Posts Tagged With: Immigrants

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 5 Pops 0007. (August 20, 2018)

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

The weekend passed by quickly — mostly waiting for the biopsy on Tuesday. Not having an automobile (it is in the shop having its crumpled fender and other maladies attended too), cuts down on my activities. I had to turn down an assignment from the Scooter gang over the weekend. So, I read and went on walks through the Enchanted Forest. I get all the angst and despair I can handle from social media and television news.

Well, well, — I went for my biopsy yesterday and for the third time during my age of physical deterioration, the doctor, in this case wielding his sonogram, could find no reason for a biopsy. In other words, he could not find a mass in which a malicious deranged cell would hide. I do not know whether or not to be embarrassed after spending a month or so in gloomy speculation and endlessly disclosing my fears to all who would listen — I guess at my age I should not be embarrassed by anything I do anymore. Anyway, I know it is, at best, only a temporary reprieve.

Onward and upward as Terry always advises. Lack of a car limits my mobility and the awful air pollution from the fires restrict my walks and swimming. So, I sit at home, watch Naida work on her memoir, read as much junk as I can, and nap a lot. So goes the winter of my life. It’s not too bad. I could still be sitting around wondering about the results of my medical tests.

This evening was spent watching Janette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy movies. The last movie ended with the Canadian Mountie and the Opera star in an embrace and singing:

You belong to me
I belong to you.

We then rolled up the stairs to bed singing, one with a professionally trained voice and the other with a throat ruined by radiation therapy:

When I’m calling you, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh ooh
If you answer too, ooh , etc.

That means that I offer my love to you
To be your own
If you refuse me, I will be blue
And waiting all alone

But, if when you hear
My love call, ringing clear, ooh, etc.
And I hear you’re
Answering a call so dear, ooh, etc.

Then I will know
That our love will be true

What could be better than that?

The next day I swam in the Nepenthe pool. It is my first time swimming in over a month. It felt good. While sitting by the pool a woman got out of her car and started banging on the gate demanding to get into the pool area. Eventually, she somehow got in. She was hugely pregnant. She took off her shoes, then jumped, fully clothed, into the pool, swam its length, got out, picked up her shoes, returned to her car and drove away. I did not realize it was that hot out. Life is wonderfully surprising even when you are doing nothing but staring at the leaves of some trees.

Today I spent the morning watching Doris Day — Gordon MacRae movies. Listening to them sing “Tea for Two” is an experience I rank somewhere between being drowned in a vat of medicinal cannabis or smothered in meringue.

Later I went to the pool and fell asleep in the shade only to be awakened by the sound of ten-year-olds doing flips into the water. I did my laps while trying to determine if I was in a good mood or bad. Gave up and went home.

My sister Maryann and her husband George dropped by on their way back to Mendocino from Nevada City where they were making arrangements for the wedding of their son Brendan to Ashley his intended. A few weeks ago, I discovered that a friend of mine from my childhood who I haven’t seen in almost seventy years, Snookie Salerno, now lives in Nevada City. I have been told he never returns calls from his old friends (Would you return a call to someone who called you Snookie?). He did not return my calls. So I left him a message inviting him to the wedding.

Anyway, I took Mary and George on a walk around the Enchanted Forest and along the banks of the river. Mary seems well recovered from her bout with breast cancer. I am well recovered from my bout of hypochondria.

I did not watch movies of any sort this evening. Instead, I went to bed at 8PM. Tomorrow the automobile comes out of the shop. I am relieved. I now can drive aimlessly about. I like that better than “tea for two.” Check that, it depends on whom I am having tea with and what kind of tea.

Picked up the car. Have not yet driven it aimlessly but have driven it between the shop and the house with great determination to avoid another crushed fender.

The days pass on — driving the scooter gang around, walking through the Enchanted Forest, swimming in the pools, singing show tunes, drinking margaritas, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, petting the dog, crying over Aretha Franklin, watching old movies, laughing at old jokes — the wheel turns on. And then there is this:

“For the past 2,700 years we have been evolving through the ascending Kali Yuga, and this Yuga is coming to an end in 2025. The end of the Yuga will inevitably be followed by cataclysmic earth changes and civilization collapses,…”
Bibhu Dev Misra

This morning when I left the house I ran into one of the TURKEY GANGS right beyond the front door. Yes, the Enchanted Forest is plagued by several TURKEY GANGS. They lounge along the pathways, mumbling threatening sounds and forcing residents to walk around them. They litter the sidewalks and don’t clean up after they leave. They terrorize small children and small dogs. They are huge, hulking, ugly creatures often four feet tall or more. Something needs to be done about them by the HOA. Perhaps once a year say in November we could have a community Thanksgiving Party and eat a few. They are so large they could each feed several families.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, isn’t that the celebration of a group of immigrants saved by the citizens of the area who in turn demonstrated their gratitude by slaughtering their rescuers and taking their land? Instead of Thanksgivings Day shouldn’t the day be called something like Ingratitude Day?
On Saturday morning, we attended then weekly Saturday Morning Coffee put on by the Nepenthe HOA in the Enchanted Forest. The usual group had assembled. I had a lively discussion with the 93-year-old architect about our various maladies. Later the woman that seems to run these things announced she was not going to run the “Sock Hop” in September (don’t ask — I think it is some attempt at replication of an ancient mating ritual that everyone believes existed and they experienced but it didn’t and they only imagined it. Ask yourself, “Did you ever attend a ‘sock Hop?’” And if you did, did you think the experience was such that you would want to replicate it in your old age?). This set off a flurry of whispers. Later I learned that there is a conflict between the Nepenthe HOA and the nine other HOAs over the running of the social events. I did not understand the politics involved but agreed with Naida who leaned over and said to me sotto voce, “It seems pretty silly to argue over who gets the right to volunteer.”

There are three Age of Declines:

The first Age of Decline is now. It is the first time in history that a majority of a generation lived to old age together, declined together and ultimately will die together. As usual for the past 80 years or so, we have, for better or worse, been the pacesetters.

The second type of Age of Decline is the end of an era. In our case, the end of the greatest Golden Age the world has ever seen.

The third version of an Age of Decline is experienced by all of us that live beyond 75 or so years. Not only do our bodies begin to undergo the inevitable physical and mental failures faced by all biologic creatures who have exceeded their use by date, but also our functions in society at large begin to dissipate. Oh yes, some of us keep on working and striving — and good for those of us who do. Others of us can sometimes pass through a brief period where we are consulted (not very seriously) or honored (weekly or monthly visits) by younger relatives or friends. But really for most of us, we ultimately gather in homes for the elderly or periodically meet with other elderly friends where we attempt to create a small replica of the society that we strode through in our past life — much like the members of the Nepenthe morning coffee, complete with its politics, petty annoyances, and amusements. Lucky are those of us who instead fall in love and experience a decline no less painful but much more blissful.

For the second time in a little over a month, I have been attacked by a Russian Bot. Three critical comments from the same person appeared on my Blog, Trenz Pruca’s Journal — https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/. This is unusual because almost no one ever comments on my blog. Two of the comments were general criticisms of my writing competence in two of my blog posts. A criticism I believe fully justified. In the third comment, this time on my blog about Vladimir Putin (https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2018/08/07/petrillos-commentary-who-is-vladimir-putin-and-why-is-he-an-enemy-of-the-united-states/. Also, reproduced below.),

He not only objects to my writing style but included an example of how it could be improved by changing my criticism to a justification of Putin’s behavior. I am so proud to have been noticed.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 
WHO IS VLADIMIR PUTIN AND WHY IS HE AN ENEMY OF THE UNITED STATES:
It is important to explore the motivations of Vladimir Putin in order to understand much of the actions and policies of the Kremlin in the past few years.

First, as is true with most revolutions, the inevitable reaction reinstitute the structures of the old regime but with new titles (but often the same slogans). In Russia, the new oligarchs, like the Soviet Commissars before them, have decorated their dachas and palaces like the Tsars from whom they have taken them. The old prisons have been reopened and refilled with the enemies of the state. The so-called secret services have been restored and given new names.

The Tsar’s rentier aristocracy was replaced by the industrial Commissars. The Commissars have now been replaced by a financial/commercial oligarchy. True, the Commissars were governmental employees at the time they acquired their wealth and power and the oligarchs are not, but like the landed aristocrats they still owe their wealth to the Tsar in the Kremlin and they cross him at their peril.

Second, Putin is not only the head of the Russian government but the chief and undoubtedly the largest oligarch of them all.

Third, Putin is a Russian, a child of the Rodina, and as such the humiliation of Soviet Russia by the American commercial and military empire is a stain on its honor that any patriot would work tirelessly to remove.

Fourth, he was a low-level bureaucrat in the Soviet secret service (KGB) trained in espionage. As such, one would assume he is more comfortable with the strategies of subversion that those of military conquest.

Finally, he is extremely popular in Russia (and in many other areas of the world). Ninety-six percent of Russians approved of his military initiatives in Ukraine; ninety-five percent believed that America was goading Kiev to persecute ethnic Russians in that country. Ninety-two percent believed the same situation existed in Russian enclaves in the Caucasus, Moldova, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.

In brief, we have in Vladimir Putin an exceedingly popular, short (he is a tiny but exceptionally athletic man), greedy, subversive nationalist with a special antipathy for the United States.

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

‘’ When the long nights would come long ago, the people of this and another village would gather together every night sitting beside the fire or wherever they could find room in the house. Many a device they would resort to shorten the night. The man who had a long tale, or the man who had the shorter tales (eachtraithe), used to be telling them. At that time people used to go earning their pay working in County Limerick, County Tipperary and County Cork, and many a tale they had when they would return, everyone with his own story so that you would not notice the night passing. Often the cock would crow before you would think of going home.”
Leabhar Sheáin Í Chonaill (1948)

 

MEMORIES OF BLASKET ISLAND, IRELAND.

FieldSchoolImage2

 
40 years or so ago, I traveled to Great Blasket Island off the Western Coast of Ireland. This bleak and barren island located off the tip of the Dingle Peninsula housed between 100 to 150 souls until the 1940s when the Irish Government in a fit of uncharacteristic responsibility removed the remaining twenty-two of them and resettled them in other parts of the country. As far as I know, none of the islanders objected to the relocation nor made any attempt to return.

I ferried there from mainland Ireland in one of those tar-covered little leather boats that used to be common in the western part of the country.
IMG_20141020_192600_608
Drying the boats. The village is in the background.

 

I met the ferry-man in the pub that stands on the bluff overlooking Blasket and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. For a few dollars, I persuaded him to row me there. There was no regular motor ferry to the island then but there is now.

Although the passage from the mainland to the islands is no more than a couple of miles, during much of the year when the Island was inhabited, it was too stormy and impassable for the small traditional row boats available at the time to make the crossing. As a result, the residents of Blasket were often marooned and had to live exclusively on what they could glean there on the island.

Even though the sea was relatively calm during my trip, the waves and currents in the straight threw the little boat around quite a bit causing the oarsman to strain at the oars and me to question the rationale for my visit.
Scan0008-31
A traditional leather covered boat (a type of coracle) approaching Blasket Island. I took a boat like this on my trip.

 

We landed on a tiny bit of dressed stone surrounded on three sides by large rocks making an anchorage about ten feet or so wide. We tied up to a rusty and corroded iron ring.

I left the ferry-man there with a promise to return in an hour and a half.

In the only habitable place on the lee of the island lay a tiny village in ruins and deserted. I climbed through the ruins and into the abandoned cottage — Peig’s cottage. It was my reason for the trip — to pay homage Peig Sayers.

Peig was an old woman and seanchai (storyteller) who when approached by a representative of the Irish Folklore Commission and asked to write the story of her life on that forlorn island, did so. Much to the surprise of all, it became perhaps the greatest work of Gaelic prose literature.

The Book opens with the words:

I am an old woman now, with one foot in the grave and the other on its edge. I have experienced much ease and much hardship from the day I was born until this very day. Had I known in advance half, or even one-third, of what the future had in store for me, my heart wouldn’t have been as gay or as courageous it was in the beginning of my days.

 

In the evenings the people on the Island would gather in Peig’s cottage to listen to her stories. Seosamh Ó Dálaigh wrote the following about these sessions:

‘I wish I had the ability to describe the scene in Peig Sayers’s home in Dunquin on a winter’s night when the stage was set for the seanchaí’ ‘When the visitors arrived (for all gathered to the Sayers house when Peig was there to listen to her from supper-time till midnight) the chairs were moved back and the circle increased. News was swapped, and the news often gave the lead for the night’s subject, death, fairies, weather, crops.’ All was grist to the mill, the sayings of the dead and the doings of the living, and Peig, as she warmed to her subject, would illustrate it richly from her repertoire of verse, proverb and story…

Great artist and wise woman that she was, Peig would at once switch from gravity to gaiety, for she was a light-hearted woman, and her changes of mood and face were like the changes of running water. As she talked her hands would be working too; a little clap of the palms to cap a phrase, a flash of the thumb over the shoulder to mark a mystery, a hand hushed to mouth for mischief or whispered secrecy. ‘When the fun is at its height it is time to go,’ runs the Irish proverb; and when visitors went each night Peig would draw the ashes over the peat-embers to preserve the fire till morning, reciting her customary prayer: ‘I preserve the fire as Christ preserves all. Brigid at the two ends of the house, and Mary in the centre. The three angels and the three apostles who are highest in the Kingdom of Grace, guiding this house and its contents until day.’

 

Her home there on Blasket was now little more than rocks piled on one another for walls with more rocks added to make the roof (I understand it has been made into lodging for a small hostel now). Peig’s home contained a single room in which she spent most of her life.
IMG_20141020_192528_725
Peig in her cottage.

 

Beyond the village, exposed to the fierce winds off the Atlantic, the island was covered in a thick mat of furze, Irish gorse, and heather, with peat (or bog or turf) beneath. When walking on it, although it supported my weight, it felt as though I was walking on a springy mattress.

There were no trees or bushes to be seen anywhere. I climbed part way down a steep incline towards the cliffs on the island’s north side where the residents would scramble down to pilfer the eggs of the shorebirds that nested there. I did not go further than perhaps 10 feet or so because the cliff quickly became much steeper. It was on those steep cliffs according to Peig that Blasket’s citizens often met their death trying to secure enough food to carry them through the winter storms.
blasket-island_1383770-fc009ff8
The North side of Blasket Island and the cliffs.

 

As hard as life was on Blasket, during the Irish persecutions and famines several mainland families settled on the island, “Because life was better there.”
Scan0011-21
A Better Life?

 

Perhaps the most astounding thing about Blasket was that Peig was not the only one from there who authored a Gaelic literary classic. Two others, Twenty Years a Growing and The Islandman, were written by Blasket natives also.

How hard was life on Blasket? Tomas O’Crohan in The Islandman wrote the following about his children:

“Ten children were born to us, but they had no good fortune, God help us! The very first of them that we christened was only seven or eight years old when he fell over the cliff and was killed. From that time on they went as quickly as they came. Two died of measles, and every epidemic that came carried off one or other of them. Donal was drowned trying to save the lady off the White Strand. I had another fine lad helping me. Before long I lost him, too.”

the_great_blasket
Blasket Island Today.

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOIDS:

 

 

In his fascinating book In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power, Alfred McCoy relates some facts about the collapse of the American education system that should give every American concern about what sort of a society we a leaving to our children.

In 2012, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) tested 510,000 fifteen-year-olds in thirty-four developed nations, finding those in Shanghai came first in math, science, and reading, while those in Massachusetts, “A strong-performing U.S. state,” placed seventeenth in reading, twentieth in science, and twenty-seventh in math. The OECD also found that American students “have particular weaknesses in performing mathematics tasks with higher cognitive demands, such as … interpreting mathematical aspects in real-world problems.” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan rued these results as “a picture of educational stagnation.” The National Intelligence Council noted that the country’s educational advantage “has been cut in half in the past 30 years,” meaning that without major investments in schools Americans “will increasingly bring only mediocre skills to the workplace.”

McCoy, Alfred W.. In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power (Dispatch Books) (Kindle Locations 4973-4975). Haymarket Books.
After leading the world for decades in twenty-five-to thirty-four-year-olds with university degrees, the United States sank to twelfth place in 2012. That same year, the World Economic Forum ranked the United States at a mediocre forty-seventh among 144 nations in the quality of its university math and science instruction. Two years later, its position slid to fifty-first.

McCoy, Alfred W.. In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power (Dispatch Books) (Kindle Locations 4978-4981). Haymarket Books.

A survey of some 150 major American universities in 2010 found that more than half of all graduate students in the sciences were foreigners: 70 percent in electrical engineering, 63 percent in computer science, and 52 percent in materials engineering.

McCoy, Alfred W.. In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power (Dispatch Books) (Kindle Locations 4982-4984).

 

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 
A. Lou Bronico on Top:

Something I received from my cousin Lou:

Letter to My Boss:

I have enjoyed working here these past several years. You have paid me very well and given me benefits beyond belief. Have 3-4 months off per year and a pension plan that will pay my salary till the day I die and then pay my estate one year salary death bonus and then continue to pay my spouse my salary with increases until he (or she) dies and a health plan that most people can only dream of having i.e. no deductible whatsoever.

Despite this, I plan to take the next 12-18 months to find a new position. During this time I will show up for work when it is convenient for me. In addition, I fully expect to draw my full salary and all the other perks associated with my current job.

Oh yes, if my search for this new job proves fruitless, I will be coming back with no loss in pay or status. Before you say anything, remember that you have no choice in this matter. I can, and I will do this.

Sincerely,

Every Senator or Congressman running for re-election

Are we stupid or what?

 
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

History: A few truths surrounded by a lot of little lies and one or two big ones.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“If there is one person a fanatic is predisposed to hate, it’s a moderate who is almost but not completely aligned with their program.”

Stross, Charles. Dark State: A Novel of the Merchant Princes Multiverse (Empire Games) (p. 343). Tom Doherty Associates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
FT_17.08.01_debt_interest_420px

 

Two interesting aspects of this chart:

1. In general, it shows that since the Reagan Administration, interest payments on the national debt as a percentage of GDP have generally risen during Republican administrations, while under the Democrats, it has usually fallen.

2. Trump has already sharply increased that percentage from what it was in the last few years of the Obama administration.
The relationship between interest payments on the federal debt and the nations GDP is perhaps the most critical relationship in the debate regarding the appropriate size of the Federal Debt. If the interest payments get too high then a nation generally has to raise taxes, reduce expenditures or modestly inflate the economy (usually by keeping interest rates low during a rising economy ) in order to retain its credit rating.

Raising taxes is problematical because those whose taxes should be raised are the same people who fund the election of those who would vote on the action.

Cutting expenditures has its problems also. There are really only three sources of governmental expenditures large enough to make a difference if cut, defense, social security, and Medicare. Cutting defense is problematical because defense funding also provides much of the income for those paying for the elections of those who would vote on the cuts while cutting the latter two would be unconscionable to anyone but elected Republicans.

Finally, moderate inflation by keeping interest rates low thereby reducing the value of the dollar also runs up against the opposition of those who fund the elections of those who would vote on any such approach. In this case, the creditor community, the banks, etc., who would oppose any approach that would make their loans less valuable in the future.

Until we find an alternative to the media-entertainment-financial control of the political system, the solution to the Republican policy of increasing the debt-payment problem while choosing the worst of the remedies will remain elusive.

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Exodus #6 a Wall Sculpture by Bruce West.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by3Th. May 28, 2011

TODAY‘S FACTOID:

2011: Here are some points we’ve passed and haven’t looked back (approximate dates):

1979: Peak per-capita gross energy production
1986: Peak grain per capita
1989-1995: Peak wild fish catch
1990: Peak net energy production
2000: Peak fresh water availability
2005: Peak conventional oil production
2011-14: Peak all-liquids (conventional+unconventional oil) production

It’s possible to overshoot a resource base – civilizations have done it time and again – but only temporarily.

The list above is a small subset of what we’ve depleted or are depleting, and many of the critical ones – oil, for instance – have no real substitutes.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM (THAILAND) AMERICA:

A study, conducted by the National Foundation for American Policy, found that 70 percent of the finalists in the 2011 Intel Science Talent Search competition — also known as the “Junior Nobel Prize” — were the children of immigrants even though only 12 percent of the U.S. population is foreign-born.

According to the report, children of immigrant parents have been increasingly dominant in the fields of math and science. In 2004, for example, researchers found that 60 percent of the top science students in the U.S. and 65 percent of the top math students were born to immigrant families. Findings were based upon data from the Intel Science Talent Search and the 2004 U.S. Math Olympiad.

We need additional restrictions on immigration before we get too smart. I bet these kids believe in evolution. The next thing you know they will be voting for Democrats when they grow up.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN (THAILAND) CALIFORNIA:

The past few days i have stayed close to my room, not because I am unable to travel, but because, i think, i am still feeling sorry for myself.

Anyway, on my daughter Jessica’s birthday recently we were talking on the phone and she reminded me that the time she had performed at the Latin dance club that I wrote about a few days ago was not the only time in her unconventional childhood, that she engaged in an impromptu performance in a bar.

It seems that when she was about 8 years old she was staying with me and a number of friends for a week somewhere in the Sierras. One night we were returning from dinner and many of the roads were flooded from spring run off. The driver of the car, against the loud objections of his wife, drove into  part of the road covered with water and promptly got stuck in the middle in water that covered the tops of the tires and was still climbing. We we scrambled out of the car, waded through the water and retreated to a dingy road house to dry off, warm up and wait for other friends to rescue us.

The bar had a live band playing and my daughter decided to entertain us while we were waiting (and I am sure to distract my friend’s wife who had not yet given up on her verbal assaults on her embarrassed husband). She climbed on to the table and danced for about an hour.

Now I tell you all this now, not simply because I wish to relate a cute tale of my progeny, but because I always thought children grew out of their unself-conscious public performance stage when they were about 5 years old.
PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

THE PARABLE OF THE JUST SOCIETY

There once was a country that viewed itself as a fair and just society. They even called themselves the “Fair and Just Society”. Like most societies they could be divided into three groups of people. One-third of the people had the least amount of the income and wealth of that society, let us say only about 20% of the income and wealth. The second or middle one-third had about what would be the average of that societies wealth and income distributed among them, say 30%. The last group, the wealthiest one-third, had about 50% of the wealth and income of that society.

Let us also assume that at some point the members of the Fair and Just Society agreed among themselves that there are certain things that they all need and should be paid for collectively, like, for example, the common defense, roads, education of the Fair and Just Society’s children and so on. And let us further assume that the members of this Fair and Just Society agreed that these collective expenses should be paid for by each section of society according to their means. The lowest one-third agrees to pay 20%, the middle 30% and the top one-third 50% because they all agreed that would be fair and just.

Now let us assume that all things have worked out reasonably well for our Fair and Just Society and that even the poorest one-third had enough to eat, clothe and shelter themselves and everyone was pretty happy. Then one day, for whatever reason, good cost control, a sudden jump in productivity, the discovery of oil or gold or whatever, the Fair and Just Society finds that they have collected more funds than are needed for their common expenditures (Defense, education, etc.) and decide to ask the people what they should do with it.

Upon hearing this everyone was happy, no one more so than the upper third and their agent who was sent to speak to the representatives of the Fair and Just Society. He told them that because his employers were the upper third in income and wealth they knew more about money than anyone else and that it was very complicated and because of that he recommended that the money be returned to the people in the form of tax relief because then each individual will be able to choose what it wished to spend it on and so they will each benefit individually and the economy would benefit in general by this infusion of money.

Some of the representatives upon hearing this could not fully comprehend why giving to each person to spend as he wishes was better than all the people deciding together on spending it on something that would benefit them all the most. After all they argued, the money still gets back into circulation and the Fair and Just Society gains an asset owned by all the people. And some even thought at least some of it should be held for a “rainy day” when it might be needed. But most of the other representatives agreed that giving the money back to the individuals seemed reasonable and fair. So they asked the representative of the upper third how he suggested that it be done.

“Well,” he says, “I was hoping that you would ask that. Over lunch I prepared this chart.” And he whips out a chart. “What this chart shows” he says, “is that you should give all this money to the upper third because, not only do they know more about money than anyone else, they, having so much of it after all, but also since they do not have to spend in on necessities like food and stuff they will have this excess cash that they will invest in new factories and the like, you know, to make shoes and canned soup.” “And” he continued “they can even take some of that money and, oh say, pay for research or start-ups and increase productivity and things like that.”

When the agent of the upper third finished speaking, the representatives of the Good and Just Society all looked at one another for a moment then broke out laughing. “You cannot be serious,” the chairman said, “no one in their right mind could possibly be so stupid as to believe what you just said. Nevertheless, as a fair and just society we do think that it is fair and just to return it equally to all in accordance with their contributions to the common good, a 10% reduction to the bottom third on their 20% contribution, a 10% reduction to the middle third on their 30% contribution and a 10% reduction to the upper third based upon their contribution.” And with that they all got up and left, still chortling and shaking their heads.

Now because this is a parable, we will assume that in fact an across the board 10% reduction in taxes is fair and just.

Of course we all know that for many reasons an across the board reduction in taxes was not fair and just at all. For example, the lowest one-third would most likely spend it on consumable necessities like food, clothing and shelter since their 10% would not be that much money. Or, as was overheard the agent of the upper one-third telling some of the representatives of the Good and Just Society outside the hearing room. “They will probably just spend it on dope and booze and taking a few days off work.”

The upper one-third on the other hand probably would also spend some of it on dope and booze, but they would still have a lot of money left over. So they will call in their advisors and direct them to take this excess cash and use it to make more. After the advisors leave, the upper third would probably take a puff of their joints, a sip of their Mai Tais and brood about the workers in their factories that did not show up for work that day. Eventually they decide that they would have their secretaries draft letters to the Representatives of the Fair and Just Society complaining about the morals of the lower one-third and a lot of the middle one-third and that in the future any tax cuts should all come to them. That done, they will leave on vacation, using some of the money they received from the Fair and Just Society, because they believed they earned it.

The representatives of the upper third then meet to plan how they will turn this cash into more cash for the upper third and along the way turn themselves into members of the upper one-third.

They reasoned that after all that money spent on dope and booze there would not be enough cash left among the lower two-thirds for the upper third to invest their money to acquire it from the lower two-thirds. Nevertheless, there would be some and so they decide to increase their marketing budgets to persuade the lower two-thirds to spend whatever money they have left on products produced in the factories owned by the upper third. But still the upper third had a lot of money left over from the gift the Fair and Just Society had given them.

“Let’s use that money to buy the assets of the lower two-thirds,” suggests one.

“But the lower third has no assets,” complains another.

“Yes, they do,” states another. “We can buy their future and their freedom. We can give them some of our money to buy more dope and booze and tell them that they can pay us back from their future wages with a sizable profit to the upper third of course, and substantial commissions for us. And then we will tell them that since we have given them so much money and we know all about economic things, we being so rich and so smart, they can trust us to keep them in dope and booze forever. And in return they will agree to vote in the elections for the representatives to the Fair and Just Society as we the agents of the upper third tell them to.”

“As for the middle one-third,” he continued. “Many of them have worked hard and amassed some assets like their houses and their small business, so we will point out to them that because of all their hard work and our knowledge of finance, their assets have appreciated and they would be wasting that value unless they put it to work. Then we will loan them some money in return for the owning their assets if they do not pay us back.”

And they all agreed that was a good plan and they put it into practice.

Now it came to pass that this worked so wonderfully well for a while that the lower two-thirds, although actually poorer, appeared to be living so much better than they had been. As a result, they thought the agents of the upper one-third were much smarter than they were. And also, so much money was flowing into the hands of the agents that they soon began to replace some of the upper one-third.

Then one day there was, of course, not enough things for the upper third to buy because almost all the assets had been purchased and almost all of the futures mortgaged and on top of it they had even more money now with nothing to do. So the agents of the upper third went to the members of the upper third and showed them how instead of making things or buying more assets they could simply gamble all this money on the economy because everything was so good and the agents were so smart things would keep getting better and better and except for a few corrections now and again they would make even more money.

Then a funny thing happened, soon there were fewer members of the upper third who actually made things, they had been replaced by the agents who really did not make anything at all.

Then of course there was what is known as a “correction,” the lower two-thirds had mortgaged all their futures and no longer had the money to buy things. So as the factories closed down the lower two-thirds began to lose their jobs and their homes and businesses.

Some of these people turned to the Representatives of the Fair and Just Society and asked them to do something about it. Unfortunately for the lower two-thirds, the Representatives of the Fair and Just Society had by now all been replaced by the employees of the upper one-third. Nevertheless they agreed to look into their concerns.

“No problem,” they said, “we can make everything better by cutting those things we have been paying for up until now and lowering taxes on the upper one-third so they can invest even more. We can pay for whatever essential community services are left (like protecting the assets of the upper one third) by borrowing from the upper one-third and it all will work out just like it was described in that chart.”

Now we all know that that’s what really happened, but since this is a parable we will assume that everyone actually did believe that the distribution of the money was fair and just and that no one could have possibly foreseen what actually did happen.

So, the representatives of the Fair and Just Society a few months or so after making the fair and just present to the people were surprised to find, that while the income and wealth of the upper one-third grew exponentially, the lower two-thirds barely held their own and their debts to the upper third increased even more rapidly than the upper third’s income.

This being a Fair and Just Society and their representatives, not yet being replaced by the employees of the upper third, understood what that meant for the future of the Fair and Just Society. So, they convened a meeting and called in the upper third and their agents and told them, “We all made a mistake and in order to avoid an economic catastrophe and to preserve the Fair and Just Society, you are all just going to have to give all the money back.”

OK, I will admit maybe that this a fantasy and not a parable. But still…

MORAL:

1. No society, if it hopes to survive, can surrender to an individual, institution or groups of individuals or institutions unbridled and uncontrolled dominance over its economic and political well-being, no matter how apparently beneficial it appears at the time.
2. We are better off as a society to agree to what we want our society look like and act to make it so than to just hope for the best or trust to our individual efforts alone.
3. A fair and just society never ever follows the advice of those with the most to gain financially.
4. A fair and just society resists giving collective funds or advantage to those with the resources to compete for them on their own.
5. There is no magic wand, invisible hand, or strong and brilliant leader that can save us from our folly. If we believe that, then Pogo was right when he said so long ago, “We have met the enemy and he is us“.
________________

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

My apologies to fans of this series, but this post has simply gotten to long. I promise to include the next chapter in my next post.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Chart of the Day:

(Shart unavailable)
b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/):

“You must be a Republican if you believe that, the illegal alien who risked everything to better himself economically by coming to America is a criminal, but the bankers and investors on Wall Street that gambled away your pension funds and put your jobs at risk are not.”

c. From god’s mouth to your ears:

What was actually written on Moses’ tablets–The real 10 Commandments:

1) Thou shalt worship no other God.
2) Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
3) The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep.
4) Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest.
5) Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks.
6) Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God.
7) Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven.
8) Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left until the morning.
9) The first of the first fruits of thy land shalt thou bring unto the house of the Lord thy God.
10) Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.
Exodus 34:14-26

Now I really could support these posted of the grounds of the nation’s courthouses. Remember, avoid bathing your goat in its mother’s milk.
Note: Thank you Cort for this item.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Some people are alive only because it is illegal to kill them.”
—Unknown

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from Thailand. February 11, 2018

Yesterday I walked around my garden examining the health of the plants and looking for the variety of flowers planted. That’s when I realized that I was looking in the wrong direction for the flowers. Apparently, in tropical climates flowers grow more often high up in trees than closer to the ground as they do in more temperate areas. The lilies (like the spider lilies bordering the driveway) grow close to the ground but the others like the Frangipani and Golden Trumpets grow high up on the tops of the trees. The Frangipani trees look like they are not doing well for some reason.

Today’s photo is a regression on my walk to the school (and perhaps a regression of my mind as well). About half way along the long street in my prior photos, stands the corrugated metal shack visible in today’s photo. There are several such shacks in the subdivision and I would guess hundreds of thousands throughout Thailand. These shacks contain no heat or AC, no running water except from a hose and limited if any sanitary facilities. These shacks are inhabited by the day laborers who work in the subdivision.

The Thai’s like to have their manual laborers close to hand, unlike in America where we assume they have the means to travel long distances to their jobs (otherwise they would be considered lazy). The laborers are mostly illegal aliens. Mostly Burmese. They are darker skinned than the normal Thai. I hear tell that they work for lower wages and on jobs so menial and dangerous that not even the poorest Thai will undertake.

Periodically, for often arbitrary political reasons, the brutal Thai immigration police will raid these dwellings, beat the inhabitants up and load them on to trucks to be sent back across the border. Thank God the US as a civilized country refrains from that.

Of course these illegal immigrants, unlike in the US, are the scapegoats for political hijinks. The business community loves their low wages and fear of complaining about working conditions and so they lobby hard to make sure no immigration reform upsets that particular apple cart. In order to achieve these goals not only do they buy off their favorite pols, but their hirelings are sent out to incite the know nothing conservative element (there are no tea-baggers in Thailand yet) in the country to oppose reform by claiming the illegals are taking the jobs of citizens, exploiting the welfare rolls and that they left their own country only because they are inherently lazy and want to take advantage of the more civilized welfare laws of Thailand.

Aren’t you glad that you all live in a really civilized country where this does not happen and where most of us recognize the difficulties our progenitors had to face when they came into this country, the bigotry, the menial dangerous jobs and the calls for immigration reform to stop the flood of our dirty, lazy non english speaking ancestors who failed in their own country and only came here to take our jobs and live off the benefits that the original settlers worked so hard to take from the Native Americans.

And then there are the Liberals and NGOs. Here in Thailand (unlike in the US) they try to make you believe they really care for these people and not the principle involved. They seem to want save these people by forcing them onto the unemployment rolls where somehow they will be better off. I often wonder how bad the lives of these people must have been in their home countries for them to leave it for a life like this.

Anyway what is a good liberal like me to do as I quake with sorrow at these people’s predicament when I walk by their hovels. I know (imagine a light bulb here)!! I am a foreigner in another culture and as a good liberal I know that I should never interfere in the cultural practices of another ethnic group or country, so I will do nothing. I feel good about that.

Stop me before I do it again. I cannot help myself.

——————————————————————

COMMENTS:

From Joe to T. Goggin:

I wonder if I am ever going to miss that. But then again I have always believed that we men are held together by fear and stress. Something we got from running through the jungle or grasslands or whatever. Stress that we would not kill enough food for the family (and avoid the ridicule of the women who had probably just went out and picked enough fruit to feed themselves) and fear that some Wooly Mammoth would step on heads if we were not careful. If we stopped a moment to smell the flowers then for sure some saber-tooth tiger will come along and bite us on our ass. Then about 50 years ago we invented retirement and when the great day arrived we would stop work let all the stress and fear slide from our bodies and minds and promptly die leaving everything to our wives.

From Irwin:

buongiorno! joe –

i am sitting here at the computer having my morning hot chocolate drink (although i use to love espresso, i think it rotted out my insides and now only serves as a laxative) and biscotti; the latter made by musso’s in union city california which i purchase at stater bros market at the corner of euclid and slater avenues. some morinings i do not feel like consuming a real breakfast (i’ve already given up lunch). anyway after reading your message (below)i am contemplating flying to thailand to get a driver’s license. you see, my california license is coming up in august of this year and since i have already received the maximum number of renewals in the mail sans testing i am already very anxious about august. i have great difficulty facing written tests even if it means just checking boxes ever since that time in the eighth grade when i blanked out taking a test in geometry – did you take geometry in school and have you ever ever used it?! since i can’t stand to be in a car when my last wife is driving it is absolutely necessary that i have a driver’s license if i am ever going to go anywhere – come to think of it i don’t go much anywhere, except maybe to the dmv in august.

one or two emails ago i forwarded to you an article about an elephant compound which depending upon which side of chaing mai it is located may be less than an hour away from your home, and i wondered if you had gone there and what your reaction was relative to the description of it by the author of the article. we don’t have any elephants in the santa ana zoo except for one on which you can ride but i haven’t seen it in all the times i have been to this zoo. in fountain valley, particularly green valley, wild animals are limited to crows, sparrows and feral cats, although the guy who did the pinstripping on my car told me he saw a coyote run past his shop (it’s in a small industrial complex adjacent to the santa ana river bank). of course there is always “felix the cat” of whom i think i have probably written to you about before.

thank you thank you thank you for the new word. “vigorish”!! i sometimes read the dictionary while on the toilet but i have not yet got to the v’s, (thank god). now i will be restless until i have the occasion to use the word in public. speaking of which my plans for today include being in public. i will be going to the arco gas station, the post office to mail a chinese new year’s card to my son’s in-laws (its the year of the tiger – i am year of the ox), the bank if my social security check comes and visit my mom before i go to los angeles this evening. of course i may cop out and just take my walk and a nap.

by the way, what are all of the christian fundamentalists doing there in north thailand? high school and all. they can’t all be missionaries are they?

my comments on your written discussion of the burmese condition are in fruition.

From Joe to Nikki:

This is a follow-up to my previous email that I rushed to send because of the time urgency. I now have a few additional moments to write as Hayden is taking his morning shower.

I have very good news to report. Last night Hayden slept by himself in his room. I left the doors to his room and mine open and told him if he got scared or anything he could come to my room but only if he did not wake me up. He first tried to talk me into sleeping in the big bedroonm but the bed was not made up. After going to bed in his room he would call out to me to see if I was asleep yet. Eventually he fell asleep and slept through the night. He was so proud of himself he said to me, “Tonight we will sleep with the doors closed“.

More from Joe to Nikki:

Sorry for writing so many emails in such a short time, but I really think this has been a special morning. I have never seen Hayden so happy and confident as he has been this morning. On our walk to school he rode his bike and I walked beside him. He chatted on as usual, but not the childish gibberish he often affects and no “po-pos” and the like. Instead he talked about real things like when he will be ready to have his training wheels taken off his bicycle and whether I need to go to the bank, taking martial arts lessons and so on. I am very excited I hope it lasts and there are no setbacks.

It is too bad his mother cannot share in our excitement over his maturation and rehabilitation. I am afraid she sees him mostly as a burden and feel guilty about it and as a result is overly strict and controlling with him as if keeping him as a baby dependent on her is verification of her motherhood. She may love him but does not appear to get much joy from him. I think she is torn by us. On the one hand I think she recognizes that we are good for the boy and on the other hand resents that we interfere with her control of him. And, the bottom line on her personality is her fear of losing control. That in part explains her frenzy when one of her “boyfriends”, you me and Richard for instance, turns to someone else for comfort and affection.

Hayden wants me to take him to the tai-kwon-do lessons this afternoon.

Categories: January 2010 through March 2010 | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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