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Normally I don’t really like Roger Cohen’s op-eds in the New York Times (and the Times has quickly worn thin on me – as well as Roger Cohen –  with their persistent and pugnacious anti-Israel slant) but every so often he does write up a fairly nice piece.  His op-ed Age of Outrage is particularly good.  In this op-ed, which I will only summarize here (it is left as an exercise for the reader to read the op-ed for themselves), Cohen focuses on the current outrage that has boiled over in the UK into riots and how the Germans have managed to avoid the same level of disaffection with globalization and the shift in the world economy that is now spreading throughout the UK, Spain, Greece and other countries (and which is spreading – albeit not with the same level of furor as in the UK – to the US).

The best part of the op-ed is actually the first comment that was posted by Doug Terry of the Terry Report (Doug, like me, is a resident of the Washington D.C. metro area).  His comment is very apropos:

One of the best ideas need not come from the Germans. It is simply this: let’s not go overboard with the doom and gloom. The UK, and Europe, have surely gotten themselves in a pickle, but let’s not jump in the barrel with them.

There is a terrible dislocation going on in the US in regard to jobs moving overseas, chasing lower wages, longer working hours and a compliant, no benefits workforce. What can we do about it?

1. Find a way to decouple the paydays of CEOs and other top management from the performance of their stock. Require a 50 or even 70% tax rate on stock gains made in a public corporation while an executive is serving and for five years afterward. Compensating people to ruin companies and cash out with hundreds of millions of dollars must stop.

2. Demand that all American founded corporations declare whether they are, or are not, still American companies. If, like GE, they take in over 50% of their revenues from overseas and if they no longer wish to be American companies, then decouple the benefits, tax breaks and protections they get.

3. End “special purpose corporations”, which are little more the sly means of doing secret and/or dirty deals by their large corporate creators.

4. Monitor corporations for compensation relative to total profits and profits as a percentage of revenue. Make the information public, so that citizens know when a corporation is basically getting rich, as Wal-Mart does, by keeping employees on low wage scales.

5. Change the pro-corporate slant of court rulings by changing laws and, if necessary, Constitutional amendment. Balance must be restored between citizen and corporate power.

6. No more free lunch for broadcast companies which pay nothing for television and radio licenses and keep those licenses for generations, unless they sell them for many millions.

7. Develop comprehensive policies to encourage job creation and new business development. Reward companies for creating jobs here.

The above says a lot – and could go further if we mix in the concept of term limits for politicians (no more “careers”), campaign finance reform (to eliminate the power of SuperPACs, PACs, and corporations), and tax code reform (and I mean REAL tax code reform – no more of this band-aid on top of band-aid nonsense).  If we could do what Mr. Terry suggests above from a corporate governance perspective and what we need to do in terms of term limits, campaign finance and tax code reform, we may go a long way to righting the ship that is the United States and to steer it back to a more prosperous future for everyone.

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While I normally don’t always care for the New York Times‘ Nicholas Kristoff’s position on a variety of subjects, I have to say that today he definitely put together a very amusing satirical opinion piece.  “Bonuses for Billionaires” does a fantastic job of doing a tongue-in-cheek discussion of the position of the Republicans and the Tea Party stalwarts in Congress on the U.S. debt and how to get it under control.  But even more interesting than his satire in the piece is one of the comments left by a reader of the piece.  The reader, MNW, from Connecticut suggests the following (and yes, it has been making its way around the Internet in one form or another for a few months now so this is certainly not original – but I think the way this individual wrote it is the best):

What we need is a total reform of the Congress and here is a good place to start. Bring them up to speed with the population as a whole – what is good enough for us is good enough for them.

Congressional Reform Measures for the out-of-touch in the Congress.

1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote itself a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12.

The American people did not make any contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

The greatest welfare system in the country is that enjoyed by the Congress itself. The time has come to raise their taxes and to impose term limits upon their jobs – especially in view of the fact that they spend the greater part of their time working for nothing more than their own re-election.
Welcome to a new world order, congressional persons. Do join us all.

It would be lovely if this actually happened as I (and I’m sure many other Americans) feel that Congress is so out of touch with the American public – especially the middle class – and they have become a new breed of individuals – Homo Politicus – that some measure of reset is necessary.  I’m not some radical left-wing activist, nor am I a right-wing Tea Party supporter, I tend to be more middle-of-the-road…but I certainly feel that Congress no longer works for the American people…Congress works for the those who can enrich their lives…and that is not good for the rest of us.  Just my .02.

So Hamas and the Gaza flotilla folks would have you believe that Gaza is a squalid, ghetto like place where the people live in sheer and utter misery. That they are eeking out a living and barely scraping by to survive. That’s interesting…especially since it’s not true. Turns out Gaza has been improving considerably (even considering the two wars that Hamas fought with Israel in 2006 and in 2008 – 2009)…the problem is that the media doesn’t want to mention this – they only want to focus on the, yet again a new blood libel, that Israel is causing hardship and suffering on the people of Gaza (while casually ignoring the fact that Gaza shares a border with Egypt as well and the Egyptians, after Mubarak was ousted earlier this year, has “somewhat” opened their border with Gaza). The facts do not bear this out. A new website has appeared – The Flotilla Cruise Line – that shows evidence that Gaza is not the “one big squalid refugee camp” that the Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and the Western liberal media would like you to believe. It shows pictures of Gaza’s 5-star hotel – The Grand Palace, Gaza’s first shopping mall (although it does not include a mention of the newest, 3-story, shopping mall in Gaza) and Gazan upscale restaurants.   Even the New York Times cannot deny that the situation is not so desperate the way the flotilla organizers would like to portray it:

 In assessing the condition of the 1.6 million people who live in Gaza, there are issues of where to draw the baseline and — often — what motivates the discussion. It has never been among the world’s poorest places. There is near universal literacy and relatively low infant mortality, and health conditions remain better than across much of the developing world.

“We have 100 percent vaccination; no polio, measles, diphtheria or AIDS,” said Mahmoud Daher, a World Health Organization official here. “We’ve never had a cholera outbreak.”

So what is the truth?  The truth is that the flotilla organizers as well as Palestinian sympathizers would have the world believe that Gaza is a squalid refugee camp where life hangs precariously by thin threads and that Israel is responsible.  The truth is that Hamas is the true source of the Gazans situation.  Hamas refuses to accept Israel’s right to exist; Hamas refuses to stop the rockets and the shelling coming from Gaza; and Hamas refuses to provide any information regarding the status of Gilad Shalit and refuses to allow the International Red Cross to meet with him to assess his condition – a clear violation of International law!

Israel has no obligation in throwing open it’s borders to an organization that is dead set on destroying it.  If the Arabs are so concerned about allowing free movement for the Palestinians in Gaza let them pressure Egypt to fully open the Rafah crossing.  It is beyond ludicrous that the bleeding liberal left of the world expect Israel to expose itself to more risk of attack.  Israel has a right to exist!  The Jews have a right to their ancestral homeland!  The Arabs in Israel enjoy a higher standard of living and rights that are denied to many of their brethren in their own countries – the right of free speech and the right to vote among them.

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