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)

It’s Not Really Yours

You can’t live without money, but you can’t just live for money. 


Didn’t someone say, “Money is the root of all evil.”


Of course, it’s not money itself that is bad, but the greed for it, and the use and hoarding of it for selfish purposes. 


On this topic, my daughter sent me this interesting story:

One business tycoon in China passed away. 
His widow, was left with $1.9 billion in the bank, and married his chauffeur.
His chauffeur said: “All the while, I thought I was working for my boss… it is only now, that I realize that my boss was all the time, working for me!”

We can have all the money in the world, but it’s never really ours. 


It all belongs to G-d, as does our entire life. 


He decides what we have or don’t have (any longer). 


We need to realize that life is ephemeral and all material things are given to us just for the time being. 


We should be generous with whatever bounty that G-d has given to us, because in the end that is all that is truly lasting. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Can’t People Be Genuine

Why all the phonies, users, shysters, and scammers out there?


It starts perhaps with that big, warm smile.


Maybe a handshake and hug. 


Perhaps, you even get a kiss or two (it’s cultural, I think, LOL).


Colleagues, friends, you’re just like family.


Sometimes it’s real and you truly found something valuable in your life.


There are good people of soul and conscience out there. 


But other times it’s an act, a sham, deception, you’re the fool. 


The other person wants something–cash, control, connections.

Oh by the way, can I ask you for just a “little” favor?

You wouldn’t mind if…?

Just do XYZ for me, I got your back. 

I see you know so and so, would you introduce me?

I have a great investment opportunity for you, let me tell you all about it.

Sure it’s okay and actually wonderful in a real relationship for people to be there for each other and help each others…“that’s what [real] friends are for!”


The problem is where the friendship is only about the ask for the benefit of the other and no care for you as a person. 


Then the smile isn’t a genuine collegial or friendship one of happiness and outreach. but rather it’s upside down to get you to do something legit or illegit for the person pressing their lips up and out into that smile you already know is all about the ask. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Everyone Deserves A Day of Rest and Happiness


So someone I know came over to this country and literally has to work 7 days a week for months at a time!


They don’t want or need to work that much, but their employer insists that’s the way it is. 


On top of it, they don’t even get overtime for all the unbelievable hours they have to put in. 


One day, this person actually just broke down in incredible tears, just asking to get a single day off. 


Finally, finally, finally–the employer gave in–for just a single day!


The person was so happy–one day of freedom; one day to enjoy; one day to regain their inner beauty and humanity. 


I was so happy for them!


Every person deserves at least one day off per week. 


Every single one of the major religions in the world that is anchored in the Bible–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–have a holy Sabbath as a day of rest.


There is a divine and ancient wisdom to this. 


People need a day to rejuvenate.


Everything is nature does.


Even the fields have to lay fallow every 7th year so the earth can revitalize and replenish itself. 


There is a natural cycle to things–peaks and valleys–and we need to have some rest and relaxation–to work for something and not for nothing. 


The joy on this person to just have a day off–it was so incredible and touching. 


It spoke light years to me about treating people right–just–humanly–with compassion–and doing good over evil in this world.


What does the employer need to wring an extra days work out of their employees for the rotten greed of money and profits?  


Better to care for your people, and they will be better off for it and thus to the needs of the business and its customers. 


Care for people–they are people. 


Love people–they are G-d’s beautiful children. 


Treat others as you would like to be treated. 


Let everyone have a day of rest and something to look forward to–to enjoy, to have some happiness, to get time with their family and friends, to get back to themselves, to attain a deserved and proper peace of mind, body, and soul. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)  

The Wealth Effect

So some wealthy people are good and they use their blessings and good fortune to help others.


Yet, others think that they “have it all coming” to them, and they flaunt their money and look at others who don’t have what they do as pure trash–unworthy to occupy or breath the same universal space or air that they do. 


Visiting Palm Beach yesterday, I must say that I saw too much more of the latter than the former. 


Some people were nice, but others were incredibly arrogant. 


With my Jewish head-covering (yarmulke) and our mundane vacation wardrobe, we got more than our share of looks–with one older lady who was wearing fancy clothes and talking to another literally sneering at us with her nose raised in contempt as we passed. 


People whispered as we browsed the fancy stores where a shirt, skirt, or bag averaged around $10,000!


Even a large (over-sized) coffee table book was almost $1,000.


Yes, we did not belong there to buy anything, and were just respectfully browsing–and frankly, we are human beings too.


In the end, we were subject to some good old-fashioned racial profiling by the Palm Beach Police, who pulled us out as we were entering an Uber by the gorgeous beach and fancy schmancy Worth Avenue. 


At least 3 police cars surrounded us and took us toward one of them for questioning. 


They said to my wife that Chanel called saying a woman in a “hot pink” top and black skirt had stolen a pair of sunglasses. 


My wife doesn’t wear sunglasses!


We told them matter-of-factly that we weren’t even in that store–although we did pass by there–and my wife wasn’t wearing a skirt, but rather pants.


They looked in my wife’s knapsack that she opened and it was almost empty except for some travel items for the day. 


Then they said that the suspect that been called in had high heels, which also my wife didn’t have–so basically the description didn’t match and it didn’t make any sense why they even pulled us over.


Hey, did they bother to check the store’s surveillance tapes to see what the thief actually looked like???


So after they proceeded anyway to run my wife drivers license for any outstanding warrants–hey,  at this point might as well try for something–we finally, we got the:


Oh, so sorry for the inconvenience and have a nice day folks. 


Another officer winked at me. 


This whole thing went right along with the scene of the high-end looking Palm Beach patrol car that they have off to the side of the road immediately when you get over the bridge to their luxury island–clearly conveying the message:


Non-wealthy people not wanted here!


We are watching you!


So this is part of the land of the free and the home of the brave, but where the sickness of money pours from their narcissistic veins. 


But interestingly enough, right over the bridge going in the other direction–after you leave this island paradise–is the hospital. 


I’d bet that they probably all have nice, private rooms for these monetarily rich people, but for those that are spiritually bankrupted, I’m sure that their money doesn’t buy them what is truly important in life like health, meaning, happiness, or love. 


For the ones that are driven by corruption, greed, and arrogance–what they get is a dirty evil little soul.


And like Sodom and Gomorrah–these things usually don’t end well for them. 


If they manage to live out their stink-in rich years, I think G-d will probably send them back one day, but instead, theirs will be a story of riches to rags–so they learn their lesson and learn it well. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Heart And Soul Of The Matter

So I had a beautiful conversation with an older gentleman who works in a menial job for minimum wage for most of his life. 


But this person was shinning and smiling ear-to-ear. 


What happened, he got offered a job to work in a lovely school as their cook. 


He’s been doing this as a special treat for the students once a year, and they decided to bring him on to do this full time. 


He pulled out his phone and proudly showed me a picture of himself in the classroom surrounded by all the children.  He was in an orange sweater and stood out in the middle of all of them and with a smile that lit up the entire room. 


He told me how the children thought of him as a celebrity chef and the teacher even organized autographs by him for the children.


His whole life, he questioned his worth, and now he felt recognized, appreciated, and loved. 


I told him that I thought he was indeed quite a special person. 


He said to me, you may have a talent or be special, but you have to recognize it–and he repeated aloud again at least three times emphasizing more and more on RECOGNIZE it. 


Surely, after so many years, only now was he being recognized and more so, recognizing it himself. 


Apparently, someone who worked in the school was also a renown food critic, and she had nothing but praises to sing of him. 


Talking with him, I felt my eyes being opened. 


Everyone can do good with their lives and have worth. 


We have to recognize it in ourselves. 


We need to just be given an opportunity to show it and share it. 


It doesn’t matter what you are or earn.


It matters where your heart is.


For many, they earn gazillions, but their heart is a heart of stone. 


For others, they may earn minimum wage, but their heart is a heart of gold. 


It’s not the money, it’s not the power, it’s not the prestige…it’s the heart and soul of the matter. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)