Monday, December 15, 2008

There's More Money in Law-Abiding

If you haven't read World of Our Fathers. The Journey of the East European Jews to America and the Life they Found and Made - well, then do. Go buy it for yourself as a Kwanzaa present, or buy it for someone else who can be trusted to give it back to you. Trust me on this one.

Somewhere in the book Irving Howe makes a memorable point about the Jews and the Mafia. It turns out a small minority of the millions of Jewish immigrants found their way into the ranks of the Mafia (Meir Lansky was merely the most famous of them). Unlike the Italians, however, the Jewish mafiosi were never followed by their sons, nor by anyone else's Jewish sons. The second generation, the sons of the immigrants, you see, figured out that one could make more money legally than even the Capo do Capi was likely to make, and live longer, so there wasn't any point in joining the Mafia.

Well. Apparently some of the third generation fellows either didn't read Howe, or didn't figure out his reasoning. Not that they re-joined the Mafia, mind you: the money still isn't good enough. But still.


Anonymous said...


Meyer Lansky crapped out in Cuba! During the 1950's, the mafia attempted to take control of Cuba, so they'd have a "base" for their illegal activities; without having to deal with American laws.

When Castro came to power (which is something of a miracle, coming to how close Batista came to having him killed) ... the mafia was building the biggest and best hotels. To draw in business. (While America had laws against casinos.)

Well, believe it or not, Castro did come to power; and he tossed the mafia OUT. Meyer Lansky CRAPPED OUT, having just invested in one of the biggest hotels to be built in Havana. He couldn't take it with him. SO he left the island, broke.

America then saw to it that casinos could be built in Vegas.

As to "bums" every single faith has their collection.

But if you look at the whole story? The mafia didn't make it out of cuba in any healthy state.

As to Eastern Jews, I am now reading MANISCHEWITZ: THE MATZO FAMILY. THE MAKING OF AN AMERICAN JEWISH ICON. By Laura Manischewitz Alpern.

She goes back to about 1840 ... and she tells the story of the family's roots. And, then "venture" to Cincinnati. All the rabbis, included.

One of the things about America's Jews, is how successful they became; because they were the inheritors of the best governing system possible. Designed by America's Founding Fathers, to answer the problems associated with the first decade of independence.

Of course, Jews weren't involved. SO they "forgot" to pass these tips onto Ben Gurion. Who was looking towards russia; to make a "collective" function.

He didn't. ANd, no one else has, either.

Anonymous said...


Another really great book: Malcolm Gladwell's OUTLIERS.

An "outlier" is a person who falls beyond the avages inside a bell curve. They're the ones who are so unique we get to know their names.

Gladwell says it's not just luck. Or pluck. But that outliers are there due to hard work. AND, great opportunities.

Among his story telling, too, he brings in the immigrant Jew, who comes to America and struggles. He talks about the turn of the 20th Century. Here in the early years of 1900.

Back then, all women had an understanding of how to make clothes. It was time consuming. And, it was just another burden a woman carried.

Well, from a pushcart, this one man wanted to make a product he thought would be a successful seller. (He was at that point peddling notebooks.)

So he took one of his notebooks, and he began writing down ideas. On about the 5th day, he saw a little girl, outside, playing, and she was wearing an apron. Probably made by her mom.

The design was something this fella wrote down in his notebook. And, that night, after just a so-so day of selling his notebooks; he stopped to purchase some material.

And, that night he and his wife set about making aprons for little girls, and even toddlers. Between them, they completed 40 garments.

And, the next day, when he woke up, he took these aprons with him. And, they sold like hot cakes. Within 3 hours his stock was totally sold. (So he bought more fabric.) And, he and his wife did this, again. And, again. Until he became an owner in a needle factory, with seven or eight additional workers.

The lessons learned deal with the fact that his man, and his wife, and their growing family, saw you could be INDEPENDENT. You didn't have to work for somebody else.

Independence and hard work came naturally. And, taught the sons that they too could prosper. Also, SENDING SONS TO COLLEGE became a very big item to these immigrants, who were not shy in exposing their sons to more and more education. Leading to medica degrees. And, law degrees. Degrees for chemistry. And, engineering.

Hard work paid off.

It never pays off in a "collective," sorry to say.

Anyway, Malcolm Gladwell's latest book is terrific! And, he's also right. There is no such thing as someone who "gets" successful, without the full support of MOM. Mothers do play a key role, here.

But go ahead and read the book! I loved it! OUTLIERs. You can learn something new every day.