Dirty Business

The Beginning is Here

by Ayesha Adamo

With a clear blue sky and weather almost warm enough to go topless (and there were some who did), they couldn’t have picked a better day for a protest.  On Wednesday 10/5/11, I came down to Occupy with the Columbia University contingent, a truly boisterous group that kept the chanting going non-stop using “the people’s mic” technique, which has proved so helpful in an action where no amplification is allowed (everyone repeats after the central speaker so that the message travels out to rings of people further and further away).

Down at Wall Street, all the groups seemed to melt into one another.  There were union groups, student groups, a marching band with four tubas, a kindergarten class holding a banner together and chanting in tiny voices to share and not be greedy…just people of every sort imaginable coming together to express the need for a real change in the way things are now.  And there didn’t need to be just one reason to be there because this is the new way of protesting, of understanding.  This is the rhizome, like the world wide web, and the links and connections between one thing and another don’t need to make sense in a linear format.  They only need to be.  Just to be seen by the people in those tall buildings who don’t touch public pavement is a win, and a person would have to be cold-as-dead to look out on a crowd like this and not be moved.  When I look around at all these faces—their eyes, hearts, the blood in their veins—I feel like I’ve been waiting for this all my life, and finally…The Beginning is Here.

The Tax Cut Endgame

by David Deau

President Obama’s recent deal with the Republicans to extend the Bush-era tax cuts is a win for the Republicans and another push for the decline of Western civilization.  This deal includes estate tax cuts for multimillionaires and billionaires…after the Republicans threatened not to extend unemployment benefits for the estimated 2 million unemployed (a number believed to quadruple within a year).

Apparently, the politicians that the hardworking middle and lower class Americans elected into office are going to make them suffer unless the rich can get richer.  The Bush tax cuts do little to help the middle or lower classes, but do continue to help the rich get richer.  The tax cuts will only amount to a few hundred dollars for middle class families, but luckily, both lower and middle class families will be able to compound their benefits by the addition of the estate tax cuts—just like the wealthy folks do, right?  And we all know that hardworking middle and lower class Americans tend to have large estates.

President Obama seems to have run out of steam, and the hope of re-establishing the foundation that this country was built on is fleeting fast—or should I say gone.  Does anyone remember, “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness?”  It seems as though the President was set-up once again, if we consider the following quote from Bush’s communications director on the Bush tax cuts:

“We knew that, politically, once you get it into law, it becomes almost impossible to remove it,” says Dan Bartlett, Bush’s former communications director. “That’s not a bad legacy. The fact that we were able to lay the trap does feel pretty good, to tell you the truth.”


We have gone from our GDP (production) growing more than twice as fast as our debt, to our debt growing at nearly four times the speed of our GDP. A train wreck is getting ready to happen and this train wreck is literally unstoppable.
—National Inflation Association

The world knows what is happening in the US and they have begun to position themselves for the imminent collapse.  China and Russia have decided to renounce the US dollar and resort to using their own currencies for bilateral trade, Premier Wen Jiabao and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin announced late on Tuesday, November 23 in St. Petersburg.  (View Article)

The wealthy are doing everything they can to hold onto what they have because they know the next step is to begin austerity measures on US citizens.  This is happening all over the world as a domino effect.  In fact, a presidential commission studying the deficit identified austere measures last week to cut $4 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade. HOLD ON ITS COMING.

Let’s look at what is happening around the world:

Ireland: Ireland is spending more than 50 billion euros on regular government activities this year, and collecting just 31 billion euros in taxes, for an underlying deficit of 12%—four times the limit for members of the European currency union. Exceptional bank-bailout costs on top of that have driven this year’s deficit to 32% of gross domestic product, a postwar European record. Ireland was forced to admit defeat in its two-year effort to fight its runaway deficit while plowing at least 45 billion euros into a bank bailout. The escalating bank bill put the nation on course for bankruptcy next year, as its borrowing costs surged to unsustainable highs on bond markets. “The banks have brought this country to its knees. We’ll be paying for their mistakes for the rest of our lives,” said Alice Dunleavy, 30, a civil servant.

Spain: The Spanish government approved new austerity measures and a limited economic stimulus package to ease investor fears about its debt and insisted again that the country is taking strong steps to right its ailing economy.

On Tuesday, European finance ministers pressured the Eurozone’s weaker members to get a grip on their finances, one day after they refused to increase the 750 billion euro ($1 trillion) bailout fund. With Ireland joining Greece in getting bailed out, the markets have fretted about which country will be next — Portugal and Spain are viewed by many as the weakest links in the 16-country currency union and the EU’s finance ministers are continuing to press them to get their financial houses in order.

On December 5, 2010, the Guardian reported that the British Chambers of Commerce will cut their short-term forecast for growth in Britain’s faltering economy, warning of fragility in household finances and tepid consumer spending as the coalition’s austerity measures begin to bite. (Guardian Article)

To sum all this up: it’s “Take from the poor and give to the rich,” a divided world in the name of the greed of the few!   How long are Americans going to put up with it?  You can search the Internet and see the protests going on around the world.  The protests over austerity measures have been taking place in the following regions:  Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and the UK.  Yet the American people are too busy watching sports or celebrities on television to join the fight for their own freedom.

Where are the Americans that really remember the words in the Preamble to the Constitution: “promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

Have our last symbols of the fight for freedom passed with the assassination of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., with the dissolution of the Weathermen?  This country was built on Revolution!

Our Buried Children

by Ayesha Adamo

This entry is in reference to the recent New York Times article “Placing the Blame as Students Are Buried in Debt.”  Read it here:


I am re-posting what I wrote as a comment to this article, not so much in response to the article itself, but in response to the many surprisingly negative comments that it garnered on the web.  Here is a link to the comments left on the NYTimes website, though more colourful/less intelligent commentary can be found on various sites all over the net.


This is what I wrote:

Wow.  The response to this article – here and elsewhere on the web – is astonishing…and not in a good way.

Many here are hostile to the idea of a financially challenged girl choosing a liberal arts major – in this case, Religion and Women’s Studies – though I can only imagine the response if this girl had a major like mine: Music!  God – the Arts!  How worthless to humanity! (but if you think so, I’m wondering right about now why on earth you’re reading the New York Times website instead of the Fox News website.  I’m just saying…)

The question raised by this hostility is actually a question of whether there should be an open-ended list of possible majors for the rich kids and a different list presented to the poor kids, and likewise, a list of possible colleges and universities for the rich, and those for the poor.

It’s easy to be libertarian about material things – about buying the car you can afford, the house with a mortgage you can pay off (though I’d live in the woods before engaging in a mortgage.  Notice the “mort” part of mortgage? It means death, folks.).

But to be a libertarian about an education?  To suggest that access to the best professors and resources is limited to those who can afford those relationships, experiences, and opportunities for intellectual growth – opportunities that come even more from the environment than from what a book can tell?

The American dream may be dead, but we further desecrate the corpse when we are forced to tell our children that they’re limited to the possibilities dictated by their caste.  Anyone who has truly embraced the experience that is education knows that it’s more than the purchase of a fancy name on a diploma.

An education is NOT a material thing.  It’s a thing that has the power to change a person and, in turn, change the world.

To the people posting comments with no empathy for the students now buried in debt: don’t you look at your brilliant and hard-working kids and ask, “Doesn’t my daughter/son deserve the same stimulating education that the kid with his name on the building gets?  And why should my kid have to do so much more to get it?”

Saying that “the world ain’t fair” isn’t an answer.  With that kind of complacency, we’d still be in the dark ages of segregation and the like.

Education should be given to those who can use it and who can take it as far as it can go.  It should never be a matter of having a relative’s name on a building, in other words, a matter of financial class.  To think otherwise is to tell your kids to accept their serfdom – a very sad prospect, indeed.

Whether or not there are amazing state schools, which there are, really isn’t the point.  The point is that the currency of the intellect should not be measured in Federal Reserve Notes, or gold, or in the willingness to wager your life against your tuition in a time of war.    Education is too noble a thing to be measured in blood or gold or worthless shards of the most lacerating paper.

Perhaps our author, Ron Lieber, could have chosen a splashier subject for his article – maybe an über-genius middle class gal at an Ivy doing a degree in social work and catching a flight to the UAE to pay off her tuition using the oldest means there is, something she never had in mind.  (It exists, people, more than you think.)  Maybe then those who lack empathy for these, our buried children, would finally understand what’s really going on here – maybe then they’d understand the lengths that people must go to in order to develop their gifts to the level that those gifts deserve – really to the level that we all deserve, for we all benefit when people come into the world making the absolute most of their gifts.

Mellencamp Must Read

Just wanted to take a moment and post a link to this must read article by John Mellencamp for Huffington Post. Loss of Eden loves Mellencamp, especially when he writes sensible stuff that everybody needs to hear like this one. A little on the long side, but totally worth the read:


Pin the Tail on the Product Placement: Starring Lady Gaga and Beyoncé

Watching the new Lady Gaga/Beyoncé video for Telephone is like Where’s Waldo for the new millennium. How many product placements can you find?

I found: Virgin Mobile, LG, Diet Coke, PlentyofFish.com, Polaroid, Wonderbread, and was that Mayo by Kraft?

Pretty good, huh?

On youtube, someone left a comment that asked, “What happened to artists taking pride in their work?” No, he wasn’t berating the new video! Silly. This viewer was very concerned about artists “making cheap crap” for music videos, and was overcome with praise for the Telephone video and all of its creativity.

Because creativity looks real good ‘n’ stuff. And like so many things that look real good ‘n’ stuff…

Creativity takes money.

Music artists no longer make record companies money – or enough money – and we’re looking at the most “successful” ones here. To be sure, the record companies aren’t seeing 1990’s Madonna dollars from all this, and if they’re not seeing the big dollars, creativity doesn’t really fit into the budget.

But Gaga and Beyoncé? These rich girls wanna be pretty and hot and have videos that are pretty and hot too – you know, with great lighting and makeup and of course…

The Pussy Wagon.

Luckily, products like Virgin Mobile, Diet Coke, and Polaroid all want to be in pretty advertisements too!

(Not sure if they require the Pussy Wagon on their rider for TV appearances).

Boy, nothing says creative big budget music video like big budget corporate dollars. It’s really the only way to be pretty these days.


When LoVe is spelled L.V.

by Ayesha Adamo

As if commercialism hadn’t killed music already…suddenly it’s as though deadness were a matter of degree.

Sure, this new model had its ancestor in making your ass the billboard for some designer’s name, but now there’s JLo’s new song “Louboutins”  (aka Louis Vuittons, to the somewhat more articulate?  No, in fact, Christian Louboutins: a brand you would only know if you’re power-bourgie enough to shop at Bergdorf Goodman), and for the very first time, the designer’s name will be fed into your fragile eardrums from your very own iPod.  Not once or twice, as is usual with hip-hop product name dropping, but…

34 times per song play.

(that’s 8 times in a chorus for you ringtone kidz)

Pretty soon, you might even be singing along – spreading the gospel of Christianity a la Louboutins!

A pastor once told me that singing is as good as praying three times…

But let’s look at this analytically: Here we have a song in which the entire chorus states that JLo is “Putting on her Louboutins” again, and again, and again…

Wait – was she putting them on or strapping them on?

No wait..she’s throwing them on – of course!

“Putting” would have been too…ummm…pedestrian, while “strapping” them on wouldn’t fit the no-nonsense late modern lifestyle, and it sounds a little too kinky for the conservative folks.

No matter.

The verbs of life are no longer consequential.  Only the nouns count these days, and only so much as their exchangeability allows for, what with our necrophilic desire to know ourselves through desirous union with the other…in this case, the sparkling stiletto.

OK, but now, I’m trying to understand the business model:

The mp3 has no (or nearly no) value because it has an unlimited shelf-life, and the iTunes shelf is always stocked.  The supply is unlimited and an unlimited number of people may download the same file.  Also, when you’re a famous artist like JLo, and often even when you’re not, the mp3 commodity that you’re selling will most assuredly be available somewhere on the internet for free.

Not-so-antiquated solution: you give the music away and expect people to buy the T-shirt.

Music is now the advertisement, not the product.

Now, for the recording artist, there’s still some money to be made in licensing, if you’re JLo, anyway (if you’re not JLo, you’re probably paying to submit your song to be licensed in return for a modest fee and the privilege of having your music in a show or commercial that will reach a wider audience – this thing they came up with called “exposure”).  Naturally, licensing alone – even if you’re JLo – doesn’t fill a record label/publishing company’s purse like in the good old days of multi-platinum album sales and performance broadcasts that weren’t on youtube, again, for free.

And so, enter the new model:  the song IS the advertisement!

No, not the advertisement for the recording artist, so you’ll find them cool enough to buy the T-shirt.  The song is the advertisement for a 3rd party: a company who buys ad space on an artist’s album in the form of a song.

Hmmm…perhaps the word artist should be in quotes here.

In any case, I’m sure Jenny from the Block will “walk it out” all the way to the bank in her…”Louboutins.”  And probably her Louis Vuittons as well.

I hear the album’s called “Love?”  Love spelled with an “L” and a “V” and definitely a “?”

I also heard that Karl Marx wrote this romance novel called Das Kapital.


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