Circus Giganticus

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The Economy? Go Progressive!

January 21st, 2010 · Public Policy

It’s been generally explained to us that the Federal Government is just a brand identity that pretty much outsources all its major functions to corporations. One can see this in Haiti; private security contractors are the first in there and the military second after an almost three day lag behind  catastrophic events. This in itself says tells us some interesting things. The first thing it tells us is that America’s federal contractors are going to react to any humanitarian crisis with armed personnel. As we’ve been reading, it’s Blackwater first drinking water second. Keep this in mind. This is the same scenario that played out in Katrina. The second thing it tells us is that the government has two general functions one of which does not work and one that does work and the failure and success of each is instructive. The government’s first function is to provide for the defense or the national security of the people. The second is to provide for the general welfare or the social security of the people. Think of it this way: the government has  spent trillions and trillions of dollars on the miltary and not won a major military engagement since WWII but every month needy citizens receive those Social Security checks in the government run mail and right on time. It’s clearly a story of our government showing incompetency in one area and competence in another.

The great erroneous fiction of the Reagan-post-Reagan-years is that government can’t do anything well and consequently America needs to hand over more and more public functions to the private sector who will get the job done cheaper and more efficiently. Interesting line of bullshit there because the functions that are being most outsourced to private sector contractors-take the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations as examples- are not only much more costly to be outsourced, they are generally regarded to be failures of strategy, law, purpose, and execution. Now take Medicaid and Medicare; damn near everyone who receives medical care through these programs poll as pretty happy with the medical care they receive. Compare this to the people who have private sector health insurance-and the majority of Americans asked about this will tell you they despise health insurance companies and wish they’d all burn in hell-and one can gather that the government can provide services that the people themselves judge to be much better than what private sector provides.( Real life example at the basic consumer level: Last time I went to Verizon to get my phone fixed I waited around for an hour and a half for service. Tough shit they told me. What else are you going to do?)

The last thing America needs anymore is a standing army let alone a marching imperial army. We can’t afford it and we don’t manage the military either effectively or legally. Call this the security state. What America needs more of and does very well is the social security state. Know anyone that gets a social security state check or sends a child to Head Start? This is where the Obama administration and the Democrats are very culpable for not adhering to the progressive mandate given them by the Democratic voters. They were told at the polls by the voters, in direct repudiation of Bush policies, to scale back the security state and expand the social security state. Obama not only extended Bush polices, he Rubinized the Treasury with the Clinton-era financial deregulation crowd creating a vicious drain on tax dollars between Wall Street bailouts and ever increasing military budgets. (A military budget that will exceed $700 billion a year NOT COUNTING war cost appropriations).

Progressive voters are the smart ones. They are not the ones that outsource their thinking to Fox News-the private sector-but get their information from the public library-a government service. Progressives know that every  true, lasting, and people-based solution to America’s problems will come from the far left and the prime mover in solving America’s problems is to dismantle and slash major funding to the incompetent money trap called the security state. That money is seed money for the progressive economy. And remember: this is a huge source of money and we haven’t yet even considered overhauling and enforcing the inequitable American tax system that has shifted the vast majority of the country’s tax burden to the middle and working class. 

Progressives are also on to something that the right’s leaders will never admit and the right’s voters will never get: if America does not make a huge economic shift to a progressive economy, the economy will continue to deteriorate long into the future. In a progressive economy, it will be acknowledged that America’s private sector manufacturing and middle-management jobs that have been lost since 2000…are gone forever. They will never return. We cannot hope to revive the dead so we must give birth to the living. We must create jobs that are post-security state and serve the social security state. People, in other words, are no longer going to make their money mass producing and purchasing environmentally destructive consumer goods and war. Rather, people are going to need jobs that serve the social security of themselves and their fellow citizen, and ultimately, their fellow man on a global scale. When this takes place you will see a truly global economy. And you will see yourself with a rewarding job with a real future

Here are a few types of jobs that a progressive economy could foster to provide needed jobs that serve needed social functions.

Personal care: The elderly, the handicapped, children, single mothers, mentally ill, all these people have special needs that can only be addressed by the caring attention of other people. Train people to serve these people and create jobs and a better social security state.

Education: Let’s stop bullshitting ourselves that public education is anything but a holding pen for future military recruits or prison inmates. The student loan route to success doesn’t exist anymore so reshape education from K to college. Train people to be citizens and empower them to choose the social security career that best fits their instincts, ambitions and talents. This makes school a truly comprehensive social learning experience and teaches everyone that the social security economy is a sustainable and rewarding way of life not a means of servitude and debt as are most jobs in the private sector economy.

Environmental stewards; The possibilities here are breathtaking in scope and promise. Imagine getting a cool job as a land manager on the Oregon Coast. Or an alternative transportation visionary or ecosystem maintenance engineer. And on and on go the the possibilities of really exciting and meaningful jobs…the types of jobs that will require meaningful and lifelong education and dedication.

Hemp farmer/hemp craftsman: Want to bail out America’s failing rural areas, dismantle agribusiness, and give millions of Americans the opportunity to work for themselves? Subsidize the growing and small craft manufacture of hemp with huge government subsidies. Let the government take over the mass production of hemp products and re-funnel the the profits back into the subsidy program and the products themselves back into the social security economy. Wouldn’t it be great to see a thriving population of citizen/farmers whose work was tied in directly to the broader interests of the social security economy. The hemp farmer in Arizona helps the teacher’s aide in Michigan who helps the in-home health care provider in California who helps the…and on and on it goes.

Remember too, that the social security state will put public health and safety above all else. This will produce millions more jobs in health/safety regulation, inspection, and compliance. Jobs that will benefit the health and happiness of everyone and require hands on people-these jobs can never be exported or automated . The  Obama/Bush style of  a privatized federal government has led to a very ugly present and  portends a doomed future. America needs to become a human services- based economy. This new progressive economy would prove to be, by all measures, a total threat to America’s corporate monopoly economy that serves and protects 1% of the population. You’ve seen it for yourself: the private economy has no intention of delivering a human needs based economy and never will. Why the hell do we want our government to outsource our jobs and futures to them? Is that we voted for? You know the answers a s well as I.

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WWF Smackdown! Dad VS. Dinner

January 10th, 2010 · Comedy/Humor

 My head was pounding and my nerves were shredded. My job was stressing me and my side job was stressing me more. I got nothing in the way of sleep the night before and my wife just filled my ear with grief as she was walking out the door to run errands. Naturally my thoughts turned to dinner.

I had to make child #1 dinner. I wasn’t, well…exactly sure of the whereabouts of child #2.

Activate Bioscanner on child #1. Bioscanner: SUBJECT: CHILD: AGE: 7: GENDER: FEMALE: DIETARY PREFERENCES: OH NO, WE”RE NOT GOING THERE, THAT’S YOUR JOB.

Damn bioscanner!

Hey, where was child # 2? The boy!

I run downstairs. The boy is watching the Wiggles and entertaining himself. Excellent. That fire is put out for a little while.

Now, dinner for child #1, the daughter.

Run back upstairs.

“Honey, what would you like for dinner?”

“Nothing, thank you.”

“Well it’s dinnertime and mom says you have to eat something for dinner.”

“Ramen noodles.”

“Well mom said you’ve had Ramen noodles six times this week and that’s enough Ramen noodles. How about a cheese sandwich and some strawberries and yogurt?”

“No thanks.”

“How about some mac and cheese and some strawberries and yogurt?”

“No thanks.”

A crash! The boy!

Race downstairs.

The DVD player has been knocked over. Place it back in the right spot, hook it up, put the Wiggles back in and okeydokey, the boy is good to go.

Race back upstairs.

“Now about dinner…how about some cereal and some strawberries and yogurt?”

“No thank you.’

“How about some salami, grapes and strawberries and yogurt?”

No thanks.”

“You played at Zoe’s all day and now mom says you really need to eat something.”

“I ate at Zoe’s all day.”

“You ate at Zoe’s? What did you have?”

“Well for breakfast we had waffles and strawberries. For a snack we had yogurt. For lunch we had Ramen noodles. And for another snack we had strawberries and yogurt.”

Crash! The boy!

Run downstairs. The t.v. has been knocked over. Right the t.v., set it up, restart the Wiggles.

Race back upstairs.

“So you ate all day? You’ve already had dinner?”

“Like duh and then some”.

“So you don’t want anything to eat, do you?”

“You’re quick dad.”

Well…

Crash.

The boy!

Race downstairs, The boy played on the treadmill. Jacked it 25 miles an hour. Flew across the room . Impacted with the wall. Unconscious. Administer smelling salts. Boy revives. Kind words, hugs, favorite juice in favorite sippy cup Put boy to bed. Lots of kisses.

Back to child # 1

“So, you pretty much ate already…yeah?”

“Yupperdoodle.”

“So, like mom can’t say I starved you or fed you Skittles or something, huh? Yeah? Right?

“Double yuppperD.”

“Well, you want to go play at Zoe’s?”

“Yeah!

“Ok. Be home at whatever whenver thing directions stuff your mom says. Ok?

“See you Da Da, bye!

Crash!

The boy!

Race to the boy’s room. He’s fallen out of bed.

Pick up boy and hug dearly. Mouth soothing words. Administer you’re ok stuff mom would do if mom were here. Put boy to bed. Read same Curious George book six times. Boy falls asleep.

Phone rings.

“Hi. It’s me. What do you want for dinner?’

“A bottle of Bushmill’s and Tylenol.”

Crash. The boy!

“Gotta run!”

Boy falls out of bed again! Screams. Soothe and hug boy. Give boy forbidden before bedtime chocolate milk. Show the boy sockpuppet doctor to convince him he’s all good. Screams continue Read the Bible. Louder screaming. Read Green Egg s and Ham, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Cat in the Hat. Boy falls asleep smile on face.

Wife comes home.

Refused to buy Bushmill’s, forgot Tylenol.

Eat 6 Midols and have strawberries and yogurt for dinner.

Crash. The boy? No, dad. He’s done.

Dinner accomplished!

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In Borneo Still

January 8th, 2010 · Short Stories

My uncle Rex was described as the black sheep of the family. He’d been to seven colleges and never earned a degree which proved, according to my Aunt May, that he wasn’t “committed to responsibility.” My mother would inform me darkly that Uncle Rex had no steady employment or career but worked “odd jobs.” This was imparted to me by both my mother and aunt as part of their efforts to shape my character and help me understand that there were adults who followed social prescriptions, or normal people, and those that didn’t, free spirits they were euphemistically called. My father had left us, my mother and me, when I was a small child, so Uncle Rex would be recruited to keep me company on Saturdays when my mother and my aunt would go play bingo and afterward go out for a late breakfast. It was their big weekly social outing.

Uncle Rex would appear at the door at the assigned time which I, even at thirteen years old, felt gave lie to the claims that he was irresponsible, and as soon as my mother and aunt left would walk out to his car and return with either a bottle of Bushmill’s or several bottles of Grolsch beer.

Uncle Rex would play card games, build forts, and create all manner of imaginary adventures that we could manage in the confines of our small house and yard. In the summer, the ice cream man would  pass down our street and the kids on the block would all gather in front of my house and uncle Rex would quietly buy all the kids their “frozen confectionary treats,” as uncle Rex smilingly called them. What I enjoyed most was when the evening had begun to wind down uncle Rex would give me one of the root beers he brought for me and he would pour himself  some Bushmill’s or open a Grolsch. Then we’d sit at the kitchen table for the kind of conversation that no adult would ever bother himself to have in general let alone with a kid. 

 He would aske me interseting questions about other countries, people’s behavior, things I observed in my daily life, and why I thought things were the way they were. He would also ask questions that made me consider things as though I were an adult or a real person. One night he he asked me what I made of this statement, “All being is matter but not all matter is being,” .

I reviewed this in my mind. Any living thing is made up of something and that something is probably matter, I reasoned, so the first part was probably true. The second one seemed obvious. Dirt, as an example I chose off the top of my head, is matter but not living, so the second was probably true, too.

“Both statements are true I,” I ventured.

Uncle Rex took a thoughtful sip of Bushmill’s and looked at me.

“Tell me about bread and think about the spirit,” was uncle Rex’s response.

Bread? I wondered a moment about bread. What was bread. Well, it was made of something living, wheat and rye and other grains, but it wasn’t living. I considered further. Plant life is being but bread is lifeless matter as bread but not in the true sense because it is made of living matter. The spirit was not matter, was it? Was it being? And what did uncle Rex mean when he said the spirit knows no bounds and cannot be confined as if by dirt?

“And what about dirt? Tell me about dirt,” asked Uncle Rex.

Dirt was the stuff you walked around on, earth I guess you’d call it. Well earth was matter, I decided.

“Bread is both being and matter and dirt is matter,” I informed Uncle Rex.

“Explain your terms: what is dirt?”

I gave an unsatisfactory answer about what dirt is. Uncle Rex told me it was necessary to always define my terms when explaining something and proceeded to tell me that dirt can mean many things. One type of dirt is soil made from minerals from rocks, decaying plant matter and animal material, and that it takes a 1000 years to form an inch of topsoil.  “Could we think of dirt as the cradle of life?”  wondered uncle Rex aloud. We then discussed definitions of dirt. I understood what uncle Rex was getting at. Two people may be talking together supposedly on the same subject but they would really be talking about other things because they defined certain words and ideas differently.

“If forty horses are harnessed to a fallen redwood tree and can’t budge it, will forty one horses move it? Forty two? How many horses will be needed to remove the redwood?” asked uncle Rex.

This question wasn’t a whole question I judged.

“Where are they trying to move the tree and why are they moving it. I mean, if they’re building a road maybe it would be smarter to re-route the road then it would be to move the tree,” I answered.

“Indeed, why are they moving the tree. This question just prompts more questions, doesn’t it?” agreed uncle Rex. “What are they doing, why are they doing it, and most important, who is doing it? Questions are problem solvers. When people stop asking questions they have assumptions and assumptions are not a good way to approach any problem or life in general,” remarked uncle Rex. “Think of assumptions as the road signs that put us on an unilluminated path. Would you agree with this statement: behind every great fortune is a great crime?”

This question wasn’t something that was beyond me at all even though I was thirteen. I had wondered why a few people were rich and so many people were average or poor. I had mentioned this to uncle Rex as we drove through the neighborhoods in our town one day looking at all the different houses together. Keep your eyes open and give it some thought he’d advised me, and I did.

“I believe there must be something wrong because you can’t have such asymmetry between rich and poor,” I offered in one of our later discussions at the kitchen table.”Maybe it’s not a crime but a design defect.”

Symmetry was a term I’d learned in an art history book I’d checked out from the library and read over and over. It was a concept that really appealed to me. I liked symmetry but realized already that symmetry had to be the careful result of design otherwise you got asymmetry.

Uncle Rex gave me an easy smile and nodded his head when I gave him that answer.

One Saturday night uncle Rex informed me he had to leave. “I’m going to Borneo,” he told me. Uncle Rex looked thin and pale, and was “not doing well,” in my mother’s mysterious words.

“Borneo is a long way away and I probably won’t be coming back for a while if I do come back at all. But before I go I want to leave you with these questions. Can people be bound together forever? If you remember someone in your heart does that person continue to live? Is immortality of one person conferred by the memories of another?”

Uncle Rex, with a wan smile, rose slowly from the kitchen table, gave my mother a kiss on the cheek and gave me a hug and said goodnight. I never saw him again. But I think of him today and know he abides in Borneo still.

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People Who Need People Don’t Need These People

January 3rd, 2010 · Wentworth and Wiggmann

Wentworth: I have just had the most ghastly experience courtesy of someone.

Wiggmann: Good God, man you look frazzled to the bone! How many of them were there? Did it involve a priest? A policeman? An IRS agent? An ex-wife? A game show host? A DMV employee? A bill collector? A ventriloquist? A barber? A military recruiter?

Wentworth: No, worse than any of the aforementioned . This individual had the instincts of a sewer rat and the ethics of a payday lender.

Wiggmann: Our Savior on the cross, you were in the presence of a car salesman!

Wentworth: Indeed I was and this is a day that will live in infamy for me.

Wiggmann: Worthy, I thought you were a walker, a bicyclist, and a dedicated user of public transportation?

Wentworth: Well, I stumbled on the lot accidentally and began talking to him. I wanted one thing and he was trying to sell me another.

Wiggmann: Driven to join the herd. Well buck up my man, everyone falls prey to the imperatives of conformity and the manipulations of Madison Avenue every once in awhile. I see, however, that you escaped in one piece.

Wentworth: Barely. In order to be a car salesman apparently one must have no human empathy and a limited if nonexistent ability to listen to other human beings.

Wiggmann: Double jeopardy-a car salesman and a Republican! How did you escape?

Wentworth: Well, finally I had to appear threatening to the man to gain some semblance of sanity and control. “Stop! Stop right there,” I demanded of the salesman when he simply would not stop verbally pressuring me. “I am going to ask you a series of questions and you are going to give me yes or no answers. Do you follow?” I could sense he would obey but most grudgingly. Finally, he nodded assent. “Do you speak English?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. “Do you have good hearing?” I asked.“Yes,” he said. “Can you follow simple instructions?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. “Can you break this five dollar bill for bus fare?” I asked. Well dear god, they formed a pack and chased me off the lot and down the street several blocks until finally breaking off pursuit.. I figured since I’d already run a good distance I might as well continue home on foot.

Wiggmann: Worthy, sounds like you’ve had a Hummer of a day. Cocktails are called for. I believe I’ll have a Sidecar. For your tattered nerves, a Cable Car.

Wentworth: Driven to drink. I should thank that man.

Wiggmann: He shall be with us in our distilled spirits and our brash song! “Life is a highway, I want to drive it all night long.” Cocktails await!

_____ 

Wiggmann: Some things are so unspeakably awful as to leave one speechless.

Wentworth: It’s your own fault if you choose to live on a cul-de-sac.

Wiggmann: Indeed, but in this instance I refer to the execrable Fox News.

Wentworth: Fox News. It is no coincidence that the rise of Fox News has coincided with the decline of the Weekly World News. Why, once upon a time the Weekly World News kept every citizen apprised as to the whereabouts of Bat Boy and the secret location of the island shared by Hitler and Elvis. Readers were informed of the birth of the three-headed Ram of the Apocalypse. Fox News does not have the journalistic talent to present such reasoned fare.

Wiggmann: Most assuredly they don’t. What they do offer, case in point, is a loathsome little Goebbels by the name of Sean Hannity who is a demagogue of rank character and crude talents. He has something of a fixed routine and I believe that now, after some quick study, I can do a fair impression of Mr. Hannity. Let me take a moment to tune my physical instrument…get in touch with my character… focus…focus…I am now Sean Hannity! “So at three in the morning when lesbian separatists kick down your door do you think they’re here to borrow a cup of sugar! When they carry off your wife and daughter are you going to say to yourself, “I wish I had a gun to defend my home like my conservative neighbor Bob who is a staunch supporter of the second amendment. Maybe I should have listened to my neighbor Bob. And that’s the problem with liberals…” Aaggghhh! That’s all I can do! Call the exorcist!

Wentworth: Snap out of it Wiggy! My God man, I thought I’d lost you! You’re telling me this man actually presents diarrhea as diatribes such as this on television and isn’t frog marched to a Nuremburg tribunal? You’re telling me this Fox News gives him the platform for such ludicrousness?

Wiggmann: That is exactly what I’m saying.

Wentworth: My god, man! Where to begin? First off, if they are “lesbian separatists” they are by definition going to have separated themselves from society with the express wish not to be forced to interact with that society; a society filled with Hannity’s, I might add. Hence, they are not going to commit raids on the very society they disdain and from which they have taken physical steps to distance themselves. You might as well worry everyone that the Hermit cavalry is is on the march to conquer your Barcaloungers! Secondly, never in the annals of crime has any crime been committed by or attributed to any individual or group proclaiming itself lesbian separatist. “Clearly Watson, the Peruviann penis purloiners have pinched the pecker of Prince Pud.” Sweet sufferin’ monkeys of Christ! Hannity apparently cites no reputable factual sources he just…wee wees indiscriminately! This is a ridiculous threat concoction that any moron could see through and was fabricated by Hannity for its right wing Pavlovian prejudicial appeal. And this “Bob” character is simply an artificial construct used to invent counterfeit comparison about some effete liberal left that acts as an effigy for right wing paranoia and masculine inadequacies. To fall for such a crudely constructed and brainless put-on one must be the type who sits on his haunches and pelts strangers with feces. And then there is the matter of-

Wiggmann: Ah, Worthy, by not getting Fox News you get it completely!

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