Wednesday, December 15, 2010
This morning's papers printed information just released by the census bureau bureau that updates our knowledge of the society that we live in. I was pleased to learn that it validated what I had always suspected, that Chelsea is the most ethnically diverse city in the commonwealth with 38% of its population foreign born. Overall, the state average, 14.1% compared favorably to the national average of 12.4%. Immigrants bring a hybrid vitality to our country and without them we rapidly become an inbred and sterile society. What most impressed me the first time I was ever in London was the tremendous energy of the city which seemed to reside principally in its ethnic enclaves. As the seat of what was once an empire on which the sun never set , it drew people from every part of the world and it was enriched by them. I wish that the current crop of xenophobes and ideologues that constitute today's republican party had the intelligence to understand this and I am especially disappointed that our Senator, Scott Brown has announced that he will vote against the Dream Act that will give children who were brought here as babies and lived their entire lives knowing no other country, some parity with their classmates. Brown's position is unconscionable and I would not be surprised to learn that he likes to kick puppies also. I will work to defeat him.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
The front page of today's art section in the New York Times had a wonderful picture of four mounted police officers in front of La Scala facing hundreds of people, unseen, who were protesting cuts to the national arts budget by Berlusconi's government. The two officers to the left of the picture are Milanese police wearing high crowned helmets and long navy blue capes and they are mounted on great white horses. To their left, two carabiniere(??), national police, wearing their Napoleanic head gear with red tipped plumes and scarlet shouldered capes mounted on slightly smaller but no less impressive black horses. I remembered walking in that very spot with Lorna on our first trip Europe as a couple. I then turned to the column to the right of the picture and found another memory from the same trip. The Turner Prize has just been announced earlier this week and as usual, it was won by a person with no connection to painting and only the most tenuous, if any, connection to art. Susan Philipsz (sic?) has collected 25,000 pounds for filling an otherwise empty room with her rendition of three variations of a Scottish folk tune played through (naturally), three speakers. Lorna and I had begun our trip with a week in London and we saw that year's Turner Prize winner, Martin Creed's work, at the Tate Modern. It was called "Work No.227" The Lights Going on and Off. ! Another empty room. Once or twice is enough to examine the limits of art or even five or six times if you have a tendentious disposition, but if art is everything, then it is nothing.
Friday, December 3, 2010
What's on my mind----The current standoff between Democrats and Republican over the extension of the Bush tax cuts has shaken my faith in both the legislative and executive branches of our government as no other issue has succeeded in doing. My faith in the judicial branch had already been damaged, first by their partisan and disastrous installation of George Bush as our 43rd president and more recently by their decision to overlook precedent and allow unfettered amounts of corporate money into a political process that already favors the rich and well connected. The only encouragement I have found in all of this is the vote in both the house and senate that Republicans have been forced to take that puts them on record as standing foursquare against any tax cut for the middle class that doesn't include further tax relief for those, who by fair means or foul have managed to pile up obscene piles of money. I've hoped and waited for any sign of leadership from the White house on this issue but my hope is fading as the signals pile up that Obama's conciliatory impulses will dominate and the Republicans will get whatever they want regardless of the damage to our country. The important point that is missed here is that the middle class is the engine of our economy and that only actions that put money in the hands of the middle class can create the demand that will lead to jobs and economic expansion. Even Henry Ford knew this when he gave his workers what, at that time. were unprecedented raises that allowed them to become car buyers. Money that flows to the already wealthy is money that needs to be in the hands of the middle class if demand is ever expected to recover. The last twenty years during which all the gains of economic expansion have been grabbed by those in a position to help themselves at the expense of everyone else has demonstrated that we are all involved in a zero sum game and that the middle class is losing a class war that it didn't even know it was fighting. The pressure on Obama to take a stand against tax cuts for the rich must be enormous at this time but it could easily be transferred to the Republicans if he could be as obdurate as they are and if they shut down the government over this their true colors would be seen for all time. I fear that he loves the country too much allow the destruction that the Republicans are bent on wreaking but occasionally, it can be tonic.