Monday, August 30, 2010

Abuses of Workers Past...

“We learned how companies cared for and valued their mules more than their workers. How 6 year olds sat alone in the dark with just candles for light. We learned what 16 tons meant. We learned that a family had 48 hours to get out of their home or provide a new worker if someone died. All this, while the coal owners lived in extreme luxury and proclaimed themselves great Christians.” (One American’s account of a trip through America’s mining country)

There’s an odd and very flawed presumption at work that surmises that other workers (perhaps government workers?) were treated better at the time?

Not a chance.

As late as 1917 (at a time after the last company stores had closed – “the last of the mining company’s company stores ceased to exist sometime in the earlier 1900′s”) New York City’s Fire Dept (the FDNY) had its workers on 151-hour weeks! That's right, seven 21-hour days every week!

The Captain of a firehouse, much like his men, was a veritable serf – he and his family were required to live in the firehouse, which actually made it easier for him to see his family, as the other firefighters had just 3 hours per day off...the annual salary at the time was $1500/year and it cost more to live in New York then, as it still does today. $2000/year was then considered a “livable wage” for New York City. (SOURCE: The 2010 UFA Delegates Education Seminar Program Guide)

Human nature is flawed...but ain’t it grand? Nobody promised any of us that “life would be fair,” at least none that I know. Moreover, we all seem to define “fair” differently, according to our own perceived interests.

So governments abused their workers even worse than the private sector miners abused theirs?

Apparently so.

It’s important to keep such things in the proper context.

Some Basic Misconceptions

Freedom is Liberty NOT License and Civil Rights are Individual Rights NOT Group Rights

“The tea party movement has a pretty simple and straightforward idea – let the people be. Some people like to work hard, some people don’t care about work. It’s all cool – but just don’t try to take from those that work and give to those that don’t. It’s called liberty – and that’s what worth fighting for...” (An American Conservative)

Those words are undeniably correct.

Liberty is self-ownership (full responsibility for yourself), THAT is America’s Founding Design, NOT “license,” which is the (non-existent) “right” of each of us to “do anything we want, so long as we don’t (deliberately) harm others.”

License validates recklessness and irresponsibility, while Liberty validates only as much risk or recklessness as you can afford to bear ON YOUR OWN.

License runs as much counter to Liberty as the concept of (non-existent) Group Rights runs counter to Civil Rights/Individual Rights.

There are folks who mistakenly think that “Liberals believe in enhancing Jefferson’s model to include Group Rights and a much more powerful and interventionist federal government, at least on the side of what they see as “right and just,” which includes, at least to some extent redistributing wealth, especially incomes, so that those who do not produce are not allowed to fall too far from those who do.”

NONE of that is part of any modern “Liberal ideology.” All of it is merely misguided thinking that runs antithetical to the “Jeffersonian principles” they always pay homage to.

Since group rights obliterate individual rights, we can’t have a legal and economic system that has both. Likewise, since license eventually obliterates Liberty, we can’t have any kind of system that seeks to “balance both.”

Individual rights and Liberty work. They are what forged America’s growth and ascendancy. Your personal experiences in places where collectivism, group rights/entitlements and license (at least license for the politically connected) have seemed to frustrate those who “wish” that such things could some time.

I understand that frustration. From my earliest days, I wished it would rain root beer.
To my knowledge it never has...anywhere, nor at any time.

IF those that disagree with the statements above could’ve come up with instances where group rights, license and greater centralized direction worked after being into action...they would have.

They haven’t...enough said.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Russell Simmons Claims it Wrong to Blame Muslims for 9/11 Because...”We didn’t blame all Christians for the first WTC bombing, did we?”...GULP!

“...Did we blame Christians after the first World Trade Center attack? We didn’t and I think it’s insame and creates a cycle of negativity.”  (Russell Simmons)

Is this really the best argument they’ve got?!

The pseudo-controversy over the Ground Zero Mosque (the building slated to hose the Cordoba House was hit on 9/11 and stands just 600’ from the footprints of the Twin Towers) is NOT about “religious tolerance.

Ironically enough, the police and firefighter and the family members of those emergency service workers killed on 9/11 have fought for religious tolerance across New York city, usually against many of those lined up supporting the Cordoba House today.

So if it’s not about religious tolerance (and it’s NOT), then what is it about?

The opposition to a center devoted to teaching Sharia Law, is sensitivity for those 3,000 souls murdered that day by Sharia adherents. Bill Warner’s wonderful site Political Islam is THE best source for making Sharia Law understandable to non-Muslims.

There are no common principles between American law and Sharia Law.

Under Sharia law:

· There is no freedom of religion

· There is no freedom of speech

· There is no freedom of thought

· There is no freedom of artistic expression

· There is no freedom of the press

· There is no equality of peoples-a non-Muslim, a Kafir (non-Muslim), is never equal to a Muslim

· There are no equal rights for women

· Women can be beaten

· A non-Muslim cannot bear arms

· There is no equal protection under Sharia for different classes of people. Justice is dualistic, with one set of laws for Muslim males and different laws for women and non-Muslims.

· Our Constitution is a man-made document of ignorance, jahiliyah, that must submit to Sharia

· There is no democracy, since that means that a non-Muslim is equal to a Muslim

· Non-Muslims are dhimmis, third-class citizens

· There is no Golden Rule

· There is no critical thought

There is no such thing as “radicalized” or “fundamentalist” Islam, since Islam has never had a Reformation. The Sharia-based “Islam” practiced by the Taliban IS traditional is NOT at all “radicalized” nor “fundamentalist,” in any way.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

It is All Our Faults...The Weakest Generation

My father was born a scant few years before the Great Depression.

That is to say, he grew up and became conscious of life during the great suffering, lack and loss of the Great Depression. Upon graduating High School in 1942, he went right down to his local Draft Board and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He spent the next eight years there, serving in WW II and the start of the Korean War.

He came home and worked briefly in a bank, where he met my Mom, then promptly took the entrance exam for the Fire Department in New York City and began that career with unbounded gratitude – for the City that raised him, for a job that gave him an opportunity to “go as far as his ambition and test-taking abilities would opportunity his own father never had.

My father rose up steadily through virtually all the ranks in the FDNY and even as a Chief, even as the Asst. Borough Commander of Manhattan, whenever someone would ask him what he did, he’d simply answer, “I’m a fireman.”

My Dad worked in very busy firehouses through “the riot years” (1966 -1979), often referred to as New York City’s “Firestorm,” a time when fully ONE-THIRD (1/3) of New York City’s housing stock burned to the ground. He’d received numerous citations, NONE of which ever adorned his Class-A (dress) uniform. My father was a man of impeccable humility, it was his primary and most cherished virtue.

I give that brief background to explain why as I grew up I felt an increasingly and perplexing (unexplainable?) difference between my father and I.

Sure, he could do more things, he was more "handy," more self-reliant, but he was “an adult,” and I was at first...“just a kid,” and later on, “part of a generation that simply didn’t need that kind of self-reliance.”

But that difference didn’t diminish as I grew up, it only became more and more obvious and it wasn’t merely a matter of him “knowing different” things, it was an attitude, it was an essence.

He had a deeply ingrained humility, and that held despite his having accomplished many of the things he had, I had none.

He had gratitude and felt he owed the City of New York for providing the career that helped him provide his and his family’s sustenance – like many of my generation, I felt none of that...if anything, I felt the City owed me something. And like many others in my generation, I never even thought to ask, “For WHAT?!”

He expected little from others and laughed to himself when others didn’t live up to his own standards, or when such folks thought that THEY were somehow “getting over.” I, on the other hand, like most “liberal do-gooders,” very much expected others to live up to my own arbitrary and capricious standards (ones I rarely lived up to myself) or they were immediately labeled “bad people.”

But it wasn’t merely that I was a young idealistic, “do-gooding” Liberal (that’s exactly what I was back then), it was more, far more than that.

When Tom Brokaw wrote The Greatest Generation, he told, in my view, an important PART of the story, but his focus seems both too short and it leaves out the primary reason why that generation, in my view at least was instead, “The LAST Great Generation.”

I am convinced that virtually EVERY generation previous would’ve risen to the same occasion, some perhaps even more fiercely. See, my mother’s father (my maternal grandfather) was, if anything, even more self-reliant than my Dad.

Affluence is a cancer...a soft, doughy nugget that grows and expands, ultimately infecting and corrupting everything around it. It BECOMES the essence of the one who holds it.

The soft, affluent man can’t imagine hardship any more. He can’t even imagine harming another, or why someone else would want to deliberately harm though he’d forgotten the very way of the world.

Because of the enormous amount of accrued affluence created by earlier generations, we are a weaker generation than our father’s was, just as they were a weaker generation than the one that came before...and so on.

That is the entropy of affluence.

The horror of confronting our own inner weakness directly is so great that we find many looking for others to blame for the problems we’ve all helped to create.

Indeed it’s all too often too tempting to resist envisioning some omnipotent “THEM,” controlling everything and victimizing all of “US.”

Sadly, I don’t believe that to be the case.

I firmly believe that if we were to find that curtain to look behind that would reveal this “THEM”....behind that curtain would lie a giant mirror, for it US...ALL of us, who are at fault.

It is WE (that is, US) who are the reason politicians lie - we virtually demand that they do. No one wants to hear the truth, that we’re spending too much and unsustainably on programs that we were never able to afford. Sure, not all of us, but certainly MOST of us, as every election pretty much makes clear. We constantly demand more stuff at no cost to us. We take issue with each other’s “boondoggles” – farmers revile inner city welfare cheats, urbanites revile government subsidized farmers, workers revile “corporate welfare” recipients and private sector workers revile fattened government workers. We ALL demand OUR “free stuff” and begrudge others theirs.

The pigs are US, not the weak-willed, sniveling politicians who’ll do anything just to remain in office...not the greedy self-centered businessmen, stocks and bond traders or commodities speculators, we are, for the most part just as self-centered and greedy as any of “THEM.”

It’s hard to blame ourselves, but to move forward I think we all (or at least most of us) have to come to do just that -  accept our own culpability for everything that befalls us.

So what’s the answer?

The answer, plain and simple is to refocus ourselves on what this nation’s Founders were focused on – the INDIVIDUAL. We need to STOP blaming others and look at ourselves. We need to first perfect ourselves before offering any assistance or advice to anyone else. Too often we are tempted to look OUTSIDE ourselves and seek to improve, perfect and control others. That’s a wrong turn;

The first law of a self-responsible worldview is FIRST, PERFECT YOURSELF.

The 2nd law is PERFECT YOURSELF...and the 3rd law is PERFECT YOURSELF.

How do we perfect ourselves?

Dedicate ourselves to learning more and making ourselves more valuable in today’s economy.

Work on improving ourselves WITHOUT worrying, or even much caring about “what the other guy does.” Focus relentlessly on improving our own personal productivity, without regard for what others may do...or fail to do.

Accept that we can’t control, let alone improve others, we can only control and improve least that’s a start.

Still ANOTHER Racial Double Standard...FDNY is NOT NYC’s "Most Racially Out-of-Balance” Department!

A federal judge (Nicholas Garaufis) recently ruled that multiple choice written axams “discriminate against black applicants” and charged the City of New York with “deliberate discrimination” for continuing to use such time-tested exams. As insulting and racially defamatory as that view is, there's still more!

Ironically enough, the SAME 1-standard deviation disparity in test scores exists between blacks and whites on ALL such standardized exams from the SAT’s and various Civil Service Entrance Exams, to the GRE’s and MCATSs, as well as various professional licensing exams, like the Law Boards and the CPA Exam.

How that one set of disparities “actionable,” while others remain immune from such “remedies” is an interesting dilemma, in and of itself.

The primary reason seems to be political. According to the attorney for the New Haven 20 (Karen Torre) the feds picked Fire Departments because "they believed firefighters wouldn't fight back,” given their track record of 'sucking it up' and dealing with things as they come.

The main reason given for law suits against the FDNY is its vaunted “racial disparity in its makeup.” The charge is that “the FDNY should look a lot more like New York City.”

What's really odd about this to me is that the FDNY is far from the most "racially out of balance" Department in the City of NY.

Whites are appx. 45% of the city’s population and 77% of the FDNY’s make-up, that’s a 1.67/1 ratio, or less than a 2 to 1 representation of whites within that population. Even if one takes that 77% figure and throws out the “far more diverse” office staff and takes into account only the in-field uniformed workforce, said to be appx. 90% white (with 3% black, 6% Hispanic and 1% other) that’s still a 2 to 1 ratio of whites relative to their numbers in NYC’s population!

By comparison, blacks comprise appx. 27% of NYC’s population and make-up 65% of the Dept of Corrections personnel, a 2.4/1 ratio, or nearly 2½X the black representation of their numbers within the city...and the Department of Juvenile Justice, which is 78% black is a staggering 2.92/1 ratio, or a nearly 3 to 1 representation of blacks relative to their numbers within the city!

Why aren’t those, even greater racial anomalies as large a concern as the FDNY’s much smaller racial disparity?

Is it simply because far more College educated whites take the exams for Emergency Services jobs, virtually assuring a disparate outcome on those exams? That’s certainly one possibility.

If so, then why aren’t the Dept of Justice’s and Nicholas Garaufis’ agendas not being viewed through a similar racial prism?

To do the math yourself, you’ll need two sets of statistics; (1) The racial makeup of New York city is 44.66% White, 26.59% Black or African American, 0.52% Native American, 9.83% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 13.42% from other races, and 4.92% from two or more races. 26.98% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
SEE: and (2) the Demographics of City Agencies:

Seriously, "WHY shouldn’t the Department of Corrections, the Department of Juvenile Justice and other such Departments LOOK a LOT MORE like New York City?”
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