Showing posts with label Greed. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greed. Show all posts

June 25, 2020

Grass Not Always Greener

Sometimes the grass isn't (always) greener. 

Instead the grass grows in beautiful multi-colors. 

The grass art in this garden looks a lot better than the grass itself. 

The only real green is money and envy!

When comparing your lot with others, make sure you're comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges. 

Even then you'll never know the person's real "package" (or basket) in life. 

Be sure that everyone has their share of good and bad, so never be jealous of anyone. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 11, 2020

Stock Market Pinocchio Style


Look folks, Pinocchio's nose is getting longer by the minute.

The market continues on a tear, even while the economy is heading in the other direction. 

I know people have been conditioned to buy on the dips, but I'm not sure that applies while we're in the middle (or maybe still just in the beginning) of a pandemic that has claimed 286,000 lives in just over 2 months (and that's with a global shutdown)!

Somehow, there is a notion that when things start to reopen that all the problems will just magically go away, including the $3 trillion we just added to our national debt, all the bankruptcies being declared, and all the job losses that are becoming permanent. 

If you believe this, perhaps you'd like to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.

The greater fool theory is alive and well.  ;-)

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 12, 2020

Reopening The Country WITHOUT Endangering The Masses

I understand the absolute need to reopen the country from this Coronavirus. 

We can't shelter in place forever and watch our economy go into the toilet and our national debt bankrupt us!

Therefore, once we have the mechanisms to control the deadly spread, we must open up offices and stores again gradually to get people working and our economy going again. 

At the same time, I am pissed by those corporate executives that actually have the chutzpah and are pushing for us to open up crowded theaters, stadiums, and other such entertainment or other venues that are NOT critical and pose a greater risk for contagion to masses of people. 

Instead of these CEOs understanding the need to hold off on this pending a vaccination or adequate disease control measures, these greedy corporate chieftain seem to care little to nothing about the health of their customers, and only about lining their fat pocketbooks with more ticket sales. 

I think it's criminal type behavior to push our government to open prematurely and irresponsibly those venues that are of greatest risk to potentially millions of people to get sick or dead in order for them to profit from it!  ;-)

Note: It's reported that COVID-19 compared to the flu in 22 fewer days infected 11x as many people and killed 60 times as many

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 2, 2020

'Uncut Gems' Cuts Deep

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Uncut Gems Cuts Deep."
Yesterday, we went to see the new Adam Sandler movie, Uncut Gems....Ratner's life is full of shlemazel of his own making. While he has a good wife, kids, and extended family (maybe with the exception of his loan shark uncle), a fancy-schmancy home in the suburbs with a newly renovated pool, his own jewelry business that even caters to some big-league sports players, and a shiksa girlfriend on the side (who seems to love him), Ratner is never satisfied or happy and is always pushing for more!

In the movie, Howard Ratner was driven by greed and made bad life choices, and to me, it was a shame that the he was portrayed as a Jew, which can feed the vicious cycle of discrimination and hatred that has often been anchored around money. With the vicious machete attack on Chanukah at a Rabbi's house in Monsey this week (after a slew of other anti-Semitic incidents, including an attack on a student for wearing a yalmulke on the NYC Subway to beatings and tire slashings of Jews in Brooklyn), we are reminded that there is once again a resurgence of prejudice and hate against Jews, but also that it's the light of Chanukah that "drives out the darkness," and that money and materialism are a mere shabby substitute to finding true security and success whether you work in the dense NYC Diamond District or live in the sprawling suburbs of America.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 22, 2019

Tuna Salad - Eating Healthy

Intermittent fasting is going, thank G-d well. 

When I broke my fast today, I had a healthy salad with tuna fish. 

Dieting and eating healthy, and feeling good about it!

All the processed food is completely addictive and 100% poison!

Broke the addiction and I don't plan to go back to the corrupt food industry fools that don't care for atom about the people, but rather just the profits. 

Fruit, vegetables fish, nuts, seeds, and tea. 

The fleecing of America by all the processed food players--it's disgusting.

I'm detoxing and I am grateful to G-d for helping me through this and showing me the way! ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 27, 2019

What's It Worth To You?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "What's It Worth To You."
Certainly, passion for being your best, determination to succeed, and even some healthy competition are important factors in driving our own success as well as societal progress, but when keeping up with that scorecard against others becomes the essence of your own self-worth then things have gone too far and way off course.

We each have our mission, strengths, challenges, and so forth. It’s okay in life, if someone else has more of something (money, friends, honor, whatever). Everyone has their own “basket in life” as my father taught me, “and you wouldn’t want to change baskets with anyone else.”

(Photo Credit: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 22, 2019

Four Types of Desire

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "I Want What I Want."

There are four types of greed/jealousy:
  • I want what I’m missing
  • I want what I had
  • I want what you have
  • I want you to not have what you have

We can be slaves to our egos, emotions, and desires, or we can seek to control them and be better than mere animals. We have a soul, a conscience, and the Torah, so the choice should be clear even if not always easy.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 22, 2019

You Ended Up In Hell City

So a friend told me something funny.

It was about being given what appears to be a wonderful opportunity, but in reality it's not all roses. 

In short, it went something like this:
There was an exciting competition and a prize at the end. 
Everyone prepared and worked hard to win it. 
But when the competition was over, what was the prize?
The 2nd place was two weeks in Philadelphia. 
The 1st place was one week in Philadelphia. 

I had to think about that for a second, but that is really pretty funny and true. 

No not about Philadelphia, but about life--that what we often mistakenly want so badly and strive for with all our energies, and then only to find out that it really wasn't as good or amazing for us and our families as we imagined. 

Yes, very often you set your sights on certain goals to win the competition, but then you find out that the BIG prize ("first place") is really not something to get excited about, because it's in Philadelphia!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 20, 2019

Compromise = Winning

So this shutdown has really been an education in political dysfunction, bickering, and childish behavior. 

But when President Trump yesterday went on the air and provided a compromise solution whereby he gets funding for a 200 mile border wall/barrier and the Democrats get money for humanitarian relief at the border, high-tech sensors, and years of protection for 700,000 children that came to this country illegally (DACA) and another 300,000 for immigrants from designated countries that prevent their sage return (TPS)--it seems like everybody would come out a winner!

That's negotiation.  That's compromise.  That's diplomacy.  

When President Trump did this, I thought he really won the day, especially when the Democrats rejected his proposals and offered nothing in return or as an alternative. 

Even if the other side disagrees with the solution, they can and should offer what their version of a compromise/agreement would be and so on between the parties--this way, they can negotiate until both sides get to the magical compromise that everyone can agree to and live with. 

What I learned from this is that regardless of your political leanings, the side that shows flexibility and compromise and the desire to get something done, is the side that wins the argument, period. 

Those that want it all or are simply obstructionist and haters are the big losers in the debate. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 14, 2019

Unbridled Government Spending

I liked this notion from Margaret Thatcher:
The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money. 

And from the Wall Street Journal:
The problem with resisting socialism is that until the money runs out free-spending progressive politics are remarkably seductive. 

In other words, we love to spend what appears as "free" government money--more and more entitlements, bigger and bigger government...basically, we can't resist the candy in the candy store.

But the problem is that the money eventually runs out and by then we have gone too far and are left eating our own flesh. 

 Why can't we spend our precious money and scarce resources prudently and also save wisely for a rainy day--why do we have to act like pigs in the poke?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 8, 2019

What Does A Government Shutdown Feel Like

So its day 18 of the Federal government shutdown. 

The first couple of weeks wasn't so bad, because it was the holidays and vacation time ("use or lose"), so I think most people didn't miss work that much. 

Also, people got paid at the end of December, since the pay cycle is on a two week lag.  

For the first part of the shutdown, there is errands to run and things to catch up on--those things that you always wish you had the time for and well now you do. 

But by now, you've already done those errands and cleaned your house and car, shinned up your shoes, and even caught up on some reading. 

Then we also have the missed payroll coming at the end of the week. For those families that are on a single income, this is particularly hard, and even where one partner is working, still your income in cut in half. 

You can't go out shopping like this!

You also can't go anywhere--like away--because you need to be available to be back at work on a day's notice--whether or not it looks like that day is ever coming or not!

Another concern for those that care about their work and getting things accomplished, is that work is like a moving train, and when there is momentum, things can get done--even at the "pace of government."  But when you come to a full stop like this for an extended period of time, then it will definitely take some time to get everyone back on board the train and for it to get moving at a decent clip again.  Let's face it, you can't just turn people on and off like a light switch--you're dealing with human beings with feelings, plans, and bills. 

Maybe the worst part about the shutdown is feeling like a pawn in the big boys and girls game of Washington Politics--even if you feel the border wall is important, which I certainly do, as federal employee, you still don't want to feel like the sacrificial lamb. 

Why Congress and the President can't compromise and give the $5 billion for the wall for something in return like immigration reform or even just give half and call it a day is really beyond my comprehension. 

Out of our $4.4 trillion a year federal budget, how does it make any sense to begrudge a couple of billion for a wall to bring order to the chaos at our southern border--can anyway say "caravan?" 

Let's face it, drug smuggling, human trafficking, dangerous gangs and terrorists, and illegal crossings have no place in a civilized country, especially the United States of America.  

At some point, our politicians seem to have lost their passion for and dedication to what's actually good for America and instead replaced it with identity politics and a sick insatiable greed for power, plain and simple. 

All sides need to be patriots and not political kingpins, and they need to give a little to get a little for the betterment of our country overall--maybe then we can move forward. 

And by the way, it would be great at some point to let us go back to work and do our jobs. ;-) 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 6, 2019

From Tulips to Cryptocurrency

There always seem to be another mania. 

From the Tulips Mania in 1637, when a tulip went for more than 10x what a skilled workman earned in an entire year!

To Cryptocurrency in 2018, which is down about 80% from its $20,000 peak losing $700,000,000,000. 

In between, we had the gold rush, the great depression, the tech/dot-com bubble, and the housing/mortgage crisis, and many more I am sure. 

There seems to always be something for people to get excited about in an "irrational exuberance" type of way, as former Federal Reserve Chair, Alan Greenspan put it.

Is it boredom, big dreams, unadulterated greed, the desire to "get rich quick" and easy, the belief that you've discovered the Holy Grail or is it just people being stupid. 

Either way, we have a way of getting ourselves in trouble, some "losing their shirts."

Not sure who said it, but there isn't an easy fix to your life. 

There are small and big problems, and then there is you trying to fix them (with G-d's help). 

As to bitcoins and tulips, they ain't worth what you think they are. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal with photos from Pixabay). 
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November 25, 2018

Who Is More Religious?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Being Super Duper Kosher."
Of course, I am sure many good people are trying to do the right thing and genuinely practice to be better servants of Hashem. However, this should never become an excuse to use religious practices to misguidedly “compete”–hurt or shame–and somehow “one up” their neighbor’s religiosity or status as fellow Jews. That would be to erroneously think that G-d can’t see all His children as good and deserving in their own ways, even though the creator can certainly see what is in the heart and in the doings of all of us.

Hope this resonates with many of you who are kosher but feel unfairly (mis)judged by all the latest variations these days. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 23, 2018

Carlos Ghosn - Success and Failure


My thoughts on Carlos Ghosn--the head of Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault.

What can we learn from his rise to power and his fall from grace?

Basically...be a real leader and not a schmuck!

Be modest.  Be humble.  Give to others.  Do Good!  ;-)
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October 26, 2018

A Window and A Mirror

Thought this was a wonderful story on our perspectives in life. 

And how money can corrupt our vision of what is truly important. 

This is the story:

A rich man became ill. 

He looked out the window and saw his old friend who was a poor man. 

The rich, sick man invited the poor man, his friend into his house.

After talking awhile, the rich man asked the poor man to tell him what he sees. 

The poor man told the rich man to go over to the window and asked:
What do you see?

The rich man said:
I see men, women and children in the street. 

Then the poor man took the rich man over the mirror and asked him:
Now what do you see?

The rich man taken aback for a moment, said:
I see myself.

The poor man says:
Ah, that is the difference. Both the window and the mirror are both made out of glass. But when you look into them, you see different things. The window is just plain glass.  But the mirror is glass covered in silver. When we look through just the glass, we see others!  But when we look through the glass tainted with a coating of silver (i.e. money), we only see ourselves.

Wow! Think about it a moment. Shabbat Shalom!  ;-)

(Story adapted from Bishvil Ha-Ivrit)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 25, 2018

It's Not Really Yours

You can't live without money, but you can't just live for money. 

Didn't someone say, "Money is the root of all evil."

Of course, it's not money itself that is bad, but the greed for it, and the use and hoarding of it for selfish purposes. 

On this topic, my daughter sent me this interesting story:
One business tycoon in China passed away. 
His widow, was left with $1.9 billion in the bank, and married his chauffeur.
His chauffeur said: "All the while, I thought I was working for my boss... it is only now, that I realize that my boss was all the time, working for me!"
We can have all the money in the world, but it's never really ours. 

It all belongs to G-d, as does our entire life. 

He decides what we have or don't have (any longer). 

We need to realize that life is ephemeral and all material things are given to us just for the time being. 

We should be generous with whatever bounty that G-d has given to us, because in the end that is all that is truly lasting. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 9, 2018

Why Can't People Be Genuine

Why all the phonies, users, shysters, and scammers out there?

It starts perhaps with that big, warm smile.

Maybe a handshake and hug. 

Perhaps, you even get a kiss or two (it's cultural, I think, LOL).

Colleagues, friends, you're just like family.

Sometimes it's real and you truly found something valuable in your life.

There are good people of soul and conscience out there. 

But other times it's an act, a sham, deception, you're the fool. 

The other person wants something--cash, control, connections.
Oh by the way, can I ask you for just a "little" favor?
You wouldn't mind if...?
Just do XYZ for me, I got your back. 
I see you know so and so, would you introduce me?
I have a great investment opportunity for you, let me tell you all about it.
Sure it's okay and actually wonderful in a real relationship for people to be there for each other and help each others..."that's what [real] friends are for!"

The problem is where the friendship is only about the ask for the benefit of the other and no care for you as a person. 

Then the smile isn't a genuine collegial or friendship one of happiness and outreach. but rather it's upside down to get you to do something legit or illegit for the person pressing their lips up and out into that smile you already know is all about the ask. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 22, 2018

Everyone Deserves A Day of Rest and Happiness

So someone I know came over to this country and literally has to work 7 days a week for months at a time!

They don't want or need to work that much, but their employer insists that's the way it is. 

On top of it, they don't even get overtime for all the unbelievable hours they have to put in. 

One day, this person actually just broke down in incredible tears, just asking to get a single day off. 

Finally, finally, finally--the employer gave in--for just a single day!

The person was so happy--one day of freedom; one day to enjoy; one day to regain their inner beauty and humanity. 

I was so happy for them!

Every person deserves at least one day off per week. 

Every single one of the major religions in the world that is anchored in the Bible--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam--have a holy Sabbath as a day of rest.

There is a divine and ancient wisdom to this. 

People need a day to rejuvenate.

Everything is nature does.

Even the fields have to lay fallow every 7th year so the earth can revitalize and replenish itself. 

There is a natural cycle to things--peaks and valleys--and we need to have some rest and relaxation--to work for something and not for nothing. 

The joy on this person to just have a day off--it was so incredible and touching. 

It spoke light years to me about treating people right--just--humanly--with compassion--and doing good over evil in this world.

What does the employer need to wring an extra days work out of their employees for the rotten greed of money and profits?  

Better to care for your people, and they will be better off for it and thus to the needs of the business and its customers. 

Care for people--they are people. 

Love people--they are G-d's beautiful children. 

Treat others as you would like to be treated. 

Let everyone have a day of rest and something to look forward to--to enjoy, to have some happiness, to get time with their family and friends, to get back to themselves, to attain a deserved and proper peace of mind, body, and soul. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)  
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May 23, 2018

The Wealth Effect

So some wealthy people are good and they use their blessings and good fortune to help others.

Yet, others think that they "have it all coming" to them, and they flaunt their money and look at others who don't have what they do as pure trash--unworthy to occupy or breath the same universal space or air that they do. 

Visiting Palm Beach yesterday, I must say that I saw too much more of the latter than the former. 

Some people were nice, but others were incredibly arrogant. 

With my Jewish head-covering (yarmulke) and our mundane vacation wardrobe, we got more than our share of looks--with one older lady who was wearing fancy clothes and talking to another literally sneering at us with her nose raised in contempt as we passed. 

People whispered as we browsed the fancy stores where a shirt, skirt, or bag averaged around $10,000!

Even a large (over-sized) coffee table book was almost $1,000.

Yes, we did not belong there to buy anything, and were just respectfully browsing--and frankly, we are human beings too.

In the end, we were subject to some good old-fashioned racial profiling by the Palm Beach Police, who pulled us out as we were entering an Uber by the gorgeous beach and fancy schmancy Worth Avenue. 

At least 3 police cars surrounded us and took us toward one of them for questioning. 

They said to my wife that Chanel called saying a woman in a "hot pink" top and black skirt had stolen a pair of sunglasses. 

My wife doesn't wear sunglasses!

We told them matter-of-factly that we weren't even in that store--although we did pass by there--and my wife wasn't wearing a skirt, but rather pants.

They looked in my wife's knapsack that she opened and it was almost empty except for some travel items for the day. 

Then they said that the suspect that been called in had high heels, which also my wife didn't have--so basically the description didn't match and it didn't make any sense why they even pulled us over.

Hey, did they bother to check the store's surveillance tapes to see what the thief actually looked like???

So after they proceeded anyway to run my wife drivers license for any outstanding warrants--hey,  at this point might as well try for something--we finally, we got the:

Oh, so sorry for the inconvenience and have a nice day folks. 

Another officer winked at me. 

This whole thing went right along with the scene of the high-end looking Palm Beach patrol car that they have off to the side of the road immediately when you get over the bridge to their luxury island--clearly conveying the message:

Non-wealthy people not wanted here!

We are watching you!

So this is part of the land of the free and the home of the brave, but where the sickness of money pours from their narcissistic veins. 

But interestingly enough, right over the bridge going in the other direction--after you leave this island paradise--is the hospital. 

I'd bet that they probably all have nice, private rooms for these monetarily rich people, but for those that are spiritually bankrupted, I'm sure that their money doesn't buy them what is truly important in life like health, meaning, happiness, or love. 

For the ones that are driven by corruption, greed, and arrogance--what they get is a dirty evil little soul.

And like Sodom and Gomorrah--these things usually don't end well for them. 

If they manage to live out their stink-in rich years, I think G-d will probably send them back one day, but instead, theirs will be a story of riches to rags--so they learn their lesson and learn it well. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 16, 2018

Homeless DC

So aside from all the Washington, D.C. weighty monuments to our esteemed values of democracy, freedom, and human rights.

And aside from all the prestigious institutions and people of great power that formulate the policies and rules and keep us abiding by them. 

This is what I see in D.C. 

The plight of the poor, homeless, and downtrodden. 

Those that have fallen by the wayside.

People who are down on their luck.

Human beings--that's right human beings--that need and deserve help or even just a chance.

Why does anyone have to live--if you can even call this living--like this a couple of blocks from the White House. 

I know there are people all over the world who are hungry, homeless, sick, and abused.

Yet, nowhere is this more stark an example than in the U.S.A where there is such an enormous divergence between "the haves" and "the have nots" and where our values are supposedly bound up with equality, human rights, charity, and kindness.

Yes, we are supposed to be equal in treatment and in opportunity, but we all know that is not really the case. 

Sure, some work hard and others are perhaps lucky/blessed, but then are those that are born with a "silver spoon in their mouths" and excel through a tight weave of corruption, narcissism, nepotism, and abuse.

Yet a real chance for everyone, a living wage, and basic dignity and respect should be afforded to all.

Money and power is ephemeral.  

Those with it, that abuse it, shall see it pass between their fingers ever trying to clutch unto it with dear life. 

Only the way we treat others will last in this world and in the world after. 

Everything goes around and comes around. 

This is the cycle of life and the lot of those who abuse their good fortune as well as those that harness it. 

G-d will judge with His mighty hand and bring to bear the deeds and intentions of those that mock His holy will. 

Because His children lay in rags and heaps, while others dance their folly jig. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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