Taxes Are Too Low

For 40 years now, the American People have been told repeatedly by the GOP that Taxes are Too High and we need to Cut Taxes Now! It’s been said so often that it is now axiomatic. My own parents, Democrats for half a century, told me during the Bush decade that they hated what the man stood for, but at least he cut their taxes. My wife and I talked to them about maybe moving to Canada. Their response? “Oh but taxes are so high there!”

Americans don’t make a distinction between poor people’s taxes and rich people’s taxes. They just don’t. Whether it’s because we all hope to one day be rich people and so want rich people tax breaks in place before we get there, or because we’ve just been programmed with a knee jerk, anti-tax sentiment, the result is the same: our country is falling apart and it’s all because rich people refuse to pay their share.

That’s what the Debt Ceiling debate is all about, when you cut through the bullshit and rhetoric and get at the heart of the matter. The GOP is finally getting what they’ve always wanted: they’re dismantling the middle class. And the Democrats are helping them. I’d like to think it’s unwittingly but as the old saying goes, “any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.”

Until we can deprogram the voting population of this country and convince them that taxes are a necessary evil (yes, even for rich people!) we’re not going to recover. Pot holes will go unfilled and the electrical grid and water and sanitation systems in this country will continue to fall apart. Sure, you may get to have that cheep Plasma screen television but all that means is you’ll be able to watch the polar ice caps melt and your children drown in sewage in high definition.

All Stories Are Ghost Stories

“To tell a story is always to invoke ghosts, to open a space
through which something other returns…”
–Julian Wolfrey

There’s an absence in the room. A cold spot in a conversation. Everyone present swears they saw something, but what, no two can agree. It may have been a tragedy, long past but talked about now and forever, because it’s presence is still felt. In a story, there is always something nasty in the woodshed that drives our characters to do or not do that which must be done.

The thing that haunts our narrative is the self awareness of the audience, the secret past each one brings with them to a story. Our traumas and joys from a life already in progress, is restless. It jumps on stage and takes up residence in the pauses in the hero’s monologue, leers at us from what remains unsaid between two lovers and shouts out our hidden fears that lurk in the shadows of the villain’s tragic flaw.

I think this gets into critical theory about authorial intent vs. interpretation of a text but I’m not sure just how, yet. But there’s your morning thought…

Return Now to the Past That Never Was

The Chinese recently banned time travel shows from Chinese television. Which sucks for a quarter of a billion Doctor Who fans, to be sure. But then a group of Chinese scientists went one step further and “proved” that time travel is impossible. So there.

What’s got the Chinese government all in a twist about time travel? Like any good authoritarian government, they are obsessed with what the common people are thinking. And in China, there are a lot of common people who, if they got it in their heads that things could be different, could lead another revolution against the comfortable despots in Beijing. I suppose the rational is, that if people can’t watch time travel shows, they won’t imagine a past where the glorious people’s revolution never happened. The worst fear of any authoritarian is not that they will loose power but that the power they have is irrelevant. Sure, you may have a billion and a half subjects to command bodily, but if they are secretly dreaming of going back in time and making you not exist, well, you don’t control their hearts and minds now, do you?

And so, like all paranoid governments before them, the Chinese have decided to try and outlaw day dreaming. Because that always works.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Unemployed. In Greenland! But let’s back up a few months here and frame this story properly…

Back in December, I was informed that the University would not be renewing my contract and so I would be leaving my position at the library come the end of the fiscal year, June 30. A week before Christmas is a hell of a time to get that kind of news.

And who tells someone they’re fired 6 months ahead of time? Because let me tell you, that colors the way you spend those last 6 month. And we’re not talking rainbows and sunshine neither. (True story: 3 months ago I thought I was having a heart attack. At 33. From the stress. Turned out it was just indigestion. From the stress.)

I had 6 months to look for new jobs and did. Things were looking up as, a week before my job ended, I scored an interview for mid July, doing my old job only for more money and hey wouldn’t that be great, because I’d get two weeks of vacation, during which my folks were here. So Ducks in a row is what it was.

Except that I didn’t get the job. That was kind of a blow, I don’t mind telling you because I nailed that interview. We’re talking Gold Medal dismount. Or so I thought. Plainly it was lacking in something as they went with someone else. But that’s fine. I didn’t want that crummy job anyway. *Sniff*

Because really and truly, I’ve been looking forward to being unemployed. Which is weird to say but let me unpack that a moment: Did I mention the stress? Of working someplace that doesn’t think you’re good enough to keep around long term but clearly thinks your adequate enough to keep around for half a year? Mind games would be fun to play after 6 months of that fucked up situation. So yeah. I’m not loosing any sleep over being out of that job. And I mean that literally. I haven’t slept so good in the last 3 years as I have in the last 3 weeks.

Also I’ve been wanting time to write and focus on my novel since I got to Oregon 3 YEARS AGO. I sort of fell into a job right away, which was unintended, but a bonus.

But the gig is over and now, while I look for gainful employment in the worst economy since the Great Depression, battling a hundred other overqualified librarians in a thunder dome lined with razor blade covered books, vying for the one position, I have a moment to focus and actually do what I love, which is write. And so long as I don’t fritter it away, I can finish my novel in a month or two, while I look for other jobs, and maybe, if I’m lucky, back into a new career getting paid to write for a living. Even if it means a pay cut (and it will) even if it means moving to a smaller apartment (which is likewise very likely) because I won’t have to go up against fucking Master Blaster just to work at a fucking library.

Being a librarian pays the bills, but it’s not my dream job. And weirdly enough, being unemployed in the Second Great Depression is liberating. I don’t have any more excuses and if no one’s going to pay me to do the career I’ve built up over the last 8 years, then fuck it, I’ll write my books for a living. If I’m going to live under a bridge and starve to death, might as well do what I love.

But the card board Manse is a little ways off yet. The government teat of Unemployment is a sweet, sweet cushion between here and there. And for a few months at least, I can work at making my dreams come true. There are worse things in the world, like working a shitty job I don’t like, for a university that doesn’t appreciate all the hard work I did for them.

So that’s where I am: all I have left is the dole and a few daydreams of respect. But it beats dying or working for the man, which is just dying, only slower and from the inside out.

So. How’d you spend your summer vacation?