Friday, September 30, 2011

Wall Street Mocks Protesters By Drinking Champagne



I swear, I thought this was a satirical video made by The Onion or some such source. That this is real, that they were actually doing this, makes me furious. They might as well have taken out some fiddles and started strumming them, too. Do they really not see that their house is on fire? These folks must want to go down with it, like on the Titanic. There are some people you can't even save from themselves.

My family contains a lot of small business owners, including my father. He taught me that when you're the boss and you have to make an unpopular decision that's going to affect all of your employees, you should maintain a low profile afterward. You know, because you don't want to make the workers so mad that they all quit or feel like maybe they should just steal or sabotage the company in some other way.

I always thought that it was kind of screwed up advice. I felt like it was just dodging workers who had good reason to be pissed off. When I look at it now, it still seems a bit unethical, but at least it makes good BUSINESS sense. I mean, if your goal is just to make money, then getting away with as much as you can is rational.

I looked at this video and all I can think is: This is WHY our economy got so screwed up by them. They may be rich, but they don't even have basic business sense. They are building a house of cards and then jumping up and down all around it. What we see now in the protests was bound to occur, given the sneering arrogance these people don't even try to disguise.

Please, if this disturbs you as much as it does me, then pass this video around. Show it to everyone you know who's struggling to make ends meet right now. Show it to older folks who have been down-sized or are now afraid to leave a really terrible job for fear of becoming permanently unemployed. Show it to your kids, so that they know why solidarity between workers in all fields is vital to thwart the racketeers who have created this kleptocracy.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

How The Poor Manage to Survive Month to Month

PlaySpent.org has an excellent website that shows just what kind of decisions that poor people are required to take in order to survive month to month. It uses a game format. You can make decisions about how to find and qualify for a job and then you have to allocate the money you earn in a month so that it lasts for the entire 30 days. Click on the above link to give it a try. If you manage to get through the month despite poverty, in the game or in real life, I'd love to hear what strategies you use(d).

I wasn't totally shocked that I made it through the end of the month, too. The sad thing is that I knew how to do it, because I've lived it and watched those around me do it. Choosing the right combination of foods is hard as hell, though. My mom insisted that we eat whole wheat bread when we were kids. She said that white bread had no nutritional value. It was more expensive than the white bread, though. So, she saved in other parts of the food budget. She bought unsweetened cereal and a bag of sugar (which could be obtained for almost $0.50 since we live in La.). We sweetened our own cereal. She believed that we should all get some kind of after-school snack, so she'd buy the cheap generic sandwich cookies and each of us four kids were allowed to get four--just four--every afternoon until they ran out.

We lived in a city (New Orleans) that had great public transportation, so even when our raggedy cars broke down, she could still get to work and/or go make groceries. Since it is La. and almost every type of fruit and vegetable can be grown here, because of the fertile soil, she was able to start a food garden and grow gigantic eggplants and greens and tomatoes and bell peppers. She didn't have to invest in soil or fertilizers or pesticides or else I doubt that it would have been feasible. It was also very easy to find other folks who grew stuff and we could trade with them for the stuff that we had too much of (first world kids like us felt like we could only eat so much eggplant without starting a riot at the dinner table).

I don't know how in the hell people who are poor and living in "food deserts" or those without yards to cultivate can possibly survive. I honestly don't know. I have a hunch, though, that a lot of the so-called "inner city crime" is probably connected to the fact that there are folks who simply can not bear to sit and watch their children go hungry. I'm not going to pretend that I'm so ethical that I might not resort to crime if I had to look in my beloved daughter's face and tell her that I didn't have the money for food this week.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Code and 9/11

"The Unwritten Codes Muslims Live By" is so much like what I was taught growing up as a woman of color in the southern region of the USA. Police brutality and openly-racist bigotry was an undeniable reality. Sure, we had the legal right to do certain things, but everyone around me knew that certain things were just better avoided if you valued your life. My brothers, my mother, my grandmothers and grandfathers have all experienced discrimination beyond the regular "small things" that people of color are often told they should just overlook. Today, Muslim-Americans of all ethnic backgrounds experience the same kinds of injustices right along with us.

My daughter was barely school-aged when 9/11 happened. She does not even remember a world where it wasn't a factor. I remember, though. I used to be able to ride airplanes without being groped. I remember when I used to be able to receive my subscriptions to magazines written in Arabic without them arriving unsealed and obviously perused. I remember when being in a group of people speaking Arabic didn't elicit openly-hostile looks and comments from on-lookers.

I wonder if VanGoghGirl would be very different from the person she is now, if 9/11 hadn't occurred. I know that living in an environment like this with the family that she has must affect her worldview, but the effects of 9/11 have been so extensive that I don't even know which of her views can be said to be truly unrelated to them. You can't separate the experiences you have as a girl or woman from those you have as a person of color or as a person from a mixed-religious family.

I'm always hearing that "9/11 changed everythingTM". I think it's more accurate to say that 9/11 infected everything.