Sunday, June 19, 2011

In our democracy, 1 percent of the people take a quarter of the nation’s income—BUT what does this mean to me?

All quotes taken from Joseph E. Stiglitz - Professor at Columbia Business School. The article I read was very good, but probably too long for people to sit down and read. I'm going to give you some of the highlights - if it peaks your interest then please read the full article. We can doing something. I'm not sure what that is yet - but when I find out I'll pass it on. We cannot sit around and let 1% of our population control the rest of us. Democratic? Republican? I don't think it matters anymore - we need to get people in Washington who aren't rich, who can't be bought and who want to get America back to a fair playing field.

A modern economy requires “collective action”—it needs government to invest in infrastructure, education, and technology. The United States and the world have benefited greatly from government-sponsored research that led to the Internet, to advances in public health, and so on. But America has long suffered from an under-investment in infrastructure (look at the condition of our highways and bridges, our railroads and airports), in basic research, and in education at all levels. Further cutbacks in these areas lie ahead.

None of this should come as a surprise—it is simply what happens when a society’s wealth distribution becomes lopsided. The more divided a society becomes in terms of wealth, the more reluctant the wealthy become to spend money on common needs. The rich don’t need to rely on government for parks or education or medical care or personal security—they can buy all these things for themselves.

But one big part of the reason we have so much inequality is that the top 1 percent want it that way. The most obvious example involves tax policy. Lowering tax rates on capital gains, which is how the rich receive a large portion of their income, has given the wealthiest Americans close to a free ride.

Virtually all U.S. senators, and most of the representatives in the House, are members of the top 1 percent when they arrive, are kept in office by money from the top 1 percent, and know that if they serve the top 1 percent well they will be rewarded by the top 1 percent when they leave office. It should not make jaws drop that a tax bill cannot emerge from Congress unless big tax cuts are put in place for the wealthy. Given the power of the top 1 percent, this is the way you would expect the system to work.

The rules of economic globalization are likewise designed to benefit the rich: they encourage competition among countries for business, which drives down taxes on corporations, weakens health and environmental protections, and undermines what used to be viewed as the “core” labor rights, which include the right to collective bargaining. Imagine what the world might look like if the rules were designed instead to encourage competition among countries for workers. Governments would compete in providing economic security, low taxes on ordinary wage earners, good education, and a clean environment—things workers care about. But the top 1 percent don’t need to care.

Of all the costs imposed on our society by the top 1 percent, perhaps the greatest is this: the erosion of our sense of identity, in which fair play, equality of opportunity, and a sense of community are so important. . With youth unemployment in America at around 20 percent (and in some locations, and among some socio-demographic groups, at twice that); with one out of six Americans desiring a full-time job not able to get one; with one out of seven Americans on food stamps (and about the same number suffering from “food insecurity”)—given all this, there is ample evidence that something has blocked the vaunted “trickling down” from the top 1 percent to everyone else. All of this is having the predictable effect of creating alienation—voter turnout among those in their 20s in the last election stood at 21 percent, comparable to the unemployment rate.

The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ayten has many talents - one being a plumber!

Yesterday the kitchen sink started leaking. Yusif found water on the floor right when we were sitting down to dinner. He said "I'll clean it up" as he proceeded to the dinner table. Ayten was feeding the baby so when she came out she saw the water and said "I think it's the sink - it leaked before." I got up and got a towel and started cleaning it up. Yusif said "I told you I would clean that up" I wanted to say "When were you planning on doing it?" But instead I just wiped up the water. I said "Yusif are you going to be able to fix this?" He said "Yes" so after he finished eating he looked under the sink and pronounced to us that it was broken and needed a new part. Ayten said, "Yusif this has happened before - let me look at it." So she gets under the sink and comes out and says - "Yes - this is the piece we need." It was a plastic ring that goes inside of the white thing that looks like a bolt. Well, Jav is sick so he is crying. The baby still isn't asleep so they asked me if I would go to Home Depot and get the part. No problem. I ran to the store - picked up the part and gave it to Ayten. She gets under the sink and replaces the part. She said "there now it's fixed." Later that evening Yusif said that a while back their toilet was leaking. They had to call a plumber and he looked at it and said he could fix it and would charge $300. So Ayten asked him if he would tell her what it was that needed to be done. The plumber explains it to them and Ayten says "Is this something we can do ourselves?" The guy says "yes". Yusif then tells me Ayten went online and read all about how to fix the problem - how to turn the water off to the house and how to fix the toilet. So Yusif says then Ayten says "OK we are ready - Yusif I will tell you what needs to be done and how to do it." Together they got it fixed! So last night before I left for Home Depot I said to Yusif "I sure hope this is the part we need." He responded in a rather sarcastic way "Well, that is the part the plumber lady says we need!" I guess it doesn't really matter where you are from - all marriages are basically the same.

On anther note - everyone who knows me knows how cold I like to keep my house. They keep theirs at 75 degrees. I have never sweat ed so profusely in my life! I keep looking at the weather in St Louis and I see that it will be 32 when I arrive in the Gateway to the West and I can't wait to feel that good, cold air on my face!

My last comment - someone who wants to make a lot of money needs to invent two things - first a nook that will stay in a newborns mouth and second a pair of socks that will stay on a 6 - 12 month old childs feet. Now there - all of you inventors go to work - both of these items will be big sellers!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The little Prince is sick!

Just a quick post - Javenshir is sick - fever at 102 - that's why he was so bad yesterday. Poor Ayten! She is up in his room with him now and I'm listening for the baby - so at least now we know why the Prince had such a bad day yesterday! More to come later...

Monday, February 21, 2011

I don't think I have a book in me!

Well - I don't think I'll be writing a book in this lifetime. Just trying to blog daily is getting hard. I mean who really wants to hear that we had Chicken Casserole for dinner? Who cares that when Ayten put Jav's favorite T-shirt in the wash today that he screamed and cried through out the entire wash cycle? Does anyone care that when the shirt came out of the wash he grabbed it and promptly put it in the "trunk" of his tricycle? No hanging on the line for Javs shirt - he just wanted it with him. Yes it's been a rough day for the Prince of Azerbaijan which leads me right into some old Azerbaijan Folklore.

The tale of the Devil's Eye

The picture above is a photo of the "devil's eye" - the devil's eye is said to remove or deflect bad thoughts that someone might be having and it is known to get rid of bad behavior. Typically people hang this above their doors. Kind of how Catholics hang a crucifix near the door. Now when you need to "call on the spirit of the devils eye" you take these seeds that look like pop tops (those things you throw on the ground on the 4th of July and they POP) and put the seeds in a little bitty pan. Put the pan on the stove and heat them - get them really really hot. Next you need to fill your sinuses with the scent of the little pops. Then you take the pan and move it over the top of your head in a circular fashion 3 times. Once this is done it is assumed that the devil has been removed. You can only buy this spice (the pop top) in Azerbaijan - Ayten keeps some on hand. Yesterday the Prince woke up from his nap in a nasty mood. She said "See, it's the devils eye - we need to remove it." So she heated the pops up and went through the ritual. When she put it under his nose to sniff it he made a bad face and quickly moved his head away. I said "Let me smell that stuff." I took of whiff of it and Lord A'mighty was it stinky! I said "No wonder he moved his head away so fast." Anyway Ayten thought it worked and he was a little better. So today when he was carrying on about the T-shirt I said "The devils eye has him again!" And that is the legion of the Devil's Eye.

And last but not least a picture of Sweet Little Farhad...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's Ladies Night....

Last night some of Ayten's girlfriends came over for a visit. Below is a picture of the dining room ready and waiting for company.

Ayten and her girlfriends

We had a very nice evening - I told them I was teaching Ayten how to cook some American dishes. They said, "I hope she will share her new secrets with us." Ayten served the Rice Krisy squares that we made and one of the ladies said "Wow - I didn't know you could make them! I thought you only could buy them already made." I told them they were a good snack for growing kids. All of the ladies tasted them and loved them and asked "What is Marshmellow? I see that word sometimes in recipies and I don't know what it is." I explained what marshmellows were and they were happy with the explanation. Women are women all over the world. Everyone wants pretty much the same thing - work to keep your mind and hands busy, enough money to raise your family and good health. Some things are universal!

Ayten and Jav in the kitchen

Yusif adn Jav

Javenshir at the park

And last but not least I had to sneak in a picture of Sweet Baby Girl in the sweater that I knitted for her....

Today Ayten and I are going to make Yusif cannollini and he is looking forward to it. I'm glad I came down here to help them - they are good people. I told them I will come back every year in February for a couple of weeks. Isn't that why I took this early retirement? That way the boys can grow up and have a "grandma" come a visit every year and buy them little tricks and treats. I also told Diane G I would head over to San Antonio every year for a few days. Why not? Have a great day all.....signing out here in Houston....

Friday, February 18, 2011

It's Hot Hot Hot here in Texas

It got up to 80 today and it feels like 100 - Ayten & Yusif had to take the baby to the doctor this morning. They took Jav with them so I was on my own. Last night a friend of Ayten's brought dinner over, and let me be clear - when these gals say they are bringing dinner they mean they are bringing the food and preparing it at your house! So before the gal got here I noticed that Ayten changed into a nice outfit and put on earrings. I didn't think much of it until the friend got here and she was dressed nice too. All of these girls wear tight clothes, but hell they are all thin so they can get away with that crap! Anyway - I started thinking and I thought maybe Ayten is a little embarrassed that I'm always in sweats and a sloppy T-shirt. So today I hit the outlet mall. Now that was some damn work! The place was huge - I think I got more exercise today that I have since I've been here. I shopped and shopped and found some darling things for Desi for her 1st birthday. I also picked a little something for Freddy and a new toy for Jav - couldn't find a damn thing for myself. So I went to Target and hit pay dirt. Now when her friends come a calling I'll have something "cute" to wear and it's half way tight! I also bought a pair of shorts which I came home and put right on. I feel cooler already. Why I ever let Lori Miller talk me into letting my hair grow out I'll never know. Had to buy hair clips to get it off my neck. Don't worry when the company comes I'll put it down, comb it and put on jewelry maybe even some make up. OK - make up might be pushing it a little bit.

The whole family is napping right now so the house is nice and quiet. Believe me you know when Jav is awake! If he's not totally happy he is screaming! Reminds me of some other little boys I used to know....tonight I'm making Tacos - I hope they like them and it's something Ayten will make when I'm gone. I'm also going to make the rice krispy squares - most kids like those - let's see if the little prince does!

Thanks to everyone who sent me recipes and meal ideas - I'm writing them all down and leaving them for Ayten. Until tomorrow - stay cool, have a cocktail and enjoy your Friday night.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Are You The Grandma?

Jav and I went to the park today. The first lady I talked to said "Are you the Grandma?" This is like the tenth time I've heard that since I've been here. What the hotel? The Grandma? I remember my Mom once telling me that life was a stage that you moved across. When you are little you are at stage right. As you grow you move closer and closer to the center. Then before you know it you are inching towards stage left until finally you are off the stage. I have always pictured myself right there - dead center - living, loving and laughing. Now I have the feeling I may have exited center stage and I'm making my way over to the left side. When did that happen? I think it happened when I came to Texas and everyone started asking me "Are you the Grandma?"

We had a good time at the park - Jav is one hundrend and ten percent all boy. He ripped and tore and screamed and yelled. I was thrilled to see him get some of his energy out. He really is a good little boy considering he has to spend most of his time playing by himself.

Yesterday Ayten told me she is sick and tired of Azere food - it is difficult to prepare and she would like for me to show her some easy things she can cook. So I'm thinking Tacos, chicken casserole, mexican chicken - I have to think of things that both Yusif and Jav will like - really Jav eats anything. I'm turning him on to some pretty bad crap - Cheese Curls, Vanilla Wafers and smarties. Smarties are my ace in the hole. When we get in the car I hand him a pack and say "nummy, nummy". God love him he repeats it, opens up his nummies,smiles and starts jibber jabbering (he's probably really saying something in Azere but it sounds like jibber jabbber to me). So if any of you out there in internet land know of some easy things to cook let me know. I'm going to make hamburgers one of these nights. Yusif is dying for some cannelloni which isn't easy but I'm going to show Ayten how to make it.

I finished my wonderful book, Galway Bay and ran across the saying: Cead Mille Failte which means "A hundred thousand welcomes" - I think I'm going to paint that on a wall somewhere in my house.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Another day on the Katy Trail

Here it is Wedsnesday we went to the clinic for Ayten to get her stiches out - while we were waiting I counted 30 adults in the waiting room. It's been a while since I have been in a waiting room so crowded. I will say one thing though they had comfortable chairs for us to wait in! Now it is nap time at the Babenly household - I just got done bringing in the laudnry and folding it. No cooking to do tonight as we are going to have left overs. So - I am here sweating, sweating, sweating - this is the hottest place on earth and it's February! I could not even imagine being here in the summer - or the spring for that matter. So I'm going to back outside on my porch and finish my book. Once my book is done then I will have a problem - I can't knit all the time - God forbid I go for a walk! Another thing about Texas - it's so damn humid - my hair is nothing but a ball of friz. I had to buy two hair clips to keep it up off my neck and face. Anyway tomorrow maybe I'll get to take the little man out again and this time I'll bring my camera. He is a cute little thing when he's not screaming and that is not often! So my friends enjoy the St Louis weather - I hear it's in the 50s there - I bet it's nice....until tomorrow....

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Katy Texas - Day 3

Well well well - the dam has finally broken and the little man is willing to hang out with me a little bit. Last night the new baby didn't sleep at all and poor Ayten was exhausted this morning. I said I would take Javen to Target and he could get a toy - she agreed. Of course he didn't want to go with me and Ayten said "Let him cry" she was finally worn down. He wailed when we left but then he settled down quite well and we got to Target where he performed like a champ. I let him play in toy isle for a good long while then packed him up, bought a few things and off we went to McDonalds play land. What a Godsend that place is! He played and I knitted. One thing about this part of the country - you don't have to worry about not speaking English because not many speak the language. Javen fits in fine - I'm the outcast. I noticed that all of the other adults in McDonalds either had a friend to talk to or a cell phone to talk on - not one damn person could keep their yappers shut except me! How's that for a turn around??? I'm wondering if our new routine is going to be Target and McDonalds - hopefully I'll find a park somewhere nearby. Well all of my St Louis peeps - have fun and enjoy our spot in the world - it's as hot as hell down here in the big state of Texas - a summer here would kill me. As I close this post Javenshit is with his Mom and brother screaming and crying about something.....ah and life is back to normal in the Babenly household.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 2 in Houston

Hello Monday morning! Here I am sitting in the house and the kid WILL NOT look at me. So much for coming to Houston to watch Javenshir! Wherever I go - he leaves. If I talk to him he howls - of course I don't speak Azeri so I have no idea what he's saying but I think he's saying "Go home bitch!" So it's 9:30 in the morning, Ayten is trying to get some rest - the new baby is good so that is a blessing - I'm upstairs and Javenshit is downstairs. If I go downstairs he will come upstairs...on and on back and forth. So - basically I don't have a damn thing to do - I wish I could get him to go outside and ride his tricycle around the block - at least that way I could go outside and enjoy this beautiful day, but no here I anyone out there? Rescue me......

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Farhad is here (you can call him Freddy)

Baby Farhad (or as I call him Foghat) arrived safe and sound on Friday about 1:30 in the afternoon. I arrived in Houston on Thursday night where Yusif, Ayten (pronounced I-10) and Javenshir were waiting. We left the airport and went straight to Galveston, checked in to a hotel so we would be ready for the hospital at 6AM. We got there and found out that 5 C-sections where scheduled for that morning and as luck would have it Ayten was number 5 - that meant we had to wait and wait and wait...Javenshir did his best but it was a long day for him. On Saturday I dropped Yusif and Javenshir off at the hospital and then went down to the gulf and watched the waves on a beautiful sunny day. It got me to thinking "Maybe I should come to Galveston some winter for a month or two" - but it was similar to Shellman Bluff in that there are very few people there this time of the year. Maybe next time I do a winter trip I'll go somewhere that is populated. Anyway we got home today and Ayten is with the baby and trying to get a little rest - Yusif is upstairs playing with Javenshir and I'm kinda just hanging around all by myself. There really isn't anything for me to do. At some point I'll need to go grocery shopping so I can have dinners made every night - I'm sure there will be laundry to do soon - other than that I'm here in a suburb of Houston getting ready to play online scrabble - not to different from home! I'll post more tomorrow with maybe a few pics of the babies...