Friday, January 21, 2011

Maybe it's time to go higher up the food chain...

Thinking of the last post, perhaps trying (in vain) to get the government to govern is a pointless exercise at this time.

Perhaps what we need to do is skip the flunkies in Washington and start negotiating with our corporate overlords directly. I have this little fantasy where, for just one month, everyone sends a little protest note of non-payment to every company the pay rents to. The electric company, phone company, mortgage company, student loans and credit cards and and and all get a note saying "fuck you, this payment is witheld until democracy is restored". Perhaps more politely phrased with a more specific demand.

Yes, there would be some pain on the protesters' part (I wouldn't advise skipping heating/cooling payments in any month that wasn't part of a mild spring or fall), but how fast might the government hup to when the landlords are being stiffed?

It's like what they tell you about getting customer service. Don't waste your time talking to the powerless guy who can't fix anything. Go up the food chain to someone who can/

But we're still a democracy, right?

What do you call it when both of the legacy parties refuse to address the needs and wants of the people they supposedly serve?

People need jobs.

The government would rather cut the deficit so that corporations and rich people can continue to enjoy low interest rates on money they borrow and high interest rates on money they loan.

People need Medicare and Social Security. They are willing to pay more taxes to keep those programs.

The government wants to reduce those programs.

The people would overwhelmingly rather cut military spending than any other program.

Military spending cuts will never be suggested by either party.

It doesn't matter which party you vote for. Neither party gives a rat's ass about us. Black, white, brown, male, female, straight, gay, young, old, whatever. If you are not part of the top 20%, then democracy is just an illusion.

Shit sandwich, shit sandwich with pickle. Republican, Democrat. They are all kleptocrats and at least they could be as honest as Nascar drivers in who their corporate overlords are by wearing sponsorship patches on their tacky blue suits.

Information on the people want is taken from this poll.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

So I read this thing the other day

that was all about what countries in Europe are doing well and not so well in this lovely Great Recession. It may have been Krugman's euro piece. But I read it on my phone, which makes bookmarking damn near impossible and now I can't remember. You know how it is, you read 8 million things a day and they all start to blend into an information smoothie.

Anyways, the take-away I got from whatever piece it was was that Iceland, having said fuck you very much to the foreign investors who were holding the country's economy hostage by refusing to pay the ransom, I mean guarantee the debt, is doing the best of all the failing European economies.

Huhm. Iceland, the transparent little country that could.

We don't need to be reminded of the coat hangers time

There have always been ways for women to deal with unwanted pregnancies. ALWAYS. Just because we have some half-assed attempts at making full bodily autonomy in this country (rapidly diminishing half-assed attempts, I must stress) doesn't mean that women who need abortions outside of the tightly controlled parameters set by the blue suited dudes of state all just suck it up with maternal grace. The very desperate still seek out care that should be safe, legal and easily accessible, but isn't because of the squick factor.

Case in point (trigger warnings- this story is brutal).

Here's the thing the forced-pregnancy blow hards fail to mention- making abortion illegal is what makes the abortion factories they whinge so hard about. If these women had been allowed to seek legal abortions, none of them would have been administered drugs by a teenage and given medical care by unlicensed hacks. And no babies would have been murdered. The second those babies were out of their mother's bodies, they had just as much right to bodily autonomy as their mother's do. Legal, licensed abortions do not involve live births and murder, ever.

The squick factor on this story is high. And it should piss everyone off. But it all could have been avoided if abortion was more legal and more accessible. I fear that the effect will be the opposite though. In our hurry to erase the disgust we feel, more obstacles will be put into place and more women will suffer.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

it's time for an oversharing girl parts post

cause we haven't done one in a really long time.

Dear uterus:

Fuck you. Every month, even though I schedule it on my god damn phone so that I know it's coming, you manage to surprise me with the depth of your evil. Every month I refuse to believe the symptoms I have are PMS and not some new global virus. Who the fuckity fuck gets fever/chills, nausea, all over muscle aches, migraines, etc as part of PMS? Really, fevers? Come on. I could understand bitchy, moody, uterine crampy, even migraines. But fevers and nausea.**** How the hell will I know when I'm getting an actual flu if the symptoms are so fucking similar to the monthly communist invasion?

You cost me a minimum of a week of productivity every damned time you show up, not to mention the ruined sheets. I hate you. Really, truly, from the bottom of my heart I loath you with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns.

Just tell me, is this some sort of karmic payback for having exactly one contraction with the Kid and skipping the whole labor and delivery shit? So now I get to spend some time every month going through the whole major cramping thing just so I haven't missed out on that little experience? Or is it comeuppance for having no pimples and nice boobs in high school?

Just keep pressing your luck uterus, and I see a hysterectomy in your future. I have no problem with sending you off to the medical waste bin.


****Does anyone else have this problem? It seems so weird to have a fever because your body is doing what it is supposed to do.

Time Horizons and Poverty

Acting White has an interesting post up, Do Black People Avoid Costco? He thinks that black folks just need to learn to stretch their time horizons and learn to budget better.

I can't speak for black people, but I can speak for the entrenched poor. Poverty, by definition, is not having enough resources to live on. It's not a matter of better budgeting. Lemme give you an example.

A poor person smokes cigarettes. They cost (depending on where you live) $8 a pack. Poor person wants to quit smoking. Smoking cessation aids (nicotine gum, patches, medication) all cost money, slightly more money than cigarettes but over the long run the savings will be substantial. To get started you need to lay out more money than you would to just buy a pack of smokes to get you through right now. You can manage to scrounge up the $8 on a fairly regular basis, but saving up the $60 to get started on the gum is impossible. If you could just quit smoking for the week or so it would take you to save your cigarette money for smoking cessation aids, then you wouldn't need the smoking cessation aids. So you keep buying smokes, a pack at a time.

Now for Costco, you need to save up the $60 for the membership fee. If you could save that much buying groceries at a regular store, then you wouldn't need to spend the $60 on a membership fee. (And we won't even get into the costs of transportation with giant bulk items of food. Think you can do your monthly Costco run on a city bus with a kid or two in tow. Ha!) It is, like everything else in the world, much more expensive to be poor because you don't have the little bits of money that grant you the ability to make life easier or cheaper. It's the difference between payday loans and credit card interest, check cashing fees and bank fees, etc, etc.

I do have a theory as to why this seems to be less of an issue with "working-class Latinos, Asians, Whites, and everybody else", and that would be the hopelessness factor. There is a difference between new poverty or short-term poverty (working class whites, who until recent generations fared all right), the poverty of new or recent generations of immigrants, and the generational, perpetual, entrenched poverty. The first two kinds still have some kind of hope. They haven't seen, over and over, the sacrificing of the bottom 20 percent to the lions. They could get out of this with the right job, or if they educate their kids right. At least it's better than where they came from. There's a million things they can tell themselves that make the idea of saving for a rainy day a hopeful act. But when you've seen generation after generation go through all the things they are supposed to do to better themselves only to be shot down over and over and over again, you realize that you can't save for a rainy day if it never stops raining. If you come from that kind of desperation, the hard work and sacrifice required to perform middle class home economics isn't rational. It will all be for naught. Better to hunker down, do your best, and find what little bits of joy you can, even if it's in the form of a deadly cancer stick that makes pretty smoke rings.

I would bet that communities that have been here longer (Native Americans, African Americans) have higher levels of hopelessness than newer immigrant communities. Not to erase the Latin@ Americans and Asian Americans who have been in this country for centuries, but the longer a group has been at the bottom of the resource pyramid, the less benefit they are going to see from acting middle class.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King Day

It is at this time of year that I like to remind people that Dr. King was killed when he started advocating for economic justice. He was killed before the Poor People's Campaign was brought to fruition.

It's 43 years later, and we need that campaign more than ever. This quote from Dr. King is just as true now as it was then.

“We believe the highest patriotism demands the ending of the war and the opening of a bloodless war to final victory over racism and poverty”

(though I'd throw sexism, ableism, homophobia, etc, etc. into that last quote).

public airwaves

so how many of you all don't have cable? if you don't, then you are
aware of the stunningly craptacular digital signals. so now instead of
a bent coat hanger to get fuzzy network broadcasts you have to buy a
fancy antenna to get much clearer (except for when the wind blows or a
fly flaps it's wings) to watch mindless tv. oh sweet, 10 channels of
blinking in and out, stuttering entertainment. well that's a stretch,
actually. at least 6 of those channels are 24/7 bible channels. theres
the messianic jews, the all cartoon biblical shaming for kids, the
evangelical spanish channel and the all apocalypse all the time
channel. of course these don't include the local networks that sell
air time to various other godbags in the wee hours and before sunday
sports. if you are to poor to pay for cable in this country, obviously
you don't have enough of the imaginary sky fairy in your life. if we
somehow managed to bring back the fairness doctrine, would we at least
get a little variety in the godbagging?

The trouble with being poor is that it takes up all of your time.
Willem de Kooning

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dear Gwyneth:

I noticed you recently posted about a day in your life. It's been getting a lot of snarky attention around the interwebs, because of your complete lack of self-awareness perhaps.

I'm not going to tell you how abysmally privileged and condescending your aspirational little newsletter is. That's been done. Instead, I'm going to tell you what I would do if I lived your life for just one week.

First thing's first. I'd give everyone the week off. No housekeepers, no nannies, no personal trainers, no drivers, no stylists, no hair dressers, no makeup artists. No grocery deliveries, and actually the family is going on a strict budget for that week. They'll eat what regular people eat for a week and I'm pretty sure they won't die. No shopping for anything non-food unless it's toilet paper or toothpaste. (Though I am fairly sure that someone as exquisite as you never ever shits or has plaque).

And with the money I'd save, I'd feed and house and clothe the kid and I for an entire fucking year.

That is why people can't stand you, btw.