In All Fairness to the Rich

When Marie Antoinette said “Let them eat cake” she wasn’t referring to a sumptuous chocolate-velvet cake or even the toxic yellow-cake used in nuclear reactors and bombs – she was referring to the cooked-on crusts that remain in the pan when the good-stuff is removed and served.  In other words, what is left caked onto the pan’s edges.  Just look at where that sentiment got her

Not all rich people are evil – and not all evil people are rich.  Those are two completely different conditions.  Some wealthy people put their riches to good use serving the general betterment of the world – funding medical research – or giving dollars to arts programs that enlighten us all with precious viewpoints to enrich the mind.  Warren Buffett is a sterling example of the good philanthropist – one who has even gone so far as to ‘guilt’ other wealthy people into giving back to society.  He knows you can’t take it with you after this life is done.

I will never be rich.  


But if lightening were to strike me and I won the $250,000,000 Power ball – my single-minded goal would be to die poor — knowing I’d followed my heart.  I’d have a ball spending that money on education, poverty, medical research, care for people with cancer and AIDS, historic preservation, natural resource preservation, and my “pet” cause of animal rights.  Plus, I’d stay-put in my humble little 19th century Philadelphia trinity-house.  Of course $250,000,000 isn’t that much these inflated days.  Its more like the figure where the new low-end of the upper-class meets the high end of the middle class.  A million dollars is nothing anymore – like the old Italian lire – 5 million lire for a cab-ride.  I’m not greedy, and never have been.  I often gave my toys away as a child because it made me feel good.  I didn‘t miss the toys.  It exasperated my mother, but she was the one who insisted I go to Sunday School where I made the mistake of listening to the religious blatherings.  So I started giving things away. 

As an adult, I’ve become a self-proclaimed deist.  I believe in a spiritual thread of compassion which flows between us all, and that might be the closest definition to God I can believe-in.  Think of it as the collective conscience of people who care – be they rich or poor.

There’s a controversy about a misinterpreted biblical quote that goes as follows:  “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.” 

This quote has nothing to do with passing a dromedary through the eye of a sewing needle – that’s cynical absurdity.  The ‘Eye of the Needle’ was a passage gate between the stretch of road from Damascus to Jerusalem.  A camel could make it through those gates quite easily, as could a rich man or an poor man.  This misinterpreted biblical quote refers to the goodness and generosity of the human heart, and is not an indictment of those who’ve accumulated wealth or lack thereof.  It‘s about adhering to goodness and fairness, and has nothing what so ever to do with squeezing a large cumbersome and uncooperative animal through a pin-hole.

I’ve struggled a lot financially over the last couple years, as have so many Americans.  To quote the first paragraph of my diary:  “Among my myriad of flaws is a long held belief that no one would ever dare do anything to me that was outside of my own personal code of ethics. This belief has never served me well, but its taken nearly 50 years to abandon it – if in fact I ever can,”

Being technically unemployed these days I find myself consumed with charity work for the elderly, lost animals, and a variety of things which are close to my heart.  But loosing my job following a work-related injury and thus becoming unemployed at nearly sixty years of age was a ‘sock-in-the-eye’ – I don’t believe I was handled fairly or in a way in which I could have in good conscience conducted myself toward another person.  Welcome to the world of “it’s just business.”  

However, shifting gears, I’m discussing generosity.

I entered into an agreement with my mortgage company to modify my monthly payments as the economy tanked following the economic irresponsibility of the Bush years.  I sought to take advantage of the newly introduced government HAMP Program to ease my financial burden.  I met all the requirements, faxing and mailing countless documents to a company which is either incompetent or unrepentantly evil.  Nearly a year into this agreement, long after I’d ceased to think about the transaction, I was denied the modification even after repeatedly supplying every last piece of information required of me.  I was told my information was lost, never received or incomplete.  That was not the case.  I went thorough a law firm who assembled my papers – and I have all my duplicate documentation to prove it.  No mistakes were made.  I was robo-screwed by cubicle monkeys for whom the concept of a home being sacred does not compute in their world of indifference and greed.

I was repeatedly called by mortgage collection representatives who gave me false names and threatened me.  One caller, identifying herself as “Amber” called.  I told her my case was in litigation and if she had anything to say to me, she could contact my attorney who is on file with the bank.  I hung-up.  She called me right back and said “Mr Whiting, should you hang-up on me again you will be verifying that you are dropping your lawsuit against CitiMortgage and forfeiting all claims toward modifying your loan.”  I was already in foreclosure by this point, and not having been born yesterday, I hung-up again and passed along the comment and telephone number to my attorney.  My attorney called and was told no one named “Amber” ever worked there.  They use fake names.  On other instances I was called by someone named “Brad” and someone named “Colt.”  NO ONE is named “Colt.”  I’m not buyin’ it.  Porn “stars” assume a nom de plume like “Colt.”

I’ve had my mortgage payments returned to me un-cashed on the same day they’ve harassed me for money.  During this experience I’ve endured a maddening level of insanity that defies all conventional logic.  My case is still pending.

I am one of many Americans who struggle to keep our heads above water, while an aloof, shallow-minded, detached 1.7% of the nation control 88% of the country’s wealth – all done with a blind eye turned.  

Republican politicians look forward to slashing the rights and earnings of the most vulnerable in society and the working poor – as well as the most vital people contributing to society like teachers, policemen, nurses, fire-fighters and public servants – all in a grand-standing effort to “pretend” to make fiscal ends meet.  Union-busting is the first step in crushing the middle class’s first line of defense.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is looking at revoking food stamp privileges to striking workers with children and cutting corners in education programs while implementing tax breaks for corporations. 

The far right Tea Partiers are forever trying to portray Barack Obama with a Hitler mustache (we’ve all seen the Tea Party protest posters) which makes no sense to anyone with a modicum of understanding of history.  It was Adolph Hitler who said “We must close union offices, confiscate their money and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers salaries and take away their right to strike” Now just who exactly does that sound like?  Obama or the talking-heads and Tea Party candidates of the far right wing…?

I was a freelance artist for 23 years before taking my last 9 to 5 job following the faltering economy that came about after 9/11.  But during my freelance career I never took an income tax return due to me.  I would allow it to roll-over into the next year‘s taxes.  Even though I could have sorely used the money.  The reason I did this was (according to my accountant at the time) freelancers who took their income-tax returns raised a red flag, and were setting themselves-up for a tax-audit.  My books were honest and in order – but the mere ordeal of enduring an audit is enough to destroy a small business person.  I’ve seen it happen to a friend, who turned out to be innocent, but ruined all the same.

Stay with me here, I’m getting to my point…

My mortgage company, CitiBank, among others, was bailed-out by taxpayer funds when shady banking practices and Wall Street’s ill-advised investment gambling tanked the US economy.  CitiBank is now making billions of dollars in profits – BUT they didn’t owe or have to pay a single red cent in taxes this year.  Nor did Bank of America or General Electric – or many of the other corporate giants who buy and sell our collective well-being as a nation of individuals.  These companies can retain thousands upon thousands of slippery accountants to take advantage of corporate tax loop-holes promoted by paid-lobbyists who’s “services” are TAX-DEDUCTIBLE for the corporations who employ them!!!  There has got to be something wrong with this picture.  And you bet there is – the corporate tax laws MUST to be changed.  If GE can show $16,000,000,000 (that’s sixteen BILLION dollars) in PROFITS – but don’t owe ONE MEASLY DOLLAR in federal taxes at a time when our nation faces financial crisis after financial crisis…  Me-thinks some CEO’s need holes punctured in their golden parachutes that give them a hard-landing in prison.


I know rich people.  A number of them, and well.

Among my friends are a great many financially-comfortable and out-and-out wealthy people.  Perhaps it’s the fact that I live in a relatively sophisticated urban area, but none of those people asked for, wanted or approved of the Bush tax-cuts for the wealthy.  Nor did they want to see them extended once they were set to expire.  Those people didn’t need those tax-breaks, nor did they ever ask for them. 

Baring in mind all I’ve just said something remarkable happened to me this week mostly at the hands of wealthy friends and clients.  Word got out that I was in a difficult financial position because of having lost my job and was instructed with less than 24 hours notice to show prospective income to my mortgage company the day before my conciliation hearing.  Think of it as a legal stunt.  People came-out-of-the-woodwork to help me.  I felt like George Bailey, Jimmy Stewart’s character in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’  I now have freelance client commitments stretching well into next year, and letters intended for my mortgage company from people of political and social weight.  These letters are in the care of my attorney to use said documents to show my projected future income.  These documents and corporate emails will be supplied to my mortgage company to let them know I am good for my future mortgage payments.  It was a humbling experience to have friends, neighbors and clients come to my aid in this way.  And I will do my level best on each and every one of those up-coming projects to produce something they will value forever.

But lest we forget, I’m dealing with a mortgage company – a soulless corporate giant who ‘robo‘-calls me multiple times per day.  Doesn’t matter what time it is or if I’m on the toilet, or performing social volunteer work, or holding my late mother’s hand while she was on hospice — My cell-phone will ring, and CitiBank’s robo-lady will say “Hi – THERE…this… is an imPORtant call…for Will-iam Whi-TING from Citi-MORT-gage …” – solely to ruin my day or my moment – as if I didn’t already know they didn’t view me as human. 

So let them eat yellow-cake, and not the Betty Crocker recipe.

Nature vs Nuclear

The world has always been a turbulent place even while some are afforded the luxury of calm… 

…most are not. 

An overwhelming number of people on this earth have almost nothing to cling-to.  America is a very materialistic culture.  We started out as a grand experiment in democracy and somehow got it all confused with capitalism to the point where most self-proclaimed patriots aren’t even aware how little the two philosophies have to do with each other.  One is a system of fair government across economic boundaries.  The other is an economic philosophy which unchecked threatens to neutralize not only our individual rights, but the very earth beneath our feet — while the privileged sit pretty.


We spread democracy when what we really do is promote capitalism for our own benefit.  It’s what passes for our ‘international policy.’  We’ve been at it for a long time, including the rebuilding Japan following a major nuclear experiment gone wrong at our own hands.

It has been excruciating to watch the events unfold in Japan since the news of this past Friday informed us all of the earthquakes and the tsunamis which devastated that island nation.  Even the areas of Japan that withstood the quakes and the crush of water will still feel the aftershocks – not just physically, but emotionally, spiritually and economically for decades to come.  Those aftershocks will be felt across the world, first through empathetic pain for all those who are suffering — then by the compounded shock of natural disasters and man-made time-bombs.  The  Fukushima Dai ichi nuclear facility in Japan has a lot of us reflecting about energy  and in particular reflecting on last year’s offshore oil calamity in the Gulf of Mexico.  Even thinking back further-back to Hurricane Katrina being nature’s first punch, and then the man-made follies delivering the second blow (via the Deep Water Horizon spill.)  This time, in Japan, the order is reversed…

…or is it…?  Somehow the concerns and desperation seem eerily familiar.


There are simply too many people in the world.  Each of us with a far larger carbon footprint than any individual impressed upon this earth as recently as 100 years ago.

I am proud that America is among the first responders to Japan’s litany of crisis’s.  But I find it bitterly ironic in the same breath how American forces are by our own military’s edict not allowed within a 50 mile radius of the nuclear meltdown sites in Japan.  Lest we forget the combined tragedy of our shared national histories.  I was born 6 years after the bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  All my life I’ve felt a sense of inherited shame concerning that chapter of our history.  Over six decades have passed, and while nuclear energy, used safely and wisely AND perfected could be a wonderful thing — but only if we know what we’re doing…

…however, do we know what we’re doing?


There’s a balance between ambition and greed.  A balance “WE” in the human race have not yet achieved.  There’s also a balance between the health of our environment and the propagation of our species to which we have not fully come to grips.  We cannot feed, clothe and provide basic necessities — including energy — to all the people of our planet.  The only way we can do that is if there are less of us.

We need to readdress zero-population-growth, and do-so seriously with kindness and humanity.  Fewer babies need to be born.  One child to a set of parents would be a start.

Period.

In the same breath, we need to look seriously at renewable, CLEAN sources of energy like wind, solar or whatever new innovations are out there.  This is NOT the path of the least resistance.  It is the right course for all future generations.  Two weeks ago, our own American Congress pumped funding into oil, “clean-coal’ (whatever the hell THAT is) and nuclear energies — WHILE rejecting funding for research into wind and solar renewable sources.  We’re left with some serious questions — like who is profiting in the short term at the expense of those who are not short-sighted?


Speaking of short-sighted, I just watched Rush Limbaugh laugh out loud about the crisis in Japan.  That miserable dingle-berry clinging to the sphincter of his own ratings, LAUGHED at the plight of the people of Japan.  He laughed at them because they recycled, but were still hit with an earthquake and tsunami.  He was tickled ‘pinko’ about it — as if there was a relationship between the shifting of tectonic plates and biodegradable doggie poop bags.  I find none of it funny, aside from Rush himself, who is by definition the very mouthpiece of fools everywhere.  Our world-needs are not funny to anyone with a soul.  Our collective path will not be without dangerous pitfalls.  Our path as people of one earth will be the promise of harmonious civilization and not the prophecy of cynics. 

We must, each and everyone, do something to curb our collective human appetite.  And that includes an appetite for stupidity.  Laugh at whatever you want.  But only laugh at what is funny.  Suffering is not funny, but just watch Rush laugh…
http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201103150020

Portly Natduck and a Slice of Huckabee Pie in the Age of Catastrophe

Nothing like a good rattling to shake everyone back into focusing on how very little control we have over our dominion.  My money’s on every mother’s duck to pull us all through anything nature or knuckleheads can hurl our way.

I’m only 60 years old, and I swear weather’s changed from when I was a child.  This is not an older-middle-age-rambling.  It’s not even a memory lapse.  It’s a purely unscientific, completely-inaccurate, gut-checked personal observation.  Weather, takes-on patterns and trends.  Politicians, on the other hand never change.  But know in your heart they’ll all deteriorate at the same rate of speed as the rest of us when the planet disintegrates. 

The only reason we’ve made it this far along in history is in large part due to our mothers – ‘wed’ or ‘un‘…  Sheltered by Mother Earth, or, if you will, Father Forrest.

I consider the environment to be the single most important issue in my worldview.  Your opinion is your own.  Life depends on the environment.  Nothing remains of the continuousness of our world without it.  Wars unfavorably impact the environment, as do corporations with unvarnished alliances forged to influence our health and well-being – in an unholy trade-off for short-term profit.  The Catholics aren’t helping-much in their crusade to over-populate the globe with baptisms.  (…and I wonder how far the Mormon database has progressed to include Asian, African and Native American family trees…intercontinentally speaking?  As in worldwide…  Why exactly do they bother?) 

Genealogy notwithstanding, in a perfect world, I’d prefer no mother be put in a position to go-it alone.  But go-it alone they do.  They’ve been doing it from the beginning of time.  We owe those timeless women the dignity to make their own choices by their own guidance as they‘ve done since before the dawn of written records.  Every mother hopes for the betterment of her child in comparison to her life’s own.  Natalie Portman’s baby will be fine regardless which republican presidential ‘flavor-of-the-week’ makes ‘hay’ of her decision.

But who takes care of the rest of us?  There are tsunami’s out there of all descriptions. We’re left to take care of ourselves, equipped to so do or not.  In the steps leading to the advent of parental organizations including governments, monarchies, dictatorships, empires (crumbling or otherwise) the Kiwanis, the Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, or the Rosicrucian’s…came unions.

Unions are a parental substitute, and were formed in America to assure workers a leg-up toward leveling the playing-field against powerful and controlling financial interests to end the ugly practices which historically proceeded:  i.e. Slavery – indentured servitude – child-labor – sweat-shops – human rights violations and other burdens of the human body and soul.  Sadly, none of those atrocities were ever changed, let alone eradicated – they were merely transported overseas, out-of-sight and out-of-mind – swept under the rug with cheap goods to a consumer-based economy at the cost of America’s middle-class.  And at the consternation of helpless mothers worldwide.

Yo there, privileged white republican Christians – Mary was an unwed mother on a mule.  What does that tell you?  That charity begins at your second vacation home…?

We’ll give Mary the ‘teen-fibber’ benefit of the doubt.  She kept the baby and had the surrogate-father teach the boy a trade to become a carpenter, so he could die on an inferior piece of wooden joinery as punishment for his own heartfelt beliefs for which I harbor no criticism.  This observation is not tainted with irony  – it’s ironic without my input.  With the ’advent’ of Easter in mind – that part of the Christ story I’ve always found enormously compelling.  I regard all crucifixions, as moving and disturbing.  Historically speaking, Christ’s crucifixion is the micro/telescopic lens through which an ancient, perpetual daily occurrence was personalized – within the known-world by focusing by example on one man who stood for the many during the ancient Roman conquests.  Later convoluted throughout history following a path that Christ, himself would find incongruous to his teachings. 

History took a sharp forked-turn based on the path Christ forged, inadequately documented and edited via word-of-mouth through individuals and their own interpretations of His beliefs over time, as witnessed by friends and confidants including his mother, like a 2011 year old game of ‘whisper-down the barrel.’  In the spirit of bipartisanship I declare Her virtue as immaterial.  I’m not buying it personally, but let’s not go there.   Momma Mary doesn’t get to write her own synapses – ‘The Gospel According to Mother Mary.’ with the bones of HER core beliefs as the essential focus.  When Mary and Joseph stopped at the ‘Rodeo Drive Motor Lodge’ on their way to Bethlehem the planet on which they were treading, was not yet over-populated with more human-beings than the world could either support or feed.  Which is not to say people weren’t hungry, Roman greed already had the corner on the market of available goods.  Now we have a starving population, everything’s owned by the best liars, and there are too damned many people crawling on the earth.  We are looking at the prospect of worldwide famine within 40 years.  Optimistically speaking.

What do we do with a predicament like this…?

The correct answer is NOT to kill anyone.  Including abortion providers.  The answer is to stop over-populating with miniature replicas of ourselves who occur as a result of recreational-sex without a moment of forethought or reflection.  And for those who do have babies for whatever motive, fight like your lives depend on it to save the world those children will inherit.

If you’re gay, adopt or merely don’t propagate. 

Human beings kill-off everything in their path with perfunctory precision.  We consume it all like larva on leaves.  The very least we can do as a thinking, evolved species would be to curb our OWN species’ population.  If we ARE a thinking, evolved species…  Start by distributing condoms.  Ignore Pope Benedicthead XVI, and leaflet the ENTIRE globe with prophylactics and illustrated instructions.  As for abortion, while not the preferred method of predetermination, it’s the mother’s choice alone.  End of story.

Anti-abortionists are like animal-advocates forming well-intentioned feral-cat colonies in the migration path of an endangered species.  We, however are the endangered species — but not from predators, as much as by merit of our own over-population.  We are our own cruel predator.  We can – NONE OF US – cling to life forever.  Neither dictator, degenerate nor demigod — all things meet their maker — regardless to which deity or lack thereof to whom one intercedes for mercy.  Take matters into your own hands and get-off without knocking anybody-up.

Take the commonsense precaution for those who follow us, knowing life is cruel.  Spare the hopeless among us the misery of a life without opportunity by preaching safe-sex worldwide.  We are a smart enough animal to know when it’s time to trim our own branches BEFORE they sprout – and conduct it so without cruelty.

I think the bible needs a 3rd Testament.  One that’s based on FACTUAL unbiased historical records, science and spirituality – NOT myths and fairy-tales.  A testament worthy of taking responsibility for learning from humankind’s past errors – and NOT ignoring or glossing them under the fearful guise of conservatism.  Progress can mean standing-still if one is moving in the wrong direction.  It can mean moving forward, backward, left or right to avoid a boulder splitting your skull.  Now is the time to progress forward – away from mythological superstitions and turn left whilst in thy right mind.

I have so many friends with young children.  I’d like their children’s world avoid the ‘Orwellian/H.G Wells’ fault-line on which we precariously now teeter.  That’s why it makes sense to focus on paths that don’t lead to our own destruction like religious zealots rushing toward rapture in an effort to fulfill their own most dreaded fears.  Take care of our PLANET and our future, and our economy and survival will take care of itself.

Sometimes I wonder if maybe humans have a collective, morbid curiosity to see how far we can push things before we collectively break everything.  Like spoiled children with too many toys we take our world for granted.  Our species devours and steals everything while justifying our behavior.  We are the only species on the planet who has a clear vision into our possible future, and the least likely to take responsibility for it.

Question:  Are we equal to our challenge to be the first species to embrace the collective maternal within us all?

Answer:  It’s up to you – but regardless, it will fall on the shoulders of mothers themselves.