Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Some things that really BURN MY ASS!

Hellion Infidel
Originally uploaded by mewmoocouw.
Disclaimer: this is a bipolar rant. I am generally very scrupulous about being as accurate as I can be in all my statements. But here, I'm just gonna let it fly. I have pitifuly limited knowledge of how city and federal government works, so if I'm wrong about any of my assertions, bear with me or correct me.

In some ways, NYC Mayor Bloomberg is ok. He's managed to carry on the fine work of Rudy Giuliani, his illustrious predecessor, by keeping the streets of NYC relatively safe and user (and tourist) friendly. However:

I don't like the smoking ban, because...well.,,I'm a smoker. In fact, I think Bloomberg used to be a smoker as well. I also heard tell that he did smoke pot at one point, and DID inhale, and did enjoy it. Keep in mind my disclaimer above; this may only be one of those urban legends. Now there's a push for banning smoking in public housing projects. Can you spell (or smell) 1984?

I loathe his insane push for a West Side Stadium. This scheme involves mucho dollars in tax money, again as far as I know, chiefly in his bid to see the Olympics hosted by our city. Who ever heard of building a stadium for the Olympics without knowing if you're going to host the games? And who's paying for all those commercials touting the stadium, and who's paying for all the little Olympic sticker emblems I see on every subway car, even though many of the subway stations are disgracefully in need of repair, and many token booth clerks are being eliminated altogether, replaced by vending machines?

Bloomberg's bid for a Manhattan stadium was shot down, so now he's trying for one in Queens. There are plans abroad for new stadiums for the Yankees and the Mets. All very well and good, I guess, though I don't see the purpose. If it's coming out of my tax dollars, I don't like this shit one bit.

The fact that this guy is a multi-billionaire but uses his wealth for ad campaigns for the upcoming election, but as far as I know does not donate money for the city, makes me madder than hell. As BG said, he could be a major player in the NYC history books if he parted with some of his own cash to help the city by, say, building a West Side Stadium with his own funds--although I think there are plenty of other more worthy projects he could contribute his dinero to.

The founder of WalMart just passed away the other day. He was I think the fifth wealthiest man in the country, but like other zillioinaire assholes, he had to tempt fate by riding around in some little jerryrigged glider plane. I heard tell from BG that he allegedy was super cheap. So what did all that money get him in the end? Maybe he willed some of it to worthy causes, but if not, what was it all for? Something for Bloomberg to contemplate, perhaps?

A new contract has been established for NYC police that will substantially lower officer's starting salaries to a disgraceful level. Since recruitment is allegedly down, why in heaven's name would they pull such a stunt? On a positive note, veterans of the force are in for a very nice pay raise. But still.

There's an old library a few blocks away from BG's working class Bronx neighborhood. Across the street, they are constructing a brand new, shiny, fancy library. Again, very nice. But there is talk that unless there is a push for continued funding of the libraries at least up to par with what we have now, they may actually cut library service by several days a week. I would rather see the old library stand as is than a fancy new one that's only open three times a week instead of six. Many kids in this neighborhood cannot afford computers, and need these libraries to study and learn. It is a disgrace that one of the few eductional resources open to the poor in this city may be taken from them.

In several posts, such as AA: Threat or Menace?>, I've told about my experiences with the AA fellowship. I think it works beautifully for some, but not for all. Nevertheless, I think that despite its supposed non-profit status, there is a very very profitable AA-allied industry in this country which may be seriously impeding possible alternate modes of treatment.

First off, I have heard talk of a medication that can help alcoholics in their quest to stay sober. It has apparently been available in Europe for some time. Recently it finally received FDA approval. But no one knows about it, and I think I know why.

I believe the drug companies cannot make a lot of money off this particular medication; perhaps because it originated overseas. Secondly, the whole idea of a pill that can help alleviate addiction is anathema to the AA philosophy.

Money is being poured into the coffers of many via the myriad AA-inspired substance abuse institutions and programs such as those affiliated with rehabs, hospitals, employee assistance programs, prisons, etc. etc. One thing they all have in common is their adherence to the twelve step approach. Insurance companies give much more generous coverage for employees and others for rehabs than they do for mental illness inpatient and outpatient coverage. There is simply no other condoned model in this country for addicton recovery.

Some of this has been covered in Always Wear your Party Hat regarding contraception and abortion. In addition, despite the current war, resulting in the death of many American soldiers (as well as Iraqui civilians), I feel that vets get the short end of the stick in this country.

BG is an honorably discharged vet. There have been rumors of the Manhattan VA being closed or else converted to a solely outpatient facility. The wonderful art therapy program he loved has practically dried up altogether. Services are sometimes good, sometimes horrible. BG was literally almost killed several times by incompetent doctors and other health care "professionals" at the VA. Is this any way to treat our vets, especially with the gung ho attitude of Bush et al about the war?

I am also concerned about the push to reduce funding for the already limited Section 8 housing program, which helps assist low income individuals and families to find decent, affordable housing with the help of federal rent subsidies. Not to mention the whole social security debate/debacle.

Plus the whole Republican love affair with already filthy-rich individuals and corporations, and their complicity in sheltering them from their rightful tax burden.

I'm mad as hell as all the truly sick, demento shrinks out there who abuse vulnerable patients. BG's story is especially horrific, and I will post his travails with the mental health industry soon.

I am also miffed, to put it mildly, at the continuing shame, stigma, and ignorance associated with mental illness in this day and age. Not to mention the shameful media sterotypes like those found on crime dramas such as Law and Order and NYPD Blue. I love these shows, but to watch them you would think that all mentally ill people are babbling dementos who refuse to take their meds (which are, of course, some cure all wonder drug) and subseqently make a hobby out of pushing people in front of incoming subway cars. More on this in another post.

That's it for now. Now I want to hear from YOU!!!


At 3:51 PM, Blogger Walker said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3:51 PM, Blogger Walker said...

Now I'm not an American so I wouldn't know the politics there at least the local politics but I know what rich politicians are about no matter what country your in. All these fancy buildings are no more than monuments to the incumbants that were there at the time. Why pay to have a staute of yourself built when you can get someone else to do it. Have you ever wondered why someone who makes billions wants to give up that,to make thousands?
I think its all ego, and power.
The mayor of NYC is a step closer to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.(i think thats where the White House is)Most politicians couldn't give a rats ass if you have money for all of this that they want they'll just raise your taxes and thats that.
Cops earn every cent they make. I say that even though I have had my run ins with them ( my fault in most cases)Cutting back their wages at the start will keep people from joining the force. Raising veteran cops wages will give them the extra for when they retire but who will replace them if there are no fresh recruits, or is crime going on a holiday?
The smoking thing, well its happening everywhere and how bad can it be. I smoke and I wish I didn't. We can't smoke anywhere here and even when you are out side you have to be 20 feet from a door way. That puts you in the center of the street because there is a flippin door way every 4 feet.
Gezzzzzzzzzz I can rant more about this but i;ll let someone else carry this on. Thanks for stopping by my spot.
I have linked you.
Have a nice day :D

At 12:17 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Hey Walker:

Thanks so much for the comment (and the link!) You can always rant as much as you want. I love long comments! Hope you visit again soon.

Wow, so Canada has the same anti-smoke Nazi mentality, huh? Well, what really amuses me are those Phillip Morris ads that get all misty eyed about the dangers of smoking and how they never, ever want you to start using their evil product. Meanwhile, I imagine the tobacco companies are probably making money hand over fist on overseas sales to Europe and Asia--who cares if those suckers get cancer, right?

Yes, I guess a lot of "local" issues are indeed universal. As you say, it all seems to boil down to a rabid quest for money and/or power. I console myself by being grateful for what I do have rather than envying those with more; believing in the power of karma; and realizing that deep down, it's probably very lonely at the top. If you're one of the primo sharks, who can you trust as you power swim alone?

At 10:13 AM, Blogger synternet said...

You go girl! This country is in a spiral down the toilet. I was thinking in the shower this morning that revelations is close at hand, but the funny thing is the decline is being caused by the very people who fear it the most. The self righteous bible thumping moral hedonists who need to shove their morallity down our throats. However, I do believe that the moral pendulum will begin to swing back to center as long as the counry wakes up and realizes they need to vote.

Spain got it right. Don't take any crapola from the Vatican, no matter how many of your minions your trained to hate get out there. They just legalized gay marriage!

At 2:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Blackie,

Just got back from MN. Sorry for the dely for any reply.

It was Sam Walton's son, John who died. Sam (the founder of WM) came from humble beginnings in rural Arkansas. He owned and ran a few small retail stores and worked his way up to opening the 1st Wal-Mart in Bentonville, AR in 1970.

He made his $ by hard work and beating the competition at the game of salesmanship. His billions
wasn't given to him, unlike Mayor Bloomberg. At the time of his death, Sam W. was worth over 50 billion $. He split his estate with his wife & 4 children. John was the oldest, who took over the operations of W-M.

John cont'd the traditon of being the best in retail (like his dad) with even more improvements and updates in shipping, billing, invoicing, etc. Even UPS has looked into some of these improvements to ship packages faster and cheaper.

The W-M giant even surpassed GM (that's General Motors)in total earnings last year! That means lots of folks went to W-M many times last year to accomplish that feat. (Do you remember the good feeling you and BG got by going to W-M in Tomah? Others did too).

Anyway, John died in one of those experimental bi-planes (the same type that John Denver died in a few years ago). He was going to an education fund-raiser. Like his dad, John gave away millions to charity, mostly in the area of Arkansas school education.

Like Bill Gates, John Walton may have been worth billions, but they both tried to better the world around them by making charitable contributions to causes they believed in. Even though Bill Gates was considered the richest man alive last year, he also gave away more to charity than anyone, (per IRS individual tax inquiry).

So, even though it is tempting to "poke fun" at the "filthy" rich, I'm also aware of what contributions they make, and have made on society.

Certainly, I wouldn't begin to understand all the dealings of Bloomberg, or his ambitions to build an Olympic stadium, etc, in NYC. I would say it's possible some filthy rich also, on occassion, find an ultruistic reason to do things that may get many people upset. I don't know.

But, because partly of Bill Gates, I'm tapping on this keyboard. (He had a vision of the personal home owned computer long before IBM). And, I sure like the way I can stretch my $ at W-M, which I give some credit to J and S Walton. Those two families are what I think the "American Dream" is all about.

Many would argue W-M has replaced many small "mom & pop" stores, and hurt those local economies. I would say those displaced people could have never employed the thousands of people that W-M has hired over the past 3+ decades. That effort is the biggest impact for our growing economy. It's what makes this country great, even with its many flaws.

We're (the USA) not great because of just having WMD's, but because we have the best free-market in the world. Gates and Walton have helped build that environment.

Maybe the rich, like Bloomberg, or even those like J.D. Rockefeller, Carnegie, J.P.Morgan, Vanderbilt, and countless others, have mostly
taken advantage of the poor and the less fortunate. But, I would say for any great cause, sometimes there will be some who may suffer in the creation and growth of that great cause.

My impact on this world will only reach a speck of what the above people have/will do.

I just hope to understand the total measure of anyone who has the power to change the world with their $, or other contributions, which greatly impacts our society we live in.


At 9:43 PM, Blogger Brink Craven said...

Remember the Kathie Lee Gifford scandle? I'm just gonna bring up a couple ethical questions here. I just watched this program on PBS about mega corps like wal-mart that sell product (at a steal !) but meanwhile the people making those products (in bangladesh or malaysia or pakistan) are making 50 cents a week slaving away from dawn till 10 pm--some of them subject to beatings and verbal abuse if they dont keep up thier quotas (to keep up with americans demands)--they have to work overtime without pay and sleep on straw mats on the floor of thier little paper huts, while subsisting on nothing but rice and beans--why should these Corps. make so much money, just so they can CHOOSE who to give it to and when to give it to them? why not charge a little more for that product so the seamstress in Indonesia can afford to feed her malnourished children in the first place? or why not make certain that the factories they choose to buy product from are treating thier workers humanely and ethically? why all this middle man stuff?--why must they offer "great deals" from the blood, sweat and tears of others back breaking labor and misery?
so yeah Wal-mart is creating all kinds of jobs for Americans and foreigners alike, but the reason that thier prices are Sooo looow, is because they are getting much of thier product from slave labor. That doesnt sit well with many americans, and it shouldnt sit well with the wally mart clan either. just my 2 cents.
as far as the AA thing--I read an expose on that too. I found out that 72% of the people who seek out help through 12 step programs are not helped by them at all. That means that only 28% of the time AA works for the people its meant for. If you happen to be part of the majority who dont get anything out of it (yeah if you dont wanna be a member of thier cult) then they accuse you of "not working the program!"

At 8:26 AM, Blogger !ce said...

My feelings exactly, Blink.

At 10:18 AM, Blogger Brink Craven said...

i know Im taking this in a whole nuther direction--my apologies for that Elvira. But when I received this email yesterday, I thought it only fitting to attach it here, seeing that it relates so well with the whole wal-mart/ bizness ethics debate. This is exactly the kind of policy that corps. like wal-mart are pouring the big bucks into lobbying for.

On July 30, 2003, 4,300 people lost their jobs in
Kannapolis, North Carolina. Increased pressure from cheap
imports (yeah from slave labor) forced the local textile factory, which once
produced 300,000 towels a day, to close. Nearly half
of these workers were over 50 years old.

Unfortunately, this story is not unique. As our government
negotiates new free trade agreements - specifically, the
Central America Free Trade Agreement, "CAFTA" - the
incentive to move plants overseas to take advantage of
cheaper labor will increase, and the story of Kannapolis,
North Carolina will repeat itself in towns all over the
United States. But there is still time to act!

Because of problems like this, overwhelming public
opposition throughout the Americas has thus far prevented
the Bush Administration and Congressional leadership from
bringing CAFTA to a vote.

Until now.

The Bush Administration has stepped up its campaign to get
CAFTA passed, and the latest word is that the US House and
Senate will try to bring it to a vote before the July 4th
recess. Please take the time to ask your representatives
to vote no on CAFTA:

Increased trade has the potential to reduce poverty and
encourage development, but CAFTA is the wrong approach.
CAFTA threatens American manufacturing jobs and the
livelihoods of rural farmers in Central America who are
unable to compete with the heavily subsidized United
States ag-businesses. $18 billion in annual subsidies
allow US farmers to export their products to foreign
markets at prices that are below the cost of production.
How can small rural farmers in Central America compete?

CAFTA promises to bring hardship to the working class on
both sides of the border.

Please email your Representative and Senators today. Urge
him or her to vote NO on CAFTA.

At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Concerning Brink Craven's comments on both the absuse of workers in third world countries, and the passing of CAFTA: I would like to say in small part, there is a reverse relationship economically to those two points.

First, there seems to be a backlash to Kathy-Lee and others for being involved with foriegn governments that allow cheap labor to work at these "sweat shops". Let's say that is true, and many Americnas say we should help raise their standard of living. O. K., if this action in itself is wrong, then how would we help-CAFTA would be one way. Or, not buying from W-M. I for one, will continue my buying at the "super-store".

You can't be against CAFTA (or NAFTA) and also say we must raise the standard of living for those overseas. Then, I would venture that we do nothing. Here's why-

My dad had an old saying while teaching at one of the U.S. Air Force Academy Schools. It had to do with this subject. It was,
"There are the haves', and the have-nots'. The latter always want what the former has. Both groups can rarely have the same of both, economically, at the same time".

My dad knew that the USA has a certain standard of living, and it is always difficult to balance the economic success of our free-market society to those fledgling third-world countries. At least argueably, the poor in those poor countries mentioned in BC's footnote are better off, in some measure, economically than they were before the factory life became their new way of life. They had nothing before, and were starving. (One could argue they were better off before the factory life. One could also say the Colonialist were better off w/o British interference... who knows, that's a whole different talk).

CAFTA does open markets, and creates a better standard of living for those in Central America. Yes, jobs will be lost, especially the textile, garment, and fabric type industries. But, it will help the poor who, I thought, were the concern of many Americans. Yes, it is unfair... but, does it not also create some balance in the world? (It depends on who you are, and if you work in a US textile factory, or if you are a poor farmer in Panama).

If you're against CAFTA, great! But, that would mean we should have less care for the outcome of those working under Kathy Lee's thumb. Just food for thought.

It's hard to have it both ways. And, like most economic questions, there's never any "easy" answers where everybody wins. The haves' and the have-nots don't always end up on top.


At 7:03 PM, Blogger Henry said...

You want to know what burns my ass? You know what's burning my ass right now?


That's what is burning my ass right now. Not only do they tweak my code so it does not work, but their shit software and server setup has lost my latest post that I have been working on for days.


I'll be back for more later, but this was foremost on my mind right now.

At 12:18 AM, Blogger Brink Craven said...

I see your point but BLLB--However, those opposed to CAFTA are not opposed to any and all trade agreements with CA, just the one the Bush admin is now proposing--which kinda changes the whole debate- these policies need changing--not throwing out altogether. And until we can come up with trade agreements that work *better*, we just shouldnt pass them.
I beleive in corportate responsibilty. With great wealth and power should also come a responsibilty to the people working for them. Just because these labourers arent US citizens, doesnt mean they should be ignored or than we, as americans should just throw up our hands and say," well, its thier governemnts fault that they are treated so unfairly". Essentially these people ARE employees of wal-mart etc. And since we obviously cant trust the rich and powerful to police themselves, it is the responsibilty of our government to do so--but of course, that is just my opinion.

I think that it is important for us to seek first to understand the ramifications of such policies by closley examining the outcomes, which have obviously had detrimental effects on the US working class and on the quality of life of foreign laborors.

Elvira--sorry to have carried on so much about this-- haha...I am through, I promise.

At 11:08 PM, Blogger Julika said...

I don't speak English very well (I'm brazilian & I'm leraning) but I liked your ideas. You're crazy! Would you like to be my friend? Or learn me English? Goodbye

At 2:18 AM, Blogger rob said...

WoW Elvira and gang! This is what I believe the blog thing should do. Create a venue to ... vent! And your "Some things that really BURN MY ASS!" post did just that. So many comments, this is good shtuff. As for commenting, well, my true belief is that as long as there're possessions, there will be those who have more than enough, those who have just enough, and others who have little or nothing. The players are just that, players and soon will be gone ... so, what is left? Intent, creations ... and soon those will be gone or paved over. A few weeks ago, you could get a summons for taking pics in the subway system, now you can't smoke next to your favorite drink, gabbing with your favorite friends, no, now you form a new alliance with the sidewalk smokers. What they should do is give permission to smoke at certain bars, letting patrons know that this is a smoking bar, letting employees know that this is a fuckin' smokin' bar, if they want to work here, if they want to drink here, they're fuckin' warned. But, no, you can’t do that ... we know where most of the patrons would flock to. So it’s gonna be another kind of speak-easies, smokin’ parties. Hey, psssssssst, I know of a bar where you can smoke and have your drinks and don’t have to go outside. It’s disguised as a party at a different house each night. Here, the password is MUTE. Tell ‘em Vic sent you.
I pisses me off that Vets are treated like cases of public assistance. If the effing politicians and military brass that sent them to fight ... not always for the good of our country, have a great health system, well, the vets affected by their decisions should have equal if not better service. As a friend’s parting words before shipping out to Iraq were: “I’m not going to get revenge, I’m not going to liberate shit, I’m going to do my job, the alternative is jail.” Then the police pay cuts, firehouses closing, cutting out token clerks and train conductors, shortening library hours, increase in school tuition, no increase for teachers, increase in politician’s salary, corruption in government, industry. Is there a pattern here, or the simple wheeling-dealings of everyday politics, oh, I guess that’s the pattern. This is insane! As closing my favorite quote. Don’t dis ability.

At 10:01 PM, Blogger Walker said...

Happy 4th Of July

At 5:50 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

Hi Elvira, I'm not even going to pretend I understand politics, cos the fact of the matter is, I don't. The smoking thing I understand. I too am a smoker, and here in New Zealand they have just brought in the non-smoking law in bars etc. I'm none too happy about standing out in the cold, freezing my arse off but I do enjoy the fact that when I walk into a bar there's no smoke hanging in the air like there used to be. I'm thinking I'm over my head in here, but I had to come in and say hi and thanks for dropping by my site :) I'll be back.

At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Brink:

I agree with your assessment on "corporate responsibility". Without it, firms would show no ethical engagements towards the environment, cultures, and a host of other topics.

This attitude (through corp res) of caring for the wellfare of its clients, employees, stock holders, and foriegn/domestic gov'ts could sometimes prove to be very hard in "pleasing them all" at the same time.

I mean, to where they (corp's)must 1st make a profit, and then provide for the welfare to as many as they possibly can. It is a very
"full plate" to make everyone so happy.

If they are not fiscally sound, all the goodwill in the world will not help them survive. Of course, if the public sees a company as doing "bad business", they could still loose money by shoppers refusing to buy their product. (Look at Exxon after Valdez, AK. I didn't buy their gas for a long time until they promised to clean up that oil spill).

To the foreign employee, is it truly possible to provide "equal status" to them as to not be in anyway "unfair" in the treatment of them? I would propose a slightly different index for the worker overseas.

As for a large firm like Wal-Mart, I still believe they do not need, nor can they possibly provide the same level of pay, benefits, etc., to their foreign workers.

I'm for the continued effort to ensure their safety, and basic human rights. But, to say they should get the same in the area of civil rights (Title VI-etc.), or citizen rights (Constitution-etc.), I would say no.

Not everyone under the Wal-Mart flag can get exactly the same benefits world-wide. (I just chose W-M, but you could say the same for GM, GE, etc).

Yes, careful consideration should be taken in the ratification of any new trade agreement. Just as long as those looking at the world-veiw know that it's not just the countries involved, but also the type of industry in question.

I mentioned earlier the general decline in certain industies in the U.S., like the textile types. Because of the fieice competition overseas, many firms like W-M can only do so much for the foreign worker. They simply can't "give away the farm".

They still must fullfill many obligations to those foreign gov'ts before building a plant there. They must follow many guidelines set up by our gov't/and theirs in terms of fair trade, disclosure of manufacturers' permits, sound tariff dileniation, etc.

It's just not going to be a completely "even playing field" in the area of providing everything to the foreign worker that our guys get. And, for those losing their jobs here. it's going to continue to happen-let's face it.

Certain markets will flourish overseas, much more than they will if they continue here in the U.S. And, as I said earlier, a firm must be able to forecast and produce profits before anything else.

That means if they will loose money by over-extending benefits to foreign workers, or staying here domestically too long-they will fail. That will be the end of that entity, and who wins then?


At 2:12 PM, Blogger Henry said...

Stop the world, I want to get off!

There is just too much happening right now. I have been working on some good stuff for the blog, but other good stuff keeps coming up. Man, life is tough in blogo-world.

I was going to hold my latest post, an empathetic response about things that burn my ass, for a few days, but this morning's events in London, and a local Op-Ed piece in the paper, has me working over time to make timely retorts.

I too am particularly dismayed by the portrayal of the mentally ill in the world today. I have to admit that it's much better than it used to be, but it is still deplorable. Even the "therapists" and biopsychophamacologists who are supposed to be helping us, treat us like crap and don't really care about our problems unless we are paying them $720 an hour to not listen.

You think Bloomberg is bad, wait until you see the letter I am writing to the City Manager regarding his disgusting statements about democracy and "government for the people, by the people" that appeared in last Sunday's paper. What a hypocritical liar! You'll also get to see his barcode hairstyle. LOL

I need to relax a bit; where's my lavalamp?

At 11:43 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Hey you guys:

Thanks for all the fab comments. I've just been happy to see you "talk amongst yourselves" for awhile. I will post a "real" comment soon.


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