Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Why Bother To Get Married?
Over the last 50 years I have watched the institution of marriage in America evolve to the point that I no longer recognize it and often wonder what our society has gained by the changes.
Fifty years ago, the idea of couples living together without benefit of marriage was not just frowned upon, it was actively opposed by most people and our institutions, and children born “out of wedlock” were often denigrated through no fault of their own.
As the years passed and the inevitable change in societal mores changed, the institution of marriage seems to have evolved to the point that today couples living together is not only “normal” but it’s common for them to have children.
A contestant on the Wheel of Fortune game show identified himself was a stay-at-home father, who had three children - and had been living with the mother for fifteen years. However, he made it quite clear that he had no intention of getting married.
My question is, “Why?”
What is there about not getting married and raising children that is the right thing to do?
Does a man who is living with a woman and children he has fathered think he is still a good catch in case he changes his mind and decides to move on?
Perhaps it’s the last man on earth syndrome, but whatever the reason, my sense is that it’s a very immature attitude.
A Washington Post article headlined, “Married couples at a record low,” noted that “the proportion of adults who are married has plunged to record lows as more people decide to live together…”Only 51% of adults 18 and over are married today…according to a Pew Research Center analysis…” The percentage of adults who are married has declined from 72% in 1960.
Today we see a constant parade of celebrities on T.V. who proudly proclaim that they have children, sometimes three of four, who have been living with the father or mother for many years, and the parents have no intention of getting married.
Famed actress Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins lived together for 23 years and had two sons before deciding to part. Did not being married make it easier to deal with property or other issues? I doubt it.
Another personality, Kim Kardashian, typifies the unabashed sexual exhibitionism that frequently graces the T.V. screen and the Internet these days, gaining notoriety and financial rewards for outlandish behavior.
Given the longevity of Americans today, which is about 79 years for men and 81 for women, perhaps it makes sense for people to have more than one spouse as they age – for a variety of reasons, such declining health or death. 
However, even that does not account for the societal change in values that has brought us to the point that almost anything goes in personal relationships, including polygamy, same-sex partners, and unmarried couples openly living together.
In the past, many such relationships were maintained on the QT, but the inevitable march of time has also brought openness, to the point that today there seems to be no limit to public discussion of one’s status in the media.
Some people see this as a sign of progress, others as an unwelcome decline in morality, or as an unwelcome form of exhibitionism.
Wherever you come down on this issue, there is no doubt that the institution of marriage has changed over the years. It is no longer considered sacrosanct by a large percentage of the population, and I’m not at all sure that’s a good thing.
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Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Observations About Israel 1
Start with the fact that I am Jewish. However, before you discount my comments as just another biased expression of unqualified support for Israel, you might find that my experience as a largely secular American Jew may provide some insight into the issues involved in the continuing struggle between Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah.
First, some background. Personal, that is: I was born in 1928, of an American Jewish couple, whose parents came to this country from Russia in the 1800s. My parents did not practice Judaism, they both had only a sixth-grade education, and moved from New York to California in the 1920s, where I was born and raised. I have two siblings: a brother (deceased), who was 4-1/2 years my senior, and a sister (also deceased), who was seven years older than I. We grew up in somewhat limited circumstances during the Depression, and in typical middle class conditions after WWII, and we are (were) all college grads, with professional educations in teaching, engineering, and accounting respectively.
Religion was not a part of our upbringing. Both my parents spoke Yiddish, and my mother spoke a little Russian, but there was no formal religious training. Our family settled in Los Angeles, which had a large Jewish population. I can’t say that I experienced a great deal of overtly hostile prejudice as I was growing up, although I certainly did encounter my share in my business life.
I graduated high school in 1946, at the time the world was in the midst of trying to resolve the situation with the Jews in the Middle East, who were attempting to create a homeland for their people. I remember many heated discussions among the Jewish students at the time about partitioning what was then part of the British Protectorate in the Middle East, to carve out the nation of Israel in the desert. But, my involvement was largely peripheral. I didn’t pay a lot of attention and wasn’t particularly interested, and I hardly noticed when the nation of Israel was finally created by the UN in 1948.
Fast forward 67 years: Today, I am a staunch supporter of Israel.
So what happened?
On the way to arriving at my current perspective about the Jews and Israel, as I gained experience and learned more, I was influenced by some of the basic realities about the world we live in:
The fact that a Jew is largely secular and does not practice Judaism does not change the reality that the world in general considers almost everyone with Jewish ancestry to be a Jew, no matter how “Jewish” or secular they may be. Hitler and the Holocaust demonstrated that quite vividly. People may be only “half” or “one-quarter” or “one-eighth” Jewish, but when push comes to shove, they are invariably “Jewish”.
The Jews are convenient scapegoats for the transgressions or ambitions of others. How many times have you heard the claim that Jewish bankers control the world, that all Jews are rich, that they always take advantage of others (“I Jewed him down” is a common expression), that they are “Christ Killers,” that they kill Muslim children and use their blood to bake bread, that they secretly plot to control various countries, etc., etc., ad nauseum.
Whatever it takes for various leaders to demagogue the Jews and divert the attention of others from their own despicable behavior.
All that’s necessary is a mix of an uninformed population, poverty and religious fanaticism to create a foundation for the endless stream of lies and distortions that are employed to make the Jews the scapegoats for everything that’s wrong with the world and the oppression of others, especially the Palestinians.
Many, probably most, American Jews are not religious in the formal sense. However, although they may not practice Judaism and may have intermarried, many, perhaps most, still consider themselves Jewish. I am in that category. Dennis Prager has written an excellent series of articles on Townhall.com, “Explaining Jews,” which I highly recommend for those who would like to learn more about the subject.
When I was in high school in the 1940s, and even years later, at the time I was practicing public accounting in the late ‘60s, Jews were still not allowed to stay in many American hotels or resorts, they were not accepted for membership in most country clubs, many companies would not hire them, including major accounting and law firms, they were not accepted by many of the most prestigious universities, and they could not buy homes in many “restricted” neighborhoods, along with suffering a host of other indignities in American society at large. In many respects, it was not much different from the prejudice against African-Americans that has plagued our society for generations and continues to this day.
The response of American Jews was to form their own businesses, law and accounting firms, open their own country clubs, establish their own university (Brandeis), etc., thereby in some ways further defining their separation from American Society in many respects.
As the years passed, I learned something about the history of the Jews and the repression and persecution they have suffered since Biblical times, how they always managed to adapt and survive, how their many accomplishments have improved the world.
I learned that they face seemingly insurmountable odds, that there are only about five million Jews in Israel, along with about one million Arabs, and that there are a total of only about 13 million Jews in the world today (including Israel) vs 350 million Arabs in 22 states who want to exterminate them.
I learned how the Jews have taken the desolate, barren desert land they were given and turned it into a modern, productive, democratic state, with the highest standard of living in the Middle East.
I also learned that prejudice and bigotry take many forms, often hiding behind a façade of seemingly being unbiased, but that the potential is always present with some people, sometimes without their even realizing it themselves. I can remember sitting in business meetings and having certain clients openly brag to their associates about how shrewd they were to have hired a “smart Jew,” without ever considering how insulting that might sound. Obviously, they thought it was a compliment. They were proud of their own good sense and judgment to have me on retainer, and I always let it pass.
In the final analysis, it doesn’t really matter who’s right in the Israel-Palestine-Hamas-Hezbollah situation, because neither side will ever convince the other. The parties to the conflict make similar claims:
·        They were on the land first, therefore it belongs to them.
·        The other side are “occupiers” or “squatters.”
·        The other side is guilty of extreme tactics, killing women and children indiscriminately, and much worse.
·        The other side is responsible for the repression and extreme poverty of the Palestinian and other Arab societies.
The Arabs blame the Jews and the Jews blame Arab leaders for keeping their own people poverty stricken so they could continue to divert attention from themselves by fanning the flames of hatred against the Jews.
Unfortunately, in my mind, one fact overrides all others: The Palestinians, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran all unambiguously avow that Israel must be wiped off the map and the Jews driven into the sea. And, they are aided and abetted by most other Arab-Muslim states to a greater or lesser degree: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, United Arab Emirates, etc., often speaking one way to the world in English while saying the opposite in Arabic to their own people. No matter how much they try to cover up or talk around their openly declared goal of destroying Israel and the Jews, their real intent never changes.
It has been going on this way for 67 years, and I expect it will continue until long after I am gone.
Finally, it is an article of Muslim faith that the Jews and all people of other religious beliefs must be converted to Islam or be exterminated, a reality that neither the Jews nor the Christians throughout the world dare ignore.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2015
About Marriage, Part II
Marriage is defined as“a relationship between or among individuals, usually recognized by civil authority and/or bound by the religious beliefs of the participants” (Wikipedia).       
It has generally been thought to be a relationship of one male and one female, the primary purpose of which is to produce and rear children. That’s the model that has traditionally  been adopted by Western societies, although historically many other societies have allowed some form of polygamy.
Wikipedia also tells us, “In one form or another, marriage is found in virtually every society. The very oldest records that refer to it speak of it as an established custom. 
Despite attempts by anthropologists to trace its origin . . . evidence is lacking.”
With the advancement of gay rights and the drive to legalize same-sex marriage, Western societies, where marriage has generally been defined as a monogamous union, may well be evolving into cultures in which the definition of marriage will be expanded beyond the traditional joining of one man and one woman to include same-sex couples.
This year, National Public Radio (npr.org) covered the issue of same-sex marriage extensively with a number of reports, some of which were headlined as follows:
Gay Marriage Issue Looms over Colorado Race (Oct 15, 2006)
Mass Judge: Out-of-State Gay Couple Can Marry (Sep 29,2006
Gay-Marriage Advocates Regroup After Latest Defeat (Aug 2, 2006)
High Court Rulings and the Future of Gay Marriage (July 18, 2006)
New York, Georgia Courts Disallow Gay Marriage (July 6, 2006)
The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that gay couples must be accorded the same rights as heterosexual couples and that the state legislature has six months to either grant gays the right to marry, or come up with another civil-union type system.
In addition, the California General Assembly became the first state legislature to approve same-sex marriages.
Those who oppose such unions on religious or moral grounds are often called “bigots.” But, it seems to me that bigotry is in the eye of the beholder.
A “bigot” is defined (by Wikipedia) as “a prejudiced person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles or identities differing from their own.” The word is commonly used to denigrate those who are unwilling to change their opinion(s) even when faced (presumably) with evidence that they are incorrect.
My own view is that the word “bigot” has become an epithet that is used to attack people who disagree with a particular point of view, belief or value. However, to paraphrase Forrest Gump, a bigot is as a bigot does.
Is any person who does not agree with you (or me) a “bigot”? 
I think not.
It seems to me that what’s missing in the definition is the element of prejudice, that is, bigots are prejudiced against another, or others, for a variety of reasons, i.e., race, ethnic background, religious beliefs, education (or lack thereof), social or economic status, moral values, or almost any aspect of their ideas, attitudes or principles.
But, those who so easily label others as bigots are often guilty of the same conduct, that is, they themselves are bigoted against anyone who is unwilling to accept their particular point of view. As I said earlier, “a bigot is as a bigot does.”
The painful truth is that everyone is bigoted to some degree about some things, which is to say that they have strong opinions about certain matters and are unlikely to change them, even in the face of what others may consider proof positive that they are wrong. It’s inescapable. But, if we did not have opinions, we would be nothing more than walking marshmallows.
So, where does that take us in the matter of marriage?
Well, for one thing, the education establishment has endorsed homosexuality as a “lifestyle” and is promoting a variety of school programs and activities that are designed to teach children that homosexuality is not only acceptable, but that it is a matter of equal rights and fairness to “educate” children, some as young as the third or fourth grades, about the benefits of the
“gay lifestyle.”
Parents who are not paying close attention to what’s happening in the schools are likely to wake up one day and find that their children have been taught things they strongly oppose.
Linda Harvey, president of Mission America, writing for CSNNews.com, noted that the American Federation of Teachers, the American School Health Association, the National Association of School Psychologists and the American Association of School Administrators have all signed on to the concept of teaching students about homosexuality. She further observed, “…the National School Boards featured a glowing article in a recent newsletter about the great benefits of ‘gay’ clubs in schools.”
Some 2,000 homosexual clubs have already been established in American schools. Groups like the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Parents, Families
and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) have articulated a goal of establishing “clubs in as many elementary schools as possible using the rationale that these students, who they imply were probably born this way, need ‘support systems’ to avoid harassment and discrimination.”
Can gay and lesbian dolls in toy stores, children’s books and school teaching materials be far behind? Gay personalities and characters that are featured in media, movie and TV stories have already become commonplace.
Those parents, grandparents and citizens in general who overtly resist the effort to normalize gay relationships will no doubt be labeled as “bigots.” But, are they? Or are those who are pushing the “gay lifestyle” bigots for being unwilling to accept the reality that most parents want to be the judge of what their children should be taught about things that are considered to
be a personal matter of religious belief, ethics and morality? Which brings us back to the issue of same-sex marriage.
The drive by gays for equal treatment under the law has already led to civil union that extend most if not all the same rights and privileges to same-sex couples, even if a Constitutional amendment is adopted that defines “marriage” as one man and one woman.
Most of the issues in same-sex couple relationships, such as hospital visitation and health care rights, inheritance, property rights (including division of assets in dissolutions), spousal and child support, etc. have been resolved.
About the only thing I can see that will be different is the fact that same-sex marriages are not being religiously sanctified, although some form of marriage ceremony is being conducted by gay or sympathetic clergy.
As for bearing and rearing children, that’s also already happening, either by means of In Vitro Fertilization (in the case of women), surrogate birth or adoption.
Where we go from here, no one knows for sure, but it’s easy to predict that we will see more intense and aggressive efforts in Western societies to force the acceptance of the “gay lifestyle” and same-sex marriage on the population in general.

© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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Wednesday, January 14, 2015
About Marriage, Part I
Some interesting stats about marriage.
The following percentages of couples living together who were married:
·        In 1950: 78.2%
·        In 1960: 74.3%
·        In 1970: 70.5%
·        In 1980: 60.8%
·        In 1990: 56.0%
·        In 1998: 52.9%
·        In 2005: 49.7%
·        In 2012: 50.5%
The trend is obvious: down. The percentage of married couples has declined steadily over the past 50 years, from 78.2% to 50.5%, a decrease of some 27.7%. Not good.
Here are two additional facts:
·        In the 114 years from 1890 to 2004 average population per household has dropped from 4.93 to 2.61.
·        In the 10 years between 1990 and 2012, the number of unmarried couples living together increased 72%. In addition, in the 40 years between 1960 and 2000, the number of unmarried couples living together increased tenfold. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)
As everyone knows, statistics are often a problem, particularly raw data, such as the preceding information. But, one thing for sure, marriage in America has been on the decline, sharply,
and both the number and percentage of couples living together without being married has increased significantly.
So, what are we to make of this?
Here’s what we know:
·        A smaller percentage of people who are living together are married now than at any time in the past 50 years.
·        Homes in which the father is present and plays an important role in raising the children are increasingly rare.
·        A greater percentage of Americans are divorcing.
·        Most adults still would like to be married.
·        Divorce has a major impact on both children and adults, and the American society in general.
·        As with almost every issue that become grist for public discussion these days, just about every commentary, whether political or religious, tends to oversimplify.
·        And when the issue becomes “hot” enough, thoughtful or analytical evaluation is invariably clouded by slogan driven messages.
That’s a long way of saying that hot topics are always far more complex than most of us realize and, for the most part, we get little or no help from our so-called leaders and the all-knowing media and pundits. That’s the case in spades with the public discussion of marriage.
For example, most Americans oppose polygamy, which was reported during the search for Warren Jeffs, who was wanted by the FBI for arranging polygamous marriages of underage girls. What generally failed to be reported, however, was the fact that there were an estimated 30,000 polygamists in Utah and Arizona at the time. Even the Attorney General of the state of Utah publicly acknowledged that they did not have the resources, i.e., police, prosecutors, prisons, budget, etc. to aggressively stamp out the practice, which was illegal.
My question about this is, “What’s the difference between polygamy and multiple individuals living together as unmarried cohabitants, say, one man with several women? That’s legal in most, if not all jurisdictions, right?
So, if that’s permissible, even acceptable in many circles, and if people are of age and willing, why shouldn’t they be permitted to have more than one spouse?
Everyone seems to more or less base their opinion about marriage on their own experience and values. Those who choose to cohabitate rather than getting married usually take the position that being married involves nothing more than a “piece of paper,” that the “piece of paper is just some sort of meaningless symbol and that, after all, it’s the fact that they are “committed” to their “partner” is what’s really important.
No doubt there are many such cases. Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russel (31 years), Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins (21 years) are two notable examples.
What is there about a “piece of paper” that seems to scare so many people? If they’re willing to honor their relationship for 20 or 30 years by staying together, having children together and raising them together, why not honor one another by being willing to make it “legal”?
However, when you think about it, the concept of “legal” marriage is complicated by a lot of other factors, such as history, customs, societal values and religious beliefs. For example, there are many different forms of marriage, and the customs and culture of different societies often dictate the nature of the institution, depending on the times and the particular part of the world where they are located.
Following are the major types of marriage that are found in various parts of the world:
·        Polygamy: Having several wives at the same time.
·        Endogamy: The requirement to marry someone of one’s own social group, family, clan or tribe.
·        Exogamy: The requirement by law to marry someone from another geographical area, social group, family, tribe or clan.
·        Common law marriage.
·        Monogamy.
In addition, some new forms of marriage have appeared on the scene in recent years:
·        Same sex marriage, gay marriage, and
·        Civil unions
·        Commitment ceremonies (Commitment Certificates)
There are also a host of differing customs and beliefs in many other cultures around the world that are not mentioned when the issue of marriage is discussed. A couple of examples:
·        Arranged marriages, where the couples involved have little or no say in the matter. This may include marriage by proxy, the requirement for a dowry and a variety of other matters involved in such marriages, sexual practices or mores, etc. For example, in Japan, at one time it was common practice for young girls to be sold into servitude as prostitutes before they became eligible to marry.
·        The absolute dictatorship of the man, as in many Muslim societies, where the husband merely has to declare that he is divorcing his wife three times and the divorce becomes effective, or among certain religious or ethnic groups in India, where, for example, many women have been murdered by their husbands over disputes with the woman’s family about payment of dowries.
So, what does all this add up to?
For my part, I view marriage in America as the glue that binds our society and its institutions together. Without it, and without limiting marriage to “one man and one woman,” I believe we will further erode the fabric of our culture, to the point that it will very likely not survive.
Easy for me to say, I’m married. Twice, for a total of over 50 years. And, I have three children who were all born to parents who had “a piece of paper.”
But that’s just me. What about you?

© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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Wednesday, January 14, 2015
My New Year’s Resolutions
New Years Eve celebrations never mattered to me. We stay home and watch the festivities on T.V. as they circle the globe, go to bed early. Boring, I know. But, it’s safe and sane
and keeps us out of trouble. We stay off the roads and don’t travel.
So, what’s the point of this commentary, you may wonder. The point is that as each New Year rolls around, I try to focus on the future, not so much in the sense of making New Year’s Resolutions, most if not all of which I never keep, but my hopes and aspirations for the next year.
First and foremost, I look forward to another year of just living, spending time with my wife, our dog, and my friends and associates.   I have been blessed with a long and fruitful life,
filled with challenges and my share of hardships, I suppose. At 86-years-of-age, I am a living testimonial to the miracle of modern medicine and the talents of many fine medical
professionals, who managed to get me through various health travails on numerous occasions, some of which were quite serious.
Following, in no particular order, are my hopes and wishes for 2015:
  • That our political leaders will come to their senses and stop spending money we don’t have. We are rapidly spending ourselves into oblivion at every level: national, state, local and individual, and appear to be headed into the worst of all economic worlds, hyperinflation.
  • That people around the world can somehow stop enslaving, torturing and killing one another, for whatever reason(s). I understand that there may be compelling reasons in some instances, such as defending oneself, but man’s inhumanity toward one another has been the hallmark of civilization throughout recorded history, and unless we find a way to control our baser instincts, we may well destroy ourselves. Some people think that might be the best outcome.
  • That we have a strong economy.
  • That we can manage to elect some people to public office who are principled and honest and are willing to serve for the common good rather than how they can line their own pockets. That’s a tall order, I know, but I can at least hope.
  • That our educators will find a way to reach a generation of indifferent young people, too many of whom are ignorant and self-centered to a fault. When a young person cannot make the simplest calculations to give change to a customer, something is seriously wrong.
  • That we can somehow find a way to lift our society out of the cultural morass into which it has sunk. Through the medium of modern communication: radio, TV, the Internet and print media, we have managed to reach the point where anything goes and there are no limits, debasing too many of our young people in the process.
  • That we catch or kill the Muslim bad guys, especially ISIL, who are causing havoc in various parts of the world.
  • That all of our military come home safely to their loved ones, their friends and their communities.
  • That science will find cures for the worst diseases, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, ALS, and the host of other conditions that plague the human race.
  • That we can somehow improve the desperate conditions in which far too many of the world’s peoples are forced to live.
  • That we will have milder weather in 2015. This winter has been one of the worst in memory, causing terrible hardship. And, speaking of weather, I hope we do not have a severe earthquake in California.
  • That the techies among us will find a way to stop spam forever and catch the people who spew endless unwanted garbage messages at us.
  • That I get through another year without any serious health problems.
  • That my six grandchildren will inherit a better world than we have now.
  • That you will have the happiest, most successful and healthiest year you have ever had.
It may seem like I’m asking for a lot, but in the final analysis, you can probably sum up my hopes and aspirations in one wish, that, as beauty contestants often say,
I just want “world peace.”

© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Predictions for the Economy in 2015
By Bill Glynn

Although the consumer sentiment in the U.S. alone appears to be on the rise, Thanksgiving and Christmas retail sales were lackluster at best and the season was carried by online sales at best.  Unemployment is down and the stock market up.  It all looks good for 2015.  But wait.  The world is uncertain due to the withdrawal of American leadership abroad.  If you think Greece caused a worldwide panic, wait until sanctions in Russia really take hold and the imminent backlash there.  Buy beltway bandits or defense stocks with a focus on cyber security -  they will do well.
The stock market has no reason whatsoever, given the fundamentals of the world economy, to be up so much.  This is a big bubble, so look out.  The free money flowing from governments around the world will begin to dry up; and instability, underemployment and those immigrants flooding the workforce will all wait on disposable income and job availability.  Plus, think how many college grads never entered the workforce so were not counted in unemployment.  How many people were kicked off unemployment and out of the numbers or those that quit.  Real estate is on the rise again but how long will it be propped up by low interest rates – the Feds’ free money here alone will dry up.
The fundamentals of the economy, world political and military instability and a host of variables make 2015 a big toss up year.  We all hope the GOP get some things done with a President likely to veto a historic amount of bills or push a hugely radical ideological agenda regardless.  The country has already been fundamentally transformed; we are already bankrupt and we are in social, moral and political bankruptcy too.  This will come home to roost.  When?  In our lifetime for sure. 
I look at the dozens and dozens of inflection points around the world and anyone can set off chaos while the U.S. economy looks good – that band-aid covering the scab that covers the wound is still not pretty.  And, oh, let us not forget Obamacare being fully implemented.  Something is very wrong.
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Friday, December 5, 2014
Pearl Harbor Day
Does Pearl Harbor Day have any special meaning to you?  For those who are old enough to have been around at the time, do you remember where you were when the news was broadcast that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by the Japanese?
Most of the American population is now too young to have been around at the time, in 1941.  I was 13 and I remember it quite clearly.
Following is the announcement made by President Franklin D. Roosevelt the day after the attack:
“December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
“The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our secretary of state a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.”
“It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.”
“The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.”
“Yesterday the Japanese government also launched as attack against Malaya.
“Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
“Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.
“Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
“Last night Japanese forces attacked Wake Island.
“And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.”
“Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.”
“As commander in chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us....”
(Source: Courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York.)
Japan gave no formal warning and Roosevelt was taken by surprise because peace negotiations were going on (in Washington) with the Japanese at the time, which led him to make the statement for which he subsequently became known, in which he proclaimed December 7, 1941 as “a date which will live in infamy.”
Like so many important events of the past, they have become relegated to the history books and the classroom, where their significance has become diminished with the passage of time.
Although Pearl Harbor Day is not a National Holiday, at least for me, it is still living history and a vivid memory.
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
NOTE: 73 years later, the lessons of Pearl Harbor are still worth noting.
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Friday, November 7, 2014
Understanding How Things Work
The adage, “You get what you pay for,” never seems more apropos to me than when politicians pontificate about how “things” should work, meaning the economy, thereby displaying their ignorance of the economic system that has been the engine of America’s success and produced the highest standard of living in the world for over 200 years.
Unfortunately, the American people are not getting what we are paying for in our political leaders.
What we should be getting is people who understand how the free market system works, that the less it is regulated (restricted) by government, the better it works.
However, what we are getting is politicians and political leaders who have no clue about capitalism and believe it is their responsibility to pass legislation that causes the government to intrude on the free market, in effect defining the rules by which it should function.
Currently, the lead player in this scenario, of course, is Obama, who has never run anything or held a job, yet seems to believe that he knows better than everyone else how the system should work. The problem is that his notion of “the system” is not the free market but socialism.
No government in history has ever created prosperity by managing the economy. The most notable example, at least in the last century was the U.S.S.R., which failed to the point of collapse in about 90 years.
But, hope springs eternal. Each succeeding generation seems to believe that they have the answer, that they know how to “run” the economy better than the “free market.”
To some extent, this is reflected by the percentage of presidential cabinet members who had any business background and/or experience.
Following are the percentages of past presidential cabinet members who had worked in the private business sector prior to their appointment to the cabinet. (The private business sector is a real-life business, not a government job.)
Here are the percentages:
26th President (1901-1909): Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt     38%
27th President (1909-1913): William Howard Taft                 40%
28th President (1913-1921): Woodrow Wilson                       52%
29th President (1921-1923): Warren G. Harding                    49%
30th President (1923-1929): Calvin Coolidge                         48%
31st President (1929-1933): Herbert Hoover                          42%
32nd President (1933-1945): Franklin Delano Roosevelt        50%
33rd President (1945-1953): Harry S. Truman                         50%
34th President (1953-1961): Dwight D. Eisenhower              57%
35th President (1961-1963): John F. Kennedy                        30%
36th President (1963-1969): Lyndon B. Johnson                    47%
37th President (1969-1974): Richard M. Nixon                      53%
38th President (1974-1977): Gerald R. Ford                           42%
39th President (1976-1980): Jimmy Carter                              32%
40th President (1981-1989): Ronald W. Reagan                     56%
41st President (1988-1992): George H.W. Bush                     51%
42nd President (1993-2001): William Jefferson Clinton           39%
43rd President (2000-2001): George W. Bush                         55%

Note that during the 100 year period covered by the foregoing list, the lowest percentage of cabinet members who had business experience was 30%, during John F. Kennedy’s presidency, and the highest percentage was 56%, during Ronald Reagan’s term in office.
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
Posted at 21:56 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

Friday, November 7, 2014
Pass a Law, Fix the Problem
How many laws do we pass to fix problems, only to find out that they don’t fix anything and often make things worse? Sometimes laws are passed for political purposes, sometimes to bestow some benefit on a particular group or individual, sometimes simply out of ignorance. Whatever the case, the more they pile up, the worse things get.
Logic and reason have no effect on those who support many of the actions that are taken by our political leaders. They do it for a reason, albeit often wrong, but the bigger problem is the lack of knowledge of the electorate who support many of these laws.
Does anyone ever stop to consider the number of laws that are passed?  
In a 2010 article, “Too many crimes – a function of too many laws,” former U.S. Attorney General Edwin W. Meese III makes the case that “America is in the throes of over criminalization. 
He supports his assertion by citing a number of cases that are noted in a new book, “One Nation Under Arrest”:
·        A 12-year old girl arrested and handcuffed for eating a single french fry on the Washington subway system.
·        A cancer-ridden grandmother arrested and criminally charged for refusing to trim her hedges the way officials in Palo Alto, CA, mandated.
·        A former high-school science whiz kid sent to prison after initially being arrested by FBI agents clad in SWAT gear for failing to affix a federal sticker to his otherwise legal UPS package.
·        A 67-year-old retired husband and grandfather imprisoned because some of the paperwork for his home-based orchid business did not satisfy an international treaty.
One of the major problems in America today is that there are too many laws and too much regulation. There are a seemingly endless number of examples of legislators who either have no sense or somehow lose it in the exalted halls of government. For instance, Kentucky law mandates that people must bathe once a year.
Not to pick on Kentucky, but like most states, they have a number of crazy laws: Throwing eggs at a public speaker is punishable by up to one year in jail; it is illegal to dye or color a baby chick, duckling or rabbit unless six or more are for sale at the same time; or if a horse dies in front of a residence, the owner (of the horse, that is) must remove the dead animal within 12 hours.
If it is not done, then it becomes the homeowner’s responsibility. That may have made sense in the 1800s, but it hardly seems necessary today. One city had an ordinance that required the sheriff to shoot dogs whose owners did not pay a local tax on their animals.
Consider the number of jurisdictions with boards, councils or commissions that legislate and the number of laws they adopt annually. There are over 3,000 counties in the U.S., ranging in size from 41.6 square miles (Arlington, VA) to 141,398 square miles in the North Slope Borough of Alaska, along with almost 19,500 municipalities, in addition to the 50 states. That adds up to roughly 22,500 entities in addition to the Federal government, all putting laws on the books, presumably to correct problems or to influence or regulate behavior. In California, the legislature adds upwards of 5,000 laws to the state’s code books every year.
As Will Rogers said, “Congress met. I was afraid they would.”
Obviously, a certain amount of this is necessary. For example, local ordinances for such purposes as regulating traffic, land use, or taxation. Or, advances in technology bring new problems and with them the need for new laws. The rapid development of computers and the Internet has created new opportunities for mischief with them, such as Internet fraud and identity theft. And bio-technology is presenting society with moral and ethical challenges that never would have occurred to earlier generations.
However, people’s wants are insatiable, and legislators respond to special interest groups that want to impose their particular need or desire on the rest of society, which results in thousands of laws and regulations.
The latest example of excessive regulation was noted in a January 1, 2014 Sacramento Bee article, “California’s new laws: What changes in 2014.”
The article lists about 30 new laws or modifications of existing laws that became effective in the new year.
Many of them amount to nothing more than housekeeping measures, clarifying or expanding existing laws that are already on the books, such as Immigration, prohibiting employers from punishing or retaliating against workers on the basis of their immigration status, Hydraulic Fracturing for oil drilling, banning lead ammunition because of the health risk to wildlife, Abortion, Pharmacists, Transgender students, Domestic Workers, Prevailing Wage, various gun laws, Paparazzi, Limo Safety, Texting while driving, Food Stamps, Mattress Recycling, Distillery Tastings, and Residential Plumbing.
However, notwithstanding the necessity for the laundry list of bills outlined in the article, one in particular got my attention, because it illustrates the absolute foolishness of bureaucrats and legislators, who seem to think they can craft an answer to every problem. This is a new law that requires “cars to stay at least 3 feet away from bicyclists…”
 I’m not sure how this will actually work, because my experience is that it’s generally impossible to move three feet away from someone on a bike, even when they are in a lane dedicated to bike riders. In the area where my wife and I live, in order to give a bike rider a three-foot clearance, it is necessary to move into oncoming traffic. I presume this rule will also apply when driving on the highways (freeways), which generally do not have a bike lane, in which case it may become necessary for a driver to pull out in front of fast-moving traffic coming up from behind.
I strikes me that this is just another example of “do good” legislation being passed by legislators who all too often seem to be disconnected from reality.
It’s also worth noting, I think, that America has more lawyers than the rest of the world combined, and our society is suffering the consequences.” 
For example, we can be prosecuted for breaking laws we don’t even know exist. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” has always been a traditional mantra, but it has been reported that Americans are now subject to over five million laws. How can anyone possibly know and obey them all? And, they keep piling up. Every legislative body, municipal, county, state and Federal, is constantly making new laws, and nothing ever seems to be taken off the books. CNN recently reported, “40,000 new laws take effect in 2014.”
So, if ignorance of the law is really no excuse, then we are all charged with specific knowledge of the millions of laws that regulate us. That’s impossible and is undoubtedly one of the reasons why many Americans have become increasingly cynical about the law and justice in this country.
And, if five million laws are not enough, there are also hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of rules that are superimposed on top of them – by OSHA, EPA, HUD, EEOC and a host of other
agencies, including everyone’s favorite villain, the Internal Revenue Service.
Legal precedent has also added to the burden of excessive control and regulation that are strangling our society. Hundreds of thousands of court cases are litigated to interpret the laws, which comprise entire libraries of additional rules we are expected to abide by in our daily lives. The sheer weight and complexity of all this breeds contempt for the law, evasion and deliberate
law breaking.
As Ronald Reagan said, “I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress?”
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
Posted at 21:51 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014
“A Billion Here and A Billion There”
During the Watergate hearings in the mid 1970s, Senator Everett Dirksen, said, “A billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.” 
His humor made headlines back then, but we seldom heard anyone talk about another aspect of his observation. That is, just how much money is a billion dollars?
Today, we hear the word constantly. Government budgets in the multi-billions are debated and approved all the time, and we seem to think nothing of it. Hardly a flicker from anyone.  
As a matter of fact, it’s more often the opposite. What we usually see is “pork” being piled onto appropriations bills as if the economy were a bottomless pit for our politicians, who ignore the public good for private benefit. California is a prime example of unrestrained political excess gone astray, to the point of bankruptcy. 
I can remember a time when the idea of a billion dollars was a source of wonder at the sheer scope of that amount of money. It no longer seems to elicit any response at all, except perhaps boredom. 
But, a billion dollars does add up to “real money,” especially when you look closely at what it can buy.
With that in mind, consider the following illustrations of just how much money a billion dollars really is:
The U.S. median (half above, half below) annual salary is $68,947 for men and $53,123 for women, it would support over 11,000 families for one year. Or, in the nation’s capital, it would pay the salaries of the entire Congress plus those of the complete Congressional staff and their combined office expense budgets for one year, with money left over. Which is the better buy?
In many third-world countries, where the average annual income is about $1,000, it would provide for a million families for one year.
At $8,400 per student, it would pay the costs of schooling for almost 119,000 children (K-12) for one year; or for the entire college education of over 9,300 students (at, say, $26,700 per year each). 
At a median salary, nationwide, of about $52,100 a year, it could pay for more than 19,000 secondary school teachers for one year.
Five million doctor visits at $200 per visit adds up to $1 billion. That’s a lot of patients. Or, at an average Rx expense of $200 a month, one billion dollars would pay the prescription costs for over 416,000 people for one year.
For apartment dwellers, at $2,000 a month rent, a billion dollars would provide shelter for over 41,000 families for one year.
For the investment minded, the earnings on one billion dollars, at 5% per annum, would be $50 million a year. Think you can retire on that? 
Looking at it from the viewpoint of seniors who receive Social Security, with the average retiree receiving about $1,230 a month, one billion dollars would provide annual retirement payments to about 67,700 people. If a one billion dollar endowment fund were invested at 5%, the $50 million investment income it would earn would help support almost 3,400 seniors with the equivalent of their Social Security payments, without dipping into the principal. 
Isn’t that how Social Security should work, instead of as some type of “Ponzi scheme,” which would be illegal if it were not the government doing it?
Are we getting our money’s worth from government? Or, is too much of it being wasted? 
Like the man said, “A billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”
© 2013-2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
Posted at 18:10 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

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