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Buddy’s Blog 09/04/14

Is anyone really surprised that the Italian economy has fallen back into recession? At year’s end, Italy appeared to be coming out of their recession showing fractional progress over the last three months. This led some to feel the Italians were on track to finally shrinking its huge governmental debt, but the recent economic figures have proven this to be false. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has tried to implement the necessary reforms to correct the economic doldrums but he has been met with resistance by Parliament. The only real measure enacted has been a tax reduction for lower income workers. The Italians should be embarrassed, as the other Euro nations which were in recessions or worse, have shown they have the courage and temerity to handle their problems themselves. Spain, for example, recognizing the bitter pill of austerity, had to be administered and their economy is a stark contrast to Italy’s. Italy, once again, for 2014 will be a disappointment with economic growth of 0.8% and a deficit of 2.6% of its Gross National Product.

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Conversations regarding race, ethnicity and religion seem to stir emotional discourse that is much of the time blurred, taken out of context or not properly explained. I am going to try. In recent weeks I have noticed and frankly am offended by how race has been thrust into discussions about baseball, on the Major League level and Little League level.

Recently, it was announced that Major League Baseball was going to make a concerted effort to attract African Americans to baseball as “there were not enough playing the game.” Now, that statement is offensive, or at least should be, to blacks also. Are they perceived to be a commodity to be marched onto the athletic field? Is there a quota system? Or are the best players to be rewarded, not because of their race or ethnicity, but rather their performance? I have never heard anyone say there are not enough white basketball players. There was a time when the Pittsburg Pirates fielded an entire team of black players, with the reason being that they were the team’s best players. There was no mention of a need for more white players, and an organized effort to attract that race to a particular sport even when they were the minority on the athletic field.

At the Little League level, this week the media trumpeted the all black team from Chicago, not enough for its performance but rather because of their race. This team played for the championship but the media always mentioned race. I find it sad, very sad, that race must be included in discussions which should be about ability and performance. It is not as if no blacks participated in baseball. I took the time to look at the all-time home run leaders and the all-time hit leaders in the major leagues. The top 25 home run category finds ten African Americans. Those of Spanish heritage are not included in this figure. There are five, though, among the top 25. As for hits, nine Afro Americans among the top 25.

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act by President Johnson, which was supposed to level all “playing fields” of our culture. For some reason there are those in our media who would rather speak about racial accomplishment and not just accomplishment. Is there really a need for a Miss Black America when the Miss America contest has been integrated since 1984 and eight black women have been crowned as Miss America? I recognize I am treading on fragile and sensitive ground but I was raised in a culture where performance won out. If a person was black, white, Jewish or Buddhist, their performance was the rule, not a special certification or rating system. There may have been a time in this nation’s history when racial entitlement was necessary, but not today. Giving an edge to any race, religion or ethnicity as an attempt to guarantee a benefit is a huge mistake and a slippery slope, but that is where Major League Baseball, our media and many elected officials are headed because today’s society is flooded with rhetoric about entitlements.



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