A couple of weeks ago I was in running my dogs in the park and an acquaintance of mine came in with her two dogs. I mentioned the stock market and she started asking about commodities prices. For about half a second I wondered why this was a concern. Then it hit me - she is the owner of a coffee shop which is also a roasting establishment. Commodities prices have a massive impact on her life and profit margins - and coffee has gone crazy over the past year. Admittedly some of this was due to weather issues - but much of it was sheer speculation.
The same holds true from the oil speculation that was one extra nail in our fiscal coffin in 2008. High oil prices drove the cost of living sky high in the middle of recession in 2008 and helped lead the country off a financial cliff. But the impact goes even further than that. People die from commodities speculation. When food products are involved - such as wheat death and malnurishment result. In poor countries such speculation driving prices sky high can mean the difference of eating or not. Indeed, the high price of wheat was a big factor in rebellion in Tunisia and in Egypt.
Much of the criticism levied at the #Occupy Wall Street movement has pinpointed the fact that in general the protesters lack “direction.” These people are not fools or bums and those who would dismiss them lightly do so at their peril. They are savvy enough to know something is wrong. Very wrong. They have the right target in their sites. They are disgusted with Wall Street and the “too big to fail” banks that have yet to be held to account for the misery they have inflicted on millions of Americans. They understand that the banks were bailed out. They understand that instead of lending the largesse from the taxpayers - the banks took the money and locked it up. They get that the super-rich, the big banks, and multinational corporations are sitting on the trillions of $$ that are desperately needed to kick start our economy. They understand that until that money circulates - the misery on Main Street will only increase.
But specific demands are harder to get to…
So here are some demands that would give the movement “direction”. They are particularly relevant to an #Occupy Wall Street movement in that it targets Wall Street and the big banks. (more…)
People keep talking about things that are broken. I’m not talking about a cup or a glass or even Grandma’s antique china. It usually goes something like…”the_______industry is broken!” or “the _____system is broken!” or the ______business. Which begs the question: how can so many industries, businesses, and systems all be broken at the same time?
Personally, I have had two careers and it seems as though academia is broken and the real estate industry is broken beyond repair. My father had cancer and getting him treated because he was in an HMO was a nightmare…so the insurance industry is broken. The big banks won’t discuss loan modifications with clients - so the banking industry is broken.
When there are this many “broken things” shattered on the ground at the same time - something is wrong systemically. It is rooted deep within the our government and the body politic. This is what happens when a government ceases to be functional. When the government is broken, it means that those who would exploit and steal, those who would earn their money on the backs of others are in firm control. In our case, the capitalistic beast has been let loose and its eating its prey. Unfortunately we are the prey and until the beast is contained - we will continue to look at our institutions and business as so much shattered glass.
The Wall Street protests reveal that the public is now aware of the fact that they are prey. They see who the enemy is and are finally standing strong. The response by the police only affirms how badly dysfunctional things are. They are arresting the protesters while leaving the real criminals free to continue the carnage. Pssst…I have a hint for you men in the white and blue shirts….the REAL criminals have suits and carry briefcases…
I want to thankThe Book of Cletisfor allowing me to republish this blog. I have my own take on the Ayn Rand/ Fundamentalist Christian conundrum - and will put that forth in a follow-up post of my own. The irony of Fundamentalist Christians fawning over Atlas Shrugged is not lost on me - but it is a topic I have not brought up before on this blog. Meanwhile, enjoy this post it is very well written and be sure to stop byThe Book of Cletis- it is a blog that is on my daily reading list.
H.L. Mencken cautioned us years ago about our fellow citizens when he wrote, “Never underestimate the ignorance of the American people.” Old H.L. was a pretty cynical fellow but he nailed that right on the head. Still, I was recently shocked when I learned The People of the Tea have embraced Ayn Rand as their new messiah. How anyone can profess their love for Jesus and at the same time walk around town with a copy of Atlas Shrugged is beyond me. Jesus said love the poor for they are your brothers and sisters and love your neighbor as yourself. Ayn Rand said if the poor get in your way take a board to their lazy asses. If your neighbor is poor and threatening your property values, burn his fucking house down.
Voting trends are just that - trends. Trends can turn on a dime - just like the varying popularity of kitten heels, flats, and platforms. At least such is the case during times of relative prosperity. Prosperity breeds complacency. It is during such uninteresting times that we sow the seeds of our on destruction.
As someone in the latter half of their forties - I came of age during the Reagan era. Spin and the mere fact that not much “bad” happened during the 80s and 90s to derail the American dream led to a quantum shift towards the conservative. The youth of our day will hopefully learn from our mistakes - because they are certainly paying for them. (And for that - all I can offer is a humble apology across the generational divide. ) (more…)
Last week I was the victim of a robbery. I’ve worked in some rough neighborhoods in my time - and have never once been robbed. So imagine my surprise when my briefcase was snatched by a man on foot who then jumped into a car with an accomplice and drove off.
A good Samaritan managed to observe the crime and took off after the robbers. A high speed chase with several police cars and the good Samaritan ensued and the stoned robber was cornered in a neighboring town in what only can be described as a domestic version of “shock and awe.” I was stunned at the man-power on the scene that was involved in recovering a stolen computer bag/briefcase.
Although I was grateful to get my iPhone back and my wallet and papers, had these crime Lords gotten away - I would have been lighter about $600 and change. It also has cost me in terms of business because of the time and hassle involved. (more…)