Thoughts on poverty and homelessness in the U.S.A.

Posts tagged ‘mad bag lady’

“Help! Help! I’m drowning. Please, please, someone help me!”

He cried out as loudly as he could, given the circumstances. His body was rapidly getting weak, and that was his last real cry. His arms flailing high into the air, he was desperately searching for something to hold onto–a tree branch, a rock, something tangible. But…there was nothing. “Please help,” he attempted weakly. But it was only the sound of the voice in his head. His vocal cords had stopped functioning. There wasn’t enough breath to get the words out into the air.

Now, he was sinking. Soon his flailing arms and outspoken voice would be submerged beneath the water, along with the rest of him.

Who would have thought that something as harmless, as ubiquitous and gentle as water could be such a strong killer? How he had underestimated the power of this translucent, flowing stream that runs through all things? In the past he would drink it or sit beside it as it trickled lightly over the rocks. There he would meditate to the soothing sound of running water. He thought water was a healer, that demons couldn’t cross it, that beside water he would always be safe and sound. And now, it was killing him.

“Save me, someone, please. Oh, please, please help!” he thought he cried out. But actually he didn’t. At this point he’d gone delirious and the current was pulling him in.

It’s not as though he was alone, mind you. People heard his cries, watched his tears drop from his once rugged, impenetrable eyes then drop into the river that was killing him. “Oh! Another whiner!”they lamented. “Some people are so negative. All they do is complain. What did he do to get himself into that situation in the first place? I’m not stupid enough to go near the river.”

And the sounds of his crying irritated them so. And so they closed their windows, their doors, pulled down their shades, turned up the music to drown out the sound of his drowning and just tried to take their minds off of his incessant crying.

It was just so annoying to hear him complain about suffering!

But there was one man who approached this dying soul. Watching him drown, he dared not risk his own life to try to rescue him, especially since it was his own fault, after all, for approaching the water in the first place. But he wanted to show the world what a nice man he was, that he was a caring individual. He was the man who built this river, you see, and he wanted people to know that he never intended for anyone to drown in it. He resisted strongly any efforts to study the water’s current, insisting it was completely safe. It was safe. It was safe. It was safe. After all, it was his river, so of course it was perfect. No one could stop him from having his river. And if anyone dared go near his river and fell in… Well, some people just make bad choices.

Still, he didn’t want anyone to think he, the creator/owner of this river didn’t care. He gave to charity, after all. And so he offered the drowning victim a pair of shoes. “Here you are, sir. I’ll help you. A pair of shoes is all you need.”

And he dropped the pair of shoes by the side of the river not too far from the spot where the drowning man’s arms had reached out for help. But it was too late to donate shoes to a drowning man. The current was just too strong. No one could guess how fast it was moving. That would take some investigation, and, frankly, no one was up to that. People are busy these days, you see.

So needless to say, the current was very, very strong. Suddenly, it yanked at the drowning man’s feet and thrust him downward to the bottom of the river, silencing him forever. The man felt the rocks tear at his skin as he was pulled downward. He would no longer cry or struggle–even if he were able, for he no longer wanted to live. Now, he hoped for death. Would it please happen quickly? The pain was intense, swift, sudden. He would never ask for help again. But the pain has stopped.

He was dead.

Whew. What a relief to all around him. They need not hear his cries any longer. The neighbors could open their windows at last. And turn down that loud music! Now they could rest in peace. The philanthropist picked up the shoes when he saw the man disappear under the sea. He would donate them to another charity. Perhaps another victim would be more grateful. Next time he’ll focus on suffering children, as adults are a waste of time. They just don’t try hard enough to rescue themselves. And they never seem to appreciate what you do for them.

Meanwhile, the definition of “drown,” according to “The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language,” 4th edition, remains available (at least as of this writing) to the general public, for all to see. Thus far, no one from the US government, a.k.a. corporate America, has tried to censor, redact, or “drown” its definition. In fact, anyone may view it on display in practically all English dictionaries which may be accessed free of charge in public libraries (still available, even to poor people, and even in the USA.) Yes, the word “drown” is alive and well. It shall not be suppressed! (Perhaps because we need it so badly.)

drown — ” 1. to kill by submerging and suffocating in water or another liquid…

2. to drench thoroughly or cover with or as if with a liquid…

3. to deaden one’s awareness of…

4. to muffle or mask (a sound) by a louder sound…”

And so this poor man drowned, but it wasn’t the water that killed him…

What part of freedom do you not understand?

What part of freedom do you not understand?

What part of freedom do you not understand?

So shouted Rush Limbaugh repeatedly into my ear one morning after I’d accidentally fallen asleep…leaving the radio on–a dangerous thing to do these days.

And it started me thinking.  Rush Limbaugh believes (or wants us to believe) that he’s advocating for freedom?  Whose freedom?  His own, I suppose.

Freedom is a concept I’ve always been attracted to.  Since childhood, I’ve always longed to be free, free from my highly dysfunctional family, the gangs of kids who attacked me on my way to and from school, my painful childhood, the poor city I grew up in, the working-class, blue collar prison that says, “You must be a working class hero.  Work shall set you free.  Just work.  Work, work, work.”

Then one day, you’ll wake up and realize that even though you’ve worked hard your entire life you still have nothing.  Nothing.  No matter how frugal you are, no matter how many necessities and desires you do without, no matter how hard you struggle and deprive yourself, you still can’t get any money saved up.  Any money you deposit in your bank account (if you can afford a bank account, that is) is just money you are keeping for withdrawal at the end of the month when you pay your bills.  There’s no vacation this year.  Nor the next.  Nor the next.  Not ever.  Until the day comes when you’re finally allowed to rest peacefully, and that will be a permanent vacation.  They say there’s no rest for the wicked.  But these days, I think that the opposite is true.  There is no rest for those of us who have good intentions, who want the world to be a better place, who are just trying to survive and live peaceably in this troubled world.  This is a world that supports and condones and rewards the wicked, the violent, and the mean-spirited, while it penalizes those of us who want things to be better.  Because, as we all know, making the world a better place means “socialism.”

And we can’t have that.

So let’s just get rid of those pesky public libraries, public schools, fire departments, police departments, hospitals, clinics, parks, and anything else we can think of that constitutes “socialism.”  I’m watching, sadly, libraries and public schools close down in my city.  Do you see this happening in your neighborhood?  I guess that would depend on whether you live in an affluent suburb or a poor, inner-city area.  You can guess which of the two would best describe my neighborhood.

We don’t need to pay taxes or to do anything collectively.  The heck with other people.  We’re all rugged individualists now.  So, everybody, just take a good look at yourself in the mirror and thank yourself.  Thank yourself for being you, and tell yourself you love you.  Feel good about yourself, take really good care of your health, and be the best you can be.  Because remember, in the USA, you are all you have.  If you lose your house, your car, your job, your mind, your spirit, your self esteem, (whatever!), you’d better just be ready to help yourself, pick yourself up by your bootstraps.  Don’t you dare ask anyone else for help.  Don’t even think about it.  We’re not all in this together.  We’re all in this alone, but together reluctantly.  The idea is to be alone, be very alone.  Suck it up and pick it up with those fraying bootstraps you inherited from your parents.  Since you won’t be able to collect social security when you grow older, I’m sure your parents will be ready and willing to provide for you in your old age too–unless they die by then.

Well, who needs a place to live and three meals a day anyway?  Did you know that eating is overrated?  There’s actually an obesity problem in this country.  People are just eating way too much.  So stop feeling sorry for yourself, and just be grateful that you won’t have an obesity problem because you can’t afford to eat enough to get fat.  Besides, if you read about Nazi Germany you’ll discover that many people went without eating, even suffered from malnutrition during Hitler’s reign.  Yet everything seems to be okay in Germany now.  So stop complaining.  Stop whining.  What’s a little poverty?  Builds character!

But I digress.

What I really wanted to post about on this blog was freedom.  The Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Republic-con, Tea Party versions–as well as some other notions of freedom–truly are intriguing.

For example,

Some people want to be free to speak their minds, even if what they have to say is in disagreement with those who possess great amounts of money and power.  They want to have the freedom to express ideas and opinions that other people just don’t like.

Other people want to have the freedom to oversee that speech, to prevent those people from saying things they think are offensive or harmful to others, or to themselves perhaps.  They want to control what is said or not said, to screen speech in all its forms–television, radio, film, poetry or novels.  To decide whose music is played on the radio, which actors will be cast on TV or film productions, which directors, producers, news anchors or writers will be allowed to participate in the process of disseminating information.  They see themselves as keeping the world in order and preventing chaos.  After all, allowing other people to be free to just say whatever they want can be dangerous, right?  Of course, these people who decide what speech is okay and what is not okay are human beings who can make mistakes or who can be corrupted by bribery or manipulation.  But what can you do?  Someone has to watch people and make sure they’re not saying things other people don’t want to hear, right?

Some people want to be free to walk down the street or drive their cars or hop on a bus or a plane or a train and travel.  They want the freedom to travel, to move around, to live or to visit anywhere they’d like.  (Of course, these same people will want to speak their minds anywhere they go too.   They just want it all, don’t they?)

Other people are concerned that strangers walking or driving down their streets might do them harm and would like to have the freedom to stop them.  They’d like the police to stop innocent, law-abiding citizens and just search them, search their cars, search their possessions, check their identity cards.  Are they US citizens?  What if they’re here illegally?  What if they intend to cause trouble in our neighborhood?  Who are these people?  I don’t recognize them.  Maybe they’re good people.  Maybe they’re not such good people.  I don’t know.  But if we stop them when we notice they seem different in some way, perhaps dressed differently, in possession of a different skin color from the type we normally see in this part of town, or maybe they speak funny, if we stop them and search through all their belongings we can determine whether they mean us any harm.  Or not.  (This is, of course, a violation of the 4th Amendment law that used to be in force here in the US.  The 4th Amendment was a law that stated that people could not be searched and that their belongings could not be searched or seized, unless it was known beyond a doubt that they were guilty of something.  A police officer would need to be ready to swear before a judge that he/she knew this person was guilty of something before the officer could search or seize the person or person’s property.  Of course, that law no longer exists in the US and for “good” reason.  We are in so much danger!  There are just so many people attempting to exercise freedoms.  These people need to be stopped, controlled, screened.  The authorities want to have the freedom to do exactly that.  But if they have the freedom to limit other people’s freedom…then other people lose some of their freedom… Oh dear, this does get confusing.

Corporations want to have the freedom to maximize their profits, even if that means laying off American workers and outsourcing labor to third-world countries, exploiting their employees and shortening their lifespans by practically working them to death, paying them tiny wages yet raising the prices of the goods produced and further cheating their customers by overcharging them for goods and services they’ve produced cheaply.  Corporations want to be able to dump toxic waste into our environment and to save money by not implementing safety measures that would protect our environment (as well as protect their workers) from harm.

Corporations want a free marketplace but only for themselves.  You as an individual are not free to stand on a public sidewalk and sell your handmade candles.  You’ll get a ticket, perhaps even arrested, for trying.  Yet a large corporation can dump toxins into our environment.  Are the CEOs arrested?  Jailed?  Do we see articles in the paper (or on the Internet) about CEOs going to prison for cheating consumers, their employees and the environment?

Yet we, the people, want to have the freedom to earn a decent livelihood, to provide for our families, heck, to have families of our own.  We’d like to live full lives and not have our lives cut short because our bosses overwork, underpay and uninsure us.  We’d like to pay the price that products are worth, no more (and certainly not ten times more.)  We’d like to buy products that last, not that are made to break.  We’d like the trees and the birds and, yes, the bees to still be around for our grandchildren.  We’d like for them to have the freedom to walk down a street, breathe fresh air and hear birds sing.  But what we want to be free to do impedes what large corporations want the freedom to do.  And, remember, they’re people too.  Under the law, at least.

Hmm… how do we resolve such conflict?  Seems that what some people want to be free to do conflicts with what others want the freedom to do…

I guess that’s the part of freedom that I don’t understand, Mr. Limbaugh.  Why am I not free to go on national radio and express my opinions about how I think things should be?  Why do you have that right and I do not?  Can you explain that, fat boy?  Because, believe me, I have a lot to say and I’m very articulate.  I may not be as fat as you, Limby, but my lungs haven’t been completely destroyed from breathing in the pollution, asbestos, lead and whatever else infests the poor buildings I’ve had to live in over the past few years, thanks to Republican policy.  I can speak.  And even if you and your cronies try to shut me up, I’ll always be here speaking–in the form and shape of someone else perhaps, but I’ll be here.  Ideas are bulletproof, Limbaugh.  Disenfranchise and discredit me, make it impossible for me to earn a living, or shoot me, if you will, but someone else will come along, someone louder and stronger than I am.  The more you try to shut us up and shut us down, the greater our numbers will grow, the stronger and louder we’ll sound.

You assassinated Kennedy, King, and I believe many other civil rights activists whose deaths were ruled as suicides.  But you can’t assassinate all of us.  And every time you kill one of our heroes, our anger silently grows.  And our mistrust of your system increases.  More and more of us are seeing the truth.  This is not a democracy.

Go ahead, destroy more of our heroes.  It only makes more of us wake up to see you for what you really are.   We’re starting to see your weaknesses too.  You’re bullies–like the kids in the schoolyard who tried to make the rest of us afraid of them except now we’ve grown. Now we realize that it is you who are afraid.  You want us to be fearful all the time because that is how you feel deep, down inside.  And the only way you can stop us from ganging up on you and stopping you is by convincing us that you are invincible and we should be afraid of you.  Well, guess what?  The emperor’s naked.  You are a tiny minority of wealthy, fat, spoiled, lethargic, white males.  We the people do most of the work, so we are strong.  We are powerful.  You need us to get the work done.  You need us to buy your poorly made products.   You need us to be afraid, so afraid of losing our jobs, of not having enough money, of not being able to survive in this world, that we’ll just go along with all your demands, that we’ll just do whatever you tell us to do.

Well, I for one am saying enough.  You can kill me, you can refuse to hire me, and I’ll become homeless and languish on the street or in some homeless shelter.  Maybe I’ll get raped and murdered in the street.  Maybe no one will remember me or want to know me.  Maybe I’ll be shunned and mocked by society, a “crazy” political activist, a “crazy” conspiracy theorist.  Maybe I’ll die painfully and very much alone.  But you still don’t have me.  I’ll never be one of you.  You’re not going to convince me to go along with your plans.

I refuse to work for the collections agencies or the homeland security offices.  I refuse to go along with corrupt corporate policy.  I’ll do my best to survive in spite of my refusal to go along with your wicked plans for this country.  But if I don’t survive, if I die of starvation or being beaten by your police officers for expressing an opinion you don’t like, then so be it.  I will speak to the Higher Power, the force of good which some people refer to as God.  I am accountable to my own conscience, to my own sense of self-respect.  I am not accountable to you.

Thanks really.  Thanks for destroying my country.  Thanks for destroying my life.  Because before I began suffering like this I didn’t know I had this strength within me.  I didn’t know my character was this strong.  As a child, I read a lot about the Holocaust.  The Nazi’s stranglehold over people’s minds really fascinated me.  I wondered, if I were a German alive during the Nazi occupation would I have gone along with Hitler?  Would I too have become a Nazi?  To have allowed myself to be filled with such murderous hate?

I am relieved to know that, as much as I struggle now, I have, at least, not become one of you.  I am not a courageous person.  I don’t think of myself as very strong.  But I am true to myself.  My inner spirit shall not be broken.  You can damage my mind, place me in solitary confinement, torture me at Guantanamo–God knows, you can do that!  You can beat my body and mind into submission.  But my spirit will remain alive.  You may not see it because you are not very intelligent in that way.  You lack a spiritual and moral compass.  You think that is your strength, but it is actually your weakness.  The money and power you wield (and that you value so much) will not last.  Hitler was defeated.  You will die too, one day.  But my spirit remains eternal because it doesn’t end with me.  The spirit of freedom, true freedom, love, kindness and respect for our fellow human beings; the spirit behind the desire for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” (as inalienable rights, not just for me or for you but for everyone, everywhere!) will never die in spite of your futile attempts to assassinate it by exterminating a mere human being who is only a channel, temporarily carrying that spirit until someone else’s turn comes along.

And I guess that’s why you’re fighting so hard now, to take away our civil liberties, to shut us up, to kill or imprison our heroes, because you know that you’re going to lose, eventually, to death–the master of us all.  Your attacks on “we the people,” are just attempts at postponing the inevitable.  And when you die, you’ll be replaced with new, young leaders who will not (if they want to survive) support your diabolical, malicious policies.  How do I know this?  Because your system is not sustainable.  Even evil-hearted men and women cannot support such an unsustainable system forever.  Eventually, you will destroy and demoralize this country completely and people will be unable to live in this society.  Their only choices will be to leave or to create substantial change.  Change will have to happen.  It is inevitable (sort of like death and taxes–the Tea Partiers not withstanding.)  You will die, as we all will, and you will be replaced.  And the new leaders who replace you, if they choose to continue your unsustainable policies, will destroy the entire world and then nothing will be left.  Either way, you and your corrupt policies will die.

But the force of good will continue to thrive somewhere else.  In another country, another land, or perhaps another spiritual realm, it will continue because the force of goodwill reigns eternal.  Opposing forces are just like waves in the ocean, sent to make the water move and grow.  But it’s the water, not the waves, that makes the ocean.

Homeless Heroes…

Thought I’d give some credit to today’s inspiration.  On a Scroogle search today I came across Djelloul Marbrook’s article, “The Homeless as Prophets and Heroines.”  As a self-professed, mad, bag lady, I was,needless to say, intrigued.

Here’s a link:

http://newsblaze.com/story/20100612112133delm.nb/topstory.html

Madness is often defined as “abnormal” or unusual behavior.  That means, anyone who is different might be considered mad.  As many of us know, homosexuality was once listed in the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as a mental illness.  Today, that is no longer the case.

And so, with the swiftness of a pen across paper, or perhaps a finger tapping upon a computer keyboard, thousands of people were suddenly “cured” of their madness.  Someone decided they weren’t crazy after all, and so they were cured.  Just like that.  Madness, thou art a fickle disorder…

With this thought in mind, I came across another web site:  www(dot)PaulaJCaplan(dot)net.  Caplan wrote a book entitled, “They Say You’re Crazy: How the World’s Most Powerful Psychiatrists Decide Who’s Normal.”  She writes about how a tiny minority of our population decide what constitutes sanity or insanity.  Why are we allowing a small number of “experts” decide what is “normal”?

Mental illness does exist, and I’m not trying to suggest that those who really do suffer from it shouldn’t get help.  I’m simply stating that in our society we are moving toward accusing those who are different or who just don’t fit in of being mentally ill.  We are moving toward enforced conformity.  Part of the reason for this is our fast-paced society.  We just don’t want to take the time anymore to understand someone else or to learn how to interact better with people who are different from ourselves. We’d rather force them to conform than allow them to continue to challenge us and our status quo with their eccentric and unusual behavior and lifestyle.

Some homeless people are mad-crazy.  Others are just mad-angry or mad-nonconformist.  Some people live in poverty because their talents and skills are just not appreciated in a financial way by our society.  This is often true of artists.  It is heartbreaking, but I’ve seen some very talented musicians who were homeless.  They strum their guitars and sing their songs on the street still believing that someday, someone will discover their great talent…  And it just doesn’t happen.

Sorry, but it doesn’t happen that way anymore, not for most of us.  Perhaps it never really did work that way.

You could be the next Rembrandt or the next da Vinci, and no one will ever know.  Our society just doesn’t reward creativity.  We need artists.  We watch television, go to see movies, read books, gaze at pretty paintings, but we rarely consider the lives of the artists who wrote, painted or filmed that project.  We take artists for granted.  We take what they create but don’t feel the need to reciprocate.

Okay, I’m going off on another tangent here.

Suffice it to say, artists are only one type of homeless hero/oine.  Artists create whether or not we are paid for it.  We write, paint, sing, strum, even though no one is listening, watching or paying us for it.  Our society understands this and continues to just not pay us for it.

There are other homeless heroes–the “battered woman” who flees abuse and ends up in a shelter with her children, the runaway teen, also fleeing abuse and sleeping on the street, the Chris Gardners who refuse to work at minimum wage jobs and accept a life of poverty who’d rather be “free” living on the street than be controlled by the system.  They think their “ship” will one day come in.  It never does.  Their spirit breaks.  And they give up.  (And once they do give up, they become the “crazy” homeless people we often see on the street.)

And then there’s the artist who keeps creating–today’s Jean-Michel Basquiats who are never discovered.  Their art and the joy it could give us will never be known.

Because we’ve created a classist (as opposed to a classless) society.  One must have an agent, a manager, connections, a cool outfit, a cell phone, and the “right look.”  One must be “18- to-look-younger” and have a product that “sells.” Da Vinci and Rembrandt wouldn’t “make it” today.  Neither would Jimi Hendrix, Charlie Chaplin, or Charles Dickens.

We’re missing out on a lot by relegating the poorest among us to permanent destitution, by refusing to help those in need.  What we fail to see (as a society) are the richest that lie hidden within each and every human being, no matter how lost and forlorn one might appear on the surface–the hidden talents, wisdom, and intellect–contributions that each and every one of us is capable of making to society, once we are allowed to thrive, to pursue our own happiness and rise up to our fullest potential.

Life, Liberty, and…

Oh yeah, some people once thought we (Americans) should all have the right to pursue our own happiness.  But do we?

Unfortunately, we have a system here in the U.S. that is making it hard for people to “pick themselves up by their bootstraps.”  Chris Gardner (‘Pursuit of Happyness’) turned down minimum wage jobs so that he could pursue his dream of having a better life.  He then chose to work for free (as an intern) in order to “pay his dues” so that he could become a stockbroker.  That is why he became homeless.

If he’d given up on his dream and just taken a minimum wage job he wouldn’t have become homeless, but he, most likely, would have remained poor for the rest of his life.
We hear the Chris Gardner stories, but we don’t hear the stories of the thousands of people who, like Gardner, turned down the minimum wage jobs only to find themselves painfully unemployed and, in some cases, homeless. Yes, lots of other people have done what Gardner did but they didn’t get accepted into the internship program, didn’t get their big chance, so they ended up just staying poor.  So, of course, nobody makes a movie about them…

(Well, actually, I did.  It’s called ‘Rocky Mountain Homelessness,’ and it’s airing at independent theaters and cable access stations across the country. Right now, it’s airing at the Screening Room in Amherst, NY and on SCC-TV in White Bear Lake, MN.)
Current statistics show that economic mobility is not as common in the U.S. as many Americans assume.  Most Americans stay in the same economic class into which they were born.  Few people are able to work their way up the ladder.   We’re taught to blame the victim, blame the homeless for being in their situation, so that we are distracted away from the real cause–our faulty system.  As long as we continue to blame the victim, we’ll never look at the real cause–ourselves and the changes we refuse to make in our own system!
Look, I love Michael Moore dearly.  In fact, I believe he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to inform Americans (in a way our corporate media hasn’t) of the flaws in our system.  But I disagree with him on this point:  that capitalism is our biggest problem.  It’s not capitalism, socialism or communism we need to worry about.  It’s us–we, the people.  We have egos, and we act in our own self-interest.  We have trouble seeing the big picture.  We try to work for the common good, but it takes effort for us to put others above ourselves.  And when we’re given power, we are, therefore, prone to corruption.  Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

But we all know this, don’t we?  Yet we naively allow ourselves to be manipulated by propaganda that claims we are somehow “hurting” big businesses by making them obey the same laws the rest of us must obey.

Capitalism is a fine system–if it is regulated properly.  That means “checks and balances” over power.  Regulation over big business and big money provides accountability that prevents a take-over and ensures that resources are more fairly distributed.  It’s disturbing that so many Americans fail to understand this concept.  Accountability over power is necessary because power corrupts.  This is Political Science 101, folks.  Don’t ever let anyone get too much power over your society or they will take over.  We humans have egos.  We see the world through our own narrow lens.  It is naive, to say the least, to suggest we should just allow big business to do whatever it wants.  There is no “free marketplace.”  Big business unfettered will take over and stomp out the competition.  That’s just what a successful business does.  One doesn’t open up a business with the notion that “I will discourage customers from shopping in my store because I don’t want to hurt my competitors.” Ironically, capitalism fails for the same reason as does communism.  If not properly regulated, capitalism works against itself, becoming self-destructive, creating a system in which capitalism no longer is possible.

That is why socialism and capitalism co-exist together so well.  They work together and provide accountability over each other.  We have libraries and privately-owned book stores.  We have public and private schools.  We have public parks and private resorts.  Yes, socialism (government controlled industry) and capitalism (privately owned industry) exist together.  Each provides an alternative to and therefore a “check” over the other.

Sadly, the “free marketplace” is being destroyed by the very people who defend it so ardently.  If I want to stand on the street selling my hand-made widgets then I am doing no harm (provided the widgets aren’t dangerous to the public good.)  But if I become big and powerful, ala Walmart and Target, then I can stomp out the competition–if there is no regulation forbidding it.  That means that other people who want to participate in capitalism by selling their own hand-made widgets cannot because I have monopolized the market (if there are no laws against monopolies.)  Of course, when I decide I can increase my profits even more by outsourcing labor to third world countries, I do even more damage by eliminating jobs in my own country,  thus increasing the number of unemployed and the number of people who no longer can afford to participate in capitalism (if there are no tariffs charged on companies that outsource.)

And so, capitalism ends up destroying itself, in a sense.  There needs to be oversight.  One way of providing that oversight is to impose a tax on companies who outsource labor.  (Our government has been doing the opposite–giving tax breaks to encourage big businesses to outsource labor!)

Whenever I hear the “free marketplace” propaganda I am reminded of how hard it is for ordinary middle class or poor people to start their own businesses in this country.  Regulations have been put into place that make it nearly impossible for anyone who isn’t wealthy, or at least upper middle class, to start their own business.  For example, it is against the law in most cities to stand on a public sidewalk to sell your hand-made jewelry (or anything else.)  You’ll need to get together thousands of dollars and take the risk of renting out (or buying) a storefront.  If you want to sell your hand-made chocolate, you need to rent a separate kitchen and use “professional” grade equipment in order to manufacture and sell that product legally.  Yes, some of those laws make sense in terms of public safety, but some just exist to prevent ordinary people from participating in the capitalist process.

My point is, one is not “free” to market his/her product.  The process is regulated, supposedly, for public safety.  But in reality, adequate regulations don’t seem to be in place over large corporations.

We hear stories of large corporations dumping toxins in our air, food and water and they seem to get away with it.  And when anyone points out the need for laws regulating those activities they get accused of being “communist” or “socialist.”  Yet we all live with regulation–why should corporate America be any different?

Do you see my point?  There is no “free marketplace,” at least not for the rest of us.  The only “free marketplace” is the one that exists for corporate America. Because they have the money to lobby and put pressure on politicians to pass laws that favor them.  Most of us don’t have thousands of dollars to donate to political campaigns, but corporate America does.  They have literally bought our government.

Please, people, face reality.  There is no free marketplace.

There is no free marketplace.  There is no free marketplace.  There is no free marketplace.  There is no freemarketplace.  There is no free marketplace.

Unless, of course, you are Walmart.

I’m mad….

ß

as heck (a more lady-like four-letter-word),

and I can’t take it anymore!

I’ve had to store everything I own (that was near and dear to me) in a bag yet maintain my lady-like presence.

I’ve had the experience of applying for food stamps and being told they “weren’t sure” if I qualified when my income was only $5,000 per year.  And I had to give them a list of my monthly expenses. (Are you kidding me?  $5,000 per year isn’t enough to live on in ANY city, no matter what your expenses are–unless you’re a dependent child, I suppose…)

I’ve had to apply for jobs with a smile on my face, clean, well-manicured, well-dressed, seemingly happy and well-adjusted, responding to the interrogation (that is today’s job interview) as pleasantly and self-assuredly as I could while not knowing whether or not I’d have a bed to sleep on that night.

I’ve had to fill out twenty (yes, twenty!) pages of paperwork, including proof of my U.S. citizenship, questions as to whether I’d ever received government assistance, math, spelling, IQ, and personality tests, criminal background and drug check agreements and questions pertaining to my political beliefs–just to apply for a low-paying entry level job.  One such test asked me several times (and in several different ways) whether or not I used heroin, got into fist fights or got upset at work.  I answered “no” to all and thought I’d pass the test with flying colors.  Nope.  I failed.  Apparently, that company prefers to hire employees who use heroin, get into fist fights regularly and get upset while at work?  I was unable to question my “failure” on the test, however.  It was against their rules, the test results were final, and their corporate office was located in another state.

An employee of a homeless shelter accused me of “acting like you think you’re better than the other women here” because I bathed, kept my clothes clean, stayed away from drugs and alcohol and tried to keep an optimistic attitude (and actually smile) in spite of my circumstances.  (But then again, I did complain about the stale, moldy food we were served at the shelter, and the staff’s hiding donations that were supposed to go to us.  Guess that made me an ungrateful “tenant” too.)

I learned quickly not to smile.  I began to look and feel sad.  “You seem to be adjusting to this place,” I was then told.

Oh yeah, I adjusted alright.  And the mental and physical health problems I developed as a direct result from being homeless–and from the previous years I’d spent struggling financially until that fateful day finally arrived–will be with me for a lifetime.

Too bad I don’t have health insurance.

So why do you suppose some poor people are afraid to apply for assistance…?

Do ya’ think there might be something wrong with the way our system interacts with the poor?

Ya think?

The years go by and the debts grow bigger,

even though I’m doing more and more

with less and less…

Am I mad?  Hell, yeah!

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