I Can’t Wash Away that Stench of Sulfur: A Faustian Bargain Being Cooked up in America

whew, the stink of Amazon-style corporatism, Amazon-inspired capitalism, all those boys-men with guns, and the ever-lasting 'do I have a deal for you and your progeny ' lingers like a smoking mad meth house gone mutant

I’ve been foisting around books for weeks trying to get them finished to self-educate and then try out a little bit of pontification a la book reviews-analysis articles for Dissident Voice.

I’ve been like a Sherpa retreating to glaciers my entire life, hauling books into the jungles of Guatemala, Vietnam; to the bottom of Sunset Crater in Arizona; the very edge of my other world on a boat in Belize; inside the palatial subways of Moscow; at the bottom of Copper Canyon in Chihuahua; in a yurt in British Columbia; while hanging out with nuns, priests and activists in lock-up in El Paso County Jail awaiting arraignment for our righteous collective protests against NAFTA.

Reading books and promoting them has been more than a past-time.

I once had a job in El Paso, for years, working regularly on the Sunday morning book pages for the El Paso Times (1881), a Gannett (1923) paper.

Call it my tribal beat. I wasn’t in the game to just crank out some 800-word review, or two 700-word book perspectives, containing boiler plate bs and all set up in inverse triangle J-school fashion so people reading in between televised football games and big wiener roasts would be able to guess at the crux of my diatribes or harangues in two-easy minutes. I knew I had an audience – man, I had taught in a medium security federal penitentiary, at the US military enlisted academy, at UT-El Paso, at various community college campuses, across the border line in Juarez at two maquiladoras; and I wrote stuff for a non-profit organization helping with refugees from Central America and Mexico, Annunciation House, and had a pretty active literary gig getting flash fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry in regional and national journals. I even taught in barrios and for the Center for Lifelong Learning, a community school-continuing ed school at University of Texas.

I even had my own little gigs with the Times‘ competition, the evening newspaper – the now defunct El Paso Herald Post (1881) – as a features writer. ((See “Thank a Reporter,” The Inlander and “Down for the Count,” The Inlander.))

I also was in the news because I had a mouth, causes, and juevos. In the news, though, mostly because I put words to those three character flaws and got published.

I knew the demographics – largely Hispanic, but the readers of the newspaper were mostly non-Hispanics. Texans with a bit of West Texas bluster. Many got their toast and tortillas buttered by the US government in the form of military industrial complex feed-trough and war profiteering and policing. Something about all of that, plus the one-horse-town thing about a city almost a million strong, got my own juices going.

Then, this weird hatred – or for some, at least this looking down upon attitude – for the Mexican sisters and brothers just a Copenhagen chew’s spit away in Juarez. Mexican-Americans, too, deriding the Juarez people. Even the joint operating agreement with Fire Fighters on the US side helping the infernos on the Juarez side ended.

US firefighters would watch in utter horror and shame as buildings burned just across the river, over the flow of El Rio Bravo, AKA The Rio Grande, because the rule of law said they couldn’t cross the border line to save property or save lives.

So much for the brotherhood of nations. So much for Mexico, our second largest trading partner back then.

Add to that the Border Patrol growing into a group of thugs, two-bit criminals, led by now US Congressman Silvestre Reyes, Obama’s guy.

Man did I piss off a lot of folk with my book choices and my style. I still do. In America, people can only take their goddamned whiskey straight or with a load of fizzy high fructose corn syrup. Make that a Coors or a hoppy micro-brew. Slim pickings for anything way outside the proscribed thinking, left or right.

In my gig, I wanted the Christian zealots taking aim at my writing, at the choices I made as a reader-reviewer. I wanted the brown shirts of the military machine to take their best shots. I wanted the effete members of the literati to take aim with their sling-shots. I wanted to mix it up along the border, where the circus of the surreal is a 24/7 show that would make Dali happy.

I’d take a book like Darwin’s Ghost or Mean Genes and begin riffing with the author(s) and ideas. Sometimes, hell, I’d email an author, or call him or her, and get a few pithy comments. The problem wasn’t mine – I almost always picked books I wanted to read. Most of the books I picked, like the radio show guests I’ve had on my radio show, I respected and wanted “out there,” known, possibly read.

Many libraries (my pieces were syndicated, sort of, in an assortment of Gannett-owned newspapers) took my reviews as cues to purchase each respective book I illuminated in my prose. Those emails and letters made my day.

When it came to some pufferfish of an author trying to rationalize the heroics of the Alamo, my goal was to find the book countering that narrative and review it.

The few times I ended up with a book a friend of a friend wanted reviewed, or from an author coming to El Paso to talk at a creative writing department inspired program (first mistake) who thought I should glad-hand the work of fiction or non-fiction, I didn’t hold back.

My time, my reading hours, my extra-extra low paid gig writing up something profound for a multimillionaire newspaper mogul, well, I had to have some sort of autonomy or ax to grind.

I was going with some themes – science, evolution, histories critiquing those delusions of empire by US of A in the “third world” and my own hemisphere. Poets like Sapphire. Fiction writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez. An interview with Denise Levertov about Vietnam. Books about Vietnam. More science and natural history. Eclectic. Short story collections by Rick Demarinis. Books by John Rechy.

So, I know how to read a lot and quickly. I write a lot, too, both as fiction writer and journalist of every stripe. I have my former planning professor’s book manuscript he is getting published by Earthscan/Routledge, on no-growth, the genuine progress index, steady state economics. His ms, the No-Growth Imperative, was sent to me because some people credit me for “getting it,” and also know I won’t hold back any punches or head-locks.

Books, Close Reading, The Art of Recommendations without Regurgitation – Life is Not a Transaction

For almost a month, now, I’ve been wanting to pen for DV several book analyses – David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years, or Richard Heinberg’s new one, The End of Growth, or a 2007 book I am reading along with Gabriel Marquez’s autobiography, Living to Tell the Tale, and The World Without Us, written by Alan Weisman.

Those reviews and opinion pieces are still coming.

It’s just that I can’t erase that Amazon.com shareholders’ stench on my skin. No matter how many miles I run in Seattle, that May 24 billionaire’s miasma has stuck to me. Jeff Bezos as model of the new American, the new 21st Centurion, it’s like the 250 million gallons of oil and 500,000 tons of natural gas British Petroleum criminally let spew in the Gulf of Mexico on Earth Day, 2010. There is no amount of dispersant, Corexit, that can get that Bezos slime from my skin.

Then it got to me – all those stories on DV, at Z Net, in Dissent, in any number of magazines and blogs I read, those stories are all double-helix strands in my brain. Deja vu isn’t the term. What is it that I keep seeing, hearing? Those stories need to stay here forever, out there, in cyber-land, on a pile of mimeographs, anywhere.

What DV does is more important that any millions of orders filled by eBay or Amazon.

DV is outside that new America, post-Willie Loman paradigm. What about that Bezos and the millions upon millions who buy, buy, buy, who believe that any contract drawn up by the law and rule and order of big business is holy? Or that the customer, no matter what, is always right?

The American mind is on a staticky frequency that is driven to push every transaction with man, woman, child, animal, dimensional space and self into a buying contract, some agreement that posits that all things important can be rounded up to the next $.99 or should be electronically signed in digital plastic.

It’s that billionaire-presence, the same sort of sickening one I tasted when I saw Bill Gates speak a few years ago. They are corrupted, broken from humanity, and their version of economics is driven by their credo – make as much as quickly as possible and with as large a force as possible.

Buy American, and Blame the Chinese if it Breaks

Remember when Japanese cars were vandalized – and “Buy American” was the saying of the day keyed into Toyota paint? Now, Wally-World, all those off-shored jobs industry, business, telecommunications, medical services, financial services, sweatshop after steel mill crated off, we are not paying for it, and the stockholder’s bottom line is paying off for them.

All those things that Larry Summers — Clinton’s man and Obama’s and now Harvard’s — feels is good business, like having our waste and by-products and DDT shipped to those LDC’s – less developed countries – is the SOP of big business, whether it’s iPhone magic or Lycra yoga pants. For Summers — who helped Greenspan and Rubin and the lot take the banking system down — putting the price of a Calcutta resident down to $60 for a life makes all sorts of economic and moral sense.

I-V-Y educated Summers, and Bezos and the lot of them, that’s their reasoning. It’s best shown here in this memo by Larry Summers – a memo that is emblematic of the kind of thinking American capitalists, from Steve Jobs, to Charles Koch, to Bezos, and the Walton family, continue to defaecate on the world.

December 12, 1991, then the chief economist for the World Bank, Lawrence Summers, wrote an internal memo that was leaked to the environmental community. That community publicized it, but with little lasting effect. This memo remains relevant today, forever.
Summers – the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Department, then onto President Clinton’s Mr. Wall Street as U.S. Treasury Secretary. His free trade (sic) slash-and-burn economics have had a lasting toxic cost on people and the environment. They have been the death of millions upon millions of acres of ecosystems.

The death of communities. The death of heterogeneity. Of cultures. The death of the language of love.

In 1994, most other countries in the world broke with the Harvard-trained “economic logic” about dumping rich countries’ poisons on their poorer neighbors, agreeing to ban the export of hazardous wastes from OECD to non-OECD countries under the Basel Convention. The United States was one of the few countries that did not ratify the Basel Convention or the Basel Convention’s Ban Amendment on the export of hazardous wastes from OECD to non-OECD countries.


DATE: December 12, 1991
TO: Distribution
FR: Lawrence H. Summers “Subject: GEP

‘Dirty’ Industries: Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Less Developed Countries]? I can think of three reasons:

1) The measurements of the costs of health impairing pollution depends on the foregone earnings from increased morbidity and mortality. From this point of view a given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.

2) The costs of pollution are likely to be non-linear as the initial increments of pollution probably have very low cost. I’ve always though that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City. Only the lamentable facts that so much pollution is generated by non-tradable industries (transport, electrical generation) and that the unit transport costs of solid waste are so high prevent world welfare enhancing trade in air pollution and waste.

3) The demand for a clean environment for aesthetic and health reasons is likely to have very high income elasticity. The concern over an agent that causes a one in a million change in the odds of prostrate cancer is obviously going to be much higher in a country where people survive to get prostrate cancer than in a country where under 5 mortality is is 200 per thousand. Also, much of the concern over industrial atmosphere discharge is about visibility impairing particulates. These discharges may have very little direct health impact. Clearly trade in goods that embody aesthetic pollution concerns could be welfare enhancing. While production is mobile the consumption of pretty air is a non-tradable.

The problem with the arguments against all of these proposals for more pollution in LDCs (intrinsic rights to certain goods, moral reasons, social concerns, lack of adequate markets, etc.) could be turned around and used more or less effectively against every Bank proposal for liberalization.

Pretty amazing and typical stuff coming from the pickled brains of the elite, the vanguard, the wizards of finance.

These I-V-Y league characters wonder why “they hate our American lifestyle.”

As just one jumping off point to illustrate why “they” (AKA, the other, the LDCs, humanity) hate us, hate Western culture, I’ll use one of those most censored stories (2009) tied directly to Summers’ thesis – Somali pirates are actually in the business of fighting polluters. ((See “Censored 2009: The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2007-08,” FORA.tv and “3. Toxic Waste Behind Somali Pirates,” Project Censored, 8 May 2010.))

I’ll let the Project Censored story, #3 in the 2009 line-up, speak for itself, because it does SPEAK for us, USA, the west, the MDDNs, Most Developed-Deceitful Nations:

–In 1991, when the government of Somalia collapsed, foreign interests seized the opportunity to begin looting the country’s food supply and using the country’s unguarded waters as a dumping ground for nuclear and other toxic waste.

According to the High Seas Task Force (HSTF), there were over 800 IUU fishing vessels in Somali waters at one time in 2005, taking advantage of Somalia’s inability to police and control its own waters and fishing grounds. The IUUs poach an estimated $450 million in seafood from Somali waters annually. In so doing, they steal an invaluable protein source from some of the world’s poorest people and ruin the livelihoods of legitimate fishermen.

Allegations of the dumping of toxic waste, as well as illegal fishing, have circulated since the early 1990s, but hard evidence emerged when the tsunami of 2004 hit the country. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) reported that the tsunami washed rusting containers of toxic waste onto the shores of Puntland, northern Somalia.

Nick Nuttall, a UNEP spokesman, told Al Jazeera that when the barrels were smashed open by the force of the waves, the containers exposed a “frightening activity” that had been going on for more than a decade. “Somalia has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste starting in the early 1990s, and continuing through the civil war there,” he said. “The waste is many different kinds. There is uranium radioactive waste. There is lead, and heavy metals like cadmium and mercury. There is also industrial waste, and there are hospital wastes, chemical wastes—you name it.”

Nuttall also said that since the containers came ashore, hundreds of residents have fallen ill, suffering from mouth and abdominal bleeding, skin infections and other ailments. “What is most alarming here is that nuclear waste is being dumped. Radioactive uranium waste that is potentially killing Somalis and completely destroying the ocean,” he said.

“The price of doing business … the CLEE’s — the Countries Least Evolved Ethically – business contract … the gift of the white race … collateral damage … the cost of getting in the way of progress … only the elites and IVY league types understand these complexities … dog-eat-dog … survival of the fittest … American exceptionalism.”

Seattle as Microcosm of What isn’t Working

The caffeine yawl I get in Seattle, in Phoenix, in Austin, in any number of USA “mall cities,” is the same – What am I supposed to do about sweatshops in India and polluted cities in China? I have my own problems to worry about. Why do I always have to hear about the negative things in life. Zen means to me that I can overcome the horrors of the world by meditating and listening to the sound of wind in maple leaves.

You get it. Yet, can we ever get back to the sanity of, “Mark My Words, I am not a crook …”?

If only the days of Richard Nixon were back upon us. Yes, they are all crooks, everyone of them, and so too are any of us who propagate their riches, or participate in the game of stock speculation and finance. We are not the largesse of the investors, but the 99 percent – let’s pretend it’s the 30 percent minus the top one percent minus the 69 percent in the working class-lower class category – holds stocks vis-a-vis not just minor mutual funds and sketchy retirement funds, but by continually wanting more for less, something for nothing.

We get what we sow. Kids are the most injured in the workplace and most subject to injury because they are afraid to complain to bosses, managers. It’s a irect result of profit motives for all those corporations behind the golden arches or the Chipotle jalapeno. There are no unions for fast-food workers. We lambaste the possible $64 billion in federal support for education in 2013, but we never bat an eye at the $935 billion for war junk, war plans, war welfare kings and queens that same year gets appropriated.

So, we fail the test – we can’t produce youth or politicians or the great masses of working class who can connect those dots, can see the causation, can dream of abstracting why there is no right-to-work with dignity and living wages in the “right to work” states, that our human lobby is supposed to be the backbone of democracy and the public good, will, health and safety of the majority, that there are no human cells or intelligence-craving brains in a corporation.

These masters of the universe have some stinky, oily residue coming from their mouths, and like that shaman’s toad spores, the spewing brings forth mesmerized Americans, gringos and others turning into zombie shopping cart pushers. Instant gratification. Instant messaging. Mainline eating. Flip-cam education. Drone after drone. Every little copper widget and microprocessor and toilet plumbed and hot-dog served going to the military-surveillance-prison-finance monster that is what Jeff Bezos always dreamed of while sitting in the back of grandpa’s station wagon with Air Stream in tow and telling his grandmother that for each cigarette she was smoking, she was taking off a week of life at the end of life.

That’s their end game. Show us how we are royally screwed by boxing up junk, shipping that junk from sweatshops run by military specialists who can’t wait for the day to salute robots each and every day they go to work.

These billionaires have so much time on their hands, so much power at their fingertips, so much micro-processing at their will, so many compliant and energized college grads at their disposal, so many in the 30 percent wanting some form of that doughy charisma a Bezos may or may not possess.

Each second in each day is monitored, crunched into algorithms, and designed for a new app for a new purchase 24/7, 365 days a year.

Bezos, GE, Google, Wally-World, Exxon, you name it, every company is now involved up to their elbows in each of the 7 billion Homo economicuses‘ 31,536,000 seconds lived each year.

They know everything about us, and it’s at the center of what Seattle would like us all to call “the creative class,” “knowledge workers,” “information managers,” telecommunication wizards.” Digital planet is death by silicon.

If they work for those who know how to run an anti-trust corporation like Microsoft or communications empire like Fox News, then those bosses MUST know about education, community development, municipal government, environmental programs, climate change, energy, how the world should shape up in their Dungeons and Dragons world of beyond oxygen thinking.

If it’s I-V-Y league, it must be touched by Midas, the thing of genius, the next panacea, the future, the end game. How much do I put down to get into the game?

Seattle, a Bubble, for Obama, By Obama, From Obama

So, get this – Seattle cuts the free bus ride area downtown. Seattle wants twice a month garbage pick-up. Two narratives from two different but similar organizations – Futurewise which is working on “smart growth” and urban growth management, and Puget Sound SAGE, working on housing, transportation and urban issues around people of poverty, low income and color.

So, the light rail idea was pushed by Futurewise, and SAGE worried about the real applications of transportation oriented development; worried as in fearing gentrification, housing stock prices going up, rents out the roof, general lack of planning for working class jobs and the families that are supported by them. ((See, Cienna Madrid, “Railroaded: Is Light Rail Driving Racial Minorities Out of Rainier Valley?The Stranger, 22 May 2012 and “Light Rail and Racial Justice in Seattle,” Sightline, 15 May 2012.))

So, Seattle liberal-lite, populated by pro-business democrats, and others just can’t wrap their heads around the fact that poor people can’t afford the exorbitant rents and housing prices. They move to suburbs. This is called ghettoization of suburbs — not a racist term at all but a descriptor used to illustrate how poor families have to deal with 2500-square foot homes designed around a plain of lawns, and the long trips to jobs, and the high cost of taxes and gasoline and insurance.

Poor people are being ripped off on all sides of the playing field in Seattle, and in the end, Seattle wants a world of Aspen, Colorado? Where all those service people serving those Tuscan meals live in trailer parks, where first grade and high school science teachers have to have smaller and smaller abodes to barely afford to be public teachers, or, even more interestingly, communities – including city governments and state entities and private sector players – have to subsidize housing so these rich class types can go about their lifestyles and play-styles while still getting services delivered by the lower 50 of the 99 Percent.

This is the schizophrenia of the non-profit, social activism community in Seattle with “Obama 2012” bumper stickers plastered on Prius plastic – within Futurewise wanting smart growth and urban boundaries and growth management, Puget Sound Sage wanting smart growth and urban boundaries and growth management.

Yet, they are worlds apart, colors apart, and in the end, one non-profit plans for buildings and traffic – Futurewise – while the other plans for people – Sage.

In Seattle, and elsewhere in America, “I’ll get mine and you’ll get yours” is the order of the day. Everywhere, people are intoning – You better pick a major in college that pays off those loans, … better become an engineer … own your own business … be your own boss … run a coffee shop … look to the future, Baby Boomers are aging … be a 30-hour a week physical therapist and clear $150K a year … double down on that by marrying .. legalizing that dual-income … shelter the proceeds … raise a family so you can take it off on your taxes.

Every day in Seattle, Spokane, San Francisco, San Diego, Sarasota, South Carolina, it’s – “Get on with the program and settle in on a second and third and fourth income. Dog eat dog, and the crows get the slim pickings. Live the American dream.”

It’s in Seattle, that attitude, this blue town, this Obama-is-so-Ivy-League-Kaluha-and-cream-colored-cool. In the end, they have been colonized by consumption, by consumerism, by capital, by the dissonance of ennui and lifestylism and checkbook and credit card impotence and the silos they all erect to shade and buffer themselves from reality and their inability to articulate how the entire consumer thing is mixed up with someone else’s pain as they flee from debates and arguments while turning back into infants who would rather never see or hear anything that counters their narratives or threatens to tear a box-cutter hole in their comfort zone.

If ever we were a divided, broken, a PTSD-riddled society, flowing from broken dreams to promised land of the Lotto fantasies, America is it NOW… and “it ain’t no different in Seattle.” Don’t let the Starbucks’ siren fool you, and, yes, the mermaid got cleaned up thanks to Starbucks Global Goal of Complete Domination and Propriety.

This is the primacy of corporations – sell, sell, clean up, sweep up, never fold the hand, and always bluff for more in the potty.

Agnostics are not into Agnotology

Okay, so I will wind down by bringing up the idea of agnotology which is bound to appear in future articles.
So what is it?

Here’s an easy book title (and another one on my list to review) that says it all: Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance by Robert Proctor and Londa Schiebinger, and thus, the quick blurb opener:

What don’t we know, and why don’t we know it? What keeps ignorance alive, or allows it to be used as a political instrument? Agnotology—the study of ignorance—provides a new theoretical perspective to broaden traditional questions about “how we know” to ask: Why don’t we know what we don’t know? The essays assembled in Agnotology show that ignorance is often more than just an absence of knowledge; it can also be the outcome of cultural and political struggles. Ignorance has a history and a political geography, but there are also things people don’t want you to know (“Doubt is our product” is the tobacco industry slogan).

Think about it this way – abortifacients, like the peacock flower, got Schiebinger going: “Flos pavonis, literally ‘peacock flower,’ is an abortifacient: The Indians, who are not treated well by their Dutch masters, use the seeds [of this plant] to abort their children, so that they will not become slaves like themselves. The black slaves from Guinea and Angola have demanded to be well treated, threatening to refuse to have children. … They told me this themselves.” ((See Londa Schiebinger, “Exotic abortifacients and lost knowledge,” Lancet, 371(9614), 1 March 2008: 718-719.))

Ahh, this is so important in this day and age of Wiki-leaks, Wikipedia, Google, Amazon, DARPA, PR, Edward Bernays, and the lot of the psy-ops guys and gals. That knowledge is erased, discarded, scrubbed from books, vanished from memory.

Who wouldn’t want to know the secret of an abortifacient in light of the attack on reproductive rights, when medical doctors get assassinated eating breakfast with their families in their kitchens?

Why was-is-will this knowledge disappear? Ahh, readers can easily surmise.

What is that dead language saying about things long forgotten? Heck, the movie, Sir, No Sir, illustrates true invention tied to the idea of agnotology. The bedraggled returning Vietnam soldiers being spat upon by hippie girls. Rambo says it via Stallone. John McCain said it when running against Bush and Kerry.

In the film, we find out there were no returning soldiers at the San Fran airport, no people right there within a spitting distance of disembarking soldiers, that there were no articles in any newspapers printed about said incidents of hippie girls spitting at soldiers and calling them baby killers on the tarmac of airports. Soldiers did not return home that way. Not one published account!

Girls usually do not — at least in the sixties and early seventies — spit out loogies. Yet, the myth was taken by prognosticators, politicians, Hollywood writers and actors, and worse yet by newspaper editors years later, and they ran with it, so it became fake history.

Sort of like how Ralph Nader was responsible for 8 years of George W. Bush. Not that 8 million registered democrats (or is that 11 million) voted for George AWOL Bush. Again, Bush won because he stole the election, Gore wimped out, and Democrats voted for Bush.

Last Word Ends with a Bumper Sticker

I usually always start off any piece I write with some handy-dandy quote. I thought I’d be starting off this piece with a lone one or maybe two from these powerful quotes below– the kind that get the juices flowing and mind moving:

“The politician wants men to know how to die courageously; the poet wants men to live courageously.” – Salvatore Quasimodo

“Societies and economies can be destroyed by bombs. Societies can also be destroyed by locking every aspect of life like provision of food and water through an economic war.” – Vandana Shiva

“Write what should not be forgotten.” – Isabel Allende

“A voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used, to utter fully human speech as possible. Powerlessness and silence go together.” – Margaret Atwood ((For more on Atwood’s convictions on silence and powerless, read Jennifer Matsui, “Margaret Atwood Cashes In,” Dissident Voice, 17 May 2010.))

“The heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good; and thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burdens of the past.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.” – GGM

“The walls are the publishers of the poor.” – Eduardo Galeano

“I am astonished each time I come to the U.S. by the ignorance of a high percentage of the population, which knows almost nothing about Latin America or about the world. It’s quite blind and deaf to anything that may happen outside the frontiers of the U.S.” – Eduardo Galeano

But, instead, I will end with a crude bumper sticker, plastered all neat and centered on a metallic-blue Ford Bronco, the old model, all jacked up and gargantuan and outfitted with oversized goat-killing tires. Right outside one of those 1920s 1200-square-foot homes on Beacon Hill, Seattle, going for, oh $400,000, shag carpet and avocado appliances included.

Parked next to a small clinic and across from a Baptist Church. I noticed it on one of my daily runs, while dodging those IT-Creative Class-Knowledge Worker types racing in his/her BMW SUV or little boxy Hyundai through stop signs.

“A Jeep is like a Tampon … Every pussy needs one.”

Yep, with the Ford logo in the center. On the back window. Proud American bumper sticker, says it all.

What is that “all”? I own the world, and the last man with the most toys wins, and this vehicle is protected by Smith and Wesson, and my other half works for Boeing, and I have a tiger in my tank, thanks, Exxon, and, the only good liberal is a dead REI shopper.

It’s not that common in Seattle, but those stickers do pop up regularly. As did the Ron Paul for President signs on lawns.

You know, a brick through the window of the Ford Bronco couldn’t hurt, though there’d have to be note attached, so the yahoo would know the nature of the vandalism and not blame the blacks or browns or yellows who are “taking over our neighborhood.”

Magic marker on the logo? What would that teach the guy?

These tipping points are already happening, and it all comes down to a world of One Percent, 29 or 30 percent, and the rest of the 70 percent of us trying to make something out of the American landscape.

Words mean so much, and those writers above, no matter how much their fiction gets us to ask the right questions, all those thinkers dead and gone and sure to come, they will be at the hands of Microsoft (still paying millions for anti-trust breaches), Bezos (net worth, $19.3 billion), and Wally-World (largest firearms seller in USA), or at the whim of on-line-next-day shipping, and after the power of the stockholder and his or her master takes over every waking and sleeping human moment?

What gets read is why I write for Dissident Voice. What gets seen, well, I am no Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Margaret Atwood.

But I read them, and I take my cues from them, and what I feel, see, hear, taste, think, well, something has to break under the weight of so much consumer cacophony, so much of the world dependent upon consumer confidence or lack thereof.

So much rides on that bumper sticker – A Jeep is like a … Bought from and sold by, well, you know who.

Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.