Viva Escritora

Reporting from the bleacher seats …

TL;DR?! Mostly observations made from the bleacher seat tossed with a mid-year review of 2020 New Years resolutions.

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June 29, 2020 Well, looks like mid-year scrolling through the ‘drafts’ folder the correct choice for making 2020 New Years Resolutions was ‘not’. But we tried.

As is customary to mark the passage of “annual” as we roll the calendar into a new year, we make up lists of changes to make in the coming year in an effort to make them “better.”

I started off the year with the resolve that I’d push ‘publish’ on a post no matter how bleak the subject matter, no matter how often I grind the same dead ax over and over, no matter what high horse or rickety orange crate I find myself shouting from, I would fearlessly push ‘publish’. My bold resolve dissolved in the tide of events we now swim in — the COVID-19 pandemic, the re-energization of social justice movements (Black Lives Matter, voting rights, policing and incarceration), ascendant economic downheaval, the treasonous blowout sale on military personnel by the Bone Commander in Chief Spurs and today I see that a plague of locusts is rolling into New Delhi, India. Another one to add to a long list.

The summer solstice passed us by a week ago so this is as a good a time as any to revisit the good intentions we had in January.

Enjoy!

Or not.

2019 Sculpture Milwaukee
Magical Thinking, Gail Simpson/Aris Georgiadis

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Bix

Across the street, Bix is my neighbor’s dog named for Bix Beiderbecke the American jazz cornetist I’d never heard of until I met Bix the big black beautiful dog.

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Ttl;dr?! At it’s root, the value of money is it allows us to efficiently transfer or exchange goods and services.

Hanging out at the root of all evil, billionaires are hoarders.

Eat the rich.

We ride at midnight.

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Spring cleaning. Written pre-COVID-19, the text still stands. May 2020 updates below.

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Bartering

I don’t pay my dentist in beets. My dentist doesn’t deny me dental service because he doesn’t eat beets. I don’t have to grow my beets and ration my beets and store my beets in a root cellar through the year and search for equitable trade of my beets for goods and services I need.

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Tl;dr?! In praise of long-form time-consuming activities whate’er that activity is. Perhaps today it is reading the rest of this here whole post with it’s promise of rambling on and and on and oh, it does. Maybe it is taking a long walk. Maybe it is reading a book. Maybe it is cleaning out the hall closet for the first time in five years … er … never mind. Let’s not go there. You do you.

Let’s go!

Or not.

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Written in the time BC. Before COVID-19.

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I write to know what I think. Sometimes this takes a long time.

The main character, Captain, in News of the World by Paulette Jiles travels from town to town in post-Civil War Texas. He reads to a paying audiences. It is a story about audiences entertained by newspaper stories from all over the world in the time before radio, television, internet were invented. Before fifty states, before interstate highways, before airplanes and airlines, before, before, before. News read like a bedtime story to a paying audience. How wonderful is that!?

Aside: Do not read news before bedtime now.

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Tl;dr?! Wash your hands. Be kind. Check on your neighbors.

Will read? This post is not the text I’ve been working on, but overcome by the interesting times we live in, this is a collection of a sundry assortment of observations of life in the COVID-19 virus era.

In no particular order, let’s go!


Tractor from another era.

Facts & Faith

Facts are transferable. If a fact is true for you, the fact remains true for me.

Faith is non-transferable. Faith is a personal belief.

If you believe your faith shelters you from the Coronavirus, fine. Believe your faith.

But we — you and I — share facts. Don’t touch your face. Wash your hands and self-isolate even in public places to the extent possible.

$1,500,000,000,000

One.point.five trillion dollars or $1.5X10**12. Scientific notation!

Within hours of Wall Street — the Dow Jones, the S&P, the NASDAQ — meltdown the Fed was able to pump $1.5 trillion dollars into the financial system.

The Federal Reserve was designed to keep the economic boat afloat and upright during times of distress and upheaval. Their response time is quick and corporate. Their intervention is important to keep the big institutions aright. Banks, corporations. The dollars tinkle down to Main Street.

Yes I wrote that. Tinkle. Not trickle. Dollars tinkle. Tinkling dollars. It’s Friday the 13th.

$1,000,000,000,000

One trillion dollars or $1.0X10**12.

$One trillion USD is the estimated amount of student loan debt but student loans are individual. People walk Main Street with their backpacks full of student loans.

Student loan forgiveness or buyback or restructuring would jack the economy. Main Street spending would gush up to Wall Street. Think of the water flowing money that would be put in play if student loan payments were directed by individuals to transportation, housing, hard goods and services, fancy lattes. It’s a long list.

Society benefits from an educated citizenry. Financial institutions benefit from student loan debt. Main Street waits.

And the House of Representatives is the institution that needs to propose relief for individual student loan debt relief and that body has to negotiate agreement on policy before throwing it over the wall to the Senate.

And all that takes time. And elections. Student loan debt is an economic drag. Time to address it as such.

2019 Sculpture Milwaukee
Hera (half), Tony Matelli
777 E. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI
US Bank

COVID-19 Coronavirus

In an effort to contain or manage or reduce the spreading contagion of the COVID-19 virus, the collective ‘we’ is removed from public venues and events — crowd control in the sense of no crowds — and we are encouraged to self-quarantine or isolate ourselves for two or more weeks while … well, we’ll see where we are in a couple of weeks.

My observations on potential long-term societal pivots and impacts follow.

Separation of Employment from Health Insurance

Pandemics don’t discriminate on who has what and how much. I mean, President OTUS has been exposed to two individuals testing positive for COVID-19 and he didn’t need to leave home his resort! The Coronavirus doesn’t check your address, bank account, health insurance status or lack thereof.

In the US, in our worship at the tower of the capitalist dollar, healthcare is dependent on insurance. Health insurance depends on employment.

And so maybe as a society, this would be a good time to acknowledge that healthcare is a basic human need regardless of employment status. Break the capitalist notion that your health is worth the dollars you’re paid for the work you do.

Separation of Health Insurance from Health Care

Health insurance is part of the healthcare industry.

Health care — two words — is provider action. (Source: Arcadia.io – (a healthcare & analytics company), The Final Word: Healthcare vs. Health Care)

The pandemic underlines the gap in care that those with insurance receive versus those who walk among us without. As a preventative to limiting the spread of the Coronavirus, large public gatherings, businesses, etc. have been shut down. We limit our exposure to each other as much as possible — insured or not.

This would be a good time to take healthcare on the road and provide health care. Mobile health care units. As far as we know, they are not widely available or deployed. They would address accessibility and focus on care. Not insurance. Actual service. Actual CARE.

Let’s do it for the health of it!

The Home Work Economy

Businesses that can are encouraging, nay, even requiring employees to work from home.

We note that this will result in a more accurate measurement of what percentage of the economy and the workforce is based on information transfer, data management, gigs, etc. and not based on physical handling of goods and services.

Outsourcing of call centers to foreign countries happened. Will this be another self-identifying out-sourcing opportunity? If I can do my job from Podunk anywhere, why not make it Podunk as cheap as Englishly or <insert language here> possible?

And, or will businesses shed themselves of some square footage after the COVID-19 passes and they realize it is cost-effective to have employees use their home square footage?

And home, sweet home.

With work from home, I wonder if reports of a hostile work environment will spike?

Asking for a friend Mr. Viva …

Separation of Education from Location

Colleges and universities are expanding spring break, sending students home to study and “attend” classes remotely. We question both the cost of a higher education — what exactly are we paying for? And the location of the education attained — where exactly are we paying for it?

Students pay for knowledge and learning but most importantly for being taught how to learn. By reducing the university experience to online learning, what are universities not providing? What are students missing out on with a virtual environment?

This virus is going to break the link between education and location.

We posit that a lions share of education IS location. Education is more than textbooks. Education is contextual. Education is cultural immersion. As proof, we offer regional differences between East Coast, West Coast, Midwest, South, Southwest, Northwest, Northeast, Texas. You get the idea. Local customs, behaviors, language — bubbler? or drinking fountain? — infiltrate and permeate the way people think and make meaning.

And so education. Place matters.

Until it doesn’t. Until we find out the new twist Coronavirus makes on spring break and school attendance and graduation and how much it doesn’t matter or how much it DOES matter. The new classroom is online in a sanitized COVID-free environment and we don’t have to meet anyone new ever. But full circle. Sanitized from physical germs, an online-only world is a virtual toilet of horrible and deplorable human psyche. Misunderstandings, communication complicated by the screen and keyboard between the you and me, the student and teacher. (See also: Reflections on Twitter.)


Societies change. Sometimes change is slow. Sometimes it is rapid — a sea change, a typhoon, a monsoon, a big blue wave.

But remember, even after COVID-19 passes, don’t touch your face. Wash your hands and above all be kind.

Peace.

-Viva E.


Another picture, why not?

Pictures add interest or 1000 words so I’ve been told.

So here are more words:

Bodys Isek Kingelez (1948-2015), Sculptor
MOMA, New York, NY
Viva: This scene looks COVID-19 free.

Note: Somewhere in the interwebs of drafting and publishing posts, I smashed an existing post with the post below. My bad. My apologies.

My practice is that if I republish, it is to correct an error. Not to change the body of a text. As such I have restored the text of the original post and the text below is published under its own title. Enjoy!

Or not.


tl;dr?! Occam’s d*ck, monopoly, monopsony, Amazon, Jeff, verb: bezos, bezosed, bezosing, oligarchs.

From some morning rumblings ramblings over coffee.

Let’s go!


Occam’s deck? duck? d*ck?

Jeff Bezos read the National Enquirer’s e-mail threatening to publish pictures of his deck or duck or d*ck and in a moment of self-reflection he realized he has more chips than the house than anyone else. He upped the ante, called their bluff and published e-mails he received from David Pecker’s attorneys. (David Pecker is owner of the Enquirer.)

And taking a moment here, we recognize that Jeff Bezos was able to read the letter and Occam’s writing on the wall. Although oscillation of of the waves his wealth takes in the markets would make us seasick, Jeff still had enough light to see that if he doesn’t have enough wealth to stop a blackmailer, no one does. So good job Jeff!

And David Pecker! His last name is capitalized. But if we read of David’s pecker, would it be censored as p*cker? Could we read smoothly of David’s packer, picker, or pucker? But to read of his p*cker, it must be capitalized?

And in this whole imbroglio, the media had a field day with the coincidence of d*cks and p*ckers.


Monopoly

Seth Godin is one of my favorite thinkers. March 11, 2019 in his blog (published impressively and relentlessly daily), he made the observation that “monopoly is the opposite of capitalism.”

Monopoly. The goal of the game of Monopoly is to bankrupt all of your opponents. Game over. And so it does not surprise me when money in a loosely regulated capitalist system has grown into a concentration of money held in the hands of a few thousand oligarchs while the millions and billions of us dry up from lack of water money to circulate in a healthy exchange of goods and services.

Monopsony

Monopoly and monopsony. We hear more about monopoly than monopsony. I’m assuming monopsony was touched on in the macroeconomics class I took a while back last century. Monopsony is a market situation when there is only one buyer. Monopoly is a market situation where there is only one seller. In the Frontline episode “Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos (full film, 1 hour and 53 min)”:

He [Jeff Bezos] owns the main street.

– Jason Boyce (disambiguation: Jason Boyce, the CEO of Avenue7Media. NOT Jason Boyce, the ex-model. Mercy me, Google. Really.)

Amazon is running both sides of the mono-economics-house. Monopoly — a web search for any product posits Amazon at the top. And more subtly, Amazon is a monopsonist. Amazon, one seller provides Everthang. Remember when Main Street shopping migrated to malls, and then from malls to big box stores and then to the internet and now Everthang is starting to filter through Amazon? Whoo-ee! Where are we headed.

Buying. And selling. And skirting. But that’s another post …

Bezos’ Lottery Winnings

In Bezos’ own words:

“The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel,” he said this spring. “I am going to use my financial lottery winnings from Amazon to fund that.”

Jeff Bezos’s $150 Billion Fortune Is a Policy Failure, Annie Lowrey, The Atlantic, August 1, 2018. Viva’s bold.

Bezos’ business degree may be ruining capitalism for all of us. In the Frontline episode, he starts out and looks to be a nerd with a big idea he wants to pursue and he has forgone money early to capitalize market share and monopolize later and he is wildly successful but he still looks like a nerd who forgoes his first beautiful wife to hook-up with an exciting stunner and the excitement that comes with the power to set whole communities in motion to bid for the location of Amazon HQ2 – oh, he is wanted, he is not a nerd, what he has is desirable, he is desirable – and Amazon hides behind the safety standards of 3rd parties and gobbles up competitors using the “Gazelle Concept” and we are reminded of Gene Wilder and the children of Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and Jeff is busy collecting all the candy he can imagine but he is boxed in by his own lack of imagination and …

I digress.

Is oligarch a good verb? I think so. Or maybe bezosed.

Bezosed

Bezos, -ed, -ing (verb): 1) business demolished, developed, or owned by Amazon. Includes all verb tenses. Examples:

  • Brick and mortar businesses have been bezosed, big box stores are not far behind. (demolished)
  • Alexa was bezosed. (developed)
  • Amazon bezoses customers. (owns)

Should Mr. Bezos decide he has had enough time and space out at wealth’s end, here are a few ideas for him to walk back to participation in a civic life that doesn’t involve Washington DC mansions, lobbyists up the wazoo, and throwing money into the universe in the form of space travel when there are still so many problems from lack of running water money in circulation here. Jeff! Reclaim the verb ‘bezosed’ – essentially a synonym of destroyed, demolished, eliminated.

Turn it into a good thing. Creative problem-solving, float lots of boats, be a blessing rather than wallow in your blessedness. Watch Willie Wonka. Don’t be Augustus or Veruca or Violet or Mike. Be Charlie.


Oligarchs be bezosing.

As of this writing, Howard Schultz is still running for President. Michael Bloomberg is running for President. They are bezosing the DNC presidential candidate race. They are both plutocrats who are of a mind that their business acumen and, at least in the case of Bloomberg, previous political experience – qualifies them as head oligarch President OTUS.

We hope there is some good that our way their foolishness runs. Either one of them could have thrown their vast fortunes and names behind other candidates with more experience — Kamala Harris, Corey Booker, Julian Castro — but no. Evidently with great wealth comes confusion and they are convinced their business experience qualifies them to run the country. The same reasons for which we have the Trump Regime now.

Our hope is that they bring enough heat money to the fire election to have an impact.

Maybe support some downstream candidates guys?


For completeness – definitions

From the Googles:

Plutocrat: a person whose power derives from their wealth

Oligarch: a very rich business leader with a great deal of political influence