Archive for the ‘The Responsible Citizen’s Bullhorn’ Category

The Daily Prompt: Breaking the Ice

The internet has recently been swept up by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Is there a cause — social, political, cultural, or other — you passionately believe in? Tell us how you got involved — or why you don’t get involved.

It’s admirable that the ALS Association started a viral campaign that has raised awareness of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Just as it’s great that year in and year out, Revlon hosts a 5K/Walk-a-thon to raise awareness of breast cancer. “Movember” – Mustache November — raises awareness of prostate cancer. Jerry Lewis hosts a telethon for muscular dystrophy. There are a gazillion causes out there, and yet the ALS Challenge is the one that currently grabs everyone’s attention. I don’t quite get how one gets sucked into this whole “viral” thing. Is it peer pressure? Coercion? A mob effect? For all its good intentions, the message of ALS might have gotten lost on the wayside, by and large. Not on me, however. Lou Gehrig’s disease is a debilitating disease that many of us are already aware of. Stephen Hawking is perhaps its most famous living spokesperson. Many others aren’t so lucky to be in such a position. I lost a friend who suffered from ALS. I don’t need a cute viral campaign to remind me.

There’s more to my aloofness. It’s not so much that I’m being a rebel. In a certain context that would be a sort of attention-grabbing posturing. I certainly don’t need any more than what I get on a daily basis. Call it skepticism, for lack of a better word. There’s really nothing wrong with having a little fun, dousing your friends in ice water, especially on a hot summer day. Nothing wrong with going viral with it. But in the bigger scheme of things, when the things that draw 90% of the world’s attention are ice-bucket challenges and vainglorious selfies, when there are riots, wars, and beheadings going on…  then something is fundamentally wrong with our society. It’s understandable that in today’s world, rife with problems, people tend to gravitate towards what gives them some sort of happiness. Making light of a debilitating disease like ALS, by dousing others with ice, seems to come close. We like the fun part; never mind what the cause was all about, or how the activity may be in poor taste.

So yeah, I’ll shy away from any causes with flashy events — but I’m not being a contrarian for contrary’s sake. My head’s already involved in so many causes around the world, I’m at the point of overload. The things I espouse are commonplace, yet important. I value equality and social justice, above all else. Education. Literacy. Affordable health care.  LGBT rights.  Women’s rights. World peace. Space travel. These are my causes, among so many others. They are legion. An ice-bucket challenge is nice. So is a 5K race. But what about the rest of them? Do we do a “Best Selfie” campaign to raise awareness for victims of rape? Or another massive concert like the 1980’s Band Aid, which raised some awareness about famine in Africa, yet still ultimately failed? We tend to get worked up about causes that are dramatic. People start movements, but mostly as a reaction to a predicament. Yet hardly any of us give a thought about what a boring cause like affordable healthcare or education would do, to avoid such things in the first place. And that, Friends, is where I’ll leave you at: Instead of being reactive, passively following the lemming-like nature of trends and viral fads… why don’t we be proactive and think about the things that are near and dear to your hearts? Don’t get mindlessly drawn into distractions. Go out and find your own individual causes. Or all of them. Stick to them, devote as much (or as little) as you can. Be a Citizen of the World, always involved and aware and on your own terms.. Don’t wait for the fads; go start one. Remember, we’re not just spectators. Every single one of us have something that attaches us to this World, and to others, something that moves us. Go find that something.

Copyright © 2014 The Anabases

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For the week ending June 12, 2009, these are the most important or newsworthy reels to hit this blog’s radar, summarized in 1,000 words (give or take a few thousand):

TARP Repayments Begin…

After a nightmarish eight months which saw bank after bank bleed money or go bust, and a much-needed government intervention, repayments of up to $68 billion of the Troubled Asset Relief Protection (TARP) will begin next week. The Federal Reserve authorized 10 banks, including Morgan Stanley, Goldman-Sachs and others, to pay back a portion of their loans and frees them from some government obligations such as… executive compensation. Notice that this post made no mention about whether or not these banks were really in the clear or not. Even after nearly going to Hell, where they should have been allowed to fall in the first place, these ingrates haven’t learned their lesson and wanted to pay back the loans, for all the wrong reasons.  Some are even complaining, calling TARP a ripoff. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Next time these knuckleheads fail, the government should let them twist in the wind. We don’t need to bail out any more idiots who have no appreciation for help when they get it. Let them bleed to death, for all we care.

On that note, Tim Geithner and the Treasury Department began what turned out to be a half-assed measure to try and curb executive compensation, on the heels of the bloody Countrywide fleecing by disgraced ex-CEO Angelo Mozilo.  Unfortunately, at first glance it is nothing more than talk.  The only way the government will ever have a say on corporate excesses is when they wind up intervening in their respective businesses; this is why the banks that are able to rebound are trying to pay back the money as fast as they get them – just to get the government’s prying eyes out of the way.

This part of the post is a rant: I’m not a big fan of government intervention as these so-called conservative morons claim they aren’t. But like it or not, it’s good to have a safety net to be able to bounce back from; that’s what they call insurance. Our taxes pay to keep this government running, and last I checked, even bankers were taxpaying citizens. So why resent it when the government browbeats you for it? That’s their job, as caretakers of the nation’s resources.  Neither could any of this lending to restore banks be called socialist, as what these idiots claim.  First off, TARP was initiated by a Treasury Secretary under a Republican Administration, Henry Paulson. Obama and the current Congress simply facilitated it. So anyone mouthing off on so-called socialist policies should read how this whole thing started in the first place.

I find it really, really amusing that right-wing Republicans resort to attacking Obama and Democrats with the Socialist label. Fine, then I call these dogs Nazis. Wasn’t it a commentator or two on Fox who agitated all these shooters into killing a doctor at an abortion clinic and the Holocaust Museum? If they want to continue the abrasive, isolationist attacks that alienated America from the rest of the world and ourselves, then all I gotta say is, “Bring it on.” Bitch.

and Otherwise

It’s been a quiet week. The sale of Chrysler to Fiat was finalized this week, with Fiat acquiring a 20% majority stake in the remnants of the former great. However, lawsuits and angry appeals from bondholders and spurned dealers will no doubt slow down any progress in business – much like a swarm of bees choking a hornet.  About the only other interesting thing other than TARP repayments and the ongoing restructuring of the automakers is a Treasury Bond rally that seems to be catching on. Treasury yields have been going low, as a result of mortgage rates going up, maybe prematurely As a result, 30-Year bonds are being gobbled up while they hover at their highest levels that’s been seen in a while, around the 4’s. So who needs stocks, when you can put them in good ol’ fashion bonds? With things the way they are right now, no volatility and a guaranteed gain on your money is better than none at all.

Looks like the bond rally hasn’t hurt Wall Street, either. At week’s end, the Dow Jones finally gained enough points to close at a positive, compared to its close at the end of 2008. That’s a sigh of relief for some, who see a comeback as soon as this month.  When we’re back to the 9,000 level, we’ll know for sure.  Except millions of us still have to find work, and pay off our bills. For now, though, any good news will have to do, like the markets starting to rebound.

Copyright Anabasius 2009

——– As a teacher with several years’ experience teaching in college-prep schools, I will now impart the wisest thing I can think of, to all future high school graduates:

DON’T GO TO COLLEGE. Yes, you read that right.

That’s a loaded statement, of course so please read on. DO GO TO COLLEGE, if you’re serious and know what you want to pursue. Don’t just do it because you have no idea what you want to do with your life. You’ll figure it out soon enough, with or without college. Join the Army or the Navy in the meantime. Take up sports. Be a cop or a paramedic. Do something productive. Don’t waste your best years in college. But most of all, don’t waste your money so quickly on such a decision. Especially if you don’t have it.

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Why do I say this? I spent nearly ten goddamned years pursuing a degree. Because it was the right thing to do, said my parents, and my parents’ parents before them. They were Depression-Era people; what the heck better did they know? College meant improvement, a chance to rise above mediocrity and minimum-wage.

Then there were these dirty nasty thing called financial companies, who wanted to make money out of nothing (see: mortgage crisis). So they sold the idea that, look, as students you need money to survive, right? Unless you live with mommy and daddy, you can’t pay for all those things you need, right? Rent, food, gas or transportation money, the bright, shiny laptop you’ll need to write papers and play on Facebook with… anyway, you’ll need it, trust us. You can always repay this, and they’re low on interest. Oh, what sweet lies did they lull us with.

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They didn’t say that it would be a rough economy, and one out of three would be unemployed or under-employed. They didn’t say the economy would suck in three to five years. And worse yet, they never said they would wait, in the eventuality that you couldn’t find steady work. So after several years of futile labor, trying to make ends meet and pay past obligations, the heavy roof of debt finally caved in, and I could no longer make reasonable payment obligations, without some sort of disadvantageous arrangement. Forget about getting that nice house (heard about the mortgage crisis?). Forget about having children now (heard of child cruelty?). In fact, student loan agencies have done one thing that not all of the bullies in all of school could do: Deprive men and women of their lives and souls. This is tyranny of the highest accord.

The blame isn’t solely on financial aid organizations, like EdFund (Number One on my Shit List), Sallie Mae, et. al. The biggest other Judas in this conspiracy are the colleges, who deceived most students by misrepresenting the facts: It’s realistically not possible to live on a budget while paying for school. It’s okay to pay for school as you go along, without having to incur serious debt.

No. Instead of taking care of the students in their charge, instead they milked them for several thousand dollars they could indenture them to. They ensnared these people in the dire straits of Scylla and Charbydis, and without a proper raft, damned them to sink in the whirlpool of debt. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.

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Unfortunately, it seems too late for the likes of me and several hundreds of thousands of others who have fallen into that trap and defaulted. So in case you’re curious, we are now being hunted down as financial fugitives, seeing our meager livelihoods garnished, in arrears. For the simple reason that we couldn’t repay our loans, because our economy had failed us. So much for “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive those indebted to us.”

Remembering a line in The Shawshank Redemption: “The funny thing is – on the outside, I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook.” So what do they want us to do, prove that we’re dying so that they don’t chase us?  Die?  Rob banks?

It’s not too late, however, for the several thousands, and millions, who are in college, or about to go to college. I am being exclusive in this address. If you can afford the money, if mommy and daddy will cover the cost, or if you’re paying as you go, then go in there, and seize your education. But don’t let these goddamned crooks for colleges decide your financial future.

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Don’t let these bastards get a cent more from you. Above all, don’t fall in love with your school. Don’t let them seduce you into thinking that you belong to them. They should belong to you, and kiss you hand and foot. It’s your education. (Whatever you do, don’t take your frustrations out on the professors; but do give college administrators a hard time when you’re able to.) Do NOT give them a red cent more, not for frivolous building projects that are meaningless to you, not useless alumni organizations which waste your time. Your college, your university, must dedicate their resources to YOU. Not a grantor or a donor.

YOU and YOU alone.

However, if you’re poor, and if you’re in no position to even start… then STAY OUT OF COLLEGE! I am pleading for you to do this, I’m saying this, because I care. Because YOU need to save your hard-earned dough, and put it to good use, when the time is right. PAY AS YOU GO. Don’t belive the Lie of Loans. Don’t ever, EVER let these scum-sucking student loan agencies dupe you into believing that loans are the only way to go. Get grants, BUT NO LOANS. This vitriol is spewed, not just because I want my fellow Americans to save their hard-fought wages from the wolves. I also want to deny these Bastards their livelihood. And for each American student who says a resounding NO to loans, they lose several thousand more. Several thousand more, multiplied by a few thousand, or a few million, begets a billion that these people will lose. When you attack your enemy, you do not just go through politics. You do not just fight your battle; you see the whole picture and see the war. Make them pay, and pay in spades. Make them bankrupt, and they will be forced to beg, as they should, as they made use beg. Do not rely on your politicians to fight for you, but learn to do it yourselves. Alone, we are powerless, but if we all take a stand and refuse to take any more student loans – then they will feel that pain. And THAT is how you do it. You twist that garrote until they start to feel pain. Pay them back, as they paid you; if they aren’t willing to forgive your debts, then make them bleed. Let these — and the schools they whore — that education isn’t so important that you have to sign away your life and livelihood and live indentured. This is Your choice, and you can achieve your dreams without being swindled and without their chicanery. For those of us who have already been fleeced, we have a long battle still, and some of us may perish. But for those of you who haven’t gone that road — choose, and choose wisely, My Friends. That is all I implore, and keep up the fight.

Here is a great article about one Man fighting this battle, and his site:

Inside the Student Loan Scam

Student Loan Justice

This is a reprint of an article first posted on May 9, 2009 at WordPress.com.

Copyright Anabasius 2009