How America’s 2-Tiered Education System and Perceptions Perpetuate Inequality

© copyright 2013 Betsy L. Angert BeThink

Income inequality raises the ire of most liberals.  At the same time, while ostensibly unaware of the veracity, these self-proclaimed Progressives are thankful for the gifts that inequity brings. Caucasians customarily receive higher wages, better health care and health care coverage.  Indeed, a pinkish person is more likely to be hired and less likely to be fired.  In the area of education, the divide cannot be more evident, that is unless we ask white persons about their careers.  Most do not realize or wish to recognize what has been their truth for all of their lifetimes. White people are privileged people. To acknowledge what is and seems so natural is to admit that one’s equalitarian philosophies are not their practices.  

The American story, or at least the one we tell ourselves is, if we work hard, beginning in school, we will achieve.  We merely need to complete our degree[s], find a job, and start a family. Every step of the way we build a foundation for a strong and stable future.  Life is good.   That is the myth that collectively, we believe.  In the United States, everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed. The question is considering the prevalence of poverty in America, is this true?  

We need only look at the numbers,  and of course, our perceptions.

Black and Brown people are disproportionally poor. Those whose skin is a golden-yellow hue also struggle, more or less so, dependent on the educational level attained and the Ancestral country of origin.  Fifty [50] nations, countless ethnicities within each are identified as Asian-Americans.   A monolith? Hardly.  Refugees, persons who immigrated to the States from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam often arrive as exiles evacuees, or political expatriates. These persons tend to be less educated, a significant percentage are low-wage earners.  Statistically, the number of Asian-Americans without a high school education far exceeds the numbers of whites without.

“Specific ethnic groups, the Hmong, the Bangladeshi, have poverty rates that rival the African-American poverty rate.”   The Hmong value family and agriculture above education. Yet, the stereotype persists, perhaps chastened by the reality that Asian-Americans rather not draw attention to the discrimination they experience.  Setting that aside, with or without attentiveness our impressions, shape our reality, policies, and practices.  Let us consider who, what, how, when, and where an individual obtains entrance to a University.  Also, let us examine as The Atlantic did, How America’s 2-Tiered Education System Is Perpetuating Inequality,

In the United States, more and more students turn to community colleges for an education.  Tuition costs are less, as are standards for admission.  Geographic proximity also makes a two-year degree more attractive.   Community colleges have been portals for the under-served.  The Administration understands this and encourages this entrance.  However, in recent years the rush to attend these institutions has waned.  

The explanations are many.  Most notably, the cost of attending college, even a community college soared. “Economists predict the cost of attending state colleges will soar to $120,000 by 2015. Currently over $40 billion in student loan debt has forced many former students into financial bondage or even bankruptcy.”  The increased cost is not correlated with inflation.

The most visible reason is tuition costs continues to rise.  Confluence and convenience became the reason. More than a score ago, we saw a dramatic change in the structure of student loans.  In 1992, the Federal Stafford Loan program was altered. “Uncle Sam opened the floodgates to government-backed student loans without parent income restrictions.”  Colleges rejoiced and met the news with open arms. The sudden injection of millions of additional aid dollars was seen as an opportunity to increase tuitions. The promotion of the Stafford Loan program as a low-costly option was a cause and an effect. The two together became the formula for hyperinflationary costs.  However, the tale of dollars and “sense” is but one chapter in an invisible and insidious reckoning.

The  April 2012 Center for Higher Education report reveals another daunting reality.  Author and Researcher Dr. Gary Rhodes analyzed the changing climate. Rhodes observed a “complicated cascade effect.” The exploding cost of a college education coupled with enrollment limitations at four-year institutions resulted in a complex paradigm shift.  Today, more middle and upper class students choose community colleges. At the same time, these institutions, like all others, receive less public funding. Classes are filled to capacity. The combination of these dynamics leave less room for low-income and minority students.  Were students from any socioeconomic standing to apply for enrollment in the more prestigious Universities, other realities might lock them out.

Accessibility.  Many universities have gone the way of online coursework, arguing, this method would break the barriers that divide the haves from the have-nots.  However, this move too magnified the gulf. For-profit education entrepreneurs and elite research universities maximized the potential for growth.  Personal gains were supplanted by capital gains.  The faculty at Amherst, in 2006, chose a different route.  The University decided to reserve the majority of its transfer slots for students coming from community college. In some ways, the choice represented potentially a more radical commitment to underprivileged students than online courses.

Amherst president emeritus Anthony Marx states when speaking about four year colleges, many have restrictive transfer policies that heavily weight factors like SAT scores. This standard coupled with a lack of funding for community colleges exacerbated the consequences. Transfer policies are extremely selective, the circumstances are even more dire.  Inequity increases. . The Century Foundation report found that while 81.4 percent of students enter community college plan to transfer and complete a four-year degree, just 11.6 percent are able to do so within six years.

Considering the small number who successfully transition, and that overwhelmingly community colleges serve low-income people and minorities, the higher education system remains two-tiered.  Scholars and notables have described the arrangement as “separate but equal.” “You basically cannot join the middle class without a postsecondary credential at this point,” said Eduardo Padrón, the president of Miami-Dade College, America’s largest community college. And how do people obtain a post-secondary degree? Dependant on you socioeconomic status, easily or not so easily.

Community colleges which serve 44 percent of current college enrollees, are chronically underfunded, just as their students before and after enrollment are under-served. Most of the money that supports higher education flows to elite research universities, not to the community colleges or the state schools that educate large numbers of Americans.  The divide might be most evident in the value diverential.   The direct and indirect help Princeton receives, including tax breaks, is near $54,000 a year per student in federal subsidies. “The College of New Jersey, a public institution a mere 12 miles away, receives a total of about $1,600 a year per student in federal and state subsidies.”

You decide.  Did a Princeton graduate go it alone?  Did his or her success come at great expense, and to whom?  Was the communicty college student given an equal chance? Just out of curiosity, who makes up the 38 percent of American minorities Princeton purports to be in the  undergraduate student body and what about the sixty [60] percent who receive financial aid?  Why might it be that 23 percent of Princeton students take out loans and the average debt at graduation is $5,225 while the average college student graduates with about $28,000 in personal debt?  Is there a two-tiered education system and does it perpetuate inequality?  Watch out for your answers.  You too might be influenced by invisible and insidious biases.

References and Resources…


Media and the Message. CNN; Retain Bush Tax Cuts

 

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria says the easiest way to cut the deficit is to let the Bush tax cuts expire.

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

The day was Sunday, August 1, 2010.  Former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan appeared on Meet the Press.  When asked to discuss the Congressional debate on tax cuts, the man known to move markets, a person who leans to the “Right,” offered a decisive decree.  In direct disagreement with Republican officials and the profitable corporations that fund countless political campaigns, Mister Greenspan declared, “Look, I’m very much in favor of tax cuts,  but not with borrowed money.  And the problem that we’ve gotten into in recent years is spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money, and at the end of the day, that proves disastrous.  And my view is I don’t think we can play subtle policy here on it.”  

This statement was as a slap in the face to corporations, or more correctly to the tycoons who head these firms.  Multi-millionaire media moguls might understand this best.  These television and radio Executives experience firsthand that influence over an industry can translate into influence over an outcome.  Cable News Network Chief Officers are among those who actively make use of this truth.  Tax cuts expired?  “Never;” say network Administrators and the newscasters such as Allan Chernoff, who do their bidding.

Prominent persons in the Press know a snappy slogan, a simple statement repeated over and over again, an authoritative analysis, will yield a colossal return.  If the powerful exert pressure, they can sway the public and those who will persuade Congress to act, or not take action.   Without resorting to force, the wealthy need not worry. Forceful levy loopholes and tax rate reducers were long ago secured and still loom large.

Companies, most of which pay no United States taxes are often led by the affluent who, for years, sought greater protection for their wealth..  Indeed, many corporations forfeit less in levies in 2010 than in previous years.  Deductions are a delightful indulgence.  Even the electorate has grown to appreciate this pleasurable pursuit.

Individuals influenced by industry infomercials have insisted on the luxury.  Tax bills in 2009 are at the lowest level since 1950.  Regardless, many moneyed Americans want these lowered, if not eliminated in total. Thus, the public sees what they have for days, or is it weeks, a flood of news stories that speak in contrast to Economist Greenspan’s pronouncement.  The powerful understand that the former Fed Chairs statement was quite a severe blow to those invested in a taxless ideology.

On the same date, on Cable News Network’s a distinguished Anchor, Newsweek and Washington Post Columnist, Fareed Zakaria concurred.   The time to cut the deficit and let the Bush tax cuts expire is now.  Editor of Newsweek International and a New York Times bestselling Author, Mister Zakaria asserts, “Were the tax cuts to expire, the budget deficit would instantly shrink by about 30 percent, or more than $300 billion. But Republicans are now adamantly opposed to any expiration of the Bush tax cuts because they say that would weaken the economy.”  This contention, with consideration for a credible source, was a second slam to commercial interests and to the political Party that promotes their causes.  

Mister Zakaria’s editorial would not be aired endlessly on various outlets. Nor would Alan Greenspan’s words be heard on many a local channel.  Another expert on policy, one who also speaks for the “Right”,  David Stockman, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan would also be kept out of sight.

Only a day earlier, an article penned by Mister Stockman appeared in The New York Times.  In the missive, Stockman, once identified as a man with “Lincolnesque credentials”  expressed the angst he feels when his cohorts’ claim the need to extend the tax cuts.  The Reagan Budget Director cynically summarizes “How my Republican Party destroyed the American economy.”  The treatise titled Four Deformations of the Apocalypse, was the final strike.  

These slams could not stand, high salaried Chief Executives and their shills, such as Cable News Network, calculated.  Turner Broadcasting Systems decided to turn the ultimate key.  Media is the message.  The Press is able to manufacture promotional presentations and produce alternative authenticities.  The company realized the need to take restrained; yet aggressive action.  Slick salespersons, public relations professionals in the Press are well aware of the sound adage; a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way.  People like sweetened solutions.

While true; each of the three esteemed experts spoke eloquently, and with abundant authority, the more persuasive and popular drone can and does drown out a meaningful message.  Cable News Network has vast resources and knowledge of how to deliver decisively, the populace demands, words of woe and whoa!  The Turner channels, with Corporate Chiefs interest at heart, transmits, as many Republicans, Democrats, and Independents wish to believe; life as we have come to know it cannot change.  

Regardless of Party affiliation, in America the public professes, “We are taxed enough.” En masse, citizens clamor;  “No new taxes!” “No tax increases!” We do not want to pay the price, is the consensus.  Most do not want to acknowledge, as Alan Greenspan and Fareed Zakaria have, Americans have paid for their own indulgence and chosen ignorance dearly.

In accordance with the adopted corporate mission, the wishes of Chief Executives, and possibly his own penchant, Correspondent Allan Chernoff compiled   a report that would please the common folk. This puff-piece touts as the public wishes to believe; the people need not contribute to the greater good of the community.  The innocent “documentation” that passes for fact, or is passed on as the truth, floods the airwaves.  It appears on local stations and hour after hour on network programs.  

This “news story” [sic] makes no mention of how the quoted sources benefit from a promoted belief, “In planning to let taxes rise, President Obama hopes to chop the budget deficit. But if families have to cut back on spending to pay those taxes, that may hurt the economy. It could de-rail the recovery.”

The Press hides what threatens the wealthy; the words of Alan Greenspan, He said “The problem that we’ve gotten into in recent years is that spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money, and at the end of the day that proves disastrous and my view is I don’t think we can play subtle policy here.”  

The “Right” and media moguls who used to anxiously await Alan Greenspan’s advise now reject the man once titled an oracle.   David Stockman, once characterized as a wunderkind is no longer welcome at the White House, on Wall Street, or in the Mainstream Media studios.

Interesting, or possibly, as expected, the words of the esteemed Mister Zakaria are also void in the less than honest, well honed, and more aired, Cable News Network account. “Federal tax receipts as a percentage of the economy are at their lowest point since 1950, and they had dropped to very low levels even before the recession. Half of Americans now pay no income taxes.”

Instead, the report that invites Americans to retain Bush Tax cuts is broadcast farther and wider than the more informed elucidations.  Contrary to the tax cutters claims that President Obama plans to punish the Middle Class, Bloomberg reports, “Obama and congressional Democrats want to extend [the tax cuts] for households earning up to $250,000 and let them end for wealthier taxpayers.”  Fareed Zakaria and perchance more surprisingly, in another forum, David Stockman, wish this were true.

Truthfulness is often tweaked when expert and powerful prose point to a vapid veracity, one that is less desirable to the self-defined blissful spenders who were featured in the ubiquitous Cable News Network account.  

The no tax and spend only on self throng condemn the acumen Mister Zakaria avows; “We have to be willing to pay for the government we want, which by the way is among the smallest in the industrialized world or we have to dramatically cut the government, which means cutting popular middle- class programs, since that’s where the money is.”

No, the pious people proclaim loudly, we will not pay taxes, then assert, we want no government in our lives.  Tax cuts advocates forget the foundation that our forefathers fashioned.  Essayist, Pamphleteer, Philosopher Paine espoused as Fareed Zakaria did today.   The two understood and addressed the necessary apprehension for Administrative rule while each concedes the commonweal must care to invest in the greater good.  Were we to forget that no man is an island, we will forsake the future as we have in recent decades.  Rarely remembered or recited is the founder’s resolve to embrace an elected Legislative and Executive Branch.  Perchance today, Fareed Zakaria spoke to the practical reality.

In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest, they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought.

A thousand motives will excite them thereto, the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same. Four or five united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but one man might labor out the common period of life without accomplishing any thing.  This necessity . . . will point out the necessity, of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.

Instead of Paine’s and Zakaria’s profundity, the language Americans long for is the sentiment expressed by profiteers highlighted in the Chernoff commentary.  Scott Hodge, President of Tax Foundation, an institute that Nobel Prize recipient Paul Krugman acknowledged as an unreliable source, reinforced the accepted alarm.  Mister Hodge affirmed, “If Congress does nothing, it could lead to one of the largest tax increases in American history.”  Robert Traphagen, a partner with Traphagen Financial, and a man who makes money when affluent clients invest in purely personal wealth, affirmed, “If new tax legislation is not implemented, it would be a dramatic effect to the middle class.” Indeed, it would.

Were we to adopt as Fareed Zakaria, Doctor Greenspan, and David Stockman think wise, Americans would have more money for schools, streets, services. The middle class would thrive.  Media moguls would have less money to survive. Hence, the mantra, the message, If Bush tax cuts expire this will  hurt America

References for varied realities . . .

Consumer Confidence Rises; Democracy Declines



March 21, 2007: Benjamin Barber explains why consumer culture is bad for humanity

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Great News!  The good life will soon return to America.  Auspiciously, months before the holiday shopping season began, Americans were told that after more than a year of fiscal recession, or what some have characterized as akin to an economic depression, consumers were optimistic.  The confidence  index and other indicators were much improved.  Manufacturing executives assured the public, the engine that drives the free enterprise system was in a “sustainable recovery mode.” In the very near future, products, and people’s sense of need, would be fabricated again. Everything will be right with the world, economically.  Few feared the threat that, long ago, Americans had come to accept.   The foundation of a democratic system had eroded in favor of consumption.

Egalitarianism had been so swiftly and subtly replaced by free enterprise, only a small number observed what had occurred.  Mostly, Americans were out in the marketplace, the malls, or in the halls of their homes contemplating what else they might buy.  The Declaration of Independence, the document that calls for equality could not be seen amongst the clutter.  People in this Capitalist country do not necessarily ponder the contradiction.  Satisfied and secure in the belief “that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  The purpose of government is to protect these rights.  Perhaps not, In the United States the population acts as though there are more important concerns to consider.  

Citizens are certain the core issue is, “How might I retain my right to buy goods and services?”

The oft-heard answer: manufacturing.  American industry and individuals must invent and invest in expansion.  The United States must produce products to sell.  People to serve the needs of purchasers are also indispensable. The need to fabricate an adequate supply, and the staff vital to support it, will increase employment.  Jobs will provide workers with greater purchasing power.  Expenditure will generate profits.  Proceeds provide a gain that can then be invested in manufacturing.  The only missing component in this cycle is perchance the most crucial, promotion.  In America, we, the people, have allowed our selves to be manufactured.  Citizens are no longer the government; they are customers.

Toddlers, teens, twenty, thirty and forty something’s are taught just as earlier generations were,  for an industrialized country to thrive consumers must “feel” confident.  An apprehensive public needs to be convinced it is safe and sane to buy.  Thus, patrons are told they can pay later.  No money need be placed down.  Credit can be arranged.  Long-term loans are available, and why not take advantage.  Americans have been given ample confirmation; debt will not destroy them or our “democracy.”

Besides, banks built empires on binge spending and received billions in bailouts.   The country and Capitalism did not collapse.  The economic crisis was but an ephemeral blip.

Fiscal institutions and  financial advisers assuage Americans; there is bad debt and good debt.  Borrowing has its benefits, a new sofa, a sweet set of wheels, and a sensational home.  Damn democracy, social equality, the homeless persons alongside the road, and those without health care coverage.  Full speed, or better said, a shopping spree ahead.

As a barrage of information built on the argument, the economy is stable, buyers began to believe.  Indeed, faith in the American free enterprise system was born long ago.

Birth of a Notion

Adam Smith introduced an idea. “Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.” Later Economists expanded on and extrapolated from the original theory.  Then, early in the twentieth century, Edward Bernays, the father of Public Relations maximized the maxim, much to the delight of American manufacturers., such as the architect of the assembly line, Henry Ford, and the originator of the premise, “planned obsolescence,” Alfred P. Sloan.

Together, this team of 20th century tycoons converted what had been the crawl, from a reluctant consumer, to an abundantly content and avid trot.  In America, babies were not born, shoppers were.  These gents understood that if companies were to create a commitment to covet, it would take time, talk, and constant titillation.  Consumers are as children.  Advertisers must hold the hand of potential customers. Marketers will teach them the lesson; what you think is only a want is truly a necessity.  

Radio and television broadcasters must also encourage expenditures.  Periodicals must print the message. Peers will surely support Capitalist principles, as will those Representatives who are well financed by free marketers.  “As consumption goes, so goes the American economy.”

Economic Expansion Energized

By Thanksgiving eve, with Black Friday just round the bend, bargain hunters had become sufficiently encouraged.  There were signs that consumers and the Commerce Department were sanguine.  Buoyed by the numbers the Labor Department released, retailers trusted there was reason for holiday cheer. “Unemployment benefits slid to 466,000 last week”, the lowest in more than a year, from 501,000 the prior week. It was the fourth straight weekly decline. The first time since January that claims dipped below 500,000.”

The evidence was in.  U.S. durable goods orders were up in August.  Granted, the government’s “cash-for-clunkers” program spurred consumers to spend more on major purchases. Similarly, the $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers helped revitalize housing sales.  Nevertheless, what truly drove the American people was manufactured and purchased long ago.  Citizens are nothing but customers. The American people have come to resign themselves to a manufactured reality.  Government is not of, by, or for the people; it is the rival.  Today, the population professes, Administrations do not protect our rights.  The public protests.  Imposed rules and regulations deny the common folk their birthright to acquire.

History; Democracy on the Decline

It all began back in the day, in 1776, to be specific.   Not only did the acclaimed Adam Smith present his political economic essays in The Wealth of Nations, at the same time the American Declaration of Independence was signed, sealed, and delivered.  Author Adam Smith, the oft-acclaimed engineer of a free market system, or more fully his followers, gave birth to a notion that self-interest is a superior mission.   Hence, whilst our forefathers worked to give birth to a democratic nation, one in which egalitarian principles are prominent, those who espouse entrepreneurial ethics endeavored to ensure that free enterprise ruled.

Indeed, tis true; Adam Smith advocated for independent thought and actions.  He, however, was also a believer in the greater good.  He understood and advanced a need for government.  Yet, free-trade Economists such as David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill, as well as tempter Edward Bernays, and tycoons Henry Ford, and Alfred P. Sloan promoted a further cultural shift.  Businesses must manufacturer consumers, and so they did.

Purveyors pursued the public.  People were persuaded to purchase.  The American populace became nothing but pawns.  The common folk are not forced to buy; they are only constantly coaxed to believe wants are needs.  Equal representation and freedom to choose has been converted to Capitalism.  Adults have been infantilized.  Mature Moms, Dads, men, and women say, “Give me.  Give me.  Give me.”

Shoppers Succumb. Economic Strength Expands Again

Buyers trust; they can have all they want.  Prosperity was the dream, the undertaking, and indeed, in America, affluence is the way of life.  We ponder it, produce it, and protect policies that will promote it.

Educated elders, Economists, and elected officials expound; if businesses are bestowed with the freedom to bring in new revenue, bliss will be ours today, tomorrow, and for time in eternity.

Wealth will be shared equally amongst all our citizens, or at least the opportunity to acquire; to aspire, to ascend, towards the American Dream will be possible.  We only need to begin to buy again.  Economic experts, just as everyday commoners trust in the Capitalist system of consumption, and why not.  In this country the constant refrain is “Capitalism is the worst economic system  . . . except for all the others that have been tried.”

With this thought in mind, it is easy to ignore history.  We need not reflect upon the seventeen recessions and world crises since The Great Depression.  In this North American continent, forever, we have faith; we are constantly “turning a corner” Perhaps we are.  Americans have moved back to the future.

Back to a Boom and Bust future

‘Without regard for the existing recession, nor the threat of a deeper Depression, citizens brush aside the words of woe and warning.  Mindful of the messages massaged by the powerful few, who control the media, the former Vice President Albert Gore observed television covers trivial excess.  In his latest book, The Assault on Reason, Mister Gore acknowledged American democracy “is in danger of being hollowed out,” as are the brains of buyers who know what they want.  Good news?

The summer doldrums gave way to greater news.   Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke affirmed there is raison d’être for bliss; “Even though from a technical perspective the recession is very likely over at this point.”  

Finally, Americans can muse once, twice, or thrice more; assembly lines with accolades to Henry Ford, will hum again.  The nation’s most powerful tool, mass manufacturing, will ensure near full employment. “Planned obsolescence,” a tribute to Alfred P. Sloan, will still serve as the old reliable economic engine.  The “need” for newer, better, or the best will bring mighty manufacturers new business. The time to consume is once again upon us.  

Indeed, Edward Bernays ensured that the free enterprise system would be easily assimilated.  Adam Smith while the originator of the theory did not implant the seed of shopping as well as later Economists did.   David Ricardo with assistance from John Start Mills enhanced, and would create an American culture of coveters.

In 2009, we witness the outcome.  As US Novelist William Faulkner observed  “The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.”  What was is ever-present in our lives.  

The economic downturn has required reflection.  Americans think to adopt a paradigm, which is difficult for those, accustomed to endless shopping sprees to accept, self-control, and a sense of being part of a broader society.  While from appearances, in the near term, it would seem the people have been easily able to reduce spending in truth, consumers lie in wait, hopeful that this recession too shall pass.

Economic Past is Ever Present

For a short while, Americans were given an opportunity to ponder the predicament, people began to save., The electorate believed that economic debt and emotional deficits could no longer be endured.  Fiscal frugality had become the favored fashion in America.  “Reluctance to spend became the legacy of the recession.”  Citizens said, countless decades of spending in excess of earnings must cease. Protests could be heard; government cannot continue to print more paper to cover corporate creditors arrears.  Our countrymen must no longer rely on credit.

During the height of the fiscal crisis, Americans looked to the country’s core value. Social equality, as delineated in the Declaration of Independence, was finally thought to be the more attractive commodity.  However, its appeal was short-lived.  Democracy could not compete with more tangible temptations. Ultimately, citizens, consumers, surrendered to their concrete desires.  

News reports served to reassure restless shoppers.  Advertisers did as well.  Earlier in the year, whilst mechanized factories stood silent and still, merchants remained hard at work, Businesses continued to manufacturer customers.  Commercials sustained America’s shared awareness. “Buy. Buy. Buy!”  The people confidently did.

Capitalism; The Credible Crucible

Indeed, for the first time since the recession began more businesses planned to hire workers rather than fire employees.  There seemed to be ample reason to hope.  

Some Economists stated there will be strong growth in 2010.  Existing Home Sales in the United States Jumped.  Prices fell. Home Depot announced profits were better than analyst estimates. Luxury retailer, Saks Fifth Avenue, whose clientele was once thought immune to severe recessionary slumps, beat the street.  All around, earnings were surprisingly strong.  Principles planted firmly in Americans’ collective consciousness assure us we will be fine.  

It is as Adam Smith proclaimed. The notion of the free enterprise system, works. Every individual is led by an invisible hand to achieve, and ,to do the best with his or her abilities. However, poverty is not necessarily reduced.  Prosperity does not consistently or evenly grow,  Innovation is and is not encouraged’ and social and moral progress is evident only for the elite and entrepreneurs.  

What is true, Statistics say one thing, citizens say another.

The numbers make obvious the need to save.  Nonetheless, consumers covet and cling to the idea that what they want is truly what they need .  Accolades to Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mills, and most assuredly to Henry Ford, Alfred P. Sloan, and the maestro Edward Bernays, the mastermind behind a Century of Self.

With thanks to these theorists and tycoons, consumers are happy to ignore Unemployment rates of 10.2 percent of Americans in October.  Certain that the economy will rebound, consumers will  just shop until they drop.

Black Friday, the holiday shopping season will be blissful.  Customers will remain confident and content.  All will be right with the world. Capitalism will be stable, secure, and the economic system of free enterprise will endure. Only the underlying principles of Democracy will be lost. What a small price to pay.

References for Recession and Reason . . .’

Geithner; Economic Expert?



Geithner Apologizes for Not Paying Taxes

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

There  are conventions, customs, and words, thought to be complementary.  Consider; Fat and jolly.  Short and sweet.  Tax-and-spend-liberal.  These words, while often far from tantamount, are in the minds of many, inexorably tied.  

I was fat.  However, I did not feel jolly during those days, months, and years.  I am short.  Sweet?  I am not especially so; nor am I sour.  Balanced might better describe me, which takes me to the next paired, or triad of adjectives.  I like my taxes progressive, my spending minimal, and I am a liberal.  

However, I do not support the oft-titled tax-and-spend-liberal Democratic President’s appointment, Timothy F. Geithner.  Perhaps, some would say, I do not appreciate the need for an economic expert.  This duo of descriptive qualifiers, I believe, can be an oxymoron, just as the others might be.  It seems those farthest “Left” on the political aisle may concur.

Russell Feingold [Wisconsin Democrat], Thomas Harkin [Iowa Democrat,] and Democratic Socialist, Bernard Sanders [Vermont Independent] voted nay when asked to approve Timothy Geithner for Secretary of Treasury.

The case of Timothy F. Geithner and his confirmation may enlighten Americans and alter conventions associated with language.  

The new Treasury Secretary, his history, and who approved his appointment might help Americans understand that conjoined words provide a contrary perspective.

Timothy F. Geithner has a troublesome history of unpaid taxes.  While he apologetically addressed this serious concern in Senate hearings, he could not negate the fact that he, an “economic expert” made more than a slight error.  A man who works with ledgers, looked past his own numbers.  For four years, he left levees unpaid.  Only an Internal Revenue audit, supposedly, helped him to realize his records were wrong.

The most Progressive Senators thought this tale difficult to swallow.  Legislators frequently labeled as the more extreme liberals, Feingold, Harkin, and Sanders pondered economic ethics.  For these few an awareness for dollars due is required if one is to serve as Secretary of the Treasury.  Hence, these Democrats decided the President’s selection for the Cabinet position was not a suitable choice.  

From their vote, it might be assumed, the three thought morals must be considered in the definition of monetary expert.  Perchance the Senators mused; if a fiscal guru is not immediately responsive to his or her own legal responsibilities, liabilities, how could that person be put in charge of the nation’s currency.

As one who is frequently characterized as a tax-and-spend-liberal, I know that moral values, and a code of consciousness concern me, especially when I consider Timothy Geithner as an economic expert..

I am exceedingly conservative, especially with money.  I may not be an expert; nevertheless, I believe legal liabilities must be paid.  Currency cannot be spent frivolously.  Coins, I believe are meant to be saved.  These pieces of eight add up.  

This tax-and-spend-liberal, me, thinks people, no matter their rank or royalties paid to them must be responsible for what they owe society.  The radical rationale I embrace dictates that as a part of the populace I must pay my fair share.

I think it vital that I, as a citizen, contribute to the greater good.  Unlike Timothy F. Geithner, President and Chief Executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York since November 2003, and as of moments ago, Secretary of the Treasury., I would never withhold my taxes.  The idea of it troubles me as it does my fellow so-called tax-and-spend-liberals, Russ Feingold, Tom Harkin, and Bernie Sanders.  

An economic expert, I will never be.  Yet, I trust a levee, thoughtfully used, can strengthen the community.  Admittedly, I observe that in America, much money is spent with reckless disregard.  Witness, the credit crisis, and how a financial sage such as Timothy F. Geithner, does not sparingly dole out dollars.

That said, I remain secure in the knowledge that when we, the people, pool our resources, we can ensure that adequate educational facilities exist for all.  Fire and police protection can be provided for everyone.  When we pay the levees, libraries can be constructed, a supply of clean and fresh water flows, and waste is managed.  A cultured and civilized community can thrive.  

Tariffs afford us safety, sanity, and a sanitary environment.  With the help of fellow citizens, the good life that taxes allow for is possible, even for Mister Geithner, who pays his duties selectively.

The monetary expert who played a prominent role in the management of the financial crisis that has engulfed Wall Street, failed to pay federal taxes for Social Security and Medicare from 2001 through 2004.  

The fiscal sage had the funds.  The current Secretary Geithner was a gainfully employed Senior Official at the International Monetary Fund,

In 2006, after the Internal Revenue Service audited the esteemed economic guru, Timothy F. Geithner paid his taxes for 2003.  He presented a partial compensation for 2004.  Secretary Geithner was able to avoid recompense for 2001 and 2002.  The statute of limitations for these liabilities, fortuitously for the fiscal wizard, had expired.  Hence, he was able to retain the gains that might have helped pay for schools, streets, libraries, water and waste management.

Likely, this respected representative of the people spent the money on personal pleasures.  Now, with the authority vested in freeloader Timothy F. Geithner, he will have the ability to spend more of the tax dollars.  Money, the most liberal among us,  do not wish to squander.

The three tax-and-spend-liberal Senators, in practice, honored the adage, a book cannot be defined by it cover.  People must peruse the pages carefully if we are to comprehend the content.  The Democrats who did not approve of the appointment extrapolated and said, before we determine who is an economic expert, we must consider the ethical way in which that individual spends cash.  A Treasury Secretary must, at least, consistently attend to accounts payable.

Russ Feingold, Tom Harkin, Bernie Sanders, and I would say, perchance, it is time to examine conventions, customs, and words, thought to be complementary.  Perhaps, Americans could better define tax-and-spend-liberals and economic experts.  It would seem countless of those whose politics are more progressive pay taxes and do not wish to spend.  Those who think it fine to avoid the fees that contribute to the greater good of society, fritter the funds.  They are not more liberal, just more liable.  

Sources for spending . . .

Race Relations in America; Colormute, Not Colorblind

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

It’s never been my interest to run a race-based campaign.

My message has always been that I want everyone included in a broad coalition to bring about change.

I want to spend more time talking about solving the problems that people are feeling right now.


~ Barack Obama [United States Senator and Presidential Aspirant.  January 27, 2008]

In any Presidential election year, we hear of the race.  Yet, discussions of “race” are void, or are since a truce was tendered.  Americas would like to think of themselves as colorblind.  We are not.  Citizens of this country embrace “colormuteness, a term coined by Mica Pollock, Associate Professor of Education at Harvard University.  What Professor Pollock observes in classrooms and in the hallways of schools throughout the nation occurs each day on the campaign trail.  Children who wish to achieve excellence in the classroom are restricted by conventions they learned at an early age in our nation’s communities.

When a young Caucasian child encounters a Black being, if they have never seen a person with a dark complexion, he or she may point, tug at the a parent’s trouser, point, and say, “Mom, Why is his skin so brown?”  A lass might inquisitively exclaim, “Daddy, What is wrong with her complexion?  Characteristically, Mother or Father will say, “Shush!  It is not polite to point.”  Then the parent will pass on the message that they learned at their parent’s knee.  That communication will vary dependent on the family.  Nonetheless, what is true, no matter who the guardian might be, the tone will be hushed.  The tot will learn, we do not discuss the differences in skin tone or facial features.

What we were taught in our youth resonates in adult life.  We see it on the campaign trail.  Certain topics are acceptable and the one is forbidden.  This etiquette is evident in our most recent election.  Criticism is fine, as long as we do not broach the single most sensitive subject, “race,” as it relates to the color of one’s skin.

Candidates compete as they sprint towards the White House.  They rack up the votes, and rail against their rivals.  As Presidential hopefuls run for the Oval Office, they find themselves embroiled in discordant campaigns.  Whatever they might say, the electorate will react.  A delicate balance must be maintained.

Attack advertisements will fill the airwaves.  Hurdles will be jumped in an attempt to make an opponent look or sound bad.  The war veteran is no hero, and the soldier who stayed behind did not truly serve.  In cyberspace, the calculations are conventional.  The conversation can be extremely cruel.  Religion will rule if he or she becomes President.  His or her faith is not “right.”  His wife, her husband is [fill in the blank.]  Can a damsel deliver as Commander-In-Chief, or will a drama result in her distress.  However, the question that is addressed tentatively is, “Is America ready for a Black President?”  

Americans are intimately familiar with the scandals.  Constituents have witnessed what a little gossip can do.  Within each campaign, people observe divisiveness.  The demise of a fellow Democrat is fine.  A rival Republican can ridicule another with reason.  All is fair in love and war.  While an aspirant may be fond of Party loyalty, in a Presidential campaign, faithfulness and friendship are not generously applied to adversaries.  It is important to focus on differences if a candidate wishes to be the nominee for his or her Party, as long as the variation in skin color  is not mentioned.

Our countrymen think it vital to understand Mitt Romney is a Mormon.  The public believes it is important to contemplate, Mike Huckabee is a Preacher.  It is grand that Hillary Clinton is a woman, but do we need to say aloud, Barack Obama is Black.  

Sure, the words are said and the response is consistent.  “It should not make a difference.”  Yet, it does.  No one wishes to be labeled a bigot.  As adults, individuals recall what their parents said, “African-Americans are people too,” or one would hope they were thought to be in the United States.  Still, each citizen of this country understands, Black people fight for parity.  Even when conditions and circumstances improve for African-Americans, a few thrive, most struggle to survive.

Our Constitution claims “all men are created equal.”  However, in the States it seems that has never been the case.  While Americans are proud of the fact that finally they can choose to vote for someone who is not white, they do not wish to speak of “race,” only of the race.  Ah, how well-trained Americans are.

Supposedly, citizens have progressed beyond our repressive roots.  However, in truth, racism is rampant.  Just as Americans have done in past Presidential election years, and do each day of our existence, we place one “race” above another.

Being Black in the United States is a topic discussed among those who are, and balked at by persons who rather believe themselves without bias.  Carefully colormuted Caucasians do not wish to admit that that the sight of a dark skinned person can cause them to tightly clutch the pocketbook that hung loosely at their side.  Anglos do not wish to confess that they feel an the urge to clench a fist, or place keys between their fingers, just in case they need to use the pieces of metal as a weapon when in the presence of a person whose complexion is a purplish-brown.  

Few white individuals will tell of how they tremble when near an African-American stranger.  Fortunately, many need not think of what they might do if a Black individual was near.  In the United States, numerous neighborhoods are segregated, sometimes subtly, often overtly.

“Is it true that “Anna” stands for “Ain’t No N*gg*rs Allowed?”  I asked at the convenience store in Anna, Illinois, where I had stopped to buy coffee.

“Yes,” the clerk replied.  “That’s sad, isn’t it,” she added, distancing herself from the policy.  And she went on to assure me, “That all happened a long time ago.”

“I understand [racial exclusion] is still going on?”  I asked.

“Yes,” she replied.  “That’s sad.”

~ conversation with clerk, Anna, Illinois, October, 2001

Anna is a town of about 7,000 people, including adjoining Jonesboro.  The twin towns lie about 35 miles north of Cairo, in Southern Illinois.  In 1909, in the aftermath of a horrific nearby “spectacle lynching,” Anna and Jonesboro expelled their African Americans.  Both cities have been all-white ever since.  Nearly a century later, “Anna” is still considered by its residents and by citizens of nearby towns to mean “Ain’t No N*gge*s Allowed,” the acronym the convenience store clerk confirmed in 2001.

It is common knowledge that African Americans are not allowed to live in Anna, except for residents of the state mental hospital and transients at its two motels.  African Americans who find themselves in Anna and Jonesboro after dark – the majority-black basketball team from Cairo, for example – have been treated badly by residents of the towns and by fans and students of Anna-Jonesboro High School.

Towns like Anna and Jonesboro are often called “sundown towns,” owing to the signs that many of them formerly sported at their corporate limits – signs that usually said, “N*gge*r, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On You In __.”  Anna-Jonesboro had such signs on Highway 127 as recently as the 1970s.  In some areas, these communities were known as “sunset towns” and, in the Ozarks, “gray towns.”  In the East, although many communities excluded African Americans, the term “sundown town” itself was rarely used.  Residents of all-white suburbs also usually avoided the term, though not the policy. . .

The overlooking of sundown towns, stands in sharp contrast to the attention bestowed upon that other violent and extralegal race relations practice, lynching.  The literature on lynching is vast, encompassing at least 500 and perhaps thousands of volumes; at this point, we have at least one book for every ten confirmed lynchings.  Still the books keep coming; Amazon.com listed 126 for sale in 2004.

Yet, lynchings have ceased in America.  Sundown towns, on the other hand, continue to this day.

Nonetheless, the threat of such an act looms large in the United States.  In the enlightened era of the Twenty-First century, Americans have discussed or dismissed the appearance of nooses throughout our homeland.  More than a year passed before the mainstream media reported on the appearance of three nooses hung on a tree in Jena, Louisiana.  Naturally, the incident was said to be a Southern phenomenon.  However, weeks after a march on the city, in support of Civil Rights, another hangman’s rope was displayed on the office door of a Black faculty member at the Teachers College at Columbia University.  At a prestigious, Northern educational institution of higher learning, Americans were subject to lessons from the past.  In this nation, Blacks, regardless of their economic status, or social stature are not safe; nor are they respected as peers.

Granted, the goodly among us will state as Lee C. Bollinger, President of Columbia University, declared, “This is an assault on African-Americans and therefore it is an assault on every one of us;” however, unless we speak of the unmentionable, those not victim to an attack, cannot imagine the wounds.  Niceties do not heal the invisible and deep scars.  Wounds are easily opened for they were never attended to.  Colorblind as Caucasians allege to be, they are not cured of the ills of prejudice.

Only weeks ago, Americans again observed how easily we move from the topic of racial discrimination to decrees of settlement.  No harm done, no words of division will be uttered.  The offender and the offended do not discuss inequity, injustice, insults, and intolerance; the reality of race relations is left behind.  School grounds, the campaign scene, and the world of sports are as the streets of America, battlegrounds for bigotry.  Yet, in each of these venues, participants replace the actual topic with another.  Apologies suffice.  Our parents would be proud.  Americans can admit when they are wrong and move on, or pretend to.

When Golf Channel commentator Kelly Tilghman joked on-air during the second round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship that ambitious young players should “lynch (Tiger Woods) in a back alley,” she set off yet another incidence of the stagecraft that passes for racial discourse in this country, with a tragic moment followed by the requisite scenes of accusation, remorse and demands for the protagonist’s head, all backed by a chorus of conflicting voices echoing to the rafters.

There were plenty of soliloquies but distressingly little dialogue and no catharsis.  For her part Tilghman was held accountable through a public scolding by the punditocracy and a two-week suspension by her employer; but for me, there’s another, far more interesting character in this drama – Tiger Woods. . . .

Whether Woods likes it or not, the episode serves to remind him, and everyone else, that regardless of how he attempts to transcend race with his accomplishments on the golf course, he can never fully escape his status as a person of color.

Much the way the fried-chicken-and-collard-greens joke Fuzzy Zoeller made at the 1997 Masters pushed Woods into the role of African-American Golfer, Tilghman’s gaffe reinforces his heritage and its burdens, lumping Tiger in with the estimated 5,000 men who were lynched in America between Reconstruction and the Civil Rights movement of the ’60s. . . .

For his part Tiger was quick to forgive and forget, saying through his agent, Mark Steinberg, that the incident was a “nonissue” and later releasing a statement that said, “Regardless of the choice of words used, we know unequivocally that there was no ill intent in her comments.”

Rarely does the individual who delivers a racist epithet mean to offend.  The child who points does not intend to hurt someone’s feelings.  The parent who speaks in hushed tones purposely attempts not to insult.  For those raised in a world where in the privacy of a home, unkind comments in reference to people of color abound, such assertions seem sound.  Empathy escapes those who are not victim to the wrath of whites.  

Anglos do not understand how a seemingly innocent statement can slice an African-American  to the core.  

To suggest that a successful Black man might need to be put in his place, or lynched, is to acknowledge a truth that is always apparent to an African-American gentleman or lady.  A dark-brown-complexioned person who is perceived as one who does not know his or her station can expect to be reminded regularly, he or she is not equal to whites.  

Decidedly, a dark-skin man or woman may do well in school or in the work place.  A gentleman or a lovely lady may excel beyond all belief.  A few elite Afro-Americans might be invited to live among Caucasians in an all white neighborhood, even in a Sundown Town.  A token or two is always welcome.  One with fame, fortune, and finesse may actually be appreciated.  After all, a community must make a good impression.  No locality would wish to be labeled intolerant, just as a parent, or child, does not desire to discriminate aloud.  Consider cities in the Northern region of the United States.  These humble townships have long maintained a noble image, false as it maybe.

Outside the traditional South-states historically dominated by slavery, where sundown towns are rare-probably a majority of all incorporated places kept out African Americans. . . .

Ironically, the traditional South has almost no sundown towns.  Mississippi, for instance, has no more than 6, mostly mere hamlets, while Illinois has no fewer than 456.

Appearances are a lovely illusion.  Indeed, the presence of a Black person in a white world can be wrought with peril.  Driving While Black is a common crime. Even so, in an automobile, there is some protection for the brownish-purple complexioned person passing through a predominantly Anglo section of town.  If a Black man, or women, were to walk alone in an alley, in an affluent area, or in a slum, unaccompanied by an entourage, his or her life could be in danger.  Tiger Woods, [Michel Jordan, Denzel Washington, Venus and Serena Williams,] in casual clothes, without the cameras, or a gold plated golf club to identify him, could easily become a casualty of racial chauvinism.  Anglos, when alone or amongst an allied group of racists, are not colorblind.  Nor are they colormuted.  Whites will see, and say, as they truly believe.  Indeed, if a successful man or woman, whose facial features, and color, are not characteristic of a Caucasian, they may well find themselves in a position to be attacked.  In all likelihood, a Black person will be assaulted.  

At times, the barbs will be verbal.  On occasion, physical jabs will be offered.  Perchance, a Black person may suffer a slight.  Most who react to ‘race’ are subtle in their approach.  However, it is rare when a white American does not express the bias that has been building for centuries sooner or later.  What simmers and stews within eventually will come to a boil.  The pain that hate gives rise to will spill out.  As a culture, when we pretend to be colorblind, and act on colormutedness, we give no air to what is real.  Racism has caused us to rot from within.

Intellectually, Anglos know that to diminish the worth of those whose complexion is a brownish-black, to scorn or snub an African-American merely because their appearance is considered less “acceptable,” or to suggest that someone of color might be lynched is outrageous.  Yet, as long as Americans refuse to acknowledged the roots of racism, and recognize their own bigotry, intolerance will flourish.  If conversations are hushed, as they have been in this year alone, what we have witnessed will continue to burgeon.

Within days of the Tilghman incident, Golf Week Magazine glorified the schism.  The sportscaster and her employer were the cover story or were meant to be.  So much for these intentions, be they ill-willed or wise.

Golfweek Noose Elicits Strong Reaction

By Doug Ferguson

The Associated Press

Friday, January 18, 2008; 12:18 AM

The editor of Golfweek magazine said he was overwhelmed by negative reaction to the photo of a noose on the cover of this week’s issue, illustrating a story about the suspension of a Golf Channel anchor for using the word “lynch” in an on-air discussion about how to beat Tiger Woods.

“We knew that image would grab attention, but I didn’t anticipate the enormity of it,” Dave Seanor, vice president and editor of the weekly magazine, said from the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla. . . .

“Look at the executive suites at the PGA Tour, or the USGA, or the PGA of America. There are very, very few people of color there,” he said.  “This is a situation in golf where there needs to be more dialogue. And when you get more dialogue, people don’t want to hear it, and they brush it under the rug. This is a source of a lot of pushback.” . . .

Asked if he regretted the cover, Seanor paused before answering.

“I wish we could have come up with something that made the same statement but didn’t create as much negative reaction,” he said.  “But as this has unfolded, I’m glad there’s dialogue.  Let’s talk about this, and the lack of diversity in golf.”

Golfweek Editor Seanor may have thought the conversation vital; however, the mainstream, the average Joe and Joanna, the persons in power, and those who have none, would rather not discuss the disparity that envelops us.  Remember, etiquette is essential.  Colormuteness and colorblindness are cool.  Those who do not heed these calls are not.  Editor, Dave Seanor was replaced one day after a racially insensitive graphic, a noose, ‘graced’ the cover of Golfweek.

Any lack of compassion, when public, can cause quite a controversy.  When the same deficit is subtle, there are few problems, that is, if the offender’s skin is pinkish in color.  This contrast is sharply evident in this election season, just as it was in Elementary School.  Our Presidential candidates and political Parties, like Mom and Dad, endorse colorblindness and colormuteness.  The electorate embraces a truce that prohibits colorful conversations.  

When race relations are discussed, the Democrats wish to appear more compassionate than the Conservatives.  While it may be a tad true that the Democrats did better for Black America than the Republicans have, still, every Administration since America became a nation, did not authentically embrace equality.  The statistics, even when improvement is apparent, reveal an awful truth.

The Conservative Agenda: Serving African Americans?

By Tim Westrich and Amanda Logan

Center For American Progress

January 17, 2008

How have African Americans fared since conservatives have been in charge of the economy? Not very well.  Their increases across key economic indicators have been slower under Bush as compared to the 1990s.  Here’s a look at the numbers:

African Americans’ median income declined by an average of 1.6 percent per year under the current administration.

In 2006, African Americans’ median income was $32,132, which is actually $2,603 lower than their median income of $34,735 (in 2006 dollars) in 2000. This is an annualized average growth rate of -1.6 percent. In contrast, this number increased at an annual average growth rate of 3.2 percent from 1992 to 2000. And African Americans’ median income is still substantially lower than Whites: In 2006, their median income was $32,132, as compared to $52,432 for Whites.

Under Bush, the percent of African Americans without health insurance has increased from 18.5 percent to 20.5 percent.

In 2006, 7.9 million African Americans were not covered by health insurance. The rate of African Americans not covered by health insurance increased by an annual average percent point change of 0.30 between 2000 and 2006. This is a much different picture compared to the 1990s. From 1992 to 2000, the number of uninsured African Americans decreased from 20.1 percent to 18.5 percent, an average annual percent point change of -0.20.

The employment to population ratio for African Americans has declined faster than that of the Whites under the current administration.

In 2007, the employment to population ratio – the percentage of the civilian population that is employed-for African Americans stood at 58.4 percent compared to 63.6 percent for white Americans. Between 2000 and 2006, the employment to population ratio for African Americans declined by an average of – 0.4 percent each year after increasing by 0.8 percent on average between 1992 and 2000.  The employed share of the African-American population grew faster than the employed share of the White population throughout the 1990s, but has shrunk faster than Whites since then.

The increase in African-American homeownership has been slower under Bush than the 1990s.

The homeownership rate for Whites increased three times faster than the homeownership rate for African Americans between 2000 and 2006. During this time, the homeownership rate for African Americans increased by an average annual growth rate of just 0.1, from 47.2 percent to 47.9 percent, whereas Whites’ homeownership rate increased by an average annual growth rate of 0.3 percent. This trend is in part because African Americans have actually seen their rate decline since 2004. Compare this to the 1990s, when African Americans’ homeownership rate increased by an average annual growth rate of 0.8 percent from 1994 to 2000. Whites’ rate was 0.6 percent during this time (homeownership data by race are not available before 1994).

More African Americans are in poverty under Bush.

More African Americans were in poverty in 2006 than in 2000, just after we saw a vast improvement the 1990s. In 2006, 24.2 percent of African-American individuals were in poverty. Compare this to 2000, when 22.5 percent were below the poverty line, a percentage point change of 0.28. Poverty among African Americans decreased substantially from 1992 to 2000, going from 33.4 percent to 22.5 percent, or an annual average percent point change of -1.36.

The number of impoverished persons of color frequently increases.  At times, it decreases.  On occasion, it remains the same.  Yet, no matter who is in the Oval Office, Americans worry less about the fact that the dark skinned among us are more likely to live in poorer neighborhoods.  African-Americans are less likely to have adequate Health Care.  Doctors discriminate.

Schools are segregated along racial lines.  Citizens of this country understand that a person who lives on the wrong side of the railroad tracks is probably Black.  Sundown Towns may have begun to allow Afro-Americans in; however, these persons better realize, they have their place.  Dark-skin people are encouraged to believe they are powerless to create genuine change, and Anglo Americans like it that way.

There was hardly a rumble when the former First Lady, and Presidential aspirant explained, “Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Clinton continued. “It took a president to get it done.”  This statement seemed reasonable to those who have deterred the dreams within the Black community.  Rival candidate, and Senator Obama softly declared the comment “unfortunate and ill-advised”; nonetheless, he too was willing to remain colorblind and colormute.  A Black person knows better than to incite a riot.  African-Americans, in the childhood are taught as well as whites.

In this country, citizens of all colors accept the truth and dare not drastically change it.  It is for this reason the electorate is barely disturbed by statements from a former President, his aides, or allies.  Even prominent Black Americans, grateful for small favors, and Presidential appointments, will stand by the side of a spouse and a former Commander-In-Chief when he states bigotry is believable and logical.

Voting for president along racial and gender lines “is understandable because people are proud when someone who they identify with emerges for the first time,” the former president told a Charleston audience while campaigning for his wife. . . .

Bill Clinton said civil rights leaders Andrew Young and John Lewis have defended his wife.  “They both said that Hillary was right, and the people who attacked her were wrong, and that she did not play the race card, but they did,” he said. . . .

Clinton also told about 100 people in Charleston that he was proud of the Democratic Party for having a woman and a black candidate.

For the former President, colorblindness and colormuteness helped to heal a division that he now justifies.  In America, racism, and chauvinism, are not only acceptable, these characteristics are considered a source of pride, and not a sign of prejudice.  Americans would rather be smug [and self-important] than address the sad fact people are not treated equally.  

However, the message is mixed.  On one hand, the Clintons are prideful of the support they receive from the African-American population.  On the other, the two Clinton’s conclude Blacks will automatically congregate around their brethren.  When people do not admit to the color they see and will not hear of it, there is ample confusion.

The puzzlement continues.  As votes are tallied, the temptation is to discount a rival’s win, or blame it on the color barrier, the one that supposedly does, or is it, does not exist.  When a Presidential aspirant or her husband speaks of the race [to the White House], the implicit untouchable topic of “race,” is tenderly tackled.

In Charleston [South Carolina, during the 2008 primaries] last week, Bill Clinton said, “They are getting votes, to be sure, because of their race or gender, and that’s why people tell me that Hillary doesn’t have a chance of winning here.”

Again, Americans must decide, does a person’s race make a difference?  Can people of color perform miracles as an Anglo might? In this country, we still argue whether we have seen this occur in the past.

Hillary Clinton reminds white Americans of the accepted wisdom, even a great and honorable Black leader, such as Reverend, Doctor Martin Luther King Junior could not “get the job done.”  This prominent person of color needed the white man [or woman] in the White House to achieve what had never been accomplished before.  Senator Clinton’s words help cultivate the belief, a Caucasian, has the power to change the nation or make dreams come true.  Americans cannot know with certainty if this is true for even as some select Black persons climb, the old adage is reinforced.

“Race doesn’t matter!” the crowd at Obama’s victory celebration in Columbia chanted last night, and when he spoke, the senator elaborated on the theme.  He said his victory disproved those who argue that people “think, act and even vote within the categories that supposedly define us” — that blacks will not vote for a white candidate and vice versa.

“I did not travel around this state and see a white South Carolina or a black South Carolina.  I saw South Carolina,” he said.  The election, he said, “is not about rich versus poor or young versus old, and it’s not about black versus white. This election is about the past versus the future.”

Americans wonder what will the future bring.  Can the United States, as a country, change so significantly.  After all, although voters are older and hopefully wiser, each was trained as a toddler.  Perhaps, we must go back to school, to begin at the beginning.  It may be that what we witness among adults could be quelled in the early years.  Conventionally, in Elementary School, and on into Secondary Schools children were separated or tracked.  In a desire to create a more balanced educational environment, the racial divide can be more apparent.

Beth C. Rubin, an assistant education professor at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., describes how a school system’s efforts to end tracking-the practice of grouping students in separate classes by academic ability-inadvertently stigmatized minority students in one high school classroom. In that class, a teacher’s careful efforts to balance student work groups by race, gender, and ability enraged an African-American student.

“You trying to get all the black kids away from each other, before we cause a nuclear holocaust!” the student exclaimed. Meanwhile, the white students in the class, most of whom were high-achieving, relegated the minority students in their groups to roles that gave them little opportunity to hone their academic skills, according to Ms. Rubin’s account.

“I guess I’m asking teachers to think about race a little differently, and not so much about having to have kids equally distributed among groups,” Ms. Rubin said in an interview.  “And also,” she added, “to think of group work as skill-building over the course of the year.

Americans are reminded each day, integration without conversation does little to create balance.  People must not merely live together in neighborhoods, or work with one another in schools, or in offices.  We must learn to be open, honest, and willing to work through our differences.  What we do not understand will destroy us.  

A word, a look, will be interpreted through our personal background and experience.  If you are Black, a criticism might mean, “Get Back!”  If white, the same statement might be construed as, “It will be all right.”  If we remain colormute and colorblind, if we never bother to learn who each of us is, we can be certain, change will not come.  This is evident in numerous studies.  Our expectations rule.

Balance is also key to the kind of instructional climate teachers should provide in racially diverse classrooms, [communities or campaigns] according to Ronald F. Ferguson, the director of Harvard’s Achievement Gap Initiative . . .

Geoffrey L. Cohen, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Colorado-Boulder, recommends that, in offering students critical feedback, teachers convey the idea that the criticism reflects a high standard, and that they believe in the student’s ability to reach that standard . . .

Mr. Cohen has found that such messages can be more motivating for minority students, who are often wary of the feedback they get from teachers, than when educators overpraise them or give the same feedback to all students.

“Being a member of a stereotyped group puts one in a sort of bubble in which one can’t be certain whether the critical feedback comes from bias against their group or a teacher’s motivation to help one improve,” Mr. Cohen said in an interview.  “In general, though, whites can enter a school situation thinking, ‘Teachers here believe in me.'”

For many Black Americans, an educator is frequently another white person who works from a premise of fear or futility.  Too often, a teacher seems pompous or pretentious.  It is not uncommon for an African-American to feel patronized when in the presence of an Anglo authority figure.  A comment meant to express care, can be heard as contrived.  

Every individual, regardless of color, has a history.  Experience teaches us more than a professional mentor might.  It is hard to trust that a person might be colorblind, if that is even possible, if they are colormute.

As long as Americans choose to avoid the discussion of diversity, to deny differences, and to reject hat our distinctive appearances enhance our experience, then life will be as it is and was.  Change cannot come.  Admittedly, Anglos are [color] blind.  Apparently, Caucasians, and even Blacks prefer to be [color] mute.  This must end if we are to evolve.

When Americans, teachers, preachers, or Presidential hopefuls, do not empathetically approach the topic of intolerance then, as a society, we will continue to clash and crumble.  We may wish to hide from what haunts us.  However, there is a price to pay for racial discrimination and the income inequity we accept.

Economically and emotionally, bigotry is  expensive.   Americans can see the cost of dilapidated schools.  Residents in this Northern region of the globe experience what occurs when students do not have the opportunity to soar.  Employment possibilities are limited.  Without a satisfactory job, homeownership is not feasible.  Even apartment life is not cheap.  In a culture that creates illiteracy, the streets may provide the only shelter.  

A society that houses hordes of those with dark skin in slums does not truly serve us equally.  Citizens of the United Sates might understand, when a person is poor, as too many Black people are, they cannot afford adequate Health Care.  Hence, everyone, the affluent, and those who struggle but survive, contribute to the costs an ill and impoverished America creates.  

In this country, in our local communities, during this political campaign, if Americans remain colorblind and colormute, nothing will change.  The possibility that conditions will worsen is one we must acknowledge.

Barack Obama may be correct.  Differences exist.  However, they need not divide us.  Conversations about colorblindness and colormuteness can make his dream, our shared hope, come true.  Let us imagine that one day, this vision will be ours together.  As one people, united, perchance in time Americans will say . . .

The choice . . . is not between regions, religions, or genders. It’s not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white.

It’s about the past versus the future.

It’s about whether we settle for the same divisions, distractions, and drama . . . or whether we reach for  . . . common sense, and innovation – a shared sacrifice and shared prosperity . . .

When I hear that we’ll never overcome the racial divide . . . I think . . . Don’t tell me we can’t change.

Yes, we can change.

Yes, we can heal this nation.

Yes we can seize our future.

Anglo-Americans must no longer hold their children tightly when in the company of Black man or woman.  Pinkish people cannot continue to caution their progeny, to tell them they must pretend to be colorblind, and authentically become colormute.  If we are to ever heal, Caucasians in this country must mentor their offspring to believe, colors are beautiful.  Americans need to see the tone of a person’s skin, to speak of an individual’s race, and the realities without criticism.  If this country is going to change, if the United States expects to excel, then, we, the people must truly be, and act as equals.

Resources For Racism . . .

Mother Earth; Story of Stuff or The Seventh Generation



Movie Documentary – The Story of Stuff – Consumption, money, nature, environment

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Mother Nature is replete with resources.  Americans, with infinite ingenuity, wish to reap the rewards the planet offers.  We, in this country, claim the riches the land affords us; we do this well and often.  For us, every moment is an opportunity to give and receive stuff.

In America, what was once thought a “bundle of joy” is not enough.  In March 2007, Jena Slosberg of Bedford, New Hampshire became a new Mom after a seventeen-hour labor.  Her skin was aglow as the young mother held the manna from heaven.  Her husband Paul, stood by her side and smiled.  The proud Papa bestowed not the baby of their dreams, but something a bit more valuable, monetarily.  In the recovery room,  Paul presented his wife with a pair of sparkling diamond earrings.  The two beamed with pride.  

The little one was set aside as the couple contemplated the more substantial treasures.  Just as Jena and Paul, Americans love material possessions, perhaps more than they appreciate people.  In this nation, we do not honor the notion that we must live for the Seventh Generation. The time is now.  In the “present,” Jena spoke of her gemstones with great glee as she reflected upon the future.

“I was on cloud nine,” Ms. Slosberg said.  “It was the perfect present to make a frazzled, sleep-deprived, first-time mommy feel absolutely glamorous.”

She added, “I wonder what 17 hours of labor will get me next time?”

In a more innocent age, new mothers generally considered their babies to be the greatest gift imaginable.  Today, they are likely to want some sort of tangible bonus as well.

In a world of trinkets, trifle, ornamentation, and bling, babies are but a blip on the screen of life.  Too often infants conceived though intimate acts are as possessions, important for what they say about us, and there is much to say.  During the holiday season, people consider the importance of being benevolent and charitable.  We bless the almighty or those mighty in our lives.  We are grateful for our bountiful pleasures.  As a new mother might thank goodness for her healthy child, Americans express gratitude for all those close to them, or so we say.  

However, as we venture out into the malls, journey into brick and mortar stores, or shop in cyberspace we might take a moment to consider what we do and why.  How do our purchases affect us as a whole.  Perchance, the earlier discussion of newborns provides enlightenment; the narrative helps us understand the Story of Stuff.

Some call it the “baby mama gift.”  Others refer to it as the “baby bauble.”  But it’s most popularly known as the “push present.”

That’s “push” as in, “I the mother, having been through the wringer and pushed out this blessed event, hereby claim my reward.”  Or “push” as in, “I’ve delivered something special and now I’m pushing you, my husband/boyfriend, to follow suit.”

Americans are “pushed” to purchase as we do.  Numerous social scientists posit this is the Century of Self.  The line is now blurred between want and need, nourishment and necessary, conservative, and conservation.  Consumption, for its own sake, is promoted in this, the era of Public Relations.   Sadly, specialists in communications often honor commercial concerns, not those of the preservationist.  

Propaganda is bought, and sold, although we do not use such a derogatory identifier for advertisements.  The public is persuaded; shop til you drop.  Nonetheless, in each and every moment Americans are convinced they must live a lavish life if they are to find joy.  Expensive material gifts will bring you happiness and glee.  

In our modern society, people realize they must labor long and arduous hours if they are to pay the price for simple pleasures.  Others, such as Jena believe their labor of love will yield grand chattels.  Apparently, in the last few years, many first-time mothers think as Mommy Slosberg does.

“It’s more and more an expectation of moms these days that they deserve something for bearing the burden for nine months, getting sick, ruining their body,” said Linda Murray, executive editor of BabyCenter.com. “The guilt really gets piled on.”

A recent survey of more than 30,000 respondents by BabyCenter.com found that 38 percent of new mothers received a gift from their mate in connection with their child.  Among pregnant mothers, 55 percent wanted one.  About 40 percent of both groups said the baby was ample reward.

Sandra Miller of Arlington, Mass., is not among the 40 percent.

“Women can and do expect a thoughtful token of appreciation,” she said.  “It’s a way to honor a mother giving her emotions, body and hormones over to a baby for nine months, culminating in an experience which, when done naturally, redefines the meaning of pain.  And when not done naturally, it’s still an act of sacrifice.”

Apparently, today more than half of the new mothers in America think they have suffered.  Therefore, they must be rewarded.  Women believe when they choose to give birth they forfeit their figure.  New moms surrender more than a few seconds of their lives.  These feminine embryo vessels are deprived and chemically depleted.  Daddies owe their spouse or female partner a present or two.  At least one big package is a must, and she does not speak of the bundle named baby.

It seems in America we do not give credence to the notion, commercials cause us to commit to an accepted custom, consumption.  Merchandisers do not make us leap from our chair; nor do they have the power to force us to dash downtown before the boutiques close.  Perchance, empathy encourages us to do as we do. Possibly, the father feels he was free to be, as his woman carried such a burden.  If not guilt-ridden, or worn into submission, a proud Papa believes he owes his beloved a bauble, a bracelet, a token of some sort.

Push presents seem to have taken off within the last decade, particularly in the last couple of years.  In 2005 the Southeast-based jewelry chain Mayors marketed diamond earrings with the tag line, “She delivered your first born; now give her twins.”  Fortunoff, the jewelry and gift chain with a Fifth Avenue flagship, established a push present registry six months ago.

But the push present – unlike the 15-year anniversary ring – is apparently not the invention of the jewelry industry looking for another opportunity to sell goods. No one is quite sure how the trend began; in practice, the baubles are presented before or after the big day, or sometimes right in the delivery room.

“They’ve arisen from the time cavemen brought trinkets to their wives,” said Jim Brusilovsky of Chains-and-charms.com, a Philadelphia-based jewelry chain. “I haven’t seen it coming from the industry.”

Michael Toback, a jewelry supplier in Manhattan’s diamond district, traces the practice to a new posture of assertiveness by women. “You know, ‘Honey, you wanted this child as much as I did. So I want this,'” he said.

A more likely explanation is that men are now simply more aware of and sympathetic to the plight of their pregnant partners, given their increasing tendency to attend childbirth classes and help in the actual delivery.  “I think husbands are more involved with the prenatal process,” said Dr. Philippe Girerd, an obstetrician in Richmond, Va. “Women go through back pain, morning sickness, stress and so on.  We just sit around and take the credit.  I think a lot of 21st century husbands are a little more in touch with that.”

Yes, that is it.  Empathy, sympathy pains prompt men, women, and children to shop.  Ties the season to be jolly, and to do this we must feel for our wife, husband, daughter, or son.  Late in November, we gave thanks; however, then the gift of food was the focus.  Mostly, we rewarded our stomachs.  The turkey was stuffed and so were we.  Now, in the spirit of the holidays, we will stuff our face, our stockings, our homes, and garages.  We will fill our rooms with treasures until we can fill no more.  Then we will expand our horizons.  Each of us will bestow gifts upon those we love.

It is Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, and Ramadan; in truth, any excuse will do.  We need no reason to spend and spread the cheer.  Any day, every day is a celebration when you are an American consumer.

Citizens who reside in the United States are taught to consume.  As children, we were delighted when commercials rang out on the radio or danced across screens.  As toddlers we heard the cheery music, sang the jingles that we still recall today.  We strolled through the supermarkets with Mommy and Daddy.  All was attractive to us and was placed within our reach.  We grabbed for everything.

The brightly colored boxes, the sweet sugary confections, and the vibrant balloons that hung overhead, all called to us.  The stickers, soda cans, snacks . . . what more could a young person want but to buy, buy, and buy.  Mommy please, can I have this?  Daddy, I want that . . . As toddler we expected to be rewarded.  Did mother and father not say, if you are a good girl, the best boy, then I will give you a gift?  In our early years, we were trained, not only to use the toilet, but to buy.  We learned, if we acted as others hoped we would, they would give us gifts galore.  Things were surrogates for love.

Mom was too busy to pay attention to young John or Jane.  However, she had time to spend on shopping for Jill and Joshua.  Dad was overwhelmed with the demands of his job.  His boss brought more burdens.  Father was out, for he needed to provide [for Sam and Sally.]  The man we called Pop was gone.  Still the presents came.  “Daddy when you come home, what will you bring me?'”

As a tot, we learned; we needed stuff.  Stuff was our supplement for affection, adoration, devotion, and demonstrations of kindness.  Our hearts were empty.  There was a huge void to fill.  We did not just want goodies.  Trinkets were and are necessities.  Then and now Americans need, validation and vindication.  If we do not receive a present, certainly the reason must be vengeance.  No one would wish to leave the impression that they are bitter, rancorous, or unreasonable; thus, even if guilt motivates our purchases we will buy.  Young fathers such as Paul Schlosberg may not appreciate the presumption that he must pay his wife for bringing the bundle of joy into the universe.  Nevertheless, he is grateful.  Hence . . .

  • The average U.S. person now consumes twice as much as they did 50 years ago.

We are easily influenced, or convinced of what we already believe.

  • We each see more advertisements in one year than a people 50 years ago saw in a lifetime.

We do as directed.  Americans embark on a mission to consume.  During the holidays, even days before, we merely set our sights higher.  Most see this season as an opportunity to increase our standard of living, or at least our credit limit.  Our quest begins on Black Friday.   In the twenty-first century, there is no need to wait ’til dawn.  The race to rejoice in shopping with the religious holy days in mind inspires entrepreneurs to open shop doors before the sun rises.  By breakfast, the stores filled with people.  People scramble from one sale table to another.  Warehouse shelves are stocked, cleared by eager customers, and stocked again.  

Carolers sing as if to cheer the patrons on.  Procure, purchase, pay for your wares.  Do this in one depot then move on to another.  Collectibles, china, figurines, fine jewelry.  Clothing, cameras, computers, and candy.  Ties, tableware, television sets, high definition, and plasma screens.  Shoes are nice.  Do you know her size?  Digital Media Players, that is what he truly desires.  Software, hardware, perchance, an automobile would the perfect gift.  Let us look for sales and hope we are in time for bargains.

In times of strife, in moments of glory, no matter the season or the reason, in America we shop.  There is never enough stuff.  We are never satisfied.  We want a newer, brighter, lighter, convenient, compact, more powerful, more prestigious, more, more, and more.  “Too much is never enough.”  Yet, there is a price to pay.  Americans work longer hours.  We are less happy.  Our health is poor.  Citizens in this country are stressed.  No amount of stuff we have, nothing seems to satiate our need to feel whatever bliss buying brings us.

  • In the U.S. our national happiness peaked sometime in the 1950s.
  • In the U.S., we spend 3-4 times as many hours shopping as our counterparts in Europe do.

“Joy to the world, the Lord has come.”  Americans find him under a Christmas tree or beneath a Hanukah bush.  The divine may shine in the light from the candles.  A mishumaa saba or a menorah might light the way to the almighty.  Possibly, in America stuff is our G-d.

I, for one, love the traditions of the holidays.  Every time-honored festivity warms my heart.  However, much to my surprise, only when my family chose to forego the exchange of ‘goodies’ did I truly learn to appreciate the winter solstice and the time spent with those I truly treasure.  In truth, a much as I protested the change, and I did, every day of my life has been far better since I “sacrificed” the joy of conventional gift giving or more accurately taking from the Earth.

  • In the past three decades, one-third of the planet’s natural resources base have been consumed.
  • In the United States, we have less than 4% of our original forests left.
  • Forty percent of waterways in the US have become undrinkable.
  • The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population but consumes 30% of the world’s resources4 and creates 30% of the world’s waste.
  • If everybody consumed at U.S. rates, we would need 3 to 5 planets.

As much as we have in America, it seems what we acquire is never enough.  Marketers and manufactures know this.  Perhaps the awareness grew out of the era of Freud.

Edward L. Bernays, an early leader in the public relations field, and often described as the Father of Public Relations, devised or developed many techniques for influencing public opinion.  During the Industrial Revolution Mr. Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud, realized that if you persuade people to behave irrationally if you link products to their emotional desires and feelings you can sell any product.  Bernays understood if an advertisement attempts to appeal to the intellect, it will not likely be successful.  People will ultimately conclude they do not need more than they can afford or use.  However, if you allure and entice a person to desire an object, they will justify that what they want is what they truly require.

During the Industrial Revolution production increased, workers were employed.  Money began to flow.  However, the corporate bigwigs had a fear.  What would happen once the market was saturated?  Bernays trusted, if people were trained to believe they need what they  merely want, the streets would never be sparse.  Shops would be full, and there would be customers aplenty.  Economically, the marketplace would work efficiently, if advertisements were presented effectively.  Charm the customer to consume and he will do so eternally.  Edward Bernays appreciated this construct early in his life.

Born on Nov. 22, 1891, Mr. Bernays was one of five children of Ely Bernays and Anna Freud Bernays.  The family moved in 1892 to the United States, and in 1912, Mr. Bernays graduated from Cornell University.  After doing United States Government war propaganda work in World War I, Mr. Bernays realized that, as he put it in the 1991 interview, “if this could be used for war, it can be used for peace.” . . .

Some of Mr. Bernays’s promotion efforts became legendary. To promote Ivory soap and make bathing more popular with children, he set up a national small-sculpture panel that for years oversaw soap-carving competitions.

Several of the societal changes that Mr. Bernays espoused for clients have had long-lasting effects. For instance, he was instrumental in making it acceptable for women to smoke in public, sponsoring, on behalf of the American Tobacco Company’s Lucky Strike cigarettes, demonstrations in which debutantes gathered on street corners to light up. The cigarettes were even called “torches of freedom.”

On behalf of Lucky Strike, Mr. Bernays also undertook to alter women’s fashions. When surveys showed that women objected to Luckies because the green package with its red bull’s-eye clashed with the colors of their clothes, he swung into action to make green fashionable. There followed a green fashion luncheon, green balls (at which green gowns were worn), and window displays of green suits and dresses. The campaign was a brilliant success, according to sales figures.

He regarded himself as a professional opinion maker who, by following precise principles, could produce desired changes in attitudes.

“Public relations, effectively used, helps validate an underlying principle of our society — competition in the market place of ideas and things,” he wrote in 1971.

. . . One of his early public relations strokes was on behalf of Venida hairnets. When women began to bob their hair after World War I, they discarded hairnets, much to the distress of hairnet manufacturers.

Venida, an industry leader, called in Mr. Bernays, who conducted a public relations campaign for the product. Among other things, he got artists to praise the “Greek coiffure” look that hairnets gave their wearers. And he got a labor expert to urge labor commissioners around the country to insist that women working with or near machines wear hairnets for their own protection. Much favorable publicity ensued.

In this, as in similar campaigns, Mr. Bernays’s approach was oblique. The emphasis was on hairnets, not on Venida. Indeed, Venida was rarely mentioned at all.

While we are all aware of brand loyalty, and accept that a name can sell a product, there must be an emotional connection to ensure a customer will be devoted throughout their lifetime. Manufacturers accepted they must maintain a certain standard of excellence to secure dedication.  However, industrialists also knew, once a consumer believed implicitly in a product, it was difficult to convince them to venture far from the familiar.  Diamonds will be forever.  A De Beers [if not a blood gem] is truly a prize.  Did Paul buy Jena the best?

Industry moguls in America love that humans have a deep desire to satisfy every emotion with stuff.  To appease the inner angst that we might be good enough we must embellish ourselves.  To quell the anxiety we feel when we consider we might go without we must horde.  If we are to honor others, we must give.  

Hence, companies in the United States produce and do so with abandon.  Manufacturers seek ways to make the wares more attractive to consumers.  Years ago, companies realized if they use synthetic material and relied on the miracle of chemistry they could generate more goods at a lower price.  Thus, profits would increase.  Artificial substances were less expensive and more easily accessed.  The costs of the final product must be kept low in order to attract consumers.  

[T]he materials move to “production” and what happens there is we use energy to mix toxic chemicals in with the natural resources to make toxic contaminated products.  There are over 100,000 synthetic chemicals in commerce today.  Only a handful of these have even been tested for human health impacts and NONE of them have been tested for synergistic health impacts, that means when they interact with all the other chemicals we’re exposed to every day.

So, we don’t know the full impact of these toxics on our health and environment of all these toxic chemicals.  But we do know one thing: Toxics in, Toxics Out.  As long as we keep putting toxics into our production system, we are going to keep getting toxics in the stuff that we bring into our homes, our workplaces, and schools. And, duh, our bodies.  These toxics build up in the food chain and concentrate in our bodies.

Do you know what is the food at the top of the food chain with the highest levels of many toxic contaminants?

Human breast milk.  [Oh no.  Again, we are reminded of the Schlosberg’s.  Is mother’s milk contaminated?  Will the baby be affected, if not by a consumer driven society, but by a basic source of nourishment.]

That means that we have reached a point where the smallest members of our societies-our babies-are getting their highest lifetime dose of toxic chemicals from breastfeeding from their mothers.  Is that not an incredible violation?  Breastfeeding must be the most fundamental human act of nurturing; it should be sacred and safe.  Now breastfeeding is still best and mothers should definitely keep breastfeeding, but we should protect it.  They [government] should protect it.  I thought they were looking out for us.

And of course, the people who bear the biggest brunt of these toxic chemicals are the factory workers many of whom are women of reproductive age.  They’re working with reproductive toxics, carcinogens and more.

Diamond earrings will not reduce the effect lethal chemicals have on the body.  A silk scarf, even on sale will not soothe the lesions from skin cancer.  Even those fortunate females not exposed to deadly poisons in the workplace cannot escape the contaminants placed into the environment.  Emotionally, they may work to escape.  After all, there is always the best American distraction, shopping.  Let us head for the exits quickly after the work day ends.  Let us leave the our worries behind, if we can.

A lot of the toxics leave the factory as products, but even more leave as byproducts, or pollution.  And it’s a lot of pollution.  In the U.S., industry admits to releasing over 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals a year and it’s probably way more since that is only what they admit.

So, that’s another limit, because, yuck, who wants to look at and smell 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals

a year?

So, what do they do?  Move the dirty factories overseas.  Pollute someone else’s land [and use their resources!] . . .

  • 75% of global fisheries now are fished at or beyond capacity.
  • 80% of the planet’s original forests are gone.
  • In the Amazon alone, we’re losing 2000 trees a minute. That is seven football fields a minute.

Americans seem to believe what is out of sight, exists no more.  If we cannot smell the stench, there is none.  If we cannot feel the dirt the air, water, and ground must be clean.  However, as inhabitants of this planet, we must recognize that this is not so.  The third astronomical body from the sun, houses us all.  Every tree, plant, reptile, amphibian, mammal, insects has a purpose.  Each entity helps the other sustain life.

We must accept that not only Americans live here on the home we call Earth.  Persons, and all other life forms on every continent need and want a pristine wilderness.  A crystal clear lake is more than beautiful.  A blue sky is not but a term used in poetry.  Trees, flowers, the flora feed us all bug and beast.  Each entity is important and must be honored more than the frivolous fabrics that fill this nation.  [Is the baby a bundle of joy or is the signature blue box from Tiffany’s even better.]

Science tells us, in this huge planetary home contamination cannot be contained.  Every river and sea connects to another.  Air flows.  Landmasses shift; they are filled.  Dust is in the wind.  Nothing in nature is static.  The more stuff we create, the more we need to accommodate.  Americans try to adjust to the reality of consumption.  We build bigger homes to hold all our stuff.  Then we clean these structures.  We want no visible waste.

  • Average U.S. house size has doubled since the 1970s.
  • Each person in the United States makes 4 1/2 pounds of garbage a day.  That is twice what we each made thirty years ago.
  • For every one garbage can of waste you put out on the curb, 70 garbage cans of waste were made upstream to make the junk in that one garbage can you put out on the curb.

Americans must stop and consider the force that drives us . . .

Consumption

. . . This is the heart of the system, the engine that drives it. It is so important [to propping up this whole flawed system] that protecting this arrow is a top priority for both these guys.

That is why, after 9/11, when our country was in shock, President Bush could have suggested any number of appropriate things: to grieve, to pray, to hope.  NO.  He said to shop TO SHOP.

We have become a nation of consumers. Our primary identity has become that of consumer, not mothers, teachers, farmers, but consumers.  The primary way that our value is measured and demonstrated is by how much we contribute to this arrow, how much we consume. And do we!

We shop and shop and shop.  Keep the materials flowing.  And flow they do!

Guess what percentage of total material flow through this system is still in product or use 6 months after their sale in North America.  Fifty percent?  Twenty?   NO.  One percent.   One! In other words, 99 percent of the stuff we harvest, mine, process, transport -99 percent of the stuff we run through this system is trashed within 6 months. Now how can we run a planet with that rate of materials throughput?

Dear reader, you might say as I did.  This could not be true.  I keep what I buy.  I use each item until I can use it no more.  Well, except for the clothes, I purchased and never wore, or the closet hook I never hung or returned.  Then, there were the  sunglasses someone left in my home.  After, two years I took those to Goodwill.  Reluctantly, as I reflect I realize, in years gone by telephones lasted for more than a year.  Hark back to the day when you could buy a new battery for far less than the latest gadget cost.  I must admit much goes to the dump.

It wasn’t always like this. The average U.S. person now consumes twice as much as they did 50 years ago.  Ask your grandma. In her day, stewardship, and resourcefulness and thrift were valued. So, how did this happen?

Well, it didn’t just happen. It was designed.

Shortly after the World War 2, these guys were figuring out how to ramp up the [U.S.] economy.  Retailing analyst Victor Lebow articulated the solution that has become the norm for the whole system.  He said: “Our enormously productive economy . . . demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption . . . we need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate.”

And President Eisenhower’s Council of Economic Advisors Chairman said that “The American economy’s ultimate purpose is to produce more consumer goods.” MORE CONSUMER GOODS???  Our [economy’s] ultimate purpose?  Not provide health care, or education, or safe transportation, or sustainability or justice?

Consumer goods?

Researcher, and Author of The Story of Stuff,  Annie Leonard asks, “How did they get us to jump on board this program so enthusiastically?”  She offers one explanation.  However, we know the pattern began long before the post world War II Age of Productivity.  Edward Bernays eloquently persuaded us to consume long before his followers found a way to increase our expenditures.  The strategy was so subtle, the operations so oblique, Americans did not realize they had been hypnotized.  Perchance the glow from the diamonds their mothers received upon their birth obstructed their vision.

Nevertheless, over time industrialists did learn to avail themselves of the opportunities Bernays created.  Manufacturers and marketers encouraged emotional decisions.  They expand a consumer driven environment and increased their profits.  Companies found ways to ensure there would be a greater “need” to buy.

Well, two of their most effective strategies are planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence.  Planned obsolescence is another word for “designed for the dump.”  It means they actually make stuff that is designed to be useless as quickly as possible so we will chuck it and go buy a new one. It’s obvious with stuff like plastic bags and coffee cups, but now it’s even big stuff: mops, DVDs, cameras, barbeques even, everything!

Even computers. Have you noticed that when you buy a computer now, the technology is changing so fast that within a couple years, it’s [your new computer] actually an impediment to communication.  I was curious about this so I opened up a big desktop computer to see what was inside.52 And I found out that the piece that changes each year is just a tiny little piece in the corner. But you can’t just change that one piece, because each new version is a different shape, so you gotta chuck the whole thing and buy a new one.

So, I was reading quotes from industrial design journals from the 1950s when planned obsolescence was really catching on. These designers are so open about it. They actually discuss how fast they can make stuff break and still leaves the consumer with enough faith in the product to go buy anther one.  It was so intentional.

But stuff cannot break fast enough to keep this arrow afloat, so there’s also “perceived obsolescence.”

Now perceived obsolescence convinces us to throw away stuff that is still perfectly useful.

Perception is truly our reality.  What we believe drives us, to the mall, the dump, and back to the mall again.  Most of us are quite comfortable with what we know.  The familiar, we believe is sagacious.  It is tried and true.  Customs are to be revered and celebrated.  People are to be cherished, and we can only show our appreciation through the gifts we give.  However, maybe, we need not bequeath as we do now.  After all, what is now a tradition was once a novelty.  Indeed, the old was new not too long ago, and the newer can become our convention.

Americans might recognize the wrath of Mother Earth.  Each of us may realize she is not happy as her globe warms.  Her children have not honored her.  We have not been good stewards of the environment.  While we gifted ourselves, Americans thrashed and trashed the nature that gave us life.  Perchance, it is time to truly honor others.  Let us give greenerly, not greedily.

You might think this would spoil the fun.  The fervor that is Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza or Ramadan would be lost without the glitz and glitter we have come to expect.  Holiday gatherings can be a challenge.  Time with the relatives is not an option you relish.  Tis true . . .

The holidays have always been an emotionally combustible time for families, bringing together a sometimes volatile mix of siblings, crotchety grandparents, and ill-behaved children.  But in recent years, a new figure has joined the celebration, to complicate the proceedings even further: the green evangelist of the family – the impassioned activist bent on eradicating the wasteful materialism of the holidays.

Otherwise known, at least to skeptical traditionalists, as the new Grinch.

This Grinch, however, is not out to spoil Christmas, but merely to use it as a platform to advocate ecological responsibility.  Perhaps emboldened by the “Live Earth” benefit concerts and Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize, this is the family member who is the first to point out, over the bountiful Christmas dinner, that the 2.6 billion holiday cards sold each year in the United States could fill a landfill the size of a football field 10 stories high, or that those conventional lights on the Christmas tree contribute up to nine times as much greenhouse-gas emissions as the leaner-burning L.E.D. models; or that some Christmas-tree growers use as many as 40 different pesticides, as well as chemical colorants, on their crops.

The question that an increasing number of families face is whether the proselytizing green member of the clan adds spice to the proceeding, like, say, a cup of whiskey in a bowl of eggnog, or an explosive element, like that same cup of whiskey tossed into the fire on Christmas morning.

IT’S not just the greens who feel this emotional tug at the end of the year: A 2005 survey by the Center for a New American Dream showed that 78 percent of Americans wish the holidays were “less materialistic.” At the same time, the average American spends about $900 on presents each year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Still, to some ears, the call for less excessive consumption during the holidays sounds almost un-American.

“The point of the holidays for many people is the joy people get in giving,” said Kenneth P. Green, a resident scholar on environmental issues at the American Enterprise Institute.  Environmentalists who scold their families are simply making “ritualistic gestures that won’t solve the problem,” he said.

Mister Green is correct.  Change will not come if we condescend for a day, an hour or even for a season.  If we are to genuinely give credence to what we say we believe, Americans must look at every choice they make.  We must ask ourselves what we value, a baby, or a bauble.  When we destroy the environment, ravage the land in search of diamonds, demean those that mine for the mineral, are we giving a gift and to whom?  

If we wish to appreciate another, might we bestow upon them that which honors their life, ours, and all lives?  Perchance, this season the best present we could give is consistent conscious awareness and compassionate action.  Let us give the gift that keeps on giving; love thy fellow man, the planet, and you.

We need not forego traditions; nor would it be wise to go without remembrances and relics that are not necessarily “needed.”  If we accept that what we purchase must be good for the Earth, our neighbors, ourselves, and the babies born seven generations from now we will produce and consume with reason.  Perchance, that is the lesson we must learn.  Mature love is an intellectual engagement.  Immature fondness is but an immediate gratification.  Love thy self and those that share this planet with you.

I wish you peace, prosperity; I hope for goodwill to all men.

The Story of Stuff, Sources, and Shopping . . .

Please Enjoy the Century of Self . . .



Century of Self

The Myth Of Hard Work

It is my honor to introduce Forgiven.  I believe his thoughtful, reflective treatise speaks volumes.  As I read it, so much of the information resonated within me.  I hope you too will appreciate the missive and the message.

copyright © Forgiven The Disputed Truth

There is a common myth that runs through America, propagated by the wealthy for mass consumption.  This myth has been one of the most dangerous and divisive instruments used against the American working class of all races.  This myth has been a part of Americana from the beginning and continues today unabated for the most part and constantly being reinforced by the media, corporate America, and the talking heads.  The myth is simply this: that if an individual will work hard, follow the rules, and be patient that they can be successful.  The biggest determinate to a person’s rise in this society is hard work and personal responsibility.

On the surface, this myth seems plausible and almost logical.  The harder one works the more successful one will become.  It is simple cause and effect, right?  It is precisely this logic that allows the constant criticism of our poorest citizens as being lazy, irresponsible, and foolish to go unchallenged.  If asked, the majority of Americans of all races will state unequivocally that most people are poor because of a lack of personal responsibility and hard work.  The truth is that in accumulating wealth hard work plays a very small role.  The wealth and income gaps between Americans is not based on the fact that one group worked harder than another.  If that were in fact the case in American history, no group has worked harder than the slaves that built this country, the Chinese that built the railroad, or the Mexicans that continue to do the menial labor that drives our information society.

Today, as Tim Wise writes in “The Mother of All Racial Preferences” white baby boomers are benefiting from the largest transfer of wealth in American history as they inherit their parents’ estates.  Some of that wealth dates back to the years of slavery, when Blacks were forced to work for free while their white owners and the American economy accumulated the benefits of their toil.  Another large category of the transferred wealth is land, much of it stolen by the American government from Native Americans and Mexicans and sold for a pittance to white settlers.  For the average white family, however, some of the largest sources of wealth are the result of racial preferences in government policies that were started in the 20th century.   Focus On Affirmative Action

As I was researching this essay, I began to look back on my own work experiences and it was a fact that I worked the hardest on the jobs that paid me the least.  There is something wrong with a system that pays a person more who is actually doing less and not only are they paid more but there is a great disparity in those earnings.  How can we in good conscious claim that the person working for minimum wage or working two menial jobs is not working hard enough and are therefore responsible for their lack of wealth?  Unfortunately for them and most other poor minorities, wealth is the accumulation of advantages or disadvantages.  If we are honest with ourselves, we will acknowledge the discrepancy of labor to income, except for labor intensive trades.  These low end wage earners work very hard and yet despite their efforts they continue to be poor.

The problem I have is simply this, I want the opportunity to be successful based on the premise that all are equal and therefore have equal access to the tools of success.  The issue is not whether everyone will take the opportunity provided, the issue is that the opportunity be provided to all equally.  Not every white person takes advantage of all of their advantages, but I don’t hear any talk that they as a group are not worthy to have opportunities.  For some reason, if some blacks choose not to take advantage of their opportunities, it is an indictment against all blacks and therefore we do not deserve any opportunities.  The point is this, if not one black takes advantage of an equal education or employment opportunities, so what.  Equality is the key, not what one does with it.  These opportunities should still exist and be equal for all, because that is what is right.

Critics of affirmative action lean heavily on the myth that people make it on their own in the United States based on hard work and individual effort.  They also maintain that government intervention in the wealth creation process is not just unprecedented, but un-American.  Simply put, they ask: Why should the beneficiaries of affirmative action be the recipients of preferential governmental policies when whites acquired their wealth through hard work?  The answer is simple: in reality governmental policy has played an absolutely crucial role in determining the racial character of the haves and the have nots in America.  Focus On Affirmative Action

Since the beginning of America, the government has provided the tools for one group to have advantages at the exclusion of other groups.  The majority of wealth in America is based on the government policies that favored one group over another, for anyone to say that the government should not now show any favoritism is either being blatantly dishonest or ignorant to the history of America.  The majority of personal wealth in America is based on home ownership, if governmental policies provided funds for one group and not all groups equally then that is favoritism.  With the government condoning and encouraging “red-lining” in mortgage loans by the FHA, it allowed whites to receive low interest loans on their mortgages thus providing them with the needed equity to begin the process of wealth accumulation.  This is just one of many government policies that helped to decide who was going to be well-off in America and who wasn’t.

I want to state that I believe that personal responsibility is important.  It is important however not for accumulating wealth, its importance lies in the health of the society.  The health of a society is based on the principle that everyone in that society is personally responsible for their actions, not because it leads to wealth but because it leads to a better society.  Whether you are a low wage worker or the CEO of a Fortune 500, it is incumbent upon all of us to do what is right and to do our best.  Again, the point is not that we base opportunity on a given person’s response to it, but on equal access.  When we reach the stage where everyone has equal opportunity for success, then we can talk about who is taking advantage and who isn’t.  Until that time it is a moot point, because the myth will still just be a myth.

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic – John F. Kennedy

Home Is Where You Put Your Stuff – A Christmas Story

copyright © 2007 Judith Moriarty

[Commentary followed by A Personal Reflection of Christmas Past]

“In Manhattan the income gap between the rich and poor is greater than in Guatemala, and within the U.S. is surpassed only by a group of 70 households near a former leper colony in Hawaii.”

~  Gap Between Rich and Poor in New York City Grows Wider, By Sam Roberts.  The New York Times. December 25, 1994

What is a home?  It is easier to understand homelessness by taking a minute to define a home.  A home is a space of our own that is considered to belong to us.  We may not have a whole house, a whole apartment, or even a whole room, but we have our own space.  It is secure: we know where we are going to sleep tonight; we know that ‘home’ is going to be there when we get there.  It is safe.  Although no safety is perfect, we have a way to lock our home, to control who comes in when we are there and when we aren’t.  We can leave our belongings at home and have a reasonable expectation of finding them safe when we get back.  We are sheltered from rain and cold.  We have a means to warm ourselves.  We have a bed.  We have a way to store and prepare food.  We have cold and hot running water, a toilet, and a shower or bathtub to wash ourselves.  We can come and go at our own choice.  Home is where you put your stuff.

While the media portrays (deliberately) the homeless as ‘losers, drunks, addicts, the mentally ill, and parasitic segment of society – too lazy to work’; this is a rather shallow simplistic view!  It lumps everyone suffering a crisis into the same stereotype.  True, many are homeless due to drinking, drugs, mental illness, and poor work ethics.  But then, many are drunks and dope addicts, who aren’t homeless.

At one time people were identified as the ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’ poor.  A family down on their luck, due to a death in the family or crisis of unemployment etc were seen as ‘worthy’ of intervention.  The able bodied, who found themselves homeless, were seen as bums – or lazy ner’ do wells.  FDR’s New Deal – and WWII saw many government housing projects built.  These were seen as a stopgap measure, until people could recoup their losses/ and for veterans returning from war.  They were mostly occupied by whites.  These folks went on to gainful employment, and in many instances became homeowners.  The project, during the 60’s onwards, became dumping grounds for the poor (mostly minorities).  Repairs and maintenance were disregarded.  These ‘hives’ became despairing hovels filled with crime.

Today many of these projects are being torn down or left vacant.  Vouchers for housing have been cut, with many of the working poor left with no place to secure affordable housing.  Even in the best of times, a person (family) could be on a waiting list for years before there was an opening.  The crisis in America (all communities) today is affordable housing.  New York City sees an approximate 10,000 families suffering homelessness (not counting single people) each night.  Meantime the un-homeless, contrive different programs, consisting of rules -regulations – and policies, which even a legal student couldn’t decipher.  Everyone is agreed that society needs (besides its bankers – brokers – professionals – etc) laborers, clerks, mechanics, janitors, window washers, nursing/hospital personnel, teachers, etc.  With rent in many urban areas (even rural America) running upwards of $750.00 to $1000.00 a month (not including utilities) its not hard to see why those making $15,000 to $25,000 a year can easily find themselves homeless.

Once upon a time in small town America; steel mills, paper mills, textile plants, manufacturing plants, the auto industry, sheet metal shops, tool and die shops, farming etc; had people, while not living opulent lives, able to afford the necessities of life.  Rents – fuel – medical care – prescriptions – schooling – taxes – cars and homes were affordable.  People weren’t made to choose between food or buying exorbitant prescriptions.  But then the pharmaceutical, insurance companies and HMOs weren’t writing the legislation!  One could afford a visit to the ER or doctor’s office.  A Department of Education didn’t exist; throwing down mandates from Foggy Bottom (Washington) demanding increasingly draconian policies, regulations, testing, and social engineering  (putting the costs on beleaguered tax payers).  It takes money to create obedient, illiterate,  passive, groupthink drones,  for a future in a Wigget factory or the military.

This ‘mudslinging’, identified as ‘debates’,  has shown how far removed those running for office are from the people.  NOTHING of any merit (either party) has been accomplished.  It’s a game for clowns and opportunists, with  each (except for a few) trying to grab the  golden ring,  on the gaudy,  maniacal,  carousel,   that represents today’s  politics.  Only in  America, do we see  the few  with their  multi-millions,  and  backers of  special interests,   able to  secure  media  attention.  If the truth be told, the owners of the world have already chosen the next puppet.  All this campaigning is mere theater.  Note how the few, with any credible message,  have been quickly marginalized.  Government is now corporate owned and corporate controlled – with the herd encouraged to vote (feminists) for the first woman, or the war crowd,   with their law and order mentality,  for a Giuliani (911 brought him fame and fortune).  Our energy policy ( plotted behind closed doors by oil men) sees oil that was at $28.00 per barrel in 2000 now close to $100.  The golden ring means many things to many people.  Especially good fortune!

The majority of those running for office are well heeled  and have long ago lost  connection with work-a-day citizens (or the poor).  The Clinton’s arrival in Foggy Bottom now sees them as multi-millionaires.  President Bush,  who failed in every family backed business,  is now sitting on easy street.  In a land of 300 million,  we’re supposed to believe, that per chance Ms. Clinton wins, (she will – it’s in the bag) we’ll have us 28 years with a Bush or Clinton in office!  What’s wrong with this picture?  

Many of those in Congress/the Senate;  including the various candidates,  have secured lobbying jobs for their offspring (family members).  Trent Lott is jumping ship.  It’s reported that he’s now going to ‘cash in’ (work for a lobbying firm for big bucks).  That’s what its really about ——–self-interested – grasping greed.  The only thing this gang of hustlers managed to accomplish,  is voting themselves yearly cost of living raises, and tax payer subsidized health care.

President Bush/Vice President Cheney (Washington politicians) aren’t worried over the cost of hospital care.  No  drone in some cubicle reports to their physicians,  that such and such a procedure isn’t covered.  They are not demanded to have cash in hand when seeing a dentist.  Never be poor and have a toothache!  You’ll die before receiving aid.  Any medical crisis or ache or pain sees Washington politicians (bankers – Federal Reserve officials, lobbyists, corporate robber barons etc, being   afforded the best of medical care.  President Bush advises (having a physician on hand at all times)  that Joe citizen and his family go to the ER.  True!

Try being poor or homeless and getting  medical help in Super Power nation, U.S.A.  Try being a senior citizen, or a struggling family,  trying to secure special medications, chemotherapy, or hospital care.  Strom Thurmond once spent a month in a hospital resting up!  Today the poor will die on an ER floor (Los Angeles) of a perforated bowel,  while staff walks around them!  Today the poor are made to sit from morning to evening in a free clinic for help (most of these are being closed).  Mostly though, people just die.  They die in freezing, rat-infested tenements, in abandoned homes, in their cars, and under bridges.  They die in rural America,  in homes without heat.  They die in shelters and on city streets (dumped there by hospitals.) .  They die in decaying, unheated tenements owned by slum landlords.

These Washington hucksters aren’t worried over their pensions (also seeing yearly cost of living raises) or heating their homes.  Besides their lucrative salaries,  they receive all kinds of perks – from medical to housing allowances, fees for their offices, and exotic vacations,  which they call ‘fact finding missions’.  They don’t care because they don’t have to.  How many ‘debates’ do you see being held in an empty steel mill – paper mill – abandoned downtown Detroit, the empty Maytag factory, a shelter, or soup kitchen?  They voted these trade deals,  which have emptied America of livable wage jobs.  That’s why they stay away from the real America!  They are serving their corporate sugar daddies  by  ignoring the slave labor  that is being imported (thanks to NAFTA’s failure) to America.  These candidates  voted for the bankruptcy laws that are now  impoverishing  Middle Americans in a crisis.  Corporations are safe to in declaring bankruptcy and that’s all that counts.  They voted (Hillary told Silicon Valley she’ll bring in more) for hundreds of thousands of guest workers (professionals) to replace American workers.

And people wonder why homelessness is increasing at such a drastic level?  Today in America,  from Seattle – Oregon – to New Orleans,  people are now being housed in tent cities!  Detroit is filled with thousands of vacant buildings (hotels) and people are living in tents!  Why aren’t these newest housing projects of the 21st century being shown on the news as we spend 2 billion a week on war (estimated cost 1.6 trillion+).  With winter blasts upon us,  try to imagine yourself in that abandoned car – a tent – or living under a bridge.  Try to imagine yourself watching (New England) the crowds from the city zooming by,  on their way to exotic ski lodges – spending hundreds of dollars a day;  to ski down a mountain – drinking,  and gouging themselves on exotic meals.  Workers at these various resorts are imported guest workers.

It’s hard to imagine living in a land of such wealth under such deprivation.  It’s absurd.  Maybe that’s why people avoid looking at the  homeless?  When I’m  looking at you, (laying in a doorway) I begin to see me?  Who are the homeless?  Today, many folks are only a few paychecks away from joining the ‘unworthy poor’ (new label when you lose out in the race).  Millions of homes are in foreclosure; due to the greed of bankers – mortgage companies and politicians,  too busy feathering their own nests to deal with the crisis.

Who are the homeless?  They are the foster children  whom its assumed reach instant adulthood at age 18.  It’s the numerous abused and battered wives, (children)  who’ve escaped a house of mayhem and possible  murder.  With institutions closed down over the past few decades, its the mentally-ill.  Regional crisis centers were supposed to open,  but it never happened.  People haven’ t stopped becoming mentally ill – its just that now,  we jail them or they end up on the street (those without family).

We spent the money meant for the mentally ill/housing etc;  on raises for Washington – billions for war  – exotic vacations – golf courses – space stations – crumbling levees – studies of the sex lives of beetles  – bridges to nowhere – a museum for Woodstock – and mercenary forces ($1,200 a day) etc.  There just wasn’t any left over for everyday people!  Who are the homeless?  It’s Virginia a senior citizen I found on a park bench,  who lost her home due to the catastrophic illness of her husband (he died).  When she went for help, she was offered a bus ticket out of town (greyhound therapy).

Who are the homeless?  It’s the homeless veterans ( approximately 192,000) of all wars.  It’s James (Korea) who I found under a bridge (his nephew had stolen his SS checks).  It’s Billy the young man I found in a city park in a johnny-coat soaked with urine.  Billy with clubfeet, spina bifida, and a colostomy,  had been dumped on the street by a hospital.  Who are the homeless?  It’s Martha crippled with arthritis, Danny a foster boy, Henry and Joe, WWII veterans, Mr. Elliott, beaten to death in his wheelchair (WWII naval photographer) by an illegal immigrant dishwasher, looking for crack money.  The stories go on and on.  No the homeless are not all ner’ do wells on welfare having a half dozen kids!  There are numerous lazy, drunken, drug addicts of wealth.  You don’t hear the label ‘worthy or unworthy rich’.  President Regan, from the warmth of the White House said that the homeless preferred the great outdoors.

Depending on the luck of the draw in life;  the rich or well-connected citizen,  is protected from the harsher elements of being set outside the city gate.  Wealth and a proper  family  name (or profession) exempts them from being  labeled (except as eccentric).  If you’re a starlet – gladiator sports star – relative of a politician – or Al Gore’s son etc; you don’t end up in jail .  You end up in a $48,000 seaside rehab center  to escape the ‘stress’ of a  life.  Forget all the advantages these folks  were offered.  The stress of being coddled, pampered, and excused,  from any and all responsibilities,  takes its toll – so we are told?  Drunk or no drunk, heck  instead of ending up in a shelter  you could find yourself in the White House.  It’s all in how the life’s  cards are dealt !  Most of the rich and famous you see on the nightly news, involved in  numerous drug or drunken events,   would be laying in the gutter today  if not for money!

Homeless for Christmas


It was a cold – sleety night  in a large corporate Ct. city.  Gentrification had torn down neighborhoods (affordable housing); to make way for glass towers and a huge windowless mall,  consisting  of upscale boutiques and specialty stores.  The homeless were not permitted to roam its various floors seeking warmth during the days.  

I had written a play,  “Homeless for Christmas” which I put on in the pocket park entryway.  The manger scene consisted of Anna (Mary) a Native American Indian ( homeless due to sexual abuse) – Carlton ( Joseph) from Jamaica, and  Matthew (Baby Jesus) my three-month-old nephew.  Alicia (littlest angel) stood behind them in her white gown with tinsel halo.  Mary was attired in an old lace curtain and Joseph in an Indian blanket.  The three Wise Men,  could be seen approaching from the far end of the park,  with their shopping carts,  bearing gifts for homeless Jesus.  They were three homeless veterans.  As the crowd of homeless folks sang.  ‘ Away in a Manager’ the three veteran Wise Men presented the Holy family with gifts of canned food, a blanket, and a bouquet of poinsettias .

A few shoppers stopped for a moment  but then rushed on to buy those last minute gifts in the climate controlled  mall.  When the play ended,  we passed out (the vets and myself) toys to the numerous homeless kids and those  from the tenements.  Disney had donated $10,000 worth to me.  This was their way of saying they were sorry.  A month before  they had come out with a homeless doll called, ‘ Steve the Tramp’.  Steve carried a large board (with plastic nails).  On the package it said, “You’ll smell him before you see him.”  I organized a protest at the mall  (called all the media).  I made a huge poster depicting Mickey Mouse with huge bulging blood shot eyes  holding a spiked board.  My sign read, “Mickey Rat – You’ll Smell Him Before You See Him.”  Disney  took the doll off the market immediately and had a truck deliver tons of toys!  Protests do work ( at times).  I have to say they (Disney) have to be commended for their prompt action.

After our gala play and Disney toys  event, the kids  returned to the decaying tenements (far from the mall) .  The remainder of my homeless  crowd returned to the dingy shelter.  There’s nothing sadder during the year than to spend Christmas at a shelter.  There’s something about the hustle and bustle, holiday crowds, festive lights and Christmas caroling;  that makes the humiliation, the hopelessness, the alienation,  all the more painful.  I could relate,  as I remembered when my dad (factory closed) relocated us from the mountains of Pennsylvania to Connecticut.  He had secured a job in a Catholic hospital as their boiler room engineer.  We arrived in Ct with nothing but our meager suitcases of second- hand clothes.  I hated Ct from the first moment I saw it.  I promised myself when grown that  I’d leave.  I did.

We had to stay in a single-room occupancy hotel until my dad could save enough to get us an apartment.  That took some months.  I remember that Christmas.  I  pushed  aside the cheap plastic curtains on the one window  and watched the shoppers laden down with gifts.  I had decorated the plastic tulip plant on our dresser with some tinsel,  from the manger scene at  a nearby church.  It’s a surreal kind of feeling being on the outside watching others go about life’s routines – joys.  You feel like your  watching a movie – unable to join the happy actors on stage.

A shelter is a place where nobody owns anything and no spot is special.  It is dreary and joyless.  The noise is deafening and the stench from unwashed humanity unbearable at times.  If despair had an odor,  it could be found in a shelter.  Christmas (small town America) was once a time of neighbors on downtown streets.  In the luminous glow of Christmas lights, children played catching snowflakes on their tongues.  There was a hushed silence, as neighbors gathered around the Nativity in the park and  sang ‘Silent Night’.  Today the parks are empty.  Many Nativity scenes in the climate of political correctness (ACLU with nothing better to do) are gone.  All religious language is now banished.  Christmas is now the   Holiday  Season;  with  grotesque elves  –  cartoon  balloon parades  –  and  safe secular songs.  It’s  now  secular holiday  with  the focus on retail sales.  The biggest issue now,  is how to choose amongst all the toxic toys imported from China!

Perhaps it’s the deprivation, the poverty, the degradation or just plain awfulness,  of a small family huddled in the darkness of a stable,   that is abhorrent to some in today’s materialistic world?  There was no room in the Inn, but there was room in the stable.  The Inn is the gathering place of public opinion, the focal point of the world’s moods, the rendezvous of the worldly/moneyed, the rallying  place of the popular.  The stable is a place of outcasts, the ignored, the forgotten, the almost impossible things.  Divinity is always were we least expect to find it.

I remember a past Christmas at the shelter.  The faces; white, black, and  some gray ; from weariness or illness.  They were  etched in stoic longing and loneliness.  The remnants of the donated food (office parties) lay untouched on plastic trays.  The muted sounds of “Joy to the World,”  echoed forth from a blurred black and white TV.  Some covered their ears, some wept, some hummed along, eyes closed.  Perhaps they were remembering a time long ago when they belonged and were loved?

Teresa, her bruised face swelling from a beating on the street, lay in a crumpled heap on the bench.  As I put a blanket on her thin shaking body, I wondered that she hadn’t been killed as yet?  (Note – Teresa was murdered five months later for her canning money – near the city’s yacht club).  Henry, an elderly Black gentleman, brandishing his cane through the crowded community room,  looked like an escaped scarecrow on the lam.  In a whirlwind of decaying leaves, falling off his outlandish attire,  he demanded better service or the Mayor would hear about it.  Martha, eyes rolling back in her head, clutched her Christmas package of socks and gloves in her crippled hands, all the while singing her own song that had no beginning and no end.  Margaret (middle aged) her dirty blond hair pulled back in a severe bun – thumped her Bible damning everyone to hell for their sinful, slothful ways.  Having no dentures, she’d worked diligently one night cutting strips from a two-liter Pepsi bottle.  With a razor blade,  she cut the appropriate notches,  so that it had the appearance of teeth.  She painted them with white- out, then affixed the flexible strips to her upper and lower gums with denture adhesive.  As long as she didn’t eat, she was fine.

Richard, pacing back and forth, became more and more agitated with each dire warning from Margaret.  He finally turned, and in  his affected French accent,  pronounced that the finer hotels he was accustomed to staying at,  would never allow such rabble in their establishment.  Richard had existed on a family trust fund for years.  It  ran out and he was left stranded on the streets.  

Daniel, a small fastidious man, like a nervous ferret, hovered in the shadows of the outer hallway.  Daniel felt that as long as he kept his distance, he wouldn’t be identified as being a part of the unwashed and unwanted.  Frank with his thick coke glasses  was once a prosperous businessman.  He suffered a mental breakdown and now imagined himself a secret agent for the CIA.  Every morning at 4:00am, he would leave messages near the transformer at the train station.  In turn, he told me, he’d get directions for his next job  from the obituaries in the New York Times.

In a world of liposuction, health clubs, marathons, gated communities, designer clothes, decorators, tented wine parties etc, those seen as flawed  are relegated to the outer darkness.  In a throwaway society, life’s rejects (seconds) are tossed – much like litter.  We’re a disposable society.  The intimacy of small town America is gone.  We now exist in isolated cocoons: of poverty – wealth – war – prisons – raging protests, and daily messages of fear.  I suspect,  that  should the nation suffer a crisis ,  that only the homeless will survive.  It’ll be just another day for them.

Christmas ends:  All was silent in the shelter as the midnight service drew to a close.  A last burst of song washed over the heaps of broken humanity from the Washington  Cathedral choir ———“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep; God is not dead; nor doth He sleep!  The wrong shall fail.  The right prevail.  With PEACE on Earth, good will to men!”

JM

  • Gap Between Rich and Poor in New York City Grows Wider, By Sam Roberts.  The New York Times. December 25, 1994
  • Education In America; Danger Stranger – Not The Monster You Imagine

    copyright © 2007 Judith Moriarty

    There are pockets of people, and the shadow people you meet along life’s way, who are baffled and confused, as to why people today (family members – neighbors – local politicians etc) seem so disinterested, apathetic, or downright complacent, concerning world affairs?  Many people today cannot name the branches of government, discuss the workings of our monetary system (Federal Reserve), the labor movement, the robber barons, the reasons for the various wars (throughout history), the civil rights era, the constitution, nor the details of the various trade agreements (not discussed or debated in Congress) and how these agreements, are systematically bringing about the ruination of our country and causing (globally) a mass exodus of people from the land of their birth to strange lands and cultures. Forget trying to have a conversation on the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, the Bilderbergers, CFR, or the various economic summits (deciding the real business of the world).

    Serious issues, such as the genetic altering of crops, sterilizing of seeds, our massive debt (growing by the minute), our great trade deficit (imported junk), our decaying schools, our imploding infra-structure, autism, echoing factories, outsourcing of steel, textiles, information technology, manufacturing, absence of an energy policy, H-1B visa workers (others) replacing American workers, our medical crisis, the privatization of the commons, etc —all these and more, are never discussed in the media,  or by those hoping to catch (already decided) the golden ring for the presidency!

    Instead, the people are subjected to the buffoonery and nonsensical round the clock reporting; on the antics of dysfunctional sports stars, starlets, newspaper ads, car chases, OJ’s Rolex watch, murders, immigration riots, demands for more billions for war, or the locker room, slap stick of Foggy Bottom politicians, embroiled in name calling, or the ethics of a toe tapping bathroom perversion!  If it all becomes too much, there’s 500 TV channels that will numb the mind into a fantasy world of sports, car races, sitcoms, prison lock-ups, wrestle mania, or loud mouth hirelings screaming their scripted abuses at each other or guests!

    Caught up in a whirlwind of flags, ribbons, parades, elephants, jackasses, of red – white – and boo; the herd is manipulated into believing that a moneyed candidate (red or blue) will save them from their dreary, fearful, tumultuous, indentured servitude – to the machine.  Surely this candidate will deliver us from war, from poverty, from emergency room medical care, from illiterate kids, from rising fuel prices, from shuttered mill towns, bankrupt farms, moldy homes, and broken levees?  And each time – the disappointment grows more burdensome.  The power brokers of global business are not to be found in Foggy Bottom.  They (politicians) are mere props, though better cared for than the masses, but in reality, powerless to effect change on a global scale.  They are nothing more than mere middle management beholden to the moneychangers who support them in their cradle to grave elections.

    Perhaps the apathy, and the anger, from friends and family – when confronted with reality, comes from the fact, that people have been dutifully conditioned (programmed) these many decades through public education and TV – devolving  into a servile, sniffling, whining, obedient herd of workers and consumers?  They are nameless – non-persons, units, human resources, cattle, acceptable risks, collateral damage, victims, queers, illegal immigrants, activists, soldiers, heroes, prisoners, etc, all numbered!  I’m nobody, who are you, are you nobody too?  Systematically, social engineering, over these past decades, (schooling – TV programming) has everyone compartmentalized and labeled.  This is no mistake – only today it’s more  blatant and accelerated. 

    School used to be an oasis of fun, creativity, learning, discovery, and encouragement by teachers (not change agents).

    A child’s ‘career’ is mapped out today, by those who have little to no idea (or training) in guiding a child’s future!  Plus, it’s none of their business!  My youngest son came home (4.0 grade average) and informed me that he’d been told that he was best suited to become a ‘plumber or a postman’.  Now there’s nothing wrong with either of these careers  – if that’s what one chooses!  NOBODY has the right to choose a career for a naive, vulnerable child (whose parents may be inattentive to school programming).  I didn’t happen to be that mother leaving my child’s future in the hands of strangers!

    At age 21 – I presented my son with the gift of a postal jacket that I’d found in a thrift store when he received his first Master’s degree from Yale.  Even then he wasn’t sure about his career path!  It is the fault of parents that this nonsense is going on in schools.  Children are being terrorized by invading police (with dogs), explicit (indescribable) sex education, group think, Ritalin (other psychotropic drugs), testing in place of teaching, zero tolerance etc.  Why are children unable to read or do math upon graduation?  Why are they quitting school?  Why can’t they write a coherent essay upon graduation, find a word in the dictionary, read literature, or count change?  Maybe because there’s been a deliberate plot to dumb down America’s children?

    Woodrow Wilson, president of Princeton University, said the following to the New York City School Teacher’s Association in 1909, “We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forgo the pleasures of a liberal education and fit them to perform specific manual tasks”.

    Clinical  psychologist Bruce E. Levine wrote in 2001 (Commonsense Rebellion: Debunking Psychiatry, Confronting Society) ” I once consulted with a teacher of an extremely bright eight-year-old boy labeled with oppositional defiant behavior disorder.  I suggested that perhaps the boy didn’t have a disease, but was just bored.  His teacher, a pleasant woman, agreed with me.  However, she added, ‘They told us at the state conference that our job is to  get them ready for the work world – that the children have to get used to not being stimulated all the time or they will lose their jobs in the real world’.”

    From The Memory Hole – Russ Kick, 2006 “It’s no secret that the US educational system doesn’t do a very good job.  Studies show that America’s school kids lag behind their peers in pretty much every industrialized nation.  We hear shocking statistics about the % of high-school seniors who can’t find the U.S. on an unmarked map of the world.  Fingers are pointed at overcrowded classrooms, lack of funding, teachers who can’t pass competency tests etc.  These are secondary problems.  Even if they were cleared up, schools would still suck.  Why?  Because they were designed to!”

    “In 1888, the Senate Committee on Education was getting jittery about the localized, non-standardized, non-mandatory form of education that was actually teaching children to read at advanced levels, to comprehend history, and, egads, to think for themselves.  The committee’s report stated, ‘We believe that education is one of the principle causes of discontent of late years manifesting itself among the laboring classes’.  By the turn of the century, America’s new educrats were pushing a new form of schooling with a new mission (and it wasn’t to teach).  The famous philosopher and educator John Dewey wrote in 1897: ‘Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth.'”

    “In his 1905 dissertation for Columbia Teacher’s College, Elwood Cubberly – the future Dean of Education at Stanford, wrote that schools should be factories ‘in which raw products, children, are to be shaped and formed into finished products – manufactured like nails, and the specifications for manufacturing will come from government and industry.’  The next year, the Rockefeller Education Board, which funded the creation of numerous public schools issued a statement: ‘In our dreams people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands.  We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science.  We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets, or men of letters.  We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply.'”

    “H.H Goddard a major architect of standardized testing wrote in his book, Human Efficiency, that government schooling was about ‘the perfect organization of the hive’.  In other words, the captains of industry and government explicitly wanted an educational system that would maintain social order by teaching us just enough to get by but not enough so that we could THINK for ourselves, question the sociopolitical order, or communicate articulately.  We were to become good worker drones, with a razor thin slice of the population – mainly the children of the captains of industry and government – to rise to the level (private schooling) where they could continue running things.”

    John Taylor Gatto, former New York City school teacher (30 years) and  school  teacher of the  year  tells us in his book, The Underground History of American Education: An Intimate Investigation into the Problem of Modern Schooling  — ” I had more than enough reason to think of our schools with their long term, cell-block- style forced confinement of both students and teachers, as virtual factories of childishness.  Is it possible that President Bush accidentally spoke the truth when he said we would ‘leave no child behind’?  Could it be that our schools are designed to make sure not one of them ever really grows up?”

    “Many well known Americans never went through the twelve year wringer our kids currently go through, and they turned out all right.  George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln?  Someone taught them, to be sure, but they were not products of a school system, and not one of them was ever graduated from a secondary school.  Throughout most of American history, kids generally didn’t go to high school, yet the unschooled rose to be admirals, inventors, captains of industry, writers and scholars.”

    “H.L. Mencken, who wrote in The American Mercury – April 1924 that the aim of education is not – ‘to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The aim is simply to reduce as man individuals as possible to the same level to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality'”

    “Alexander Inglis’s 1918 book, Principles of Secondary Education, makes it perfectly clear that compulsory schooling was to make a sort of surgical incision into the prospective unity of the underclasses.  Divide children by subject, by age, grading, by constant rankings on tests, and by many other more subtle means, and it was unlikely that the ignorant mass of mankind, separated in childhood, would ever re-integrate into a dangerous whole.  The integrating function.  This might be called ‘the conformity function’, because its intention is to make children as alike as possible.  People who conform are predictable, and this is of great use to those who wish to harness and manipulate a large labor force (or military force, JM) “

    “Once their social role has been ‘diagnosed’, children are sorted by role and trained so far as their destination in the social machine merits – and not one step further.  So much for making kids their personal best.  Schools are meant to tag the unfit – with poor grades, remedial placement and other punishment – clearly enough that their peers will accept them as inferior.

    People need to wake up to the fact that their children are being destroyed – robbed of their potential in these laboratories of experimentation on young minds, drill centers for the habits and attitudes that corporate society demands.  They don’t want thinkers and leaders!  They don’t want artists – writers – poets.  Mandatory education serves children only incidentally.  Genius is as common as dirt – if David Farragut could take command of a British war-ship as a pre-teen, if Thomas Edison could publish a broadsheet at the age of 12, if Ben Franklin could apprentice himself too a printer at the same age (then put himself through a course of study that would choke a Yale senior today), there’s no telling what today’s children could do.”  John Taylor Gatto see: The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher

    Zero Tolerance: Why parents would acquiesce to their children being treated as criminals, defies all rational reasoning!  Again – this is nothing more than forcing obedience and compliance (group think) and fear of authority (really mind control).  These ridiculous rules sent forth from some educational mausoleum in Washington – by hirelings, are an effective way of controlling both children and their parents.  Like those in our culture who have defined deviancy downward, school bureaucrats are able to use these rules to create new categories of deviants who must be cured by the state if they are to function in corporate society (a thinking drone – an individual drone is a dangerous drone).

    Zero tolerance is another example (such as the humiliation and herding at airports) of the state’s violence against decent and law-abiding people.  School bureaucrats (themselves mindless drones – just following orders) are making children who are no threat to anyone – suddenly thinking of themselves as deviant and potentially violent and in need of ‘drugs’ or re-education by the proper authorities.  This is all (madness) something out of Franz Kafka’s ‘The Trial’.  Kafka’s main character (never fear your child will never have this as a book report assignment) , who was on trial was never made aware of his offense, but ultimately sees himself as guilty.

    The Wigget factory or the military?  What career will be ‘chosen’ for your ‘human resource’ (oops child)?  The No Child Left Behind Act guarantees recruiters the right to private contact information for all secondary school students, so that students may be contacted at home.  Schools refusing to participate are cut off from funding!  Did you know – did school administrators make you (the parent) aware that your child can opt out?  See: Students and Recruiting. American Friends Service Committee.

    The Truth About Ritalin: Your child’s permanent record will have him/her labeled, and thus in future years,  ineligible for some careers he/she may choose!  Most Ritalin prescribed is for children in the U.S. – and cures nothing!  It is unimaginable that any parent would permit a drug to be administered to their child under the guise of him/her being learning disabled or hyperactive without doing their homework as to the DANGERS!

    MORE compliance – obedience to authority (fear) behavior modification:  Armed Men Terrorize School – think about it.  Your child should feel safe, secure, and protected in school – not TERRORIZED with the approval of staff!  Unbelievable!  Your Congressman voted this as acceptable (not in private schools!)

    The newest move is opening mental health (imagine) clinics in schools to diagnose and drug more children!  Soon all will be labeled mentally handicapped!

    Finally – for all parents, grandparents and those who care about the health of our children (remember they only have us to protect them!)  The E-Files will give you all the information you need as to what’s happening in our nation’s schools!  People comparison shop for a car – search for months for that perfect home – etc, yet leave the care of their most precious treasure (their child) to strangers.  And now pre-school age!!  It’s felt that a child needs to be ‘indoctrinated’ at the earliest age possible – and parents buy right into this nonsense!  My children never went to nursery school or kindergarten.  Instead, they learned to fish, splash in puddles, climb mountains, visit zoos, explore, play and, enjoy being a child!!  They didn’t start school till age seven (when I decided they were ready) and were reading at the 12th grade level by third grade!!

    A dumb population, is a controlled shuffling work force, (canon fodder) for corporate hucksters – living lavishly (destroying the planet) off the labors of others, with their spoiled offspring educated to take their place!  The fault dear Brutus – lies in a people who allowed this to happen. 

    References . . .

  • The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher, By John Taylor Gatto, New York State Teacher of the Year, 1991.  © Copyright 1991 by Whole Earth Review & John Taylor Gatto. All Rights Reserved
  • Students and Recruiting. American Friends Service Committee.
  • ?Drugging kids and school violence. By Dr. Samuel L. Blumenfeld.  National Alliance against Mandated Mental Health Screening & Psychiatric Drugging of Children.
  • Armed Men Terrorize School. By Paul Joseph Watson and Alex Jones.  ?Prison Planet.com.  Wednesday, November 1, 2006
  • Screening America’s School Children for Suicide, Violence and Mental Illness.  TeenScreen.
  • The Truth About Education is Here. The E-Files
  • Measured Peace. Global Peace Index Ranks America Poorly



    Peace Train by Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens)

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

    It is official; America is not a nation at peace.  We are not tranquil people.  There is violence in our streets and we war wherever and whenever we can.  According to the Global Peace Index, the United States ranks ninety-sixth [96] out of one hundred and twenty one [121] countries studied.  This “superpower” is slightly more serene than Iran; yet less calm than Yemen. 

    Interestingly, Iraq is considered the most violent of all countries.  The Index, created by The Economist Intelligence Unit does not presume a possible correlation between Iraq and the United States.  However, it might be said that what occurs in that particular Middle Eastern region is directly related to American politics.  If we were to truly assess the doings in that sovereign State, we could easily accept that Iraq is merely an extension of the United States, a colony of sorts.  Perhaps that is only my perception.  Nonetheless, the two countries are unmistakably coupled.

    These two territories are separate from the tranquil land of Norway, which is listed as the most peaceful country in the world.  Germany, with its notorious history was declared the twelfth among serene States.  Even Cuba is calm in contrast to America.  This small island nation is not nearly as violent as its Northern neighbor.  Cuba was assessed to be fifty-ninth [59] among all countries.

    We might muse that one country is profoundly peaceful while another civilization is cruel; however, until now there was no way of authentically measuring such an estimation.

    “The objective of the Global Peace Index was to go beyond a crude measure of wars by systemically exploring the texture of peace,” said Global Peace Index President Clyde McConaghy.

    He said the inaugural effort proves “peace can and has and will continue to be measured.”

    The index was compiled based on 24 indicators measuring peace inside and outside of a country.  They included the number of wars a country was involved in the past five years, how many soldiers were killed overseas, and how much money was made in arms sales.

    Domestic indicators included the level of violent crimes, relations with neighboring countries and level of distrust in other citizens.

    The results were then reviewed by a panel of international experts.

    “We were trying to find out what positive qualities lead to peace,” said Leo Abruzzese, the North American editorial director of the intelligence unit that is part of The Economist Group that publishes the well known magazine.

    It seems a Democratic system did not necessarily destine a nation for peace.

    ?Democracy didn?t actually correlate with peace, but a well-functioning democracy did.  Efficient, accountable government seems to be the leading determinant of peace.  Beyond that, income helps.?

    Imagine that money may not buy happiness.  Competence counts.  Might we muse that if the two exist together in one nation, much can be done to promote peace. 

    Social Scientist would not be surprised.  Abraham Maslow speaks of a hierarchy of needs.  When we feel safe, secure, and trust that our life is stable, we are able to self-actualize, achieve fulfillment.  When an individual is free to be, life for that person is good.  When a group of people are capable of performing to their potential, peace is possible, perhaps inevitable.

    The prospect for peace may be found in satisfying personal and public needs effectively.  Empathy integrated into economic policy may create calm.

    Fifteen of the top 20 most peaceful nations are in Western Europe, and countries with higher income appeared to lead to higher levels of peace, he [Abruzzese] said.

    It is an interesting study.  I invite you to share your own theories and conclusions.  I offer the numbers as published by the Economist Intelligence Unit.  Peruse with pleasure.  As you do, watch your back.  If you are an American, the streets are not safe.

    121 Global Peace Index [GPI] rankings

    Countries most at peace ranked first
    Rank/Country/Score?

    1 Norway 1.357
    2 New Zealand 1.363
    3 Denmark 1.377
    4 Ireland 1.396
    5 Japan 1.413
    6 Finland 1.447
    7 Sweden 1.478
    8 Canada 1.481
    9 Portugal 1.481
    10 Austria 1.483
    11 Belgium 1.498
    12 Germany 1.523
    13 Czech Republic 1.524
    14 Switzerland 1.526
    15 Slovenia 1.539
    16 Chile 1.568
    17 Slovakia 1.571
    18 Hungary 1.575
    19 Bhutan 1.611
    20 Netherlands 1.620
    21 Spain 1.633
    22 Oman 1.641
    23 Hong Kong 1.657
    24 Uruguay 1.661
    25 Australia 1.664
    26 Romania 1.682
    27 Poland 1.683
    28 Estonia 1.684
    29 Singapore 1.692
    30 Qatar 1.702
    31 Costa Rica 1.702
    32 South Korea 1.719
    33 Italy 1.724
    34 France 1.729
    35 Vietnam 1.729
    36 Taiwan 1.731
    37 Malaysia 1.744
    38 United Arab Emirates 1.747
    39 Tunisia 1.762
    40 Ghana 1.765
    41 Madagascar 1.766
    42 Botswana 1.786
    43 Lithuania 1.788
    44 Greece 1.791
    45 Panama 1.798
    46 Kuwait 1.818
    47 Latvia 1.848
    48 Morocco 1.893
    49 United Kingdom 1.898
    50 Mozambique 1.909
    51 Cyprus 1.915
    52 Argentina 1.923
    53 Zambia 1.930
    54 Bulgaria 1.936
    55 Paraguay 1.946
    56 Gabon 1.952
    57 Tanzania 1.966
    58 Libya 1.967
    59 Cuba 1.968
    60 China 1.980
    61 Kazakhstan 1.995
    62 Bahrain 1.995
    63 Jordan 1.997
    64 Namibia 2.003
    65 Senegal 2.017
    66 Nicaragua 2.020
    67 Croatia 2.030
    68 Malawi 2.038
    69 Bolivia 2.052
    70 Peru 2.056
    71 Equatorial Guinea 2.059
    72 Moldova 2.059
    73 Egypt 2.068?
    74 Dominican Republic 2.071
    75 Bosnia and Herzegovina 2.089
    76 Cameroon 2.093
    77 Syria 2.106
    78 Indonesia 2.111
    79 Mexico 2.125
    80 Ukraine 2.150
    81 Jamaica 2.164?
    82 Macedonia 2.170
    83 Brazil 2.173
    84 Serbia 2.181
    85 Cambodia 2.197
    86 Bangladesh 2.219
    87 Ecuador 2.219
    88 Papua New Guinea 2.223
    89 El Salvador 2.244
    90 Saudi Arabia 2.246
    91 Kenya 2.258
    92 Turkey 2.272
    93 Guatemala 2.285
    94 Trinidad and Tobago 2.286
    95 Yemen 2.309
    96 United States of America 2.317
    97 Iran 2.320
    98 Honduras 2.390
    99 South Africa 2.399
    100 Philippines 2.428
    101 Azerbaijan 2.448
    102 Venezuela 2.453
    103 Ethiopia 2.479
    104 Uganda 2.489
    105 Thailand 2.491
    106 Zimbabwe 2.495
    107 Algeria 2.503
    108 Myanmar 2.524
    109 India 2.530
    110 Uzbekistan 2.542
    111 Sri Lanka 2.575
    112 Angola 2.587
    113 Cote d?Ivoire 2.638
    114 Lebanon 2.662
    115 Pakistan 2.697
    116 Colombia 2.770
    117 Nigeria 2.898
    118 Russia 2.903
    119 Israel 3.033
    120 Sudan 3.182
    121 Iraq 3.437

    References for your review . . .

  • The Economist Intelligence Unit
  • US ranks low, just above Iran on new peace index, By Deborah Charles. Reuters. May 30, 2007
  • First Global Peace Index Ranks 121 Countries Norway tops list, U.S. comes in at 96. By: Global Peace Index. YubaNet. May 30, 2007
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Educational Psychology Interactive.