2012


Economics and Government and Social Issues18 Sep 2012 07:13 pm

 

The goal of the uber-wealthy simply put is to own the greatest percentage of wealth possible.

The dollar amount isn’t as important as the percentage of wealth (relative wealth). Your relative wealth is greater if you own 999,999 of 1,000,000 as opposed to 2,000,000 of 2,000,000,000.

Probably the most important economic mechanism for the uber-wealthy is for the poor to become poorer as they become wealthier. If that’s your goal than Obama is your man.

Here are some of the reasons the uber-wealthy should be for Obama.

  1. Government (taxpayer) money has gone to near zero percent loans and bailouts to the wealthiest people while loans to the rest of us have almost vanished and our interest rates for loans are much higher
  2. The unlimited printing of money has gone directly to the economic elite or indirectly as liquidity put into the stock and bond markets
  3. Trickle down economics has reached a new level of futility
  4. Obama has rejected any federal jobs program introduced, and in fact government jobs have decreased during Obama’s tenure

One must remember that Obama’s presidential campaign got a big lift from the financial crisis and great recession peaking in late summer of 2008. Dire economic headlines dominated the news and helped many Americans decide that a change of parties was needed. Obama’s  response to this “public mandate” was to hire cabinet members, advisors and basically surround himself with the very financial elite which were seen as the cause of the crisis and recession. Any Republican taking the same action would have caused social furor. Therefore, Obama not only kept them employed, with golden parachutes, and safe from prosecution, but he quickly put many of their dream policies into action.

The uber-wealthy benefit greatly from a powerful executive branch which protects, promotes and serves their interests while obstructing, ignoring or abandoning the interests of the masses. Obama’s resume includes the following.

  1. Expanded our military presence abroad
  2. Use of banned war substances such as white phosphorous
  3. Entered and remained in wars that were never approved by congress
  4. Initiated a presidential hit list for people domestic and abroad, with no need for charges let alone a trial to ascertain guilt or worthiness of harm
  5. Continued and expanded our illegal use of torture
  6. Enacted economic sanctions which do little more than starve and kill children and the poor
  7. Used the war on terrorism as a way to protect and fund greedy corporations and arms vendors
  8. Expanded, champions and praises the use of drones which kill innocents as well as people not necessarily proven to be a true threat.
  9. Resisted and helped squash any Wall Street reform or prosecution of financial fraud
  10. Surrounded himself with financiers that were decision makers during the financial bubble and resulting financial crisis and great recession
  11. Continues to enact and support policies that led to record profits for corporations and incredible gains on Wall Street while lowering the wages and standard of living for most Americans
  12. Tolerated illegal actions leading up to and during the Gulf Oil Spill than resisting legal measures taken  and supporting misleading information regarding long term damage to region
  13. Gave no support or aid to workers unions or those with foreclosed homes, and has accepted the policies of corporations who demand severe cuts in pay and benefits as terms of continued employment or being rehired after being let go
  14. Curtailed and now plans to end unemployment benefits for over millions of americans
  15. Planned cuts and reform for Social Security and medicaid are “on the table”
  16. Showed no leadership in addressing laws which cause a disproportionate number of minorities to be imprisoned
  17. Tolerating suppression of free speech (demonstrations) and the use of violence to intimidate those who continue in their efforts to speak and inform

Many democrats and liberals will look at the above list and claim that it would be a lot worse if Obama weren’t president. This typical response by democrats and liberals is the very reason that the uber-wealthy should want Obama to win a second term. These same actions, policies and priorities would be fought tooth and nail if they were being sanctioned and championed by a conservative republican. Yet, since Obama is a populist figure who conservatives often blindly refer to as a socialist, then no one is seeing the destruction of his ways. While the standard of living of most Americans has declined significantly since the recession and during the so called economic recovery, the cries of liberals and democrats are no where to be heard.

Liberals and democrats are too busy defending their president to sound the alarm. The watch dogs are asleep and there is not a hint of them picking up the scent. Obama is doing all the heavy lifting for the uber-wealthy without a single strain showing on his face.

Obama should be the uber-wealthy’s man, for he is accomplishing their goals with the tacit approval of those who are falling into poverty or at least becoming a shadow of their former middle class selves. Obama is robbing and pillaging the 99% and making the uber-wealthy even more wealthy with hardly a word of protest.

 

I would like to finish up this post with an expansion of a few ideas outlined above. The expansion of executive powers is not very scary, but in complete violation of the systems of checks and balances built into the constitution.

Giving the president the right to decide who lives and dies, and who is imprisoned or set free without any checks or balances, puts the president on par with early royalty if not divinity.

I want to try once again to explain the current means and methodology of how our government seems to be purposely handing over almost all wealth to a handful of uber-rich.

Let’s take a moment to review the benefits to the wealthy and the harm to the rest of the populace that takes place during a time of forced low interest rates and unlimited money printing.

 

Money printed and loaned or used as a bailout.

 

First, only the uber-wealthy get or are available to get the new money. The historic low almost free interest rates remove almost all risk, and just add to the wealth of the recipient. They can claim this gift money as profit and use this to stimulate interest in their company’s stock which, of course, just adds to their wealth. They can take millions of dollars in loans and use the money to purchase other relatively safe financial instruments which offer higher interest rates and use a small percentage of their profits to pay back the loan.

In this manner of making money off of low interest rate loans they can increase their wealth with no overhead. They can increase their profit margins without a need to expand their business by building new plants (overhead), or even hire new workers (overhead), but most likely lay workers off (cut expenses, overhead).

The very printing of money makes all those (the masses) poorer in a few ways. With the general pool of money expanding through trillions of dollars being printed (or electronically entered into the financial system) those not receiving money (almost everyone) is becoming relatively poorer.  Second. the money printed just gets added to our national debt, which makes each taxpayer poorer and more in debt without our consent.

In the bizzaro world of money printing and low interest rates the uber-rich do not need us as workers or consumers. They can lay us off an rehire us at 3rd world rates.

Ramifications of Low Interest Rates

 

As stated above the uber-wealthy greatly benefit by low interest rates. They can get huge amounts of play money and invest it however they please, and use the money and the profits it generates to play hard ball with workers and unions drastically reducing wages and benefits.

While the uber-wealthy get richer through low interest rates the rest of us often economically suffer due to low interest rates. Low interest rates hit retirees hard as they can not grow their nest eggs safely and live off the interest as they were instructed to do. Retirees and those heading towards retirement are forced to enter more risky investments such as the stock market in order to have any hope of creating enough money to survive or stop working.

The finance world via the Fed keep interest rates low to “stimulate the economy”. Since the Fed has promised to keep interest rates low for the foreseeable future they also are motivated to keep inflation rates low to moderate. In order to accomplish keeping inflation low they exclude many essential costs such as fuel (energy) and food from their computations.

The understating of inflation hurts most people in two ways. First, the masses are paying more for basics and find it hard to make ends meet. Second a high percentage of businesses base worker pay and raises on the rate of inflation. So, workers receiving a 2% inflation based raise are treading backwards when the true rate of inflation for basic needs is between 6 and 9%.

The mechanisms of low interest rates and money printing is both sinister and devastating to the economic health to 99% of the populace. It is hard to see these economic practices resulting in anything else than the gap between the rich and poor widening at a dizzying pace.

The Fed’s printing frenzy is now being expanded with their recent pledge to purchase billions of dollars worth of mortgage backed securities. There is every reason to believe that a sizable portion of these purchased mortgages will be from the federal programs of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

This means that the Fed will be using tax payer money and debt to purchase very risky and poor quality mortgages. It seems quite logical that these entities will go bankrupt once again and the Fed will have successfully transferred fiscal responsibility from banks and financiers to tax payers, where we will be both liable for the debt (national debt) and for the inevitable bailouts of private and federal agencies.

The Fed continues to print up gift and play money for the wealthiest and most irresponsible people and entities. The Fed takes our (taxpayer) money as escalating debt and distributes it basically risk free to the uber-rich, I say risk free because there is almost no interest rates and if they fail the fed will just take more taxpayer money to bail them out. Each time they print more money and purchase more insolvency they pile onto the taxpayer unfathomable amounts of unserviceable debt, which will just create a society of serfs for generations to come.

We, as taxpayers, front all the money to the uber-wealthy who bear no risk or responsibility. If they use the money successfully they benefit while we become more indebted, and if they fail, well we’ll be called on through the Fed to bail them out once more.

Why would the uber-wealthy want to elect another man? A Romney presidency may awaken the sleeping watch dogs and the alarm for the biggest heist ever to have taken place will be sounded?

 

I can’t imagine anyone doing a better job for the uber-wealthy than Obama, because he’s conducting the great heist in plain sight and with the support and backing of many of the people whose lives his economic policies are devastating.

 

This post alludes to many ideas I’ve detailed in previous posts. Those interested in exploring further the major themes of this article are encouraged to read

The Global High Tech Plantation  6/12/12

Communists, Terrorists, Charity and Compassion  5/6/11

One if by Internet and Two if by TV  4/17/12

 

While I have dozens of articles on this subject matter, the above is a good start.

 

For a more detailed explanation of the mechanics and ramifications of the Federal Reserves purchasing of mortgage back securities please read the following article at counterpoint.com

Why QE3 is Bound to Backfire
by MIKE WHITNEY

 

 

Jim Guido

 

Philosophy and Poetry and Psychology04 Sep 2012 10:08 am

The following is a reverie on my song What We Live. You can listen to this song by clicking on to the music tab above and going to the CD entitled I’m Just Saying.

 

What we live                                                              6/6/09

Wrought by the night
Fraught with insight
The steely comfort comes shining through

No need to dream
No symbols crashing
Taking stock in what I see and do

I’ve lived my life
looking long into mirrors that imbue
Pierce through visions spawning truth
Come with me as we straddle the real
Trust in the fathoms we feel

We fall asleep
When awake we breath deep
So many lessons come into view

Questions when ripe
Unveil and incite
Preconceptions we unglue

Come with me as we follow the clues
Piece together the life we choose
Each day add a new brush stroke or two
Endless perspectives bring me closer to you

What we live warms my heart ignites my skin
What we live keeps me coming lets me in
What we live is all I know I end and begin
What we live is where I’m going and where I’ve been

What we live

When we focus our attention and what we live as opposed to why or even how we live, we are guided to the content and very stuff of our experience. We return to experience itself and not our theories, explanations, interpretations or objective analysis of experience. What we live is a fixed awareness on the primal dance of experience and the experiencer.

The song is a contemplation and celebration of what we live. What we live is an identification, articulation and appreciation of our experience and how we take up and live in a world. It is more about participating and describing than explaining and theorizing.

The what of living is being a body experiencing life and not just living in one’s head. The what of living inspires us to appreciate and savor the awe of being alive and being conscious of being alive. In sum, what we live is being immersed in experience, while at the same time savoring this experience and developing wisdom and insight.

The lyrics begin after a full day of living and processing the functional and pragmatic wonder of life.

Wrought by the night

Wrought in the sense of created or fashioned, but also hinting at the existential angst associated with being emotionally wrought.
The night referring both to the time of day, and all the images and symbols of the night, including its quiet, starkness, solitude and lack of activity.

Fraught with insight

Such a time of contemplation is destined to be filled with meaningful insight inspired by the peace, calm and formless womb that is night.

The steely comfort comes shining through

The comfort of the night I’m referring to is the calm starkness it offers, not the pampered creature comforts we so often surround ourselves with. Which is why the comfort is steely. A steely comfort is pure and naked. The steely comfort of all our insights and joys softly streams through the darkness with the type of clarity that only starkness can produce.

When our eyes get accustomed to darkness we often are aware of there being enough light to catch a brief glimpses of objects such as a silver candle holder or the shimmer of glass. These brief glimmers are like the fleeting moments of clarity which come to a calm and open heart.

No need to dream

On a night where I’m content and awed by simplicity, I have no need to dream. I have no need to flee the moment, or to look beyond life. Content in the moment and enraptured with my very heart beat I have no need to look above or beyond the moment.

My reveries and reflections are so fulfilling as to have me feel emotionally and psychologically sated that even as I fall asleep I have no need to dream, just to rest and savor my contentment.

No symbols crashing

This line is a combination of symbols clashing and cymbals crashing. It again emphasizes that for a fully conscious mind there is little need or use for dream. If one reflects, ponders and processes during the day than the “unconscious” mind often has no agenda or need to speak to us when we sleep.

Taking stock in what I see and do

When one does their work during the day the night is free to rest. A day spent taking stock in what one sees and does is a full and fulfilling day, with no gaps to be filled in at night.

There are no symbols clashing, there is no need for drama or for secret dire messages for a person who has lived the day fully and has been open to and paid attention to their inner life. There is also no need for nightmarish anxiety and heart pounding reactions to cymbals crashing. No suppressed symbols are crashing and haunting us and preventing us from deep and peaceful rest.

I’ve lived my life
looking long into mirrors that imbue

Everywhere I turn I see and benefit from mirrors which have me see myself. I find these mirrors everywhere, from my own body sensing and functioning in the world, to others, nature, language, music and history. I am forever energized, challenged and imbued by all myriad of snapshots propagated by the endless mirrors that dominate my vision and experience.

Pierce through visions spawning truth

My body, the world and self-awareness are all inextricably linked and interwoven. At times I see myself in the world, and at other moments I see the world in me. Each vision, reflection and pattern recognized contains a truth and a wisdom which deepens my life. Yet, these visions actually pierce through truth to the reality and experience that is what we live. Such truth unmasks and discredits the Truth that the less vigilant and thorough use to flee what we live.

Come with me as we straddle the real
Trust in the fathoms we feel

I invite you to come with me and straddle the real. The real that is both experience and our reflections of experience. That is both raw experience and the contemplation, processing and historical contextualization that gives birth to and sustains my sense of self. A self that is dependent and enmeshed in the world and my body.

While what we live is foreign to superlatives such infinity, absolute and Truth its reality is by no means pure fiction. The depth of our experience, and its endless revelations are only possible because we are limited sensorial beings born out of the interplay of world, body and mind. Yet, rather than bemoan our limits we should embrace them and though our knowledge and experience be transitory, our lives are none the less full of meaning.

Those who bewail that life has no meaning, are looking for the meaning of life outside of life itself in some form of absolute Truth. Yet, for those of us enthralled with what we live we are immersed in a world of endless meaning, a world of perpetual intimacy and increased familiarity with ourselves, our bodies and the world we live in.

We fall asleep
When awake we breath deep
So many lessons come into view

After a contented deep sleep we awake refreshed and open to a new day. We begin to commune and take in the world by filling up our lungs with the morning air. As we exhale we give a little of ourselves back into the world and reestablish our enmeshed dependence on our body and our environment.

During the night our attention retreated from the world. While asleep many new cells in our body developed while others died, and a slew of biochemical changes transformed our body every passing minute. Yet, despite the retreat and bodily changes we awake the same person able to recall and build off of our expanding and deepening sense of personal history.

Each and every moment brings possible discovery along with a renewed sense of familiarity with ourselves, our body and the world we share with others.

Questions when ripe
Unveil and incite
Preconceptions we unglue

Language is like the air we breathe. It surrounds us and is the very way we take up and have a world. As we experience and reflect on our sensory world our attention spawns observations and insights. Accurate descriptions of what we see and sense, resonate deep within us and give voice to our experience.

Our discoveries and curiosity give rise to new questions to be answered. When our sense of wonder slowly coalesces into a specific question it opens us up to a world of new discovery, insight and wisdom. Words and thoughts disclose the world to us as well as articulate our experiences. Through words and thought the world and our historical self are revealed (disclosed) to us.

Our increasingly accurate descriptions and observations resonate deep within us giving voice to our experience. This process born of dwelling in what we live is energizing and allows us to pay close attention to what we experience rather than what we think we experience. Observations based on real and actual experience dispel preconceptions and misperceptions that we have presupposed, and lead to increased intimacy with ourselves, body and world.

Come with me as we follow the clues
Piece together the life we choose
Each day add a new brush stroke or two
Endless perspectives bring me closer to you

The more we learn about what we live the more we realize that there is no end to the wondrous puzzle of life. For those attuned to what we live; learning, developing, discovery and increased intimacy are endless processes. Even though each day we add to the familiar, this does not prevent us from being surprised or stumbling across a novel way of taking up our world. Our assembled puzzle will never be complete, for there is no final answer or solution to what we live.

So let’s enjoy the experiences and processes of life. Let’s dedicate ourselves to following the clues afforded us by our experience, and assemble a puzzle together. Let us enjoy the freedom and options that comes with the reality that there is no final solution, or True answer to life.

Each day we can add a few brushstrokes to the great canvass we call our lives. What we live is best seen from a host of perspectives and viewpoints, each one with its own value and meaning. Each revelation regarding what we live is a perspective which we have the opportunity to use in a fashion which brings us closer to ourselves, each other and the world we experience.

What we live warms my heart ignites my skin
What we live keeps me coming lets me in
What we live is all I know I end and begin
What we live is where I’m going and where I’ve been

My life is forever enriched by staying attuned to what we live. This perspective teaches me (reminds me) that fulfilling experience is not a choice between being present (immanence) and reflective (transcendence) but a combination of both. My body feels and senses and my thoughts have me savor, appreciate and form a personal history. The simple act of enjoying the soft fur of my cat involves both my hand feeling the fur as it strokes the cat and my mind savoring, reflecting on and appreciating the experience and placing that one experience into the history and life world of my pet.

What we live is not just of the moment, but woven into the great tapestry we create. Each moment propels me to the next with anticipation and rewards me with adding to the expanding totality of my life. What we live is a self-contained entity comprised of my body, the world and my awareness of myself. All three aspects are interrelated and interwoven and no experience of mine happens in isolation or divorced from this primal trio. From my first breath until my last what we live is truly all I know, and where I begin and end. What we live is my story and my future, it is where I am going and where I have been. What we live is both context and content, and the generator of all life’s joys and meanings.

 

To say that life is precious is a gross understatement.

Jim Guido

Relationships and Social Issues10 Aug 2012 09:27 pm

As a young catholic boy the nuns taught me the dangers of ambition
of wanting too much and of having vain and unrealistic goals
I was taught to do the right thing, and value only what was important in life

I heeded the nun’s advice and tried to construct a simple life
based on being a good person, thinking good thoughts, and being a good friend
Whether by myself or with others
I thrived on passion, desire and play
I craved to be intimate with myself, the world, and all with whom I interacted

So, I spent my youth in play and conversation
I listened intently and relished in whatever my friends were able to share
I played sports and I played with words and ideas
I found humor and laughter to be life’s most treasured possessions

Though we were young and had little wisdom or insight
I was more successful in high school that at any other time
in having my conversations result in feelings of intimacy and communion
The older I’ve gotten the more guarded I find people
Always too busy or too weary to stay in intimate conversation

I’ve sought intimacy in almost everything I’ve done
I’ve been writing songs for near forty years
They have served me well as a vehicle to express and expand myself
They have catalogued my life, my feelings, my hopes, dreams and fears

During one decade of life I took to writing books
Yet since no publisher nor agent deemed them worthy of publication
The joy soon ended and while the ideas are there the will is no longer
Instead I have a website in which I write posts and essays on a regular basis
On the site I also have my books, music and lyrics, and a growing catalogue of posts

While each year the number of visitors to the site has increased
There is no dialogue and people only drop comments promoting their businesses
I seek out creative and productive people and ask questions and interview them
But sadly they do not want to talk about their thoughts any more than mine
I write songs and posts to which no one listens or responds to
I engage in conversations that seldom go anywhere

For years the passion and play of my marriage has kept the fires burning
Our life was the template of intimacy that I used for all other situations
While my appreciation of myself, nature and human consciousness continues
To be an endless spring of intimacy, play and passion
I find that the passion, desire and play that was the hallmark of my marriage wanes

Passion, desire and play have always been interconnected in me
Without passion my desire fades and my body is often
to weary, achy or tired for play

Nature and self-consciousness are my remaining life lines
Yet these sometimes aren’t enough to fuel a robust body

I mourn now for so much lost
Is acceptance the only path open to me?

Without passion, desire and play
I have difficulty recognizing who I am
or how I am to be in the world

I have never been a highly credentialed person
My talents have been my calling card
Some time ago I began donating some of my earnings
back to the agencies I contracted with
giving back to help save services offered

I have always and am prepared to live a solitary life
Life is wondrous in and of itself
Yet, I mourn all the wasted opportunity
for intimacy, passion, desire and play
These are the ingredients of the simple life
One about what’s important and not money and things

This is about unfolding and sharing the wonders of life
and of life being conscious of itself
Living life in its naked splendor
While remaining respectful and appreciative

So much suffering is unnecessary
And I am party to it by my silence
I feel I could be very helpful
But my voice and hands are wasted

So, today I sit and mourn all the wasted opportunities
for intimacy, passion, desire and play
I watch the darkening clouds move in
And hope we will survive the fray
For all I have is this world, my body and consciousness
And all three are in danger today

 

Part 2

I speak with an intensity and investment
Which others find too taxing
About issues and concerns
That others find overwhelming

I’m optimistic about topics which others find depressing and
Express skepticism about paths and solutions
Which provide most with a sense of hope

I participate in groups
Which never fully embrace me as a member
And shun the trappings of community
That strike me deceptive or exclusive

I find excitement in the mundane
And emptiness in the thrilling
I find people more fascinating
Than the wonders of the universe
I find my little acre more fulfilling
Than travels far abroad

I find little solace in words
Or in the bosom of belief
I trust more in the world of actions
And my body’s ability to learn

I yearn for little beyond my thoughts,
My feelings, senses and desires
I feel privileged to be alive
And honored to be aware

I long to share simplicity
And the wisdom that time bestows
A world, a body a consciousness
Both unique and the bonds we know

Though I’ve dedicated myself to a life of
intimacy and self-actualization
I often feel ignorant and alone

Yet when all is said and done
I’m quite happy to call home
My acre, nature and the planet
My body, the experience we mold

Yet, my insatiable thirst for intimacy
Will always have me seek for more

United in Compassion,

Jim Guido

 

Music and Poetry and Relationships08 Jul 2012 07:36 am

Thirty years ago I was in the recording studio recording my first album Life in the Shadows. Most of the songs on that album we (the band Ekstasis) had been performing in clubs in the Chicago area for about five years before recording them.

Often I surprise myself when I read the lyrics I penned back then. One of the oddest and most arcane lyrics of that time period was Psittacism Criticism, and in honor of the 30th anniversary of my first album I thought a reverie on that song would be both fun and fitting.

The term psittacism refers to any speech pattern which resembles the monotonous metallic vocalizations which were the staple of futuristic robots. So here’s the lyrics followed by my reflections of what I was thinking when I wrote them.

Psittacism Criticism

Coughing up those bricks
Glorified shibboleths
I’d give you the back of my hand
If I could endorse a cliché

She talks with all the class of escaping gas
To sad little void heads
Glazed eyes and gaping jaw (perpetual sneeze)

Come to my room to play adult Parchesee
Unshuffle me with your card shark hands
Let me be your detour if you desire reconstruction
I’m sad yet hopeful, this blue blood’s not green

Parched man desires refreshment
But even a man dehydrate will decline HCL

Where’s the party, where’s the party?
Put me on remote control
Oh hell, I used to be 21
There’s no time after alcohol

Put me in my time
Put me in my time

I used to be a friend of mine till
You put me in my time

Tell me if you care

This song was written after a weekend of socializing with friends and other young twenty contemporaries. I found most parties to be disappointing and somewhat depressing. Most gatherings lacked the type of intensity and intimacy for which I thirsted. The lyrics of this song sum up my sense of disappointment.

Coughing up those bricks
Glorified shibboleths

While shibboleth usually refers to customs and beliefs which are the hallmark of a given group I also used it to mean the lingo and habits of my crowd. The time was the middle to late seventies and we were a proud and somewhat arrogant group. We viewed most adults as ignorant, selfish and power hungry automatons whose lives were generally empty and shallow. In this respect I was in synch with my peer group, yet I was also quite critical of my peers.

The first two lines of the song refers to the catch phrases that accompanied almost every sentence uttered by my crowd. Hardly five seconds ever passed without someone saying “right on”, “heavy”, “cool”, “man” or some other trite response. These words were the “amens” of our social religion and though they were meant to provide validation and solidarity I found them an obstacle to sustaining meaningful dialogue.

The bricks were, of course, those lifeless catch phrases which said nothing and went no where. I chose coughing up those bricks for several reasons. One, coughing is a sign of pain and contagious disease and I was becoming increasingly concerned that the empty party talk was beginning to contaminate my thought process as well as the quality of my relationships with others. Bricks are lifeless dead weight and seemed the perfect vehicle for how I felt about the empty, lifeless discussions which were passing as meaningful conversation.

We believed that our lingo and slang were a sign of our depth and superior social awareness, that is why they were glorified shibboleths. We weren’t up tight inhibited slaves to the establishment as were our parents, but rather fully autonomous revelers of life’s secrets and pleasures. While our parents were “out of touch”, we were “with it” and totally “tuned in”.

Yet, to me the incessant lingo showed that my peers were becoming just as empty as their parents, and the drugs weren’t about self-discovery and opening new universes but no different than our parents alcohol and cigarette dominated socializing. To borrow a phrase from another one of my songs of that time period, Eros and Erosion, “I refuse to speak in ejaculations”. I wanted penetrating discourse which revealed and created life’s meaning and significance, and was not content with the reflexive grunts of community which pervaded all social interaction.

I’d give you the back of my hand
If I could endorse a cliché

My disappointment with my peers was heading towards anger and that is why I said that “I’d give you the back of my hand”. So, while criticizing my peers for engaging in endless trite phrases I engaged in a little self-effacing humor by using a hackneyed saying from a previous generation as my threatening reprimand. I qualify that statement by saying “if I could endorse a cliche”, because the whole idea behind psittacism criticism is to revoke all manner of trite an repetitive speech and expression, rather than attacking one form while glorifying another.

She talks with all the class of escaping gas
To sad little void heads
Glazed eyes and gaping jaw (perpetual sneeze)

I could not help but see my drugged out friends as “sad little void heads”. While I was juiced on life, they were choosing to escape into an anesthetized world which would bar them from remembering the nights conversations when they woke the next day. A sure sign of the drugged out partier was the gaping jaw and perpetual sneeze pose mentioned in the song.

Come to my room to play adult Parchesee
Unshuffle me with your card shark hands
Let me be your detour if you desire reconstruction
I’m sad yet hopeful, this blue blood’s not green

This verse was intended to be rich in obscure sexual innuendo. First off choosing Parchesee as an implicitly tawdry game seems ironic unless you know that it supposedly was originally a game of leisure played by harem girls. I invented the concept of unshuffling to show how deft and agile were my harem girl lover’s hands. Since I was feeling so out of synch with my world, her unshuffling me would most likely restore my life to a sense of meaning and intimacy.

In response to her healing acts of love I would gladly return the favor and help her reconstruct a life of intimacy and fulfillment. All she would have to do is say the word, and we would be each other’s detour from the current emptiness of modern life. The word play of detour and reconstruction were a veiled reference to the “road to enlightenment” that so dominated the counter cultural spiritualism of that time.

The last line of the verse notes how my discontent with the hippie zeitgeist had more to do with my high ideals then any kind of envy of those openly embracing the times. One again I use a bit of ironic self-effacing humor as I equate my aspirations of intimacy with being a blue blood.

Parched man desires refreshment
But even a man dehydrate will decline HCL

The next verse emphasizes the fact that while my thirst for community and intimacy remains unquenched, I will not sacrifice my principles and settle for less. A drink of (HCL) hydrochloric acid will not only not quench my thirst but would only do me further damage.

Where’s the party, where’s the party?
Put me on remote control
Oh hell, I used to be 21
There’s no time after alcohol

As my frustration peaks I cry out and ask where is the party. where is the celebration. I’m beginning to find these gatherings not only unfulfilling but annoying. At these functions I just go through the motions of having a good time, as if I were on remote control. My mainly unconscious drugged out companions are likewise on auto pilot as we seem to be acting out the same play every night. Life is quickly becoming one gigantic alcoholic blackout where we age quickly while our lives go on in a semi-conscious coma.

Put me in my time
Put me in my time

I used to be a friend of mine till
You put me in my time

I remember a time when our conversations were filled with insight and meaning. A time when we openly disclosed things that mattered to us, before they became parodies and caricatures of real feelings dressed in teenage angst and political slogans.

I remember when I felt good about myself, and was a true friend of mine. Yet, the more I become a member of the the partying crowd of the late seventies the less self-respect I have. It seems every time I try to connect with my friends they “put me in my time”, this time of emptiness and self-alienation.

Tell me if you care

The song ends with the plaintive yet hopeful request of my friends if they still care. Like me, do they still yearn to share what’s important and desire real intimacy, insight and disclosure?

When listening to the song please take note how the stilted rhythm of the beginning verses echo the psittacism that I’m articulating. While the song is in 4/4 it has a kind of demented waltz feel to it. The music lurches and jerks like the automatons it is meant to portray.

Yet, soon after the lead vocalists voice becomes metallic and robotic the music blossoms and gains a hopeful flow. The sax and female vocal solos soar and rage against the machine and end the song in majestic celebration. A sensual celebration which is the hope and means by which the psittacism I have here criticized gets destroyed.

Now, thirty years later my life has played out more like the sax and vocal solo than the stilted disconnected world of the beginning of the song, yet my disappointment in the quality of most human contact remains. I still hunger and thirst for increased intimacy and depth of sharing, and remain vigilant to fully exploit each opportunity for quality conversation that presents itself.

Jim Guido

Economics and Government and Politics and Social Issues12 Jun 2012 03:09 pm

This post is a continuation of the ideas expressed in my recent posts False Hopes for a False Society and (Uncle) Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs. Let’s continue to explore the ways in which the wealthy elite are slowly erasing all of the wealth and rights of the 99.9% while maximizing their own wealth and power.

In the previous few posts I’ve been pointing out how the need for human labor is being reduced by the progress being made in technology most notably in the areas of automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and virtual reality. While the reduction of the need for human labor should be ushering in a time of unprecedented freedom and high standard of living for all of the planets inhabitants it instead is being used to foment the largest gap between the haves and have nots that we have ever witnessed.

All workers including highly skilled and educated professionals are experiencing stagnant or falling wages along with increased hours and work load. Unions and the entire collective bargaining process has been demonized, corrupted and headed for extinction. The right to work has replaced workers rights allowing corporations, agencies, businesses and institutions to remove the power and safety of a united work force.

Unions which have been corrupted by organized crime, special interests groups, mercenaries, corporate moles and power hungry leadership. Unions have been painted by the corporate media as being inherently corrupt and actually a deficit to improving the conditions of workers.

Since unions are deemed unnecessary at best and harmful at worst we are heading towards an economic system whereby workers have no representation or recourse to the power and decisions of ownership. If we take the reasons for the demise of worker representation to be the supposed corruption of all unions based on a few known cases, we are setting a very dangerous precedent.

If worker representation is removed due to corruption of those elected to represent them, then the same could be done with all political representation since corruption amongst politicians (public servants) is even more prevalent than corruption amongst union leaders. Since corrupt union leaders led to the demise of unions and collective bargaining then why shouldn’t corrupt politicians lead to the demise of citizen representations through the election of members to the Senate, House of Representatives and state Governors.

The sentiment to just throw the bums out in every successive election appears to be growing. More and more voters are concluding that all politicians become corrupt, or powerless to pass laws which actually improve their lives or improve the status of the nation. If this be the case, than why bother having elections in the first place.

The president is becoming more and more powerful each and every day. His powers and autonomy are increasing with less and less emphasis on checks and balances. Presidents have been using the increasing speed of world events as an excuse to make military decisions without congressional approval for decades. Yet, Obama is the first president to stay in a war without ever getting Congressional approval, and one would be hard pressed to come up with a plausible argument that the US was in immanent danger in the first place.

Our presidents now have the power to have individuals jailed indefinitely without a trial or the right to an eventual trial. Our president can now have individuals killed under suspicion deemed sufficient by the president.

When it comes to our livelihood and career we now are being told that our interests are best served by corporate capitalism. That despite its flaws trickle down economics is our best option, and that workers rights and representation are inefficient and detrimental to our ultimate success in a global economy. Likewise, our democratic system of electing representatives has become a popularity contest rife with corruption and inefficiency. Yet, by expanding the powers and autonomy of our commander in chief we are being led to believe this direction is the best chance we have of successfully policing the globe, protecting our way of life, and defeating all our enemies.

Yet, the reality of the situation is that with out representation in the workplace we are little more than slaves dependent on the benevolence of corporate management which by law has to place maximizing profit over all other considerations such as worker standard of living or quality of life. Even if we are not in danger of losing our right to vote or our representative democracy the passing of recent laws have taken away some of the basic rights contained in the Bill of Rights. The very inalienable rights which were designed by our government to prevent our government from abusing its powers.

With each passing day of this new age of endless printing of money and corporate loans the average taxpayer is becoming legally liable and responsible for a larger and larger portion of debt. A debt which when called upon to pay will bankrupt almost every average citizen. The only survivors in this game of economic Russian roulette will be the very entities that received the bulk of the bail out and loan money which created a great majority of the debt in the first place. 


The age of consumerism looks to have been replaced by the age of taxpayer bailouts where our sole remaining role is to return all our earnings and savings back to the corporate elite through national debt and bailouts. In all likelihood there is no exit plan or a plan for a return to solvency, only the final demise of the middle class through a final transfer/extraction of all wealth through public debt retrieval.

This is not a theory, the process is already in motion. The only theory is in stating the logical conclusion of the process. The extinction of collective bargaining, the gutting and eventual termination of social security, and the endless printing of money for the elite, are just mediums by which the middle classes role in the distribution of wealth is being made completely unnecessary.

Jim Guido

Government and Politics and Social Issues09 Jun 2012 01:02 pm

The title of this post is a play on words crossing Uncle Sam with the name of the 60’s pop band, Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs. The title is for fun and is not meant in any disrespect to Sam the Sham or any of his fans. Yet, this post is about the US and the wealthy elite (pharoahs) who apparently call all the shots.

In a recent post I pointed out the absurd notion that we would ever have enough jobs for all the people on the planet. Over the last couple of hundred of years advances in technology have resulted in the replacement of millions of more jobs than they have created. Mass production, automation and robotics all but insure that this trend will become even more pronounced and this does not even broach the topic of artificial intelligence, virtual reality and nanotechnology which promise to make human labor even more inefficient and unnecessary in future years.

Yet, Uncle Sam and the pharoahs spend 24/7 spreading the word (myth) that we (99.9%) are becoming soft, spoiled, and less productive. We are losing jobs to those willing to work for less, and that is why we have rising unemployment and a declining standard of living. Like most good fables there is a grain of truth in these messages. Yet there are entire beaches of sand being ignored which point how exaggerated and misleading be such sentiments.

The truth of the matter is that in a majority of sectors on the global stage more jobs are being lost than created. Technology and robotics are replacing more workers than are being hired. industries using strictly human labor can not compete with industries using robots and machines which can work 24/7, need no heating or air-conditioning in the workplace, and have no need for costs dealing with worker safety and health.

While it may be true that millions of workers in China, India and the third world have doubled their wages in the last decade or so. But, is that really an adequate replacement for the American and European middle and worker classes. Okay, people who made $200 a year are now making up to a $1000 a year and those making $2000 are now making $4000. Even if those consumers were buying goods at highly inflated prices relative to their pay scale, it would not translate into our US/Global corporations making record profits.

One day Henry Ford realized that the ceiling on his economic fortunes were raised proportionally to the consuming power of his workers. Henry realized that putting more money into workers pockets was putting more money into loyal consumers pockets, and that all he had to do was keep his profit margins on the rise.

In general people can only spend what they have, or what they can borrow based on what they have. A consumer based economy is based on larger and larger sums of money being made and spent. Intense human labor played a vital and necessary role in the early stages of mass production. The mind numbing and back braking repetitive behavior was needed for the efficient assemblage of most complex products such as cars, appliances and electronics. Yet, in todays world machines and robots can do almost all of it on their own. As I pointed in a recent post, our most intricate and sensitive surgeries are quickly outrunning human skills and are being dominated by lasers and robots.
It has taken me over four months to calm down enough to even make mention of the propaganda atrocity affectionately known as Half Time in America which aired during the Super Bowl. This perceptual managers dream was narrated by the grizzly all american face and voice of Clint Eastwood. In this propaganda puff piece Clint avers that America via Detroit is on its way back. America the piece claimed is on its way back, and the second half promises to be more glorious and victorious for American workers than the first half.

Are you kidding me? First most workers who have kept their jobs were temporarily fired and rehired at 1/2 the previous pay and a huge loss in benefits. Secondly, the new hired workers are making even less and have no benefits to speak of. What kind of second half is that?

I grew up in a factory town who witnessed first hand the shattered and vacant lives of those who traded in their youth, vitality and health for a living wage performing unrelentlessly repetitive menial tasks not even worthy of a beast of burden. These were the jobs and lifestyle which we strive to avoid and overcome, these were the jobs that stole our fathers from us or at least robbed of us having a meaningful relationship with them.

Through deceptive messages such as Half Time in America the elite are creating the mirage of other nations and societies becoming fully employed and wealthy by doing jobs we used to do for a fraction of the pay we used to do it for. The fact is no one is getting richer in any meaningful way except the elite. The truth is the jobs aren’t there and more and more are vanishing each and every day.

Nothing truly has changed except maybe the need for not only the American consumer (middle class) but for consumers around the globe. In the past While it may be easier for people to see how technology is replacing the need for human labor and workers, it is harder to see visualize how our role as a consumer is being removed.

Over the last decade or so unimaginable amounts of money have been printed and given to the wealthiest people and corporations at interest rates approaching zero. Which in essence means free money with no immediate need to be repaid. Building factories, expanding businesses and hiring employees serve little benefit and only raise overhead which eats into profits.

A good portion of the loans and bailouts are structured in a way in which the onus to pay back the money is transferred from those receiving the money unto the American taxpayer. The money loaned and printed are being distributed to the wealthiest people with almost no risk or responsibility making them even wealthier and with a greater proportion of the total sum of money. The tax payers, on the other hand, are seeing their relative wealth shrink and their responsibility of paying back all this accumulative debt increase. For a more detailed analysis of this process please read my post Wealth Extraction and Transfer.

Since this is becoming too lengthy, I’ll stop here and add more very soon.

Jim Guido

Art and Music28 May 2012 10:06 pm

Hey,

Check out seven new songs. Click on the music tab.

Go to the Visceral Vicissitudes CD and enjoy the 7 songs that are completed.

While you’re there check out the lyrics and music of some of the other near 200 songs posted.

Should have another 10 to 20 up this year, along with other updated mixes.

Let me know of your favorite and least favorite mixes.

Enjoy

Jim Guido

Economics and Government and Politics and Social Issues13 May 2012 08:21 pm

While it is true that jobs are created through technological advancement it is also true that the need for many jobs is eliminated by technological advancement. A hallmark of the age of the machine and mass production is in the reduction of the need for human labor. Even early on in the industrial revolution one machine could do the work of hundreds of men.

This, of course, was great news for the capitalist who wanted to maximize profits by reducing overhead. Every advance in technology resulted in increased productivity and efficiency allowing robust profit margins and almost unlimited business expansion.

Advances in computer speed and mass communications only quickened the acceleration of the technological age, and with it more and more work is able to be accomplished with less and less people. For every job created through technological advancement hundreds, thousands and perhaps millions of jobs were made unnecessary.

As mass production morphs into automation and robotics the number of jobs needed or even non-injurious to profit margins becomes smaller and smaller. The jobs being replaced are no longer necessarily labor intensive or relatively unskilled. In a few years there will be few tasks that can be executed by humans as quickly or as masterfully as machines, computers, robots and the like. Our most talented, intelligent, educated and skilled professionals will be inferior to the machines they currently program or operate.

We are already familiar with the fact that most daily transactions such as stock market trading, accounting, business inventory, production schedules, or any other large volume operation is best executed and monitored by computers and machines. Each day the number of surgeries better performed by humans is decreasing with almost everyone recognizing that almost every aspect of commercial and urban existence will function better and more efficiently with human error being removed from the business equation.

It is deceptive if not an all out lie when we are told by politicians and the media that we are losing jobs to the Chinese or cheap foreign labor. It is just as dishonest or delusional to suggest that the future job market will depend on a higher educated work force.

The reality is we never will have enough jobs for the soon to be 8 billion inhabitants of the planet. We don’t even have a need for half that many jobs, and with the continued exponential growth of technology the number of jobs needed will be hastening towards zero much quicker than towards a fraction of 8 billion.

Rather than misleading people into a false hope of an industrial rebirth producing millions of jobs for the unemployed, we should be earnestly trying to design societies to function in the emerging technological age of robotics and artificial intelligence. The coming age could free people of labor while producing a standard of living for all inhabitants which would make even the industrial middle class of the mid-twentieth century look relatively impoverished. Yet, hanging on to the old exploitative model will surely render most jobless, impoverished and with a declining standard of living both in a relative and comparative terms.

The role of technology has always been to reduce man’s labor while improving his standard of living and quality of life. Let’s do our best to restore that role and not let technological advances be used and owned by the wealthy who pervert its goal and instead make it a vehicle for expanding the relative wealth of the monopolistic few.

The next few posts will most likely expand on this theme.

Jim Guido

Psychology and Relationships01 May 2012 10:42 pm

The following is a description of a model of care I am designing. I have introduced it to a few families I’m working with and the response to date has been very positive. The model is not just for adoptive family systems, but that is the populace for which I decided to use this pilot program with.

I will post a more complete description of the program, its goals, theory and methodology as I flesh out the details.

The Family Advocacy Model

In adopted family systems it is common that the adoptive child’s ability to function in their adopted family in a healthy manner has been compromised by the severity and/or confluence of early developmental factors. These factors can involve gaps in early personal/social development, neglect, abuse, trauma, or any chronic patterns or lacks which adversely affect the child’s sense of trust, validation or self-esteem.

In the Family Advocacy Model we assist the adopted family in the development and implementation of strategies, skills and family rituals which restore and promote the healthy functioning of the family. This is accomplished by our workers gaining an understanding and knowledge of the family system through family interviews, in-home observations, and file information along with on-going dialogue with support services already in place such as treatment teams, therapists, psychiatrists, etc.

Information regarding the family system thus acquired will be used in the design and implementation of goals and skills which will assist family functioning in terms of increased harmony, family role integration, bonding and attachment, and each family members sense of personal growth and development. Each family member will have input into the identification of their goals and assessment of their progress.

While attempting to assist in the improved functioning of the adopted family system we will also strive to honor, retain and promote the unique qualities and values of the system. We will restrict our focus to each family members functioning in the family in terms of their abilities, gifts and personality characteristics. While the Family Advocacy model attempts to meet the current needs of the adopted family, services and goals typically center around areas such as communication patterns, generational boundaries, role identification and clarification, and the appreciation, respect and empathy of each family member to the feelings and integrity of the other family members.

Although the immediate goal of the Family Advocacy Model is the improved functioning of the adopted family system as a whole, we, as well, do advocate for the successful social functioning of each individual member. As an family advocate we will assist and support the family in arenas outside the family home such as school, employment and peer interaction.

Jim Guido

Government and Politics and Social Issues17 Apr 2012 06:43 am

Free speech in this country definitely seems like an endangered species. Over the last couple of decades the tolerance for true free speech and expression of opinion has been highly curtailed, admonished and even punished.

In the area of political discourse we have been told that any opinion expressed outside of the confines of a political campaign that is critical of our government or questions its policies is aiding and abetting terrorists and terrorist agendas. Even in a national campaigns we are more tolerant of personal character attacks then in questions of official international and military policy.

We now live in a country where one can be perceived and labeled a terrorist for holding viewpoints and articulating opinions which were sanctioned and encouraged by our social and religious leaders of the previous generation. We now live in a country where you can be labeled a terrorist for expressing viewpoints based in fact which are critical of the government even when the goal and purpose of expressing these opinions is to make the country a better nation or more in line with its espoused goals and ideals. We now live in a country where the president can have you killed based on the perception that you are a terrorist, or you can be locked up in prison indefinitely without trial based on the perception that you are a terrorist.

In the arena of sports the lack of free speech has been around for a long time. There have been firing of managers and media stars due to a controversial opinion or insensitive comment. Even as far back as 1968 Jimmy the Greek (Snyder) was fired for making a potentially racially insensitive comment regarding the role selective breeding by slave owners may have played in making black men into superior athletes.

While the economic interests have long placed a gag order on political and social commentary by athletes to insure that profits aren’t curtailed by alienating or insulting the fan base, the strictness of the enforced silence has been mounting. In the NBA restrictions on players and coaches rights of free speech have expanded to the realm of opinion of the game. Players are routinely fined for disagreeing with an officials call, no matter how unemotionally or diplomatically it is expressed.

The recent controversy regarding a comment by Ozzie Guillen the new manager of the Florida Marlins regarding Fidel Castro strikes me as particularly pertinent to a discussion of the lack of free speech in our society. Ozzie made the mistake of saying that in some ways he admired Fidel Castro. A vocal portion of the Cuban fan base of the Florida Marlins reportedly went gonzo about the comments and asked for Ozzie’s head.

Ozzie, who played for and managed the Chicago White Sox has had a decades long reputation for saying controversial and sometimes regrettable things. Seldom does Ozzie apologize for what he says, and in most cases simply states that his opinions are his and that he means no harm by them. Yet, in this instance Ozzie quickly retracted his statements, said they were a mistake and soon echoed the party line by saying he felt that Castro was an oppressive dictator and the like. Despite Ozzie’s protests that he was misquoted and misunderstood, and that he publicly apologized to the Cuban community for what they thought he said, he was suspended from being manager for 5 games and his future employment is being called into question.

Ozzie Guillen is widely known as being a proud Venezuelan and an active advocate for all Latinos in the game of baseball. In many ways he has been a leading ambassador for the expansion of Latinos in the game of baseball (both as players and front office). Ozzie has been highly instrumental at making sure that teams provide the necessary services for players who come to this country to insure they successfully adjust to the culture and business. With this in mind it is easy to see how and why Ozzie may indeed have a genuine respect for Fidel Castro.

The leader of Venezuela is himself a popular and controversial figure. During his years of leadership Venezuela has made great economic and social growth. While our leaders are opposed to his “socialistic” tendencies, many of South Americans are proud of his leadership. It would not be odd for Ozzie to know or himself be a fan of Hugo Chavez. Chavez himself has referred to Fidel Castro as his mentor, friend and hero for the masses.

So, Ozzie was castigated and punished for expressing an opinion of his homeland’s leader and the pubic at large. While this does mean we cannot disagree with Ozzie, it does seem incongruous action for a nation which prides itself in free speech. Likewise while there are many Cuban’s in the US who are opposed to Castro and his policies, there are many Cuban’s who are proud of Cuba and its social political path over the last half century or so. Of course, I live in the US a nation which is intolerant of any political agenda which differs from its own. In that sense, I ask, which is the more oppressive nation.

Many of the leaders we are told are evil, oppressive and ruthless dictators are respected by individuals which I have a high regard for, or whose past actions appear noble. How can one rectify these incongruities especially when we are demanded to view these leaders as evil, and any questioning or praise is viewed as punishable or a sign of a lack of patriotism or an act of terrorism?

Are/were people such as Castro, Chavez, Gaddafi, Ahmadinejad, and Kim Jong-il the evil oppressive dictators that we are led to believe, or are they highly misrepresented because they are anti-capitalists or in opposition to our political and economic agendas. People who have dedicated their lives to human freedom and social progress such as Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, and Ela Bhatt often express views of some of these people which run counter to our government and mainstream media.

Just as Chavez views Castro as a mentor and a friend, Mandela likewise held high praise and admiration for Gaddafi who he deemed an instrumental leader in the economic and political growth and autonomy of the African continent. Is there anyway to rectify these highly disparate accounts? Is there anyway to assess the truth?

My first response to these questions is that there probably is no real truth, but one can look at facts and data to help in making a more informed and balanced decision. Also, it is important to realize that no one is totally good or evil, and therefore there is no simple answer. Yet, if we are to retain any vestige of our heritage of valuing free speech we must be tolerant of both the questions, the data we obtain and the resulting discussion.

The harshest most cynical critics of the US would say our government is only concerned about furthering its interests, political agendas and making money. It’s been said that when it comes to international affairs the US is only interested in freeing others, of their governments, leaders, natural resources, self-determination, cultural values and non-capitalistic ideologies and to replace these with subservience and unquestioning loyalty to the US governments economic and military agenda.

So, is the US real as bad as its critics say, or are the leaders of the opposition truly as evil as our government portrays them. Let’s look at some actions and data to help us get beyond the war of words.

One of the first things I learned about Cuba which seemed to contradict the main stream view of his being a harsh and oppressive dictator was in the percentage of highly educated doctors it has, and its leading role in humanitarian efforts around the globe. Both in practice and in theory it seems important for a dictator to keep the masses down by keeping them ignorant and isolated. Encouraging higher education seems to be the direct opposite of oppressive.

One of the first things I learned of Chavez and Gaddafi were that they were using their oil money to better the education and quality of life of the great majority of the populace. In both countries the middle class was increasing without the distribution of wealth being skewed to the top 5 percent. Shortly after Katrina I learned that Chavez had initiated a program providing free heating oil for families in need throughout the US. This program has continued and has provided free heating oil for some 500,000 Americans each year since.

I have read articles and heard politicians slam both Chavez and his free heating oil and Castro’s doctor dominated humanitarian assistance as “publicity stunts”. If they were publicity stunts the failed miserably as I seldom read any articles about these humanitarian programs and the one’s I did were very critical of both Chavez and Castro.

Oddly enough I did find one article on-line which mentioned that in 2009 due to economic conditions Chavez discontinued the program. Yet, the very politicians who publicly slammed Chavez for developing the program for “political grandstanding” and as a publicity stunt pleaded with Chavez to continue the program fearing that their voters who had become dependent on his oil and would retaliate and vote them out of office. Despite the economic hardship and with no press conferences outing the politician’s hypocrisy Chavez came through with the free oil.

Providing free medical care for emergencies around the globe and free oil for the impoverished has not been a hallmark of our economic and political systems. Though we teach our kids to share, our society steers us away from sharing as we get older. Sharing and charity are then portrayed as enabling at best, and harming the very dynamics of free enterprise at worst.

The detrimental role sharing plays in denying people from “making a living” is demonstrated in practices such as including the warnings to prosecute anyone who shares movie DVD’s even without monetary gain. Sharing, like expressing opinions counter to the mainstream, is becoming increasingly a punishable offense in the land of the free.

Okay, let’s take a look at some data which is designed to assess the quality of life and level of freedom in a given society. One such measure is known as the Human Development Index and rates the quality of life of nations based on a number of components including health care, education, cost of living, food, housing, etc. The US does well in this index coming in 15th in the list of 177 countries. The list of nations above the US are dominated by the northern European socialistic democracies that are corporate heads and politicians often bemoan as unrealistic economic frauds.

Yet, the list of best nations also includes Canada at 3, Japan at 8, and France at 11. It is interesting to note that two of the nations the US often heralds for their current economic boons China and India score poorly at 94 and 132 respectively. Despite being a small island with almost no natural resources and suffering through over a half century of economic sanctions by the most powerful empire of all time, Cuba ranks an astounding 48th on the list. Libya and Venezuela two of the other nations we express great concerns with regarding their oppressive regimes came in at 52 and 61. Iran despite its oil wealth and technological modernization ranked 84th somewhat validating the concerns our government has on its inhabitants quality of life and the oppressiveness of the society.

The information regarding educational opportunities, literacy and graduation rates was quite surprising. In Cuba one out of every 157 people is a medical doctor, in the US it is one out of every 358. When it comes to percentage of the populace with doctorates Cuba ranked 2nd, the US ranked 52nd, North Korea ranked 28th, Venezuela came in at 66, Libya 94, Italy was 8th, China came in at 77th, and India was a very disappointing 124th slightly behind Iraq.

You would think that evil repressive regimes and ruthless and backward nations would not allow its masses to become educated in fact one would think that a high literacy rate would be indicative of an open and free society. So lets take a look at the literacy rate of the 177 or so nations that are part of the UN. Cuba is an astounding 2nd in literacy rates. Russia is 15th and Greece is 60th. The US is an appalling 45th only slightly above Libya’s 54th which is by far the most literate African nation. China is 68th only slightly ahead of Venezuela which is 71st. Mexico is 85th and India is a deplorable 137th.

The research data seemed to suggest that Chavez, Castro and Gaddafi all had significant positive impacts on the quality of life and personal development of its populaces. The data on Iran and North Korea was inconclusive, but did not support the idea of their being particularly oppressive societies. In an effort to gain some additional clarity in terms of which nations are oppressive and not acting in the interests of their populace or whose actions inhibit or are opposed to its citizens functional freedom I looked at the data regarding imprisonment and executions.

When I was young I heard many stories of how oppressive totalitarian governments frequently engaged in violations of personal rights and sent many people to jail who resisted the iron rule over the people. The communist nations of the USSR and China always led the way in terms of using imprisonment as a way to keep the populace in line. Likewise, the stories continued that Castro’s Cuba was particularly harsh and intolerant to those opposed to Castro’s views. The truism always was nations opposing freedom put many in jail and engaged in frequent executions. So, what do the most recent stats regarding imprisonment and execution show.

The statistics regarding executions were the only one’s I used which were adjusted according to population (per capita). Therefore, China’s lead of 470 executions is mitigated some because of its size. While Iran’s 357 did seem to be more extreme due to its much smaller population. Saudia Arabia ranked 3rd behind Iran and China, and once again appeared egregious due to its small population. The US ranked 7th with 42 executions and due to its size seemed to fair better than Cuba with 5 and Libya with 9, yet neither nation’s stats seemed to indicate a brutal regime. Venezuela had no reported executions. This list of executions was for the year 2007 which was the most recent I found statistics for.

The imprisonment data seemed to be very damaging to the image of the US as the land of the free, and did much to destroy the reputation of many of the nations we’ve been talking to as brutal, intolerant and oppressive regimes. The US’s prison population is off the charts with 715 people imprisoned for every 100,000 citizens. The next in line is Russia with about 584 per 100,000. Iran is 33rd with 226 which means we imprison three times as many people as Iran. China is 71st with 119, which runs very counter to the image our government portrays. Israel ranks 46th with 174 which is almost identical to Libya. Venezuela imprisonment rate is pretty low as it only imprisons 107 per 100,000.

Cuba’s prison population is so small that it does not even imprison one person for every 100,000. How can a ruthless dictator oppress a nation without finding a need to imprison one person per every 100,000 citizens? Yes, I realize some have “escaped” Cuba and have left illegally and placed themselves in danger to escape a government and political system they hated.

I know a few people who have visited Cuba and found it to be oppressive and witnessed a significant amount of poverty. Yet, I also know a greater number of people, many Bahamian, who have visited Cuba numerous times and find the people generally content and are impressed with the society and government.

All in all I do not find any reason that Ozzie Guillen needed to apologize for admiring Castro. I know of many Latinos and other people of color who view Castro and Chavez as heroes in the fight for freedom for much of the America’s and Caribbean nations. I also find it troubling that our nation finds it necessary to intimate, punish and bully people from expressing any positive sentiments of these leaders or their nation’s policies.

This essay does not even begin to address the fact that the US is a world leader in such barbaric and oppressive actions such as torture, the use of banned substances, and in the killing of innocent citizens through bombing and harsh sanctions. I encourage you to do your own research to try to get beyond the propaganda and political rhetoric and find out the facts
I’m not saying that the US is bad and the others are good, but only that if we want to claim to be the land of freedom, we need to start to act like a nation committed to free speech and freedom. The more our government claims moral superiority and denounces other nations whose data in the areas of human rights and working on the improvement in its citizens standard of living compare favorably to our recent efforts, the more they lose credibility.

I have never met any of the leaders of any of these nations, so I cannot say with any confidence which people are well intentioned and good to what degree and to what degree they are ill intentioned or self-serving. I can only say that at this point in time I am losing trust in our government’s willingness and ability to be honest with us, and to act in our best interest. And each day I get more and more concerned that our government and social structure is becoming less tolerant of open dialogue and the expression of ideas that are not in lock step with the economic and political goals and agendas serving the privileged few.

Jim Guido

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