I Agree with T. Friedman – A Geopolitical Earthquake Just Hit the Mideast

I Agree with T. Friedman – A Geopolitical Earthquake Just Hit the Mideast

I rarely say good things about Thomas Friedman as he is typically too far left, in my opinion. However, I regularly read his columns (when the NYT doesn’t block me) and I think I have read all of his books because it is good to understand all sides of an argument.

This analysis of the recent deal in the Mideast is very well done. Probably the best that I have read. If you are not blocked by the NYT paywall, you should read it.

This deal is amazing. In a normal news cycle, this would be the top headline in every newspaper and every news site (but this isn’t a normal news cycle). This is a deal that no former POTUS has been able to pull off. Is it a Nobel worthy as what James E. Carter or William J. Clinton did? No. But it is a lot better than what George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, or Barack H. Obama did in the Mideast (and Obama received the Nobel prize just for giving good speeches not for actually doing anything). Trump won’t get a Nobel for this because the committee hates Trump. But even if you are a Trump-hater, you have got to give credit for getting this deal done.

Thankfully, Mr. Friedman does that and kudos to him to look past politics and focus on a great result that will make the world a better place. Friedman writes a lot about the Mideast and he knows a massive move forward when he sees it.

To allay the fears of some of you that have read this far, I am still not voting for Trump for re-election even though he accomplished one of the biggest international wins of the 21st century so far. I am still supporting Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian Party candidate as I feel that her platform is the closest to mine and I think this nation needs a change in the political discussion of something other than Left or Right but instead a focus on personal liberty and personal responsibility. If you believe in personal liberty and personal responsibility, please give an honest look at her platform and then join me in changing the US to be a better place.

Since NYT may block you from reading the article, here are the first couple of paragraphs but will keep it under 300 words to protect NYT copyright. The following are not my words but Mr. Friedman’s:

The agreement brokered by the Trump administration for the United Arab Emirates to establish full normalization of relations with Israel, in return for the Jewish state forgoing, for now, any annexation of the West Bank, was exactly what Trump said it was in his tweet: a “HUGE breakthrough.”

It is not Anwar el-Sadat going to Jerusalem — nothing could match that first big opening between Arabs and Israelis. It is not Yasir Arafat shaking Yitzhak Rabin’s hand on the White House lawn — nothing could match that first moment of public reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

But it is close. Just go down the scorecard, and you see how this deal affects every major party in the region — with those in the pro-American, pro-moderate Islam, pro-ending-the-conflict-with-Israel-once-and-for-all camp benefiting the most and those in the radical pro-Iran, anti-American, pro-Islamist permanent-struggle-with-Israel camp all becoming more isolated and left behind.

It’s a geopolitical earthquake.

To fully appreciate why, you need to start with the internal dynamics of the deal. It was Trump’s peace plan drawn up by Jared Kushner, and their willingness to stick with it, that actually created the raw material for this breakthrough.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/13/opinion/israel-uae.html

Exponential growth bias may be affecting our reaction to COVID-19

Exponential growth bias may be affecting our reaction to COVID-19

A simple mathematical mistake may explain why many people underestimate the dangers of coronavirus, shunning social distancing, masks, and hand-washing.

Many people consistently underestimate how fast the value increases – a mistake known as the “exponential growth bias” – and while it may seem abstract, it may have had profound consequences for people’s behavior this year.

A spate of studies has shown that people who are susceptible to the exponential growth bias are less concerned about Covid-19’s spread, and less likely to endorse measures like social distancing, hand washing, or mask-wearing. In other words, this simple mathematical error could be costing lives – meaning that the correction of the bias should be a priority as we attempt to flatten curves and avoid second waves of the pandemic around the world.

The researchers speculate that some of the graphical representations found in the media may have been counter-productive. It’s common for the number of infections to be presented on a “logarithmic scale”, in which the figures on the y-axis increase by a power of 10 (so the gap between 1 and 10 is the same as the gap between 10 and 100, or 100 and 1000).

While this makes it easier to plot different regions with low and high growth rates, it means that exponential growth looks more linear than it really is, which could reinforce the exponential growth bias.

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200812-exponential-growth-bias-the-numerical-error-behind-covid-19

Happy Independence Day America!

Happy Independence Day America!

Today, we celebrate the withdrawal of a set of people from a government that didn’t respect their beliefs. We celebrate the idea that a monarch doesn’t rule people by a dictate from a heavenly force and the truth that the rights of mankind supersede the rights of a ruler. We celebrate that all people should be allowed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as well as other unalienable rights.

America was founded by imperfect men that were not saints. They were people that were a victim of their times, their economic circumstances, and the political morals of their day. They should be judged for the great things that they did to improve the status of their lives, and by their example, the lives of all humans over the course of centuries, rather than by the standards of Monday morning armchair quarterbacks of a different era. These great but imperfect men offered their lives, their freedom, and their treasure to try to achieve a better life for themselves, their families, and their fellow man. These freedoms did not come to all equally nor at the same time. This process was not perfect, and no one should claim otherwise. The struggle to expand that freedom has continued for much longer and claim even more victims. In fact, the struggle will never end as long as mankind rules this planet for it is a truth that no one is perfectly good and some are eviler than they are good.

It is by remembering these men and standing at attention at the display or our country’s colors that we affirm that we are here to continue the struggle against hate and tyranny. We do not stand to honor what was achieved, but rather we stand to say that we are here to offer ourselves in the continuous fight and struggle to achieve a world where all mankind is able to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.

I do not think that I have ever met a person that at the end of his days did not wish to have achieved more. But that should never discount the things actually accomplished.

It is today that we celebrate the beginning of that struggle. It is not that the struggle is over. It is not that others will no longer do us harm. It is the day that says that all of mankind is created equal and all have the right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.

For this reason, we raise the flag to remember that the struggle began and the ideas behind that struggle made a major step forward on this day many years ago. It is not that the struggle was over on this day centuries ago but that the struggle happened. Our standing and honoring of the flag and the idea that is this nation, the United States of America, is to honor the sacrifice that other imperfect men and women have made in this journey and that we also will continue to abide by the ideals of the freedom to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. By standing and flying these colors, we say that we are courageous enough to stand for these principles. We do not stand and fly the colors of our country because we say that everything is perfect, but instead, we do so because the principles are correct and we are here to offer ourselves in the constant struggle against tyranny and oppression.

If you drive by my house, you will also see these colors on display as I believe that all mankind has the right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness and that oppression is wrong and tyranny must be repelled. When the colors are displayed, I will not kneel or sit which has always been a sign of cowardice or submission, but instead, I will stand with my head held high and be counted that I believe in freedom of all mankind and that no one should be subservient to the greeds of another.

These are my thoughts and beliefs and I understand that they may not be yours. This post was not written by another and copied. I, Sean O’Shaughnessey, stand here now before the colors of my nation affirming that I believe that all mankind should be free to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.

To prepare for this pandemic, our liberal and conservative leaders failed us

To prepare for this pandemic, our liberal and conservative leaders failed us

A lot of liberals won’t like this post. Please don’t read it if you are a liberal because you will get mad. It hurts when facts smack you in the face, so you should avoid doing that. This article points out that liberals completely failed to help the US prepare for a pandemic.

To be fair, conservatives shouldn’t read this post either because that same brick wall of facts is going to hit you in the face as well. Don’t read it as conservatives haven’t prioritized preparing for a pandemic either.

This is an article from 2009. It is from NPR, so no one is going to say it right-wing bias. Conservatives will say that it is MSM, but the facts on the ground have proven this article to be very accurate. 

Here is another article by Sheri Fink that covers the various studies in 2006-2009 about how woefully prepared the US is in handling a pandemic.

In 2007 and 2006, the country did studies that showed that during a pandemic, NYC would be short 15,000 ventilators, and 150K people could die. Sound familiar? There were probably studies since the publication of these articles. So did Bush or Obama do anything? Not much, and I will suggest they did zero. Trump didn’t come into office with any insight and initiative to fix this known problem, so he is just as guilty as Bush and Obama.

There has been a total lack of leadership by Bush, Obama, and Trump on this issue.

And Governor Cuomo? Nope. He didn’t fight for it either—more lack of leadership.

And neither did Pelosi, Reid, McConnell, Ryan, Boehner, Schumer, or any other leader of our Congress. A complete lack of leadership for a situation that everyone knew would eventually happen.

BTW, the current candidates for POTUS in 2020: Biden, Sanders, and Trump – nope. None of them did anything when they were in positions that could have influenced this.

All of our government leaders failed us on both sides of the aisle. They taxed the hell out of us. They whined and complained about other stupid shit. They gave incentives for solar energy, oil production, buying stuff on the internet, buying health insurance, fighting bad guys in Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Syria. But prepare the country for a pandemic? Nope. 

They all said, “Hopefully, that pandemic will happen when I am not in office, and the next person can worry about that.” Guess what, we are the next person. We are now worrying about it, and our bickering Federal government messed up big time.

The Federal government is really only good at two things

  1. the infrastructure that hundreds of thousands or millions of people rely on
  2. the defense of our country and people.

To be honest, the government isn’t all that good at those two things, but it is the only entity that can do them. The government shouldn’t be doing other things. It should focus on doing those two things and do them as well as possible, giving the inefficiencies of an organization that has no competition.

It is woefully incapable of doing anything else well. In just about every case other than the two cited, private industry that competes with others will do a better job. Will the private sector screw something up? Absolutely! But then that private enterprise will be displaced by a competitor that will perform better. 

Pandemic relief falls into both categories. It is the defense of our people, and it is the infrastructure to support that defense. We did both poorly for pandemic relief, and it is now costing us dearly.

What is the solution? Throw the bums out. Every damn one of them. They failed us. They screwed up. They should be rewarded with losing their jobs.

We need politicians that are focused on just doing the two things that only the federal government can do. We need politicians to look at a bill and say, “Is this something that ONLY the federal government can do and therefore is in the above two categories?” If the answer to that question is NO, then the politicians need to vote it down. If the answer to that question is YES, then the politicians need to approve it and give it the appropriate funding and oversight that it is done as well as possible.

Header Photo by Parentingupstream (Pixabay)
Gig workers are not employees and no one should make them be employees

Gig workers are not employees and no one should make them be employees

In order to understand why California’s new Assembly Bill 5, (AB 5) is lousy you have to decipher who wins and who loses in the gig economy. If the losers are politically connected, it is logical that the losers will try to change the rules.

This is the downside of most government interventions. The goals of the “do-gooders” are overwhelmed by the special interests. Laws should be simple and have as little interference in the personal lives as possible.

The gig economy has provided opportunities for millions of Americans to make money. That’s not the same as having a “job” but that’s the point. Many gig workers have other jobs and many of the ones who don’t are in school or want to work part-time to make a little extra cash. Obviously, some of these people would like to have a different job which they can freely look for while doing gig work without any repercussions from an “employer” looking for loyalty or firm work hours.

The reason the “gig economy” took off is because of the freedom it provides people who are willing to hustle to make extra money. You could set your own hours, accept work when you had free time, and not worry about an employer having that control. If you’re an employee, you might get benefits, but you lose that freedom and control.

The gig economy put millions of people to work in one way or another. Those new service workers upset many people that were being displaced by gig workers.

Any law that has lots of “exemptions” means it is a bad law. Lawmakers are saying what is good for one group (that may not be politically connected enough to get an exemption) is not good enough for another group (where they are politically powerful).

But people don’t sign up for gigs because they’re looking for health insurance, overtime, and a retirement plan. A gig means freedom, extra cash, and a chance to have control over when and how you work. Those other things are all important, but if that’s what you’re looking for, you look for a job, not a gig – and maybe you use a gig to pay some bills while you are looking for the perfect job.

Don’t kill one just because you think it should be the other.

Hopefully, this law doesn’t infect the rest of the country and hopefully, it stays in California, which is essentially a politically screwed up state anyway.

Here is John Stossel’s take on all of this.

Photo by raezer