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Where have all the (Protest) Songs Gone ?

6:06 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

This diary is inspired by a comment made my Wendy Davis on MSPB Watch’s latest diary.   Quote:

Of special interest to me was that during times like these, art, music and literature can create the symbols more readily than orators can. He references the Punk movement musicians who never forgot about the yoke of oppression we’re increasingly living under. (He does mention Tom Morello, whom I don’t care a whit for, but I didn’t listen to Rage Against the Machine.) I’m more of a Patti Smith/Muse-Uprising soul. ;~)

Absolutely. In fact music and art have been at the forefront of progressive change from the beginning. Music and art were the primary way news and information was passed from town to town and village to village. Songs telling stories of events and art showing them from the times of cave paintings.  Monarchs and dictators and tyrannical regimes all knew this which is why artists and musicians who used their talents where the first and most repressed and even killed.

The songs of the 1920s and 1930s by such people as Woody Guthrie and Florence Patton Reece and Alfred Hayes. Of the 1950s and 1960s by Malvina Reynolds and Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan (before he had his motor cycle accident became a brain damaged capitalistic clown) and PP&M and Country Joe McDonald (everyone and I mean everyone knew the words to Feel Like I’m Fixin To Dye Rag), Arlo Guthrie Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs, Eric Anderson and Buffy Sainte Marie. People who wrote and sang songs that anyone who could play a guitar could play and anyone could sing.

Protest and social commentary songs with easy chord changes and lyrics you could understand and relate to. Music that could stir you inside without making you deaf as a post in the process.

Sam Smith had this to say about music and movements.

What is missing is not organization but the multitudinous confluences that create a culture – yes, organization, but also music, spirit, values, gatherings, habits. . .

    To be sure we have grisly imitations all around us: coffee shop culture replaced by Starbucks, “hip” apparel determined by multinational corporations; a presidential candidate promising “hope” and “change” but providing neither, teens learning to scream at music rather than listen to it in preparation for lifetime service as loyal consumers. Whether it’s Facebook, Abercrombie & Fitch or Barack Obama our task is to buy it and shut up.

    When, if ever, we think of counterculture, pot, love beads, and Joan Baez may come to mind. Or bongo drums and berets. Or freedom schools and singing We Shall Overcome.

    While they are just examples from particular times, they are instructive because they reveal something our intellect easily forgets: change is an act of art and music and theater as much as of organization; of symbols as much as substance, of informal dress on a bar stool as much as formal addresses on a podium.

We need a new group of troubadours. People who can make and write music that anyone can sing and play and does not require thousands of dollars in electronics to produce. Troubadours that would go out among the people to sing with them, rather than up on a stage at 100 bucks a head.  Whose songs have meaning rather than marketability.

Schizoid Man….Schizoid Nation

6:30 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Rick Perry has declared West Texas a disaster area and wants federal aid from the government he would rather not be a part of.

A number of states have legalized or decriminalized marijuana use in opposition to federal law.   With more to come. As well as gay marriage.

There are also states that are fighting the Supreme Court decision on election moneys and other issues.

And article in Der Spiegle wonders if independent terrorists will be come the norm.

During the 1950s and 1960s when I grew up such things would have been unheard of.  Acting independently – outside of any group, let alone national interest – did not cross anyone’s mind.  People aligned themselves with the nation they live in.  Then within the local group they were a part of.  You were and American (or German, or Italian, or Canadian, or Greek….) and that was that.

This all started to change during the 1960s beginning with the civil rights movement and then with the anti-war movement. All coinciding with the advances in global communications.  Till now we are able to communicate with and find out who, what, why and where in nearly every corner of the globe.  We can now find out through web sites and chat rooms and videos not just what governments are doing and thinking but the people who live in any place we wish to know about think and feel and are doing.

The Arab spring protests via twitter and videos from the people themselves.  In an interview of France 24 the question A new trend of jihadism via Internet? is asked.

F24: Is there a reason to be worried about widespread radicalisation via Internet?

DT: Online jihadists spreading propaganda can promote the attacks, so for them these attacks were a coup. The Boston Marathon attacks were pretty brazen. Online jihadist leaders know they have numerous followers on the web, but few people end up actually following through on their recommendations [to carry out attacks]. But even if ten new people end up taking action and plotting terrorist attacks, for them it’s a victory.

Not just radical Islam but radical anything. I doubt seriously that the Tea Party would have become a force with out the communication infrastructure we had in place that allowed all these disgruntled people to align with each other.  More and more we are seeing people coming together along some ideological or religious or economic lines. But still want and need the stability and continuity  and security of some larger national lines as well.  But how can one feel part of a country when little of what they have is even made there ? When the company you work for and the mortgage on your house is owned by some conglomerate half way around the world?

When you government seems to be more responsive to people who don’t even live here. Going after it’s own citizens who do not fit with the current governments philosophy and ideals.  You no longer feel comfortable with your country so you latch on to some ideal or group outside your country and try to make you country fit this ideal so you can feel comfortable again.  Even if the people who support it live outside your area or country.  And every time you walk down the street you see someone who reminds you of just out of place you feel. Even the place you were born and grew up in looks foreign to you now.   All of this making you feel how your country is becoming less and less your country.  Enough to make one feel schizoid.  Globalism has not just taken away peoples jobs but is taking away their feeling of belonging as well.

This not a defense of nationalism. Quite the contrary it is showing how nationalism is becoming moot.

Solidarité !

6:03 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Solidarity Poster

Solidarity is the integration, and degree and type of integration, shown by a society or group with people and their neighbors.[1] It refers to the ties in a society that bind people to one another. The term is generally employed in sociology and the other social sciences.

What forms the basis of solidarity varies between societies. In simple societies it may be mainly based around kinship and shared values. In more complex societies there are various theories as to what contributes to a sense of social solidarity.[1]

I grew up in the rural area of Northeastern Ohio in a very middle class family. Very much like all the other middle class families in the area. A nice house my father built with a good deal of land. Nearly everyone one I knew and all my class mates were from pretty much the same kind of situation. A fairly rural area.   We shared mostly the same likes and dislikes, beliefs and even eating rituals.  Danced to the same kinds of music and listened to the same radio stations and watched the same kinds of TV programs. As did our parents and cousins etc. Typical white middle class.

After my father passed away we lived with my grandparents outside of Phillie. This was a more suburban neighborhood but of the same economic strata.  So I had no trouble fitting in there.  However my mother decided to move us to Florida after she got the business of my father’s estate taken care of and open up a kindergarten  there.  We located in a middle class area of Naples but our financial condition was far from being middle class.  We were quite poor for the first two years until the kindergarten took off.   On top of that, I was part of a single parent household which at that time – the 1960s – was not considered normal. Suffice it to say I did not fit in there very well. I had middle class attitudes but was economically closer to those at the bottom rung.

There were few that I felt solidarity with. Mostly those that came from a similar situation. Not many.

From the late 1960s I began to – as many of my generation did – question the Vietnam war and found camaraderie with like minded individuals outside of my economic class. We had something in common. We apposed the war and how the country was handling it.  It brought millions of us together with a common cause. Here there were solidarity – ties that bound us. Our backgrounds were different but our beliefs in this matter were the same.

This was what brought people together during the 1930s and before with the unions and socialist and communist uprisings. As well as civil rights. What brought them together in Egypt and Tunisia and now in Europe. A bond born of shared experience. Of oppression and exploitation and misery.

A common bond over an issue bigger than they are. A bond usually born in shared experience and unfortunately, shared suffering.  Just like the trade union in Poland that bears the name Solidarity.

We had it here for a short while with the outrage over the bank bail outs in 2008.

But like the the rage over the bail outs, the union and socialist movements were quite cleverly pushed aside by those in Washington.  When blue collar and union members began making as much as the upper middle class professionals, they began to identify with them and their beliefs. This made it easy to manipulate and propagandize them to abandon their previous beliefs and associations.  They no longer  were living in horrible housing and working in horrible conditions. They could afford good housing and nice cars and had health insurance and everything else.  Unemployment was low because after the war there was a shortage of workers.

Unlike Europe where nearly all belong to some trade union – even professionals and educators – here unions were and are considered below those in the professions and for laborers and the so called unskilled. Which made unions themselves an easy target as well.

So when the the time was ripe, unions too became the target of the propaganda and dismantling.  With those in the professional classes helping with the pejoratives and making more than a few  unions and unionists willing to give up most of what they had fought for.

I wonder how much worse it will have to get or what crisis we need to endure before we can once again rise above. What common and shared experience we will need. And will we be aware enough the next time to keep our focus like the people in Egypt and not let ourselves be easily compromised and manipulated.

Capitalism Hits the Fan – A presentation by Professor Richard Wolfe.

1:46 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen


This is quite a good explanation of our current economic situation that Professor Wolfe gave a few years  ago at MIT. Going along with his appearance on Bill Moyers just this last week.

I know that there were a few people that were not entirely happy with his appearance on the Moyers program and thought that he had at leas pull some punches in his answers and explanations.  One has to bare in mind the audience he was trying to reach, however. Just as here.

All of whom have been indoctrinated from the very first on the superiority of the American capitalistic system. And all of whom would have turned a deaf ear at the very least or chased him off the stage if he had not chosen his words carefully.   Much the same as if one were to try to convince a group of Islamists or communist party members in the old Soviet Union of the faults of their system of beliefs.

He gives a very good history of how we got here.

Of how up until the 1970s we had a history of increasing worker income in terms of real buying power.

The failure of Hoover and Roosevelt both to stem the depression of the 1930s and that WWII was how we got out of it.

That with the rest of the world in shambles after WWII, business here had it made. But Europe and Japan got rebuilt, American business threw in the towel since they could no compete.

How computers diminished the need for workers and increased immigration and women and minorities in the work force helped for stagnate wages.

How this stagnation in wages couple with increase worker productivity increased profits and how these profits were used to lend money to workers to offset the real wages lost.

This leading to bubbles and collapses and workers become more stressed and household debt has gone through the roof.

And that this current situation will not end of get any better and that re-regulation will not work.  As there will always be a motivation to remove it

And that a fundamental change in the system is necessary, not just here but in the world wide economy and that it’s happening now. Though most are unaware.

The whole presentation is quite good and worth the 60 min it takes to watch.

The tyranny of the new philistines.

8:30 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

untitled - flickr

They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want . . . they don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that . . . that doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests. That’s right. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fuckin’ years ago. They don’t want that. You know what they want? They want obedient workers . . . Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now they’re coming for your Social Security money. - George Carlin

Society, or the common good, as Chomsky called it, encourages people to focus on themselves and their own success. Programs such as public education and Social Security, which are now under attack, are based on a different perception. “They are based on the perception that we should care about other people….That’s a dangerous perception. It means you should be a human being and not a pathological creature,”

I was looking to see what new software was available to design printed circuit boards just now. My main criteria was for a package that would easily allow me to use a GUI to design the foot prints of new parts I may come across or old parts I may want to use or even ones I make myself. IE their physical characteristics and how they would fit on the board.  I was not surprised to find than few of the packages even allowed this.  Most relied on libraries of parts that come with the packages or supplied by the part manufacturers.  So I will continue to use the one I have which does allow this even though it is lacking in some other areas. I can get around this.

This seems typical of today that if you want to be out of the mainstream….out of what has been determine as normal, you are at best out of luck.

Homogenized plain vanilla society of robotic programmed thinking and acting and speaking has become more and more institutionalized.   And enforced by the police state as we are seeing. Step out of line and the man come and take you way.

And this brain washing and indoctrination begins in the schools.  This was the main point of Norm Chomsky’s talk.

I was quite fortunate growing up. I was not really pushed in any one direction by either of my parents. Especially not by my mother who raised my brothers, sisters and I after my father passed away.  She was an artist and her temperament and belief was to forge ahead in what every direction ones spirit and interests take. Quite the dichotomy  of public education where one is classed in an either or situation. College bound or not.   Male or female. And even after civil rights, white or not.  And as Malvina Reynolds said in her song, destined for Little Boxes. With the primary focus is on personal gain and consumerism rather than cooperation, common good and concern for one’s fellows. Programmed sociopathy.

A situation that Gui Rochat found so appalling when he arrived here from Europe. What he called “Rational Totalitarianism“  in this essay from Counterpunch.

Even now the socialization process for US children is strictly slanted to bourgeois standards and geared towards security, consumption and materialist competition. It is a yoke not easily shed, which sadly later on often leads to desperation amidst a fulsome artificial happiness. Listening to that what cannot be thought of is lacking, preventing all access to an inner life. Individual materialist isolation unfortunately creates strangulated human souls. Any deviation from this set pattern is discouraged in pre-school children as being anti-social, nerdish and not mentally normal. Those who infamously broke away were those sensitive individuals who shielded themselves by eccentricity, chemical or alcoholic dependency gathering then in enclaves like Big Sur, San Francisco and the  Village and if they could afford it, fled abroad.

Imagination is already silenced in small children when their abundantly produced toys of all description or type pre-empt the eagerly growing mind from wandering beyond the limits of daily reality. Thus isolated from an early age and carefully conditioned to conform to a competitive emptiness, as soon as they are removed from their familiar environment they feel defenseless and out of anxiety react with aggression. This appears daily within the Republic, where threats of unfamiliarity and displacement are counter acted immediately by violent acts and Big Sur was no exception despite its bohemian isolation.


The definition of totalitarian in Webster is: ‘designating of, or like a government or state in which one political group maintains complete control’. One could well expand this definition from the actual political structure of this Republic to a singular mind pattern that seems to define its people. In fact when a human being is fully dependent on outer rules of behavior and when these are internalized as the sole allowable mode of thinking, the individual’s personality is forced to function at the exclusion of any other potential human reality. Even when eagerly seeking enlightenment from the various gurus that came to ply their trade in California the participants in meditation were hampered by their inability to abandon the commands of their positivist indoctrination.

Capitalist reality is the intense conditioning to prevailing standards of a binary either/or social control, like the twin towers of the former World Trade Center in New York which were fully identical but symbolically signified together the indestructible monopoly of American economic power. Similarly the thoughts of US citizens appear to veer between two alternatives which are equal, like the Republican and Democratic parties, as Twiddle Dum and Twiddle Dee, fragile identical twin white eggs with attitude. Either/or exercises of by rote learned and from an early age on deliberately inculcated modes of thought that operate chiefly by what are erroneously called multiple choices, only signify a cosmetic binary difference. But these binary choices are firmly anchored in the underlying tough monolith of established capitalist values. Imagination is entirely suppressed as it would threaten the status quo of socially approved behavior. It prevents a functioning healthy   democracy because that demands a manifold spectrum of untainted choices in one’s private as well as in one’s social life.

This totalitarianism of binary thinking is what keeps the Republic in business because its various cultural divergences are a strong centrifugal force. However it impoverishes the exploration of different realities and equally of all political discourse. You are either my comrade or my opponent, either complicit in creating profit or a ‘mark’ to be exploited, either a productive or an unproductive person and in all of these cases of fictitious alternatives the protagonists are unhappily tied into an unbreakable mental bondage. The question is how to successfully disrupt these chains of mechanical thought and how to liberate minds from false opposites. So far the totalitarian base for domination remains untouched. Only when the sheer illogicality of the present system becomes exposed by a slow attrition of these prefabricated beliefs can there be any hope for the struggle of what was already expressed in a Swiss revolutionary song of 1810: ”Die Gedanken sind frei, wer kann sie erraten …” (our thoughts are free, who can guess their content ?).

A rather harsh but fairly accurate description, I believe.  Which is why this attack on education and the social safety net.  With universities becoming more and more an indoctrination into a robotic business world and public schools attacked for teaching critical thinking skills. Where people would question our capitalistic system geared only toward the elites. The new philistines as it were.

What is ironic in this case is that these attacks are coming not only from the very rich but also from the bourgeoisie middle class and professionals as well. Those with college educations, which goes to show just how deep this indoctrination has gone.

I was lucky in that I had but a brief encounter with the planned suburban communities of boxes and was free to explore my interests in techie things unhindered, if not guided.   And that I had given up on school as anything but a source of sometimes useful information. This of course made it difficult to fit into “normal society”, most of which I have come to loath.  Free thinkers being the real enemy of such a society as has been shown by Brave New World and THX1138.

But all is not lost or gloom and doom. There are alternative communities and techies exploring new ways to use technology for community benefit.   And learning how to make their own drones to keep an eye on big brother. Which big brother grudgingly admits they have little control over.   People – few at first but more and more – talking more openly about throwing capitalism out the widow and trying something else.  All flying under the radar, as it were. Free thinkers all. Even causing the so called liberals and progressives rancor, as they too have been indoctrinated with the capitalistic myth.

It was the free thinkers that brought us the arts and the technological advances and scientific advances.  Robotic mediocrity only brings stagnation and indifference.

Hooray for Capitalism !

10:45 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Battle strike 1934

I thought I would list all the benefits we have experienced since feudalism was replaced by capitalism as the main economic model.

Feudalism exploited and enslaved the general populace – to one extent or another – to benefit a select few. Either through birthright or armed power. Quite often both. Under feudalism the means of production – both agricultural and industrial – were in the hands of the few. Acquired either from birthright or by force.

The end of feudalism was ostensibly to change this. It however did not. In fact empires grew the strongest under capitalism. Slavery and indentured servitude flourished under it. Countries and natives were colonized to acquire their wealth and resources to benefit the capitalist owners in the mother country. Displaced and quite often eliminated or enslaved.

Personal gain was the driving force behind nearly all endeavors. From adventurism to conquest. The monarchies that would continuously wage war with one another were replaced by capitalist and industrialists – who through their government servants – waged even bigger and bloodier wars. And in all cases it was the general populace that bore the brunt of the fighting and killing.

Banks and financial institutions began risky practices. Investing in and loaning money to anyone or anything that they were told was a sure money making enterprise. Profit was all and the quicker the better. Resulting in a long line of financial failures and economic crisis.

Capitalism’s quest for more and more wealth and gain. For continued expansion. Disregards any and all environmental and ecological concerns. Endangering the planet and those that live there. Capitalism requires continued growth in order to function.

Capitalists put monetary gain ahead of everything. Which is why the worst dictators in history were put in place and supported by capitalists – who also make the most from them. With total and complete disregard for what these people did to their citizens.

Contrary to popular believe capitalism does not encourage discovery, it stifles it. Unless a great deal of money can be made from it. And from the very start it will try to co-opt, defraud and steal ideas and inventions from those who make them. Such as RCA with Major Edwin Armstrong and Philo Farnsworth.

It will cut corners on everything to ensure greater profits. From wages to the workers, their working conditions and even the raw materials and designs. Knowingly marketing and producing items that are dangerous and even lethal. Like DDT, the Ford Pinto, numerous toys…to name but a few.

Capitalists are know to delay, sabotage and even kill any idea and/or product that may hurt their bottom line. Or attempt to gain exclusive ownership of it. The pharmaceutical industry is known for this. They will not develop a cure for anything they can make more money on by developing a continued treatment for.

They will use any means they can to get the consumer to buy into something and then blame them when it goes sour.

And contrary to popular belief, capitalists hate competition and will do what ever is necessary to eliminate it. Forming trusts and monopolies and fixing prices.

Yes people ow a lot to capitalism. Especially people like Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Anastasio Somoz, Augusto Pinochet, Mubarak, Bashar al-Assad ……….. and various CEOS, Bankers, Stock Brokers, Military leaders and weapons developers.

You and me…not so much.

Detoxing from the Market based Economy and why it’s Advisable

3:28 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Money syringe - flickr

OK here we are. The FED is once again trying to get people to indulge themselves in more needless spending so as to keep the severely damaged heart of the economy from going into cardiac arrest.  This time the stimulant is call QE3. And as Ives Smith says, forgetabtoutit.

But the elephant in the room is what, if anything, these measures will achieve in terms of real economy impact. “Let them eat stocks and housing” has not been terribly successful. Even with super low rates, it has also taken massive sequestering of inventories for the housing market to have the appearance of stabilizing. We have low household formation due to young adults facing high unemployment, low paying jobs with generally short job tenures, and heavy student debt burdens. On top of that, we have generational headwinds as boomers hit retirement age and want or need to downsize. Keeping money on sale is not going to induce banks to lend more if they can’t find enough qualified borrowers. And the consumer deleveraging story is not as positive as the statistics would lead you to believe. A lot of it is involuntary, meaning driven by foreclosures. In addition, retirees also curtail their spending thanks to the fall in interest income they’ve suffered under ZIRP.

. . . . .

And where does the Fed go if a financial crisis or other shock occurs?

The Fed failed to see the crisis coming, failed to push for restructuring of consumer, particularly mortgage, debt, and is now in full bore “if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail” mode. And in the crisis, the Fed was slow to act and then overdid when it finally roused itself (remember “75 is the new 25″?) it looks as if the Bernanke Fed is incapable of looking at its own history.

The EU has come up with a similar plan to rescue the Euro once again.   And at Resilient Communities John Robb is a bit more blunt.

The numbers are in, the economic depression (I call it D2) that started in 2007 is still here and it’s getting worse.

This week’s numbers from the US Census Bureau show that the median household income slid another 1.5% in 2011.

That means that household incomes are 4.1% below what they were when the “recession” officially ended and 8.1% below what they were in  2007.

The news is actually worse than that.  Median household wealth has dropped a massive 39% since 2007 and it’s showing no signs of recovery (see the chart below).   In fact, household wealth today is so low, it’s 10% less than it was in 1983! 

That’s the bad news. The good news is that there is something you can do about for yourself and you community, but it won’t be easy and it won’t be much fun.  The majority of the posts I read here and elsewhere consist of economic and political palavers on how to make our market based capitalistic economies less toxic to ourselves and the planet as a whole by playing some game of political musical chairs.   The right wing especially reminds me of a crack addict or alcoholic rationalizing their dependence while the planet’s circulatory system and digestive system deteriorates.

The left is certain that by controlling their intake or firing the pushers and bartenders, all will be fine.

The obvious solution is of course the one nearly everybody does not want to look at or admit is necessary and that is to detox on the system itself. Not abruptly of course. That would cause far too much distress and few could withstand it. Throwing oneself into economic and social withdraw.   After all that was one of the points of the bank bail outs. To keep the populace from having economic withdraw and bouncing off the walls and taking to the streets in chaotic fashion.

But slowly so as to become adjusted to a new way of thinking and acting and living.

GET OUT OF DEBT ! That’s the first order of business. To begin the process of removing ones self from the dependence.  Pay off you car, credit cards and even your house if necessary.  Assuming you own one.   I do not own a house I rent. My car is payed off and I have no credit cards.

Leave the commercial banks. Join a credit union. Everyone who is in a commercial bank is supporting the Wall Street pushers and dealers.

Try to live in a modest fashion buying only what you need.

Become more resilient and self reliant and community oriented.   Forget the federal government. They have only one agenda and that is to maintain the status quo for themselves and the Wall Street dealers for as long as possible.  Buy local and live local. Find out about farmers markets and farm cooperatives and community gardens and urban farms.

Learn how to make things yourself and locate those who are making things by hand locally.  After attending the fair in Ohio we (my cousin and a friend an I) walked through the historical village in the town. In the back was a small shed where two young men were blacksmithing.  Using some old and new techniques to make replacement items for the village.  We talked for about 45 minutes and the one thing they brought up is that using these techniques, one can most time produce items of superior quality to that which is manufactured and they will last longer as well.

I will admit I am a bit biased when it comes to DIY. My father built both of our houses in Ohio and I build and/or maintain as much as I possibly can. Now in the process of learning some woodworking skills to add to my metal working and electronics skills.

Buy used locally rather than new. It’s cheaper and works just as well. People sell a lot that is perfectly good simply because it does not match their decor or some other silly ass reason.  Ditch windoz and use Linux. It’s free and constantly updated and maintained and virtually bullet proof.

Build you own computer. My sister built both of the ones she uses in her business and she is NOT a geek.

Learn about self sustaining communities that maybe nearby. None of this means returning to the 19th century or living like a nomadic tribe in Mongolia.  What it means is to become less and less dependent on a systems that is coming apart before if completely falls apart.

Now why am I writing about this ?  Because our current economic and social structure based entirely on a profit driven marketplace cannot last. In fact we are seeing it disintegrate even as I type this.   This is not just my view but that of a number of others as well.

I personally pay little attention to the “official economists” such as Krugman and Stieglitz and Dean and Riche as they are the “official voices” and are to me still in addiction.

Better to prepare yourself now rather than be thrust in to withdraw and no source of your drug to be found.



A fair for all and no fare to anybody!

12:53 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Geauga County Fair - Midway

Labor Day weekend is also the weekend of the Geauga County Fair which is held at the Burton Village Fair Grounds.  Having been held there for near 200 years  it contains all the traditional fair events such as tractor pulls and various shows and judging.

This was the first time I attended the fair since I was a kid of 13. The fair needless to say has changed quite a bit since then in a lot of ways but has remained the same in other ways. Larger that that it was with 3 midway areas containing the expected “Fair Food” and game booths where if you are very lucky, you might win some cheesy prize. Skill has nothing to do with it.

The typical exhibits of agricultural prowess of the young and not so young, cows and chickens and sheep and goats. As well as vegetables and baking and of course – since this is north eastern Ohio  – maple products.

I was to meet my cousin there who drove up from NC and was staying at a B&B in the town. So began my drive pout there from Garfield Heights where I current live.  About 45 minutes plus or minus traffic.  The trip out east to the fair is along the main drag through town, state road 87. Which begins as Chargin Blvd and ends up as Kinsman Road.  I pass through and area that contains the upscale equivalent of a strip mall will all the usual upscale chain stores. Even though it’s a Sunday, it is packed with cars of the expected type. BMWs and Hummers and Lexus etc. and then trough upscale exo-burbs. The usual haunts of the nouveau riche and the the current incarnation of the bourgeoisie.

Wagon Judging Contest - Geauga Fair

Then down past the Chagrin River and finally into Geauga County  initially Russel township the Newbury and finally Burton.     The area has grown of course but not as much as one would think since 1963 when my family originally left. More residential and more light industry, which looks to support the area more than anything else.  Some additional retail but mostly replacement of the retail that was there in years gone by.

I meet my cousin and her brother’s widow and we walked through the town to that fair grounds which is on the other side of the square and one main street. The main street which used to have a TV/Radio store, 5 and 10, drug store and grocery now has mostly upscale type arts and grafts shops, a local equivalent to a Starbucks and small shops of that nature.

Most of the family farms have gone except for the Amish and a few others that are more seriously run.  It is nearly completely white and staunchly conservative. Not the squirrelly tea party kind but  conservative. Maybe anti-liberal would come closer.

Pretty much the way of most of non-metro Ohio.  Like Portage,  Trumbull, Summit – etc.   Now this part of Geauga Country is more of the upscale professional type.  In the past it had a lot of blue collar workers and middle class support personal who worked in Cleveland or sometimes the outer burbs but nearly all of that has gone.  The residents even though they are on technological par with everyone else are still ideologically in the Eisenhower era.   And in their own particular world.

So when I read articles like Chris Hedges current piece and those of a similar tone here and elsewhere, I wonder how they will explain the necessity of an major economic and/or political change to the people here and those who were engaged in consumer masturbation at the strip mall I passed.  Since their lives seem to be just fine and have little concern or interest in what is going on in Cleveland or Youngstown or Chicago or Miami or Atlanta.

As I wondered the fair grounds and looked at the exhibits and smelled the fried food and animals and such, I felt like I had some how accidentally entered some part of the Shire. Where Wall Street and minorities and sweat shops were comfortably far off  and therefore legendary.

The infantile adults and America’s immature elites.

4:51 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Crying Baby - flickr

There has been large number of explanations, reasons and even derogating of the elite and those on the right concerning their behavior and seemingly lack of compassion. Ranging from fascist ideology to even psycho-pathology. Greed, racism, ignorance, close mindedness and even mental illness. And I will agree that in a number of cases that more than a few of these do apply.

However I believe that there is another reason far more foreboding yet straightforward for this.  An article in the Books Section of The New Yorker may give some insight into some of what has been transpiring.  In the article – Spoiled Rotten: Why do kids rule the roost? -

examines the work of Carolina Izquierdo, an anthropologist at the University of California who spent several months with the Matsigenka, a tribe of about twelve thousand people who live in the Peruvian Amazon. Izquierdo decided at one point to accompany a local family of this tribe on their food gathering expedition. Another member of the family, a young girl of only 6 years, asked to go along.  Though she had no clear role in this as yet, she spent here time cleaning off the sleeping mats and helped stack the kapashi leaves for transport back.

In the evening, she fished for crustaceans, which she cleaned, boiled, and served to the others. Calm and self-possessed, Yanira “asked for nothing,” Izquierdo later recalled.

This behavior made a strong impression on the anthropologist.

Kolbert notes that while Izquierdo was doing her field work a college was doing a study on 32 middle-class families in Los Angeles for 21st century family life.  Giving examples of a 5 year old boy who after being asked 5 times to take a bath or shower and then put into the bath room by his father, still just left and went to play video games. An 8 year old girl finding no silverware at her place on the table just sat and complained until another girl got up and got some. And another boy who could not get his feet into his sneakers, cajoled his father into untying them for him.

The author finally stating that:

With the exception of the imperial offspring of the Ming dynasty and the dauphins of pre-Revolutionary France, contemporary American kids may represent the most indulged young people in the history of the world. It’s not just that they’ve been given unprecedented amounts of stuff—clothes, toys, cameras, skis, computers, televisions, cell phones, PlayStations, iPods. (The market for Burberry Baby and other forms of kiddie “couture” has reportedly been growing by ten per cent a year.) They’ve also been granted unprecedented authority. “Parents want their kids’ approval, a reversal of the past ideal of children striving for their parents’ approval,” Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, both professors of psychology, have written. In many middle-class families, children have one, two, sometimes three adults at their beck and call. This is a social experiment on a grand scale, and a growing number of adults fear that it isn’t working out so well: according to one poll, commissioned by Time and CNN, two-thirds of American parents think that their children are spoiled.

Kolbert then goes onto to talk of Pamela Druckerman, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal who had moved to Paris. and talked to a lot of French Mothers.

She learned that the French believe ignoring children is good for them. “French parents don’t worry that they’re going to damage their kids by frustrating them,” she writes. “To the contrary, they think their kids will be damaged if they can’t cope with frustration.” One mother, Martine, tells Druckerman that she always waited five minutes before picking up her infant daughter when she cried. While Druckerman and Martine are talking, in Martine’s suburban home, the daughter, now three, is baking cupcakes by herself. Bean is roughly the same age, “but it wouldn’t have occurred to me to let her do a complicated task like this all on her own,” Druckerman observes. “I’d be supervising, and she’d be resisting my supervision.”

She (Druckerman) also learned the French are great believers in non. Saying “No” and for their children learning to cope with that. And when the French say no, they mean it and it sticks.

I would say that this type of spoiled upbringing  has been going on for generations.  Either from a resentment of how the parents were raised or the parents themselves were raided this way. Interestingly, enough children from overly authoritarian families quite often develop the same personality disjunction as  neither are encouraged to develop personal responsibility and the self worth that comes from that.  They learn to expect the world to be handed to them on a silver platter and to be able to control and/or cajole, manipulate, lie and extort whatever the feel they want. Or buy it if necessary.

Romney and Obama and I would say the vast majority of those in Congress – especially the Ayn Rand supporters like Ron and Rand Paul – came from these very types of backgrounds.

At least when there was a military draft, the experience there gave some of them a chance to develop some maturity, which is so obviously missing these days.  That we have been raising so many people like this is especially troubling.

There was a time when this type of behavior was only present in the very well to do. Where from an early age children were taught responsibility and gained maturity through their family interaction and those of their peers. Even for those families that were pretty well off.

But now we have people in high positions with all the maturity of a badly parented 2 year old.

FOOD STRIKE ! Starve the rich. Occupy The Pantry

9:35 am in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Men on Strike - flickr

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money. Cree Indian Proverb

With all the reading I have done and all the history and news there is one overwhelming message that stands out.

Food gets people’s attention.

From the pickers to that packers to the delivery trucks to the servers to the sellers to the processors and on and on, the food industry has the lowest payed people with some of the longest and most horrendous working conditions. And very few – if any – benefits.  And yet the rich are wholly dependent on it.  The lower classes have had to learn to help one another in this way and find some other ways to get food at times.

A large scale strike of all who are involved in the food industry as workers I think would attract some attention.  And if we could get the small local farmers on our side, they could help those who are effected that are not part of the …um…problem.

It would have to be well coordinated but I think that this is one area that would cause more than a bit of a stir even on Wall Street.

Something to think about, I believe.