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Above: Lake Geneva, Switzerland. At Montreux.

Fodderize v.t. 1. To break down individual components; to make fungible; to disregard difference; to render one easily substituted for another 2. To impose sub-quality goods or services upon, with little recourse 3. To cap role choices, hinder access to resources regardless of merit, and so avoid competition 4. To manage perception by propaganda-spin techniques, while concealing dispositive facts 5. To manipulate, lure, exploit, deceive


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mixed Origins: Clues to Religions, Cultures. Europe Black Madonna, Roma Sara-la-Kari, Slavery, Melungeon, Secret Life of Bees,

Traces of Merged Cultures
Art, Music, Religion:
The American South
Black, European, Roma (Gypsy), Native American

What is passed on when cultures meet, clash, mix. Bits of lore, a treasured thing, a custom, language, a reference point, a story.
See how three cultures merge in the book, now a film, "The Secret Life of Bees," by Sue Monk Kidd:
1. The European - The Black Madonna from Medieval Poland; Poles arrived with Columbus' second voyage, and at Jamestown, Virginia. A long history.
2. The Gypsy or Roma - Their early immigration and even enslavement in this country. The Indo-Iranian branch, and from more northern Europe, other groups with a similar lifestyle. Did they bring the notion of a female intermediary, not just the Christian Mary, but her servant - the Roma patron saint, Sara-la-Kali.
3. The American Slave South. Did their African and then exposure to Christian religion, mix with Roma groups, downtrodden like themselves, leading to an affinity for - in the book and film - the wooden African-appearing "goddess" or other figure, aid and succor and protection.

The watch the brew. Consider how another element of the book (this was changed in the film, to the detriment of the film), a copy of an iconic painting of a Black Madonna, from Czestochowa, Poland, come into the hands of a Black family in the American South, descended from slaves.

Is there really a historical likelihood of a connection to the history of that painting, in their slave-descended geneology: to some Gypsy, Roma or Polish source.  Through enslavement of European gypsies, or Roma, and other immigration patterns, yes. Having the picture could also be simply a Roman Catholic painting picked at random from a magazine. But consider a more interesting alternative.

The Boatwright slave-descended family in the film-book has elements of many cultures in it. Look at their location, at a crossroads of slavery and immigration patterns of other groups.Consider the number of surrounding ethnic groups making their way in the South and moving toward Appalachia and elsewhere since colonial times, their heritage may include Gypsies, or Roma, and ultimately groups now known as Melungeons. The Melungeons share proud elements of several cultures, a blend over centuries of Black slave, Gypsy slave, Native American, others, with a local variation as in the film. See Gypsies, Roma, Romani, Melungeons: Parse for American Roma. Explore with us.
And, if there is that cross-cultural connection, with the painting brought into the fold by one ancestor, and passed down, what else came with that other culture. What talents, interests, characteristics, and how did those reinforce, supplement and echo similar traditions from the Black slaves' own African past.

Traditions in support.

There is a specific tradition that connects at least some of the Gypsy slave history in America, for example, some Gypsies brought to South Carolina as slaves; with other Gypsy persecution, and their worship of Sara-La-Kali, Patron Saint of the downtrodden. She is not the same as the Roman Catholic Saint Sarah. The role of a female intermediary, is common in Christianity and African religions as well. A common link, that survives. The Black Madonna, and Sara-La-Kali in intermediary role. Representing the dark-skinned heritage, more likely in the Middle East, than the white-outed.
A. Connecting The Dots

1. The Black Madonna from Medieval Poland

There is an image of a Black Madonna used on the book cover, "The Secret Life of Bees," see :// The book is by Sue Monk Kidd.. 

This is the Black Madonna from Jasna Gora Monastery, Czestochowa, Poland. Here is our photo of a copy at Gdansk. This Black Madonna is seen throughout Poland, and no photographs were permitted at Jasna Gora itself. Find it in an Images search also.

Black Madonna, copy in Gdansk Cathedral, Poland (original at Czestochowa) - used on the honey jars, see book cover

Black Madonnas are found throughout Europe, each with its own history of miracles, battles, how it came to be.  See varieties of the Polish Black Madonnas at Poland Road Ways, Black Madonna, Jasna Gora, Wroclaw, Gdansk. For an overview of the kinds and nature of the true, historic Black Madonnas, see "Black Madonnas" by Michael C. Duricy, at ://; and the site's follow-up at://

There are several lines of thought about Black Madonnas: One tradition of Black Madonnas dates from the Middle Ages and earlier, some claiming 2d Century - one supposedly made by Luke, even. This early tradition with the dark skin is represented by the one shown on the book cover, whether in painting or sculptural form. Some have been shown to have darkened only from fire or exposure, but others have no such explanation, and appear intentionally dark. Mary had dark skin, is the message.

Another tradition is contemporarily cultural to the times. The artist or sculptor reproduces ethnic features on the Madonna to appeal to a particular group, to show universality or similarity..

The Black Madonna idea either way is watered down in the film.

The film substitutes a modern face and style and pose, for the classic and real painting in Czestochowa. It removes a significant mystery from the story. The effect is to diminish the level of culture to which the Boatwright family had been exposed. And ignores the general distribution of Black Madonna images in the world.

How did the Polish Czestochowa Black Madonna end up in South Carolina, in a slave-descended family.

2. The Role of "Sara-La-Kali"
Servant to Mary, Sainted by the People
The second religious figure in the book-film is the role of the wooden figure. Revered. Reputed to have done good works, or brought them about. A protector. African in appearance here, but with a role like that of Sara-La-Kali, who has become the patron saint of the Gypsies, or Roma. The patron saint of those who serve, or are held in servitude. Roma often adopt the religion of the dominant culture, while continuing with their own practices and beliefs, see "Roma People" at :// It can also, of course, be a fully independent goddess or succor figure from slavery times, without further overlay.

But with the Black Madonna already central to the story, do look at other Polish and Gypsy connections, as roots.

The story is that Sara-La-Kali, or Sara the Black, was a black companion to Mary the Mother of J, long term. She accompanied Mary the Mother and Mary Magdalene, says tradition, to France after the crucifixion. Sara is said to have guided the ship through a storm.

Tradition says that Sara-La-Kali came from Egypt, staying with Mary after the sojourn to escape Herod, or from India perhaps (less likely - the deity "Kali" is very different there). Perhaps she is the unnamed third woman at the tomb. See overview of Sara-La-Kali as patron saint, at :// The Catholic Church deflected interest in Sara-La-Kali by sainting another "Sara" as Saint Sara, but the older tradition remains strong despite them.
The connection here: is of course, speculative, but the pieces fit. The good works of Sara-La-Kali in France have made her the Patron Saint of the Gypsies or Roma.

Current worship of Sara-La-Kali.

See where the Marys and Sara La Kali are supposed to have landed in France, see the Gypsy rituals at the Church at Saintes Maries de la Mar at the mouth of the Rhone River, Ile de la Camargue, France.  Videos at;  See photos of the church and the festival at ://

This is an important person in those traditions. Would traditions honoring her in Europe carry over here, to enhance the role of a Black female figure, whether goddess or not.

And how would a French tradition get to Poland? Why connect it to a Black Madonna.

We suggest it because there are paintings connecting the two already, in location, at Gdansk, Poland. The Black Madonna from Czestochowa is displayed in Gdansk,  in the same Gdansk cathedral as this next painting - but this one has symbolic and other differences.  It does not look like merely another 'Black Madonna.'

Look.  Here, in glorious gown, here is a painting in the same cathedral in Gdansk as the Black Madonna.  See the similar framing. - but it does not look like a Madonna.  No baby. And there is a crescent form beneath.  That crescent depicts the Roma or Rom or Gypsies, and Sara-La-Kali is patron saint of the Gypsies, the Roma, the Rom.

Black Madonna, or is it Sara La Kali, Gdansk, Poland

Why would this golden garbed figure be Gypsy?

She herself, as Sara-La-Kali, may not be herself, as Gypsies apparently did not migrate from India uncil centuries later.

But her role as servant, serving, aid and succor, unrecognized, invisible, is like them. No land of her own. A Traveler. Did these elements of the story play a part in Sara-La-Kali becoming the Gypsy patron saint.  More choices: The crescent can even signify the horns of Mithra. See where the symbolism and the absence of the baby can lead to that conclusion, at Bogomilia, Sara the Black or Sara La Kali.  Those of you with more information, can you translate, can you help here.
3.  The American Slave South:

The Wooden Inspirational Figure in the Parlor

A. Religious Roots.

African slave religious roots include goddesses. Start on African history and events at Fordham University's History Sourcebook, at :// Find religious issues at the NationMaster Encyclopedia, at 

African slaves were exposed to and absorbed Christianity to a large degree, adapting it to their needs and expression.

But other religious backgrounds had an influence as well. Gypsy or Roma culture and religion. And those of any other group out of the white mainstream in the South.

B.  Roots in a common slavery; a common rejection.  
The Roma Slave, the Gypsy Slave. 

England and Scotland shipped Gypsies as slaves to Virginia and the Caribbean in the 17th and 18th Centuries, other countries sent Gypsy slaves here to other places, see the Patrin Web Journal at  In the South and elsewhere were undocumented immigrants - those who are not on the roles of Ellis Island, or ship lists, for example. Some were Gypsies or Roma, collected from Europe and dropped off often at places like the South Carolina coast often to be enslaved here, if not already slaves. See the Patrin and Burke sites.

Check history.  There has been far more cultural diversity in our land, and since colonial times., than we, most of us, imagined - or see.  
  • Free Moors and Turks.  For example, read of the Free Moors and Turks who were specifically brought over and then sold into slavery here. See "The Never-Ending Road American Roma (Gypsies), Travellers and "Others," at :// .
Do go there and click on the other Roma history and heritage sites there. .
  • "The Never Ending Road." It is likely from that site's information, and others, that Roma or Gypsy populations were indeed, if not forcibly intermingled as slaves, particularly in the South Carolina coastal areas, or connected by necessity as outcast persons. 
Roma, Levice, SlovakiaAre there elements of the Roma, Gypsy religion(s) that would have been passed on to the blended families. Why not?  What comes to mind:  skill at stringed instruments; strong sense of independence; females running the household, even if the male is nominally in charge. Or not around at all. Cultural absorption, not merely the adversity of slavery. Mulatto. Not merely white owner-black slave, but also slave to slave, European Roma and Black slave. Each with a broad range of characteristics, skin color, within the larger group, as with any group. The Roma writing at the site says he has red hair, blue eyes. These Roma, in Slovakia, were dark, India-Indian in appearance. How many of  our Appalachia population is not merely Scots-Irish, or Scots, but the Melungeons.

C. Melungeons

For a known mix in our country, see "Origins of the Melungeon-Appalachian Subculture," by Henry Robert Burke, at://  The idea is the blend of African slave, Native American, Black, Gypsy, Moor, - do not miss that site. It focuses on Appalachia and north to Ohio. Good heavens - it says that some Rom accompanied Columbus on his second voyage. They were in Virginia in the Colonial period. Others were enslaved, and it says that the same proportion of Rom were exterminated by the WWII Nazis as were the Jews.

Meet the Melungeons -

The Melungeons are a blend of ancient cultures, that may help explain this particular question, something about the Boatwrights in the movie, and whose broad range of people you may not have noticed.

  • By way of update in 2012, DNA testing has narrowed the reality to the union of sub-Saharan African men and women of central or northern European roots:  see .
  • Will DNA satisfy those who research the Melungeons?  There have been wide variations in theories, and I will keep them here for reference.
  • The Roma, or Romany:  are they included in the DNA of women of central or northern European roots?

See "Origins of the Appalachian-Melungeon Subculture: A More Plausible Explanation for the Origin of Melungeons," by Henry Burke at :// and "A Possible End to the Mystery of the Melungeons," at :// Read about them in "Patrin," a Roma Journal, article "The Black Dutch, German Gypsies, or Chicanere, and Their Relation to the Melungeons," by Linda Griggs at ://

With a landing point at the South Carolina coast, see "The Never-Ending Road American Roma (Gypsies), Travellers and "Others," at ://, this makes sense. Start there, many end up in Appalachia.

June and August Boatwright, are you interested?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Procrustean Bed: The Individual and Social Role


Meet The Trap of Roles and Loss of Identity: 
The Procrustean Bed -  

The Procustean bed stands for forced conformity.  Identity lost. Forced lengthening, shortening, to suit others. Visit "Dynamics of Human Identity," by Vladimir Dimitrov and Kalevi Kopra, 1998 - a venerable site - of the University of Sidney-Hawkesbury, Richmond, Australia, at :// 

Meet Procrustes - he was a Greek mythological giant who stretches and torments people until they fit the length of his bed. 

Or he chops their limbs off to make them fit. See :// great procrustean bed. 

Finally, hero Theseus defeats him. But Procrustes lives on in our institutions.

The tale stands for enforced conformity, says this site, "Freedoms Ring" at :// (gets subjective at the end, on religion); and see Wikipedia for its other many uses as a concept, in cutting rooms for film, etc. at ://

What does it tell us?  It shouts that an individual identity is basic to full development.  

We find it in modern times, and in other animals.  Even cows that are named produce more milk than the unnamed, those that are merely milked.  

Those that have an identity apart from the others or a mere ear-tag, are more productive than the merely tagged.  See Anthrozoos, March 2009 - this clearly an update on the topic -  and the researcher-authors received a Nobel Peace Price in Veterinary Medicine for it in October 2009. See ://  here a fair use quotation from the Nobel site --

Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson of Newcastle University, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK, for showing that cows who have names give more milk than cows that are nameless.
REFERENCE: "Exploring Stock Managers' Perceptions of the Human-Animal Relationship on Dairy Farms and an Association with Milk Production," Catherine Bertenshaw [Douglas] and Peter Rowlinson, Anthrozoos, vol. 22, no. 1, March 2009, pp. 59-69. DOI: 10.2752/175303708X390473.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Peter Rowlinson. Catherine Douglas was unable to travel because she recently gave birth; she sent a photo of herself, her new daughter dressed in a cow suit, and a cow.
Not convinced?  Visit "Dynamics of Human Identity," by Vladimir Dimitrov and Kalevi Kopra, 1998 - a venerable site - of the University of Sidney-Hawkesbury, Richmond, Australia, at :// 

The inquiry uses their framework -  searching for a human identity drive. We found this creative, bright person - one Vladimir Dimitrov - on the topic - a Ph..D in Engineering Sciences, Doctor of Science in Mathematics and Physics); Kalevi Kopra (undescribed). Our summary follows, with cites to other references (not in the web paper):

Thank you Vlad.  We prioritized and summarized their thoughts this way -

1. Roles. We are surrounded by roles, pushed into some and not others, depending, until we may even think of ourselves as our role. See proposed specifics for our culture at Demographic Poll, Cultural Roles.

The culture likes identities to be fixed - that makes it easier to manage the people in them, as mediocre components; compared to the unique, fluid individuals that result from flexible role movement.

2. How roles work. Cultures like to fix people in them: Who is who is very important to some. (Robin the Hood. Joe the Plumber?).  Numbers ascribed, ID cards, all that. Long list. And the form of fixing the role identification feeds the data bases. And each fixed ID has one interpretation, says the article. In the System, obey the rules. It can be criminal not to obey the rules.

Sounds right so far.

3. Specific application to a modern culture. Vlad's site goes on, then, to analyze Australia's systems for systematizing the identities of its various component parts, revise that, people. Stress increases as the quantity of roles increase with social complexity. Some people respond to that stress by being overcome - what's the use. Others, however, respond to stress in other ways, including individually with an inward journey as the individual life unfolds. Society does not encourage that. But the drive to identity is a deep one.

4. Our choices. Basically, people gravitate toward one of two models, two kinds of behaviors
  • A model of separateness, me vs. you, read competition, conflict, supremacism. Take the gap between rich and poor - so vast by now as to be different species. This model fosters gaps, divisions. Divide in order to rule.
  • Amodel of unity - me and you, the outstretched hand to help, respect, celebrate difference, drive to understand
5. A plan. How to get to the second one, the unity model. 

Vlad suggests that it takes people with a tolerance for diversity, and the capacity for self-reliance. Then you get a rich creativity - complementarity. The new group identity that emerges is not fixed, static, "role" but instead dynamic, "co-evolving individual identities."

Cheers, Vlad. Meet Obama. Obama, meet Vlad. Vlad, glad to meet you.

Conclusion so far: So we prioritize educating our children and adults to tolerance, not fear; for independence in decision-making and productivity. We can do that.

Is this like the study finding that there are left-leaning or left-wing brains that thrive on tolerance, and right-leaning or right-wing brains that thrive on fear? See the Los Angeles Times, at ://,0,5982337.story


Anyone who is forced to conform out of fear and violence, is a victim of terrorism in its many forms. Is that so? How do we harness force so that the conformity is for the greater good, and not to serve the greed, power, of the forcers.Get out of their Procrustean Bed.

Definition. Terrorism.

Terrorism is forcing conformity on others, out of fear by a) threat of violence and/or b) actual violence, and c) to enhance the power position of the actor.

By that definition, terrorism lies not only with the detonators, but in the abuse in
  • our homes,
  • our violations of voting rights,
  • our invasions of other countries for economic reasons,
  • our local gangs, bullies,
  • even our brass ceilings.
Where is the limit to the concept of terroristic force.

The limit is in the purpose: power; or a common good. How to keep it at bay.

Some defend their forcing of their conformity. They claim that they use threat and violence not to enhance their own power over others, but to glorify their interpretation of a deity's alleged message. And that they they alone have received a deity's message "correctly."

If you believe that, we have a nice bridge to sell you.


What happens when individualism is broadly tolerated, and when it is not. What society results. What creativity, energy. Do you want it. What motivation drives the controllers.
    The Procrustean Bed. The ancient mythological monster captured travelers passing by and tortured them until they fit his bed. Stretch or chop. And see the interpretation of the myth, as representing the dysfunctional violence and absurdity of forcing conformity. Who is served. Theseus killed him.
    • Then toy with kinds of social models, identifying and weighing cultural elements. See a culture at work.
    We offer a process and visualization for that. Then consider where extremism in social role conformity thrives best. And with what results.

    In extremism, that force to conform shows up globally and nationally. Extremism:  Each pole has its extremists, each extremist makes his or her own bed, and forces others into it thereafter.

    Interesting. If we can't or won't stop it in its smaller manifestations at home, the brutes inflicting pain for pleasure or profit on living beings anywhere, or the bullies at school, or even forms of voter suppression (did the Yup'ik get their bilingual assistance, even get to the polls? was there force, threat?), how do we expect to do anything for anyone else anywhere else.
    III.  A Less Lofty Social Analysis
    A.  Triangle idea.

    Make an Equilateral Triangle. Sitting firm on its flat Base. This is a Culture.

    Three color bands are off to the side, ready to be placed in the triangle in some fashion.

    1) A blue one for tolerance of the individual;
    2) A red one for pressure to conform to a role;
    3) A purple one for social controls (government).

    Which is given most space at the base, where everything rests.  How deep is it.  Which is at the tiny apex.  Or does that spread almost to the base.

    • broad tolerance of the individual at the base; then comes a narrower band representing the push to perform a group role; and finally, at the narrowest top, social control (government)? or
    • broad tolerance for social control (government) at the bottom, and great big push to perform a group role; and finaly, at the narrowest top, individualism?
    B. Rock-scissors-paper idea.

    The palm as the Individual.
    The scissor fingers as Role.
    The fist as Government.

    The Individual trumps Role.  The Role trumps Government.  Government trumps the Individual.

     Or Social control trumps role pressure trumps the individual trumps social control. See models for the rock, scissors, paper model at Joy of Equivocating, Today's Rock, Scissors, Paper

    C. Drive

    Brainstorm the idea of "drives."

    Put it in drive.

    Put what in drive?

    There's drive 1, drive 2, and overdrive.

    Driving? Who's at the wheel? Are you preset for standard, with its flexibility vroom; or automatic, yadda yadda.

    Drive for an identity. As an individual, or as a group. Drive to impose your identity on others. Drive to control everyone's identity, manage their individual drives for your purpose? Enter the government. Is that so?

    Forced conformity, under threat or violence, to enhance the actor's power, is terrorism. And the proof is in the pudding. If they get more powerful because you conform, you know it is terrorism, not the deity. Individual identity fosters creativity.  Mass identity fosters followers.

    FN 1 Do go to the Vlad homepage here, at :// See sections, Complexity of Human Dynamics, Fuzziology, and Wholesome Ecology and Spirituality. Fuzziology. Talk about creativity. Make room for more.

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Blog Post - Palin Tale. The Cheery Lady. RedivideR. Bee's Knees.

    Blog Post - Palin Script:

    Sequitur Non Sequitur Segue

    The Story That Went Thataway FN 1

    The Cheery Lady
    And the Opening Door

    The Setting.

    Once upon a time there was a cheery lady who bounced and bounced, and you know she would have been able to wear those great big hats because of all that hair that she had right under there. But that was gosh a century ago and she just wasn't around then, so she just put them on anyway in her own house there and perked everybody up who came to call.

    Smiling lady in big hat with big hair under: See Hatpins Collection, faces

    One day, she decided that where she was. was just too small and all that, and that she wanted to see the big, wide world also, that she just hadn't had time to see before with all that family, and running for office, you know, and like that. And she wondered also just how she could do that and really get somewhere.

    Just like a jail!

    So she had that other baby that she didn't let get in the way at all, and kept on with, you know, just what she had been doing and stepping on a toe here and there, like everybody does, you know that. With an eye to opportunity and the door there.

    She looked around and thought, maybe there's more to this office business than this reformin' and all, where it suits that bottom line there, and don't look at me and I bet you have too. And a little misusing that over there and you know about bridges how they are, what he did to my family, and that. And that was bad so we just had to get that set straight also.

    Yes, she was a strong little critter, she was, not quite Lincoln, but lots of that sass, polarize like those polar bears in the water and that why worry about them and all, and maybe even those emails will get reported on but doubtful also because there's nobody really gets to cross her up there. See The Fodder Site, Update on Orders, Recruitergate.

    The Opportunity At Last

    The cheery lady did that for, oh, maybe two years big time. Then, just you look.

    There was this band of angels just opened that door a crack and whoosh! The lady with the hair was right through that thing so fast, and out the other side. Why, nothing can keep a body down when the door just opens like that! Where's my gun? Oh, that's next weekend.

    That's my party!

    And she ran and she was spunky all right.

    Everything, as a matter of the true fact as you real Americans know it, is black or white. And you just call it like you see it and it doesn't make any difference if it's so or not, so long as you just repeat it like that. Ever study history? Big decibels.

    Just wait. And if somebody says that's not right, or that isn't so, and that's even a lie, and she never waivers, never looks it up her self, just keep on with that name-callin' there. And says to let the voters decide if she's tellin' the truth, if they want factcheck they can have it, but this is free speech also and she'll just call 'em like she sees 'em and let 'er rip.

    Still that door had opened, and you know if it opens just a crack, you gotta go through it. So she did. And went South.

    But there were big bad people pallin' around out and against the lady, asking all those questions. Who just didn't get it.

    And they just didn't take her message the way she was used to getting her message taken, and so she skipped the big issues and she just put on that similipstick and revved up her fans with the sound of it all until they were ready to hit on people, and even though she wore those NM skirts that are so cute popping round a stage and behind a podium. And did she talk that code about end times. But you know what?

    The Bee's Knees

    There the perky lady was, but there was a puzzle also. Why was she never shown in a nice, extended time with somebody, a journalist or something, just walking and talking, and, yes, here's a bench.

    Why she couldn't sit.

    Not one bit. She just tried in that one interview and where on earth is that skirt? This is not an issue of wardrobe: it is an issue of awareness. Where one is in time and space. Deportment even. Savvy. Wits, not wittiness. Surroundings. Surroundings. Perception of same.

    See :// -- and again! What was the RNC thinking, or don't ask. See :// Oh, those cute little bees' knees and more. Set her up for TV in the Middle East? What was she thinking? Was she thinking? She couldn't even sit in a row on stage at the PTA in that. Hem and haw. Gap gaffe over and over. Awk-ward. Hike it again! And diminishing also. Totally.

    And that's why we never saw a full interview, start to finish. This was Brian's big opportunity and all they'd show of that was five cut-up minutes a day. Awareness of surroundings. Brian, where were you supposed to look during that outdoorsy interview all casual on the bench. No wonder they didn't show her walking up and shaking hands and sitting down, easy like, because it couldn't be done. Also.

    The perky lady looked oblivious. She thought to herself, and here is a true inner view of the workings of the mind behind scenes. Just let other people decide down there at Saks what I should wear - they must know. See:// Why this little number is just the bees' knees. See Alt.Usage Faq at :// Just like that Bee Jackson. Did that Images search there. I think I'll just take it along, too.

    Pan away, pan away, pan away the camera. Never even a half hour all at once. Cut! Cut!

    We all had to go to YouTube, for gosh sakes. May we tour the cutting room floor?

    The Elephant, the Witch and the Wardrobe? Known jovially as The Elephant, the Which and the Wardrobe. It was all about sales, wasn't it. Not merit, not depth, just if it could sell. Advertising product placement for Nummy Markups.

    What wardrobe choice means to us, aside from letting lobbyist Nummy Markups treat politics like a runway.

    We focus not on the money here, but on what the wardrobe fiasco tells us about the perky lady's lacks:

    a) her own sense of the appropriate,
    b) to whom she delegates decisions, and why,
    c) her instinct for the gravitas of a situation,
    d) her ability to make an independent assessment; then stand up to (or sit down, if only she could, and discuss with) the personal shoppers from Saks and NM, who couldn't wait for the advertising that was bound to come out,
    e) accountability. That wasn't me, she says all coy, that was just them out there making those decisions...

    Ask: What would her first big negotiation look like:

    Pardon me, Sheikh, now that we have met all upright and walking across over here, and I'll just go change so I can sit.

    And that cute Mr. Putin.

    Putin waitin'.
    Why the last time he flew over, he himself looked and he was hoping for this election to go that way.

    Whar's the b'ar. In the yard.

    But the election just came out all wrong, and there's hard knocks and meanness out there, and they're just out to getcha, and she just said I'm a quick study and I can memorize whatever you want, just give me some time, just a little more time. But no, they had to squeal and tell tales and count blouses, for heaven's sake also.

    And, you know what?

    Future Plans, Signs

    The perky lady finally picked up a book.

    And she read right there that there was an Olivia Floyd, a teenager, in 1864, who concealed military orders in her hair in a desperate ride to get the message through.

    See "Famous Secret Service Agents," NYT archives, 4/15/1915 - at :// Is that how to win, she asked her also cute self.

    Just hide some crib notes, a little earpiece.

    Just blendin' in here
    Maybe did already up there, nobody knows, like we knew about the box shape showing up at the back shoulders of other people in suits in debates.

    Now to using up this time openin' back up:

    Did the little lady then just go back to her business, to reflect on a little wisdom, after that bad election that people just made into something else.

    Has she called Cindy, as a friend. Does she care about Cindy.

    And is she ever willing to blend in and reflect for a change, doing some listening, absorbing other angles, especially after those turkeys gave so much for her enjoyment, and maybe just a learning a little about getting informed and world stages and analytical ability and accountability in the big world? Can she?

    How about some worthy projects up there, that kind of like got ignored, like Shishmaref . Or finally making friends with NARF. Todd would like that. Nosirree Bob!

    She was last heard saying to herself, she did just the other day like that, I could'a' done that. I don't have to learn a thing. I'm gonna pull an Olivia Floyd maneuver next time you betcha, rig up this hive to get me some messages right in time and right then when I need it, no teleprompter for me!

    I will and don't you forget it because I haven't forgotten any of you. Bye bye (Little fingery wave). Oh, doggonit - they said to do a royal palm-tick-tock? - Gosh, I forgot that again.

    Tsk. That's just the way we do things up here, and I'm gonna keep on going it, do it right to the people. Got some interviews also.

    Bet she'll be back. Edges fixed for public consumption. Or perhaps in a more balanced match. Leaving people's privacy alone? Only for her family. Dtr-of-a-gun. After all, Hillary is back.

    Palin. Palindrome. Here is one that reads the same backwards and forwards Live redivider / Revider evil?

    Evil? Of course not, but any me-first, polarizing divider, at this point in our national and global crisis, is a negative. And that's the truth. All the world is not a stage. Progress? Learning? What will be the next dreadful little epiphany, about whether someone has awareness of her surroundings. Surroundings? Gobble.

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    Fodder: Authority-Assessment Vet List. Trust That One? This One?

    Time to Vet Your Authority.
    Criteria List Here; Applied to Several "Personalities"

    Take Your Authority to the Vet.


    October 2009.  Update.  With new "personalities" emerging, we are updating some resources for your own vetting.  

    1.  Glenn Beck.  See High school graduate, dropped out of college, straight into radio work, sequential marriage, several children, difficult family circumstances in a variety of ways, history of substance abuse (in past, not current), media employment, talk show host, ADHD, Mormon.

    2.  Michelle Bachman.  See Law school graduate, married, several children, global warming skeptic, birther, focus on who is unAmerican, Lutheran, Representative from Michigan, no outside employment experience listed prior to becoming politician

    3.  Rachel Maddow.  See  Ph.D., Rhodes Scholar, lesbian in long-term relationship, studies focused on politics, public policy, media employment, no religious affiliation listed, no outside employment experience listed prior to becoming talk show host

    Now - main post.


    Vet Authority Before You Swallow.

    We should vet anything being sold to us. Products or ideas. Anything that produces money to a seller.

    The optimist who refuses to look behind the curtain, because he believes in the benevolence of the seller, is foolish.

    The pessimist who looks because he expects to find malevolence in the profiteer, and finds it, is unhappy because the worst he believed is true, and he is so helpless.

    For everyday cautiously optimistic pessimists, keep checking things out. Buy accordingly.

    Look it up. Look the purveyor up.  Vet. Especially, vet the airwaves. Left side, right side. Here are the top 13 things to look for: the Fodder Opinion Resource Assessment List. And, "authorities" follow. Limbaugh, Stewart, O'Reilly, Olbermann, Hannity, and Michelle.

    I got a horse right here
    I. Fodder Site Opinion Resousrce
    Assessment List

    1. Travel, international experience

    2. Education

    3. History of personal relationships - can this person keep a friend, a spouse; learn a little something here

    4. Employment history, variety of exposures to walks of life, different jobs perhaps, even if not for long

    5. Talents, hobbies, use of leisure time unrelated to income; if no leisure time asserted, note for further analysis. Time in community work? Is that important.

    6. Domestic and international policy background, participation, analysis; journalism insight; basics include whether the person believes - here is a big divider - in Irredeemable Evil so that everyone stepping over somebody's line goes to jail and stays there. For example. Fear or tolerance as a guiding principle.

    7. Volunteer service, what kinds of entities, boards

    8. Foreign language familiarity

    9. History expertise

    10. Charitable or other community work - donations or work record

    11. Documented time during day spent listening; researching all sides of any issue in order to verify any statements to be made about it, and before the statement is made. This may include log-in time to Fact Check or other fast reasonable if not perfect verification source

    12. Documented retractions or revisions to statements made that are not objectively verified; and the timing of such relative to when the flawed statement was noted

    13. Ability to communicate as an exchange, that is, non-defensively, or without rousing defenses in the person addressed; or is this area devalued, considered wussy, that it is more important to conquer than solve a problem, see samples from any search for non-defensive communications.

    14. Mere authority - no. It is time for the vet. Time is up for the Jerome Effect - that bland acceptance of somebody's claimed authority over an issue, without independent vetting - like Saint Jerome and his Latin Vulgate. What if he made some mistakes there? Anybody check recently? Did his work get changed? See the overall issues at Joy of Equivocating, Jerome Effect Trumps Fact Check.

    15. Creds. Do the opinionator's qualifications match the area as to which the opinionator is opining. Or is the opinion given as entertainment, so it will be absorbed by osmosis and laughter at others' expense, or to promote the financial benefit of the speaker and not you, and without time to permit objective assessment. Is that helpful, or a problem. You decide.
    II. Application of List to Opinionator, or other Person of Note *


    Or does lack of horns not mean anything at all as to the opinion on the table. What criteria matter?

    Salaries:  have to double check if these are only salary figures, or include a performance bonus.  Need to look up performance bonuses in addition, or other income.  Use these "salary" numbers as rough guides to something, until we can find a site that breaks down everybody's tax return. If we bother.

    First Candidate

    A. Rush Limbaugh.

    From the biographical website at IMDb,:// Rush was born in 1951, married and divorced thrice, probably a high school graduate because most people are (no info) but no college degree; radio personality, disc jockey, #1 radio talk show host, Radio Hall of Fame 1993; deaf in one ear, most hearing gone in other ear, has cochlear implant there but "Limbaugh remains entirely deaf." Recovering addict, painkiller addiction, generous donations and work for leukemia cure work.

    From :// - in 2007 he was #37 in Forbes Magazine's list, "Celebrity 100."

    Rush Limbaugh salary some $59,000,000 per year, rough math from $400,000,000.00 through 2016, see :// It was only 30 million back in 2006 - // at 

    See Joy of Equivocating, Ein Feste Burgemeister, Sunday Limbaugh Vetting Service
    Second candidate

    B. Jon Stewart

    From the IMDb website, ://, "after graduating college (from William & Mary, studied chemistry)" Jon drifted around jobs, including busboy at a Mexican restauraut, changed his name from Liebowitz to Stewart, graduated from high school in 1980 (that would make him born in about 1963??) but site says he is 38 (that makes him born in about 1970?? how old is this site? pretty old - says Colbert is a costar, and Colbert has been on his own for several years), married in 2000, has two children, wife is a veterinary technician, 1999 People's Magazine - a most beautiful person, 2004 Entertainment Weekly #2 funniest person, 2004 Columbia Journalism Review #4 on insightful journalists (ahead of Washington Post, NYT and other professional news organizations), does NYT crossword. Long time friend with McCain. College honors him with soccer team "Liebo" award. Not interested in fraternities.

    From ://, college major was psychology, lists awards

    Jon Stewart salary $14,000,000.00. See ://
    Candidate #3

    C. Bill O'Reilly

    - nothing on IMDb as a biography except film clips - all pictures! See ://
    So went to ://, history degree Marist college, Master's in broadcast journalism, Boston University, Master's in Public Administration, Harvard, married, taught history and English at a high school, charity favorites include Habitat for Humanity and Haitian Health Foundation.

    Bill O'Reilly Salary  - $9,000,000.00. See ://  (back in 2006)
    Candidate #4

    D. Keith Olbermann -

    Bio at IMDb at ://
    Wrote first book at 14, began as radio announcer for sports in high school, started college at 16, Cornell graduate at age 20, radio and TV sports and program host, and also news, including at ESPN radio, then Fox, MSNBC, went to ABC radio, changed course after 9/11, got Edward R. Murrow Award for coverage of post-9/11 on ABC radio for 40 days, is a baseball historian, 1995 Cable Ace award for sports broadcasting, 11 Golden Mike awards "for excellence in TV and radio," 4 Sports Emmy Awards, writes for numerous publications, has a loss of visual depth perception from a 1980 head injury hitting a subway door top (does not seem to have affected depth analysis. Just slow down, Keith), can't eat wheat (Ezekiel bread anyone?), cousin by marriage to Mike Tyson, never married.

    From - :// Add a long narrative, many awards, tributes, these stick out: the 2007 "Most Honest Man In News" by Rolling Stone magazine, weekly columnist for, raised as Unitarian, doesn't drive because of the loss of depth perception (but one-eyed people drive, and they have no depth perception either? good for you on safety, K), Bachelor's degree in Communications Arts from Cornell, and we are also nice but dumber than a suitcase of rocks and enjoy it. Did you save the tapes, K? Has 6 lumbar vertebrae, not 5.

    This is longer than the others because the two sites we picked not knowing had lots on him, and others not so much necessarily - luck of the draw. Do find your own bio sites. We are going to have lunch now.

    Keith Olbermann Salary -  $4,000,000.00 - see ://
    Candidate #5

    E. Sean Hannity

    IMDb at ://
    No info about education, jobs, just that he is married, does radio and TV talk shows, born 1961, and it specifically says conservative

    At :// - education info - began studies at seminary to be Catholic priest, changed mind. Began freedom concert series to benefit children who lost a parent in the service since 9/11, wrote book in 2002, "Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism", several talk-show host awards, substitutes for friend Rush Limbaugh

    Sean Hannity Salary -  Perhaps $10,000,000.00 over 5 years, or some $2,000,000.00. See :// (figures "reported")
    Candidate #6

    F. Michelle Obama

    IMDb at:// Michelle was born in 1964, Chicago; graduated from Princeton in 1985; graduated from Harvard Law School in 1988;

    From - at Add that her is in Sociology, with a minor in African American Studies, went from first grade directly to third grade (excellent!), an expert at jumping rope (down in the valley where the green grass grows....), she is 5'10" tall; married (now president-elect) Barack Obama in 1992, two daughters, Malia and Sasha.

    Dessert. And, this just in, from the Hartford Courant 11/10/08 at A1- in the years after that bio stops, Michelle served as an associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley and Austin 1988-1991; became assistant to the mayor of Chicago in 1991 and then assistant commissioner of planning and development for the city; in 1993 founded and was executive director of Public Allies, Chicago; 1996 became associate dean of student services at the University of Chicago, and developed the first community service program; in 2005 was appointed vice president of community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

    However, Hartford Courant, you misquote her. See Spin and the Truncated Statement; worse, she may have been spliced? see Tennessee Attack Ad - possible splice?

    Michelle Obama salary in 2007, $103,000.00, the year she reduced her work schedule. See ://  In 2005, full time, she earned $316,962.00, including a performance bonus. Same factcheck page.

    III. Does Challenging an Authority Make You Nervous?

    Is there an area of your life where you were told just to accept? Whatever the road looked like?

    IV. Where It Pays To Check

    1. Buying a car? see;;;;; and on and on. We all need help. Sometimes just looking under the hood isn't enough. Sure looks shiny in there!

    This car sure looks good, is the right color, but is it relevant to today's roads2. So, is buying in on someone's opinion all that different? how many have even looked under the hood. What end have you been listening to? We all need help here as well. Who is saying what, why do we believe it.

    V. What next?

    Vetting our own opinions. Writing is a process, not a goal. We write blogs to clear our own heads, vet things ourselves. Figure out the world when there is no time for discussion groups, the old WWI era "salons", no gathering places with real contact with real people. Who reads anybody else's stuff? That is not the point, not the process. Technology is a poor substitute for bouncing real ideas off real people, but it is what we have.

    So whose stuff would I read?  Michelle's. Her life has been turned inside out by all of the above and the cameras and mikes and what we all at our house, garbagenik. And we would put reading Michelle's views on legislation, national purpose, identification and implementation of common good ideals, ahead of all the above.

    Go on your own for anybody else. The criteria are there. Read the label. Read the directions. Source, ingredients, effect. Is it healthful or toxic. Who wins if you swallow. Does it provide what it says.


    *  We looked only at; and, if that showed too little, went on to for bio information. Look up the person's history on your own - not easy issues. Try to get at basic orientations. We. They. Judgments or flexibility. Live with or live in counter to. Whatever. No clear answers. Then ask what does matter for you to take an opinion seriously. Does it come down to gut - this person thinks like I do - and no analysis? Probably.

    Sunday, November 9, 2008

    Update on Orders: Palin Must Preserve Emails. Issues of Law, Equity, Morality. What Happened to McLeod v. Palin? Recruitergate.

    Who is Public Relations Fodder - Us.

    Do Officials Have to Comply With Orders
    Once an Election is Over

    Sarah Palin as Any Official Once the Spotlight Has Moved
    Update 11/18/08

    What remains from the Palin run? Palin emails.

    What happened in this second ethics case? McLeod v. Palin
    . Recruitergate - Ethics Action II, Superior Court, Third District, Anchorage, No. 3AN-08-10869 CI

    The first ethics case was "Troopergate" - the firing of the trooper for not firing Palin's brother in law. That is over. This one is different.
    The case:

    Andree McLeod in August 2008 filed an ethics suit against Sarah Palin in her official capacity, in an alleged improper influence in hiring matter. The suit alleges that a Palin supporter was favored by the governor's fostering changes in the criteria, or similar issue. See Joy of Equivocating, Another Ethics Lawsuit Pending.

    In October McLeod filed for preservation of Palin's emails, and requested that Palin's private emails, that were being used for government business, be safeguarded in government archives pending outcome. That way, they could not be lost, or public access obstructed.
    The Court, according to the Anchorage Daily News, ordered that the emails in the private accounts relating to government business must be retrieved and preserved, but that Governor Palin would not be prevented by Court order from continuing to use those accounts. See How many can be preserved at this point?

    Who knows, shrugs Mike Mitchell, the Assistant Attorney General. See :// Those that are found (?) will then be released to the public.
    Palin had some three private accounts. Those are hackable - and were indeed hacked. The State system, says the Anchorage Daily News, is very secure.
    First impression:

    Improper secrecy, attempt to avoid the State archiving system for communications by email related to official business. But what do we know?

    Palin was ordered to preserve her emails. What happened?

    Law, equity, morality.

    Here is a long article on the relationship of law and ethics, morality. See :// Or, try: "If It's Legal, It's Ethical?" (no) from Bruce Weinstein, Businessweek 10/15/2007, at ://

    Lawyers have codes of conduct, as do most professions and governmental offices. Where there is no written code, it just may be a matter of time before the "law" catches up and figures out how to make every possible situation a this or a that.

    See also "Law vs. Ethics in Management, article from 1999 by Susan Anstead, Univ. Md at :// There can be overlap - the article shows overlapping circles, some area common to both law and ethics.

    May have merit, may not, but it is filed and ongoing. See article by Kyle Hopkins, Alaska Daily News,, August 7, 2008, at,E&p_text_date-0=-6qzM&xcal_numdocs=20&p_perpage=10&p_sort=_rank_:D&xcal_ranksort=4&xcal_useweights=yes

    Alaska and America Through NARF's Eyes - Voter Fodder. Nick v. Bethel - What Happened?

    What happened in Nick v. Bethel,
    Native Alaskan voting rights case

    Voter Fodder
    United States District Court, District of Alaska, Case No. 3:07-cv-0098 TMB

    The issue as of 10/14/08 was progress in implementing the voting rights act in bilingal Alaskan areas, the "Yup'ik" - Todd Palin is partly Yup'ik. See NARF - the Native American Rights Fund. Find it at ://

    The importance. Their disenfranchisement, and that of other groups, affects every election. Alaska's count is still out - and this is an update 11/15/08. Is it true that other complaints, of system glitches in the lower 48, or 49 including Hawaii, with voter lists padded in small degrees compared to totals, pale when we think of the disenfranchisement of voters in Alaska and other Native American groups.

    Background. The Yup'ik speak a language "historically unwritten," see :// for the significance of that, so their assistance in elections was by faith - trust whoever was at the polls to explain, and then trust them also to affirm to you, when you could not "read," that what you wanted to vote for, was actually put on the paper. Todd Palin, husband of Sarah Palin, is part Yupik, see Todd Palin, Part-Yup'ik, America's Heritage, so one might assume that the Governor puts serving his people as a priority. Not so.

    The lawsuit. At least now, according to court order pursuant to a lawsuit, Nick v. Bethel, US District Court for the District of Alaska, Case No. 3:07-cv-0098 TMB/, better and more neutral bilingual assistance must be provided. But has it happened? The paper order is there. What else, Sarah?

    Go to the NARF site, click on cases and updates, and find Civil Rights, Voting Rights in the right-hand margin. Click there, and find the case entitled, Nick v. Bethel. Orders entered in this case last summer to require meaningful voter assistance needed, and as specified, in primaries and the national electon and a report was to enter on September 26.

    Also find the statement of facts in support of a request for orders at the ACLU website, at :// Click on the download for the pleading, and prepare to be appalled at the conditions that the lawsuit is designed to remedy, at least in part.

    News blackout? We can find nothing after that original set of orders, as to the contents of the report on progress. Even the NARF site has no updates - see ://

    We understand that newspapers cannot, apparently, keep up with all the cases affecting vital rights for Americans and still satisfy their shareholders' quest for profits - they need revenue, no public interest component involved, so they turn to advertising, puppies, and fire local reporters as costing too much. Is that true in your area?

    What went on? Was there only a tiny percentage of a large number of newly registered voters as unverifiable? And without any of those having shown up to vote? We won't know who shows up until the election, but that percentage either way is small, compared to entire populations left adrift. Todd Palin is part Yup'ik. You would think he would care, and pass that on to his Sarah Palin.

    But remember, perhaps: for information on the case, Nick v. Bethel, and other special populations cases, go to their website, not our newspapers, whose owners may not want their candidate shown in a bad light.

    Profits drive what is reported.

    Wednesday, November 5, 2008

    Make a little list. Essential Governmental Services for Productivity.

    What is needed for productivity
    Time to make a little list
    Two Plus Seven Equals Nine

    A.  Two.  Education and Health. 

    For all: Basic English, reading, speaking, writing; and computer literacy. Basic nutritious food, clothing shelter, medical care.

    B.  Seven. 
    • Training.  Skilled workers, tax incentives for employers to do it
    • Mobility, infrastructure.  Transportation,
    • Backups for Care-taking
    • Sharing.  Regional and national problem-solving,
    • Transparency.  Allocation among public and private contracting, transparency, accountability,
    • Generosity,
    • Tax reform. Anti-hoard.
    A. Education and health.

    What are more basic to productivity. We have a tool to get them done when the private sector won't, can't, or hasn't done it well enough. Tax. Tax is to foster productivity as well as fund other essential functions of any government such as defense, infrastructure, product safety. Base tax on disposable incomes, then graduate up.

    Recent election cycle issue: Does government exist, with its taxing power, to reward success? Hardly. See FN 1. Success builds the wealth of the original earner, but promotes sloughing in later generations if it is merely passed on. How many third generation wealthy do much?

    1. Healthy people
    • Health includes efficient distribution, reasonable availability of nutritious food, basic clothing; shelter. No homeless.

    • And exercise for kids and adults - promote. Don't treat your baby like a dummy. Keep the car seats in the cars. Carry a freed baby. Every minute in a car seat promotes passivity, no exercise, limited vision, flat heads, rounded backs, wobbly heads. Carry a freed baby. On your hip. Over your shoulder. Interact. Coo. Chat. Have a quilt or sling handy, but carry your baby. Freely.
    2. Educated people - this is a defense to exploitation, eases job creation
    • Basic spoken and written English as - irony here - the lingua franca, see - and full speed bilingual assistance and supports to achieve that fast.
    Even in Quebec., bilingual by recognized earliest tradition there, those who can't speak English are less competitive. In Alaska, Yup'ik without basic fluency in English can be taken advantage of in elections, see Nick v. Bethel, Alaska Voting Rights Act Issue, decent bilingual voting assistance ordered, where Sarah never started her engines. Basic English requirements do not denigrate origins. It recognizes competitive reality.

    How to get started:
    • Computers in every home, every neighborhood, every classroom. Wire the country. Computers teach. Computers are communication, compasses for jobs, information sources, political participation tools. When that is done, add printers for those households who are responsible in caring for their computers. Repair and exchange places all over, with people learning how to do that, passing on the knowledge. Recycle provisions. Make them all yellow and fungible, perhaps.
    This step alone will cut the costs of schools and job hunts because it fosters basic literacy up to advanced searches. It is self-help home-schooling. Make classes available online. Somebody else work out the details here, there are addictions and abuses, but the idea is the important thing here. See what flows afterward.

    B. The Next Seven:

    Trained workers,
    Care-taking backups,
    Regional and national problem-solving,
    Allocation among public and private contracting, transparency, accountability; Generosity;
    Focus on disposable income tax

    1. Trained workers for today's jobs.

    Give tax credits for employers who train on the job, or work with unions or other groups from the start to groom students for particular jobs that are indeed available or likely to be. Monitor those technology schools that act just like subprime mortgage lenders - let anyone in, encourage them to get a federal loan at big bucks, then pass them in the courses and wipe their hands of them.

    2. Transportation job sources and sites . Public, or access to private.

    Applause to the Casinos who provide their own buses from the city to the glitz, but we need region-wide transportation, country-wide. Many of us would take a good train somewhere, then rent a car at that end. Transportation is essential to get back home if a child is sick.

    3. Care-taking backups

    How to keep a job with no backups. Childcare, eldercare, care for the differently abled.

    4. Regional and national problem solving

    5. Allocation among private and public contracting, transparency and accountability.

    In each instance:
    • How much of the individual's needs should be met by the individual on his own,
    • How much from the government, if anything;
    • How much from the government contracting with private industry;
    • How much from private industry on its own.Legislatures, start your engines.
    6. Generosity, as you also have enjoyed generosities - or even if you haven't. What if the 700 billion bailout had been distributed to each actual income tax payer. Some $5,000 per person, we read somewhere. Do that and let the market control. What do the people want?

    Back to the role of boosts. Look at our own history, and how boosts, stimulus packages, freebies of all kinds, have been part of our history and our success, from Plymouth to the Sooners to the Georgia coast after the Civil War. So that more may fare well. See PoseJuxta, Welfare Redefined.

    7. Focus on disposable income for tax, not merely "income" -
    start the graduated income tax as graduated disposable income tax.
    • Skip the old ladder of success.
    Skip the old staircase idea to the top. Skip the idea of Entitlements to what is already hoarded. They don't work. Ladders and stairs suggest a formula approach: There have to be even runs (the horizontal board) and risers (the vertical board) for these hypothetical stairs all the way up. A staircase tax treats everyone alike. Climb it, is the order, regardless of where you start, even if we forced you in a hole at the start (Jim Crow, for example).

    Not only do few people advocate a flat tax, but it does not account for the hole at the bottom.

    Look instead at approaching vast differentials in disposable income available after basic needs. Fill the hole at the bottom and see who rises to the top.
    • Focus on the role of disposable income.
    Without disposable income at all levels, something left after basic expenses and payment of whatever tax, an economy cannot grow in a stable way. We tried leaving people with no disposable income, and we have collapsed. Think of a disposable-income tax and not a mere income tax.

    Defined: the critical concept. Disposable income is what is left after people pay basic food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, insurances, unreimbursed medicals, transportation, caretaking 24/7.

    Disposable income drives the economy. Big disposable income at the top doesn't do it.

    FN 1
    See Scott Mayerowitz's article 10/17/2008: "Which Candidate's Tax Plan Helps Small Business," The philosophical question of whether tax rewards success.

    Perhaps mere accrual of wealth does not signify "success" in anything but tapping out unjust enrichment. In that case, tax adjustments can be seen as restitution, the reasonable rationale for a different tax structure returning to a fair balance. Get out the claw-backs. Regurge. Disgorge ill-gotten gains. How to tell? The rub.

    We are past equating wealth - or even any authority - automatically with merit.

    Clergy Acting Badly

    Read about crises in religious groups, leadership failing, economic collapse, AIG, Enron, etc.

    Perhaps position, and pocketing high profits in small business as well as large, does not mean service at all.

    Does excessive executive and professional compensation mean instead a history of over-billing, skimming, (off-shoring for the big ones), success in lobbying, lack of transparency so people don't know what they are buying, brute force here and there, or just success in exploiting others.

    FN 2 Origins of Gap Issue. Can we agree on this: That accumulated wealth may well mean somebody a) knew how to work the system and exploited others on the way, b) enjoyed the Bush tax cuts that reduced taxes from the Clinton levels, c) solidified well their gains against incursions from below, and that accrued wealth does not necessarily merit or open productivity at all.

    They take it abroad, right? Add disposable income at the lower levels, and they spend right here.

    American Uses of Boosts, Freebies. A History of Stimulus Packages. Citizen Fodder Rising

    Citizen Fodder Rising

    A very American activity.

    Our country was built on boosts.

    History. Teach it to our kids. Here we look at the long tradition in our country - offering free boosts to ease transitions to full productivity.  Most groups have had them in some way, to some degree. They work. Citizen fodder at one point, productive later. That is the goal.

    1. The Plymouth Boost

    William Bradford, if our research so far is right, engaged in giveaways. A plot of land, and they were told they could keep whatever they did with it, or hoard or barter or sell as they saw fit. Up went productivity, famine receded. No merit, no judgments, people got it. But it took that initial absolutely free, no judgments, no tit-for-tat, no-strings boost to get it going. Prime the pump. Water from another time, John McCutcheon? See ://

    2. That basic idea:

    To each his need, from each his ability (a later Marx articulation), was apparently tried by Governor William Bradford at Plimoth Plantation (old spelling). See this source, "The Great Thanksgiving Hoax," at :// The concept was that people would work the communal areas for everyone's benefit. But it did not work. There was famine at the door. The young and hale worked at half speed because they saw their efforts benefiting others. Why bother?

    3. Did this Plymouth Boost really happen?

    Checking: We see no reference to that change in land allocations and use at :// - but, like Joe the non-Plumber, the story itself is worth looking at as a metaphor?

    We do find corroboration here. That each family began with a) a small house lot, and then b) an acre of land just outside the palisade. The rest of the community's food from crops was farmed communally. See :// Is this stage where the site says people just didn't work at the communal part enough?

    The Increase from 1 to 20 acres.

    Here we need details: The :// site then says that the system was changed after that so that each household got 20 acres for each person in the household - a small farm. A big deal.

    Is it at this time, with the full farm allocations, that the folks were then cut loose to work their own property, trade and barter labor and product for their own benefit, instead of the failing merely moral obligation to "help" on the communal areas.

    Either way, a boost.

    A freebie. Each story lays out that each family then got, through the leadership of Governor William Bradford who indeed changed his mind as circumstances changed, that a beginning free boost worked to get the communities' needs met. One suggests the single acre started it, the other suggests the 20 acres per person started it.

    4. Look further: Examples of freebies to foster productivity

    • The Oklahoma Sooners - land rushes, see; 
    • General Sherman and his 40 acres and a mule freebie to freed slaves - but that was only available for one year, and only on the coastal areas of Georgia - not enough time to make a difference for all those frees slaves with no place to go. See :// The blacks never had the same start on freebies as other groups here.
    • Current immigration issues - beyond this topic, but start at :// - are we engaging in a self-fulfilling prophecy by preventing liberty, opportunity, and advancement to the same kinds of people that were our forebears. But here, as with Blacks, they bear the facial-racial indicia of being a subject population, less worthy. Shall we scrap the Statue of Liberty? The main point here is that free boosts for the sake of productivity are as old as our own history. Even those individuals who bootstrapped themselves, were helped by others who had their family starts, with some freebies. Inheritance also is a freebie. Think of it. Corporate welfare. Matching funds.
    5. The Need Today - extend the boosts

    To deny the value of initial boosts to new immigrants, and to those who were cut loose after the Civil War, and continually prevented thereafter from getting a start because of Jim Crow (see the movie, "Express") is to deny the role of those same kinds of boosts to our own forebears.

    Tax relief at the top does not result in "trickle down," we now know. And using it to reward "success" assumes a positive somewhere - that there was indeed merit, and open productivity, in getting there,

    That is an illusion. It ain't necessarily so. See ://

    What happens when people do actually get on a stairs - even flattened stairs. Look at your own toddlers - put them at the bottom of a stairs and they want to go up.


    To each according to need and from each according to ability? No. Not then, not now. See where Karl Marx has been on target and off, at PBS analyzing Karl Marx at ://

    Go in another direction.

    Give, give, give, to get people on that bottom run and then match to get them off it and able to start up.
    Tax today in effect keep down the competition. There are other factors, of course, but tax structures favoring owners and high earners and heirs has produced huge gaps in disposable income - and that is nice for those with the seven houses, but not good for an economy. See FN 2.
    Don-na, don-na, don-na, do-o-n-na.
    Don-na, don-na, do-na, do-n,
    See and hear Joan Baez at ://; and lyrics at ://;ttDONADONA.html

    Now. Give and let give. Some got acres and a mule, others got liberty, opportunity, mobility and bootstrapped from there, able to blend. Then there are 401K matches that many middle to upper income Americans take for granted from their employers (perhaps changing), inheritances over centuries (think of slaves barred from accruing wealth and passing it on for centures) and corporate welfare. Give.