Sunday, November 28, 2010
I can feel it coming.
I hear it moving under the earth,
tremors so slight I’m not quite sure
they shook the earth under my feet.
There’s an odor in the summer air,
suddenly strong, as suddenly gone.
On the fringes of my world
the evil has overwhelmed the light.
Its thunderous step has stamped out all song.
Its blackness has eliminated all color
but the one that runs like water in the streets,
the one that soaks the earth
the one that obliterates the difference
in the color of the skin,
the difference in language,
the separate historical condition,
of each time and place.
The color of blood.
The color under which we will fight
the blackness of death.
The evil began so long ago
that it has no distinct beginning
in our consciousness.
It has always been with us
at times a whisper,
at times a shout.
Sometimes it is crushed for a while,
but the struggle against it
leaves the victor near death,
unable to nourish itself,
unable to flourish.
In the high places,
the struggle against it is barely noticeable
as people go about their lives
At times a great horror pierced through
the invisible wall.
People stop their individual noises and turn to watch.
They cry out in sorrow and give money for a while,
but soon it’s Christmas or summer or Halloween
and the happiness of children with the world at their fingertips
and bright futures before them takes precedence over the distant sorrow.
Within the high places
always there are those who fight the evil at its source,
but the blows they strike are toothpicks hurled at a Goliath,
an annoyance easily crushed by tricks and laws.
The fighters grow old and die and are born again
Battles ebb and low and ebb
as those who would be soldiers marry,
bear children work and live the everyday lives of the privileged,
lives of safety.
As the people in the outlands farm
more meager plots of soil
for more meager rations
the high places bloom with the products of the world.
Fruits and vegetables in many forms
From every corner of the world
are always available to those who can pay.
Then even in the high places,
the trouble begins to spread.
An entire population of those seen
only in the outlands begins to grow
within the cities of the high places.
Their eyes recede into their sockets.
Their bellies growl with hunger.
They sleep in the streets and
scavenge food and clothing.
They watch as the privileged drive by
in cars that cost more than two years wages
or walk by in sneakers that cost as much
as it would to feed a family of four for a month.
City buildings stand empty while hundreds of thousands are homeless.
Country fields lie fallow as farmers are driven from the land.
The net of safety we believed existed, has turned into a web.
During the years of prosperity
The people in the high places never asked
Where their coffee beans,
raspberries came from.
On the part of the privileged
whose ancestors had fled poverty and persecution
there was no question,
no curiosity of life in the outlands.
No knowledge, no want of knowledge
for any world other than their own.
As world conditions worsened
the people of the high places
are seen as the enemy.
They are murdered
by desperate people who would die alone
or take one person with them
touching the people of the high places
with a fraction of the terror
and sorrow they live with all their lives.
Now, the armies of the world stand ready,
parading their weapons on land, sea and air.
Will this be the beginning of the end of the planet earth?
Posted by Diana Balot Frank at 3:10 PM
Thursday, May 06, 2010
This year flew by. It's hard to believe I was laid off a year ago. All application material are in at Kutztown. I'm trying to find an on-line statistics class that does not have prerequisites. Hopefully I can take this over the summer. I also still have to take the GRE's. I think the Social Work thing is right for me.
I went for a 3 mile walk this morning. There's a mother duck with 11 babies in the rose garden pond. This morning they were all huddled together on one of the stepping stones that crosses the pond. Of course I didn't have my camera, but I'll go back later and see if I can get a good picture. Yesterday afternoon they were all swimming around and cheeping like crazy. They are just TOO cute. The park is really looking beautiful now. The path has been paved so I don't have to look down when I'm walking for fear of twisting my ankle on the irregular stones that used to be there.
Still doing Census work. It's nice to be out among different kinds of people again. For the past 16 years everyone I've worked with in the offices has been white.
I'm doing a lot of beading and I have some new material to work with too - dupioni silk ribbon, brass cages, smoky quartz and leather. I'm moving to a bigger booth at Cottage Crafters when my lease is up. I want to make some hanging things with glass and beads and bells. I'm going to call them Luminosities. You will be able to hang them outside or in a window as a sun catcher. I also might do some stained glass mosaic stuff. We'll see.
I haven't planted anything yet. It's been warm but I think I'll wait until after may 15 as usual. The lavender in the front yard looks beautiful this year. It's very full and springy looking. The peony, bleeding heart and alliums I moved from the back yard survived and look good. I have to take out some of the spiderwort though because it's getting out of control. The Stella D'Oro lilies are also nice and bushy.
I have this weird houseplant that I bought at Ikea a few years ago. I love it because it's very architectural. It's growing a new center branch and the branch is sweating a gooey clear substance. I wish I knew what kind of plant it was though. It's getting big but it has an odd footprint. Long hard green "branches" and as they grow they curve to one side or the other. The new "branch" comes from the middle of the plant.
Well that's all for now. I am really pissed off about the BP gusher and the drones, but right now I feel pretty good so I don't want to spoil it.
Posted by Diana Balot Frank at 11:44 AM
Friday, February 26, 2010
Reading about and personally experiencing the current problem of unemployment in the US has made me realize that on the sixth day God did not create Adam and Eve the first two human beings, but Adam and Eve the first two human resources. It is a global issue that people are valued only if they can be exploited.
Workers in the US are the most productive in the world according to many sources, mostly due to working longer hours. As a reward for our efforts, many of us are now unemployed or under employed after working for 20-30 years. Many of us are too young to qualify for Medicare or Social Security, or as the song goes, “Too old to work and too young to die.” While official employment statistics put the unemployment rate at 10% it is actually closer to 20%. At the same time there are many needs that are not being met because private industry has no interest in rebuilding New Orleans, fixing a badly crumbling infrastructure of levees and bridges, adequately staffing the nation’s schools or rationally and adequately feeding and sheltering the nation’s people. The spread of “American Culture” around the world through Mc Donald’s and war has disrupted the lives of people in many other countries. These people are forced to emigrate legally and illegally to escape violence and poverty.
In any solution for the above issue that involves planning or government intervention the rabid cry of Socialism is heard loud and wide. When government interference takes the form of subsidies to industry including weapons manufacturers, deregulation, or allowing an American company to send jobs offshore or build factories in other countries, putting the burden of increased poverty on the government, no cry is heard. When companies in India and Africa take water from the ground while the people have to pay outrageous sums or when the World Bank imposes penalties on a country that are guaranteed to keep them impoverished forever everyone feels really bad and some movie stars adopt a child or two, but nothing is done to stop it.
For the problems abroad the solutions are:
• Stop supporting dictatorships, interfering in elections and the business of sovereign countries.
• Stop military aid to all countries in a civil war.
• In a court of law, try corporations who give aid and comfort as well as facilities to governments engaged in the murder of labor and human rights workers.
• Educate the American people on the real history of their country so they can be aware enough to object to these practices.
For the problems in the US, I propose the following:
Public education should be federally funded. Teachers should be trained to find and enhance a child’s’ innate abilities and interests from an early age, communicating them to each subsequent teacher. The goal of education should be a well rounded, happy person who can be productive in an area that serves the needs of society while also being fulfilling to the individual.
The car, while fun, has been one of the most destructive inventions ever made. Its destructive not only to the environment but to the social fabric to have everyone riding around I their own little bubble or more often than not, huge boat. Instead of bailing out GM and letting them decide what they would produce the government should have tied the bailout to lighter rail and mass transit. GM bought up and dismantled mass transit in many American cities, was given a very small fine when found guilty and circumvented environmental laws by producing SUV’s on truck bodies. The government should have seen this bailout as an opportunity for progress. More jobs would have been provided because transit workers would be needed and railroad workers would be needed to rework or rebuild abandoned rails all across the country.
Federal Prison Industries (Unicor) employed 18,972 “inmate workers” according to their 2009 annual report. They make everything from clothing and textiles to office furniture to electronics. They make many statements about improving peoples’ lives and teaching them skills while they are in prison. I believe that poverty is the main cause of crime and that most of the people in US prisons are poor people there for drug related, non-violent crimes. If they and their parents had decent paying productive jobs on the outside, they probably wouldn’t be in jail. Given the trend of runaway shops and jobs over the past 40 years they are not likely to get a decent job when they get out. While I think working is a good idea for everyone, work release to a decent paying job outside the prison walls along with education and counseling is what should be done.
We have a free source of energy that everyone has access to: the Sun. Many new solar panels have been developed including roof tiles that look just like normal roofing but have solar panels incorporated in them and super thin solar film. This industry should be eligible for research and capital equipment grants so they can produce as soon as possible a reasonably priced product. This industry would employ engineers, workers to assemble and install.
Businesses who locate out of the country should be taxed at a high rate.
Factory farming does not work, is inefficient and causes environmental and medical problems for the people of this country. The water crisis in the artificially fertile state of California and the outbreak of e-coli in corn fed beef are just two examples of this.
Food should be grown locally and organically. Experienced farmers could be hired to set up and run cooperative farms in every county. Workers of various abilities could be trained and hired to work while continuing their education in related fields. This would not only solve part of the unemployment problem but also stop pesticides from leaching into the water supply and cut down on the amount of plastic packaging and pollution from diesel fuel from the trucks that bring your lettuce from California. This will also help in efforts to stop a chemical company responsible for the manufacture of Agent Orange from creating pesticide laden, dead, seeds.
The documentary “America Betrayed” documented that the problems with levees built by the Army Corp of Engineers does not stop with New Orleans and Katrina. Bridges and levees built to protect many cities across the country are in danger of collapsing. Given the current water crisis and what we now know about the problems with damming a river rebuilding in these areas might take the form of restoring then to their previous state in order for the land to be able to protect itself. In a country of this size this would be a massive public works project employing thousands of laborers as well as engineers and scientists.
Many beautiful and salvageable buildings in our inner cities are vacant while ticky tacky housing is built on farmland that could still be productive. Rehabbing takes more labor than putting up new housing but labor is in abundance now. Working with the farming community to stop rezoning of farmland for new construction would help to use all these resources in a more rational way.
Hire and train field agents to assist homeowners to refinance their mortgages at a fare rate. If a homeowner had paid 50% of the value of his or her home, forgive the balance owed.
There superfund sites in every state in the union. In addition to this there are many other polluted areas that need to be cleaned up and the pollution itself needs to stop. The EPA should hire enough field agents to be able to deal with these issues.
Social Life and Art
Since the 1950’s non-representational art has taken a front seat in our culture. Black painted tarpaulins titled “Thanatos”, white canvases titled, “Untitled”, and a slab of black countertop leaned up against a wall, also “Untitled.” (My suggestion for a title was “On Sale at Home Depot, Cheap) abound in contemporary art museums. Painters like Irving Norman, photographers like Milton Rogovin are not everyday names to most people. People are missing from contemporary art as if we are nothing. I recently saw an exhibit of WPA art in Washington and it was wonderful. Part of the devaluation of people is in raising art to a “higher” level. I believe that each of us has an artist in us but we are rarely given a chance for it to emerge. Art should surround us. It should be projected onto blank brick walls, performed in every public space on a regular basis. Instead of buying schlock institutions should display art made at home by their students, patients, workers. Art therapy should be a growing field. Although most Americans have not experienced the horrors of war as Judith Herman showed in her book “Trauma and Recovery,” many have been traumatized at a young age. In addition to this many of the new immigrants from the former Yugoslavia and the African continent have experienced horrors that my have to be suppressed as they get on with their lives. I think art can go along way in helping people overcome these experiences. The American Visionary Art Museum many times exhibits art by people who have been hurt in some way. A man who was mugged and beaten severely made art from matchsticks, a woman whose house burned down with some of her family in it painted on discarded doors; a woman whose childhood was marred by an abusive, alcoholic father makes tiny dresses out of scraps of fabric showing how resilient people are and how much is untapped within them.
I started this article by saying that American workers were the most productive in the world mostly because they work longer hours. It has been 100 years since workers fought for and won the right to an 8 hour day. “8 hours work, 8 hours rest, 8 hours for what we will,” was the cry of these workers. In 2010 people who still have jobs are working at least that much if not more. We are human beings. We are not here to serve industry nor to be chewed up and spit out when we re no longer necessary to them. We have a right to live and a need to work, but our work should be meaningful. We cannot be real participants in this democracy unless we have the time to read, speak and meet about our social problems. After 100 years of the 8 hour day we should have a 4 hour day with no reduction in pay.
How do we pay for this?
• Return the tax rate to pre-Reagan levels 70% for the top income levels.
• End the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and all interference in the internal politics of sovereign countries.
• Stop the research, production and purchase of drones and other weapons of mass destruction.
• Reinstate the Environmental Superfund contributions from polluting industries.
• Instate a Medical Superfund to fund Universal Health care. Industries such as coal, oil, pesticide manufactures should contribute since they cause a number of preventable illnesses. Also contributing should be the Pharmaceutical companies.
• Time phase the nationalization of the medical insurance companies. As long as the private insurance companies continue to operate tax them at a high rate.
• Stop all foreclosures. Cap credit card interest rates at 4% and allow people to restructure their debt.
These solutions may seem like pipe dreams and for the most part they are. Not because they are outrageous or unreasonable but because the power that stands in the way of solving the problems of poverty and ignorance is enormous. Every town, every state courts business. People say you need corporations to give you a job. These companies are not giving you job out of charity. They are making a profit from your labor. They are not necessary entities. People exist like all the other wonderful things on this planet. We need to learn to celebrate ourselves and use our talents, our abilities, our bodies and minds to make the world a better place, safe from the vampiric ravages of corporate entities.
Posted by Diana Balot Frank at 11:02 AM
Friday, February 12, 2010
Bush was handed the presidency twice - once by fraud in Florida and other places, once by the Supreme Court. Even though most people voted for both Gore and Kerry, they were not allowed to win. Somehow Obama was.
I'm beginning to think that that was part of the plan to keep people quiet in the face of the worst economic crisis since the '30's. If we had a Republican president people would have been down in Washington demonstrating against the bailouts, the foreclosures and the job losses. Because Obama is the first Black president people are cutting him slack that he doesn't deserve.
There are a lot of phone callers into the various shows on Sirius Left who express dismay over the lack of change that Obama promised to bring. When's the last time you believed what a politician said? Not too many years after you stopped believing in Santa Claus I'll bet. If you watched the DNC you heard Biden say we have to get out of Iraq and get into Afghanistan. That should have been no surprise. Obama is a Democrat, not a Socialist and what have they brought in last few presidencies - war, NAFTA, GATT, more job losses, continued environmental devastation, bankrupting of the public to subsidize industry and the wealthy. I vote Democratic because it's the lesser of two evils if Nader is not on the ballot.
Workers have never gotten anything from a politician. We human beings - as opposed to human resources - have fought for everything we have and we have to continue to do that in any way we can. The president doesn't run the country, the money that elected him does. How many more people have to suffer? Write letters, talk to people, go to Washington on March 20.
Posted by Diana Balot Frank at 5:26 PM
Monday, January 25, 2010
The Entity (a work in progress)
The enemy doesn’t live halfway around the world in a country whose name you intentionally mispronounce to show which side you’re on.
It doesn’t come from another country, work at a low-paying job and speak your language with a heavy accent.It has no interest in dating your daughter or living in your neighborhood.
It will throw you out of a job without a thought and pocket the profit when the market rises due to its efficiency, smiling discretely all the way to the bank.
It’ll throw you out of your house after you’ve paid 20 years on 30 year mortgage and the law will help it because it’s their job. No one will live in your empty house. The pipes will burst, the house will rot. Animals and birds will move in and make it their own. But, ha ha ha ha ha, you can’t have it, even if you have paid double the value of your house already in interest.
Maybe you'll get sick and your medical “insurance” won’t pay for your treatment or you don’t have any insurance because you lost your job. You’ve worked all your life, paid off your house, have no debt. Too bad goody-two-shoes. You lose your house to save your life.
This enemy can’t be fought with guns because it doesn’t have a body or a face.
It’s an entity. A sulfuric gas that wafts yellow and stinking all around us. A gas that drugs us, blinds us, makes us sleepy and tired and stupid and afraid of anything and everything. A gas that makes us ache for a past that never was and makes it impossible for us to see the future.
It’s name is capitalism. It’s face is the corporation.
Posted by Diana Balot Frank at 9:20 AM