Post for May 1-7 2011 (Tidbits and Nuggets)

TaN: (related to my last post) Labor has the right to unionize and demand for decent (not necessarily high) wages just as business has the right to shutdown.  However, if it must be so, it must be done with justice, with dignity, and with transparency.

Should a business decide to close and the reason (or the “suspected” reason) is due management’s inability or its unwillingness to a wage increase, the decision must be justified.  Justification should entail all relevant and supporting documents, such as (but not limited to) tax returns, stockholder reports (for corporations), journals and ledgers (properly audited), and payroll records (including the confidential and top management salaries).  It must be clearly shown that the wage increase will make the business non-viable (and that there is no other way to offset the impact of the wage increase, like lowering the cost of production through more efficient means) and that the highest salaries cannot afford a reduction (i.e., the highest salaries are not that much higher with respect to the lowest wage).

In any case involving a conflict in compensation, it must be an imperative (with no exceptions) that the basic needs of all be given priority over the investors or capitalists.  It is so wrong to put the interest of the more fortunate over the welfare of the less fortunate.  After all, investors have nothing to lose outside of their money, while the rank and file have their very survival at stake.  Things must be put into their proper perspective, priorities must be ranked correctly, and apportioning of wealth must be equitable.  If investors will not be reasonable to give preference over their own to those who need it more (or most), it is best that they go somewhere else – they are not welcomed; we are not (or should not be) that desparate as to subordinate our basic needs and essentials to theirs; good riddance.

TaN: “Perceived” or “rumored” food crisis of 2011 is actually more of a problem of distribution(1) (and diversion(2)) rather than production, consumption, or speculation.  In numerous reports – both made public or published – it has been shown that, with the modern agricultural and food production technologies used, we have been producing more and more food in a given unit area than ever before.  To put it in simple terms, we have more than enough food to feed (the over 8 billion) people with surplus for several millions more.

The main culprit is the prevailing capitalism system where goods find their way to markets that will bring the greatest profit.  (1) In a world where there is much inequality – in terms of currency value – countries that have the highest currency value, generally, offer the greatest profits – with exceptions, like Japan, which practices a modified system to offset or overcome the inherent disadvantage of a low exchange rate or currency value.  As a consequence, they enjoy abundance of goods, like (relatively) cheap food.  [Note: From the point of reference of First World countries, where the currency value is higher, Third World goods are cheap; whereas, Third World vendors make huge profits by selling to First World countries instead of to their domestic market due to the great difference in the exchange rate when they convert the revenue to their own currencies.]

Aside from the great difference in currency value, another large share of the blame is due to the fact that labor is expensive in First World countries, while labor is cheap in Third World countries.  [Because labor cost makes up a large portion of production cost, a cheap labor redounds to cheap goods.]  The abundance of (mal-skilled and mal-motivated) cheap labor is brought about by the huge populations.  [“Mal-skilled” is defined as not possessing the proper skills other than that which will “satisfy” the “low-end” job market – jobs that feed industries that keep the wealth concentrating among the rich; and, “mal-motivated” is defined as not being imbued with ideals and aspirations other than those that will perpetuate a mass consumeristic public instead of seeking higher goals and ambitions that will uplift their existence beyond the baser and material planes.]  In this light, in terms of distribution, food is not readily and affordably available to everyone (simply, because it is more profitable to sell to the affluent, who can pay a higher price for the same commodity), but gravitates to First World countries.  Food dealers sell just enough to the masses to keep them alive to continue toiling for slave wages to ensure the continuance of production – and the food is among the poorest quality.

(2) As for “diversion”, in First World countries, where goods are relatively cheaper, this causes a huge demand in energy (energy demand in terms of fuel consumption, for transportation both to move people and goods).  Affluence results in increased consumption because fuel commands a higher (commercial) value than food, many food dealers and producers (specifically, grain growers) would opt to sell to the highest bidder – in this case, the biofuel producers.  This is brought about by the growing awareness and apprehension of the impact of fossil fuel consumption on the global climate and by the mandates of law with respect to adding a minimum percentage of biofuel to fossil fuel.  [However, there are arising arguments against this effort to reduce – but not eliminate, much less reverse – the effect on global climate being challenged and gaining acceptance, that biofuel generates more greenhouses gases (GHGs) and worsens the negative impact on global climate than the “demonized” fossil fuel (see http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/08/science/earth/08wbiofuels.html?pagewanted=print).]

Further, though they produce a substantial portion of their own food, First World or industrialized countries buy Third World agricultural products (mostly corn and soy).  However, these agricultural products are not meant for food but for energy demands – i.e., the haves “reserve” their home-grown food to feed themselves while “snatching” food away from the have-nots to “feed” their cars.  This is due to the combination of compliance to the mandate by law and their supposed “concern” over the climatic impact that a certain percentage of fuel must be biologically sourced (biofuels).  Since corn and soy are staples of most of the world population, it is expected that they will be the most abundant agricultural product.  Given this, it is but, likewise, expected that these products will be the cheapest and be where the biofuel will be sourced.  The net effect is the fuel industry will be competing with people,for these products.

Tan: Gambling is immoral and evil; gaming is not.  Gambling should ALWAYS be illegal, no ifs nor buts about it.  Gaming, on the other, may be made legal, but must be regulated, else it degenerates – due to the tremendous temptation and propensity to take advantage of others.  People have difficulty understanding, comprehending, and distinguishing between gambling and gaming.

Games of chance are categorized into gambling and gaming.  A game of chance is a person challenges the “odds” or chances/possibilities of winning against those of losing.  In both gambling and gaming, a person puts up something of value to pit against chances of gain or of lose.  The difference – hence the reason behind the immorality or “evilness” of one while the other is not – is presence or involvement of skills.  Skills is the leveler of the playing field, the equalizer; it gives a person a fair chance of winning and of losing.  In gaming, a skilled player loses only through a flaw or a mistake in skill, whereas gambling is based on pure chance (or luck, as some may want to call it).  [In addition, in situations where there are other players or participants, skills include the ability to gauge/”read” body language, knowledge of the history/track record of the players/participants, and (sometimes) physical environmental conditions prevailing.]

To give a more concrete appreciation of the abstraction between gambling and gaming, let us take the ever-popular lottery and the time-tested card game/s.  In card games, one is aware that there are only a certain number of cards involved and the different values of the cards and their winning combinations.  By considering what cards have already been played, the number of players, and the cards on one’s hand, the chances of getting a superior combination is calculated.  The outcome of the calculation forms the basis of whether a player will continue playing or concede (or “fold”, as they say in card games).  In this situation, a player can weigh his chances of winning and continuing playing or of losing and “folding”.  This is the skill; the degree or significance of the influence on the outcome depends on how well the player uses his/her skill.

In the case of lottery, a player has absolutely no control over the outcome of the game.  S/he is relying completely on the “luck of the draw” to win.  The number of “balls”, the number of players, and the choices made are totally irrelevant and will not have the slightest influence on the outcome.  Skill is completely useless, for it does not matter how good you are in calculating nor how many times you calculate and re-calculate, you will never be able to impact the “luck of the draw”.  This is gambling.

More examples: racing (gaming), cockfighting (gaming), slot machine (gambling), roulette (gambling), numbers (gambling), and Bingo (GAMBLING).  As a final word, a sport is an amoral game of chance only when what is at stake is a trophy, a reputation, and a rewarding sensation.  Anything else attached or involved makes it gambling.  [Note: Wagering, per se, does not make a game gambling because, in pure sports, there are still wagers, except that the wagers are abstract and beyond basic needs.]

TaN: THANK GOD IT IS FINALLY OVER!  IT IS SO NAUSEATING!  IT IS SO SHALLOW!  IT IS SO INSULTING!  IT IS SICKENING!  IT IS SO AN-ABSOLUTE-AND-COMPLETE-WASTE-OF-TIME-EFFORT-AND_RESOURCES!!!  THE ROYAL WEDDING IS OVER AND DONE WITH!

But, don’t get me wrong.  I am not bashing the royal couple.  In fact, I wish the best and I am sure they will be bring their people into bigger and better things.  It is all these hype that I am bashing.  Come on, let us face; the only people who put too much time and effort into this whole royal affair are either mammon worshippers (who stand to – financially – gain much from all the hulabaloo and those with small minds – i.e., people who have nothing else more meaningful and noteworthy to do than to talk about others, the gossip mongers, the tiniest of minds.  These are the people what are a terrible waste, breathing the air, drinking the water, eating the food, and occupying the space that could have otherwise gone to the starving, the thirsty, the education-deprived, the unclothed, and the homeless billions.

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