Where do I go for inspiration? Dismissal, revenge, spite, self-hatred, regret. Missed opportunity and the chance to do what I once could not. I feel stronger now, fueled by regret. Still time to make my youth a proud spectacle. A chance to put my past in lights. To douse my spite in vindication and my self-hatred in conquest. This is the dawning of a violent turn in my life. Rat prince dawns his regal attire and ascends to the top of the pile, leaving his scabbard cohorts to soak in the arid murk of yesterday’s bath water. Fucking and fighting like there isn’t enough birth, enough consequential death, to fill the tub/pool. There must be a spiteful bastard to sit atop this mess, else the cretinous mass will crumble and each constituent will drown in the shallows. With him, vermin among vermin, to weigh upon the knee-deep, the wading serfs. Without whom, the flurry would crawl between the cracks and die. Rodentiaa sleeps alone, lives worlds from his unders. Child of eternity, arrow of authority. Looking for some hot stuff, baby, this evening. Check is served: it’s a whopper. It’s literally a Whopper tm.
Tapdancing in the rafters with death, the master, eating below. Burns on their feet from crawling on the boiler’s pipes. They leave their slippers on the stove and grow new ones in the spring. They share secrets in the walls. Death hears them whisper, and keeps a weary pressed to the newspaper inlay. They hear his surveillance and meter away from the knocks emanating from splintered wood. Wringing frightened paws, death draws astride in the form of steel contraptions and takes them at random. King rat, sits atop his pile.

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A Cloudy Forecast

Widening disparity in the income gap is a tell-tale sign of political sickness. Some people say “the US is a plutocracy”, that a wealthy elite control the vast majority of capital in the country and that the once upwardly mobile citizenry now merely subsist in the tundra of a recessive winter, brought on by the folly of loose interest and trickle-out, liquid capital. Some people say that. And while those people no longer have the upper hand there remains the long held ideal that education is the key to financial success. Well, according to Matthew O’Brien of The Atlantic, wealthy kids without a college education are more likely to wind up in the high end of the tax bracket than college students who lack the wealthy background. O’Brien discusses education of the education system: he talks about how parents and students are often uninformed about the explications of a college degree in relation to the cost required to obtain it. Speaking from an aggregate of experiences, ranging from the seasoned professional to my own, I can say that a college education is a great way to show the working world that you are ready for a career. That said, a degree says only so much. Class, however elusive the term may be to Americans, remains the ultimate gate-keeper. The ideal of education as a pathway to success slips further from our grasp for one more generation. You can find the article here.

Prisoners of a Hard Life

I was walking home late the other night when this piece crossed my path. Image

It’s a comic illustrating the difficulty of prison life for incarcerated mothers and their children. The story of Ramona Willis details a convict’s life from the age of 11, when she started drinking her mother and father’s vodka, to her jail time for prostitution. In the interim, the alludes to Ramona’s uncle molesting her, an agent in her later substance abuse and tricking. This story, and many others like it in the book, try to show that there is always underlying damage for any felon which cause him or her to break the law.

While out on probation, Ramona is arrested once more under New York City’s “Operation Cleansweep” law, wherein police are pressured to ticket those previously identified as prostitutes. Ramona’s daughter bears witness as her mother is taken away by a squad car. “One in five children of women who become incarcerated will witness their mother’s arrest. Few policies are in place to make sure these children’s needs are met” (Miller-Mack, Willmarth, Ahrens). Ramona’s daughter is inculcated into the same delinquencies Ramona herself was subject to at the same age. Rather than installing social programs to help prevent recidivism, the New York City government passes the same route to prison down to coming generations in neglecting the children of those inmates.

Image

Ramona discovers she is HIV positive while in prison. “3.6% of all women incarcerated in the U.S. are HIV+. That is 12 times the national rate” (Miller-Mack, Willmarth, Ahrens). This number is 18% for incarcerated women in the state of New York. 78% of women incarcerated in the U.S. come from a background of physical or sexual abuse. This background is closely tied to drug abuse and post traumatic stress disorder. Women with a history of sexual abuse, as in Ramona’s case, are twice as likely to have injected drugs and 2.8 times as likely to have engaged in risky sexual behavior.

Artist: Susan Willmarth

Writers: Ellen Miller-Mack, Susan Willmarth, Lois Ahrens

The Real Cost of Prisons Project, 2005, 5 Warfield Place, Northampton, MA

Public Schooling

The college system is a racket. Any recent college grad will tell you that. Ten grand a year in tuition, a grand in books (at least) and the added expense of being unprepared for the career world. In my case, the case of the UC Regents, all of this was happening while half of the annual budget was going to undisclosed overhead and tuition was being raised by roughly 6% a year. But a reason for the hikes at present stems from poor resource management in the past. The state of California has had to cut its spending, including the money it allocates towards the UC’s. Where California once spent $3.04bn or 3.8% of the annual budget on the UC system, it now spends $2.56bn or 2% of the budget on them. With the passing of Prop 30, there is no midyear tuition hike for 2012-2013. Still, the fact that tuition is being increased while the UC Regents enjoy comfortable six figure incomes remains atrocious. And one cannot refute the point that a UC education is no longer an affordable one.

War as an Economic Impetus

War is always an effective economic stimulant but likewise an unstable mechanism. It mobilizes clearly defined industries and yields land and goods for the victors while simultaneously tearing apart the economic fabric of a region. Everyone loses even if the winner banks in the end. It provides relatively little in the short term compared to the destroyed infrastructure it brings at length. It was a necessary risk from Nazi Germany’s perspective because the monetary infrastructure of the state had been weakened to a point of widespread poverty. Following WWII, Europe was dropped into a deep depression. It would have stayed that way were it not for the United States’ Marshall Plan and Keynesian fiscal policies. Marshall Aid supplied the region with loans that would be paid back using American dollars, effectively supplanting deflated currency. The US lent out on five year plans with an eye for liberalizing formerly autocratic states. The invention of that Euro was as much a reconstruction effort as it was one of liberalization and conflict prevention. Europe’s relative destitution put America in a creditor position and firmly cemented its place as a power player. I bring up the US because Europe would have languished in terminal poverty had the State’s not invested in the region’s recovery. The short term gains for Germany, if we look at the picture from that country’s perspective preceding the war, ultimately could have yielded nothing but political strife and economic turmoil for decades regardless of outcome.

Liberalized Soviets

Political scientists have some trouble defining communist regimes. They have trouble with most regimes but state socialism seems to pervade them with ease. The reason being that most countries identifying as socialist possess the same mechanical functions as their liberal counterparts.
For example, privatizing efforts in post communist Poland were certainly driven by industry but the factory system and its relative disrepair following the Soviet Unions’s collapse were nothing new to the workers. USSR’s more regimented market economy and patronage currency were altered but the fact remains that Russia and its subsidiaries traded even if only with each other.
The USSR was a communist experiment but could not avoid the international liberalizing trend of Europe and, by association, the world at large. The Cold War was not so much the West’s attempt to stave off communism so much as it was the Soviet Union’s attempt to maintain a systemically flawed economic infrastructure. In this way, there have never been communist countries but rather socialized liberal states.

Locke’s Secularity and Biblical Metaphors

It is important to note that the revolutionary ideas of early British Americans were as much rooted in John Locke’s notion of property right as they were in Adam Smith’s theory of national wealth. But where Smith’s ideas were rooted in Anglican morality, Locke is often argued as a secular writer. His theories are empirically based rather than construed from liturgical text.

That said, it is difficult to ignore his use and criticism of biblical metaphors. Referring to the ethical platform of Christian ideals was a common methodological and rhetorical practice for the time. In his theory of sovereignty he employs the analogy of Adam’s Title: “…That ‘fathers have a power over the lives of their children, because they give them life and being, which is the only proof it is capable of, since there can be no reason, why naturally one man should have any claim or pretense of right over that in another, which was never his, which he bestowed not, but was received from the bounty of another” (Locke, b. 1, ch. 6, pp. 52). Here, Locke is criticizing the divine right of the king by evoking and lambasting the commonly held notion that man’s dependents are his property. He goes on to say that ownership would belong to him were he to literally fashion all the parts and the soul of that creature. I infer that Locke means Adam’s Title removes divinity from god because man does not literally give life to his child.

Locke goes on to distance man’s divine creation of the child from god’s divine creation of man as written in Psalms. “That even the power which God himself exerciseth over mankind is by right of fatherhood” (Psalm 159). Without argumentation, he goes on to claim that this distinction is removed from earthly parents. This is Locke’s secularism. Even if there is some divine order, the natural world has a set of rules all its own.

These words are both heretical and treasonous because the same theory that bestowed a king with absolute power over his subjects was the subject of religious debate. Still, Locke found himself a philosophical outlier for having such radical ideas. At the time of this writing, Hobbes’ Leviathan was the dominant work in political theory. He used a much heavier dose of Christian imagery in his book, alluding to man’s fall from grace in the State of War and the obvious symbolism of the biblical creature. John Locke’s Second Treatise was a slap in the face of the present hierarchical order because it put all humans, regardless of social class, on the same footing under god. The founding fathers adopted these beliefs in the United States’ seminal texts, though history has proven that theory and reality are often in misalignment. Still, the notion of everyone being spiritually equal in the face of material discrepancies changed possibilities for future generations in the coming revolutions.