Tag Archives: Denmark

Winning!

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Sorry I haven’t been blogging much this week. Its tax time and I’m bogged down doing my taxes, or at least worrying about doing my taxes. I seem to be running out of time since I also have to do two of my family members’ taxes too, mainly because we are all Scottish and too cheap to pay a professional to do them. I took the day off and decided I’d plunge into the nightmare without any distractions and now my TV room carpet is no longer visible because I have receipts, forms, statements, schedules, and various other tax clutter strewn all over the floor trying to keep everything separate and organized. Now that I see it all stretched out before me I’m even more daunted than I was when I was merely procrastinating, so I retreated to the futon and climbed under my laptop to escape for a few minutes and do something I actually enjoy… so here’s today’s blog!To facilitate my escape I popped in a CD my sister brought me back from Denmark by Danny Cudd, called Timelessly Free. TC saw them performing in an outdoor street venue in Copenhagen last summer and thought I’d like their music so she used some of the money she had exchanged into Danish krones to get her big sister a present from her trip. She’s so sweet! Danny Cudd plays the ‘hang’ on this album. It is an unusual percussion instrument similar to a ‘pan’ or steel-drum like they play in Jamaican music only inverted into a dome. It was perfected in 2001 and has an interestingly unusual sound, so I’ve decided to ‘hang’ it all up tax-wise for awhile and listen to the ‘hang’ while I ‘hang’ around waiting for the will-power to go back to doing these heinous taxes!

But what I wanted to talk about today is a strange new theory that popped into my head recently to explain a phenomenon which has been baffling me for years. In a time when climate science and the daily news reports from around the world have conclusively demonstrated that the planet is heating up precipitously and civilization around the world appears to be facing calamity if not extinction as the ice caps melt, the oceans rise and drought-induced desertification and coastal flooding threatens agriculture worldwide, why has the class of the world’s wealthy corporatists completely swathed themselves in an impenetrable cloak of denial that global warming is even happening at all, let alone that it is caused by man’s industrial emissions of hydrocarbons and methane? Conservative governments in the United States, Canada and elsewhere are busily deregulating the oil and gas industry, approving tar-sand extraction and forging ahead with un-regulated frakking, all of which will only hasten our inevitable demise. In the meantime, the Republicans are implementing economic strategies into the legal-code which move massive amounts of wealth from the pockets of the poor and middle-class to the wealthy who need it the least. What is going on that could explain such cruel illogic behind international policy?

Here’s MY theory. The wealthy know damn well that global-warming has already passed the tipping-point and there is no averting the coming catastrophe. Most of the human race will assuredly perish within one or two generations and no amount of radical engineering can prevent it. Only the few will survive who have amassed personal fortunes vast enough to build defensible life-support zones for themselves and their families, so why allow any wealth to be squandered now on the rest who are doomed? Take everything they have now because it will be needed by the rich to preserve their existence after 5 or 6 billion have perished from starvation, thirst, violence, and disease and the few hundred million remaining are all clawing desperately at each other for survival. It doesn’t matter that the world will be a miserable and inhospitable hell. It didn’t matter to the duck-and-cover crowd 50 years ago who were determined to survive on dried-foods and bottled water in bomb-shelters dug out beneath their basements should the world end in a thermo-nuclear holocaust. It doesn’t matter to the gun-nut survivalists who for decades have been preparing for the collapse of civilization by stock-piling automatic weapons, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and building backwoods bunkers they intend to defend with their lives.

The simple fact is these people are in it to win. You can’t point out to them that when the earth becomes an overheated and miserably inhospitable environment where everything we knew is gone that life simply will not be worth living. They don’t get it! They plan to live no matter how bad the world gets. Its not life. Its a game! They are in it to win! And they are preparing now! It has always been a game to the wealthy. When you have everything you could possibly need in life with millions to spare, why get even greedier? To WIN, of course! In Monopoly there is no winner until every player has been stripped of all their assets and one player has EVERYTHING! That is the mind-set of the wealthiest 1% of our population. The world is ending, so he who goes out with the most toys is the winner. The fact that we could have prevented the end of the world if 30 years ago we had worked together and taken prudent measures to convert to a sustainable-energy economy world-wide is irrelevant. We knew this was coming. We’ve been talking about it for decades. But doing something about it would have inconvenienced the wealthy vested interests who profit obscenely from oil, coal, and other non-renewables. And now it is too late. The wealthy don’t want sustainability because that entails a plan for the future where ALL mankind can do well and that requires sharing. That’s not how you win.

But don’t worry. This is only my theory, and writing about it gets me out of doing my taxes for a few minutes! So… WIN!

(c) Vernal Equinox, 2013 – Bethany Ariel Frasier

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A Summer Abroad

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Last summer my younger sister spent a month abroad. She had just completed her junior year at Wittenberg College and she was offered a placement in a business studies program at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad. She flew to Copenhagen in July to spend a few weeks in classes with students from various other countries in a program affiliated with the University of Copenhagen and sponsored by the Danish government.

They included excursions to Sweden and Germany in their academic program so students got a taste of societies in those countries too. Whether or not she learned much about business in her short stay in Europe is probably irrelevant, because what she mostly learned abroad was how much America sucks! That’s not what they intentionally set out to teach her, of course but that’s the most significant thing she actually learned and brought back home with her. My sister is not really a political person. That was my area of study in grad-school, but after seeing the stark contrasts between society in Europe and America she has awakened to the vast differences in political systems in Europe from the one we have in America and now she can’t wait to get out of America and live in Europe. My little sister has suddenly become a socialist like me! The advantages of subsidized advanced education, free health-care, modern and efficient public transportation, fair labor practices, and an economy where the rich and the poor are not so unevenly and unjustly divided are things most Americans have been carefully kept ignorant about by their news media and their government. Even my own sister had no idea how bad America has become in comparison to other developed countries until she was exposed to the reality of the way things work in Europe.

My sister TC, short for Tiana Celeste (don’t tell her I told you!) actually fit right in amongst the other students in Denmark. She’s a beautiful blonde, outgoing like her big sister, and a fearless natural leader. She makes friends instantly wherever she goes and unlike me, she looks as Scandinavian as the Swedes and the Danish girls, so everywhere she went people would strike up conversations with her and offer to include her in the local social-life. She knows how to fit in too, so she quickly learned the local customs and the vast differences between American and European society. When she came home she told me that everyone seems happier and less stressed-out in Europe than here in America and I asked her why she thought that was so. She proceeded to tell me all the public benefits and social programs that people in Denmark enjoy and how they pretty much have nothing to worry about. That’s when I explained socialism to her and having seen it in practice, she couldn’t understand what Americans could possibly have against it. I’ve been wondering that for years! We Americans have become the most propagandized society in the western world, at least among its industrialized peers. We believe we still live in a democracy but our electorate has become so mis-informed, fear-mongered and divided by our corporate-controlled establishment that Americans repeatedly vote against their own best interests while their government represents only the interests of the wealthiest few at the top who have bought and paid for our government with contributions, lobbyist patronage and bribes at both the national and state levels.

America once had a great reputation around the world as a shining beacon of democracy, freedom, and economic opportunity, but that was fifty years ago. We have been coasting along on our laurels for the past forty years deluded by such phrases as ‘American exceptionalism’, when in reality the only things we have truly become the exceptions at are the great things we have lost while all the other industrialized countries have raced past us. Since World War II when America was at its peak all the major nations have embraced socialized medicine while our health-care system has become one of the worst in the world. Our infant-mortality rate is now among the highest of the industrialized world while our life-expectancies are dropping and our medical outcomes deteriorate. We have the most-expensive, least accessible health-care system dominated by wealthy insurance conglomerates which profit from keeping health-care denied to the most sick among us. Only the wealthiest Americans have access to decent health-care. Our infra-structure is collapsing around us while we structure our taxes to redistribute wealth from the poor and middle-class to the wealthiest Americans. Never has disparity between the rich and the poor been so inequitable since the Gilded Age of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries when the gross abuses of unbridled capitalism had to be broken up by the liberal government of Franklin D. Roosevelt and labor-reforms were instituted by the New Deal program. Young Americans can now no longer afford a college education as there is no public investment in secondary education and our young adults spend years paying off exorbitant student-loan debts to private banking interests. Labor has lost nearly all of its former political influence along with its ability to negotiate for fair-wages, benefits, and safe working conditions. Our obscenely large defense budget consumes our national wealth leaving us externally strong and bellicose but internally weak and morally bankrupt.

Americans have the capacity to change course, but they must finally realize that the wealthy have been waging class-warfare against them for forty years using the tax-code which has been made increasingly regressive, systematically moving America’s wealth from the middle-class to the top 1%. They face opposition and obstacles that they never faced when Franklin Roosevelt saved America from the financial royalists 80 years ago. We no longer have a free and independent press, but rather a corporate-owned media which colors its coverage in favor of the wealthy and no longer fights for the poor. We have clandestined political organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council founded by the billionaire Koch Brothers to advance the corporate agenda in government and legislatively destroy the power of labor in America. We are also burdened with a politically-active conservative religious movement which fills Americans with hate for each other, striving to punish gays, liberated women, and secular humanists for being different from the norms of right-wing Christian fanaticism. Another huge obstacle is the new global economy which has left Americans competing against low-wage workers from under-developed countries around the world in a race to the bottom for wages and benefits. The Great Depression filled Americans with fear 80 years ago, but at least the industrial-economy had not been dismantled and only waited for Keynesian stimulus from the federal government to prime the economic pump and re-employ America. Our heavy industrial base no longer exists. It has moved to cheaper labor markets, leaving a permanently unemployed pool of labor now economically dependent on a social safety-net that Republicans are doing everything in their power to eliminate.

On the hopeful side, the Republican Party has become so blatantly racist, sexist, and bigoted; uncaring for any segment of the American people except the rich that its true agenda can no longer be concealed behind super-patriotism and jingoism. Although they have unfairly gerrymandered congressional districts to such an extent that it is nearly impossible to vote them out of office, 2014 offers up an opportunity to do just that when every seat in Congress comes up for re-election as well as many state governorships. And if my kid sister can be made to see the political light, it encourages me that more Americans will turn away from the rightward course towards which this country has been careening, and more equitable, progressive policies can be legislated when the Republicans and their narrow-minded prejudices are finally consigned to the trash-bin of history. America can then join the rest of the industrialized western world where unfettered capitalism has been restrained by socialism and the fair taxation of the wealthy. Europe must realize however that the economic force which has crippled America is working to end socialism in Europe too. The international financial interests of the IMF and the banking cartels keep nations with weak economies deeply burdened in crushing debt so that in downturns they can pressure these economies to implement austerity, the very antithesis of socialism. Without progressive tax structures to rein in the excesses of the super-rich, the common good will always be threatened in every nation by the unchecked power of wealth.

(c) March 16, 2013 – Bethany Ariel Frasier

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