Andy Kessler, Round 1: How to do things backwards

A reader just brought to my attention a recent “controversial article” by Andy Kessler that appeared in the July 8, 2013 Wall Street Journal, suggesting that I might respond to it here.

We’ll see.  Thus there may be a “Round 2.”

One response to Kessler’s editorial: “Andy Kessler, Former Hedge Fund Manager, Says Shelter Volunteers Cause Homelessness”

The big obstacle is that the original is available online only to WSJ subscribers.

Quoting from my e-mail reply to the reader:

Thanks for the lead.  I’ll see what I can do with this. 
 
The most direct help would be if you could use your subscription to get us electronic copies of the text.
 
I could submit comments to [reporting on the article, e.g. at HuffPost] — I did that at NYTimes and got some blog views behind it.  I am wary, however, of responding on my blog to anything other than the original, since responses to the original may misrepresent it.
 
WSJ sort of cooks its own goose as to credibility, handling its site that way:  it comes off as, “Us rich folk can just discuss these things amongst ourselves, thank you very much; we don’t need any dissenting opinions.”
 
I do have a October 17, 2012 post noting a different very rich man who’s taken a far better approach.

 

If you’re not familiar with the October 17, 2012 post, I commend it to your attention now.

 

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* Jacob’s ladder 08/14/13

Prayer for myself often takes the form of imagining myself climbing up a ladder out of a pit, the pit being my current circumstances of poverty and homelessness.  Getting out at the top represents a return to the normal life of the American mainstream.  I didn’t start with a ladder in there, but I decided to add one to symbolize the various structures and tools that others have made available to me — and eliminate the possibility of clawing at loose earth.

Here begins a list of “rungs” on the ladder that I’ve become aware I need to “overcome.”  Each one takes effort, exertion, to get over. I will update this list from time to time as I learn of others.

 1. Fear of the unknown.  See From my diary: Learning to pray.
 2. Jealousy of others who seem to be prospering more quickly than I am.  Details here.
 3. Times of despair.  I guess, from time to time, they’ll happen.  Details here.
 4. Incidents of utter selfishness.  Details here.
 5. Moments of unusual hardship and sacrifice. Details here.
 6. Cut loose the losers. Continue reading

News roundup 07/27/13 – Serial killers, Biggest problem with workforce, A new Bosnia?

Links within this post, to the headlines:
The Single Biggest Problem With America’s Labor Force
New serial killer in Cleveland
Troubling official statements in Burma violence
Report Finds Gradual Fall in Female Genital Cutting in Africa
T. Rowe Price raises downtown safety concerns
Rae Dawn Chong Blasts Oprah Winfrey


The Single Biggest Problem With America’s Labor Force

Underemployment

Bodies of Three Women Found Wrapped in Garbage Bags in Fetal Position in Cleveland Neighborhood

I had never heard of Anthony Sowell before.  I have to wonder whether the ethnicity of his victims plays any role in his relative obscurity as compared to, say, Ted Bundy.

Radical monk unhurt in bomb blast

Troubling quotations:
He is the chief proponent of a movement known as 969, which reformist President Thein Sein’s office has described as a “symbol of peace”.
* * *
Reuters investigations in two of the hotspots of unrest – Rakhine state and the central city of Meikhtila – have revealed the violence was on both occasions fanned by monks who led Buddhist mobs.
* * *
The president’s office, which says it wants to foster peace, tolerance and unity in ethnically diverse Myanmar, has described Wirathu as “a son of Lord Buddha”.

Previous post: “Sitra Achra, the Flipside

Report Finds Gradual Fall in Female Genital Cutting in Africa

Those who don’t know what the term means can consult this Wikipedia article.  In many nations it’s a routine practice to take a razor and shave off a girl’s clitoris, normally in early childhood.  As a result, when she becomes a woman, she will have no access to sexual gratification.  All sexual intercourse, then, is for her in effect no different from rape; all sexual gratification in relationships is the sole privilege of her male “partners.”

The report finds a generation gap in attitudes and practice:  younger women in some places are less likely to have been victims of this procedure, and also less likely to approve of it.  Yet the quotation unsettles me: “We need to create conditions so they can act on their beliefs.”  As reprehensible as the practice is, I am not sure Western folk have the right to impose Western values on anyone.

T. Rowe Price raises safety concerns as it weighs headquarters options

But Elspeth Reeve seems to me to want us to believe there is no crime in America.

Rae Dawn Chong Blasts Oprah Winfrey In A Recent Radio Interview

I never heard of Rae Dawn Chong before, and am no particular fan of Oprah Winfrey.  But for Ms. Chong to spew this language in any public forum about anyone degrades her mightily in my esteem.

I never encountered the term “field N—–” before.  Now I grasp that it is the counter-partner to the term “house Negro,” which Mohamad at the shelter used to use to dismiss the President.  The “house N—–” was a slave suitable to work in the master’s house, given her or his propensity to seemly rather than unseemly manners and conduct.  The “field N—–” would be kept in the fields, given his or her opposite propensities.

No slave has toiled on a plantation in this country since 1865, and it offends me to hear such terms used to disparage anyone.  The N-word itself simply perpetuates the slave mentality, and diminishes everyone who uses and hears it.  IMO no one has any right to use it.

* Jacob’s ladder 06/26/13

Prayer for myself often takes the form of imagining myself climbing up a ladder out of a pit, the pit being my current circumstances of poverty and homelessness.  Getting out at the top represents a return to the normal life of the American mainstream.  I didn’t start with a ladder in there, but I decided to add one to symbolize the various structures and tools that others have made available to me — and eliminate the possibility of clawing at loose earth.

Here begins a list of “rungs” on the ladder that I’ve become aware I need to “overcome.”  Each one takes effort, exertion, to get over. I will update this list from time to time as I learn of others.

 1. Fear of the unknown.  See From my diary: Learning to pray.
 2. Jealousy of others who seem to be prospering more quickly than I am.  Details here.
 3. Times of despair.  I guess, from time to time, they’ll happen.  Details here.
 4. Incidents of utter selfishness.  Details here.

 5.

Moments of unusual hardship and sacrifice. Wednesday 06/26/13 I met my principal patron, hoping to pick up the second half of my allowance for the week. He could only give me 2/3 of the amount. With two minutes left on my phone, and no more cash expected till next week, I e-mailed a supporter in Texas and invited an early birthday present in the form of his putting minutes on my phone. I had to buy a soda at a corner store to get change for bus fare “home.” At the shelter, having my last smokes before going in, I began to figure.

Certainly I could not buy more than one more pack of smokes — to last four days. For certain, I will wind up using the nicotine gum Pastor worked so hard to help me get last fall. I would have to give up sodas. I might have to give up coffee in the afternoons. I might have to give up coffee in the mornings — and sit outside from 6 am to 10 am with nothing to drink and no access to a bathroom. I might have to stay one night at a different shelter. I might have to walk rather than take the bus to church Sunday.

Enigmatically, when I got inside and sat down on my bunk, I felt cheerful.  The last thing in the world I want is to be on the bus stop Sunday and find myself without bus fare to church.  This minimal amount of self-management, of stewardship, of planning what sacrifices I must make, gave me a degree of power and control over my lot.

on air talent, talk show host, radio talk show, the homeless blogger

* Jacob’s ladder 06/19/13

Prayer for myself often takes the form of imagining myself climbing up a ladder out of a pit, the pit being my current circumstances of poverty and homelessness.  Getting out at the top represents a return to the normal life of the American mainstream.  I didn’t start with a ladder in there, but I decided to add one to symbolize the various structures and tools that others have made available to me — and eliminate the possibility of clawing at loose earth.

Here begins a list of “rungs” on the ladder that I’ve become aware I need to “overcome.”  Each one takes effort, exertion, to get over. I will update this list from time to time as I learn of others.

  1. Fear of the unknown.  See From my diary: Learning to pray.
  2. Jealousy of others who seem to be prospering more quickly than I am.  In particular, at the shelter in recent months have been several guys who just “came home” from doing “hard time,” and within days had found jobs.
  3. Times of despair.  I guess, from time to time, they’ll happen.  The question isn’t whether I fall down, but whether I’ll get back up.  A moment of despair doesn’t rule out faith long-term.  It can be OK for me to lie there and have a little pity party, as long as it’s reasonably brief.
  4. Incidents of utter selfishness.  (I may rename this if I think of a better name.)  Several weeks ago after church, I became impatient waiting for the person who had promised me a ride downtown, and waiting also for my principal patron, who was tied up in conversation with others.  I became disgusted with myself over feeling that way; and disgusted that I was hanging out there long after I would otherwise have left, having feelings all about obtaining favors for me, me, me.

That’s not a pretty way to end this just now, but in the long run I do think I need to be candid in admitting what it takes to climb one’s way out of poverty.

on air talent, talk show host, radio talk show, the homeless blogger

Hiring discrimination and “backgrounds”

EEOC sues over criminal background checks

This affects me.

In August ’10 I became the first member of my family in three generations ever to be arrested, let alone jailed.  It was the only time I have ever been arrested.  I was locked up for 40 days before being sentenced to “time served” on one misdemeanor charge.  I have no other convictions.

In the months following, I applied to all kinds of jobs, including at each of the half dozen major hospitals located in downtown Baltimore.  I was applying for secretarial jobs, janitorial jobs, groundskeeping — anything I could possibly do, as remains so today.

Each of those hospitals has its own online application system, and they’re all very similar, so I don’t recall which specific hospital this story involves.  You enter a “profile” into their database, that includes all your employment information, history, references, etc.; this takes 90 minutes to two hours.  That information is kept in their database, and thereafter you can apply to any job listing with just a handful of clicks.  You can also access a listing of the jobs you’ve applied to, and each application’s status.

One Saturday I was at the public library submitting applications online.  Click, click, click, submit.  Check out the next listing; decide “go” or “no go;” click, click, submit.  I did a bunch of those, and then went to check the list of applications’ status.

A number of the applications I’d submitted in the previous half hour had already been turned down.

I really don’t think anyone was working in the HR office on a Saturday screening applications.  Clearly, they had some automatic software set up to pre-screen applications and reject anyone who admitted a criminal record.

The question is whether reformed criminals can find honest work.

Subsequent post: My record cannot be expunged