Monday, January 20, 2014

“I just want what is fair for everybody…”

If I’ve heard that line once, I’ve heard it hundreds of times on those occasions when I end up discussing business, economic, and public policy issues with members of the clergy. With the uptick in minimum wage worker strikes over the past few months (we saw another “round” of them at Wal-Mart stores this past week), I’ve had these conversations quite frequently.

What is striking to me is that the starting point for many of these Pastors, Priests and Rabbi’s is to say that they are standing up for “workers’ rights.” But often when I ask them the most basic questions about business and economic matters – “why do some jobs pay better than others?” “What wages and salaries are fair for business owners?” “How are jobs created?” – the answer I get is “I don’t know much about economics…I just want what is fair..”

Karl Marx would certainly appreciate this stance on labor relations – it presumes the absolute best about workers, and the absolute worst about business owners, no matter how virtuously or how poorly either party behaves. But Marxism aside, there are several good reasons why the faith leaders’ stance on labor and work is severely misguided.

It ignores a major player in the labor market - The protests and demonstrations centered on the plight of employees who work for a minimum wage all seem to conveniently ignore another important party in the labor market – employers. Gathering people to “rage” against business owners is consistent with the teachings of Karl Marx, but is it constructive, and does it fit with the faith leaders’ professed beliefs?

Presumably many of the faith leaders crying out for “worker justice” also provide pastoral counseling services as part of their professional and ministerial duties. But would any good clergyman attempt to do marital counseling with only one spouse in the room? Probably not. And while the employer-employee relationship is not a marriage, it is nonetheless a relationship – so why are religious leaders championing the needs and interests of one party while not even considering the needs and interests of the other?

If the faith leaders involved in this activity actually cared for everybody involved in the labor dispute – and cared enough to actually listen to the local small business owners in their communities – they might actually learn why it is that some jobs are regarded as “entry level” and therefore don’t pay very well. It is sad to see clergymen, purporting to uphold the “dignity of the worker,” nonetheless acting as though business owners themselves are something less than a “worker,” and thus seeking to demonize them.

It ignores another important player in the labor market - With all the attention showered upon the restaurant and retail workers who walk off the job so they can go chant, walk a picket line, and talk to news reporters, an important fact gets lost in the milieu: an overwhelming majority of workers earning minimum wage at restaurants and big box stores are – thankfully – NOT walking off the job.

On the contrary, most of them are diligently performing the tasks assigned to them in the job they agreed to accept, and are perhaps focusing their energies on advancing within their existing company or eventually finding a better job.

Coddling disgruntled workers who clock-in at their job and then walk off the work site is like an elementary school teacher focusing all attention on the few kids that are misbehaving and ignoring the students who are performing well. And no business management strategist would advise employers to focus on problem behavior while ignoring productive employees. When faith leaders bestow honor to a worker who seeks to undermine their employer, they make a mockery of the majority of workers who fulfill their responsibilities and play by the rules.

It undermines more skilled workers – As well intentioned as the faith leaders’ efforts might be as they try to exhibit empathy for low-skilled, low wage earning workers, they are slapping many skilled workers in the face. It’s as if members of the clergy have no comprehension of the struggle many Americans willingly face in order to get themselves educated, to develop new skill sets, and to remain viable in the marketplace.

The minimum wage debate strikes to the heart of this struggle. As they stand with striking fast food workers who demand a fifteen dollar an hour wage, many faith leaders appear clueless about how many other kinds of jobs in our economy require education, degrees, and certifications, yet don’t pay much more than fifteen dollars an hour.

Take “I.T.” technicians, dental assistants, teacher’s aids and medical assistants as examples. People who work in these fields usually have to take courses, pass tests, and acquire certificates and licensures in order to qualify for a job in their field, and they often spend hundreds if not thousands of their own dollars to get appropriately trained. Yet many of them earn wages in the $10 to $25 an hour range – in some cases not much more than what disgruntled fast food workers are demanding.

When faith leaders argue that workers with low skill levels are deserving of the same or nearly the same wages as workers who have sought to develop their skills, they undermine people who have disciplined themselves and have pursued the difficult task of self-development. It is saddening to see faith leaders ignore this.

It fails to address the real problem – Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you’ve probably heard about the tremendous economic success of specific regions around the U.S. Take for example, North Dakota. This little state is in the midst of a big economic boom that has produced low un-employment and wages for many low skill workers that are well over the mandated minimum wage.

That’s because the people of North Dakota have wisely chosen to utilize their natural resources – oil in particular – and to sell that resource around the world. The oil-based energy industry is creating genuinely new wealth in that state, which has in turn elevated wages in nearly every sector of the economy (even at Wal-mart!).

The problem of low wages will not be solved by merely seeking to re-distribute increasing portions of wealth out of the hands of the few and into the hands of the chosen – as the demand for a higher minimum wage does. Rather, the problem will only be addressed when Americans begin to understand the key ingredients that required in an economy that creates wealth and prosperity for all.

Will America’s faith leaders begin to learn what those ingredients are? Or will they simply continue to pursue some arbitrary understanding of “fairness” while not understanding the slightest thing about economics?

Climate change has been a popular topic of conversation lately and it appears the United Nations is taking a stand on the environmental changes. The UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres, also apparently knows about how government systems affect the climate. Oh wait, no she doesn’t.

She stated earlier this week that democracy is a poor political system for fighting global warming. She also said that communist China is instead the best model.

Even though China is the world’s top emitter of carbon dioxide and struggles with major pollution issues of their own, apparently Ms. Figueres thinks that means they are “doing it right” when it comes to fighting global warming.
“Figueres added that the deep partisan divide in the U.S. Congress is “very detrimental” to passing any sort of legislation to fight global warming. The Chinese Communist Party, on the other hand, can push key policies and reforms all on its own. The country’s national legislature largely enforces the decisions made by the party’s Central Committee and other executive offices.”
I guess the UN chief forgot that communism was responsible for 94 million deaths in China, the Soviet Union, North Korea, Afghanistan and Eastern Europe in the 20th century. China alone caused 65 million of those. But clearly that means that communism is a great political system that we should all try to emulate.

But maybe one could say that has nothing to do with their energy resources. Well in 2012 China got 9 percent of its power from renewable sources, whereas the U.S. got 11 percent.

Oh and don’t forget that the Wall Street Journal noted that China’s air quality was so bad that it had roughly 1.2 million people die prematurely in 2010 as a result of air pollution. And Chinese government figures say “lung cancer is now the leading cause of death from malignant tumors. Many of those dying are nonsmokers.”

So who really is the better country when it comes to protecting the environment? Maybe Ms. Figueres needs to do a bit more research before she starts claiming one type of government is better than the other, when it comes to the environment or whatever.

Obama: Pot no more dangerous than alcohol, ponders legalization 

By Ben Wolfgang / The Washington Times

President Obama believes the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado ultimately may open a Pandora’s Box and could lead to calls for cocaine, methamphetamine and other drugs to be sold freely and openly.

** FILE ** In this Dec. 20, 2013, file photo, President Barack Obama laughs as he is asked a question during an end-of-the year news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)But more broadly, the president downplayed the dangers of pot, comparing it to cigarettes and arguing it is no more dangerous than booze.

“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life,” Mr. Obama said in a lengthy interview with The New Yorker. “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.

Mr. Obama also took aim at the uneven arrest statistics regarding marijuana, saying poor and minority kids face much stiffer penalties for smoking pot than middle-class children.

The president said it’s important for the legalization of pot in Colorado and Washington “to go forward, because it’s important for a society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”

Still, Mr. Obama said turning weed into a legal product raises serious questions that the U.S. must confront.

“I also think that, when it comes to harder drugs, the harm done to the user is profound and the social costs are profound. And you do start getting into some difficult line-drawing issues,” Mr. Obama said. “If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, ‘Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka.’ Are we open to that? If somebody says, ‘We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth.’ Are we OK with that?”

The full interview is available here.

Published on January 20th, 2014 | by Editorial Staff

US Troops May Be Headed To Iraq And Jordan


The Pentagon is considering sending U.S. troops back to Iraq or a neighboring country on a mission to train Iraqi troops after the recent fall of two major cities, Fallujah and Ramadi, earlier this month to al Qaeda linked militants. The Pentagon has previously opposed to such considerations, but reports that came out Friday suggest that U.S. officials are not opposed to the idea of sending troops back into the region.
The Army Times writes, “It is unclear whether troops would be sent directly into Iraq or possibly conduct training in a nearby country such as Jordan. “We are in continuing discussions about how we can improve the Iraqi military,” Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said Friday. The idea of sending U.S. military trainers back to Iraq for the first time since 2011 is one the Pentagon has emphatically rejected in recent years, but on Friday, Warren offered a carefully worded statement that did not rule out the possibility.”
But Sunday, the Army Times reported that Information Minister Mohammad Momani told the Associated Press, “that Jordan has received a U.S. request to host the training and that details are being discussed.”
“We look positively at the training because it is consistent with our foreign policy goal of fighting terrorism and because we have one of the best security and military training facilities in the region,” said Momani, who is also the government spokesman.”
Iraqi government officials are extremely concerned over the worsening crisis in Anbar province and are open to the idea of having U.S. troops on their soil to help contain the issue. The Pentagon and Iraq government may be working a significant arms deal in addition to troops on the ground.
The Army Times continues, “Another defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the Pentagon also may be considering a larger shipment of arms that would require notification of Congress. “We are processing a wide range of requests [from the Iraqis’] for continued support,” the defense official said.”
As the Iraq situation continues to worsen, it comes amid significant criticism of President Obama’s quick withdrawal from Iraq and his current handling of the war in Afghanistan. Many U.S. officials have expressed concerns over the rapid departure of U.S. troops from Afghanistan having a mirroring effect to what we are seeing in Iraq today.
“The U.S does not have a current Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq because the Iraqis in 2011 refused to provide legal immunity for U.S. troops to operate inside the country. Iraq’s failure to agree to legal immunity was a key factor in the decision to withdraw all American forces two years ago.” 
Sound familiar?
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One man's dream has been turned into a nightmare by the man occupying the White sad...

An apology that need NOT have been made
By: Diane Sori 

In an unsourced report that ran in Israel’s Yedioth Aharonot daily, highlighting words supposedly said in a private conversation with associates, last week Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon...a close ally and confidant of Benjamin Netanyhu and an outright vocal critic of John 'Swiftboat' Kerry’s so-called Mideast peace plan (translation: Obama's anything but a peace plan)...was quoted as saying the plan was "naive and foolhardy." Calling Kerry's plan “inexplicably obsessive” and “messianic,” Ya'alon dismissed the plan as “not worth the paper it is printed on” and that Kerry has “nothing to teach me about the conflict with the Palestinians.”

Worthless puts it mildly for its Israel that's being forced to make all the concessions...the so-called Palestinians give NOTHING and even negotiating with pro-Palestinian Jew-haters is a joke to begin with...especially when it's with men like John 'Swiftboat' Kerry who 'in-Israel's-face' siding with both the Palestinians’ position and wants is obvious to see when one looks past his 'for the camera' phony smile and spewed rhetoric.

“The only thing that might save us is if John Kerry wins the Nobel Prize and leaves us be,” Ya'alon said sarcastically, but we all know the very real truth behind those words.

And when word reached an angry and fit-to-be-tied Obama about what was said about his farce of an anything but peace plan, he sent his personal mouthpiece Jay Carney and State Department spokesmouth Jen Psaki out to issue almost identical statements to the alphabet media stating that Ya'alon’s comments were “offensive and inappropriate...especially given all that the United States is doing"...and this part is outright comical..."to support Israel’s security needs.”

"Support Israel's security needs"
...NO I do NOT think so for why else would Obama insist upon Israel's return to its now totally indefensible pre-'67 borders...which in some areas would be only eight miles wide...and to give up half of Jerusalem to the very ones who have NO rightful claim to Jerusalem in the first place. NO...what this proposed anything but a peace plan is really all about is the removing of the remaining obstacles in the way of Obama's islamic buddies in Iran wiping Israel off the map.

“To question Secretary Kerry’s motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the defense minister of a close ally,” Carney said. Ah...but it is something we would NOT just expect but welcome as the true words of a man speaking on behalf of the very country that Barack HUSSEIN Obama digs the knife deeply into the back of every chance he gets.

And after diplomats from the U.S. Embassy in Israel whined like little babies and complained about Ya'alon's words to both the Israeli government and to the press, Ya'alon issued an apology for his words. Saying what was 'expected' of him to say as in “the United States is our greatest friend and our strongest ally and when there are differences they are resolved behind closed doors, including with Secretary Kerry...I will continue to determinedly, responsibly and thoughtfully protect the security of the people of Israel,” it's obvious these were forced words said to placate NOT Israeli officials but to placate Obama himself.

Forced unnecessary apology for as Israeli Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely stated in coming to Ya'alon's defense that it's inconceivable that one sovereign state should be subject to the whims of another state. "There is a blatant attempt here to bind Israel, a sovereign country, to foreign considerations and interests," Hotovely said. "Moshe Ya'alon stands up for our own interests...and that is exactly his job."

And anyway, there should have been no need for Ya'alon to apologize for anything he said... especially for words said in a private conversation with associates...for as Defense Minister of a nation completely surrounded by those out to kill her saying what he did is exactly what Ya'alon should have said.

But truth be told, this entire peace talks nonsense and Kerry's recent bloviatings that the talks are moving forward on schedule towards the Obama wanted April deadline for at least a 'peace framework' to be in place is NOTHING but one big LIE (taking a lesson from his boss NO doubt) as there has been NO...I repeat talks between Israel and the Palestinians for months, only communications done through American mediators...and we all know proxy talks NEVER result in peace, especially when one side speaks of peace out of both sides of its mouth.

Besides, NO matter what Ya'alon is quoted as saying or NOT saying comes close to being as damning as the words said and actions done by Barack HUSSEIN Obama against Benjamin Netanyahu. For example, in November 2011, Obama was caught on an open mic saying “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you.” after muslim-loving French President Nicolas Sarkozy told Obama “I cannot bear Netanyahu, he’s a liar.”

And remember, just this past November Obama asked...demanded really...that Netanyahu "take a breather" from his very vocal criticism of the interim deal signed with Iran in know the deal where Obama...through Kerry...caved to everything Iran wanted including allowing them to continue to enrich uranium, getting little if anything in return.

And who can forget Obama's deliberate snub of Netanyahu in 2012 when he would NOT meet with him when both spoke before the U(seless) N(ations) when tensions were escalated over how to deal with Iran's nuclear program.

And Obama NEVER apologized for any of this...nor was he expected to as any apology he made would be empty photo-op words and NO more.

So Ya'alon's comments are only being used by Obama and Kerry for propaganda against Israel. And remember, the Palestinians want the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip for their 'supposed' state. Netanyahu wants to keep parts of the West Bank and says there is NO negotiations on Jerusalem which he will NOT ever allow to be divided again. And Netanyahu insists that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland, a condition the so-called Palestinians claim would undermine the rights of Palestinian refugees and Israel’s own Arab minority.

But I say screw the so-called Palestinians (who are NOTHING but regular run of the mill Arabs NO different than any other Arabs) and screw Obama's anything but a peace plan for his plan calls for a limited Israeli presence in the West Bank instead relying on sensors, satellites, and drones (Obama sure loves those drones doesn't he) to keep the peace. And his plan gives NO credence to Netanyahu's demanding...and rightly so...that Israel be allowed to retain an on-the-ground military presence along the eastern border with Jordan...probably the only Arab nation friendly to Israel and a nation that's fighting NOT to be taken over by prevent weapons smuggling or potential invasion by Arab armies.

And Netanyahu is right for Israel can be overrun by the sheer numbers alone of those out to kill them. And Ya'alon knows this as well, and his comments made show that he is NO fool nor that he will allow Barack HUSSEIN Obama and his shill John 'Swiftboat' Kerry to determine the fate of the now and forever Jewish state of Israel.

Forced apology NOT withstanding.