Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Slaves of Many Types

After checking into my Amsterdam hotel today - Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky - I read this memo from hotel management to all guests:

Dear Guest,
Welcome in (sic) NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, in the heart of Amsterdam! Our hotel is situated in a unique location, in the centre of the city that entertains 24 hours a day. To ensure your of a good night's rest, we offer you earplugs and a free night cap in our Golden Palm bar. The Golden Palm bas (sic) is open for you till 01.00 am.

Enjoy your stay and good night.

Despite the spelling errors this gesture was much appreciated since I could hear what appeared to be a very large group of drunk men singing at the top of their lungs -- probably football (soccer) songs based on the sound. I am certain the ear plugs will be helpful as I sleep tonight while other people exercise their right to party until dawn via the numerous options that Amsterdam provides.

Overall Amsterdam is a nice city to tour especially if you want to enjoy its lively night life. But setting aside fun and games for a minute with a dose of reality I want to mention the Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to India this afternoon which was escorted by fighter jets back to the Amsterdam airport. Having just arrived via Northwest Airlines about 3 hours before this flight it really caught my attention since it was an apparent terrorist situation when 12 passengers all took out cellular phones and unbuckled their seat belts at the same time according to the CNN report I just heard now. Unfortunately this is the world we live in today as I was reminded last night while I waited to check into my flight in Minneapolis. A very friendly Pakistani-American standing in front of me with his family starting talking with me about how his family is harassed both in the USA and in Pakistan when they visit. This unfortunately happens despite the fact that two of his relatives served as US Marines.

Perhaps we could all be more open-minded and less tribal in nature by respecting "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness........." more than we do today. Having mentioned "liberty" let me recap today's opening dinner for the Reason Foundation conference that I am attending. During dinner I sat next to two Jewish gentlemen who were discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which covered a full range of political, economic, and historic topics including the USA's relocation of the Native American Indian population. It was this comment that prompted me(the only German Lutheran at the table!!!) to join the conversation.

I stated that perhaps the people of Israel should demand reparations from the government of Egypt since the Tribe of Israel/Jews were slaves in Egypt until led by Moses to the "Promised Land" which the Israelis and Palestinians now kill each other for control of this land. My statement was an extension of the debate in the USA advocated by segments of the Afro-American community and some limousine liberals who want the government of the USA to pay today's descendents of America's slaves reparations for the damage caused by the slavery/plantation system. Honestly, somedays I am in favor of paying such reparations (though 90% of the time I am opposed!) so we can FINALLY bring the debate over slavery in the USA (a VERY sad and hypocritical part of our history) to a close. Such payments would also create the opportunity for further welfare reform by coupling the complete divestiture of all public housing projects to the private sector as a "cash and property" settlement with today's African-Americans thus creating more private property owners in the USA -- always a good thing.

Now let me return to the Reason Foundation dinner tonight. The guest speakers were the creators/writers of the "South Park" satirical cartoon which is aired on Comedy Central. Beyond the "f***" and "s***" comments these two gentlemen left the audience with a great message -- freedom is a good thing which generates economic growth and challenges those who crave power and control -- elements that are essential to a healthy democratic system if you ask me.



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