Leonard and Penny – Believable?

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Be honest!  If you saw a couple like Big Bang Theory’s Leonard and Penny walking down the street, you’d probably think poor Leonard was in the “friend-zone”.  Either that, or he has a lot of money.  Penny is very much the quintessential “hot blonde”, from her blonde hair and blue eyes, to her breasts that “defy gravity” (according to the “Amy” character), her legs, her assets.  Leonard is kinda cute in his own nerdy way, but he’s short, he’s no Brad Pitt, he wears glasses, and is too much of a nice guy.  Guys like Leonard are usually “just friends” with girls like Penny.  Yet, as Big Bang Theory enters its 8th Season, there they are together again…and engaged!

My first instinct is to say, “only on TV”.  However, I’m a big fan of the show and have paid close attention to these two since the beginning.  A younger, naïve Penny likely would have seen Leonard as a sweet guy who could be a good “friend”.  Many girls with Penny’s looks and insecurity would happily string poor Leonard along to give themselves an ego boost between dating, as Penny calls them, “dumb guys from the gym”.  Penny has certainly been around, as the Big Bang series began with Penny heartbroken from dating a big jerk with huge muscles and a bad attitude.  As the series continues, we learn more about Penny’s promiscuous past.  However, from day 1, she was always warm, open minded, but deeply flawed.  Some fans of the show claim that Penny only uses Leonard when she’s depressed, insecure, or just wants a man and has nobody else available.  Genuine friends do lean on each other when they’re depressed or insecure.  There was also one particular episode when Penny was drunk and attempted to have a one-night stand with Leonard.  However, she turned down Zack (a rather handsome “dumb guy from the gym” type) to be with Leonard that night.  While it certainly wasn’t Penny’s finest moment, I think it shows that deep down, her feelings for Leonard were developing.

Consider also how Penny has gone out of her way to make Leonard happy.  She threw him his first birthday party late in the first season, because he never had them growing up.  Despite her financial woes, she bought him several thoughtful gifts that she herself had no interest in, such as a vintage Star Trek transporter toy.  Furthermore, during those periods when they weren’t dating, Penny often gave Leonard helpful advice with women.  Lastly on this point, she cried when Leonard left for his trip to the Arctic Circle.  Penny may be insecure, reckless, and yes, willing to turn to Leonard to bail her out of bad situations she’s put herself into; but she’s also kind, considerate, and loyal as a friend.  Women as attractive as Penny are often shallow and stuck up – but not Penny.  She sees beneath the surface.

I think that after that four year relationship that Penny was in before the series began, she grew as a person.  The continued bad experiences with that ex-boyfriend matured her to the point where she would finally consider a sweet guy like Leonard.  She finds him cute, and definitely cares about him.  Does she have a strong, bestial attraction to him?  Nope!  And why is that necessary?  I know this is just a TV show, but while Penny and Leonard’s relationship is unusual, I do find it believable.  Rare, but believable.  Penny may not be a science genius like Leonard or Sheldon, but she has street smarts.  Her street smarts led her to a wise decision to invest her love in Leonard, and I look forward to seeing it continue.  As for Leonard, his biggest flaw with Penny has always been his – to put it bluntly – his spinelessness.  Once when they were on a weird, “friendship” “not really a date” type…whatever it was, Leonard started being more assertive and Penny liked that.  I think Penny wants Leonard to be more assertive, in part because she cares about him, but also because she’s a woman, and women are attracted to that.  It’s just human nature.  So, in conclusion, if Leonard is assertive, makes Penny happy but doesn’t bend over backwards trying to appease her, I think they both will have a bright future indeed.  Well, the new season starts tonight, and I can’t wait!

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Why Aren’t American workers earning more money? (It’s not because of a low minimum wage)

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“Low wages are the most costly any employer can pay” – Henry Ford

At times like these, many are tempted to support a minimum wage increase.  The cost of living is increasing (mainly food prices), our economy is growing, yet wages for the lower middle class are stagnant and the upper middle class is shrinking.  A few wealthy people are reaping the benefits of global industrialization while the rest of us scrap to get by.  Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see a meme or a quote from the Sen. Bernie Sanders on the subject, and he means well in his efforts to raise the minimum wage.  This, however, treats the symptom rather than the cause.

Our stagnant wage growth in relation to the cost of living is caused by two factors:  “free trade” resulting in job outsourcing, and hidden inflation of the US Dollar.  Of these two causes, I find “free trade” to be the most serious.  This all started with Bush Sr. and Clinton…mostly Clinton.  They believed that if we signed “free trade” agreements with low wage countries such as Mexico, China, etc. that our hard manual labor based jobs would go to these countries, allowing highly educated American workers to focus on technology and high paying sectors with a high skill set.  This economic model has worked well for countries like Ireland, with its mere 4.5 million population.  The US, however, has a population of over 360 million, about 80 times the size of Ireland’s.  There is not enough demand for these high skill set products and services in the entire world to keep America employed.  Our tech sector does well, and does provide some excellent jobs, but it will never be enough.

Now some might say that if China, Mexico, etc. are cheaper, than why shouldn’t it be made there?  It benefits US because we get cheap stuff, right?  Well, let’s start with Mexico.  Jobs were sent to Mexico in the 1990s, and their economy grew.  We felt it, we lost SOME manufacturing jobs, but our economy grew none the less.  Jobs grew, wages grew, and many thought Clinton was a wonderful President because of this.  However, as Mexico’s economy grew, their wages grew also.  The eventual result probably would have been a level playing field between Mexico and the US.  As the supply of jobs in Mexico would have outgrown the demand for those jobs, companies would have had to pay Mexicans a fair wage or else lose them to other companies who would.  Which brings us to China.

The market forces that normally allow wages to increase…well these forces are suppressed in China.  If workers demand better wages, they turn up missing.  If they form labor unions, they are slaughtered.  If they work 80 hours, and only get paid for 50 hours, they file a complaint with their local government and such complaints are largely ignored.  Furthermore, China devalues their currency making their goods artificially cheap.  Even the Grandfather of Capitalism himself, Adam Smith, knew that free trade would only work if all nations involved had reliable currency values.  Yet our naïve (if not crooked) politicians tell us that “free trade” creates jobs for everyone, and is more efficient.  Meanwhile, our economy has plenty of minimum wage jobs, and jobs that pay $8 or $9 an hour, but many of us remember the 1990s when a reasonably skilled and intelligent college student could find a $10 hour part time jobs.  I have not adjusted for inflation here.  That was $10 an hour back when you could go to the grocery store and buy ground chuck for 99c a pound.  (Now you’re lucky to find it for under $4 a pound).

If we want wage growth, increasing the minimum wage will help very little.  Companies who hire the bare minimum of employees, such as Walmart, will be forced to pay a little more.  But smaller companies attempting to grow may find this burdensome and simply hire less new employees.  Furthermore, it doesn’t address the real problem.  We need a pragmatic trade and industrial strategy in the US if we want real wage growth.  We need a simpler, more sensible corporate tax code so that companies can pay a modest tax rate without having to hire a department of accountants and former bureaucrats to figure it out.  Companies who hire Americans should pay relatively low taxes, while companies who outsource and then import those products back to the US should bare a much larger portion of the tax burden.  Lower and simplify the corporate tax rate, and raise tariffs.  This will bring jobs back to America, and increase revenue, thereby lowering the US deficit.  Doing so will at least help to curb inflation, which is in reality much higher than we are told by the US Department of Labor.  If you really think inflation is less than 3% per year, think about that the next time you are buying groceries.

Rick Santorum and the Democratic Party – Strange Bedfellows

 

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What do establishment Democrats and neocon Republicans have in common?  They are both powerful, incompetent, and think they speak for America!  As Rand Paul has wisely advocated a very consistent defense based foreign policy, the establishments of the left and right are blasting Paul for “blaming America”.  The left/right establishment from Hillary Clinton to Rick Santorum, and to a lesser extent President Obama, have advocated arming “the rebels” in Syria, while at the same time fighting against ISIS.  Never mind that ISIS actually came from those very “rebels” in Syria that the establishment helped.  Never mind that ISIS actually has many of those very weapons that the left/right establishment sent them.  To the left/right establishment, this arm your enemies, and blow ‘em up later approach to foreign policy makes perfect sense.  To anyone whose head is located atop the shoulders, instead of between to big hairy cheeks, this makes no sense at all.

I just read probably the worst article ever published in the Huffington, puffington Post.  Rand Paul wisely opposed arming “the rebels” in Syria, and now blames the political establishment, left and right, for having done so and inadvertently aided ISIS.  Instead of admitting their mistakes, “both sides” claim that Rand Paul is “blaming America”.  Well, I’m an American.  Ted Cruz is American.  Bernie Sanders – American.  Pat Buchanan – well you get the idea.  I’ve never heard Rand Paul blame any of us for ISIS.  You who read this, has Rand Paul blamed you?  Are you American?  Rand Paul blames particular political leaders who have made foolish policies that helped ISIS.  Is it blaming America anytime any American blames a politician for their mistakes?  Who would have thought that Rick Santorum, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham would find themselves on the same side as the Democratic National Committee?  Some of my hardcore paleocon/libertarian friends will call them RINOs.  I just call them insane.  Hey, here’s a brilliant idea.  Next time there’s a forest fire – don’t put it out right away.  Pour gasoline on it first, then when it gets really bad, we can start putting it out.  That makes about as much sense as arming the rebels in Syria.

Now, let me be serious.  In conclusion, ISIS must be stopped.  If that means bombs, then let’s drop bombs.  If it means arming Kurds, let’s arm the Kurds.  If it means allying with forces we don’t normally like very much, like Iran or Syria…so be it.  But the greatest threat to our safety comes not from those who hate us from abroad, but our incompetent political leaders and their self-destructive policies that are based more on Cold War prejudices and silly globalist ideologies than America’s best interests.  As Dave Mustaine said, “Yesterday’s answers have nothing to do with today’s questions”.  For America to move forward, we must remove the neocons and the interventionist “liberals” from power at the ballot box.  Is it 2016 yet?

P.S. and No, Dave Mustaine never endorsed Santorum.  He merely complemented Santorum for his devotion to his family.