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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.

Monday, January 28, 2013

On Punditry, Jobless Americans, Survivalists and "By George!" by Sage

Is Technology Creating Jobless Americans?

In earlier postings, I have mentioned that unemployment is going to be a chronic problem in our society.  Jobs requiring low cost labor will continue to be outsourced to nations with inexpensive labor and where the standard of living is far below that of the United States.  I dread the day when Americans without jobs are so bad off that they are willing to work for a lower wage than that of an Asian factory worker. I doubt that day will ever come, but it is something to fear.


As for the jobs remaining in this country, advances in technology continue to create unemployment here.  A California utility which formerly employed 50 meter readers now needs only six.  A factory which utilizes robotics needs a quarter of the number of employees it had when work there was done by hand.  And this extends beyond blue collar jobs, up through more highly paid managerial, engineering and technical positions.  I am skeptical about the idea that sufficient new jobs will be created in the research and development area where these technological advances are created and programmed to make up for the unemployment in which they result. 

This picture is gradually extending into the service and retail areas as well.  Right now, the UPS truck driver who delivers the product you bought on line from Amazon.com has a job, but the day will come when it will be possible for what you order on line to be instantly cloned for you on the spot in your home.  If you don’t believe that, just take a look at your “smart phone” and what you can do with it, unimaginable a generation ago. Technology will continue to advance at a rapid and unbelievable pace.


Fewer truck drivers will be necessary for that reason, but also because unemployment might be so rampant than no one will have the resources to purchase anything anyway.  That is why I raised the question of limiting the work week to 30 hours and mandating retirement at age 50 or 55, so as to enable the available jobs in this country to be shared by all, thereby reducing unemployment.  Supporting a family and saving for retirement during such a reduced working career would be more difficult and require government involvement and higher taxes.  That will be a problem so long as we are experiencing a stagnant economy.  But in an expanding economy, there might be enough growth and wealth available to make this possible. 

Late last year, a book appeared entitled “The Surplus American” by Charles Derber and Yale Magrass.  (Derber is head of the Sociology Department at Boston College and Magrass teaches at the University of Massachusetts.) One reviewer of the book commented that “Derber and Magrass’s crisp book dramatizes the powerful forces undermining job security and rendering most of us surplus, not just economically but in almost every way. An essential read for anyone who wants to understand the history and future of work, politics, and social movements in America—with a hopeful roadmap to creating an economy and a society that work for everyone.”

So, I guess I am not the only one thinking about this problem.  What do you think?

Jack Lippman


Pundits, Schmundits

You know, it’s difficult enough to base your ideas about of what might happen upon “opinion polls” which are prone to manipulation and prejudice in their make-up.  But you can try.  It’s even worse though if you put your trust in what “pundits” are saying. 

According to these allegedly knowledgeable folks, the New England Patriots and Benjamin Netanyahu were sure things.  Before the recent National Football Conference final between Baltimore and New England, I watched four experts, all retired coaches or players, explain why the Patriots would win.  Of course, Baltimore won.   Ray Rice

In Israel, all of the pundits expected Benjamin Netanyahu to come out of their parliamentary elections with a solid victory.  It didn’t happen.  Many extremist settlers voted for a new party (11 seats) anchored to the right of Bibi, and even more voters abandoned Netanyahu’s party’s candidates for another new party (19 seats) headed by a popular talk show host who promises to be more centrist than Bibi, and who campaigned on the issues of more jobs and more housing.

Bibi Netanyaho
Nevertheless, Netanyahu will form a new Israeli government but with 30 less seats in the 120 seat Knesset than he thought he would control, so this government will probably be more amenable to negotiations with the Palestinians, less considerate of the ultra-Orthodox and not as dependent on the votes of West Bank settlers to form a governing coalition as was the previous coalition.  Is that bad?

The pundits had it wrong in both cases.  There’s a lesson in this somewhere.  It might be that you should ignore my effort at punditry in which I will pick Baltimore to beat San Francisco in the Super Bowl, 24 to 20.


The G.O.P. Should Not Be a Tool of the Survivalists

I get the feeling that most Americans agree that in regard to gun control, there should be restrictions on what are loosely referred to as assault weapons, or any guns that can fire repeatedly without reloading.  Such restrictions should limit the size of magazines and the availability of ammunition for these weapons.  

Some (but not all) of the folks who feel such restrictions are in violation of the Second Amendment believe so because they want to have a military type weapons capability in order to survive an attack on their liberties.    These are the same people who talk of "black helicopters," do not trust our government and may generally be referred to as "survivalists."  You may find them in the woods on weekends playing war games.

Republican opposition to gun control should not be based on the views of such citizens, but rather, include the thoughts of most Americans, regardless of party.




By Harvey Sage (Papa) who can be reached at harvo1@comcast.net

(For Brookie n Madikins with luv 12-9-12)

A very tall critter named George

From the top of trees he did gorge

His smile made Jungle folks laugh

George was a happy giraffe.

Princess Mother invited him to a fest
He’d come- but had to be properly dressed
A black tie was to be worn by all who came
For George this was a problem- oh what a shame

Where do you place the tie on a six foot long neck
Thinking about this made poor George a wreck
Then his wife Geraldine thought of an idea
The solution is in this story- read it here.

Circling overhead it cried out “caw,caw.” The large bird was the messenger for this section of bush, some of it jungle and some of it lush plants and trees. There was food aplenty for all the animals in this huge haven. No need for hunting nor killing. The Princess Mother saw to that.

The message from the bird was clear to George. He was from a group of bush animals who were to come to a large party at Jungle Central during the next few days. George listened to this and beamed, his twin horns almost glowing with excitement. Princess parties were always a lot of fun. For George there would be hundreds of pounds of tree leaves from the luscious acacia tree. All he could eat in a few days without having to stand near the trees and nibble off the top! Nibbling off treetops as high as two grown people was what George did. He was a giraffe, the tallest of all the jungle animals.

Licking his lips with his tongue which was as long as half an arm, George calculated that it would not take him long to reach Jungle Central. At a leisurely pace of 10 miles per hour he could be there in half a day. He went to a nearby pond and drank the cool water, enough for two days and then trotted off to tell his wife, Geraldine.

“Yes dear, I heard the message,” she said. “I’m happy we’ve been summoned by Princess Mother. It is indeed an honor.” She paused to say “Just one wrinkle my love.”

“What’s that dearest.” He looked at her sleek yellow skin with its tan spots and felt love. It had been a while since they kissed, which was fun. They’d rub their six foot long necks together and coo.

“Going to see the Princess is a formal affair. You’ll have to wear a black tie.”

Right away George saw the problem. His long neck, so necessary to forage from high tree tops, had no natural place to fasten a black bow tie. He hung his head in sad thought. What was he going to do. “Any ideas?” he asked Geraldine.

It took her a few moments before she smiled “Let’s go see the jungle’s best tailor, Leo the lion. He’s the man who can help.” So off they ran at their top speed of 35 miles per hour to the store where Leo and his pride worked and lived.

“What can I do for you my friends?” he asked. Geraldine explained their plight and gave her suggestions. “Wonderful idea!” he exclaimed. “Downright ingenious.” He called for his wife, Leonore. “Honey, come here please. We need your help.”

Leonore came happily. She was of the new breed of lions who were gentle and kind. She and her pride were even able to take naps with sheep as predicted in Jungle Central’s Code of Life. They explained the situation and she returned with a tape measure telling George to kneel down. He did so because he was confident that she knew what she was doing. After all, Leonore was rumored to be the best seamstress around.

The day of the party at Jungle Central the guests stood on line as Princess Mother walked along, greeting them. When she came to George she stood back, looked up at him, and smiled. “Brilliant George. Simply brilliant.” George beamed proudly. He wore a very large white buttoned shirt that covered the top part of his 2,000 pound frame. It had a collar that was joined half way up his neck and around the collar was fastened a shiny black bow tie.


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Jack Lippman

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