Sunday, February 9, 2014

What's Wrong with Wealthy Politicians?

Here is a recent article which was published in the Indianapolis Star about wealthy politicians.  My comments can be found below.

My rebuttal to the article: 

A recent article in the Indianapolis Star began, “As Congress debated whether to extend unemployment benefits and geared up for a fight over raising the minimum wage, . . . , for the first time in history, a majority of members of Congress are millionaires.” The article then goes on to say that, ““Despite the fact that polls show how dissatisfied Americans are with Congress overall, there's been no change . . .”” The general tone of the article leads one to believe that the writer thinks that perhaps electing poor people to Congress would be the solution that the nation has anxiously awaited. The writer asserts that these are the only people that can afford to run expensive campaigns, and they are the only people who mix in the right circles which enable them to raise vast sums of money to get themselves in office.

While nothing which is written may be said to be untrue, I would like to disagree with the manner in which the facts are presented and perhaps with the motive of the article in general. There seems to be a growing group in the U.S. today which holds that for some reason wealth and the wealthy are inherently evil. I would like to call it the “Us and Them” philosophy. In the “Us and Them” philosophy, common people come to believe that some how because they themselves are not wealthy, then wealthy people are their enemies, wealthy people don’t understand them, wealthy people have unfair advantages, etc, etc. Of course the extension of this philosophy is likely why the article I am discussing was ever written. It cries out in angst, “Oh look! More rich people are using their money and influence to gain more money and influence so that they can take advantage of the poor to an even greater degree.” Many think that these wealthy statesmen are overwhelmed with unfair advantages and that they are out of touch with the common man and the way he lives his life. They do not think it possible that he can properly represent the populace and its ideals.

I would like to present another perspective which is very often forgotten in this discussion of “Us and Them”. First of all, we should ask how these politicians became wealthy. If they acquired their wealth by honest means, then there are only two ways they could have come by it. Either they inherited it or they worked for it. If they inherited it, then they have had to manage it properly in order to make it last. If they worked for it, then they had to manage it even more carefully and work hard to accumulate what they now have. What does the article say that these millionaire politicians are currently working on? It says, “unemployment benefits,” and “minimum wage”. Who would be better qualified to work on these two very important financial issues? Perhaps we could elect several well meaning politicians who have never had or managed any money. I wonder how well that would go. These demonized millionaires are accustomed to dealing with very large amounts of money either from having had to learn to manage their inherited wealth or from having worked hard to accumulate and protect the wealth with which their own ventures have rewarded them. Perhaps instead of criticizing them and being jealous of their advantages, we ought to be thankful that these very wealthy people are willing to share their knowledge and experience with us. They could, after all, simply stay at home and enjoy their wealth. The Constitution does not say “Us and Them”, it says “We the people”. Perhaps it is time for us to work together. If we do, then by sharing our many different advantages and gifts, “We the people” will make this nation greater than it has ever been.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Morocco: A Kaleidoscope of Cultures & Ethnicities

Since I’ve lived here in Morocco, I’ve heard many things about Morocco.  Many of them misguided and many of them quite incorrect.  When I speak of Morocco with those who have not been here, I hear a great deal about black Africans and many other things which are simply not correct.

What then is a Moroccan?  Is he an Arab?  Is he a Berber?  Are there other kinds of Moroccans?  The answer to all three questions is yes.  The ancient natives of Morocco are most commonly known as Berbers.  This is the name which was given to them by the Romans when they were on their conquest of the Mediterranean world.  It means “Barbarian”.  The label which these people give themselves however, is Amazigh (pronounced Amazeer).  It means “Free Men”.  They may be the original inhabitants of Morocco, but they are not the only inhabitants.  There were in older times, a large number of Jews here.  They came in two groups, the first group, known as the Toshavim came to Morocco when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and destroyed Herod’s temple in 70 A.D.  The second group known as the Megorashim came from Spain when Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Muslims and Jews from Andalousia (southern Spain) in the 15th century.  Of course there is also a large contingent of Arabs here.  They are really the majority now, having come to Morocco in the 10th century with Moulay Idriss I. 

What languages are spoken here?  There are three Amazigh dialects which are spoken in this country, in addition to Arabic and the French which was brought to this country when it was a French colony under the Protectorate.  

Morocco has been colonized many times throughout its history.  The Romans were here although they did not control a great deal of territory.  They were followed by the Arabs and then various parts of the country were colonized by the French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Great Britain.  The result is that there is not one singular “Moroccan Culture” but rather the culture is like a vessel of fine crystal which shows various colors and aspects as the light shines through it.  If one will search, one can find not only mosques, but synagogues, and churches.  One can find various languages spoken depending upon the region.  Arabic, French, and Spanish are common and even though Arabic is the official language of the country, I have known Amazigh persons who speak Amazigh and know little Arabic at all.  Morocco is beautiful and it is diverse.  The Moroccan culture is a conglomeration of many cultures and is influenced by many different ethnic and religious groups.  Those who have not seen it, must see it.  It is difficult to fathom without having visited it.  It is like a great work of art.  One can attempt to describe it, but words are nothing compared to actually seeing and experiencing it.    

Jillali (جيلالي)  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Moroccan Judaism: A Culture in Danger?

I have recently written this review of a documentary which Youness Abeddour produced.  The documentary is very informative and professionally executed.  You may read my review here:

Jillali (جيلالي)