ON THE OHI DAY IV

November 1, 2018

NOVEMBER 1, 2018

As noted in earlier OHI articles, I was baptized Elias Theodorakos since it is the Greek custom to name the first son after the paternal Papou (grandfather). Within a few years, the name Elias (our first grandson is also named Elias) was displaced by Louis, its American counterpart. Three weeks ago at Grandparents Day at the Foote School in New Haven, CT, 13 year old Elias spoke before an audience of approximately 500 grandparents. He talked about his grandfather or Papou (that’s me), my grandfather, my grandfather’s grandfather, etc. He also noted how proud he was of his name and his Greek heritage. I teared up.

 

In second grade, my immigrant parents were told by several public school teachers that it would be in the best interest of the family to Americanize the last name. The name was soon legally changed to Theodore. About that time, my Uncle Jimmy who came to America with my father changed his name to Theodore while Uncle John chose Theros. My Aunt Stavroula also chose to change her married name from Apostolakos to Lake. I know our children and grandchildren would have preferred that our last name had not been changed. They are also disappointed – along with Mary (who is not Greek) – that I did not insist that they go to Greek school. But, such were those times. Although I am an American first, I remain proud of my Hellenic roots. And, it is for this reason that another OHI article was written.

 

On to the theme of the article. The 79th anniversary of the repulsion of fascist forces by the Greek Armed Forces was recently celebrated several weeks ago on October 28. (The day came and went without a whimper here in the United States.) The Greeks refer to this as the OHI (an emphatic NO!) Day. OHI was Prime Minister Metaxas’s response to Hitler’s order to peacefully surrender. What followed Metaxas’s response was 219 days of fierce battles. That in turn was followed by intense guerrilla warfare that resulted in a brutal occupational that included executions, sufferings, famine, and sever inflation. The rest is now history for some people and all Greeks.

 

For comparison purposes, the days of resistance of the various combatants to the Nazi-Fascist invasions are listed below:

 

  1. Belgium                                                                     18
  2. Czechoslovakia                                                           0
  3. Denmark                                                                     0
  4. France  (the supposed superpower of that time)      43
  5. Greece  (13,696 Greek soldiers died)                       219
  6. Luxembourg                                                                0
  7. Norway                                                                        7
  8. Poland                                                                        30
  9. The Netherlands                                                          4
  10. Yugoslavia                                                                    3

 

The total number of human losses in percentage of total population are also listed below.

 

  1. Belgium                            1.5%
  2. France                               2.0%
  3. Greece                             10%  (750,000)
  4. Poland                             1.8%
  5. Soviet Union                    2.8%
  6. The Netherlands              2.2%
  7. Yugoslavia                       1.7%

 

Here is what four of the more important players of that time had to say (citations available on request) about the heroic Greek accomplishments against the armies of not only Germany but also the armies of Italy, Bulgaria and Albania.

 

  1. Adolph Hitler: “As a matter of historical truth, I must ascertain that only the Hellenes, of all the adversaries that confronted me, fought with daring courage and the highest disregard for death… “

 

  1. Sir Winston Churchill: “The word heroism, I’m afraid, does not reflect in the least the Hellenes’ acts of self-sacrifice that were the defining factor of the victorious ending of all the nations’ common struggle during the 2nd WW for human freedom and dignity. If it were not for the bravery of the Hellenes and their courageous hearts, the ending of the 2nd WW would not have been clear. Until now we were saying that Hellenes fight like heroes. Now we will say: Heroes fight like Hellenes. The Hellenes in fighting against the common enemy will share with us in the prosperity of peace.”

 

  1. Josef Stalin: “I’m sad because I’m getting old and I will not live much longer to express my gratitude to the Hellenic people whose resistance determined the 2nd WW. You fought without weapons and you won, being small before the great ones. We owe you gratitude, because you bought time and, thus, we could arm ourselves. As Russians and as fellow humans, we thank you.”

 

  1. Franklin Roosevelt: “For Hellas there was granted a delay of 3 hours on the 28th of October 1940 so that she can decide on war or peace, but, even if a delay of 3 days or 3 weeks or 3 years was granted, the answer would have been the same. The Hellenes have taught dignity throughout the centuries. When the entire world had lost all hope, the Hellenic people dared to doubt the German monster’s invincibility fighting back with the proud spirit of freedom. The heroic struggle of the Hellenic people against the German attack, having so thunderously won the Italian attempt to invade the Hellenic soil, filled the American hearts with enthusiasm and won their sympathy. A century and a half earlier during the Greek War of Independence, our nation expressed its sympathy for the Hellenes and was hoping for the Hellenic victory.”

 

Yep, I still get that special feeling when someone refers to me as a Greek-American.

 

Note: Thanks are due my first cousins Helen Lake Anton and Harry Lake, aka Apostolakos, for providing some of the background material for this article. Helen was stationed in Greece during part of her CIA career.   Harry served on the National Board of Directors and was Finance Chairman of AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association).”

 

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

or

on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

 

DECEMBER 1:          On the 2018-19 Hofstra Men’s Basketball Team

JANUARY 1:             On Basketball Coaching 101 II

FEBRUARY 1:           On Purely Chaste, Pristine, and Random                                                Thoughts XXVII

 

 

 

 

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ON THE 2016-17 HOFSTRA BASKETBALL SEASON

January 1, 2017

 

 

January 1, 2017

 

Thanksgiving and Christmas is now a near distant memory.  What’s the significance?   It primarily means one thing for basketball buffs in the Nassau County area: the 2016-17 Hofstra basketball season is now in full swing.

 

Every year, at about this time, I introduce the readers to Hofstra’s men’s basketball team and start the prediction process for the season.  This year is no different – so here goes…

 

I begin with some comments about last year’s team.  There were concerns, hopes, and expectations: third year Coach Joe Mihalich was back with a team that featured Juan‘ya Green and Ameen Tanksley – the two Niagara University transfers and Brian Bernardi, plus power forward Princeton transferee Denton Koon and second year center Rokas Gustys.  So what happened?  They had a great season, winning the CAA (Colonial Athletic Association).  The CAA tournament was up for grabs and I felt they had a chance to win it and earn a berth in the NCAA tournament.  We were at the CAA tournament during March 4 -7 at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore when they ran out of gas (as I had predicted earlier) in the championship game.  Nonetheless, it was a pleasant vacation and an exciting four days.  This year’s tournament is scheduled in Charleston, S.C., and it is currently on our radar screen.

 

Three of last year’s super starting five are gone.  As a former educator, I’m always interested in the disposition of the players once they graduate.  It was tough getting straight answers this year but this is what I know at this point in time: Koon is playing somewhere in Europe, with Green and Tanksley playing (I hope) in the NBA Developmental League.

 

This year’s team?  Here is my analysis at the time of the posting of this article (December 25).  The loss of last year’s BIG three was indeed BIG – the two top scorers (including Player of the Year Green) and the power forward.  The team had a decent recruiting year.  (Note: Every team claims they had a great recruiting year, so I no longer believe these press releases.)  Notable additions include Deron Power (Hampton transfer), Eli Pemberton (freshman), Hunter Sabety (Tufts transfer), and Ty Greer (Daytona State transfer).  Notable returnees – in addition to Gustys and Bernardi – include Desure Buie (out for year), Justin Wright-Foreman, and Jamall Robinson.  Are there any concerns?  Should there be concerns?  The answer is YES.  The team is presently in a developmental stage and only time will tell to what degree they will develop and improve.  They have demonstrated an ability to score – sometime almost at will, 8but the defense is still somewhat porous.  For example, they were unable to adjust and negate St. Bonaventure’s two excellent guards during an earlier loss.  And, to compound this problem, the team continues to primarily play zone defense.  On the positive side is that Coach Mihalich is playing 8 players, so fatigue will not be a problem this season.
More on this year’s personnel.  All the noise is about freshman Eli Pemberton.  Mihalich claims he will have a super career at Hofstra.  An NBA scout told me that Pemberton’s number will be hanging from the rafters at the end of his collegiate career.  He is a great scorer but (contrary to Mihalich’s comments) is short on speed and defense–but I have been wrong many times in the past.  I believe that Hofstra’s hopes this year lie with two others.  Powers is the fastest guard I have seen in years–he is grease lightening.  What an absolute great addition to the backcourt.  Ty Greer is listed at 6’6” but I think is 6’8” tall (and growing?) with a long wingspan and tremendous leaping ability.  He’s the sleeper.  However, I have repeatedly claimed that it is great guards that get a team to a championship game, but it is great defensive guards that get you to the Promised Land; i.e., win a championship.  I’m not sure that Mihalich has someone to fill that role.  Bottom line: this may be Hofstra’s year.  Then again, it may turn out to be a rebuilding season for a host of reasons.

 

Attending Hofstra games for me still remains the best sports buy in the New York Metropolitan area; its’s even cheaper than going to the movies.  There is ample free parking, easy access in and out of the Mack Sports Complex, the concession stands are not a rip-off ($3.50 for a dog, $3.00 for a soda, etc.), and there isn’t a bad seat in the house.  Did I mention that its $6 for seniors and children, and the whole exciting atmosphere is conducive to family attendance?  I don’t think this is an exaggeration, but almost every home game last year turned out to be a thriller.  It was raw excitement.  Share it with someone you care about.

 

In the meantime, my Basketball Coaching 101 book is still out in the marketplace at either amazon.com or createspace.com for $17.95.  It makes an excellent New Year’s/post-Christmas gift.  Consider buying the book – I really do need the royalty money to help subsidize my gambling habits.

 

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com or on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

 

FEBRUARY 1:          On Purely Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XXIV

MARCH 1:                 On the Ideal Diet—That Works

 

 


ON THE NESMITH BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME

September 1, 2016

September 1, 2016      

I always wanted to go to the basketball Hall of Fame (HOF) in Springfield, MA.  Well, it all came to be this winter on Wednesday (February 23) when we (along with another couple) drove up to Springfield on Tuesday in weather that could best be described as a snowy-wintry mix.  The 135 mile trip took 3 hours.  What follows are my edited transcribed notes on the trip.

 

  1. All basketball fans should visit the HOF.
  2. All non-basketball fans should visit the HOF at least once.
  3. If you plan to stay/sleep over, as opposed to a day trip, I suggest staying at the Hilton, which is immediately adjacent to the HOF.  Also, consider the package deal that includes admission and breakfast for 2.  It’s a beautiful hotel and worth the price.
  4. The HOF is 3-stories high.  The third floor contains photographs and writings of all the members of the HOF.  I was shocked at some who are members and some of whom are not members.
  5. One floor down is where you want to spend most of your time.  Here, you will find lots of goodies: early history, old-timers, stars of yesteryear, today’s heroes, the media, coaches, administrators, referees, the various conferences, etc.  There were guides there to keep the conservation flowing.  One guide – who never played basketball – had to be nearly 100 years old but lived in the area, was a riot.
  6. A basketball court is located on the bottom/first floor.  Your author’s 2-handed fowl shot of yesteryear went 10 for 25 despite shooting around 80% during earlier days.  My low times have changed.  Incidentally, your author was nicknamed “The Judge” during those earlier years because he spent so much time on the bench.
  7. The first floor also housed a very spacious and comfortable theatre.  My companions requested the movie on MJ although I would have preferred the one on Wilt.

 

Overall, it was a unique experience and would give it a grade of B.  Why not an A, you ask? A few things caught me wrong.  On reaching the third floor, I came face-to-face with the likes of Rick Pitino, Jim Calhoun, John Calipari, John Thompson, Mike Kriyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Dean Smith, etc. – individuals who have, in some form or another, disgraced the game of basketball.  Here are a few other sticklers.

 

  1. There was a very small section in a corner devoted to the NIT.  Isn’t the NIT a major and integral part of the game’s history?  How could this be?  And not a mention of Jack Powers, who served as the Executive Director for 21 years.  (Note: I have formerly nominated Jack for the HOF for the 2017 year.)  I hear admission is very political; but Matt Zeysong (4132315523), the Hall’s curator and historian, has assured me that it is not.

 

Is Jack a worthy candidate?  You be the judge.  He was a 4-year starter and star at Manhattan College, a 2nd team All-American, a coach at Manhattan College, and Athletic Director at Manhattan.  But if he is to be inducted, it will be as an Administrator because of his involvement with the NIT.  At the time of visiting the Hall, the NIT had been around for 74 years.  There have been countless games, innumerable players and coaches, and (of course) millions of fans.  It has endured wars, scandals, and NCAA expansion to continue showcasing some of the finest teams, coaches, and players that college basketball has to offer.  It has, however, fallen on hard times as of late.  Today’s NIT is a men’s college basketball tournament that is now owned and operated by the NCAA.

 

The idea of crowning a national champion began to surface among the New York City sportswriters, initiated by the late Irving Marsh of the Herald Tribune and the late Everett Morris of the Times.  In 1938, the idea became a reality when 6 teams were brought into the old Garden at 49th Street and 8th Avenue to find out who was the best in the land and subsequently being crowned NIT champion.  Enter the NCAA the next year.  “Many thought that when the NCAA Tournament later expanded its field to 64 teams, the NIT would just go away.  But that did not happen.  The NIT presently provides a much needed opportunity to programs that are on the upswing, to clubs that were disappointed by the NCAA selection committee, and to teams that had successful regular seasons but were upset in conference tournament play,” explained Powers, who—as mentioned earlier–ran the NIT for 21 years.

 

No discussion of the NIT would be complete without a discussion of the NIT’s battle for survival between the original NIT and the NCAA.  In 2005, the NCAA ultimately purchased 10-year rights to the NIT from the MIBA for $56.5 million in order to settle an antitrust lawsuit spearheaded by Powers, which was in trial and being litigated until very shortly before the settlement was announced.  The NIT did not initially move from New York City.  However the NIT is presently located in Indianapolis, IN, home of the NCAA.  The selection committee was changed and Powers was unfortunately relegated to member status.  What do the fans in the reading audience think?  Give me a call at (516) 742-8939.  Your comments/suggestions would be appreciated.

 

  1. There was absolutely no mention of the point-shaving scandals in recent years and during the barnstorming days of the original Celtics.

 

  1. There was absolutely no mention of the corruption charges that have been leveled at the NCAA.  No doubt the reader is aware of the recent Boeheim, Pitino, Calipari, Dean Smith, Calhoun, etc.,   scandals.  Note that all of above are members of the HOF.*

 

  1. There was absolutely no mention of the student-athletic scam being perpetrated by the NCAA.*

 

  1. There was absolutely no mention of the adamant refusal of the NCAA to pay players a fair salary.*

 

*As documented in my recent “Basketball Coaching 101” book, I first brought this to the attention of the basketball community 12 years ago.

Bottom line:  It was a worthwhile experience despite the Camelot whitewashing.  I suggest you consider a visit this fall.

 

 

 

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com or on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:  (tentative):

 

OCTOBER 1:             On the OHI Day IV

NOVEMBER 1:         On “THE” Election

DECEMBER 1:          On the 2016-17 Hofstra Basketball Season

JANUARY 1:             One Purely Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XXIV

 


ON INCOME INEQUALITY II: PROVIDING A CURE FOR INCOME INEQUITY (PART I: REVIEWING THE INEQUALITY PROBLEM APPEARED EARLIER ON JULY 1ST)

August 1, 2016

 

 

August 1, 2016

 

Most governments do not know how to spend capital wisely because they do not understand or consider basic economics.  They treat money as something in a budget to be spent.  There is no consideration whether the expenditure will generate a return of the capital spent.  Even if there were such consideration, there is no mechanism to measure performance or punish incompetence. There are benefits to society if government is small but a lot of downside if government just keeps growing larger and larger.

 

The primary reason for a government to exist is to provide law and order, defense of the country, regulations to insure public safety, regulations for suitable use of land and the environment, a stable currency, and an infrastructure for the common good.  If government limited itself to these responsibilities, then the tax burden on those who work would be quite low. However, most governments go way beyond this primary purpose.

 

Taxation eats away the capital able for job creation and eats away at the spending power of the population.  There are two other options available to governments to operate instead of more taxation.  One is to borrow money.  The second is to inflate the currency and eventually devaluate it.  This is the mode of operation for many governments of the world. But borrowing is very risky because an economic downturn jeopardizes the ability to pay money back and inflation can rapidly increase interest costs which also make it harder to pay money back. Bankruptcy is another solution when there is too much debt but this is terribly painful as many countries have found out.  The United States is a late joiner to this club but it is already seeing much of its capital wasted by uneconomic projects and concepts.

 

The fundamental problem of socialistic government is that there is no desire by those in control to be governed by basic economics.  Money is spent for causes, i.e., reduce poverty, provide welfare, provide pensions, provide medical care, provide jobs, etc. But monies spent for so-called “good causes” usually are not effective because the fundamental cause of the problem is not addressed or solved. The usual result is that problems get worse, not better. Much government money is spent to buy votes and to reward friends and vested groups.

 

There are two ways to reduce income inequality between those who are rich and those who are poor. One way is by wealth transfer. This means taking money from those who have money and giving it to those who have little. This may sound like a noble and wise thing to do on behalf of poorer people but it doesn’t work well. It doesn’t make the poor richer for very long. Instead, everyone becomes poorer except for the elite in government who control the wealth transfer.  The wise thing to do is to create a mechanism whereby everyone who can and wants to work can get a good job (i.e., one that is productive and contributes to capital generation) at a living wage. Almost all good jobs come from the private sector from businesses that make a profit. Of course, some jobs in government are essential for it to carry out its key responsibilities. But “make work” jobs and those created by unnecessary regulations destroy capital and lead to a failing economy; they are not a solution to reducing inequality.

 

If creating jobs in the private sector is the key to reducing inequality, then it behooves us to find ways to maximize the number of people employed in the private sector.  Here are some suggestions.

 

The first priority should be to help young people. If young people are to succeed and lead productive lives, they must have basic skills and have a positive attitude and behavior so they will be worth hiring.  But government must also decrease the costs they impose upon businesses and employees that make it too costly to hire young people and pay them a livable wage.  How can this be done? Suppose that up through age 28, young people would have no deductions from their pay stubs: no tax withholding, no deductions from pay for Social Security or medical insurance. They could take home all that they earn which would help them to get a place to live, pay off debts and to begin thinking about having a family one day. The government would not lose too much revenue because new hires have low salaries. The loss in revenue to government would be quickly made up once the young people are over 28. Then they will begin to pay taxes and have deductions but they will be paid more because they will have gained experience and be of more value to their employer.

 

The second priority must be for government to reduce the cost to businesses for hiring, training and maintaining a young person on the payroll. Remember that every business has to work hard to be profitable. So businesses are very concerned whether a new employee will add to profitability or take away from profitability. Every cost that government adds to a business for paper work, regulations, benefits, litigation, penalties, etc., adds to the cost of having an employee on their payroll and their ability to contribute to profitability. This is especially problematical for a new employee because they have the fewest skills and ability to contribute to profitability.  When government or other factors, such as unions, add too much to the cost to having an employee, businesses turn to automation so they can use machines rather than people. If they don’t, other countries with lower costs will take away the business.

 

The third priority is that government payments to individuals not working must be significantly less (not just less) than what one could earn by working. What is the incentive for a young person to learn a skill or be industrious or responsible if he or she knows they can scheme to get the government to give them more money than they could earn by working at a job?

 

The more people there are who are creating a useful product or service, the better off the society will be.  The more people not working or creating something useful, the poorer is the quality of life in a society. Why are some cities so decrepit and full of crime? Because there are not enough people there doing useful work and creating capital for investment. Instead, too many people in these decrepit cities are skilled at destroying what has been created by others.

 

There is an axiom that every person should understand. It explains where wealth comes from. The wealth and the creation of capital for investment by a society is generated from the sum of each individual’s creation of a useful product or service.  In other words, people who work and do something useful, create a society’s wealth. People who do not produce something useful, consume society’s wealth.

 

A forth priority is that taxes on business profits should be eliminated because this tax directly destroys capital, increases the cost of products that people buy and increases the cost of having workers on the payroll. What do taxes on profits of a business do? Do they make the business more responsible? Probably not. Do they reduce high salaries of the top executives?  Probably not. Do they increase the amount of money businesses spend on lobbying Congress.  Definitely yes. Does it increase the cost of products.  Definitely yes. Does it increase the pressure on a business to cut costs unmercifully to try to maintain profitability? Definitely yes. The ultimate payer of taxes on businesses is the consumer. They pay the tax in the form of higher prices. Politicians try to keep taxes hidden from those who really pay them because you, the consumer, really pay them in the form of higher costs. When I was a boy, a postage stamp cost 3 cents and a loaf of bread was 15 cents. Today costs are 15 to 20 times higher. A major part of this increase is due to business taxation, excess paper work and the extensive printing of new money (another form of taxation).

 

Consumers are led to believe that taxing businesses is a way to shift a tax burden from them to someone else. They are wrong. They are paying the tax anyway. On the other hand, when taxes on business profits are reduced or eliminated, then it becomes easier to pay higher wages to employees and keep product prices from rising. It is a way to reduce income inequality and raise the quality of life for the poorest.

 

Everyone knows that it is desirable in a society for people to find jobs that will provide them enough income so they can survive, raise a family and have a good quality of life.  We often heat politicians claim that they can create jobs. But this raises a key principle. “Creating a job is simple but creating a “good” job is difficult”. What is the distinction?  Once again, a “good” job is one that produces something of value and service or a useful product.  It must be something that someone is willing to pay for. But there is a caveat. If a wage for a job is more than the value it creates, then the cost for a business will rise. The business must then increase its prices or else it will be harmed. If we agree that it is desirable to create “good” jobs, then it means that the more wages that an employee can keep will help the employee and the more skills the employee; and, has makes him more valuable.

 

Bottom line:  A job that is created for the sake of a job but which creates nothing useful but waste and “red tape” hurts everyone but mostly the poor and the young.

 

Politicians use charisma and promises to get you to vote them into power. Some are ethical and honest but many use the communistic “Saul Alinsky” campaign strategy which is to lie like crazy and castigate your opponent unmercifully. These unethical candidates usually promise lower income voters all kinds of freebies and benefits. They may look like a good deal for these voters but the reality is that most of these freebies are so-called Ponzi schemes. This is a scheme where the initial recipients get something good but then the money runs out.

 

It is time to recognize that economics counts when it comes to reducing income inequality.  The poor are not going to be helped in the long term by government spending which wastes capital. The poor will be helped by understanding that capital must be spent wisely to create good jobs and by making it easier for businesses to make a profit and hire the young.

 

I close with a comment on income redistribution.  Unfortunately, income redistribution is an employed strategy for cultivating the favor of large blocks of voters.  In this manner, voters maintain loyalty to those who promise to take from Wall Street and the “evil rich” to support the government.  Since voters with lower incomes have the incentive to vote for higher taxes on the wealthy.  The end result is a smaller tax base that supports a financial burden that increases exponentially with time.

 

Visit the author on his Facebook page @ Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:  (tentative):

 

SEPTEMBER 1:         On the Nesmith Basketball Hall of Fame

OCTOBER 1:             On the OHI Day IV

NOVEMBER 1:         On “THE” Election

DECEMBER 1:          On the 2016-17 Hofstra Basketball Season

JANUARY 1:             One Purely Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XXIV

 


On Income Inequity

June 30, 2016

July 1, 2016

 I.  Reviewing the Inequity Problem

 For the past 40 years (WOW!), our family regularly vacations for a week in or around the Easter break at the fabulous Sandcastle Hotel in Sarasota.  During this period, I always make time to visit with my fraternity brother and fellow Cooper Union graduate (chemical engineering) Dick Graven.  Dick had a long and successful career at Mobil, ultimately rising to become Head of all engineering.  Last year, Dick, a prolific writer, penned an article titled “A Cure for Inequity.”

Dick has provided me with permission to use part or all of his article, and after some deliberation, I have decided to provide the readers with an edited 2-part series for the AS I SEE IT Newsletter.   The edited versions are titled “Reviewing the Inequity Problem” and “Providing a Cure for Income Inequity.” This article addresses the first topic.

************

The magic formula for a society to escape poverty is when money flowing from a successful business in the form of profits and employee wages finds its way to start or expand other businesses which also become successful.  In other words, businesses that are profitable create capital for investment.  Profit is the engine that energizes the process.  Profit is like a good virus.  It spreads far and wide to industrialize a society so that it generates jobs, salaries and more profits.  That is what happened in the United States since its founding and it is why it is such an industrial powerhouse.

Communism was once the ultimate political system to accomplish wealth transfer.  It proposed to do this through government control of all the means of producing goods.  Private ownership was eliminated.  All land and all businesses would become the property of government.  All of industry and farming would be controlled by a centralized government through collectives and strict conformity.  Wages would be uniform based upon the communist principle of “each according to his ability, each according to his need”.  This meant that there was no reward for merit or hard work.  Dissent was not tolerated and was punished because “the end justifies the means”.  In others words troublemakers would be eliminated by death or internment because the cause of communism was so noble that any means to eliminate dissent was justified.  Profit was eliminated as a criteria for running any enterprise.  Production quotas were the substitute for the concept of profits.

Propaganda and control of information is an essential weapon of communism.  This political system takes every opportunity to demean free enterprise societies and the concept of profits and/or the wise use of capital.  It is particularly adept at infiltrating education systems to corrupt young minds toward radicalism and class warfare.  Lying and twisting the truth is a common weapon, once again, because “the end justifies the means”.  Sadly, once a communistic society is established, it is almost impossible to return to a free society.  Those in control have a secret police, an army, and a sophisticated propaganda system.  Whenever insurrection brews, it is put down forcibly and life returns to a government controlled environment.  Since capital is always in short supply there is little priority for “doing things right” or improving the environment, preserving the planet, or conserving energy.  The shortage of capital is aggravated by the need to inflate the monetary system to pay off debt.  That, of course, hurts anyone who relies on savings.

It took 75 years before the available capital of the Soviet Union was used up.  The country went bankrupt in 1991.  Russia is the biggest remnant of the Soviet Union and it survives as a police state and a capitalist oligarch.  Profit is still an unappreciated term there and worker productivity and product quality is very poor.  There is no significant competition to give the customer a choice and insure the wise use of capital.  Capital growth and domestic product growth are also very poor.  However, the leaders and the elite of a communist state live very well indeed, even when their people are starving.

A word about China.  The first 40 years of this country under strict communism were a disaster for the people of China.  Tens of millions died due to starvation or persecution.  Now China is more enlightened.  It does permit some private ownership and some free enterprise industries.  Also, the Chinese are hardworking and many are very well educated and skilled.  Still, it is a police state controlled by a privileged elite that often spends capital recklessly and unwisely.  They could face very severe economic problems in the future.

Socialism is a less militant form of Communism.  This political system now recognizes that government run businesses are not a solution to create prosperity so instead it relies on massive government and massive control of free market businesses.  Socialist governments are very large and very inefficient.  They consume a great deal of the wealth of a country.  As per Greece, and to lesser extent in the United States, government workers are seldom fired for incompetency and it is difficult to reward merit.  There is little accountability for misspending, projects that go awry, and gross inefficiency.  Pensions and benefits are very generous.  As a result, taxes are very high.  The goal of socialism is to maximize social benefits to its citizens while giving power and benefits to its elite and its bureaucracy.  Helping businesses to be profitable or using capital wisely is not a priority of socialism.  Instead, tax rates on businesses and individuals are often so high as to be confiscatory, and raising taxes further makes the economy falter and does not generate additional government revenue.  The expansion of social benefits can become so great that socialistic societies often must borrow vast sums of money because government revenues from taxation are insufficient.  This created debt eventually leads to bankruptcy, currency devaluation, and poverty for its people.

Communism and socialism fail because they do not appreciate the importance of capital and the essential need to use it wisely.  Most people today are unaware of this fact.  A society that wastes too much of its capital with no way to replenish it will eventually fail.  Borrowing money may keep it going for a while but eventually debt will get so high that the day of reckoning comes and the country goes bankrupt.  Where is there proof of this statement that wasting capital leads to the demise of a society?  The proof is all around us.  It is demonstrated by the failure of societies which have taken available capital and spent it as if it were free money with no consequences as to how it is spent.  Consider the poverty of Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela and other heavily socialistic countries.  Capital in these countries is just something to be squandered.  Greece has done the same thing and its people are now facing unpleasant remedies and difficult times.

Communist and excessively socialistic countries demonize free societies that are concerned about sustaining capital and profits.  They do so because societies that do appreciate the importance of capital and profit, such as South Korea and Singapore, make communistic and socialistic societies look very bad by contrast.

In the United States we have been conditioned by the media and leftist propagandists to react to the words capital and profit as something bad.  The media often needs a bad guy in their stories so who can they choose?  It is not politically correct to choose a nationality or a race or a country or a religion or an “ism”.  So why not make business people into the bad guys who want to destroy the world.  How many business people do you know that actually have tried to destroy the world? None that I can think of.  However, I know of many dictators and nations that have tried to conquer others.  I know of many businesses that were destroyed by governments but I know of no governments that were destroyed by businesses.  The idea that all businessmen are just greedy souls trying to make outrageous profits is absolutely wrong.  Any successful business knows that it must act in the interests of its customers first – otherwise, it soon will not have customers.  This not true of government.  Government is a monopoly.  They don’t have to be nice to customers because their customers have nowhere else to go.  It is true that businesses can also misuse and divert capital and profit.  But this abuse can be and should be controlled.  The big problem is that governments are the major misusers of the capital derived from profits.  Meanwhile, the media keeps condemning businesses as the source of the problem.

There are many other things that are needed for success.  Here is one of the most important things that people must realize is that no society can elevate itself from poverty unless capital for investment is treasured, valued and used wisely.  It is only investing capital wisely that a society can create the products and services that are vital for creating a civilized, high standard of living society.  Obviously, just having capital available to start or expand a business is not all that is needed to make a business profitable.  There are so many other things that are needed for success.  Here are some of the most important:

  • There must be adequate numbers of people willing to work and they must have skills and knowledge that are useful and appropriate.
  • There must be law and order, plus honesty and truth.
  • Money must have a stable value.
  • There must be an incentive to work rather than not to work.
  • Innovation, creativity and efficiency must be encouraged.
  • Government must not stifle business through excessive taxation and/or regulations, or siphon off business capital funds by intimidation, bribery or confiscation.
  • Government must provide or allow adequate infrastructure so businesses can function efficiently.

These attributes of a society do not occur by chance.  Society must be made aware that these items are important if inequity is to be addressed.  It is up to parents, schools, government, religions, media and all leaders to teach that these are the attributes that create a successful society.

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http://www.theodorenewsletter.com or on Facebook at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:  (tentative):

 

AUGUST 1:                Providing a Cure for Income Inequity II

SEPTEMBER 1:         On the Nesmith Basketball Hall of Fame

OCTOBER 1:             On the OHI Day IV

NOVEMBER 1:         On “THE” Election

DECEMBER 1:          On the 2016-17 Hofstra Basketball Season

JANUARY 1:             One Purely Chaste, Pristine and Random Thoughts XXIV

 


ON HOFSTRA’S 2015-16 MEN’S BASKETBALL: A SUMMARY ANALYSIS

April 1, 2016

April 1, 2016

 

This is the third and last article on Hofstra’s 2015-16 Men’s Basketball team.  Here is a summary report of what took place this season and what to expect for the following year.

 

This was a banner year for the club.  The team basically featured a near dream offense that was unfortunately complemented with a porous defense.  There was the starting five that consisted of Rokas Gustys (C), Denton Koon (PF), Ameen Tanksley (SF), Brian Bernardi (#2), and Juan’ya Green (#1).  Rokas – who I refer to as “The Brute” – came into his own this season and probably should have been behind MVP Green for MVP honors.  Freshman Desure Buie had a decent season.  The club beat Florida State (neutral site), lost to South Carolina at the buzzer (neutral site), and beat St. Bonaventure (at Olean).   The club’s record, prior to the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament: 22-8, 14-4.

 

I attended the CAA Tournament in Baltimore in early March where I was treated to 7 thrilling games over a 3-day span.  What a great vacation.  The tournament itself was the culminating event of the Hofstra season.  Without going into details, the team made it to the finals but lost to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) in overtime.  The general consensus of the media following the loss was that Hofstra suffered from “fatigue” and “was running on fumes” while the UNCW defense – particularly against the two Hofstra guards – contributed significantly to the loss.  The season ended with a thrilling but another heartbreaking 2-point loss in the NIT at George Washington; interestingly, GW then went on to decisively win the NIT championship at the Garden.

 

Here is what I had to say earlier in the season:  “This may be Hofstra’s year.  Then again, it may turn out not to be for a host of reasons.  At the top of the list is a porous defense, following by the lack of a backup center, the lack of a shot blocker, and the lack of a great defensive guard.  Furthermore, Coach Mihalich appears constrained by a 5-man rotation due to the loss of Malik Nichols, which could expand to six with the addition of Buie; this might spell disaster in a potential 3-day/3-game tournament in March.  I maintain that 35+ minute players in a high powered offense will unquestionably cheat on defense – and this problem needs to be addressed.”  No one will ever convince me that a 35-40 minute starter will play with the same intensity defensively as a sub who knows his playing time is limited to under 10-12 minutes.

 

Here is a comment from afar from two fans on this season.  Bob Hausner:  “The Pride lived up to expectations.  The CAA proved to be competitive and Hofstra was in the mix.  They came down to the wire and lost heartbreakers in the tournament final game and the NIT first round.  Their starting five was the equal of any other team in the CAA.  Green lived up to all preseason expectations.  Unfortunately, the loss of Nichols, the 6th man, was devastating and hurt the team.  The short bench resulted in their running out of gas in the last game.”  Ed Borenstein:  “As a former alumni and long-time Hofstra basketball fan, I was very excited that Hofstra finally won the CAA conference plus had the CAA player of the year in Jaun’ya Green.  Although it was disappointing that they lost the championship game in the CAA Tournament, they played hard and got into the NIT.  I’m looking forward to next year and have confidence that Joe will build on the progress they made.”

 

Next season?   Assuming Rokas and Buie will not transfer, the club should have a reasonable chance to again be in the hunt for top honors.  With only minimal improvement, I would expect Rokas to contend for MVP honors the next two years.  Three point specialist Bernardi should be set for another good season.  Buie is the wild card.  He could make the Hofstra faithful forget about the great guards of yesteryear – Speedy, Charles Jenkins, Moore, Green, etc.  He too could become part of the MVP picture during the next three years.  He should improve dramatically in the future but what I love most about this skinny impersonator for a basketball player is his great defense.  Remember what I stated in my book Basketball Coaching 101:    “In reality, defense has recently emerged as the name of the game.  The author has repeatedly told basketball aficionados that defense is 50% of the game.  And every individual has responded with something to the effect: “of course, I (or we) know that”.  But really?  Who believes them?  After all, from the first day a player is introduced to basketball, defense has almost always been an afterthought…  It is great guards that get a team to a championship game, but it is great defensive guards that win championships.  It is their ability to create havoc on the opponent’s offense that makes the difference.  Bottom line:  defense doesn’t get the credit it deserves in the role it can play in determining the outcome of a game.”

 

All in all, it should be another very good year, particularly if the team exceeds the minimum requisite defense DNA.

 

Here is a comment from afar from an avid fan on next year’s season (Bob Bernstein):  “This will obviously be a very difficult season with the loss of Green, Tanksley, Koon and Nichols.  But there is some good news: two notable additions are 6’8” Oceanside transfer (from Tufts) Hunter Sabety, and guard Deron Powers from Hampton College.  Notable returns, in addition to Rokas and Bernardi, are 6’10” Andre Walker and small forward Jamail Robinson.  There are a lot of positives.”
Here is some personal information on the three seniors as the spotlight dims and they ride off to a new way of life – perhaps never to be heard from again.

 

  1. Kenton Koon, the graduate transfer from Princeton University. I dubbed Kenton the most underrated player on the team, primarily because of his court savvy.  He was also the only player on the starting five who didn’t look for his shot.  He was my type of contributor – a true team player.

 

  1. We are all hoping that Green will be drafted (by the NBA) sometime in the coming months. He has a legitimate shot because of his great passing, excellent foul shooting, and tremendous court presence.  Shooting, speed, and defense may be questioned by some interested teams.  From a personal perspective, I would draft him because great one (#1) guards have always been close to my heart.  Perhaps Speedy Claxton can help.
  2. Ameen Tanksley probably hopes to make it in Europe and he has a reasonable shot to succeed. He had a great CAA Tournament.  The main problem is that he is a “tweener”, i.e., too small for a small forward (#3) and not possessing the qualities for a #2 guard.  But he is all heart and tough as nails.  His four years with Coach Mihalich is obviously a plus.

 

Baseball has arrived.   As my father often put it:  Let’s go Mets.  But it will be a while before this Hofstra basketball season leaves some of us.  But nonetheless, Coach Mihalich, his assistant coaches, Athletic Director Jeff Hathaway, and all the players need to be congratulated.  Thank you all for an exciting season.  It was also a memorable year in that Tom Yaeger, the CAA Commissioner since its inception 31 years ago, announced that he was retiring.   He and his wife plan to remain at their lake home in Virginia.  Congratulations, good luck and good health to Tom.

 

I close with a poetic executive summary of the 2015-16 season.  My thoughts often turn to the passage of time which, in turn, are reminders of sayings involving the orbiting of the sun that have withstood the test of time.  Here is a sampling.

 

Henry David Thoreau

Walden. I, Economy

To him whose elastic and vigorous thought

keeps pace with the sun

the day is a perpetual morning.

 

Minot Judson Savage

Things Not Done

There comes an hour of sadness

With the setting of the sun,

Not for the sins committed,

But the things I have not done.

 

Edward Young

Night Thoughts

Like our shadows,

Our wishes lengthen as our sun declines.

 

How does the above relate to this narrative?  Darkness is now approaching for the two kids from Philly who provided two years of immense basketball talent as they prepare to ride off into the sunset, awaiting a new beginning.  But then, having stepped out of the darkness and experienced the early morning rays of light upon the darkened sky, Buie now awaits his day in the sun.  Perhaps Scarlett O’Hara (Vivian Leigh) said it best when the curtain descended on Margaret Mitchell’s classic “Gone with the Wind” “After all, tomorrow is another day.” (perhaps drawn from Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixode – tomorrow will be a new day?).

 Visit the author on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:  (tentative):

 

MAY 1:                       On the 2016 East Williston School District Budget Vote

JUNE 1:                      On Barack Hussein Obama V

JULY 1:                      On Financial Inequity


Once Again, It’s Hofstra Time . . . Unfortunately

December 6, 2012

 

 

December 7, 2012

 

Each of the last eight years, I have had the pleasure and good fortune to attend and write about the men’s basketball team of Hofstra.  I have also claimed that attending these games at Mack Arena is the best sports buy in the metropolitan area.  But this one’s different, and it wasn’t an easy one to write.

 

Two weeks ago, the Hofstra community and part of the basketball world were rocked with the revelation that four Hofstra men’s basketball student-athletes (S-A) were involved (allegedly?) with stealing electronic equipment, including laptops, cell phones, iPods, etc.

 

My take follows.

 

I’m in the process of writing a book on college basketball.  In the last chapter, which is concerned with the future of the game, I predict another major scandal involving shaving points and fixing the outcome of games.  Why?  Because the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has put in place one of the all-time great scams on the public.  The S-As provide the entertainment that generates billions of dollars for the NCAA, and yet, they never see a piece of this monstrous, gigantic financial pie.  T-shirts and sweatshirts are marketed with their names and numbers on them, and yet, the NCAA makes certain they don’t get any royalties.

 

The NCAA has perpetrated this fantasy myth of a S-A that includes the requirement that the S-A live a life of poverty during their scholarship years.  Many of the S-As playing basketball (as well as football) in the major schools are not only poor but also anything but students.  Hell, some of them can’t even spell “student” after graduation.  For example, some time back, one S-A spelled student “stutan”; another worded the answer “yes’ on his application to the question on “sex.”  All of the above is compounded by the fact that they come from low-income families – in effect, they’re broke; which is why 3 of the 4 were not able to post a measly bail.

 

 

So back to the Hofstra players.   We are all a product of our society and environment.   These four certainly didn’t know the difference between right and wrong.  Who’s to blame?  Their parents?  Their church?  Their school?  The NCAA?  No doubt, a combination of all four.  And, no doubt, they will be made an example by District Attorney Rice and some school administrators, with all but the four kids essentially being absolved on any wrongdoings.

 

I am ashamed to admit that a well-to-do close friend of mine occasionally steals money from someone dear to him who is rich beyond words.  When I prod him on what his God would think and/or how he handles confessions, his response is that the person could definitely afford it and would not miss it.  How’s that for logic from a college-educated adult?  Can one draw an analogy between my friend and these four?  And how about the white-collar crimes committed on a daily basis on Wall Street, business,
and government?  And what about those who cheat on their income taxes? I kept this in mind when thinking of these four, realizing that although their crime was more personal in nature, none of the others described above would be punished, or even reprimanded.

 

It is also important to note that these kids did not commit a violent crime.  No rape.  No muggings.  No beatings.  No murder.  Should they be penalized?  Of course, but we should keep in mind that there are rapists and murderers walking around scot-free.  I do hope the four are penalized, but I also hope they will be given a second chance.  That is something we all deserve for our indiscretions, particularly those of a first-time nature.

 

I was asked how do I really feel.  There was essentially no surprise, but there was disappointment and sadness.  Sadness more than disappointment.  Sadness because of the impact the conduct of these four young men will have on not only those who love them, but also their coaches, teammates, friends and classmates, as well as all the legitimate S-As who do the right thing.  I also feel for these four youngsters (three are 18 years old) and hope they realize that their world has not come to an end; they still have a lifetime to live.

 

Here are comments from two colleagues/friends:

Jack Powers,former Executive Director of the National Invitational Tournament (NIT), picks it up from there.  “You have to feel sorry for everyone involved.  This was different from some of the recent battery and rape cases involving some basketball programs.  What they did was wrong but no one should jump to conclusions regarding punishment.  I would need to know more about each kid.  Perhaps a year’s suspension would be appropriate.  But they shouldn’t totally shut the door on some of these kids.  We all did crazy things when we were young.  I’m reminded of the saying ‘people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.’”

Dr. John Wilcox, former Director of the Center for Professional Ethics and my ethics book coauthor, continues the outside narrative.  “It’s important to understand that these four are not hardened criminals.  Putting them in jail really won’t serve any useful purpose.  Some form of rehabilitation is in order and one can only hope that they will become a useful and integral part of society.”

 

In the final analysis, it’s safe to say that this is a sad commentary for the four boys, their families, and the NCAA.  One can only hope that this will play out in a fair, just and compassionate manner, and others will learn from what occurred at Hofstra.

 

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