Escaping the Shadow of the Burqa

Merry Christmas world!

It’s been ages since I had the liberty to write on this blog. The Christmas season finally found me both the freedom and time to gather my thoughts and get it on paper.

Speaking of freedom, I stumbled upon this thought provoking documentary about Afghanistan, post Taliban era which reminded me that there are still people who do not enjoy such a privilege even if it has already been given them.

For the longest time, it seems Afghanistan culture fed the belief that women need to be protected to such an extreme that they should not allow their faces to be seen by strangers. Such protectiveness would have been flattering, had it not it been complemented by the tradition of forcing women into marriage, forcing women to submit to the dictates of close minded husbands, and, in the worst case scenario, forcing a woman into a marriage to a man willing to pay the family to own his bride.

The burqa. The cage within a veil that has been the instrument to limit women’s freedom to see and be seen. It’s no longer required, but a lot of Afghan men apparently still strongly believe their wives and sisters should wear it. They invoke the Koran as the basis for their opinion, none having the specific knowledge as to which passage justifies such oppression.

And speaking of oppression, this documentary shows its not just the women who were oppressed. The men continue to be oppressed by a culture that has not adapted to the fall of the Taliban. It looks like the Afghan people in general make fun of men who can’t pressure their female relatives to hide their faces behind the burqa. Absurd? I think so too.

A long established culture and it’s consequences won’t change over night. I hope the Afghan women make the most of their new found freedom, and not allow themselves to be shoved back in to the shadows.

Reference:

Does the Law of Attraction really work?

More than a decade ago, this movie titled The Secret came out. One of the speakers there was Esther Hicks who has this other persona she introduced to the public as Abraham Hicks. The movie and the seminars where Abraham speaks through Esther have a central theme: the law of attraction.

The message of the law simply put is this: you get what you predominantly think about. Think thoughts that make you happy, you feel happy. Then your life draws more and more circumstances that make you happy. Then the law states that the opposite is also true: predominant thoughts of what does not make you happy brings you more of that too.

It sounded so simple the devil’s advocate in me just had to ask if it really works. Does focusing on the positive really work or is it just blind optimism that will disappoint naive believers in the end?

I tested it for the last few months and what I realized is this: the law of attraction is not a quick fix. You will be disappointed if you practice the law with the expectation that miracles will happen overnight.

Here’s another realization: years of negative thinking won’t change overnight. The essence of Abraham Hicks’ seminars is taking control of what you think and guiding it in the direction where you feel good. Admittedly, I struggled to grasp this one. It was so difficult to catch a negative thought when it arises that it was difficult to also stop it in its tracks – that’s how natural negative thinking had become. For some, it has become part of our system that you can’t distinguish a negative thought from any other thought.

So going back to the question: does the law of attraction really work? Well, I didn’t lose anything for focusing on the positive. I was in a better mood and I got along better with people.

…and is negative thinking really responsible for all the bad things that happen to people? One thing is for sure: it does nothing to improve situation.

In the end, we need to decide: would you rather think positive thoughts which may or may not improve your situation, or think negative thoughts which definitely will not help in any way? Yeah, tough call.

References:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Secret_(2006_film)

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TWO-FACED PEOPLE

Two faced people are those actors and actresses of the human race who will show one face to a particular audience, and another face to another audience. The problem their audience have to deal with is they don’t know which face is real. It is a problem because, in real life, interacting with other human beings isn’t a theater act. Gossip and backstabbing have real consequences to the emotions and reputations of people.

But, before we judge, let us aim to understand. Why are some people two faced? One of the possible reasons is to keep friendship options open. A person may not like another person but doesn’t have anyone else at the moment. The two faced monster reveals itself when a third person comes along more suited to the monster’s personality and the old friend becomes expendable. I guess another way to put it is this: some people finish high school, and even graduate from college, and still manage never to grow up.

Another reason is an acquired aversion against confrontation and aggression. This is particularly true among many Asian cultures where confrontation is frowned upon and aggression is discouraged. Children are taught early in life to just ‘grin and bear it.’ Of course, by the time these children become adults, they are just about suffocating from the grinning mask they’ve had on for so long that they need an outlet. But as they’ve been reared to believe that confrontation and aggression is wrong, the outlet becomes talking behind other peoples’ backs.

I learned early in life that two-faced people exist. I’ve learned that the best way to deal with them is to acknowledge such existence and keep in mind that every person is capable of showing one face to me, and another face to everyone else. Given this mindset, I face every person with a combination of friendliness and caution.

Paranoid? You could say that. Its better than beating yourself up wondering who your friends really are. Its better to just enjoy people while they’re there, and accept their absence when they’re gone…and never give too much of yourself either way.

References:

http://nell-rose.hubpages.com/hub/The-Real-Person-Behind-The-Smile-A-Look-At-Why-People-Are-Two-Faced

http://www.experienceproject.com/question-answer/Is-There-Any-Good-Reason-For-Someone-Being-Two-faced–Anyone-Know-The-Psychology-Behind-It/435580

https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070522222734AA2ctWk

http://www.splitcoaststampers.com/forums/family-matters-f64/how-do-you-deal-two-faced-family-members-t294466.html

How Did You Do It, Truett?: a book on business ethics

I. Truett’s Story:

My favorite among Truett’s stories is the one about opening new stores and franchising his company. He would only allow 1 operator per Chick-Fil-A branch to make sure they were available to manage the business 24/7. He also required someone who was integrated with the community. The reason I liked this story so much is because I think it is very relevant to today’s business environment. Given the current financial crisis, multitasking as a means of cost cutting has become the trend. Consequently, managers end up spreading themselves too thin, sometimes at the expense of business operations. I also liked the fact that Truett recognized the need for integration into a community. With regard to being responsible for a new franchise, it’s difficult to tailor a store to fit a new place without knowing anything about the place. Every store has to fit in with the people it will be catering to, otherwise it’s not going to have too many customers.

This story contributed to his success as a CEO in the sense that he did not try to do too many things at the same time. Every aspect of his job always got his undivided attention at a particular time. I think this value of integration into a community is manifested in his attitude of listening to people and giving them what they want, which was reflected in the earlier part of the book.

Of all the advice Truett gives, I don’t think there is any better advice than the Golden Rule itself. This really hit home with the fact that Chikc-Fil-A is closed on Sundays and the employees are not required to work. Many companies today close on a Sunday for religious reasons but require their employees to report for that day. I think this advice will always be applicable to remind me to be considerate of other people and to respect them as I would respect myself. If there is some dirty job I want done but don’t want to do, most likely neither will anyone I pass it on to. This advice is definitely applicable when we are tempted to blame other people for whatever goes wrong be it at work, school or home without considering what we did wrong. This advice is about empathizing with our fellowmen and trying to understand how we would feel if we were put in a situation we don’t want to be in.

II. Chick-Fil-A’s Success Story:

Chick-Fil-A has a policy of offering free meals which goes a long way. Again, I cannot help but point out the financial crisis and how this kind of value added service can help customers and clients. This definitely makes Chick-Fil-A stand out amidst the other restaurants which are either downsizing their people or their servings. I see no reason why Chick-Fil-A customers and clients would opt to go anywhere else when they see how well they are treated by this 1 company.

This company is successful mainly because of the personal relationship that Truett managed to build with his operators. He respects opinions, he engages in dialogues to arrive at the right decision for the whole company. This attitude of making his leaders feel involved and important is what keeps them around in the long term.

Truett also believed in luck but was not sidetracked into believing that this was going to be the be all and end all of his success. In other words, he believes in luck. And he found that the harder he works, the luckier he gets. Hard work matters and this was evident from the way Chick-Fil-A upholds quality and cleanliness in their products. Last but not the least, Truett trusted in a higher power to show him the way. He was not arrogant enough to believe that he alone was the reason for his success. He kept Chick-Fil-A closed on Sundays to make sure everyone acknowledged the presence of God.

Chick-Fil-A is definitely an ethical company. I will never forget these lines: there is no such thing as business ethics, there is just personal ethics. Business ethics are just a reflection of your personal ethics. I think what makes Chick-Fil-A an ethical company is the very strict selection when it comes to managers and employees. People are hired based on their ‘servant leadership’ and willingness to treat others with the highest respect possible. Cathy emphasized the value of going the second mile, going above and beyond expectations, and serving from the heart. Ethics start from the top and it starts from the people who have it. A company cannot expect it’s people to behave ethically if they don’t have a good example to look up to.

Chick-Fil-A established relationships with customers and clients by finding out what they like. There was a portion of the book which explains how nuggets came to be a part of the menu and not just part of the party platter – because Truett talked to customers and found out that this is what they wanted. Conducting informal interviews and surveys is a way of researching to gather data. At the same time, letting a customer know that a company is interested in learning about their demands so these demands can be satisfied creates the long term connection that relationship marketing aims for.

III. Conclusion:

It was a beautiful book. I would recommend it to any entrepreneur who believes that he can claim to be an ethical person while pulling all sorts of stunts to evade liability to employees, customers and even the law. This book is a reminder that a business is a juridical person composed of real persons.

A juridical person has no soul but the real persons composing it have. What makes this book so appealing is it’s far reaching implications. While it was intended to be for business people, it has stories which apply to ordinary people as well. It teaches ordinary people the value of hard work, faith, and believing in what other people have to offer. If there is any criticism I can offer for this book, it is the lack of depth on public relations and management tactics. Again, it is intended for business people, and I think it would have helped them more if Cathy gave specific tactics on how to lead people within the world of restaurants and headquarters.

A TRIBUTE TO ARTEMIS

I. Introduction

This research goes into an in depth account about the enigmatic nature of the goddess Artemis. It starts by creating an idea of who Artemis is and the following pages are manifestations of the deeds of Artemis, the other gods and goddesses who crossed her path, and the role she plays in the lives of mortals. The aim of this paper is to get to know the goddess and create an understanding of her contributions to Greek mythology.

II. Identity of Artemis

Artemis is one of the most highly worshiped of the Greek deities. She appeals to both men and women. This is because not only is she the goddess of hunting, wild animals and nature, but also childbirth, and the protector of young girls. She is the patron of good health and recovery from diseases.

However, she is also the advocate of sudden death and diseases to women and girls. Her curse can either include plagues, stunted growth, death during childbirth or stillborn infants (“Artemis: general information”).

Artemis is often portrayed as a girl dressed in a short, knee length chiton, flat-heeled sandals and carrying a hunting bow and a bag of arrows. Her identity is associated with wild animals like the bear, the boar, the goat and dogs. As the goddess of hunting, she is also associated with death (Coffey, 1998).

Lastly, Artemis is associated with the crescent moon, sometimes found on her head. She is a chaste goddess and her followers take vows of chastity while in her service (Coffey, 1998).

III. Birth and attributes of Artemis

1. Birth
Leto had an affair with Zeus, this being the reason Hera hounded her all over the earth. In her quest to escape Hera, she traveled all over the world. But no earth, sky or water would accommodate her despite her pangs of labor. Finally, she reached Delos which took pity on her. This is where she gave birth to Artemis. Artemis then helped her give birth to Apollo (“Birth of Artemis”)

On the same coast as Delos, is Ortygia, a paradise of trees. Leto is said to have rested by an olive tree after giving birth. Above Ortygia is the Mount Solmissos where the Spirits of Kouretes hid themselves.

They frightened Hera away while she was spying on Leto. They also helped Leto hide the birth of Artemis and Apollo from Hera (“Birth of Artemis”)

2. Other names
a. Diana – this is the name of Artemis in Roman mythology. She has the same characteristics as Artemis.

b. Selene – the Romans then associated Diana with Selene, the Greek Goddess of the Moon (known as Luna in Roman mythology). But unlike Diana and Artemis, Selene was not known for her chastity. She sired Zeus 3 daughters, and was seduced by Pan in exchange for fleece (“Artemis identified with Selene the Moon”) .

3. Symbolic associations

a. Bow and arrows
When Artemis was 3 years old, Leto brought her to Hephaistos, the god of fire, and the one eyed giant Kyklops Brontes took her on his knees. The story goes that she pulled the hair out of his chest and the middle part of his chest remained hairless ever since.

Hephaistos gave Artemis a gift in the form of a Kydonian bow and arrows. He said that if he were to hunt, Kyklops will just end up eating his prey (“Childhood of Artemis”).

While the arrows given by Hephaistos were intended for hunting, they served other purposes as well. Artemis was also given the power to infect people with plagues, or punish them for doing her wrong.

Her association with childbirth equated to her ability to use the arrows to relieve women in labor (Coffey, 1998) .

b. Kerynitian hind
The Kerynitian Hinds were deer, larger than bulls, with golden horns. There were 5 of them, 4 of which were taken by Artemis to draw her carriage. Hera caused one of them to escape over the river Keladon, as she was planning to assign Heracles to catch it as part of his 12 labors from Eurystheus (“Childhood of Artemis”).

Heracles, in his quest for one of the Kerynitian hind, spent a whole year in hot pursuit. The animal finally rested on Mount Artemision and crossed the Ladon River. While it was crossing, Heracles attempted to hit it with an arrow. But Artemis was watching, grabbed the hind, and scolded Heracles for attempting to kill the animal which she considered sacred. Heracles explained that he was acting under the orders of Eurystheus. This pacified Artemis (“Childhood of Artemis”).

c. Hunting-pack
The bearded god Pan gave Artemis 2 black and white dogs, 2 reddish and 1 spotted which were capable of bringing down lions and bringing them back alive. He also gave her 7 Kynosourian which could run faster than the wind. These were of the Arkadian breed, which were known for their ability to catch fawns and hares, to mark the lair of the stag and the porcupine’s burrow, and to lead up to the track of the gazelle (“Childhood of Artemis”).

d. Other symbolic associations
Like her twin brother Apollo, Artemis also had some association with music with her depictions holding a lyre. In other accounts, she is said to be identified with holding a torch while wearing an animal pelt .

IV. Wrath and love of Artemis

1. Orion
Orion was a giant who had the power to walk across the sea. He was taken by Eos, who fell in love with him, to Delos. Here he was killed by Artemis for challenging her to a discus match. But there is another story that says he was shot by her because he was harassing Opis, a virgin from the Hyperboreans. And still, another story goes that he was killed because he attempted to rape Artemis (“Artemis wrath: gigante Orion”)

Contradictory to the last account, another story goes that Artemis fell in love with Orion and this made her twin brother Apollo jealous. While Artemis and Apollo were hunting in Crete, Apollo saw Orion swimming from a distance. Knowing that it was Orion, Apollo challenged his sister to hit the swimming object with her arrow. Artemis ended up hitting Orion on the temple. To make amends for killing him, she raised him up into the sky, now known as the constellation Orion (Coffey, 1998).

Another story that accounts for the death of Orion says that it was the earth goddess Gaea whom he angered. He claimed that he could hunt down all the animals of the earth, so the earth goddess sent a scorpion to poison him (“A small selection of heros, kings and villains”)

2. Agamemnon
The expedition for Troy was in progress. During the chase, Agamemnon shot a stag and boasted that even Artemis could not do what he did. This claim infuriated Artemis and she sent stormy winds so the expedition could not continue. The fortune teller Kalkhas told them about the anger of Artemis and instructed them to sacrifice Iphigenia, the most beautiful of Agamemnon’s daughters, to Artemis. But at the sacrificial altar, Artemis replaced Iphigenia with a deer, and transported the girl to the Taurians where she was set up as her own priestess (“Artemis and the Trojan War”)

3. Actaeon
Artemis was bathing with her nymphs in the woods one day. A hunter named Actaeon was wandering around the same woods after a long day of hunting, and accidentally stumbled upon Artemis in the nude. Artemis was afraid he was going to boast about seeing her naked. As she did not have any arrows with her, she splashed him with water. This transformed Actaeon into a stag and he ran away. His own pack of dogs caught up with him and ate him ( Coffey, 1998).

4. Callisto
Callisto was the daughter of Lycaon, the ruler of Arcadia. She was an avid hunter and adored Artemis. Artemis loved her back greatly because of their similarities. But Callisto got pregnant with Zeus’ child.

When Artemis discovered that she had surrendered her virginity and betrayed her trust, she turned her feminine features into that of a bear. Another story goes that Zeus transformed himself into Artemis, helped Callisto in her hunt, and embraced her when they were out of vicinity. This is how she ended up pregnant and, when questioned by Artemis, claimed it was the Goddess’ fault. The second story ends the same way – Callisto is given the features of a bear (“Artemis: general information”).

V. Worship of Artemis

1. Temple of Artemis
The Temple of Artemis was built in Ephesus, now known sa Selcuk, Turkey. It was rebuilt 3 times before it’s permanent destruction in 401 B.C. by St. John Chrysostom, archbishop of Ephesus. The same archbishop led a Christian mob to destroy the temple. But the foundations and sculptural fragments of the last version are still at the site (“Temple of Artemis”).

But Artemis was widely worshiped in anceint Greece and she had a number of other shirnes and temples in the countryside. She had a cult that spread in the southern and eastern regions of the Peloponnese. Her most popular shirnes were the bear-Goddes of Bauron in Attika, and the Lakedaimonian shrine (“Athena cult”).

While Artemis is known to be the protector of women, worship of Artemis was not limited to women. Some men were said to take vows of chastity under Artemis. Her priests voluntarily castrated themselves to be in her service (Coffey, 1998).

Hunters also made sacrifices to her. A story goes that when a hunter had a successful hunting venture, he would hang the skin and horns of his prey on a tree or pillar as a display of gratitude to Artemis (Coffey, 1998).

2. Athenian Festivals
There are at least 2 known celebrations dedicated to Artemis. One is the Suidas s.v. Artemision which is celebrated in the month of May for Macedonians. Then there is Suidas s.v. Mounykhion wherein the Athenians offer a sacrifice to the goddess on the tenth month (“Artemis cult”)

3. Rituals
a. Act the bear
Artemis was the protector of girls aged 9 and above. These children are said to be newly released from their mother’s control but not yet at the Aphrodite stage. At Ancient Greek festivals, these young girls would wear bear skins and play ‘acting the bear.’ This play consisted of dancing, gesturing and growling like a bear. This was for the purpose of realizing the physical sense of the body, but not yet the sexual or maternal sense. This ritual marks the last chance in a girl’s life where she gets to play and have fun before venturing into the Aphrodite stage (Coffey, 1998)

b. Aphrodite stage preparation
The night before the marriage ceremony, young women sacrificed tunics, toys, dolls and other childhood possessions to Artemis as a way of bidding farewell to youth. A story goes that these young women want to please Artemis so she will make childbirth easy for them (Coffey, 1998).

VI. Conclusion

As the preceding accounts indicate, Artemis was a strong woman. Her strength most prominently displayed itself in the defense of women who were under attack. Needless to say, she also used her strength to defend herself and to bring the people who offended her to their knees.

While Artemis is a goddess, she also manifests male characteristics by being the goddess of hunting and being associated with the bow and arrow. While she was generally a doer of good, the above research indicates the chaos she is capable of reaping should she be angered or taken for granted.

References:

Coffey, Melissa.”Artemis.” Images of Women in Ancient Art 1998. retrieved April 4, 2011 from: http://www.arthistory.sbc.edu/imageswomen/papers/coffeyartemis/artemis.html

“Selene, Greek Goddess of the Moon: Artemis-Diana in Greek mythology.” The Astrology Reading of a lifetime in a handmade, personalized fine art book. (n.d.) retrieved April 4, 2011 from: http://www.myastrologybook.com/Artemis-Diana-Selene-Phoebe-Luna-Hecate.htm

“Artemis pages” Theoi Greek Mythology (n.d.) retrieved April 4, 2011 from: http://www.theoi.com/

“Temple of Artemis.” Wikepedia the Free Encyclopedia. (n.d.) retrieved April 4, 2011 from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_of_Artemis

PETIT V. THE CITY OF CHICAGO, another case of racial discrimination

The legal issue in this case is whether or not the tests conducted by the Chicago Police Department (or CPD) for promotion to the rank of sergeant violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The court ruled that there was no violation of the Equal Protection clause. Even though the court acknowledged that the process of developing the test was created from data that reflected the views of white sergeants, the court also took into account that the raw scores of the tests were standardized based on race. This standardization eliminated whatever possible advantage the white exam takers had over the minority exam takers.

Based on the testimony of Professor Samuel Walker about the lack of trust and the belief on police misconduct that was rampant among the minority group, the court concluded that the CPD needed a racially diverse police force. The compelling interest this would fulfill is the public trust and confidence which would follow if the police force had people of the same race as the minority groups. This public trust and confidence would further equate to greater cooperation in solving crimes which would make the police’s job easier.

The court used the requirements set by the Grutter case as their basis. According to that case, some form of discrimination is justified if there is a compelling state interest that justifies it.

Again, going back to the testimony of Professor Walker, the need for minorities in the police force was necessary to earn the trust, confidence and cooperation of the diverse city. More specifically, the need for minorities within the rank of sergeant was necessary as this rank of officers were in the position to influence people in the streets thereby improving cooperation within and outside the police force.

Another requirement of the said case was the need for the limitation of time. The tests in question were not used after 1991 nor have any race related promotions been made.

I both agree and disagree with the decision in this case. I agree with the decision to the extent that there is neither a compelling argument nor evidence of discrimination. The fact that the test was based on data reflecting the views of white sergeants does not amount to discrimination if the knowledge being tested is something all patrol officers should know regardless of their race.

However, from what I understand of the Equal Protection clause, all persons who are similarly situated must be similarly protected. Any discrimination must be based on a clear distinction to justify such discrimination. What the court failed to look into is why there were only 3 races being identified – whites, blacks and Hispanics, with everyone else in between being counted as white. In the end, 298 of the 402 promoted candidates were said to be white. But what remains a question is how many of them were actually white and, if a different race was thrown into that number, will it then not prejudice the number of white people actually promoted?

ECONOMICS IN 1 LESSON

Introduction
The difference between good and bad economics is that bad economics focuses on short term benefits and ignores long term consequences. The reason that this has continued to prevail is because bad economist are better at defending their errors than good economists are at convincing the public of the truth. This fact is further aggravated because the public is easily dissuaded from listening to the long, important but downright boring arguments which consist of the truth, thereby making it easier for the bad economists to get them to simply assume that the policies being laid before them is to their advantage. Perhaps, in the short term, this is true. And, also perhaps, there are also benefits in the long term. But what the public fails to see is that the benefit is only for one group at the expense of everyone else. Below are the fallacies that the public has been made to swallow and the truth behind such fallacies.

The role of government in public works and taxation
Public works and taxation are just two of the many examples of bad economics. People are convinced to fund the construction of public works under the notion that it will make their lives more convenient, along with other benefits. People are convinced to pay taxes under the notion that their money will be used for the development of their welfare, their protection, along with other benefits. But what is not pointed out to the public is the freedom they would have had to dispose off their income as they see fit, had the government not compelled them to shell out the amount for its own projects.

The role of government in lending and the overlap on taxation
Private lenders are more stringent in their lending policies and, consequently, have to turn down some high risk borrowers. This is where the government comes in. The government is willing to lend these borrowers the money they need for capital to carry out their businesses. These borrowers will then be able to acquire the resources they need to produce what they need. What is overlooked at this point is the fact that, because these high risk borrowers were able to get what could have been acquired by low risk borrowers from private lenders, the resources ended up in the hands of less efficient producers who may not be as productive as the producers who qualified for private lending. Furthermore, the money being lent by the government came from none other than taxpayers’ money. In effect, they are lending to people private lenders would not – another example of a practice to the benefit of a few at the expense of everyone else.

The synergy of technology, production and employment
Many labor unions exist to argue against the need for self sufficient machines as this is a threat to employment. What this argument ignores is that these machines are the results of technological advancements that have made lives easier for the majority and has made production more efficient. This higher production in turn has contributed to higher wages and standards of living – the economic goal of any country. This argument overlooks the fact that full production equates to full employment in the sense that everyone has something to do within the time they are employed. It further overlooks the fact that there are many people within the government who are fully employed without being fully productive.

The role of tariffs in industries
Tariffs are intended to protect local industries by discouraging importation of goods. But importation of goods is necessary for other countries to have the money to buy the goods produced by local industries. But, on another note, tariffs do protect a country’s net balance. This net balance remains stagnant and so do the employment, wages and standards of living of the people working in local industries – the people sought to be protected by tariffs.

The misuse of bailouts and the selfish expansion of industries:
Bailouts are necessary to save some dying industries. In the process, the resources that could have been used to further develop thriving industries are being allotted to those industries which won’t be able to attract investors anyway.

Another factor that hampers the growth of industries is the priority given to 1 industry while ignoring the development of others. This priority is created by businessmen who decide by looking at what will reap the most profit for them, and abandoning industries which wail to meet this requirement even when they leave behind customers who are unsatisfied with what they have paid for.

The domino effect of price fixing and control
Governments intervene and impose a maximum price for goods, under the pretext that such intervention is temporary, and necessary for the rehabilitation of some industries. The effect of this is greater demand but not a greater supply due to lack of capital. If demand for a certain product cannot be met, the public will start turning to substitutes. It will only be a matter of time until these substitutes will be pressured to produce more due to increased demand, and the government will find another excuse to intervene and fix their prices too. As government intervention widens, so will the rationing of wages, labor and raw material. The end of the line is an entire economy at the mercy of the government. Price fixing and control should be nipped in the bud so both sellers and buyers can be free to negotiate and compete on the amount one is willing to sell at and the amount the other is in a position to pay for.

Pressures imposed on minimum wages
There are two forces pushing minimum wages – legislation and labor unions. But both these forces ignore the fact that they cannot impose a price for labor that employers cannot pay for. The driving force for wages is production and employers cannot afford to pay for labor that does not produce. Even if employers were to succumb to the pressure of law and unions, they will end up sacrificing the development of the business which, in the end, will equate to the lack of growth in the labor industry. Legislation imposing minimum wages and labor unions operate under the presumption that there are limited resources which need to be shared. This presumption ignores the fact that the amount of production which drives one industry creates a demand for the production of another industry. If this fact were able to operate unabated, there would not be a need to force industries to give what they cannot afford because then they will be able to well afford beyond the minimum wage.

Determining factor for profit
The lack of a free market kills profits because there is no chance of negotiation for wages, costs and prices. At the same time, commodities of the same nature need to be sold at similar prices otherwise they will not find buyers. In the end, the seller who profits the most is the one with the lowest cost of production.

Inflation in black and white
Inflation results from the printing of more money than there are commodities available for purchase. Inflation is used to justify the need to expand industries and provide full employment. The obvious consequence is the increase in prices due to a lack of commodities. The people who are spared from this brunt are those who succeed in convincing their employees they need a raise, while those who fail at this task need to bear with lower wages as a consequence of higher costs. But no consumer really benefits since the people with the higher wages also end up paying just as much as the people with the same wages. The benefit are for the hoarders of currencies and stocks who hold such goods until they can exchange or sell them for the most favorable prices.

Why saving is good
Saving is discouraged because of its adverse effect on the demand for the goods produced by industries. What this argument ignores is that what people do not consume goes into buying capital goods. Savings is also the demand for more capital. On this note, there is an assumption that the amount of needed capital has a ceiling. The truth is that standards for countries and businesses continue to increase. And, so long as there are countries and businesses which are not as technologically advanced as their neighbors and competitors, more capital will always be a necessity.

Conclusion
As implied in the earlier part of this paper, these fallacies arose due to the failure to consider long term consequences of decisions made. What is recommended now is a need to thoroughly examine and debate proposed economic decisions before they are implemented. There is a need to revive the dying free economy. It is dying because it is being choked off by too much government interventionism. Yet, the necessity for some form of interventionism cannot be ignored without repeating the chaos that Wall Street experienced in late 2008. Governments need to learn from the mistakes of history and open their eyes to these fallacies.

Today, inflation continued to be at an all time high, the minimum wage battle continues, and governments continue to provide welfare support for all at the expense of the few.

The challenge for governments is in one word – balance. They need to intervene just enough to make sure that the rights and interests of the majority are protected, and at the same time allow enough freedom to make sure that investors are not being discouraged to put their money in industries due to controlled earning potential.

A SKEPTIC’S VIEW ON PAST LIFE REGRESSION

Past life regression is the journey back to one’s past life through the vehicle of hypnosis. This is a method resorted to by some psychologists based on the premise that a patient’s current problems may be stemming from unresolved issues from their so-called past lives. Under the presumption that past lives do exist, past life regression is not part of any medical training because of the danger that memories from such a past may get confused with memories from the present, leaving a patient unable to distinguish between the two. From a Christian point of view which advocates that every human being has a life purpose, past life regression is also frowned upon because of the possibility that an unfulfilled purpose from a past life may resurface in a person’s present life which may have a different purpose.

Do people actually have a past life to journey back to in the first place? The success of such a journey requires a belief in the non-Christian principle of reincarnation. The existence of a past life has not been convincingly supported. People have memories that creep up during hypnosis. But experts have reasoned that such memories can be built from reading about history and other means of acquiring knowledge, and not necessarily a past life crawling out from the subconscious grave. The details given by voyagers into their past lives are either inaccurate or lacking in common knowledge to be convincing.

At this point, its too soon to believe that past lives exist. But its not too soon to believe in the dangers of unguided hypnosis. The human mind is just too complex to understand, and delving too deep into the subconscious has had its consequences.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Past_life_regression

http://www.catholic.org/diocese/diocese_story.php?id=25480

http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/8943/the-dangers-of-hypnotic-regression

Auditors abandon investors on liability limits

The aim of this article is to inform the reader of the legal developments which impact the liability of auditors within and outside the U.S.; to understand the rationale for changes in accounting practices; and to understand the consequences of allowing private anti-fraud claims.

In the 2010 case of Morrison vs. National Australia Bank, the U.S. Supreme Court limited the extraterritorial powers of the Security and Exchange Commission. This led to the dismissal of many important claims against member firms outside the U.S. Then comes along the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Auditors oppose the Dodd-Frank act, which threatens to allow the United States and the S.E.C. to initiate claims on securities fraud taking place outside U.S. territory. The same act has authorized the S.E.C. to determine whether or not, and to what extent, private persons should be allowed to make such claims. The intent of the act is to protect investors and the integrity of the U.S. market from the security transactions conducted beyond the borders.

However, auditors oppose the steps of the Dodd-Frank act on the following grounds:
There is no need to expose the non U.S. counterparts of accounting firms to U.S. private litigation. The former are under the extensive control of the accounting firms in the home country, and below par auditing is easily detected and punished. There is no evidence of any negligence to justify the need for private liability.

The U.S. stands to supersede the policies and regulative measures being imposed by other countries by extending a private right of action under U.S. law. This is a threat to jurisdiction which could affect cross border cooperation.

Extraterritorial private law suits can discourage investors because of increased costs and a greater need for auditing services. This could further lead to decreased competition in the market.

Furthermore, auditors argue that litigation in catastrophic proportions could be avoided if the following conditions were to be met:
The S.E.C. needs to be more vigilant and needs to bring charges against auditing firms and their partners upon acquiring knowledge of auditing and abetting frauds.
The U.S. auditing firms and their non U.S. counterparts must disclose the amount of litigation they are being subjected to, as well as their funds, and sources of funds, to cover such litigation.

The arguments posed by the auditors were branded to be selfish; that such arguments were intended to protect themselves and not the interest of public company shareholders. But after everything is said and done the main issues remain: who should be liable for audit failures and how to run after them. In conclusion, it seems the only point of agreement is that the lack of regulation and enforcement cannot continue without expensive consequences.

Reference:

Mckenna, F. (2011). Auditors Abandon Investors On Liability Limits retrieved March 12, 2011 from http://blogs.forbes.com/francinemckenna/2011/03/10/auditors-abandon-investors-on-liability-limits/

DESHANEY VS. WINNEBAGO: A DECISION WORTH REVISITING

More than 2 decades ago a question was disposed off in the case of DeShaney vs. Winnebago, on whether or not the state should be held liable for the permanent disability suffered by Joshua DeShaney due to the failure of the Department of Social Services (or DSS) to remove him from his father’s custody despite repeated observations of abuse.

The court ruled that the state was not liable on 3 grounds:
1. In the first place, the state is under no obligation to provide adequate protective services to its citizens;
2. There is no affirmative duty to protect in this case that was established at par with our previous rulings, wherein it was shown that such duty arises when it is the state which deprived its citizens with the liberty to protect themselves;
3. Not all cases of torts give rise to an affirmative duty to protect (a review of the case will show that the court failed to clarify exactly when torts cases equate to an affirmative duty to protect).

The case should be reopened on at least 4 grounds:
1. To claim that the state is under no obligation to provide adequate protective services to its citizens is a violation of, not due process, but the equal protection clause. This angle was dismissed because it was not raised in this case.
But the 5th Circuit of the Court of Appeals made a ruling on this point to the effect that it should not be used as an end-run around the DeShaney principle that the constitutional right to state protection does not cover acts carried out by a private actor (Conservapedia the Trustworthy Encyclopedia, 2008). This ruling implies that the lower court was put on notice on the substance of the issue on equal protection. Based on the ruling in Nelson v. Adams (99-502) 529 U.S. 460 (2000), this is sufficient preservation of a potential ground to be decided in higher courts.

Implicit from the present ruling, the state is only obliged to protect its citizens when it is the state imposing a limitation on freedom to protect one’s self before the obligation to protect arises. But the question that needs to be addressed is whether such qualifying circumstance exists in the constitutional definition of equal protection which simply states: no State shall…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws (14th Amendment, United States Constitution). Will ignoring this other clause of the constitution not defeat the ends of justice?

2. The cases sited to support the state obligation to provide protection are not on all fours with this case. As a matter of fact, the sited cases ignore 1 crucial point: Joshua DeShaney was a child in the custody of an abusive father. The situation cannot be compared to that of a prisoner in Estelle vs. Gamble or a mental patient in Youngberg vs. Romeo who are deprived of their liberty to protect themselves therefore the state has the obligation to protect them. What these cases are justifying is the state’s inaction when it is not the reason for the citizen’s predicament. But, going back to the first point, it ignores the fact that the state has an obligation to protect every citizen within its jurisdiction;

3. The court was also wanting in response to the issue of whether or not a special relationship was created between Joshua DeShaney and the DSS when the latter came to know of the former’s plight. As pointed out by the dissenting opinions of Justices Brennan et al, the DSS took action which was an expression of their willingness to help. This show of willingness created a special duty to protect which is enforceable under the due process clause. If the court cannot agree with the dissenting Justices, then they should at least reopen the case to clarify how such actions taken by the DSS do not qualify as an assumption of control over the person of Joshua Deshaney, and that no special relationship to require protection existed. Another point which requires a clarification is how can the state start to take on a vital duty then not follow through when there is no showing that what gave rise to the vital duty to begin with continued to exist. It cannot be ignored that the DSS continued to see evidence of abuse but did nothing more than record it.

4. After so many years, it can also no longer be ignored that the 1989 ruling had staggering implications. The Colorado case of Castle Rock vs. Gonzales (04-278) 545 U.S. 748 (2005) implied that parents cannot protect their children from violations no matter how brutal. And whether parents are present or whether the children are at school, the state has no affirmative duty to help children. Parents and schools take measures to protect children because they are not in a position to protect themselves (Buchanan).

Women were also not spared from the implication of the subject decision. The rampant violence they face 1 time or another compels them to run to law enforcement for assistance. Since law enforcement has been given the freedom to respond as they please (or, to put it fastidiously, upon their discretion), these women’s complaints have had the tendency to either get brushed off or ignored. And, of course, the violence raged on. In comparison to the 2 years before the Deshaney decision was made, law enforcement officials were made liable for withholding their assistance (Does Law Enforcement Have a Duty to Victims of Violence Against Women? 8 Key Legal Cases). Maybe its time to recognize that the vulnerability of women and children make them a special class that require a greater level of protection.

If the purpose of law is to protect those who need to be protected, and make sure that those assigned to protect actually carry out what they have been assigned to do, then the Deshaney ruling has terribly failed on these 2 counts. If the Deshaney ruling was made to strictly comply with the technical requirements of due process at the expense of equal protection, then in the end it also failed to attain justice by not looking at the entire picture painted by the Constitution.

References:

“Amendment 14 – Citizenship Rights.” The United States Constitution. Retrieved on April 10, 2011 from: usconstitution.net/const.html#Am14

Buchanan, Betsy. “Innocence Lost and No Remedy to Be Found: A New Standard for Section 1983 Supervisory Liability in the Context of Sexual Abuse of Students in Public Schools.” (n.d.). Retrieved on April 10, 2011 from: educationlawconsortium.org/forum/2005/papers/buchanan.pdf

“Castle Rock vs. Gonzales (04-278) 545 U.S. 748 (2005).” Cornell University Law School (n.d.). Retrieved on April 9, 2011 from:
law.cornell.edu/supct/html/04-278.ZS.html

“DeShaney v. Winnebago County Dep’t of Social Servs.” Conservapedia the Trustworthy encyclopedia. (2008). Retrieved on April 9, 2011 from:
conservapedia.com/DeShaney_v._Winnebago_County_Dep’t_of_Social_Servs

“Does Law Enforcement Have a Duty to Victims of Violence Against Women? 8 Key Legal Cases.” Women’s Justice Center. (n.d.). Retrieved on April 10, 2011 from:
justicewomen.com/cj_dutytovictims.html

“Nelson v. Adams USA, INC. (99-502) 529 U.S. 460 (2000).” Cornell University Law School. (n.d.). Retrieved on April 9, 2011 from:
law.cornell.edu/supct/html/99-502.ZO.html