Sunday, November 22, 2009
It's getting colder...
Thank you, ras, for sending us a guest post! Always good to hear your thoughts.
This post was going to go in an entirely different direction. I was going to do an in-depth report on the current state of food production, the (sorry) harvest, and projections for the coming year. I may still do that later. However, I got distracted by my recent experiences and decided to do this instead.
I have been working as a substitute teacher. It’s an interesting job, but amounts to little more than glorified babysitting, as I’m not allowed to actually teach anything. I have now subbed in the poor kids schools, where hall lights don’t work and paint is literally flaking off the ceiling, and in the rich kids schools, where a million dollars was spent on the stage alone. I worked at one assignment that was supposed to be high school English. The regular teacher lied so she would have an easier time getting a sub. It turned out she was an in-school detention teacher for the worst high school in the city. The classroom was me, an aide, and a 6’6” 250 lb black dude whose only job was to keep the kids from hurting each other or me. These were 9th graders -15 years old –and they were, for the most part, extremely dangerous. I’ve never had a worse work day in my life.
But it is not just those kids. Everywhere I have gone I have been struck by the sad condition of our youth. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good kids everywhere, but most of our kids suffer from one or both of two conditions: either their parents aren’t around at all and so they pretty much raise themselves, or their parents are around (some) but not enough and so they overindulge the children to make up for not being around enough. The end result is that the vast majority of our children have no manners, no discipline, and no real future.
Let’s step into the life of an average American child for one day and see what it’s like. We’re going to assume that the child is school-age (though the only difference in a lot of cases is that the child goes to daycare all day instead of school). We are also going to assume that the child has two parents, both of whom work full time at 9-5 jobs, make decent money, and really love and care for their kids. In other words, this kid has advantages many kids in this country don’t.
Our child gets up by 6:30 in the morning, because he has to catch the bus at 7. If he’s lucky, he gets a bowl of sweetened cereal at home. If not, he gets to wait until he gets to school and then gets a ‘breakfast stick’ or something similar. He is trapped in school all day, in a prison-in-waiting with 20 to 40 other kids and one teacher. Recess? What’s that? We’ve no time for recess! We have tests to teach to! Lunch is pizza, corn dogs, or hamburgers, generally speaking. All surplus from the USDA.
School lets out at 3, but mom and dad work until at least 5, so our child goes to ‘extended day care’ which is a fancy way of saying daycare. His parents get off at 5 and have to have him picked up by 6, which is when most daycares close. They have to drive there in rush-hour traffic, so it’s a quarter til or later when they pull in. The busy places in town are daycares at 5 minutes before 6 pm every night.
Now what? Well, now its time for dinner. First you have to drive home through rush-hour traffic. Mom and dad are tired; they’ve worked all day. If they’ve really got it together, one might have went home ahead to start dinner or they might have it in the crockpot. But not likely. They’ve got to feed the kids and feed them fast because by now its 6:30, so often it will be a drive-through or something from a box.
Now it’s homework time. The average child has between one and three hours worth of homework every night. This is not an exaggeration; I’ve helped first grader’s do this much homework. Some of it will have been done at daycare, but not all, so mom and dad spend an hour or more helping him with it.
Finally, everything’s done and its time for quality time with the kids, right? No, because its now 8:00 and our imaginary child has to get a bath and get in bed to be up at 6:30 again. This will repeat 5 days a week. Some nights he might have scouts or baseball after daycare. Weekends will be taken up with sports practice, more homework, and staying out of mom and dad’s way so they can take care of all the things they couldn’t do while they were working all week.
Do you see the problems with this? This child has no free time, no time to play or draw or explore. He doesn’t get to really hang out with his parents. His diet is crap. And yet –this is the condition of millions of children in this country. This child has so many advantages: his parents are home at night, they love him, they help him with his homework instead of vegging out in front of the tv, and on and on. And yet look at the state he’s in.
Consider this: 16% of kids are obese and another 15% are at risk of being obese. That number has tripled in the past few decades. Cases of asthma, diabetes, allergies, and autism have skyrocketed. The rate of childhood depression is increasing by 23% a year, and is it any wonder? So many of our kids are now on medication for these kinds of conditions it’s impossible to do an adequate survey.
It doesn’t get any better for the young adults. Over half of young people aged 16-24 are unemployed. The army recently said a third of them are not ‘fit to serve’. In a lot ways that’s a good thing –if you can’t serve, you can’t get blown up in Afghanistan –but in others its not. The army has historically recruited people who are in generally good health and not the brightest. What does it say about us as a society when a third of our young people are too fat to do a sit up and to stupid to know you need to throw a grenade after you pull the pin?
What kind of future do these kids have? Most of them don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving what is to come. If you’ve never turned off the game console, how are you supposed to figure out how to grow your own food?
I don’t know what to do about this. I don’t have any answers. But I fear for the future of our country.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I know that things are bad. From Smirking Chimp, Brent Budowsky writes,
“Washington remains in denial about the skyrocketing misery index that plagues more than half the nation. Leaders in the capital do not get it.
The president and Congress should continue work to produce healthcare reform, but must understand that to most Americans, ignoring the economic crisis that threatens their daily lives while focusing obsessively on a healthcare bill that voters do not understand creates worry, outrage and political revolt.
Even after shocking jobless numbers, voters do not see any fierce "urgency of now" from Washington. To voters, Republicans are on Mars, Democrats on Venus, while they are suffering on Earth.
The president and congressional leaders should convene an emergency jobs summit to develop a major bipartisan plan to create jobs in America and call on business leaders to join with government.
In an upcoming column I will offer new proposals. For now my message is that Washington is dramatically out of touch with the economic pain, suffering, worry, fear, anger and concern of the people.
Consider the misery index that plagues more than half the nation in very dire and immediate ways:
1. The misery index begins with the real jobless rate of 17.5 percent. This includes the official unemployment rate of 10.2 percent plus those who are so depressed they have given up looking for work, plus those who cannot find full-time work and are forced to accept low-paying part-time jobs.
2. The misery index expands to the husbands, wives, sons and daughters of the 17.5 percent jobless in America and, for a growing number of families, the parents and grandparents who now live with them. Do the math. The "family misery index" is a giant swath of America suffering extreme, devastating and immediate hardship.
3. The misery index includes those who are employed and deeply worried about the future of their jobs. Today they are employed. Tomorrow they may not be, with the next major layoff announcement. They are deeply worried, and should be. Add them to the high end of the misery index.
4. The misery index includes wages that have been declining for almost 20 years, while the cost of living has been rising relentlessly. People work hard and play by the rules but year after year, for two decades, they fall further behind.
5. The misery index includes those holding most of the 700 million credit cards in America, who have had major increases in interest rates and fees, huge jumps in their minimum payments and major cuts in credit lines at their time of greatest need, even though they have always paid their bills.
6. The misery index includes those who are employed but are desperately making mortgage payments to avoid foreclosure. They could be forced from their homes to the streets; they frantically pay their bills and their mortgages, cutting back on food and medicine, even for their kids.
7. The misery index includes rising costs of healthcare and rising premiums for insurance that are punishing Americans. There is nothing in the healthcare bill that does anything for them anytime soon.”
And, then there is the H1N1 pandemic as well as the concerns regarding the vaccines for the flu, which may be worse than the disease. Now, it appears that a super flu or plague that leads to a hideous death by drowning in your own blood has hit the Ukraine. The lamestream is suppressing information about it, but there are several articles on rense.com and Steve Quail’s site, among others. Is it a disease or a bio-weapon? I don’t know, but it sure looks dangerous.
Peak Oil is suddenly hitting the news. A whistle blower from IEA admits that they have been suppressing statistics for years about the dwindling oil supplies in order not to create a panic. The movie, “Collapse” is opening in selected theaters today. It features an 80 minute interview with Mike Ruppert on the oil and financial crisis that will end the world as we know it. What is amazing is that the mainstream is calling it riveting and thoughtful, rather than denouncing it. Jeez, if the powers that be are suddenly going to admit that the world actually has a problem with oil production, I hardly know how to act …”duck and cover” comes to mind.
The government is handing over 11.5 trillion dollars of borrowed money to the mega-rich financiers, insurance pimps, and Big Pharma drug dealers at the expense of the rest of us. It is the most breathtaking siphoning off of wealth into the pockets of the richest 1% yet, and it’s being done by the Democrats! Of course, if it were planned by the Republicans, it would be even worse, if that is possible.
Returning veterans and people thrown out of work and into the streets are going nuts and killing people. Suicides in the military are at the highest levels since the statistics began. The mayhem may escalate as the conditions worsen.
We are truly on our own here. Maybe, at least today, that’s why I am actually feeling better. Lately, I have been feeling a sort of “preparation fatigue.” We have been preparing for this collapse for so long that I’ve about had it. I don’t want to talk about it, don’t want to think about it, don’t want to write about it. Stick a fork in me – I’m done with preparing. Systemic failure is not coming, it has arrived.
Now it’s about dealing with declining resources, the dysfunction of our institutions, and the collapse of the economy. Happily, today, I got a sort of “shot in the arm” (the good kind) by going to see the new movie, “Men Who Stare at Goats.” I’m not going to ruin the movie for you by telling the whole story. But, suffice it to say, that it portrayed the power of the hope and vision of the movement that inspired the hippies and changed many of us forever. It also presented the weaknesses and flaws that in retrospect were pretty funny.
I feel energized, liberated. Free from the illusion that the government will be any help, we can take it from here. And, we can re-discover and cultivate a sense of enthusiasm, joy, brother and sisterhood, love, fun, and creativity in the process. Why not:? We aren’t bureaucrats. We aren’t machines. We aren’t consumers. We are not that stupid herd that the overlords have tried to turn us into. We are human beings, with all the untapped powers and potential that real people have.
I want to catch the wave of energy that almost was forgotten. I want to be a Jedi. I want to use The Force to quell the Evil Empire. I want to sing and dance and give stuff away to my neighbors, learn how to feed and take care of each other. I don’t know how much time we have left. But, let’s bring the best of ourselves to it. Once again I tell you, we were born for this! The beautiful picture at the top is one that Montana Freeman took close to his home. I think it truly represents both the deterioration and the hope that is here for us.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Grievance or Gratitude
Monday, and I feel compelled to get a quick post up because we have well over sixty comments going on the previous post. All excellent, by the way. A much brainier post is in the works by Belgium. I stole the phrase “grievance or gratitude” from James Howard Kunstler’s latest Clusterfuck Nation essay this morning. He is referring to the upcoming Thanksgiving season, which seems to be buried in the malls by Halloween hoopla and the Christmas marketing blitz. He doesn’t think that folks are feeling particularly grateful this season, since unemployment is still on the upswing, many unemployment checks are expiring, the federal government is on the verge of bankruptcy, commercial real estate is about to go bust, and so forth. In fact, he intuits that when people get wind of the outlandish bonuses that will be paid on Wall St. around Christmas, a fair-sized segment of the population just might go postal. He even envisions a possible coup or some sort of disintegration of the federal government itself! That seems a tad over the top, even to me.
The consensus of opinion, at least from our little slice of consciousness at the Campfire, seems to be that President Obama is impotent to protect us from the banking and corporate globalists at best, and, at worst, a willing shill for the Reptilian puppet masters. I think of the sociopathic Big Boys pulling the strings as reptilian, due to their seeming inhumanity. They seem to be incredibly unconnected to the vast majority of regular people as to be another species dressed up in a suit. Cold-blooded, ruthless, greed-driven, malicious, and monstrous, they have proven capable of entrapping their victims whole, wrapping them up in a web of deceit, and eating them alive, like spiders. Okay, I know that spiders are arachnids, not reptiles, but they are not human, that’s for sure. The latest report this weekend on Huffington Post, and quoted by Kunstler (or was it George Ure?), that Goldman Sachs was going around the country buying up real estate mortgages that they knew full well were toxic, then bundling them up and selling them to foreign banks and pension funds. Meanwhile, they took out insurance against these derivatives so than when they failed, they would cash in. When the most prestigious financial institution is doing shit like this, with all the domestic and international ramifications, there seems to be no limit to how far they will sink. And, their perception of the people involved at the other end of these transactions are as dispassionate as the grey aliens are reported to be when observing a hapless abductee undergoing an anal probe. The banksters, the stockbrokers, and their minions in the legislatures are the aliens, and we are the herd suffering the mutilation. Sucked dry of our life’s blood and lying bloated in tent cities and underpasses, wild-eyed and crazed, or simply dazed and confused, the misery of the masses is about to get worse.
Why not? The Federal Reserve has already devalued the purchasing power of the dollar by 97 cents since 1913 and gotten away with it. The wealthiest five percent now own ninety percent of the wealth of the land, since Reagan and his chuckle headed “trickle down” theory of economics became the law of the land. The false flag event of 9/11 threw enough people into a panic that the constitution has been dismantled, and now virtually anyone can be labeled an “enemy combatant” and renditioned, tortured, and incarcerated forever without trial. The NSA just opened up a new center to help with the surveillance of our e-mails and electronic transactions – and they plan to invite corporate entities to man the facility as well. We can probably look forward to having quotas set on items to buy. I can hear the call now…”Hello, Ms. Freeacre, this is Hal, from Business Watch. We notice that you have not purchased the minimum telecommunication services and food products to keep your credit in good standing. Is there anything wrong? How may we help you?”
Oh, crap, there I go again… getting all paranoid and shit. But then, there was this Mossad agent surrounded by a zillion cops with advanced weaponry who was arrested and apparently sent back to Israel to suffer consequences after he divulged that the swine flu virus has been weaponized. It may be what is causing this hideous bleeding lungs epidemic in the Ukraine. Suddenly the web bot predictions on immanent disaster don’t seem so far from the mark. If you aren’t certain of what I am referring to, just go to today’s (11/2) Urban Survival site (linked at right) and read the column and follow the links. Or Cryptogon. Just reading this stuff is enough to give one a nose bleed. If Baxter Corp. (Donald Rumsfeld just happens to sit on their board of directors) has, indeed, released the Spanish Flu into the world again, we are looking at millions of deaths. And, if the vaccine is contaminated with adjuvants of squalene and mercury, we can anticipate additional long term suffering beyond measure. Oh, yeah, and that guy from U.N. who was found dead at the bottom of a stairwell who was working on seismic monitoring of possible nuclear testing sites also used to work in biological warfare… well, I’m just connecting some dots here. Don’t mind me. His was the second “suicide” from that lethal stairwell at the U.N., by the way. In addition to the scores of dead micro-biologists world-wide. Nothing here, citizen, just move along and buy something at your local mall.
Well, with all this, the “Death of the Dollar” and the possible attack on Iran by Israel doesn’t seem so far-fetched after all, does it? Oh, wait… we have comforting “news” by Katie Couric, et al, on the lamestream media that assures us that things are looking up for the “recovery.” Just who’s recovery is not real certain, but it looks like it doesn’t extend beyond the reptilian sector. Merciful Mother in Heaven…
The gratitude part of my headline refers, I guess, to our local and cyber communities who continue to carry on and attempt to inform, support and defend each other against these seemingly endless assaults on our collective well-being. On a personal note, I can report success after my first week on the Ultra-Simple detox and anti-inflammation program that I started. I lost twelve pounds in a week, which is pretty remarkable. Twelve less pounds to haul around in case I find myself playing commando. So, that’s a “good thing,” as Martha Stewart would say…lol.