Tuesday, October 29, 2013

RIP, Lou

Lou Reed, a pioneer rock and roller, died at age 71 this past Sunday, probably, not confirmed at the time I'm writing this from complications of a liver transplant he received last May. For my money, his album "New York" is one of the finest rock records ever made. I can't tell you how many times I've listened to it.

You can listen to the whole album right here:

I'll post the New York Times obit when I get back from my trip. (I'm typing this on Sunday for posting on Tuesday while I'm gone.)

Monday, October 28, 2013

View Point

The form of this poem is called a villanelle, and if I recollect rightly, it's an old--as in several hundred years old--French form. 19 lines are required, as you will notice, a strictly circumscribed rhyme scheme. I don't particularly like this form of poetry because I think it's pretty hard to get one right, that is, one that doesn't sound forced, that comes across as natural. And that's not to mention how damned hard they are to write.

So here's my latest villanelle, done on assignment from my little three-person poetry group.

View Point

From way out there I am barely a mote
But stand a universe in the eye of a gnat
And how I see is a matter of rote

That we are the world is our usual note
Few would doubt or question that
But from way out there we’re barely a mote

We don self-regard like a comfy coat
In truth it’s ragged, thin, basically flat
And how we see is a matter of rote

But our vision’s cramped, and it’s no joke
Hiding the plain and simple fact
From way out there we’re barely a mote

We’d rather grasp truths that quietly float
Before our eyes like the Cheshire cat
And how we see them is a matter of rote

The alternative view of self-serving bloat
Renders us miniscule, and that is that
From way out there we’re barely a mote
But I stand a universe in the eye of a gnat.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Gathering

I'm off again on Monday for Chicago where I hook up with dear friend Larry for a visit, business talk (we've got several joint projects in the works), and then a trip to Springfield and some immersion in Lincoln lore. From there it's a drive down to St. Louis where the annual convention of the Southern Historical Association is happening. All the up-and-coming and not so up-and-coming historians meeting and greeting, snuggling up to department chairs, doing the career-shmoozing thing.

But not us old farts from LSU, thanks be to God. I doubt that many of our clan--usually at least half a dozen are there, unless detained at home by illness or some other good reason--will attend any actual sessions, where they read papers and engage in learned discussion with the panel, unless they have to. And there won't be many of us in that category. Who wants to listen to all that academic bullshit anyway? Journal articles and convention papers are for those still playing the game. The only enlightening ones I ever heard or read were by me or one of my friends . . . and the occasional few that poked their heads out of the general grunge. Yes, this is a cynical attitude. But it's also one that's earned.

No, what we're going to do is sit around and drink, laugh, and generally engage in the banter that old men engage in. We'll bemoan the state of the country and dissect what wrong with the football team this year, talk some baseball--most historians are baseball fans for some reason--do quick checks on the state of everybody's family, order more drinks, and laugh some more. Once more confirming that the best things, the only truly necessary things in life, are old friends and family. 

The point is, I'm not going to be posting for about a week. Please try to soldier on without me for a  few days.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Who Is This Guy?

Well, he's named Russell Brand, and I had to look him up on Wikipedia. I had never heard of the guy before, and if all you did was read in Wikipedia about him, you'd likely not be too impressed. But you can't get a full picture of anybody from words on a page. Perhaps you should listen to him and then decide. I cannot tell you how I stumbled across this interview, or rather, what caused me to click it one and listen. I found it on Alternet. They advertise this interview as "a brilliant tirade against a broken political system." I concur. Watch for yourself.

Bye the bye, the interviewer is one Jeremy Paxman, " (born 11 May 1950) is an English journalist, broadcaster and author. He has worked for the BBC since 1977, and is known for his forthright and abrasive interviewing style, particularly when interrogating politicians. His regular appearances on the BBC Two's Newsnight programs have been criticized as aggressive, intimidating and condescending, and also applauded as tough and incisive."

But our boy Russell shuts his face right up . . . behold.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Those Happy Danes!

Denmark is the country with the happiest people on the planet. This, from a report that ranks such countries. Before you ask, the United States is 17, behind Canada (6), and Mexico (16). And just because you're curious and probably won't look at the report, the other leaders were Norway and Switzerland, behind Denmark. If you want a quick lowdown, this article will give it to you.

What I'm interested in here though are the reasons given for the state of bliss in Denmark. Why every country in the world that is not at least in the top dozen or so in happiness should not be poring over these matters quite seriously is something we just have to wonder about.

So the reasons why the Danes are the happiest people in the world. There are six factors that together "explain three quarters of differences in life evaluations across hundreds of countries and over the years."
The six factors for a happy nation split evenly between concerns on a government- and on a human-scale. The happiest countries have in common a large GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy at birth and a lack of corruption in leadership. But also essential were three things over which individual citizens have a bit more control over: A sense of social support, freedom to make life choices and a culture of generosity. 
But why Denmark, you may wonder. Well, according to the report, this is why. And the following is quoted from this web piece.

1. Denmark supports parents

While American women scrape by with  an average maternal leave of 10.3 weeks, Danish families receive  a total of 52 weeks of parental leave. Mothers are able to take 18 weeks and fathers receive their own dedicated 2 weeks at up to 100 percent salary. The rest of the paid time off is up to the family to use as they see fit.

But the support doesn't stop at the end of this time. Danish children have access to free or low-cost child care. And early childhood education is associated with  health and well-being throughout life for its recipients --  as well as for mothers. What's more, this frees up young mothers to return to the work force if they'd like to. The result? In Denmark,  79 percent of mothers return to their previous level of employment, compared to 59 percent of American women. These resources mean that women contribute  34 to 38 percent of income in Danish households with children, compared to American women, who contribute 28 percent of income.

2. Health care is a civil right -- and a source of social support

Danish citizens expect and receive health care as a basic right. But what's more, they know how to effectively use their health systems. Danish people are in touch with their primary care physician an average of nearly seven times per year,  according to a 2012 survey of family medicine in the country. And that means they have a single advocate who helps them navigate more complicated care.

"This gatekeeping system essentially is designed to support the principle that treatment ought to take place at the lowest effective care level along with the idea of continuity of care provided by a family doctor,"  wrote the authors of the family medicine survey.

By contrast, Americans seek medical care an average of fewer than four times per year and they don't just visit their general practitioner -- this figure includes emergency room visits, where many uninsured Americans must access doctors. This diversity of resources means that many Americans don't have continuity of care -- not a single medical professional advocating for them and putting together a comprehensive medical history.

3. Gender equality is prioritized

Denmark regularly ranks among the top 10 countries in a World Economic Forum's yearly report that measures gender equality. While no country in the world has yet achieved gender parity, Denmark and other Nordic countries are coming close. That is in no small part because of the strong presence of women in leadership positions. Reported the World Economic Forum:
The Nordic countries were also early starters in providing women with the right to vote (Sweden in 1919, Norway in 1913, Iceland and Denmark in 1915, Finland in 1906). In Denmark, Sweden and Norway, political parties introduced voluntary gender quotas in the 1970s, resulting in high numbers of female political representatives over the years. In Denmark, in fact, this quota has since been abandoned as no further stimulus is required.
Indeed, the country currently has its first female prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt. . . .
But government leadership merely exemplifies greater gender balance throughout the culture.

4. Biking is the norm

In Denmark's most populated and largest city, Copenhagen, bikes account for 50 percent of its residents' trips to school or work. Half. Half of commuting happens on a bike in Copenhagen and that doesn't just improve fitness levels and reduce carbon emissions, it also contributes to the wealth of the city, reported Forbes:
Researchers found that for every kilometer traveled by bike instead of by car, taxpayers saved 7.8 cents (DKK 0.45) in avoided air pollution, accidents, congestion, noise and wear and tear on infrastructure. Cyclists in Copenhagen cover an estimated 1.2 million kilometers each day –- saving the city a little over $34 million each year.
What's more, just 30 minutes of daily biking adds an average of one to two years to the life expectancy of Copenhagen's cyclists.

5. Danish culture puts a positive spin on its harsh environment

Here's how Danish people turn lemons into spiced mulled wine: Ever heard of the concept of hygge? While some would define it as cultivated coziness, hygge is often considered the major weapon in combatting the dreary darkness that befalls the Nordic country over the winter. In a place where the sun shines fewer than seven hours during the height of the winter solstice -- a level of darkness that can (and does) stir depression and sad feelings -- the concept of a cozy scene, full of love and indulgence, can help to mitigate some of the season's worst psychological effects.

After all, both strong social connections and many of the indulgent foods associated with hygge -- such as chocolate, coffee and wine -- are mood boosters.

6. Danes feel a responsibility to one another

Danes don't prioritize social security and safety simply so they can receive benefits; there's a real sense of collective responsibility and belonging. And this civic duty -- combined with the economic security and work-life balance to support it -- results in a high rate of volunteerism. According to a government exploration of Danish "responsibility":
Denmark is a society where citizens participate and contribute to making society work. More than 40 percent of all Danes do voluntary work in cultural and sports associations, NGOs, social organisations, political organisations, etc. There is a wealth of associations: in 2006, there were 101,000 Danish organisations -- worth noting in a population of just 5.5 million.
The economic value of this unpaid work is DKK 35.3 billion. Combined with the value growth from the non-profit sector, public subsidies and membership fees, the total economic impact of the sector represents 9.6 percent of the Danish GDP.
But that sense of stewardship isn't just extra-governmental: Danes also take pride in their involvement with the democratic process. During the last election in September 2011, for example, 87.7 percent of the country voted.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

War Is . . .

It's the story of America, brothers and sisters. There's big, big money in war . . . and big, big money justifies anything, like selling a nation's soul to corporate profit.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Class War . . . Let's Get It Started

Some quotations from Chris Hedges' latest piece on truthdig. I resonate with what this man says. He has a sense for the onrushing disaster. We don't get any pats on the head from him. But he's not kicking our asses hard enough. 
My hatred of authority, along with my loathing for the pretensions, heartlessness and sense of entitlement of the rich, comes from living among the privileged. It was a deeply unpleasant experience. But it exposed me to their insatiable selfishness and hedonism. I learned, as a boy, who were my enemies.

Oligarchs do not believe in self-sacrifice for the common good. They never have. They never will. They are the cancer of democracy. 

“We Americans are not usually thought to be a submissive people, but of course we are,” Wendell Berry writes. “Why else would we allow our country to be destroyed? Why else would we be rewarding its destroyers? Why else would we all—by proxies we have given to greedy corporations and corrupt politicians—be participating in its destruction? Most of us are still too sane to piss in our own cistern, but we allow others to do so and we reward them for it. We reward them so well, in fact, that those who piss in our cistern are wealthier than the rest of us. How do we submit? By not being radical enough. Or by not being thorough enough, which is the same thing.”

Class struggle defines most of human history. Marx got this right. The sooner we realize that we are locked in deadly warfare with our ruling, corporate elite, the sooner we will realize that these elites must be overthrown. The corporate oligarchs have now seized all institutional systems of power in the United States. Electoral politics, internal security, the judiciary, our universities, the arts and finance, along with nearly all forms of communication, are in corporate hands. Our democracy, with faux debates between two corporate parties, is meaningless political theater. There is no way within the system to defy the demands of Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry or war profiteers. The only route left to us, as Aristotle knew, is revolt. 

The seesaw of history has thrust the oligarchs once again into the sky. We sit humiliated and broken on the ground. It is an old battle. It has been fought over and over in human history. We never seem to learn. It is time to grab our pitchforks

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Just Your Everyday Crime Against Humanity

I dropped by Sam's today to pick up some items that Susan missed when she went yesterday (and I managed to forget two items today myself!) and it struck me as was rolling my cart out of the store that the two female "gatekeepers"--one greeting people as they came the store and other checking the sales slips against the contents of carts as people were leaving--it struck me to ask myself what the hell these two old ladies were doing here working on a Sunday. Neither of these ladies was a day younger than 75, and the one greeting looked like she might have weighed all of maybe 80 pounds.

It struck me that surely it is a crime against the very humanity of these old ladies that they are forced to stand on their feet--for who knows how long?--to earn the pittance minimum wage that Sam Walton's corporation pays them. And I thought to myself: these old ladies are here and not home with their families for only one reason. They have to be there. They have to work. And then I thought to myself: this very idea is outrageous. We should be taking care of people like this. Isn't it a human right, a right in basic decency, that people in their old age and doubtless infirm in one way or another, should not have to labor so hard for their evening bowl of soup? What a cruel country this is.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Racialized Minority

So here we are again. Right back where we were on the verge of the Civil War. A Southern-based minority-within-a-minority is furiously opposed to letting the will of the majority be realised. And they're fighting it with everything they've got. The sooner that Americans as a whole realise what is happening, the sooner we can put an end to it.
This is the concluding paragraph of a wonderfully insightful piece by Paul Rosenberg about the Tea Partiers and the state of American politics. On the Al-jeezera site, no less. This piece would repay your careful reading. It makes perfect sense. And a good history lesson who those of us who forget the part the solid Democratic South played in passage and implementation of FDR's New Deal. For those of us who believe that it has been and is mostly about race . . . this is impeccable confirmation as to why.

Going Extinct

Don't ask me how I run across these things, but most of you know I'm a sucker for lists. You might be expecting  a long list of animal and plant species that we're going to kill with chemicals, pollution, global warming, etc. And certainly I could give you one of those. But today I'm going to give you a list I just stumbled across a moment or two ago. These according to salary.com are the jobs that are int the state of evolving, or they've already pretty much died. No surprises. 
  1. Librarian: already evolved into the digital world
  2. Professional typists: duh! These people have to become masters of software to survive.
  3. Video store clerk: This list is beginning to look like a joke. If I've led you into a joke, please be kind.
  4. Umpires and referees: both evolving to cope with instant replay and slooooooow mo.
  5. Iceman: Extinct. I wonder how many readers actually know what one is. Ice sculpting still survives.
  6.  Travel agents: Evolving into niches.
  7. Newspaper deliverer: I did this from my bike as a kid. It was a terrible job. Now the motorized divisions of deliverers are going the way of the dodo. People don't read newspapers anymore.
  8. Family farmer: Evolving, but it takes a lotta land and a lotta business savvy.
  9. Switchboard operator: remember those? Lucky to a get a human voice at all in one try these days.
  10. Supermarket cashier: These are evolving into something more like monitors.
  11. Postal worker: Automated and reliance now on packages. e-commerce has murdered first-class mail.
  12. On-the-air DJ: Evolving. The airwaves are being replaced by "web waves" and satellite signals.
In the next couple of decades, I'd add taxi-drivers, railway engineers, and pilots to the list. Transport is going robotic.

Friday, October 18, 2013

I'm a Worry Wart . . .

. . . about some things. Not all things. But some things. And right now I'm worried about my relationship with my kids. I'm sure this will pass, but it's where I am at the moment. I usually just worry about them generally, their well being, their futures, but I just am burdened with the thought right now that I'm aging out of their lives. There are three of them, all of them flesh of my flesh in one way or another, but all completely different, too. I find myself in a much less fulfilling relationship with them each one in its own unique way than I had imagined, and, I must admit, it's a source of pain.

Which got me to thinking about the whole subject of suffering, and it just so happens that just in time for church tomorrow, and just in time with my glum mood, Richard Rohr's meditation today really speaks to me. Of course, it speaks to matters far more tragic and painful than my little bout of self-absorbed angst, but it's the perspective for all pain and suffering, and I thought I'd share it with you. Apologies for the gloomy mood. 
Pain teaches a most counterintuitive thing—that we must go down before we even know what up is. In terms of the ego, most religions teach in some way that all of us must die before we die, and then we will not be afraid of dying. Suffering of some sort seems to be the only thing strong enough to destabilize our arrogance and our ignorance. I would define suffering very simply as whenever you are not in control.
If religion cannot find a meaning for human suffering, humanity is in major trouble. All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain. Great religion shows you what to do with the absurd, the tragic, the nonsensical, the unjust. If we do not transform this pain, we will most assuredly transmit it to others, and it will slowly destroy us in one way or another.
If there isn’t some way to find some deeper meaning to our suffering, to find that God is somewhere in it, and can even use it for good, we will normally close up and close down. The natural movement of the ego is to protect itself so as not to be hurt again. The soul does not need answers, it just wants meaning, and then it can live. Surprisingly, suffering itself often brings deep meaning to the surface to those who are suffering and also to those who love them.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Guess What?

You guessed it: here on the day before the shit irretrievably hit the fan on the extension of the country's debt limit so the United States of America would default on its monetary obligations, the clownocracy in  Washington struck a deal. Basically, it's like the several "deals" before this one. It basically kicks a solution to the impasse a few months ahead. The government is going to reopen for business until some time in January. The debt limit decision has until early February before it rises to bedevil the country yet again.

The Tea Party idiots in the Republican party are responsible for this latest travesty, and I dearly hope that the Democrats just kick the hell out of these people in the fall elections next year. Not that I have much hope left in the Democratic party or the democratic process, for that matter, but the people of this country need to send a message to these imbeciles on the far right that they do not speak for the "people of this country," as they are continually proclaiming that they do. Why doesn't somebody call Boehner a liar and McConnell a liar and Ted Cruz a liar when they claim to be speaking for the "American people"? They aren't. They never were.

It's a sadly flawed system that allows things like this to happen . . . and happen again if these servants of the people decide to play this game again. I frankly see no reason they would not.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Carnivals of Folly

Here we are, four days before the United States of America defaults on its debts. Here we are entering into the third week of a partial governmental shut down because a tiny minority of idiots in the Republican party have brought us to this pass. We are facing self-imposed disasters of unknown magnitude and duration if sanity doesn't prevail soon.You have to wonder about a system and set of rules that could allow something like this to happen, but that's a question for another time. Right now we are all staring down the barrel of a shotgun, with a madman on the other end of it, finger on trigger.

As usual Chris Hedges has cogent observations. And as usual he looks at the system. Once you understand the system, you can understand this present mess. Here he is today in Truthdig:
The last days of empire are carnivals of folly. We are in the midst of our own, plunging forward as our leaders court willful economic and environmental self-destruction. Sumer[ia] and Rome went down like this. So did the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires. Men and women of stunning mediocrity and depravity led the monarchies of Europe and Russia on the eve of World War I. And America has, in its own decline, offered up its share of weaklings, dolts and morons to steer it to destruction. A nation that was still rooted in reality would never glorify charlatans such as Sen. Ted Cruz, House Speaker John Boehner and former Speaker Newt Gingrich as they pollute the airwaves. If we had any idea what was really happening to us we would have turned in fury against Barack Obama, whose signature legacy will be utter capitulation to the demands of Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry, the military-industrial complex and the security and surveillance state. We would have rallied behind those few, such as Ralph Nader, who denounced a monetary system based on gambling and the endless printing of money and condemned the willful wrecking of the ecosystem. We would have mutinied. We would have turned the ship back.
The populations of dying empires are passive because they are lotus-eaters. There is a narcotic-like reverie among those barreling toward oblivion. They retreat into the sexual, the tawdry and the inane, retreats that are momentarily pleasurable but ensure self-destruction. They naively trust it will all work out. As a species, Margaret Atwood observes in her dystopian novel “Oryx and Crake,” “we’re doomed by hope.” And absurd promises of hope and glory are endlessly served up by the entertainment industry, the political and economic elite, the class of courtiers who pose as journalists, self-help gurus like Oprah and religious belief systems that assure followers that God will always protect them. It is collective self-delusion, a retreat into magical thinking.
Well, magic didn't get us to this pass, and magic will not get us out of it. Alas, what it will take to get us back on even keel--a collective acceptance of the concept of the common good--is, it seems to me, dead as a dodo, beyond resuscitation. We seemed determined to commit suicide.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Captain America

Susan I saw a pretty good movie this afternoon – "Captain Phillips." If you keep up with movies in the least, if probably seen reviews of this one, about a huge American cargo ship being seized by four heavily armed Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden. Movie is based on a true story that happened in 2009. It's really a tense film, and the anxiety you feel for the crew and the dread about what is going to happen keeps building. After some pretty tense times on the boat, the American military arrives with its awesome might, and you know how this story is going to end.

In the hallway after the movie, one of the ladies who accompanied Susan said "Thank God for the SEALS." That's what she got out of it, one supposes. How did she miss the desperation of these pirates, the desperate homeland they come from, the desperate straits they were in under the thumb of cruel vicious warlords? The humanity of these four guys, even though they were pirates? The last emotions that I felt coming out of the movie were elation that we have SEALs who can go kill guys on the high seas all in a days work, and destroyers and aircraft carriers, and high tech everything. Go see the movie. See what you think.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Dead Spider

He was big, and he was black with long legs, and he was sitting by the back door to the house, the one from the bedroom to outside. I've been telling people for a long time that I don't kill spiders, that they are good creatures, that they do a lot more good than they do harm. But last night I picked up a shoe and smacked this one. He immediately folded up his legs, quivered, and died.

And I can't tell you how much that image's been on my mind. That dead spider with his curled up legs. The rationale at the time was he was big and scary and he might be dangerous, but this was just giving myself permission to kill him.

The fact of the matter is I feel bad about killing the spider. Isn't that nuts? Somehow, though, it feels like a violation of the pact that exists between all living things: the pact of mutual respect, the pact of being fellow travelers in the world. Maybe having the new dog in the house has stirred up these thoughts of the connection between ourselves and the rest of God's creation. I don't know. But whatever has caused it, I know that I've got a different outlook on living creatures than I did previously. Call it an enlargement of vision. Or call it the silly ruminations of an old man. Whatever: I still feel it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Does Any of This Surprise You?

Pretty interesting piece in the Times by Thomas Edsall about Tea Party Republicans. It's good the whole thing, but I want to highlight just a couple of graphics from it that say everything about the nut cases who have shut down the government, and apparently would not have any qualms about refusing to raise the country's debt limit, which almost everybody else in the universe says would be catastrophic. Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg is working on a study of the Republican party. The graphics below are the results of polls of six focus groups.
One of the key factors pushing Republicans to extremes, according to Greenberg’s report, is the intensity of animosity toward Obama. This animosity among participants in all six focus groups is [below] which represents a “word cloud” of focus group references to the president, with the size of each word in the cloud proportional to the frequency with which it was used.
Republicans on Obama

Now, does any of this surprise you? Of course not . . . but look closely and you will not see anything about Obama's race. That doesn't surprise me either, but don't kid yourself, if people in these groups really said what was on their mind, "nigger" would be in big, big letters up there.

Here's another. This one depicts the words that came up most frequently in the six focus groups.

Words occurring most in the GOP focus groups

Hmmm. I'll bet the words wouldn't be all that different in a poll about what the Republicans are doing to the country right now.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sen. Claire McCaskill Gets Tweets . . .

And I'm sure others do also, but this post is about hers. I'm quoting from a great little blog called "Millard Fillmore's Bathtub."
Sen. Claire McCaskill gets Tweets on the government shutdown, sometimes from people who appear unfamiliar with major concepts of civilized life.

Here's the text. Some of today's hate: "shut the f* up you baby killing, veteran disrespecting, butt ugly sack of shit bitch.” His profile says he's a Christian.

The old hymn says,
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.
Worse, or better if the Tweeter tries to live up to it, is verse three:
We will work with each other, we will work side by side,
We will work with each other, we will work side by side,
And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Her Name is Zoe

And if I were a classy blogger, I put a picture of my new Boston terrier right here where you could see what I'm talking about. But I've got no class . . . plus no picture transferred to my desktop so I could post it. You'll just have to take my word for it that she's a beautiful little girl. One year old. Rambunctious like a half puppy usually is. I've got her signed up for doggie manners school in a couple of weeks. Then she'll be as classy as I am not. (Just could not stand being without a dog in the house. Dog people understand . . . )

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Gee, Ya Think?

Indicators as diverse as happiness, mental illness, infant mortality, children’s educational performance, teenage pregnancy, homicide, imprisonment, social trust and social mobility all get worse as the income gaps within society deepen.

The reigning economic orthodoxy assumes the distribution of income reflects “market forces” and “productivity,” but history confirms distribution is actually shaped by the power institutions of society. (Source)
 The source quote is from an article about Canada, but it applies to the U.S. in spades. It's really quite simple: with just a few fat cats high on the hog, automatically millions upon millions are bunched around the pig's feet, where it's dirty and squalid, unsafe and nasty. This translates to social ills. The market? It's a flimsy rationale to justify control of wealth by the powerful. There are no invisible hands.

“Indicators as diverse as happiness, mental illness, infant mortality, children’s educational performance, teenage pregnancy, homicide, imprisonment, social trust and social mobility all get worse as the income gaps within society deepen.”
Jordan Brennan and Jim Stanford, Toronto Star, September 26, 2013 - See more at: http://toomuchonline.org/#sthash.RPbAMpVt.dpuf
“Indicators as diverse as happiness, mental illness, infant mortality, children’s educational performance, teenage pregnancy, homicide, imprisonment, social trust and social mobility all get worse as the income gaps within society deepen.”
Jordan Brennan and Jim Stanford, Toronto Star, September 26, 2013 - See more at: http://toomuchonline.org/#sthash.RPbAMpVt.dpuf
“Indicators as diverse as happiness, mental illness, infant mortality, children’s educational performance, teenage pregnancy, homicide, imprisonment, social trust and social mobility all get worse as the income gaps within society deepen.”
Jordan Brennan and Jim Stanford, Toronto Star, September 26, 2013 - See more at: http://toomuchonline.org/#sthash.RPbAMpVt.dpuf

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

They Don't Deserve It

Today at the pool during water aerobics a little 8-year old girl, a cutie with a great outgoing personality, engaged Susan and the rest of the small class in chatter. Mostly Susan. She was there for a swim meet with a whole bunch of other young kids.

I found myself getting angry at the thought that the world we're leaving these kids is going to be in ruins. By the time they get the age of members of the water aerobics class, if they live that long, what's going to be left? We seem absolutely hell-bent on destroying ourselves. I wonder if the whole human race will soon fit Hobbes' grim observation about the lives of human beings being "nasty, brutish, and short."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

They Did It

They've gone and done it: shut the federal government down rather than abide a piece of legislation that passed the House and Senate, was declared OK by the Supreme Court, and is in the process of implementation all over the country.

Here's what Bill Boyarsky had to say in Truthdig about it:
Don’t write the Republicans off as totally crazy. They know that if Obamacare works, it will wreck chances for attaining their real goal—lowering taxes on the rich, wiping out regulations and widening even more the gap between the very rich and everyone else.
That is why they and their business allies are fighting so hard against the
Affordable Care Act and threatening to bring the federal government to a halt. If the Republicans lose on Obamacare, it will be nearly impossible for them to shrink government the way they’ve been dreaming.
People love conspiracy theories, and as a historian, I'm congenitally suspicious of people who embrace them. But let me say this: it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Republican party, the vast majority of the richest people and corporations in the country oppose anything that appears best for the common good, all of us. That would include laws driven by climate change, poverty of masses of people, and regulations by the government to restrain banks, multi-national corporations, and polluters. This country is falling apart, and our Congress is one of the main contributors.