09 August 2011

Some thoughts for hard times

Greetings good people.
Well, we made it through the kabuki theater of the "debt crisis" which wasn't much  of a crisis at all. The whole thing was just more smoke and mirrors. Some articles have gone as far as saying that there never was much of a crisis at all. Gobomber could have, according to some writers, have envied the 14th ammendment and defused the whole mess and let the "tea party" and other wing nuts just stew in their own hatred and bull crap.
Now, of course that would have taken something like guts and we all now know without any doubt that Gobomber has none. The most innocent new born kitten has more courage than Gobomber has ever shown any of us. I can say this with a fair amount of certainty as I have had cats and new born kittens in my care many for years over my life time. I do believe that a new born kitten IS braver than Gobomber, at least as far as doing anything for the common people goes. At least that kitten gives you a nice feeling and is so soft to hold in your hand. Gives you a nice warm feeling just to pet one. Gobomber does not give any of us any sort of even luke warm feeling. All we seem to get from him and our other politicians is the cold shaft, the dirty end of the stick, and the "joy" of paying for the obscene bailouts for the Wall Street gangsters and the greedy banksters.
Give me the kitten any day, at least I know then I will get a smile of three every day. All we get from Gobomber and that crew is more hot air and here in central Louisiana the last thing we need is more hot, humid air. Our air temps have been in the 100's for the past week and the heat index has topped 114 more days than I care to count. Global warming? Could be. All I know is that it has been very hot and uncomfortable.
Even though the congress critters have reached their agreement on the debt ceiling, Standard and Poor's have still downgraded the credit rating of the US of A. Yep, we went from AAA to AA or AA+ according to one report I saw recently. This ratings outfit didn't like the bickering that took place to get this "crisis" resolved. Aww, poor babies. Hey, this is just typical politics guys. Our congress critters have to go through this crap all the time. They seem to think(??) that by doing so they appear to be actually working. Yeah, they may fool some folks, but I doubt any of you who read this blog buy into that line. The very thought of our congress critters doing any useful work is something most of us cannot believe. In particular, if they are doing any real work for the average American. Of course they do work for the folks who really matter to them, the richest 1%, who now control something like 40% of the total wealth of the country.
Things are getting very bad for the working class people in America. One good example of how it is affecting the working class is the latest post at Tomdispatch.www.tomdispatch.com/post/175428/tomgram%3A_barbara_ehrenreich%2C_on_americans_%28not%29_getting_by_%28again%29/#more
This is a "must read" that shows how bad things are getting here at home.
I keep remembering an old saying, no matter how bad things are, they can always get worse. The way this economy, or what now passes itself off as our economy gets worse, we need to remember that it CAN get worse. Some of the economic blogs that I try to follow say that we may be headed to another major down turn. We are set to either enter another severe recession or even a major depression.According to some of them, we will get a "double dip" recession.  Personally, I am not so certain that we ever came out of the last major recession. 
It also calls up another old comment. A recession is when your neighbor is out of work, a depression is when you are out of work. 
No matter which of the economic blogs one reads, for the working class and the poor, things look very bad. I do not see anything coming that will help us at all. The new deal that was made by our congress critters and Gobomber will not help any of us. Unless one is among the top wealthiest in this country, there is nothing in this deal to help you. The rich get away, again, with no tax increases. The war industries, of course, see no major cuts, not many minor ones either. Hey, we have six wars going on, don't you know? Six? Yep, six. Count them; Iraq (still a war), Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya. Six that we know of and that make news no and then. According to an article by Nick Turse, also at TomDispatch, we have "special" ops types in over 60 countries. Yes, that  is 60, as in sixty, countries around the world. Hey, keeping this empire going is hard work.
As the economy gets ever worse for the working class we could see our society start to break at the seams. There is already little to no common courtesy out in the country. As things get worse, there may be even less. With this in mind I want to ask all of you to try something. I have asked this before, but I think it is time to do so again. Try, just try, every day, with all the people you come in contact with, just try to treat them all as you want to be treated. Just try and be a bit cheerful to those you meet in your daily routine. You just could be the only person that somebody you meet who is actually polite. You could just be the one person who makes their day. It isn't really all that hard to do. Yes,it is very hot and humid in this part of the country and has been for weeks now, still, just try and be polite to the cashier at the gas station. He or she does not set the price at the pump, that gets dictated to them by the company they get the fuel from. Same goes for any retail setting, the person who collects your money does not set the prices. 
All I am trying to do is to maintain a bit of civility in our country. The economy stinks, the rich get ever richer and the rest of us are left with the crumbs. That doesn't mean that we should just forget all of our civility, our common courtesy and common sense. In fact, in my opinion, as things get worse, the more we need to be polite to each other. If we all go off angry, we will just add to the already high level of misery that is out there. 
It isn't hard. It doesn't mean that you subscribe to any particular religion, it just lets others know that some of us have retained our basic humanity. While you may call it the "golden rule" I just see it as being polite. Call it what you will, I just know that we need more of it as the economy goes ever downward. I lived in southern California during the Watts riots. I also was living there after the Rodney King trial. There have been other major riots in various cities in the past, I just do not want to see us devolve into that sort of thing again. We need to try our best to retain as much human dignity as possible or things will get very bad for us all. Hell, they had Blackwater goons patrolling the streets of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. Do we want that sort of crap in all of our cities? If we fail to act as civilized adults, I have no doubt that we will get that and worse. It is up to us, we need to set the example. Yes, we may not change the world, but I believe that we need to at least try. If we don't, then what is the point of going on?
Just something to think about and consider. Thank you for your time reading this post.
semper fi


john francis lee said...

The S&P Downgrade
' A half century ago President Eisenhower in his farewell address warned the American people of the danger posed to democracy and the people’s control over their government by the military/security complex...

' In the succeeding half century the military/security complex became ever more powerful.

' The main power rival was Wall Street, which controls finance and money and is skilled at advancing its interests through economic policy arguments.

' With the financial deregulation that began during the Clinton presidency, Wall Street became all powerful.

' Wall Street controls the Treasury and the Federal Reserve, and the levers of money are more powerful than the levers of armaments.

' The behind the scenes fight for power is between these two powerful interest groups.'

As you probably know, Paul Craig Roberts was an undersecretary of the treasury for Ronald Raygun. He was an evangelist for 'supply side' economics.

Since 9-11 he has been one of the few articulate people describing the way things are in Washington.

I don't know that Wall Street and the Wehrmacht are actually fighting each other as he describes, but they are both certainly fighting all of us! We don't even have a seat at the table, from either of their perspectives.

It is going to take radical restructuring to put our country back together. We're well beyind the band-aid stage at this point. I've yet to see any sign of a general stirring on the horizon. In Wisconsin, from what I read, the recall resulted in the defeat of the reformers! The Tea Party made gains. Have I got that right?

Don't look good from here, Charlie.

charlie ehlen said...

Thanks for your comments.
Yes, Paul Roberts is well worth reading, my opinion any way.
Yes, I see that the donkey gang failed in the recall in Wisconsin. Well, that isn't a huge surprise to me. The "tea party" seems to have converted some of the people there. The way they keep on saying "no taxes" has an appeal to many in what passes as our economy. Why they vote for them is still odd to me as they not only are against taxes, but they give away so much to the richest 1%.
Of course the Americans are good at voting against their own self interest. Just look at the past presidential elections since , oh say 1980. Yeah that was when "saint" Ronnie became our "acting" president.
I think we may be in for Britain style riots here in the US. I remember the Watts riots and the Rodney King verdict riots all too well. This could be one long hot summer. I hope not, but when people have nothing, they have nothing left to lose.
It could get very dangerous.

john francis lee said...

I don't know if you read the World Socialist Website, Charlie, but they often have good analysis.

On The Wisconsin recall election
' From the beginning, the recall campaign was a reactionary diversion, aimed at demobilizing and suppressing working-class opposition. The Democratic candidates made no secret of their support for cuts in social spending and attacks on public employees. Had the Democrats won control of the Senate, there would be no significant change in government policy in relation to the basic rights and interests of the working class.

' The central lesson that emerges from the experience of the Wisconsin protests is the need for a revolutionary party and perspective to lead the struggles of the working class.'

Which sounds right to me.

If what's going down in the UK were to spread to the US it would be much more brutally suppressed, according to Glen Ford, and I think he's right.

john francis lee said...

Here's one from 'a retired machinist and former president of a NAGE-SEIU union local. He lives in Boston'... which immediately made me think of you, Charlie.

Malefactors of Great Wealth

You've probably seen it already... but Jeff Klein has a gift of straight talk on par with your own.

charlie ehlen said...

I check WSWS most every day. I had not read their comment on the Wisconsin recall yet. I did catch some news of it at "Think Progress". They were not impressed with the election either.
It did seem to me that my comments about the "difference" between the two wings of the war party are fairly accurate.
Is there much difference between the donkey and elephant gang? I don't see much at all.

charlie ehlen said...

I just finished reading that article by Jeff Klein. I am flattered that you thought of me when you read it. I think Mr. Klein has made his points much better than I have.
I do agree with his view though. In that respect, yes, we are alike. It is good to see that more people are coming around to see the truth of things here in the old US.

I also agree that when the riots of Britain come to America, they will be brutally suppressed. Why else do we have the cops and their nice new toys? Also, they had Blackwater patrolling New Orleans after Katrina. I suppose that outfit still needs work.
I really am very concerned for America.

charlie ehlen said...

The WSWS basically agrees with my view of the "two" party system. The donkey gang is not much different than the elephant gang. Both were in favor of the cuts in Wisconsin. They even got the union "leaders" to back off the shut down and protest by the union members.
In my view, the working class in the US have been sold out by the democrats and their own union "leadership".
Sad and disgusting. America, what ac country.

Grace said...

Oops, I accidentally posted this post in the last one. That's why I haven't been writing much!

charlie ehlen said...

No problem. I read your comment and I agree. We are all too wore out. It has been very hot here, heat index is well over 100 and even more than 110 on most days recently.
With this heat and the massive unemployment and the damn fool wars, I think it is even more important to try being polite to each other.
Oh, and thinking about kittens won't hurt either. If you have any cats/kittens near by, just give them a nice ear rub, most cats enjoy that.
We'll manage to get through this, some how, some way.

john francis lee said...

What struck me about Jeff Klein, Charlie, and about yourself is that you are both retired machinists. Mechanics. And you both see and write clearly about the workings of our social mechanism, so much in need of repair.

Mechanics are what's needed in our nation right now, in my opinion, certainly not more financial engineers. We need a little structural adjustment to our constitution to undo the reengineering it's undergone since Bill Clinton repealed Glass-Steagal and Bush/Obama wrapped themselves in the Unitary Presidency... a governor, if you will, in the mechanical sense of a feedback mechanism to check a runaway dynamo.

A government of the people, by the people, for the people as it was once put. There was a good play on that one some while back... The Abbottabad Address. I imagine you saw it.

I personally had never seen nor heard of the wsws.org until quite recently and I very much appreciate their analysis. Since then I've found several other socialist and marxist websites which offer similar insights as well. The ones that focus on democracy as the basis of their socialism.

I trust us the people to look after our interests and no one else.

charlie ehlen said...

Thank you again. I still am taken back some when I find that others think along similar lines as I do. I have often thought that I was out of step with the world, off in my own corner as it were.
I still find it difficult to realize that there are others who see things in the same or nearly the same way as I do.
Yes, more like a governor as they had on the old steam engines to prevent the machinery from over speed, which they knew would cause serious troubles. Our economy has gone into a sort of hyper drive and the thing that seems to have stared us on this are the derivatives. I remember back in the early 1980's, we used to watch "Wall Street Week" on PBS. The host of that program was asked about the "new" things, derivatives. He replied that if you cannot say what it is you are investing in, don't invest in it. Nobody knew just what those derivatives were then. I bet they still don't know.
We have gone to even odder "investments" now with MBS, CDO and all sorts of "investment vehicles". Nobody can tell you exactly what they are. And yet people will buy them.
We seem to have too much money chasing made up investments. Parts of the economy are over heated and they don't bother to invest in the things that are really needed, like rebuilding the infrastructure.
I check in at the WSWS web site nearly every day. I don't always read much there, just check the headlines. I am not sure just where I "fit" on the political spectrum. Like my life philosophy, I tend to do like the old joke about the Chinese menu, a bit from this, some from that, a dash of some other, etc.
Also, I am not very rigid in my outlook. If I can find a better argument, I can be persuaded to seriously make changes. It does take a very good argument to do so, I don't change with every passing breeze. At the same time, I don't want to hang onto an outlook that is past its "sell by" date either.
I think that as we age, we should grow and that means changes. Not change for the sake of change, but as we learn and grow, we naturally change. Also, we broaden our outlook. I try to do that, not always successful I must admit.

charlie ehlen said...

I had not seen the "Abbottabad Address" before. Thanks for giving me the link. Very good.

Roger Wagner said...

How about Warren Buffet, asking to pay more taxes. If all the rich would just pay their fair share instead of using it to buy off the politicians { campaign contributions,etc.} we would all be better off.

charlie ehlen said...

Thanks for your comment.
Yes Buffet could pay more. He is on record saying that his secretary pays less taxes than he does. OK, so he admits the system stinks. The question, would he be willing to pay higher taxes? I bet he has not been asked. It would be nice to hear his reply to that.

john francis lee said...

' I think that as we age, we should grow and that means changes. Not change for the sake of change, but as we learn and grow, we naturally change.'

Amen. So much of the 'conversation' on the internet is just an exchange of polemics, with no one open to change at all, just to defending their position... often arrived at by heredity, more or less.

I live in Thailand now and that's one of the things that struck me right off about Buddhism. Buddhadasa Bhikku... who led a renewal of Buddhism at the end of last century... paraphrased the Buddha as saying, in effect,

"Hey, I've got an idea that I think works. Check it out. But if you can find something better, by all means go with that."

That moves Buddhism out of the realm of 'religion' as it is defined in the West, were all religions are the one, true religion and the rest heretics best dealt with by the sword.

And religion is what people 'have' in lots of fields besides religion. Politics, for instance. Or economics, which is really just politics by the numbers.

Buddhism can be corrupted, of course, as any institution can, and official, state-sponsored Thai Buddhism is as corrupt as they come. But there is, underlying the civil religion, a real religion, as there is underneath the various civil forms of Christianity and Islam and Judaism, that speaks to peoples' spiritual side.

The last really, really big, as Ed Sullivan used to say, change that I went through, was coming to grips with the likelihood, in my opinion, that the neo-cons knowingly allowed 9/11 to go forward in order to accomplish their 'religious' aims.

And that's radically changed my whole attitude. If their lips are moving they're lying... that's my assumption now, and it wasn't really before.

And that, coupled with the really heart-breaking sense of deja vu all over again between Vietnam and Iraq... Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Syria... has made me rethink my whole conception of what the USA is about... there were a good couple of excerpts from Mark Twain's writings a while back (1) and (2) that shed the same light upon Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson that we're all witnessing now from Bush and Obama. And the same religious acceptance of 'manifest destiny' by us American people 100 years ago as today.

Mike Whitney said...

My wife and I practiced with Buddhist groups for many years, but I've had a hard time reconciling politics and economics with Buddhist teaching.....

We're all very attached to our ideas...and strongly attached to our ideas of justice...

Buddhism points to the wisdom of detachment, of "letting go" one's own views as a temporary phenomenon that lack any permanence or identity. In other words, even our deepest beliefs are like bubbles in a stream--not meaningless, but just lacking any real permanence.

Annica, annata, and Dhukka...No soul, impermanence, and suffering.

That's life in a nutshell. But being the imperfect person I am, I'd still like to see a few bankers in shackles hauled away to prison.

Okay, that's my rant for the day....

Sorry, for sounding off.

jfl francis lee said...

I don't see any need to apologize Mike... I don't imagine Charlie does either?

I squirreled away a quote, more than a one-liner, from Gary Snyder on the subject of Buddhist anarachism. It's fifty years old, but I'll bet Gary Snyder embraces it still...

' Historically, Buddhist philosophers have failed to analyze out the degree to which ignorance and suffering are caused or encouraged by social factors, considering fear-and-desire to be given facts of the human condition. Consequently the major concern of Buddhist philosophy is epistemology and “psychology” with no attention paid to historical or sociological problems... Institutional Buddhism has been conspicuously ready to accept or ignore the inequalities and tyrannies of whatever political system it found itself under. This can be death to Buddhism, because it is death to any meaningful function of compassion. Wisdom without compassion feels no pain.'

charlie ehlen said...

Great comments. I have found some good bits in most philosophies. I spent quite a few years doing my own "research" into various religions and philosophies. Even Joe Campbell in his talks about myths said that most religion has some truth at the very core. I don't know if there any truths to them, but they do have some good points.
I have my own philosophy that is like the old jokes about Chinese menus. You know the one that says you get one item from column A another from column B and a desert and a drink, etc.
Well, I read and study and ask questions then combine what I have learned and toss it all into my own version of thought. I try to keep learning also. As my childhood heroes taught me, try and learn at least one new thing every day.

charlie ehlen said...

Thanks my friend. Yes, I have no problems with Mike and his comment. See my reply to him.
I don't think anybody needs to apologize to me at all. In fact I don't ever want anybody to do so, not here any way. I have no rules for this corner or the comments except one that I will do what I can to enforce. The rule here is that I will not tolerate any personal attacks on those who post comments here. If anybody wants to attack me for what I write, no problem, feel free. But, do NOT go into personal attacks on any who post a comment here. All are free to say whatever they feel they need to say in the comments.
Also, John, in more of a reference to an earlier comment you made about change as we age, I agree that we mostly do. Not change just for the sake of change, that isn't very helpful in my view. I do think we should change as we age because we usually learn as we get older, or I think we should. Man alive, I'd hate to be stuck in the way I thought(I hope I was thinking) back when I was 19 or so. I know for a fact that I have changed a great deal since then and am glad for it.