Wednesday, September 24, 2008

1)Jerk of the Year Award (2)Should America Outsource Some CEO Positions ?

I take the laws governing injurious speech very seriously, for this reason, when I bestow an award for outrageous misconduct, I leave the recipient anonymous. This way, if someone else has done the same thing, they might be moved to mend their ways.

Today's recipient of my "Jerk of the Year" award would not be hauled off in handcuffs, but he definitely deserves to be pilloried. He is a Rosh Yeshiva, and his offense involved tuition collection. My friend who told me of this incident sends his son to JOTY's Yeshiva. He was about a week late with his monthly tuition payment. His son, , an eleven year old with some learning problems was sitting in class. The rabbi called him out and told him to come to the office. Without a word of explanation, he handed the boy the telephone and told him to call his home. When the mother answered, he told her he was in the principal's office and didn't know why. She asked to speak to the principal.

Rabbi JOTY got on the line and said gruffly, "You owe me six hundred and fifty dollars for this month."

The mother was stunned and replied that she would have her husband call within the hour. The psychological impact was as though her son were being held hostage. The boy was allowed to return to class. The father made good on his wife's promise and the boy enjoyed the comfort of a desk and a hot lunch for yet another month in Rabbi JOTY's yeshiva. Unfortunately the scene repeated itself yet again with the same boy. As before, payment was quick and complete.

What should the rabbi have done? Yeshivas do struggle. He has to pay his teachers and the building maintenance expenses. I would have told him to give the family a warning and after a week, seven days notice, after which they would be told to keep their son home until payment was made. Rabbi JOTY should NOT have called the boy in or put him on the phone in connection with financial matters.

I am sharing this story because it was not unique. There are other stories as well. It is a measure not only of insensitivity by Rabbi JOTY but also the desperation and sacrifices that even well to do Jewish families endure in providing a Torah education for their children. I hope this article will stimulate needed discussion about aid to both Yeshivas and families. The struggles of harried families should not involve their children. I hope Rabbi JOTY and others like him will take this lesson to heart and use a small measure of tact and compassion in the collection of tuition in the future.


One of the factors in the fall of communism was the complete disconnect between productivity and rewards. There was complete security for failing employees and failing businesses. An old Soviet era gag line was “They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work.”

In most cases, heavy government subsidies were coupled with a kleptocratic ethic and under the table set of connections to get scarce goods and services.

Workers in the free world are bound by considerations of productivity. Under-productive workers will quickly find themselves unemployed.

Corporate executives on the other hand earn obscenely high salaries that they collect even when they are laying off employees. The gross disparity between the wages of an average worker and of a corporate executive set Americans apart from their Japanese counterparts. An article in today’s New York Times reports as follows.

Click here for entire article

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