January 30, 2008
Take something like a Happy Meal at McDonalds. While it might seem affordable to us today, even in todays dollars, the idea that someone would spend $3.00 a meal for the kids, when the ingredients cost 50 cents, would have been considered a luxury item. What we have done as a society is put a value on our time, and a willingness to pay someone else to add the value of preparing it. The ingredients cost 50 cents, and if you add your free labor to prepare the same meal, thats how much it will cost you (plus about 5 cents to cover the energy costs).
If, however, you do not want to spend the time to prepare the meal yourself, then you have to pay someone else to do it, and that is why we say a couple can no longer live on one income. They sure as hell can, IF they are willing to assign to the job description of a wife the same level of labor that was assigned 100 years ago.
My point is that what we define as getting by now includes luxury and non essential items. A welfare recipient once said, I cant afford a Happy Meal for my kid on the money I get. Nor should she! She is not working, so she has plenty of time to prepare the meal and save the labor costs.
That last sentence killed me.
January 10, 2008
It is a very good example of a community can overplay a historic experience to the point that it begins to repulse friends. The holocaust was the result of the warped mind of an individual who was able to influence his followers into doing something dreadful. But, it seems to me the Jews today not only want the Germans to feel guilty but the whole world must regret what happened to the Jews. The world did feel sorry for the episode but when an individual or a nation refuses to forgive and move on the regret turns into anger.
You know who else is one individual that the whole world regrets what happened to? And who gets "overplayed"? Gandhi.
What an a-hole.
January 09, 2008
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is chided for not moving legislation quickly enough through Parliament. But the very essence of a real parliament, as opposed to a rubber stamp, is gridlock. Have Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, with nothing worse to overcome than their Republican opposition, done better in their first year in the majority than Mr. Maliki, who must run a government besieged by al Qaeda and Iranian-backed militias?
From The Wall Street Journal's offices in New York City, one can look down at Ground Zero, still mostly a huge pit after more than six years during which its reconstruction, now in its umpteenth design iteration, was supposed to have been the signal proof that Americans would rebuild--better, taller, prouder.
Also across the way is the hulk of the old Deutsche Bank building, critically damaged on 9/11 and slated for destruction. In an attempt to ensure that not even trace levels of asbestos and other unpalatable elements would escape the wreck, a meticulous plan was devised to dismantle the building floor by floor, at a price exceeding that of its construction. In August a fire broke out, and two firefighters died after getting lost in the maze of internal scaffolding erected to keep the asbestos in. Those brave men lost their lives for the sake of an EPA standard, and there's been no work to speak of on the building since. It's a case of the perfect becoming the enemy--the mortal enemy--of the good.
And the rest is just as good.
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