law

What You Need to Know About Premises Liability Law

Outdoor places like supermarkets and amusement parks have their inherent risks by nature. In any event that there is a potential risk associated with one’s property, whether the place is business or residential, the owner of that property can become legally liable in case a person gets injured on the property. Under the premises liability law, the owners of properties have a legal obligation to keep their property safe for visitors.

In any event that an accident like slip and fall takes place on any legal property, there is a high chance for the injured victim to claim premises liability and make the property owner legally responsible for the accident. Take note that there are virtually no place exempt from the legal responsibilities of property owners to ensuring safe conditions for visitors to their places. Owners of public sidewalks, to supermarkets, to government owned buildings, and everything in between are held responsible for maintaining a safe environment for visitors.

The nature of the accident and the severity of the injuries are both assessed when there is a claim for premises liability. The severity of the injury and the conditions of the property should be established before a case is decided upon within a ruling court.

The most common examples of premises liability cases include injuries in a retail establishment, dog bites, and injuries in water parks, parking lots, airports, and amusement parks. In some cases such accidents are purely accidental in nature. In most cases, however, these accidents could be avoided if proper precautions were taken by property owners.

The outcome of an accident is devastating. It could result in catastrophic injuries. For instance, a slip and fall accident in a public place can result in traumatic brain injuries if the head hits a hard surface due to a slippery or wet floor. On the other hand, at amusement parks, people may ride and fall to their death.

Private properties are no less than safer than public properties. For example at a private residence, a small child can drown if he or she is left unattended in a swimming pool, or people can be viciously attacked by a dog. A teenage girl could be molested or stabbed to death in a dark pathway, which constitutes “negligent security”. All these examples fall under premises liability law.

In any event that you or a loved one becomes a victim of such accident, it is very important to seek legal damages. You must talk to an accident lawyer may advice you what to do.

Move It With Your Mind – The Law of Attraction – The Secret

Where attention goes …. Energy flows. What we give our attention to, we give our energy to. You can physically see this happening by dangling a necklace from your hand and making it move with your mind.

In feng shui, energy is called chi. Chi flows through our homes and through our bodies. And we can focus the chi of our body with our mind. Everything is made of energy and our thoughts are a form of energy that we can shape with our consciousness. “Move it with your mind” is a simple technique that anyone can do. You’ll need a necklace made of any kind of metal and a lightweight pendant on the end. All you have to do is look at the pendant and THINK the way you want it to move and it should start moving that way. You can move it in a circle clockwise or counterclockwise or back and forth. You can move it one way, stop it, and move it another way.

You’re not going to be moving the necklace with your hand, you’re going to move it with your mind so you need to keep your arm as still as possible. Put your elbow on your knee to help keep your arm still. Hold the chain of the necklace with the thumb and forefinger of the hand you write with. And hold the pendant about one inch above the palm of your other hand. Then think the way you want it to move and it will move that way.

And that’s how it works. Where attention goes … energy flows. So what are you giving your energy to?

China Internet Censorship in the Age of Globalization

China internet censorship has a major impact on the political and economic industries affecting the information and communication technologies for the Chinese society. The economic development, bureaucratic politics, civil and political liberties, international relations and security is also affected by the China internet censorship. This also includes the aspirations of Chinese policy makers for using the internet for attaining virtual leap for economic development.

There has been much advancement after putting China online, as China has made immense progress in the virtual world including the nature of one party state, lack of visibility of the legal structure in China. There has been a wide digital divide within China and there have been many problems of bureaucracy on china internet censorship and this has lead to a technological time lag, throwing China behind the advanced industrial economies.

The China internet censorship includes normative issues such as the state’s ability, to maintain control over the flow of information on the internet. It also stifles political dissent and the impact of the china on the formation of national and regional virtual identities. It also affects the impact information and communication technologies on international security. Today experts are exploring the methodological and theoretical problems arising from issues regarding the reliability of data, to the nature of relationship between technological and social change.

Thus, the Chinese censorship covers many areas including social impact of the internet and information and communication technologies, from academia to business and public policy making. There is huge cultural and political diversification of the internet for the Chinese society. There is a rapid growth of the internet that has been enthusiastically embraced by the Chinese government, but the government is making a giant leap ahead in order to seize control of the virtual world. China has witnessed many individual responses in the form of impassioned campaigns against the China internet censorship by the government.

The question is not whether the internet will democratize China, but it focuses on what way the internet is democratizing communication in China. It also has an impact on the interplay between civil society and the internet in China. There is an increased need to nurture a brand new type of social space for Chinese individuals and social groups in China. It is about redefining existing social relations and propelling existing civil forces into new possibilities. Today the Chinese government explains its internet censorship policies and asserts that it promotes free communication while it adheres to the set of laws and regulations that prohibit the spread of information that contains contents subverting state power.

The Pentateuch, Law of Moses or Torah

Introduction

It is believed that the name Pentateuch “the first five books of the Old Testament, the book of the Law” (The Columbia Viking Desk Encyclopaedia, 1964, p.1402) was first found in the letter of Elora of a second century Gnostic, Ptolemy and passed into Christian use. These books are called The Law (Torah) or the Law of Moses by the Jews. (Everyman’s Encyclopedia, 1978). It would be difficult to overestimate the role that the Pentateuch has played in the course of biblical scholarship. In all likelihood, these first five books in the Bible – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy- have been subjected to scrutiny more than any single block, with the sole possible exception of the Gospels (Knight and Tucker, 1985).

Origin

The word Pentateuch derives from the Greek pentateuchos “five-volumed (book)”, following the Jewish designation “the five-fifths of the law”. Jews call it the Torah, that is instruction, often rendered in English Law as it is called in the New Testament (Greek nomon; example, Matt. 5:17; Luke 16:17; Acts 7:53; 1 Cor. 9:8). According to Lasor, Hubbard and Bush (1982), the Pentateuch was “the most important division of the Jewish canon, with an authority and sanctity far exceeding that attributed to the prophets and writing” (p.54). They observe that the books of the Pentateuch are not ‘books’ in the modern sense of independent self-contained entries, but were purposefully structured and intended as part of a larger unity; therefore the term Pentateuch is not only convenient but necessary. However, granted this fact of the unity of the larger corpus, the conventional five-fold division is important not simply as a convenient means of reference to the material, but because there is clear editorial evidence establishing just these five books as genuine subdivisions of the material. Despite marks of real disparity and complexity in structure and origins, far more primary and important is the overarching unity which the Pentateuch evidences. A careful reading of the Pentateuch will reveal, beside a definite unity of purpose, plan and arrangement, a diversity – a complexity – that is equally striking.

Authorship

The traditional view according to Halley (1962) is that “Moses wrote the Pentateuch substantially…with the exception of the few verses at the close which give an account of his death, and occasional interpolations made by copyists for explanatory purposes” (p.56). This is in consonance with the view of Childs (1979). A modern critical view is that of a composite work of various scholars of priests made about the eighth century B.C., for partisan purposes, based on oral traditions, the principal redactors of which are called J (for Jahweh/Yahweh, the personal name of God), E (for Elohim, a generic name for God), D (for Deuteronomic) and P (for priestly). Each is claimed to be unique. However, “this view is not supported by conclusive research or evidence, and intensive archaeological and literary research has tended to undercut many of the arguments used to challenge Mosaic authorship” (The NIV Study Bible, 1984, p.2). Jews and Christians alike have held Moses to be the author/compiler of the Pentateuch.

Contents

The Pentateuch consists of the first five afore-mentioned books of the Bible. It must be observed that the first phrase in the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:1 is bereshith [in (the) beginning] which is also the Hebrew title of the book. The English title, Genesis, is Greek in origin and is derived from geneseos ‘birth’, ‘genealogy’ or ‘history of origin’. Genesis therefore appropriately describes its contents since it is primarily a book of beginnings. ‘Exodus’ is a Latin word from Greek exodos, meaning ‘exit’, ‘departure’. Leviticus receives its name from the Greek translation of the Old Testament (Septuagint) meaning ‘relating to the Levites’. It mainly concerns the service of worship at the tabernacle which was conducted by the priests who were the sons of Aaron, assisted by many from the rest of the tribe of Levi. Exodus gave the directions for building the tabernacle and Leviticus the laws and regulations for worship there including instructions on ceremonial cleanness, moral laws, holy days, the Sabbath year and the Year of the Jubilee. The English name of the book Numbers comes from the Septuagint and is based on the census lists found in it. The Hebrew title of the book (bedmidbar, ‘in the desert’), is more descriptive of its contents. It presents an account of the thirty-eight year period of Israel’s wandering in the desert following the establishment of the covenant of Sinai. The word ‘Deuteronomy’ (meaning the repetition of the law’), the name of the last book of the Pentateuch, arose from a mistranslation in the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate of a phrase in Deuteronomy 17:18, which in Hebrew means ‘copy of the law’. The error is not serious however since Deuteronomy is, in a certain sense, a repetition of the law.

Generally, the unity of the Pentateuch must be stressed when discussing the content. This is created by an interest in the historical narrative forming the Pentateuch’s backbone and framework and into which the blocks of legal texts have been placed. A clue to this narrative’s central role and importance is the fact that the Old Testament events most frequently cited in the New Testament as the background and preparation for God’s work in Christ are precisely that sequence of divine acts from Abraham’s call through the kingship of David. Summaries or ‘confession’ of this sequence of divine acts plays a central role in Scripture. The basic details confessing God’s saving acts on behalf of His people could be illustrated thus:

i. God chose Abraham his descendants (Acts 13:17; Josh.24:3) and promised them the land of Canaan (Deut. 6:23)

ii. Israel went down into Egypt (Acts 13:17; Josh. 24:5-7; Deut. 6:21ff; 28:8)

iii. God brought Israel into Canaan as promised (Acts 13:19; Josh.24:11-13; Deut. 6:23; 26:9).

This is but the narrative backbone of the Pentateuch in miniature. The plan that unifies the different elements forming the building blocks of the Pentateuch includes: promise, election, deliverance, covenant, law and land. It is realistically observed that “the one element universally present and central to these credos…is the Exodus, representing Yahweh’s deliverance and the historical realization of His election of Israel as His people” (Lasor, Hubbard, Bush, 1982, p.55).

The Pentateuch has two major divisions: Genesis 1-11 and Genesis 12- Deuteronomy 34. The relation between them is one question and answer, problem and solution; the clue is Genesis 12:3. This structure not only elucidates the binding unity of the Pentateuch but also reveals that the structure began stretches far beyond the Pentateuch itself. The end and fulfillment lie beyond Deuteronomy 34 – indeed beyond the Old Testament. It could be safely asserted that probably no where does the Old Testament set forth an ultimate solution to the universal problem which Genesis 1-11 so poignantly portrays. The Old Testament indeed does not arrive at full redemption. When the Old Testament ends, Israel is still looking for the final consummation when hope shall be fulfilled and promise become fact. The juncture of Genesis 10-11 and chapters 12ff., is not only one of the most important places in the whole Old Testament but one of the most important in the entire Bible. Here begins the redemptive history that awaits the proclamation of the good news of God’s new redemptive act in Jesus Christ; only then will be found the way in which the blessing of Abraham will bless all the families of the earth. The Pentateuch is truly open-ended, for the salvation history which commenced awaits the consummation in the Son of Abraham (Matt. 1:1) who draws all people to Him (John 12:32) punctuating the alienation of humanity from God and from one another.

Purpose

The purpose of the Pentateuch was a leading into the realization by God that He was the Creator and Sustainer of the universe as well as the Ruler of History. It testifies to God’s saving acts, the central act being the exodus from Egypt. God invaded the consciousness of the Israelites and revealed Himself as the redeeming God. Knowledge of God as Redeemer subsequently led to a knowledge of Him as Creator; understanding the Lord as the God of grace consequently prompted an understanding as the God of nature after He displayed control over nature as evidenced in the plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea and sustenance in the wilderness. It must be stressed that God’s grace was evident not only in deliverance and guidance, but in the giving of the law and the initiation of the covenant. Israel’s supposed pledge of obedience, oath of loyalty to God and His will is her response. One must hasten to note that this response is a gift of God’s grace. The Pentateuch stands or better still possesses a rich inner unity recording God’s revelation in history and His Lordship over history and testifying to Israel’s response and disobedience. It generally witnesses to God’s holiness which “separates Him from men, and His gracious love, which binds Him to them on His terms” (New Bible Dictionary, 1962, p.909).

Themes

Although several themes could be identified between Genesis and Deuteronomy, unique but inter-related, intertwined and invaluable ones could be identified. These include election, creation, fall/sin, covenant, law and exodus. Israel was God’s elect. According to Stott (1988), the Bible is “sacred history – the story of God’s dealing with a particular people for a particular purpose” (p.45). They were convinced that God had done this for no other nation (Ps. 147:20). Great thinkers of Greece (including Plato, Socrates and Aristotle) are not the focus but scriptural record concentrates on men like Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah and the prophets to whom the word of the Lord came, and on Jesus Christ, God’s Word made flesh. Abraham’s call has a present day significance to us and should not be slightly regarded as an event of the past. Election – God’s special choice of individuals- basically contains two subsidiary features; promise and responsibility. Abraham is promised descendants, given the land of Canaan as his children’s inheritance and promised a great name in the future. God’s special favour was to rest not only on Abraham and his family but to all men through him (Gal. 3:29).

God’s promises to Abraham therefore were not for the selfish enjoyment of a selected few but could benefit others if used responsibly. It is incontrovertible that God’s choice of Israel has a missionary purpose. A covenant, in the Hebrew context, covered all human relationships and not a limited definition of a matter of legal documents and sealing-wax in the modern mind. This bond united people in mutual obligations. Naturally, people’s relationship to God should be expressed in covenant terms. Covenant terms could be used to describe three unique occasions in the Pentateuch:

i. God’s promises never again to destroy the world with a flood (Gen. 9:9)

ii. God’s promises to Abram (Gen. 15:18; 17:4)

iii. The Sinai Covenant established with Moses and summarized in the ‘book of the covenant’ (Ex.24:4).

It must be borne in mind that although covenants were generally between equals, religiously it denotes a relationship between Creator and a lesser partner. However, the theological significance of the covenant must be highlighted. Based on initiative of God and implying a new revelation of the Creator, it made moral and ritual demands upon the people.

Taylor (1973) realistically observes that “the idea of law is central to the Pentateuch and…it gives its name to the book as a whole” (p.124). It basically covers the Ten Commandments (Decalogue – Ex. 20; Deut.5) and associates with these various collections of laws classified as:

i. The book of the Covenant (Ex. 21-23)

ii. The Holiness Code (Lev. 17:26)

iii. The Law of Deuteronomy (Deut. 12:26)

Since Israel was part of the Eastern Mediterranean culture and shared in the ideas and experience of her neighbours, several similarities could be noted especially with the Code of Hammurabi. The differences however made Israel’s laws distinctive. They could be summarized thus:

i. Uncompromising monotheism (that is relating everything to the one true God)

ii. Remarkable concern for slaves, strangers, women and orphans (the underprivileged)

iii. Community spirit based on the covenant relationship shared by all Israel with the Lord

In a brilliant summary, Cornfeld (1961) observed that “Hebrew law appears from its earliest times to stand on a higher ethical level and postulates moral human relationship which do not seem to be equalled in other Near Eastern Legislations” (p.213). Israel must approach God with a due sense of His moral and spiritual distinctiveness. The elaborate sacrificial system generally found its fulfilment in the solitary sacrifice of Christ – the perfect Lamb of God- through whom sins are not only forgiven but atonement made for all men eternally (Heb. 10:1-18).

The exodus must be put in proper perspective. Described in Exodus 1-12, the Jews view it as the great intervention or saving act of God which later generations reminisced. This miraculous intervention was God’s act of victory of the gods displaying total supremacy. Recalled annually in the Feast of the Passover, subsequent generations were reminded that they were initially members of a slave community mercifully redeemed from bondage. They were encouraged to use this as a deterrent, especially when curses reward disobedience. The historical significance was definitive. God could repeat His initial act. In Isaiah 51:9-11, Israel looked for a second exodus while in exile in Babylon.

The afore-mentioned themes are never submerged in the Pentateuch. Probably, the only other theme (which recurs in depressing regularity) is Israel’s obstinate and persistent sinfulness. Among other things, they were slow to accept Moses as their deliverer, grumbled about hardship and desired to ‘go back to Egypt’. Not even Moses was immune and was punished by not being allowed to lead God’s people in the promised land.

Conclusion

Together, the five books trace Israel’s origin from the earliest times, through the patriarchs; then the Exodus and Sinai periods prior to the entry to Canaan; they also contain much legal instruction. God’s response to sin is consistently a blend of judgement and mercy. Beyond the immediate discipline of Adam and Eve, and confusion of tongues at Babel, God tempers justice with salvation. It is understandable therefore that in spite of man’s path, God called Abraham to be the channel of grace and revelation to all mankind.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Childs, B. (1979). Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

The Columbia-Viking Desk Encyclopedia (1964). New York: Dell Publishing Co.

Cornfeld, G. (1961). Adam to Daniel. New York: The Macmillan Company.

Everyman’s Encyclopedia, Vol. 1. (1979). London : Dent and Sons.

Halley, H.H. (1962). Halley’s Pocket Bible Handbook: An Abbreviated Bible Commentary. Minnesota:

Zondervan Publishing.

Knight, D.A. and G.M. Tucker (1985). The Hebrew Bible and its Modern Interpreters. Minnesota:

Fortress Press.

Lasor, W.S., D.A. Hubbard and F.W. Bush (1982). Old Testament Survey: The Message, Form and

Background to the Old Testament. Michigan: Williams B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

The New Bible Dictionary (1962). London: The Inter-Varsity Fellowship.

NIV Study Bible (1984). Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Stott, J. (1988). Understanding the Bible. London: Scripture Union.

Taylor, J. (1973). The Five Books. In The Lion Handbook to the Bible. Herts: Lion Publishing.

Classification Of Human Rights

Human rights are great as they ensure that you are protected and safe as a human being. The rights are classified into five bases: civil, political, economic, developmental and social and cultural.

Civil Human liberties

Great advances in these liberties were made in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. During this time great amendments were made. The rights were combined with political liberties and they were collectively known as “liberty oriented human rights.”

They aid in providing, protecting and guaranteeing you liberty against the state and its agencies. According to human right experts these are the first generation of human rights.

Economic Human Liberties

Major strides in these liberties were made in the 20th century. During this time the social and cultural liberties were also strengthened. The rights aid in promotion of economic and social security through economic and social upliftment of the weaker sections of the society.

The liberties are essential for the dignity of personhood. They are also essential for the full and free development of human personality. The cool thing with the rights is that they ensure that there is a minimum of economic welfare.

When the economic, social and cultural rights are combined together they are known as “security oriented human rights.” This is because they collectively provide you with the security that you need in your life. Human right experts refer to them as second generation of human liberties.

Developmental Oriented Human Rights

They were developed in the late 20th century and serve an important role of ensuring that you are able to participate in the developmental activities in the society. The rights include the environmental rights that allow you to enjoy the free gifts of nature such as air, water, food, and natural resources. You should note that you should enjoy the gifts that are free from contamination.

They are known as third generation of human liberties or the Green Rights. They are also known as solidarity rights as their implementation depends on the international cooperation. According to experts, these rights are most important in the developing countries. This is because the countries are still developing and are still trying to gain international order.

Conclusion

This is how human liberties are classified. Remember that no one should violate your rights. If you feel that your rights have been violated you should contact the human rights tribunal in your country or state. It’s also wise that you contact an advisor.

The Pros and Cons of Indian Media

The role of media has always created a deep impact on the lives of the common man. While on the one hand it has updated people about the situations around the world, there again it has also created panic when half baked news has come out in the open. In India, the growing popularity of the media is having varied effects on the lives of people.

It has been quite a few years now that the Indian media has advanced from newspapers and radio and made its way into the television industry. There are several news channels that run 24×7 and keep people updated about all the incidents not only in the country but also across the world. The greatest benefit of this system is that people sitting in India get updated about the accidents that are occurring in the USA within a matter of minutes. Unlike the old days, there is no need to wait till the next day when the newspapers arrive to be updated about the other side of the world. These channels also have sites on the internet that are updated every minute, so that even those who are on the move can remain up to date via internet on their mobile phones. Say for example the day when the World Trade Center came down, it was a matter of moments that people all over the world became aware of it.

Or even when the trains in London were bombed, the whole world became aware of it, thanks to the media. This immediate update enabled people from across the world to connect with their near and dear ones to ensure their safety.

However, it can not be ignored that where on the one hand immediately knowledge about incidents help people, there again the media can be a menace at times. Media in India at times became repetitive and they keep playing the same news tape over and over again. At time those news items which are not at all important get a lot of hype, sidelining the occurrences that could be of real importance. Indian media paid too much attention to events like the wedding of a star son and a leading heroine, the kiss that a Hollywood star planted on the cheek of a Bollywood heroine, the coming to light of the clandestine relationship of a Pakistan cricketer with a lady , And also the pregnancy of a Hindi film heroine. These incidents are of least importance to the life of a common man and so much importance only takes away the light from those accidents that can really affect people in their daily lives.

Media in India is very strong and it is up to the journalists as to how they bring forth the news from across the world.

Consumer Price Index (CPI): Does It Measure Inflation?

What is Inflation?

Before we discuss the CPI and government economic data, we much first fully understand the concept of inflation. Inflation, in the most general terms, is a RISE in price levels of goods and services measured over a period of time. When price levels rise, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Inflation also measures the erosion in purchasing power of money, the loss of REAL value in the medium of exchange. Inflation impacts everyone in society, rich or poor, young or old, working or unemployed. Anyone that has to buy food, goods, and services, pay bills, or transact in the economy is directly affected by inflation.

The CPI – official measure of inflation.

The government’s key measurement for inflation is known as the CPI (Consumer Price Index). It has been around since 1913 and traditionally measured a basket of goods, which consumers would purchase. Then the price the basket of goods was compared on a year-over-year basis.

For instance you price a steak, a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk, etc. The following year you price the same products, look at the price change, and you are able to determine the rate of inflation. How much have items increased in price. That is (was) the purpose of the CPI, the rate of change on a fixed basket of goods (with a modicum of replacements when a product is no longer serving its core use, such a computer for a typewriter).

The CPI is very important data point for a couple of key reasons:

  1. Used to adjust Social Security benefits.
  2. The Federal Reserve uses it as their key measure of inflation to adjust monetary policy.

Obviously a lower CPI would be beneficial for both those key reasons.

The Cost of Living?

When the CPI came about it was used to strictly measure INFLATION, as described above. It did so for 70 years without any major changes. More recently in the last few decades, the model used for calculating the CPI has changed drastically. In fact, it no longer measures inflation, but rather the “cost of living”.

The Cost of Living measures the CHOICES a consumer has made based on price changes. In fact INFLATION directly impacts those choices. Many of the changes that have been made to the CPI over recent years have been argued based on the Cost of Living and the freedom of choice. It would seem a sound argument if we forget the purpose of the CPI to measure inflation.

The “Cost of Living” is not synonymous with inflation, yet politicians and the media frequently use the words “inflation” and “cost of living” interchangeably.

The philosophy behind the changes.

The first big change was made in the mid 1980s, it removed housing from the CPI and replaced it with a “rental equivalent”. It was argued that not everyone buys a house and some that do buy also rent homes, thus we should measure the inflation of rent rather than the inflation of home prices. This made a significant and measurable change to the CPI and lowered the results.

However, it was the “Cost of Living” argument in the 1990s that brought forth the largest changes. A powerful argument based on measuring the “Cost of Living” and freedom of choice. The belief was the CPI was not reflective of consumer choices, that consumers would make changes in their purchasing to meet a Standard of Living. In order to measure this Cost of Living, we must make significant changes to the method and make some “adjustments”.

These major changes fell into three distinct areas:

  • Substitution
  • Hedonics
  • Geometric Weighting.

These three changes to the CPI model radically changed the results. For the first time in almost 80 years we were no longer measuring inflation, but instead measuring the “Cost of Living”.

Substitution Method.

The first big change made to the CPI model was the Substitution Method.

In the 90’s it was argued by Boskin (brief bio: Dr. Michael Boskin, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors 89-93, was the chairman of the Commission on the Consumer Price Index, whose report transformed the way the government measured inflation, GDP and productivity. ) that CPI was over stating inflation and a method he had been working on would give a more accurate measure of inflation. His argument was, “We should allow for substitution here because people can buy hamburger instead of steak, when steak the price of steak goes up.” While it correctly points out people’s freedom of choice, it clearly does not measure inflation. The consumer purchasing hamburger doesn’t change the fact that steak has increased in price. Clearly the substitution method hides or masks the actual impact of inflation.

The term “Cost of Living” was best defined, perhaps by accident, by Boskin, who was trying to phrase the substitution changes, but realized that it impacted the Standard of Living. The model he used had been known as the Utility of Living (or Utility Efficiency), this is defined as the cost of meeting the essentials REGARDLESS of the standards. By the definition, the Utility of Living is met by purchasing hamburger instead of steak, since they both offer protein. However, it is clear that the Standard of Living has declined significantly, even though the Utility of Living has met its burden.

The “Cost of Living” soon became the standard term used with the CPI, however I think most people missed the real definition and mistakenly assumed it meant the same thing as “inflation”.

For those not familiar with the substitution methodology, I have included some text from the Bureau of Labor and Statistic (BLS) website used as an example of this methodology. It clearly sheds light on the fact that while a certain level of Utility of Living is met, the Standards of Living could be significantly lowered. Yet, most importantly, the substitutions mask the REAL impact of inflation.

The CPI is constructed as an aggregation of basic indexes computed for approximately 200 item categories, such as “ice cream and related products, in each of 38 geographic areas. Within each of these index components, or strata, prices for specific items in a sample of outlets (stores) are combined to produce a basic index. Consequently, the use of the formula will address only the issue of consumer substitution within strata.

Substitution can take several forms corresponding to the types of item- and outlet-specific prices used to construct the basic indexes:

  • Substitution among brands of products, for example, between brands of ice cream;
  • Substitution among product sizes, for example, between pint and quart packages of ice cream;
  • Substitution among outlets, for example, between a brand of ice cream sold at two different stores;
  • Substitution across time, for example, between purchasing ice cream during the first or second week of the month;
  • · Substitution among types of items within the category, for example, between ice cream and frozen yogurt;
  • Substitution among specific items in different index categories, for example, between ice cream and cupcakes.

Hedonics

The CPI additionally receives an adjustment to the cost of a product based on the product’s “Ease of Use” or “Lifestyle Benefit”. The idea is that technology has benefited our lives, so the cost that the consumer pays for the product would be artificially reduce by its “ease of use” when calculating the CPI. This is known as Hedonics and reduces the cost of the goods in substituted basket.

Example: My new smart phone cost is artificially lowered in the basket of goods because it allows me to access my email, thus saving me time and a lifestyle benefit.

How you actually measure Hedonics and determine the reduction in the calculation even leaves some economists scratching their heads. Not only is it subjective, the mathematical impact further reduces the CPI data.

I understand that our life styles through the increase of technology have benefited, but to tell people that we are going to artificially reduce the cost of the product when calculating CPI because she/he received a lifestyle benefit is silly. Why, because the consumer did not receive a discount when they bought it.

Geometric Weighting

Geometric weighting works hand-n-hand with the substitution method and determines the weighting of an item in the basket of goods based on price changes.

If the price of an item that is measured increases, they LOWER the weight of that item to reduce the impact of the price increase.

The argument is that if the price goes up you will buy less of it and theoretically that makes sense. However, you still need eat, pay for gas, pay your bills, etc.

If the price impact is TOO much then they substitute the product out for something else, again making the assumption that the consumer will buy something different because the item cost too much.

There is nothing wrong with this approach IF and only IF you want to measure the Cost of Living based on a certain income and how inflation impacts people’s purchasing decision.

However, and this is VERY IMPORTANT, this approach is NOT measuring inflation but rather how REAL inflation is impacting consumer spending habits.

Simple Example:

Let’s say that Milk makes up 10{512b763ef340c1c7e529c41476c7e03bc66d8daea696e1162822661d30dde056} of the food basket of items in the CPI.

Milk prices rise 20{512b763ef340c1c7e529c41476c7e03bc66d8daea696e1162822661d30dde056} this month.

You would assume that because the price goes up by 20{512b763ef340c1c7e529c41476c7e03bc66d8daea696e1162822661d30dde056} the weighting of Milk should also increase, if we are to assume that you purchase the SAME amount of milk.

However, the Geometric Weighting system LOWERS the amount of MILK weighting in the basket because it is making the assumption you are buying less of it because it is more expensive. Theoretically this is true to a certain extent. However, we still need to eat, buy gas, etc.

The fact is the price of Milk increased by 20{512b763ef340c1c7e529c41476c7e03bc66d8daea696e1162822661d30dde056}, regardless of the consumers decision to purchase it or something else, or less of it.

Conclusion

While all these changes directly impacts the CPI, the broader problem is that the Federal Government and Federal Reserve report this as the “official” measure of INFLATION and use the words “cost of living” and “inflation” synonymously. The problem is clearly one of semantics. We are told the government is measuring inflation, when clearly they are measuring something different.

It’s a semantics problem that the International Labor Organization (ILO) has clearly addressed when this question was posed to them about measuring inflation:

Which of the two types of index (i.e. a fixed basket index CPI and Cost of Living index COLI) is preferable as a means of measuring inflation?

There are two diametrically opposed views. One view is that a clear distinction needs to be made between a fixed basket index and a COLI and that a fixed basket is preferred as a means for measuring inflation. A second view is that a COLI does provide precisely that information which is required of an inflation measure. The arguments for the first view are as follows: The fixed basket approach adheres to the principle of a straightforward comparison of prices, therefore only indicating a change in prices, whereas a cost-of-living index provides information about how, given price changes and the substitution processes, expenditure would have to change to maintain the original Standard of Living or level of utility. A fixed basket is therefore a pure price index, while a cost-of-living index is an index which may show change even when all prices stay at the same level. As such, the latter cannot be considered as an appropriate measure of inflation. The argument for the second view is as follows: the COLI is a price index whose weights change to reflect changes in consumer preferences. It is intended to measure the change in the cost of maintaining a given Standard of Living and takes into account substitutions in response to changes in relative prices. However, it can “also be interpreted as measuring the change in the value of a fixed basket of goods and services where the fixed basket is a particular blend of the baskets in the two periods compared” (Hill, 1997). A COLI is preferred because in practice fixed basket indices may be biased estimates of inflation (especially in the indices with weights that are updated infrequently) and therefore are measuring changes in the value of a basket of goods and services that is no longer representative.

It is interesting that the ILO simply relates the different opposing views and does not say that one is correct or the other is wrong, just different. Furthermore it is clear that you can’t replace one with the other, as you are measuring two different things, Price Changes vs. effect of those prices changes to the Cost of Living.

I spoke with the ILO about the CPI vs. COLI subject. They stated you can NOT replace one with the other, they measure two different things. One measures inflation based on price changes, the other measures the Cost of Living based on “utility efficiency”. When asked about the U.S. CPI method, the ILO stated it is a Consumer Cost of Living that is now being used as the current method of measuring inflation, not the traditional fixed basket of goods. I asked which is better; they said depends on what you want to measure. However, you cannot say one is the other, because they are not.

It’s interesting to note that measuring the Consumer Cost of Living (COLI method) is impacted by inflation affects from the fixed basket of goods, as consumer substitutions must change to avoid price increases, the definition of substitution.

Comparing: CPI original model (inflation) vs. CPI current model (“Cost of Living”)

The official CPI (currently used) is reporting inflation as of 2012 at 2.07{512b763ef340c1c7e529c41476c7e03bc66d8daea696e1162822661d30dde056}

If we remove the 1990s changes that converted the model from a “Cost of Living” back to the original inflation method, the CPI reads as of 2012 at 9.68{512b763ef340c1c7e529c41476c7e03bc66d8daea696e1162822661d30dde056}

That is a 367{512b763ef340c1c7e529c41476c7e03bc66d8daea696e1162822661d30dde056} difference.

However, even using the current “official” CPI method for reporting inflation at a artificially low 2.07{512b763ef340c1c7e529c41476c7e03bc66d8daea696e1162822661d30dde056}, you will still lose money purchasing a 10 year treasury that yields 1.8{512b763ef340c1c7e529c41476c7e03bc66d8daea696e1162822661d30dde056}.

Currently the Obama Administration is considering another change to the CPI to the new C-CPI-U model, which further lowers the CPI results by 50 basis points. It is been explained by government officials that it is even more accurate.

I Shall Not Hear The Nightingale – Khushwant Singh: A Story Of Baptism In Blood

Sher Singh killed a crane. He wanted to be a terrorist. But there was baptism in his blood. He felt for the crane. If one crane is killed, the other dies of grief. His instigator is Madan. Madan feels if there is baptism in blood that blood should be shed. Sher Singh and Madan were training to shoot Englishmen. This short novel by Khushwant Singh is about the Sikh community who created a military brotherhood to fight against the British. The Sikhs were defeated by the British in six successive battles. Having been defeated the Sikhs however were recruited in the British army for their valour and honour. The Sikhs believed that ‘God is truth’.

The story is ultimately about love, kindness and peace in spite of terrorism, revolt and militancy. This is depicted by the symbol of the angry crane who loses its mate. Even as Sher Singh stuffs up hand grenades and rifles he thinks of the wounded bird. So the story is ultimately about the inefficacy of terrorism and violence and the message of peace.

Sher Singh was the son of a senior magistrate as well as the head of a band of terrorists. He had so long reveled in both identities but now he had to make a choice. The concern was what to choose, security or terrorism.

Sher Singh’s home was a haven of comfort and security. His mother and sister represented feelings of comfort and security. But Sher Singh was policywise at odds with his father Buta Singh. They differ in their opinions regarding the British. Buta Singh is basically a supporter of the British. He believes in mutual help between British and Sikhs. On the other hand Sher Singh thinks there are plenty of Gandhis and Nehrus whom they should follow, not the British. Buta Singh cannot change his loyalties at his age. But he is realizing that the nationalists need to be supported. In fact his loyalty to the British was being taken as servility. He was being accused of double facedness.

The story is thus basically about the tension between the British and Sikhs which the author has brought out through a vivid charting of conversations, revolutionary speeches, meetings and such. It emerges that there are two parties, the anti-British and the Pro-British. The old generation of Sikhs are pro-British. The younger generation are trying to do away with the British. There were Hindus like Madan who were instigators of terrorism. Young aspirants for leadership were dancing to the songs of Madan and bundling up handgrenades.

Along with the general background of politics the story charts very simplistically the private lives of Sher Singh, Beena, Champak and Madan. Sher Singh being a failure at his marital relationship tries to please his wife by aspiring a high position in politics, by becoming a political leader, a hero and a terrorist. Bina his sister is passionately in love with the tall, handsome, charming Madan from whom she gets a stinker. Madan a married man pretending to be very worried about the country carries on a passionate illicit relationship with his friend’s wife Champak and instigate his friend Sher Singh to become a hero and a terrorist.

Terrorist attacks are planned, few bridges blown up, few roads barricaded, few scintillating speeches given and finally a murder committed. Sher Singh is arrested and put to prison. There the pampered boy of the family is tortured, beaten up and taunted by the Anglo Indians. The aspiring hero commits some foolish trifles and ends up in prison.

Sher Singh’s mother a deeply dignified lady in spirit and soul fasts herself to near death praying for her son’s release. John Taylor, the British ICS and his wife both a bit different type of British, sympathetic towards Indians, representatives of British solidarity feel veneration for Sher Singh’s mother and release her son. Thus ultimately they story proves that terrorism, violence, heroism are just a child’s fancies. What really resolves is the beauty of spirit, the spirit of love and prayer, the belief ‘God is Truth’. The short novel of Kushwant Singh under the garb of politics, murder, terrorism, revolution and heroism teaches the inefficacy of all these and the triumph of peace and God.

The Five Main Elements of Civilization

Although the elements of civilization and the emergence of civilization have been studied extensively, I never gave the topic much thought. That is, until I was tasked with finding at least five elements that are characteristics of a civilization that make it different from non-civilized peoples. Initially, this seemed like a daunting task, but upon viewing the video “Iraq: The Cradle of Civilization” (Wood) and reading the assigned portion of “Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics, and Society, 1” (Perry), it was apparent that there are a number of distinct elements which characterize every civilization. Namely, large population centers in cities, writing, ceremonial buildings, or ritual centers, continuity, and the arts. Each of these characteristics of civilization works synergistically, making civilized societies stand out in stark contrast from those non-civilized societies which preceded them. A brief overview of some of these vital components will demonstrate their importance.

Firstly, large population centers in cities are one of the elements of civilization. The word civilization, itself, can be most easily expressed as life in cities. The area of Suma, or Mesopotamia, in southern Iraq, was birthplace of the first city, Uruch (Ur). The vast lands, made fertile by the constant flow of life from the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers were the ideal place to farm and sustain the hordes of people drawn to this city. Naturally, people congregated in increasing numbers to this prototype city.

Secondly, writing is another one of the elements of civilizations. In fact, some would argue that writing was invented in Uruch. The obvious advantage of which, was the ability to transmit and pass down to posterity important cultural, spiritual truths and stories. Though the oral legend of the people of this era is well documented, the story of this people was now being preserved and disseminated through the written word.

Equally important were the ceremonial buildings and ritual centers which peppered the landscape of Ur. Shrines, alters, and temples served a central role in ancient civilization, as they also do today. Tied to the religious and cultural fabric of the society was ritualistic worship and ceremonies. These ritual centers were considered holy places and like the fertile land itself, served as a people magnet.

Continuity is another characteristic of civilization. Unlike nomadic peoples, civil societies, by definition were sedentary societies. Of course, people and ideas flowed in and out of the first civilizations, but there was the element of perpetual inhabitants. No doubt, ownership and private property rights were natural products of this continuity as people opted to settle in the cities.

Lastly, the arts are another one of the essential elements of civilization. As legend has it, the arts were sent down by Enki, the God of Wisdom, through the Goddess Innana, known today as Ishtar. Decorative arts, pottery, jewelry, ‘fancy’ clothing and ritual ornaments were increasingly popular commodities during this time. As the people’s standard of living improved in the first cities, there was more time (relatively speaking) for the leisure indulgences that the arts afforded.

Clearly, there are other non-negotiable elements of civilization; laws, government, social (class) systems, etc. As is evident, prominent among these characteristics are large population centers in cities, writing, ritual centers, continuity, and the arts. In contrast, non-civilized societies are wanting in all of these aspects.