Tag Archives: South

Survivor: Occupy Wall Street

Close your eyes and imagine for a moment. No, stop. That won’t work, you need to know more, so keep reading. Here’s the idea. A new prime time reality series based on another prime time series based on a successful European series and based on reality: Survivor Occupy Wall Street. A different show each night of each week.

Monday: Survivor Occupy Wall Street – Red State
Tuesday: Survivor Occupy Wall Street – Blue State
Wednesday: Survivor Occupy Wall Street – Toss Up State
Thursday: Survivor Occupy Wall Street – Los Angeles
Friday: Survivor Occupy Wall Street – Miami
Saturday: Survivor Wall Street – Las Vegas
Sunday: Survivor Wall Street – New York

Survivor Occupy Wall StreetBorrowed from CBS, the rules of Survivor Occupy Wall Street are simple: average Americans are abandoned in the middle of some of the most unforgiving places on earth – public parks near financial districts. Divided into teams, they participate in the daily routine of OWS – mic checks, speeches, seeking unanimity, listing grievances, protesting wealth disparity, chanting about tax fairness and student loans, protecting speech and human rights, being non-partisan, finding common ground, singing protest songs, attending rallies, making signs, marching, sitting-in, demonstrating, confronting police, blogging, tweeting, keeping the parks clean, sleeping in tents, publicly urinating, being used as backgrounds for media reports, staying out of jail, acting gratuitously toward politicians – plus, challenges given by host Jeff Probst. Every three days, the losing tribe must trek to Tribal Council to vote out one of their own. Halfway through the game, the challenges shift to individual competitions when the tribes attempt to find consensus to merge and become one. Now the game is every contestant for themselves while acting as if they are in solidarity for the people in the peaceful struggle against financial inequality.

The game is simple: Outwit, Outplay, Outlast, by winning immunity, thus not being eligible to have votes cast against yourself. However, the players must be careful about who they send packing – because after the merge, a jury of previously voted out contestants begins to form, and each week they return to watch the Tribal Council ceremony. At the end of the game, they vote for one of the members in the finals to win one million dollars and become the next Survivor to go from the 99% to the 1%!

Generally, each season begins with a twist – something different to surprise the new castaways. In our version, one team in each city is chosen by Fox News, the other by MSNBC. Survivor Occupy Wall Street is a game of struggle to reclaim power, adaptation of a coherent demands, and the final two or three of each season are the players most able to adapt to their surroundings and to the politics of the people they are playing with. Survivor focuses on the people, and the social commentary that surrounds them and their politics. The game revolves around how these players can Outwit, Outplay, and Outlast. Tonight they march to One Police Plaza.

Themmigration Reform

A reasonable suspect

The only thing to fear is them themselves.
It is going around. There are at least ten other states, Utah, Georgia, Colorado, Maryland, Ohio, North Carolina, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska among them, considering anti-immigration laws in the same spirit as the one passed by Arizona (ThinkProgress.org). Arizona’s new law requires law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws “where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States.” So, what would make you reasonably suspect someone? Language? Accent? Skin color? Hair type? Height? Weight? Surname? Intelligence? Car type? Living conditions? No driver’s license? Proximity to the border with Mexico? All of the above? Yes, that would be profiling. Constitutional? No telling from this court.

Los Angeles May Day rally in support of reform and rights - Lucas Jackson / Reuters

The Arizona law requires that those without documentation prove they are in the US legally (show me your papers), and are also to be charged with criminal trespass, confined and fined, at least, $500. The federal government does reimburse states and municipalities for confinement, so this may be nothing more than a way to turn a profit to Arizona for running prisons – sorta like parts of Texas does, but that’s another story.

In fairness, it should be pointed out that this law is not just about racism, xenophobia, fear, blame, census-forced redistricting and political penis measuring. It is also about funding civic services including schools, public safety, indigent medical care, unfair job competition – and, the despised, but desperately needed, deficit-financed by our children, federal funding. What it is not about, is solving any long-term problem or cause, civil decency or human rights.

What Goes Around Comes Around.
How soon we forget. Much of the west has a pretty short and convenient memory. Issues about who belongs where and who owns what is a pretty new idea. Arizona, and all the lands from Florida to California, has a much longer history being part of colonial Mexico/New Spain, than the United States – about 300 years. When we started migrating into Florida and out west about 160 years ago, we didn’t much care that we were the immigrants without documentation. On second thought, perhaps, Arizonians do remember.

In 1803, we bought the Louisiana Territories, which stretched to the north to the Dakotas and west to much of Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and half of Colorado. By 1810, the illegals from the US outnumbered the Spanish in Florida and West Florida (southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi and southern Alabama) was annexed by that famously, over-reaching president, constitution-writing, James Madison. During the next decade, it became clear that the indigenous people who had lived in these territories for 20,000 years, were bad for business, so we began a century of genocide. Among the early annihilations were the Seminoles by an army commanded by Andrew Jackson, which launched his political career with this campaign in 1818. A year later, Jackson formally took control of Florida from the Spanish in an agreement to renounce all claims to Texas, but he didn’t mean it.

160 years ago, we were the illegal immigrants

By 1835, Jackson was dead set on getting all the land west to California. More accurately, he wanted California and didn’t much care about the rest. By that time, the US immigrants to East Texas outnumbered the Mexicans and declared their independence. Mexico, on the other hand, considered all of Texas still part of Mexico. The Texans, fearing they didn’t have enough guns, were bailed out by a free-spending Congress who forgave their debts and made them a state so they would qualify for all kinds of federal programs,  including fort building and war making. This really pissed off Mexico, so we got out our checkbook and offered a deal too good to refuse to buy most everything we wanted. The deal was turned down, so we picked a fight (there was no UN in 1846), won, and took what is now the western half of Texas, part of Colorado and all of New Mexico, Arizona, California, Utah, and Nevada. Which led, of course, to the civil war, but that, again, is another story.

My version of this history should indicate my bias that these Arizona children of principally European immigrants have an awfully lot in common with the Central and South American and Caribbean children of principally European immigrants.

Why is it that this issue has not been dealt with in Congress?
I dare say that immigration reform is the least popular initiative in America today. Everyone hates the problem and the remedy. There may never be 60 votes in the Senate to solve immigration issues.

Some of the issues:

    We have 108 miles of fence along our 1,969 mile southern border so far - should be finished in 2040

  • Secure our southern border. It is an almost ridiculous ambition to erect and guard the 1,969 miles we share, and yet, if we have laws, shouldn’t we enforce them? The current estimate for 700 miles of fence is $49 billion and would be expected to last just 25 years. Five years into it, we’ve gotten 106 miles finished (in those areas, immigrants must tunnel, use ladders or go around it) – at that rate, we will finish the fence in 2040, but then it will be worn out and need to be replaced. To date, we have also spent $1.1 billion on a seven mile virtual fence (high tech radars, cameras and motion detectors) that doesn’t work and are planning to build another 53 miles of it. The Obama administration has recently frozen funding until the private contractor can make it work or lobbyists can convince our government that it shouldn’t have to.
  • Path to citizenship. Their presence here breaks our laws which makes them ineligible to apply for citizenship. Should they return to their native country and apply, the application requires they affirm that they have not broken the laws of the US, which, of course, is the catch 22. They could lie, but our background checks are thorough and they would be caught. Any path to citizenship would require the ”A“ word – amnesty. Those supporting it have long included a call for a fine and penalty which wouldn’t be amnesty, but amnesty is what it would be called on Fox.
  • Sheer numbers. Depending on who is guessing, it is generally believed there are 10-20 million people living in the US illegally. Arizona entire population is 6.5 million, but, of course, those unlawfully present, don’t have two senators.
  • Family values. US-born children have rights to citizenship. Were their parents to be deported, do we split up the families?
  • Human rights. Among other issues, they have limited rights and protections in our courts and almost none in our immigration courts; are not allowed to vote; risk confiscation of property; are not legally allowed to work and if they do, are often are forced to work below minimum wage and without workplace safety standards; cannot legally obtain health insurance or a bank account; and are often victims of crime or preyed upon by nefarious business (for instance: check cashing companies) wishing to capitalize on their plight. Millions of them have lived here for decades, own property, operate businesses, attend church, obey laws and are frightened of detainment or deportation at all times. Tens of millions of people are living in a shadow economy without human rights and at odds with the ideals of American democracy.
  • Cost to provide services. Their children attend schools and sometimes require special language consideration; they use our hospitals, often as indigents; using fraudulent identification, many take advantage of food stamps and other government programs; government must pay for indirect services such as police and fire protection, roads, water, sewer, prisons, etc.
  • Armed services. They serve legally in our armed forces, but their status does not change upon their return.
  • Taxes and Social Security. Many pay only local sales taxes. Income taxes and social security can only be paid if they are using fraudulent identification.
  • Drugs and worse. Border crossings are all mixed up with drugs, violent crime, rape, forced labor, forced prostitution and the like.
  • Language. Many are concerned that undocumented workers don’t speak “American” and are afraid they’ll be called a name and not be properly insulted.
  • Jobs. US unemployment is around 10% and it is assumed it would be lower if workers here illegally would stop competing for jobs. Business on the other hand, needs these workers for specialized jobs, such as computer programming or picking Vidalia onions.
  • Employer enforcement. The Chambers of Commerce, who spend more than the national GOP or the national Dems on campaigns, don’t want businesses to get into the business of determining who’s here illegally.
  • The Central and South American and Caribbean standard of living. Until it improves, the faucet of aliens crossing our southern border won’t stop.
  • Blame. It isn’t healthy, but it is human nature.
  • Voting. Those gaining citizenship generally vote democrat.

How to solve it:

Incrementalism. Themmigration reform is complicated. The right says that thousand+ page bills are too complicated to be read, understood, spin, parse or pass. They are right. Short of some strategic major Senate scandals requiring resignation, illness or flip-flop, no omnibus bill is going to get to the floor. The right called for incremental bills on health care, finance and energy, why not take their bluff? Introduce a series of simple and separate bills addressing each of the issues. Bring a couple of important bills for vote. Something like:

  • Fully fund the fence even though it will never work, pay for more border patrols and the National Guard (as soon as they get home from Afghanistan), but require taxes on the the top 1% to pay for it.
  • Everyone here illegally, but with no felony criminal record, can pay an application fee that would go to the states, get a green card good for six-months and it comes with a method to pay social security and taxes. At the end of the time, they must either go home or apply for citizenship to get it renewed. During the time they here as documented workers, they would be required to do part-time community service.
  • Assuming no felony criminal record, parents, grandparents and siblings of children born in the US of illegal aliens, could get in the middle of the line for citizenship without fear of being deported or separated from their families in return for a paying an application fee and a one time $10,000 fine which could be financed, the proceeds of which, would go to the states, and four years of part-time community service.
  • Those here illegally under the age of 24, after serving in the US Armed Forces, would be in the front of the line for citizenship with no penalty or other requirement.
  • Everyone else here illegally, assuming no felony criminal record, can get in line for citizenship without fear of being deported or separated from their families in return for a paying an application fee and a one time $10,000 fine which could be financed, the proceeds of which, would go to the states, and eight years of part-time community service.
  • Business would have the responsibility of examining and reporting employee applicant status and be subject to a big fine for failure to do so – states would be responsible for ensuring compliance and collecting the fines.
  • Create a favored status for investment in Central and South American and Caribbean with all kinds of incentives the world might deem unfair, to raise their standard of living and give some of these people a chance to live in their own land and survive. Include in some extra incentives for Mexico to create a safety net for their people.

Simple and separate bills that get introduced, debated and voted on. Get them to the floor for an up, or down vote. The toughest wouldn’t pass. Some would, and that’d be a start.

The levels of irony should not be lost.

There’s never been a fence. If you have ever been in the Southwest, one thing seems clear: there is a lot of it and most all of it looks the same. Those lines we draw on the maps, mean a lot to those who draw them and profit from them, but seem pretty meaningless if you are just staring out on the prairie. It is little wonder that a person whose family is starving, doesn’t start walking north to the land of their fore-parents and a land where the majority of people are like them: hardworking, family-oriented, and children of immigrants in a new world.

“Civil disobedience” is a term coined by Henry David Thoreau in 1848 in an essay about his decision not to pay a poll tax to fund a war with Mexico and catching fugitive slaves. Civil disobedience. Isn’t an unenforceable, inexplicable and unjust law what all of the “us-versus-them” immigration debate is really about?

“Civil disobedience is the active refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power, using no form of violence. It is one of the primary methods of nonviolent resistance. In its most nonviolent form … it could be said that it is compassion in the form of respectful disagreement. …Civil disobedience is one of the many ways people have rebelled against unfair laws. It has been used in many well-documented nonviolent resistance movements in India… in Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution and in East Germany to oust their communist dictatorships… in South Africa in the fight against apartheid, in the American Civil Rights Movement, in the Singing Revolution to bring independence to the Baltic countries from the Soviet Union, and recently in the 2004 Orange Revolution and 2005 Rose Revolution, among other various movements worldwide.” – Wikipedia

Suggested Reading:

The Maine difference

  • whoopie_pieThey call their “moon pies,” “whoopie pies.”
  • They have at least as many mosquitoes and no-see-’ems as we do, but their bugs just don’t live as long.
  • They have as many pickup trucks as we do.
  • Domino’s Pizza delivers in 4-wheel drive vehicles.
  • They sell liquor in the supermarket.
  • They don’t ban the sale of anything (even booze and hand tools) during Sunday church services.
  • They have banned all billboards along highways. Hallelujah!
  • They wear blue uniforms in their war reenactments*.
  • Most everyone either wears a cap with the letter “B” on it, or a shirt with “Red Sox” emblazoned across the front, which is for a team that isn’t college, doesn’t play football and is in a whole ‘nother state.
  • You are more likely to see a sign warning of a moose or snowmobile crossing than an alligator or deer.
  • You won’t see grits on a breakfast menu, but you are likely to see baked beans.
  • IMG_4618They don’t seem to have any Baptist churches, but do have a lot of Congregational churches, although their steeples aren’t as nearly as tall as we have in the South.
  • Even in the summer, the trees don’t have Kudzu growing on them.
  • Instead of boiled peanuts or peaches, they sell berries along the roadside.
  • Their charity shops don’t have any cold weather clothes – perhaps we could work out a trade since Southern charity stores are filled with them?
  • Walmart seems the same, but carries snow blowers and hockey sticks.
  • McDonald’s and Wendy’s sell “Southern Biscuits” and are introducing, “Sweetened Ice Tea.”
  • They have a better selection of rice in their grocery stores (they call them Shaws), than we do.
  • The sand on their beaches are the size of boulders – in fact, I think they are boulders.
  • Their town of Rockland compares favorably to Rock City or Stone Mountain.
  • They also have cities named Ashland, Athens, Augusta, Burlington, Brunswick, Camden, Charleston, Columbia, Dallas, etc.
  • The senators in Maine are all women. One is an independent and they both voted with the Dems on the stimulus. Really.
  • Contrary to popular belief, there are a few snakes in Maine, though I’ve never seen one there.
  • Their wild flowers actually grow wild and do not require prisoners to plant them along the highway.
  • IMG_4646For a couple of months each year, the grass is actually greener there. Then it turns white.
  • You are more likely to hear a French TV network than a Spanish TV network.
  • Their shovel-ready highway stimulus spending largesse will “Mainely” go to adding a few quarter-mile long passing lanes on their wimpy little two-lane highways.
  • You can’t find a Krispy Kreme donut anywhere in Maine. They sell something the same shape called a “Dunkin’ Donut.”
  • The dirt under their grass isn’t red or clay-like.
  • If you don’t know where you are going, the direction signs on the roads won’t help a bit.
  • They still offer welfare as we used to know it. I even heard stories of women who had babies just to get more of it.
  • You’ll hear loud music you don’t want to hear blaring from cars driven by young people just like we have in the South.
  • I was told that it “rained 35 days in June.”
  • Based on what’s playing in the bars, they do love Nascar and country music.
  • Their young people can’t find jobs, either.
  • They also have a lot of businesses that have gone under and more houses for sale than buyers.
  • They pronounce “er” as “ah” sorta like we tend to do, ‘cept they say it real fast. In fact, they say everything so fast it hardly sounds like Southern at all.
  • Worlds_Largest_LobsterTheir idea of fishing is to put a bag of chicken parts in a little bag, tying it inside a cage and tossing it in the water – when they pull it back up, it is filled with these big red bugs that have large claws. Then they sell them for below what it costs to gas their boats to people who turn them into lobster rolls (I kid you not, lobster and mayonnaise on a hot dog bun), which are offered on just about every street corner. BBQ is nowhere to be found.
  • They don’t have air conditioning – with global warming, they’ll need that.

I noticed these differences last week while visiting my son. He’s a reverse carpetbagger, lives on the Maine coast with his wife and my granddaughter. True to his heritage, he wears shorts and flip flops year-round – even to shovel the snow. He wanted a white Christmas so badly the first year he was up there, that he bought a snow gun like they have on the ski slopes, but he didn’t end up needing it.

Bubbas_Hair_SignAll to say, the Maine differences between the North and South don’t seem so great and can probably be overcome in the centuries to come if they’ll just learn the language.

_________________
*Revolutionary war – the one against the British.

Note: Terri Evans contributed to this story with what I’m sure she’d acknowledge were all the good ideas and the better photos. She did plan to proof it, but didn’t get around to it, so please let her know about the missing words, poor grammar, etc., so she can remind me of how she always makes me look smarter than I really am.

Dinosaurs should be extinct

2ijpxr4Try living with them and you’ll trampled or eaten. One of the many notable dinosaurs surviving today is the health insurance industry. They are really big. Have voracious appetites. And their sole purpose is keep you alive just long enough to eat every dollar you have.

Way back in the World War II era (before the internet began recording history), these dinosaurs began roaming the US as result of the wage freeze during the war. Employers saw it as way to scam the freeze and attract employees when employees were scarce. By the end of the war, employees loved these cute little scaly creatures (Yabba-Dabba Do). They didn’t eat much back then, but as we started feeding them, they started growing and got bigger and bigger. They began eating each other and fighting over the food supply – us. Thick skinned, with no known predators, lots of lobbyists and seemingly impervious to regulation, they have continued to grow to their enormous present-day size. They also seem to have a particular love for the food in the South.

Quoting researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Click here for the full report), SouthernStudies.org, says the “Health insurance industry monopolizes the South. According to the report, insurer consolidation also disproportionately disadvantages rural states. In several rural states across the nation the two largest health insurers control at least 80% of the statewide market. In Alabama, for instance, the biggest insurer holds 89% of the statewide market, the highest rate in the nation for a single company. Even more populous states in the South have serious market concentration problems; Virginia’s largest health insurer, for example, controls a 50% share of the statewide market.

The combined market share percentage of the top two insurers in each state in the South:
Alabama – 88
Arkansas – 81
Florida – 45
Georgia – 69
Kentucky – 69
Louisiana – 74
Mississippi – n/a
North Carolina – 73
South Carolina – 75
Tennessee – 62
Texas – 59
Virginia – 61
West Virginia – 54

”In the past 13 years, more than 400 corporate mergers have involved health insurers, and a small number of companies now dominate local markets“ – HCAN

“94 percent of insurance markets in the United States are now highly concentrated, and insurers are thriving in the anti-competitive marketplace, raking in enormous profits and paying out huge CEO salaries“ – The American Medical Association

”Health insurance premiums have skyrocketed, going up more than 87% on average over the past six years“ – The Department of Justice

From blog.AFLCIO.org and quoting a letter to the Department of Justice’s Anti-Trust Division, Richard Kirsch, HCAN national campaign manager, and David Balto, former policy director of the Federal Trade Commission and now senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, writes: “Simply put, the private insurance companies have secured monopolies or tight oligopolies and exercised that power to put profits ahead of patients….There were no actions taken against anticompetitive conduct by health insurers in the last administration, in spite of the fact that cases by state attorneys general have secured massive fines against these insurers. A lack of antitrust enforcement has enabled insurers to acquire dominant positions in almost every metropolitan market.”

Extinct in most of the world, the cost of maintaining these dinosaurs has soared.

According to the National Coalition on Health Care:

  • In 2008, total national health expenditures were expected to rise 6.9 percent — two times the rate of inflation.
  • Total spending was $2.4 TRILLION in 2007, or $7900 per person
  • Total health care spending represented 17 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) – compared to 10.9 percent of the GDP in Switzerland, 10.7 percent in Germany, 9.7 percent in Canada and 9.5 percent in France.
  • U.S. health care spending is expected to increase at similar levels for the next decade reaching $4.3 TRILLION in 2017, or 20 percent of GDP.
  • The annual premium for an employer health plan covering a family of four averaged nearly $12,700.
  • The annual premium for single coverage averaged over $4,700.
  • Health care spending is 4.3 times the amount spent on national defense.
  • Health insurance cost in the United States have been rising four times faster on average than workers’ earnings since 1999.
  • The average employee contribution to company-provided health insurance has increased more than 120 percent since 2000. Average out-of-pocket costs for deductibles, co-payments for medications, and co-insurance for physician and hospital visits rose 115 percent during the same period.
  • National surveys show that the primary reason people are uninsured is the high cost of health insurance coverage.
  • A recent study by Harvard University researchers found that the average out-of-pocket medical debt for those who filed for bankruptcy was $12,000. The study noted that 68 percent of those who filed for bankruptcy had health insurance. In addition, the study found that 50 percent of all bankruptcy filings were partly the result of medical expenses.Every 30 seconds in the United States someone files for bankruptcy in the aftermath of a serious health problem.
  • A new survey shows that more than 25 percent said that housing problems resulted from medical debt, including the inability to make rent or mortgage payments and the development of bad credit ratings.
  • Retiring elderly couples will need $250,000 – $300,000 in savings just to pay for the most basic medical coverage.
  • The United States spends six times more per capita on the administration of the health care system than its peer Western European nations.

64022626_711ca081eeWe obviously need a dragon slayer. We need to kill these evil beasts off once and for all. We cannot afford to wait. They will eat us all. Write your congressperson. Demand single payer and enforcement of our anti-trust laws. If for no other reason, do it because dinosaur farts contribute to greenhouse gases and some believe brought on the last ice age.



Be careful what you wish for

mosquitoThe drought is now officially over. With the return of normal rain patterns, Sonny’s prayers have been answered. Most of the lakes are full with the stumps covered and the docks floating. Our lawns are green and the sprinklers are back on automatic. We are free to flush. Hallelujah.

They’re baaaack. With all the wishing and hoping, you might have forgotten what had made our Southern nights so wonderful these last few years. You won’t for long. Close your screen doors. Grab your insect repellent. Light your citronella. Fire up your fogger. The dreaded state bird of all the deep South, Diptera: Culicidae (aka: mosquito) is laying eggs and sucking blood like we haven’t seen in years. Yes, be careful what you wish for. Mother Nature can be a bitch. Though she’s got a heck of sense of humor.

Click here to get your local mosquito forecast.

Email Us Your Postcards of the South

From your phone or computer, you can now share photos and comments – postcards of the South (or places of interest to the South). With one click, you can send us news, travel, scenes and events. Use the subject line for the photo title, attach the photo and then add descriptive copy in the body of your email (please include your name or email in your description). The photo will publish in our Flickr Gallery and here at LikeTheDew.com. Here’s the address: [email protected]

Keep it clean, please.

Southern Videos

Here’s some Southern fried video. Please comment and share your ideas for future postings.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W89zz-9kGuM

Beach Music Medley

 

Small Town Southern Man

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoXZ-KNIs-M

Southern Girls

 

Cooking Southern Fried Chicken

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKPDrPp9fv8

Southern University Marching Band