About Me

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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.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Four Election Shorties, My Letter to the Sun-Sentinel, Ocular "Innuendo" and Communication Changes


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Four Election Tidbits You Should Know About

Gutless Wonders:  The height of hypocrisy is being illustrated daily by Republicans who refuse to support or endorse their party’s Presidential candidate, but still will vote for him, rather than for the Democratic nominee.  If these hypocrites had any spine, they would abstain from voting.  But they are gutless wimps who are willing to sacrifice their personal honor in order to prevent the Democratic nominee from winning the election and appointing Supreme Court justices during her term in office.  This is because the Court’s future decisions may involve the Second Amendment, a woman’s right to abortion or birth control and government involvement in health care.  In all of these areas, the votes of those heavily committed to the conservative side of these issues are more important than risking the future of our nation by putting a totally unqualified and vulgar individual into the Presidency.  The most heinous of these hypocrites is House Speaker Paul Ryan, who should be ashamed of himself.  But he will learn his lesson when the Republican Party, destined to be ruled by the “alt-rightists,” scripted by Steve Bannon whom Donald Trump brought into the campaign, ultimately dump him from the Speaker’s role.

Image result for paul ryan and marco rubio Birds of a feather

Also in this category is “Little Marco” Rubio (so named by Trump) who is willing to vote for the man who repeatedly insulted him during the primary campaign.  Another gutless wonder. 

G.O.P. Strategy Revealed: The Republican Party’s strategy at this stage of the election campaign is to reduce the turnout of Democrats and Independents who plan on voting for Hillary Clinton.  This requires a good measure of lying and exaggeration.

  Image result for republican lies

They know that Donald Trump’s voting base cannot be further expanded.  But if they can convince Clinton voters to stay away from the polls, that base might be enough to win some “battleground” states for the G.O.P.  To do this, the Republicans are emphasizing Hillary Clinton’s handling of emails, her reaction to the Benghazi tragedy, her husband’s marital infidelities two decades ago and her relationship to the Clinton Foundation.   Anyone who has been active in politics for as long as Hillary Clinton has been has done things and made comments which may be open to criticism.  The Republicans have chosen to magnify these incidents a thousand fold, to an extent intended to keep Hillary Clinton’s supporters away from the polls. That is their plan. 

But the things they are bringing up are infinitesimal compared to the total lack of qualifications of their candidate whose experience in the business world involved stretching his activities to the limits of the law, allowing him to get away with far more unscrupulous things than the Republican Party is trying to pin on Hillary Clinton.

Russian Involvement:  Most of the negative information about Hillary Clinton which has been taken from “hacked” emails involving the Democratic Party and the Clinton Foundation, is made possible by technology far beyond that possessed by Julian Assange’s “Wikileaks” operation.  American counter-intelligence experts, with good reason, credit these “hacks” to technology originating in Russia.  In that country, individuals do not do these kind of things without government approval.  It is clear that Russia is doing this because they would much rather have an unqualified and unprepared occupant in the White House than one with years of government experience, particularly in the area of foreign affairs. It appears that the United States will eventually answer this Russian interference in our election process with a proportionate response.

 Image result for smiling putin Certainly it does not warrant risking a war, but keep your eyes and ears open in regard to how we get even with them.  Vladimir Putin has some dirty laundry of his own which sooner or later may be exposed to his disadvantage in the unending struggle for supremacy which goes on in Russia.

State Legislatures are Where It’s At:  It’s odd that when all of the numbers are in, far more votes nationwide will have been cast for Democratic Congressional candidates than for Republican Congressional candidates.  Yet it is highly likely that the G.O.P. will still have a majority in the House of Representatives.  That is because of way Congressional Districts are “gerrymandered” by State Legislatures every ten years.  Republicans, wiser to this than Democrats, have poured tremendous resources in to maintaining control of State Legislatures, which determine the Districts’ borders.  The idea is to pack Democratic voters together into districts, usually in urban areas, so that the remaining districts have Republican majorities, resulting in a State with a Democratic majority having mostly Republican Representatives in Congress. 

Image result for gerrymandering  This could be remedied by a Constitutional Amendment requiring that Congressional representation be determined proportionately.  To illustrate this, and this is an over-simplification, if a State had 2,000,000 Republican Congressional voters, and 1,600,000 Democratic Congressional voters, that State would get five Republican Representatives and four Democratic Representatives.  The way “gerrymandering” works, however, results in such a State having perhaps six Republican and only three Democrats in Congress.  I don’t expect this to happen in the foreseeable future.  


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I Wrote a Letter

Here’s the text of a letter from me published 10-26-2016 in the South Florida Sun-Sentinal.

I’m not worried about Donald Trump becoming president; he is going to lose. What I am worried about are the millions of Americans who have been gullible enough to believe in his simplistic and emotionally based solutions. If not Trump, to whom will they turn?
Angry Voters
The very legitimate grievances created by missing jobs that will never return, by spiraling health care costs and by more and more people — including immigrants — grasping at the bottom rungs of the ladder of American opportunity must be addressed by the new president. If Hillary Clinton does not successfully do so, the frustrated and gullible will continue to reach for anyone offering solutions, and what they might be buying might make Donald Trump's solutions look like a family of cuddly teddy bears.
Jacob Lippman 

Communications ... They are a-Changing

Image result for outside mailboxes  Ninety percent of the stuff the Postal Service leaves in my mailbox gets thrown into the “paper trash” bin before I get back in my house.  Whatever is important, sooner or later, I will transfer over entirely to my computer as banks and others with whom I have a business relationship are constantly urging me to do.  Certainly when they start charging me to send stuff to that mailbox in front of my house, that I will finally make that change.  At that point, my relationship with the USPS will shrink to practically nothing. Packages and things which must, for some reason or other, be delivered quickly will entirely become the province of Fedex or UPS.  The Postal Service will continue functioning as the prime distriibutor of unwanted advertisements and solicitations at dirt cheap rates, subsidized by you and me.  (Fedex and UPS won't be subsidized in that manner.)

Image result for panasonic telephone
Next on the list of things which will have to go is my "landline" traditional telephone.  Again, the vast majority of the calls which come in, especially during an election year, are totally unwanted and unwelcome.  Sadly, my telephones have the capacity to block only twenty callers’ numbers.  I wish that number were expanded five-fold!   (When I  stop to think about it, the only reason I have that phone anyway is because it is a necessary adjunct  to my burglar alarm system, but advances in  technology may soon change that.)

But if I dump my telephone into the same garbage bin into which I actually eventually may be be dumping my outdoor mailbox, how will I communicate by talking with those I actually want to talk to?  The answer is the texting function on one’s smart phone.  (Everyone will eventually be required to have a smart phone.  There might even be an IRS penalty for those who do not, encouraging everyone to have one, and lowering their cost for all purchasers.  Sound familiar?)

If I actually want to speak to someone, or someone wants to speak to me by exercising our vocal cords and ears, a text message announcing that should suffice. “Please call me back.” Then, one can choose to call back on one’s smart phone, reply by texting or simply ignore the request to talk.  That seems to be the way recent generations are operating already.  The key to success in this area is to keep advertisers away from texting, a task becoming more and more difficult because smart phones also are useful as devices with which to access the internet which is already contaminated by advertising.  Regulations of some sort will be necessary to keep texting a viable garbage-free option.

I Can Play the "Innuendo" Game Too

In an earlier blog posting, I discussed the use of “innuendo” by Donald Trump in attacking Hillary Clinton by implying things which probably have no basis in fact.  He often prefaces such "innuendo" with disclaimers such as "people are telling me" removing him from responsibility for what he is saying, but then goes on to exploit the undocumented information anyway.  At this time, I am going to engage in some “innuendo” of my own directed at Donald Trump by asking the question of whether he might have an eye problem?  Does he? You decide!

Every time Dangerous Donald Trump appears at an outdoor daytime rally, he wears one of those “Make America Great” baseball caps which shade his eyes from the bright sunlight.  But at his indoor events, where his campaign has control of the lighting, he does not wear one.  At those indoor events, however, where he cannot control the lighting as was the case with the three debates where he couldn’t wear his cap, he noticeably squints.  There even are things on the internet about this!   Go check them out!  Sometimes the cap looks very much out of place with his business suit , but could his wearing it be a medical necessity? 

Image result for Trump wearing hat        Trump's squinting of his eyes during a moment when Clinton was speaking was a sign that he disagreed with what she was saying, according to Reiman

Sensitivity to light, which can cause squinting, is known as photophobia.  The web site of the American Academy of Opthalomology lists the following disorders which might be associated with light sensitivity.  

I am not implying that Donald Trump suffers from any of these impairments, but squinting as he was doing during the debates can be a symptom of all of them.

  • Dry eye
  • Corneal diseases
  • Uveitis
  • Blepharitis
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Iritis
  • Asthenopia
  • Keratoconjunctivitis
  • Retinal disease (e.g., cone dystrophy, retinitis pigmentosa)
  • Vitreous disease
  • Optic neuritis
  • Papilledema
  • Migraine
  • Blepharospasm
  • Depression
  • Head injury
  • Meningitis
  • Pituitary tumors
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage
See, by the use of "innuendo" I have perhaps put some ideas into your head which may or may not have any basis in fact.  If Dangerous Donald Trump can do this, so can I.  And that is why much of what the Republicans are saying about Hillary Clinton is not worth the paper it is written on nor the TV time bought to disseminate it, anymore than my baseless suggestion that Donald Trump has an eye disorder! 
In electing our President, decisions should be based on issues and how well the candidates are prepared and qualified to deal with them!  That's what it's all about.  All else is hogwash.   (Next time I see a farmer, I am going to ask him if anyone ever washes hogs   ...   but it does sound kind of filthy!)
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HOW TO VIEW OLDER POSTINGS.                                                
To view older postings on this blog, just click on the appropriate date in the “Blog Archive” midway down the column off to the right, or scroll down until you see the “Older Posts” notation at the very bottom of this posting.  The “Search Box” in the right side of the posting also may be helpful in locating a posting topic for which you are looking.

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 on the "Comments" line directly below, enabling you to send them an Email providing a link directly to this posting.  You might also want to let me know their Email address so that they may be alerted to future postings.

Jack Lippman 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Trump's Possible Ancestor, Vetting Refugees, Motivation and If I Were a Republican


An Ancestor of Donald Trump?

In 1667, Rembrandt van Rinj painted this masterpiece, sometimes called “Isaac and Rebecca,” which hangs today in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.  It is also known as “The Jewish Bride” because Rembrandt did many paintings for Jewish families in the Netherlands. 

It occurs to me that this information may be totally erroneous, and that this actually might be a painting of Donald Trump’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great- great grandfather caught doing something he should not have been doing with the winner of the Fraulein Bavaria Competition of 1667.  Rembrandt may have traveled to nearby Germany, where the Trumps came from before they emigrated to the United States, to paint it.   Who knows what runs in the family?
Jack Lippman

The Truth About the Refugee "Vetting" Process

Dangerous Donald Trump and his supporters have been screaming about how Hillary Clinton would increase the number of Middle-Eastern refugees coming into this country by 550%.  Gee, that sounds like an enormous number.  Actually, President Obama’s program has been to admit about 10,000 such refugees during the past year.  Secretary of State Kerry and Hillary Clinton would like to increase that number to about 70,000, which sounds much less alarming than the 550% number about which the G.O.P. has been screaming.  This is far less than the number of refugees which European nations, without the resources our country possesses, have been admitting.
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, many in the GOP say they are concerned that a terrorist could slip into the country by posing as an asylum seeker, an argument that President Obama and other Democrats reject. 
Trump and his supporters seem to think that these refugees are admitted without careful “vetting.”  That is not the case.  It is just another part of the misinformation which the Trump campaign feeds to its gullible supporters. Fortunately, the Trump campaign people haven't been able to convince their know-it-all candidate that to win an national election, more than one's existing base of supporters must be addressed.  

A description of the vetting process can be seen in flow chart format, provided by the White House staff.  Look at it by clicking here!  Wow!  
The vetting process is so extensive that if Dangerous Donald Trump ever proposed it, Democrats would probably be criticizing him!  But this is the program the Obama administration follows!  It is very strict.
In brief, as taken from a Time Magazine article last year, all refugees taken in by the U.S. undergo extensive background checks. The small number from Syria are subject to additional layers of security screening.  “Of all the categories of persons entering the U.S., these refugees are the single most heavily screened and vetted,” explains Jana Mason, a senior adviser to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Here are answers to some questions about how the program works.
How are Syrian refugees referred to the U.S.?
The process begins with a referral from UNHCR. The U.N.’s refugee agency is responsible for registering some 15 million asylum seekers around the world, and providing aid and assistance until they are resettled abroad or (more likely) returned home once conditions ease. The registration process includes in-depth refugee interviews, home country reference checks and biological screening such as iris scans. Military combatants are weeded out.
Among those who pass background checks, a small percentage are referred for overseas resettlement based on criteria designed to determine the most vulnerable cases. This group may include survivors of torture, victims of sexual violence, targets of political persecution, the medically needy, families with multiple children and a female head of household.
What happens once a refugee is referred to the U.S.?
Our government performs its own intensive screening, a process that includes consultation from nine different government agencies. They meet weekly to review a refugee’s case file and, if appropriate, determine where in the U.S. the individual should be placed. When choosing where to place a refugee, officials consider factors such as existing family in the U.S., employment possibilities and special factors like access to needed medical treatment.
How do we know the refugees aren’t terrorists?
Every refugee goes through an intensive vetting process, but the precautions are increased for Syrians. Multiple law enforcement, intelligence and security agencies perform “the most rigorous screening of any traveler to the U.S., says a senior administration official. Among the agencies involved are the State Department, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. A DHS officer conducts in-person interviews with every applicant. Biometric information such as fingerprints are collected and matched against criminal databases. Biographical information such as past visa applications are scrutinized to ensure the applicant’s story coheres.
What percentage of applicants “pass” the screening process?
Just over 50%.
How long does the whole process take?
Eighteen to 24 months on average.
How many have been resettled here?
Image result for syrian refugees in US
About 1,800 over the past year. (The Time article was written in October of 2015.)  They’ve been placed in dozens of states across the country, but most are in big states with large immigrant populations, such as California, Texas, Illinois and Michigan.
Who are they?
According to a senior administration official, roughly half the refugees admitted have been children. Around 25% are adults over 60. Only 2% of those admitted, the senior administration official said, have been single males of “combat age.”

If I Were a Republican ...  Which I Am Not
If I were a Florida Republican, I would be very disturbed about the candidate my party was putting up in the Presidential race, primarily because his support is coming from only a minority of my fellow Republicans.  Somehow, the G.O.P. has disenfranchised the majority of its members, including myself.   The only possible reason I can see for voting for him is to put someone in the White House who will appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court.  Other than for that reason, I would conclude that he is totally unqualified for the office.

My dilemma is whether his total lack of qualifications for the Presidency outweighs my desire for the appointment of conservatives to the Court.  As of this moment, I am not sure how I will vote for President, if I even bother to.

And as for the Senate race here in Florida, also crucial for the approval of justices to the Supreme Court, I face a similar dilemma about the incumbent running for re-election.  He has flip flopped so often on so many things (immigration, whether he would even run for re-election) that what he says is worthless, and the fact that he has the worst attendance and “showing up to vote” record in the Senate doesn’t help either.  Finally, I cannot understand how this spineless individual can still support the party’s Presidential candidate, a man who personally insulted him during the primary process, repeatedly calling him “Little Marco.”

Were it not that a friend of my brother-in-law’s wife’s cousin is running for a county judgeship, I probably wouldn’t even bother to show up on Election Day.  If the weather is nice, I still may go fishing down in the Keys with some of my Republican friends that day.


Motivation is the Key

A business associate told me years ago that in trying to analyze people’s behavior, motivation is the key.  Let’s apply that to our Presidential candidates.  What is motivating them?

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have enough money to rule that out as the basis of their motivation.  But let’s look at what else might be driving them.

Hillary Clinton has spent her life in government or in quasi-governmental positions working for the things she deems important, most conspicuously the welfare of children and women’s rights.  As first lady for eight years, she carried this role into government, attempting to expand health care for all Americans.  Finally, she served in the Senate and as Secretary of State. Her legal education enabled her to function well in both jobs.  But a career path such as this has a pinnacle looming above it.  In the nation’s early years, the position of Secretary of State often was a stepping stone to the Presidency.  Hillary Clinton is motivated by her desire to rise to what she considers the pinnacle of public service in the nation, the Presidency.

Donald Trump has been an enormous success in his business as a real estate developer.  He has extended this success into the marketing of his own name as a brand and into the production of television programs of which he is the star.  In doing this, he has managed his resources in an amazing (and highly profitable) manner.  He is motivated by the desire to carry his personal charisma and brain power over into the area of governance.  He sees no reason why, if he were to become President, that his undeniable talents would not work just as well for the benefit of the country as they have for him personally in other areas. 

Simply put, Trump’s motivation is all about himself.  Clinton’s motivation is all about the position to which she aspires.  There is something selfish about both of these kinds of motivation.  They could be purer, but they are not.  

Nevertheless, the choice is a clear one.  




Many 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 clicking on Riart1@aol.com and sending me an Email.  

BY CLICKING ON THAT SAME ADDRESS, Riart1@aol.com   YOU ALSO CAN SEND ME YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE PUBLISHED IN THIS BLOG AS WELL AS YOUR COMMENTS.  (Comments can also be made by clicking on the "Post a Comment" link at the blog's end.)


HOW TO VIEW OLDER POSTINGS.                                                
To view older postings on this blog, just click on the appropriate date in the “Blog Archive” midway down the column off to the right, or scroll down until you see the “Older Posts” notation at the very bottom of this posting.  The “Search Box” in the right side of the posting also may be helpful in locating a posting topic for which you are looking.

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 on the "Comments" line directly below, enabling you to send them an Email providing a link directly to this posting.  You might also want to let me know their Email address so that they may be alerted to future postings.

Jack Lippman 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Some Voting Advice, Solving the Job Crisis and a Reprise of "The Meeting"


Deciding How To Vote

The 2016 Presidential campaign has come down to a contest between two personalities.   Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, attack Donald Trump as being unqualified for the Presidency and raise questions about his treatment of women, his business practices and his temperament.   Republicans, including Donald Trump, attack Hillary Clinton as being secretive, dishonest and less than competent.  While these thing might color the way one perceives the candidates, no one, Republican nor Democrat, should let these kinds of things be the final determinant as to how they vote.

Instead, voting preferences should be determined by where the candidates stand on the important issues facing the country. 

A summary of Hillary Clinton’s positions on these issues may be found by visiting the section of her web site devoted to them.  Check it out at
https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/  or by clicking right here.

Donald Trump’s positions on these issues can be found by visiting https://www.donaldjtrump.com/POSITION and clicking on the “Positions” tab at the top or by clicking right here.

There are several “non-partisan” web sites which compare the positions of these two candidates, side by side or one after another.  For example, the Council on Foreign Relations’ site does this in regard to China, Immigration, Trade, Security and similar areas of concern to Americans  Check it out by clicking right here. 

You have a decision to make and you should not make it based on rhetoric less sophisticated that that usually found in elections for Middle School student councils. 

Image result for student council election

Also, in watching the candidates on television, be aware that in speaking to their own supporters, in “preaching to the choir,” what they say is aimed at reinforcing their support and not in stating or clarifying positions.  Debates and press conferences, on the other hand, force candidates to more directly face the issues.

Two aspects of this particular Presidential campaign which are important are the inability of a gullible electorate to distinguish lies from the truth and the ability of that same electorate to forgive, or overlook, past shortcomings on the part of the candidates.

Voting decisions should be based on the candidates’ positions on the issues.  But bear in mind that much of what a candidate might want to accomplish might be far beyond the powers of the Presidency, and attainable only with Congressional cooperation.  Beware of positions which are “easier said than done.”
Jack Lippman


Providing Jobs for All ... An Economic Manifesto

When the first settlers arrived in the Colonies in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries, those with money came with land grants from the British Crown and they and their heirs were pretty much set economically for several generations at least.  We knew those folks as the Southern aristocracy, owning plantations and slaves, or as northern businessmen, often profiting from the labor of indentured servants.

Image result for colonial farmers

But as the country’s population grew, there was not enough land available for those who wanted to farm for a living, nor were enough jobs available for those who were willing to trade their labor for a salary, particularly when in half of the country, they were competing with slaves whose labor came at the far lesser price of the modest cost of basic room and board.  Neither did we need many more artisans and storekeepers in what had been the original colonies.  From that time forward, probably at about the beginning of the Nineteenth century, it appeared that there were not enough jobs in America for all of us!  Or, at least enough jobs in the right places.

Image result for wagon train headed west

But the solution to this was to “Go West, Young Man” as Nineteenth century editor Horace Greeley famously urged Americans to do.  If they purchased it or could fight for access to it, land was available from the Appalachians to the Pacific.  And as farms and ranches grew there, businesses and jobs in towns, usually close to the rivers and railroads which were the nation’s avenues of commerce, appeared.  And from the raw material taken from farms and mines, manufacturing grew, adding more jobs.  The country grew richer.

Image result for industrial revolution

But as families grew larger and immigrants came, even the Midwest, the plains, the mountains and the Pacific coast filled up, just as the rest of the nation had been continually doing.  Two problems arose. Continued geographic expansion was no longer possible and advances in technology were making labor less and less necessary.  While new jobs indeed were created by this technology, they were not in numbers equal to the jobs it eliminated..  And many jobs, requiring the least skill, were exported overseas where low-cost labor was and remains plentiful.  And this job outsourcing is now also growing in regard to jobs requiring greater skills, as technology advances overseas as well as here.  Remaining are our meanest domestic and agricultural jobs which immigrant labor is glad to take on, as well as retail, transportation and delivery service jobs but with salaries not so generous as they might otherwise have been in more favorable times.

The wealth of a nation is measured by its gross domestic product, generally defined as the monetary value of all of its finished goods and services produced within it within a specific time period, usually a year. Ours continues to increase although at a slower rate than it had over past years.  But it is doing so, sadly, with fewer jobs while our growing population requires more jobs.  This lack of jobs hurts the consumer and pushes more people toward poverty, or such polite excuses for poverty as forced early retirement or seniors finding it necessary to live with their children and young people often living with parents long after they should be out on their own.  In a nation with a growing gross domestic product, this should not be so!  The wealth may be there, but the real jobs are not, and we can no longer, figuratively nor literally, “Go West.”

So what do we do about it?

As I have frequently suggested, what jobs there are must be rationed, so that all Americans have the opportunity to have their fair share of the work available.  This would require a limit on the number of hours each week that a worker may work. Thirty hours seems reasonable.  It also would require a mandatory requirement age.  Age 55 seems reasonable.  More leisure time and more leisure years would not be a bad thing.

Image result for going to work

This must be accompanied by increased training of workers to keep up with technological advances, as well as many projects, public and private, to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure.  But these would not by themselves avoid the necessity of job rationing.  But they must accompany it.

This raises the question of how, with a limited share of the available work, Americans will still earn enough to maintain a decent standard of living, paying for food, shelter, education, health care and planning for retirement.  The answer is that It will require a measure of wealth redistribution through higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans.  Easily, that group might be defined as those within the top twenty-five percent of taxpayers.

Image result for increased tax bite

This will provide for increased Social Security benefits, including health care, and the subsidization of businesses so that they may grow, pay fair salaries and contribute to portable requirement plans as well.  Reduced taxes on business will also assist them to do this.  This will serve to enable them to provide these jobs, maintaining consumer spending. 
The ideal result of this would be a gross domestic product growing strongly enough to provide Americans with enough of the nation’s wealth to maintain a decent standard of living and retirement, even with a reduced work week and earlier retirement.  That should be our goal, incrementally attainable within a five or a ten year period.  Oh, there will have to be some "belt-tightening" in the early stages, but eventually, everything will work out as further adjustments in the work week, retirement age and tax rate are effected.  Nothing will be written in stone.

Sound radical to you?  Please let me know your ideas for dealing with the future of employment in the United States.  Are they any better? Remember, we can no longer “Go West” and that any outsourced manufacturing which we manage to bring back will require far fewer workers here than it took a generation ago, as well as resulting in higher prices for consumers. 

In a nutshell, my solution would be job rationing accompanied by technological training for workers, a rebuilding of our infrastructure and higher taxation of the top twenty-five percent of taxpayers.
Jack Lippman


The Meeting

Jack Lippman

This story originally appeared on this blog about six years ago.  It is worth re-reading since it explains, in part, how we got to Donald Trump.
Image result for mountain view

The meeting was held in a secluded and luxurious chalet in the foothills of an isolated mountain range.   A private airstrip was the only access to the place other than a rugged unmarked road used to bring in the staff, food and housekeeping essentials from the nearest town, sixty miles away.  A number of private jets were parked at the end of the runway where the hangar and fuel depot were located.

Image result for private jets parked

The men, all casually dressed as if they were there for a weekend of hunting or fishing, sat around a large conference table.  They shall remain nameless, but suffice it to say, each one represented personal wealth in excess of the 300 billion dollar level, which made their eight figure annual salaries almost meaningless.  These were the wealthiest men in America.   If I were to identify them, you would not recognize one name.  Each had gone to great lengths to preserve their anonymity, a quality common to possessors of wealth of this kind.
“Gentlemen,” intoned a short gray-haired man sitting at the table.  “In order to get to our agenda promptly and tend to business, I want to remind all of you of what our group is all about.  I am sure you all already know this … that is why you are here … but these ideas bear frequent repeating.”  No one said anything.  A few of the men nodded their assent.

"Although we as individuals are clearly the most charitable people in the world, our prime objective is wealth preservation.”

“Not exactly,” someone interjected.  “I am not in the least charitable.  I don’t care if people out there live or die or starve or whatever.  I donate for tax purposes.  If the God damn government took away the deductions I get for what I give, and what my foundations give away, I wouldn’t let loose of a red cent.”
“Thank you, George, for your comments.  But let’s get on with it,” the discussion leader continued. 
“Ideally, it would be wonderful if there were no such thing as taxes.  Some of you, I know, have moved a lot of your wealth to countries where there are practically none, but we all know there are limits to how much of that you can do.  So long as we are Americans, we must do as much as we can to keep taxes here to a minimum and deductions and loopholes at a maximum.  We must have a government, for without one, we would lose the protection it provides to allow us the freedom to do what we want with our money.  And of course, at a minimum, we need an army and navy to provide that protection.”
George raised his hand, was recognized, and spoke up.  “Bull.  We don’t need the government to provide us with a military.  We can hire our own.  It’s cheaper that way.  There’s plenty of mercenaries around and no one gives a shit if they get killed.”
“George, thank you for your comments.  That’s something to consider, but let’s get on.  Even though the maximum tax rate is down to 35%. that's still a big hit.  Even with deductions and shelters, it takes a lot out our wallets.  The Democrats would like to see it go back up to 39%, like it was under Clinton.  I would love it back down to 25% or even lower.  Single digits would be fine.  And paying into Social Security is something we must avoid.  That’s a bottomless pit. We only pay into it on a miniscule fraction of our income but I would hate to see that changed, and there are those out there who want to do exactly that.”
“Look at the numbers, though. There are only ten of us in this room and there are maybe another 100,000 top-bracket taxpayers out there who are almost in the same boat as we are, and we are speaking for them too.  Our task is to make sure the government keeps doing it our way.  We have to get the country behind us.  That Norquist fellow did a fine job getting a lot of Congressmen to pledge never to increase taxes nor get rid of our blessed loopholes, but he’s beginning to lose his credibility.  Bush helped him a lot to connect to the conservatives out there, but that’s history now.”
The discussion leader paused briefly, looked out of the massive picture windows at the spectacular scenery surrounding the chalet and continued.  

“As I see it, we must do everything to promote the idea that tax increases, in any form whatsoever, including removing loopholes and deductions, are extremely bad for the country.  We must drill it into the heads of all Americans that taxation removes incentive to invest and grow the economy at all levels and kills jobs.  That gets them every time.  We have to get that into the schools at all levels, even kindergarten.” 
“Ha,” someone laughed.  “Maybe we should put out an Ayn Rand inspired comic book for kids.”
“Great idea,” the leader chuckled. “But this is no laughing matter.  We must convince America that the Laffer curve, the economic ideas of Milton Friedman and of course, of Frederick Hayek, are irrefutable truths, deserving of as much respect as the Ten Commandments.  And that the Keynesian policies of using government spending and higher taxes as tools with which to manage the economy, and to provide an unearned safety net, are poisonous.”
“The way to do this is to convince a majority of Americans of the validity of our positions.  And this is a great time to continue to do this.  The citizenry is hurting and they, like us, are taxpayers.  We need them on our side. They will buy this argument that taxes are the cause of all of the country’s problems, if we shove it down their throats hard enough and often enough.  Put the blame on the government.  It spends too much.  On anything and everything.  As a wise person out there has said, ‘we have to starve the beast.’ "

"If the funding for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and every government spending program out there were cut at least in half, we would never again need to even think about raising taxes.  We might even cut them significantly.   Frankly, I know people would be hurting and some might even die, and things the government does, like roads and dams and research, would have to be eliminated.  But it is far more important that this nation preserve our freedom to accumulate wealth without having to share it with anyone else through excessive taxation.  It’s our money. We cannot have anything that would even hint at the Marxist concept of wealth redistribution.  That’s what high taxes really are. The French cut off Louis XIV’s head to start this God damn leftist ball rolling and we aim to make sure it is stopped right here.” 
All those around the table rose and applauded the speaker.
“Okay, here is the way we do it.  And it has to be done so convincingly that even the Congressmen and local politicians who come aboard actually believe this stuff with all their hearts.  That won’t be easy, because some of them are really smart, but we need to make them believers.” 

1. We must control the media.  We have to have at least one or two major TV networks in our pocket whose programming we can control.  We must dominate talk radio, internet web sites, newspapers, particularly in smaller cities and towns, and magazines.  Once they get our message out, it gets E-mailed all over the country, multiplied ten-fold.  

2. We must fund foundations and institutes which provide legitimate appearing material and documentation, telling our story, to be provided to the media.  Generously endowing a few hard-up colleges or universities can result in strong support for our position from the academic world.  

3. We must ally ourselves with groups who seem susceptible to adopting our ideology because they are already single-mindedly devoted to one cause or another.  This blind devotion can be easily transferred to our cause. This will increase our numbers and believe me, this is very applicable to members of Congress and local legislators.  The groups with which we must ally ourselves are endless.  They include pro-Israel groups, pro-life groups, creationists, anti-fluouride groups, home schooling and pro-educational voucher groups, evangelical Christian groups, anti-immigrant groups, chambers of commerce, some professional societies, sporting groups, bankers associations and Second Amendment groups.

4.  We must repeatedly attack any opposition to our positions.  Innuendo and stretching the truth can be used to discredit any who disagree with us.  Guilt by association and lies, even ones easily disproven, are effective tools since refuting them takes the opposition’s eye off of the ball.  Individuals who are in financial distress can be coerced. Anything questionable in an opponent’s personal life should be capitalized on.
“Gentlemen, to embark on this program, we have established an off-shore funding center with access to all of our accounts in this country.  Everything is cryptographically protected to a degree beyond the capability of any government in the world to decipher.  You will never be identified as being involved in this program. Take a deep breath, gentlemen, for here is the price tag to do this job properly." 

"If any of you are not willing to contribute $200,000,000 to this effort right now and commit to that amount each and every year for the next ten years, you may get up and leave this room right now. All of your jets out there have been refueled and are ready to take off with you if you so choose. Remember though, what I propose  is not only for your good, but for the good of the country as we know it.  You see, I am firmly convinced of the truth of every word that I have said.”  
He rose and looked at all of the men sitting around the table, making eye contact with each of them individually.  None of the nine other men even budged nor made any motion to leave their seats.  He paused for half a minute and only then, smiled.

“Okay, then.  Let’s have lunch and afterwards, I want to introduce you to a few people who will make sure every penny of the two billion dollars that you have just pledged is well spent … and turn over the chair of our group for the next year to whomever is next in alphabetical order.  That’s you, George, right?”
Everyone leaned back as white-jacketed waiters entered the room, laid down fine bone china and sterling silver table settings and prepared to serve a lunch which did not come from McDonalds. 
Image result for filet mignon and asparagus

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