Saturday, April 17, 2010

A few choice quotes for the morning

One of my biggest pet peeves is the pervasive and willful misunderstanding of Adam Smith and his theories on capitalism. It is from Mr. Smith that we have such ideas as the invisible hand that guides all markets to equilibrium. So perhaps this my little attempt to get you all to read (or re-read) a classic.

To feel much for others and little for ourselves; to restrain our selfishness and exercise our benevolent affections, constitute the perfection of human nature.

Wait, what? That isn't the virtue of selfishness espoused by those sadly misguided Randian Objectivists. That sounds damn near like something super-socialist Jesus would say.

As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for its natural produce.
bolds mine

Why Mr. Smith, I do believe you are saying that men will always, given the opportunity, take what they haven't earned. This does not sound like a push for a completely "free" and unregulated market. Quite the opposite, actually.

No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, cloath and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labour as to be themselves tolerably well fed, cloathed and lodged.

Would you please rise from the grave Mr. Smith, and explain that to the illustrious Chicago school economists who's theories are increasing the poverty rate just as fast as they can? Pretty please. I'll even hold the seance.

I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.

That one's for the Health insurance parasites.

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices

That one's for the lobbyists.

A man must always live by his work, and his wages must at least be sufficient to maintain him.

Sacre Bleu! That sounds like a call for a minimum wage! Somebody call for the fainting couch for the libertarians!

Our merchants and master-manufacturers complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price, and thereby lessening the sale of their goods both at home and abroad. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people.

I do wonder what Mr. Smith would have to say about Wall Street bonuses. Actually, I don't. I'm pretty sure he'd spit in a banskters eye rather than shake his hand.

Every tax, however, is to the person who pays it a badge, not of slavery but of liberty. It denotes that he is a subject to government, indeed, but that, as he has some property, he cannot himself be the property of a master.

That one's for the Teabaggers and Rethuglikans alike.

It really is the little things

I generally have very little problem laying out for you all those things that other people keep quiet about, like the depth of poverty, or my history of abortion. I'm not ashamed of those things. They happen. Ditto on domestic violence, etc.

But there is a part of me that I hide. It's the hurty part, the sick part. That I am still a bit ashamed of, though why is silly. I don't like to be considered weak, and the hurty part is a serious weakness to me. But......

In the last few days I've had a couple of "freak outs". Freak outs happen when I've been over stimulated. Too much light, sound, strongs smells, touch, whatever, can send me into a kind of ragey place. Like the hulk. I jokingly refer to it as my adult onset autism. The other day, i got bit by a flea (and I am allergic to fleas, in a matter of seconds I was covered in ugly purple welts) and ran around like screaming a wee bit until I could drown myself in a bathtub. I keep my bedroom dark and cool. I don't have a tv in here. It's my safe place to hide out when there is too much world in the world. But the new cat has sprayed into the air vent and the whole room smells like boy cat, which gives me a migraine. And the temp rose and it got hot. And there is a giant yellow sulfur light outside my bedroom window that even with the blinds closed manages to keep me from sleeping, everytime I roll over its glare wakes me up. And I'm itchy because along with the fleas we got mosquitos. And I've always been a bit of the princess and the pea about my bed. Any lump in the sheet or crease in the pillow will bother me.

So trying to sleep went something like this. Try to get comfy, but my damn t-shirt has a seem that is in the wrong place and my pillows won't fluff in the right way. Get the pillow fixed and now the fucking light is in my eyes and damn that frigging cat, my head hurts. Put pillow over head to shield from both light and smell. Try to scratch itchy bites without moving much. Fall asleep for about a minute, but head is too hot from being covered by pillow. Throw pillow off, blinded by light and cat smell. Turn over. Repeat entire process. Repeat entire process. Repeat entire process.

By 11am I was freaking the fuck out. This is like 3 or 4 days of not having a safe place to be or sleep. It was not pretty. I begged the Kid to "please, for god's sake I've been asking you for days to do something about the cat smell, it's killing me, my head arghhhhhhhh" There may have been tears at that point. Then there was valium. Sweet sweet valium. Thank gawd for the shrink who prescribed them , even if what is left of my prescription in now past its use by date. And then a very long nap.

It still smells, though now it smells like fabreeze and cat, which I don't think is much better and my head still hurts. I draped a sheet over the offending window. I'm going back to sleeping au naturel, sorry family if you accidently see some boobage upon entering my room, but that's one less layer of fabric to fight with. We'll see how it goes.

A few years ago I would have just been angry and not known why. I'm sure there would have been some way that I would justify it. Angry is not weak. But being "overly sensitive" in the most literal of ways is.

This is part of why I just disappear sometimes. The light of the compy can be too much. I don't like to admit that I can be thwarted by something as small as a bad light or an insect bite or the nasty smell of food stored in plastic containers*, when I've been hiking through jungles and climbed pyramids and been the bystander who jumps between bullies and their victims. I hate it because it makes me kinda high maint, and that is sooooo not the kind of person I ever wanted to be. So now you all know, if you ever want to bring me down, offer me a plastic glass of tap water in a brightly lit room full of insects. I could take waterboarding, but the florescent lights at interrogation would break me.

*Seriously, I can't drink out of most plastic cups because they stink. I am a bit of a super-nose, which is good for cooking but means that I can smell other peoples earwax if the are close enough, and artificial orange flavors/scents like orange bubble gum send me over the edge into dizzy headache near seizure land. I hate it. In the middle of today's freakout the kid brought me an icepack to help with the headache and I couldn't use it because "ugh it smells like fridge" fridge meaning the pico de gallo I made a month ago.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A little playlist

I'm obsessed with Phoenix lately.


Kate Nash (who is like Lily Allen's slightly less sarcastic little sister) Birds. May be the only song ever to make bird shit sound sweet and romantic

Tarkio (Colin Meloy's band pre-Decemberists) Tristan and Ieuslt

So kids, what are you listening to? Mama needs new music recs.

The tactics are always the same, even though the name of the game changes

Renee wrote a fabulous piece for the Guardian about being a Womanist and not a Feminist. So of course hand-wringing feminists throw tantrums because they just can't ever do enough to appease black people or something.

Progressives have been writing for eons that the Democratic party in general and the party under Obama in particular pretty much sucks for everyone who isn't a white creative class dude, and Dems throw fits because they just can't do enough to appease women, the poor, people of color, immigrants, environmentalists, etc. etc. etc.

These are the same problem. They stem from the same place. They have the same answer.

(It's even the same problem that animal rights group who shall not be named has. It's okay to hurt women in the name of saving something else.)

Either you really, truly, in your heart believe in equality for everyone and work your ass off for that, or you're part of the problem. If you, as a feminist. still feel the need to look down on poor mothers who just can't keep their legs shut rather than working to make sure that everyone can choose parenthood or non-parenthood without being financially punished for it- then you are part of the problem. If you want equality for women everywhere, except when that woman might have been born in a male body, you are part of the problem. If you think half measures on gay marriage or accessibility for PWD is good enough, you are part of the problem.

You have to be willing to give up a feeling of superiority, even for those you hate or those you have power over, in order to change things. This isn't easy. Lord knows, I love to hate on the rednecks. They are everything I despise in the world. Yet they are just poor whites looking for some measure of advantage and finding it in the only place they can, racism. I don't have to like them, I don't have to agree with them, but they have just as much of a right to exist as any book reading, wine drinking, intellectual.

That feeling of superiority, that little self-satisfied harumph, that is one of the biggest stealth tools of oppression. It is what keeps us from examining out own prejudices and privileges too closely. If we did, we'd see how very seriously feminism has failed women of color and poor women and women with disabilities in its focus on pregnancy preventing for the upwardly affluent and the glass ceiling while ignoring forced sterilization and the removal of children from the arms of mothers deemed "less fit" or the concrete blocks that encircle the legs of poor working women trying to climb any sort of employment ladder.
We'd see how the party of the left in this country fails, over and over and over again, to do anything to put the bottom of society on equal footing with the rest of it.

But it's the same problem. It is the "I'm gonna get mine, suckers" attitude. It is the "Oh isn't that terrible, but let's focus on getting me what I want first and then we'll fix you" mindset. And that keeps the oppression train rolling happily along, while us have nots fight with the have somes. It is a pattern. It is a tactic. It is an intrinsic part of the kyriarchy. It gives a false sense of justice and purpose without actually fixing anything.

And to fix it, you just have to give up wanting power over someone else, whether that person is "beneath" you because of color or gender or sexuality or age (yes, children are an oppressed class, duh), or intelligence or class or taste or whatever. You have to really, truly, in your heart of hearts, believe that. And you have to work on it. Every time that little snicker of disgust comes up because you've been reading the People of Walmart, or This is Why You're Fat, or something about how horrible those awful Muslims are for treating their women the way they do, you have to let it go.*

Being half-assed about human rights and progress means not getting either. And refusing to enlarge your view or examine yourself is being half-assed. You either believe that equality means everyone and that there shouldn't be a rationing system for doling out equality, or you're on the wrong side.

*This is not to say you don't go around calling out oppression when you see it, it's just that really Christian Pot meet Islamic Kettle on the oppression of women shit. The fundy Christians want the exact same things the fundy Muslims want. Examine your own culture first.

**As a pretty good rule of thumb, when a more disadvantaged group is calling out less disadvantaged group for not being inclusive, I tend to listen to the more disadvantaged and believe them. They, after all, are experts in what ever oppression they've experienced, where as the oppressors rarely know that they are doing it.