You Ended Up In Hell City

So a friend told me something funny.


It was about being given what appears to be a wonderful opportunity, but in reality it’s not all roses. 


In short, it went something like this:

There was an exciting competition and a prize at the end. 
Everyone prepared and worked hard to win it. 
But when the competition was over, what was the prize?
The 2nd place was two weeks in Philadelphia. 
The 1st place was one week in Philadelphia. 


I had to think about that for a second, but that is really pretty funny and true. 


No not about Philadelphia, but about life–that what we often mistakenly want so badly and strive for with all our energies, and then only to find out that it really wasn’t as good or amazing for us and our families as we imagined. 


Yes, very often you set your sights on certain goals to win the competition, but then you find out that the BIG prize (“first place”) is really not something to get excited about, because it’s in Philadelphia!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Compromise = Winning

So this shutdown has really been an education in political dysfunction, bickering, and childish behavior. 


But when President Trump yesterday went on the air and provided a compromise solution whereby he gets funding for a 200 mile border wall/barrier and the Democrats get money for humanitarian relief at the border, high-tech sensors, and years of protection for 700,000 children that came to this country illegally (DACA) and another 300,000 for immigrants from designated countries that prevent their sage return (TPS)–it seems like everybody would come out a winner!


That’s negotiation.  That’s compromise.  That’s diplomacy.  


When President Trump did this, I thought he really won the day, especially when the Democrats rejected his proposals and offered nothing in return or as an alternative. 


Even if the other side disagrees with the solution, they can and should offer what their version of a compromise/agreement would be and so on between the parties–this way, they can negotiate until both sides get to the magical compromise that everyone can agree to and live with. 


What I learned from this is that regardless of your political leanings, the side that shows flexibility and compromise and the desire to get something done, is the side that wins the argument, period. 


Those that want it all or are simply obstructionist and haters are the big losers in the debate. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Unbridled Government Spending

I liked this notion from Margaret Thatcher:

The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money. 

And from the Wall Street Journal:

The problem with resisting socialism is that until the money runs out free-spending progressive politics are remarkably seductive. 

In other words, we love to spend what appears as “free” government money–more and more entitlements, bigger and bigger government…basically, we can’t resist the candy in the candy store.

But the problem is that the money eventually runs out and by then we have gone too far and are left eating our own flesh. 

 Why can’t we spend our precious money and scarce resources prudently and also save wisely for a rainy day–why do we have to act like pigs in the poke?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What Does A Government Shutdown Feel Like

So its day 18 of the Federal government shutdown. 


The first couple of weeks wasn’t so bad, because it was the holidays and vacation time (“use or lose”), so I think most people didn’t miss work that much. 


Also, people got paid at the end of December, since the pay cycle is on a two week lag.  


For the first part of the shutdown, there is errands to run and things to catch up on–those things that you always wish you had the time for and well now you do. 


But by now, you’ve already done those errands and cleaned your house and car, shinned up your shoes, and even caught up on some reading. 


Then we also have the missed payroll coming at the end of the week. For those families that are on a single income, this is particularly hard, and even where one partner is working, still your income in cut in half. 


You can’t go out shopping like this!


You also can’t go anywhere–like away–because you need to be available to be back at work on a day’s notice–whether or not it looks like that day is ever coming or not!


Another concern for those that care about their work and getting things accomplished, is that work is like a moving train, and when there is momentum, things can get done–even at the “pace of government.”  But when you come to a full stop like this for an extended period of time, then it will definitely take some time to get everyone back on board the train and for it to get moving at a decent clip again.  Let’s face it, you can’t just turn people on and off like a light switch–you’re dealing with human beings with feelings, plans, and bills. 

Maybe the worst part about the shutdown is feeling like a pawn in the big boys and girls game of Washington Politics–even if you feel the border wall is important, which I certainly do, as federal employee, you still don’t want to feel like the sacrificial lamb. 


Why Congress and the President can’t compromise and give the $5 billion for the wall for something in return like immigration reform or even just give half and call it a day is really beyond my comprehension. 


Out of our $4.4 trillion a year federal budget, how does it make any sense to begrudge a couple of billion for a wall to bring order to the chaos at our southern border–can anyway say “caravan?” 


Let’s face it, drug smuggling, human trafficking, dangerous gangs and terrorists, and illegal crossings have no place in a civilized country, especially the United States of America.  


At some point, our politicians seem to have lost their passion for and dedication to what’s actually good for America and instead replaced it with identity politics and a sick insatiable greed for power, plain and simple. 


All sides need to be patriots and not political kingpins, and they need to give a little to get a little for the betterment of our country overall–maybe then we can move forward. 


And by the way, it would be great at some point to let us go back to work and do our jobs. 😉 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Who Is More Religious?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Being Super Duper Kosher.”

Of course, I am sure many good people are trying to do the right thing and genuinely practice to be better servants of Hashem. However, this should never become an excuse to use religious practices to misguidedly “compete”–hurt or shame–and somehow “one up” their neighbor’s religiosity or status as fellow Jews. That would be to erroneously think that G-d can’t see all His children as good and deserving in their own ways, even though the creator can certainly see what is in the heart and in the doings of all of us.


Hope this resonates with many of you who are kosher but feel unfairly (mis)judged by all the latest variations these days. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Carlos Ghosn – Success and Failure

My thoughts on Carlos Ghosn–the head of Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault.


What can we learn from his rise to power and his fall from grace?


Basically…be a real leader and not a schmuck!


Be modest.  Be humble.  Give to others.  Do Good!  😉

The Window and The Mirror

Thought this was a wonderful story on our perspectives in life. 


And how money can corrupt our vision of what is truly important. 


This is the story:


A rich man became ill. 


He looked out the window and saw his old friend who was a poor man. 


The rich, sick man invited the poor man, his friend into his house.


After talking awhile, the rich man asked the poor man to tell him what he sees. 


The poor man told the rich man to go over to the window and asked:

What do you see?


The rich man said:

I see men, women and children in the street. 


Then the poor man took the rich man over the mirror and asked him:

Now what do you see?


The rich man taken aback for a moment, said:

I see myself.


The poor man says:

Ah, that is the difference. Both the window and the mirror are both made out of glass. But when you look into them, you see different things. The window is just plain glass.  But the mirror is glass covered in silver. When we look through just the glass, we see others!  But when we look through the glass tainted with a coating of silver (i.e. money), we only see ourselves.


Wow! Think about it a moment. Shabbat Shalom!  😉


(Story adapted from Bishvil Ha-Ivrit)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)