Sunday, November 27, 2022

Capitalism and Regulations

From November, 2018:

Okay so here's my sermon on deregulation with regard to capitalism:

You wouldn't have a football team show up with baseball bats, guns and knives - the point isn't to destroy the opponent, it's to have fair play and an engaging game.  During the course of play we see which team is better based on certain merits: how well did they train? Are they eating right?  Are they employing strategy effectively? Do they understand how the game works?  Do they know how to anticipate the behaviors of the other team? Do they look good in their outfits?  That's as far as I can go with a sports analogy for now, so now I'll just lay it out lecture style.

Capitalism, like a game, is a structured set of dynamics that are intended to allow some people to provide goods and services to other people; I don't have the materials or skill to build a car, so I pay someone money for having done so. Now they have a business. Ideally (that's a tricky word here), business people will profit enough to live to work another day, maybe have a nice house and a nice vacation once in a while. After all, they put out the money to initiate the business and hired the employees to do the work they couldn't accomplish alone. 

Since the employees make it possible for the business people to live well, naturally (another tricky word!) the business people pass along the benefits of the business' good fortune to the employees. In the greater scheme, governmental structures ensure that the city can function in great detail, and each person contributes to the funding by setting aside a bit of their earnings and profits to support the common good.  Customers find reasonable prices, and healthy competition allows them to shop around to find the goods or services they like best. Employees have choices about where get the most fulfillment from offering their skills, talents and ideas.

People who understand civic organization look at the overview  and suggest rules for adoption by those engaging in the capitalist game. Those in governmental service work together (oh, a tricky phrase), to determine which rules to adopt and which to let go. Civic conscience (oh boy... I see why this is complicated...) requires business people employ without exploiting the employees, and provide without cheating the customers. These rules, also known as "regulations" are meant to keep honest people honest and weed out corruption -- for example, stop the company from pouring its pollution into the communal river or wearing down roads without paying their fair share for maintenance, prevent price gouging, ensure employees are treated fairly and, because monopoly is prevented (ouch! what the hell happened Mr. Walton?!), employees have choices about where to take their specific skills.

Somewhere along the line, the word "regulation" became synonymous with "oppression".  This introduces us to the dynamic of "marketing" and "PR" (don't get me started).

Imagine the football game again. See the quarterback whip out a baseball bat and clobber the opponent running toward him on the snap.  Aside from that being a mighty skillful feat, it would make the game into a contest of destruction rather than sport. So, regulations are simply rules to keep the game from becoming a bloodbath. Civic and governmental structures are the ways we engage to keep the game intact. Yay team.  (Nice pants!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The Grainy Bits

We had a small luncheon event in one of the labs at work and I was helping my colleague who organized it. The tables were delivered dirty. I was wiping them down with the cheap hand-drying paper towels at the lab sink. They disintegrated as I used them, and time was running short. My colleague was on the phone giving navigation instructions to the food delivery guy who hadn’t believed her specifics and had gotten lost in a tangle of GPS belief systems.

She was keeping cool so nicely. Time was running shorter and I kept being astonished as the paper towels degraded to grainy bits from the friction against the table tops, and I was announcing my frustrations as they grew.

My colleague turned toward me and let out a sharp “Jean!“ It was a good wakeup from my trance of negativity. Her experience was no picnic either. She apologized but I thanked her and apologized. “You were keeping your cool so nicely and I forgot you might be running out of patience!”

I let the paper towel crumbles dry and wiped them off like sand. The restaurant kid showed up with the food, the guests arrived, the people enjoyed their lunch. Nobody mentioned the tabletops, and I was kindly reminded that defeatism is a drag on others, too.

Diamond or Glass

I used to think a diamond in the rough was a diamond chip that was lost in the grass - maybe I equated it with the image of "a catcher in the rye." Then I went to a jeweler's with a friend who said, "show her the rough diamond!" The Jeweler showed me a diamond in the rough. Looked like a piece of broken glass, slightly worn down. How could she tell it was a diamond? She knew how to look at it.

The Yellow Balloon in July

I don’t like to take out the trash. Where I live, it involves taking the trash out to a locked dumpster having to handle  the dirty lock with your hands to unlock it with a key and it’s tedious.

One day last summer, I had taken the trash out on a Thursday and the following Sunday I went out for my walk and there was this semi-deflated yellow balloon on the sidewalk rolling around.  I thought oh that's interesting. 

When I came back from my walk I could see it rolling and bobbing up the sidewalk and I thought if it goes out into the street somebody might think it's a cat and slam on their brakes and cause an accident. I should pick it up.

I got to the balloon and I could see a dog had peed on it and I didn't want to touch it so I went against my good citizen instincts and left it there.

I went into my house to get some things that I needed to post on the HOA bulletin board. I also needed to bring scissors and tape so I got everything I needed headed to the bulletin board. I passed the balloon again and I thought I really should pick that up but I don't want to.

After I posted the document on the bulletin board I had the scissors in my hand and I realized I could just pop the balloon with the scissors and pick it up and throw it in the trash and wash my hands afterward.

So I did, and when I popped it the scissors instantly became tongs for the balloon. So I didn't even have to touch it.  Since there was dog pee on it, I didn't want to throw it in the trash in my house, so I just kept walking past my front door to the alley to the dumpster. I figured I could lift the lid enough to slide the popped balloon in there, especially because the scavengers have bent the locking rail out of shape in attempts to access our trash—so there would be some wiggle room—and that would be that. And I could still consider myself a good citizen.

When I got to the dumpster, I saw someone's key was tied to the handle on the side of the dumpster.  I thought how convenient!  Someone forgot their key and I can use it!  I noticed, hey, the cord on their key looks a lot like mine and then I realized hey their tag for their key looks a lot like mine and the way it is labeled  "trash can" looks like my writing and then I realized hey that is my key! 

I had not known mine was missing! And so had I not done the good deed I wouldn’t likely have found my key.

It's also amazing that nobody took it. We have a lot of scavenger traffic out there and I would think that would be a real find for a person who wants access to the trash. 

The end.

An Open Account

O phone scammer

telling me you’ll keep my special account open as long as I get back to you this week,

you sound so almost-natural in your reading that

I feel a little sad that this is what has come of your 

parents’ money spent

on your acting lessons.

The Invisible Boundary

The Whole Foods parking lot in Woodland Hills has very small spaces so, when it’s busy, as it is today, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, people drive around for a long time looking for a space their car will fit in.

I rarely shop there, and it turns out the store also has shopping carts which, when you try to put them away after your shopping trip, if you happen to accidentally pass the narrow, unseen, boundary of the parking lot territory, have wheels that lock up.

So you drag, shove, flail a little, and try to pop wheelies to do whatever you can think of to get the wheels moving on the defiantly braking cart. How can it be so bound up when you clearly see similar carts outside the invisible boundary and you so want yours to join them? You take a periscope view of the parking lot to see that there don’t seem to be any places to return carts, so how do they expect the parking lot traffic to flow freely?

You have loaded the groceries into the car trunk, caught the receipt that the wind snatched up, and now you wrestle the cart, all before the audience of one smiling, patient, probably somewhat amused driver of the car that is waiting for your space. Hefting your weight to the basket handle but getting no momentum, you consider kicking it down onto its side so you can slide it out of the way, but that might fail worse, and somebody might get hurt— you, for example.

Now you spot a warning notice on the cart telling you its wheels will lock if you try to escape the premises with it. But it’s just an antagonist because the boundaries aren’t defined!

If you’re lucky, the waiting driver finds another space then comes to you and takes the stubborn cart off your hands. He makes some of the same moves you did, but he’s committed.  He remarks as he muscles it along that “Wow these wheels really are locked up,” but he’s cool about it and makes the cart go away as you thank him several times, knowing better than to watch. 

2022 and chivalry is not dead. A kindness. That is what happened to me today.

The end.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Tenacious Kindness

Tenacious kindness, sometimes only as thin as a spider web thread amid the tangles of what is worst in us, weaves together the fabric of what is best about us.

Me, 2020+/-

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Hearty Steward

I'm stewing
Not savoring
Not flavoring
Not favoring this mixture of feelings
that bubble up
and bubble under.

I could turn off the flame that feeds the simmer,
but then I wouldn't get the full bodied experience
of a rich hearty stew!

But I am not food for thought,
and I am not a pot.

Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.

I am not carrots, potatoes, peas, tomatoes cooked down to sauce,
I am not a stew.
I am not all the lives I might have lived, either.
I am me, and you are you.

Let the stew thicken by evaporation for a while,
then recover. Lower the flame.
As the hours go by,
Let all the thoughts and concerns take their turns in the changing heatscape.
Eventually, remove the lid and set it aside.
Capture the nuances of scents and flavors as they rise.

Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.
A preparer's prayer for presence.


Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Now and Then the Bumblebee

I watched a bumblebee

in the paloverde tree

sampling sugars from small yellow flowers.

And for a while 

there was no history

except as regarded the lineage of the bee.