Posts Tagged ‘Freedom of Information Act’

The Pledge of Allegiance

July 15, 2016

Odd topic, I know, but  there is a trending question on Facebook:  should we still make kids learn the  pledge?

My gut says, “No!”  We learn all these syllables: I pledge allegiance (what’s allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic(what the heck is a ‘republic’) for which it stands (what an awkward phrase!), one nation under God, indivisible (there’s a good one!), with liberty and justice for all.

Now, of course I know what it all means now, but I was probably in high school before I dissected it.  The pledge was originated by a utopian
Christian socialist: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pledge_of_Allegiance

And refined and introduced to schools  in the  1940s.  On the one hand, it is good for kids to learn to memorize  something, but we have a problem  with teaching blind patriotism in the USA. What i think would be a better idea is putting the periodic table of elements to music and have kids memorize that.

We teach kids so much bs.  It’s stuck in my head that George Washington chopped down his father’s cherry tree (the Parson Weems  painting), and how Pocahontas saved John smith, what a bunch of hooey.  Yet, we  can’t manage to teach real history…like how white people took over  land  used by Native Americans, and slaughtered them.

We really have to look at what is taught in our schools.

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Book Review: Charlie Wilson’s War, by George Crile.

June 3, 2016

The movie (created by people I would call the ‘dream team’:   director Mike Nichols and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts), came out in 2007… about 9 years ago.  This is the Wikipedia link to the review:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Wilson%27s_War

I came across the book (which I didn’t know existed) while traveling.  Crile was an amazing writer.  This is an absurd, almost unbelievable story. It’s actually a story about how ‘democracy’ works.

Do you remember where you were in the late 1980s?  I was in undergraduate school, working part-time grooming dogs,  and modeling for artists.  I had had a roommate who had volunteered with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.  Related to that, I had an FBI file.  That’s another story, which I blogged about previously: https://disparateinterests.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/how-i-got-my-fbi-file/ .

The reason  my roommate volunteered to work for the Sandinistas was because of our ‘covert’ was in Nicaragua.  President Reagan wanted to  help the ‘contras’—a really ragtag group of’ anti-communists’ with no real strategy to govern the country, fight communism.  Unfortunately for them, in spite of  Reagan and the CIA pouring money into training and paying soldiers, they  really weren’t getting support of the Nicaraguans.   They did not exist at all, but were a contrivance.  Apparently, not only were there  several other political parties besides the  Sandinistas, the Nicaraguans did not fear communism or socialism the way we Americans had been led to.

This only matters because the war was not ‘covert’:  the news media knew of it, as did many Americans, who  pressured Congress to cut off funding.  We all knew Reagan was not a deep thinker, and he allowed key players  in the Republican Party to set policy.  What this has to do with the story of Charlie Wilson, and the war in Afghanistan (also covert—and a secret to us), is that, at one point,  Oliver North/the Reagan Administration asked the CIA and the Appropriations committee to hide money for the Contras in funds earmarked for the mujahedeen in Afghanistan.  :”Wait!” you  shout.  “The mujahedeen?  Aren’t they the people  waging  jihad against us now?  Haven’t they been since…?”  Yep, You got it.

The movie  was written  as a comedy.  Charlie Wilson was a playboy congressman from Texas, whose constituents didn’t ask much from him.  Having served in the navy, and grown up during the cold war, he was  strongly anti-communist.  On the advice of a vivacious socialite, Joanne Herring, who had met the  president of Pakistan ( Zia ul-Haq…who had his predecessor assassinate…), Charlie, who sat on the Appropriations Committee in  the House of Representatives,  got money  appropriated for arms for people in  Afghanistan fighting Russians/Soviets.  The Russians were in Afghanistan to prop up a  socialist government.  As we believed at the time—and it could have possibly been true—according to the domino theory:  if the USSR got a foothold in  south Asia, they could dominate the world.  The reality was—and is—that Afghanistan —as a country—is a contrivance.  It is a geographic parcel of land within a border.  It will probably never be a country with a viable economy.  It is a failed state without ever really being a state.

Who writes our history?  Is it what we get in primary school history books?  Is it journalists who write news  reports and turn them into books?  No matter. At the time the CIA was  buying and providing arms for the Afghan rebels, I was a student working part time.  What I DO remember is that very suddenly, the Soviet Union fell into chaos, and the Berlin wall came down.  I don’t think many Americans understood why this happened.  All we really knew of the Soviet Union was that it was a dictatorship with no press freedom, and only of consequence to us insofar as their influence on other countries.  Crile  gives us a better understanding  of what really happened.

We have to  understand what we  did in the rest of the world.  While the do-gooders took to the Afghanis, who were not united in any way, and have proven to not be unitable, what the do-gooders did—with out tax money, was ignore their human rights record, ignore how they treated  each other—let alone women, and gave them the power to  terrorize us after they finished with the Russians.  As I write this, in early 2016, we have Syrian refugees fleeing the middle East, and a bunch of right-wing politicians calling them all terrorists…meanwhile ignoring the fact that  they supported the cause of all this.

Worse, the front-runner, Hillary Clinton,  the former Secretary of State, continued to allow the Pakistanis to hold us hostage, along with President Obama, so we could kill off Osama bin Ladin and temporarily slow down jihad leaders.  We are not going to stop how foreign aid is doled out unless we  organize for a radical shift in leadership (which is another reason I support Bernie Sanders). The   countries receiving it hire lobbyists, and the  companies manufacturing weapons also have a huge stake in  continuing the status quo.

Those With a Vested Interest in the Status Quo are Asking us to Reject Sanders as Viable

April 15, 2016

Steve Chapman, a member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board,  wrote an Op/Ed piece in the Sunday Chicago Tribune telling us to reject Bernie Sanders because he hasn’t articulated his  plan for how he was  going to fund free college tuition or single payer health care, or break up the big banks.

Funny….nobody ever asked Reagan  how he was going  fix our economic mess (we got  trickle down economics).  Nobody  is actually asking any of the  other  political candidates that much, because  they all want to maintain the status quo.  All the  current candidates except Sanders want to  either maintain the status quo or take us back to the good ol’ 1950’s, when women and minorities had to ask permission from white men to do everything…and pollution was really pretty bad.

It appears that  the United States of America is still in debt to the Chinese, and  since we have a deficit, we can’t really add any new  programs—or—as they’d say, ‘entitlements’, and these  smug elitists even call Social Security—which we’ve  all paid into, entitlements.  However, the many double dippers  who work for the government—who collect a pension from  one job, but take another…that’s ok with them.

Now Bernie isn’t saying everyone who wants a college education will go to Harvard…but how is it that , say, Germany, provides free college education?  Or, that horrible socialist country, England, manages to provide free health care?

Could it be that those countries don’t give as much foreign military aid  to countries  as we do?  That they don’t incarcerate as many non-violent  criminals as we do?  What is going on?  Thankfully, due to the internet,it is easier for Americans to find out what our government budgets for …stuff.  It’s complicated, but anyone with a half way decent high school education should be able to  find out what we budget for foreign aid.    We don’t even get  goodwill for it.  I have alluded to George Crile’s book, “Charlie Wilson’s War”, in the past.  That book shows exactly how billions get spent by a few congressmen when nobody is paying attention.

Chapman uses Politifact to show that  we spend ‘only’  38% more than the Swiss do on health care.  Only 38% ?  That’s a huge  per centage.  Chapman also defends fracking for  making fossil fuels available cheaply…never mind what fracking is doing to  potable water supplies (or creating earthquakes).   I can’t believe  ANYONE would defend fracking unless they hold stock in a company which does it!  He also scoffs at raising the income tax rats for the uber-wealthy—when they were  actually very high during the Eisenhower years. True,what kept our  economy  ‘working’ was that women, blacks, and other minorities  would legally not need to be paid as much as white men, but let’s not quibble.   And lets not quibble that land rents—in proportion to income, were much lower.   As for regulating banks—we’re heading, again, towards credit default swaps as they are still not illegal—and who knows how many mutual funds contain them?

Here’s the thing—and this is important:  Sanders is speaking to concerns that many of us have.  And—even if he doesn’t win the nomination, he’s brought our concerns to the  table.  They  may be part of the Democratic Party platform. We all  know that  no matter what a president says, there’s still  Congress to contend with.  Thankfully—due to the internet and social media, we  are able to reach more like minded people. We won’t have Cruz doing away with the EPA, or making abortion illegal.  There are too many of us who  don’t want to go back.

Book Review: The Spirit Catches you and you Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman

August 21, 2014

 

I graduated high school in 1971, as  the ‘Viet Nam War’ was winding down.  It had been a good part of my life since my earliest memories of watching news on TV.  My uncle was in the navy then,  serving just off the coast.  Everyone knew someone either serving or who had been killed.  We were fighting communism, or so we were told.  We were fighting there so it didn’t spread to here.  What did we know of communism except the Soviet Communist bloc—which of course was very repressive…and China?

We didn’t really know  how much racial discrimination affected  non-white people in the USA.   At that time, we still believed everything our government told us.  Our government would never lie to us, because we had the best government in the world.

That mindset is relevant because we also believe that  our educational system is the best on the world, too (in spite of evidence that it is not).  We believed  things were black and white, and whether you went to a private or a public school, you were shaped to be a good American.  My country right or wrong.

Of course, developing my adult self, I became a more cynical and skeptical teenager. I heard Rennie Davis speak about the Viet Nam war, and was a follower of the Conspiracy 7 trial—held right here in Chicago.  In the underground press, we were getting reports of soldiers in Viet Nam not knowing who the enemy was, and finding the South Viet Namese arrogant  and prissy.

We knew nothing of covert operations in Cambodia and Laos until we exited the war, and it wasn’t really until the 1980’s that we found that we were  fighting all over southeast Asia.  After the war, Viet Nam and Southeast Asia faded from our collective interests.

There were rumors that turned out to be true:   that the CIA was  helping the south Viet Namese sell heroin to our own American soldiers.   Yes, we were and remained on the wrong side of history.

I was mentally ill for years, and plodded through my own life….marrying for the wrong reasons and later divorcing.  I took a break from grooming dogs  to coordinate a project to provide free English classes to immigrants and refugees.  It was then that I started learning about different ‘world views’.  I went to Africa, and everything changed for me because  traveling broadens you so much. I returned to college to study anthropology.    I learned more about myself and how to know  other people.  I became less sure of what the truth was , and, if possible, even more cynical.

My geographic concentration was always Africa, but but I realized I knew nothing about India or Southeast Asia. This book was suggested by a tour guide when  I visited Viet Nam (as a tourist) in early 2014.

Heart breaking.  That is my gut reaction.  This story involves a little girl, her family and  community, and medical anthropology, and  our our history manipulating a society not really for freedom, but for capitalists markets. Embarrassing.

Fadiman does an outstanding job of not just narrating what happened to Lia Lee, but the context.  Misunderstanding after misunderstanding, but also horribly cruel exploitation of a whole society, in the name of fighting communism..

We are all so sure of what we know, what is true.  What is real.    We resent immigrants who don’t learn English, or who refuse to mix. They don’t learn to be Americans.  You read what this family has to say about how their lives got turned upside down, and how they had to adjust, and you just have to cringe.  Could YOU handle all this if it happened to YOU?  I don’t think I could.

This book should be required reading for every high school student born and raised in America, and every ‘medical pr9ofessional’, and anyone who  may need care for a chronic illness.   It’s a well written and edited history.

Show kids the math for life security.

November 1, 2013

I  read an article about Black Millionaires. It addressed the fact that most were entrepreneurial from a very early age and could  do the math.  That is, they could  do calculations quickly in their heads, and figure out if they were making money selling newspapers, shining shoes, walking dogs, mowing yards.  They taught themselves to be good calculators, and how to understand risk.

These people were ‘outliers’ as they  didn’t come from families  who were entrepreneurial….  but there is another  issue.  They had the math skills to do the calculations, and for some reason,  kids today aren’t getting those skills.

There is no reason that a nine-year old  doesn’t know multiplication tables by rote…except that the adults who influence him won’t spend the time insisting he sit down and  study them.  If you can’t do basic multiplication in your head, you are screwed. The first thing any kid should learn how to do is determine how many  diapers an infant goes through in a week, and  how much disposable diapers cost.  No joke.

I have friends who are elementary  school teachers who shrug at the fact that the kids they ‘teach’ can’t make change  for a dollar, and can’t read an analog clock.

We are in a crisis here.  Many of these kids may get into college, but they will drop  out, or graduate not knowing how to do anything.  This is why so many  people carry more debt than they can  pay off.

I started thinking about this, because I am thinking of retiring, and several  people who are financial professionals have told me I have made uncommonly  smart decisions with very little money.  Nice compliment, but  now the issue is that I can retire, but what about the many people around me who think that  they can live on Social Security?  How ‘secure’ will I be if all my neighbors are beggars—or criminals?  Why would this be so?  They will be desperate.

I see so many people  seeing homelessness as a top issue.  Certainly, capitalism and the idea of land speculation  really doesn’t work for  about 90% of the population—but that is not going to change.  so—why would  anyone just keep having children they can’t afford to house, feed, and educate?

If you have traveled in the ‘developing’ world, you know what i am talking about. They are camping at the gates of the rich, who have their own private security .

So, say your  local primary schools aren’t doing the job, and you are innumerate  and don’t have any math skills,  You live from hand to mouth, and want a better existence for your kids. What to do?  Google Khan Academy. Start there.  Good luck!

Say NO to bombing Syria

September 6, 2013

This is going to be quick.  I’ve had a really busy week.  My co-worker broker her wrist & can’t groom dogs….so I am   doing more than double what I usually do…& got a new tenant (and arranged to have trees trimmed so they don’t fall on the house,  donated a bunch of  linens & blankets to a ‘free store’ for the very poor,  arranging to help a local animal shelter…. etc, etc…& am lax on training my own dog…)..

I am shocked that John Kerry, a Viet Nam vet,  thinks bombing Syria is  a logical response to  Assad gassing his people.  I am shocked that President Obama  also thinks this is  logical—-when the rest of the world clearly thinks it’s NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS—OR— KNOWS RUSSIA & CHINA WILL RESPOND THEIR OWN WAY.  They  haven’t thought this through.

Possibly, bombing the airports and  seaports might affect something, but  strategic bombing strikes on civilians…what?  What is the expected outcome if we aren’t moving towards regime change?    &  how do ‘we’ (meaning the USA) know the rebels will treat the citizenry of
Syria any better than Assad?    How do we know that after our air strikes,  Assad won’t resume gas attacks?  Iraq has said they will attack Israel if we attack Syria.  Then what?

& while we’re at it—yes, the gas attacks are  horrible…but why is it ok for North Korea to starve it’s citizenry to death? Why do we still have the embargo against Cuba, which provides  medical care for all  its citizens, but get along fine with  England, another socialist country?

I am really   overjoyed that people are  contacting their  congress people in record numbers to ask questions…and we can  now see that Obama is not as progressive as his base  hoped him to be.

Bernie Sanders  of Vermont  has a current  running response on  http://www.youtube.com that I hope you will check out.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9xEuFcx0cY   I hope I can rant  on something else next week.

Those Middle Class Values

May 9, 2013

Middle class values: the idea that you are sure anyone decent believes the same way you do, and that OUR LEADERS  have the perfect fix to solve a problem.  The idea that all people are honest, practice the golden rule, and  don’t act irresponsibly.  That people  obey the law because it IS the law.

Registering gun owners.…to solve  shootings of innocent people.  The fact of the matter is…people who enjoy guns have justified in their minds that it is ok to kill something.  Many might never actually kill anything. They might just do target practice,  but  no matter.  Registering  people will not solve the problem. Why?  Several reasons.  Many people  who kill are already registered gun owners.  The ones who are not don’t plan to register.  Registering won’t stop them. The government is broke, and they are not going to  peruse the  sales records of  legal gun sellers, &  there are many more illegal street sales of guns, and that’s the bigger problem.  Mental health issues? Who is going to test people to make sure they are sane/sober/calm/INTELLIGENT/have self control….before they are allowed to buy a gun?  Psychologists?   You are going to trust the foxes running the henhouse who are justifying their jobs, many manipulative psychopaths themselves, to judge who is sane and who is not?  & what does that solve if the  insane can buy a gun on the street?

A  better  idea:  registering ammunition buyers only.  Taxing it extremely heavily.   Even that won’t solve the problem! But….. if ammunition is much more expensive,  and not legal to buy if you are under 30…and there  is a limit to how much you can buy, and only if the sales are very tightly regulated (like morphine), will there  be  even a dent in the problem.  Not possible? I think it depends on  your  location  and overlay of  government transparency.

Keeping drugs illegal.  We now incarcerate more people than any other country in the world.  It is an acknowledged fact that  many  people who are imprisoned  either have mental health issues and/or are functionally illiterate. They can’t make their way in middle class society.  Many of those people choose  mind altering drugs to cope with life.  There, ‘for the grace of God’,  go all of us. Yes…any one of us who has  ingested coffee, tea, chocolate, cough medicine,  beer, wine…all mind altering substances. We’ve created a class to make the ones we artificially describe as more dangerous…. illegal.

Nobody thinks being high all the time is a good idea, but jail clearly does not solve the problem.  It makes work for  law enforcement,  lawyers, and prison guards, and makes  work for  the foxes running the henhouse:  the psychologist who are drug counselors.

A better idea:  legalize drugs and  the infrastructure  to sell and regulate the  industry.  Put the cash we now put into  arresting these people trying  these people in court for a medical problem,  into counseling and education, as well as job creation.  People who work on farms  become so exhausted from the physical labor, they  just sleep at night.  Doncha think most of the families of these people would  support getting them  into a work environment?  In fact,  paying the addled to  enter programs overseas, where  there might be a language barrier might be very effective!  Plus, there are private drug treatment programs that operate this way now…in the USA…

Mandatory Spay/Neuter of pet animals.  Sounds great, but  most RESPONSIBLE PET OWNERS already know the benefits of spaying or neutering their pets.  However,  the middle class has declined and the ‘working’ class is desperate for cash to support…guns and drug habits….or maybe their kids.  They don’t do any research…or rather…the ‘research’ they do amounts to seeing pets for sale on Craigslist & seeing what people are charging for the  puppies and kittens.  Doesn’t mean they get sold, but no matter.  When people can’t sell them, they give them away or dump them…even abandon them.  Heart breaking how many people move and  abandon a pet without food or water, to starve to death.  It’s illegal, but, again…the government is broke:  we can’t get  police to bring cases to states attorneys to prosecute.

For people involved in pet rescue who think mandatory spay/neuter will make a difference… this hope is based on no evidence. Only ethical hobby breeders, who breed  maybe 1 or 2 litters a year and always have a waiting list for puppies will be affected.  They are now, and there is a shortage or purebred pups available from hobby breeders. But the large breeding operations—the puppy mills…their scale is large enough!  They can pay for licensing.   But  there is statistical evidence that  most of the  pets in shelters are from neither of these sources:  they are from the ‘backyard’ breeder—the family breeding a single (or 3 or 4) pets who are under the radar.  They give their own shots (or not), don’t check for parasites, sell  on Craigslist  and other free websites, and they do no screening.  they never see a veterinarian, so you can’t rely on  veterinaqr8ians to turn them in to the government.

Were we to deputize volunteers as inspectors for licensed animal shelters  to respond to the posts, visit them,  talk to the breeders (that’s what they are) about the odds of  over half their pups winding up euthanized, and  keeping the contact information on them  and  the  facility (house? Garage?  outbuilding?)  as to cleanliness, or how often they post pets for sale, and  monitor them, we’d make a huge dent in the problem.  Penalties  could be levied and our state departments of agriculture   could either confiscate the litters, or  fine the breeders.    The breeders then know the  community is watching and might give pause to  breeding another litter for money…or at least pay the state for the privilege of not being responsible for the pets they produce, and enabling the Department of Agriculture  pay for itself.

Freakenomics  subtitled “a Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, (William Morrow/Harper Collins 2005) addresses , in six essays how  we Americans generally trust wrong research, and end up not solving social problems.

I’d love  to hear opinions on these ideas, and please forward the link yo your friends.

Fixing the Deficit …& Sequesture

May 2, 2013

In the  Sunday Chicago Tribune    on page 28 of the first section, there  was a ‘story’ with the headline, “Feds Shell out $890,.000 in Fees for Empty Accounts at Banks.”  Seems that when the  government issues grants to researchers, they don’t just issue a  a check:  they set up an account, so the government agency giving the grant can monitor how the money is withdrawn and spent…and then they apparently forget about the accounts after the grant period is over…and the banks charge exorbitant fees  to keep the account active.  You would think this would be illegal—but it isn’t.  Our tax dollars at work.

I know, it has to do with computers.  I had a Charles Shwab account that I closed at about the time they issues a  $.07 interest payment.  They have spent more money  sending me statements, but they  have too many people involved  in doing this, so they can’t just delete the account.  At least I recycle the paper.

Now, if you are like me, you probably wonder  what the government is doing issuing grants to citizens. That’s right. Sure,  virtually all are working for nonprofit institutions that have endowments.  The short answer is they are very good lobbyists, and nobody is paying attention to line items in the budgets.  This is why we can’t close the deficit.

The Head Start program was acknowledged to be very effective in getting low income kids ready for school. That got cut, but a bunch of  congressmen  had to wait a few hours for flights, and they managed to put money back into the budget for air traffic controllers—which should have never gotten cut in the first place.  Meanwhile, how effective are all those screeners  at the airports?  The military said it could do without some hardware, but specific congressmen  whined about  jobs being cut in their districts, so they got money back.   for stuff nobody needs! Obama cut  White House  tours for  tourists …and here’s the money— close to $1,000,000…keeping empty accounts open!

In fairness…this has been going on for decades, and you’d think, with all the  people they have on their payrolls,  Just 1 congress man would have a staffer fine combing the budget & saying, “Get rid of this. ”  (my favorite 2 would be the CIA and USAID). The CIA did a great job stopping the Boston bombers after Russia told them to keep an eye on them.

Our congressmen are  not celebrities, they ar elected officials. We pay their salaries. They get excellent benefits (as do their  staffers), including health insurance you can only dream about.

You might want to  copy this blog and email  it to your congressman & senators.  You can easily find out who they are.  Just google “state senators (your state) and  for your  local representative, you can call your local library  or village hall.  Then bookmark their websites.  Granted… at this point, yu can only vote against them…but i am looking forward to the day when we can post  yelp! reviews of their voting records!

How we got a dog park: community organizing for animals: Pawtowattomie Park

December 13, 2012

Due to a fluke of good timing,  infrastructure money availability, and a core of really  smart, committed people in my neighborhood of Rogers park  on the north side of Chicago, we got a dog park.  Let me explain how this  happened….

Our alderman, Joe Moore, in a fit of  generosity (to make up for  Tax Increment Financing fiascos?  not sure), decided to allow us to vote on  how to spend $1,000,000 of infrastructure money.

This money could not be spent on salaries for teachers, or supplies. It had to be spend on infrastructure.

Now, my community’s infrastructure is old.  Our streets constantly need resurfacing, but our community is composed of very interesting people, and among the proposals put forward were community gardens, street art…& the dog park.

We has several months to get this together, so we  first put up a facebook page. and  pooled some money to  print ‘palm cards’  These are  1/4 or an 8.5 x 11 in  sheet of paper (fits in the palm of your hand), and we spread out through out our ward (geographic area of about  2 x 2 miles) & handed cards to anyone we saw walking a dog. We also got  a local architect to do a graphic mock-up of our plan to present to voters. The most important thing we did was to find a host park that had the space and wanted us.  Not every ‘Host Park Manager’ wants dogs in the park. Why?  Dog poo, plain & simple. Dog owners tend to be libertarians.;They think their dog’s poop is organic & not offensive.

We all really wanted a dog park on the lake, but the Mayor at the time, Richie Daley, was not a dog lover, and the mayor appoints the park board. so, we had to compromise. The park district had some land at the north end of the ward, that was underutilized.  Or, rather,  miscreants were hangling out drinking &and doing drugs.  We got the approval of the Host Park Manager, and we got more votes than any other project (including street resurfacing).

Then we had to deal with the Chicago Park District.  With a few minor alterations, they approved our plan, but they told us they needed about $15,000 mo0re. So, we raised it. We had another commun8ity group act as our fiscal agent.   We are now having trouble getting an accounting, as it seems we should have about #$5-8,000 left, but we have to file a Freedom of Information Act request to get an accounting.  No joke. this is Chicago.

While some people are disappointed that we didn’t get a lakefront park, and others want a dog park at the south end of the ward, they refuse to ask us how we did this.  Better to reinvent the wheel.

The irony is,  most of the board members don’t use the dog park. Either our dogs are too aggressive towards o0ther dogs, or too shy!  It remains difficult to get active board members, but this is how democracy works:  y9u have to be involved!

I am an anarchist. Let’s start with that.

August 31, 2012

Those  who know me would say, “Of course!”  Let’s get serious.  What does being an anarchist mean?  Are we the same as libertarians?  We share so many of the same values, it’s really hard to tell, but  the difference  is how we get to the end result of the government falling away. Karl Marx developed the theory that labor would organize itself, and labor unions would run the government.  That’s it in a nutshell.  As we Jews say, the rest is commentary.  This was at a time when labor was not really organized, and the thought was that labor would organize as industrial unions, not business unions, like what we actually have.

Anarchists  don’t believe in no government. They believe in small government—like the libertarians do.  We aren’t generally violent people, although the  writers of American history would have us believe Sacco & Vanzetti were  bomb throwers (it couldn’t possibly have been the police starting a riot…)

I came to anarchism through industrial unionism… syndicalism…and the Industrial Workers of the World. For those who don’t know anything about the Wobblies, you might get Patrick Renshaw’s book, or rent Warren Beatty’s movie, Reds (which is part documentary & interviews with old Wobs, as we were called).

We believe workers should run the economy…the government, and that the boss is useless.  I would general digress now about how difficult it is for dog groomers to work for non-dog groomers who are business owners, and who want to exploit our labor, but this is not why I am blogging about anarchism.

The problem is…that our needs in modern, urban, society are complicated and require full time oversight.  This would leave little time for economic activity to support our community’s needs:  planning, developing, and caring for infrastructure, energy resources, schools and education, health care, security, and information  communication  and distribution.

So—we have an overlay of bureaucracy to take care of  stuff’. They have to get paid, so we tax ourselves.

But then..the dynamic changes, and the politicians we elect seem to think that they really provide an added value, as do the employees they oversee that are working for us. They get much better benefits than the rest of us, including their pension plans…and the result is, of course, that so many government entities are now declaring bankruptcy.

I am an old lady now. The billions we could have spent on  teaching teachers to teach science, to provide health car  cradle to grave, to develop and renewable energy resources… we spend on the wars in Viet Nam, Nicaragua, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Bosnia, Somalia (but not Rwanda)…so people could be free?  We allowed the people we elected to underfund out schools,  pander to teachers’ unions (how ironic is this?)deny us health care as a human right (unless we live to be very old), bail out banks & AIG—the insurance company too big to fail—in place of environmental and economic security…what is this about?

We parrot that the USA is the greatest country in the world, and  we are, essentially, as bad as the Russians: buffoons to the rest of the world.

I am not sure what the solution is, but  now that we have the internet, I would think it would be easier for people to get more information and be a little skeptical about what we all think is the conventional wisdom.