Category Archives: Education

learning in America

Afghanistan

Afghanistan

In earlier posts, I have expressed my opinion that we can no longer assume the role of the World’s cop. Recently there has been talk of reducing our presence in other countries like Syria and Iraq, but little mention of Afghanistan. I wonder why not.

Following are a few facts:

We have had a military presence in Afghanistan since 2001 (over 18 years) and have spent approximately $750 billion in direct costs and as much as $2 trillion when you include indirect and long-term costs, like veteran rehabilitation.  As of July 27, 2018, there have been 2,372 U.S. military deaths in the War in Afghanistan. 1,856 of these deaths have been the result of hostile action. 20,320 American service members have also been wounded in action during the war. In addition, there were 1,720 U.S. civilian contractor fatalities.

While I have some sympathy for the reason which we used to justify our involvement (the pursuit of Asama Bin Laden), what remains is essentially a “civil” conflict. My understanding is that we still have approximately 14,000 military personnel in Afghanistan and have agreed to eventually remove 5,000 within 135 days of the signing of a peace proposal with the Taliban.

Which of our elected representatives is talking about this issue?

Labor Unions

Labor Unions

In the early days of my business career, I despised labor unions. One of my first management positions was heading up the first personal department (AKA Human Resources) for a small company. I was hired as a one-man effort to thwart an organizing attempt by the local Teamsters. Fortunately for my career prospects, we were able to stave off the union effort and the vote failed. I understood the original need for unions and agreed that companies had not treated their employees fairly. However, this was the 70’s and we were much more enlightened managers and were perfectly capable of taking care of our workers without the assistance of a third party.

That was my view early on and I believe it was valid given the very narrow focus of my responsibilities. Today I hope that my view has broadened. I still feel that it is management’s responsibility to provide for workers, but over time I am convinced that we have let the working man down. The earlier post on income distribution illustrates my view. The benefits of our country’s increased per capita GDP over the last 40 years have almost entirely accrued to the country’s wealthiest families. At the same time union participation has declined.  In 1945, union membership reached a peak of 33.4 percent of the U.S. workforce but steadily declined to a low of 10.7 percent in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The membership numbers for the top 10 labor unions are self-reported, and unless specifically noted, the unions are headquartered in Washington, D.C.

A list of the current functioning unions follows:                                                                           

National Education Association:                                                                                                               With more than 3 million members, the NEA represents classroom teachers, education support professionals, higher education staff and faculty, retired teachers and students training to become education professionals. Founded in 1857, the NEA merged with the American Teachers Association in 1966.

Service Employees International Union:                                                                                                  The SEIU has nearly 1.9 million members in more than 100 occupations in the U.S., including janitors, security workers, superintendents, maintenance workers, local and state government employees, bus drivers and child-care providers. Founded by janitorial workers in 1921, the SEIU is now the largest-membership union in the U.S. that represents the property services, public services and health-care industries.

American Federation of Teachers:                                                                          The AFT was founded in Chicago in 1916, and now has more than 1.5 million members, including pre-K through grade 12 teachers, early childhood educators, paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel, higher education faculty and staff, government employees and other education professionals.                                                                              International Brotherhood of Teamsters:                                                       In 1903, two unions merged to form the Teamsters, one of the most recognized unions in the U.S. It has 1.4 million members in 21 industrial divisions, including airlines, bakery and laundry, brewery and soft drinks, building material and construction, entertainment and passenger transportation.                                                                                                                        American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees:                                            With an estimated 1.3 million members, the AFSCME is the biggest public services employee union in the U.S., representing corrections officers, childcare providers, sanitation workers, EMTs and nurses. The union was founded in 1932 by a group of state employees in Madison, Wisconsin.                                                                                                                                  United Food and Commercial Workers International Union:           The UFCW was founded in 1979 and has grown to 1.3 million members in occupations such as food-processing workers, drugstore workers, poultry processing plant workers, packinghouse employees and grocery store workers.                                                                                     United Steelworkers:                                                                                                  The USW was founded in 1942 and is headquartered in Pittsburgh. It has more than 1.2 million members in the steel, aluminum and metalworking industry, and also represents chemical plant workers, pharmacy workers, rubber workers and construction workers.                     The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America:  This union is more commonly referred to as the United Auto Workers and has more than 400,000 active members, and more than 580,000 retired members in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. The UAW, which was founded in 1935 and is headquartered in Detroit, represents autoworkers, health-care workers, academic student employees, postdoctoral scholars and workers in the casino gambling industry.   International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers:  Founded in 1888 by a group of Atlanta-based machinists, the IAM is headquartered in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, and has 720,000 members. The union represents automotive repair workers, city employees, truck assemblers, fabrication workers and aerospace workers.      

 

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers:                                                                   
With 675,000 members in the utilities, construction, telecommunications, broadcasting, manufacturing and railroad industries, the IBEW has been active since it was founded in St. Louis in 1891.
Most of these unions also belong to the AFL/CIO consortium of unions which numbers over 12 million.
The above does not include the 2nd largest and arguably the most powerful union in our country. Federal Civil Servants number in excess of 2.8 million and are by far the best-compensated workers. Their total compensation exceeds their private sector counterparts by over 70%. I would concede that private-sector wages are too low by as much as 30 – 40%. I would also argue that civil service compensation exceeded market value by about the same amount. Details on the comparison of civil service compensation are contained in a prior post for several years ago and are still available at this site.

My view on unions is still that they should not be necessary. However, without enlightened management practices or stricter federal labor rules they have the potential to add social value.

Date of creation (From Conservapedia)

Date of creation (From Conservapedia)

“The date of Creation has been debated for many years. Separate calculations have given different answers although most are fairly close to each other.

Basis of calculation

The Bible contains chronogenealogies from Adam to Abraham, listing the age at which each person in the genealogy gave birth to the next person in the list, thus allowing by simple addition a determination of how many years passed between Creation and Abraham. There are other chronological indications also, allowing that calculation to be extended into the times of the kings, when the dates can be correlated with other events in history for which the absolute date is known. By this means, in theory, one can calculate the date of Creation.

Calculated dates

The best known date of Creation is the one calculated by Archbishop James Ussher in the 17th century – namely 6:00 p.m. Saturday, October 23, 4004 BC. Ussher calculated the year of Creation by the following means:

  • He accepted the date of the death of Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon at 562 BC.
  • He then assumed that Evil-Merodach began to reign in that year.
  • King Jehoiachin received a pension from Evil-Merodach beginning in this year, and that he was taken captive 37 years before then, or in 599 BC. (The final Fall of Jerusalem occurred eleven years later; hence Ussher places the Fall of Jerusalem in 588 BC, not 586 BC as most secular archaeologists assume.)
  • From that anchor point, Ussher worked backward through the king lists of the Divided Kingdoms Northern and Southern. See I and II Kings.
  • He worked backward further to set the dates-of-reign of King Solomon, and calculated the Exodus of Israel at 480 years earlier than the groundbreaking of the Temple, which was in Solomon’s fourth year. This fell in 1012 BC, and so Ussher fixed the Exodus at 1491 BC.
  • Based on his interpretation of Galatians 3:17 , Ussher then fixed the date of the entry of Abraham into Canaan. This was in 1921 BC.
  • Ussher here made a key assumption that is in great dispute. We read that Abraham was 75 years old when he embarked into Canaan. We also read that Terah was 70 years old when he “begat” Abraham, Nahor (the younger), and Haran. Ussher’s assumption, which added another sixty years to the reckoning of Creation, was this: that Abraham did not embark on his own until after Terah had died at the age of 205. This would mean that Terah was actually 130 years old, not 70, when Abraham was born—and presumably that Nahor the Younger or Haran was born when Terah was 70. Ussher’s sole warrant for this assumption is that the Bible describes Abraham’s departure after it describes Terah’s “death.” But Terah’s “death” might be spiritual rather than physical, in that Terah had originally intended to take all his family out of Ur of the Chaldees and into Canaan, but forgot his purpose and grew too accustomed to worldly enticements in the country of Haran. If that is the case, then Abraham might have departed when Terah was still alive—which is what the inventors of the present Hebrew calendar assumed.
  • Ussher then backtracked the pedigree of Abraham to Arphaxad, born to Shem two years after the Great Flood. He therefore concluded that the Great Flood happened in 2349 BC.
  • Finally, Ussher backtracked the genealogy of Shem to Adam.

To arrive at the month and approximate date, Ussher concluded that Creation must have occurred during the Autumnal Equinox, which in fact is the favorite start of many of the world’s calendars, ancient and modern. He also assumed that the ancient Hebrews did not attempt to synchronize their months with the moon until after their exile into Babylonia. He thus calculated the date of Creation at October 23, 4004 BC according to the Julian calendar.

Because the seven days of Creation (including one day of rest) set the pattern for our week, Ussher decided that the Creation began on the first day of the week, i.e. Sunday. However, because the day was defined as being an “evening and morning”, and some calendars to this day still have the days beginning at sunset, Ussher concluded Creation actually began at what on modern western calendars would be 6 p.m. (sunset at the equinox) on Saturday.

James Ussher’s calculation was the best-sourced calculation in all of Christendom at the time. Ussher also spoke with authority, and from a position of authority. For those reasons, his dates for various Biblical events appeared in the margins of King James and other Bibles for centuries, until the last quarter of the twentieth century, when publishers abandoned this practice. Sir Isaac Newton defended Ussher’s date.

Johannes Kepler also attempted to calculate the date using his own methods (sadly lost to time); he worked it out to be 3992 B.C.

Such calculations in fact date from at least the Middle Ages, and offer a range of dates from around 5000 to 4000 BC. The date used by Eastern Orthodox Christianity is often 1 September, 5509 BC. This was the date used as the beginning point for their calendars. Traditionalist Catholics often use 5199 BC. Judaic tradition reckons the date of Creation at 3760 BC. Another calculation, beginning with the date of the destruction of Jerusalem known from secular history and working backwards, arrives at 4163 BC.

Retrieved from:  “https://www.conservapedia.com/index.php?title=Date_of_creation&oldid=1255166”              The preceding information assumes that the bible is an accurate historical document. Most folks date the actual writing of the first book of Genesis at between 1200 and 900 BC. The latter date is likely the most reasonable as there is no conclusive evidence that the Aramaic Alphabet existed before that time. This means that only an oral account existing for at least 3,000 years. The veracity of every detail (and likely most details) is doubtful. If we place any value on the scientific evidence of creation of the Universe, the Galaxy and our Planet then common sense will dictate that the time frame is far off. This does not mean that certain elements of the bible are inaccurate. Many elements of the text that closely correspond to the Sumerian tablets.  The Sumerian tablets were written several thousands of years before the bible!