The Oxfam Report


I don’t understand why this information isn’t all over the media.

Actually, that’s not true. I totally understand why it isn’t all over the media.

And that understanding is part of why I am so enraged about the content of the report.

If you want to understand just how badly the entire world is being screwed over by the big corporations, read this report.

If you want to try to defend the kind of corporate driven capitalism that we are living under, read it.  If you want to explain to me why the conservatives are right on economics, please read this report. Then talk to me and tell me how this is fair.

I am linking to a short article that was first published on the website “Liberalamerica“, but after you read that, click on the link to the report. Read it carefully, but have your blood pressure medicine close by.

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This is one of the places where your tax dollars live. Sweet, huh?

You Won’t Believe How Much Money Big Corps Are Hiding Offshore

The Oxfam Report

The Stock Market….huh?


Stacks of coins

Up or down?  Does it matter?

So as an old retired lady, I don’t always take the time to follow the vagaries of Wall Street.

I mean, really. I’m busy rocking my granddaughter, deadheading my marigolds, making cucumber relish.

I don’t sit around on my comfy blue leather couch watching CNN.  I mean.  I hardly ever do that.

But if I did sit there all day following the ups and downs of the markets, I would probably just yawn.

I seriously doubt that I’d be all upset.  I probably wouldn’t tear my hair and grind my teeth.  I don’t think for one minute that I’d burst into tears and try to call my broker.

Know why?

First of all, I don’t even HAVE a broker.  What is that anyway? I have some money in the stock market, because I did the easy thing a lot of years ago, and I started to put a part of my salary into a “403B”.  Which apparently is very similar to a “401K”. Except for, you know, the numbers.  And the letter.

Whatever. My 403 B is my easy peasy “put some money in here and watch it grow” fund.

I have never ever paid attention to individual stocks. Or bonds. Or hedge funds.  Or bulls. Or bears.

I just worked, cashed my checks, assumed that smart money people were handling my money.

So here I am, in the very first week of my retirement.  The stock market is apparently having a major heart attack and all of the people with actual money are having a conniption.

I, however, am not.

And here is why:

Our family motto is this: “Money. Never had it; never will.”   We understand that as long as we can afford three meals a day and a roof over our heads, all is well.  We know that we are not smart enough to decode the meaning of China’s decreasing sails of durable goods.

We are happy. We are content.

So far, that money in the 403B has been nothing more than a row of digits. It has never seem very real to us.

And that’s wonderful!

If it disappears in a puff of blue smoke in the next two weeks, we will hardly notice that our money is all gone.

As long as we have carrot soup and veggie stock in our freezer, we’ll be able to laugh at the news and ask each other, “Stock market? What on earth is that?”

Abandoned


In the little town where I live there are many, many buildings that stand empty. Some were left behind when the jobs and the money disappeared. Some are in a limbo of legal wranglings. Some have simply become too old to be maintained.

On our town’s main street there stands a crooked,  creaky,  wooden building that once housed a little general store. For so many years, the town’s children came here for candy. The mothers came for fresh milk brought in from the farm up the street.  Generations of families came in for the newspaper, a loaf of bread, candles or kerosene or batteries.  The store’s wavering, rippled windows have looked out on the central street of this little town since the 1920’s.

Now the store is empty, the window displays show only dust.  The milk from our local farm has long since been sold to a big interstate conglomerate. The candy is gone, the papers are now read on-line.  The wooden beams that hold up this hulking old building have warped and bent; the roof is leaking and the wiring is brittle and frail.

I am guessing that the beautiful old red and white clapboards will be taken down soon, left in a pile of dusty memories.

In my small town there are so many houses that have been left alone, empty, abandoned.  Each is marked with a vivid red X, a sign to local firefighters, saying   “If I am burning, you should let me go. No one hides inside. No one lives here now.  I am an empty shell. Let me burn.”

SONY DSCNo matter that the house was once the pride of a young family. No matter that at one time the graceful slope of the roof was a sign of genteel prosperity.  No matter that in a time gone by the delicate posts of the porch sheltered a happy family out taking the evening air.  No matter that these gnarled old trees used to hold swings where girls in gingham dresses giggled at the sight of boys in suspenders and straw hats.

Now the house is empty. The prosperity is gone. Now the trees are old and bare, the street is cracked and worn.

No family laughs around the fireplace here any more.  No mother croons a lullaby to her baby in these rooms. No lazy dog is left to doze by the front door.  No letters are delivered here now, no packages wait on the step for the birthday boy to arrive.

In my small town, there are so many proud old houses that stand marked by an X. Dark, echoing, alone.  Waiting for the fire or the storm or the wrecker that will come to finally bring them down.

In my poor little town, the rhododendron and the hemlock have proven to be stronger than the people who once called these places “home”.  Every day on my way to work, and every night on my way home, I drive past a house that has been abandoned and alone for so long that the bushes have grown right up and over the door.SONY DSCEvery day, and every night, I picture the children who must have eaten their breakfasts and headed out this door to school.  Every day I think of the mothers who must have carried groceries in through it, and the grandparents who must surely have arrived here on Christmas Eves of the past, loaded down with gifts and cookies and love.

And every day, and every night, I wonder how long it has taken for the bushes to cover the path and hide the door.  And I wonder if those wise and strong old plants are trying to shield the house, and keep its secrets safe.

Becoming Ma.


Well, for Heaven’s sake.

No wonder I can’t sleep!

Every time I turn on the radio, or watch TV, or pick up the newspaper, or read the Huffington Post, I am reminded of one grim, inevitable, indisputable fact.

I am about to become Ma Joad!

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You remember her, right?  From the movie “The Grapes of Wrath”?She was the long suffering, noble Mother in Steinbeck’s classic story of life during the Great Depression and the terrible Dust Bowl years. She was the strong, enduring symbol of love that kept her family together through economic disaster.

I can picture her right now, sweeping her empty, broken down house as the family packs its belongings onto the back of a truck, abandoning everything familiar to move west in search of jobs.

That is so me. Sweeping the floor of a deserted house…..

Why am I harboring the fantasy that I will turn into Ma Joad, you ask?  Well, I’ll just tell you why!

Because we’re about to go careening off the damn fiscal cliff, that’s why!  Every radio voice, editorial writer and TV pundit says we are, so it must be true!

Boehner and Obama are locked in a deadly battle of “No, you’re  a doody head!” and “Oh, yeah? Well, make me!”  They’re both independently wealthy, so they don’t actually care about the fiscal cliff or the monetary meltdown or the fact that the Dust Bowl years are going to look like a party compared to what’s coming. They just wanna win the chicken fight.

But I care! I do!

I’m just your average overweight, middle aged mother who is trying to hold onto her humble home, and I’m getting scared.  When we go off the cliff, you know, we won’t be wearing seat belts. From what the experts tell me (endlessly….) after January 1st, all the jobs will disappear in a puff of smoke, the stock market will crash, the banks will close, the sewers will back up and Facebook will shut down.  Disaster! The end of days!  All is lost!!

Nice, simple people like you and me will end up scratching and biting just to get the last loaf of bread off the store shelf. We’ll be reduced to hunting squirrels with rubber band slingshots, and pulling up dandelions just to eat the greens.

And when that happens, as it surely will, America will need another chubby old woman in frumpy clothes to symbolize our enduring strength.  Other than the straw hat, I totally fit the bill.  I even have the handsome son to match hers! See?

One of my good looking boys.

One of my good looking boys.

Ma Joad's good looking son.

Ma Joad’s good looking boy. Uncanny…….

So as I lie awake in the dark of night, worrying about the future, there is only one small ray of hope that flickers dimly in the gloom:

Maybe the Mayans were right, and we won’t be around long enough to even reach the fiscal cliff.