No place to hide

No place to hide

Ted Folkert

May 22, 2015

All of the sabre-rattling lately from some of the disgruntled leaders around the world brings to mind the question of the likelihood of us blowing each other out of existence. North Korea, with their “loose-cannon” of a leader, threatens to attack everyone in sight. Of course, we see that as like the smallest kid in the class taunting the big bully, who isn’t going to ruin his reputation on some little twerp. And, Vladimir Putin keeps reminding his adversaries that Russia is a nuclear country. And are they ever. They have more nuclear warheads than any other country.

The latest count seems to be as follows: Russia – 8,500, U.S. – 7,500, France – 300, China – 250, UK – 225, Israel – 200. Other countries for which we have no count are: North Korea, Pakistan, India, and Germany. Iran is continuously accused of trying to enrich uranium in order to make nuclear warheads but is believed to not have them as yet.

So with 17,000 counted and another unknown of a few thousand, we could probably safely estimate a total in excess of 20,000. The two bombs we dropped on Japan caused more than 100,000 deaths. It is believed that the warheads now available are more powerful than the earlier creations. So, if they are twice as powerful and we now have 20,000, which could each cause 100,000 deaths, we could possibly eliminate 2 billion people once a nuclear war got underway. That should pretty much take care of all of the major cities around the globe. Of course, this doesn’t take into consideration the other damage done in the process, which would be devastating throughout the world in terms of food supply and transportation.

Considering all of the conflicts that are underway presently and the unlikelihood of any resolution in the near future, what is the likelihood of a nuclear warhead becoming involved. Once that happens, all hell could break loose. So, who goes first, who responds, who calls for a truce? We don’t know. The way ISIS, or ISIL, or whatever, is marauding around the Middle East, how soon will they get their hands on a nuclear weapon? We don’t know, but the danger exists. How long can we keep Israel at bay against Iran? It seems that they would like to invade them at any time. Actually, Israel, on a square footage and population basis, may be the best armed country on the planet. If war breaks out, will a nuclear weapon by involved? We don’t know.

What we do know is that we need to reexamine the need for an effective united police force to adjudicate and resolve conflicts before they become a threat to our very existence. If a nuclear war among the various nuclear countries ever becomes a reality, we will surely have no place to hide and we could ultimately end civilization as we know it and render this planet unable to support human life or any life whatsoever.

Think about it!

We have no place to hide!

No place to sleep

No place to sleep

Ted Folkert

May 14, 2015

Did you ever wake up and realize you were sleeping on the sidewalk, in a doorway, in an alley, in the street, in someone’s yard, in a parking lot, in a vacant lot, under a bridge, behind a building, or on a park bench? If you did, did you wonder where you were going next, where you would get a drink of water, where you would get some food, where you would use a toilet, where you could clean up, where you could change clothes, where you would find shelter, warmth, or security?

If you did, did you wonder how your family was or when you would see them? Did you feel helpless, desolate, depressed, desperate, ashamed, disgusted, or despondent? Did you feel ready to give up, maybe end it all?

If you lived like this, did you ever get rousted out by the property owner, a shop keeper, or the police? Did you wonder where you could go then? Did the police person tell you to go to a homeless shelter about 10 miles away, too far to walk with all your belongings on your back, especially not knowing if you would be admitted?

Did you ever keep all of your belongings in life in your backpack, luggage, or a shopping cart? Did you have to guard them day and night to prevent them disappearing and leaving you with nothing again?

Did you ever feel that you were invisible, that people looked through you and not at you, walked around you and avoided you and cast dispersions upon you with their looks of annoyance and disgust?

These are the experiences and feelings that we hear that homelessness engenders. These are the feelings that we can read on the faces of the homeless – feelings of helplessness and despair, shame and depression, disgust and anger – total surrender to realizing any normal way of life or any chance of a healthy survival or enjoyment of life – just a constant struggle to get through another day and another night.

That sounds miserable doesn’t it? Can you even imagine such a feeling of despair? Well, some of us live that life every day. Some have succumbed to addiction, mental illness, depression, joblessness, and just plain old hard-times. Many are veterans of wars that they were sent to fight the wars started by the rich and powerful, and came back damaged either mentally or physically, and can’t seem to survive in our winner-take-all economy.

Los Angeles has more than 40,000 homeless every night, 40,000 without any place to sleep, 40,000 without any place to eat, to bath, to rest comfortably, to have security, shelter and warmth. You can drive around Los Angeles and count the motor homes and camping trailers parked by the curb in areas that seem safe and where overnight parking seems permissible. These aren’t recreational vehicles for the most part, they are peoples’ homes.

You can go to Downtown or Venice or Hollywood and count them all night long each and every night. They move around as they are forced to by the property owners or law enforcement, but they are still there.

The cost of housing in Los Angeles has been hiked by the rentiers to the point that the homeless population is continually on the increase. Only 1 in 4 homes on the market in Los Angeles is affordable to the typical millennial household, according to the Zillow real estate website. You can pick up the LA Times and read about all of the amazing homes for sale each week for millions of dollars, some a hundred million dollars, but little if any homes are available at a price for which a working-class wage-earner could qualify. One of Zillow’s economists stated that the reason was, high home prices and low incomes. Wow, what a profound statement – who would have thought it?

Quoting a recent article in the LA Times by Gale Hollard and Souyma Karlamangla, “the homeless population jumped 12% in the last two years in both the city and the county of Los Angeles, driven by soaring rents, low wages, and stubbornly high unemployment ….. The number of tents, makeshift encampments and vehicles occupied by homeless people soared 85%, to 9,535, according to figures from Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority….Los Angeles has the nation’s largest concentration of homeless veterans.”

Quoting Steve Lopez, LA Times, “you see them behind bushes and in parks, in ragged tents and beat-up vans, on beaches and along arroyos, under bridges, in alleys and on sidewalks. It’s mostly men, a few women and some children. Enough is enough. We have heard all the soundbites before but it is getting worse.”

Quoting Christine Marglotte, head of Home for Good, a public-private homeless service, “In 2013, three veterans were becoming homeless each day – now, we recognize 10 become homeless each day.”

Quoting a LA Times editorial. “To be sure, ending homelessness is no easy task, the harsh realities: the lagging effects of the recession, a severe shortage of affordable housing, a drying up of federal stimulus money, gentrification downtown and elsewhere in the city. But the numbers also constitute a devastating indictment of city and county politicians … all of whom failed to correct the housing shortage countywide.”

So, there you have it. The rich and powerful individuals and behemoth corporations have hiked the rents up to the point that the young are forced to stay at home or room together, the older adults are stuck where they are, and the less fortunate are on the street with no hope in sight.

There are many efforts underway to resolve this crisis. Los Angeles is building residential units for homeless veterans in conjunction with the VA Medical Center. More than 400 mayors, 7 governors and others have signed on to the Obama administration’s challenge to end the veteran homelessness by 2016. New Orleans became the first to declare success. These sound encouraging but 2016 is just around the corner and so is 2017 and 2018. We need action, immediate action. This is a crisis which can be resolved and it should be resolved without delay.

Quoting Michael Antonovich, Los Angeles Supervisor: “…solutions are red herrings that will have little impact unless we effectively address the primary causes of homelessness: mental illness and substance abuse. … Reforms are needed to streamline court processes,establish realistic standards allowing judges to refer the severely ill to treatment, and allow families to have greater access in the treatment process … fully implement Laura’s Law, a compassionate, cost-effective program that provides court-ordered, intensive mental health treatment to the homeless, many of whom are incapable of consenting to treatment due to the nature of their disease.”

As far as the economic causes of homelessness, which are becoming more and more prevalent, it is time to take the advice of Thomas Piketty, French economist, and tax capital. If we tax the stored capital, excess capital of the rich and powerful, capital that they were able to accumulate as a result of the infrastructure and economy we provided for them, and initiate rebuilding the infrastructure of our cities, states and country – repair roads and bridge, build new schools, new hospitals, new housing for veterans, and hundreds of other worthwhile projects such as these, we will create millions of jobs, which will put billions of dollars directly into the economy, which will enable the construction of affordable housing for all classes, and which will pay dividends for generations to come.

If we don’t do it for any other reason, at least we could do it for the homeless, the desperate, those who have hit the wall and have nowhere to turn for help, who are living on our streets in deplorable conditions, while our economy prospers for those of us with privilege or better circumstance.

The above examples of homelessness in Los Angeles are exemplified throughout the US in most of the major cities, such as New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Baltimore, Philadelphia and many others. Homelessness may be somewhat more common on the West coast due to the favorable climate for sleeping outdoors, but the evidence is everywhere, throughout the country, that it is a systemic problem and that the efforts to treat those who are the victims is seriously lacking.

Have we no shame, no compassion, no sense of responsibility to our people, all of our people, including the poor? The playing field of comfort and luxury has been tilted against the proletariat for too long now. Now we need to tilt it in the direction of those with no place to sleep.

Think about it!

Think about them!

 

 

 

 

 

The best new scam – government sanctioned

The best new scam – government sanctioned

Private colleges scam students – Wall Street loves it – they never saw a scam they didn’t like.

Ted Folkert

May 5, 2015

I think we can quote PT Barnum again here, “there is a sucker born every minute”. Well, our benevolent Wall Street financiers must have paid attention to him, AGAIN.

Jim Hightower of Hightower Lowdown always has the courage of his convictions when it comes to exposing the scam artists in our society. And more often than not the scam artists turn out to be those who own us already, the rich and powerful individuals and corporations, along with the aid of their well-paid lobbyists who know which buttons to push in Washington DC to grease the skids and deliver the rewards.

In his recent expose regarding the for-profit college system which has flourished for the past few decades, he refers to it as “Screw U”.  http://www.hightowerlowdown.org/debtstrike#.VUknTZNs_Kg

These degree programs are considered mediocre or worse, predatory loan scams the hustle students into deep debt. This is a practice sanctioned by our federal government and most state governments and loved by college CEOs, Wall Street financiers, and debt collectors. Instead of considering education a common good, they consider it a commodity just like corn and soybeans. (Caveat emptor – let the buyer beware)

Check out these facts about private colleges, paraphrased from writings by Jim Hightower:

$1.3 trillion is owed by students, more than for credit cards or auto loans.

Tuition is 20% to 400% higher than public or community schools.

96% of private college students take loans, for public or community schools, 13% to 48%

The loans provide them $32 billion a year in revenue

88% of their students leave saddled with debt averaging $39,950

Interest rates, penalties, and collection fees can double the cost

The cost can end up double the cost of a Harvard education

They spend 17% of their budget on teaching, 19% on corporate profits and 23% on marketing

CEOs at the corporate schools average pay is $7.3 million

72% on those who graduate are in jobs that average less pay than high school dropouts

A well-known senator stated that “they own every lobbyist in town”. Their lobbyists include former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and former Democratic House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, obviously paid co-conspirators.

Their campaign dollars amounted to $3 million in last year’s congressional races and $4.4 million in the 2012 presidential and congressional campaigns, with 70% going to GOP candidates.

On their convention stages they prance out people like Colin Powell, George W Bush, General Wesley Clark, and Jeb Bush.

The scam artists’ TV personalities are people like Suzy Orman and Steve Harvey, who apparently are paid co-conspirators.

Wall Street owns 34% to 100% of the eight largest for-profit college corporations.

Jim Hightower says his education at the University of North Texas in the 1960s cost about $800 per year, about $6,000 in present dollars. I had similar experience at Kansas City Junior College and the University of Missouri at Kansas City. The highest fees were $12 per credit hour, so the total cost was probably $1,500, about $12,000 in present dollars, total cost for a bachelor’s degree.

Have our leaders no shame, no compassion, no interest in educating our youngsters? Education – the only salvation for sustenance of our way of life for future generations, the only way of a rewarding life for our present generation of youngsters as they pursue the globalized employment market which is ever-increasingly competing with robots, which are owned by the rich and powerful, for low-wage jobs.

We need to get down and dirty with these inconsiderate vultures – down and dirty with the Hightower Lowdown and Jim Hightower.

Read the article: http://www.hightowerlowdown.org/debtstrike#.VUknTZNs_Kg

Think about!

 

Why can’t we all get along?

Why can’t we all get along?

Ted Folkert
April 19, 2015

Where is Rodney King when we need him? Okay, just kidding. But, it seems he is better known for his statement after his beating by the LAPD many years ago than for the actual beating. As we all probably remember he was quoted as having said: “Why can’t we just all get along?” Not saying that he was one to always get along, but his presumed statement is a good lead-in for what we are talking about today – human existence.

It is the big question, a rhetorical question that occurs to many us as we note the statistics of the way we are “all getting along” in this world of ours.

7.3 billion, and counting – the population of the planet, as we speak. Since the dawn of human history, approximately 50,000 years ago, the estimates of births on the planet are 90 to 100 billion. If these estimates are correct, 7% of all those born in 50,000 years are still alive today. A big burden on the planet’s resources and an even bigger burden on us “all getting along.”

As we speak, the armed conflicts, those where we are killing or have killed each other that are going on in the world or have occurred in the last year, are overwhelming. Here is a partial list of countries where such are or have occurred:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Iraq, Israel, Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Mexico, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Ukraine – did I miss anyone? Of course, but the list is already overwhelming. We obviously are not “all getting along”.

And are there other countries involved in such conflicts, actually killing people and destroying infrastructure, that don’t actually have military conflicts in their own countries? Of course, and here is another partial list:

United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt, Iran – and again, others we omitted.

And, although wars are about political ideals, power struggles, territory, trade abuses, and numerous other inexplicable reasons, some of the more current that we can identify are religious in nature. Although we all probably need some form of religion in our lives and most people would agree that we should all honor religious freedom, the religions with members being killed today include:

Christians, Jews, Islamists, Muslims, Shiites, Sunnis (totaling more than 50%) – and again, others we omitted, including non-religions, agnostics and atheists (16%).

If we consider the countries with the largest populations, such as: China – 19%, India – 18%, United States – 4%, Indonesia – 3%, Brazil – 3%, Russia – 2%, they total more than 50% of the population of the planet. These countries have been able to keep war off their shores for the most part for several decades, while at the same time arming the smaller countries as they kill each other’s people and destroy each other’s infrastructures of life. (Kind of reminds of the financial community in our own country as they pillage the lower and middle class while smiling all the way to the bank, which they own, by the way.)

We are consuming the finite resources available to support generations of future humans in order to manufacture weapons, such as planes, bombs, missiles, drones, etc., so that we can destroy infrastructure that we created out of these same finite resources – and doing it to settle infinite disagreements between countries, between political ideals, and between religions.

What have we learned? We profess to live by the lessons of the past. We profess to live by what was written by political and religious leaders. These are the essence of the political speeches around the planet as would-be leaders seek power. The King James Version of the Bible contains more than a thousand pages, much of which is about human behavior – as I would imagine is the Koran and other religious texts – just as thousands of the volumes of history surely contain. But what have we learned?

Economic benefits take precedence over human life, (i.e., someone else’s human life). Hostility as a resolution of disagreements takes precedence over peaceful resolution. The war-mongers take precedence over the peace advocates. The munitions manufacturers take precedence over infrastructure builders. The proponents of military might take precedence over education, health care, and support for those who need a helping hand.

We have the dog wagging the tail when it comes to the economic benefits of warfare, and we have the tail wagging the dog when it comes to administering human kind, and together human existence is in peril.

What are we thinking about? The surgery was a success but the patient died?

Think about!

Please help us elect better leaders.

Al Martinez – letter to the president

Al Martinez, a beloved writer for the Los Angeles Times for many years, posted this letter to the president just prior to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003:

Style & Culture; Al Martinez; With a finger on the trigger; Al MartinezLos Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Feb 14, 2003.

To George W. Bush, President of the United States

Mr. President:

Today is Friday but I’m writing you on Wednesday, so all of this could be coming too late. The smart bombs may already have hit their marks in Iraq, along with the bunker busters, city killers and that fire from hell called napalm. But if it isn’t too late, then I ask you, for myself and millions of others, to wait another day.

A day isn’t much in the vast stretch of time, but it’s often the difference between serenity and calamity, a tick of the cosmic clock that divides well-being from horror. Another day of rethinking options, of talking, of trying to find a better way isn’t too much to ask of a man who holds the fate of the world in his hands.

War sounds easy for someone who hasn’t been in one, but down on the level where people get hurt, it’s very personal. Although all the patriotic bluster and jingoistic flag-waving may grant you the spotlight you desire, when the enemy hits back, we won’t be able to hear the ringing words for the dying screams.

Peace advocates all over the world are trying to tell you that they don’t want war and they don’t see why one is necessary. With the possible exception of what might emerge at the U.N. today, the inspectors have come up with little to justify a full-scale attack, but you’re still shaking your fist in the face of the world, damning anyone who disagrees.

You talk of going it alone, without the U.N. or NATO, maybe just us and jolly old England, defying words of caution coming from France, Germany, Russia and even Belgium. Those are countries that have known war, Mr. President. Bombs have fallen on their cities and millions have died. I have an uneasy feeling that this time America will know war on its civilians, and the bloodshed will be great.

Fear clouds the nation with a darkness rarely experienced. We never expected that the realities of military conflict, the bombs and the flames, would reach us during other wars. We felt safely distant from the fires of combat. But this time it’s different. They’ve reached us already, and you tell us more horror is surely in our future.

I’ve heard whispers of fear in conversations throughout L.A. for the past several weeks, and I’ve seen expressions of fear on faces that have never known terror before. I interrupted a group’s conversation at a deli in the Valley to ask what frightened them most, and one of them said it all when he said, “Tomorrow.”

I overheard a similar conversation at an exclusive four-star Westside restaurant. Two women were talking about the havoc rain causes on the freeways, when one of them suddenly wondered aloud how it would be to evacuate if war came. The question lingered in silence, unanswered.

It was the same at the MOCA opening for the Lucian Freud show, among parents picking up their kids at a Topanga school, at a peace protest in Santa Monica, at a gathering of friends in Woodland Hills, at a church in Canoga Park. We too wondered “what if” and dared not ponder further.

We’re afraid, Mr. President. Not just for us, but for everyone and everything we love. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the people in Baghdad feel that way too. Civilians aren’t the ones who declare war. War is begun by kings who threaten and posture and who, seeking history’s laurels, lack the vision to foresee where ego gratification can lead.

Your attorney general tells us to go about life as usual. Go to concerts, go to hotels, get on planes, board trains, go to school. But then he warns us that attacks by Al Qaeda terrorists could be imminent, especially if we bomb Iraq. Lights of danger flash to high alert. We’re told to keep three days’ supply of food and water in our homes, to place emergency kits in the backpacks of our kids and to think about where we might go if the cities, for one reason or another, become uninhabitable. Life as usual just isn’t possible, Mr. President.

No one wants another Hitler to imperil the world, but you haven’t convinced us that Saddam Hussein is even capable of becoming one. That will take more proof, more inspections, more convincing and more attention to the will of the people.

Listen to us, Mr. President. We don’t want anyone killed in any country of the world to sate the appetite of kings. Give it time, Mr. President. For the sake of us all, the millions you hold in trust, don’t pull the trigger. Wait another day.

Yours in desperation,

A Human Being

Think about it!

Impudence, Imprudence & Ignorance of Hubris

Impudence, Imprudence & Ignorance of Hubris

Ted Folkert

April 13, 2015

The amazement never diminishes. The decisions are never justified. The sense of it all is never explained. The justification, the foresight of the aftermath, the reasoning, the truth – have never been provided in any way that makes any sense to many of us.

Yes, we are talking about Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. And we are talking about the entire Middle East now, as well.

Oh sure, Vietnam was about halting the march of communism, that dirty, scary word back in the 1960s. Fingers were pointing in every direction – you are communist – he is communist – of my goodness, communism is everywhere, the sky is falling, the world is ending. What was the big scare? Communism in those days was supposedly a governmental system whereby the government owned all industry, all resources, and all property and provided a subsistence living to all of the citizens on an equal basis. This definition is a generality, not an in depth understanding, and has no implication that communism was or is a viable or sustainable system. And the situation varied with different countries that attempted such a system. But why the scare? Did we think the communists were going to gain control of our country? Did we think they were out to control the entire world?

Death, destruction, devastation, destitution, disgust – the aftermath of the senseless war in Vietnam. More than 3 million members of the US military served during the war, more than 1 million of them faced combat there. There were fifty-eight thousand US fatalities. More than 2 million Vietnamese deaths have been estimated. There have been an estimated 60,000 injured and 40,000 Vietnamese killed by unexploded ordinances since the war ended, many of them children, many of them farmers trying to provide a living out of the land we destroyed. This, as we all know, is still going on today.

Twenty million gallons of herbicides were dropped on South Vietnam, exposing 4.8 million people to toxic chemicals. Life-sustaining farmland rendered arid and unproductive, contaminated with toxins. Yes, the pain and suffering, the loss of a way of life, a loss of a livelihood, and a loss of family is still being suffered today. All this was done in the name of stopping the march of communism around the globe.

I don’t recall any such effort on our part to prevent a communist government in Russia or China. I wonder why? Could it have been that interfering with the governmental preferences of those two countries would have been a dangerous mission and one that we might lose? And then we boycotted Cuba for 50 years, although they were no threat to us whatsoever. Did the Vietnam decision seem like a piece of cake, an easy mark, one we could destroy with a few bombs? You know, like our ridiculous decisions about Afghanistan and Iraq, where we were to be in and out in a couple of months after dropping a few bombs and unfortunately those two military adventures have both lasted almost 15 years and may continue indefinitely. The above examples were decisions made by our fearless leaders in spite of the facts that the French failed in Vietnam before us and the Russians failed miserably in Afghanistan before us. Valuable lessons ignored, of course.

And now our happy warriors in the Department of Defense and our fearless leaders in Congress and the executive branch of government are wrestling with the Middle East again and again and again. We are either supporting Israel too much or not enough; we should control the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Iran and other countries or should not; we are either trying to help the opposition in Syria or we are siding with Assad; we are allies of the Saudis or we are not; we should either help the Palestinians or we should not; we should either support the existing government in Yemen or we should not; we are either supporting the call of the Armenians to declare that Turkey murdered 1,500,000 of their people unnecessarily in the WWI era or we are not; we trust Pakistan or we don’t; we are either supporting Ukraine or we are letting Russia have their way in returning it to their Soviet republic. My mom would have called this damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

And now the situation has become so complex in this entire region that we are involved on both sides of some conflicts – enemies and allies with some countries at the same time.

What to do – what to do? That is the $64 trillion question. Unfortunately, it is a question that has no answer. We cannot resolve conflicting religious beliefs with bombs. We cannot send our youngsters to battle to resolve all of the conflicts that arise in a hundred different countries around the world. Nor should it be our responsibility. All international conflicts should be controlled by a united stand by an international peacekeeping force, with all countries so engaged providing equal funding and efforts. We simply cannot continue to be the police force for the entire world.

Think about it!

Our Country is in Mourning, a Veteran Died Today

Another Veteran Died Today

Ted Folkert

April 4, 2015

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Hite died a couple of days ago. He was one of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders pilots, 80 men who flew B-25 bombers to strike Tokyo in 1942. Eight of them were captured, three executed and several others died at sea. Hite was captured and held prisoner for 40 months, losing 100 pounds of his body weight during captivity. He was liberated in 1945.

But that experience didn’t deter Hite from doing his perceived duty again. He returned to activity duty in 1951 during the Korean War. Hite obviously demonstrated his bravery, patriotism, and willingness to give his life for his country, traits perhaps not appreciated enough by those of us who never faced the enemy in battle. May this brave soul rest in peace with the memory that he did all he could to protect our freedom and safety.

This, of course, reminds me of poem which you may have read, but one worth repeating every time a veteran dies:

 Veteran Died Today

 He was getting old and paunchy, And his hair was falling fast,

And he sat around the Legion, Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he once fought in, And the deeds that he had done,

In his exploits with his buddies; They were heroes, every one.

 And ‘tho sometimes to his neighbors, His tales became a joke,

All his buddies listened quietly, For they knew where of he spoke.

 But we’ll hear his tales no longer, For ol’ Joe has passed away,

And the world’s a little poorer, For a Veteran died today.

 He won’t be mourned by many, Just his children and his wife.

For he lived an ordinary, Very quiet sort of life.

 He held a job and raised a family, Going quietly on his way;

And the world won’t note his passing, ‘Tho a Veteran died today.

 When politicians leave this earth, Their bodies lie in state,

While thousands note their passing, And proclaim that they were great.

 Papers tell of their life stories, From the time that they were young,

But the passing of a Veteran Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

 Is the greatest contribution, To the welfare of our land,

Some jerk who breaks his promise, And cons his fellow man?

 Or the ordinary fellow, Who in times of war and strife,

Goes off to serve his country, And offers up his life?

 The politician’s stipend, And the style in which he lives,

Are often disproportionate, To the service that he gives.

 While the ordinary Veteran, Who offered up his all,

Is paid off with a medal, And perhaps a pension, small.

 It is not the politicians, With their compromise and ploys,

Who won for us the freedom, That our country now enjoys.

 Should you find yourself in danger, With your enemies at hand,

Would you really want some cop-out, With his ever-waffling stand?

 Or would you want a Veteran, His home, his country, his kin,

Just a common Veteran, Who would fight until the end.

 He was just a common Veteran, And his ranks are growing thin,

But his presence should remind us, We may need his likes again.

 For when countries are in conflict, We find the Veteran’s part,

Is to clean up all the troubles, That the politicians start.

 If we cannot do him honor, While he’s here to hear the praise,

Then at least let’s give him homage, At the ending of his days.

 Perhaps just a simple headline, In the paper that might say:

“OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING, A VETERAN DIED TODAY.”

 Author ‘Unknown’

Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey
Aristocracy, plutocracy, elitism, and avarice

Ted Folkert

March 17, 2015

This conversation isn’t about the “Fifty Shades of Grey” – the book and movie that is the talk of the town now. It isn’t about hedonistic or narcissistic behavior, individual success, arrogance, or sexual fantasies. But there may be some egotistical overlap with the rich and powerful that we know so well.

This conversation is about aristocracy, plutocracy, elitism, and avarice – shades of grey, shades of gloom, shades of economic impoverishment for the proletariat, the hoi polloi – you know, me and you and all the rest of the working class.

Check out these quotes: “…. the caste, an elite who kept most of the gains from the boom years and left ordinary people to shoulder the cost of the crisis …”…. “Corruption is not just the scoundrels who put their hands in the till, it’s also the rich 1 Percent, who own as much as 70 percent of what the population owns, by binding them down with credit card debt, mortgages, and dead-end jobs in giant corporations….”

Does this conversation sound familiar? It seems that we have witnessed this, talked about it, written about it. Does it sound like the condition in the U.S.? It certainly does for many of us.

Well, these quotes, provided in a Bloomberg article by Estaban Duarte and Maria Tadeo – “A Fiery Leftist Galvanizes Spain”, are from Pablo Iglesias, candidate for prime minister in Spain. It seems we are not alone, not the only country in which the rich and powerful and behemoth corporations own the country, control all of the wealth, and garner a huge chunk of the income produced by the efforts of the entire populace.

Iglesias’s proposal to improve the condition of the economy would include a reduction of the value of some Spanish debt, more state control of companies, a guaranteed basic income for all, more controls on corporate lobbying and tax-avoidance, promotion of food production by small local farms, and withdrawal of certain free-trade agreements.

This is the same story of our economy in many ways and it requires some of the same remedies, the same anecdotes, the same changes in the way we are governed, the same prognosis and health regimen to withstand the onset of this disease that we have allowed to fester in our society.

The shades of grey that we are experiencing didn’t just happen in a book or a movie. They have been the way society has been controlled for most of human civilization. Which is the best, which is the worst, form of governmental or autocratic control over a population? Libraries around the world are filled with books on the subject. Every opinion one could hope for can be found there. No general consensus, no ultimate conclusion, just opinions. And the problem is that none of the forms of government work really well and most of them evolve from dictatorship, to monarchy, to oligarchy, to some sort of democratic society and then some revert to dictatorship. The effect that government should provide always seems to be deterred by aristocracy, by the many shades of grey, by the insidious condition that we are experiencing today that, if left untreated, could end up creating yet another failure in governing a civilization in a way that benefits all the people, not just the aristocracy.

If you want to know how some of our original wealth in this country was created, read what Noam Chomsky has to say on the subject. He will tell you that much of the early wealth that was created and still exists today was created on the backs of slaves who were tortured into productive cotton picking machines while producing enormous wealth for the plantation owners.

If you want to get more recent, read Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren as they explain to us how the financial gangsters raped and pillaged the hoi polloi while pocketing gazillions of dollars in their private bank accounts. Are we talking about many years ago? No. We are talking about a few years ago. We are talking about today, as these same financial gangsters continue to rape and pillage the proletariat, the hopeless and helpless working class, the portion of our population with little political power and little voice in, or choice of, leadership, or our enactment or enforcement of laws, rules and regulations to level the field of economic opportunities.

Now, as we read what the Republican controlled Congress has in store for us, the picture is becoming clear. No surprise for those of us who knew it was coming, but perhaps an awakening for those who were fooled by the messages we were fed during the election campaigns that were dominated by corporate and special interest funding, sanctioned by the Supreme Court decision to consider corporations people and the congressional decision to drastically increase prior limits on individual campaign contributions. Like Will and Ariel Durant told us many years in “The Lessons of History”, “animals eat one another without qualm; civilized men consume one another by due process of law.”

So, what does the proposed Republican budget entail?

Repeal the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law which has enabled 16 million people to have healthcare coverage; Reduce spending on food stamps and other welfare programs; Reduce Medicaid spending; Privatize Medicare; Overhaul Social Security – so I guess we get the picture – the budget will be reduced on the backs of the poor, the elderly, the disadvantaged – and ………… the defense contractors, corporation tax consultants, and, of course, the rich and powerful, can rest at ease – all will be well on those fronts. We will keep the new taxes created by the Affordable Care Act and not ask the behemoth corporations, who hide their earnings in tax haven countries, to pay their fair share.

Go figure!

Déjà vu all over again!

Cloudy skies are forecast. Fifty shades of grey.