I remember a long time ago, finding a Life (or Look) magazine at a swap meet in Arizona, on the outskirts of Tucson. Man, those were the days – 1977. Every sort of snow bird and desert rat out there swapping any number of a million things: from shrunken and powdered dog testicles (for the prostate issues of old men) to silver dollar certificates, from six shooters to bleached out badger bones; dream catchers and gold panning equipment; everything you could imagine, it was out there somewhere in the hundreds of stalls.
The Life story was about this crusty guy, who sailed by himself, maybe circumvented the globe. In any case, I don’t have that old issue within reach, but I do recall this fellow who faced gales, isolation, dead calms, no radio contact, hunger, talking about the hernia he had to deal with onboard. Everyday, he did a headstand on the mainsail mast, to let all the guts go back down so the innards wouldn’t be protruding as much. He took a selfie of himself, upside down, with his feet and ankles held in by some loose rope he rigged.
You/We/They Are What They/You/We Eat
I’m not proselytizing some macho moment here, but rather pointing out the mettle, man, of people then, and, well, now, but also how rotting the USA celebrity cult is. From all the pardons the Orange Accused Rapist has filed through, to all the murders he personally is overseeing at the federal level.
All those celebrities and politicos and the like, either the Proud Boys and their Co-Morbidities of obesity, depression, diabetes, hypertension, or the Gestapo police and their shoot-first-cover-up-later mental retardation. I’m in social services again, as a failed novelist, Working with mostly young adults trying to prep them for jobs in the community. All those skills and insider things. People living with I/DD – intellectual and developmental disabilities. Many with co-occurring challenges – one client has fetal alcohol syndrome (was in the womb with mother drinking and drugging). The outcome is autism spectrum, anxiety disorder, oppositional defiance, paranoia, executive function control issues, and so many more DSM-V labeled “things” happening with her – including physical ailments (thanks to mommy) and a truckload of learning disabilities. Try having a job with one of those “disabilities.” I’ve thrown in as a social worker, helping just-released prisoners navigate a place like Portland, Oregon. Ten or 20 years in solitary, and, bam, out into the community, and then, bam, three months to get their proverbial shit together: housing, job, a thousand classes forced down their throats as part of the conditions of release.
Black people have much higher rates of hypertension, obesity, diabetes and strokes than white people do, and they develop those chronic conditions up to 10 years earlier. Studies link these health problems to stress. The unique, unrelenting strain caused by racism can alter a body’s normal functioning until it starts to wear down. John Henrys, who battle with an unequal system as they try to get ahead in life, bear the consequences in their bodies. “The stress,” James said, “is going to be far more overwhelming than it has a human right to be.”
There is no way that the thousands of people I have met over the years – as teacher, journalist, radio host, activist – could survive those prisoner blues or that sailor’s physical predicament or the life and times of a person with fetal alcohol syndrome disorder.
And I am thinking about the elites, the stem-cell sucking Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk or Trump and Company, the lot of them, all in the houses of congress and the senate and those east coast graduates of those Ivy League Schools of the Americas. They may know the legal and political and economic tools for killing and maiming and destroying, but not one of those titans could last a day in the joint. Not one of them. Or homeless on the coast, with daily gales and tourists who call the cops for just one evil glare.
No Safety Nets for the Eighty Percenters; I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up
And here I am, almost 64, in between health insurance coverage (this is the American way – new job, 90- day vetting period before coverage, and alas, what the fuck happens if something happens in the interim?). Imagine, you work your ass off, and it takes the evil system of capitalism to get a guy covered for health insurance!
This is why America and any other capitalist shit hole that demands slave wages and slavery and dead-end and shit jobs while the 10 Percent and then the other 10 Percent go their merry ways down to the investment houses, it is, definitely, a killer society. The language, the bridging, the lexicon and grammar, all of that, they are coming from complete two different places when one considers a precarious worker – college educated too, multiple times – and a retired couple in a nice big house all to themselves. The couple is worried about maximizing at least 12 percent profits on their investments, while the precarious couple is just working to, what, save money, beat the body and mind down, until what?
- no state bank or credit union
- no national health service
- no progressive taxation system
- no community free drop-in clinics
- no community farms/gardens
- no public transportation
- no public amenities
- no intergenerational gatherings
- no leadership and governance
- plenty of pollution, predation, precarity
You’ve heard all of this before. Here, another aside tying into this screed: So, just a few days ago, I braved the gales along the Oregon Coast. King tides. Days of rain. The beaches were full of logs, and the rivers coming from Highway 101 were a few feet deep and 20 feet across.
All my outdoor and military training went out the window – instead of getting my hiking boots wet, I opted to climb a log jam in lashing rain. Climb and climb, until, yep, not a senior moment, but a slip on a huge log jammed cedar. Bam. I did a backward fall, like a swan dive in reverse, and, yep, a perfectly large limb, pointing straight up, ready for my right side.
Ten feet down this log jam/ gnarled collection of cool trees and logs and limbs and snags got me.
The problem was I went down, 10 feet, and, bam. I took the three second rule, then got up, looked for blood on my head, and proceeded to climb out of the crisscrossing logs, as I ended up wet from the crotch down anyways in rapids of tannin-rich fresh water going to sea.
I did a mile down the beach, and, reversed course, and then things started throbbing. As is the case, a day or two later, and the pain is hard.
I live in Lincoln County, a very rural locale on the coast of Oregon. The hospital system is Samaritan, and, I have zero idea if my insurance has lapsed (since I get all these fucking notices that the deadline to enroll in health insurance is coming up).
No pissing blood. Good. No bruising. Bad or good. Pain when I laugh (lots to laugh about with Biden-Bumbler and Butt-Lick Trump in the news) or move sideways.
Everyone, from my spouse to my daughter are admonishing me to go to the ER, to the doctor, get an x-ray.
Do readers really have that memo yet at how the for-profit hospital-medical system is the reason Covid-19 has taken that toll, what, 19 percent higher rate of deaths in USA for 2020 than in the year 2019, not all attributed to the DARPA-Fort Detrick mutated bat virus concocted in several labs. Attributed to the failure of private for gouging medical care (sic) and the number of people who were told – “Wait on that heart ailment, no CAT scans today, etc., etc.”
Death By a Thousand Bills-Fines-Surcharges-Taxes-Levies-Loans
Suicide by delayed health care. Suicide by lockdowns. Suicide by the news news news.
This is North America – my choice is to go into a hospital and then have this or that test, this or that specialist yammer on, and, then, what, $8000 bill later, some diagnosis?
My own background in knowing a thing or two about medical needs, well, I did the old UCSF orthopedic surgeon lecture I found on the worldwide almost-not-free web, and alas, the verdict is my ilium is possibly fractured, maybe a few tendons ripped out of place, and, two ribs cracked?
My spouse checked on me this morning, since it was sort of a day off from my social services job and I slept in, as I also don’t sleep worth shit anymore, for the past 20 years. She thought, “Man, what if Paul is dead.”
I am here writing this, and the point of this screed is that every way I turn, and that means everyway any decent and compassionate person turns, the screws get tighter and tighter. Capitalism is the evil, and the evil doers are the elite, the one percent, then their two percenter lawyers and CEOs and thieves of every ilk. Then the two-income families with a doctor here and a defense contractor there. You get the picture – until we are the 80 Percent, while the 20 Percent not only hoards dreams and hoards community futures, but that slice of the American pie is gorged by the very people who should be, well, sent in capsules into outer space to see exactly what happens to the rich and the very rich and the somewhat rich in an oxygen-free environment at zero gravity.
There is no manner of discussion with the GOP or Libertarians or the Biden Boosters or Trumpies that can come at this fucked up capitalist penury system any other way than to say it is totally not working for the 80 percent. Story after story of the inequities, the inequalities, the ineptitudes, the inertia, the incongruence, the insipidness, and the insanity capitalism has gifted the world. From Blacks and Latinx dying in much higher proportions form the Fort Detrick Bat Virus Militarized Pathogen, to the private hell of privatized prisons, hospitals, education, and just banking.
The system of participatory socialism I describe at the end of Capital and Ideology some people would prefer to call social democracy for the 21st century. I have no problem with this but I prefer to talk about participatory socialism. In effect, this is the continuation of what has been done in the 20th century and what was successful. This includes equal access to education, to health, to a system of basic income, which to some extent is already in place but needs to be made more automatic; educational justice needs to be more real and less theoretical, as it is too often the case.
Regarding the system of property, which has always been the core discussion about socialism and capitalism, the proposal I am making relies on two main pillars: one is co-determination, through change in the legal system and the system of governance of companies, and the other part is progressive taxation and the permanent circulation of property. — Thomas Piketty
[BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, which is an eight-trillion-dollar enterprise, and the largest shareholder in almost every company that matters to the future of the Earth.]
Better Dead Than Red!
You know, I was just with a client of mine – major Autism Spectrum Disorder. He has a job at a fish processing plant. I mean, like sometimes 70 hours in a week. He’s almost 30, and his mother is his paid personal support worker. That’s cool, for sure. Something like 80 hours a month she is paid above minimum wage to get things done for her son. Things like banking, personal hygiene other things.
Obviously, I work with him and her, and with a non-profit which gets paid through the county and state for our services. This mother is also a military veteran. In any case, the person I work with is amazing, knows a thousand species of sharks and fish and other by-catch that comes in with the nets during certain harvest seasons, and, well, this man needs more men in his life.
They live in cramped quarters, and for the most part, they seem happy.
The problem is, this mother, with sort of hippie like ideology, still, she can’t even imagine socialism. “I don’t even want to hear that word, socialism.” Imagine, military (purely socialistic) veteran (socialism a la health care) and the feeding troughs from the Joints Chief of Staff on down the Raytheon line, and then add to that, everything she gets now is based on a form of socialism – socialized health care for her (VA) and him (ACA); the money she gets paid is from the government, and all those special education schools and programs over the years? Well, again, government-financed, as in public schooling and public commons.
This is why I believe Americans are really more than stupid and perverse, but they are the enemy of earth on so many levels. “It’s easier for an American to imagine a world depopulated, dead and dying from calamities, climate change, war, resource shortages, than a world without capitalism.”
This is a continual conversation I have, daily. Sometimes in the community, other times personal. Just the other night, at a solstice gathering with another couple, well, more of the ugly side of Americans who Have, and those who Do Not Have (And why don’t they have? Easy answers to be gathered).
Paranoia on Steroids (or on MSNBC)
We had already fought about what solstice means, and I like fires outside, breaking shared bread, candles, talking about some crazy pagan and even farther back rituals and thinking. But because of Covid-19 Paranoia, and all the mask fever, all the complete lunacy of our times, well, no fire outside, no swapping of recipes.
We were told not to bring food, and the idea is that food from anywhere outside this couple’s house might have the militarized bat virus lurking on it. Forget about the fact that this fellow served condiments and some other food items prepared outside of the house, packaged and sent to his local Fred Meyers.
The bone of contention was that the husband started talking about how troubled he was about his next investment fandango, and that is the crypto-investment, the post-bit coin realm. Blockchain madness. He pleads Marxist in his belief system, but like so many broken people, he is out for himself and his wife. Life is all about fear and loathing, and listening to Rachel Maddow and the other titans of stupidity on mainstream Democratic Party TV. One day you can love listening to Richard Wolff, but the next day it’s all about the Motely Fool.
My discourse was around the fact that a) I am not well off and therefore I am not in any investor class, and b) that a majority of the world should be paid in cash, in the coin of their realms, not enslaved by some digitized scam called cryptocurrency. That the USA greenback/dollar may collapse (his prediction); therefore, blockchain bit coins are the way to hedge those bets, again, more than 80 percent of Americans have no ready cash to invest in Crypto Bullshit Currency.
We have tens of millions who are food insecure NOW, and unable to feed their families. We have hundreds of millions of Americans with huge debts – from school, to mortgages, to just paying for the daily living, on credit. Of course, medical debt is a trillion dollar albatross around the necks of millions. Once you get taken into a hospital with “Fort Detrick/DARPA virus,” you might come out alive owing several hundred thousand dollars.
No jobs, bad jobs, failing jobs, and alas, the language of investors infected the Solstice. The lexicon of crypto-mancers, well, I was not in the mood, so I was snarky and, well, showed my communistic colors. Sure, it gets frustrating!
All of which leads to the same soft shoe song of “I can’t see how we can stop this technology, this digital currency … I don’t know how we can stop Russia and China from exploiting fossil fuels and resources, while we are supposed to be green, so, therefore, we should be the first at the takings …”
Cynical, Skeptical, Jaded: Part of the Problem, not the Solution
Mainstream media and the mush that is what Americans consume in TV and in la-la land movie-ville, well, that has colonized and co-opted the minds of people who were once friends with a shared and dynamic lexicon and language.
It is now, them against us. More and more, this is the relationship between friends, sometimes good friends.
Giving up, throwing hands in the air, just saying, “you do good work … you should be compensated for that” is just not enough to move a conversation forward.
We ended up talking about movies, and I said that Steve McQueen’s five movie brilliance, Small Ax, was worth the time. The fellow recommended, The Art Dealer, and alas, I reminded him that my glass was more than filled up with World War Two themed movies, Holocaust-themed flicks, flicks about grandkids looking for stolen loot or artifacts. I said, “Hey, try some different stuff than just the chosen people’s produced, or directed, or financed, or scripted shit on cable TV.”
The language of friendships are daily getting more and more cross-wired.
Here is another doozie – so, a fellow I helped over the years, a veteran, homeless, well, he put me into his will. I did not want that, and the funny thing is he came into some money from a father, and, well, nothing to shake a Trump or Clinton stick at, but the money would have been enough to make his amputated leg/ diabetic/ depressed life into something more than sheer homelessness, when I first met him.
I got him set up into an apartment, and they put him in the only ground floor unit that made it impossible for him to navigate his wheelchair safely. They were saying they’d hire someone to put in a special walkway/path to the tune of $5,500 charged to the veteran.
I tried my damnedest to get the largest apartment rental property management service (sic) in the USA to respond to empathy, logos, pathos, ethos, and, not one of my dozen emails got even a response. Pinnacle Property/Real Estate Management, look them up.
Property management investment corporations, and Pinnacle charged him for a sidewalk feature we had the local boy scouts, Rotary and a construction company all ready to put in for, well, supplies, at the tune of $500, which would have been paid by some charities (this was before he came into a few thousand dollars inheritance).
He then went from apartment to assisted living, quickly — and that nightmare, again, in a local facility that is part of national chain, and alas, $4,000 a month for a single room, and then another $2,000 a month they charged for special services? Weekly, when he was still cognizant, my friend complained about the lack of food, the small portions. He did not have a caseworker for more than two months. Then he started to fail. This is America, and, alas, this veteran died due to isolation, Covid-19 insanity, and the threads of assisted living where the workers treat the inmates like scum.
He had outstanding ambulance bills, Comcast would not shut down his phone, the banks froze his assets, the apartment complex previous to this assisted living joint had a bill for breaking his lease, the assisted living outfit had $250 late charges here and there, and alas, this is how America and capitalism runs – middle man, person x and y, corporation a and b, sticking it to you.
He had a newish friend as his executor, and she had to pay the state of Oregon $350 to take a four hour online mandatory class on being an executors (this is the society of nickel and dimes, fines and taxes, fees and surcharges, add-ons, late fees, service charges, hidden fees, surtaxes, forced certifications, levies, and more).
She had him cremated, and again, the deal is, lucky for her, she has some disposable income, so she had the finances to pay for the death certificates, the filing charges, the body burning, the moving fees, the late fees, all of that. Eventually she got the death certificates, and still she had to fight months to stop Comcast. Imagine, the hundreds of millions of dollars companies like Comcast get for phone and cable services and wifi services for the dead.
The lawyer working with the executor, for the few shekels in my friend’s investment account, needed an my W-9, for tax purposes, and I let out my disgruntled ire to him, “that, alas, capitalism and the rules written by the banks and the lawyers, demand my social security number and my name and address be given to the IRS for a paltry sum, an inheritance?” Obviously, it was a point of contention, not an attack on him personally, but surely it must have been an attack in his profession (lawyers, hands down, YUK).
What are 20,000 Lawyers at the Bottom of the Sea? Answer: a start!
These conversations go nowhere, because, a, lawyers do believe their lies and the game they play because they set the rules of the game minute to minute. I ended up saying something positive about the USPS, and he called me on his cell phone. All things looked like he was an agreeable liberal, though he said in his field, investment law, he was a rare democrat.
Again, the dreaded “socialism” came out of my mouth, since I am not and never have been a dedicated Democratic Party proponent, and alas, this country tis of thee needs the new MAGA hat – Make America Go Away.
That crossed the line for this quasi-liberal lawyer. He texted me saying – “I think I need to ask you not to overshare your politics w/ me, I don’t agree on all accounts, but support your right to believe what you want. I try to minimize my cell phone usage for work purposes, and certainly don’t want to have it be a medium for political or religious debate.”
This is how the dimwit smart lawyer types who love democrats think. Just the fear factor, too, of his ultra-conservative partners finding out his liberal leaning ways. On his cell phone. One he used to contact me with, including many texts.
This is how these $300,000 a year gutless wonders work, man. “I have mine, I get mine anyway I can, I will follow the rules, toe the line/tow the line, and alas, I make my money money money while I give a few shekels to the WWF, United Way and some democratic candidate for president. But SOCIALISM? You are worse than Trumpies! Do not contact me again!”
Oh, the level of discourse is so bastardized, so broken with mainstream and idiotic-stem media, all the barking and wailing, the pure shit coming out of the internet, the blogs, the podcasts, and more and more. There are no rational conversations with a broad mix of perspectives, that’s for sure.
Until we live in a world where any narrative, any science, any doubts, any humanity pointing against fascism, digital platforms for crypto-currency, for universal butthole/basic income, any discussion about how bad Zoom doom is for the K12 and post K12 crowd, but now, for the people who embrace working from home, never having to step foot in the office again.
Join, Believe, Comply, Be Coerced, Obey, Lock-step or DIE!
Any level of pushback against Facebook or Musk or self-driving cars or forced vaccinations, forced closures, forced kettling during protest, forced shut downs, forced evictions, foreclosures. Any level of going against the bullshit libertarian-Ayn Randian-Neoliberal-Lords of War narrative, and we are dead meat, literally or figuratively. Forget about having a smart discussion about sea level rise, anthropomorphic causes of global heating, global resource collapse, global pandemics, global pollution, global cancer rates, global hell!
I have so-called lefties denying the whole thing, even making up some shit about Covid-19 isn’t real when the evidence is that it IS real, really manufactured REAL, really perfectly Phase One of a Many Phased/Headed Hydra of Hell.
As if all those bioweapons by USA and Israel and the like are not historically Real. As if the poisons meant for humanity, as in Agent Orange, isn’t really REAL. Phosphorus bombs, Napalm bombs, Smart bombs, the mother of all bombs, nope, not real. Stealth drones and mini-poison delivery systems by CIA-Mossad. Nope, not really REAL at all.
These are subhuman, the murderers of MLK, Kennedys, Malcom, and on and on. So, no, these pieces of human scum would never ever really create REAL biotoxins. Nope. No PR-spinners saying a pack of cigarettes a day pushes the blues away. Nope, not those people, those Salvador Allende plotters. Not those Henry Kissinger types, and Dulles Brothers, and COINTELPRO, and the entire profit system that would have Tyson Foods rule the lives of not just the workers, but the fetuses of workers, the land, the very ecology where the Eerie Lake worth of Blood and Offal and Guts and Shit drain off.
No, the virus is not really a REAL invention of these murderers and experimenters. NOPE.
Imagine, here in Oregon, there is a mink industry (sick sic), where the purveyors of Auschwitz for Animals pack in minks, and they have outbreaks of not just SARS-CoV2, but other pathogens. Imagine that this is an industry? And it isn’t locked down, closed for good.
Imagine that, the democratic Governor Brown, and the lunacy of a country led by leeches and piranha and the almighty power of the imperial president and all the president’s Military-IT-AI-Banking-Medicine-Pharma-Big Ag-Prison-Chemical-Real Estate-Surveillance Complex Men/Women, messing with lockdowns, ICU’s 110 filled up, no PPE, no nothing, and this is what we have. No screaming at the top of their lungs from the NPR pundits. All those worthless millionaires and multimillionaires that are part of the medium is the message pukes.
The character Howard Beale gave the following speech in Network that still resonates today.
I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
Oh well, the lying lefties who think it is all a Greta Spin or Bill McKibben muse, they too are right about green as the new black, how the greenie weenies want capitalism to save the planet, but these same lefties are wrong wrong wrong about the reality of how messed up the world really is, and will be due to a WORLD without ICE:
John Englander is a co-author of the paper and author of the books “High Tide on Main Street” and the soon-to-be-released “Moving to Higher Ground: Rising Sea Level and the Path Forward.” He says this paper is a reaction to a “chorus of concern in the scientific community that the projections for rising sea level were understated.”
He said the research team hopes their work can inform the next major IPCC report, since that’s the most widely cited document on climate change. “With the next report now being prepared for release in 2021-22, our intent was to make the case to the IPCC leadership to explain the reality of Antarctic potential melting better, as it might significantly add to sea level rise this century.”
Since the last Ice Age, which reached its maximum extent about 20,000 years ago, global temperatures have warmed about 18 degrees Fahrenheit and sea levels have risen 425 feet; that’s greater than the length of the football field.
Historically speaking, simple math reveals that for every degree Fahrenheit the Earth warms, sea-level eventually rises by an astonishing 24 feet. There is, however, a sizable lag time between warming, melting and consequent sea-level rise.
Considering that Earth has already warmed 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 1800s, we know that substantial sea-level rise is already baked in, regardless of whether we stop global warming. Scientists just don’t know exactly how long it will take to see the rise or how fast it will occur. But using proxy records, glaciologists can see that as we emerged from the last Ice Age, sea level rose at remarkable rates — as fast as 15 feet per century at times.1
- Excerpts from Jeff Barardelli, “Sea-level rise from climate change could exceed the high-end projections, scientists warn,” CBS, 23 December 2020. ]