Saturday, December 1, 2012

America- the economic puzzle and a poem

     With Black Friday behind us and the frenzy of Christmas shopping all around us ( in some shops, already starting after Halloween), I confess that I understand nothing of American retail, or the American economy, for that matter.
      In retail the same item can cost $200 or $20 depending on when and where you buy it.  A NY Times article recently compared prices on various internet sites where prices were changing hourly-  Who can make sense of any of it?  What it means is that a price can be set at anything without regard to production, labor, or marketing.  This is the market economy. 
      I find this most shocking in the pricing of books.  $27.99 is the hardcover price of "A Widow's Story" by Joyce Carol Oates.  Guess how much I paid for it in my local library (they sell donated books upstairs)?  25cents.  The library I painstakingly put together over years in Spain I could barely give away.  Sadly no one was interested.  Well, one person was- a librarian.  They are probably keeping the culture alive while everyone else is discarding their barely touched books.
      So how is value determined?  An object has to be desired.  I've been watching Antique Roadshow on PBS and am amazed at the ugly objects that have value for some particular arbitrary reason.  My first criteria for any object would be beauty but that is apparently not a consideration, or perhaps I would choose a first edition of a favorite writer.  Apparently the objects I'd choose in my life have a low value.
    The American economy itself is indecipherable.  The right's concern for lowering the national debt (an abstract concept for most of us) pales when compared to the disregard of all the signs leading to ecological disaster (and the human and financial consequences).  Which would you tackle first?
      And then, there's health care.  If you're on public assistance you have access.  If you're one of the millions of working poor, you don't.  Why would anyone work in those circumstances?  What about a living wage and a single payer health care system? 
     If you have health insurance you may feel safe.  Think again.  Longterm health care which encompasses hospice and end of life care is not necessarily covered, no matter how many years you've paid into the system. 

And a poem to a friend who died in October

The Greatest Sin

Another love lost,
one who lived this
Latvian life,
the bottle poised
over each glass,
Sunday morning
slow death.

Live free or die,
my licence plate motto
seen on the BQE.

I escaped,
my poems then,
heavy like the
bodies stretched
across the grates
at Grand Central, 4 AM
home from another night.

Loves dropped
till the only one left,
was the clear
amber of bourbon.

Raise a glass to you,
or not,
my own demons of excess

You believed Blake,
drank with Daumal
and died alone,
never finding
the purity
under this animal skin.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. About the economy we live in a society where the mediocrity is the law. Politicians and bankers are the only ones in power. Good taste is spiritual as well so people who love only money are completely lost, because the material world is sustained by both. We need also: philosophy culture, fine arts, spirituality, imagination, etc. But none of those things are important in these days mostly. And like Alan Watts said in the 70's our days are surrendered by a kind of mistaken materialism that can never bring us happiness.