I think someone already posted a discussion or blog (what's the difference?) about an habitual negativism in the Quaker mindset.  I also think that we need to be careful about indulging in negativism.  To use Spiro Agnew's famous phrase: we don't want to be "nattering nabobs of negativism!"

We are told that we need to stand against the ordinances because they are meaningless rituals.  We need to stand against Christian faith because it is associated with crusades, the Inquisition, creationism, intolerance and who knows what else!   We need to stand against Fox News because it is associated with Republicanism.  We need to stand against Christmas because it has been commercialized.  And now, we need to cancel the Fourth of July because it is associated with patriotism!

I don't want to be read as believing that there aren't lots of bad things in the world that we need to steer clear of.  I could, and sometimes have, named a good many things that I would put in the NO category, alcohol being one of them.  BUT, I think we need to try to think in positive terms about our faith and what it stands for, instead of emphasizing the negative.


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There's a reason why "Republican" is a four letter word (and so should "Democrat" be, if people paid less attention to what the partisans say and more attention to what they do.)

We need to stand against Faux News because they're liars promoting a false image of the world, hiding the crimes of our government and our corporations while raising false accusations & distorted understandings against everyone who sees those crimes & tries to oppose them.

If you want to love this silly country, I'm not going to get in your way. Just don't expect me to deny the vast evil it has increasingly become, from the cruel acts and idealistic words of the Revolution to today's idealistic words and cruelties against other nations & even our own poor.

We are supposed to be a church of Truth, not of Euphemism.

My favorite 4th of July poem is the one titled that, page 10 of Julia Vinograd's 1989 book _The Underclassified_. It was written back when a person might still have some hope for this country; and she manages to end it with

"And I'll tell it how beautiful it is.How much I love it."

But the poem is, after all, about visiting her country in jail.

"It looked so drained and tiredthe last time I was there,
trying to keep its lips from twitching,
shuddering when the guards passed,
telling me to believe in it,
claiming it's innocent.
It's guilty but I remember
what a sweet lover it was when we were young.


Forrest Curo said:

If you want to love this silly country, I'm not going to get in your way. Just don't expect me to deny the vast evil it has increasingly become, from the cruel acts and idealistic words of the Revolution to today's idealistic words and cruelties against other nations & even our own poor.

And I reply:

It puzzles me why anyone who holds this country in such contempt would deign to continue living here.  You live close to Mexico, and could take your Social Security and other retirement benefits with you; why haven't you moved???

It looks like Tijuana is only a half-hour away!

Mexico is a country much impoverished  through a long history of unprovoked attacks and  barely less ruinous interventions by the United States, followed by economic policies that have intensified the wretchedness of the regions we didn't outright steal from them.

Someone with a good SSA or other retirement can take advantage of that relative weakness to live pretty comfortably down there, at the expense of people even poorer off, until the current US hegemony breaks down.

And then? Do people down there remember how we destroyed their subsistence farmers and forced multitudes to risk their lives (frequently losing them in fact) to travel here and do work we find too onerous, for pay we know is inadequate, to be cheated and scapegoated and sometimes beaten before being thrown back into what we've left of their economy?

When US money is no longer flowing so freely, is no longer worth the paper it's printed on, will they remember? When we're the refugees, will they really treat us better than our compatriots have treated them?

As it stands, while Mayors of San Diego have publically suggested that all its poor residents should move to Tijuana -- The SSI (federal welfare for geezers with inadequate SSA payments) program that currently gives me enough to live on (with enough care & dumbluck, so far) also has a requirement that I continue to live here in the US. So it goes.

Forrest:  I am at a loss to know how to respond to what you have written here.  First, I really had no intention of getting into Mexican economic issues, and certainly don't want to bash Mexicans or immigrants from Mexico.  I have the impression that many Mexican immigrants are hard-working people.  I also know that the ones I see around Harrisonburg VA, when I go there to shop, are sufficiently affluent to drive nice cars, in fact better than our 13-year old passenger vehicle.

I was under the impression that San Diego is a high-cost area to live in.  Given the much lower cost of living south of the border (at least at selected locations), I would think that you would be better off with (US) SSA in Mexico than you are with both SSA and SSI in San Diego; something doesn't add up!

I suspect that your narrative of poverty in Mexico is highly selective, finding the U.S. solely responsible (if I read you correctly) for the economic problems of that country.  I know a little Mexican history, and I am certain that your explanation of Mexico's economic woes is biased!

I have found this discussion quite interesting, even though the Mexican "bunny trail" is one I didn't anticipate.

I would think that you would find the Church of No a comfortable fit, but your various observations and comments do not seem to confirm that.

I'm sure the Mexicans could have impoverished each other perfectly well, left to themselves, but they weren't. Thoreau was in jail for refusing to pay to our first great plunder of them, Abe Lincoln made his first Congressional speech in opposition to it; yet all you think I was saying was to claim that there's something wrong with Mexicans?

It's like this: "A child of robbers will find an easier welcome with his own family than with their victims."

As for the economics of it, California pays a higher SSI rate than most places in the US because, among other reasons, it is more expensive to live here. I've been unemployed much of my life, worked for the government (Social Security Admin) much of the rest (& cashed out my retirement to live on afterwards), was running a used bookstore for my longest-running occupation, my Social Security check by itself would not keep me going all that well.

Here I speak the language, and know people; there I just get interrupted by people whose English is better than my Spanish. They are lovely people, but they don't have the loot of the whole world to support their own people on, let alone employ worn out foreign geezers.

Another observation: "If you want to make a likely guess who took the money, look at who has it."

More of "none of my business":  with your limited resources, how does it make sense to live in a high-cost community, rather than in a small town or rural area?

If I tried to live in northern Virginia, with its amenities but high cost of living, I think I would go on the financial skids very quickly.

Concerning Mexico, I think there has been quite a bit of political instability and experimentation with socialism which have had deleterious effects on their economic development.  The US, on the other hand, has a relatively stable political system, even if a sometimes ineffective one.

I had a professor at McGill (in Montreal) who claimed that there is a lot of volatility in the "Latin character" that militates against political stability and effectiveness.  And, by the way, he was French.  I believe he used the descriptor,"hot-blooded".  He said all of this in French, but my French has gotten rusty, and I can't recall the specific words he used.

Is this 'Latin volatility' like that Irish fecklessness that had us all starving from failed potato crops while the British landlords with the good land were shipping food to England?


If you had read my poems, you would remember that

"I have had to learn to live

by swallowing indignation"

and as there is always enough of that to go around, I should never go hungry.

Hello again, Forrest!  Faux News (as you call it) has this story on Venezuelans growing their own produce to keep vegetables in their diet.  http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/slideshow/2016/07/04/venezuel...

Are we looking at  Yankee-caused poverty (resulting from American fracking and improved energy efficiency) or self-inflicted political mismanagement of the Venezuelan economy by adventurous socialist leadership?  A case study of Latin American poverty!

I'm sure the story has got spin enough on it to make it dizzy...

A world-wide fall in oil prices due to the US's self-destructive subsidy of oil extraction from marginal, energy-inefficient sources -- and, I'm told, US influence leading Saudi Arabia to increase the rate of release of its resources (to punish the Russians for pursuing policies of their own?) -- has been economically bad for many nations where oil was the major cash-'crop' (if you'll pardon a bad metaphor now & then.)

That, of course, applies regardless of whether said nations were doing 'experiments in socialism' [read this more accurately as 'efforts to handle their own nation's production, applying the proceeds to the common good of their whole population' -- while subject to continual sabotage & subversion from their own elite classes in collaboration with the US government.]

That is very similar, by the way, to the way the Romans dominated their empire -- sometimes by direct rule, but more typically by patronage of 'friendly' factions among local elites who wanted Roman help in holding power over their rivals. That was their arrangement with the Herodians & High Priestly families who helped them execute that Galilean troublemaker, if you recall.


Poverty in Latin America is not unusal, by the way. It happens in countries where we encourage coups; it happens in countries where we supply dictators with military supplies & training to keep their rabble in line; it happens in countries where they throw us out and try to go it alone against trade barriers we impose, even outright blockades and 'guerilla' attacks we encourage and supply. But aside from wherever the Faux Nose may prefer to point, my own ignorant impression is that it's worst in those countries we've controlled the longest and most completely.

My ex is from a Cuban family; they'd been relatively prosperous people who pretty uniformly hated Castro. But before his reign, as a small girl she'd been to visit the place under Bautista's rule; and what struck her most strongly was the sight of children literally starving on the streets.

Her comment on all that was that she'd heard many bad things about Castro and his government, but that children starving under it wasn't one of them.

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