Politics: The Corruption Curve

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” (Lord Acton)

We all like to think of ourselves as kind, honest, and benevolent. In our hearts, we are convinced that should we ever attain personal power, whether through building our own business, rising to the corporate executive office, becoming extraordinarily influential in our area of expertise, or in winning public office, we will continue to be honest and ethical, incorruptible to the end.

The action of wielding power varies greatly with the individual involved and the extent of power obtained. We are all familiar with the petty tyrant at work who rules a tiny business empire with greed and self-indulgence, bullying underlings without any sense of fairness or mercy. We have seen the research scientists who have forged a reputation over a lifetime fall into disgrace through subverting results to support their theories and their sponsors.

As the extent of power increases, we see the Enron and Lincoln Savings brand of tableaux unfold. Not only does that same greed and self-indulgence hold sway, but the concept of being above the law arises and accountability and trust are jettisoned from the boardroom. The more esoteric the lifestyle becomes, the greater the disconnect between the powerful and the rest of the world. Those who lack power are to be cheated, manipulated, and drained of their possessions ñ surely only just desserts for their failure to rise to the top.

In a world where hereditary monarchies are an anachronism, the most absolute power lies in the political sphere whether wielded by a military-backed dictator or by those who have been so repeatedly elected to office that they no longer see themselves as public representatives but as entitled oligarchs of a system they control.

The presumptuous ambition of one man, Julius Caesar, led to the destruction of a republic that had guided Rome to the heights of civilization. The empire he created held the seeds of its own destruction in its descent into the unrestrained autocracies of a string of less than illustrious rulers who wielded their absolute power with caprice and personal whim.

The framers of the Constitution had a vision of a government where no such unconstrained power could arise because of the checks and balances inherent in the system they devised. No one could be above the law because the rule of law was paramount. The advise and consent required from different branches of government ensured that a multitude of voices and philosophical ideas were involved in any major decision.

But those who drove the development of our constitutional law were giants in their own right. Washingtonís refusal to accept the title of king, advocated by several of his supporters, signaled his rejection of too much power concentrated in one individual. His peers ñ Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Madison, and many more ñ followed the same course: divide power to ensure that the needs of the many can be met through a myriad of representative voices.

Over the centuries, the checks and balances they built have kept the ship of state afloat. Occasionally listing to port or starboard, the sheer multiplicity of participants in the political process have been repetitively able to pull it back to an upright middle course. Certainly, there have been many dark periods of corruption and incompetence. We face such a darkness now: individuals in office for too long, with too much power within their grasping fingers; too many officials who have forgotten that they are public servants, developing a mindset of entitlement and the conviction that they know, better than anyone else, what is good for the public who, after all, elected them.

Only the rule of law, so carefully crafted more than 200 years ago, can keep them in check. The lawful prosecution of a congressman accepting millions of dollars in bribes, of a congressional leader who used election money as he saw fit rather than as the law required, and administration officials who destroyed a womanís career and jeopardized the lives of covert operatives all over the world, restores balance in a world rife with corruption, greed, and overweening pride.

Ongoing investigations into the honesty of leaders in evoking the need for military intervention and the rising voice of dissent against financial favors for the rich and powerful at the cost of cutting services to the powerless poor, offer a glimmer of hope that the corruption will be curbed and the hubris of our leaders punctured and exposed.

The embattled defendants cry foul, claiming that the only transgression is the political ambition of their critics. They have moved so far beyond the pale of the common citizen that their own corruption and misdeeds seem entirely ordinary and acceptable to them.

Happily, unlike the impotent rubber-stamp Roman senators, we can face our would-be Caesars without threat of bodily harm and we can cast them out of their cozy nest with the most powerful weapon ever devised: the ballot box.

No Matter What America Does The Rest Of The World Will Never Like Us

Americans need to get used to the idea that, no matter what The United States Of America does, the rest of the world will never like us.

Ours is a unique society. We are made up of people from almost every other nationality in the world. We were originaly formed by immigrants seeking religious and other freedoms. Our ethics and moral codes were formed mainly from Judeo-Christian ideals, ie: The Old And New Testaments, The Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Our form of government is mainly secular but our way of living, our body of law and our way of thinking is, for the most part, Judeo-Christian.

Ours is not an insular society. All Americans, with the possible exception of Native American Indians, are decended from immigrants. These immigrants have come from all over the world. These immigrants brought, with them, differing ideas, customs and ways of doing things. Many of these ideas, customs and ways of doing things have been melded into our way of life. The foregoing has made us completely different than any other country in the world and people, due to the nature of humans, don’t always like other people who are different.

Ours is a wealthy country, not only in resources and land but also in our varied citizenry and our freedoms. This makes other people jealous or envious. They don’t have what we have, so they say that they don’t like us or that they hate us. Some of those same people, however, can’t wait to immigrate to this country, in order to have what we have.

Our people, for the most part, are loving, caring and generous. This may very well be one of our biggest problems. We want to give to and help others. Many people think of our giving and help as pure interference while others feel that no one would give or help without expecting something in return. No other country in the world is guided by Judeo-Christain principles so no other country in the world thinks or believes as we do. We can’t understand how they think and they can’t understand how we think.

We deal with other countries and their people as we deal with each other. We don’t understand that, in most parts of the world, fear and hatered are more powerful than love, greed and envy are more powerful than kindness and generosity, wanting to win is more powerful than a sense of fair play and that all of the foregoing are considered by many people to be weaknesses.

When France helped us during the Revolutionary War, the facts that the were already at war with England in the Caribbean, that we had to pay them for their help and that they did not come to our assistance untill they were sure that we had already won the war, did not stop us from being grateful. When During the Civil War and The War of 1812 a few French helped the Union, again for pay and again after they believed that the Union had won or would win the war, we were grateful. We we helped the French during their Civil War and in the First and Second World Wars, a few French were grateful but many more hated us. After all, we had humiliated them by helping them. We had shown them that they could not succeed with out our assistance. When the French believed that, Saddam Hussein did have weapons of mass destruction and was a threat to the world, they refused to help us or to join with us because their profits were more important than the live’s of others. They believed that they were safe because they were trading partners with Hussein. In addition, they feel that we have too much power so, they oppose us every chance they get (Don’t tell me about Desert Storm, the French did and contributed very little. The main thing they did was to help talk us out of going into Bagdad and ending the problem in Iraq, thereby saving their trading partner Saddam Hussein.). On the other hand, they want our money from tourism and trade so they invite our citizens to visit and to buy their goods. The French do not do anything unless it is in their own best intrest (By the way, I hate to admit this, but I have been told that, much to my regret, I am part French.). I know that the foregoing paragraph makes it sound as if I am a biggot. I am not a biggot, I just do not like being used, abused and lied to and I feel that that is what has been happening ever since the French Indian War or as it is also called, The Seven Years War, which took place before we were even a country.

Russia hates us for causing the breakup of the Soviet Union. The governments of Russia, Mainland China, North Korea, most Moslim countries, many African countries, some Central and South American countries and certain other countries hate us because they are afraid that their citizens might try to emulate us and rise up and take away their power over those citizens. Additionally, most Moslim countries hate us because our country does not follow Islam, ‘the one true religion’. According to them we are Satanists for not following the ‘one true God’. Since all of these governments control, in large part, the information sources in those countries, the majority of the people of those countries believe the lies and propaganda that are reported about us. Notice, however, how when many, not all, of those citizens make it into this country, they learn about us and they become, not only good citizens but, assets to our country. Some of our most contributing citizens came from countries that hated or fought against us at one time or another.

People that can recieve or hear news about our country, listen to our loudest and most strident voices. Voices from people like Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Al Sharpton, etc.. Since many people, in other countries, don’t understand the true meaning of freedom of speech, they think that these people are speaking for all of us. They think that all of us hate President Bush, they think that our country is filled with prejudice and hatred, they think that crime is out of controll and they think that every one of us carries guns and shoot each other for no reason, they think that we all feel that the war in Iraq is immoral or already lost, they think that all Republicans and most whites hate minorities and all non Jewish or Christian religions.

These people in other countries don’t understand that the voices that they are hearing come from a very loud and vocal minority of hard line left wing zealots and that those voices do not speak for all of us. These people also hear from a few loud and vocal far right wing zealots, however the right wing zealots are not celebrities so these people don’t pay as much attention to them. What the people in other countries don’t understand is that the majority of people in this country are moderate to slightly left or right wing and don’t really agree with either the far left or the far right. The majority of people in this country are hard working, kind, caring and generous people. However, moderate views are not exciting and therefore do not sell a lot of newspapers or garner a lot of television viewers, so moderate views do not get much coverage here or in any of the free or fairly free foriegn press.

Finally, most of the people in the world don’t like each other, many Chinese consider anyone not Chinese to be a barbarian and less than human, Indians and Pakastanis hate each other, Russia and all of the old Soviet Union members fight or feud with each other, many Muslims hate Jews and Christians, most Arab countries seem to hate Isreal, Muslim sects hate and kill each other, the French think that everyone else is beneath them, some Irish hate the British, in Ireland Catholics and Protestants fight each other, many Chinese and Koreans hate the Japanese and many Japanese hate the Chinese and the Koreans, Africans hate and kill other Africans, Argentines feel superior to citizens of other South American contries, etc, etc.. If so many people in the world hate or dislike each other, how can we expect them to like or love us?

Isn’t it about time that we quite worrying about being liked and instead started worrying about being respected or even a little feared. Fear usually generates a certain amount of respect. I’m not suggesting that we become another Soviet Union or a China. I am saying that perhaps we should stop worrying what the world thinks of us and instead stand up for ourselves. Use our financial clout, sacrifice a little, or a lot by not buying oil and goods from our enemies, cancell free trade agreements with our detractors, etc.. Sure many things will cost us more, but aren’t our way of life and our dignity worth something. And, if we do need to use military force, maybe we should use it without first trying to get everyone else’s permission. Help from countries like France, Germany, Russia and China would cost us more than it would help us. Help from the United Nations always seems to cost us more, in money and problems, than it helps us. There are a few countries, Australia, England, Israel, Taipei and a few others that usually stick by us, however, we may not always be able to count on them. Even now many people in England are trying to have Tony Blair removed from office and if we don’t start doing a better job of helping our friend and ally Israel, they may, someday, cease to exist.

Heal Our Republic: Change Our Electoral System

Consider the presidential election system we have today: Every state has a number of electors, equal to their amount of representatives and senators, who vote for the President of the United States. In most states, every elector goes to the candidate who achieves the most popular votes, regardless of his margin of victory. This means:

1. Presidential candidates have little reason to campaign to the whole country. If partisan or personal loyalty makes victory certain in a state, a candidate can safely ignore it in favor of other states. Conversely, if a candidate will definitely lose in a state, then he won’t waste his time there. Only competitive “battleground states” see much activity.
2. We have less national turnout. If a state will assuredly support one candidate, why bother voting? Also, lack of vigorous campaigning in a state might contribute to voter apathy during an election.
3. With the winner-take-all plurality system, candidates try to attract moderate voters, so to avoid turning people off, they emphasize their personalities more than their policies. This results in bland, visionless candidates who take those traits into the White House.

I believe a new presidential electoral system is in order. We need something that rewards candidates who have bold ideas, while drawing more voters into the process as well.

Therefore, I recommend we emulate the French.

Hear me out! The French have an excellent method by which to elect their president. It is a two-stage electoral process. In the first part, candidates from all the country’s parties can run. Candidates who mobilize partisans with daring policy agendas will perform best here. Afterwards, during the second stage runoff, the first and second place finishers of the first round compete. Whoever achieves a majority vote wins. This requires the candidates to make themselves as palatable toward the center as possible.

Eliminating the Electoral College and implementing two-round direct popular vote elections here would deliver many benefits. It would reward courageous candidates with striking ideas in the first stage, but it would weed out dangerous fanatics in the second stage. It would allow smaller parties to achieve greater prominence than they could achieve in a winner-take-all elector paradigm. It would give candidates reason to campaign to every American. And it would give each voter a larger role in determining the outcome of the election.

As a German friend also pointed out to me, ìI don’t quite get it that in the US, votes for the Greens i.e. are all lost, even help a candidate from the right to get into office (see 2000) — a second turn of the elections would allow Green supporters to vote for the Democrat.î This is an important point. The major parties would have to give adherents of smaller parties reasons to vote for them. This would force the Democrats and Republicans to take other parties, such as Greens and Libertarians, seriously, and perhaps heed some of their political desires. This would make more Americans feel as if they play an important role in the republican process.

To complete the reform, we also need to make going out to vote easier. Right now, we seemingly make voting as hard as we can. Elections take place on weekdays, so if Americans want to vote, they must take off work or rush to the polls before or after work. When they get there, they must wait a long time to finish the process, because the volunteer polling coordinators are old, retired people. (Young people have to work, after all.) All this makes voting seem not worth the hassle to millions of Americans.

To change that and increase turnout, Election Day should become a federal holiday. That would allow Americans to vote without worrying about missing work and forfeiting pay, or hurrying through throngs of people in the morning or evening. Younger Americans would also be able to volunteer to oversee the polls, thereby making voting a smoother and faster experience.

While we’re on the subject of changing our electoral system, let’s consider this: At the time the Constitution was drafted, one of the Anti-Federalist objections to the document was to the pluralistic election of representatives. The Anti-Federalists argued this could allow the election of representatives whom most of the community despised, but who still managed to get more votes than anyone else. Instead, according to the Anti-Federalists, districts should select their representatives by majority vote.

I believe that Anti-Federalist objection has merit. How can a representative represent a district if most of the people there hate him? Changing congressional elections to two-stage elections, similar to what I outlined above for presidential elections, would be a good idea. That way, we could ensure the majority of citizens in a district would have voted for their congressman. All the benefits of switching the national presidential election to a two-stage majority vote model would apply here.

Many conservatives would object to the national scope of my reform plan. Theyíd correctly point out it would erode federalism. Because population centersócitiesówould yield greater power, our executive branch might also shift to the left. Given the power of the presidency, this might produce a government similarly inclined to governments in Europe. Anathema to conservatives, that would be.

To counteract the leftward effect and to placate conservatives, I suggest we repeal the 17th Amendment. Let the state legislatures elect senators again. Senators who don’t rely upon the people as an electoral base would be a lot more willing to challenge the president. Not only might the Senate be more conservative than the President, but theyíd feel safer defying him since the people who put him in office wouldnít be the same ones who put them in office. They wouldnít have to worry as much about the Presidentís popularity.

In addition, with the people electing both the House of Representatives and the President under my plan, we’d need more checks against the tyranny of the majority. Election of federal senators by state legislatures would constitute such a check.

No electoral procedures could solve all problems. But this extensive reform plan would eliminate many of them:

* Campaigns focusing only on battleground states.
* Nullification of millions of votes.
* Candidates whose only goal is to win a plurality of the ballots.
* Victories by candidates whom most of the community doesn’t support.
* Apathy of the electorate toward politics.

We especially should not underestimate the importance of the last element. Only an interested and engaged citizenry can serve as the foundation of a republic. Without it, a republic cannot stand.

Colors of the American Flag

I would imagine that even before the ink on the Declaration of Independence had dried, the sentences: “Are we gonna have a flag? We gotta have a flag! Britain has a flag!” were echoed by members of the Continental Congress. But then, a flag is important. It is a symbol representing a group and their beliefs — a means of identification.

It has long been reported that in May of 1776, Betsy Ross sewed the first version of the flag we use today. The American flag has, of course, gone through several design transformations since then, as states were added to the nation and stars were added to the design.

Symbolism Abounding

Unique and appealing as the design is, I think our flag is also full of symbolism. To me, the red stripes indicate courage, blood and suffering. The white stripes mean truth, purity and open-mindedness. The word stripes, itself, is associated with oppressions, struggles, punishments and lessons learned. An enduring flag represents a state of surving or coming-of-age the hard way.

To me, the stars on our flag represent goals, dreams and the future — what we all aim for, in our own way — the infinite, the stars. The color blue is usually identified with peace, tranquility and spirituality. Hopefully, our dreams and future will be surrounded by peace and spirituality, just as the stars on the flag are surrounded by the blue.

Our flag is very much like our country. It is woven together by many threads, just as our nation is woven together by many nationalities, religions, philosophies and personalities.

The flag needs to be held up and supported to wave free, just as our country needs support to continue to remain as free as it has been. Any little breeze can cause a reaction. A harsh wind can make the flag angrily whip around on its foundation. But, even when it becomes weathered and torn, hanging on by only a few strands, as long as it is still connected to its foundation, it will continue to hang on and wave freely. It’s the wind blowing against the flag that keeps it waving, that allows the stars (as well as the stripes) to be seen. It’s the winds of properly-channeled protest and criticism brought against a nation that keeps it changing and shaping and thus, prevents it from sinking into a false euphoria or apathy…or worse.

Not as Simple as it Seems

The flag is not black and white, and neither are most issues involving it. You will note, that there is one more red stripe than white, showing that there will be more pain and struggle than there will be purity and truth.

An amendment (“H.J. Res.10”) giving Congress the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag, has been up for vote several times. However, “desecration” means more than being burned or shredded in anger and protest. Through the popular sale of interpretated versions of our flag that’s been placed on items ranging from paper notebooks and jewelry, to shirts and table cloths, it’s been proven that the flag has a marketing appeal as well as a patriotic one. But Title 4, Section 8-d, 8-g and 8-i of the U.S. Code (rules and regulations) forbids wearing it or placing an image of it on anything that is meant to be thrown away. The code also says that it is not be be used for advertising purposes. Therefore, it is always interesting to see how “desecration” is interpretated.

An Implied Pledge?

Any flag represents a nation or group’s future, as well as it’s past. So, before you burn it or praise it, condemn it or pledge allegiance to it, you should take another look at it and really see it for what it represents.

Sometimes I think that our nation’s “pledge” has gone to another rectangular object…a green one. With all the crime and corruption in this country, it’s as if the “Pledge of Allegiance” has been subconsciously rewritten to:

I pledge allegiance to the dollar

of the United States of America.

And to the buying power for which it stands.

One cartel, under the stock exchange, insatiable,

with affluence and greed for the fortunate.

May Our Flag Always Wave Free!

Since the 9-11 tragedy, the red, white and blue American flag has been seen on more cars and flying from more buildings than ever. Maybe we should continue to wave our flag even more and be ever cautious to see that it continues to represent the freedom, justice and integrity for which it has always been known.

Dialog about Anti-Semitism and the Fate of the State of Israel

Rabid anti-Semitism, coupled with inane and outlandish conspiracy theories of world dominion, is easy to counter and dispel. It is the more “reasoned”, subtle, and stealthy variety that it pernicious. “No smoke without fire,” – say people – “there must be something to it!”.

In this dialog I try to deconstruct a “mild” anti-Semitic text. I myself wrote the text – not an easy task considering my ancestry (a Jew) and my citizenship (an Israeli). But to penetrate the pertinent layers – historical, psychological, semantic, and semiotic – I had to “enter the skin” of “rational”, classic anti-Semites, to grasp what makes them click and tick, and to think and reason like them.

I dedicated the last few months to ploughing through reams of anti-Semitic tracts and texts. Steeped in more or less nauseating verbal insanity and sheer paranoia, I emerged to compose the following.

The Anti-Semite:

The rising tide of anti-Semitism the world over is universally decried. The proponents of ant-Semitism are cast as ignorant, prejudiced, lawless, and atavistic. Their arguments are dismissed off-handedly.

But it takes one Jew to really know another. Conditioned by millennia of persecution, Jews are paranoid, defensive, and obsessively secretive. It is impossible for a gentile – whom they hold to be inferior and reflexively hostile – to penetrate their counsels.

Let us examine anti-Semitic arguments more closely and in an unbiased manner:

Argument number one – Being Jewish is a racial distinction – not only a religious one

If race is defined in terms of genetic purity, then Jews are as much a race as the remotest and most isolated of the tribes of the Amazon. Genetic studies revealed that Jews throughout the world – largely due to centuries of in-breeding – share the same genetic makeup. Hereditary diseases which afflict only the Jews attest to the veracity of this discovery.

Judaism is founded on shared biology as much as shared history and customs. As a religion, it proscribes a conjugal union with non-Jews. Jews are not even allowed to partake the food and wine of gentiles and have kept their distance from the communities which they inhabited – maintaining tenaciously, through countless generations, their language, habits, creed, dress, and national ethos. Only Jews become automatic citizens of Israel (the infamous Law of Return).

The Jewish Response:

Race has been invariably used as an argument against the Jews. It is ironic that racial purists have always been the most fervent anti-Semites. Jews are not so much a race as a community, united in age-old traditions and beliefs, lore and myths, history and language. Anyone can become a Jew by following a set of clear (though, admittedly, demanding) rules. There is absolutely no biological test or restriction on joining the collective that is known as the Jewish people or the religion that is Judaism.

It is true that some Jews are differentiated from their gentile environments. But this distinction has largely been imposed on us by countless generations of hostile hosts and neighbors. The yellow Star of David was only the latest in a series of measures to isolate the Jews, clearly mark them, restrict their economic and intellectual activities, and limit their social interactions. The only way to survive was to stick together. Can you blame us for responding to what you yourselves have so enthusiastically instigated?

The Anti-Semite:

Argument number two – The Jews regard themselves as Chosen, Superior, or Pure

Vehement protestations to the contrary notwithstanding – this is largely true. Orthodox Jews and secular Jews differ, of course, in their perception of this supremacy. The religious attribute it to divine will, intellectuals to the outstanding achievements of Jewish scientists and scholars, the modern Israeli is proud of his invincible army and thriving economy. But they all share a sense of privilege and commensurate obligation to civilize their inferiors and to spread progress and enlightenment wherever they are. This is a pernicious rendition of the colonial White Man’s Burden and it is coupled with disdain and contempt for the lowly and the great unwashed (namely, the gentiles).

The Jewish Response:

There were precious few Jews among the great colonizers and ideologues of imperialism (Disraeli being the exception). Moreover, to compare the dissemination of knowledge and enlightenment to colonialism is, indeed, a travesty.

We, the Jews, are proud of our achievements. Show me one group of people (including the anti-Semites) who isn’t? But there is an abyss between being justly proud of one’s true accomplishments and feeling superior as a result. Granted, there are narcissists and megalomaniacs everywhere and among the members of any human collective. Hitler and his Aryan superiority is a good example.

The Anti-Semite:

Argument number three – Jews have divided loyalties

It is false to say that Jews are first and foremost Jews and only then are they the loyal citizens of their respective countries. Jews have unreservedly fought and sacrificed in the service of their homelands, often killing their coreligionists in the process. But it is true that Jews believe that what is good for the Jews is good for the country they reside in. By aligning the interests of their adopted habitat with their narrower and selfish agenda, Jews feel justified to promote their own interests to the exclusion of all else and all others.

Moreover, the rebirth of the Jewish State presented the Jews with countless ethical dilemmas which they typically resolved by adhering uncritically to Tel-Aviv’s official line. This often brought them into direct conflict with their governments and non-Jewish compatriots and enhanced their reputation as untrustworthy and treacherous.

Hence the Jewish propensity to infiltrate decision-making centers, such as politics and the media. Their aim is to minimize conflicts of interests by transforming their peculiar concerns and preferences into official, if not always consensual, policy. This viral hijacking of the host country’s agenda is particularly evident in the United States where the interest of Jewry and of the only superpower have become inextricable.

It is a fact – not a rant – that Jews are over-represented in certain, influential, professions (in banking, finance, the media, politics, the film industry, publishing, science, the humanities, etc.). This is partly the result of their emphases on education and social upward mobility. But it is also due to the tendency of well-placed Jews to promote their brethren and provide them with privileged access to opportunities, funding, and jobs.

The Jewish Response:

Most modern polities are multi-ethnic and multi-cultural (an anathema to anti-Semites, I know). Every ethnic, religious, cultural, political, intellectual, and economic or business group tries to influence policy-making by various means. This is both legitimate and desirable. Lobbying has been an integral and essential part of democracy since it was invented in Athens 2500 years ago. The Jews and Israelis are no exception.

Jews are, indeed, over-represented in certain professions in the United States. But they are under-represented in other, equally important, vocations (for instance, among company CEOs, politicians, diplomats, managers of higher education institutions, and senior bankers). Globally, Jews are severely under-represented or not-existent in virtually all professions due to their demography (aging population, low birth-rates, unnatural deaths in wars and slaughters).

The Anti-Semite:

Argument number four – Jews act as a cabal or mafia

There is no organized, hierarchical, and centralized worldwide Jewish conspiracy. Rather the Jews act in a manner similar to al-Qaida: they freelance and self-assemble ad hoc in cross-border networks to tackle specific issues. Jewish organizations – many in cahoots with the Israeli government – serve as administrative backup, same as some Islamic charities do for militant Islam. The Jews’ ability and readiness to mobilize and act to further their plans is a matter of record and the source of the inordinate influence of their lobby organizations in Washington, for instance.

When two Jews meet, even randomly, and regardless of the disparities in their background, they immediately endeavor to see how they can further each other’s interests, even and often at the expense of everyone else’s.

Still, the Jewish diaspora, now two millennia old, is the first truly global phenomenon in world affairs. Bound by a common history, a common set of languages, a common ethos, a common religion, common defenses and ubiquitous enemies – Jews learned to closely cooperate in order to survive.

No wonder that all modern global networks – from Rothschild to Reuters – were established by Jews. Jews also featured prominently in all the revolutionary movements of the past three centuries. Individual Jews – though rarely the Jewish community as a whole – seem to benefit no matter what.

When Czarist Russia collapsed, Jews occupied 7 out of 10 prominent positions in both the Kerensky (a Jew himself) government and in the Lenin and early Stalin administrations. When the Soviet Union crumbled, Jews again benefited mightily. Three quarters of the famous “oligarchs” (robber barons) that absconded with the bulk of the defunct empire’s assets were – you guessed it – Jews.

The Jewish Response:

Ignoring the purposefully inflammatory language for a minute, what group does not behave this way? Harvard alumni, the British Commonwealth, the European Union, the Irish or the Italians in the United States, political parties the world over … As long as people co-operate legally and for legal ends, without breaching ethics and without discriminating against deserving non-members – what is wrong with that?

The Anti-Semite:

Argument number five – The Jews are planning to take over the world and establish a world government

This is the kind of nonsense that discredits a serious study of the Jews and their role in history, past and present. Endless lists of prominent people of Jewish descent are produced in support of the above contention. Yet, governments are not the mere sum of their constituent individuals. The dynamics of power subsist on more than the religious affiliation of office-holders, kingmakers, and string-pullers.

Granted, Jews are well introduced in the echelons of power almost everywhere. But this is still a very far cry from a world government. Neither were Jews prominent in any of the recent moves – mostly by the Europeans – to strengthen the role of international law and attendant supranational organizations.

The Jewish Response:

What can I say? I agree with you. I would only like to set the record straight by pointing out the fact that Jews are actually under-represented in the echelons of power everywhere (including in the United States). Only in Israel – where they constitute an overwhelming majority – do Jews run things.

The Anti-Semite:

Argument number six – Jews are selfish, narcissistic, haughty, double-faced, dissemblers. Zionism is an extension of this pathological narcissism as a colonial movement

Judaism is not missionary. It is elitist. But Zionism has always regarded itself as both a (19th century) national movement and a (colonial) civilizing force. Nationalist narcissism transformed Zionism into a mission of acculturation (“White Man’s Burden”).

In “Altneuland” (translated to Hebrew as “Tel Aviv”), the feverish tome composed by Theodore Herzl, Judaism’s improbable visionary – Herzl refers to the Arabs as pliant and compliant butlers, replete with gloves and tarbushes. In the book, a German Jewish family prophetically lands at Jaffa, the only port in erstwhile Palestine. They are welcomed and escorted by “Briticized” Arab gentlemen’s gentlemen who are only too happy to assist their future masters and colonizers to disembark.

This age-old narcissistic defence – the Jewish superiority complex – was only exacerbated by the Holocaust.

Nazism posed as a rebellion against the “old ways” – against the hegemonic culture, the upper classes, the established religions, the superpowers, the European order. The Nazis borrowed the Leninist vocabulary and assimilated it effectively. Hitler and the Nazis were an adolescent movement, a reaction to narcissistic injuries inflicted upon a narcissistic (and rather psychopathic) toddler nation-state. Hitler himself was a malignant narcissist, as Fromm correctly noted.

The Jews constituted a perfect, easily identifiable, embodiment of all that was “wrong” with Europe. They were an old nation, they were eerily disembodied (without a territory), they were cosmopolitan, they were part of the establishment, they were “decadent”, they were hated on religious and socio-economic grounds (see Goldhagen’s “Hitler’s Willing Executioners”), they were different, they were narcissistic (felt and acted as morally superior), they were everywhere, they were defenseless, they were credulous, they were adaptable (and thus could be co-opted to collaborate in their own destruction). They were the perfect hated father figure and parricide was in fashion.

The Holocaust was a massive trauma not because of its dimensions – but because Germans, the epitome of Western civilization, have turned on the Jews, the self-proclaimed missionaries of Western civilization in the Levant and Arabia. It was the betrayal that mattered. Rejected by East (as colonial stooges) and West (as agents of racial contamination) alike – the Jews resorted to a series of narcissistic responses reified by the State of Israel.

The long term occupation of territories (metaphorical or physical) is a classic narcissistic behavior (of “annexation” of the other). The Six Days War was a war of self defence – but the swift victory only exacerbated the grandiose fantasies of the Jews. Mastery over the Palestinians became an important component in the psychological makeup of the nation (especially the more rightwing and religious elements) because it constitutes “Narcissistic Supply”.

The Jewish Response:

Happily, sooner or later most anti-Semitic arguments descend into incoherent diatribe. This dialog is no exception.

Zionism was not conceived out of time. It was born in an age of colonialism, Kipling’s “white man’s burden”, and Western narcissism. Regrettably, Herzl did not transcend the political discourse of his period. But Zionism is far more than Altneuland. Herzl died in 1904, having actually been deposed by Zionists from Russia who espoused ideals of equality for all, Jews and non-Jews alike.

The Holocaust was an enormous trauma and a clarion call. It taught the Jews that they cannot continue with their historically abnormal existence and that all the formulas for accommodation and co-existence failed. There remained only one viable solution: a Jewish state as a member of the international community of nations.

The Six Days War was, indeed, a classic example of preemptive self-defense. Its outcomes, however, deeply divide Jewish communities everywhere, especially in Israel. Many of us believe that occupation corrupts and reject the Messianic and millennial delusions of some Jews as dangerous and nefarious.

Perhaps this is the most important thing to remember:

Like every other group of humans, though molded by common experience, Jews are not a monolith. There are liberal Jews and orthodox Jews, narcissists and altruists, unscrupulous and moral, educated and ignorant, criminals and law-abiding citizens. Jews, in other words, are like everyone else. Can we say the same about anti-Semites? I wonder.

The Anti-Israeli:

The State of Israel is likely to end as did the seven previous stabs at Jewish statehood – in total annihilation. And for the same reasons: conflicts between secular and religious Jews and a racist-colonialist pattern of deplorable behavior. The UN has noted this recidivist misconduct in numerous resolutions and when it justly compared Zionism to racism.

The Jewish Response:

Zionism is undoubtedly a typical 19th century national movement, promoting the interests of an ethnically-homogeneous nation. But it is not and never has been a racist movement. Zionists of all stripes never believed in the inherent inferiority or malevolence or impurity of any group of people (however arbitrarily defined or capriciously delimited) just because of their common origin or habitation. The State of Israel is not exclusionary. There are a million Israelis who are Arabs, both Christians and Muslims.

It is true, though, that Jews have a special standing in Israel. The Law of Return grants them immediate citizenship. Because of obvious conflicts of interest, Arabs cannot serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Consequently, they don’t enjoy the special benefits conferred on war veterans and ex-soldiers.

Regrettably, it is also true that Arabs are discriminated against and hated by many Israelis, though rarely as a matter of official policy. These are the bitter fruits of the ongoing conflict. Budget priorities are also heavily skewed in favor of schools and infrastructure in Jewish municipalities. A lot remains to be done.

The Anti-Israeli:

Zionism started off as a counter-revolution. It presented itself as an alternative to both orthodox religion and to assimilation in the age of European “Enlightenment”. But it was soon hijacked by East European Jews who espoused a pernicious type of Stalinism and virulent anti-Arab racism.

The Jewish Response:

East European Jews were no doubt more nationalistic and etatist than the West European visionaries who gave birth to Zionism. But, again, they were not racist. On the very contrary. Their socialist roots called for close collaboration and integration of all the ethnicities and nationalities in Israel/Palestine.

The Anti-Israeli:

The “Status Quo” promulgated by Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, confined institutionalized religion to matters of civil law and to communal issues. All affairs of state became the exclusive domain of the secular-leftist nomenclature and its attendant bureaucratic apparatus.

All this changed after the Six Days War in 1967 and, even more so, after the Yom Kippur War. Militant Messianic Jews with radical fundamentalist religious ideologies sought to eradicate the distinction between state and synagogue. They propounded a political agenda, thus invading the traditionally secular turf, to the great consternation of their compatriots.

This schism is unlikely to heal and will be further exacerbated by the inevitable need to confront harsh demographic and geopolitical realities. No matter how much occupied territory Israel gives up and how many ersatz Jews it imports from East Europe, the Palestinians are likely to become a majority within the next 50 years.

Israel will sooner or later face the need to choose whether to institute a policy of strict and racist apartheid – or shrink into an indefensible (though majority Jewish) enclave. The fanatics of the religious right are likely to enthusiastically opt for the first alternative. All the rest of the Jews in Israel are bound to recoil. Civil war will then become unavoidable and with it the demise of yet another short-lived Jewish polity.

The Jewish Response:

Israel is, indeed, faced with the unpalatable choice and demographic realities described above. But don’t bet on civil war and total annihilation just yet. There are numerous other political solutions – for instance, a confederacy of two national states, or one state with two nations. But, I agree, this is a serious problem further compounded by Palestinian demands for the right to return to their ancestral territories, now firmly within the Jewish State, even in its pre-1967 borders.

With regards to the hijacking of the national agenda by right-wing, religious fundamentalist Jewish militants – as the recent pullout from Gaza and some of the West Bank proves conclusively, Israelis are pragmatists. The influence of Messianic groups on Israeli decision-making is blown out of proportion. They are an increasingly isolated – though vocal and sometimes violent – minority.

The Anti-Israeli:

Israel could, perhaps, have survived, had it not committed a second mortal sin by transforming itself into an outpost and beacon of Western (first British-French, then American) neo-colonialism. As the representative of the oppressors, it was forced to resort to an official policy of unceasing war crimes and repeated grave violations of human and civil rights.

The Jewish Response:

Israel aligned itself with successive colonial powers in the region because it felt it had no choice, surrounded and outnumbered as it was by hostile, trigger-happy, and heavily armed neighbors. Israel did miss, though, quite a few chances to make peace, however intermittent and hesitant, with its erstwhile enemies. It is also true that it committed itself to a policy of settlements and oppression within the occupied territories which inevitably gave rise to grave and repeated violations on international law. Overlording another people had a corrosive corrupting influence on Israeli society.

The Anti-Israeli:

The Arabs, who first welcomed the Jewish settlers and the economic opportunities they represented, turned against the new emigrants when they learned of their agenda of occupation, displacement, and ethnic cleansing. Israel became a pivot of destabilization in the Middle East, embroiled in conflicts and wars too numerous to count. Unscrupulous and corrupt Arab rulers used its existence and the menace it reified as a pretext to avoid democratization, transparency, and accountability.

The Jewish Response:

With the exception of the 1919 Faisal-Weitzman declaration, Arabs never really welcomed the Jews. Attacks on Jewish outposts and settlers started as early as 1921 and never ceased. The wars in 1948 and in 1967 were initiated or provoked by the Arab states. It is true, though, that Israel unwisely leveraged its victories to oppress the Palestinians and for territorial gains, sometimes in cahoots with much despised colonial powers, such as Britain and France in 1956.

The Anti-Israeli:

This volatile mixture of ideological racism, Messianic empire-building, malignant theocracy much resented by the vast majority of secular Jews, and alignment with all entities anti-Arab and anti-Muslim will doom the Jewish country. In the long run, the real inheritors and proprietors of the Middle East are its long-term inhabitants, the Arabs. A strong army is not a guarantee of longevity – see the examples of the USSR and Yugoslavia.

Even now, it is not too late. Israel can transform itself into an important and benevolent regional player by embracing its Arab neighbors and by championing the causes of economic and scientific development, integration, and opposition to outside interference in the region’s internal affairs. The Arabs, exhausted by decades of conflict and backwardness, are likely to heave a collective sigh of relief and embrace Israel – reluctantly at first and more warmly as it proves itself a reliable ally and friend.

Israel’s demographic problem is more difficult to resolve. It requires Israel to renounce its exclusive racist and theocratic nature. Israel must suppress, by force if need be, the lunatic fringe of militant religious fanatics that has been haunting its politics in the last three decades. And it must extend a welcoming hand to its Arab citizens by legislating and enforcing a set of Civil Rights Laws.

The Jewish Response:

Whether this Jewish state is doomed or not, time will tell. Peace with our Arab neighbors and equal treatment of our Arab citizens should be our two over-riding strategic priorities. The Jewish State cannot continue to live by the sword, lest it perishes by it.

If the will is there it can be done. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

USA Government Grants And Its Types

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Although, grants may seem like a free lunch, technically they are not. After receiving a grant from a government agency, the grantee is expected to meet the obligations required of him, which are submitting progress reports on the business or the charity-organization to which the grant was first used.

The grantee decides how much money the agency will lend him ñ as long as it meet s the criteria of the Government agency. Money is non-taxable and interest fee. None of these programs require the grantee to submit a credit check, security deposits, collateral or co-signers. You can apply even if you are bankrupt or have a negative credit history. Anybody can do so, as long as you are over 18, a taxpayer and a US citizen. Guaranteed US Government Grant for USA Citizens at http://www.trustedreviews.info/money/usm/unclesamsmoney.html

These grants are classified into two kinds. The first kind is the general purpose or operating support grants. This occurs when the government agency bestows a grant to your organization that will be used to operate and support the general expenses in running your establishment. An operating grant is when the lender supports the organization’s goal and invests in them to make the most out of the money that they lend you.

Second kind is program development or program support grants. This is when the government supports not only the procedures but also the processes in the progress of the campaign. These include the planned activities targeted to get positive feedback for its culmination.

If you would like to know the common kinds of project grants, here are some of them:

1.) Planning grants

A good deal of money and time is spent figuring on a major new program for your company. Research whatever is needed, consult with the people involved, look on other activities you can do before you write a proposal for a planning grant.

2.) Start-up grants

Also known as seed money, start-up grants assists an organization during its first couple of years. It is like a push for the business venture to do well without worrying about financial resources. These grants are often for more than a year and it decreases as each year pass. This is because the funder expects the company to slow get into its feet as time goes by. Up to $500,000 from venture capital companies for your new business. US Government Grants for Citizens

3.) Facilities and equipment grants

Also known as ìbrick and mortarî or capital grants, facilities and equipment grants assists the company to buy the physical asset for the establishment. These could be the building, the computers or the vehicle, for example. In the proposal of the applicant, he must defend his proposal for the acquisition he is requesting for. How will this help the company and be of service to his clients? Funders also require the applicants to make a report on their progress because they double check whether the companies are able to maintain these resources over time.

4.) Endowment grants

Non-profit charities have money set aside that they use to invest and earn interest in the future. The principal sum remains untouched because they only spend the interest. These are endowment grants and are rampant with charities like hospitals and colleges. The fund-raising efforts for the benefit of hospitals and colleges start from these kind of grants. But the government makes sure that the interest of the principal sum or the endowment remains the same so that there is no need for the endowment to meet the annual operating costs.

5.) Program related investments or PRIs

The IRS not only allow grants to foundations, they also permit them to make loans through the program related investments to non-profit organizations. The PRIs that have been approved are projects that met the requirements to be eligible for grant support. Usually, they are met at a low or sometimes zero interest. But because it is a loan, PRIs must be paid back by the organization. Often times, PRIs are the ones involved in the building project of charities. Up to $5,000 to convert your vehicle from gas to an alternate fuel. US Government Grant for USA Citizens

Tap Into Your Local Government Advisory Service

If you are aiming at starting out on a business venture soon, you are going to be looking into a number of different financing options in order to get all the money that you require. Every business owner can tell you that it takes a good chunk of liquid money to begin any kind of enterprise, regardless of what type of business you are going into. How does one go about getting a loan to begin a business venture? There are many ways in which this can be managed, with each one offering its own specific advantages for new business owners.

Common knowledge and conventional wisdom tells business owners that they have to approach banks if they need financing. There, you can try to get hold of an affordable business loan in order to get the ball rolling on your bright idea. The problem with banks in this day and age is that they aren’t being nearly as lenient with whom they are providing financing to. Because the market has seen a rise in the number of defaulters, lenders are tightening their credit requirements. At the same time, they are also considerably increasing their rates of interest. This could combine to make banks a financing option that is out of the price range of many new entrepreneurs. If you fall into this category, what should your response be? Do you consult family and friends to try to find someone who will help? If that doesn’t sound too appealing, then there is another option that you could look at. Your Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) is out there waiting for you if you should need financial assistance.

The Federal government decided to try and develop these local groups that have the best interest of your community in mind. There are a number of these organizations throughout the country and they represent your local area and community. These groups are filled with local people who have a ton of experience in running businesses and are in place to improve the state of local affairs. Though they also take on other responsibilities, such as environmental concerns, these advisory service committees are ultimately charged with stimulating businesses within your locality or state.

What procedures must be followed to get financing through the Local Government Advisory Service? You have to get in touch with them and see what they have on their plate at the moment. These committee members might be ready to loan you the money for a plan that would benefit both your business and the community. If you have an organized business plan that will ultimately provide something of value for your community or state, then the committee shall give you more importance. Granted that they don’t have any pressing needs that have to be addressed prior to your concern, they will take your plan to heart and start discussing giving you aid.

All of this might be affected by your hometown. Certain local advisory services have a lot more money to spare. In New York, for instance, the LGAC is in contact with millions of dollars each year which must be allocated to certain entities. Other areas of the country would probably find it very difficult to match that number, but they still feature some ability to help your venture roll out. Business owners must realize that these local committees have to keep the community’s best interest in mind, so not every project will get aid. Ultimately, it will be up to you to convince the committee that your business provides something meaningful and useful to your locality.

How does one go about convincing the committee that your idea would be a profitable one? Being organized will take you a long way. Take the time to sit down with your business plan and lay it out in a way that is easy to understand for everyone involved. Show how much business it might bring into a town or state. Inform the committee members, in certain financial terms, the scale of the impact that your business will have. This will put the pressure on them to pull the trigger on financing for your idea. Then, everyone will benefit from your desire and ability to begin a venture that will be a lucrative one.

If you are looking for a quality way to find financing for your upstart business, then you need to shop around extensively. Though it is prudent to investigate all of the options that are available to you, it would be foolish to overlook some of the things that could be hidden for a while. Your Local Government Advisory Service would be willing to help you monetarily. If you have a great idea that could add something constructive, you may not face too much trouble in getting monetary help.

How Taxing Utilities Can Keep Governments In Check

Under free market, all companies can talk all they want that all the stuff they put there is for my own good. However, if the product is overpriced or if it doesnít serve my interest to get the product, I just donít buy it.

No companies, full with corruption and inefficiency, will last in the market, unless it is governments companies.

The same mechanism doesnít apply to governments program.

Indonesian governments build airplanes. It doesnít make business sense. Then every one is required to buy air plane stocks. Then governments sell the planes to Indonesiansí airways companies.
Bad business gets smaller, smaller, and gone. Bad governments business gets bigger and bigger. There is no check and balance mechanism whatsoever to ensure that when governments spend money the money worth spending.

When governments build public school, people simply says that it benefits the people. Yet, how do we know that the benefits worth the cost? Governmentsí public school can be plagued with corruption and efficiency. What are the intensives that the school boards will care about the kidsí interests when deciding curriculum?

Recently we heard costly debate on whether evolution or creationism that should be taught in school. Face it. Do we care? Most of us would rather learn business or economy so we can make big bucks.

I took graduate level Math classes straight without prerequisites and got As easily. Do I need to pay expensive teachers? Different kids have different needs and capability that properly harvested can really cut down costs of education. How do government’s regulated system adapt to it?

However, the harm of government’s program can be greatly reduced by requiring anyone that uses it to pay for the utility. That way, if governments build a pyramid and no body visits it then we know that its money wasted.

The list can go on and on. Currently poor people use bikes and the rich use car. Yet governments pay to build roads. The usage of roads is proportional to the usage of gas. There will be less cars and more bicycle if governments tax gasoline and use the money to build roads. That way, people that work at home (like me) and save a lot of cash hence getting rich faster. The only time people will buy car is if it worth’s to pay for the car and the road.

The exception to this principle is on business with economic of scale. Some Nobel winner, like John Nash, argues that deviation from competitive equilibrium is inefficient and encourages governments to actively split monopoly, or even create public monopoly. Some like Milton Friedman argues that even though it is true that some economic of scale is un-efficient. However, there’s nothing you can do about it. After all, the only naturally occurring worldwide monopolies nowadays are diamond monopolies, which will be toppled if it goes too much. The market failures fail to exceed typical government’s failure.

Hence, I have no strong opinion.

If our country is full with corruption then cost for government’s failure is huge. So market mechanism is the way. If corruption rate is relatively low, we may be able to play around safely with some government’s intervention. Watch out for what Friedman says.

Government Obstacles On The House Building High Road

Two proposals set out by the government during the last quarter of 2007 are likely to have major impact on the house building industry in 2008 and beyond. The first being the call for 3 million new homes by 2020, and the second and most significant, the proposed introduction of a statutory new planning charge.

The planning charge is designed to help pay for the infrastructure needed for new developments, and encourage regions and local authorities to plan positively for housing and economic growth.

The Government’s decision to scrap the controversial Planning Gains Supplement (PGS) in favor of the planning charge will be a relief to the industry, which feared that PGS would create a vacuum on the number of new sites brought to the market, and make many schemes financially unviable.

While the planning charge is a better way forward, it is not without its concerns. Any tax on land, which this undoubtedly still is, will either mean a rise in the cost of homes or will reduce the land value, which may have a negative effect on the number of sites coming forward for development.

The proposal for the planning charge is that it will based on a costed assessment of the infrastructure requirements specific to the development, taking into account land values. This is crucial as the cost of land in the South is significantly higher than in the North, and if the charging structure fails to take into account this regional difference then this will have severe consequences for the ability for house builders to develop new homes in higher priced regions.

The initial proposals by the British Property Federation, Home Builders Federation, London First and the Major Developers Group to the Government suggested that the charge should vary according to whether a site is greenfield, brownfield or regeneration scheme. Developers should be able to argue for a reduced tariff payment, if a scheme is not viable because of the tariff or other impositions, such as Section 106. This proposal will be key to the success of this idea.

One of the aims of the planning charge is to help make the planning process simpler. While this is to be welcomed this needs to go hand in hand with creating more land opportunities. Britain’s house builders cannot build 3 million new homes by 2020, just on brownfield sites alone, the use of the greenbelt will be essential to achieving this. The Social Marketing Foundation said in August that approximately 2 million of these new homes will need to be built outside of existing town and city boundaries.

Natural England is currently proposing a review of the greenbelt, which will look into the possibility of releasing parts of it for development. The emphasis would be on creating green wedges and corridors to link the natural environment to built areas. I would welcome, as I am sure most of the house building industry would, a review which takes a realistic view of the existing greenbelt alongside the need for new homes. Originally the greenbelt was created to protect and prevent urban sprawl. However, in recent years it has become a political issue, which has resulted in it becoming untouchable.

Building on the greenbelt in sustainable locations where access to infrastructure is already in place, will ensure a much better solution to England’s housing shortage than the development of new towns with little infrastructure or community.

The Government’s decisions on planning and housing need to be carefully considered to take into account the needs of the population and not be based on what is likely to be a vote winner. What often seems to be forgotten is that it is house builders who build homes and not the Government. Therefore the Government needs to take care not to jeopardies development opportunities by implementing policies which might hinder supply or make developments economically unviable.

House builders have the capability and willingness to build more homes but are prevented from doing so through a lack of land, long and drawn out planning legislation and a lack of commercially viable opportunities. It is to be hoped that this new planning charge will aid and not hinder the industry.

Getting Down Payment Help From The Government

A large hurdle you must overcome to purchase a house is the down payment. Fortunately, you can get down payment help from the government for your dream home.

Getting Down Payment Help From The Government

When it comes to buying a house, the government can actually help. No, really.

HUD stands for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. With such a name, you can see why everyone just calls it HUD. The departmentís stated mission is to pursue initiatives that make home ownership available to as many Americans as possible. HUD does this through making guarantees on home loans and other initiatives. A common misconception about HUD is that it actually issues mortgages to borrowers. It does not. Before you get too disappointed, HUD does offer initiatives in the housing down payment area.

In December of 2003, HUD started an initiative known as the American Dream Downpayment Initiative. Yes, they actually spelled downpayment as one word, but who is going to complain about such help? The initiative is part of the American Dream Downpayment Assistance Act passed in 2003, which provides $200 million dollars in down payment assistance. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is!

The goal of the initiative is the same as all HUD programs, to wit, to increase homeownership by helping people with the hurdle of down payments. The initiative is available only to first time buyers and is focused on revitalizing neighborhoods, giving minorities a leg up as well as lower income individuals. With the skyrocketing real estate prices of the last seven years, the initiative represents a breath of fresh air.

Under the initiative, HUD will provide assistance with down payment and closing costs. The help is capped at $10,000 or six percent of the purchase price, whichever is greater. Put another way, this is not some token assistance program. $10,000 or six percent is nothing to sneeze at. What do you know, a government program that actually helps people.

In truth, HUD is one of those rare government agencies that does a great job. To find out more about the American Dream Downpayment Initiative, contact HUD.