Monday, June 15, 2009

Children and the Arts...Hope for Global Unification

This video is another prime example of how the world should let the children lead the charge of global sharing and integration through the arts and cultural understanding. There is nothing like the arts and education to underscore the universality of human potential and accomplishment. If fostered from an early age, I am quite convinced our mind share could be quickly advanced to one of global unity and understanding instead of conflict and bloodshed. Yes, I know, you think I am still hearing John Lennon's song "Imagine" ringing through my head, and maybe I am...but I still have to believe that our world can be re-educated to one of GLOBAL Patriotism and unifying our humanity in pursuit of excellence while at the same time giving a helping hand to the poor and downtrodden so they don't want to steal from or annihilate us.

I purposely share this video featuring unspectacular production or effects, not necessarily the most talented child prodigies, and even narrated in a non-English offer the point that artistic expression and sharing can be attained at all levels of accomplishment. Also, if we can't understand a foreign language, it is going to be difficult to communicate or understand the other...but it is still possible. The examples of these young children from Germany and S. Korea rooting each other on, dancing together and enthusiastically applauding each other inspires hope at the core of my soul that peace and prosperity still has a chance on a global scale. It just has to start with mind share and the "power of one". We each need to start this process in our own world or environment...and we need to encourage it to be started with the children which will shape their tendencies forever towards understanding and accepting others instead of building walls and borders and shooting weapons at each other from afar.

I experienced this personally as a teenager when I was honored to spend a summer at the Interlochen Music Camp. This institution started by Joseph Maddy in the early 1900s is still going strong today on his dream of developing the arts as a "universal language" between youth around the globe. I plan a visit for a concert there the first week of July. My awareness and acceptance of "otherness" was built by this and other experiences I had as a youth. It framed my curiosity and pursuit of understanding cultures and races outside of my own. It showed me at an early age that excellence and knowledge comes from ALL of humanity...not just my own country or culture. My life experience is much richer with the ensuing experiences, travels and relationships developed by this context. Experience and interaction is the best teacher.

Let us hope that enough of humanity and private movements in our world can begin to reduce the power and influence of Statist solutions that tend to be focused on arms races and State sovereignty and replace that with a more inclusive and accepting tolerance of difference. If the states have their way, they will continue programming and educating the children to hate others and append a false pride in their own race or nationality. I sure hope someday the peace movements will start winning over the "power" movements.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Deadly Sins Of The Chrysler Bankruptcy

This article by an objective Libertarian thinker, Richard Epstein, a distinguished professor of Law at University of Chicago illustrates in the Chrysler bankruptcy the blatant fundamental legal and constitutional issues the government's version of controlled bankruptcy causes. This is textbook protection of Labor and the "average American" at the cost of secured creditors and investors in the company...who the government likes to call "Speculators". Ouch!

What we truly have here is total distortion of the country's financial and bankruptcy laws for the good cause of "saving jobs". Not only that, but we are selling off the assets in one fell swoop to Fiat, a foreign company (Italian) that as far as I know hasn't produced a competitive, American standards running car for decades. While I understand how USA companies can be attractive with a devaluing dollar currency, I don't really understand how this supports the concept of keeping jobs in the USA and "buying American" like so many are calling for. And all of this brokered by our own federal government over the objections of secured creditors like the Indiana pension fund and other larges stock holders. There is a new "Chrysler Group LLC" replacing the old corporation before the current bankruptcy has come anywhere near to running its course. What legal precedence is this based on? All the assets and good will of the brand get transferred to a new company before a final bankruptcy settlement? Huh?

And what is the morality behind the federal court with a flash of a pen destroying the 789 Chrysler dealership franchises? Were those contracts, businesses and jobs worth no more than the paper those franchise contracts were written on? I can think of many analogies to this is like McDonalds foods filing bankruptcy, then opening up a new LLC that annuls all the thousands of McDonalds franchises worldwide. Would that be legal or ethical?

Bottom line of what we have here in my interpretation is a rushed, illegal takeover of Chrysler by the employees union, the Federal government and foreign company Fiat. The new board "will consist of three Fiat directors, four representing the U.S. government, one from the UAW and one from the Canadian government". From where I sit, Chrysler has just become a global company on the backs of the formerly secured stock holders of the "old Chrysler". It is as if somehow these "speculators"/stockholders were to blame for management MIS-management and unrealistically high wages from decades of non-competitive union labor contracts.

I'm sure the masses in the USA will applaud the saving of jobs and the "good" Chrysler name IF this works. But, how could any conscientious investor ever again invest in an American automotive company? Is anyone going to cry for the well intentioned, honest investor(s) who kept Chrysler afloat all these decades? I was looking at Lee Iacocca's blog for his opinion on this...but he is strangely quiet on this subject. Even this octogenarian will lose a significant part of his pension and lifelong free car use in this bankruptcy. I would bet he NEVER would have considered this latest move of bankrupting the old and immediately launching the "new" company. It sounds both "genius"...and illegal.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Reality of Reality TV...

OK...I've been keeping this inside for too long now. I have purposely tried to evade and ignore this plethora of "Reality TV" shows that are clogging up our broadcast airwaves for a few years now...but now it seems everywhere you look in news media, billboards or television’s all about some kind of "reality" show such as "Survivors", "American Idol" or "Dancing with the Stars". I know I show my age, but most of these shows is like watching "The Gong Show" on steroids. Some of you will remember that original and often times hilarious show hosted by clap happy Chuck Barris and his zany panel of judges including Jo Anne Worley, Adrienne Barbeau, Richard Dawson, and Arte Johnson to name a few. The tongue in cheek acts and gags on that show were so over the top, you totally got the shtick right from the beginning. These shows nowadays you find yourself watching if only to figure out if they are trying to truly be "real" or not.

Today's ridiculous overabundance of reality shows just points to the vacuum of creativity in American, and now worldwide, programming...and the shallowness of the general public who watches them. I know, I'm sorry if you take offense to my critique here since a majority of people like one or more of these shows...if you didn't, they wouldn't have the ratings to support producing more of this iconic drivel. Unfortunately, I have always had the type of mind that tries to dig beneath the surface meaning of cultural swings...and here are a few observations I have come up with to explain this vacuous phenomenon...

First and foremost, it reveals to me how far our American culture has departed from having any "soul". We are so disturbed by the "REAL" events of our world and lives that we have allowed ourselves to get sucked into these programs featuring frivolous and tasteless "real" characters. We have traded in our imaginations and appreciation for creativity in exchange for some apparent "outside looking in" program of what it would be like to see OURSELVES on TV. Gone are the days of the real character icons of "Matt Dillon", "Andy Griffith", "Granny, Jed, Ellie Mae and Jethro Bodine". "In" are the days of Paris Hilton, Heidi and Spencer, Jon and Kate, and now Britain’s most famous warbler, Susan Boyle. The world has "advanced" its culture to the point of uplifting the weak and even retarded to a level of HERO WORSHIP. I'm not trying to be insensitive or hardened to the plight of the handicapped in our world, physical or mental...but I am not interested in making them our icons and leaders in this very troubled world. We are getting to a point where there would be better ratings for the "Handicapped Olympics" than there would be for the real Olympics or professional sports programming. We'd rather hear Susan Boyle warble, or hear about her stay in a mental health ward after her "exhausting" talent competition than hear the likes of Barbara Streisand, Roberta Flack, Tony Bennett, Luther Vandross or other giant talents in the field. Does anyone else besides me see the alarming principle here?

The "reality" of the situation is our whole culture has evolved to such a narcissistic state of being that we cannot face our realities and must instead escape into the false realities of others around us. Some of us have such a sense of worthlessness and inferiority that we love seeing those with even more problems and greater disabilities than we lifted up for praise or criticism...or idolization. Many prefer "amateur hour" to "professional hour". It is as if we want to "kill" excellence so we don't have to deal with the challenge of reaching it anymore. The inferior always want to bring down the superior. I personally see all this as a socially cathartic and sub-conscious exercise to that end.

Some lessons do come out of this entertainment cycle we are in. Some of them might be:

-How fleeting is popularity or fame. Most winners of these competitive reality shows are forgotten in a few weeks time. Who remembers LAST YEAR'S "American Idol" winner's name (If you do, you might want to examine your participation level in this global catharsis)?

-How shallow and petty our relationships have become. Whether between men and women, or those of the same sex, many of these reality shows reveal the shallowness and venality of people featured on the show. Many of them are way too "real" for my tastes if they represent a majority of the population and their interests. The level of communication, bad grammar and just plain bad manners from these "real" people should give us pause regarding what our fellow American is all about.

-These shows reveal the selfishness and lack of any in depth understanding between many members of the casts. In most cases they underscore the "pack mentality" in our culture, the pressure to conform, or in some cases the pressure NOT to conform simply as an identity and without substance.

Now granted, a couple reality shows might have SOME redeeming qualities and provide educational value. Some of the theme shows like "building shows" and "cooking competitions" send positive messages or education related to helping out those who are unfortunate or poor, or teach one how to cook or other life skills. I admit I have never seen half the shows I read about in the press or see clips from on advertisements or on late night talk shows. In most cases I don't have to waste 30-60 minutes of my life to find out what I think of them. Still, I know that “The Apprentice” is not typical of most corporate jobs in the world…thank God. And I know that most youth of today do not have all the toys, never ending entertainment cash or slutty looks that most of the kids on “Big Brother”, “The Real World or many of the MTV shows have.

Speaking of MTV reality shows, I am so glad I didn’t raise kids during this MTV generation. It is the network MOST responsible for the ”dumbing down” of our youth or trying to convince everyone that somehow “being gay” is cool in Jr. High or High School. I’m not homo-phobic or judgmental of some friends who are gay…but I absolutely don’t want them programming minors through network or cable television to be gay “curious”. I’m no prude, but I resent kids programming that tries to glamorize alternate lifestyles including gay or druggy ones. To that extent I can understand the religious right getting their backs up about such programming when at the same time these same programming forces are trying to take religious symbols and practices out of any public domain. Is secular society so insecure and skewed on their value system that they can’t be tolerant of those people of faith and/or traditional values? This is a troubling chasm in our culture spreading from public broadcasting right up through the Supreme Court of the land.

Ok…that’s most of my rant on this subject for now. I’m sure there are some good reality shows out there. I was truly amazed at the list of them I found HERE at Wikipedia…I have maybe seen 10-15% of these shows…and most of them only one or ½ time. You can have most of them if that’s how you want to spend your TV time. Me…what little I watch of the “idiot box” is news (mostly foreign news from BBC, TVE and others), sports, and I admit it…I am liking the “Food Channel”. I also find more redeeming value in the old favorites from my youth that I can now only find on “TVLand” and other re-run networks…Andy Griffith Show, I love Lucy, The Beverly Hillbillies, Leave it to Beaver. These few channel picks are all the “reality” I need and the only reasons I still pay a cable bill.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Even the Russians are Laughing at us...


Even Putin and the Russians think the United States is crazy to go down this Marxist road...

American capitalism gone with a whimper

It must be said, that like the breaking of a great dam, the American decent into Marxism is happening with breath taking speed, against the back drop of a passive, hapless sheeple, excuse me dear reader, I meant people.

True, the situation has been well prepared on and off for the past century, especially the past twenty years. The initial testing grounds was conducted upon our Holy Russia and a bloody test it was. But we Russians would not just roll over and give up our freedoms and our souls, no matter how much money Wall Street poured into the fists of the Marxists.

Those lessons were taken and used to properly prepare the American populace for the surrender of their freedoms and souls, to the whims of their elites and betters.

First, the population was dumbed down through a politicized and substandard education system based on pop culture, rather then the classics. Americans know more about their favorite TV dramas then the drama in DC that directly affects their lives. They care more for their "right" to choke down a McDonalds burger or a BurgerKing burger than for their constitutional rights. Then they turn around and lecture us about our rights and about our "democracy". Pride blind the foolish.

Then their faith in God was destroyed, until their churches, all tens of thousands of different "branches and denominations" were for the most part little more then Sunday circuses and their televangelists and top protestant mega preachers were more then happy to sell out their souls and flocks to be on the "winning" side of one pseudo Marxist politician or another. Their flocks may complain, but when explained that they would be on the "winning" side, their flocks were ever so quick to reject Christ in hopes for earthly power. Even our Holy Orthodox churches are scandalously liberalized in America.

The final collapse has come with the election of Barack Obama. His speed in the past three months has been truly impressive. His spending and money printing has been a record setting, not just in America's short history but in the world. If this keeps up for more then another year, and there is no sign that it will not, America at best will resemble the Wiemar Republic and at worst Zimbabwe.

These past two weeks have been the most breath taking of all. First came the announcement of a planned redesign of the American Byzantine tax system, by the very thieves who used it to bankroll their thefts, loses and swindles of hundreds of billions of dollars. These make our Russian oligarchs look little more then ordinary street thugs, in comparison. Yes, the Americans have beat our own thieves in the shear volumes. Should we congratulate them?

These men, of course, are not an elected panel but made up of appointees picked from the very financial oligarchs and their henchmen who are now gorging themselves on trillions of American dollars, in one bailout after another. They are also usurping the rights, duties and powers of the American congress (parliament). Again, congress has put up little more then a whimper to their masters.

Then came Barack Obama's command that GM's (General Motor) president step down from leadership of his company. That is correct, dear reader, in the land of "pure" free markets, the American president now has the power, the self given power, to fire CEOs and we can assume other employees of private companies, at will. Come hither, go dither, the centurion commands his minions.

So it should be no surprise, that the American president has followed this up with a "bold" move of declaring that he and another group of unelected, chosen stooges will now redesign the entire automotive industry and will even be the guarantee of automobile policies. I am sure that if given the chance, they would happily try and redesign it for the whole of the world, too. Prime Minister Putin, less then two months ago, warned Obama and UK's Blair, not to follow the path to Marxism, it only leads to disaster. Apparently, even though we suffered 70 years of this Western sponsored horror show, we know nothing, as foolish, drunken Russians, so let our "wise" Anglo-Saxon fools find out the folly of their own pride.

Again, the American public has taken this with barely a whimper...but a "freeman" whimper.

So, should it be any surprise to discover that the Democratically controlled Congress of America is working on passing a new regulation that would give the American Treasury department the power to set "fair" maximum salaries, evaluate performance and control how private companies give out pay raises and bonuses? Senator Barney Franks, a social pervert basking in his homosexuality (of course, amongst the modern, enlightened American societal norm, as well as that of the general West, homosexuality is not only not a looked down upon life choice, but is often praised as a virtue) and his Marxist enlightenment, has led this effort. He stresses that this only affects companies that receive government monies, but it is retroactive and taken to a logical extreme, this would include any company or industry that has ever received a tax break or incentive.

The Russian owners of American companies and industries should look thoughtfully at this and the option of closing their facilities down and fleeing the land of the Red as fast as possible. In other words, divest while there is still value left.

The proud American will go down into his slavery with out a fight, beating his chest and proclaiming to the world, how free he really is. The world will only snicker.

Stanislav Mishin