Change?

copyright © Judith Moriarty

Change?  The people’s mentor, TV- gives the dual message that we want  ‘change’ and we want ‘experience.’  The ‘supposed’ brightest and  best minds encourage voters to continue nearly three decades of a Bush – Clinton rule in the White House. 40% of Americans have never lived when there wasn’t a Bush/Clinton in the White House.  People under 30 don’t remember when a President didn’t end in Bush or Clinton.  What we have is dynastic domination (in a country of 300 million!).

The message being given is  obvious: Experience/Change =  Clinton & Obama ticket (the rest of this is pure theater).

“Our democracy is but a name.

We vote?

What does that mean?

It means we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats.

We choose between Tweedledee & Tweedledum.”


~ Helen Keller






Alert; 10,000 Apply For Wal-Mart Jobs!

copyright © Judith Moriarty

Candidates having been raising millions of dollars  and traveling (or private jets) around the country in luxury buses,  arguing over who has the most ‘experience’ – who is a Mormon (therefore disqualified) – who’s not a true Republican (Ron Paul) who’s picking on Hillary (Edwards) – who can grab the Evangelical vote – who is totally ignored (Kucinich) – who claims 911 makes him the protector of us all  etc; the real story of what is happening in America (evictions – foreclosures – unemployment) is being totally ignored!

This EXPERIENCE from those who’ve been in Foggy Bottom so long that they’re mildewed  –  has resulted in the rusting and disappearance of the American dream.


10,000 hopefuls…keep eyes open for job at Wal-Mart

By Helena Oliviero

Atlantic Journal Constitution

January 11, 2008

10,000 keep eyes open for job at Wal-Mart. “For the fourth consecutive day people waited in long lines for a shot at a new Wal-Mart in Dekalb County, pushing the total number of applicants beyond 10,000!

Beginning Monday, after no advertising or any signs, the throngs of hopeful applicants continued to pour into a church converted into a job-processing center –all vying for only 350 available jobs.  The job seeking FRENZY may be a peek into a larger economic picture. Wal-Mart has long declined to reveal starting salaries at the store, but reports that the average hourly wage for full time  associates is $10.65 an hour.”

Note: Wal-Mart hires people on at mostly part time positions.  Most alarming  is that Wal-Mart is our nation’s largest employer .  We no longer mfg the quality goods that America was known for. Now Wal-Mart is filled with Chinese goods of inferior quality !  Ten dollars an hour  is not a livable wage in these economic times of escalating prices!

JM

  • 10,000 hopefuls…keep eyes open for job at Wal-Mart, By Helena Oliviero.  Atlantic Journal Constitution. January 11, 2008

  • Super Power – Now Running On Empty

    copyright © Judith Moriarty




    You’ll never meet these folks.  They represent the hundreds of thousands who have been kicked to the curb these past years (from Clinton’s NAFTA in ’94 until the current time).  A ‘restructuring’ company (better known as hatchet men) took over their company in 2004 with lofty promises of Jobs etc.  Fact is – these companies buy and resale companies.  They were informed right before Christmas that they (122 people) no longer had a job by Watermill (International) Ventures.  The company only decided to give two weeks severance pay due to the Governor’s intervention.  Naturally, all their health benefits etc went out the window.  Some of these folks had worked at this DECENT paying Modular Home Company for decades.  They bought homes here (Claremont) and have children in college.  These employees were highly skilled.

    They were the leading builder here in New England of energy efficient modular homes/ businesses etc.  They have won numerous awards for their outstanding craftsmanship and have been featured in many building etc, magazines.




    This is a sample kitchen.




    This is one of their energy efficient homes.




    The skilled carpenters and craftsmen at CSI trained youngsters.  This was not addressed in the numerous news articles (nor their great work).  Today kids are leaving school – they seek men who will mentor and train them in skills they can use!  They are not interested in perpetual testing and social engineering.  Now this great gift to our area’s children is lost.  Do the corporate predators care?  No – they’re in the business of profits not the future of children.




    While we are kept dutifully distracted with the drunken antics of air headed starlets (called breaking news) or the theater of mud slinging politics, few are aware of what’s happening in their own state, let alone what is happening across the nation.  What ‘breaking news’ announced the closing of Maytag – in business for 114 years?  The thousands losing their jobs due to this closure (parts – appliance stores – businesses in town) wasn’t deemed newsworthy?  Mike, leaving Maytag, on the last day, doesn’t know where he’s going to turn.  He was four years short of receiving his pension.  Not so with our politicians.  They needn’t invest 30 years before they’re eligible for pension.

    A mere five years will see them given life long pensions (the longer in office the bigger the pension).  Unlike work a day folks whose pensions are stolen – they receive pensions with yearly cost of living increases (plus life long medical coverage).  This is WHY you see such a detachment on the election circuit.  Those in cradle to grave political jobs have long ago lost any empathic understanding of men in their late 40s – 50s – 60s suddenly jobless in a nation without jobs (livable wage jobs that is).




    Maine and New Hampshire have seen their paper/pulp mills closed.  Like Maytag – the move is on to China.  The usual patronizing PR of job retraining   is lauded – and then, these men (families) get lost in the shuffle of time.  This job retraining is a colossal joke.  Another story.




    We hear of massive foreclosures across the nation.  The media would have you believe that every one, and his brother, is losing their homes because they bought homes they couldn’t afford.  When mills, and manufacturing plants close, duh, banks don’t care if you can’t pay a mortgage.  These steel mills (gone to China etc) forged the steel for our ships, planes (WWII) built the Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge etc.  The fuel company, electric company, etc, aren’t interested in your plight when the mill closes.  You’re on your own after unemployment runs out.  You’re now thrown into a job market where people highly educated with numerous degrees are being thrown overboard.




    When a  company leaves  town, all the supporting businesses,  where employees shopped go belly up.  People worried about buying milk for the kids or keeping the lights on aren’t buying  seafood, winter clothing, shoes, or pizza.  Restaurants and movie houses don’t take promissory notes.  The truth is  America (due to drastic cutbacks) has no safety net.  The only bailouts in the USA are for the corporate destroyers; loans, grants, subsidies, tax breaks etc.  Towns boarded and closed search for investments such as  box stores, foreign companies (promising JOBS) , high-end condos,   or malls!  All of which produce nothing and do not contribute to the fiscal health of a town.




    Years of paying a bank,  twice as much for a home  (with interest)  goes up in smoke when you miss a few payments.  These mortgages held by foreign/corporate conglomerates don’t care if you end up living in your car, in a tent or under a bridge.




    It is really quite insulting and degrading to hear officials laud the future opening of a foreign owned Tap Water/plastic bottle plant as a viable option to replace that job as  a skilled craftsman!  There appears to be this mindset that ‘any job will do’!  These same officials don’t see their own positions (yearly raises – bonuses) being replaced !  You’d be hard pressed to see them identifying filling bottles with water, (making the molds) for $7.25 an hour  (maybe $8.00)  as an adequate job  to live on (pay their mortgage – car payments – etc).




    Steel workers in Pittsburgh were advised to get that job at Wal-Mart (part time of course).  Filled with Chinese junk – it’s little wonder one cannot find anything Made In America.  Wal-Mart is our nation’s largest employer.  This should frighten people no end (also NH’s largest employee).




    In the end, Corporate Greed (paid 400x more than common worker)  is destroying the nation.  In 1886, the Supreme Court declared that corporations were  henceforth to be considered ‘persons’ under the law, with all of the constitutional rights that designation implies.  Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, corporations reshaped every aspect of life in America and much of the rest of the world.  The factory system turned self-sufficient small farmers into wage – earners and transformed the family from an interdependent economic production unit into a consumption- oriented collection of individuals with separate jobs.  Advertising turned productive citizens into ‘consumers’.

    Business leaders campaigned to create public schools to train children in factory- system obedience to schedules and in the performance of isolated, meaningless tasks.  And now ?  Corporations came to own and dominate sources all information and entertainment and  the control of politicians and judges.  Once upon a time, the robber barons influenced Washington.  Now they sit on the cabinet and have been appointed to the positions of influence.  The great exodus of immigrants taking place worldwide is their doing.  Be it the UK – Sweden – France – the US – etc) the name of the GAME is cheap labor.  The American – Mexican – UK etc, dream was all an illusion.  Trade agreements  make slaves of us all.  

    Invasion of the Corporate Destroyers

    copyright © Judith Moriarty

    The Corporate Destroyer is a peculiar mutation of man.  It is known for its inactivity in the practice of any virtue.  He is found in several different forms throughout the government, business, and nations.  The fruits of his labors can be seen throughout the earth in ‘greed, sloth, pride, wrath, avarice, envy, lust, and gluttony’.  Absent conscience or allegiance to any land, this mutant will use any means necessary to feed his insatiable appetite.  







    His claim to fame is identified as being the seven deadly sins!



    The Corporate Destroyer, and his cohorts, enter into naive, economically depressed communities, under the guise of JOBS.  They gather millions in grants, and various subsidies to set up shop.  Ironically, the taxpayer subsidies his employment (without royalty checks).  Being privately owned (ex: Ice River Springs) without public stock trading, they don’t have to reveal many of their operations / finances etc.  Being (many) foreign, they are extended ‘special benefits’ in various trade agreements.

    Bird found with bottle caps from plastic water bottles.





    This plastic is choking and poisoning the whole of the earth.  Consumers have been ‘programmed’ to believe, that water bottled from the TAP (called purified), or from some ‘unknown’ spring (not the picture on the bottle) is healthy?  The fact that plastic does not degrade, and is now being found in birds, fish, etc, is not part of the PR presentation to a town.  Conservation?  Huh?  The oil needed to make these plastic bottles for U.S.  shoppers; uses 1.5 million barrels of crude oil each year.  These approximately 52 billion plastic bottles end up in landfills – incinerated (toxins) in the oceans and on the beaches, or in birds and sea life.  





    Next comes garbage; tons and tons and millions of tons.  The ‘Corporate Destroyer’ and his partners have now been ‘appointed’ to the most important jobs in Washington.  With the influence of lobbyists and campaign contributions, they write their own meal tickets (excusing themselves from responsibility & liabilities).  In rural places like Bethlehem, NH (above), which was once a health resort, there are approx 2.3 million TONS of other people’s garbage.  They (the waste destroyers) are cutting down the trees, to make room, for the excesses of a materialistic – mind-numbed society.  “I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongue.”  Dr.Seuss





    The whales and the porpoises are dying of ruptured brains as the Navy trains for moneyed war (sonar – explosions).  The Navy did a study and reported that all is well – these explosions don’t kill nor does sonar confuse or rupture the eardrums of whales/porpoises!  Why they all must be committing mass suicide?





    The ‘weapons of mass destruction’ for the native people’s of the world (from Indonesia to the rain forests in South America) are Corporate Sloth and his malignant buddies.  War and terrorism come in many forms.  For those who reside deep in remote jungles; its the timber companies – gas, and the OIL maggots.  Hired thugs kill those who object to their lands being plundered.  This never makes the national news.  Who are the truly civilized in this world?  Those in suits who destroy whole lands with the push of a pencil or the natives who are one with the earth?  And when the last tree is felled – it won’t matter if there’s anyone there to hear it!





    Something awful is happening.  It is horrifying that citizens have to FIGHT their own government (federal – state – local) to save the environment/ protect their water and the health of their children.  No matter the deformity found in an animal, there’s a benign yawn, from those appointed to care,  announcing; ‘it must be a virus’?  The frogs in the environment are the canaries of the mines (used to detect gas).  Washington’s answer is to hide the ‘cage’.





    Millions of fish are dying and they’re tearing down the Appalachian Mountains (for coal).  The inconvenient truth, of what these ‘Corporate Hucksters ‘ are ravishing, raping, and clear cutting etc; can’t compete with the news of car chases, Paris Hilton’s jail experience, or sports stars on steroids.  





    War – forever war!  All the Destroyers (sloth, envy, pride, wrath, lust, etc) are profiting from this.  War is good for the economy.  It raises the price of weapons manufacturing stocks, makes billions for private contractors, oil interests, and investors.  A vote for the right bill will keep those campaign coffers filled!  It also is a great dumping ground (put into weapons) for all that depleted uranium (half life 4 billion years).  





    “One cannot pluck a flower without troubling a star.”  Francis Thompson  

    If the truth be told: “Unless someone like you cares an awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.”  Dr.Seuss / The Lomax  

    JM

    The Walls Cried Out; Why I Write

    copyright © Judith Moriarty

    A look back over my life, epitomizes to me, what has happened to America.  There was once upon a time those magic moments far removed from the madness of war, box stores, and shuttered towns.  My brother Johnny and I would spend summer days at our secret ‘camp’ called Sundown.  It sat above the steel mills far below in the valley.  We would take an iron skillet, eggs, bacon, and eat our lunch there near the waterfall.  I can’t remember that we ever spent a moment indoors during the summer.  

    No ‘Danger Stranger’ – had our streets resembling a ghost town.  We had no TV – no video games etc.  There were no malls – and no designer duds, or exotic vacations.  People aren’t poor until the world tells them they are.  When you have the beauty of nature – nobody is poor.

    Then one day the trucks came.  The church who owned the fields and woods; sold the land to the robber barons who owned the mills.  They covered the fields, the woods, and our secret camp, with tons and tons of ash and hot slag.  They didn’t live there so they didn’t care.  Pretty soon, there was just an ugly black mountain of black ash/slag.  Then people started dumping garbage there and the rats came.  

    When we visited my Aunt Celie, (a newspaper editor) we could stand in her back yard and see the mountain hanging precariously over the town .  My aunt lived near the mills.  

    Johnny and I worked on the slagheap after it covered our woods and waterfall.  We would chip away the slag from chunks of metal and then take our wagon to the junkyard to be weighed.  Johnny brought his bow and arrow to keep the rats away.  On a good day, (8:00 am to 4:00 pm) we could make $4.00.  Everyone thought that Johnny and I were the twins.  My twin Jackie (a head taller) didn’t care for woods, making stilts, or fishing in the creek.  As for slag, forget it.  Jackie was more into playing house and dressing up.  

    Then one day the good news came (I was nine – Johnny was seven) we got the news that we were moving to the mountains.  My dad had gotten a job as an electrician, at the Joy, (they made mining machinery) in a small town, far removed from belching mills or mountains of ash.  We really moved there to be closer to my brother Jerry (older) who was autistic.  

    After his last series of vaccine shots, he disappeared into a black hole.  He sang and danced and then he was silent.  Noise bothered him.  You couldn’t cry in our house.  My sister Jackie did – she lacked any sensitivity to my brother.  One day he threw a tobacco can at her.  It hit the bridge of her nose.  Blood covered the walls.  That’s when it was decided that an institution was the only answer.  This from the relatives.  

    The small town that we moved to was magical.  There were sweeping parks, creeks to fish in,  Indian burial grounds, and forts.  The institution was about 20 miles outside of town.  You traveled over the river and winding mountain roads to reach its Gothic forbidding grounds.

    Almost every weekend I would travel to the institution with my parents.  I had thought when they drove him away one day (I was nine) that he was going to a school that would take care of him.  I imagined that once he was gone that we would become a ‘normal’ family.  We wouldn’t have to worry about noise, or crying, or relatives coming to the house, like black crows on a clothesline, whispering about how he was ‘crazy’.  The neighbors wouldn’t tell me that my brother was ‘a cretin ‘ because of ‘the sins of my parents’.  Not that I knew what the hell sin was?

    My parents never took my brother and sister to this place – only me.  They wanted somebody to care for Jerry after they died (I was chosen).  They needn’t have worried – I wouldn’t have forgotten him.  I spent many an hour with him in his bedroom (before he went away) – where he spit on toys and listened to music.  He never went outside after Eddie Perry (big bully) crushed his hand with a brick.  Even though I was a midget kid, I went up to Eddy, doubled my fist, and smashed him in the face.  It broke his nose.  Eddy wasn’t king of the hill after that.  Sometimes violence rears its ugly head despite the best of intentions.  I only regret that I wasn’t stronger.  He ruined my brother’s enjoyment of being outside in the dirt pile.  

    People shouldn’t lie to their kids about a handicapped child in the family.  My mother told me that Jerry was a gift from God.  I didn’t think that God was putting various disabilities on certain people just for fun or to make life interesting for people? People are always blaming God for someone flawed, terribly injured, or killed in war.  As I saw it, most maladies came about through man’s pollution of the environment, contaminated (mercury) vaccines, accidents, or the greed of generational war.  Even so, – people such as my brother – are gifts.  It’s up to the individual to discover this gift in another.  Without the challenges of serving those in distress, maimed, or mentally challenged, how would we ever grow spiritually; in the gifts of kindness, compassion, patience, and the giving of ourselves? How would we develop the skill needed to hear the cry of the voiceless?

    My parents (best of intentions) never should have exposed me to the traumas of visiting an institution at such a young and vulnerable age.  They should have arranged for me to meet them in the small restaurant downtown where they brought Jerry to eat.  Children are not psychologically developed enough to grasp the horrors of caged people (this goes for prisons also).Childhood is a small fragment of time – it needs to be protected.

    I can still remember the first time I visited this place.  There were bars on the windows.  Nude men (it was summer) like rabid animals, were climbing on the bars, and screeching the most inhuman of sounds.  I couldn’t believe that my brother was locked up in the bowels of such a place.  They (staff) would NEVER let you go beyond the visitors’ room when you went to visit.  You would wait until they brought your relative out all dressed up.  I remember looking at those locked doors and wondering just what lay behind them? I knew my parents didn’t want my brother to be in that place but poverty didn’t have the choice of a special hospital, such as the private facility, where the Kennedy family put their daughter.  

    Raised in the Catholic Church, I was convinced that if only we could get Jerry to one of those miracle places (Fatima – Lourdes ), he’d become normal.  For years I’d pray that he’d get well and then one day I stopped.  I then started praying (after visiting the institution) that he would die.  I couldn’t imagine him being imprisoned in such a place his whole life?  Then one day he did die.  He died from abuse and neglect.  He died from indifference.  He died because some people should never be employed to care for helpless, voiceless, crippled people.  It was a dreary winter day when they buried him in the institution’s potter’s field.  There was a blizzard.  In the end, it was only my parents and myself who stood there listening to the forever prayers of the dead.  

    I was freezing and I was angry.  Still a kid, I remember my own prayers.  I said (to myself)….”So what was this all about? Why didn’t you (God) take him sooner – instead of him having to suffer all these years? I just want to know – just let me know if he’s safe and happy now.” The priest droned on and on.  He handed the crucifix off the cheap gray cloth box to my dad.  The snow was getting deeper.  I wondered how we’d get out of that desolate place.  Five, ten, and then fifteen minutes passed.  In all that time, not one drop of snow fell where the crucifix had lain.  All that was visible was a stark gray cloth cross.  It was enough for me.  My parents died a few years after my brother.  For years, my mother had battled for the rights and protections of the institutionalized.  I think she felt powerless, because, while she knew what was happening behind locked doors, from my brother’s physical condition, she couldn’t prove it.

    And then one day I went to work in this institution.  It came about by an accident of sorts.  My friend and I were running a Dairy Store.  She was the manager and I the assistant.  We were cooks, clerks, and janitors.  We were fired when we went on strike (signs and all) for better wages for the employees.  We were told by the old timers in town that management never strikes for the workers.  Huh!

    Kathleen wasn’t too keen on going to the institution to work – she was afraid.  I promised her that if it didn’t work out in a few weeks we’d quit.  She was assigned to a woman’s building, and I, to the same building where my brother had lived and died! Kathleen’s husband, who worked as a supervisor, figured it out once.  I could have been assigned to one of 700 different places – but I ended up where I had visited as a child! It was 6:30 am (first day of work) when I was led behind the locked doors that I had wondered about as a child? I was appalled.  

    Nude men lay in the hallways, the place reeked of urine.  The employees screamed and cursed at the residents.  I almost quit that first day.  Then I remembered that my brother never had a choice of leaving.  He had been kept in restraints a great deal of the time which caused his arms to become deformed.  This was done because there was never enough staff.  Residents sat on hard benches or rocked back and forth.  There was little to no interaction or stimulation.  

    The worst thing was observing the abuse.  Staff (mostly male) would kick, slap and throw residents down the stairs.  My first inclination was to report these assaults – but I waited.  I took the time to learn all the regulations, policies, and laws pertaining to those in institutions.  I wanted to have my arguments based on documentation rather than emotion.  I noted than whenever politicians were brought around for a visit everything was shined up and the residents dressed in clean clothes.  Then one summer day, I arrived at worked (2:30pm) .  The staff (all male) were standing around the desk smoking and telling lewd jokes.  I went to find the residents.  They were all (approx 30) laying in the cavernous bathroom (open toilets).  

    They were nude and covered with feces and flies.  Some were eating out of the toilets (nobody had taken them to the dining hall).  I just cried.  Then I cleaned them up and wrote a long detailed (3 pages) report in the logbook on what I’d found.  This was NEVER done! Usually the Log read, “Found the cottage in good order all residents accounted for.” When the supervisor came around to sign the book, he had a fit.  He told me I couldn’t write something like that because the employees would be upset.  I told him I hadn’t come there to please the employees and that since a Log book was an official document it couldn’t be altered.  

    That was the start of a three-year battle.  The proverbial crap hit the fan.  They tried to kill me – and went on strike to get me fired.  They refused to talk to me.  They and got together to falsely charge me with abuse.  On and on it went.  I was made to take a lie detector test (the abusers refused).  I won every court battle.  The small town paper was filled with venom and charges against me.  When they tried (administration) to remove me, I called every major newspaper – TV station in the state.  When a helicopter arrived from the nearest city (100 miles away) with reporters they stated, “Ms Moriarty we’ve been to the institution.  They tell us you’re a trouble maker and a rabble rouser.”

    I replied, “If reporting patients being thrown down stairs, held under water, kicked, not clothed, not fed, allowed to die tied to a toilet, and not being given proper medical care, makes me a ‘trouble maker’ – YES that’s exactly what I am.  I will continue to be one until somebody in this state pays attention and does something.” that was on every news station in the state.  

    It worked.  An investigation was started from the state level.  The superintendent, who once called me to his office, and told me he’d destroy me,  was fired.  So were numerous other people.  Meantime, I had gotten the residents new clothes, furnishings (instead of benches).  I painted murals on the depressing bile green walls (fishing ports – lake pictures) and brought music in to cheer the place up.  The nurse and her husband, the dentist, were fired.  They had worked there for years and years.  They cleaned up on lucrative salaries and lived an elegant lifestyle with their two fat sons.  I reported her for the death of Felix who died tied (her orders) to a toilet.  

    And then things changed.  People noted that I hadn’t gotten myself killed and hadn’t quit.  They slowly (at first) started to come forth and report all the abuses they’d witnessed.  They weren’t afraid any longer.  Late at night, reading my mother’s diaries, I saw that she mistakenly assumed, that she was the person meant to reveal the hidden atrocities taking place.  She wasn’t – all along, it was my job – assigned to me as a child.  I now knew why I had visited the place throughout my childhood.  I finally had the answer that I asked at my brother’s grave, “What was this all about?”

    God had waited for over a hundred years for someone to speak up for those without a voice.  He just needed somebody to rise above their personal fears and believe.  It’s hard to explain.  Once you are totally committed that something is worth dying for – there’s nothing that stands in your way.  I knew that I was totally in the right! You don’t go harming helpless period!

    Many of the institutions are closed now.  America hasn’t dealt with those most in need.  Parents are left begging for non-existent help.  Programs are being cut.  Many of the terribly handicapped, have been shuffled off to nursing homes, where they languish and die.

    I remember one night walking though the corridor from one area to another.  It was late and I was tired.  I thought to myself of what the walls had witnessed down through the decades? Just then, I heard a moaning.  I turned and saw these gray faces/hands reaching out.  It was a living wall of faceless memories.  I heard the words, “Write so the world will know.” People think that people in institutions are without personalities or don’t respond to love.  This is such a lie.  

    It just takes some time and ingenuity to reach such people.  They were so abused for years, that at first, they afraid of touch.  Andrew liked for me to tousle his hair and kiss his cheek.  John was harder.  He was deaf, blind, and severely retarded.  I thought about how hard it would be for someone to not know where they were or feel any love.  He used to sit in fetal position.  Then I had the idea of wrapping him tightly in a summer blanket (like you do a newborn).  That made him smile – he felt secure.  Donny loved music.  He chewed his wrists raw! Once I put socks on his hands that stopped.  And so it went.  Everybody responds to touch and love.  

    And so now, I write.  I live far from the small town of magic that my brother Johnny and I so enjoyed.  Johnny is dead now.  We had planned to visit the places where we fished and hiked last summer.  Now I sometimes visit the Bread and Puppet Theater in Vermont.  It’s a magical place of giant puppets & political theater.  It keeps a remembrance, through art, of the grave injustices of man’s inhumanity to man.  It speaks for the voiceless.  Mine is its own story – but basically, we can see through the memory glass, that our lives are covered in ash – garbage – and unconscionable pollution.  I wasn’t shocked at the pictures of torture – minus the dogs, I’d seen similar incidents at the institution.  

    Shocking to me was to live in a town, where seemingly ‘normal’ people, could go to work, and commit such heinous acts on helpless people.  They once mocked me and said, “Those people don’t feel anything.” Isn’t that what we’re witnessing today? The greatest sin is not to hate – but indifference.  My life is just a microcosm of the whole.  FEAR immobilizes many today – just as it did with the people employed at the institution.  The INSTITUTION today is just on a grander scale – global.  

    JM

    Special Christmas Gift; Starthrower

    copyright © Judith Moriarty

    A Special Christmas Gift

    Once upon a time, there was a wise man, who used to go to the ocean to do his writing.  He had the habit of walking along the beach before he began his work.  One day he was walking along the shore; as he looked down to the beach, he saw a human figure who was moving like a dancer.  He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day, so he began to walk faster to catch up.  As he got closer, he saw that it was an old man and that he wasn’t dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.  

    As he got closer he called out, ‘Good morning!  What are you doing?’  The old man paused, looked up and replied, ‘Throwing Starfish into the ocean.  The sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.’  ‘But,’ said I, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and Starfish all along it, you can’t possibly make a difference!’

    The old man listened politely, then bent down and picked up another Starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves.  ‘It made a difference for that one.’



    His response surprised the man, he was upset,  he didn’t know how to reply, so instead he hurried away and walked back to the cottage and began his writings.

    All day long, as he wrote, the image of the old man haunted him; he tried to ignore it, but the vision persisted.  Finally, late in the afternoon, he realized that he the scientist, the writer, had missed the essential nature of the old man’s actions.  Because he realized that what the old man was doing was choosing not to be an observer in the universe and watch it pass by, but was choosing to be a participant and make a difference.

    That night he went to bed, troubled.  When morning cam, he awoke knowing that he had to do something; so he got up, put on his clothes, went to the beach and found the old man; and with him spent the rest of the morning throwing Starfish into the ocean.

    You see, what the old man’s actions represent is something that is special in each and every one of us.  We have all been gifted with the ability to make a difference.  And if we, like the old man, become aware of that gift, we gain through the strength of our vision to change the future!  We must find our Starfish, and if we throw our stars wisely and well, our tomorrows are going to be a wonderful place.  Remember (overwhelmed as we are by the magnitude of need and suffering etc) Nobody can help everybody – but everybody can help Somebody.  

    JM

    ~ Note this is inspired by the writing of Loren Eiseley

  • The Starfish Story as told by Loren Eiseley
  • America The Beautiful?

    copyright © Judith Moriarty

    America the beautiful?  If you listen to the constant barrage of PR on TV,  we’re the Superpower of the world!  That may be, if it applies to our major industry today,  the exporting of war and weapons?  We have a Defense budget of some $648 BILLION.  This does not include the ‘supplemental’ billions that are being asked for every few months!  

    ‘Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain’.  



    America the beautiful?  What is not being reported by the media; is the poisoning of our rivers, land, and air.  The frogs are deformed, we are warned not to eat the fish, the honeybees are disappearing, birds are dropping dead,  and the deer and moose have wasting disease.  





    America the beautiful?  I’m perplexed.  With all this talk about the environment, carbon footprints, and growing corn (please) for fuel, we don’t see the media reporting on the destruction of Appalachia.  Where’s Al?  Why aren’t those running for office holding debates on the raped mountains in West Virginia?  The corporate coal vultures have found that it’s cheaper to tear down the mountains and dump the sludge into valleys.  This EPA approved destruction is destroying small towns, rivers, and streams!  These folks aren’t worrying about glacial ice melting!  Their lives are being destroyed – legally!



    America the beautiful?  The ‘levees’ meant to protect tens of thousands of lives in New Orleans, resembled fencing around a Little League park!  The local, state, and federal authorities, knew for years that the destruction of the barrier islands, marshlands, and dredging for oil/gas was creating a catastrophe and did nothing.  They also knew that the poorly built levees, would never protect against a category 4-5 hurricane.  



    There are levees that protect citizens – in the Netherlands!  When greed, corruption, and politics, do the building – people die.



    America the beautiful?  Katrina showed that we have no disaster policy .  It’s pretty sad, when Cuba has a perfectly organized plan; with inland shelters and buses, ready to evacuate those in shoreline villages.  No person is left stranded for days on rooftops, or on strips of highway, in 100-degree heat!  Katrina saw gentrification by disaster.  As legislators met in emergency session, to relocate casinos onshore, the victims were shipped out of the area to distant states, put in tents, or FEMA trailers, which sickened them , with the formaldehyde fumes!  But then, most countries don’t have a man running their disaster plan, whose last job was running an Arabian horse organization!



    America the beautiful?  Hundreds of thousands are homeless.  Many of these are mentally ill and veterans.  When the institutions closed in the 80s-90s, crisis centers were supposed to open in every state.  This never happened.  The mentally ill are on the street or in jail!  Numerous families are homeless, with public housing being torn down, and nothing being built to replace it.  Many of the homeless work but cannot afford the high rents.  It took Congress ten years to raise the minimum wage.  Gentrification has destroyed affordable housing in numerous cities.  Many communities, from Washington State, to Florida, are opening ‘tent’ shelters!





    America the beautiful?  We spend billions upon billions for war.  Billions more are squandered or lost?  Nobody seems to care?  Nobody’s going to jail for this theft!  Those who return (after three or four tours) are scarred for life (physically and mentally).  All these billions, haven’t supplied our troops, with the most basic means of protection (i.e.  armored vehicles, body armor, etc).  A supposed ‘humanitarian’ effort in Somalia, had our soldiers dragged through the street!  Meantime, when the politicians are out and about, they are supplied with guards, snipers on rooftops, and limousines that are fully armored.  Veterans, including the Marine above, terribly burned, have to FIGHT for their benefits!  Politicians don’t have to FIGHT for their lucrative pensions.  They have managed, in the few days a week that they do work, to ensure that they get, not only their yearly (thousands) raises, but yearly cost of living increases in their pensions.  What’s wrong with this picture?



    America the beautiful?  Besides the military, our fastest growing businesses are – private prisons, casinos, garbage, and Wal-Mart (our nation’s largest employer).  None of these produce anything except profits for the corporate hucksters.  We have the largest prison population in the world (mostly non-violent drug offenses/probation violations).  We build more prisons than schools.  



    America the beautiful?  Per chance you should not be part of ‘group-think’.  and protest against our nation being emptied of livable wage jobs (due to trade agreements voted by Congress), you will be beaten down, or caged in ‘free-speech’ zones.  The police in Miami were given $8 million (meant for our troops) to outfit them in Ninja attire.  This armor was needed to protect them, not from an invasion, but from students – housewives – environmentalists – and workers protesting the FTAA (Free Trade of America’s Agreement), which was exporting more jobs to third world countries.



    America the beautiful?  Our steel mills, textile plants, and manufacturing industries, are shuttered and rusting away.  They are, like old man in a nursing home, none of them wanting to be there, each with his own story to tell.  These were the places that employed hundreds of thousands.  The hundreds of thousands who worked in these places, built our nation’s bridges, skyscrapers, railroads, and great Navy ships.  Without them, (Rosie the Riveter) WWII would have been lost!



    America the beautiful?  Our nation’s infrastructure is falling down.  Foreign investors are buying up our thruways (paid for by tax dollars).  China (to bypass American ports) is building Mexican ports.  A NAFTA highway will snake though the country, delivering goods to all points, including Canada.  The bridge in Minnesota, which collapsed, is now be expanded to ten lane,  to accommodate future truck traffic.  



    America the beautiful?  Our energy policy appears to be keeping the coffers of the OIL & GAS industries filled!  The latest ‘energy bill’ (hardly a whisper in the media) was passed, once the White House was assured, that billions in subsidies would continue to go to the oil companies.  War has been very – very good for these vultures.  They’ve realized multi-billions in profits, since this ‘war for democracy – liberation – and freedom’ for the Iraqi people.  As America rusts away, the oil profits are being used to construct futuristic cities, and indoor ski resorts in Dubai etc.  



    America the beautiful?  Many areas of our country are in distress, with high unemployment rates.  Detroit, once the headquarters of the auto industry, employing tens of thousands, is now a wasteland.  It’s downtown streets, hotels, auto plants, etc, are all shuttered.  





    America the beautiful?  Due to GREED, and little to no regulatory oversight (Congress – ha – is now going to hold hearings), millions of citizens across the land are losing their homes.  A bank doesn’t care (even with their 30 yr obscene interest rates) if multitudes are put out in the cold.  They’ll not be out in the cold and that’s what counts.  They’re in the money-making business.  Bankers, along with transnational corporations, are without souls or conscience.  They are loyal only to profits – percentages – hedge funds – and interest rates.  





    America the beautiful?  Meantime don’t worry.  The talking heads and ‘experts’ (hirelings) in the media assure us that all is calm.  TV was our teacher far into the night – it taught us to think, that things were alright?



    America the beautiful?  Meantime the ‘sheeple’ line up at the unemployment offices.  They fill out applications for those jobs at Home Depot, Wal-Mart, as blackjack dealers, or prison guards.  They obediently allow themselves to be scanned, groped, and searched at airports.  They line up for the newest vaccines, buy the newest high tech gadgets, and believe that a new Republican or Democrat ‘overseer’,  will deliver them from their despair and FEAR.  As for war – they watch from a distance.  They don’t connect the loss of local services, to the fact, that war costs money, and programs need to be cut (housing, homeless, food stamps, medical, fuel assistance, education, infrastructure, etc).  All of this money for war (projected to be $1-2 trillion) is borrowed.  Money today; is invested destructive bombs, called ‘Daisey Cutters’ (which rupture organs – eyeballs), missiles, stun guns, melting death rays , planes, tanks, guns, Ninja attire, depleted uranium weapons (cuts through steel like butter), mercenary troops, bunker busters,  and other exotic madness.  The more deadly our weapons are – the more our fears leave us numb.  



    America the beautiful?  In various hamlets and towns across the nation, a lone voice warns.  Of course, he/she is called unpatriotic, mad, a trouble- maker, and nut case.  Throughout the ages, war has always proved profitable for the select few.  They sit back and send the poor to war.  Marine General (34 years) Smedley Butler summed it up, “War is a racket.”



    America the beautiful?  Meantime Alice cries, “But I don’t want to go among mad people”.  “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat, “We’re all mad here.”  Alice in Wonderland

    JM

    Steel Mills To Slot Machine Nation

    copyright © Judith Moriarty

    Few realize that America, the America of old, is rusting away, and being sold off to transnational companies/ speculators.  These mutants are loyal to no land and no people.  Their sole reason for existence is profits and power.  Isolated as we are, one from another, the folks in the Florida Keys for example; have no knowledge of the paper mills in northern NH closing down putting hundreds out of work or of the numerous foreclosures in Michigan and Ohio.  Who has paid the slightest bit of attention.  as the steel mills, textile, mills, ship yards, and manufacturing jobs disappeared?  

    Nightly a small blurb on the ‘news’ announces that another several thousand are gone!  Yawn!  The major part of America’s news broadcasts are spent on the latest tabloid gossip.  While these plant closures may be headline news in local towns, the majority of the nation is oblivious.  Those running for office (with all their lofty promises) certainly aren’t holding their so- called debates at the empty Maytag plant, in desolate Detroit, or in an abandoned mill!  

    Meantime, the joke of job retraining is touted, as the answer to men, who’ve spent their entire lives forging steel, cutting logs, or on an assembly line.  A few weeks at some computer course, is supposed to have these scarred men, able to compete with hundreds of thousands of college graduates looking for jobs!  Please.  Meantime, even this ridiculous program is being cut.  President Bush needs the money to build dozens of bases in Iraq, and keep the 2 billion+ a week cost of the war funded.  Hundreds of thousands of unemployed men and women are the last thing on Washington’s mind!

    Those in office are all set with their lucrative salaries, medical care, and lobbying jobs for family members and yearly cost of living raises.  We pay their wages (raises) when it took them TEN years to raise the minimum wage a measly pittance!  As for medical care, we’re told we can go to the ER!  Meantime, the people are buying the usual hogwash that this time around (elections), a secular savior will restore and rebuild America.  Tell that to the folks (an example of America) in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  

    Bethlehem Steel, was once the largest steel maker in our nation.  At one time hundreds of thousands of men were employed in her numerous mills.  A man could make a decent living without his wife having to leave the kids for that Wal-Mart job to help make ends meet.  When my dad worked at the steel mills, we had full medical coverage.  This was after the Unions came into play, protecting the rights of workers, and insisting on a livable wage.  But then doctor’s visits, prescriptions, and medical care, weren’t run by the HMOs, Insurance Companies, and Pharmaceuticals! Today we have what’s known as ‘right to work for less’.  People are hired on as ‘contractors’ (no benefits, raises, job security) or part time.  A family needs two and three jobs to keep up with the daily cost of living increases . . .

    Bethlehem Steel (Bethlehem, Pa) once employed 25,000 – 30,000 men.  American steel (not the inferior stuff imported now) built the Golden Gate Bridge, the Empire State Building, restored the White House.  Our steel supplied armies, built cities, and employed a generation.  Now steel for our nation’s projects, has to be imported from China, Korea, Japan, etc.  Bethlehem Steel saw the great hulls of our Naval ships built in her bowels . . .

    Ironically, the building that once housed the employment offices at Bethlehem Steel, now has homeless people living in its abandoned rooms . . .

    Life in a mill town revolved around the mill.  People lived, attended church, and were buried in its shadow.  There were no 500 TV channels, no computer video games, no designer clothes, cell phones, corporate agri-farms, homeless people laying in the streets, veterans living under bridges, malls, breast implants, Viagra, drugs for stress, depression, anxiety, etc.  Education was important.  Teaching went on instead of today’s social engineering.  Discipline was not a problem . . .

    People enjoyed the simple things.  The yearly carnival that came to town, bingo games, rides in the country, the swimming hole, baseball (without steroids) church picnics, and shopping downtown on payday . . .

    With the demise of the industrial age in entered the developers and speculators.  Americans were told to educate their children for the computer age.  We were to become a high- tech society.  Instead those jobs were outsourced to foreign lands or American citizens saw themselves replaced (voted by Congress) with ‘guest workers’.  Rusted mill towns saw snake oil salesmen (corporate vultures) taking advantage of impoverished regions.  They brought in their incinerators, tons of garbage, malls, condos, convention centers, fast food generic restaurants, and giant box stores filled with foreign junk . . .

    And Bethlehem?  New York developers bought the land for a song.  The plans are to open a giant casino, a mall, restaurants, and condos.  The jobs?  Blackjack dealers, security guards, janitors, waitresses, maids, cooks, retail clerks, doormen, cab drivers etc.  What will they produce?  Profits for the developers and investors.  And Bethlehem?  Why it’ll go the way of most casino towns – with its accompanying problems of crime, prostitution, and sleazy characters.  Today we see prisons, garbage, malls, casinos, and the military, as our major industries.  I’m not sure where all these gamblers are coming from in a land that is fast losing its jobs?  It’s not only the blue-collar worker but the Wall Street brokers and top management personnel.  But then I’m not a gambler.  I can’t imagine that I would risk one dollar of my money to enrich corporate vultures!

    Few realize it but a country cannot long survive when it no longer produces or manufactures the things needed to build a nation and feed its people.  When a nation is dependent on all of its goods (including food) being imported, and it has to borrow billions per day.  to support global war – the music has died.  The only songs in today’s land are the sound of lonely taps on a distant mountain cemetery.

    JM

    The Death of Miss Liberty

    copyright © 2007 Judith Moriarty

    We’ve been programmed to hate.  I can’t remember when I didn’t hear someone spewing abusive words towards another.  My grandma hated Italians, Blacks, and Protestants.  I suppose she would have hated Jews, except none lived in our town.   I remember my excitement at age seven, going to my Grandmas after Sunday School.  I told her that I had good news.  I learned that God was a spirit and that we were all made in the image and likeness of God.  I explained to her, since spirits don’t have any color you can stop hating.  It seemed logical to me.  

    I think she kept hating because when my Aunt Betty married (Bob) a Protestant, she made an awful scene and marched out of the church.  Later when my Uncle Bob bought her a house, she stopped hating Protestants.  Besides, my Grandma hating, it was coming home from school, and seeing the terrible scenes during the Civil Rights era that showed me how evil hatred could be.  

    I couldn’t believe that people were being knocked over with fire hoses and dogs were being set on them.  I asked my dad why they were doing such awful things.  He said, “People pass hatred on from generation to generation.  They’re acting out what they’ve been taught.  Men aren’t born with prejudice it’s an acquired trait.  A bitter root will spoil a spring and that’s what happened to them.  The bitterness grew until it consumed them.  They don’t know how to stop hating.  They were never taught what loving their neighbor really means.  Their lives are consumed with hate.”

    We’ve been programmed to hate from one generation to the next.  Today its Mexicans and Arabs.  We’ve hated American Indians, Germans, the Japanese, Black folk, the Irish, etc.  Anybody who didn’t fit our idea of proper white society.  If we didn’t have a convenient minority to hate, we created bias and prejudice against our neighbors.  This hate is fluid.  It may focus on the poor, the homeless, trailer trash, or intruders, into our communities from other states or countries.  What we hear little about are the Chinese (coolies) immigrants.  The first documentation of the Chinese in the U.S. began in the 1800’s due to the California Gold Rush.  When large groups of unskilled laborers, usually working for very little pay, migrated to the U.S. American attitudes became negative and hostile.  

    These Chinese clustered into groups, working hard and living frugally.  Many Southern whites joined the Gold Rush and brought along their hostile racial attitudes.  Miners in the area often used violence to drive the Chinese out of various mines.  While impatient gold-seekers would abandon prospective rivers, the Chinese would remain, painstakingly panning through the dust to find bits of gold.

    They did not only mine for gold, but took such jobs as cooks, peddlers, and storekeepers.  In the first decade after the discovery of gold, many had taken jobs nobody else wanted or that were considered too dirty.  However in 1870, hasty exploitation of gold mines and a lack of well-paying jobs for non-Asians spurred sentiment that the ‘rice eaters’ were to blame.  We can thank the Chinese for building the western leg of the Central Pacific Railroad.  

    This worker’s average pay was 20.00 per month after food was deducted.  The work was backbreaking and thousands died.  Although nine-tenths of the railroad workers were Chinese, the famous photograph taken, where the golden stake was driven connecting the east and west by railway, no Chinese workers were included!  We are famous for using and discarding people.  But then, we are a disposable society.  We treat people (those we see as inferior) much like litter.

    Acts of violence against the Chinese continued for decades, mostly from white urban and agricultural workers.  In 1862, eighty-eighty Chinese were reported murdered.  Though large landowners that hired Chinese, railroads, and other large white – owned businesses, and Chinese workers themselves pushed against a growing anti-Chinese legislation, the forces opposing the Chinese prevailed, issuing laws that excluded or harassed them from industry to industry.

    Finally, the Naturalization Act of 1870 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 restricted immigration of Chinese into the U.S.  They were excluded until 1943.  They were the first significant culture to be prohibited to freely immigrate.  With China becoming allies with the US during WWII – attitudes changed.  Perhaps because newcomers took their place to hate The Chinese when they did immigrate were kept for months on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay (like Ellis Island in NYC).

    Families could not stay together.  I imagine, like NYC, few in the San Francisco area have visited this place Many that I spoke to in NYC had never visited Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building nor the numerous museums!  I doubt that this sordid part of our history is taught in today’s schools It’s kind of ironic that the despised Chinese of yesterday are those who loan us billions upon billions to support our newest industry – war.  The rail lines where they died – now carry their products across our nation.  The ‘coolies’ of yesteryear are the today’s industrialists, scientists, and builders.

    The Industrial Age of yesteryear (unlike today) absorbed multitudes of unskilled labor.  Then there were the war years.  There were no guest visa programs, no welfare, no entitlement programs, or trade agreements; closing down factories, the auto industry, textile mills, and manufacturing.  A man could find work if he needed it.  The lack of a college degree was no hindrance.  Many choose to farm and fed a nation.  It saved the nation during the Great Depression.  

    Today large corporate farms and trade agreements have driven tens of thousands off the land.  Cities are rusting, echoing, memories of a past era never to be seen again.  We now import most of our clothing, goods, and food from foreign lands.  We no longer produce anything of merit.  Our biggest industries are war, box stores, prisons, garbage, and gambling Mecca’s.

    We are a service economy – which makes nothing!  Rusted mill towns build condos, malls, and hotels (which produce nothing) to attract tourists, and shoppers.  The immigrants of today are working for cheap wages: doing construction, dock work, labor, maids, grounds keepers, etc.  Imported professionals on guest visas, are replacing Americans for lower wages, with no benefits or job security.  

    Work today is mostly contractual.  Gone are the small hometowns where foundries and paper mills were located.  A man would pass his job down to his to son.  A family didn’t need both parents working.  We are fast becoming an echoing wasteland of echoing rust and abandoned farms.

    None of the candidates rushing to and fro, trying to grab the golden ring, give a hoot about the multitudes left jobless because of their votes.  They are well cared for medically and are secure in knowing that they’ll see yearly (thousands) cost of living increases and lobbying jobs for their families and themselves (Trent Lott) when they decide to ‘cash in’.  That’s what it’s all about.  Let’s have us a no – bid contract.  That’s what today’s vote really means.  The owners of the world have already chosen the next overseer!  There’s no secular savior coming to save the day and turn the clocks back.  Anybody promising this is lying for votes!

    Miss Liberty passed away Sept 11, 2001.  Few heard her final gasps amidst the implosion of the towers – the screams – and sounds of blasting sirens.  Her song disappeared in the volcanic ash that rushed through the concrete canyons of NYC.  She welcomed multitudes over the years and watched as they built a nation.  Her lamp lit the way, for the young off to war after war, never to return.  She witnessed the graft, corruption, and materialistic excesses of the moneychangers in the banks and on Wall Street.  Some said she died of a broken heart.  Me, I think she died of melancholy.  She just couldn’t bear the weight of the hatred that had men committing such heinous barbaric acts upon one another.  

    It was the hate, lies, fear, apathy, and indifference that overtook a once proud people.  It was the liars in high places that sold out a nation for profit.  It was the multi-national corporations that sold their allegiance to our nation for a bowl of pottage.  It was the pollution of politics that prostituted their oath of office.  That’s what really killed her.  She didn’t want to witness the death of a nation so she left quietly with the ashes.  Her silent song is scattered across the land (except for Washington, D.C.).

    JM  

    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