Saturday, April 25, 2009

Back to Economics and Politics

Recently our new President has been called a “socialist”. What is very interesting about this is; he has been called a socialist by some on the right and some in the center, while those to the left complain he is not socialist enough. So I began thinking about my definition of socialism. It is a very fuzzy definition at best. It turns out there are more than a few of us with an unclear definition. I checked several definitions at different places. The best definition with some explanations for my confusion, and maybe yours, can be found at .

Briefly, I find that I am confusing the old school definitions of types of governments and types of economics. I learned that I am not a pure socialist but am probably a democratic socialist or something similar. After reading a little about this type of politic, I found mention of a philosopher, Axel Honneth, who was apparently more of a socialist, and in the older style than I. I also read a little about Anthony Crosland, a British politician and socialist theorist. Here is a quote I found in two different places, so it must be good. It really is if you think about it. Sometimes though generational advancement may not be a good thing, energy use and global warming.

"What one generation sees as a luxury, the next sees as a necessity."
Anthony Crosland

Social Democrats believe in some things with which I find I agree. According to what I found, Social Democrats believe in both free enterprise and government run programs of education, safety nets for the poor, and health care for all who need it. Theoretically they believe in government regulation of private enterprise. That one makes much sense to me at this time in our economy. When it comes to foreign policy, Social Democrats believe in multilateral ism. Again this makes sense after the last 8 years. There is a good listing of the theories and the philosophies of Social Democrats at this address: .

Here is an interesting thought I found at:
Apparently Karl Marx considered Socialism to be the rung on the ladder on the way to Communism.
No wonder some of the extremists or the politicians running for office in 2010 are quick to call their competitors, “Socialists”. We still have that old fear of communism in this country. We just don't think about it out loud anymore.

On the economic side of things Wikipedia has another good article. This one is on Keynesian and “The Chicago School”, Milton Friedman, economics. I give you this quotation:

“Friedman, for example, argued that the Great Depression was result of a contraction of the money supply, controlled by the Federal Reserve, and not by the lack of investment as Keynes had argued. Ben Bernanke, current Chairman of the Federal Reserve, is among the economists today generally accepting Friedman's analysis of the causes of the Great Depression.”

While researching these things, I found an article about an article written about the writings of Mr. Crosland. The previous sentence is about as much fun to understand as the whole 1960's article on Crosland. However, wade through it I did. I would like to share with you the following excerpt. Read and reread it please. Then someone let me know if they notice the application to the way the present administration is handling the banking/financial mess.
“It emerges from the nature of his proposals for the extension of public ownership, in those instances where he is willing to consider such steps. He is for government share-buying:
...the object is not to acquire particular capital assets with a view to their control; it is generally to increase the area of public ownership. There is therefore no need for the compulsory purchase of entire firms or industries; it is sufficient to extend public investment in any direction ... Indeed, it would be a positive nuisance to be saddled with control...
What stands out about this method of extending "public ownership" is that it is the one which guarantees completely leaving all management rights and relations undisturbed. It is designed to leave the same bosses in control no matter what level of "public ownership" is thereby reached. Crosland is utilizing the well-known split between share-ownership and management control to introduce the same schism between public ownership and public control. His program for "extension of public ownership" is at the same time a program for maintenance of managers' control.”

Source URL:

I don't know about the rest of you, but I find this stuff hard to follow and hard to get in my head. It is important to try even though it is so difficult. You may wonder why, sometimes I do. Just remember you can vote. You can write a blog. You can write your congresspeople. You can talk to friends and neighbors. You know the routines use them. Others will and do.

Here is an postscript, update, to an earlier posting, Discretionary Spending Feb. 24, 2009. The F-22 production is definitely in trouble. Don't despair. The Military-Industrial Complex is keeping busy. They are working hard to get new bigger contracts on a couple of other planes, the C-17 transport and the F-18. Keep track of their “hard work” and remember the manufacturing plants and suppliers are scattered all over the country. You have to give them credit for thinking ahead when they got those jobs scattered around. It is hard for a congressperson to cut back on those huge contracts when they have to go home or run again for office.
Unemployment is already extremely high.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Poetry I Don't Get It

I have never been a serious poetry person. But since there are poets in the family, I figure I ought to try to “get” poetry again. So I reviewed some of what I learned years ago and found a little new about poetry on-line. What I found is: I am not a serious poetry person.

The only poetry for me is poetry that is straight-forward, painting, pastoral pictures.

Poetry does not need to rhyme for me. I do like the rhyme of poetry for children whether written by kids or for kids. I even like singsong poetry, supposedly not good poetry from my studies thus far.

I do not want to read all poems again and again, a little rereading for meaning is OK, but I am lazy. I don't want to figure out what the deep, psychological meaning is. Some play with words is fine-that is the why of poetry I think.

My definition of poetry is the shortest or best words, even if very unusual words, to describe a person, place, or thing. Thing in this case can be an emotion.

I know people and the “real” world are not always nice so I want be entertained or taken to a better place. I like my poetry like my old “fun” movies, escaping to a fun place or a mystery that will have an ending.

Then I thought maybe if I tried writing a verse maybe I would get it. Then my older brother and I were talking about food when he mentioned “beans and fried potatoes”. That combination of words are music and visuals of growing up . So here are the beginnings(and probably the end) of my poetry efforts but watch out... I want it to be read in a singsong manner.

If you want you can analyze the verses and let me know what you see and hear.

The Music That Is Me

Dirty face and well worn trikes
brown beans and fried potatoes.
Mosquito sprays and steaming trains
tailin' piles and sink holes.

"Do the job and do it right"
Swept porch and broom ed yard.
Summer leaches and washed cars
burnin' coal and drip lard.

"Play with me." "I'm gonna tell."
Steam rollers and road graders.
Drawing gate and ticking lock.
A Whine sack Baby Brother.

Hand me downs and Doris Day
mud pies and paper dolls.
Taking care and cleaning house
A-men-Able My Sister.

Be the best and run away
sickly sun and worry.
Trouble then and Mentor now
Thou Hector Older Brother.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Squirrel Wars May Just be Just Wars

What would lead a far-left-of-center person to declare and to justify a war on squirrels? It is actually a war of selfishness, laziness, and greed by all involved parties.

It is a War of economics justified by the cost of feeding birds under my “sphere of influence”. A War of “exceptional ism” justified by changing the world to suit myself. A War of “Manifest Destiny” justified by my right to interfere in nature. All justified by feeding birds where I want them fed to suit my selfish needs without any “injurious competition” from squirrels.

The squirrels are invading my territory and taking what is rightfully mine. They have no work ethic. They should hunt and eat in their own territory.

As you may note by the blog photo my husband took, I am an amateur photographer of “deck” birds. I try to take what I call “birds with attitude” photos. Then, I do pencil drawings from them.

It all started with just trying to get as many types of birds as possible to come to the deck to eat “Up close and personal” so to speak. It was an investigation into common birds on the hill and their feeding habits while taking into account laziness of the watchers-me and the cat, Boo Kitty. I call it Boo Kitty television. We added some camouflage in the forms of bark and pieces of firewood for better bird-portrait backgrounds.

Of course we got critters too: snakes, coons, possums, and squirrels. (Yes, we take pictures of these critters along with the bird photos.) The possums, the coons, and the snakes that come aren't much trouble to keep under control but the squirrels are another tale. They eat and eat and eat. Bird seed is expensive. So far I have not seen the beggars eating the suet we put out.

I tried "corncob and stick" diplomacy. I bought a squirrel feeder and some corn (on the cob) to put on it. My husband put it out on a tree far enough from the deck so they wouldn't come eat the seeds. That didn't work. They inhaled the corn and then came in for sunflower seed dessert. So back to watching and scaring them off the deck.

It is a daily on-going chore to run off the squirrels. We even have many of them named though they don't know it. We actually encouraged one unusually light colored squirrel last year. By encouraged, I mean we didn't run her off. But now we have a few unwanted “left-overs” from last year and a bevy young “hooligans”.

According to what I remember from my psychology classes I need to extinguish the learning of sunflower-seed-is-available by removing all reinforcement. If all reinforcement is not removed the learned behavior, sneaking to the feeders and finding those sunflower seeds to munch, will not be extinguished it will actually be reinforced. Some squirrels will learn how to wait me out. Oh wait they did! So, in order to stop the squirrels I would have to totally remove the positive of food. Note I said totally.

Watching for squirrels all daylight hours is required. When they appear I must appear before they get one bite of food. In the meantime am I keeping some birds away? Of course I am. Or just don't feed the birds this way and get a feeder with a baffle. But wait again! I trained the birds to eat in front of the windows and where I camouflaged the deck rail. Now I can take the pictures from very close up and in the winter I sit right inside the kitchen window with the camera without spooking the birds.

So Scruffy Squirrel sits there right now and eats because I have run him off several times already this morning and I'm sick of it. H mm. Who is training Whom here. If only he could find a way to extinguish completely my “startle” behavior, he and his followers would be victors, the greater power, the ones to claim exceptional Manifest Destiny.