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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street’

Too Much Symbolism? South Bronx Kids Visit Anne Frank Center Betwixt Freedom Tower and Ground Zero Mosque

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Is there such a thing as too many metaphors for the triumph of the human spirit packed into one sidewalk, especially such a crowded sidewalk near Wall Street (add that, too, to the mix, wrap in an American flag and call it a day?). But I’m probably being too cynical. It’s actually a heart warming story.

The Daily news reports that the Anne Frank Center USA, on Park Place and Church St., near the Freedom Tower and the Ground Zero Mosque, opened its doors last Thursday to Holocaust survivors, guests and a class of fifth-graders from Public School 43 Jonas Bronck in Mott Haven.

The kids spread across the exhibit, examining the simulation of Anne’s bedroom, family photographs and cites from her diary on the bright orange walls. They read Anne’s diary on iPads, although some of them said they had already read it several times.

Barack Obama’s 2012 New Year’s Resolutions

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Barack Obama’s 2012 New Year’s Resolutions

* Obama will eliminate Welfare by requiring all poor people to move in with rich people.

* Obama will further reduce our military budget to forestall a crisis where he has to curtail his vacations.

* Barack Obama will have a teleprompter installed in his kitchen so he can tell his wife what he wants for breakfast.

* Obama will stimulate the economy by hiring more czars.

* For his next election Obama will choose a running mate who knows more about running the country than he does — like, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi.

* Obama will push through a bill requiring all Americans with more than three teeth to buy dental insurance. Those who refuse will be fined and get their teeth knocked out.

* To finally put to rest all questions of his eligibility to be president, Obama will make Kenya the 58th State, retroactively. (If you’ll recall from the first time Obama ran for president, he said he campaigned in 57 States. And the media made fun of Dan Quayle for misspelling potato in 1992. Go figure.)

* Obama will increase American productivity and reduce the threat of Chinese competition by initiating a student exchange program with China. Chinese students will teach Americans how to work hard, and American students will teach the Chinese how to smoke crack, curse, use condoms, and then complain about how others are getting rich.

* Obama will make it illegal for law enforcement to search drug dealers who’ve been coming across the Mexican border regularly for at least five years.

* Obama will require all drug runners to get CIA clearance and a background check to make sure they never worked on Wall Street before they are allowed to sell guns to the Mexican drug cartels.

* Obama will hold fund raisers to pay off our national debt. With the money left over he’ll do what he knows the American people want him to do — buy new golf clubs.

Barack Obama is not just the worst president ever in the history of the United States, he is probably the worst human being ever to occupy the White House. His bold faced lies are unparalleled in the annals of our presidencies. Virtually all politician lie. But few do it as shamelessly as Barack Obama.

It does not seem to bother Obama one iota even when he knows we know he’s lying. As long as we cant do anything about it, it seems to sit well with him. This is not just corrupt, this is wicked.

Every now and then you hear people say, “Oh, but he seems like a nice guy.”

A pleasant demeanor alone is not what makes a person. The values and principles behind the facade do. If someone robs a bank with a smile, does that make him a nice guy? Of course not.

The only thing Barack Obama has proven himself to be really good at is catering to the most ignorant of our society who don’t realize when they’re being taken for a ride.

You Just Might Be An ‘Occupier’

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Many of us are scratching our heads trying to make sense of the Occupy Wall Street movement and its sundry clones around the world.

With apologies to the comedian Jeff Foxworthy, who first made a name for himself with the refrain “then you just might be a redneck” (example: “If you have 24 pickup trucks and none of them work, then you just might be a redneck”), let’s examine the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon.

* If you refuse to recognize that every idea of Marx’s was debunked over 160 years ago, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you wear Nike shoes, designer jeans, and carry your smart phone to the demonstrations against capitalism, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you think the United States controls an empire, even though you cannot think of any colonies it owns, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you think other people must always be required to relinquish their material things so that you can pursue social justice and feel idealistic and righteous, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you consider your own property to be sacred while other people’s property should be used for social engineering, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you favor academic departments in which only enlightened leftist opinion can be expressed and where there is no room for non-leftist dissenting opinion to be heard, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you use the term Islamophobia often but never use the term Islamofascism, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you believe everything wrong with the world is because of the United States, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you think there is nothing useful to be learned from the fact that Cuba used to be the richest country in Latin America and today is the poorest country in Latin America, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you are not aware of the fact that Cubans steal boats to sneak into the U.S. but no low-income Americans steal boats to sneak into Cuba, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you think there is nothing we can learn from comparing the histories of East Germany with West Germany before the unification, or North Korea with South Korea, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you think all arguments can be settled by telling a non-leftist he
reminds you of Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you support proposals that make real problems of the world worse, just as long as advocating them makes you feel caring and righteous, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you prefer that poor people in the Third World starve rather than embrace capitalism and live like you do, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you believe terrorism is caused by poverty, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you believe SUVs threaten life on earth, and more generally that the planet is in imminent danger of destruction unless everyone does what you want them to do, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you believe one country is rich and another poor because the rich country stole wealth from the poor country, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

* If you demand social justice but have no idea how to define what it means or explain how to achieve it, then you just might be a Wall Street Occupier.

            Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

A Tale Of Two Movements

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Like many other families this past Sukkos, my husband and I took the kids to the park over Chol Hamoed. But we left our mitts and bats in the car when we arrived. This was a trip to Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.

We were curious to see the much publicized protestors of Occupy Wall Street, and I wanted our kids to get a taste of “history” in the making. And, rest assured, this is a piece of history my kids will remember.

The first thing that greeted us as we parked our car several blocks away and got closer to the police barricades surrounding the park was the odor. It was a terrible stench that crept up on us and, both physically and figuratively, never left us until we moved out of the Wall Street area the protesters now claim as their own.

I repeatedly warned my kids not to touch anything as we navigated our way through clusters of sprawling protesters on grounds littered with empty food plates, grimy tarps propped up by poles to cover sleeping bags, and a distinctly strong smell of marijuana. It was dark when we arrived at the park and a large group of protesters were loudly and almost absurdly communicating via their “mic-check” system.

These Occupy Wall Street protesters were predominantly young and white. Most of them looked like college students from universities like the New School or residents of the Village. They did not exactly impress me as being “disenfranchised.” Indeed, the only truly poor people I was able to make out were a couple of homeless men eating donated food from a makeshift open kitchen, surely blessing their luck and hoping the supply won’t run out anytime soon.

I stopped some protesters and asked them what they hoped to achieve. I was dumbfounded. Apparently the caricature of brain-dead college kids hanging out in the park is not an exaggeration. The first several protesters gave answers in an inane and almost adolescent tone: “We want a better world.” “We want equality.” “We’re here for a better planet.”

Though we finally did strike up a conversation with one hardcore opponent of the capitalist order – a young psychology teacher with no real working knowledge of finance – most of the protesters simply struck me as Woodstock wannabes.

I was relieved when we left the park. Relieved to end a conversation with one of the protesters, a teacher who told us how proud he was to be part of “the 99%” – the protesters’ phrase for the percentage of Americans supposedly united against the one percent of our country’s top earners. It wasn’t “fair,” he claimed, for so few people to have so much wealth – never mind that many of them worked hard to earn it – and it was only “fair” to demand the government tax them further to ensure that everyone shares in that wealth.

What a difference from the last protest I took my daughter to – a Tea Party rally in midtown Manhattan. Besides the common bond of a shared philosophical affinity, there’s something comforting in taking your child to a gathering where you see a patriotic man dressed up as a founding father rather than a man holding a sign proclaiming “Queers love the 99%.”
The Tea Party rally was a G-rated event to which you could bring the whole family. It promoted family values over vulgarity, work ethics over entitlements, and independence rather than dependence for 100 percent of Americans.

As an Orthodox Jew I not only felt welcome but validated. Tea Party goers waved Israeli flags along with American ones, while Occupy Wall Street protests are laced with signs that read “Hitler’s Bankers,” “Gaza Supports the Occupation of Wall Street.” and “Congress Should Print the Money, Not the Zionist Jews.”

The difference between Occupy Wall Street protesters and Tea Party rally-goers is greater than just one group wanting more government intervention and one wanting less. It’s more than a difference between one group contesting American capitalism and one wanting to restore that capitalism to its earlier glory. It is an intrinsic conflict between two peoples and two social ideologies, between protesters with no real message who want to continue on the downward moral spiral that began in the 1960s and rally-goers yearning for the bygone era of “Leave it to Beaver.”

One cannot separate fiscal and moral values. They are intrinsically intertwined. Work ethics and work go hand in hand. Internalized values that restrict misbehavior and encourage good behavior cut across the spectrum of our daily lives. And caps set in place to govern social conduct and prevent misconduct are similar to caps erected to govern monetary behavior and prevent financial liability. Those bent on an agenda of accepting monetary entitlements and forcing others to grant them look for entitlements in other areas of life as well.

I didn’t just sense the difference between the rally at Zuccotti Park and the Tea Party. I felt it. And I resent the Wall Street protesters co-opting percentages of fellow citizens in their quest to collapse our existing capitalist and social structure. No – alas – I am not one of the “millionaires and billionaires.” But don’t lump me together with the anarchists in “the 99%.”

Sara Lehmann is a freelance writer and editor living in Brooklyn.

A Tale Of Two Movements

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Like many other families this past Sukkos, my husband and I took the kids to the park over Chol Hamoed. But we left our mitts and bats in the car when we arrived. This was a trip to Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.

We were curious to see the much publicized protestors of Occupy Wall Street, and I wanted our kids to get a taste of “history” in the making. And, rest assured, this is a piece of history my kids will remember.

The first thing that greeted us as we parked our car several blocks away and got closer to the police barricades surrounding the park was the odor. It was a terrible stench that crept up on us and, both physically and figuratively, never left us until we moved out of the Wall Street area the protesters now claim as their own.

I repeatedly warned my kids not to touch anything as we navigated our way through clusters of sprawling protesters on grounds littered with empty food plates, grimy tarps propped up by poles to cover sleeping bags, and a distinctly strong smell of marijuana. It was dark when we arrived at the park and a large group of protesters were loudly and almost absurdly communicating via their “mic-check” system.

These Occupy Wall Street protesters were predominantly young and white. Most of them looked like college students from universities like the New School or residents of the Village. They did not exactly impress me as being “disenfranchised.” Indeed, the only truly poor people I was able to make out were a couple of homeless men eating donated food from a makeshift open kitchen, surely blessing their luck and hoping the supply won’t run out anytime soon.

I stopped some protesters and asked them what they hoped to achieve. I was dumbfounded. Apparently the caricature of brain-dead college kids hanging out in the park is not an exaggeration. The first several protesters gave answers in an inane and almost adolescent tone: “We want a better world.” “We want equality.” “We’re here for a better planet.”

Though we finally did strike up a conversation with one hardcore opponent of the capitalist order – a young psychology teacher with no real working knowledge of finance – most of the protesters simply struck me as Woodstock wannabes.

I was relieved when we left the park. Relieved to end a conversation with one of the protesters, a teacher who told us how proud he was to be part of “the 99%” – the protesters’ phrase for the percentage of Americans supposedly united against the one percent of our country’s top earners. It wasn’t “fair,” he claimed, for so few people to have so much wealth – never mind that many of them worked hard to earn it – and it was only “fair” to demand the government tax them further to ensure that everyone shares in that wealth.

What a difference from the last protest I took my daughter to – a Tea Party rally in midtown Manhattan. Besides the common bond of a shared philosophical affinity, there’s something comforting in taking your child to a gathering where you see a patriotic man dressed up as a founding father rather than a man holding a sign proclaiming “Queers love the 99%.”

The Tea Party rally was a G-rated event to which you could bring the whole family. It promoted family values over vulgarity, work ethics over entitlements, and independence rather than dependence for 100 percent of Americans.

As an Orthodox Jew I not only felt welcome but validated. Tea Party goers waved Israeli flags along with American ones, while Occupy Wall Street protests are laced with signs that read “Hitler’s Bankers,” “Gaza Supports the Occupation of Wall Street.” and “Congress Should Print the Money, Not the Zionist Jews.”

Quick Takes: News You May Have Missed

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

MoveOn.org To Join
Anti-Wall Street Movement

MoveOn.org is planning to launch a protest movement to compliment the Occupy Wall Street momentum with the stated goal of “mak[ing] Wall Street pay” and rebuilding the entire U.S. financial system.

MoveOn.org is financed by the George Soros-funded Tides Foundation. Another grantee of Tides is the Adbusters magazine, which is reported to have come up with the Occupy Wall Street idea after Arab Spring protests toppled governments in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.

MoveOn.org on Sunday held a planning meeting in Manhattan to discuss ways to take on Wall Street in coordination with Occupy Wall Street.

This new campaign serves as further evidence suggesting that the anti-Wall Street movement is a well-planned effort and not the spontaneous uprising its leaders claim it to be.

Last week, KleinOnline broke the story that Fenton Communications, a public relations firm closely partnered with Tides, represented the anti-Wall Street march past millionaires’ homes in New York two weeks ago. Fenton also crafted the public relations strategy of MoveOn.org, as well as a who’s who of far-left causes, organizations and activists, from Soros himself to Health Care for America Now to a litany of anti-war groups.

The Occupy Wall Street march past millionaires’ homes was first announced in a press release entitled, “Community Groups and Progressive Organizations Join Together to Plan ‘Millionaires March’ with Occupy Wall Street Protestors.” The contact for that release was Fenton Communications.

Fenton Communications was founded in 1982 by David Fenton, an activist who served as a photographer for Bill Ayers’d domestic Weather Underground terror group.

Fenton works in conjunction with the Soros-funded Tides Center that funded Adbusters. Fenton used the Tides Center to set up Environmental Media Services in 1994. Tides reportedly originally ran EMS’s daily operations.

David Fenton serves on the board of numerous Tides-funded groups, while his firm represents more than 30 Tides Center grantees, as well as Soros himself and the billionaire’s Open Society Institute. Fenton helped to craft MoveOn.org’s attacks on Gen. David Petraeus.

While David Fenton first photographed Ayers in the 1960s, he later served alongside both Ayers and Obama on the board of the Woods Fund, a Chicago nonprofit which channeled money to a slew of progressive groups, including the Tides Center and the Alinsky-style Midwest Academy training outfit. Obama served as a paid director on the Woods Fund board from 1999 to 2002.

 

Is The White House Taking
Chinese Expansionism Too Lightly?

As the Chinese military reportedly expands its overseas aid missions and military exchanges in a major fashion, questions continue to arise regarding the White House’s response to Chinese expansionism.

President Obama’s China adviser, Evan Medeiros, has a long history of downplaying the threat to U.S. interests posed by China’s rapid military and economic growth, once even penning a paper that argued China should embrace a “great power mentality.” Medeiros is the White House National Security Council China director, a position to which he was appointed in 2009.

Medeiros was formerly a senior research analyst at the Arms Control Association in Washington D.C. He was also a project associate with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and joined the RAND Corporation as a political scientist in 2002.

In his “Inside the Ring” column in the Washington Times in July, Bill Gertz cited Congressional Republicans as identifying Medeiros as a key player involved in the Obama administration’s policy of refusing to sell needed arms to Taiwan. The same report blamed Medeiros for delaying the release of a second Pentagon report to Congress on the shifting air power balance in the Taiwan Strait.

The Washington Times also cited Republicans staff aides and a defense official as stating they believe Medeiros was behind efforts to delay the release to Congress of the Pentagon’s annual report on Chinese military power. The report on China’s military was also delayed last year. When it was eventually released, the report was watered down with a more innocuous-sounding title. Previously called the “Annual Report to Congress: Military Power of the People’s Republic of China,” the report was renamed the “Annual Report on Security Developments Involving China.”

Medeiros, meanwhile, was fingered by Gertz’s sources as a key official in preventing the U.S. sale of 66 advanced F-16 jets to Taiwan and for delaying the sale of equipment to upgrade Taiwan’s existing F-16s. Both sales were expected to anger China.

A review of Medeiros’s articles and statements to the news media in the past reveals a regular trend of minimizing China’s threat to the U.S. In 2009, just before his appointment to the NSC, Medeiros stated China is not seeking to “confront the United States or expel it from the region.” He argued China is not aiming to replace America as a superpower.

In 2007, Medeiros, speaking as an expert at the RAND Corporation, argued Beijing’s military buildup is limited to Asia and that China has not sought to project power globally. “Cumulatively, this is a substantial amount of money devoted toward military modernization. And it’s clearly a reflection of the Chinese government’s priorities and the fact that they seek to build a modern military with regional power projection capabilities,” Medeiros said.

In 2002, he minimized China’s missile project, telling The Economist that the Chinese “don’t really see missiles as weapons of mass destruction while most American policymakers equate the two.”

In an article in the November-December 2003 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, Medeiros, with analyst M. Taylor Fravel, presented the views of experts on Chinese foreign policy as stating China should overcome its long-held “victim mentality” and adopt a “great power mentality” instead.

Speaking to Knight Ridder in 2001, Medeiros stated, “The Chinese defense industrial base is very outdated and dilapidated, especially in these areas where warfare is headed.”

He said that China’s ships and planes, at least those not acquired from Russia, are outfitted with technology equal to what American forces had in the late 1960s or early 1970s. “So if they ever got in a battle with the United States, we could destroy their forces before they ever saw us,” Medeiros said.
 
Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief and senior reporter for WorldNetDaily.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York’s 770-WABC Radio, the largest talk radio station in the U.S., every Sunday between 2-4 p.m. His website is KleinOnline.com.

Economic Volatility, Hyper Consumption And The ‘Wealth Of Nations’

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Adam Smith published his Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations in 1776. A revolutionary book, Wealth did not aim to support the interests of any one particular class, but rather the overall well being of an entire nation. He sought, as every American high school student learns, “an invisible hand,” whereby “the private interests and passions of men” will lead to “that which is most agreeable to the interest of a whole society.”

Still, this system of “perfect liberty,” as he called it, could never be based upon encouragements of needless consumption. Instead, argued Smith, the laws of the market, driven by competition and a consequent “self-regulation,” actually demanded explicit disdain for any gratuitous or vanity-driven consumption.

What does this all mean for better understanding of the current economic dislocations and volatility? Above all, it suggests that modern commentators and pundits often speak in blithe disregard for Smith’s true beliefs, ignoring that his primary concern for consumption was always tempered and bounded by a genuine hatred for “conspicuous consumption” (a phrase to be used more pointedly by Thorsten Veblen in a later century).

For Adam Smith, it was only proper that the market regulate both the price and quantity of goods according to the final arbiter of public demand, yet, he continued, this market ought never to be manipulated by any avaricious interferers. In fact, Smith plainly excoriated all those who would artificially create or encourage any such contrived demand as mischievously vain meddlers of “mean rapacity.”

Today, of course, where engineered demand and hyper consumption are permanent and allegedly purposeful features of the market, especially here in the United States, we have lost all sight of Smith’s “natural liberty.” As a result, we try, foolishly and interminably, to build our economic recovery and vitality upon sand. Below the surface, we still fail to recognize, lurks a core problem that is not at all economic, fiscal or financial. Rather, as Adam Smith would have understood, it is a starkly psychological and deeply human dilemma.

Wall Street’s persisting fragility is largely a mirror image of Main Street’s insatiable drive toward hyper consumption. This manipulated drive, so utterly execrable to Adam Smith, has already become so overwhelming that many learned economists warn us sternly against saving too much.
If only we could all buy just a little more, they argue, life in America would be better. Retail sales are the authentic barometer of the “good life.”

Collectively, our national economic effort is always oriented, breathlessly, toward buying more. Many of our country’s troubling and troubled economic policies are a more-or-less direct consequence of this sorely misdirected effort. Until we can get an effective reversal of the frenetic public need for more and more things, any recovery will remain transient and partial.

Not from the start has contrived demand been a basic driving force of our economy. Obviously, before television and before our newer surrenders to an avalanche of high-tech gadgets, such demand would not have had any such compelling power. Nonetheless, for the foreseeable future, it will take herculean efforts to detach healthy patterns of consumption from a distressingly ceaseless barrage of advertisement.

At the recently played Super Bowl, millions of viewers watched the proceedings not for the gridiron activity, but for the commercials. In a society that has now come to loathe any genuine hint of intellect or serious thought, even in universities, television commercials are hailed unashamedly as a discrete and clever genre.

What kind of an economy must rely on engineered consumption for both its buoyancy and its survival? Writing during the middle of the nineteenth century, the American Transcendentalist philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, spoke presciently of “self-reliance.” Foolish “reliance upon property,” Emerson had understood, is the unwanted result of “a want of self‑reliance.”

Today, still living apprehensively amid urgings of imitation and a delirious collectivism (“rugged individualism” is a plainly silly myth still dutifully recorded in primary school textbooks), the always-fearful American wants more or less desperately to project a “successful” image. This projection, in turn, remains founded upon material acquisition, upon a cornucopia that is recognizably laden with “all the right things.”

The relentless conformist call of American mass society insidiously undermines our core economy. This deafening cry, one that would have scandalized Adam Smith, is proclaimed throughout the land as gospel truth. Everywhere, it reigns triumphal.

To create a robust economy and a stable stock market, we Americans will first have to reorient our society from its corrupted ambience of mass taste. Surely, there is still great beauty in the world, but it is best for us not to search for it exclusively on television, at the movies or on Facebook.
In that large part of America that knows very little of Wall Street, there is often great fragility, restless anxiety and palpable unhappiness. Taught again and again that respect and success will lie comfortingly in high salaries, and in corollary patterns of high consumption, the dutiful American mass now celebrates fitting in. At the same time, it generally abhors real literature, serious learning and any tilt toward “self reliance.”

Ritualistically, in yet another stupefying pretense of democracy, we Americans will turn again and again to elections. Stubbornly patriotic, these transient diversions will certainly offer us a more or less pleasing amalgam of searing anger, hackneyed gossip and reassuring clichés. But as a convenient activity that serves to obscure an otherwise-evident plutocracy, these cheerfully prescribed excursions into politics will have little meaningful or enduring effect upon the sustainability of our economic markets.

As with hyper-consumption and engineered demand, no politics can ever rescue our economy. Adam Smith would have agreed.

 

LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), and is Professor of International Law at Purdue University. The author of ten major books and several hundred scholarly articles on world affairs, his columns appear in many major American and European newspapers and magazines. Professor Beres was born in Zürich, Switzerland, on August 31, 1945.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/economic-volatility-hyper-consumption-and-the-wealth-of-nations/2011/05/25/

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