication, etc be rewarded more than someone who does not?
Clarification: This does not mean the person does a better job, is smarter, or is more efficient.

Question 2: Should there someone who refuses to work or works without vigor be unrewarded?
Clarification 1: This is not including people who are incapable of doing any work.
Clarification 2: This question is not addressing whether there is opportunity or need. When responding to this question, assume that the person in question is capable and is currently employed.

Question 3: Does the government’s payments to individuals and larger entities (companies, countries, etc) encourage or teach them to conform to government desires?

Question 4: Should the government encourage non-productive people to kill themselves?
Clarification: Non-productive people are incapable of working in any capacity.

Question 5: Should the government encourage people to be non-productive?

What do you think?

Advertisements

To Rome, with Love

July 25, 2012

The movie was very strange. It was an attempt to be nostalgic. I imagine it would be a better film for people who have already visited Rome for a significant amount of time.
There are 3 story lines that run independent of each other. They don’t intertwine. None of them seem completely believable, in fact, each of them leans heavily towards the ridiculous.
The feel of this movie is very similar to the feel of some off-off-broadway shows that I’ve gone to, except those shows had better dialogue.
Woody Allen is funny.
I don’t like Opera, but this film made the Opera singer funny.

Everything else was pretty much a waste.
4 out of 10. Add a star if you spent a significant amount of enjoyable time in Rome. Remove a star if you dislike Alec Baldwin.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Komen vs Planned Parenthood

February 3, 2012

There’s been a lot of noise this week about Komen’s announcement that they changed their rules. Their new rules included that they will no longer provide grants to any organization that is under investigation. Once they applied this rule, however, only one organization was affected – Planned Parenthood.

Immediately upon hearing this announcement, many people took great offense and started sending out tweets and posting blogs protesting Planned Parenthood’s exclusion. Also, some corporations, politicians, and individuals began donating directly to Planned Parenthood. Within a couple of days, Planned Parenthood donation pace was too great for them to provide a solid number of money received – and instead estimated about $400,000.00 raised in 48 hours that were directly caused by Komen’s decision.

Today, Komen decided that the protesters were correct and they should, in fact, be funding grants to Planned Parenthood.

For me this exposed that Komen doesn’t do direct research. I thought the money that I and others donated to them went directly towards cancer research. After all, their catch-phrase is “race for the cure”!
I don’t know how many people knew that Komen provides money to cancer screenings and questionable breast exams. I didn’t. Would I have donated to them with that knowledge? Probably not. I thought my money was going exclusively towards cancer research. After spending more time on their site, I see they spend a lot of money on things that are unrelated to cancer research.

People were upset because as soon as they heard that it involved Planned Parenthood, they automatically thought of abortion. Of course, anyone whose ever called Planned Parenthood for a non-pregnancy issue, knows that they do far more than just abort fetuses (which is a valuable thing on its own). Because of the natural association between Planned Parenthood and abortions, people decided that Komen was making an anti-abortion statement.

This reasoning ignored that Komen was initially funding PP and that Komen had a legitimate reason to cut funding. After all, if you are in the grant business, you should be responsible that the grants are made to deserving, transparent, and ethical organizations.

The Congressional investigation, launched by Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), into whether PP had illegally misused federal monies is, on its face, a legitimate reason for a responsible organization to be cautious.

Stearns, “I am leading a formal investigation into taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, which receives over $1 million a day in taxpayer money. Repeated cases of Planned Parenthood ignoring state and local reporting requirements, many involving minors, and allegations of financial abuse led to this investigation ā€“ the first ever oversight conducted on this group. We are still working with Planned Parenthood on getting the records and documents for the investigation, and Iā€™m interested in holding a hearing depending on what the investigation discovers.ā€

However, today’s press release is the smart political decision even if it’s not necessarily the best policy decision.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Primary Field

January 25, 2012

This is a break-down as of January 25, 2012.

Obama
Weaknesses:

  • Economy is still weak.
  • Perception that he isn’t doing anything/ineffective.
  • Perception that he doesn’t care about his job performance.
  • Perception that he allows political games to prevent him from doing what’s right for the country.
  • Perception that he’s weak on foreign threats.
  • He pushed through a large, expensive insurance reformation while the country was dealing with economic instability.
  • Perception that his political views aren’t consistent.

Strengths:

  • He pushed through a major insurance reformation even while the country was dealing with economic instability!
  • He’s the incumbent.
  • He appears presidential.
  • His base is large and it is virtually impossible to lose their support.

Romney
Weaknesses:

  • Perception that he made his money solely by firing people.
  • Perception that (some of) his policies are too left-wing.
  • Unanswered questions about his financial dealing (offshore accounts).
  • Perception that his political views aren’t consistent.

Strengths:

  • He has large name-recognition.
  • As a former republican governor from Massachusetts, he can work with Democrats.
  • He has been through the primary season before, so he should be equipped to succeed.

Gingrich
Weaknesses:

  • He has aligned himself with Sarah Palin.
  • Perception that he’s a weasel.
  • Perception that he’s two-faced.
  • Perception that he’s immoral.
  • Perception that he took money from places that he advocated and advocates shutting down.
  • Perception that he’s unstable.
  • Perception that he cares more about himself than the Republican party or the country.
  • Perception that his political views aren’t consistent.

Strengths:

  • He has aligned himself with Sarah Palin.
  • He is a good orator.
  • He rabble-rouses effectively.
  • He currently espouses Conservative principles that resonate with his base.

Paul
Weaknesses:

  • Perception that he’s kooky.
  • Perception that he’s a racist.
  • Perception that he’s antisemitic.
  • Perception that he’s weak on foreign policy.
  • Perception that he has no chance to win the nomination.
  • Perception that he’s old.
  • His base tends not to vote in elections.

Strengths:

  • He resonates well with young, idealistic, and conspiratorial people.
  • He appeals to some libertarians.
  • Perception that his political views are consistent.

Santorum
Weaknesses:

  • Little name recognition.

Strengths:

  • His ideology would resonate with the Conservative base, if they knew about him.
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Dems: We want our Weiner out

June 14, 2011

The bandwagon of politicians calling for Anthony Weiner’s resignation is filling up. Today’s NY Daily News quotes President Barack Obama as saying “If it was me, I would resign”.

Anthony and I don’t agree politically. I don’t particularly like him.

However, so far, none of his disclosed extra-curricular activities warrant him resigning his job. Barring any new revelations, he hasn’t committed any crimes.

I think non-indicted elected officials have an obligation to stay in office until their term completes. (It was wrong for Sarah Palin to leave her governorship and it was wrong for Trent Lott to resign his senatorial seat. However, people who commit crimes, like Alan Hevasi and Charlie Rangel should have resigned immediately.)

If there was a chance that his electorate would choose a better politician, maybe I’d be tempted, but we all know they are just going to elect another Schumer clone. So, what’s the point? All it will do is cost us money to run a special election.

Therefore, I implore Anthony Weiner to think of his obligation to New York City and not resign.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Release the photos

May 5, 2011

President Barack Hussein Obama announced late Sunday night that U.S. Navy Seals (USNS) killed Osama bin Laden (ObL).
The White House (WH) announced that there was video and photos of ObL.
WH officials promised on Tuesday that they will release some of the pictures of a dead ObL shortly.
President Obama announced on Wednesday that he will prevent the release of any photos or videos.
There are reasons not to release the photos.
1. Barack said “We don’t need to spike the football. That’s not who we are. We don’t trot out this stuff as trophies.” 1
2. Releasing photos and videos might incite a national security risk. 1

There are reasons to release the photos.
1. If the USNSs killed ObL, and there’s no evidence, yet, that they didn’t, they acted as representatives of the entire U.S. population. All Americans should have the option of seeing or not seeing what their representatives did in their name.
2. The many attacks on U.S. weren’t just on people serving in Yemen or Kabul; living in New York or Pennsylvania or Washington, DC; or flying on airplanes. The many attacks were directed against each and every American, regardless of race, creed, or political affiliation. As such, each of us deserves to see our self-declared enemy in the least regal pose possible.
3. (A famous commentary, Rashi, explains in the book of Exodus (14:30) that “god” made the Reed Sea deposit the dead Egyptian pursuers onto the shore so surviving Jews could see that their tormentors were really dead and didn’t just escape to a different shore.) Regardless of whether the photos and videos can be faked, and I’m sure they can be, it’s important for us, the survivors of ObL’s attacks, to see that he is, in fact, dead.
4. Transparency. Senator Obama promised that, if elected, his administration would be transparent.
Senator Obama should have released his birth certificate as soon as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton raised it as an issue in 2008. President Obama should have released his long form birth certificate when, after he won the election, people questioned the veracity of his certificate of live birth.
The President serves the people. He should be transparent.

I disagree that releasing the photo is only a trophy or a celebratory act. If releasing the photos will really incite violence, which I doubt*, than allow every adult American the option to view it in a secure location, but do not release it to the media or to non-Americans.

*Why would releasing a photo incite violence? Would it incite violence because it would “show” a bloody ObL or “prove” that ObL died? I imagine that most al-Queda members won’t believe the photo. They wouldn’t be incited by a fake photo. There is already a doctored photo of a bloodied and dead ObL on the internet, it hasn’t incited violence.

1 – Daily News, Thursday May 5, 2011, page 4

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Not all it’s quacked up to be

March 15, 2011

Friday. Japan hit by a major earthquake and a horrific tsunami. Unthinkable amount of people are killed and multiple thousands of people are still missing.

Saturday. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried makes some jokes about Japan using his private twitter.com account.

Sunday. Aflac, an insurance company that employed Gottfried to voice their mascot duck, fires Gottfried for being insensitive.

“Gilbert’s recent comments about the crisis in Japan were lacking in humor and certainly do not represent the thoughts and feelings of anyone at Aflac,” Michael Zunda, the company’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

“Aflac Japan — and, by extension, Japan itself — is part of the Aflac family, and there is no place for anything but compassion and concern during these difficult times.” He added that the company was giving the International Red Cross 100 million yen (U.S. $1.2 million) to aid in disaster relief.

I think Alfac made a mistake. Either by hiring a comedian in the first place or by acting like his tweets are a big deal.
First, the few tweets I saw from him were funny. Distasteful, certainly. But, also, very funny.
Second, what do you expect from a comedian? This is what they do.
Third, no one would suspect that his tweets reflect Aflac’s thoughts or feelings. In fact, no one thinks that Gottfried doesn’t feel badly about the situation in Japan. Jokes and personal feelings often diverge.

I think the whole thing is overblown.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Public School Funding

February 16, 2011

In the NY Daily News for Wednesday Feb 16, 2011 on page 7 there’s a story about public school funding.

The article states that NYC public schools received $649 less per student than NYC charter schools. NYC public schools received $16,011 per student while NYC charter schools received $16,660 per student.

16,000-plus dollars a year per student is too much money. The city should cut spending per student by half. $8,000 per year per student is still high, but is much more reasonable.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Federal Politician Tax

February 2, 2011

There’s been a lot of talk over the past 24 months about the economy and the ability for the credit rating of federal, state, and local governments to stay strong.
Usually these conversations focus on cutting spending and increasing governmental funds.
The governments are always looking for ways to increase revenue. They increase license fees, taxes, penalties for simple mistakes, penalties for not complying with their ideas of health, etc.

When politicians announce their new tax ideas (let’s be honest and call it what it is, a tax), they usually try to paint the victims as greedy/wrong and they extol the virtues of having the extra funds.

In general I don’t favor increasing taxes. I think the average person struggles to get by day-to-day and should have fewer taxes.

However, I do acknowledge that there are governmental services that need funding. (I can argue that there is too much spending, but politicians would never cut spending intelligently.)

So, how do you keep spending at its current levels without increasing taxes on the citizenry or running up a deficit?

The common answer to this question is to isolate a small segment of the population (so they can’t defend themselves), demonize them, and apply a levy. Examples of this are “rich” folk who are greedy, “smokers” who are sick and dirty, “soda drinkers” who are sick and gluttons, “bridge-crossing drivers” who ruin the environment and didn’t really need to cross the bridge, “drivers with a visible cell phone” who cause accidents, etc.

A while back I was watching a news show and they showed how the personal finances of federal congress representatives increase tremendously once they start serving.

As much as people lament that all the personal investigations into politician’s past and characters will lead to fewer candidates for public office, this has not proven itself to be true. It’s clear that there will always be people who will aspire to public office so they can gain power they lack and control others.

Therefore, it seems like the solution is simple. Add a new, large (non-deductible) tax for all federal politicians. This includes all members of both houses of Congress and all members of the Executive branch. I would not levy this tax on Supreme Court members unless there was accurate data showing that their personal finances also increase far beyond their federal salary.
This tax would begin from the day they are sworn in and end when they could prove that they are not earning far beyond their federal salary/pension.

The advantage of this plan is average Americans wouldn’t be harmed by politician’s frivolous spending. Federal, State, and Local governments would have a large funding stream that allow essential programs to continue without worries. And, it would allow politicians to finally contribute towards society.

Of course, one major problem with this plan is the necessity to have Congress vote for it and the President sign it. That is highly unlikely.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Wedding and Israel

December 7, 2010

I spent a lot of time researching the best time to take my vacation this Winter. I negotiated with my managers over the course of three weeks before we settled on dates.
Finally, on November 1, 2010 I purchased my tickets to fly to Israel on January 23, 2011 and to New York on February 6, 2011.

I informed my parents and siblings of my plans and I let my ex-wife know that I would be unavailable during those two weeks.

One of my younger sisters decided to accept a marriage proposal just prior to Thanksgiving.
A couple of weekends ago she warned me that they were considering a January 30th wedding. I informed her that I already purchased my ticket and if they held it that date, I probably wouldn’t be there.

On Friday December 3, 2010 she informed that they did, in fact, book the wedding for January 30th.*

I didn’t want to change my plans, but I felt like I was “required” to research my options. I called the airline. They told me I’d be charged a minimum of $250.00 to change my flight plans.
I spoke to my management. They didn’t want to be blamed (how they phrased it) for keeping me from attending my sister’s wedding, so they agreed to re-open negotiations to plan my vacation dates. However, they made it clear that they wanted me to go on vacation sooner rather than later.

(Basically, they expect a lot of projects to begin in February 2011, so they want all hands on deck.)

I called my brother in Israel to find out what he was doing and to hear what he thought. He’ll be coming in for her wedding. He offered to let me use his apartment while he’s away (especially if his whole family travels with him). He agreed that I am not obligated to change my plans because they knew the situation before they chose January 30.


* When I ask people advice, they usually ask why is she getting married so soon after meeting the guy and why does she need to get married on that particular weekend?
I haven’t spoken to her about it. However, I think my dad is imposing his belief that engagements should be short. This belief might work for ultra-Orthodox Jews and its practice might be appropriate for people who buy into that way of life, but I think it’s a mistake for my sister.
My sister is a sincere, god-believing, ethical, Orthodox-practicing, commandment keeping person. But she is not ultra-Orthodox.
She should have a “normal” Orthodox engagement period of 3 to 6 month. I hope I’m wrong, but I believe that this shortened time line will have negative repercussions.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.