Tuesday, November 15, 2022, 8:35 AM EST, USA. It's cloudy and about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, here on the salt marsh of coastal Georgia. Thunderstorms are predicted later today, so I'm outside now with Tweety and Speckles, my two remaining chickens, before we all have to take cover from sudden climate change. For those who don't recognize it, the photo above is the US Capitol building, where the PowersThatBe deliberate what they believe is important for the political entity some people claim is the US government. But it just looks like confusion to me, a mingled mass of varying motives, agendas, egos, opinions, and personalities who seem to believe they can wield power over each other and the world, but to what purpose? As I sit outside here, with cold fingers, I hear the noise from the auto body shop northwards, a spot-zoned addition to the neighborhood in recent years. Tweety seems oblivious. She is standing at my feet, preening, as is Speckles, a few feet away. Do my chickens, or any animals, concern themselves with the squabbles of the PowersThatBe in Washington DC? Should I? Some people think human politics is relevant, but I wonder if the threat of nations provoking other nations into war should concern me. At 70 years old, I have seen and done plenty, but I have not seen or done war, except in small and petty ways, when other entities' fights affect my equilibrium. And the machine noise continues, and the sun starts shining through the clouds, and Tweety appears beside me on this concrete bench, flies down, and is greeted with a flirtatious coo from Speckles, before she runs back and starts pecking at my sock. And I now hear a military helicopter overhead, reminding me that this political entity, otherwise known as the US of A, is constantly preparing for the current or the next war against enemies of its choosing, in order to please those groups and individuals who derive gratification from spreading pain and suffering among those whom they've identified as adversaries--and anything else that gets in their way. Have a nice day, anyway.
August 29, 2022– My property is sinking into the marsh. The roof leaks in so many places that I’e lost count, but my head knows how to find the drips, just as my feet know how to find chicken poop that my eyes don’t see.
Still, the county government believes my property is worth taxing twice as much as it charged a mere ten years ago. The county knows what it’s worth to them. Chatham flies its spy planes over my house on a regular basis, but the planes don’t see the roof leaks. The planes do know I live in a flood zone, because the local government has notified me I must obtain flood insurance, to protect my valuable piece of mud.
It’s enough to make me want to walk or float away, provided I can get through the swamps, maybe with an ark to carry my chickens and me. Let the county extort its taxes from the river.
Thursday, October 3, 2019—At Starbucks yesterday, I sat next to a 60ish age white blowhard, a “Trumplikin” who exuded anger through all his pores. He started by telling me how the Dems had fixated on yet another bogus issue with which to crucify Trump. In an hour-plus rant, he regurgitated TV issues, but with the Trump camp’s slant. He raged over the wall, Kavanaugh, China’s “theft” of intellectual property, the Confederate statues, Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, and probably other things that I’ve forgotten. Oh. Capital punishment: kill them fast and make it hurt a little.
He is in manufacturing, has been to China twelve times. His company makes hydrophilic sponges, I think he said, such as for applying make-up. I guess the Chinese government restrains waste of chemicals, for instance, by making companies account for everything they use and taxing heavily their excesses. It was hard to get a clear picture of what he meant, but it sounded like that system works differently (and perhaps better) than the EPA. He thinks it’s fine that Chinese workers live in dormitories, work 18 hours/day, six days a week for $1/hour. It saves so much money that it’s worth it to ship the product across the world for sale. He could not understand that US employers in the US might want to hire illegals here, since that way they can also pay low wages without responsibility. The only difference is that the Chinese government allows these manufacturers to do it legally.
No one but me sees a middle ground. I wouldn’t want to be an employer in the US or China, because both exploit their citizens, but in different ways. I’m surprised at all the costs government imposes—both regulatory and actual—on employers here. The GM strike, which involves 45,000 workers, is for faster wage increases for new hires, better health care benefits, and to keep some plants open that are slated for closure. This in the face of declining sales worldwide.
Never mind that I think the industry itself is too big. “That’s capitalism,” the saying goes. In the current definition of “capitalism” the do-nothings profit from others’ toil, so I don’t blame the toilers for resenting it.
Mr. Trumplikin can rant at Starbucks, but I rant in my journal. The system itself creates people like him, so there is no reasoning with him about justice and fair play. When he claimed he has nothing against immigrants, just go through the proper channels, and I suggested even US citizens are living under bridges and in the streets, so there’s no intrinsic advantage to being a citizen, his response was something to the effect of “create jobs.” This from a man whose company moved to China to exploit labor, because they can’t do it here and churn stock on Wall Street at the same time. Oh . . . and we don’t approve of athletes who beat their wives and other women. Nor do we approve of actresses who bribe college officials to admit their children on athletic scholarships.
I contributed nothing to this monologue, except an occasional “Er . . .” or “But . . .” and allowed Mr. Trumplikin to exorcise his demons, as I monitored my internal blood pressure gauge and tried to deflect the negativity. He doesn’t like the federal government but didn’t go into specifics. He agreed with me that (other) Americans are too intolerant. He thinks video games and social media are responsible for mass shootings. He conceded the media focus encourages would-be shooters with the fantasy of instant fame. He conceded that the controversy over Trump is stimulating conversation about politics like never before, even though he thinks Trump should desist from overuse of Twitter. But Trump says what he thinks, by golly. You know where he stands.
I left wondering how to reason with people like that. He has no insight into how heavily he is influenced by the mind control exerted through television, yet he also ranted about “fake news.”
Mr. Trumplikin’s intolerance stands at the opposite pole from my brother-in-law’s intolerance, yet they together personify the “polarization” the media exacerbates by emphasizing and lamenting it. Last night, S. said he watched three hours or so of the House of Representative’s “discussion” about impeachment. S. watches Trump’s long speeches (two hours) and I should too. That way, I can pick the best candidate in elections. I said I prefer a two-minute summary, that my opinion doesn’t matter to them. They are going to do what they are going to do. My perpetual “None of the above” is never on the ballot, so it translates into my not wasting time at the voting booth. S. gives the standard response that if I don’t vote, I have no right to complain. I said I no longer complain, and I don’t. Complaining does no more good than voting.
Best to do “Process Commentary,” as my blog claims and as I was trained to do as a group therapist. The process behind the intolerance intrigues me. I relate intolerance to insecurity, the self-doubt that comes with ambivalence over beliefs.
Both Mr. Trumplikin and my brother-in-law believe in government over the people, just as many people believe in organized religion. They need that structure to feel safe, the reassurance that someone or something more powerful than the individual cares and is acting in their best interests. They presume the focus is on the “higher good,” but they are willing to overlook the fact that a different set of rules apply to the “out group,” as Joseph Campbell might claim. Exploiting Chinese workers is okay, but it’s not okay to exploit illegals in the US. They should go back to Guatemala to be exploited. It’s harder to exploit US citizens, so we leave them under bridges and take our jobs to China.
Mr. Trumplikin insisted everything comes down to money. It’s so trite, yet if everyone believes it, and the system itself is predicated on commerce, money becomes its heart and soul. This leads to my single biggest contention with the system’s claim to legitimacy.
In a world full of bad news, I was delighted to find this uplifting interview with Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica. This is an attempt to re-blog from Justice4Poland.com. I hope it works.
People who like money too much ought to be kicked out of politics, Uruguayan President José Mujica told CNN en Español in an interview posted online Wednesday. “We invented this thing called representative democracy, where we say the majority is who decides,” Mujica said in the interview. “So it seems to me that we [heads […]
Seven years ago this month, I finished reading A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn, 2003 edition. I have posted blogs about the first part of this book in March, 2017 and April, 2017. In these blogs, I have noted events described in the book, as well as my thoughts on them. The book had a powerful effect on me, supporting and expanding my beliefs about under-reported US history. This May, 2017 post covers the final section of the book.
FINISHING A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, HOWARD ZINN
Monday, May 3, 2010—I read some People’s History, now at World War II and how brutal the US was, dropping the nuclear bombs on Japan for no good reason except economics, killing 100,000 people in Hiroshima, mostly civilians, and 50,000 or more in Nagasaki.
Why oh why would people do this, I wondered. It explains why people are so afraid now, why Americans are such mealy-mouthed wimps.
Thursday, May 6, 2010—I spent the afternoon reading People’s History, up to page 462. Now into the race riots of the 1960s and 1970s, the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. The FBI apparently did everything it could to intimidate King.
I can understand why people are afraid of government, and it is becoming more paranoid all the time. I’ve always believed blacks are inherently peace-loving people, and Martin Luther King personified that spirit.
I wonder why I’m so fascinated by People’s History, because it implicates the federal government as a vicious, tyrannical bunch of mobsters since the land’s discovery. Yes, it gives me even more data to support my beliefs. It reveals what hasn’t worked. Zinn focuses so intensely on the hatred and violence, though, that I wonder what ultimate purpose it serves.
While I believe the government is justifiably paranoid, I have to respect its power to hurt. I’ve learned my lesson, I hope, about pissing the wrong people off.
As Malcolm X said, if you remain radical long enough, you win your freedom. This is my belief, too, because I’ve come back from the “lunatic fringe” with more elbow room, maybe.
Fidel Castro in 1959 pissed the US off by confiscating land held by US corporations, then distributing it to landless peasants. The Bay of Pigs was a manufactured crisis by John F. Kennedy and associates to stir up revolution against Castro in Cuba, but Fidel was too popular. The US was embarrassed because its tactics, so successful everywhere else, failed with Castro.
Saturday, May 8, 2010—I read some People’s History, now up to page 490 in this 688 page book. We’re in Vietnam now, and it is astounding. The US has made a career of sadism, so no wonder we have a nation of victims. We have the CIA actively stirring up trouble in a pacifist, land-based, family-and-tradition-based culture, but the CIA couldn’t seem to control the outcome, no matter how many cities and fields they bombed, people they slaughtered, or poisons they sprayed and dumped hither and yon. They couldn’t understand how the revolutionaries managed to maintain morale, and I contend they weren’t fighting governments but for a way of life. Ho Chi Minh, the North Korean leader, was immensely popular among the people, because he confiscated land of absentee landlords and distributed it among the landless, similar to what Castro did in Cuba.
Ngo Dinh Diem, the CIA/US plant in South Vietnam, was hated by the people, and South Vietnam was essentially a US government invention. When Diem became an embarrassment to the US, they allowed him to be captured and assassinated. Three weeks later, JFK was assassinated.
Castro and Ho Chi Minh understood Communism in the communal sense of the term, by giving land to the landless, and this is why the people were so willing to fight for it. They weren’t defending ideological political battles for governments, or other people’s turf. They were fighting for their homes, families, livelihoods, and way of life.
It amazes me the CIA could be so stupid, because it is obvious to me. Their self-defeating, blind irrationality did more to promote Communism–in the communal sense—than any leader could have achieved alone.
Perhaps if we thought of people as belonging to the land, rather than the other way around, we would have a more solid footing.
Friday, May 14, 2010—I’ve been reading People’s History tonight, wondering how people can be so cruel for so long, such that it is institutionalized and considered normal, including the lying and deceit in government and the military.
I read about the Attica prison riot, followed by other prison riots, all turned into massacres by federal troops, FBI, and militia. The prisoners’ non-violence was more threatening than if they had been violent. Same with the American Indians, who occupied Alcatraz, a deserted federal prison, on a rock in the San Francistco Bay. There were forcibly evicted from there and also from land at Wounded Knee they had by treaty; but that was given to the government under “eminent domain.” This occurred in the 1960s or 1970s and hundreds of Indian men, women and children were slaughtered after the government tried to starve them out first.
Saturday, May 15, 2010—Reading books like People’s History shows I am not alone in my understanding—far from it–as people like Howard Zinn have tracked this for years and were even given a voice. He makes no reference to the bankers’ playing both ends against the middle and leaves the stock market out of it, although he cites illegal campaign donations by specific corporations, like ITT and 3-M.
Reading about the American Indians validates my beliefs about the native American cultures, which respected the earth and all its creatures. I wonder how much violence they had before the Europeans arrived. I believe it was probably minimal and was developed in reaction to the European invasion and introduction of guns.
Sunday, May 16, 2010—I read more People’s History, through Ford, Carter, and Bush Sr. All continued to serve the government/corporate marriage. Pacifist Jimmy Carter increased defense spending significantly. Zinn says the Democrats did more to impose regressive taxes—Carter increased payroll taxes—than the Republicans.
Zinn claims legislation like the Clean Air Act and OSHA were deprived of teeth by subsequent caveats, administrative decree, or insufficient funding. He does not go into the ways these bills helped the monopolists by stifling competition.
Zinn also seems to have a shallow idea of the domestic spending programs. He implies they are good and necessary, but he doesn’t recognize they wouldn’t be necessary if the poverty weren’t artificially created by government’s social engineering.
Zinn says Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr. used CIA to interfere in Nicaragua, Panama, Granada, and El Salvador, under various pretexts. Bush Sr. hoped to restore American confidence in the military, since the Soviet Union collapsed and was no longer an excuse, so he created a war in Iraq. They and all their aides lied throughout. Congress had passed limp dick legislation to pander to public disgruntlement, and to curb presidential powers, but Ford ignored it, and so did Reagan. No one objected. Congress looked the other way, and the Supreme Court, of course, felt no obligation to reprimand the presidents.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010—Now into the Bush Sr. years in People’s History of the United States. Apparently HKW Bush was determined to do Desert Storm.
Zinn’s approach is becoming trite. He emphasizes the contest between military and social spending without questioning the spending itself. The idea that it’s a rich vs. poor issue, without understanding—as I suddenly did—that it’s a government control issue, as in controlling economic narrows.
Thursday, May 20, 2010—Down to the wire on People’s History. We’re now into all the pacifist movements during the first Iraq war. They were ineffective.
And on to the Clinton years. Bill Clinton was as much a war hawk as any of them and cut social programs but not bureaucracy.
Government has appropriated unto itself responsibility for every area of people’s lives, so it needs the bureaucracy to dole out the money it has stolen, to return it piecemeal to those it deems worthy.
Zinn has some good ideas about how to rebuild America from the ground up, but he is still too tied to money, according to me. The notion that everything must be tied to a monetary scale, like community involvement, restricts the flow of energy and diminishes the value of time, as well as other factors that have no monetary equivalent.
Friday, May 21, 2010—People’s History gives an account of the protests from many camps over the quincentennial of Columbus’ landing, on Columbus Day, 1992, so that hero has toppled from many pedestals. The media ignored the protests.
Saturday, May 22, 2010—I finally finished People’s History. Given his era and background, Zinn does a remarkably good job of describing the brutal history of the US and the rampant disregard for the very principles that citizens believed it stood for. Rather than protect rights, nurture freedom, democracy and capitalism (in the human capital sense), it has made a mockery of all three, preying on a naive and gullible public to twist noble ideals into their opposites.
The current economic crisis is bringing it all to a head, I believe, because taxpayers are finding they have been used to dig their own graves. The country is morally bankrupt, and there is no one to blame. As the state assumed the role of lord, master, and god, acting as legal and moral judge, guard, and executioner, taxpayers must look in the mirror and see we are the state, and we are responsible for the monster it has become.
In People’s History, Zinn mentions protest against the bombing of Afghanistan following 9/11. I remember being the only person I knew objecting to retaliatory gestures, and people around here hated me for it.
The Six Foot Bonsai (Stacy Gleiss) nominated my blog for a blogger’s recognition award. I have stalled in responding, partly because I didn’t have an appropriate graphic for it, but also because the list has changed. Some of my favorite bloggers have dropped off the radar, and new ones have surfaced.
The nomination came at a good time for me, when I wondered if anything I think or say makes a difference. Fact is, I enjoy blogging and bloggers, whose individualized viewpoints remind me how creative each of us can be.
According to the blogger’s recognition rules, nominees are to say why they began blogging and give advice to other bloggers.
My reason for beginning is straightforward. I’m compelled to write and journal, but I’m also an avid reader. The blog world allows readers and writers to connect with each other without intermediaries. I like finding new blogs and love commenting on those that capture my interest. Since I like feedback, I give it to others, if only to show appreciation for their effort. Sometimes it’s more fun—and definitely easier—to comment on others’ blogs than to write my own. I advise no less to others.
Another condition of the recognition award is to list fifteen of my favorite blogs and say why I follow them, so here goes:
- The Six Foot Bonsai (Stacey Gleiss)—has written a book describing her experience as a young American wife of a Japanese man. She writes passionately about how the culture alternately seduced and horrified her, through her experience with her Japanese husband.
- Three Worlds One Vision—Rosaliene Bacchus has lived in Brazil, Guyana, and the US, is a strong environmentalist, and supports human rights worldwide. She frequently posts excerpts from Brazilian poets and writers, discusses Brazilian affairs with insight and dignity, and has a vision of a peaceful, earth-friendly, world.
- Cotton Boll Conspiracy—A fellow Southerner, Cotton Boll writes on a variety of subjects, from the abandoned farmhouses around his South Carolina community to current events. Always interesting and informative. Fun to read.
- i didn’t have my glasses on–Beth is a kindergarten teacher in Michigan. Beth’s blog is always upbeat. She writes short blogs about the “kinders” and their refreshing perspective. She also reports on tidbits from the news.
- Esoterx—Here we have an anthropologist with a dry wit and an interest in the supernatural, primarily factual recounting of presumed spirit visitations in the 18th and 19th centuries. He provides bibliographical references to substantiate his take on the weird events.
- Writers Without Money—Especially Stan Rogouski, who likes to do movie reviews, but who also writes on politics and history. He bicycles around suburban New Jersey (and other areas), photographing, and giving a little history about what he sees.
- Justice4Poland—HKW often writes in Polish, and as the blog name shows, has a passionate interest in defending Polish heritage. He also has taken strong stands for alternative medicine and against corporate medical and chemical giants. His blogs are informative and thought-provoking, a welcome balance to American bias.
- 90 Rolls Royces—Bindu Krishnan is an Indian woman with a liking for saris. She also has a philosophical mindset and writes about her favorite teacher, Osha. She describes a little of what day-to-day life is like in India.
- When Timber Makes Us Still–Thomas Gable, a nature photographer, is a recent find. His photos and descriptions of the trees and wildlife around his Northwest home are stunning and informative.
- The Kitchen Garden–Another recent find, Cecilia is a Midwestern farmer. She photographs and writes about her farm and animals and day-to-day farming life that seems much easier to read about than to live. Her energy and upbeat attitude are refreshing.
- Mark All My Words–Another nature lover, Mark Miles lives in North Carolina. He photographs and writes about area flora and fauna, and has a special interest in insects. He also has a broad range of interests, from music to philosophy.
- Mr. Johnson’s Blog–Also nominated by The Six Foot Bonsai, Mr. Johnson lives in Canada and presents a fresh and gentle perspective on all kinds of everyday experiences. Although his views may be controversial, he always makes me smile.
- 999 Roses In My Life–Trient Nugen is a Vietnamese photographer who spices up his photos with insightful quotes written in Vietnamese, with English translations. The pictures are generally of beautiful Vietnamese women in beautiful clothes and settings.
- Navasolanature.wordpress.com–A UK woman who also has a home in Portugal, she has a love of nature and birds, solar energy and gardening. She posts on all these interests.
- Diary of an Esthete–Another sporadic blogger, James Dee Clayton lives in the UK and travels extensively, most recently to Africa, where he takes the back roads and mingles and merges with native cultures. His loving and joyful approach seems to win friends wherever he goes.
I can think of many others whose blogs I enjoy and hope to recognize them, too, in future posts.
THOUGHTS ON THE HEALTH SCARE-SNARE RACKET
Saturday, March 25, 2017—Trumpcare, the Republicans’ answer to Obamacare, failed this week. Predictions abound about what the government will do next. It appears Obamacare is imploding, and the media expects it to be saved or replaced. My right-wing conservative friends declare government control of health care is unconstitutional. My left-wing friends believe Obamacare needs to be fixed, not replaced.
I’ve been opposed to government and insurance-controlled medicine since graduating from medical school and psychiatry residency. Back then, it was Hillarycare, which was trounced initially. During Bill Clinton’s presidency, Hillarycare began being implemented piecemeal through bureaucracy.
For me, the issue then and now was freedom, including freedom of choice about everything from practitioners to types of treatment. Government-controlled health care translates into a guaranteed captive market for insurance companies, in which the healthy subsidize everyone else, especially the “industry” itself. Doctors and patients must kowtow to government and insurance rules. Out the window go confidentiality, honesty, and compassion, since symptoms must fit a diagnosis code to insure payment for treatment. In psychiatry, this means the psychiatrist must come up with a diagnosis which goes forever on the patient’s record and can interfere with everything from self-esteem to employment.
AND, SEVEN YEARS AGO THIS MONTH . . .
CURRENT EVENTS: OBAMACARE
Wednesday, March 24, 2010—Everyone is talking about Obamacare, which passed over the weekend. Everyone knew it would, but nobody knows what it means except more taxes. The boat is sinking, but we’re afraid to rock it.
Friday, March 26, 2010—I met a 35ish guy in line at Starbucks yesterday. I was standing at the cash register when Sean mentioned something about Obamacare. I said Dr.Obama needs to write his own prescriptions. The guy behind me, a big, burly fella with motorcycle helmet and a completely tattooed right arm but untouched left arm, thick dark hair two-three inches long, eyes brown and intense, said something about economics, bankers, the Fed, or a related subject that tipped me off.
I realized he is an awakened soul, sees things as I do, and so we stood there agreeing with each other until both got coffee and moved out of the way.
Tee hee. I had told the boyfriends the other day there is no gold in Fort Knox, and the levels of security exist to protect the void. My new friend, whose name I didn’t ask, agrees there’s no gold in Fort Knox, but for fools’ gold, hahaha. I told him his generation is much smarter than my generation and got a laugh out of someone behind me in line.
On the way out, my new friend mentioned the book, Creature from Jekyll Island, and said he learned on the net that the US has been selling gold-plated tungsten bars to China and I think France as if they were gold, and the deception has recently been discovered. Apparently it began during the Clinton years, and the cost was something like $50,000 per bar to produce.
Later, Sean said we were two peas in a pod, an unlikely pair, the two of us, but what the hey. These younger folks are expected to cater to all these old coots who were gullible enough to trust the Woodrow Wilsons, FDRs, Lyndon Johnsons, and other paternalistic exploiters, and I don’t blame the younger set if they believe Boomers are dispensable. Why should they support us? I told my friend he is under no obligation to make good on the government’s promises.
TEN YEARS AGO THIS MONTH:
MEDICAL SCHOOL ATTITUDES
Monday, March 26, 2007 – I’ve been thinking about my medical career. Starting in medical school, I was appalled by the attitudes, and they got worse in the hospital in our third year. M. was a good study companion the first two years, but his old girlfriend and the vicious, cut-throat, warfare in the hospital in our third year edged me out. He played the politics and kissed up to the residents, but he also loved doing the procedures, and was like the rest of them, eager to compete for opportunities to do lumbar punctures, draw blood, drain fluid from lungs and peritoneal cavities, deliver babies, run codes. While I wanted the experience, too, I wasn’t willing to elbow my way into the situations that offered them, and the rush-rush mentality rattled my confidence and made me afraid to touch the patients.
I was horrified at the frenzy of my classmates when it came to procedures, and the careless disregard for the patients they were so eager to practice on. I wasn’t willing to follow residents around, hoping for chances to draw blood or run errands or otherwise do their bidding. They perceived my attitude as insolence, and the OB-gyn boys took it more personally than the others. No one ever told me directly, so I was flabbergasted when Dr. S said they complained and almost failed me for the OB rotation. I only remembered they wouldn’t let us do much, because they wanted to do it, and they kept medical students in a room together entire afternoons while they saw the patients alone. I spent my time studying, so made the highest grade in the class on the written test. I thought the OB-gyn material was the easiest. Everyone else was bragging about how many babies they were “catching,” as if it were a disease. I only “caught” one baby, that the chief OB resident helped me with, but he was the first baby with congenital syphilis the attending physicians had seen in ten years.
THE MD ROLE
Monday, March 26, 2007 – My no-frills trappings and simple, ascetic life – which it is – runs counter to the doctor stereotype, into which other doctors pour money and pride. I’ve never felt comfortable in the doctor role. It belongs to someone else, a non-being, a stereotype formed by others’ expectations, divorced from my self-perceived style.
But I’m good at it, among the best I know, which makes it all the stranger, because it comes so easily. That I don’t put much faith in the pills I prescribe, the system I represent, the beliefs believed “normal” by today’s standards, ekes out in passing references.
No, I don’t believe in war, competition, health care insurance, the federal government, marriage, or that churches should be property tax-exempt, unless everyone is property tax-exempt. If I pray directly to god, without need for a priest or rabbi to intercede, why should I pay property taxes when they don’t? Who’s to say god listens more to them than me, and why should that give them a material advantage?
DRUG AND ALCOHOL LAWS
Saturday, March 3, 2007 – Drug and alcohol laws represent a major human rights violation–as the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion foretold–and should be abolished. No one has the right to restrict another’s access to her own body. The key to better health is better education and a free range of choices. No one feels my pain like I do.
I believe drug laws set the frame for the sadomasochistic power struggles we call addiction. Drug laws are a means by which government seeks control over taxpayers. Laws put government in a moralistic, paternalistic, top-dog position over the taxpayers who pay its way.
Laws and other social engineering tactics restrict the productivity of the very individuals who support them, and the entire society loses.
CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PRESCRIPTIONS
Monday, March 12, 2007 – Doing child and adolescent psychiatry means prescribing drugs I don’t approve of, because the teachers dictate medical care for unruly kids.
No, we won’t give them physical education, home economics, shop, or any incentive to behave, nothing that will interest them during the long hours they must sit, while some harried, bored, and boring teacher parrots an agenda designed to stifle curiosity and make children hate education.
No, we will diagnose them as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and put them on amphetamines to control their behavior, because what we’re really doing is cultivating the next generation of slave labor for the imperialists who formerly were industrialists but no longer even produce meaningful industry. They produce paperwork, insurance, stocks, cash, and debt, using their forebears’ reputations as collateral, generating paper profits on Wall Street, while product quality and workplace safety plummet.
There’s a lot written lately about “fake news,” the widespread dissemination of misinformation. This is nothing new. Fake news has been around at least as long as gossip and probably longer. No one can know more than her own perspective, and to presume otherwise leads to trouble.
Seven years ago, I re-read George Orwell’s classic dystopic novel, 1984, published in 1949. In this book, history was deliberately re-written on a regular basis by the Party of the infamous Big Brother.
1984 opens with protagonist Winston Smith going home at lunch to write in the secret diary he bought on the black market. He works at the Ministry of Truth falsifying old news accounts.
Author George Orwell gets right to the point and packs the desolation of the times into the first few pages, describing the old, worn apartment building Winston lives in, Victory Mansions, with elevator that rarely works, the smell of boiled cabbage, the leaky roof, suspicious, deadened people. We hear about Hate Week and Two Minutes Hate being a part of the daily routine.
The telescreen in his living room transmits both ways, and you can’t turn it off. Smith lives in the world of the eternal present, in which the past is continually re-written People disappear, and all record of them expunged. There is perpetual war. Smith lives in Oceania, which is currently at war with Eurasia and at peace with Eastasia, but despite obliterated history, Winston remembers only four years ago, Eastasia was the enemy and Eurasia the friend.
Posters, stamps, coins, cigarettes and myriad other things bear Big Brother’s face and the ominous “Big Brother is watching you.” We have Thought Police. We have the party’s slogans: “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.” News is so disconnected from what’s really happening that it is a farce, yet no one remembers clearly whether things have ever been different.
Language defines thought, and 1984 speaks to this more succinctly than anything I’ve ever read. The point of Newspeak was to reduce the number of words, to constrict thought, render it homogeneous and controllable.
Midway through the novel, Smith is having an affair with Julia, a Party member who passed him a note saying “I love you,” when she fell in the hall and he helped her up. She is 15 years his junior and content to live a double life of hating the Party while pretending to be a model member. She is purely sensual, uninterested in politics except as it affects her life. She believes war is frustrated sexual desire and that sexually satisfied people have no need or desire to fight. This, she says, is why the Party outlaws it except between husband and wife, and only for the purpose of having children, and providing no one enjoys it.
Winston knows from the beginning he is doomed, just doesn’t know when his time will come. Every move is watched, every facial expression, every sound transmitted over the telescreen. Solitude is suspicious, as is unaccounted-for time.
Smith eventually takes Julia to meet with O’Brien, an inner party member he believes is a member of a subversive organization, the Brotherhood. This organization is reputed to be headed by an Emanuel Goldstein, the demonized “Enemy of the People.” O’Brian says he is indeed a member of the Brotherhood and enlists Winston’s participation, exacting promises to do whatever is necessary, on command, without asking questions, and expecting no rewards or acknowledgement.
Smith loses my allegiance when he says he is willing to abase himself to defeat Big Brother. He dehumanizes himself with that commitment, and becomes no better than those he condemns. He is willing to trade one overlord for another, perpetuating the cycle.
After meeting with O’Brien, Winston gets the forbidden Goldstein book and begins to read it, but he is then arrested in his hideaway just before reading the “Why?” of the party’s obsession.
The rest of the book is about Winston’s capture, imprisonment, torture, and re-education by O’Brien. O’Brien says the party decides what reality is, and a lone individual like O’Brien cannot contest it. The party is immortal. He says the party did not make the mistake of previous dictatorships, (thereby admitting a past before the Party): socialist governments that pretended to claim power merely long enough to establish justice and equality. No. The party wants power for its own sake, and it wants to use that power to crush all individuality and potential resistance. But even Winston Smith, during his interrogation, protests that such a brutal power structure as O’Brien describes could not sustain itself and would self-destruct.
In the end, of course, when O’Brien threatens to put a rat cage over Winston’s face, he commits the ultimate betrayal: he begs to have them sick the rats on Julia, instead.
And, of course, the final two sentences—which I’ve remembered for 30 years, verbatim: “He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”
Although George Orwell is uncannily prescient in some of his observations, like the muddying of language, the telescreen, and the homogenization of individuals into a mass mind where individuality is a crime, he cannot account for factors that make totalitarianism unsustainable. We are now seeing the disintegration of the power structure that bleeds individuals to support itself. It boils down to the simple fact that armed or violent resistance only reinforces the power structure, but non-participation and withdrawal deplete it. Orwell is looking at an urban population dependent on infrastructure and easily controlled supply chains.
Also, while Orwell claims history is being wiped out by revisions in books, statues, streets, churches, and newspapers, he overlooks the fact that the dilapidated architecture itself bespeaks a more competent society, because those buildings were once new, with roofs and plumbing in good working order.
Orwell also deprives his characters of any curiosity outside politics or basic amenities. In his first rendez-vous with Julia in the country, Winston is transfixed by the song of a thrush. There is no other evidence of anyone doing anything useful, and the appreciation for the bird is an exception.
The characterization of perpetual war merely for the purpose of destroying excessive production, the three entities perpetually at odds with each other, the control of people by controlling their minds, is uncanny. There’s a reference to 1914 as the turning point in history.
Doublethink, the ability to hold two mutually exclusive views at the same time and believe them both, is crucial.
But men have always thought in terms of violent revolutions that are manipulated simply to switch one power elite for another. They do not recognize that these systems disintegrate from within because those in power can’t trust each other. I believe the violence comes later, once people see how weak the structure has become.
I say you control by controlling the food and water supplies, and the product lines, a much more fundamental and practical method, if power is your aim. Of course the power brokers know that, and all this talk about controlling minds is intellectual camouflage. It’s hard to imagine Big Brother having much power in a rural area where people have more resources at their disposal.
George Orwell, pen name for Eric Arthur Blair, died a year after 1984 was published, at the age of 46. He had lived through both world wars, the Depression, and had lived in poverty through much of his adult life. He foresaw much of what is happening now, and he was discouraged about the future of mankind. But in the final analysis, 1984 is a masterpiece of tight prose, excellent descriptions, good character development, and interesting plot, well worth reading.
I wrote the following political satire piece for my “Adventures in Living in the World as It Is” series in December, 2009.
THE POLICE STATE BOARD GAME
GoverCorp vs. You
In this game, players vie with THE POLICE STATE to get around the board with a minimum of hassle. They win by overcoming barricades, set-backs, barbed wire, traps, concrete mazes, and other obstacles, to arrive at the point where they began. Each player meets different challenges.
Tourists, travelers—and anyone who visits an airport—must negotiate airport security. Cop an attitude and miss your plane. (Go back five spaces.)
Travelers, you can win this round. If security drones mess with you, demand their names and write them down. (Skip three spaces.) Do this loudly. (Skip ten spaces.) If you can get them to write their own names, skip ten spaces and win an extra turn. If you miss your plane, call the media and yell into the phone at the airport until they find you another flight. (Take an extra turn.)
Federal security personnel only have jobs because they failed reading, writing, and arithmetic in elementary school. They’d probably be in jail if they weren’t paid by the police state to fleece you.
The doctor and all health care providers with licensed signatures must file Medicare, Medicaid, and third-party payer claims; document everything done and not done; be there for everyone’s crises; listen to everyone’s complaints; manage their illnesses; and, when time allows, save their lives.
Doctors win by avoiding insurance hassles. “Oh, you’re having a heart attack? Call Dr. Obama. He’ll call me if your policy covers heart attacks. Oh, he doesn’t answer the phone at night? You should have bought a better government.” Then hang up and go back to sleep.
If you really have killed a patient, lose five turns and reapply for your license, if you decide it’s worth it. If you decide to retire, get five extra turns. If it’s a nuisance malpractice suit, go back five spaces. You can go to jail instead of settling and skip ten spaces in THE POLICE STATE.
Teachers have to maintain control in the classroom without using discipline. Even a yell is emotional abuse in THE POLICE STATE.
Teachers win by doing what they must. Do not attract attention from THE POLICE STATE. Ignore it as much as possible, unless it is in your face making unreasonable demands, or if you’ve hit a child. (Go back ten spaces.) How hard? (If s/he is bruised, go back five more spaces.) If there are major injuries, go back to the beginning and choose a different profession.
If you can teach the school board something about education, skip five spaces and get three extra turns. If kids enjoy school, the probability of your wanting to hit them, principals, school board members, parents, congressmen, or presidents plummets.
Developers, contractors, and builders must negotiate forests of permits, licenses, fees, city and county parents, planning boards, and the bureaucratic jungle before you can build. Bribes and favors are the easiest way to do business in THE POLICE STATE.
Builders win by doing the job right. (Lose five turns for each collapsed building. If anyone was hurt or killed, start over and apply for a government job.) Go back five spaces for every problem from shoddy construction. Win by remembering pipes break on holidays. You’ll sleep easier and won’t have to schmooze as many politicians in THE POLICE STATE.
Joe Blow, angry women, hot chicks, impotent men, red-necks, teenagers, bruthas—and everyone with with an attitude and a steering wheel—must negotiate traffic, congestion, stop lights, road safety hazards, other bad drivers, suicidal pedestrians, errant pets, parking problems, car trouble, passenger distractions, and other demands that have nothing to do with driving. Impatience attracts everything from fender-benders to fatal accidents, and of course, traffic tickets. Go back five spaces for slugging a policeman, even if he deserved it.
Tips for success: About that traffic violation: Did anybody die? Better show up in court. (Lose five turns.) Anybody hurt? Be there. (Go back ten spaces.) Anybody’s car damaged? Ditto. (Go back five spaces.) No damage to anyone or anything? OK. Just pay the fine, but you have a record now. Watch your step, because every forward move counts against you in:
THE POLICE STATE
September 11, 2016
I posted this entreaty on my now-defunct website in October, 2001. I still believe what I wrote then.
By Katharine C. Otto, October, 2001
I am sad for the planet right now, but as usual, not for the same reasons as everyone else.
Because I believe in the immortality of the soul, I don’t believe in death. I see those who gave their lives in the September 11 tragedy not so much as victims but as participants in an event that rocked the world. They have moved to other dimensions, out of sight, but not out of mind and heart.
I am sadder for those of us who must deal with the consequences. We stand in a precarious position. We are outraged. We are sad. We are afraid. There is a sense of urgency, a push to do something, but we don’t know what to do.
Meanwhile, internal cohesiveness is growing. Americans feel united against a common enemy. We are nicer to each other. Flags are flying. People feel free to talk about God.
On a deeper, more personal level, I believe the September 11 event has forced us to examine our individual values, recognizing everything we cherish can be swept away in a heartbeat, without warning or provocation. Our anger and fear are understandable, given the context. The enemy – whoever he is, or they are – used our own airplanes and skyscrapers against us. They collapsed our most visible symbols of wealth and power. It only cost them a few plane tickets and the lives of some fanatical devotees who died believing they were doing their religious duty. Or so we assume.
Worse, for the first time since the United States broke free of Britain, civilians have been attacked from outside. We are faced with the real possibility of war on our own turf, should we act precipitously or irresponsibly. And, despite our world leadership in technology, education, wealth, and power, we are uncomfortably vulnerable in the face of this enemy, on whom our most modern defenses don’t work and may be used against us.
I think we should give credit where it is due. These enemies are wily and cunning, and it is foolhardy to underestimate them. They know our weaknesses. If we allow them to provoke us or frighten us into rash action, it will hurt us more than them. We have more to lose than they do. I, for one, do not enjoy suffering.
I believe we win by developing our strengths, getting control of our own anger and fear, and approaching this situation with reasonable caution. There is wisdom in patience. Yes, fate happens. But individuals, groups, and nations have the free will to choose their responses. Anger and fear distort judgment and lead to bad decisions.
Of course, mastering one’s emotional responses, without denying them, is the challenge of psychiatry, psychology, religion, literature, art, and of life itself. There are no easy answers.
However, as the dust settles over New York, and as we reflect individually and collectively on what has transpired, I believe it will be important for each of us to take an honest inventory of our values. What is truly important, and what is not? And those qualities – spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical – that are valuable to us, let us take the time and energy to appreciate and build upon them. For me, those things are very close to home.