My Life is Words
Words and ideas turn on the lights in the brain
Isms - racism, sexism, religionism, patriotism, nationalism, what's is all about?
Created in God's image. Reality or the product of an overactive ego?
Religion, it seems to me, and there is ample evidence to support my belief, has caused more pain, suffering, and death to humans and other living creatures than all the wars and pandemics in the history of humans put together. What is it that drives some of us to be so passionate about our religion that it blinds us to our humanity? Why do we go off in a rage at another religion or take the words of some ancient being to mean we can lord it over all things on the earth?
I believe it is our egos that came up with this notion and that continues to need to be fed by the belief that we are "superior." Let's take a look at the Hebrew Bible, the first to "document" this idea.
And God said: 'Let us make man in our image/b'tsalmeinu, after our likeness/kid'muteinu; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.' And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him, male and female created He them. And God blessed them; and God said to them: 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creepeth upon the earth.'
If that isn't an exercise in the human ego, I've never seen or read one. We, and only we are created in God's image, and we hold dominion over all other living things on the planet, and one assumes if we ever find life on another planet, we update that to include that life. That is pure narcissism, more so that even Trump is capable of. And, let's not forget that this was all written by a bunch of old men who wandered off by themselves and came back claiming to have conversed with God.
We might also note that the statement 'Let us make man. . .' was written by a man. It was not 'Let us make humans or men and women'. In fact, the entirety of the Bible, Torah, and Koran were written by men, men with, one must assume, rather large egos and who appear to have been motivated to create a world in which men ruled and mostly had their way.
Tradition credits Moses as the author of Genesis, as well as the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and most of Deuteronomy, but modern scholars increasingly see them as a product of the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. Moses walked the earth in the 14th & 13th centuries BCE. Whether it was Moses who set down these words, or others, it was still somewhere between about 2,500 and 3,200 years ago that all this was written and the intellectual properties of humans back then might be subject to discussion.
Studies were done, and continuing studies as well show that dolphins and whales are exceeding intelligent. We can't be sure how bright because we have yet to learn how to communicate with them, but they are unquestionably very intelligent animals. They have complicated languages, societal rule, and a sense of self-awareness, attributes we like to point to that make us human. What if God really created dolphins in His image and we humans have circumvented God's plan?
We have continually used the excuse, myth, or belief that we are just like God to justify running roughshod over all living things on the earth. That callous attitude includes other humans who we have determined, for a variety of reasons, often words in our religious texts, are not part of God's plan and we are therefore justified in killing them off or enslaving them or simply ignoring them. Was this really what you think God had in mind, assuming there is a God and that this God has a mind like ours?
The only evidence we have of our God-like personage is the presumed words of a man who lived over 3,000 years ago and who, like Pat Robertson, claimed to have exchanged texts with God. The people of that time protected their households by putting lamb's blood on their doorway so that the Angel of Death would know to pass over their homes. Moses "parted the Red Sea to escape the approaching Egyptian soldiers. These texts are full of genuinely outrageous events that we would never believe today, but represent how the people of that time thought.
Moses was preceded by Abraham who lived in the 18th century BCE, or about 500 years before Moses, and to whom it is said Moses was related. Abraham is said to have lived for 175 years. Others in Genesis are said to have lived 600 years and more. Notwithstanding "faith" this would seem, and it is likely that the cycle of the moon, or a month, was a year in which case 600 years would be 50 years old and the oldest person mentioned, Methuselah at 969 years-old would really have been around 81.
Again, these examples are cited to point out that the people of this time knew very little, were afraid of almost everything, and while perhaps well-meaning, their statements and contributions pale in their importance to human development compared to the likes Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, and Da Vinci.
This very brief visit to the Old Testament in search of examples of the mindset at the time is merely a way to point out that there seem to be some fanciful tales in the Bible that can sorely test a realistic mind.
Given the extent of suspicion and mysticism that prevailed at the time, it is not unreasonable to believe that the authors of Genesis and other books of the Bible may have been given to flights of fancy about who we are and how we came into being. Much of what happened back then, plagues, disease, natural disasters, and regular human events like birth and death were not understood the way they are today.
Abraham, Moses, and many others back then were the sleuths who were trying to do a couple of things I suspect. They indeed were curious about how we came to be, but the science of evolution simply didn't exist then. In fact, no science existed then, only imagination and storytelling. Astronomy, the first of the sciences didn't occur until about 1600 BCE.
Did the people in the Bible exist? Of course, they did, with the possible exceptions of any that may have been created as part of a convincing story that needed to be told. Did the voice of God really emanate from a burning bush? In the mind of Moses, I suspect it did, but in reality, I simply can't accept that as fact.
And, for these reasons, and more, I think it was the ego of humans that elevated us to some omnipotent status over all other living creatures, and not the work of a supreme being. And, given that hypothesis, I would like to see us develop a bit more humility toward each other and toward all life on this planet as opposed to the discrimination and bigotry of religion and begin to behave differently toward all life.
You may have noticed with my infrequent posts of All Things Food & Wine that my wife, Gale, and I are foodies and enthusiastic consumers of wine and other libations of the alcohol variety. And so, last evening we enjoyed just such an experience.
We were at Kaspar's Catering & Events company, conveniently located quite near our house. We've known Kaspar Donier and his wife Nancy for many years from their first restaurant in Belltown in 1989 to their relocation to Lower Queen Anne, and then, sadly for us, they decided to pursue catering rather than operate a full-time restaurant. Fortunately, for food lovers and us in Seattle, they still do special event dinners and holiday events, and so we signed on for the Fortuity Wine Dinner.
Like many of you, I suspect, we had never heard of Fortuity Wines, and like many of you, if they persist in producing the quality of wines we had last evening, a whole lot more people will know their name. Only two years old as a winery, Lee and Emily Fergestrom and winemaker Johnny Brose are producing wines like others who have been in the business for a decade or more. Enough of me sucking up, on with the evening.
We arrived right on time, which means five minutes late in our book. We were fortunate to be seated with Emily and Lee, the winemakers, along with Chelsey Nelson who writes about affordable wine on her blog, Wino On A Budget, and another woman I recall introducing herself as Terri (?).
We were immediately poured a glass of 2018 Rosé of Cinsault that would accompany the Charcuterie of fresh pickles, mustard, sausage, lamb and beef prosciutto, paté, and pickled rhubarb. The rosé was excellent with forward fruit and more body than you might typically expect from a rosé. The charcuterie was a perfect match with the wine.
Next up was a Hot & Sour Dungeness Crab Soup with tofu and English Peas married with a 2018 Viognier, another perfect pairing. The soup had just the right amount of heat, and the crab in the soup was a genius touch. The Viognier, although a white wine, had the structure and body to handle the heat of the soup and stand on its own. Another marvelous combination of food and wine.
The third course was Crispy Pork Belly & Nettle Risotto with wild mushrooms on the side was paired with a 2018 Sauvignon Blanc. The cube of pork belly was crispy and perfect, and the nettle risotto was another exciting dish from Kaspar's kitchen. The Sauvignon Blanc was earthy and fruity, and again, it would be hard to imagine a better combination of food and wine.
The entree' was half of a roasted Cornish hen with a romesco sauce accompanied by saffron mashed potatoes and a spicy sauteed kale. This course was joined by a 2017 Merlot that was full of berry flavor, bold yet gentle and a perfect match for this course.
And finally, the pièce de résistance was a Rhubarb Clafoutis with a strawberry & peppercorn tempura with Kefir ice cream. This dessert course was served with a 2017 Le Classique Red Blend that had the depth and fruit and light tannins to be a perfect wine with this classic French dessert.
From start to finish, it was about three hours of pure enchantment for lovers of great wine and world-class cuisine. Kaspar has a long and storied reputation as a master chef, and Lee and Emily are well on their way to gaining similar renown in winemaking.
I would encourage folks in the Seattle area to check out Kaspar's for event catering from corporate gatherings to weddings and more intimate food events. And of course, everyone who loves the small round fruit.
"I enjoy a glass of wine each night for it's health benefits. The other glasses are for my witty comebacks and my flawless dance moves."
This topic requires 1,000 or more pages to cover properly, but most people won’t read that much, and I am sure as hell not going to write that much. Therefor, I will offer an abridged version of the history of the Crusades and what lead up to that particular bloodbath in the history of the world and religion.
I will cite some sources/resources where I got some information; most of the rest of it bubble up in my mind through something called critical thinking, or rational thinking.
Let’s begin with a look at religious evolution, fo which I have written in my book, Religilution.
In the beginning, we believed in a bunch of gods, gods that presumably explained the unexplainable for we ignorant humans of the time. Events like lightning, blizzard, pestilence, and disease were all a complete mystery to humans, so we designed various gods as an explanation for these inexplicable events and we devised ways to worship these entities as a means to appease them and end our misery, none of which worked.
As we evolved over the millennia, our notions of gods changed and eventually, we arrived at a belief in one god, the God, notwithstanding areas of the far east, India, China, and surrounding areas that clung to their religions like Buddhism, Shintoism, and Hinduism to name a few.
With the single God theory taking hold throughout much of the West, and as governments and people in power are wont to do, religion and power became intertwined, bed partners if you will. This corruption of religion enraged many people. Not the least of these was a young Jewish boy named Jesus. He began to push back on the Jewish church and it’s corruption and his ideas took hold. He developed a considerable following of “Christians” although that name didn’t exist in the beginning. It came later and was self-proclaimed by his followers who decided he was the Christ King.
So, now, generally speaking, we had Jews and Christians cohabituating in the area we now call the Middle East. The Jews weren’t big fans of these new “Christians” because (a) they were renegade Jews, (b) they had declared this man, Jesus, to be the messiah but that wasn’t possible if it wasn’t blessed by the Jewish religion, and (c) the Christians had thrown off many of the Jewish rituals and holy days. This back and forth went on for some 500 years after Jesus died.
There was a third group hanging out in the Middle East those days who were likely Jews to begin with, may or may not have tasted Christianity, and in any case, found both religions wanting, so along came Islam. With a little reading, you will find many parallels between both Judaism and Christianity. Many of the same people like Abraham and the Angel Gabriel occupy central places in each. Jesus is recognized, not as the messiah but as a great prophet.
You now have the three great religions bowing down to one God with all of them competing for followers, power, land, and declaring themselves to be the true religion of the very same God. Does it surprise anyone that the next 2,000 years would see this area, and the rest of the world, embroiled in war after war after war with each side professing that God is on their side?
Which brings me to the topic of the Crusades because one of my friends invoked that as justification for the allegiances of the various Christian nations in the West and their conflict with the non-Christians. He went on to suggest that although there may still God-fearing religions in the world - the Jews and the Muslims - they are still at fault for not bowing down to both Christianity and Donald J. Trump and that makes them a “threat to the American way of life”.
The Crusades, like many human conflicts, were all about religion, and territory, and power as mentioned above. Here are a few statements from one of my citations below.
There followed a total of 8 Crusades over a period of the next 195 years as Christians attempted to "reform" the infidels.
To be sure, the Muslims were not innocent victims in all this. Starting in the early 600s, Islam began the process of expansion, which is a nice way of saying conquering huge swaths of land throughout the Middle East, although their motivations seemed not quite as religiously militant at that time as were the Christians who would come later.
“During the seventh century, after subduing rebellions in the Arabian peninsula, Arab Muslim armies began to swiftly conquer territory in the neighboring Byzantine and Sasanian empires and beyond. Within roughly two decades, they created a massive Arab Muslim empire spanning three continents. The Arab Muslim rulers were not purely motivated by religion, nor was their success attributed to the power of Islam alone, though religion certainly played a part.
Non-Muslim subjects under Arab Muslim rule were not especially opposed to their new rulers. A long period of instability and dissatisfaction had left them ambivalent toward their previous rulers. Like all other empires, the first Arab Muslim empires were built within the context of the political realities of their neighboring societies.”
To suggest that any of the three religions have “clean skirts” is preposterous. Each has committed atrocities in their pursuit of power, land, money, and influence and continue to do so. We are no better than a band of chimpanzees that want to expand their territory into the of another band of apes.
The Catholic Church is infamous for its wealth. Judaism and Islam have no “center of wealth” like Catholicism and Rome that I am aware of but you can be damed sure that each is worth billions and billions of dollars. Religions rely on donations from their flock; the bigger the flock, the greater their wealth. They are all on missionary journeys to bring in new adherents by either selling their product - their form of belief, justice, and an afterlife - whether through persuasion or more radical measures.
So the argument that anything we are doing today is somehow justified by the uhholy slaughter of human beings during the Crusades, or any other religious genocide is ludicrous and serves only to continue to foment the distrust and hatred between people of faith.
We all dream of world peace. In my opinion it will not happen until we humans activate our logical brain and understand that God and religion are the construct of very old, very uneducated, and very suspicious minds and that holding on to these ancient beliefs continues to be the source of much of our pain and misery today. When we understand that we and we alone are completely responsible for ourselves, our actions, and our impact on others and our environment, and that it is not the will of God but the will of man that screws it all up will we have a chance at world peace.
More to the point, what do we want our United States government to be?
Two documents are the foundation of our democracy, the Declaration of Independence, and our Constitution. Both of these documents have a preamble that attempts to sum up what the founders of our nation had in mind.
The preamble of the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The intent of that paragraph is quite clear. We had been under the thumb of the monarchy of England, an authoritarian plutocracy that was anything but free.
Preamble to the Constitution for the United States: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
A third document that has come to represent the dream of our founders was the Gettysburg Address that President Lincoln gave in 1863. Eighty-seven years after we fought and died to gain our freedom from England, we fought each other in the bloodiest war in our history with an estimated 620,000 fatalities. It was a war fought over the freedom of all the people.
In Lincoln's address, the line that is best remembered is, "that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
The single thread running through all these statements are the words "people" and "equality." We are supposed to be a nation devoted to freedom, to the idea that no one class of people or entity within our society is better or above all others; we are a nation of, by, and for the people, all the people residing within our borders.
That idea should be the principle upon which all of our elected leaders, CEOs of corporations, and people in positions of influence, be they celebrities, sports stars, or religious leaders, should make their decisions and pronouncements. They should be asking themselves, "Is what I am about to do or say in the interest of all the people, or is it to benefit one particular interest group?" Will it fulfill the vision of our founders and the words of Abraham Lincoln?
That is also how we voters, the people referred to in all these document must measure the success or failure of our leaders. When we vote, or when we gather in public meetings to discuss policies in our towns, counties, states and federal government, we must ask, have our political, civil, and religious leaders shaped the policies and laws for the good of all the citizens, or only for a select few?
Yes, the details can be complicated, but the outcome should be measurable against those three basic statements. When we vote in our local and federal elections, that is the template we must use in evaluating those in office and those aspiring to hold office.
If we get that right, we will have lived up to the founder's dream of a United States that is, of, by, and for all the people; the rich, the poor, the able and disabled, all the genders, all the races and nationalities, and all the religions.
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I think I posted something about the Diamo espresso machine in the past, but I thought I'd give you a short video to show you how easy this thing is. I'm just doing an improv thing, not a big scripted production, so ignore the stumbles.
I love my espresso. It's mocha Cortado in the morning, and if I have one after dinner in a nice Italian restaurant, it's a doppio or double shot of espresso and a shot of grappa if they have it. There used to be a cigar involved in the old days, but I quit smoking, and then they outlawed everything, and I'll be damned if I'll stand in the rain to smoke a cigar.
The history of coffee, in general, is murky, though there are a few legends, it does look like it all began in the Middle East. My version of the story is that the beans grew wild and a hungry goat herder tried to eat them green, and they tasted horrible, so he tossed a handful into the fire where a few beans roasted just at the edges of the fire. Seeing that, the herder chewed the bean again and loved it. Here's another version of the story, but I like mine better.
By the 19th century, Europe was going nuts for coffee. As it is today, the traditional method of boiling or extracting the coffee with hot water was time-consuming, so the Italians, in particular, began to look into a quicker process using steam. If you want more on that history, see it here. Coffee has to be the worlds most consumed drug.
Without undo chatter, here's the video. No muss and no fuss and a terrific cup of espresso.
Well, we Democrats now have our very own version of the Republican stampede that we saw in the 2016 election, something I enjoyed calling the 'clown car' at the time. I'm happy to say that while it looks like the Dems have matched the GOP in sheer numbers of candidates, I find our field decidedly brighter and offering more than just filling the airwaves with complaints about the current president who is more than worthy of any mudslinging that may come his way.
While most of us are very hopeful of seeing TrumPutin limited to one term (or less if we can get on with impeachment), this group of candidates will need to devote a degree of time to lambasting TrumPutin to convince voters he should never be allowed a second term. Given that scenario, we should expect the field to devote time to point out what is wrong with TrumPutin and his circle of jerks.
While it is very early in the election season; we will know more around next February and March who is likely to survive the free-for-all that is our election process. That will be determined mostly by money, but also their message and how well it resonates with voters. A couple will undoubtedly drop off either because they said something amazingly dumb, or because the press uncovered something in their past that takes them down. That is the job of the media concerning government regardless of the political party. And, let's not ignore what we learn this time.
That being said, I have looked at the candidates and arranged them in order of my preference based on what I know at this point in time. I won't go into a long dissertation on each; not now and not until the field shrinks to about four people. Here is a graphic that shows my stand at the moment.
As you can see, I've put them in tiers, one through four with one being my top picks for now. And, yes, I do discriminate between the candidates on several fundamental levels. First is what I've heard from them, their message, and of course like everyone to some degree, how effectively they deliver their message.
Gender: Yes, I am looking at gender. I think it is high time we put a woman in the White House assuming we can find the right one, and I think we already have several terrific candidates. We've had an African-American president, finally, and we've certainly had our fill of old white men, and old crazy white men; it's time to change.
Age: I know that with age comes a degree of wisdom, or it is supposed to, but I really want someone younger. We need a president who is in tune with technology, and with the changes we have achieved in our society. We don't need a president committed to turning back the clock to the 1950s. Full disclosure, I'm closing in on 77, and I want youth in leadership.
As for the rest of the crap that FOX Faux News likes to rant about, religion, partner preferences, socialism (which we already have) or any of the other political flak the opposition wants to throw in the air to distract us from the truth doesn't mean a damn thing to me. I care about democracy, civil rights, human rights, women's rights, and honesty in government.
Michael Bennett didn't make the cut because he announce just about the time I was writing this, so we'll se in time how he fits in the pyramid. Others may move up or down, depending. I'm not likely to do much with this for a number of months until the field starts to sort itself out. The so-called debates which usually amount to little more than stump speeches may or may not change my brackets.
We need leadership at home on the environment, everyone's rights, economic and tax reform, immigration, health care, infrastructure, renewable energy, and technology. And it has to be worked in the light of the impact on humanity and not just corporate profits. Yes, we need corporations and their job markets, but not at the cost of our democracy.
We need leadership for our relations around the world. That has to be a combination of strength tempered with compassion and a desire to develop an understanding of what other nations and people are experiencing.
In closing, let me say, MADA! MADA! MADA!
Homelessness is a topic of discussion in nearly every city with a population of over ten thousand, and maybe a few smaller towns.
Citizens rail about tent cities and go bananas at the suggestion of safe-injection sites. They want the homeless out of sight and out of mind, and they don’t want to pay the taxes required to try to round them up and rehabilitate the homeless because, well frankly, they don’t really care all that much; they just want them gone.
This isn’t total callousness on most people's part, though I suspect that is a part of this attitude. It can also be because most people have enough crap going on in their lives with their jobs, family, and all the intrusions that being an adult forces into your life to set aside the time to address issues like this.
Combine that with a lack of understanding how anyone can fall that low in society because it has never happened to any of them, and you have a lot of people not looking for longterm solutions but a quick fix that lets them go back to their lives.
What if. What if, as a society in any city struggling with a significant homeless problem, we start fixing at least some of the stuff that may lead these folks to the street, what is usually called the root cause of a problem. Here are some ideas.
Education: The following information comes from www.proliteracy.org
▪ Children of parents with low literacy skills have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves.
▪ Of adults with the lowest literacy levels, 43 percent live in poverty, and 70% of adult welfare recipients have low literacy levels. There is a clear correlation between more education and higher earnings and between higher educational scores and higher incomes.
▪ An excess of $230 billion a year in health care costs is linked to low adult literacy. Nearly half of American adults have difficulty understanding and using health information.
▪ Individuals at the lowest literacy and numeracy levels have a higher rate of unemployment and earn lower wages than the national average. Low literacy costs the U.S. at least $225 billion each year in non-productivity in the workforce, crime, and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment.
It seems pretty clear to me that a lack of education increases the chances that you will be unemployed and living in poverty if not living on the streets. We need to find a way to educate everyone in this country through at least 12 years and preferably 14 years for more and not saddle them with a lifetime of debt to get an education. Per studenloanhero.com, "Among the Class of 2018, 69% of college students took out student loans, and they graduated with an average debt of $29,800, including both private and federal debt. Meanwhile, 14% of their parents took out an average of $35,600 in federal Parent PLUS loans."
Jobs & Pay: Stagnant and eroding wages coupled with an unlivable minimum wage is a significant factor. This from various sources;
▪ A living wage is defined as “a wage sufficient to provide the necessities essential to an acceptable standard of living, and provides it with some ability to deal with emergencies, without resorting to welfare or other public assistance.”
▪ Unfortunately, in most states, the “Minimum” wage is far lower than a living wage. This disparity is one of the leading causes of homelessness among young adults in America today. Despite having a job, many do not make enough money to pay the bills.
Seattle has moved to lead the way in raising the minimum wage, and while the politicians got a lot of mileage out of that, a lot of workers are still in a bind. With a minimum wage of $15/hour, we tend to relax and think the problem is solved; it is not.
Studies have been done in Seattle to look at the impact of the new wage, and it has found that contrary to all the horror stories that opposed the increase, jobs are still plentiful. Studies also point out that experienced workers employed at the time of the increase did see an increase in their overall income of around $250 per quarter; this is not exactly going out and buying yacht money.
It is also important to note that the population analyzed in these studies worked very few hours per week. On average, the sample worked 18 hours per week, and 93 percent worked fewer than 40 hours per week. Therein lies part of the problem. At 18 hours per week, you will have to find and work 2.22 jobs to earn $600/week before taxes which is still not a liveable wage in Seattle.
Many employers limit employee hours to avoid having to pay their employees benefits as defined by federal law. Zenefits helps explain that Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) have to provide health insurance for full-time employees. To avoid that cost, employers limit the hours of many minimum wage employees.
The average rent in Seattle (varies with the neighborhood) ranges from just over $1,300 a month to a little over $1,500. Let’s assume you can find a 30/hour per week job at $15. You will gross $450 a week or $1,800 per month. Allow 10% for taxes, and you’re down to $1,620. If your employer is providing some health insurance, you almost certainly have a copay.
The Committee for Economic Development reports that “The average employer-group family health-insurance premium in the United States is now almost $15,500 (shared between employer and employee). If that is divided 50/50 between the employer and worker, that’s another $7,500 a year or $625/month from the worker’s paycheck, leaving about $1,000 for rent, food, transportation to and from work, miscellaneous expensed like toiletries, haircuts, etc.
You don’t have to be an economist to see this just isn’t sustainable by any stretch of the imagination. This post is about homelessness, not economics, but this little bookkeeping journey shows you how difficult it is for people, especially people with few skills and lacking education to pull themselves out of homelessness which is what a lot of people keep demanding of the homeless; you know, the "pull yourself up by your boostraps" bullshit.
There are other issues behind homelessness like drug addiction and alcoholism, some of which may find their basis in the hopelessness and downward spiral of not finding a job that pays a livable wage.
PTSD is of course well known and requires a solution of its own as do many other form of mental illness.
In summary, what I’m suggesting is we have to find a solution to getting everyone the best education possible so they can qualify for good paying jobs and we might need to peg the minimum wage to some formula the takes into account a livable wage as it varies from city to city based on the necessities of life in those cities.
It's not easy; if it was we would have fixed the problem years - make that centuries ago. If we’re not willing to take these steps as a society, then we need to stop whining and learn to live with homelessness like many of the third-world countries have had to do.
If you have cats, you know how much fun they are and how frustrating they can be. We have two Bengals that we adopted about four-and-one-half years ago; they are now 13 and 16 with Casey being the youngest and Zeppelin (ZZ for short) the oldest.
Sharing your house with a Bengal cat can be a little like having a raccoon for a pet. They are wonderful, funny, and very playful. In the case of Casey, that involves opening cupboard doors to explore the contents pretty much every day even though nothing has changed.
Both of these cats have turned out to be a delight; you never know for sure when you adopt older cats. ZZ screams; I don't know how else to describe this howling she does perhaps four or five times a day. The neighbors must think we are torturing her. And Casey is our resident raccoon or monkey.
They are good eaters. Poor ZZ had horrible teeth when we got them, and now she has about half as many. We don't feed our cats kibble or any sort of dry food regularly. We don't even keep a bag of the stuff in the house. It is too dry; it can raise hell with their kidneys, and she doesn't have any teeth to chew them with, to begin with.
So, it's canned food (more water - they need that) all the way with a rare crunchy treat (with a soft center) on occasion. Unlike a lot of cats that get upset with a change of food, these two seem to demand it. They don't much like fish, especially tuna, but seem to like salmon. I check labels to make sure the fish ingredient, if any, is well down the label.
Regardless, they still get a little bored with their food...or at least they used to until I discovered Kitty Kocain, my nickname for Whole Life Freeze Dried Chicken. Wait, before you start to hyperventilate over the price, let me tell you about a deal.
If you have bought freeze-dried chicken, or any freeze-dried product at your local pet supply, you have probably been staggered by the cost as I have been. It's not hard to pay $5.99 for 2 ounces of the stuff; that comes to $47.92 per pound; I can buy New York steaks for less than that.
Along comes chewy.com to the rescue (and probably a few others). There, I can buy 21 ounces (that's 1 1/2 pounds) for $42.99; that's $32.75 per pound, still a hefty price but that is 32% cheaper than this tiny bags, and a little of this stuff goes a long way as I'll explain.
I had bought a few small bags for a treat, and they inhaled that stuff so fast it was frightening. Then I got the idea of dusting the top of their food with Whole Life, and they went nuts. They practically take the dish from my hand. Once I saw that I found the big bag online and bought it in bulk. The video at the bottom show how I use Kitty Kocain.
If your cats are acting like you feeding them wood chips, get a small bag of the stuff and try it out. It also comes in a vast variety of flavors like salmon, duck, liver, and maybe even Robin (just kidding). Not all are in the giant bags, but if you're cat-a-tonic, there is probably nothing you won't do for your little hairball factory.
As we bicker and argue between the political right and left, I'm left, literally and figuratively, to wonder what we should call our form of government.
We like to call ourselves a "democracy" but in fact, we're only partly that. A democracy is defined as a government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system. We have evolved to where big money elects politicians and companies are called "people". We seemed to have moved away from a government that is soley, "by the people".
We like to refer to ourselves as a "republic". A republic is a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them. Again, we have so many non-citizen influences in our government and elections that republic doesn't quite fit any longer.
Socialism? A theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole. We, the community sure as hell don't own or control very damn much of what goes on in our country.
Three terms that keeps popping up in all these definitions is the word people, citizens, and community. In other words, we are talking about not the factories, or the roads, or any other tangible property. We aren't talking about off-shore bank accounts or year-end bonuses, although both of those are nice and should be part of our deliberations because we are talking about humans. The only reason for any country to exist is the people. Without people, all the tangible assets in the world will simply sit around collecting dust.
If we can agree on that last paragraph, then we need to decide what role the people play in this grand scheme we call the United States. When we say people, we have to mean all the people, from the homeless person on the street to the CEO in a major corporation; they are each human and they want different things from their country and government. Still, they are people expecting 'people solutions'. Therein lies the challenge that we humans have wrestled with since the beginning of time.
Before I ramble on further and lose you, that is how and why I came up with the title of this post - Humanocracy. It seems to me that we need to focus on a government and laws and regulations and programs that benefit humanity; all of humanity, not just a select segment of our society.
The CEO has an expectation based on his/her rise to that position, the work and probably personal sacrifices of time they have made. They expect a certain status in the company, and they expect to make more than the people working in their company.
The mid-level manager has similar expectations to the CEO, but not as lofty. The workers also expect a fair and livable wage based on their work, skills, and education as may be applicable.
The people doing menial jobs also expect something in return for their labor. They want to be respected for the contribution they are making to society. Some may make light of the work a dishwasher does in a restaurant, but imagine your dining-out experience without them. And they expect a liveable wage.
Then we have the unemployed and perhaps the unemployable segment of society. These people are in that grouping for a myriad of reasons. Some ran out of luck and were laid off or are reeling from a personal tragedy. Some are suffering various degrees of mental illness, often a result of PTSD or the complications thereof. Some are our honored veterans struggling to return to society. And, some are addicted to a variety of substances.
So, our Humanocracy needs to be designed to work for all these people, not just the elite few at the top and not just for those living on the streets. To do that, we have to think differently. Perhaps we do need a ratio cap on CEO salaries. Maybe that is tied to how well the people in the company are paid.
For example, let's say a company, Cost-Mart (made up name but you probably get it) is paying their lowest paid employees a wage that exceeds the "liveable" wage establish by a formula using poverty levels, housing costs, etc., by 30%. The CEO of that company would be entitled to make a salary and benefits equal to 200% of the median income in the company. If the median income is $50,000 a year, the CEO could knock down $200,000 a year.
There could be a table that starts at the minimum living wage (CEO gets 110% of company median) and going up to 200% of the liveable wage (CEO gets to earn up to 300% of median). In other words, there is an incentive for companies and their managers to do the right thing and therein to profit themselves from that approach.
All we're talking about here is incentives. Executive managers get this all the time. They get bonuses based on achieving specific goals, most of which are only possible because the people working for them are busting their humps to make it happen. This isn't a giveaway program or socialism, it is capitalism at its best - succeed and reward.
Before I wind this up, you may be wondering how this would deal with those at the bottom of the ladder, the homeless and the hopeless. That depends. If the individual is unable to perform in a job in a way that contributes to the goals of the business, they have to be on some kind of public support. It would be some kind of subsistence program. These are people who, try as they might, will never be able to hold a job that allows them to support themselves. Those of us profiting from a vibrant economy with jobs, homes, cars, etc., have to embrace the notion that part of our "taxes" is to help pay for these people who are left behind by life.
The drug addicts, PTSD, and the unemployed all have the potential to move away from their predicament and rejoin the productive part of society. If we have the society structured in such a way that there are real incentives - not just some crap job that pays less than minimum wage and for only 15 hours a week - they are more likely to work to pull themselves out of their situation. Specific programs would be designed to help these folks.
And, there are those who, again for reasons most of us will never understand, have "dropped out." They don't want a job or the responsibilities of family and owning assets. They have always been around and will always be around until something like genetic engineering removes those traits.
They are part of our society nonetheless, and they deserve to live without fear, without hunger, and without retribution. The arrangements for them would be minimal but humane. I fail to see how any society can have pride in what it has accomplished when it dumps on these people. These folks deserve at least the minimum we afford prisoners who are serving time; food, shelter, and medical care.
In my opinion, these are the kind of conversations we need to have in our new Humanocracy; how do we make this plan work for everyone? How do we move away from our growing autocracy toward a more humane model for our society?