Freeing People Since the Revolutionary War

Freeing you for our benefit

Laugh. It’s okay. I’ll wait. I thought it was darkly funny too. Then I thought deeply about what it really meant. And this is what I came up with:

America’s Imperialist Policies: “Freeing” People Since the Revolutionary War

Or so they would have you believe. When I saw this graphic, I realized much of what has bothered me about the United States military is the very existence of that military and how it has been used since the forming of this nation. The military is the ultimate expression of “cognitive dissonance” and freedom.

  • How free are we if we spend more than the next 14 nations who are our allies to maintain our military superiority?
  • How free are we if we are free to starve in the streets, while millionaires look on at the starving masses from their helicopters?
  • How free are we when we look down at the chicken we just bought from the market and have to wonder: “Is it safe to eat?”
  • How free are we when our students leave school with more debt and less to show for it than any generation in 100 years.

To have a chance at a decent job, some of them will leave school with what we once spent on a house.

You remember those. Where people who live in tent cities across America used to live, in homes. Homes they have lost due to the collapsed financial market. A market where we have finally gotten around to slapping fines out but no executives of these banks who knew they were engaged in what should have been considered illegal activities have been sent to jail yet; if ever.

If you want to see a jail cell, then protest appears to be the way to go. Executives have to be caught eating a live human baby, on camera with at least 12 reliable witnesses and even then a good lawyer gets them “time served” and a napkin.

We say our military might is about maintaining our freedom. Freedom appears pretty expensive to me.

The need for the military and its purchases certainly appears to be more important than:

  • schools – we don’t seem to value education anymore; no money? No education. We don’t plan on you making any decisions anyway so who cares if you learn anything?
  • bridges – we haven’t had enough collapse to make anyone care, yet. With over 2,000 in a dangerous state of repair, its just a waitin’ game.
  • roads – we are turning them back to gravel. FDR would be so proud.
  • updating our electricity infrastructure – parts of the nation spend more time in the dark than the Amish
  • water – no one is mentioning this number one hard to come by resource, nationwide
  • waste management – take it to the landfill, no plan after that
  • research and development – we don’t do that here, anymore
  • manufacturing – precious little of this either
  • plumbing and city-wide sewer and sanitation for every major metropolis in the US.

Thank God [sarcasm] we are still privatizing prisons. American innovation at its finest. [/sarcasm] 

Did I miss anything important? Wait:

  • industrialized food production – or how to create foods that will eventually kill us
  • genetically modified foods – no useful or specific testing before human use
  • dying bee populations likely due to pesticide overuse
  • antibiotic resistant disease management – welcome back to the age of dying-from-a-scratch. Penicillin we hardly knew ye…
  • overpopulation – no need to stop now, we can break 10 billion by 2040.
  • climate change – yes, I know, its a myth, like Creation, right?
  • fracking and its poisoned waste water – we don’t need fresh water; fracking scientists assure me, flammable water IS still drinkable.
  • oil production, oil sand extraction – moonscape anyone?
  • lack of transition to non-oil based technologies – solar panels? We don’t need no stinking solar panels, or wind farms or biogas facilities. Peak oil is a myth too.

The US maintains over 600 military bases around the world. We have more fighters and bombers than we will ever use. We have cargo planes coming off the assembly line and being scrapped in the same year. We have so much military hardware, we are selling it to the police in our local communities.

Cobb-County-APC

Just what we need, antipersonnel vehicles on Main Street.

The military is a jobs program with a $600 billion dollar price tag. Yes, I said it.

That is the American way. We starve our schools while our fighter bomber programs roam free across the countryside, ensuring powerful defense contractors continue to get their piece of our “ignorant nation” pie.

American Imperialism is dead, hear tell it. Now that there are almost no nations we can destabilize and then attack under the guise of “freedom.” We are being told that our president has no sense of foreign policy. In conservative speak: no sense of foreign policy means any policy which does not put boots on the ground and food in a defense contractors mouths.

It has been the American way for so long to deliver freedom from the barrel of a gun or the bomber bay of attack aircraft if your country needed “freedom”. Freedom meant we bombed you into freedom and then you spent twenty five years “recovering” and not being an economic threat to our hegemony.

Clever plan, eh?

I would say our experimentation with a Democratic Republic has had a rocky road and almost no one who has tried to embrace our freedom, particularly after we send them a dose of HE has been successful in its implementation.

Could it be our brand of freedom comes at too high a price?

A friend of mine had this to say about the secrets a government must keep to maintain its control:

by H Wolfgang Porter

The thing that a staggering amount of people in the US cannot comprehend is how the government works on a multi-level, multi-tiered, multifaceted framework nationally and internationally simultaneously. Few people ever get to see the ‘whole picture’ and even fewer can comprehend it when they do!

Most folks see one small aspect of what the country does and support or flip out over it based upon the limited info they get from news sources (often singular.) What the government does is crazy deep. When you get things going at such ‘depths’, there’s a lot of ‘dark’ activities going on. Rarely are those activities stuff you’d want to shine a light on.

What’s jacked though is the people of the US benefit quite a bit from those things ‘done in the dark’. For everything perceived as ‘good and above board’, an unknown (probably for the best) amount of shadowy events went down to push that ‘light event’ into being.

No one in this country wants to acknowledge or admit that the US is an Empire. You don’t get to be an empire or ‘superpower’ in the world without a lot of people getting covered in blood and dirt. It’s jacked up because we want the country to present the best face and intentions possible at all times. But, in the real world it doesn’t work that way.

At best, ‘We the People’ should be working towards keeping our government ‘honest as possible’. It will never be 100% above board because other nations aren’t playing by those rules. Plus, we’ll always have people in power who have their own agenda and those folks with the money and influence to push them along. We counteract those factors by being well informed as possible and do our individual best to not look at everything through ‘tribal filters’.

There is No Future – A cheery film talking about why we need to start changing how we do things around here. Or else.

Is this a bad time to mention we still have 20,000 nuclear weapons rusting away quietly all across this nation, ready to keep us free (or begin to quietly fail) and be unable to launch with hunks of active plutonium waiting at the maybe secure launch facility.

Nothing to worry about. What’s the worst that can happen? An explosion of Freedom…

xVmSKy0

© Thaddeus Howze 2013, All Rights Reserved

© H. Wolfgang Porter 2013, All Rights Reserved

The Hostages are Safe! (for six months…)

new_demands

144 House Republicans Voted to Destroy the American Economy. 

The Threat of the Default is Over!

Free the hostages! The Americans are free! The government will be operational again. There won’t be a default. The crisis is over, right?

Don’t hold your breath. We will see more BS grandstanding like this while Barack Obama is the President of the United States. They will make this debt debate go away for three to six months and then we are right back here again, screwing with the full credit solvency of the US and terrifying (or is that terrorizing) foreign nations that are dependent on the strength and liquidity of the American Dollar. Bridges? I doubt seriously if this Congress will even pass a single transportation support or jobs bill the entire time President Obama is in office. They haven’t yet.

I suspect this is only a respite while they figure out their next plan to avoid doing anything to help the President. The Speaker of the House, John Boehner, led the radical Tea Party campaign, along with the likes of Ted Cruz and Michelle Bachmann. Their goal was to tarnish President Obama reputation as a leader. This was ultimately to discourage people for voting for the Democratic party and especially to make the idea of another Black president the most unpalatable idea, ever. They will be able to look back and say, how he divided the government, prevented any acts of bi-partisanship, made the country a place that is less safe, more dependent on government, and increased poverty everywhere (even though it was most of their lack of leadership which actually caused most of these things).

904119_657595750938800_1376846536_o

Season’s Greetings (Think that’s Ramadan, ain’t that the Muslim Christmas?) from the Tea Party.

The truth matters less than the result of what they have done. People have short memories and won’t remember the Tea Party almost causing them to lose their homes, be three weeks without pay, the hardship on the families of the government’s workers or on the military, or on people dependent on the EPA, FDA, USDA, or any other NECESSARY government regulatory agencies (which the Tea Party would abolish, if they could).

From their perspective, they have utilized the 24 hour news cycles desperation to fill their hours with conjecture, improperly vetted news, opinions and misinformation about the Affordable Care Act, the Debt Ceiling, the damage potential of a prospective Economic Default on both our economy and the worldwide financial state. This has made the United States appear dysfunctional, poorly governed and able to be controlled by a minority of the Congress. Our foreign allies are saddened by this lack of leadership and horrified that the US can be so easily terrorized (there goes that word again) by a radical minority.

I am not a liberal despite what you may think of reading this. I am simply not a fan of a screw job when I see one. The worst part of this event is that NOTHING will be done with these economic terrorists who saw fit to take the nation hostage, punishing the poorest and least able among us by taking away their food, resources, and work under the guise of keeping them from having any kind of affordable health care. Does anyone have a word for what this might appear to be? Funny, there is one.

Sedition.

But alas, no one is going to request it be used. Reasons include: Too much bad press; not how we do business; it is the President’s fault for not giving in to the Conservative demand to get rid of his signature legislation that everyone but the rich and powerful who stand to gain from the constantly growing economic divide, seem to want.

it would seem, not only is failure the outcome of this grandstanding by the GOP, but that no matter how it turns out, their goal has been accomplished. Make the president look weak and ineffectual (mostly through the use of rhetoric and sprinklings of the madness of people like Ted Cruz and Michelle Bachmann).

Brought to you by

Hey poor Americans, need food stamps? Don’t vote these people back in office. They sold you out to AGROBUSINESS!

Yes, Virginia there is an Apocalypse.

One brought to us by the Koch Brothers and other multi-billionaires who believe government’s real job is to subsidize their wealth (by paying their workers so little, the government is forced to pay out food stamps and welfare so they can have enough to eat) and undermine the effectiveness of government until those super-rich folk can buy the Commons right from under us and then they can divide it up and give us what they want us to have, for a price we, of course, cannot afford.

public_assistance_10_largest_fast_food_companies

This chart says, McDonald’s gets to pocket/steal/purloin $1.2 Billion dollars a year and we, the American Taxpayers get to pick up the tab assisting their poorly paid employees.

But its a good thing those billionaires own banks too, they can always lend it to us on credit…like they do right now.

Debt is as good as cash, or as a form of economic enslavement. Ask any college student, they know first hand.

No Time for Celebration

The Senate voted 81 to 18 Wednesday night on a bill to reopen the federal government and raise the nation’s borrowing limit, and the House followed suit, voting 285-144. President Barack Obama signed the legislation early Thursday.

Elizabeth Warren agrees with me regarding this chicanery and had this to say about the economic shutdown:

I’m glad that the government shutdown has ended, and I’m relieved that we didn’t default on our debt.

But I want to be clear: I am NOT celebrating tonight.

Yes, we prevented an economic catastrophe that would have put a huge hole in our fragile economic recovery. But the reason we were in this mess in the first place is that a reckless faction in Congress took the government and the economy hostage for no good purpose and to no productive end.

According to the S&P index, the government shutdown had delivered a powerful blow to the U.S. economy. By their estimates, $24 billion has been flushed down the drain for a completely unnecessary political stunt.

$24 billion dollars. How many children could have been back in Head Start classes? How many seniors could have had a hot lunch through Meals on Wheels? How many scientists could have gotten their research funded? How many bridges could have been repaired and trains upgraded?

The Republicans keep saying, “Leave the sequester in place and cut all those budgets.” They keep trying to cut funding for the things that would help us build a future. But they are ready to flush away $24 billion on a political stunt.

So I’m relieved, but I’m also pretty angry.

We have serious problems that need to be fixed, and we have hard choices to make about taxes and spending. I hope we never see our country flush money away like this again. Not ever.

It’s time for the hostage taking to end. It’s time for every one of us to say, “No more.”

 

Here go some other names you might want to keep an eye on.

$24 billion dollars lost by the people who claimed they wanted to balance the budget. I am naming names.

1378375_10151919800074255_1722914630_n

Shutdown: The View from Five Feet

GY_Venezuela_Food_wg

Author: Gabriel Russell

Perspective.

Got stuck in the lone checkout line at Safeway behind a woman buying groceries with her EBT card (food stamps). She had her teenaged son with her and a huge stack of coupons. I’ve been having a frustrating week. I was wearing coat and tie and probably had a grumpy look on my face when I arrived. The woman working the register kept looking at me apologetically as time went on and the line grew.

The shopper had a coupon for almost every item. She went through that stack of coupons four times slowly because she was missing one. I think she had coupons for apples, soup, pasta, rice, beans, and bread. She was missing a 60 cent coupon for her two cartons of almond milk. She had a list and had calculated to the penny what she could buy, had $70 on her EBT card and $20 or so on a check she had written but she was $1.20 short to finalize the purchase.I was tempted to pass the woman two bucks but she was already starting to radiate with awkward embarrassment. Her son stood behind her and stared at the floor. Finally the shopper asked the register worker if there was any way she could look through the weekly flier and find the coupon she needed and the worker started paging through it for her.

My irritation dissipated the longer I stood there. Its been a long time since I agonized over $1.20 for food. I’ve never had to do it with a crowd behind me. I could see the time and care she had put into her shopping trip, calculating the cost, clipping coupons, buying cheap healthy food.

I relaxed. I smiled. The coupon was finally found and the sale made. The register worker kept thanking me for my patience. I suppose these days most folks expect a certain amount of eye-rolling and grimacing when a customer is inconvenienced for a few minutes. We’re very busy people.

By Monday the shutdown will have cost me enough from a plane ticket change fee and a lost weekend of National Guard wages that it will sting. But I won’t miss a meal, or even skimp. I won’t miss a mortgage payment. I won’t fear for my phone or electricity being shut off. I have friends that may. I’m grateful for all that America has given me. I’m glad my wife has a good-paying job.

Not everyone is so lucky. We have young National Guard soldiers here in Washington State that rely on their drill pay for food and lodging and on military tuition assistance to pay for college. They won’t be getting either due to the shutdown. Each of them volunteered to serve in their nation’s military during time of war, uncertain of the cost.

This will likely, hopefully, be resolved before my young soldiers or friends in federal service even have time to apply for food stamps or unemployment. But not, perhaps, before a few missed payments, missed meals, and sleepless nights. It bothers me to see them treated this way.

The Legislative Branch of our government has its work cut out for it. I’d like to see them take up that task with the same zeal, teamwork and selfless sense of service to nation and community I see in the young soldiers and law enforcement officers that work for me. I’d like that a great deal.

All I did. The best I did today, was to stand patiently in line behind someone less fortunate than myself and not act like a complete ass. The woman at the register seemed appreciative. Almost like she expected me to be annoyed. Is this what we’ve come to? Is this what people expect?

Patience. Compassion. Persistence. Teamwork. I expect these attributes of my most junior employees. I expect them of myself. I expect them of my government.


If you have a story of the Shutdown and how it has affected your perspective, or your life in general, please share it in the comments or if it’s longer, send it to me at ebonstorm(at)gmail.com and we can share it together.

America shouldn’t be just for big businesses, its stories should be for and about everyone.

Thank you, Gabriel Russell for sharing your story.

Why is the Federal Poverty Line So Far Off? (via Moyers & Company)

John Light

Census data released this week show that after yet another year of anemic “recovery,” the number of Americans living in poverty last year remained stubbornly unchanged.

But what is “poverty” as measured by the federal government? Experts argue that the official measure is outdated, and doesn’t take important economic realities into account. Are those with incomes slightly above thepoverty threshhold not “poor people,” as most of us would understand it?

In 1999, a single mother struggling with this question sent an email to the Health and Human Services employee whose job it was to calculate the federal poverty line. She wrote:

I am a single Mother and work two jobs which equal about $18,000 per year. We barely afford rent, electric, cable, phone, water, food, taxes and vehicle expenses. [But] the federal poverty level is $11,060. My daughter and I have zero, no, zilch money left after paying the bills for medical or clothing. How on earth does the Federal Government expect us to pay for cars….There just is NOT enough money left at the end of the month for a car payment….Please tell me…how they expect people to live on under $20,000 per year.

The poverty line in the email, $11,060, was the federal poverty guideline in 1999 for a family of two. Today, that figure is $15,510 — still less than what the woman was struggling to get by at the time.

That raises a crucial question: why is the federal poverty cutoff so far off?

Origins of the poverty measure

From the early 1980s until last September, the Health and Human Services employee responsible for responding to that frustrated mother and others like her was Gordon M. Fisher. Fisher worked in the Office of the AssistantSecretary for Planning and Evaluation, where his job was to calculate the poverty guidelines — commonly referred to as the “poverty line,” used to determine benefit program eligibility — and to answer questions from the public.

“I was a civil servant, not a policymaker. I had to describe the policy — the level of the poverty line — that existed,” Fisher told Moyers & Company. “Although the people wanted that policy changed, I, as a civil servant, did not have authority to change it. At the same time, since they were members of the public, and I was a public servant, I wanted to respond to them with respect. There was not necessarily a good answer to their questions.”

When people called or — later in his career — emailed Fisher saying they were earning wages equal to the poverty line, or more, and still couldn’t get by, he “dealt with it very carefully,” he says. “When something like that becomes official policy, it can become difficult to change. When the people said, ‘I’m making more than that and I still can’t make ends meet,’ sometimes the only thing that I could say was ‘I can’t disagree with you, sir.’ or ‘I can’t disagree with you, ma’am.’”

Looking to more fully answer the questions put to him, Fisher went back to take a look at where the guidelines came from to begin with. “I found that there wasn’t a single good, detailed source on how the poverty thresholds were developed,” he says. So he took it upon himself to document it. “I made that sort of my second job in addition to my day job of putting out the poverty guidelines,” he said. Fisher became known by colleagues as the “unofficial” historian of America’s poverty measures.

The answer took him back to the mid-1960s, when Mollie Orshansky, a civil servant working for the Social Security Administration, needed to devise a way of measuring child poverty.

Orshansky herself had grown up poor, one of seven daughters born to a family of Jewish immigrants living in the South Bronx. She remembered waiting in food lines with her mother and how her family would decide to forgo important purchases in order to make the rent. In 1970, she told theNew York Post, “If I write about the poor, I don’t need a good imagination — I have a good memory.”

Orshansky worked as a government clerk and civil servant most of her life, starting at New York City’s Department of Health. By 1963, Orshansky was working for the Social Security Administration — the agency that oversees many social safety net programs — and was assigned to report on “poverty as it affects children.” But her team had no good measure of what constituted poverty — so Orshansky decided to develop her own.

She used a 1955 Department of Agriculture report which found that families of three or more spent about one third of their after-tax income on food. So, to calculate a poverty line Orshanksy decided to multiply a low-income household’s food budget by three, figuring that if a family was tightening its belt, it would cut all expenses by about the same amount, proportionately.

For the food budget itself, Orshansky used the Department of Agriculture’s “economy food plan.” It was the cheapest of four plans developed by the Department of Agriculture, and was designed to reflect what a family living for a short period of time on a severely constrained budget might need to get by. In 1962, it allotted $18.60 a week for a family of four with two school-aged children — or $143.47 in today’s dollars. It was even less costly than two other “low cost” plans the department had developed, and, as a 1962 report explained, “relie[d] heavily on the cereals, dry beans, peas, and nuts and potato groups, and on the selection of the less expensive items in each of the 11 food groups.” It was only for “emergency use,” and not intended to constitute a family’s diet over the long-term. In a 1965 article, Orshansky said her threshold, dependent on this budget, should be used to measure when a family had “inadequate” funds, not adequate funds.

Her new standard came at a fortuitous time. The Johnson administration had declared a “war on poverty,” and public agencies needed a way to measure the extent of the problem. In 1965, the Office of Economic Opportunity adopted Orshansky’s thresholds as their poverty cut-off, and in 1969, her thresholds were made the government’s official definition of poverty.

Also in 1969, a review committee made up of representatives from many government agencies decided the thresholds would be indexed to the Consumer Price Index, not to changes in the cost of food or the share of a family’s income spent on food. Since that time, the method for calculating the poverty thresholds has changed little.

The poverty measure today

America, however, has changed quite a bit since 1969 — and has changed even more since the mid-1950s, when the USDA budget Orshansky used for her thresholds was designed.

“The fact that other basic needs have increased in cost more rapidly than food is one reason why the old poverty line is out-of-date and, in fact, is too low: It hasn’t kept up with our new necessities, it hasn’t kept up with new ideas of what our basic needs are.”

“In some ways, the poverty measure such as it is today made a lot of sense in 1965, 1966, in the late ’60s. The problem is we haven’t really updated it in a meaningful way,” says Shawn Fremstad, a senior research associate at the Center for Economic Policy Research. “We’ve updated it for inflation, but that just means you’re measuring what it means to be poor today in what are essentially early 1960s terms.”

The share of a family’s income spent on food has changed dramatically — some recent studies place the share of a family’s income spent on food as low as six or seven percent of total household expenditures. That would mean Americans today are spending roughly 1/14th of their income on food, compared with the one-third figure used to calculate the poverty guidelines.

“A lot has happened to society and to families needs,” says Arloc Sherman, a senior researcher with the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. “Fewer people needed to drive to work — you could walk to work. People didn’t need to save the same for childcare, or for college. People could get away without having a telephone and still have a successful job search. It was just a very different world.

“The rise in families with children where all parents are working for pay is driving up the importance of paid childcare. Spending a few thousand dollars on childcare is fairly typical now. Childcare costs have risen faster than inflation. Healthcare spending is a growing part of family budgets just like it’s a growing part of the national economy.

“The fact that other basic needs have increased in cost more rapidly than food is one reason why the old poverty line is out-of-date and, in fact, is too low: It hasn’t kept up with our new necessities, it hasn’t kept up with new ideas of what our basic needs are.”

And the line doesn’t just omit key expenses — because it looks at a family’s before-tax cash income, it also ignores important sources of non-cash income for poor people such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). If the poverty guidelines don’t incorporate income from benefits, it’s hard to measure if these benefits programs are doing their job and lifting people out of poverty.

“This is relevant right now because there are bills moving through Congressthat would cut SNAP by tens of billions of dollars over the coming decade,” says Sherman. “And if you don’t know that SNAP is helping people, you’re more likely to say it doesn’t work.”

Alternate measures

“One of the challenges is the official poverty measure is still there and it ends up dominating the debate and confusing people and getting in the way, and that’s really unfortunate.”

Organizations that address poverty day-to-day have developed several alternative methods of measuring the number of Americans living in poverty.

“I think there’s a lot of great work going on, often in nonprofits. I think one of the challenges is the official poverty measure is still there and it ends up dominating the debate and confusing people and getting in the way, and that’s really unfortunate,” says Fremstad.

Moyers and Company has recently used a different threshold for a reasonable standard of living, calculated by the nonprofit group Wider Opportunities for Women. Their Basic Economic Security Tables, or BEST index, takes into account expenses that the federal poverty line doesn’t, including housing, utilities, child care, transportation, health care, household goods, emergency and retirement savings and taxes, and recognizes that each expense is different depending on the location in question. AcrossAmerica, the BEST index comes in at two to three times the poverty level — and in some cities, even more. The Economic Policy Institute has done similar research, and has a family budget calculator that you can use to find out how much it costs a family to live in every American city.

Anti-poverty advocates have also praised the U.S. Census for recently implementing a second measure of poverty, called the supplemental poverty measure, which, Sherman explains, “makes several changes. It counts those missing tax credits and non-tax benefits as income. It subtracts necessary, work-related expenses, such as childcare, and out-of-pocket medical expenses from income. It counts boyfriends, girlfriends, unmarried partners as part of the family. It adjusts the poverty line for local variations in cost of living, particularly in housing costs. And it uses a poverty line that is in other ways slightly updated from the old poverty line.” The regular measures yielded 46.2 million people living in poverty in America in 2011, but the supplemental measures yielded 49.7 million, many of them elderly.

A new measure?

Right now, many of those who study poverty are not overly hopeful that the U.S. will implement a new poverty measure in the near future. It’s a difficult topic, especially in today’s fraught political environment. Conservatives argue that the measures cover too many people, including many who are lifted out of poverty by government programs like the EITC. Liberals argue that the poverty measures don’t take expenses into account realistically.

Those who work with the U.S. poverty line often look to the U.K.’s system of measurement as an alternative model the U.S. might follow. There, federal agencies use multiple measures of poverty to create policy.

“It would be good for both the left and the right to say, ‘There is no single best way.’ And maybe we could adopt sort of a suite of measures along the U.K. line,” says Fremstad. “And some of those could be more conservative, more absolute, and some of them could be more relative, more liberal. And then we could argue about which ones are the best. But at least we’d have a few — three or four measures that were all good, that Census and thefederal government put out and that narrowed the debate.”

Even before her long career researching American poverty ended with her retirement in 1982, Orshansky was unsettled to see her poverty measure become outdated, but remain as federal policy. In 1969 — the year the poverty measure was adopted nationwide and tied to inflation — she expressed skepticism about its implementation. “The best you can say for the measure is that at a time when it seemed useful, it was there,” she wrote.

Cain’s Legacy

Cain’s Legacy (or why mankind has a dubious future at best)

How the world works

The source of this image is unknown to me. But the genius of the artist shouts out a truth that cannot be ignored.

“Power goes to those most willing to be and do the most heinous things to their fellow man. If you are without shame, without conscience, without moral compass, you can rise to the peak of ‘human’ achievement, such as it is, and take your place as a leader among men, a monster above those not willing to stare into the abyss that has already consumed you. This is Cain’s Legacy.”

Let me say that again for you in relationship to the modern world.

POWER, the ability to:

  • alter society at large, literally change the world through the exercise of their economic, political or social resources,
  • manipulate our environment and create catastrophic events beyond our ability to foresee the consequences of
  • make decisions which affect the nature of the world at large,
  • for good or ill, affect the lives of billions is now part of the human experience and relegated to an elite few. As few as 400 people control bulk of the world’s wealth
  • be unconcerned for the consequences of said exercises of power. To be above any legal, social or economic responsibility for the exercise of that power.

This elite few:

  • who instead of considering the conservation of nature for the greatest number
  • fail to realize that they are now responsible for the entire human species.
  • They fail to realize any decision or lack thereof can conceivably doom us all.
  • in their current role as masters of resources, wealth and social control,  prefer to drain the Earth of its resources, harvest natural bounties and exploit the labors of those not fortunate enough to be born into wealth.
  • promote the meme of meritocracy knowing they do not personally subscribe to it. There is no merit that helps you rise to the top, only the ruthlessness necessary to say and do anything to anyone.

But this is not entirely their fault. (What?) Bear with me a moment.

There is no training for becoming powerful. (Not an excuse, just an observation)

There is no class for directing the flow of wealth at the scales it is done today. All of the kings of old, their wealth, power and influence pales in comparison to that being wielded by our new corporate kings and their economic fiefdoms. Science and human nature are still learning about how compassion, humanity, and empathy are affected by our environment, our upbringing, our training, our use or lack of use of drugs which alter our mental chemistry.

WE HAVE NO COURSEWORK ON HOW TO BE HUMAN.  How to be good to each other, how to see each other as viable no matter our origins. We promote competition literally until death can be the only result.

WAR IS COMPETITION’S ULTIMATE STATE. When two groups cannot come to an agreement beneficial to both, if the groups are large enough, entrenched enough, then WAR is the result. We fight until we destroy the opposition, even if their perspective may bear more than a kernel of truth.

This is Cain’s Legacy. We kill our brothers rather than find commonality with them.

This innate blindness, this acculturated inhumanity to each other does not have to be our only path to the future.

What if we spent as much on peace and education as we did on war? 

  • Could we not make the same profits? (I think so. And then some.)
  • Could we not improve our quality of life? (Most assuredly and for more than just an elite few.)
  • Could we not find cures for dementia, cancer, AIDS? (It would be nice; we haven’t cured anything since polio…)
  • Could we effectively address the recursive problem of employment where automation removes jobs faster than we can make new ones?
  • If we were better educated, could we stop depending on superstition to make decisions about our bodies, our lives and the disposition of the world’s resources?
  • Could we finally address the most important issue in our human history, our burgeoning population that continues to explode without a means of dealing with the need for resources to maintain those new numbers?

There are more and more problems every year but we continue to spend money on the same things that keep us in the exact same place we are now; ignorant, arrogant, petulant and recalcitrant.

The same way we learned to use power and influence to manipulate the world, we could instead harness empathy and realize for us to make the world better, it will require the best EVERY PERSON CAN BE, the best every person can find within themselves, to selflessly discover new solutions to old problems.

We will need to come to the conclusion at every life, no matter how humble has the same potential as the greatest king, sitting anywhere in the world. Because until we do that, everything we do only delays the inevitable extinction of mankind. You don’t believe me.

You think I engage in hyperbole? I think not. I present exhibit 1 below, your honor. Watch the video below from beginning to end and ask me again when it is done whether I exaggerate. Realize everything you see here is happening all over the world. NO PLACE IS EXEMPT.

VICE AND VIRTUES

Watching an episode of VICE this week reminded me just how out of order our world is and how many people die every day without an understanding of a world beyond the one they are confined and limited to seeing.

Murder is a tool, hopelessness and fear, merely lieutenants in a war for the souls of men in a battle to manipulate, exploit, and control resources, in pursuit of wealth in a fruitless attempt to forestall death and personal suffering.

IT IS MADNESS to forfeit the future for the present.

IT IS MADNESS to use your children as explosives in a war that no one can win.

IT IS MADNESS to plow the forest into the ground and call it progress.

IT IS MADNESS to trap and slaughter billions of animals in conditions which breed diseases that escape into our environment and kill us and call it agriculture.

IT IS MADNESS to use oil and coal and radioactive materials whose potential consequences will be responsible for the deaths of billions when we have other choices.

IT IS MADNESS to subsidize technologies like hydraulic fracturing which use the world’s most precious resource, fresh water, to subsidize further mega-corporate wealth.

IT IS MADNESS to indenture children in diploma mills and having them toil for low pay while executives pass by them homeless in the streets at the end of the day.

IT IS MADNESS to make a government that can be bought by lobbyists who in their zeal to deregulate their industry fail to note the lack of safeguards when they do.

IT IS MADNESS to say we can’t cut military spending when there are no wars, except when YOU make them…

IT IS MADNESS to deny healthcare to millions when the politicians denying them have the very best healthcare in the world, at no cost to them.

IT IS MADNESS to deny the benefits of natural drugs like marijuana, while allowing pharmaceutical companies the option to avoid being responsible if their drugs kill people.

IT IS MADNESS to spy on your populace, tell them you aren’t spying and then punish anyone who proves the lies you have told as the lies that they are.

IT IS MADNESS to teach your people to be proud of their ignorance, to misinform them under the guise of news and use religion as a means of retarding intelligent discourse about anything.

IT IS MADNESS to create false divisions between people under the guise of race, religion, creed and to make them appear to be significant enough to kill each other over.

IT IS MADNESS to wage war, economic, social, religious, cultural or political when people starve in your streets for want of leadership and vision.

IT IS MADNESS to base your society on a mantra like “Greed is Good.”

IT IS MADNESS to mortgage the future to live well in the present.

IT IS MADNESS to fear the future enough to kill the present.

IT IS MADNESS to believe fear can ever lead to love.

IT IS MADNESS to believe lies can ever lead to truth.

SHEER MADNESS.

VICE on HBO: Episode 1 – Killer Kids

Why the Movie, “The Butler,” Will Not Get One Dime From Me

Originally posted on Racism Is White Supremacy:

“Movies are not about Blacks but what Whites think about Blacks.” – Ralph Ellison, author of the novel,  Invisible Man.

I will admit that my negative “review” of the movie, “The Butler,” is a bit premature.  I will even admit that I will probably never pay to see it because I refuse to financially support most movies produced by (white) Hollywood (although I will rent one FOR FREE from the public library whenever the mood hits me).

 thebutler

Nearly every movie I have seen, including the “black” movies produced by (white) Hollywood, PROMOTE white supremacy/Black inferiority EVEN when it appears that this is NOT happening.

movies-the-butler-poster

Is it my imagination or does the ‘butler’ in this movie poster resemble President Obama?

blank

In my experience  the majority of Hollywood-Produced “Black” Films Usually Fall Into One of Five Categories:

Movie-posters-1

1.the  “good black”  female triumphing over the “evil” black male: (The…

View original 1,427 more words

The Workforce of The Future Could Be Tiny

resize

This was once the face of the Robot Apocalypse.

A terrifying unified metal organism crushing humanity under its robotic heel, exterminating the humans who once gave it life and whose robotic perfection could no longer tolerate our imperfect nature. We as humans have grown to fear this meme more than nearly any other; the machine finding humanity’s flaws a reason to remove us from the Earth. Okay, perhaps that was a fictional account of the robot apocalypse designed to play on our fears of the unknown, robots, and the ever-encroaching wave of technology swallowing up our lives.

But the robot apocalypse may look more like this: Robots coming to work, first in our factories and then later in our offices, programmed with capabilities which allow them to displace the less qualified workers engaged in tasks that can be replicated with algorithmic procedures and programming. (That may be more jobs than we are willing to admit.)

resize (1)

Illustration by Roberto Parada

I predicted the future of work and the economically debilitating effects of robots, automation, and the replacement of the workforce with machines on the populace in previous articles. In Death to the Labor Class, I postulate the consideration that the culture of America and the world at large may need to re-evaluate how we deal with compensation and the nature of work in the future, as machines put laborers out of the workforce in greater and greater numbers.

I tried to remind people that automation has been taking your jobs for years, you simply still had other choices of work to get and still bring home the bacon. Now I am postulating not only will the potential for automation take your job, it will take it higher and higher along the social-economic food chain. Once only blue-color workers were affected, now the potential for algorithms can take any job which can be proceduralized and structured based on databases of stored information.

For example, there are already computerized journalists in use today. See: NYTimes: In case you’re wondering a human wrote this article. A market for such technology will continue to grow as the databases they draw from become more intelligent and sophisticated. Will they replace real journalists? For some types of articles the answer is assuredly, yes.

 See: Death to the Labor Class: http://storify.com/ebonstorm/may-13-2013-monday-s-musing-death-to-the-labor-cla.

gear99

How the Tesla Model S is Made — Behind The Scenes

A sample of how robotics are slowly changing manufacturing from Wired Magazine and the Tesla Automotive company

gear99

The opinion of the masses: So what?

The comments I received primarily indicated those jobs needed to be replaced since robots COULD do them, they should. Mostly this would affect people with less education, blue-color workers and the disdain of the white-color workers was palpable because they thought their jobs would be unaffected by technical automation of any kind.

I mentioned the idea of algorithms or procedural decision-making based on experience. This is how experienced doctors, lawyers and other professionals decide on courses of action. What if you could write a program or algorithm to do the same thing? The program would learn from decisions made in the past and predict what possible outcomes and their potential chances for success. This could mean an entirely new class of workers, including middle managers could find themselves unemployed as intelligent agents make the same decisions they did without preferential treatment, emotional attachments, or favoritism to muddy the economic water.

big_cb872acde1

Christoper Steiner
Steiner is an engineer, a skier, an author and one of the founders at Aisle50. Before starting Aisle50, he was a senior staff writer at Forbes magazine for seven years. His book “Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World”, chronicles the march of algorithms from the very first hack of Wall Street to their current role as disruptors of the creative class in fields as varied as music, writing, law and medicine.

© Chris Steiner

Engineer Christopher Steiner has an interview in the European Magazine discussing the idea that white-color jobs that are low in innovation are indeed next on the list of people made unemployed by technology. And there are a lot more jobs at stake than in the manufacturing industry.

Here is a telling quotation from the article. It is definitely worth your time to read. The effects are worldwide and potentially socially catastrophic:

The European: We tend to think about unskilled labor as the most precarious form of labor – machines could easily do it. Yet one of the arguments you make is that algorithms threaten many mid-level, white collar jobs…

Steiner: Being an expert in a field, having worked for fifteen years in that field, usually means that you have accumulated enough expertise, seen enough cases, read enough studies, dealt with enough clients, that you develop your own pattern recognition system within your brain. In medicine, experienced doctors are valuable because they have seen and treated many patients and diseases. Experienced lawyers know very well what information they need to pursue litigation, where to find that information, and so forth. But algorithms are very well suited for pattern recognition, much more than humans. If you can feed algorithms with data about a patient’s symptoms or about a legal case, I can’t see how that would not take away many of our jobs.”

http://www.theeuropean-magazine.com/christoper-steiner/7226-algorithms-and-the-future-of-work

Dystopia or Utopia – What’s your poison?

dystopia_by_shadow9020

I wrote an article a few months ago talking about using science fiction for social change and activism, Science Fiction and Social Awareness

Since then I have been reading a number of discussions talking about writers preferring to write dystopias rather than utopias.

David Brin would like to see more positive representations of the future and thinks Utopias need to make a comeback. He is not alone. A number of other famous scientists and science fiction writers are also in agreement about the idea of writing new books where utopias, positive futures where mankind is not only still around but thriving in positive ways as a necessary force to change the future. See: Project Hieroglyph

I know they are necessary but they are difficult to write and I suspect only the most gifted and optimistic writers should try. Here’s my reasoning:

Dystopia and Utopia have the same problem. They are talking about a period where what we know has evolved into what is now the order of things. Why is one more difficult to write than the other?

Utopia: a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions

The term Utopia was invented by Thomas More as the title of his Latin book De Optimo Reipublicae Statu deque Nova Insula Utopia (circa 1516), known more commonly as Utopia. He created the word “utopia” to suggest two Greek neologisms simultaneously: outopia (no place) and eutopia (good place). More depicts a rationally organised society, through the narration of an explorer who discovers it — Raphael Hythlodaeus. Utopia is a republic where all property is held in common. In addition, it has few laws, no lawyers and rarely sends its citizens to war, but hires mercenaries from among its war-prone neighbours.

Generally speaking, utopias are generally societies whose author believes either perfect, or as perfect as can be attainable. Ernest Callenbach‘s Ecotopia is a contemporary example. This can cause some confusion, in that some works generally recognized as “utopian”, such as Plato’s Republic, can come across as much less than ideal to a modern reader. They are one of the smaller subsets of political science fiction, possibly because it is difficult to create dramatic tension in a world the author believes is perfect. –Wikipedia, Political ideas in science fiction

nausicaa_by_syntetyc-d582s57

My favorite eco-dystopia: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Dystopia: an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives

Dystopias are societies where the author illustrates the worst that can happen. Usually this encompasses extrapolating trends the author sees as dangerous. During the 20th century many examples were written in reaction to the rise of NazismCommunism and Religious Fundamentalism:

  • Double Helix Fall (1990) by Neil Ferguson portrays an America where a person’s social status is determined by their movements in the womb, an extension of the concept of original sin.

It is important to keep in mind that scenarios which some would describe as dystopic, others would describe as utopian. Norman Spinrad’s novel The Iron Dream was generally recognised to be a dystopian novel, but lauded by neo-Nazis as a utopia. –Wikipedia, Political ideas in science fiction

Janus-dimon21Janus-topia: A utopian society which is actually engaged in abusing and dehumanizing its citizens using social manipulations of one sort or another. (No, its not real, I just made it up to prove a point.) Janus was a two faced deity, looking forward and backward at the same time. I liken a Janus-topia to the idea that a society might be forward-thinking but using repressive, deviant or oppressive means to accomplish its goals rather than the forward sound ideals it may espouse in its public face.

Given these two simplified definitions, it is easy to see why Dystopias outnumber Utopias 10-to-1. Most readers (editors and agents) want stories where the conflict is easy to recognize, can be filled with intrepid adventurers who die at just the appropriate moment to tug at our heartstrings and make us believe we are experiencing a transformative event.

The problem of addressing a Utopia is by definition, it is already a perfect place, where we have to be willing to be patient, walk with the protagonists while they show you the dirty, hidden underbelly of the Utopia, where all is not what it seems. This is by far the harder row-to-hoe because writers are under fire to “show, don’t tell” or my other favorite “exposition is dead/death” so you must find a way to expose people to your Utopia without actually describing it in any detail that might bore our attention-addled readership.

Given these two conditions, there is not a question in my mind why we see Dystopias outnumbering Utopias. The curve to creation isn’t that difficult. Look at modern society, allow it to continue unabated and poof, Dystopia.

Welcome_To_Dystopia_by_crystalRyu

Try that with creating a Utopia, and you have to, by most reader’s perspectives alter the fabric of space-time to reach a place where Humanity, especially as we see it now, doing anything such as curing disease (do we do that anymore? Polio was the last one I can think of) getting rid of hunger worldwide, reversing our position on global climate change, reducing corporate power (is that even possible?) enhancing educational opportunities for everyone, ensuring any form of social parity, correcting enough social ills you would deign to call your world a Utopia.

As far as I can tell, no Utopia has ever survived for the same reason most Dystopias eventually get replaced by something else. Human nature is fickle. If society is actually working, we distrust it, and assume something must be rotten somewhere. If society is failing, human nature dictates at some point we fight back or get ground into the dust.

So the real question is, why aren’t we writing more books about correcting the reason we can’t have Utopias in the first place; the moral, social, mental, cultural, religious, failings of the Human race? If we could fix that, maybe people might believe Utopias, corrupted or otherwise, might be possible enough to write about and worthy enough to read through to see the underlying messages for what they are.

Messages about us and our relationships to each other and the Universe at large. This is where Janus-topias come in. So many of our works that describe utopian societies are actually Janus-topias, two faced worlds where we believe we are living well to find out we are not. Most of our works which postulate a possible Utopia are really Janus-topias.

Utopia is not a place where stories are easily written, by definition, if you made a real Utopia, where would the conflict arise? What we are really hoping for are clever Janus-topias which hide their flaws well, are interesting enough to pay attention to, and when their flaws are revealed, we learn something about ourselves in the process.

Death to Utopia! Not enough happens there.

But the route to Utopia is rife with storytelling possibilities…

cities_of_the_future_by_jonasdero-d5jkvqs

Callsign: Hatred

hatred

White on Black hatred (for the nuance-impaired)

Found a wonderful collection of hate-filled racist tweets from Saturday ranging from cheering Zimmerman and the awesomeness of the American Justice system to being glad someone was standing up for White people and putting niggers back in their place. (Bear with me. If you know my work, I never use that word lightly.) Part of this is the internet promoting anonymous ass-hattery, most of these were fake accounts created for inciting and promoting anger and frustration. I know this because I have used Twitter long enough to know how to recognize fake accounts when I see them.

But the sentiments they voice are still quite real. The hands on those keys in anonymous places are connected to real honest-to-God (I know) racists, bigots and culturally-deprived idiots. More than half, probably have never left their state, and a good percentage of them, the county in which they were born. Most have never broken bread with the object of their hatred, let alone known one unless they were beating him over the head with a tire iron or raping her before dumping her body in a bijou.

Now why did I go there? Because ultimately this is the end result of such hate-filled rhetoric promoted by the powers that be. Hatred is an infection, it is a disease and like any good disease it needs multiple vectors, multiple ways of being transmitted. When hatred reaches the perfect point of transmission, it can be transferred anonymously through the internet itself, no longer a need for human contact. Its virulence refined, it can take shape in the very words used to spew it across the screen.

You might think you are immune. Many of you may believe you are free of hatred, but you are probably still a carrier even if you don’t actively display any of the hate-filled symptoms.

White privilege, the ability to participate in society without fear of being stopped by the police, without fear of having a legally mandated officer of the law, kick down your door, and arrest everyone in your home, find out they are incorrect and release you 48 hours later without an apology and without fixing your door. White privilege mean you won’t find yourself shot to death (with 40 rounds no less) while reaching for your wallet, while across town a White vigilante marksman who is shooting up a city council meeting manages to be taken alive without firing a shot.

Is there an incongruency? Discontinuity? I can name dozens of these events almost without effort; a veritable litany of undermining, disenfranchisement, devastation and death. Watch this all of your life, embed this into the fiber of your being, find a way to cope around the cancer that is your nothingness in a land of plenty.

Don’t tell me you feel my pain. No, you do not know how the other half lives. Not even close.

954724_558563397523080_503491159_n

Now for you people of color, your lesson is this: Hopefully, none of you are under the illusion that this is just a phase. This is a sampling of a greater problem in these United States. If you are a Black person who believes you are free, equal, or operate at the same level as the poorest white person in the land, YOU ARE MISTAKEN.

I know this is not what people want to hear. What they want is to experience is a cultural solidarity promised by the Statue of Liberty. We want to believe we are the poor and huddled masses yearning to be free. Well, we are partially right.

They keep us poor, deny us access to good and useful education, make us pay more for less education and use the education system to funnel us into the prison pipeline recreating the only legal form of slavery left. We are huddling, in our shacks, on the streets, in our cars, bereft of our homes, blackballed from work that is meaningful, that supports families, that builds legacies. So we have the poor and huddled parts just right.

Are you still yearning to be free? Damn right you are. Freedom from being shot in the street at will by any person who has a gun and the balls to use it. (Which today is just about everyone. There are states wanting to teach 5 year old children how to shoot a gun. WHY? have the playgrounds become a battlefield? Not yet.)

If you are black and male, chances are you are more likely to be killed by a registered member of a police department than by any other means in the United States. So the most dangerous thing to a young black man is… the police? What happened to protect and serve? Oh yes. That is a part of White privilege and we don’t have that.

Still yearning to be free? Yes, you are. Free to be able to name your children whatever you want and have them be able to get a job that does not screen them on the basis of whether they have good Christian names. How about getting a job based on their skills, not on whether they are potentially frightening because they happen to be a shade of brown darker than a paper bag? Can’t happen you say? There are states where the level of unemployment for Blacks is higher than 50%. This seems counter to the value placed on the unemployment level for white men at 6%.

Seems balanced, eh? Spare me the rhetoric of there being white unemployment at levels of 8-15% in various parts of the nation, because I know this already. In those same parts of the nation, Black unemployment is at 28-40% so I don’t feel your pain in the same way.

How many more young black men will the nation kill before you begin to realize this particular truth? The irony is I can say this and be considered angry and dangerous because I am Black but those racists, those self-styled defenders of American virtue right there will end up in positions of power through no particular merit other than their White skin and have the power to affect the lives of people of color, every day of their lives.

They won’t be as rude when they are older or in public, but it will not matter. They will still have the power to choose where people of color live, how they vote, the effectiveness of the employment, the quality of their juries, the state of schools in economically depressed areas, the quality of healthcare, the existence of government support programs.

And though the people they will harm when they manipulate those programs will mostly be poor whites, they are aiming their blow at Blacks. Their intent will be to harm Black and Brown people they have been conditioned to fear (and by proxy hate) their entire lives.

Is there an answer to counter this? Is there a solution? Honestly, I don’t know. I have spent fifty years trying to figure out why it is even this way in the first place, but I am done pretending THAT THERE IS NOTHING WRONG IN AMERICA, BECAUSE IT IS APPARENT TO ANYONE WITH EYES, THERE IS.

And contrary to popular belief it has less to do with me as a person of color than with the institutions which have made the marginalization of People of Color a national pastime with roots as old as the nation itself. You want to complain Black people are what wrong with this nation? I disagree. What’s wrong with this nation is the pathological hatred of everyone not white and its pernicious effects on laws, policies and behaviors that steal from EVERYONE in this nation by keeping other HUMAN BEINGS from having the same rights, education, opportunities as the most elite and powerful whites in this nation.

Yes, I said it. Deal with it.

Every individual who is starving on a street corner somewhere due to a policy that says we should have more guns and less healthcare is a blow against human dignity. It is a form of racism and classism and good old-fashion fear based hatred. Every time you vote for a politician who says we should put people back to work while he gets paid for shipping a job to another country is another form of hatred of individuals he does not respect. Because if he did, he would be trying to find ways to improve the nation and the opportunities of everyone, not just his pocketbook.

We can find money for war without batting an eye. We can find money to create destruction, we can find money to attack and kill brown people all over the planet. No industry moves with the speed and alacrity of the US military machine. No decisions get made in Congress with the clarity of going to war (except maybe during the sequester and they wanted to ensure they could get flight home).

Should we: Feed people? No. Build a bridge. No. Put a banker behind bars for engaging in what is clearly a fraudulent act. No. Investigate a series of banks accused of defrauding entire economies and bankrupting tens of millions. Okay. (And the punishment is to fine them the equivalent of an hour’s pay. They’re banks! THEY’RE MADE OF MONEY!)

Meanwhile people, not statistics wander without work, without homes, without food, without money, without hope. When unemployment was at 25% during the Depression it was a national tragedy and they moved heaven and Earth to fix the problem. When unemployment for Blacks was at 35%, did anyone even notice? (Answer is no…in case you were wondering.)

This is not about me as a person of color. Every person who IS a person, who believes we all have the right to be happy, working, comfortable, engaged in our society and free from huddling and being hungry should be standing up and marching in the streets today. This is not just about Trayvon Martin (though partially, it is) it is about all of us.

ScreenHunter_483 Jul. 15 10.38

A tent city in Sacramento, California

The hatred that killed Trayvon Martin is killing you too. You are just too numbed by Snookie, American Idol, Pacific Rim, ESPN, whiskey, sex, or just too fucking stupid to realize it yet. There shouldn’t be a street in this nation that isn’t overflowing with people protesting ALEC, the NRA and the state of Florida and it’s criminal police department for allowing this travesty to take place under the guise of law.

There shouldn’t ever be a point in history where an armed man follows another unarmed man, confronts and harasses that unarmed man, suddenly finds himself in duress and being prepared to claim self defense, gets to kill the man being followed. Without consequence. Without conscience. Except there was. Again. Once upon a time they had dogs and followed Black men to return them to plantations, or to kill them for ogling a white women, or because they were bored and didn’t have anything to do that afternoon. In other words business as usual in America.

images

Except when it is…

Adding insult to injury Zimmerman and clan are found saying some of the most hateful and terrible things I can imagine, with a straight face, without apology, with his family co-signing his spite. A vitriol so bitter it’s like rubbing salt into a flesh-eating bacteria wound. Which part of a fallen empire are you people not seeing? Is it the bread or the circuses part? Not so much bread anymore but thanks to Faux News, circuses, aplenty.

I am a Black man. I am used to walking out of my house with the idea I may not make it home tonight, though I have done everything right, been a legal citizen, paid my taxes, loved my family, respected my fellow man, even if he didn’t deserve it. I bite my tongue and mince my words to keep my job even when someone disrespects me and calls me nigger to my face in a private office when its just he and I and no one will believe he could say such a thing because he is an upstanding citizen of his community.

I am reconciled to the fact my family may have no recourse if a policeman decides he doesn’t like the cut of my jib, or if a random white man decides for whatever reason he is willing to risk the justice system (such as it is) and kills me. THIS HAS BEEN MY REALITY ALL OF MY LIFE.

I have no such illusions about fairness or parity of American Life. I have no illusions that I am equal when I apply for work, because I see it in their eyes when I show up at the door for the interview. (Oh, shit. He’s Black.) I can feel it in the limp handshake (disrespectful). I can see it in the glazed look and the lackluster interest.

I can see it in the eyeballing of watches or clocks in the room, eager for the event to be over so they can get on with the next better, whiter candidate who is going to be better qualified because he is white and will fit in better with the social and cultural schema established by her office manager who has been told by her director, indirectly that we are seeking a better fit of our employees with the corporate culture who has been told by his VP that we are not looking for people who haven’t been to an ivy league school who has been told by the CEO we only want the “best people”.

Euphemisms, every one of them. I understand that I can never be the best people in your eyes.

But, I am still better than THAT.

I guess there aren’t enough White people having been made hungry by bad policy yet. Not enough on them on the street, not enough children being shot, not enough food stamps being cut, not enough children being imprisoned, or dying, or committing suicide. I guess when you’re feeling more like second-class citizens, you may decide to stand up for what’s right and not just for what’s white.

I’ll be over here huddling, yearning to be free while you make up your minds…

© Thaddeus Howze 2013, All Rights Reserved

Hatred-is-the-cowards-revenge-for

Don’t take my word for a damn thing, read it for yourself.

Man arrested for having a stroke while Black, left to die on jail floor, Daily Kos

Man convicted of shooting teenager, New York Times

Florida man shoots and kills 17-year-old teen after argument over loud music at gas station, Daily News

With Racial Roles Reversed, Three Self-Defense Cases That Went The Other Way, Think Progress

White people who kill black people in ‘Stand Your Ground’ states are 354% more likely to be cleared of murder, Daily Mail

Howard Morgan, Black Off-Duty Cop Shot 28 Times By White Chicago Officers - Black Cop, charged and sentenced to 40 years, Huffington Post 

NY_DN

Watch Martin Bashir Sum Up The Trayvon Martin Travesty In Under 4 Minutes

Can we stop worrying about Millennials yet?

I know it has been fashionable and even acceptable since Time magazine (pay-walled article) made it okay, but it is time to stop hating on the Millennials.

5303695-Time-Magazine-on-the-Me-Generation-Selfish-20

As a social group, they have enough issues without the socially acceptable, yet completely reprehensible treatment they receive in the media, particularly from the conservative side. But no one treats them particularly well, no matter which side of the fence you find yourself perched.

As an employer I have never had any issues working with them, understanding their expectations from work, or dealing with their often peculiar work ethic. I tried to treat them the way I would like to be treated with the understanding, their job was not the center of the Universe. And given how the workplace environment often treated them, I could completely relate to their viewpoint.

Poverty sucks

The Trickle Down Theory: The principle that the poor, who must subsist on the table scraps dropped by the rich, can best be served by giving the rich, bigger meals. –William Blum

Seeing how I don’t happen to agree with that happily Reaganesque mindset either, enjoy playing a wide array of video games, like leaving work on time (screw unpaid overtime), focusing my time for things and people I enjoy like skateboarding, hang-gliding, pub-crawling, playing with my son and utilizing social media technology, in some ways, even though there are a few decades between our ages, I am completely in sync with their viewpoint.

The Boomer generation which currently rules the economic world and is giving themselves the best of executive pay, exotic homes and off-shore bank accounts seems completely dickish by complaining about a social group that starts with so little all things considered and expected to handle the worst of the Boomer excesses while starting off in debt, with poor credit, with criminalized poverty, no homes, no cars and little in the way of effective training in “How to Screw Over Your Fellow Workers While You Dine, Shark-like, on Their Inner Organs.”

Lately, I have been questioning the wisdom of indenturing out children with the idea they should have to pay for an education. I recognize we are a profit-driven society, but I believe paying for education should be something society does for our children, not the other way around. We invest in them so they can, return that investment in the development, improvement and effective management of the Commons. In countries like Sweden, Finland and places where reason is still a facet of their social consciousness, they recognize investment in youth, improving their lifestyles in the future. They look at us with nothing but contempt. I secretly sneer with them…

This should be a no-brainer. Instead, someone decided they should not only pay for education, but it should cost them as much as a home in the Midwestern United States. Anywhere from $30,000 to $250,ooo ended up seeming like a reasonable amount of money to pay for an education.

But wait, there’s more. We have also told them they should leave college in great debt, bearing great responsibility (paraphrasing Spider-Man) and do it with minimum wage pay. When you do the math, using the debt they leave college with and assuming minimum wage pay, it will take nearly as long as a 30 year mortgage to pay off and cost double the amount of the starting debt.

We have told our children that they have to save the world while being handicapped with major debt while starting off poorly socialized. Consumer technologically literate and hyper-connected but only interested in things which promote their internet meme of choice and assorted cat videos. Cursed with short attention-spans and the entire bulk of the world’s knowledge at their fingertips, they flit from info-bit to info-bit, full of memes and fury, signifying nothing.

So, how about we get off their backs, give them some tools, get away from our partisan political bickering, stop putting wealth and profit before streets, sewers, bridges and opportunity to participate in what was once one of the greatest economies in the world and find a way to help them with the long, damned list of things that have been screwed up under our watch during the era of Saint Reagan and the Greed Over People party. And no, I won’t give the Democrats a pass because they did their share of dirt too. They just appeared to care a bit more (and seemed more emotionally disturbed when they were caught doing dirt) while they were doing it.

The Millennials with our help will have to tackle a long list of issues. What issues? Here is a quick and dirty list:

  • reasonable and affordable health care,
  • a collapsing economic structure that needs a complete retooling,
  • reducing military interactions in foreign countries,
  • feeding and caring for the disenfranchised members of our societies,
  • our failing education system and improving its quality,
  • economic disparity between the rich and poor,
  • the digital divide all over the world and in all layers of economic strata,
  • effective socio-economic relationships with other sovereign nations,
  • global climate control and management,
  • toxic waste and overall waste management,
  • desertification of our food producing areas on our planet,
  • destruction of our planet’s rain forests at 20 square miles a day,
  • eradication of cancer,
  • HIV, AIDS, and management of growing list of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, 
  • renewable energy development,
  • loss of fossil fuels and what that means to our lifestyles,
  • failing infrastructures of power and roads and
  • corporate malfeasance just to name the few I could think of in about 30 seconds. 

Can we stop worrying about Millennials yet? We have so many other, more important things to deal with…

bors-millennial-comicstrip4

Don’t get me started on Instagram…