Tag Archives: government

INDIA

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: A Novel

Written by: Arundhati Roy

Narrated by: Arundhati Roy

ARUNDHATI ROY (INDIAN AUTHOR, WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE FOR – THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS)

Arundhati Roy characterizes India’s governance in her new novel, “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness”.  She pictures India as culturally diverse; however, it is defined by separateness and injustice more than freedom and equality-of-opportunity.

India’s population; not its territorial size, makes it the largest democratic republic in the world.  Roy exposes India’s democracy and its flaws.  The flaws she identifies are reminders of America’s democratic failings.

Without having traveled to India (a trip is planned in February 2018), much of the author’s writing resonates with what is happening in America.  Roy observes Indian society as she lives it.  This is only her second novel in the last twenty years.  With a host of fascinating characters, Roy offers an insightful vision of modern India.  Her writing beautifully describes Indian society while beating democracy with an ugly-stick.

Roy’s writing beautifully describes Indian society while beating democracy with an ugly-stick.

One can personally believe in the value of democracy in the world and still appreciate what Roy says about failures of democracy in India.  A joke that Roy tells capsulizes a major flaw in democracy.  Because of difference among followers of the Muslim religion, Roy illustrates the absurdity of volitional separateness.  A comparable joke in American history might be as follows:

Picture a Union soldier at the beginning of the Civil War with the intention of jumping off Fort Sumter’s wall to his death.  A Rebel soldier sticks his head out to talk the Union soldier off the ledge.

BATTLE OF FORT SUMTER (Picture a Union soldier at the beginning of the Civil War with the intention of jumping off Fort Sumter to his death.  A Rebel soldier sticks his head out to presumably talk the Union soldier off the ledge.)

Rebel soldier: “Where are you from?”

Union soldier: “South Carolina.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I’m a God-fearing Baptist.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I believe in State’s Rights.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I’m a white American and believe in the superiority of the white race.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I believe Negroes are unequal to whites.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I believe a woman’s place is in the home.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I believe in majority rule for States’ Rights.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I believe in a federalist government that makes States stronger and guarantees life, and liberty for all.”

The Rebel soldier leans over and pushes the Union soldier off the ledge.

SAYYID QUTB (1906-1966, EGYPTIAN AUTHOR,EDUCATOR,ISLAMIC THEORIST,POET,AND LEADING MEMBER OF THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD)

In contrast, Roy’s story is about two Indian Muslims that are the same on most levels.  However, as each layer of similarity is revealed, a singular difference compels hostility, imprisonment, injury, or murder.  That theme carries through in every character in “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness”.  The irony of Roy’s title resonates in each chapter of the book.

In the beginning of Roy’s story, a family has their first boy child.  The child is born with both male and female parts.  The mother conceals the child’s circumstance from the father until the boy begins to exhibit a desire to be a girl.  The girl is rejected by her father.  She seeks refuge in a house where other hermaphrodites live.  She grows to adulthood but becomes isolated from Indian society.  She is an extraordinary woman who establishes an outcasts’ haven in a cemetery that attracts equally shunned Indians.  (One is reminded of the many minorities in America who are driven to similar non-judgmental enclaves.)

TRANSGENDER TWITTER BY TRUMP ; e.g. AMERICA’S REJECTION OF DIVERSITY.

Roy’s novel reflects on relations between India, Pakistan, and China in Kashmir.  She notes Muslim influence throughout India that sharply differentiates the majority Hindu population in India from the Muslim majority in Kashmir.  The complexity of Kashmiri society pits Muslim against Muslim, Hindu against Muslim, Asian against Muslim, Pakistani and Chinese against Indian.  The irony is that this is democracy.

KASHMIR AREAS OF DISPUTE

The ideal of democracy is to meld different cultures into one multi-cultural and accepting society with a belief in a common good.  However, human nature gets in the way.  The drive for money, power, and prestige is unleashed by democracy in ways that separate cultures from humanity.  The rich become richer at the expense of the poor.  Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Hubris qualifies one child for Harvard; another for military service, community college, or poverty row.

AFTERLIFE (Death is a belief of a beloved that no one is missed because they are always with you. )

Roy’s novel is about life and death.  No one ever dies in her story; i.e. they just move on.  Death is belief of a beloved that no one is missed because they are always with you.

Roy’s story is not written as a political manifesto.  It is about human nature; not about governments or their politics.  Roy’s book seems a plea for people to recognize diversity in humanity; i.e. to accept rather than reject, and not to isolate, injure, and/or murder the “other”.

Roy is an idealist who sees the world as it is.  The reality is we live in a world as it is; not as it ought to be.

Roy infers the world should let Pakistanis, Afghans, Kashmiris, Iraqis, Syrians, Indians; and other nation-builders choose their own way of life.  Only in the context of human nature, does one size fit all.  To date, no government seems capable of achieving acceptance of diversity, but some are better than others.

This review fails to show how beautifully this story is written.  One can enjoy Roy’s book  just for the images she creates with words.

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ECONOMIC CATCH 22

AMERICAN ECONOMY

ESSAY

BY: CHET YARBROUGH

WARREN BUFFETT (NET WORTH 75.2 BIILLION DOLLARS,Billionaires like Warren Buffett note that his secretary is taxed at a higher rate than himself.  )

The widening gap between rich and poor distresses most Americans.  The distress is not limited to the poor, and middle-class.  Some who are doing well feel guilt over a range of societal reminders of the inequality of life in the richest and most powerful nation in the world.  Billionaires like Warren Buffett note that his secretary is taxed at a higher rate than himself.

Some Americans despair because the gap seems insurmountable; many despair because few politicians and leaders know what to do about it.  Many who have wealth think it is because of their hard work.  They discount inheritance and the luck of being born in the right family.  As President Trump notes, he received a $1,000,000 loan from his father to get a start in the real estate industry.

TRUMP (IT HAS NOT BEEN EASY FOR ME COMMENT,  As President Trump notes, he received a $1,000,000 loan from his father to get a start in the real estate industry.)
WOMEN AND THE LADDER TO SUCCESS
MEN AND THE LADDER TO SUCCESS

Many of the rungs of the ladder to success are broken.

Income beyond the necessities of life, the cost of education, medical coverage for unexpected illnesses, and the nature of American capitalism get in the way of equal opportunity.  When both mothers and fathers work and can only provide shelter and food for their family, they find it difficult to provide support and nurture of their children.  Instead of nurturing and supporting, parents default to freedom by neglect.

FREEDOM BY NEGLECT (When both mothers and fathers work and can only provide shelter and food for their family, they find it difficult to provide support and nurture of their children.  Instead of nurturing and supporting, parents default to freedom by neglect.)
—SCHOOLS AS BABY SITTERS—

There is a growing perception of primary and secondary schools as babysitting agencies rather than learning foundations.  Television and video games become teachers, mentors, and guides for latch-key children.

Education is a necessity in a changing technological world but the cost and quality of education reinforce development of an underclass trapped in poverty.  It is not simply a matter of colleges or secondary education facilities.  Private industry needs to expand its training for sorely needed employees looking for advancement.  Apprenticeships and mentor-ships need to be developed and nurtured in the private sector.  Until the private sector takes more of a lead in educating and retraining workers, there will be a labor shortage in America.

PRIVATE INDUSTRY MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM (Private industry needs to expand its training for sorely needed employees looking for advancement.  Apprenticeships and mentor-ships need to be developed and nurtured in the private sector. )

Vilifying immigrants is scapegoating a fundamental problem in postindustrial countries.  Qualified labor is in short supply because of aging demographics and the failure of businesses and government to cooperate in expanding education and training of the underemployed.

GOVERNMENTS’ GUILT (There are not enough young people in post industrialized nations to carry the burden of an aging population and the need for an expanded safety net for the mentally challenged and physically handicapped.)

If Americans wish to remain a great economic power, it must encourage legal immigration and education of the employed and unemployed.  There are not enough young people in post industrialized nations to carry the burden of an aging population and the need for an expanded safety net for the mentally challenged and physically handicapped.

America’s political leaders argue about the cost of medical insurance and needs for its citizens while being pampered by special interests (doctors, lawyers, and insurance companies) that provide elected officials and government employees a living wage, medical insurance, and a measure of employment security.

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

 

(Lobbyists for these special interests feed elected officials re-election money to get favorable regulatory legislation to improve doctor, lawyer, and insurance company profitability.)

Lobbyists for these special interests feed elected officials re-election money to get favorable regulatory legislation to improve doctor, lawyer, and insurance company profitability.

Insurance companies pedal their policies to the government while the needs of the poor are marginalized.  Political representatives hide behind belief in a mythical economic invisible hand that will serve those who work the hardest.  To some affordable insurance deniers and their elected representatives, it is a matter of survival of the fittest; i.e. the unemployed, the homeless, the mentally disabled and handicapped are considered guilty of their own condition.

HOMELESS (To some affordable insurance deniers and their elected representatives, it is a matter of survival of the fittest; i.e. the unemployed, the homeless, the mentally disabled and handicapped are considered guilty of their own condition.)

There is no invisible hand.  Without a private sector insurance system, medical treatment would have to be collectivized.  The idea of nationalization is disastrous.  There are not enough doctors to serve the needs of citizens now.  Collectivization through a single payer system will make doctor shortages worse. Complaints by doctors of insurance company interference is preferable to a doctor shortage with increasingly longer lines for service.  A single payer system is not the answer.  Regulation of the insurance industry is preferable to any form of collectivization.

COMMUNISM IN THE USA (Some argue that regulation is a slippery slope to communism.  That is a red herring.  Self-interest is an undeniable human characteristic and America democracy.  Medical insurance, like the banking industry, must have government over site.)

Some argue that regulation is a slippery slope to communism.  That is a red herring.  Self-interest is an undeniable human characteristic of America democracy.  Medical insurance, like the banking industry, must have government over site.  Just as banks have prospered with regulation, so can insurance companies.

(On the one hand, the stock market is a beacon of freedom because it provides private capital for the expansion of the economy.  On the other, tax advantages for those with enough money to buy stock, get a free ride off the working poor that have little or no discretionary income.)

American capitalism favors the wealthy at the expense of the poor.  On the one hand, the stock market is a beacon of freedom because it provides private capital for the expansion of the economy.  On the other, tax advantages for those with enough money to buy stock, get a free ride off the working poor.  The poor do not have the advantage of disposable income to invest.   Lower taxes on capital gains make the rich richer and leave the poor further behind.

There will always be haves and have-nots, but America needs to level the playing field.  Both American government and private enterprise need to step-up to improve education, open minds to a world economy, and provide a realistic safety net for all citizens.

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THE DARK SIDE

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street

Written by: Sheelah Kolhatkar

Narrated by: Kaleo Griffith

SHEELAH KOLHATKAR (Author,Staff writter at The New Yorker, covers Wall Street, Silcon Valley, and politics)

In “Black Edge” Sheelah Kolhatkar masterfully recounts the dark side of capitalism.  The American stock market is a tremendous source of energy (private money) for entrepreneurial capitalism.  At the same time, a poorly regulated stock market pollutes the capitalist ideal.

CAPITALISM UTOPIAN-ISM (The capitalist ideal’s upside is that people have more freedom.  The downside is unrestricted human nature becomes brutish and unfair.  Some form of governance is needed to provide rule-of-law.  Without rule-of-law, society devolves into an anarchy of individual interests.

Capitalism is an economic and political system for trade and industry that allows individuals rather than a collective determine one’s future.  The capitalist ideal’s upside is that people have more freedom.  The downside is unrestricted human nature becomes brutish and unfair.  Some form of governance is needed to provide rule-of-law.  Without rule-of-law, society devolves into an anarchy of individual interests.  There is no “invisible hand” that guides an economy to equal opportunity; i.e. there is only human nature and its penchant for good and evil.

STOCK MARKET CRASH 1987 ( In the stock market, black edge information is personal notice to private investors of events that effect stock prices.  The information is proprietary and unknown to the public.  The private investor chooses to buy or sell stock before the public knows of an event that will affect stock prices.)

Kolhatkar explains the meaning of black edge information.  She shows how the American stock market becomes a breeding ground for greed.  In the stock market, black edge information is personal notice to private investors of events that affect stock prices.  The information is proprietary and unknown to the public.  The private investor chooses to buy or sell stock before the public knows of an event that will affect stock prices.  Steven A. Cohen develops an organization, SAC Capital, that revolves around gathering proprietary information before it is known by the public.  Cohen becomes one of the richest men in the world by using that information.

STEVEN A. COHEN (AMERICAN INVESTOR, HEDGE FUND MANAGER, BILLIONAIRE, Steven A. Cohen develops an organization, SAC Capital, that revolves around gathering proprietary information before it is known by the public.  Cohen becomes one of the richest men in the world by using that information. )
(Cohen creates a “dog eat dog” organization that hires and fires people based on revenue made or lost on investment.  Individual traders are compelled to violate the law by soliciting black edge information that is not available to the public.  The only criteria for success is money; not family, not friendship, and not society.)

In one sense, this seems a “no harm, no foul” entrepreneurial benefit in capitalist society.  Cohen pays big money for traders that can provide him inside information.  People are employed and well compensated for their effort.

However, Kolhatkar infers there is harm, and it is foul.  It breeds an organizational philosophy of abuse.  Cohen creates a “dog eat dog” organization that hires and fires people based on revenue made or lost on investment.  Individual traders are compelled to violate the law by soliciting black edge information that is not available to the public.  The only criteria for success is money; not family, not friendship, and not society.

One may argue, so what?  Cohen becomes a rich man and is known as a benefactor to charities based on his accumulated wealth.  Some of the traders that worked for Cohen became multimillionaires.  Similar arguments can be made for the Koch brothers.  Where is the harm?  Where is the foul?

CHARLES KOCH (AGE 79 Where is the harm?  Where is the foul? )
DAVID KOCH (AGE 74 Where is the harm?  Where is the foul? )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

( Cohen focuses on making money because it offers power and prestige.  The gap between rich and poor widens because of Cohen’s philosophy of life.  In the end, Cohen is not found guilty of insider trading.)

The harm is somewhat inchoate but care for others is missing in Kolhatkar’s story.  Lives were ruined by Cohen; i.e. some of his closest associates are abandoned, traders operating as information gophers break the law, and Cohen’s personal life falls apart.  He is divorced by his first wife.  Cohen focuses on making money because it offers power and prestige.  The gap between rich and poor widens because of Cohen’s philosophy of life.  In the end, Cohen is found not guilty of insider trading but he leaves a trail of human destruction.

DONALD TRUMP (45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.The “Get out of my way” philosophy of Cohen and Trump are cut from the same cloth.  The difference is–one is more financially successful than the other.  )

The story of Steven Cohen is the story of a Trump presidency in the United States.  America loses its way when capitalism is only seen through the prism of wealth.  The “Get out of my way” philosophy of Cohen and Trump are cut from the same cloth.  The difference is–one is more financially successful than the other.

Capitalism is not the problem in America.  It is the failure of the S.E.C., the FBI, Presidents, and congressional legislators to do their job.  The purpose of the American government is to protect the public through rule-of-law.  Every day, we see a President denying immigrants the chance of becoming a part of an American Dream that made and makes America great. We see an Education Secretary intent on dismantling our public education system.  We see a congressional and departmental effort to dismantle health care and welfare.  We see Americans being discriminated against because of their sex, race, and religion.

GOVERNMENT (Capitalism is not the problem in America.  It is the failure of the S.E.C., the FBI, the President, and congressional legislators to do their job.  The purpose of the American government is to protect the public through rule-of-law.)
CHECKS AND BALANCES (The checks and balances of the American government are founded on that truth.  When the American government fails to exercise its mandate for the health, education, and welfare of the nation, it diminishes capitalism.)

Human nature is not self-regulating.  Unregulated human nature is brutish.  The checks and balances of the American government are founded on that truth.  When the American government fails to exercise its mandate for the health, education, and welfare of the nation, it diminishes capitalism.  It diminishes a way of life cherished by most Americans.  People like Steven Cohen and Donald Trump are guilty of being human and un-ruled.

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FISH ROTS FROM THE HEAD

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956

Written by: Anne Applebaum

Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell

ANNE APPLEBAUM (Author, also wrote “Gulag” about Russian Intern camps.)

Anne Applebaum offers historical perspective about the Iron Curtain and how it separated the west from Russia and set the table for the U.S.S.R.  Her story is capsulized by an ancient Turkish saying— “Fish rots from the head”.  Her story implies a political lesson for the 21st century.

BERTRAND ARTHUR WILLIAM RUSSELL (1872-1970 DIED AT AGE 97,  “War does not determine who is right – only who is left”.  )

As Bertrand Russell notes: “War does not determine who is right – only who is left”.  There are four renowned leaders and heroes at the end of WWII; e.g. Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and yes, Joseph Stalin.  Churchill is a hero because he recognized the early threat of Nazi Germany and demanded intervention at the time of the Polish invasion.  Roosevelt is a hero because he cleverly supported Churchill when many leaders in America refused to believe in Hitler’s threat to the world.  Truman is a hero because he ended the war with Japan without jeopardizing thousands of American troops with an invasion of the Japanese archipelago.  And finally, Stalin is a hero for resisting and defeating Hitler’s armies in Europe when America needs time to prepare for war.

WINSTON CHURCHILL (1874-1965)_
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (1882-1945, 32ND PRES. OF U.S.,1933-1945)
HARRY TRUMAN (1884-1972,
JOSEPH STALIN (1878-1953)

Applebaum reflects on the aftermath of WWII to reveal the reality of Russell’s note about those who are left after war’s end. Countless numbers (reaching an estimated 50 to 80 million) of Allied–Axis military and civilian men, women, and children were dead.  Some were killed from famine and disease; others from bullets, bayonets, and crematoriums.

ADOLPH HITLER (1889-1945, One can argue like a sibling with a brother or sister–“he started it”, but no one is absolved from guilt for murdered innocents. )

Each of the four leaders and heroes of WWII carry a measure of blame for war’s human consequence.  One can argue like a sibling with a brother or sister–“he (meaning Hitler) started it”, but no one is absolved from guilt for murdered innocents.  Applebaum reflects on a singular consequence of the war in the rise and fall of an Iron Curtain, a curtain that separates Eastern Europe from the west.

KARL MARX (BORN TRIER, GERMANY 1818-DIED LONDON, ENGLAND 1883)

Communism is and always has been a dead or dying form of governance.  The idea of collective comity has been tried in various forms since the beginning of recorded history.  It has never worked as a social or political construct as theorized by Karl Marx, or bastardized before and after Das Kapital’s publication.  Each derivation of an economic, social, and political collective has failed or is failing.  From the monumental failure of the U.S.S.R., to Kibbutz’s in Israel, to collectivist fringe groups in history, human nature has destroyed collective comity.

THE IRON CURTAIN

Applebaum’s “Iron Curtain” explains how Stalin cleverly bastardized communism to create a world power, but in that bastardization Stalin became the greatest mass murderer in history.  Lenin is the first to take advantage of Marx’s theory but Lenin recognized that Marx’s dialectic of human economic and political evolution would not work without force.

After Lenin’s death, Stalin eliminates rivals who do not understand the necessity of top-down management for Russia’s transition from monarchy to communism.  The Russian nation’s history as a monarchy made Stalin’s style of management fertile ground for a collectivist hegemon.

CATHERINE THE GREAT RELUCTANTLY ACCEPTS THE LEGACY OF SERFDOM BECAUSE OF THE POWER OF THE ARISTOCRACY

(Though Catherine the Great talked of liberalizing Russia, she recognized centralized power was the only way of avoiding a civil war between serfs and a Russian aristocracy.)  Lenin’s, and then Stalin’s, dangling of collectivism hoodwinks serfs into thinking they can escape their historic servitude.

It is Stalin that manages to defeat Hitler in Europe.  Applebaum explains how Stalin takes advantage of the end of WWII to expand Russia by creating satellite countries to form the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

RUSSIAN ARMY WWII (No other leader had the manpower to defeat Nazi advances in Eastern Europe.  Unquestionably, Stalin could not have succeeded without material support from the West but it took human beings to fight the Nazi advances in the early years of the war.)

No other leader had the manpower to defeat Nazi advances in Eastern Europe.  Unquestionably, Stalin could not have succeeded without material support from the West but it took human beings to fight the Nazi advances in the early years of the war.  Britain is consumed by their own defense. Most of Eastern Europe, and France is defeated by the Nazis, and America needs time to prepare the military for war.  Only Stalin can marshal the human force needed to defeat Germany in Eastern Europe.  With an iron hand, no moral conscience, personal paranoia, and Russia’s history of totalitarian command, Stalin creates a totalitarian hegemon that stalls and then defeats Nazi occupation of Eastern Europe.  In one sense, Stalin liberates Eastern Europe; in another, he destroys their independence and freedom.

RUSSIAN TRAINED KGB IN WWII (Applebaum notes that Stalin focuses on training a cadre of secret agents to infiltrate the governments of future Soviet satellites.)

Stalin approaches his ambition for totalitarian rule systematically.  At the end of the war, Applebaum notes that Stalin focuses on training a cadre of secret agents to infiltrate the governments of future Soviet satellites.  He coops religion by replacing devout church leaders with communist sympathizers.  Stalin uses a combination of threat, violence, and education to subvert Polish, Hungarian, and Czechoslovakian leaders.  He does the same with clandestine freedom fighting organizations that try to resist Soviet occupation.

The immediate impact of Stalin’s plan is unseen because of time needed to train a secret service and infiltrate non-communist factions.  Within two years of the war’s end, the table is set for a planned economy based on artificially manufactured five-year plans that ignore reality but create a mythological sense of progress.

RUSSIAN GULAG (A mythological sense of progress reinforced by slave labor camps that continued after the end of WWII.)  DM ORIGINALS 31/05/2003 (P43) 1933
STALIN SLAVE LABOR CAMP

With the death of Stalin, the myth of progress is exposed.  The result is a transition of former communist countries to capitalist wannabes. For the U.S.S.R., centralized control and top-down management remain, but self-interest is unleashed.  There is a difference from American capitalist self-interest.  Russian self-interest is limited because it is based on who is favored by leaders in government.

One might argue that is true in America but the truth is not that black or white.  Subsidization is a qualified difference but explanation is tied to an extended review of the meaning of democracy in America.

VLADIMIR PUTIN (PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA, Putin notes in a “60 Minutes” interview that the thing he most admires in America is its ability to innovate.  With centralized control and top-down management Russia is unlikely to return to the hegemon it became after WWII.)

Putin notes in a “60 Minutes” interview that the thing he most admires in America is its ability to innovate.  With centralized control and top-down management Russia is unlikely to return to the hegemon it became after WWII.  Russia will need to break from its history to change.  Maybe, with education, that can happen, but it will be a long road.  In a totalitarian state when “fish rots at the head”, its putrification spreads to all levels of society.

Applebaum offers insight to Stalinist Russia and the barriers modern Russia must overcome to return to the status of world power.  Bottom-up management is a key component of economic and political strength in modern times.  It explains why China is a burgeoning world power and why America, contrary to Trump’s platform, remains great.

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WRITING BONA FIDES

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Surrender, New York

Written by: Caleb Carr

Narrated by: Tom Taylorson

CALEB CARR (AUTHOR, MILITARY HISTORIAN, NOVELIST)

In a cursory search of Caleb Carr’s writing bona fides, it is a surprise that “Surrender, New York” was written by an accomplished author.  Undoubtedly, fans of Caleb Carr will be appalled by this review.

Carr’s fictional dialog often sounds unnatural. His dialog is contrived in ways that detract from the story’s characters. Without being prudish, “F” words are used unnecessarily. Only subject matter and mystery make “Surrender, New York” feed desire to finish the book.

——————FORENSIC SCIENCE SERVICE——————

Carr’s creative insight to forensics and research on America’s failure to protect unwanted and abandoned children is remarkable.

CSI TV (SEARCH FOR FACTS)
HOMELESS SHELTER WASHINGTON D.C. 1990

Two areas of fascination that make Carr’s story worth completing are one—an intelligent explanation of the difference between quality forensics and TV forensics; and two—an examination of the hardship of “throw-away” children in America.

FORENSIC MISTAKES (Forensic procedure is subject to human error at different stages of evidence development.)

Carr notes quality forensics lets facts lead to conclusions. In contrast, Carr notes TV forensics often only collect facts to support conclusions.  Carr also notes that forensic procedure is subject to human error at different stages of evidence development.

————-CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION——————-

Carr implies forensic technicians are often seduced by crime scene investigators; i.e. they become adjuncts to conviction rather than researchers for justice. The technician only looks for facts that fit the crime investigator’s conclusions.  TV’ forensics become part of a self-fulfilling prophesy based on an investigator’s preliminary conclusion.  In real life, Carr implies some forensic technicians ignore facts that do not fit pre-conceived conclusions. Carr’s story argues that, in some forensic investigations, facts are ignored, mistakes are made, conclusions are false, and justice is thwarted.

Carr addresses forensic deficiencies with a story about children that are abandoned by their parents.  Around the world, the number of children who fit that category are estimated to be 400,000 (by ISK, International Street Kids). “Throw away” kids are a specific category of children without any defined estimate in the United States; however, the number of homeless children in the U. S. was estimated as high as 2,000,000 in 2015.

Kids who are abandoned by their parents are faced with three choices; i.e., one, to become a ward of the state in a group home; two, be taken care of by a willing foster parent being subsidized by the government, or three become a “Street Kid”.  None of these options have much to recommend them.  Undoubtedly, some street kids luckily find an adult that truly cares for them.  However, those who turn to the street likely become victims of society.  Street kids get zero support from the U. S. government.  They are blocked from getting a legitimate job because they are not adults.  They cannot enroll in school because they have no address or guardian to support them.  They become like “children of the dust” who beg at street corners, turn to crime, to traffickers, and/or prostitution to survive.

Carr creates a story that offers a creative alternative for a few “throw-away” children who exhibit some extraordinary ability.  He creates an underground of “do-gooders” that search the world for wealthy people looking for a child.  This underground becomes a way, in theory, for “throw away” children to have a second chance.

However, there is an unintended consequence from the opportunity presented to some of these special children.  The unintended consequence is death.  Carr’s story is about the ethics of the underground organization, and the forensic process in finding the truth of several children’s deaths.

Carr does create some interesting characters and offers some entertaining scenes but Carr’s poorly developed dialog diminishes the story’s creativity.

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POLITICS & ADMINISTRATION

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath

Written by: Ben S. Bernanke

Narrated by: Grover Gardner

—————–POLITICS AND ADMINISTRATION————-

Politics and administration is a marriage of necessity.  Ben Bernanke writes a “nuts and bolts version” of the role of the Federal Reserve in the United States during the economic crises of 2007-2008, a crisis that continues to plague the world.

Bernanke is the chairman of the Federal Reserve during the near collapse of the world economy.  The story Bernanke tells is consistent with most details revealed by Tim Geithner and Henry Paulson (the former Department of the Treasury Secretaries) during the worst part of the 2007-2008 global financial crises.

HENRY PAULSON (U.S. SEC. OF THE TREASURY 2006-2009)
TIMOTHY GEITHNER (U.S. SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY (2009-2013)

What Bernanke adds to Paulson’s and Geithner’s version of events is a more transparent understanding of how American politics and administration dealt with the greatest economic crises since 1929. These three managers, along with elected officials and other public administrators, cussed, discussed, agreed, and disagreed on actions taken to stabilize the American economy.

————-BREAD LINES IN NEW YORK 1933————-

Without a level of cooperation between politics and public administration, it is entirely possible America would be in the middle of its second great depression.

The mortgage crises of 2007-2008 is a “Black Swan” event in American history.  A “Black Swan” is a metaphor for an event that is generally unforeseen that changes the direction of history.

The packaging of real estate and home mortgages of varying levels of security leads to the mistaken belief that housing and commercial land prices will always increase as the economy expands.  This false belief led to sales throughout the world of figurative IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices”) that bankrupted individuals, corporations, and Nation-State economies.  The shock waves of these instruments of economic mass destruction continue to impact the world economy.

QUANTS (Computer whizzes who used algorithms to combine assets for mortgage-backed securities that contributed  to the world economic crises of 2007/2008)

With the advent of computer technology, combined assets became so complex that individual human judgement of value became clouded.  With each individual asset added to a conglomeration of houses, property, and/or stocks, value changed.  The change was meant to spread risk and increase financial stability of combined assets.  However, as similarity of combined assets accumulated, the created aggregate became more (rather than less) vulnerable to market change.

RATING AGENCIES (Organizations that rate mortgage backed and other investment securities.)

The rising risk of these combined securities is compounded by “independent” rating agencies.  If vulnerabilities are not clearly understood, sellers of these security conglomerations rely on ratings from analysts that underestimate volatility.

This “so-called” independent rating system fails investors because both sellers and buyers are incentivized to buy and sell a security that is not clearly understood.  When one of the derivative assets begins to lose value; particularly if the asset is related (like land and vertical construction) all assets in the packaged security are infected by loss of value.

Rating companies lose their objectivity.  They may be incentivized by the same companies they are evaluating; and/or are paid for report productivity rather than quality of investigation. Greed seduces both buyer and seller.

Though this explanation of derivatives is too simply described in this review, it is inferred in Bernanke’s, Paulson’s, and Geithner’s books to have been a contributory cause for the loss of trillions of dollars in the world economy.What makes Bernanke’s book interesting is his explanation of how politics and public administration worked together to right America’s sinking economic ship-of-state.  Even today, recovery is not complete but the ship did not sink.  “Working together” is a qualified description of what happened based on Bernanke’s view.  There were bitter disagreements among elected and administrative agents that could only be resolved with an appreciation and exercise of politics.

Politics have become synonymous with lying and misrepresentation in the modern world.  Some say President Trump exemplifies that belief.

——————-MIDDLE CLASS AMERICA———————

Not to defend Trump, but his election is a consequence of ignoring the importance of politics in determining what is right and wrong in America’s democracy.  Democrats were not listening to middle class America.  Politics in a democracy represent the will of people who are being governed.  Without politics, the best intentions of administration devolve into ineffective and autocratic actions that fail to serve the needs of its citizens.

On many occasions, Bernanke shows how elected officials remind administrators of the real-world impact of their policy actions.  The give and take of politics is a bridge between a government policy idea and citizen impact.

——————-AFFORDABLE CARE ACT——————

The Affordable Care Act is not perfect because of politics but modifications made are the result of political input from the constituents of American Democracy.  Those constituents are companies, professions, and individual citizens represented by elected officials who work with government agencies responsible for administration.  It is a messy process, but politics is a bridge between thought and deed that can (when discounted) devolve into autocratic dictatorship; i.e. a dictatorship that inevitably leads to unintended consequences that fail to meet the needs of represented citizens.

The Federal Reserve, the Departments of Treasury, and America’s elected officials successfully saved America from a second Great Depression.  Messy politics saves America; i.e., the political interface between President Bush, President Obama, Treasury Secretaries Paulson and Geithner, Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke, Senators and Representatives of Congress, and the Supreme Court cussed, discussed, agreed, and disagreed to keep America great.

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HISTORY DOES NOT REPEAT

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

The Skeptic’s Guide to American History

Written by: The Great Courses

Narrated by: Professor Mark A. Stoler

MARK A. STOLER (PROFESSOR, AUTHOR, HISTORIAN)
MARK TWAIN (SAMUEL CLEMENS 1835-1910)

As Mark Twain notes, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme”.  Professor Stoler reinforces Twain’s clever observation by explaining history shows patterns of human behavior that repeat themselves but history never predicts the future.  Stoler notes history not only fails to repeat, it is often re-interpreted to fit modern circumstances.  Stoler’s point is that humans remember the past while often ignoring the truth of history.  Many choose to use inaccuracies to reinforce prejudices of the present.  Several examples are given by Stoler.

1)Religious toleration is not a founding principal of the original colonies.  2)Most citizens in the colonies did not want to leave the protection of Great Britain.  3)Slavery is not the principle, or even tertiary, cause of the civil war.  4)Laissez-Faire has never been a principal of the American government.  5)America is not the primary hero, or savior in WWII.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS (1767-1848, SON OF JOHN ADAMS, AMBASSADOR, ONE TERM PRESIDENT, CONGRESSMAN)
GEORGE MARSHALL (1880-1959M GENERAL OF THE ARMY, SECRETARY OF STATE, AND SECRETARY OF DEFENSE)

Histories revisionists have praised as well as pilloried past American leaders based on current political circumstances.  Some of the most competent leaders in America are diminished by myths of history.  Two noted under-appreciated leaders are John Quincy Adams and George Marshal.  Both served America in ways that remind one of George Washington by doing great things without the hubris often exhibited by lesser leaders of accomplishment.

Stoler suggests the original colonists did not leave their home countries because of religious intolerance.  By the same token, they did not come to America with the intent of being tolerant of other religions.  The Pilgrims who founded Plymouth in 1620 came to America because they feared religious changes in their home countries.  They feared other religions would corrupt their children.

SALEM WITCH TRIALS Stoler notes that the Puritans in Massachusetts were highly intolerant of other denominations.  Stories of banishment and witch trials are factual examples of religious intolerance in America. The history of toleration comes more from the desire of colonists to be left alone to practice their own religions.

The idea that most colonists desired independence from Great Britain is inaccurate.  Even John Adams notes that only a third of the colonists desired independence.  Stoler explains that Great Britain is the principal reason for the colonists defeat of the French in the French and Indian war.  Most colonists were thankful for Great Britain’s military aid during that war.  However, that aid came at great cost to Great Britain–some form of compensation is needed to replenish the English Treasury.  Great Britain is fighting the Dutch and Spanish at the same time they are waging war on the French.  Of course, the chosen form of replenishment is taxation.

BOSTON TEA PARTY (1773 PROTEST AGAINST TAXATION OF TEA BY ENGLAND)

The rallying cry for the American revolutionists becomes “No taxation, without representation”; not because they necessarily oppose their former country but because they have no seat at the table where decisions are being made.

ca. 1860s, Near Savannah, Georgia, USA — Slave Family In Cotton Field near Savannah — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

As reprehensible and damaging as the institution of slavery is in America, it was not the cause of the civil war.  The institution of slavery goes back centuries before the American Civil War.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1809-1865, 16TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. Even the Great Emancipator said “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that…” )

Even the Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln said “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that…”  The cause of the American Civil War is the battle of States rights versus Federal rights, a battle that recurs throughout America’s history.  It began with the Articles of Confederation and continues through conflicts occurring today between President Trump, Congress, and the Judiciary.

ADAM SMITH (1723-1790, AUTHOR OF -THE WEALTH OF NATIONS)

Stoler clearly shows America has never practiced the principle of Laissez-Faire which purports to let things take their own course.  Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” is a myth.  When a country decides to have a centralized form of government, whether it is controlled through separation of power or totalitarian fiat, winners and losers are abetted or damaged by government policies and actions.

History examines and re-examines past leaders in the context of present affairs.  Stoler implies American Presidents are measured against Washington, Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt.  Each made historic and flawed contributions to the success of America.  However, these three have been leaders during the greatest crises of America and are recognized as pillars of democratic government.

Each is vilified during their terms of office with revisions by every new generation.  Washington is a flawed general but a hero of the revolution.  Lincoln is a flawed moralist but a hero of the civil war and unionization.  Roosevelt is a flawed politician who lies to many of his closest advisers while being a hero of WWII and savior during the Great Depression.  It is not that Washington did not win battles, or Lincoln–revile slavery, or Roosevelt competently manage a world war and a depression, but that each gathered Americans together when needed most, and when national crises occurred.

HERBERT HOOVER (1874-1964, 31ST PRESIDENT OF THE U.S. FROM 1929-1933)
DONALD TRUMP (45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.)

Is Trump like Herbert Hoover or Franklin Roosevelt? One led us into despair; the other led us into prosperity. Can Trump bring a divided nation together as an astute politician or side with a business community that believes the myth of the invisible hand? Only history will tell but only as a rhyme not as a repeat.

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