Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Trusting Government means never having to grow up

Most people, if asked,  realize that government does do things that are not in their best interests,
that their taxes go to people who use money  frivolously, that it's hard to get things done in government, that they don't really think  any politician does all the things he or she promises, that an honest person would go into some other line of work, and that these guys get paid too much.

But say the word government partial government shut-down and major freak-out. Partial government shutdown was, of course, a joke. Some people had to take unpaid vacations, there was that couple who couldn't get married in Yellowstone because it was closed, memorials that were closed. People got their social security checks, and medicaid, the free phones worked, foodstamps cames . Alcohol tobacco and forearms were there. homeland security made a show of it and then returned to whatever essential stuff it is that they do that we can't know about because it's classified, As for those three and  the department of education, agriculture, forestry. most of the state department, Indian affairs, the part of the IRS that gives you advice that can be wrong, IRS tax auditors that didn't bring in more money than their fully loaded salaries two years in a row... ( I could go a lot further but you get the idea) please go home and stay home). Nobody would miss these people, regardless of party.

Unlike others who believe this was just one more example of democratic maliciousness, I  believe the thought of no government scared people even though they knew it wasn't really true and that it wouldn't last long just like the other times and people wouldn't die of food stamp deprivation. This is a difficult one for me to accept but I believe it's accurate. Most people don't want independence that comes from being responsible for yourself. Not here in NY in the city and Ohh, 100-200 miles out. It isn't simply gaming the system. Its needing and knowing that someone is going to take care of you. The thought of government scared them so much that they prefer a strong one that takes freedoms away that one that is more constitutional. Actually they probably like the strong one better. A bigger government takes care of people more than a smaller government and gives them fewer decisions to make.

But, I say "What if they take care of you like the mafia takes care of you?"

And they don't seem to care. This cartoon captures that sentiment.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

On what we can do about it

Can the wave of dissatisfaction, frustration & anger in this country translate into action.
There are a few excellent think tanks [Cato Institute, Heritage]  a multitude of blogs, radio shows, congressmen and senators taking a stand in public in the legislature, bumper stickers, rap songs.. We have a long way to go.

We have allowed the left to turn American education system into socialist ideological training. College campuses have become very expensive socialist indoctrination camps. Critical thinking has been replaced by social indoctrination that aims to overturn our way of life--  capitalism, individualism and the right to pursue happiness are replaced with government mandated paternalism marketed as outcome equality.

Those of us who stand by liberty have failed to communicate an alternative that the American people can embrace as an ideal. Individualism and liberty have an almost quaint sound these days. A few scholars -- Milton Freidman, Ayn Rand-- speak about free market capitalism and the cost of government. To the average person this means nothing,  We haven’t communicated the high economic and costs of regulation that go way beyond their budgets, that strangulate economic prosperity, then job market, and the quality of our lives.  are causing and know there is a better way worth fighting for,

Obama and democreats are able to say over and over agaib that we offer no alternative to Obamacare because we haven't put one single simple alternative out there. Proposals made by a few people, by the Cato or Heritage foundations don't exist, not to the average person who would have to SEE what it would be like Imagine a website, that looked like the ACA site and lead people to different options, that do not exist, that could exist, and that are simple.  We do not have the organized ‘machine’ that our opponents have, know about but have no game plan to combat voter fraud. We may very well have lost the 2012 election because of this or rather won it. We will never know. Nor will we win the next one unless we fight that battle.

We are paying a high cost for the liberal university takeover. I checked my own field before writing this [psychology]  and was aghast. A growing research field in social psychology is scientifically documenting differences between liberals and conservatives, to prove that republicans are inferior. According to peer reviewed papers published in journals, conservatives are more fearful, less receptive to new ideas, and less tolerant. Even the structure of the brain of democrats and republicans are different. [ I am not kidding)  Economics and all social sciences, humanities, english courses are taught on campuses with an anti-imperialist, anti-conservative bias based on bad but accepted science. I know the biases in these studies but that isn't the point. [ see "Fake science and politics"] A generation of students will believe this nonsense just as they believe carbon dioxide is evil and global warming is science.

Our ideas are better but that does not spell success.

 College in their current form are declining; that gives us an opportunity we haven’t taken advantage of. We could be the Kahn University equivalent of history, government, and economic and a different way to think about  humanities , philosophy, sociology and psychology. There is a younger generation that want to know libertarianism whether or not they can articulate it, that disrespects government. There is also a much better way to speak to Americans than Paul Ryans confused blabberings about sequester deals. Ronald Reagen did it.  No Uber-president,  he went on the air with simple charts that explained what he wanted to do to American people.

The millenials ‘get’ the raw deal they’ve been dealt. They don’t see any other possibility because we haven’t presented it. Conservatives to them are people who are unkind, who do not care about the poor, whose main goal is stopping abortion and shutting down the government. Most don’t pay it much attention to politics anyhow because it isn’t relevant to their lives.

When I was young, I was a committed leftist. I didn't understand or reason. Kids don't do that. I knew this -- the world wasn't good as it was, I shared a vision of a world without war or hunger, love and freedom.  Our "vision" was unrealistic, naive, dogmatic, and ripe for abuse by Stalinists and the Chicago mob. Nevertheless, the committment (however wrong) to the better reality at the end of the tunnel  galvanized a generation and led to social change. Some of the changes have become nightmares. Nightmares, however, can end, when people have a better reality that they can SEE feel and want. The power that fueled change then can be unleashed again

Americans deserve better from us. Young people deserve the opportunity to experience life in a microcosm of free market capitalism in the same way that their grandparents/parents once lived in communes. Listening to libertarian debates is as useful as counting the number of angels who can dance on a pin.  “Who is John Galt” communities (like a kibbutz, but not socialist) could be living market capitalism. If Israel's ventures against poverty  sponsored by the United as a solution to unemployment can succeed in third world counties, Imagine what could happen here? Productivity and innovation are not dead. They have no outlet. And we are the people who can create those social experiments and learn about how free market capitalism. principles and equality co-exist? How would a libertarian community care for poor? What would be expected of them? What common principles would develop? How?

If you are reading thank you for putting up with my stream of consciousness. I will work towards these ends and am getting closer to a n action list.  If you are interest in either joining me or helping me and others do this, contact me.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

On the Fragility of Democracy

I never met a government I liked, past or present. Governments may start with noble goals but loose their original purpose too easily.  ‘survive and expand’ for the benefit of a small group becomes the goal.

This happened in Greece (ancient) and Rome. Athens became more than just another city state, as the keeper of the city-states’ war funds. Athenians used monies that didn’t belong to them to build beautiful statues, and expand power. Original principles were lost, Athens grew weak and was conquered by barbarian tribes.

The Roman Republic had more checks and balances than ours does.  To prevent the situation of an Uber-president, the highest office was held by two consuls each of which could veto the decisions of the others. The executive branch was a group , the senate, and was not allowed to own or run businesses while in office. The legislative body was a direct democracy;  all citizens debated proposed laws which were read aloud prior to voting.  A complex veto system further limited power of specific government bodies.  In emergency situations, when a single leader was needed, the senate declared the emergency and gave temporary power to the consuls- one of them became ‘dictator’ for no more than six months. [This avoided the conflict of interest if the same person that declares the emergency becomes the dictator]

Roman democracy has been criticized in textbooks because it was not a ‘real’ democracy. The senate was not elected. Women and slaves were not included.  Nevertheless, it’s checks and balances deserve a hard look because they are the most extensive ones that ever existed. Nevertheless,  all the checks and balances in the world couldn’t save the Roman Republic when masses of furious unemployed and overtaxed Plebeians, who had lost their jobs to slaves  (many former soldiers,) formed populist groups, rioted and found the senate willing to appease and unwilling to compromise.   In the U.S, the biggest threat to democracy comes from the White House, in Rome it came from the senate. The results could be the same.

Checks and balances are necessary in a democracy but they are no guarantee.   The original purpose of any arm of government can always morph into self interest of one group with power.  Democracy may be the best of governments, but in reality , it is fragile. The rules that keep it in place are only as strong as peoples’ commitment to underlying principles and the democratic philosophy. [Maintaining this commitment in a country as diverse as ours is especially difficult.]

The erosion of checks and balances under President Obama should concern us. This is not, however,  the doing of one President. Would it have been possible for an executive to violate each of the bill of rights, to pass laws by using  ‘executive orders’ without repercussion, to make treaties without congressional approval if the stage had not been set before?

It’s becoming harder and harder  to find aspects of our lives, from education, to work, to health, to say what you wish (as long as it’s politically correct) to privacy, to the right to property that are not controlled by government. This process did not happen overnight. There are numerous contributors that have been eating away at our core philosophy and way of life for a long time.

The elimination of the gold standard, the power of the Fed, the unlimited involvement of government in the economy, out of control regulations that nobody understands but everyone is forced to comply with, the president’s power to use money it doesn’t have without enforceable limits, the alignment of the press with one party and ideological changes in our educational system all contributed to the erosion of our commitment to freedom, liberty and individualism in principal and practice.

The Conservative solution is go back to the constitution.  That would be a TREMENDOUS improvement and very hard to accomplish. We face a government today  that is very committed to maintaining the status quo and is structured with layers of agencies and bureaucracies that keep things the way they are.

If this country is a democracy, citizens have ultimate power. If the majority of people in a country want one thing and the government does another, we have a problem. In a real world, this will happen sometimes - people in government aren’t the most selfless sorts -- but not all the time, not most of the time, and not a lot of the time.  A situation in which most citizens do not agree with what their government is doing is a prescription for trouble.

Changing this is a tall order - not the sort of challenge people ask for in life. Hopefully knowing what we are up against is a start.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Capitalism isn’t a four letter word

What's Capitalism, anyhow

Capitalism has a bad rep these days. Media is partially responsible. So are those who claim they want a smaller government, and who say they want fewer regulations. We don’t explain it well. People have this idea that capitalism means big businesses who stomp on poor people and on regular folks like you and me, who take all the money and leave none for us. Socialism seems attractive. It seems like real equality until you live it, (See: My socialist adventure) as any immigrant from a communist country will tell you

Capitalism isn’t a dirty word or a plot against poor people.  It’s  people free to buy and sell what others want and keep the profits, freedom to invent new solutions, rewards for the hard work of making useful   products and selling them, and keep the money. You get to do this without the government in your face.  The innovation America was known for grew out of this idea.

The waves of immigrants that came to this country with very little are a testament to that,  A man starts with nothing works buys a car, gets paid to drive people, provides good service and builds a limousine service. A woman works long hours,  saves money buys a house, pays it off and becomes successful in real estate, a young kid obsessed with technology builds a computer, or software or.... in his garage and builds a successful. business. People pursue happiness, they don’t always succeed, but they have the right to give it their best shot build something, feeling proud and live good lives. 

If you think ‘but that was then’ or ‘ but not me’ perhaps these examples will work better: Making a living selling on eBay is capitalism, a kid who saves broken bicycles and sells the parts is capitalism. the entire underground economy is capitalism, farmers markets, flea markets....

The less involved government is, the better economies work. In of technology sector, where government is not very involved, there are constant new products, growth, quality and economic prosperity. People expect quality and get it; companies that don’t deliver are replaced.  Healthcare, and banking are highly regulated  and don’t work as well. But no part of the economy works as poorly as government.

How peoples’ actions regulate the private sector

People also hold the mistaken idea that capitalism if not controlled by government is chaos, no rules , anything goes. Not true.

In the private sector we vote with our pocketbooks every day.  For the most part, this works. The food at restaurants is safe to eat not because it has a license, not because of all the regulations ot has to follow but because it wants your business.

Elevators don’t usually kill people, not because of those certificates and inspections you see on their walls,  but because people won’t ride in elevators that kill people.

Disposal companies for the most part, don’t dump garbage in peoples’ backyards --  not because of all the environmental laws and regulations -- but because they want to stay in business.

Accountants don’t steal your money for the most part because they want your business and the business of your friends.

This pocketbook voting of capitalism keeps business honest, and protects people. Of course, the system is far from perfect. People would have to get injured in elevators or even killed before people boycotted them, Crooked accountants might steal money before pocketbook voting kicked in and so on.

But ask yourself this,  Does government improve on that? Make it worse? Improve some things and make other things worse? On balance are the laws, the procedures and rules worth it?

Other protections in the Private Sector-

Insurance is another way that capitalism protects consumers. Most professionals and commercial builders have insurance,; insurance contracts require businesses to meet standards, may require evidence, and will  not payout if those standards aren’t met. Any business that breaks the rules,  won’t get insurance again. Of course, insurance companies can be corrupt; insurance agents can get paid off to “look the other way”. but again only to a certain extent.  Lose money for your boss and you get fired. [ Here’s something to think on-- If a government inspector is paid off, what will stop him from doing it again? Who would be easier to pay off -  an insurance agent or a government inspector]

The same motive limits corruption of insurance companies. They want the words Insured by Geico.. to mean something to keep customers and get new ones.

Consumer feedback groups from Angie’s list to consumer reports serve a similar function in some areas. On-line feedback about businesses do as well. Book reviews, seller statistics, do the same. Consumers are willing to pay for this.

The feedback people give and get in the internet and the speed at which it occurs and is used keeps people honest. Why would a salesman lie about a cars previous accidents, when the consumer can just check the VIN number using his mobile phone and see if he is telling the truth.

Getting rid of government completely is a nice fantasy, I know I am not the only one who wished it really had during the alleged partial shutdown. I am not proposing that.

Consider this as a possibility to think on. We have separation of church and state in this country, How about separation of economy and state?

Double Standards

If you hired an accountant who processed your refunds and took some of the money for himself without telling you would you go to him next year?

If the elevators in a hotel chain broke for lack of care, injuring or killing people, would you continue to go to that hotel chain? Would the hotel chain a different elevator maintenance company?

If the president of student body at your kids school blackmailed kids would he be replaced? get reelected?

If you hired a disposal company to get rid of refuse while you built a house, and found toxic chemicals in your backyard, would you pay them?

If you found out that the drug store in your neighborhood accepted payoffs to sell you animal antibiotics as generic drugs, would you continue buying medicine there?


The government does all of these things and worse all the time and we accept that as “how things are.”

If your kid used up his allowance and then said he needed more would you give him more? would you do it again? Of course not. But the president just did that. didn’t he? And people got so worried they no insults were great enough for those people who said. Hey, wait a minute.

If an accountant set aside part of your money for you to use when you got old and ten used it to pay day to day bills without telling you, would’t you fire him. But isn’t that what the government did with the social security fund?

If the president of student body at your kids school blackmailed kids would he be replaced? get reelected? but isn’t this what politicians do all the time?

If teachers gave better grades when parents gave the money, free vacations, club memberships, how long would he or she last. But isn’t that what lobbyists and politicians do all the time

But,  people say

It isn’t a great system it’s just better than any other.
It’s time to ask ourselves whether that is true.
Is this the best we can do

On Our Strange Trust in Government

Our enormous trust in government is irrational, bizarre and powerful.

Watch what we do not what we say.

The polls say that trust and faith in government are dropping to ‘dangerous’ levels. But are they?  Despite the fact that government trust numbers are in the toilet, people’s actions tell a different story. Say what you like. you, we, all of us continue against all logic, to look to the government for solutions and protection; we expect politicians to behave honorably and get angry when they don’t, we vote for someone else whose makes promises that sound good, speaks passionately, looks honest , and the cycle repeats itself again and gain.

We expect
     tax collectors to be unbiased   
     politicians and presidents to ot be corrupt
     government agencies (EPA) to keep out country clean
     make sure the food we eat and the drugs we take are safe
     to put the right rules in place to make sure that all of these things are done and to follow these rules

Does hope spring eternal? or are we all idiots? or what?

We don’t trust the people who represent us from the president to state congress,  and we can’t live without then.

If you don’t trust a government  why would you believe its laws, rules, and procedures would protect you.  Nevertheless, without realizing it most people assume the government keeps them safe. If there were no FDA, there would be no way to know drugs were safe. People would die. Without commercial building standards, buildings wouldn’t be unsafe.. We need the police to give out speeding tickets and make the highways safer (even though every study has found this not to be true)  If not for tough gun laws everyone would shoot everyone else and if not for the department of agriculture we would all die of poisoned food. Besides, who would build the roads.

Even when people are disillusioned, when they expect t be cheated, overtaxed and lied to say the words government shutdown and there is major FREAKOUT, blaming. OH MY GOD. If congress doesn’t give the President MORE money the country will go bankrupt, the economy will collapse and the sky will fall, The only thing that prevents the world from descending into complete chaos is that government we don’t trust.

Strange  isn’t it?

Can we?

If a situation is hopeless, there isn’t much point in trying to change it. There are people who believe in going down fighting as a symbolic gesture. I am not one of them.

This country has lost too much in economic prosperity, in self sufficiency, in freedoms and in the stamina and drive of many people. Government entitlement programs have robbed people of ambition, and pride in work, and independence. An ennui seems to have descended and for the first time our kids aren’t looking forward to a better life than ours.

If people in this country want socialism, or don’t but won’t fight the direction of change this country will become a government run, fascist nation. Don't believe me? . Just compare this country now to the country 10, or 20 years ago and you’ll see this is already happening.  Some say it has already happened.

Is it too late?

I don’t know the answer because I don’t own a crystal ball. The prospects right now don’t look good. It depends on what people do. What would we the people have to do to turn this country into the democracy it should be?

Looking around and over the past year this is what I see

  • Plenty of people in this country are dissatisfied
  • They don't know what to do about it
  • Leadership will matter
  • One-off attempts like million motorcycles, overpasses, truckers were exciting but won’t do the job.
  • We will need a plan or a philosophy, goal that shared and widespread and inclusive
  • It would include changing the composition of congress, empowering states, election fraud, civil disobedience, and creative PR
I couldn’t try to count everything that created the lousy state we find ourselves in, but in the end, the only thing anybody can control is himself or herself. And that’s enough. Remember the T- shirts that said JUST DO IT. That attitude caused massive and peaceful change in India and South Africa and Egypt It worked in this country beginning in Birmingham, Alabama. It can work again.

The odds of success are just the odds of success if everybody keeps doing what they’re doing. Yes, most are content to remain victims. That is not a good reason to follow in their footsteps or wait and see if...... As my favorite songwriter says 

                “ If you're looking for a miracle now
                  you better be one , all alone, on your own”

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hating Hate Crimes

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard this  “I disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” The phrase sounds a bit quaint, as if from another era. It is from a time before, political correctness, hate talk, censorship, when people did defend free speech of others whom they despised.

During the late 1970s the city of Skokie Illinois, which was home to many holocaust survivors. The American Nazi party requested a permit to have a demonstration in the center of the town.  Liberals of those many Jewish, many with parents or families who had escaped or did in concentration camps, many whose fathers fought against Nazism, gave their lives for it in WWII  -- discussed the subject very seriously. The cruelty to the residents was pitted against free speech. Nobody doubted that the intent of those sponsoring the parade went far beyond speech. But if you let the government censor, when does it stop?  Freedom of speech was sacred; it protected against another Hitler or Stalin or... Most of those I knew, despised he Nazi party and  supported the March. The content didn’t matter. We would defend their right to say it.

This country has come a long way from those times and that uncompromisable support of free speech.  I remember the first rulings on hate crimes and thinking that no good would come of this, that it would lead to not to more but less equality, that it would be  corrupted, enforced selectively and used to benefit one group vs. another. It pitted one group against another and inserted that conflict into the law.

I wish I had been wrong. Instead, we entered the age of non-equal treatment -- equality was redefined as if life were as simple as a see-saw. There was no question that the U,S, had treated blacks horridly.  That does  not mean that twisting the arms of businesses, forcing school bussing and lowering grades for college entry would undo the past.. Germany gave Jews reparations and moved on. When basic principles (like equality) have been broken (as they were against blacks) the solution is not to break them in the other direction. It never works and it didn’t. It prolonged and strengthened the racial divide. It insulted black people who were supposed to believe that without that “extra help” they couldn’t make it.

Governments love such opportunities. The love the power they get when dispensing “entitlements”,  those yummy bureaucracies that come along with words like “affirmative action,” monoliths like head-start whose only effect was government funded employment for more black people. It didn’t stop there. Censorship was bound to occur and it did. You cannot say the ‘n’ word unless you are a black talking to a black. You cannot say the word he.. she is OK ..or throw grammar under the bus and use they.
Not all discrimination or prejudice is equal is created equal because redress applies only to “protected” minorities, some of which are majorities (women).

We’ve come a long way from free speech to lists of groups one is allowed and even encouraged to offend and groups against which the slightest insult is deplorable and even just cause for violence. We are required to understand the experiences of blacks when they commit crimes; but not the ‘reasons’ for other groups, instead of treating all people equally. So ingrained has this become that elected officials feel free to blame the non-black victim of a hate crime in public , as councilwoman Cumbo did in response to knock-out” attacks in Crown Heights. She publicly said that while she personally admires the Jewish community for their success, others might not see it that way, and singled out Jewish landlords as a possible case of knock outs. She excused her hate talk as insight offered.

Ms. Cumbo, who is black, understands that not all minorities or hate crimes are created equal. Imagine a Jewish councilwoman, explaining how Jews in Crown heights are understandably frightened by the many violent actions of young blacks in the past. How would that received?

The FBIs latest hate crime report, presented every statistic to highlight crimes against blacks and homosexuals (now called LGBTs). Normalized data show that the group most likely to be victims of hate crimes are Jews. [Hate crimes against Muslims are negligible] -- and to an alarming degree-- While 1.6% of people in the U.S, are Jews, 10% are the victims of hate crimes. Not a privileged minority.

As I write, professors in campuses around the country are hyping the new racism “structural  racism” How clever! Any difference in outcomes between one group and another can now be called racism. Well of course, you can’t prove it. It’s in the “structure.” 

We should have left all of this alone. A crime is a crime is a crime is a crime. Equal means equal. Had we left it alone, I believe real equality-- the kind that Dr. King wanted to see-- where skin is “the color of water” would have emerged or be emerging.

We are paying a high price for legal meddling with words like equal opportunity.  Colleges have become indoctrination centers, innovation is migrating away from this country because in all the focus on diversity studies, nobody took enough time to teach kids Math or English or how to think or even that he? she? they are allowed to think.

We are paying for it most in the size of government and the power it shouldn’t have. This so of control, people from both parties seem concerned. Government inched its way into what out kids are taught, what we once thought was our privacy, into rights we once took for granted and now our health- our lives,

Thursday, December 5, 2013

On Detroit: Is Rand Paul a genius, are the rest of us idiots of both?

 While the rest of the country throws its hands up in the air, while Detroit with its $1.00 houses marches grimly towards bankruptcy, while Jay Carney tries to field questions from reporters, no longer cheerleaders, ties himself in knots trying to explain why-- Detroit could not fail and now is... Rand Paul,  calmly explains the obvious. 100 trillion dollar bailouts are not needed, and not productive. All the government has to do is let them keep more of there taxes and get out of the way. Investors will figure out the rest because the incentives will be there -- not as payoffs to one business or another but for the entire city.


Duh, it sure does seem obvious once you say it. It’s much cheaper and much easier then bailouts which obviously didn’t work. And I thought I was a libertarian. Have we all somehow accepted taxes, big government as so inevitable, we can’t even think under any assumptions? It looks that way.

Call me naive. Say the Democrats won't go for it because... because... WHY???? other than it was the other party who suggested harm in it. Nobody has put any other ideas on the table and it’s easy to undo, if it doesn’t work. It is not extremely radical, sets no precedents-- an experiment. Say you’re a democrat and it works -- you can take credit for not only the outcome but your unselfish bipartisanship. If it doesn’t work, blame the tea party.

Politics.... (sigh) In that arena Senator Paul was impressive as well.  Hannity fed him many opportunities to ridicule or criticize the President or the Democrats and their policies. He ignore them all and focused on what a senator should and rarely does-- the substance. Yes this would help the republican party but not  anywhere as much as it would help Detroit or, other large cities that are in trouble.

Had this been aired on National news, pundits would be dissecting his sentences, interpreting the non answer and half smile he gave in response to Sean’s question about his running for president. Remember all that stuff they said about Ted Cruz when he bashed Obamacare, or about  Palin and her talk about death panels. Apparently they were both right. They won't get any apologoes but that isn't why they did what they did.

Isn't it hard to believe that we have managed to elect some people who actually care about this country even more than their careers. Weird eh? But give it a think. Could it actually be true?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

How NOT to talk: what you say becomes what you believe

    Think before you adopt liberal language. Language is a powerful tool that will change your beliefs when used repeatedly. This happens without your knowledge.

    Language defines what can exist and what can’t. The phrase white supremacist is common. The phrase black supremacist is not and is not a phrase that even a conservative would use. It has been defined our of existence by language. A conservative will argue that a group of people targeted as white supremacist are not white supremacists. Note his weakened position”as he is is on the defensive. To target black supremacists or racists is to take the offensive, push the langage in the direction of equality. The phrase Muslim supremacist, if used, would provoke anger, perhaps violence and arrest.

   Learn to spot language bias and use language as a tool to advance and not weaken your political views. For example:

• If you think they are illegal aliens don’t call  them undocumented immigrants.

• If you think it’’s infanticide don’t call it fourth trimester abortion

• If you think its murder don’t call it assisted suicide

• If you think they are terrorists don’t call them freedom fighters or activists

• If you think the muslim religion is a fascist system that robs people of all control through any means possible including lying and killing, don’t call it a religion of peace.

The Power of People that Don’t Matter

There are days, especially lately, when I feel that way. I matter to the people I love and to others whose lives are tied to mine in numerous ways. I don't matter in this country. My freedoms have been taken from me. I a spied on. I have lost insurance that could endanger my husband's life. I keep hoping that something will happen to stop this nightmare. I hear anger, I see starts and it goes nowhere. It is easy to get discouraged, to wait for that magic moment when people, mad as hell don't take it, But I learned this from  my families experiences in WWII as Jews: there is no magic moment when people say NO. Waiting for others to start something is always a bad idea. Never believe it can't go on. People say that when they can't imagine the horror of the eality developing around them. It can get worse unless someone stops it. That someone or someones are the people who will keep it simple and ACT and keep acting.

I want to tell you a story - that happened to me when I was a young girl growing up in the Bronx where people who didn't matter, didn't think before they acted won.


he Power of People that Don’t Matter

I was in the 6th grade, when I learned about media bias.  Ms. Stern was teaching us how to read The New York Times, which we all knew was the most important newspaper there was. If they said in in the New York Times it had to be true.  You actually had to learn how to fold it! . I felt so grown up

When I got past the folding, I looked at the first page. In the right corner was a box, that said "all the news that's fit to print.' . It was impossible to miss, very official looking, proclaiming its  monopoly on the truth. We were all the child of immigrants. ad had been insulted enough to know that a person who is not suspicious is a fool.

There was something that bothered me about the slogan.  The next thing I remember is hearing myself ask the teacher “Who decides what’s fit to print? “To her credit ( and unlike teachers today) she did not send me to the principal.s office.

AsShe chose a short article about something that happened in n our neighborhood the day before, We were all that upset about it. Construction of  an addition to a project housing began during the day. Sometime during the night two kids fell into a deep hole and died.

By the end of the period we had a class project. We were to use the story,  to see whether NY Times claim was true. Had it printed all the news fit to print about the two boys.  We were to check other newspapers, speak to people, friends at the construction site and find out what was left out of the article , what the contradictions were.

What I did not know at the time was that my father a Rabbi and  principal of the Jewish school school, had called the Priest who was principal of of the Catholic school and arranged for this to be a joint assignment.

I knew the two boys who were killed. One was Jewish and the other Irish- Catholic. Jews and Catholics were never friends. It was a rule you didn’t break ever. These two were the exception because “Beanie” ( he was Jewish and wore a Yarmulke)could fight better than any one on the block.  He and ‘four eyes’ (wore glasses) became friends and explored the construction site, They fell into a deep pit.  Four eyes was killed immediately or that was what the police said, Beanie broke both of his legs,, waited in the hole with his dead friend until dawn when someone found him He died at the hospital.

We  remembered seeing the NY times truck and now we read their article “Two boys thirteen and twelve killed at Bronx construction site” They described the event as tragic. and said the parents were distraught and not able to speak to reporters. The paper didn’t actually say that the kids were to blame but wondered what they were doing there at night.  The reporters spoke to someone from the construction company  who said his heart went out to the parents of the kids. We take every safety precaution we can,  put up signs, speak to the police, and other people in the community.   People who live near these types of places know to be careful because  buildings are often added to projects when there is empty space.  No matter what you do, accidents happen. Just to be sure,  the construction company would put up barriers  The date of and time and location of each funeral was given.

We ran home to find the Catholic kids waiting. . This was  long before “political correctness” or “diversity”.  If we weren’t fighting, Irish kids, Italian kids and Jewish kids stuck to themselves, except for the little kids who weren’t smart enough to know that yet.  This might have been the first time in the history of the Bronx  that  Irish and Italian and Jewish kids we were ever together peacefully

Because we never talked to them, nobody knew what to say and we just stood there until One of “their” girls handed me a copy of the homework. After the shock wore off, two guys (it was always the guys and it sucked to be a girl) appointed themselves in charge to decide who would do what.   The boys would check out the crime scene, and talked to people near there, Armed with flashlights and the cop on our beat they set out. [ Back in those says cops had beats, Several blocks that they were responsible for. ]

Our pack of girls ran up from Davidson to University Avenue, Tremont and back to Jerome, collecting newspapers,  leaflets from the Irish Italian churches and synagogue. A few policemen told us what they wrote in their notes and then we were off to the library.

The librarian made everyone to sit down and took a few of us to a room in the back that seemed to have several infinities of newspapers piled in giant bookcases that almost touched the ceiling, They were lined up in rows  with thin aisles in   between. We followed the librarian who climbed ladders, carefully pulled out newspapers, put a red construction paper to mark the places and collected them into a large briefcase, until it was brimming. We sat and read as she went for others.

The “American” papers either didn’t cover the event, or limited what they said to how sad the parents and friends were, how life was cruel and watch your kids as best you can.

The Irish Daily told a different story. “Corrupt Unions responsible for death of two children,”  It said something about payoffs, getting rid of someone and Mafia. The catholic kids were flabbergasted that we didn’t understand but explained. The Mafia were criminals, who killed people , so they had to find ways to get rid of the bodies. The newspaper figured they found out about construction that was about to happen and paid some construction people to bury a dead man. underneath. cause nobody would ever look under a house.
My eyes bulged.
Why do they kill people?
She shrugged.

The Jewish paper’s story was “Will the deaths of innocent boys be swept under the rug?” There were lots  of questions Why did construction on a project that nobody seemed to know anything?  Why weren’t community leaders notified? Who decided to build when it had not been request by locals? Why had schools not been notified? Why was there no response to calls the paper made to the construction company. Something rotten is going on here. That was the end. There were no answers. I felt like Nancy Drew. We would solve this mystery. I reread the Times article.

“They lied about telling people in the neighborhood.” I said to the girl next to me, pointing to that part of the times article.
Wonder what else they lied about?  she said, We reread every sentence.
Did you know about projects getting more houses.? she asked
I didn’t neither did anyone else.
With the help of the librarian we found out that the last building was completed 16 years ago -- before he boys were born.   They had no way to know.

It was time to talk to people. The policeman who was back on the beat, told us that nobody told him about any construction.  We spoke to a lot of people. Nobody knew in advance-- even those people in every neighborhood that make it their business to know everything.  The parents of both boys told us that nobody from the newspaper had asked them anything.

The boys found were a couple of signs near the whole but they were small, stapled to a tree and easy to miss, and not visible at night. There was no rope around the hole.

 Some of the old people who sat on the benches talking and feeding pigeons recalled seeing them from across the  street heading towards the area. Kids played there all the time and they thought nothing of it. From the distance nothing appeared out of the ordinary and kids played there all the time.

The boys found a large collection of shovels,  other digging tools whose names I didn’t try to remember and piles of dirt. that blocked the hole from one side. I could imagine “Beanie and two shoes, shoveling dirt at each other, or fighting with the poles they imagined to be swords..  Did four eyes loose his glasses in one of those piles. Did he grope around trying to find them and fall into the hole? Did Beanie come to help him , try to pull him out with a shovel, and fall in?

“Was there a shovel at the bottom of the hole?” I asked.
NObody knew
“Does it matter” someone said
“Not really.” It was dark, Piles of dirt hid the hole. and they fell in.

I thought back to the New York Times. What was I? A 6th grader who could barely turn the pages.  They didn’t even bother to look at the hole. If they did, they would have seen that it looked a lot more like the holes they make for a coffin than the beginning of a construction project.  News fit to print was news about people whose grandparents were Americans. Why would they care what happened to a couple of SHEENIES,  and KIKES even if they were kids.

The “Everybody knows..” was a lie. But the paper, just wrote what the construction people said and told the world it was true without bothering to check.
That was the first time I didn’t want to be Nancy Drew. I wanted to do something that would tell people the truth.

By the time we got home the next day, everybody knew what had happened and they were VERY ANGRY. Not for a moment was there a question whether this disgustingness would continue in OUR neighborhood. This was America and people could  not just come into OUR neighborhood with THEIR construction workers, build without asking us and kill our kids.

Remember I am talking about the 1950s; there were no laws against discrimination.’ Catholics taunted Jewish kids for killing Jesus, called us KIKES, we called them Sheeny or WOPS (we didn’t always remember who to call what). But when something like this happened and everybody put differences aside without thinking about it. There were bigger enemies.

Religious schools were called off on Monday. When the construction workers came,  kids and families blocked the way and  surrounded the hole. Across the street, crowds from the neighborhood fought for a glimpse.

There were plenty of men there ready to fight. I could see their closed fists and the look on their faces.  Eyes met eyes and didn’t waver. Nobody moved for a long time. There was no fighting. The workers left, and the building was never built.  Some people had called the NY times but they didn’t come. Nobody had trouble figuring out why. The news a paper decided was worth printing, depended on which side they were on. We knew they weren’t on our side. 

The funerals were both the next day.  Larger than any I could imagine.  Long processions in the streets stopped buses from running. The public school closed early because nobody came, The Priest, my father, the local Rabbi, spoke,  There was lots of crying and there was lots of pride, One  Neighborhood of people who nobody thought mattered united against rich crooks who couldn't’ be bothered to put up a signs you could read. Probably they didn’t care if a couple of us died.

In a few months later, things were back to “normal”. The hole got filled up and grass grew over it. We played in  the street, until are others leaned out the window and called us to dinner,  Hopscotch and jump rope resumed. Boys practiced baseball. We kept to ourselves and didn’t cross the line. We fought just like before. without Beanie to protect us.  KIKE, SHEENY , and WOP re-entered our vocabulary.

Still, I like to think that what happened in those days changed us all. We knew that ‘they’ , the people with power could think we were idiots and pushovers. 'They' could refuse to hire our dads, 'they' could not rent us apartments. But they were no match for all of us, Not when we stood against them together.