I've been cross posting on Word Press AstorToons.com when I had posted an article called This Week On Greed And Stupidity about the recent SCOTUS ruling and the depths the Koch Brothers will go to silence liberal voices. The next day my WP site was hacked.
This simply illustrated my point. What we liberals are saying are obviously getting to them and they will go to any length to try and shut us down.
The point I was making is that the Koch brothers are rigging our democracy. Little by little they are remaking the country into their own dystopian image. And we Have to speak up. If we don't, they win.
So I am in the process of retooling a new website.
So I got this inspiration from this angel named Moronus who put some magic coppers discs on my nightstand. I at first used them as coasters. He said, "no, no, NO!" Put them in a beret and read them with these magic seer joints. Here, light up. "okay, I said." But I couldn't find a beret, so I got my Grateful Dead hat. He said "oh, fine, close enough." So I did and this picture with the inscription came up. He then said "put these discs away so nobody finds them. But I accidently left them on the porch while I was checking the mail and some drunk swiped them and sold them for scrap. He came by later all repentant and offered to share his whiskey. "Ah, what the fuck." I said and got drunk. Moronus got stoned instead.
Just not as often. I don't like the corporate gerbil-jump of Facebook, it's just that I am stuck here in this frozen Tundra called Hamilton, cutt off from 98% of the friends I made in the states and it's just easier to keep in touch. But I am NOT abandoning Live Journal. NOT!!
I especially hate the fact that Facebook sells your e-mail address to every goddamn corporation under the sun and I get over 200+ junk e-mails that I never asked for, I don't want and are unwelcome as fuck. But I wish there were somebody better. I hated MySpace and I hate LinkdIn or whatever that horseshit is called and I wish to fuck that somebody better, less shilling, less weaseling would come along.
I feel stuck for now. What do you use?
I appreciate what the AA 12 Step Program is trying to do. But I have severe objections to the religious dogma that plagues the program. I also take severe issue with the second step which is to surrender and turn yourself over to a higher power. It's too passive. The idea behind getting well is for your Better Self, the Self that wants to live, not die to see things through the end, and hopefully a really long life, is the sheer force of will that you have to engage to stop the drugs and drinking. You have the power all along. You have the ability to stop the screaming child within that just wants more and more and listen to the wise old man (or old lady) that is the body's natural endorphins that you generate in abundance. So here it is: (by the way, I am on step 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7)
Astor's 12 Step Program
1. I feel my life has spun out of control and I have had enough. I have been in a nightmare prison. A rabbit hole. The drugs and alcohol are making me sick. I want out. I want to live. I want to be free.
2. I honour the withdrawal. Emotions race, nerve endings fire up. I get uncomfortable but that is the body reawakening from it's stupour. It will balance out. It takes time. I must be patient. It will pass. I will honor the rush of emotions.
3. Acknowledge that pain is a signal. I am carrying psychic pain that is manifesting itself in my body. It might be guilt, shame, anger, fear. Something is eating away at my soul and it's manifesting itself in my body. I must find out what it is. The drugs and alcohol are just masking that pain and I won't get better until I soul search.
4. I have done my soul searching and found what it is that is causing my pain. I honour the strong emotions that come out.
5. I make amends to the people I have hurt while I was drugging and drinking. I acknowledge their anger at me while I was sick. I will heal where I can. If they are passed on, I will pray for their peace. Compassion and empathy is the way to live.
6. I forgive all of those who trespassed against me. I realize that "We all have chapters we would like to rewrite." They are also carrying their own burdens. Happy people are not mean. Mean people are unhappy. I have compassion for them.
7. I acknowledge that nobody's perfect. That means me. I forgive myself.
8. I dedicate my life to exercise. Motion is lotion. The human body was built to move. It wasn't THAT long ago that we were all hunters, trappers, gatherers and beasts of burden. Our bodies are built for that.
9. I find alternatives to drugs. I reach out. I find support. I try acupuncture. Old fashioned aspirin. A recent study by Times Magazine has said that the most effective pain medicine on the market is aspirin. There is no rabbit hole with aspirin! The stomach won't allow it.
10. I listen to music. Music stimulates the endorphins. Those cold chills that go up my spine when listening to Beethoven are those good old endorphins. I watch a funny movie. Laughter also stimulates endorphins.
11. I do service to others. Others suffer too and they need all the help they can get. I must find my passion. I must spread my positive energy where I can. I need to find something greater than myself.
12. I am free!!!!
I realize it's been almost a month since I posted but amazingly enough, there is still illness in the family. What I thought was a cold turned out to be a lung flu that is the gift that keeps on giving. Two people that we are close to have developed pneumonia and Ron and I have gotten pretty much over it
knock on wood
only to have Alex come down with it and miss four days of school (including today) because of it.
Really nasty assed flu bug
If you haven't seen it already, rent the movie
See it. So see it now because even if you do not have an autistic child, chances are you know somebody who knows somebody who has one. This movie is succinct in describing what autism is like for the people who are autistic. Temple is a brilliant scientist who came of age when people's attitudes towards autism was so primitive it was laughable.
Psychiatrists in the 1950's thought that autism was caused by a mother being too distant to her child and it was a form of "infantile schizophrenia." Temple's mother wisely did not accept that description and refused to have her institutionalized, the common recommendation for that "diagnosis." She kept her in school and then to boarding school. She went on to college, then graduate school where she eventually got a PHd and became a professor at Colorado University. She also became a spokeswoman for autism, describing it from the inside out.
My atrtidude with those parents like me who have an autistic child: when people start giving those quizzical looks when a child starts acting out: explain that they have autism. Explain it right away. You will see most of those looks turn from scowls to sympathetic looks. It's so absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, and evasiveness and secrecy for me denotes shame. There is no shame.
Autism, it is looking more and more like, is an inherited phenomenon. It may be a throwback to Neanderthal times when people spoke with no written language, were expert tool makers, musicans, artists and task masters. Neanderthals were not the primitive ape men of Victorian lore but highly organized, earth based environmentalists who knew how to find their way in the woods and never get lost, were expert tool makers and highly sensual and empathetic. They took care of their wounded, old and infirm and were primarily blue and green eyed, red or blond haired and European.
Neanderthals may have been primarily Northern European and Celtic, too. The taboo against written language may be because Neanderthals could not grasp the written language like the Cro Magnon humans could. Maybe that's where the dyslexia and sythesthesia come from too. There is so much more genetic research to be done.
Anyway, watch that DVD. It's so well acted and directed and explains so much about the autistic mind set.
So anyway, Happy New Year to you all!!
Today I stayed home with Ron and Alex. The only presents we opened today were a small package of gifts from our friends Raychyl and John Stewart.
We didn't put up a tree.
Our turkey dinner consisted of a small package that we threw in the microwave.
Today I rewatched A Christmas Carol—the one with George C. Scott playing Scrooge. Man, what did Charles Dickens unleash when he sternly reminded everybody that they should open up their pockets and be full of generosity of spirit on this day?
Would he foresee the bloated commerical mess that Christmas would become, something that Ebenezer Scrooge certainly saw but was chided against seeing.
The avalanche of charities, many complete scams meant to take advantage of people'a good hearts and spirits.
The inundation of commericals meant to pry even more money out of people, as they are encouraged to spend into deep debt, as many were credit card commercials…
Some spring has gone boing in people's brains this year.
The first sign of this was the sheer number of letters to the editor this year from people just plain offended by the obstentatiousness of Christmas decorations. They were tired of having their faced rubbed into it.
Another sign was the quiet groans from friends about how tired they are of lugging the kids around to various relatives' houses.
The third and most telling sign was how many people were plain opting out. No tree, no presents. No acknowledgment that this day was different than any other.
In fact, I met more people that made a bigger deal about the Solstice than they made about Christmas. This being the first lunar eclipse and Solstice since 1638. That WAS more remarkable.
I can't blame people. For 140 years since that damn book A Christmas Carol came out have we been chided, scolded and cajoled into making such a big deal out of this day that it finally became an uncontrollable, overblown, overwrought, anxiety-ridden mess.
You see, my daughter Alex taught me that making a big deal out of today was…kinda dumb.
She's autistic. She never got Santa Claus. She just didn't get this magical non-entity. Halloween is her favourite day because she gets that.
Halloween…costume…candy…ohboy!! When the month of October comes around, she says October, Halloween and counts down the days.
Christmas, never registered. Too nebulous. Just like she has no concept of God. Autistic people are literalists. If it's not right there in front of them, tangible, nope, not going to get it.
A present comes in the house, she rips it open right away. She doesn't understand the need to wait.
"If it's right here, why should I wait to open it?"
So, it taught me that making a big deal out of this day is a futile exercise. It also taught me to strip it all down to it's bare essentials and go backward in time to what our pre-Christian ancestors were thinking when they designated this day a holiday, or a day of note.
It all comes back to family. There they were, those pre-Christian ancestors were, huddled together in their mushroom shaped huts, celebrating each other and hoping to make it through another tough winter. They probably got some hootch and dried fruit and freshly hunted meat and got silly drunk. Why not? What else was there to do?
So that's why the Christians picked that day to celebrate the birth of their saviour. Because we really don't know for sure when it happened.
So alot of other people are stripping the commercialism out of the day and just getting some good food and drink and getting silly drunk.
So raise one for all!
Vote with your feet! Protect Free Speech!!
I hope that you were able to catch great savings today. Preferably online!!
It's weird how the retailers are trying to get Canadians to catch Black Friday fever but the Christmas ads started much sooner—after the Canadian Thanksgiving which was way back on the second Monday in October, so there's no real impetus to start rushing on November 26th.
They Merchants of X-Mas are trying, though.
I know some people are leaving LJ for Facebook and Twitter but now with the awesome ability to cross post, made so easy an e-clueless person like me can do it, why not do it all?
Anybody else deciding to stay too?
Intolerance and xenophobia as a (short-term) marketing strategy
Possibly the oldest human worldview is fear of strangers. And right next to that is anger as a byproduct of fear.
If a candidate wants to gain attention and possibly votes, then, it makes short-term sense to stir up fear of strangers and turn it into anger. It might even work (once). But it makes it virtually impossible to govern. It's a short-term strategy that eats itself, because sooner or later, everyone is a stranger, and fear is no foundation for work that matters.
It seems as though we're entering a season in which it's easy to ostracize or become righteously indignant over someone's national origin, skin color, religion or sexual orientation.
If this is the best a politician can do to organize and lead, then we all lose.
This can also be applied to radio talk show hosts, such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh who are trying to stir up trouble by objecting to an Islamic community Centre being built close to Ground Zero.
Guess what? The first Amendment backs up their right to build a centre there. These guys are trying to fan the flames of Islamophobia.
Islamophobia is the singling out of Muslims for hate and prejudice. Have these guys learned nothing from the fiasco that was World War II? What happens when a religious group is singled out for hate, prejudice and finally extermination? It leads to broader and broader hatred and extermination. Over 50 million lives were exterminated because of the hatred of Jews spread into hatred of Roma, then Polish, then the handicapped, Communists, then any political opponent. Then war broke out and people were exterminated all over the globe. 17 million Chinese, millions of Japanese, Germans, French, Portuguese, Americans, English, Spanish, Italians, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, North Africans, Russians, Czechs, Latvians, Lithuanians, Romanians, Greek and so on. Hate is like the bubonic plague. It tends to spread until everybody in its wake is killed.
Islamophobia has lead to the deaths of 1.5 million Iraqis. Now we're moving on to kill Afghans. Muslims have a right to be pissed off at us. Why are we there meddling in their affairs? Who is this war benefiting besides Halliburton?
What ultimately will we have to show for it besides thousands of lives lost and trillions in debt?
If the Soviets could not defeat the Afghans, then what hope do we have? If the Persian Empire could not defeat them, then what hope do we have? This tactic of an Afghan pretending to work with us then turning around and betraying our soldiers and getting them shot to shit is something we'd better get used to. If ever a people are Xenophobic, with the perfect right to be, it's the Afghan people.
Our arrogance, our jingoistic sloganeering, will get thousands of more people killed. If the American people trample on the first Amendment to deny Muslims that community centre, then it will be one more outrage they will remember.
Let's stop this war merry go round. I don't like North America being in a constant state of war. It's such a terrible place to be in.
And this includes Mexico. It's our fault that Mexicans are killing each other in record numbers. Our immensely stupid war on drugs has brought nothing but more suffering, death and destruction.
And for what? To keep our privatized jails busy and full. So they can make money. Just like Halliburton.
The suffering of many to benefit the rich few.
We must stop this.
Who among us does not have neck pain after working on the computer for a while. I belong to a neck pain support blog: http://www.neckpainsupport.com/
And on it are helpful tips and some ads that you can take or leave. But here is a neck stretch video I thought was helpful. Your neck will feel so much better after doing some of these reps.
It's been topsy-turvy for this ole artist because of the rapid change from print media to web. The IPad has changed everything. Books are now going to be seen on this medium and already there are people who have stated they have gotten rid of all their books and stored them on the IPad. So, in anticipation of the revolution that is the IPad I have had to learn new skills like nobody's business. See as a cartoonist, I'd been drawing on the board since the '70's. I've been painting on canvas since about the same time.
In late 2009 I decided, no more. I have to throw myself completely into computer inking and colouring.
So, here is the three way collaborative effort between Kerrence (Kerry, but I call him Kerrence just to bug him) who writes, draws and character designs, Ron who does the lettering, panels and production work and me, who did the inking and colouring. This strip will fit the IPad.
What do you think? This is a weekly webstrip that comes out once a week on http://queerempire.com/
It's all free. We're not asking for any money. We want you to enjoy this strip. After 72 pages, this will be collected into an E-Book with extra work that can't be seen by the kiddies on the web. Heh.
I loooooove Steampunk. I made some new friends this week when we all got together for a Steampunk meet and greet. Unfortunately my costume doesn't fit me anymore. Fortunately, I made 16 new friends. I am definitely going to get back into the convention and events scene again. I forgot how much I missed it until I attended the Stoney Creek Battle Re-Enactment this weekend.
Here are some pictures from that and my Steampunk painting I did last year I plan to exhibit
My new friends John & Raychyl Whyte
Exhibitor at the Stoneycreek Battle Re-Enactment
Steampunk Painting I did in 2009
My oldest daughter Betsy was on the third floor with a big ole can of Febreze™ and I suspect she was trying to hide the fact that she was partying. She sprayed that stinky assed shit on the sheets.
Then she went home to Frederick, Maryland, where Ron and I used to live for 8 years and where her dad and grandparents live.
Anyway, Alex got a hold of that can of Febreze™ that Betsy had left behind and emptied that sumbitch can of STANK all over the 3rd floor.
The Febreze™ set off the smoke detectors on both the second and the third floors!! Damn, Dayum. My Gods what is setting those things off?! I was thinking as my hubby and I rushed up there. Of course, by the time we ran up there, the opaque wall of that "light fresh scent" had given me a migraine headache. Probably the fastest migraine I've ever gotten. I got it in a matter of three minutes. I mean, that stuff made me physically ill, as if somebody had dumped a tablespoon of poison ivy in my morning tea. I broke out in hives and scratched the hell out of my itchy skin.
If Febreze™ can set off multiple smoke detectors on two different floors then that stuff can't be good for the lungs.
I say this now, even though the incident happened a couple years ago because I have noticed that Febreze™ is infiltrating lots of products. I can't watch a single cable TV show without seeing an ad huckstering Febreze™. And the big marketing gimmick this year is combining products as a way of rebranding them. Thus, you have Cascade/Dawn,™ Crest/Scope™ and Febreze/Tide™ a detergent combo that I will be avoiding like the song "Stairway to Heaven".
Does anybody really like the smell of Febreze™? Hands up for those who would like to put a plastic garbage bag over the inventors of that toxic brew of unnatural stench and spray a whole can up each of their nostrils. I'd rather suffer my hubby's Dutch Ovens than inhale a single molecule of StinkiBreze.
FAIR. Otherwise known as FAIRNESS AND ACCURACY IN REPORTING. They are scum bags.
They offer up a book if you donate $35.00 or more. What they don't tell you is that you have to request in the "comments" section of PayPal to get it. They don't tell you this up front but in a little asterisk hidden on the begathon letter. And they tell you in the plea that you can request not to get the book. "Hide it in the fine print" is their philosophy.
A BAIT AND SWITCH.
We complained to PayPal, The New York Better Business Bureau and I unsubscribed from their list.
DON'T deal with them. They complain about corporate media, bought and paid for politicians, banking scams and they pull one themselves.
Man what a powderkeg this bunch of people are. If you don't watch the show, I actually recommend this show.
If you haven't seen the show, I'm listing a few spoilers, so read with caution.
It's a reality show that depicts what happens when celebrities are overcome by addiction.
The bottom falls out for them as readily as it does for poor street addicts. For some, the fall is harder and steeper. An example: Tom Sizemore. He pulled down $5 million a picture and wound up homeless. For a while, he and Heidi Fleiss lived the high life: spacious mansion in L.A., A-list parties, lavish clothes and jewellery. And drugs. Lots and lots of drugs. Heidi got addicted to Crystal Meth. Tom Sizemore; you name it. Coke, heroin, crank, booze, pot and acid. I think he did ecstacy as well. He rattled them off in such a quick succession. He came into the treatment centre with a horrifyingly spacy, high as a kite girlfriend. She uses with him. The relationship will never work with this girl unless she goes into treatment herself.
When Tom Sizemore and Heidi Fleiss were together, he split her head open during a drug induced rage. She has the misshapen face of someone who has been beaten too much. She now lives alone, isolated, with 20 large parrots.
Mackenzie Phillips is on the show. She admits that her father and her had an drug-induced incestuous relationship that she deeply regrets now. It's terrible what drugs will do to a person. How the monkey on the back can strangle a person with its tail. She blames herself way too much. A father should not be showing his daughter how to shoot up and take advantage of her sexually while passed out. She says it turned consensual, but she was never sober when it was going on. It's just not the same.
I watch how people with millions and millions of dollars get reduced to street people level because of their drug use. One by one, losing their trappings of wealth. The car, the jewels, lastly the house. Then becoming homeless, begging for drugs. Crashing from friends' to friends' house, as Tom Sizemore has been doing. The bottom is an equal opportunity space. Ask Claus van Damme.
One person who just showed up this episode is a person I just can't stand. A former Miss Teen winner who got addicted to crack. Her name is Kari-Ann and she's a brat. You can't just blame it on the drugs. This girl has no manners at all. No please and thank yous. Throwing stuff and people. Being combative and hurling insults. She had some horrible things happen to her. But that doesn't excuse throwing water in the face of a staff member who tried to help her.
When she demanded a particular brand of smokes from the staff, she was such a bitch about it that I thought Dennis Rodman was going to get up and smack her. Mackenzie just stared at her in disbelief. She finally got the brand she asked for, but she did not say thank you. She called the staff stupid.
Celebrity Rehab pumps up the drama to be sure, but it's instructional drama. Anybody who has had a jones for drugs or knows someone who joneses should watch this show.
I feel so peaceful and serene after listening to this beautiful waltzing serenade
If you haven't read this on another site, here it is. Written just before he flew his airplane into the Federal building in Austin. What a sad, infuriated and frustrated man. But insane? No. To dismiss him as "insane" is to miss the point of his very frustrating gerbil jump of a life. To dismiss him as insane is for the comfortable to keep on feeling comfortable. Wake up. He may have made bad choices in life but it's time to look at what is happening to 99% of the population in the U.S. The money is still flowing upwards and people are still losing their homes in droves. And Mr. Stack?
This man felt he had nothing to lose anymore.
Note: I'm not excusing what he did. I feel sorry for him, his wife, his stepdaughter and the person in the building who was killed.
If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, “Why did this have to happen?” The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time. The writing process, started many months ago, was intended to be therapy in the face of the looming realization that there isn’t enough therapy in the world that can fix what is really broken. Needless to say, this rant could fill volumes with example after example if I would let it. I find the process of writing it frustrating, tedious, and probably pointless… especially given my gross inability to gracefully articulate my thoughts in light of the storm raging in my head. Exactly what is therapeutic about that I’m not sure, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
We are all taught as children that without laws there would be no society, only anarchy. Sadly, starting at early ages we in this country have been brainwashed to believe that, in return for our dedication and service, our government stands for justice for all. We are further brainwashed to believe that there is freedom in this place, and that we should be ready to lay our lives down for the noble principals represented by its founding fathers. Remember? One of these was “no taxation without representation”. I have spent the total years of my adulthood unlearning that crap from only a few years of my childhood. These days anyone who really stands up for that principal is promptly labeled a “crackpot”, traitor and worse.
While very few working people would say they haven’t had their fair share of taxes (as can I), in my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind. Nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say.
Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours? Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.
And justice? You’ve got to be kidding!
How can any rational individual explain that white elephant conundrum in the middle of our tax system and, indeed, our entire legal system? Here we have a system that is, by far, too complicated for the brightest of the master scholars to understand. Yet, it mercilessly “holds accountable” its victims, claiming that they’re responsible for fully complying with laws not even the experts understand. The law “requires” a signature on the bottom of a tax filing; yet no one can say truthfully that they understand what they are signing; if that’s not “duress” than what is. If this is not the measure of a totalitarian regime, nothing is.
How did I get here?
My introduction to the real American nightmare starts back in the early ‘80s. Unfortunately after more than 16 years of school, somewhere along the line I picked up the absurd, pompous notion that I could read and understand plain English. Some friends introduced me to a group of people who were having ‘tax code’ readings and discussions. In particular, zeroed in on a section relating to the wonderful “exemptions” that make institutions like the vulgar, corrupt Catholic Church so incredibly wealthy. We carefully studied the law (with the help of some of the “best”, high-paid, experienced tax lawyers in the business), and then began to do exactly what the “big boys” were doing (except that we weren’t steeling from our congregation or lying to the government about our massive profits in the name of God). We took a great deal of care to make it all visible, following all of the rules, exactly the way the law said it was to be done.
The intent of this exercise and our efforts was to bring about a much-needed re-evaluation of the laws that allow the monsters of organized religion to make such a mockery of people who earn an honest living. However, this is where I learned that there are two “interpretations” for every law; one for the very rich, and one for the rest of us… Oh, and the monsters are the very ones making and enforcing the laws; the inquisition is still alive and well today in this country.
That little lesson in patriotism cost me $40,000+, 10 years of my life, and set my retirement plans back to 0. It made me realize for the first time that I live in a country with an ideology that is based on a total and complete lie. It also made me realize, not only how naive I had been, but also the incredible stupidity of the American public; that they buy, hook, line, and sinker, the crap about their “freedom”… and that they continue to do so with eyes closed in the face of overwhelming evidence and all that keeps happening in front of them.
Before even having to make a shaky recovery from the sting of the first lesson on what justice really means in this country (around 1984 after making my way through engineering school and still another five years of “paying my dues”), I felt I finally had to take a chance of launching my dream of becoming an independent engineer.
On the subjects of engineers and dreams of independence, I should digress somewhat to say that I’m sure that I inherited the fascination for creative problem solving from my father. I realized this at a very young age.
The significance of independence, however, came much later during my early years of college; at the age of 18 or 19 when I was living on my own as student in an apartment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. My neighbor was an elderly retired woman (80+ seemed ancient to me at that age) who was the widowed wife of a retired steel worker. Her husband had worked all his life in the steel mills of central Pennsylvania with promises from big business and the union that, for his 30 years of service, he would have a pension and medical care to look forward to in his retirement. Instead he was one of the thousands who got nothing because the incompetent mill management and corrupt union (not to mention the government) raided their pension funds and stole their retirement. All she had was social security to live on.
In retrospect, the situation was laughable because here I was living on peanut butter and bread (or Ritz crackers when I could afford to splurge) for months at a time. When I got to know this poor figure and heard her story I felt worse for her plight than for my own (I, after all, I thought I had everything to in front of me). I was genuinely appalled at one point, as we exchanged stories and commiserated with each other over our situations, when she in her grandmotherly fashion tried to convince me that I would be “healthier” eating cat food (like her) rather than trying to get all my substance from peanut butter and bread. I couldn’t quite go there, but the impression was made. I decided that I didn’t trust big business to take care of me, and that I would take responsibility for my own future and myself.
Return to the early ‘80s, and here I was off to a terrifying start as a ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ contract software engineer... and two years later, thanks to the fine backroom, midnight effort by the sleazy executives of Arthur Andersen (the very same folks who later brought us Enron and other such calamities) and an equally sleazy New York Senator (Patrick Moynihan), we saw the passage of 1986 tax reform act with its section 1706.
For you who are unfamiliar, here is the core text of the IRS Section 1706, defining the treatment of workers (such as contract engineers) for tax purposes. Visit this link for a conference committee report (http://www.synergistech.com/1706.shtml#ConferenceCommitteeReport) regarding the intended interpretation of Section 1706 and the relevant parts of Section 530, as amended. For information on how these laws affect technical services workers and their clients, read our discussion here (http://www.synergistech.com/ic-taxlaw.shtml).
SEC. 1706. TREATMENT OF CERTAIN TECHNICAL PERSONNEL.
(a) IN GENERAL - Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new subsection:
(d) EXCEPTION. - This section shall not apply in the case of an individual who pursuant to an arrangement between the taxpayer and another person, provides services for such other person as an engineer, designer, drafter, computer programmer, systems analyst, or other similarly skilled worker engaged in a similar line of work.
(b) EFFECTIVE DATE. - The amendment made by this section shall apply to remuneration paid and services rendered after December 31, 1986.
· "another person" is the client in the traditional job-shop relationship.
· "taxpayer" is the recruiter, broker, agency, or job shop.
· "individual", "employee", or "worker" is you.
Admittedly, you need to read the treatment to understand what it is saying but it’s not very complicated. The bottom line is that they may as well have put my name right in the text of section (d). Moreover, they could only have been more blunt if they would have came out and directly declared me a criminal and non-citizen slave. Twenty years later, I still can’t believe my eyes.
During 1987, I spent close to $5000 of my ‘pocket change’, and at least 1000 hours of my time writing, printing, and mailing to any senator, congressman, governor, or slug that might listen; none did, and they universally treated me as if I was wasting their time. I spent countless hours on the L.A. freeways driving to meetings and any and all of the disorganized professional groups who were attempting to mount a campaign against this atrocity. This, only to discover that our efforts were being easily derailed by a few moles from the brokers who were just beginning to enjoy the windfall from the new declaration of their “freedom”. Oh, and don’t forget, for all of the time I was spending on this, I was loosing income that I couldn’t bill clients.
After months of struggling it had clearly gotten to be a futile exercise. The best we could get for all of our trouble is a pronouncement from an IRS mouthpiece that they weren’t going to enforce that provision (read harass engineers and scientists). This immediately proved to be a lie, and the mere existence of the regulation began to have its impact on my bottom line; this, of course, was the intended effect.
Again, rewind my retirement plans back to 0 and shift them into idle. If I had any sense, I clearly should have left abandoned engineering and never looked back.
Instead I got busy working 100-hour workweeks. Then came the L.A. depression of the early 1990s. Our leaders decided that they didn’t need the all of those extra Air Force bases they had in Southern California, so they were closed; just like that. The result was economic devastation in the region that rivaled the widely publicized Texas S&L fiasco. However, because the government caused it, no one gave a shit about all of the young families who lost their homes or street after street of boarded up houses abandoned to the wealthy loan companies who received government funds to “shore up” their windfall. Again, I lost my retirement.
Years later, after weathering a divorce and the constant struggle trying to build some momentum with my business, I find myself once again beginning to finally pick up some speed. Then came the .COM bust and the 911 nightmare. Our leaders decided that all aircraft were grounded for what seemed like an eternity; and long after that, ‘special’ facilities like San Francisco were on security alert for months. This made access to my customers prohibitively expensive. Ironically, after what they had done the Government came to the aid of the airlines with billions of our tax dollars … as usual they left me to rot and die while they bailed out their rich, incompetent cronies WITH MY MONEY! After these events, there went my business but not quite yet all of my retirement and savings.
By this time, I’m thinking that it might be good for a change. Bye to California, I’ll try Austin for a while. So I moved, only to find out that this is a place with a highly inflated sense of self-importance and where damn little real engineering work is done. I’ve never experienced such a hard time finding work. The rates are 1/3 of what I was earning before the crash, because pay rates here are fixed by the three or four large companies in the area who are in collusion to drive down prices and wages… and this happens because the justice department is all on the take and doesn’t give a fuck about serving anyone or anything but themselves and their rich buddies.
To survive, I was forced to cannibalize my savings and retirement, the last of which was a small IRA. This came in a year with mammoth expenses and not a single dollar of income. I filed no return that year thinking that because I didn’t have any income there was no need. The sleazy government decided that they disagreed. But they didn’t notify me in time for me to launch a legal objection so when I attempted to get a protest filed with the court I was told I was no longer entitled to due process because the time to file ran out. Bend over for another $10,000 helping of justice.
So now we come to the present. After my experience with the CPA world, following the business crash I swore that I’d never enter another accountant’s office again. But here I am with a new marriage and a boatload of undocumented income, not to mention an expensive new business asset, a piano, which I had no idea how to handle. After considerable thought I decided that it would be irresponsible NOT to get professional help; a very big mistake.
When we received the forms back I was very optimistic that they were in order. I had taken all of the years information to Bill Ross, and he came back with results very similar to what I was expecting. Except that he had neglected to include the contents of Sheryl’s unreported income; $12,700 worth of it. To make matters worse, Ross knew all along this was missing and I didn’t have a clue until he pointed it out in the middle of the audit. By that time it had become brutally evident that he was representing himself and not me.
This left me stuck in the middle of this disaster trying to defend transactions that have no relationship to anything tax-related (at least the tax-related transactions were poorly documented). Things I never knew anything about and things my wife had no clue would ever matter to anyone. The end result is… well, just look around.
I remember reading about the stock market crash before the “great” depression and how there were wealthy bankers and businessmen jumping out of windows when they realized they screwed up and lost everything. Isn’t it ironic how far we’ve come in 60 years in this country that they now know how to fix that little economic problem; they just steal from the middle class (who doesn’t have any say in it, elections are a joke) to cover their asses and it’s “business-as-usual”. Now when the wealthy fuck up, the poor get to die for the mistakes… isn’t that a clever, tidy solution.
As government agencies go, the FAA is often justifiably referred to as a tombstone agency, though they are hardly alone. The recent presidential puppet GW Bush and his cronies in their eight years certainly reinforced for all of us that this criticism rings equally true for all of the government. Nothing changes unless there is a body count (unless it is in the interest of the wealthy sows at the government trough). In a government full of hypocrites from top to bottom, life is as cheap as their lies and their self-serving laws.
I know I’m hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand. It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it isn’t limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants. I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be as many after. But I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at “big brother” while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won’t continue; I have just had enough.
I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less. I would only hope that by striking a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what they are. Sadly, though I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn’t so, but violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer. The cruel joke is that the really big chunks of shit at the top have known this all along and have been laughing, at and using this awareness against, fools like me all along.
I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.
The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.
Joe Stack (1956-2010)
The NDP is a party in Canada that is quite left of center in Canada. You see, in Canada, liberalism is not a dirty word. It's too bad that in the U.S. "liberalism" invokes a knee-jerk reaction in people who listen to Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck and wonder why they are losing their jobs anyway.
In Canada the New Democrat Party (NDP) want to take things even further in favour of fairness for everybody. There is a National Health Care system in Canada, but it doesn't cover prescriptions, eyeglasses, dental and hearing aids for those under 65. Under the NDP, Canadians would enjoy full health care. There would be a national day care system so that parents would no longer have to struggle trying to fit work in with raising kids.
Unions would have an easier time forming. Alas, it's needed here. The Wal-Mart model of hiring people for as little as they can get away with paying is alive and well here in Canada. Part time and contract workers are becoming more numerous and full-time, full-benefit work is disappearing. While CEO salaries aren't as outlandish here, the gap between the rich and poor is increasing. The NDP is stemming that tide. The NDP is strong, especially in Hamilton. NDP MPs regularly block legislation that would make Canada more like the U.S. You know, such as stuffing the prisons with more non-violent offenders, giving ever more tax breaks to businesses while making it so much harder for unemployed people to collect unemployment benefits. The NDP would extend those benefits and make if faster and easier to collect them. After all, the employee has to pay into the system. It makes no sense to deny these benefits to them once they lose their jobs. That's another kick in the teeth people don't need.
Canada would be closer to Sweden in social benefits if the NDP were in power.
It's time that poorer people stopped suffering and seeing what little benefits they have get taken away from them when times get hard and budgets need to be balanced. The Wal-Mart model is a ticket to the bottom. We cannot build a great nation on Wal-Mart wages and part time work.
I first took note of the NDP when we first moved here. Especially of MPP Andrea Horwath. An MPP is like a State Senator. They handle Provencial and local politics.
I saw her on TV and she had the same fire in her eyes and sincerity in oration as Barack Obama had when running for president. She's the daughter of a union man and knows the stuggles of the middle class. While others get on TV and have so much polish they look manufactured, Andrea Horwath has a lot of fight in her. And fight she does.
We had a problem getting Trillium. Trillium is the prescription insurance arm of the government. You pay a premium based on last year's wages and get the rest covered. It's an interim step towards government paid prescriptions. Anyway, we applied last year while Alex's citizenship card was pending. At first we asked that they just count my prescriptions, since they are 90% of our drug expenses. Then Alex's card came in and we send an amendment letter. Because there were two differing dates, some bureacrat simply denied the whole thing. But it gets worse. They deleted our case file and sent us a blank application. We had our accountant contact them. They were rude on the phone, said there was no appeal process. Period. If we didn't like it, contact our MPP.
That was an outrage I did not want to take. So I did. The response was swift. The Ministry of Health investigated and our original case file was reinstated and our benefits started immediately.
This is the sort of can-do attitude that I have noticed that MPs in the NDP have. I am sure that if more people knew that their politicans cared and could fix their problems, more people would vote. This past election, only 69% voted. The apathy obviously stems from people thinking that their votes make no difference. If people only knew. So I'm passing my story along and have become a member of the NDP "New Devotee Party" member. I can't wait to get my citizenship so I can vote and participate.
I'm perfect NDP. The older I get, the more I get it; that sharing the wealth is the only way to build a safe, secure country. Inequality will only cause discontent, unrest and finally danger as angry people who have nothing to lose act out. A safety net must be erected and kept in place.
Do you ever have songs that you heard 35 years ago that just pop into your head for reasons unknown? It was a good thing I remembered the name of it
The Punk version deserves note. It's a pretty rockin' fun version.