Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ikea v. Socialism



Ikea v. Socialism

As a young man just starting out, I bought cheap furniture that had to be put together. Nothing ever really fit and usually some skill was necessary on my part to fit the crap together in a reasonable way. In a small way, I had to think and build.

A few weeks ago, I bought a bookshelf at IKEA and found that everything fit exactly – all the loose pieces were in a separate bag, labeled with an 800 number for help. All I had to do was follow directions. The thing was pre-built; all I added was the cheap and local labor.

And I do believe the cheap and distant labor didn’t put much skill into the making as well.
For most people today, nothing is built that requires skill – buildings are poured concrete that folds up to make a box, cars are made with boxes in boxes that fit without the banging and making do – the art of building has been removed the things of life. Very few people work as machinist honing parts to make them fit anymore.

If a monkey can do the box placement, and we live in a global society where anything can be done anywhere – Why should Americans have a better standard of living than anywhere else?
We are getting to the point in our development that a man can push a vestigial button on an electric air machine and have finished goods pop out of a matter making toaster. What will we do with the people who can’t program electric air?

If a business leaves this country to make things cheaper somewhere else, do they have any responsibility to the people they leave unemployed in their wake? What about the true marketplace – the one with money? If they can make it cheaper, then bring it back and sell it cheaper – what’s the problem?

This is where the redistribution of wealth comes in – it is against our interest as a society of people called Americans to have a low wage country that’s lost their middle-class. We won’t last without a big bunch of us getting a cut of the profits, and an opportunity to get a better chance of getting more.
And realistically – there really are a lot of stupid people that are incapable of doing more than general labor – do we want to condemn them to pooritude not because they won’t work hard, but because we have assigned less value to them as a people?

Business won’t voluntarily give up their profits to educate people, or provide for them a meaningful life if they off shore their jobs – they just won’t for lots of good and bad reasons – it’s not their job or their responsibility. Many say that it’s an individuals responsibility – but the radical change that globalization is bringing is not the fault of individuals and can’t be solved by individual action.
The only thing big enough that can carry the stick to gently tap tap business on the side of the head once in a while is government. They can tax – they can spend. They can provide training for new and complicated jobs; they can dole out stipends for work that benefits the public good to people incapable of doing more. They can soften to harshness on people caused by corporations whose business is to get more money out of less work by calling the grail of productivity a god.

Call it what you want – Socialism, or just good sense, if the last few years have not turned you against a brutally naked form of exploitation that we call the free market, you are lost to us anyhow.



Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Compromise




I look forward to the day when a liberal and a Conservative can get together and compromise again. It's been too long, and the resentments have built up on both sides.

In my personal life I have strong beliefs that are hard earned and appropriate. I also understand that I live with other people who may have very different views of how we should shape our society. I am willing to give a little to get a little, but after 8 years of Bush, I will no longer stay quiet and hope for the best.

Rightly or wrongly, I feel the Bushie's have not met in the middle on anything, in fact they have gone out of their way to dismiss all the beliefs I hold strongly, and, even more impotently -- fucked them up big time I have a real anger at being treated this way, and I feel that perhaps I'm not alone.

It will be interesting to see how Obama does as President, whether he will be allowed to compromise with the Right, (my concern is with both sides) or will he just come up with a New Deal for a new age.

Now that I think about it -- fuck compromise, let's get on with the revolution. The Republican party should die the death of the Whig Party -- let them retire as a stain on History books; let their absolute black and white sureness and inflexibility brand them as a diplomatic curse word for politicians forever.

I'd still like to compromise with a conservative on something -- just to see if it's possible.

10 questions for today


10 Questions to ask yourself today

1. Why do you think poor people don’t have money?
2. What would Jesus really do?
3. Is health care a right or a responsibility?
4. If health care is a responsibility and you are not very responsible, should you die?
5. If we hit someone because we think they are a threat – do they have the right to hit us back, and if so, how hard and with what?
6. If every month we spend more than we make, what are our expectations?
7. If we warehouse people in jails for crimes and treat them like dogs, what do we think will happen when we let them out?
8. Did you actually learn anything in high school other than social norms?
9. Do you really think that most people in Cuba would have been better off if Batista had stayed in power?
10. Do you really think that the children of the Boomers are going to let them keep the money?


Really, who didn’t what to blow up stuff in the 60’s?

There were a lot of us, and we were young. The government was obviously corrupt, we were in a war which saw thousands of people our age being killed weekly that no revisionist history was ever going to make right. They had the guns, but we had the numbers. We still do.

Really, who didn’t want to be Bernadette Dorns bitch?

I still remember when I realized that I was no longer collecting baseball cards to store in the attic for my old age but was, rather, using them to separate the stems and seeds from my pot to keep my joints from exploding.

And now these things of our youth, like tuna, clean air and Taiwan, are coming back to haunt us. All the high school squares and chuckles are in charge, and they are grinding out their frustration and resentment on our elderly best and brightest.

In the 20’s, all except the lost, were communists – it was fashionable and sensible – like good shoes. The fact that people tend to work for their own interest and not the common good had not been established yet, but it was clear to the elites (i.e. Smart people without money) that Capitalism was nasty and brutish when naked.

We forget that the New Deal didn’t just come from nothing. The prep work for it came from Eugene Debs getting millions of votes for President while sitting in prison. It came when Montana put all its intellectuals (There were nine, for the record) in prison for criticizing the government. People were unhappy and complained. Marxism looked good to a big percentage of the population and we the people had no choice but to change and accept parts of their program.

As Steven Lendman puts it in his blog:
“Marx condemned "free-market" capitalism as "anarchic" and ungovernable.
‘Because it alienates the masses. Prevents the creation of a humane society. Produces class struggle between the "haves" and "have-nots." The bourgeoisie (capitalists) and proletariat (workers). The destructive contradictions of the system. Exploited masses so a few can profit.
He predicted what's clear today. Competition over time produces a handful of winners. Powerful monopolies controlling nearly all production and commerce. Finance capitalism as well. Exploitation increases. Successive crises erupt, and ultimately fed up workers react. Recognizing their collective power and bringing down the system. Replacing it with a self-managed one. Ending exploitation and alienation. In his view, an inevitable socialist revolution. “
When you see how far we have swung to the right since Reagan, the left looks pretty good – and so it was earlier this century.
Of course those intellectuals with warm thoughts and fuzzy ideas paid for it in the 50’s when fear and a drunken congressman made their lives uncomfortable. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree with time, and the battle continues.



Thursday, October 23, 2008

After McCain Wins





After The McCain Victory


Some will riot in the streets and take advantage of things and opportunities best left undescribed. Others will sit in comfortable chairs in the quiet of their own homes and say, why? over and over to well licked cats and unwashed girlfriends. Many will rage, rage against the machine and the irony of the people getting fucked in public places by anti-abortionists who don't really like sex much. The congress will agree to sigh three times in unison to indicate condemnation; the vote will split on straight party lines, which will make the democrats wring their hands as well in additional, silent protest. Robert Mugabe will cackle. Putin will attack a country whose name we can't pronounce. Buddhists will set fire to themselves in the streets; they will be helped by the oil lobby and Chevron. Obama will ask the Supreme Court to review the election and they will say, “you betcha.” The Hampton’s will declare martial law, and then indenture their Mexicans for security reasons.

Nothing will change; we will just become more structured as a society and more naked in our ambitions.

I will dance and fritter away my days and nights, until they catch me, knowing that I've either seen the hand of god, or the face of evil; just knowing will make all my choices easier and more refreshing.

Or put another way:
(Harvey is McCain and Butch is Obama -- I'm Sundance)
Harvey has challenged Butch to fight for control of the Hole-in-the-Wall gang]
Harvey Logan: Guns or knives?
Butch Cassidy: Neither?
Harvey Logan: Pick.
Butch Cassidy: I don't want to shoot with you Harvey.
Harvey Logan: [draws a big knife] Anything you say, Butch.
[Butch walks over to Sundance]
Butch Cassidy: [in a low voice] Maybe there's a way to make a profit in this. Bet on Logan.
Sundance Kid: I would, but who'd bet on you?
Harvey Logan: Sundance, when we're done, and he's dead, you're welcome to stay.
Butch Cassidy: [low voice, to Sundance] Listen, I don't mean to be a sore loser, but when it's done, if I'm dead, kill him.
Sundance Kid: [low voice to Butch] Love to.
[waves to Harvey and smiles]



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Shadow Love









Shadow Love


"The lady doth protest too much, methinks."
--From Hamlet (III, ii, 239)

The shadow is the part of you you hate – it’s the part of you that you say could never be a part of you. It’s what you fear the most, the living demon, the driver of the tank that your thoughts and actions are always trying to stomp on from the turret.


It’s the piece of you that got split off early in childhood – cleaved off without words by senses that either misunderstood, or pretzel logic consequences from behavior and then
fit it together with malformed images sensed not thought.


A smell that came before the burning, a loud shout that preceded the fall – irritable parents neglect and strange faces that scared you in childhood’s circus mirrors.


Things that happen before words can only be understood without words. A mother’s slap for bad that leads to banishment, or the hiding of a behavior. A father’s neglect following a childish mistake that embarrasses him in front of his boss, which leads to a kangaroo court of competing Id’s to make an example of some part of you creative,yet inappropriate.
Socialization that sets the pale with limits that make part of you unacceptable and need to be rubbed out. These are things that can’t be talked out with therapists and friends – they need to be accepted as a part of
you.


Things that your internal voices have chosen to place outside your personal pale are still apart of you. Like dark matter and energy, it still adds bulk and movement to your thoughts and actions – you just see out of the corner of your eye, if at
all.
The funny part of the shadow is that the parts of you that get walled off are usually not that bad –but by splitting them to keep them from exploding when accidentally bumped into,they shape the way you walk through life, making psychological hunchbacks that
others see but can’t name with words.And if they can't be worked on internally -- they learn to wrestle in the public arena -- real life.


As you get older,society and loved ones beat unacceptable behaviors out of you. This is done with emotions and stuff – but usually you can see an external logic that you can talk through with others. The older stuff is the shadow stuff – and because you learned it without words, you can only see it without words and reason –
that’s the problem with trying to integrate it with the rest of you.


The horror of yourself you see in the shadows is something you spend your whole life running away from. You run so fast, you never get a chance to look back over your shoulder
to see just exactly what it is that is chasing you. 


When you see in another something you hate instinctively – that part of your shadow. When the same problem comes to you over and over in different forms – that’s part of your shadow. When you do self destructive things to sabotage your life – that’s
your shadow.
Your shadow can’t be reasoned with or bribed – it can only be accepted, and if a true deformity of
the soul, worked with in the loving arms of self.



Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Prop 8


Prop 8
I am not really sure why it’s not a hate crime to even talk about being in favor of Prop 8. Most people who think realize that being gay is not a choice; it’s just the way the genetics diced out the baby. To deny them the legal protections of marriage seems like a willful prejudice that ought to be 
condemned. Fag should become the new nigger – a curse that decent people don’t allow out of their lips; a word that gets little kids slapped by their momma when they say it. Making fun of people for what they can’t change is just mean and anti social.

The religious part of marriage is not going to be touched – Catholic priests pick and choose who they marry, and that’s not going to change. What we are talking about is a group of people not afforded the protections granted to others solely based on what they are doing just because they were born a certain way.

To religiously persecute and attack a group based on characteristic they were born with is one thing – We have apparently grandfathered into the fabric of our lives a spiteful, vicious, bearded god who only grants favor to fat white guys and, provisionally, their bitches.

To have a society in which I am a member play favorites with basic rights seems intolerable. We have the amendments in the constitution – basic rights that are a given -- not a choice you can allow the unwashed rabble to mark X’s on. Wise people set it up that way to allow some freedom from the tyranny of the majority. (It’s like little bitty states getting two senators, or free cheeses.)
That said, I am very uncomfortable when someone says they are gay to my face – it seems like too much information. I think that what sex organ you put into what hole should stay private, in fact, my lover insists on it. I call it old fashioned, but she just thinks it's good business practice when you live in a land where all the puritans are sexually obsessed without fucking, while their leaders blow each other in low rent bathrooms..


I think if you asked -- and really listened for an answer, Jesus might tell you that gay people are OK and should be free to love one another in peace. The old Testament is much harsher -- but who the hell would want to be judged by the laws that come out of that part of the bible.

http://johnaugust.com/archives/2008/i-voted (This list ALL and I mean ALL the reasons to vote no)



Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Shadow of Jung

Image by Nellie Vin via Flickr



Shadow

"The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge." 


C. Jung


“The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves.”


C. Jung




Friday, October 17, 2008

Cultural Strip Mining


Capitalism

Until we figure out a way to leave the planet and find new worlds to take dominion over, we live in a closed system and are playing in a zero-sum game. The problem with Capitalism is not one of regulation or individual self interest, enlightened or not. Capitalism requires growth -- it can not exist as we know it without growth. You can't grow forever in a closed system -- it's a physical law.

In a zero-sum game, there is a finite amount of resources to work with. To make something you have to take something from somewhere else. New things are just rearrangements of old things at best (recycle) -- and when the old stuff can no longer be used, it gets dumped in the same house we live in forever.

If you look at our history, you will see that our initial growth came from the exploitation of both natural and human resources. That's actually what capital is -- stuff. Stuff tends to get used up after a few centuries, so we mostly just concentrate on exploiting people now -- we call it productivity.

Since Capitalism does not capable of seeing the long term, (I think this is implied in the concept of enlightened SELF-interest) It misses the point of zero-sum and is not really capable of making the best of it and accommodating reality.

When a coal mine owner levels a mountain for financial gain -- that's capitalism. When it counts it's money without including the cost of cleaning up and making the land productive again -- that's capitalism. Short sighted and incapable of seeing the long term picture of grand kids living in the trash dump of used prosperity.

When Walmart gets tax breaks and doesn't pay for health care for it's low wage workers -- that's capitalism. When the towns they live in lose high wage Safeway clerks and family businesses -- that's also capitalism. In school I remember the breakthrough of Henry Ford came through both the assembly line and doubling the wages of his employees. Low wage employees make lost cost consumers in the long run. When you put low and wage and cost together -- you get poor.

If we lived on a generational spaceship to another star, I'm sure we wouldn't eat all the food the first generation and leave only shit pancakes for the rest of the campers. But maybe we would.

I've been thinking that now that we've grown up a bit, we might want to modify our form of capitalism to include a longer term risk/reward model. Call it Social Capitalism by adding input from people that are paid to see a bigger picture -- enlightened group-interest folk.

When Walmart wants to build in a community, they want to make money -- they are not in business to make a safer, smarter, healthier community -- they are there for the money. Maybe as part of the process, they could be asked questions about increased infrastructure costs for bigger hospitals and sewage. Maybe they can share part of the load for better education in the community, or increased social programs for people without a defined benefit retirement plan -- god knows the retirement plan they have consists of working until you drop.

We could look at why communities allow tax breaks and just how we want to fund cities and counties -- right now in California they depend on sales tax -- the state has taken all their property taxes away. (The law is -- States have all the rights and cities have what the state allows them to have.)

Maybe it's time to ask what's good for us as a community, instead of allowing businesses and government to dictate via an out of date free market model.

When Milton wrote about the 'Marketplace of ideas,' he was framing the form -- the ideal. When John Stewart Mill pointed out a few years later that allowing actual human beings to practice enlightened self-interest on an uncomprehending public was to talk crazy of an epic scale.

Think of it as non-secular tithing -- for selfish bastards that live without the fear of a god that can actually touch. I don't think you can legislate morality -- bu at the same time everyone should be expected to contribute to the common good. That's what the commons mean -- the place we all share and enjoy, or hate, together. Since we all shake off our mortal coils eventually --these things we hold in common are what we leave to our children and our children's children.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Last Debate




The Last Debate

I was watching the debate last night, and after it was all said and done, except for the vapor toads of the ether who continued droning on and on about this and that -- mostly to take up space and occupy weight and, maybe, master time, I eventually noticed an ‘instant’ poll at the bottom of my TV for each network. It was visually scrolling underneath the blather as I randomly shifted channels looking for a House episode I hadn’t seen yet.
MSNBC, snarky and biased, noted a 59-30 split between Obama and McCain; CNN displayed a more balanced 53-33. Fox, fair and balanced popped off a 93-7 split for McCain.
During the debate I remember, I twanged at something, something that was not remarked upon by the floating face bones of goo in all their blathering. It was when McCain categorically denied that he would use any litmus test (abortion,) in nominating Supreme Court Justices. He said he only would nominate men who followed the constitution, and not their whims. He slipped in that any candidate that supported abortion, however, would not be following the constitution as he saw it.

The shorter answer would be, ‘Absolutely not…yes.’
I worked as a case manager for a hospital years ago. Lifeguard was a popular insurance at the time and many of the patients we admitted used them. They advertised that they covered, ‘100% of all covered procedures.” When patients were refused coverage for hospitalization they would come to me and ask why. I always had to explain to them that if their problem was covered by Lifeguard, they wouldn’t have to pay a penny – but since they didn’t cover much, I need a deposit before we could admit them.

What I heard McCain say was: he was open to all suggestions, unless they conflicted with what he had already decided.
I voted today. It’s a secret.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Florida Insurance




This is an unpublished report about Florida Catastrophe insurance -- I think it will stand up well the next year three hurricanes hit the Grapefruit state.

Insurers plan to stay in the shallow end of the risk pool

By Michael Brady 8/26/06

After hurricanes have dealt heavy losses to national insurance companies, many are raising rates and whining about leaving Florida. But in fact, some, like State Farm, are utilizing their subsidiaries and the reinsurance market to build a safety net designed to minimize any losses in Florida regardless of the weather, and keep it a lucrative source of profits.
Florida only insurance companies are finally learning to function as the limited liability subsidiaries they were created to be – suitable fictions that accept blame without responsibility. Historically unable to adequately price risk in Florida due to an unfavorable insurance regulatory environment, companies are using the current climate of fear to put in place practices that guarantee Florida homeowners will continue to pay more money for less coverage.

The plan

State Farm Florida, a company in the Illinois-based State Farm Group of Insurances, and Allstate Floridian, a subsidiary of Illinois-based Allstate (NYSE: ALL), plan to increase rates, outsource risk and drop properties they feel most likely to make claims against them. State Farm received approval from State regulators to increase their rates by a statewide average of 52.7 percent. Allstate Floridian was approved for a 16.8 percent increase.
These rate increases are reviewed and approved by Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation after public meetings are held for all requests of more than 15 percent. Most of the recent rate increase requests have cited reinsurance costs as the reason for their requested increases, said Bob Lotane, spokesman for the state of Florida’s office of reinsurance.
Because the cost of reinsurance tends to be approved if companies show that it’s being used to pay for the reinsurance, Lotane said, bigger rate increases have been routinely approved this year.
It also appears to be a way insurance companies are using to work around the inadequate pricing structure they feel that the State of Florida’s strong regulatory restrictions that have forced on them in the past.

Saying good-bye to risk

State Farm Florida is outsourcing risk this year by more than doubling its reinsurance with its own national company in Illinois, at the cost of one third of their annual premiums in Florida, according to a information provided in a 543 page rate request filing with the Florida’s office of insurance regulation.
They will spend $662 million purchasing one year of reinsurance, 73 percent of it going to State Farm Mutual of Illinois. This will buy $7.5 billion of reinsurance coverage for the 2006-7, starting in July. Last year, State Farm held $3 billion worth of coverage for which it received slightly more than $ 100 million from its Florida subsidiary. State Farm Florida is spending five times more for reinsurance this year than last—one-third of their $1.5 billion in premiums, to get more than twice as much coverage as last year.
This doubling of outsourced catastrophe risk is indicative of a trend, according to Ansis Vallens, an analyst for Benfield PLC., a London based independent reinsurance and risk advisor.
“Florida’s risk is thought to uncertain, and predictive models are not indicating whether the four storms of 2004 are an aberration or a trend,” Vallens said. “Insurers like State Farm are spooked and buying reinsurance based on storms that happen once in every 250 years instead of the old standard of 1 in a 100.”
Vallens does not feel that State Farm is necessarily spending too much on reinsurance this year and said that due to the fear and uncertainty in the market, it may be “they are erring on the side of caution and trying to insure the survival of their company.”


[Lose some, win some—that’s the point]

State Farm Florida sustained net losses and loss adjustment expenses of $1.3 billion in 2004 and its parent company lost almost $3 billion through its Florida exposure in the reinsurance market, according to the rating company A.M. Best.
Despite that, State Farm Illinois has also done very well in the profit department, they saw net assets go from $17.5 billion to $24 billion in the last three years despite putting $750 million into its Florida subsidiary in 2004 after big losses in 2004, according required filings with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Traditionally, insurance companies have averaged weather risk over decades instead of years. Insurance works by mathematically evaluating risk and setting aside enough money to cover that risk over time, said Adam Shores, spokesman for Allstate Floridian.
But now that risk has been outsourced, the time element that allows for the setting aside of capital for a rainy day to be compromised.
“Instead of the money staying in Florida, building up interest and accumulating over the calm years to pay out in the bad ones, the money’s just [left the state],” Shores said. It’s a little like the difference between term and whole life insurance – term insurance is in the moment and holds no value other than as a specific snapshot in time.
Allstate Floridian has also seen “huge” increases in what they pay for reinsurance this year. But different than State Farm, most of its reinsurance is “outsourced and not with our parent company,” said Shores, but he declined to give numbers, citing `proprietary reasons.’

Reinsurers edging into new models

Reinsurers primarily are using one of three models to evaluate risk this year: RMS, Risk management solutions bases in Stanford, Ca., AIR Worldwide, based in Boston and Eqecat, based in Oakland, Ca., all three have revised models approved this year by the Office of Insurance regulation, and all show significantly higher risk for potentially catastrophic storms to occur over this “cycle of increased hurricane activity,” said Vallens.
“Reinsurance is big business and its money flows towards the best risk,” Vallens said, “and Florida’s seen as a big mess.”

Because of this, reinsurance firms have become much more disciplined and structured on how much risk they are willing to accept in Florida, because of both recent losses and the perception among big reinsurers that Florida’s risk has become too “risky.” Reinsurers are now only accepting new risk with unfavorable rules and conditions, said McDonnell. “What’s left is higher cost products like catastrophe bonds, usually provided by hedge funds, or risk pools, at a very high cost,” McDonnell said. “The cost for any additional reinsurance has become unaffordable for many [insurance] companies, especially those without a national company to fall back on.”



SIDEBAR

[Florida insurance, the recent history ]


Insurance methodically looks to the long term, it’s a ‘measure twice, cut once’ sort of business that thrives by minimizing chance and managing risk. Much like a casino in Las Vegas, it plays of the role of the house and expects to win every time-- over the long run.
And like Vegas, if you didn’t pay out big occasionally, no one would pay to visit.
The bigger insurance companies in Florida thought they covered their exposure after Hurricane Andrew by: leaving the market, forming “baby” subsidiaries to limit risk and not-renewing problem properties.
Eight storms over the 2004-5 seasons shocked them silly. Risk began to look unmanageable, the math failed and they could no longer see where the long run would lead them.
Florida responded to Andrew by allowing smaller companies to step in-- in fact rewarding them with bonuses for “depopulating” the higher risk policies. These “Florida Only” companies technically met the capital requirements, but in time would prove undercapitalized and without resources to bail them out if the worst happened. Many were crippled by losses after eight hurricanes swept over Florida in 2004-5; some went bankrupt.
Citizens insurance, the last resort provider, picked up failing companies and most of the at risk properties abandoned by private companies, On July 1, it became the largest insurance company in the State.
Funded by charging the highest rates allowed, public debt, the ability to assess private property insurers for losses and a one-time grant from the State of $750 million, Citizens continues to be rated A+ by Fitch ratings service. Fitch notes: “ It’s expected that Citizens will be backed by the taxpayers of Florida for any future losses.”

Reptile Brains




The Brain: Evolution? or just a freaky thing that happened eons ago to confuse us?


I am taking my Obama bumper sticker off my car this morning. The election is over, and the honeymoon has begun. It won’t last long – but after 8 years of Bush, he will get the benefit of the doubt until at least march of 09.
If I wake up on November 5th and find out he has lost, I will conclude that the election was stolen, or look for the hand of god in all the oblivious places.

If McCain steals the election I am prepared – orange flap hats to family and friends, re-entrenchment in all things social, and preparations for a wartime economy. The end will be nigh and all things will come to pass quickly in a furious anger; justice and decisiveness will rule the day, and all will rue the night.

At time like this I start think the big part of the brain that sits on the reptilian part is just a steroided genetic mal-selection gone wild. That the stress of thousands of years of conflict between hormonal emotion and cool logic has decompensated into a free for all of craziness. Sort of ‘without god there is no morality’ combined with ‘ no attachment of logic to words makes randomness sound as good as anything else.’ Adverbs and adjectives spewing without the structure of nouns and verbs – anarchy of sentence structure thrust onto paragraphs of speech and thought.

Obama makes sense to me when he talks. The words follow a pattern in my head that, like music or art, rings true. I don’t know if he has it in him to be a Lincoln or F.D.R., but it gives me hope to think that with him there might be a chance. I know that what makes us great as a people, and what makes the crap of democracy worthwhile, is that when facing crushing times, we find the strength to make better, and a leader to hold up to a mirror of best we can become.





Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Joe v. the Volcano


Joe v. the Volcano



In 2004, the day after the national elections, my brother Joe drove to the Kinko’s in Denver and had ‘Obama 08’ bumper stickers made up. At our family Thanksgiving dinner, he gave me one. I kept that on my beat up old truck until the engine blew and I left it stranded on the side of a highway as a beacon for others. Joe was living the dream.

In 2007, my father gave me a store bought ‘Obama 08’ sticker for my new car – he was part of the California campaign for Obama – something he had never done before for any candidate. I now drive with a sticker on the back of my brand new car, maybe more with worry about my paint job than proud for my politics. Joe was working for the party in Colorado.

I tend to be to the left of Trotsky, at least politically– socially, he really was an evil little reject of a toad. I also think the French don’t go far enough. It has never been easy for me to exist in a fixed system of two parties that don’t seem much different once they get in office. The first time I heard the Who sing, ‘meet the new boss… same as the old boss,’ I got it –no footnotes for me, it just made sense.

I don’t think politics is high school writ large – I think of it as the fractal blob reduction of the Lord of the Flies, and all of us little people are the piggies.

There is an operative part of me that believes things are ‘written in the book,’ just like the Jesus people believe. Different book, same thought process – predestination, with only the illusion of free will to comfort and nurse on. It induces a certain social lethargy in my world view – an aloof distance that’s beyond my genetics. I really don’t think anything makes a difference – it’s just Buddhist samsara – a way for people to distract themselves from the pain of being human. I think it’s a waste of time to think people can change – there is barely enough good in the world to overcome the bad in the best of times. In our time, good can’t crowd out evil; it can barely snuff a toad in a hole.

I talked to my brother today, and he can’t believe that Obama could lose. To him, it would mean that people see things clearly and choose not to make the right decision. He see’s a clear choice, and that it could not be more obvious. Sort of an unconscious Calvinistic deselective punishment for all the hedonistic self-centered choices we have made as a county over the last many years.
I think it’s written in the book, but I hope that it’s not. I hope we can change, that we can learn to take care of each other, live within our means, and that dogs learn to understand the words I’m speaking more clearly. My brother is pacing the floor right now.

We need a Lincoln now, and our country has always been able to provide one in times of trouble. Maybe the person rises to the challenge, or maybe he’s born to fill the role. I can’t see any good coming, and it’s clearly our fault. Maybe that’s when the grace of god of god shows up and maybe without the fear there can be no act of faith.

Auto de fay, I keep telling brother Joe -- it's going to blow real soon.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Mom and the Depression


My Mother and the Stock Market

The bull market on Wall Street began in 1923 . On September 3 the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached its peak, closing at 381.7

On October 24 1929. 13 billion shares were traded and losses were estimated to be over five billion. President Herbert Hoover reassured Americans that business was sound.


On Monday,October 28, brokers believed the worst was over. But when the markets opened, they went straight down.


By Tuesday, the losses continued as investors tried to sell all their stocks at once. The market recorded $14 billion of invisible money lost. The selling was so vast that tickers could not keep up. By the end of the day the market was down more than 12%.

On Thursday, my mother was born.


The market hit new lows in November, but it was not until July 1932 that it reached the lowest point of the Great Depression, down 89% from its peak.


In a couple of weeks, my Mom will have another birthday; she's a Scorpio.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Eat the Rich!








Eat the Rich

The famous Deadboys of New York had one great album. It ended with them chanting, "eat the rich.' (It also had a song about love with the chorus of, 'I don't need your love babe; I need lunch," but that's a different blog.)

The well off generationally (or, gene -- rationally) forget that their way of life depends on the forbearance of the poor. When the huddled masses get pissed, they join Lord of the Fly book clubs and lift cars off of accident victims -- they go bat shit crazy, in a superhuman way. The weight of them can make grease spots our of those that have too much.

The rich have always known this -- as they age, they remember in their bones that flashing wealth and forgetting to throw bread to the rabble will get them rubbed out. But they are human, and with time, greed gets them and they suck the milk from the cow of humanity too hard and the nipples pop.

Gates, Pinkerton's, mace, legislation and the customs of religion only tame the beast in the best of times. All of us little people know that if we don't get a cut, no one will.

Eat the rich!!