Showing posts with label Inequality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Inequality. Show all posts

June 18, 2020

Freedom But Disparity

America is a great country.

The freedom, rights, and opportunities we have is exceptional and enviable in the world and history.

But the disparity between rich and poor, majorities and minorities is grotesque.

On one side of the street are the mansions, and on the other are the slums.

One on side of the train station are those going off to work, and on the other side are the homeless lying in the gutter.

On one side of the scale are people fat with money and power, and on the other side are people hungry and decaying.

Wealth is overflowing for those that are the fortunate, but also corruption runs systematically deep.

This isn't an issue of political party, but one of the righteousness of men's hearts.

G-d watches and man disappoints, but the the future is still wide open.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 7, 2016

The Most Important Word Is AND

So as divisiveness continues to plague us. the option for acceptance, love, and coexistence is falling out of the favor and by the wayside. 

Division and conflict has been accentuated by the ugliness of the most recent election and representative political divide, economic and gender inequality, inner city violence, racial and religious tensions, worldwide terrorism, and global conflict from Syria to the South China Sea. 

This has even infiltrated the functioning of our government, social institutions, and free media big time, where vetting, negotiation and compromise, critical thinking, and fair, balanced, and investigative journalism have been largely jettisoned. 

There is no place anymore to go hide from bias, bigotry, and hate. 

But as the wise proverb goes things truly are not just black and white, but there are loads of grey everywhere

Many people are not good or evil, left or right, blessed or cursed.

Instead, most people are a mixture of this AND that. 

How much of the complex mix of different elements is what makes up the integrity and life of the individual, group, and organization we are dealing with.

But what's important is that you really can't just stereotype people, ideas, or actions as simply good or bad because in reality, they aren't.  

Each person and position has elements of good and bad in them...nothing and nobody in life is perfect. 

You take the good and the bad in everything from relationships to policy decisions. 

So it is certainly possible and even probable to be conflicted and confused about what we see and hear--and not only because of the bias and prejudice in how it is presented or portrayed, but rather because things are not just simple, one or the other propositions, but rather a combination of things we approve of and disapprove of. 

Our brains can have lots of trouble dealing with this complexity, because we are wired in terms of survival of the fittest, and that often means choosing a action based on split-second categorizing of people and things as friend or foe. 

As the mere shadow of the person or idea is upon us, we are asked to respond--do we run or fight it or do we lovingly embrace it as it overtakes us. 

Choose wrong and you can be badly hurt or even dead. 

But we are forced to make these quick and bold choices without always having the luxury of time, the patience, or wherewithal to stop and recognize that things and people are a combination of things we like and agree with and others that we dislike and vehemently oppose. 

If we could just keep in mind that most things are not just good or bad, right or wrong, but good AND bad, right AND wrong, then we can make more astute and fine-tuned designations of what we think something really is and isn't and how to handle it, live with it, and faithfully coexist with it. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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July 10, 2016

Lives That Matter Not

With the presumed racially bigoted killing of Black people, we got Black Lives Matter. 

Now with the sniper attack murdering 5 police officers, we have Blue Lives Matter. 

From the unfortunate political response to both, it seems that No Lives Matter. 

With all the violence, and revenge violence, and cycles thereof, it was amazingly sad to hear our President say last week, "I firmly believe that America is not as divided as some have suggested."

Oh, really!

From Trayvon Martin to Freddie Gray to the five police officers killed last week--there sure seems to be a lot of bloodletting for a country that is not all that divided. 

The problem is that the serious racial divisions are only a part of it. 

Economic inequality is another big factor in the equation with the top 1% owning more than 50% of global wealth, and the gap continues to widen. 

And on top of that you have the political elites who perhaps are not only above the law, but are so much intertwined with the law of the land that they can be "100% confident" on doing what they want and not getting in any trouble.  

So does the 99% matter? Perhaps only as much as your vote and/or donation count for the 1% to get and keep their beloved and worshiped money and power. 

One thing that is amazingly clear across the spectrum from the likes of Donald Trump to that of Bernie Sanders is that the system is rigged.

Yet as disparities and inequalities exist in treatment from black to blue, the elites are most able to manipulate the "echo chamber" with loads of spin to give the perception of calm and stability and some breadcrumbs for all. 

Everyone has a chance to live and to prosper except when they don't.  

Still we can gloss over the spilled blood and the ridiculous inequality with some promises, gestures, and maybe even a few handouts--and make you 100% confident that you do matter so very much. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 11, 2016

You're Wealthy Nuts

So Bloomberg Businessweek has a really funny article about all the wealthy people that need to go see shrinks. 

Get this--overall wealthy people are cursed with "Affluenza" (not influenza silly) and have "elevated levels of depression, anxiety, psychosomatic issues (physical symptoms from stress), and self-mutilation."

Some specific reasons they go for mental health help:

- Why Me--A trying issue to deal with is their guilt feelings about being so darn rich, while others are starving, homeless, and can't make ends meet. 

- Feeling A Little Lonely (And Hated)--They can't help thinking that perhaps people only like them for their money.

- Aimless In Life--What's the purpose of their lives if they are living on easy street, don't have to work, and can buy their way out of trouble. 

- Money To Mess You Up--Some people have so much money, they can squander it on bad investments, but also on alcohol, drugs, sex, and so on.  

- Fear Of Losing It All--Terrible thing about having so much money is you have to worry about losing so much money.  

So next time you are thinking about protesting against the top .1% who have as much as the bottom 90%, have a heart because the wealthy have a lot of problems too. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Chris Goldberg)
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January 30, 2016

What's Cool Is Being Oppressed

So we were having this discussion with this lady in synagogue who prides herself as an activist and participates in numerous groups for social justice.

What was most striking to learn is how these days everyone is vying for the title of most oppressed. 

It's no longer "cool" or "in" to be part of the elite privileged rich, strong, and powerful.

If you are any of these, you are part of the corrupt 1%--that have more wealth now than the other 99% of society combined--and you are leeches that feed off of the legitimate working, middle class society. 

The privileged are the bullies, the racists, the occupiers, the unjust, the thieves, and the liars. 

Today, people and groups are arguing to be put on the pedestal for who is underprivileged:

- The poorest in society

- The ones with the greatest inequality

- The most discriminated against and oppressed

- The smallest of the minorities

The prize for those that attain the marks of distinction for worst status can hope to achieve:

- Sympathy (protests, petitions, and actions for boycotts, divestitures, and sanctions)

- Economic Assistance (donations, grants, loans, scholarships, and advanced technology)

- Preferential treatment (college placement, training programs, hiring, promotion, business awards, and board seats)

- Votes (elections, laws, resolutions, decisions, and court awards)

The super underdog has it way up over the superpower. 

Discontent by the masses, supercharged by social media, is leading to an overturning of society from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street.  

Socialism even for presidential candidates is no longer a dirty word in Democratic America and terrorists around the world are now "freedom fighters." 

Regimes such as Iran that sponsor terrorism, abuse human rights, and build weapons of mass destruction now just need to be "opened up" to the outside world and sanctions and non-proliferation is just more western bullying and infidel occupation.  

Other countries like Syria that are ruled by tyrannical leaders that besiege their own cities, starve and torture their people, drop barrel bombs indiscriminately, and use chemical weapons are no longer crossing a "red line", but are simply in need of a political settlement and even can enjoy two or more years of continued rule. 

Small but flourishing Democratic countries like Israel--the size of New Jersey and the only Jewish state in a world of 50 majority Muslim countries--is demonized as Apartheid oppressors of the Palestinians--those very people who are sworn to their destruction and to throwing them into the Sea--just 70 years after the Jewish Holocaust. 

Back in the United States and in Europe, waves of mass immigration across borders is perfectly fine and perhaps even desired to file the ranks of needed employees, obtain desired future voters, and alleviate the aggrieved hearts of those that committed past atrocities or closed their doors to refugees in the past, while those that speak of vetting, border control, and homeland security are Nazi fascists.

Moreover increases in taxes and spending is in vogue, while general fiscal disciple, paring the national deficit and debt, and sequestration are lunatic concepts by those seeking to suppress the middle class and destroy America. 

Don't get me wrong, we as a country can and should go a long way to decreasing inequality and improving the lives of everyone with a living wage, universal healthcare, paid maternity/paternity leave, free or reasonably-priced advanced education, and decent retirement benefits.

However, when we call everything and anything discrimination, racism, and inequality, take away individual accountability, make every grievance into a revolution and opportunity for a lynching or guillotine, things have gone from one insanity to just another. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 28, 2015

Social Inequality To Make You Sick

Here's a copy of the sticker price on the car in the lobby of the local mall in Florida here. 

Oh, it's just a 2016 Rolls Royce for a mere $362,225.00

The car was unbelievably gorgeous.

But the extravagance of it compared with the regular poor, hungry and homeless people on the streets as well as the vast majority of all the other everyday middle class people is enough to make you want to puke. 

Immediately after this, when we got back to the hotel, the maid was still in the room cleaning up.

I had the opportunity to see--really see--this lady--this person. 

She was overly respectful, calling me sir numerous times, unnecessarily. 

She was kind in finishing the room quickly and asking if their was anything else we needed.

But I also noticed that despite her labor-intensive job cleaning up other people's shit in the hotel rooms, she had a bum leg and had trouble walking and just getting around. 

I thought to myself why was it that this poor lady was destined to have to clean my and other people's hotel rooms for a grueling living.

The next day, I saw some mini shampoo and conditioner containers that had fallen to the side of the tiny garbage can in the bathroom (didn't make the shot).  

I looked down--I thought for a split second, that's what the hotel get's paid for to clean up and service the guests--but only for a SPLIT second.

Then I bent my own stupid ass over, and picked up the bottles and put them in the garbage where they belong. 

The lady coming to clean the room doesn't drive a Rolls Royce and definitely, neither do I. 

We are one under G-d, and may he bless us all in prosperity, health, and peace. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 24, 2015

Top 30 Legacy Of Hope And Change

Over 7 long years, the promise of "hope and change" has given way instead to the disappointment of chaos and dysfunction.

Just some 30 examples off the top of my head...

1) Nuclear IRAN

2) Civil War SYRIA

3) Fragmented IRAQ

4) Taliban resurgent AFGHANISTAN

5) Militarization of SOUTH CHINA SEA

6) Nuclear missile NORTH KOREA

7) Terrorist State ISIS

8) Resurgent aggressive RUSSIA

9) Weaponization of SPACE

10) Streaming crisis of REFUGEES

11) Broken system for IMMIGRATION

12)
Sharply rising MURDER RATES

13) Growing and largest PRISON POPULATION

14) Rising RACISM

15) Increasing INEQUALITY

16) Worsening polarization in POLITICS

17) Poor TRANSPARENCY

18) Dysfunction in GOVERNMENT

19) Rising NATIONAL DEBT

20) Crisis in HEALTHCARE

21) Failing system of EDUCATION

22) Stalling INNOVATION

23) Growing insecurity of CYBER 

24) Infringement on PERSONAL PRIVACY

25) Falling participation in LABOR FORCE

26) Slowing ECONOMY

27) Worsening CLIMATE CHANGE

28) Shrinking affiliation with RELIGION

29) Epidemic of SUICIDE AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE

30) Declining HAPPINESS

Now, one of our main hopes has to be genuine change for the better. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 8, 2015

Seriously Big And Out Of Order

I took this photo in Washington, D.C., and I don't know about you, but I hate when things are out of order.

We count on everything to be in normal working condition, and for life in general to function with at least a modicum of structure, process, and according to basic laws of nature. 

But these days, the world is seriously off-kilter and here are just a few examples:

- Russia, post the Cold War Soviet Union, isn't supposed to do a blitkreig and just take over Crimea and fight an undeclared war in sovereign nation, Ukraine. Additionally, our vital economic partner, China, presumably wouldn't have near unfetterd access to our industrial and government secrets, including the personnel records of the entire Federal workforce. 

- The major world powers comprising the P5+1 normally wouldn't treat Iran deferentially and as a negotiating equal or even more than than that with near open negotiations and crucial concessions, especially when dealing with no less than the proliferation of nuclear weapons of mass destruction. 

- Terrorist organizations such as ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, and more wouldn't be taking over swathes of the Middle-East, Africa, and Asia, and we are not sure what our strategy even is or whether we have one yet. 

- Advanced industrialized nations wouldn't be polluting themselves and the rest of the world towards the environmental catastrophic brink all the while denying that our lifestyle is not sustainable and that global warming even exists. 

- Smart democratized nations wouldn't be living incessantly beyond their means and borrowing themselves into national debt oblivion--from Greece to Spain, Portugal, and Italy, and right here in the United States of America. 

- The Center for Disease Control doesn't handle deadly biological pathogens callously and negligently with the potential for a massive lethal outbreak, while admitting to a serious pattern of safety lapses.

- Medicine isn't just another "business and medical treatments for the sick shouldn't cost $250,000 a year for a regiment of one or two pills a day, medical professionals don't simply extend quantity of life without weighing it's quality, and those in hopeless cases with severe pain and suffering wouldn't be forced to go on "living."

- The richest 1% of the world can't truly hold more than 50% of the world's wealth, live in mega mansions and drive fleets of cars, yachts, and planes, while masses of people are malnourished, diseased, homeless or in substandard living conditions.

No life is not perfect and certainly, even those perfectionists among us wouldn't expect everything is be in 100% working order all the time--things break down, accidents and mistakes occur, and sh*t happens--but when life is getting shamelessly more out of order than in order than we need to be asking ourselves some serious and potentially life-altering questions, like what the heck is going on around here? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 20, 2015

Superhero Socks

Thought these socks were pretty cool.

POW!
WHAM!
ZAAP!
KAPOW!
SPLAT!

We are living in an age with potential for great upheaval whether from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, bigotry and social inequality, national debts and unpaid social entitlements, poverty and pandemics, global warming and environmentally unsustainable practices, and the clash of Western and Eastern civilizations. 

Thank G-d for advances in technology and innovation to help address these huge challenges of our time. 

However, whoever is portraying everything as all rosy or telling you to just be optimistic and all will be well--they're feeding you a bunch of you know what!

We need a superhero/Messiah leader to come help us save the day and these socks would be perfect for their arrival. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 29, 2014

A Richy Rich Reward

Check out this lost dog sign in Las Olas.

Do you notice anything unusual?

Look at the amount of the reward for finding this canine.

---Yes, $10,000!!!

A healthy Teacup Yorkie can run you as much as $2,000.

So this reward is 5x that and this kelev is on meds!

Amazing the meaning of money and dogs. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 19, 2014

Panic, Technology To Rescue

Who us panic?

- ISIS is threatening the West with "dangerous new extremism"

- Syria's death toll tops 170,000 with more than 10,000 believed tortured to death. 
- Boko Haram is still abducting young girls (and boys).
- Iran says no deal on nukes
- Ebola is "out of control."
- China is emergent as the U.S. pivots east and space becomes militarized with anti-satellite weapons. 
- Russia is resurgent (Crimea is history to Ukraine).
- The national deficit only hints at the true extent of our unfunded liabilities from entitelements.
- The economy is bubbling over the top again, warns Robert Shiller.
- Racial and income inequality continues to divide America (case in point, Ferguson MO).
- Nearly 1 in 3 American adults has an arrest record.
- Almost half the world--3 billion people--live in poverty on less then $2.50 a day. 

Ah, if only technology could solve all our global problems--and this is a big list and not by any means comprehensive.


It's a race of the "world is exploding all over" with technology trying to make it better with more and better information, innovation, productivity, security, and cures.


Almost like the war of good over evil--we may lose the battle, but hopefully (let's pray) in the end, we will win the war. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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December 15, 2013

Driving Away With It

This last week was another week for gross social injustice. 

As it has now been widely reported, a wealthy drunken teen stole 2 cases of beer and then plowed into a stranded motorist and 3 bystanders who were trying to help--and killed them all.

The teen was 3x over the alcohol limit!

What an irony: 3 people stop to help a stranger in need and they are killed by someone who cares nothing for human life.

And the flagrant injustice of it all is that the kid was let off on 5 years probation and will attend a $450,000 a year private school rather than going to prison. 

On the news this week, they interviewed the husband and father of 2 of the dead, killed by this teen. He is broken. 

The defense teen argued "Affluenza" -- like a disease, the kid should be let off the hook because...he is unbelievably wealthy and therefore was not given proper parental supervision--in effect, he is a victim of having too much--too many things, too much opportunity, but too little parenting as well. 

I guess I never realized that justice meant if you had too much you could murder 4 people and walk!

While others that have too little--education, jobs, money, 2-parent families, and so on--must take the rap and go away for their crimes.

Too much--you can buy your way free.

Too little--you get sent up the river without a paddle. 

Wouldn't you think it should be the other way around--if you have more, then more is expected of you.  While if you have less, your challenges are greater and so we take into account extenuating circumstances?

But no, money talks, and the guilty walks. 

It is a shame on our society--and what we inappropriately call a justice system.

Whether the money buys you a top-rated defense attorney, paying off some officials or jurors, or provide alternatives to the the same punishment and rehabilitation that others must face, there is no denying that money influences the outcome.

Sort of reminds me of the infamous O.J. trial--another travesty of justice. How many more? 

Funny, how art imitates life and life imitates art--in Season 2 of Homeland, the son of the V.P. drinks and drives and also kills someone and gets off with nothing but a slap on the wrist. 

You see it's not whether you're black or white or yellow or whatever, it's plain hard !!power!! and $$cash$$. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 2, 2013

Exposing Rape

On the Metro in Washington, D.C. there is a sign that warns people about sexual harassment. 

In the crowded rush hour trains, people can take advantage and try something.

But the advertisement reminds people that if they do the wrong thing, they are the ones who will be exposed--and punished. 

This is in contrast to a story today in the Wall Street Journal about a gang rape of a 16 year-old girl in Kenya. 

She was attacked in June--while walking home from her grandfather's funeral!

Six men ambushed her, took turns raping her, and then threw her unconscious body in a toilet pit--as if to say that she was just a thing for their sexual satisfaction and nothing but a proverbial piece of sh*t herself (excuse the directness here). 

But to make matters worse, the horrific act was not punished, but mocked. 

The rapists were "told to pay for some pain medicine for the girl and mow the grass at the police station"--I am feeling sick again!

I write this blog for this victim and for women everywhere to try to do my little part to expose the continued injustices against them--from inequality and unsafe conditions in the workplace to sexual harassment and rape in society. 

Perhaps, if we all expose the injustices, we can finally make it unacceptable and rub it out of existence evermore. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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August 13, 2011

Attacked And Then Some

We watched this week the riots in London--the chaos, the anarchy, the destruction, and ultimately the fear brought upon the everyday people.

But nothing was more chilling than the video of the Malaysian student who already beaten and bloodied is helped to his feet by what seems like a good samaritan only to be taken off-guard by what turns out to really be a second attack, where they steal his wallet, phone, and Sony PSP playstation.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said about this incident: "When we see children as young as 13 looting and laughing, when we see the disgusting sight of an injured young man with people pretending to help him, while they are robbing him, it is clear that there are things that are badly wrong in our society."

But what is wrong with society and how are we going to correct them?

Clearly, there are feelings are social inequality and injustice around the world and this has sparked protests, riots, and war.

This last week we saw the gamut from peaceful protests in Tel Aviv over the rising costs of living, to the riots in the UK leading to over a thousand arrests and estimates of hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, and ongoing warring battles for the Arab Spring occurring in the Middle-East in Libya, Yemen, Syria, and more.

And while protesting and even demanding change in the face of injustice is sometimes necessary, the brutal attacks on innocents is not a fight for social justice, but rather of those who would take advantage of the times for their own greed and malevolence--it is sick to loot, burn, and attack just because they can.

Unfortunately, we saw similar mob mentality in Egypt when CBS reporter, Lara Logan was brutally raped by a crowd celebrating the resignation of Hosni Mubarak.

So what is wrong? There are some people who lack a clear sense of right and wrong, and who are not inhibited from doing horribly wrong and violent things.

I remember as a child growing up, my father used to tell me, when there is no one to stand up and be a man, you be the man--you be the example!

This was not a lesson in masculinity, but rather of morality--no matter what others do, no matter how egregious, no matter how many, you must have the conviction to stand up and do what is right.

To me, we need more fathers in this world like mine, who teach and demand responsibility from their children.

Similarly, we need more nurturing mothers, enlightened educators, genuine models of religious piety, as well as wise and inspirational leader--who can bring out the best in our young people and give them hope, but also guidance.

Both the London riots and the attack on the student that happened this week, could happen anywhere next, if we don't continue to address the basic needs of the people (from freedom to human rights, economic prosperity, etc.), and ensure a society that is governed by law, but also driven by ethical behavior and a sense of duty rather than entitlement.

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