Thursday, January 29, 2009
How about getting a new job Ervin? I know finding a new one is tough in this economy, but most of us would rather scrub toilets all day than murder our families to spare them hardship.
As the economic downturn continues, we will likely see more and more bizarre incidents of this nature. Difficult times have a tendancy to bring out either the best or the worst in us. Ervin Lupoe obviously was lacking in former.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Out self-esteem child rearing ethos goes too far here. Kids grow up thinking that desire is all that is necessary to become what they want. No concept of toil, struggle, failure, perseverance, skill-development, etc. is ever talked about.
Each successful American in all endeavors has to work at their craft with obsessive dedication to become great at it. No matter how badly I might want to become a physician, I will not unless I completely rededicate myself to the field. In all likelihood, I would not attain status a a physician because my desire to do what it takes to become one is wholly different than my desire be one.
This realization is what we are denying our children. I hope our youth begin to understand that if they dedicate as much effort to academics and personal development as they to video games and social networking, they would be poised to accomplish incredible goals.
I fear that youth in the developing nations have a devastating advantage over our youth in that there is an urgency and a hunger that are lacking in American kids. I fear this is the old irony of prosperity wherein comfort creates complacency. This current generation of young people is the first to be less affluent and successful than their parents' generation. American would do well to reverse this trend; let's start with the lessons we are teaching our impressionable children.
Most Americans realize that Obama was the brightest, most talented individual to run for the office this past year. And it is for that reason, that pragmatism overrode ethnocentrism to permit Obama to win.
For sure, some bigots, rednecks, racists, and extremists voted for Obama. Their prospects, 401k's, jobs, etc. plunged with the economy as they did for mainstream Americans.
So I too wish Obama well. I hope that he is so successful, that this blog will no longer be necessary. I do remain a pessimist however, but we shall see.....
Friday, January 16, 2009
However, his out of favor status stands to rise significantly if a terrorist attack occurs during Obama's presidential watch. Bush, if nothing else, is seen as uncompromisingly tough on terrorism and his redeeming value is largely that he prevented another attack after 9/11.
Another attack in the US is a question of when and not if. Whether it occurs sooner rather than later, the Bush II hard line against terror will be the national mood as soon as it does. This will ultimately be the vindication of the Bush II presidency.
Bush was not a particularly good President due largely to his over reliance on hawks Cheyney and Rumsfeld. But the American people is a forgetful one historically-speaking, and presidencies are remembered for their defining moments rather than their policy flaws.
I bid farewell to President Bush with respect because I believe he attempted to make the right decisions. He is a decent man at his core, and those concerned about his legacy need only wait for the tide of opinion to turn.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
The most striking difference is the Singaporean women. Most are thin, cheerful, courteous gems that are all too hospitable to the obvious foreigner that is me. I see a few American women walking around as if they are in the wrong galaxy. They are rushed, frumpy, sour-faced, and all but ignored by the local men.
American women tend to believe the Hollywood hype, that they are among the most desirable women in the world. This is a media-perpetuated myth. In actuality, they are among the most reviled and ridiculed yet they would not know it.
Thank you Singapore for showing me society that is dignified, educated, and respect-worthy. I will enjoy the remainder of my stay for sure.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
My theory is that married guys are like the fools who fall for the multi-level marketing schemes. Those schemes depend on recruiting new members, but only a precious few are successful participants. Most participants will break their necks to try to convince you to go to a new participant seminar. When they hear a "no," it just illustrates their own foolish decision. The eventual sucker that agrees to be a new participant validates the decision of the former, even though it was a bad one.
Married guys are like that too. To admit that marriage is a bore and a financial drain is too painful and too hurtful to acknowledge, so they come at you with how great it is to be married but are never able to articulate exactly why.
I think it was Fred Reed who said that any young man contemplating marriage should be made to spend 15 minutes in an empty room imagining his future wife 10 years older and 20 pounds heavier. If he still wishes to get married after that image, he should marry.
Fred Reed is right. Women are only temporarily beautiful. Marriage is the universal scam that baits the man into legal obligation to the woman, then switches with aging and the diminishing of female beauty. Married men struggle to come to terms with why they made the marriage decision based on the lunacy of short term attraction.
Just as children tend to lose interest in the little cute puppy dogs when they get older, so do men when their "oh so wonderful" sweetie-pies age less than gracefully.
Married men, if you are so "happy" being married, leave us independent men alone so we can pursue our interests as we darn well please. A rich man never has to convince another to become rich because the value of being rich is self-evident.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
To understand American immigration policy, it must be clear that official permission to come into the United States comes on the form of a United States visa. The two chief types of visas are the immigrant visa, issued to those seeking permanent resident status, and the non-immigrant visa, issued to those seeking to temporary visitor status. Although these two types of visas are different in purpose and scope, they both have profound impacts upon the nature of our society.
Immigrant visas are currently issued under the three major categories of professional capability, family unification, and national-origin diversity. Historically, these three categories have benefited America by welcoming legions of honest and productive immigrants of from many backgrounds and persuasions. However, today’s immigration needs are vastly different from those of the time period when the Immigration and Nationality Act was written. We are, without a doubt, a most pluralistic and diverse country which has been seasoned with an international richness envied the world over.
However, enough is enough. Our national character is now sufficiently broad and diverse that we have the wherewithal to be most choosy with regard to whom we grant immigrant status. I submit that American immigration policy be changed to reflect entirely need-based criteria. The family unification and diversity categories have lived fruitful and beneficial lives, but they should now be curtailed if not ended outright. Who could be against a policy that welcomes sorely needed physicians, teachers, nurses, physicists, linguists as well as farm hands, factory workers, and menial labor workers; we need them all. Regardless of national origin, race or religion, so long as they fulfill needs of the American labor market, we need them all.
As for the non-immigrant visas, current American policy grants temporary visitor status to those who can demonstrate they don’t plan to permanently stay in the United States. This policy is sound in concept but poor in administration as many “temporary visitors” immediately seek to adjust their temporary status to immigrant status once they reach the United States. They do this because the Immigration and Nationality Act explicitly permits them to do so. This provision of law should be abrogated in all but the most emergent of circumstances. Since each of these temporary visitors was required to demonstrate an intention to not remain in the US, status adjustment flies in the face of the initial weeding mechanism for temporary visitors. In case you’ve ever wondered why hundreds of people line up each day outside Citizenship and Immigration Services offices (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service), many of them are seeking to adjust their temporary visitor status to immigrant status. Most of these temporary visitors are indeed denied permission to adjust to immigrant status, but according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an estimated 40 percent of the 10 million illegal alien residents in the United States, entered our borders with legitimate temporary visitor visas. Who can blame them given the naive permissiveness of our current law?
That immigration reform is considered a mantra of bigots, fascists and right-wing ideologues is understandable. European demagogues have injected the issue with so much political venom, its very mention gives ordinary people slight pause. Unfortunately, this perception renders it a complex issue to confront. Such is all the more reason American policymakers should take a bold leadership role in formulating a new immigration policy that reflects the present-day national interest. Perhaps then, the rest of the developed world might have the political courage to follow suit without fear of being characterized by the dreaded X word, xenophobia.
It is common knowledge that the state of the modern marriage languishes in crisis. People of marrying age are pondering whether there is anything of lasting value to be gained from marriage. What has been traditionally considered a rite of passage to which all respectable people aspired, is increasingly being viewed with cynicism and apprehension. As recent as one generation ago, young people espoused (no pun intended) more healthy and realistic expectations from marriage. Often it was intertwined with one’s sense of duty to faith, family, and community. While esoteric pockets of that mentality do still exist, most are now likely to consider marriage something to be experienced until it is no longer enjoyable. What led to this socially corrosive perception? A virtual "marriage industrial complex" of contradictory interests figures prominently in the explanation.
The marriage industry encompasses the far-reaching interplay of marketing, pop- culture, and relaxed divorce laws. Specifically, it is the ubiquitous hodge-podge of bridal fashions, wedding consultants, event catering, venue rental, attorneys’ fees for pre-nuptial contracts, attorneys’ fees for divorce representation, the housing industry, etc. To make matters worse, mass media perpetuates the myth of forever marital bliss. The forces of this industry result in vicious cycles that powerfully induce individuals to marry only to pull them apart in the end. Often, the victims are so compelled by the marriage industry, they remain trapped where they repeat the same behavior again and again.
This seeds of this cyclic interplay are planted in childhood when impressionable, prepubescent children internalize the media fantasy of the huge wedding in an ultra-extravagant setting. Such ideas are reinforced with high school study of classic literature like that of Voltaire and Shakespeare, which are rife with clichés of living “happily ever after.”
Prom season marks the next significant industry milestone. Proms, among other things, serve as virtual dress rehearsals of a formal wedding event and they play a huge role in a young girl’s gauging of her desirability to the opposite sex. To not be asked to a prom can be viewed as an antecedent to spinsterhood. Though such notions are absurd, the pressures they create are surprisingly pervasive.
When the early twenties come around, the influence of peers walking down the isle takes hold. All of the sudden, young people feel the need to “keep up with the Jones’s” in regard to their personal lives. Consequently, premature marriage is a common occurrence in this age group. That the twenties is still a formative time for personal growth and discovery is seldom reason enough to resist the social pressure to tie the knot at that life juncture.
Inevitably, engaged couples experience varying degrees of cold feet, uncertainty, and fear about their engagements, but this is offset by family members and friends heaping congratulations, praise and words of encouragement. Engagement events, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and even wedding preparation get-togethers all reinforce the pressures to marry without critical reflection. To opt not marry after the engagement, would be to let down all those who harbored such high hopes. In the end, all the special attention obfuscates any pre-marital misgivings, and it gives rise to the belief that marrying must be the right thing to do.
The actual wedding ritual gives official family, community and often religious sanction to the coupling. Ornate ceremonies followed by festive eating, drinking, dancing top-off months of preparation and anticipation. However, after the wedding event ends, there sets in a sudden dose of reality. All of the family and friends depart and few seem to particularly care that you are a now a wedded couple. Many newlyweds maturely handle their new reality, but for others, the abrupt end to the excitement of pre-wedding life contributes to an emotional letdown.
Clearly, our society celebrates the concepts of courtship and wedding at the expense of actual marriage. How then do we counter this trend? We certainly can’t expect changes to come from the marriage industry which profits from this duplicity. But we can expect families, schools, religious institutions, and the media to focus attention less on the bliss of pre-marriage life and to prepare couples for the practical likelihoods of post-marriage life. If this were to occur, at least two things would likely come about. First, fewer might succumb to the compulsion to enter into poorly-conceived marriages. Second, those who still chose to take on the challenge of marriage might be able to expect and be better prepared for the trials and difficulties inherent to married life.
Distinction should first be made between Islamic-fascism and Islam, a faith with motifs not necessarily incompatible with western ideals. But it is the fascist component of Islam that seeks to kill innocent people, bankrupt our institutions, and decimate our economies. Seething resentment of western affluence, cultural influence, and perceived nihilism have boiled over in the underdeveloped Middle East, and Islam has been the successful means through which violence against the west gained moral legitimacy.
So why have we failed to acknowledge our enemy as Islamic-fascism? Central to the reason is that Americans are traditionally loath to criticize concepts that cloak themselves under the fabric of religion. Freedom from religious persecution was one of the tenets upon which America was founded, and we take great pride in exhibiting religious tolerance even in the most difficult of circumstances. Most Americans would recoil at the thought of being accused of religious bigotry. Islamic-fascism exploits this sensibility to our detriment.
Despite all of our battle weariness, there is some cause for optimism. Several leadership figures of Al-Qaeda have been apprehended, a burgeoning democracy has taken shape in Iraq, and several major terrorist acts against the west have been thwarted. No less significant was Libya’s new spirit of cooperation. But in recent months, we seem to have come to a plateau of successes, due in part to the painstaking democratization processes taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan. While these two new democracies have shown signs of promise, their governments must prove to be quick studies or face futures of lingering instability.
A more prudent strategy might be for us to allow the natural power of exposure to western markets and freedoms to take hold. History tells us that democracy is not necessarily a “one size fits all” proposition as Africa and Latin America can attest, but its best chance for success is where it is permitted to develop in tandem with cultural westernization. It was not too long ago in the Soviet Union, China and elsewhere that anti-western vitriol was undermined by concepts like Coca-Cola, Levi’s, and MTV. While the Middle East faces perhaps the steepest of paths to westernization, the same formula should be given the opportunity to succeed there.
Some have maintained that our failure to win wholesale European support for the intervention in Iraq bodes ill for a successful resolution to this war. That pessimism is unfounded. While our European partners, some active and some inactive, are indeed integral to the prospects for this war’s success, this effort will be long enough in duration that there will be future opportunities for broader-based European involvement. Most of Europe is already engaged in containing the fomenting enclaves of Islamic-fascists within their own borders. The Madrid and London bombings were preludes a chess game of terrorist attacks. As time progresses, the threats posed by domestic threats will likely compel our inactive European partners to active partnership by contributing troops, intelligence, and nation-building support. Simply appealing to historical relationships in Europe is insufficient given the abstract nature of this enemy, but the more we can convince “Old Europe” how active participation is in their collective interest, the better.
This war against Islamic-fascism is likely to be our burden for some time, but if we are to succeed without, we need to muster the courage to clearly define our enemy, westernize their former sanctuaries, and better illustrate to recalcitrant allies the benefits of their tangible support. War invariably brings forth ebbs and flows of developments, but through a steadfast resolve akin to that which won us the cold war, we can succeed. We have no acceptable alternative.
How Hip Hop Destroys the Potential of Black Youth
Hip hop has long been a bone of contention between younger and older blacks. Even Oprah Winfrey and Ice Cube are now in a highly publicized tangle over the genre. Yet, no one can deny that it has evolved into a compelling, multi-billion dollar, global industry. But what exactly is hip hop and why has it become such a commercial and cultural force around the world? It certainly is not simply some harmless fad that some claim it is, and its negative impact on young blacks can no longer be ignored.
Contrary to popular belief, hip hop is not just a style of music. It is actually the culture of poor inner-city life and the rallying cry of those unable to negotiate the nuances of the mainstream. It validates and glorifies formerly stigmatized characteristics of the lower class, in effect, preventing impetus for upward mobility.
The lyrics of hip hop music involve recurring themes of braggadocio and boastfulness to the extent that one can only wonder if it is overcompensation for inadequacy. Going beyond music, it also encompasses styles of dress, codes of behavior, and an overall defiance of social convention. It is this defiance of mainstream life that is at the root of underachievement in black youth. According to hip hop orthodoxy, for young blacks to be mainstream is for them to exhibit weakness, whiteness, and all that is the antithesis of hip hop.
Hip hop, as a culture, compels black youth to eschew the important concept of deferred gratification at perhaps the most formative juncture of their lives. The hip hop imperative is to accumulate flashy, overpriced, gaudy symbols of street success and to get it fast. When young men prance around with ostentatious items of “bling,” they advertise their worth and worthiness to the opposite sex. Materialism becomes the means to winning sexual conquests. Of course, young men can always earn sexual conquest the hard way, by cultivating one’s thug factor. Braided or dreadlocked hair, baggy clothing, ghetto diction, and street reputation can all serve to raise one’s thug factor.
Not to be outdone, young black women have a huge hand in the process. By sexually rewarding those young men most able to finance the materialism of hip hop, or those most endowed with the thug factor, the vicious and destructive lifestyle of hip hop is maintained. Knowing this, is there is any wonder why profit-driven crime has such a foothold in young inner–city life?
It is tragic that the hip hop imperative entrances young black students at a period when they should be mastering the scholarly basics. By eschewing their studies in favor of the “pimp and hustle,” important opportunities for self improvement are lost. By emulating convicted felons like 50 cent, 2 Pac, and Lil Kim, young blacks are laying the groundwork for their eventual failures in life.
More importantly, those talented black youth bright enough to realize the importance of preparing themselves for the future are too often demoralized and brow-beaten into hip hop conformity through peer pressure. Hip hop culture causes studious black students to be branded with accusations of “acting white” or not “keeping it real.” Even those who choose to pursue typical teenage employment are subject to ridicule since the hip hop imperative only respects earning money in a fast lucrative manner, regardless of legality. Consequently, preparedness for the competitive job market or higher education are squandered.
Sadly, when young blacks finally attempt to enter the mainstream job market, they are often devoid of the skills to obtain and maintain gainful employment. Because hip hop is frequently the cultural norm for inner-city young blacks, they see no harm in applying for a job with unsightly cornrows, baggy clothing, and less than industrious dispositions. Furthermore, those few who can muster the wherewithal to present themselves to employers in a professional manner are often not conversant enough in standard, grammatically correct English.
But what about the masses of white youth who are the primary consumers of hip hop? Why are they not adversely affected by hip hop as are black youth? For white youth, hip hop tends to serve simply as a medium for youth rebellion much like rock and roll did during the mid part of the 20th century. Only rarely do the children of the white middle class take on hip hop as more than mere entertainment. That is they tend not to view hip hop as a way of life, or as a standard to be attained as in the case of many black youth.
However, there is a segment of poor white youth that is increasingly falling prey to the hip hop imperative, the “Eminem” element if you will. While still miniscule, there is evidence that the hip hop imperative has infected poor, white inner city enclaves like
What about the global negative impact of hip hop? As mass media now reaches international audiences far and wide, it is no surprise that angry and underprivileged youth in
No less distressing is the growing notion that hip hop culture is tantamount to black culture. Forget about the rich cultural legacies of the Harlem Renaissance, Jazz, and the black middle class. None of that seems to matter anymore.
Let’s face it. Hip hop deadens the drive toward civility and legitimizes backwardness. It is high time that hip hop industry comes to terms with the social damage it perpetuates. If not, we can all count on yet another generation suffering from potential unrealized.
This insightful article is attributed to a guest writer at Project 21, a subgroup of the National Center For Public Policy Research.
American women often seem to wear the fact that they are sarcastic like a badge of romantic honor. I've had girls tell me that they could not be with someone who could not handle their sarcasm, and that sarcasm is a positive attribute.
My theory is that Hollywood has warped young American women into this mindset. TV sitcom's are less and less about real comedy than they are about slapstick sarcasm. Not only is this a sad commentary about the influence of the media, but it also shows the degeneration of our culture due to mass media and pop culture.
For all of us who never liked Friends, we have yet another reason to switch when it pollutes our screens.
If you are down by: You need to see a return of the following to break even:
Down 5% Up 5.27%
Down 10% Up 11.1%
Down 20% Up 25%
Down 30% Up 43%
Down 40% Up 67%
Down 50% Up 100%
Down 60% Up 150%
Down 70% Up 233%
Down 80% Up 400%
Down 90% Up 900%
Down 95% Up 2000%
Anything down over 50% could take YEARS to earn back(if ever), so protect your nest eggs!
On the other hand, this is a silver lining for the contrarian investor like myself. Regardless of what people have been saying about dollar cost averaging, it works in protracted bear markets like this one. This is the best opportunity to invest since I have been investing (since 1997). Think like a contrarian; profit like a contrarian!
I believe the media plays a role in this behavior. All one has to do is see Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Neil Cavuto, or some other rambunctious host cutting off his or her guests, shouting platitudes. And by no means is this an affliction of conservative types. Just watch Gloria Allred, Al Sharpton, or some other leftist in action.
One thing I like about Obama, and I don't like several things about him, is that he is a polite, polished and well-spoken American who is respect worthy. Maybe he can bring the concept of interpersonal civility back to the country that I love, but left.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
The first blunder we made was our head-first foray into the global market frenzy. I was skeptical even when NAFTA was the flavor of the month. The open market model was a way for companies to sidestep manufacturing in the US in favor of using third world labor. Their gains were our losses. Now, the US produces very little and it has become a service based economy. Sure, labor unions have priced American laborers out of work, but the demise of the US Manufacturing sector was hastened by globalization.
Next, the US stock market has functioned as a promoted and regulated Ponzi scheme. The early in and out investors will and the late comers (usually the greater portion) lose money. The Fed manipulates interest rates to keep investment flowing, and the media (CNBC, Bloomberg, etc.) constantly cheer lead and promote stocks. I recall one anaylist touting AOL as a long term great investment due to the growth potential and the internet as a more important vehicle. Then the dot-com bubble burst and AOL was reduced to shreds a few months later.
Before the current market 40% downturn, I recall various financial pundits proclaiming how attractive "valuations" were for stocks. After the 40% drop they were still using that rationale to attract more stock investment. What they know deep down is that "valuations" mean nothing but a numerical correlation that is used to justify promoting more investment. Stock prices are more influenced by sentiment than valuation and no amount of value analysis will make stocks an attractive investment to spooked investors.
Finally, Americans and our industries became addicted to OPM (other people's money). OPM financed our McMansions, our 4 flat-screen TV's, our SUV's, and our yearly iPod model upgrades. Companies relied on bond issuances, and investors to finance their ventures. When recession comes to rear its head, we are at a loss to pay back OPM. That's what we face now.
What is the solution? I wish I knew, but I feel that we as a nation must expect job loss, economic uncertainty, and saving to be inevitable parts of our futures. I'm a fan of market forces fixing our problems, but market forces are undermined by bailouts, interest rate manipulations, cash infusions, and stimulus plans proposed by our government representatives. These are temporary measures that might provide short term relief, but long term consequences. I feel that the federal government just wants to prod Americans to buy, buy, buy, again just to get the juices of consumption flowing again. However, this is no resolution to the undiversified economic model we have grown into.
Adam Smith must be turning in his grave.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
This got me to thinking, since American women statistically initiate divorce more than men, and since most divorces are based in money issues, I theorize that young women marry then divorce men to get at their wealth. I don't think women consciously plan it that way, but that's obviously the effect sanctioned by our culture and our laws.
I also remember having a discussion with two random girls back in college. The subject came up about prenuptial agreements, when I stated that I would have one if I ever got married, these two girls went high and to the right. It went from a civil discussion, to a loud, accusatory discussion. In later years, I realized that these girls knew that access to male wealth was the real agenda behind American marriage, not love and family.
The "American Dream" is but a perpetuated myth serving as a means to dupe men into ceding wealth to females. Realize this and protect yourselves accordingly.
But take a step backward 2 to 4 years. I can recall the frantic push for universal housing ownership. I can recall ads and marketing blitzes telling renters that they too could likely afford a mortgage even if they thought they could not. I recall state and federal government campaigns to increase "minority" home ownership, especially among Blacks and Latinos.
Now what do we have? Now the press is saying that all these government-encouraged home purchases were ill-advised and irresponsibly financed by mortgage companies. A huge proportion of those Black and Latino home buyers are now losing their homes to foreclosure and the rate of home loss will multiply each year when their "alluringly low" adjustable mortgage rates adjust higher and higher.
So what does this have to do with marriage you ask? The lesson here is to ignore the corporate and government campaigns to encourage marriage. Corporations and government have an interest in marriage only to suit their own ends. Just as in the frantic rush to get everyone in a owned-homes against their best interest, corporate America and government wish to get you married just to flaunt growth statistics and reap marriage consumption profits (new homes, new cars, new furniture, etc) , and resultant tax benefits.
Smart men should never allow government to advise us in our personal lives. In the final analysis, millions of Americans will meet their financial ruin because of policy agenda "campaigns."
Do not let this be you; ignore the calls for men to marry or expect your financial house to be "foreclosed" and turned over to the Financial Bank of Ex-Wives.