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September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘class’

Starving Amidst Plenty

Monday, August 27th, 2012

There are two types of societies, production societies and rationing societies. The production society is concerned with taking more territory, exploiting that territory to the best of its ability and then discovering new techniques for producing even more. The rationing society is concerned with consolidating control over all existing resources and rationing them out to the people.

The production society values innovation because it is the only means of sustaining its forward momentum. If the production society ceases to be innovative, it will collapse and default to a rationing society. The rationing society however is threatened by innovation because innovation threatens its control over production.

Socialist or capitalist monopolies lead to rationing societies where production is restrained and innovation is discouraged. The difference between the two is that a capitalist monopoly can be overcome. A socialist monopoly however is insurmountable because it carries with it the full weight of the authorities and the ideology that is inculcated into every man, woman and child in the country.

We have become a rationing society. Our industries and our people are literally starving in the midst of plenty. Farmers are kept from farming, factories are kept from producing and businessmen are kept from creating new companies and jobs. This is done in the name of a variety of moral arguments, ranging from caring for the less fortunate to saving the planet. But rhetoric is only the lubricant of power. The real goal of power is always power. Consolidating production allows for total control through the moral argument of rationing, whether through resource redistribution or cap and trade.

The politicians of a rationing society may blather on endlessly about increasing production, but it’s so much noise, whether it’s a Soviet Five Year Plan or an Obama State of the Union Address. When they talk about innovation and production, what they mean is the planned production and innovation that they have decided should happen on their schedule. And that never works.

You can ration production, but that’s just another word for poverty. You can’t ration innovation, which is why the aggressive attempts to put low mileage cars on the road have failed. As the Soviet Union discovered, you can have rationing or innovation, but you can’t have both at the same time. The total control exerted by a monolithic entity, whether governmental or commercial, does not mix well with innovation.

The rationing society is a poverty generator because not only does it discourage growth, its rationing mechanisms impoverish existing production with massive overhead. The process of rationing existing production requires a bureaucracy for planning, collecting and distributing that production that begins at a ratio of the production and then increases without regard to the limitations of that production.

Paradoxically the rationing infrastructure increases in direct proportion to the falloff of production as lower production requires even greater rationing. This is what we are seeing now in the United States, in a weak economy, there is greater justification for the expansion of rationing mechanisms. And the worse the economy becomes, the bigger government will become to “compensate” for the problems of the economy.

In a production society, the role of government is to expand the territories of exploitation and to protect those territories. In a rationing society, the role of government is to control the available quantities of production with a view to distributing them fairly. Naturally, the rationers, as always, get the best rations. In a production society, government is a means of protecting everyone’s ability to produce. In a rationing society, government prevents the bigger from grabbing the rations of the smaller and protects everyone from grabbing all the rations at once and starving to death.

The sort of society we have is fit for passengers adrift at sea on a lifeboat parceling out their last crackers. It is an emergency society for the lost and the starving. And perversely we are starving amidst plenty.

The rationing society discourages people from farming and encourages them to peer in each other’s mouths to see who is eating more than his fair share. In the rationing society everyone is certain that they are not getting their fair share and eager to sign on to initiatives to get their group’s fair share. In a rationing society everyone is an informer because everyone’s livelihood depends on informing on others.

Wake Up, America, It Ain’t 1895

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

http://rubinreports.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/wake-up-america-it-aint-1895.html

I had two interesting responses to my article on Baltimore and the decay of America and because my energy level is very low now as I begin treatment for cancer allow me to respond briefly.

One friend asks why you believe that Romney and Ryan have answers for fixing America. Because America must decide whether it is going to be a society of productivity, making new things and wealth, or merely looting and passing around the ruins of Rome. A city like Baltimore will not be rebuilt by taking money to lower living standards in the suburbs but by creating great new enterprises that produce goods and services people want.

Another polite reader put the following in the nicest possible way—I’m not being sarcastic—don’t the Republicans and Romney just represent nineteenth century plutocratic greedy capitalism dressed up as free enterprise? Millions of Americans believe this and unless they change their minds America will not change.

Yes, that evil Romney who wants to buy another 100 Rolls Royces not like those modest-living Kennedys, Gores, and all the rest, including a serious Democratic presidential candidate who betrayed his cancer-stricken wife after making a fortune on rather questionable legal actions. And I seem to recall a great lionized hero who–let’s face it there’s no doubt, murdered a poor young working-class woman and left her to drown without ever paying for his crime. Sure there are bad conservatives and bad Republicans, corrupt and immoral people, but for goodness sake you aren’t treating them as great tribunes of the masses, as the friends of the exploiters, as they line their pockets from yours.

It’s time to rethink the reality we live in.

Look, it ain’t 1895 any more. Does the American government tremble because of Ford, General Motors, U.S. Steel, Standard Oil of New Jersey, the Pennsylvania Railroad and other mighty enterprises many of which have collapsed completely?

No. It is the opposite, the corporations tremble before the government regulators who have the power to tie them into knots. And their main response is not to fight but to flee abroad.

Oh, mighty General Motors saved by the great Obama (Hooray! Hooray! For the great messiah of business) with billions of your taxpaying dollars in order to create employment…in China!

Do workers living in hovels fear the boss telling them they are now out of work with no unemployment or pension; that their hours are increased, that they are going to be thrown out of their company homes because they were ten minutes late at work?

No, it is the unions—at least where such things survive in the heavy industry—that have the whip hand. The government is 100 percent on their side. Do the big-bellied capitalists blow cigar smoke into the faces of newspaper editors and threaten to cut off advertising unless scandals are covered up? No, it is the government’s scandals that are covered up. And if anything the companies are made to face unfair charges.

The corporate executives want to look good. They want people to say and write nice things about them. They want to be regarded as good corporate citizens. They spend money running image ads about how they feed songbirds than on doing breakthrough research.

They can’t even get oil-drilling going off most of the coast at a time when America has no energy independence, prices are sky high, and the economy needs a boost.

What is reality here? Yes, there were such times in America of bullying plutocratic greedy polluting capitalist super-villains but that just isn’t 2012. And yes, too, there was a time when some redistribution of wealth was needed. That was decades ago, too. Know why? Because working stiffs had to buy all those cars, toasters, refrigerators, and other consumer goods rolling out of the factories. That’s why advertising was a good thing. That’s why America flourished after World War Two.

Tell me, is America’s problem today that there is a vast working class—even a vast poor class—that cannot buy cheap computers and expensive sports’ shoes?

And finally don’t forget small business, all those millions of people who aren’t big moguls trying to make a living for themselves and their families and their employees.

The Modern And The Old Jew

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

The name of the Gaon, Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Spektor, was known to Jewry throughout the world. He was also well know to Russian royalty, having visited the Czar many times to plead for his fellow religionists.

Once, while traveling home from St. Petersberg he was on the same train with a prominent merchant, one of the Maskilim or free thinkers. When the train stopped at Vilna for an hour, a large throng of Jews gathered at the station. The merchant had never seen such a large crowd this station and he inquired as to the reason for their gathering.

“Don’t you know?” He was told, “the world famous Gaon, Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Spektor is on this train and we are hoping for the honor of at least getting a glimpse of him.”

The freethinker was impressed and decided to meet the Gaon. He inquired of the conductor of the first class coach if the prominent Jew was in the car. The conductor had neither heard of him nor had he seen him in his car. The merchant was a bit taken aback. A man who visits often with royalty surely travels first class.

Seeks The Gaon

He then inquired in the second-class coach and again he could not find him. Only when he entered the third class coach did people know of him.

“Will you please direct me to the chief rabbi of Kovna, Rabbi Rav Yitzchok Elchonon?” he asked the conductor.

He pointed to an elderly Jew with a long white beard who was at that moment praying in his tallis and tefillin.

The free thinker couldn’t believe his eyes. This old man, praying in public, was supposed to be the important representative of the Jews who was friendly with the Czar of Russia?

He waited until the Gaon had finished praying and then approached him saying, “Greetings unto you Rabbi. I am one of the freethinkers in Russia, a prominent merchant in my city. We have often spoken of you and your ideas. But I am somewhat taken aback, I had always figured you to be a modern Jew, especially since you visit the Czar. Imagine my surprise to see that you are one of the real old fashioned Jews.”

The Gaon looked at him and smiled. “On the contrary,” he said, “I am of the modern generation but you are of the old fashioned generation.”

“In what way?” asked the freethinker.

“Simply,” answered the Gaon, “on Pesach we read in the Hagaddah, ‘In the beginning our ancestors were idol-worshippers…”

Never Scold A Jew

Rav Yitzchok Elchonon was known for his humility and kindness towards his fellow Jews.

Once on Shabbos, while walking in the park in company with his secretary, Rav Yaakov Lipshitz, he saw a member of his congregation approaching him with a cigarette in his mouth. When the man saw the Gaon, he hastily threw it away.

“Good Shabbos to you,” said the Gaon to him, pleasantly.

“Good Shabbos,” answered the transgressor in a guilty tone as he hurried away.

The secretary could not contain himself. He turned to Rav Yitzchok Elchonon and said, “Rebbe, why didn’t you scold that man when you saw him violating the Shabbos? That way he’ll never do it again. Instead, you greeted him in a friendly manner as if you approved his actions.”

“On the contrary,” answered the Sage. “If I would have scolded him he would have felt offended at my interference in his personal life. Whereas, he now thinks that I didn’t see him and he’ll never smoke in public on Shabbos for fear that he may meet me again.”

Helping The Poor Woman

Once, a woman came to Rav Rav Yitzchok Elchonon with a difficult sheilah on an Erev Yom Tov. The Gaon paced the floor of his room, absorbed in deep thought. He then turned to the woman and said, “All is kosher.”

When the woman left, he told those present in the room that the woman’s husband was a poor melamed in a small town. He sent her only four rubles for the upkeep of the family. The poor woman had to pay one ruble for her son’s Hebrew tuition, leaving her only three rubles for all her Yom Tov needs. Then this sheilah arose. No heter could be found.

Pre-Preparing for Elul

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai presents a recent class given by Rabbi Zev Reichman about the sanctity and power of physicality in Judaism and how its center is in Israel. Be sure to catch all of this riveting speech!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Hearing on Motion to Dismiss Set in Hebrew National Class-Action Suit

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

A hearing on a motion to dismiss a consumer fraud case against the company that produces Hebrew National products has been scheduled for Nov. 30 in a federal court.

The hearing will be held at the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

ConAgra Foods Inc., which owns the Hebrew National brand, on July 26 filed the motion to dismiss a class-action suit that alleges that Hebrew National’s iconic hot dogs and other meats do not comport with the brand’s claim to be kosher “as defined by the most stringent Jews who follow Orthodox Jewish law.” The ConAgra motion states that the case should be dismissed because, among other reasons, kosher is “exclusively a matter of Jewish religious doctrine.” It also states that under the First Amendment, “federal courts may not adjudicate disputes that turn on religious teachings, doctrine and practice.”

The suit, which was filed May 18 in a Minnesota state court, accuses ConAgra of consumer fraud. ConAgra has rejected the claims.

Triangle-K, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based supervising agency that certifies Hebrew National products as kosher, and AER, which provides the kosher slaughtering services at Hebrew National facilities in the Midwest, including in Minnesota, also rejected the allegations. Neither is named in the suit.

The suit is seeking monetary damages equal to the total amount of monies that consumers in the class paid for Hebrew National meat products.

Zimmerman Reed, an Arizona-based law firm with offices in Minnesota, solicited consumers through its website. The firm advertised a free case review for anyone who purchased Hebrew National hot dogs in the past two years or had information about the preparation of the products.

Calif. Court Clears Path for Suit against Texas Corporation for Desecrating Jewish Cemetery

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

The California State Supreme Court on Monday upheld a lower-court decision that gave class-action status to a lawsuit alleging mass desecration of grave sites at Eden Memorial Park, 11500 Sepulveda Blvd, Mission Hills, CA, a Jewish cemetery which is under the care of the Texas-based Service Corporation International, thus clearing the way for injured families to seek hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, the LA Daily News reports.

Service Corporation International (SCI) claims to be “North America’s most trusted provider of end-of-life arrangements and services.” Based in Houston, Texas, the company operates more than 1,400 funeral homes and 380 cemeteries. It is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “SCI.”

According to the LADN, the lawsuit alleges that cemetery groundskeepers were repeatedly instructed by SCI management to secretly break concrete vaults with a backhoe and remove, dump and/or discard the human remains – including human skulls – to make room for new burials, all in the interest of increased profits.

According to the complaint, SCI took steps to conceal their fraudulent actions by threatening employees and witnesses with retaliation and firing.

The Plaintiffs’ attorneys have estimated damages at more than $500 million. A trial was scheduled for Oct. 15.

According to JTA, in 2003 SCI agreed to a $100 million settlement with Menorah Gardens in Southwest Ranches, Fla., after being accused of misplacing bodies, smashing vaults and overselling plots at its graveyards near Palm Beach Gardens and Fort Lauderdale.

SCI, along with other companies, is also facing a $200 million lawsuit in Florida for desecrating burial plots and placing the wrong bodies in several gravesites.

Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, ZTL – Baruch Dayan Emes

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

http://haemtza.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/rav-shalom-yosef-elyashiv-ztl-baruch.html

I am saddened to report the news of the death of a great man.  Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv passed away this morning at Shaare Tzedek Hospital surrounded by his family. He was 102 years old.

Rav Elyashiv was a Gadol. There is not a doubt in my mind about it. He belonged to the previous generation of Gedolim that included names like Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Aharon Kotler, Rav Yoshe Ber Sololveitchik (The Rav), the Lubavitcher Rebbi, and the Satmar Rebbe… and many more too numerous to mention.

These were all great men, Gedolim unlike anyone alive today – with the exception of Rav Ovadia Yosef, who is also in that category. Even though the Hashkafos of each and every single one of the aforementioned Gedolim are different – in some cases radically so, they were nonetheless great people who in effect changed the world.

Even though I found myself at times questioning some of the things that were said or done in Rav Elyashiv’s name, I completely honor his integrity. He like the other Gedolim of that era was a man of principle and never wavered from his convictions.

It is only a shame that near the end of his life there were some unscrupulous rabbis (Gadol Wannabees) who were able to get close to him – and took advantage of his advanced age to manipulate a desired Psak out of him. Or worse used his name without his permission or knowledge as a signatory to an edict or ban they (in their own arrogance and ignorance) only assumed he would have signed.

This does not detract from his greatness. It only diminishes those with ambitions and pretensions of succeeding him.

There are a lot of brilliant Talmidei Chachamim in the world today. Many of them are very worthy and principled people. But I don’t see anyone in a league to be able to take his place. He is the last of that generation. With all that is going on in the Jewish world today, the current rabbinic leadership seems to be falling well short of the task. They are not leading. They lead by constantly looking over their shoulder. The right shoulder.

I have said this before. The previous generation of Gedolim, of which Rav Elyashiv was a member, were in a class by themselves. They had continued a tradition of Gadlus that existed in pre-Holocaust times. They were ‘old school’ in the best sense of the word. With Rav Elyashiv’s passing that generation is almost gone.

It is true that every generation that is further removed from Sinai is of a lesser stature than their predecessors. That is no less true today than it was in the days of Chazal, the Rishonim, and Achronim. But there were major separations between those three eras. My Rebbeim have taught me that we are in the last such era. Achronim  - “the last ones” will no longer be offset by a new era the way it was from the era of the Rishonim.

I must confess, however, that from my vantage point the difference between Rav Elyashiv’s generation and today’s generation seems to have that same sort of chasm. But only history can judge that.

Rav Elyashiv will be sorely missed. Baruch Dayan Emes.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/rav-yosef-shalom-elyashiv-ztl-baruch-dayan-emes/2012/07/19/

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