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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wealth Redistribution and Keeping your Computer Safe

A few days ago, I posted a lengthy item concerning my feelings toward Classical South Florida.  If you wish to review it, just check the posting dated October 26, 2011.  If you missed them, I encourage you to go back and read the past postings.  They are always available.

Also, as of this writing, Jack’s Potpourri was viewed by folks in ten nations over the past seven days.  Ninety-two were in the United States, 28 were in the Netherlands (a teacher must have found that posting on Miro and made a class assignment out of it), two each were in Germany, Kenya, Russia, Singapore and there was one hit each in Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Korea and Moldava.  We get around.

Sixty-eight percent of viewers used Internet Explorer to get here and 16% used Mozilla Firefox.  Windows was the operating system of choice, being used by 83% of viewers while 11% used a MacIntosh operating system.


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Economics 201 – Wealth Redistribution

Planet Earth is a fortunate planet, endowed with a multitude of riches.  Natural resources abound.  Rich soils and agreeable climates produce food for its inhabitants.  The human race has been able to build and develop the planet in a positive manner over the centuries so that, in effect, the sum is worth far more than its parts.  Resources such as straw and mud baked in the hot sun were combined to make bricks in ancient times.  And a brick hut is worth more than mere mud and straw, just as steel girders are worth more than the iron ore and coal from which steel is made.  And that added value can be moved around from person to person. The Egyptian who built that brick hut may have exchanged it for more than the worth of the mud and the straw, and suddenly he had money in his hand to spend on food and clothing, for which he no longer had to scrounge for himself, or even on more straw and mud to build more huts.  And from humble beginnings like these, all of our economic systems developed.

There is plenty of wealth in the world.  Economic problems, in Europe, in Africa, in Asia and of course, in the United States, stem from how that wealth is distributed among the planet’s population.  There are many ways that this can be accomplished.  If this were an ideal world, the Marxist concept of taking “from each according to their abilities” and giving “to each according to their needs” might work. But this isn’t an ideal world and people don’t like to see the fruits of their labor given away to those who for one reason or another didn’t work as hard as they did, or receive less than others for all the work they did because their need was not as great as that of others. Communism works for brainless automatons, but not for real people.  That is why it eventually fails wherever it is tried, as is the case of all kinds of totalitarian socialism.  Its fault is that people will only accept it if it is forced upon them with an iron fist.

The free enterprise system, capitalism, whereby wealth is derived from hard work and putting money to work developing resources, creating profits and increasing the wealth of the world, just like that early Egyptian who had a thriving sun baked brick business did, is another example of how wealth is distributed.  Unfortunately, it often results in situations where there are two kinds of people, “haves and have-nots.”  Often, governments step in to look out for the welfare of the “have-nots,” and with such dependence on government, liberties are diminished. Sometimes, because of the extreme success of the “haves,” the planet’s wealth becomes concentrated in their hands.  On its voyage there, some of it is skimmed off by governments to care for the “have-nots” and some is skimmed off by the banks and the financial industry which acts as custodian for all of this wealth, handles its continual moving around, and cultivates its growth.  But wealth really isn’t necessary for growth to occur in our economic system. The vision of future wealth is sometimes enough to create credit which, for the short run anyway, can accomplish some of the same things real wealth does.

But things can go wrong with this system.  Credit can be granted which cannot be repaid.  The underwater mortgage problem in the United States is an example of this. Remembering that we can have “have” and “have-not” nations as well as individuals, the fragile economies of Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland are examples of this.  Only when these countries started to have trouble paying their bills (interest on the bonds they issued) did the term “sovereign debt” come into common use.  Right now, the world has more wealth that it ever had but it is not in the right places. Too much of it is in the hands of a very few people or controlled by financial institutions and governments which do not want to risk letting go of it.  In Saudi Arabia and some of the Gulf states, a very, very few profit from control of the world’s major source of petroleum.

Redistribution of wealth is what the Arab Spring was all about.  The people who rebelled aren’t ending up with any more liberty than they previously had, but they are looking for a chance to personally get their hands on a bit more of the world’s wealth than they previously had.  The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in New York, claiming to be the 99%, object to the amount of wealth in the hands of the 1%.  In the eyes of some, we have a socialist system looking out for “banks too big to fail” as well as the truly impoverished with the government guaranteeing a measure of wealth in both situations, while everyone else works within a capitalist system, working or fighting for what they feel is their fair share of wealth. Tea Party adherents basically want less of the wealth in the care of the government and more in the hands of those who worked for it.  Full employment, of course, assures the transfer of wealth to working people in the form of wages and salaries.  Unemployment hinders it.  Where the wealth is and who controls it have been the causes of most of the wars in the history of the planet.  And obviously, It is the reason for bank robberies and burglaries, locally and internationally.

Solving the world’s economic problems comes down to how we are going to redistribute the world’s wealth.  It has to be done, or everything will come tumbling down like a house of cards.  When Europe bails out Greece, enabling that country’s debt to be paid off to some extent, that amounts to redistributing debt from more solvent nations to an impoverished one. And if that redistribution involves bonds held by United States banks, that transfers some of our wealth as well.  United Nations and United States aid to poor third world nations does the same thing. International trade moves wealth around as it has done in the relationship between the United States and China.  When our country’s subprime mortgage problem is ultimately solved, wealth will be transferred from the government and the banks to mortgagors, some deserving and most undeserving of it, whether we like it or not.

The chief economic problem of the next few decades is whether wealth redistribution in the United States and the entire world will take place in an orderly, well thought-out and organized manner or in slipshod, scattershot ways which probably will create even more problems, including wars, than we have now.  The fellow who made bricks from mud and straw never realized the mess he started.

Jack Lippman

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After reading all of that dull stuff, you deserve a break, so here's another of those wonderful girls painted by Alberto Vargas during the 1940s and 50s with some advice for you.


How to Protect Your Computer
(Taken from a Special Advertising Section on this subject in Bloomberg Business Week of October 24)
1.    Keep Your Firewall On:  Firewalls protect your computer from hackers who try to gain access to crash it or steal information.  Software firewalls are widely recommended and come prepackaged.
2.    Install or Update Your Antivirus Software:  Antivirus software is designed to prevent malware from embedding on your computer.  If it detects malicious code, like a virus or a worm, it works to disarm or remove it before it can do serious damage.
3.    Install or Update Your Antispyware Technology:  Spyware is surreptitiously installed on your computer to let others peer into your activities on the computer.  Some spyware collects information about you without your consent or produces unwanted pop-up ads.  Antispyware combats these intrusions.
4.    Keep Your Operating Systems Updated:  Computer operating systems are periodically updated to stay in tune with technology requirements and to fix security holes.  Be sure to install the updates.
5.    Be Careful of What Your Download:  Carelessly downloading email attachments can circumvent even the most vigilant antivirus software.  Never open an email attachment from someone you don’t know, and be wary of forwarded attachments even from people you do.
6.    Turn Off Your Computer:  Many of us leave our computers on 24/7, but a computer that is always turned on is more susceptible.  Beyond firewall protection, which is designed to fend off unwanted attacks, turning the computer off effectively severs an attacker’s connection – be it spyware or a botnet.

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                                               Can anyone tell me what’s a botnet?

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Most readers of this blog are alerted by Email every time a new posting appears.  If you wish to be added to that Email list, just let me know by Emailing me at Riart1@aol.com.  Also, be aware that www.Jackspotpourri.com is now available on your mobile devices in a modified, easy-to-read, format.


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To send this posting to a friend, or enemy for that matter, whom you think might be interested in it, just click on the envelope with the arrow right below the  dotted line at the very bottom of this posting.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Don't Contribute to Classical South Florida

I am departing from the usual type postings appearing on this blog to champion a particular cause of mine.  I would hope some of you might agree with me.  Personally, I enjoy the music on Classical South Florida at 90.7 FM but I will not support them financially because of the terrible thing they have done to National Public Radio programming in Palm Beach County.  They are currently conducting an on-air pledge drive which I earnestly hopes fails miserably.  Enclosed is my letter of October 16 to the Federal Communications Commission and a copy of a letter published in the Palm Beach Post on October 25.

I want to make it clear that I will be happy to become a Classical South Florida contributor once I am again able to listen to NPR's "Morning Edition" with my breakfast coffee and "All Things Considered" at dinnertime at 90.7.FM instead of struggling to pick up a weak and distant signal from WLRN in Miami to hear those programs.

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                                                                                                           October 16, 2011

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Complaints
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554

Because your web site does not offer a “complaint” option which fits this situation, I am resorting to the old fashioned way of complaining, by letter.

In May of 2011, the FCC approved the sale of WXEL, an NPR station based in Palm Beach County, Florida, serving that county and several counties to its north.  Approval was also obtained from the Florida Department of Education which had provided funds to the station in the past.  The sale of the station by its owner, Barry University, Miami, Florida to Classical South Florida, a subsidiary of Minnesota-based American Public Media, involved about $3,800,000.

The core of my complaint is that this sale has diminished the availability of National Public Radio’s programming to residents of the area formerly served by WXEL.  Specifically, I would like to know if the Commission would have approved this sale if they had been aware of the enormous extent that service to the million and a quarter residents of Palm Beach County would be reduced.

WXEL had been broadcasting a mix of classical music, public service and local interest programming as well as NPR news and interview programs to its listeners at 90.7 FM, which has a relatively strong signal throughout the county and the counties to its north. 

Classical South Florida had been broadcasting classical music 24 hours a day, with brief news capsules during “drive times,” over an FM frequency which could be heard only in Dade, Broward and part of Monroe Counties.  Classical South Florida also had been attempting to reach listeners in Palm Beach County with its signal by utilizing a 250 watt translator, the strongest permitted by FCC rules, broadcasting at 101.9 FM.  Very few county residents were able to pick up this weak signal, and few even knew it even existed. 

Once the sale was finalized, Classical South Florida then proceeded to put the signal they were transmitting for Dade and Broward Counties, with some modification at the station breaks, out on WXEL’s old frequency, 90.7 FM, providing Palm Beach County and the counties to its north with a round-the clock classical music service, with the exception of one hour on weekday evenings, at 7:00 p.m., when local programming was included.

Recognizing that, except for that one hour each week night, they were taking away WXEL’s public service programming, the NPR news and interview programming and other programs of local interest from the million and a quarter people in Palm Beach County, they then proceeded to put this programming on the 250 watt translator at 101.9 FM mentioned above, with the new call letters WPBI – News. (Classical South Florida’s broadcasting at 90.7 carries the new call letters WPBI.)  

The problem is that 101.9 cannot be heard in most of Palm Beach County, the largest county geographically in the State.  In fact, while it can be picked up more easily on car radios, it is almost impossible to hear it in homes in most of the county.  I enclose a copy of a map, taken from Classical South Florida’s own web site showing the modest area served by 101.9 as compared to that reached by 90.7.  I wonder if this information was presented to the FCC when they were considering the approval of the sale of WXEL.

To show that Classical South Florida is indeed aware of these inadequacies, I also enclose material, again copied directly from their web site, where they suggest HD radio, online internet streaming or use of a smart phone for reception outside of the miniscule area shown on their own map where 101.9 can be received.  These alternatives, to me, do not replace the ability to listen to an FM station on a normal FM radio, which was the case with WXEL.

My question, again, is would the Commission have approved this sale if they had been aware of the enormous extent that service to the million and a quarter residents of Palm Beach County would be reduced?

In my humble opinion, the sale of WXEL to Classical South Florida, for the reasons given in this complaint, was not in the public interest and should not have been approved.


Jacob E. Lippman

P.S. I had written earlier to the Chairman of the Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners and to my Congressman about this problem, and I am sending them copies of this letter.

CC: Congressman Deutch
       Commissioner Aaronson
       Randy Schultz – Palm Beach Post

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The "coverage map" showing the miniscule range of 101.9 FM where WPBI carries its non-musical NPR programming is not easily reproduced on this blog.  You can view this map, on which Classical South Florida graphically concedes  the extremely  inadequate range of 101.9,at:


or you can simply click on the link on the third line in the highlighted paragraph below.

This material copied from the Classical South Florida web site (www.classicalsouthflorida.org)
WPBI News Listening FAQ
Why does Classical South Florida broadcast news on 101.9 FM and classical music on 90.7 FM in the Palm Beaches area?
Classical South Florida wants to make more and more consistent programming choices available to listeners. Providing one radio service dedicated solely to news and one dedicated solely to classical music is the best way to make this possible.
How can I listen to WPBI News?
News listeners in the Palm Beaches have these options for listening to 24/7 public radio news programming from Classical South Florida:
  1. Tune your radio to 101.9 FM
  2. Tune your HD radio to 90.7 FM HD2
  3. Listen to the WPBI News stream on your computer or internet capable radio at WPBInews.org
  4. Listen to the WPBI News stream on your smart phone using the TuneIn Radio Application for iPhone, Blackberry or Android phones.
I'm having trouble hearing WPBI News on 101.9 FM.
What should I do?
Although the 101.9 FM signal provides a good signal to Palm Beach and West Palm Beach and environs, it doesn't reach as far as the 90.7 FM signal, so you might be trying to listen from outside, or on the fringe of the listening area. (See our coverage map PDF.) You may also be encountering signal interference from power lines or concrete buildings. In these cases, relocating or adjusting your radio antenna can help.
If , after these efforts, you can't get WPBI News on 101.9 FM, you may wish to try an HD radio or access the internet stream at WPBInews.org or on your smartphone. (See next questions).
What is HD radio, and how do I use it?
HD radio is a digital technology that allows a single radio frequency to bring you more than one station at a time. While a standard radio will give you the primary station, you'll need an HD radio to access additional stations on the frequency. For example, if you tune to 90.7 FM on a standard radio in the Palm Beaches area, you will hear Classical South Florida's classical music service. But on an HD radio with multicasting, you'll also be able to tune your radio to the HD2 service on the same frequency and hear WPBI News.
As more stations adopt HD radio, more listening options are becoming available. And more HD radio devices are available in the marketplace. Visit our About HD Radio page to learn more about HD Radio devices and purchasing options.
What is an internet stream and how do I receive it?
WPBI News is available on your computer as an audio stream from the internet at www.wpbinews.org. Your computer must be connected to the internet and audio-enabled. Just click on the "listen now" button at the upper right of the page. There are also several standalone devices that can receive audio streams from the internet. They are commonly called internet radios, and can be used like tabletop or portable radios. They must be in a wi-fi environment to work. They include Livio, Grace, Logitech and Sanyo and are available in electronics stores and at www.PublicRadioMarket.org.
Can I get WPBI News on my smartphone?
Yes, WPBI News is available on your smartphone - iPhone, Blackberry, or Android. We recommend the TuneIn Radio application. Go to the "App Store" on your smartphone and search for this app. It is free.

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