May 2013

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                               SY SCHECHTMAN


          Among the many virtues of the New Testament,  the Christian addition to the  prior Jewish Hebrew  testament of the of the Books of Moses, and well known prophets from ancient time, now for most gentiles in very high esteem is Saint Paul,  previously the Jew, Saul,  who had a revelation on his way to persecute the nascent  dissenting  Jewish sect which was insisting that the recent death of Jesus was  an abomination.  That Jesus was God’s only son sent to earth to curb the  growing unrest in the land, and while  the Mosaic Code pursuing the Golden Rule of “Do Unto Others as they should Do Unto You”  is splendid  in itself, Jesus was the true messiah,  not only a mere rabbi. But God’s only true son.  Among the many Pauline memorable  exhortations  and virtuous speeches supporting this was the famous  section in First Corinthians of the of the New Testament is……

          When I was a child I spoke as a child ….understood as a child.  Now when  I became a man I put away childish things.  For now   we see through a glass darkly  but then face to face; Now I know in part;  but then I will know even as I am known.

……(That) now abideth faith, hope,  and charity;  but the greatest of these is charity.                                                                   And  charity  has overwhelmingly always been understood as love.

     We have  gained much  social and  economic achievement in  personal relations  and communally,  in both the Jewish and Gentile  human conduct  creeds, but there are still  many times  when human conduct seems dubious  indeed.    Total  war casualties in both World Wars ---1914/1918 and1940/45—amounted to well over 200 million.    Statistics relating to all the civilian mortality due to these disastrous  wars were also most  deplorable.    And yet here we are today  with over six billion  mortal souls on planet Earth,  with many living well beyond their economically productive years;   in the so called  “golden years” of  retirement.   But also a classic case of the that dubious slogan ----be  careful of what you pray for, because you just may get it!     That  is, some  or perhaps many,  of  these golden retirement pension plans are becoming unfunded,  as interest rates keep shrinking below projected  long term estimates.  And to many retirees  Indeed,  today we must rephrase and rethink  some of our essential terminology  and  realistic future financial  aspirations.   To live  with some degree of the average affluent millionaire,  one needs about  ten million  per year;   and perhaps more,    as we go up  the financial ladder, and  the poorer striving   merely   less affluent  part of the middle class have to take extra vacation  time to keep their necessary place with their comparable  “competing”  neighbors. A situation we once satirized as “keeping up with the Joneses”   And thus be able to  casually name drop and  impress some of these pretentious  sites to friends and neighbors.   Machu Picchue, or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, any one,  or the great Taj Mahal in India?

          That’s where the small but durable duplicity role  fits insidiously into  place,  with the small but durable credit card, even eagerly  replaced if lost or stolen!    It is duplicitous because it is based on the unique contradiction that  we can spend and borrow  our way onward  and  upward and still finance our increasing  debt burden without inducing  large inflationary   pressures.    Some vague,  perpetual motion technologic miracle  process  that will be less costly and even more  “green”.   Not  strangling planet earth with its noxious wastes,  as atomic energy threatens to do.   But we are still confronted with the almost lethal contradiction that most of the time it is a Ponzi scheme,  where money is recirculated  from each person to succeeding investors--  a la Bernie Madoff lately—with some fictitious  profit, until, as new funds dwindle,  it is discovered that nothing  or very little was produced,  and only that the duped  new investor’s money  was being used to  give prior investors their share of the  so called “profits”, until at the unhappy ending was some form of  bankruptcy  as the only  real  assets left  were in foreign banks with non extradition clauses in their trading practices with the United  States.  (Madoff,  fortunately, was caught due to his own egoistic behind  the scenes bragging about his  “cuckolding” of many sophisticated  people,  who were impatient  to invest with “friend Bernie”,   whose fraudulent  balance sheets always  showed impressive  returns.   Madoff,  most  deservedly,  is languishing in prison lifetime;  but most probably  in very acceptable penal quarters.   But 2 years after his father’s arrest  and conviction,  Madoff’s eldest son,  Mark Madoff, committed suicide  in his office.  But a sense of “respect” for duplicity still lingers high up  in the judiciary,  for Madoff’s wife,  Ruth,  was allowed two and half million  in the approximately 80 million dollars  her husband  swindled  from other gullible investors.

 Politics in general,

with our great emphasis  on free speech, allows—or even encourages ---- a candidate to make extravagant, sweeping  claims  to his most devoted followers,  and then  has a  less demanding  posture to moderate groups  he hopes to draw in. Some duplicity is accepted   on both sides ---voter, and candidate.    And perhaps the press, too,  if they want to remain neutral.  And accept the mostly  healthy dogma   of free and unfettered speech, that the defeated  candidate   may remember doggedly with some bitterness after the election,  of  duplicitous “broken promises”.    In reality and except in emergency dilemmas is there true unanimity.   We debate and disagree and “make haste slowly.”  But  generally some compromise and balance  is achieved.   We  admirers of this   middle of the road  approach  call this “enlightened self interest  or more negatively,  perhaps,   “you scatch my back  and I’ll  scratch yours”.   Hitler,  in prison  in 1924,   wrote derisively  about the Jews  and his plans for Geman  conquest.    And now the Iranian president Ahmadinajad  openly calls  for the  destruction  of Israel  and Iranian middle eastern   control.    More back scratching  or selective  atomic bombs,  with women and children carefully excluded,   of course!

          Duplicity and spying  go  together very often.   A most famous case  was the Alger Hiss  story,  an important  official in the State Department  after World War II,  convicted of passing classified   information  to the Soviets,   which he vehemently denied,  and many people believed him.    Hiss served prison time  ---five years.   Eventually  certain Russian records  became available which backed up Whitaker Chambers story  about  the Hiss spying.  Chambers  was a confessed spy given clemency for his own treasonous  behavior,  for his full cooperation with  House UnAmerican Activites Committee (HUAC).    His story involves the so called  Pumpkin Papers” a method of secret delivery of spy information;  a delightful bit of the light side of our burgeoning  folk lore.       But not good for Hiss!

           But the dense,  darker side soon took over again.   Mainly   with Wisconsin Republican Senator  Joseph  McCarthy,  from 1947 to 1957.  Most of us  have perhaps only  dim memories of the Cold War with the Soviet Union and how “McCarthyism” became a fearful psychotic  disease  denoting too much Communist  support,  even unto more pro Soviet spying because of increasing left leaning sympathy.    McCarthy  was able to solidify  his base by blatantly claiming that many of his political foes were weakening our military  strength   by leaking crucial information.    Also  he many lists of prominent actors,  writers, and politicians  who were “too left leaning”.   And some were black listed,  especially some notable Hollywood screen writers. With absolutely no concrete, credible evidence other than gossip.

,Thus forcing the  U.S. Army to hire lawyer Joseph Welch  to defend against McCarthy’s  obtuse and irrelevant questions about disloyalty in the armed forces.   Welch’s cry from the heart  Senator,   have you no sense of  decency?   You’ve done enough.   You’ve already done enough…..”.    This began  the beginning of  retreat of the viciousness  of McCarthyism.     President Eisenhower, too,  joined in with not so private remarks  about McCarthy’s almost  inquisition like hostility.  

          Among other  very significant duplicities was Nixon making a state  visit to  China  after his violent anti  communist  rhetoric all his political life.  This,   of course,  was a positive event,  perhaps making this  billion person horde of people more comfortable with the rest of humanity.  Offsetting this, however the firm denial that he never was involved in the Watergate burglary attempt,  a blatant lie before congress, for which he became the only president ever forced to resign his high office. Duplicity is really an inextricable  essence in the vital web of life. We go on, somehow, with as much honesty and sincerity as possible,  aware of our various duplicities.   But hope still springs eternally,   and all those hindering duplicities are grist for our aspiring, persistent,   moral  path upward.  An eternal verity is  that nothing good comes easily,   so bring on your duplicities, and  with some effort we will overcome and transcend them!



































































 The agony of birth  causes much suffering,  although mortal  existence has  many attractions to defuse the underlying still problematic   surrounding existential, lifetime  space.   But  soothing comfort is afforded at feeding time at mother’s breast.  Then there  is television,  preschool school, scholastic  endeavor,  parental guidance or not so benign neglect,   all if reasonably  survived,   even if enriching,  leaves one at the end with the unhappy payoff  of  an empty vacuum of purpose   with only the exasperating goal of a pain free demise  after an insipid, dull end of what was  once  a challenging  lifetime.







Our economy is still dependent on consumer spending