Why Ordinary Agreements with North Korea are Destined to be Futile

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Open Doors1 noted that “Christians [in North Korea] try to hide their faith as far as possible to avoid arrest and being sent to a labor camp.”2  Given such a threatening environment for people of faith, we can conclude that attempting to solve the recent arms development problem with Kim Jong Un by negotiating routine treaties is not a high percentage strategy.  Why?  As Bishop Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979) once said:

“Can we not see that if law is divorced from morality and religion, then treaties cease to be obligatory and begin to be mere arrangements, binding only so long as they are advantageous?  Rob international justice of its roots in morality and treaties are hypothetical, not categorical; convenient tools, not honorable obligations, while law becomes an attorney’s cloak woven from the flimsy fabric of legalistic phraseology artfully placed on the shoulders of arbitrary power.”3

Perhaps this is why Ronald Reagan used the Russian proverb “trust but verify”4 in his meetings with Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev on armaments in the 1980’s.It was essential in those discussions given the forty years of the Cold War.  It may be too optimistic with North Korea given their approach to life and religious rights.

 

1 – “Open Doors USA is a non-profit organization focused on serving persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries through:  Bible & Gospel Development, Women and Children Advancement, and Christian Community Restoration.”  https://www.opendoorsusa.org/about-us/

2 – “North Korea’s War On Christianity: The Globe’s Number One Religious Persecutor,” by Doug Bandow, https://www.forbes.com/sites/dougbandow/2016/10/31/north-koreas-war-on-christianity-the-globes-number-one-religious-persecutor/#25c3033556e3, 10/31/2016.

3 – “The Quotable Fulton Sheen,” edited by George J. Marlin, Richard P. Rabatin, and John L. Swan.  Doubleday, New York, 1989.  Quote was taken from “The Divine Verdict,” New York: P. J. Kennedy and Sons, 1943.

4 – “doveryay, no proveryay” according to Google translate https://www.google.com/search?q=russian+to+english+dictionary&oq=russian+to+english&aqs=chrome.3.69i57j0l5.11111j1j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

5 – Including: “doveryai, no proveryai,” as found in http://www.usmedicine.com/editor-in-chief/doveryai-no-proveryai-trust-but-verify/, by Chester “Tip” Buckenmaier, July 2014.  His article focused on the problems with and approaches to fix the problems with VA hospitals.

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Instead of Protesting for $15/hour Fast Food Jobs, Why Not Work in Construction?

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Here’s a dual problem which could be solved simultaneously.  For starters:

“A shrinking pool of homes for sale across the country and in the Cincinnati area is pushing up prices – exacerbating an already existing affordability gap for many buyers.”1

Then why aren’t more houses being built?

“’It’s just hard to find enough construction workers today to build more,’ [Issi] Romem [chief economist at Buildzoom] said. ‘The economy has lost a lot of young workers, and the construction industry is aging much faster than other industries.  There are far fewer construction workers available today than there were before the housing boom, which hurts the push to build more.’”1

Meanwhile, we see it frequently, and especially on the coasts, a demand for a $15 per hour minimum wage – even though costs of living vary greatly across the nation. Based on data for early this year, New York and California (where much of the noise emanates from) have the fourth and second highest cost of living for the fifty states.2  Therefore, it would be insane for a $15/ hour minimum wage to be forced upon the median state, South Dakota, where $11.03 per hour would accomplish the same as $15 in California.  Based on its lowest of all costs of living, only $9.38 would be needed in Mississippi.  How many jobs would be eliminated in that state if it was required to pay 60% more for the same work?

Back to the shortage of construction workers.  “Construction workers [in New York City] earn a median hourly wage of $18.68.  Hourly wages typically start from $10.93 and go up to $41.47.”  Also, due to the erratic nature of the work, average earnings for general construction workers was $35,750 in 2014. Carpenters earned about $10,000 more and iron and steel workers $17,000 more.3

Minimum wage for fast food workers in New York City was officially raised to $12.00 at the beginning of this year… a job not intended to be a career to support a family.  It will increase annually until it reaches $15.00 by the end of 2018.

Assuming fifty weeks of forty hours, the fast food worker would earn $30,000 starting in 2019 – if jobs aren’t eliminated because of the 25% increase over two years.

Maybe the construction workers will get a nice raise, too, buy maybe not.

This is not to say that fast food isn’t difficult at times, but compared to construction?
In the end, why work really hard in temperature extremes and be subject to erratic work schedules based on the weather for $35,750 as a general construction worker4 when big government says you should receive $30,000 for mostly indoor work?  (also possible as big government forces these businesses to offer 40-hour weeks someday)

Perhaps we’ve solved the mystery of why there’s a construction worker shortage.

 

1 – “Affordability Poses Homebuyer Challenge, by Randy Tucker, Kentucky Enquirer, 7/29/2017.

2https://www.missourieconomy.org/indicators/cost_of_living/, for Ohio readers of this blog, $10.20 per hour accomplishes the same as $15.00 in California (understanding, of course, it will be higher for the urban areas and lower for rural).

3https://www.sokanu.com/careers/construction-worker/salary/New%20York/

4https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/factsheets/pdfs/p716.pdf

Time to Send Sgt. Saunders to Congress!

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Those of us born in the first half of the “Baby Boomer” generation will remember the television weekly series, “Combat!”  It was set in World War II France as the Americans fought the Germans.  Like most programs of that era, short snippets from an episode were used in brief promotions during the week.

The one which stands out featured a night battle scene where Sergeant Saunders (played by Vic Morrow) was giving instructions to an overwhelmed soldier, both covered in mud and sweat.  As the sergeant finished his orders, the soldier said, “I’ll try.”

Saunders sharp comeback was, “Don’t try, you DO IT!”  

Fast forward to 2017, where a two-plus year Republican majority in both houses of Congress has had several years to plan a strategy to deliver us from Obamacare.  The two leaders, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), seem to be rolling out more versions of doomed legislation with their apparent concern being that they can say they tried rather than they were relentless in the critical pursuit of victory.

The threats of the Axis powers then and Obamacare now are similar in their impact on daily life.  Had Germany, Italy and Japan been victorious, our freedoms that are guaranteed (not given) by the Constitution would have been scuttled.  Allow the ironically named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to continue much longer and the free enterprise medical world crashes in the U.S. when too many insurers pull out of markets and middle-America is smothered by premiums covering many more than just their own families.  Thus, the original intent of our previous President will be realized as a frantic majority will plead for “single-payer health care” (also known as socialized medicine) where big government decides what health care is given to whom.  This will complete the liberals’ process of trivializing human life to a commodity to be managed like crops and minerals – the same philosophy of the Axis leaders.

To Mr. McConnell, Mr. Ryan and the rest of the Republican controlled Congress:

“Don’t try to fix the damage caused by Obamacare, YOU DO IT!”

India Wants to Tackle Climate Change with the Risk of Increased Nuclear Power?

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A few days after President Trump announced that the U.S. would be withdrawing from the Paris agreement on climate change, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a state visit to France where he emphasized India’s continued commitment to the 2015 accord by saying “we will work and walk together with others to leave a gift for future generations.”1

The article continues to describe India’s desire to make its “Made in India” campaign realized partially through its development of nuclear power.  The nation is behind in its ability to produce nuclear power as it is still recovering from the 32-year ban the world placed on India prohibiting it from buying nuclear fuel and technology for civilian purposes.  The ban was initiated as a result of its testing a nuclear weapon in 1974.

Putting all of the political reasons and climate change theories aside, there should be one monumental question overriding everything in this issue:  Why is a densely populated country like India willing to gamble with a potentially cataclysmic accident?  Or has the world forgotten Chernobyl?

The  Distressing  Data  from  Chernobyl

April 26, 1986 Chernobyl:  The nuclear power disaster killed 30 workers at the time of the explosion or those who died within months due to radiation exposure.  The World Health Organization projects 9,000 total deaths as a result of this calamity if it parallels the results of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in 1945.  Greenpeace suggests it could go as high as 90,000.  Three hundred fifty thousand people were impacted by the initial evacuation and resettlement.About 1,000 square miles continue to be restricted areas.3  High levels of radiation are expected to make the area uninhabitable anywhere from 180 to 320 years.  Birth defects in Belarus and Ukraine near Chernobyl have been significantly higher.Cleanup of the site is scheduled for 2065.5

If  This  Happened  in  India

The nuclear power plant in Hazira is running at about 20% capacity.1  It is not India’s biggest plant, but let’s supposed a ramped up Hazira has a Chernobyl misfortune.

The city of Hazira is only 65 square miles, so we need to look at its Surat district within the state of Gujarat to compare for population density.  This district is 4,418 square kilometers in size or roughly 1,700 square miles (or close enough to use for similarity).  Its population density is 1,376 per square kilometer6  or about 3,564 people per square mile.

If this plant were to contaminate a Chernobyl-sized area of 1,000 square miles, at least 3-1/2 million people (approx. the combined populations of Chicago and San Francisco)7 would be displaced in addition to the thousands of deaths and life-changing impacts on many more in surrounding areas.  Is nuclear power really the best option for India’s in its attempt to show its resolve in addressing climate change?

 

1 – “India’s Nuclear Industry Needs a Jolt,” edited by Cristina Lindblad, Bloomberg Businessweek, 6/12-18/2017.

2 – “Chernobyl: 30 Years Later, By The Numbers,” by the Associated Press, https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2016-04-25/a-look-at-the-1986-chernobyl-nuclear-disaster-in-numbers, 4/25/2016.

3 –  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_Exclusion_Zone

4 – “Area around Chernobyl remains uninhabitable 25 years later,” by Doug Saunders, The Globe and Mail,https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/area-around-chernobyl-remains-uninhabitable-25-years-later/article4266317/, published 3/15/2011, last updated 8/23/2012.

5https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_Nuclear_Power_Plant

6https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surat_district

7 – July 1, 2014 estimated populations. https://www.infoplease.com/us/us-cities/top-50-cities-us-population-and-rank

Suddenly, Democrats are Worried About People Losing Their Lives?

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In response to the recently released Senate version of Obamacare replacement, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said:

“These cuts are blood money,” Warren said on the Senate floor. “People will die.”  More specifically, Warren added that “Senate Republicans are paying for tax cuts for the wealthy with American lives.” 1

She was a member of the Congress which implemented Obamacare – the plan which increased premiums to unfathomable heights (married couple with no children at home in Ohio with moderate coverage and high deductibles pays $1,700 per month).  The plan has absurd requirements causing insurers to leave many counties and states, thus decreasing competition (and we know what that does to prices).  This is the plan which Rep. Nancy Pelosi famously said that we would have to pass it in order to learn what’s in it, and we have regretted the result.

Sen. Warren is all up in arms about the proposed health plan which might force Congress to move public health insurance assistance from the backs of average Americans to a sensible federal plan where the burden is distributed fairly.  (This does not mean going to socialized medicine, the “single payer” program which Obamacare had in mind after it deliberately destroyed our private insurance system, a goal well on its way to realization.)

All of this outrage from a member of the party which promotes the killing of babies (59 million victims since Roe v. Wade)2   and a disciple of President Obama who, as a senator, would not vote against the horrific practice of late term abortion.

We can’t take her or the rest of the hypocritical Democrats seriously.

 

1 – “Elizabeth Warren on McConnell Bill: ‘These Cuts are Blood Money… People Will Die,’” by Tony Lee, http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/06/22/elizabeth-warren-blood-money-people-will-die/

2http://www.christianliferesources.com/article/u-s-abortion-statistics-by-year-1973-current-1042

Democrats: Don’t Wring Your Hands About Anticipated Federal Budget Cuts, but Donate As Non-Liberals Do

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Lead  In

My wife and I recently attended an info-dinner given by a nationally known financial planning company for invited clients.  Near the end of the evening, one of the attendees at our table repeatedly mentioned how improper it was for those us attending a special dinner we didn’t have to pay for when so many in the U.S. and the world were struggling to survive.  To comfort him, several of us agreed with his assertion that the world contained enough wealth to sustain the entire population, but that the problem was how to make it equitable.

He continued to wring his hands verbally about how those of us at the table, living in excess, were part the problem.  I commented that it would be a great help if our federal government would stop pushing religious groups out the adoption business, hospitals and schools because they did not subscribe to the new political correctness being enforced.  These organizations not only have done good work for centuries, but do it more economically than big government can.

His continued restrained jabs at our supposed lack of concern for the less fortunate changed our responses.  A couple of us described how we and relatives were assisting disadvantaged people through contacts in our country and the world in charitable projects to alleviate poverty.  These efforts included not just significant financial assistance, considering our modest means, but actual labor to help those in need.

Unfortunately, he was not mollified by any of this.  Finally, to my surprise, my otherwise silent wife asked him what he was doing to help others since he seemed so passionate about this subject.  After some typical liberal avoidance of the issue, he said he was promoting awareness.  But what was he actually doing to be part of the solution?  In the absence of anything specific, it was clear that he was for big government to solve these inequities.  This idea was cemented with his question after I reminded him that the success of getting the colonies to agree to a federal constitution was contingent on the assurance that states’ rights would still exist.  He then asked me how much our nation’s population had increased since then.  I correctly stated that it went from three million to 320 million.  His implication was that greater size required great government intervention.

Subsidiarity,  not  Big  Brother

The Left loves concentration of power at the top ostensibly because those of us at the lower levels are incapable.  History proves the error of this strategy because:

“… Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative.  The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity [emphasis retained], according to which ‘a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help co-ordinate its activity within the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good’… The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism.  It sets limits for state intervention… In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, neither the state nor any larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies… The family must be helped and defended by appropriate social measures.  Where families cannot fulfill their responsibilities, other social bodies have the duty of helping them and supporting the institution of the family.  Following the principle of subsidiarity, larger communities should take care not to usurp the family’s prerogatives or interfere in its life.” 1,2

How  Does  This  Relate  to  the  New  Federal  Budget?

President Trump’s federal budget proposal is expected to be released this coming Tuesday (May 23).  Included in it will be some budget cuts as the federal deficit begins to be addressed.  The safest bet is that there will be considerable howling, especially from Democrats, as a result of some decreases in funding of some social programs.

Subsidiarity teaches that this is not a crisis or necessarily inappropriate.  Much has been and should be done at the state and local level – and this includes us average citizens, not just “the government.”

Going back to the discussion at the financial planning dinner, what states’ residents are doing the most to make the world a better place through their own initiative?  According to recent data, these states were the most charitable based on income tax filing deductions (as a percentage of income) and would not reflect aid to family members and friends in need:

  • Utah 6.6%
  • Mississippi 5.0%
  • Alabama 4.8%
  • Tennessee 4,5%
  • Georgia 4.2%
  • South Carolina 4.1%
  • Idaho 4.0%
  • Oklahoma 3.9%
  • Arkansas 3.9%
  • North Carolina 3.6%

Liberal states aren’t present in this list.  Adding  to the Left’s reputation for wanting the federal government take all of the responsibility, New Hampshire was the lowest and Maine and Vermont were among the lowest.While some may believe that this is because conservatives are simply wealthier or more religious (at least true on the second part), the point is that for the 2012 election, “The top 17 states for rate of giving all went for Romney.” 4

The take away from this:  Liberals, with their willingness to spend others’ money instead of their own, may not complain about budget cuts until they match the generosity of their supposedly less informed non-liberal acquaintances.

 

1 – Taken from paragraphs 1883, 1885, 1894 and 2209 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 25th printing, November, 2013.

2 – A word about “the common good.”  It is not about majority rule or what helps the most people, but “By common good is to be understood ‘the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.’  The common good concerns the life of all… The common good consists of three essential elements:  respect for and promotion of the fundamental rights of the person; prosperity, or the development of the spiritual and temporal goods of society; the peace and security of the group and of its members.”  Ibid, from paragraphs 1906 and 1925.

3 – “Report:  Which states give the most to charity?  The ones with church-goers,” by Lindsey Bever, The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/10/06/report-which-states-give-the-most-to-charity-the-ones-with-church-goers/?utm_term=.d192b18507a9, 10/6/2014.

4 – “Who’s More Generous, Liberals or Conservatives,” by John Grgurich, The Fiscal Times, http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2014/10/17/Who-s-More-Generous-Liberals-or-Conservatives, 10/17/2014.

“America First” is a Smart Negotiation Tool, Not Selfish or an Isolationist Policy

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Strange, that liberals condone the killing of the most innocent human beings and the legitimizing of same-sex “marriage”, but freak out when President Trump says:  “America First.”

Three quick points:

A) Trump’s putting our nation’s interests first is what all nations’ leaders should do. Trump’s first responsibility is to the U.S., not Germany, Russia or Iran.  In the same way, Angela Merkel is primarily responsible to the German people, not to the E.U., China or Syria.

B) Secondly, “America First” is not a descendant of Hitler’s metastasized version of nationalism. That has already been addressed in https://cartaremi.wordpress.com/2017/01/20/trumps-patriotism-is-nothing-like-hitlers-concept-of-nationalism/.

C) Finally, “America First” is simply a solid negotiation strategy — something we haven’t seen from the Oval Office in quite a few years. Disagree?  Then check out the infamous Obama-Kerry deal with Iran.

Whom  Should  We  Trust  to  Represent  Us  With  Other  Nations?

When one is negotiating, the wise individual begins with a position which allows some losses through compromise without losing key “wants.”

It’s no different from selling a house or a car.  One doesn’t open with his “must have” price, but begins above that mark so that he has room to negotiate downward and maintain his “must have” price in the end.

What is surprising is that so many fear our nation’s negotiation future in the hands of President Trump who wrote, “The Art of the Deal.”  In it, he said:

“I don’t hold it against people that they have opposed me.”1

“My style of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward. I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after. Sometimes I settle for less than I sought, but in most cases I still end up with what I want.”

He’s determined and sticks to the issues without allowing personalities to sidetrack him.

And yet, many felt more comfortable with his predecessor who wrote these two quotes from “Dreams of My Father” and other statements.

“Churches won’t work with you, though, just out of the goodness of their hearts.  They’ll talk a good game-a sermon on Sunday, maybe, or a special offering for the homeless.  But if push comes to show, they won’t really move unless you can show them how it’ll help them pay their heating bill.”3

“I had given her a reassuring smile and patted her hand and told her not to worry, I wouldn’t do anything stupid.  It was usually an effective tactic, another one of those tricks I had learned:  People were satisfied so long as you were courteous and smiled and made no sudden moves.”4

“Because what we are confident about is that when people look and see that they can get high-quality, affordable health care for less than their cell phone bill, they’re going to sign up.” [Good thing our phone bills aren’t that high or we’d all need subsidies.]

“During his presidential campaign and subsequent battle over a health care law, Mr. Obama quieted crowds with the story of his mother’s fight with her insurer over whether her cancer was a pre-existing condition that disqualified her from coverage…. But in “A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother,” author Janny Scott quotes from correspondence from the president’s mother to assert that the 1995 dispute concerned a Cigna disability insurance policy and that her actual health insurer had apparently reimbursed most of her medical expenses without argument.” 6

Conclusion

Obama had difficulty being honest with issues confined to our homeland – no wonder he did a poor job abroad.  Trump, on the other hand, vows to look out for the needs of our entire nation.  From his style, neither our allies nor our adversaries will have to decipher what he’s up to.  In this way, we will have a chance at reasonable international agreements.  Obama won the presidency in 2008 on a promise of change.  Little did his fooled supporters realize that the beneficial change he spoke of was still eight years away!

 

1http://www.bankrate.com/finance/politics/clues-to-trump-presidency-from-the-art-of-the-deal-4.aspx

2 – “A paragraph from ‘The Art of the Deal’ gives insight about a Trump administration,” by Jacob Pramuk, http://www.cnbc.com/2016/12/01/a-paragraph-from-the-art-of-the-deal-gives-insight-about-a-trump-administration.html, 12/1/2016.

3 – “Dreams from My Father Quotes,” https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/86032-dreams-from-my-father?page=2

4 – “Dreams from My Father Quotes,” https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/86032-dreams-from-my-father?page=3

5 – “Top 10 Quotes From Bill Clinton and President Obama Chat At CGI,” by Dan Munro, http://www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2013/09/27/top-10-quotes-from-bill-clinton-and-president-obama-chat-at-cgi/#f7e13213860f, 9/27/2013.

6 – “Book Challenges Obama on Mother’s Deathbed Fight,” by Kevin Sack, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/14/us/politics/14mother.html, 7/13/2011.