Friday, July 30, 2010

Alice in Wonderland: The Show Must Go On

Do you ever feel like you have fallen down the rabbit hole?

Consider for a moment that corporations and politicians got together to change laws and trade agreements so that plants and offices could be shut in the US so that they could move over to China, India and wherever and hire people for peanuts. The corporations are saying to us "so what if we sacrifice some quality. We got cheap labor and big paydays for our execs."

So we now have to deal with the fact that there are fewer good jobs to be had in the US and people who are looking for work often find that it takes longer to find another job, and that what they do find pays considerably less.

To help out in this situation we have long had a program where we offer some compensation to help those who are out of work.

Except that now the political nutbags have decided not to extend benefits to those who are out of work. I've heard the opinion expressed by the right wing windbags that unemployment compensation is not a good thing because it just makes people lazy.

But we didn't have millions more people suddenly get lazy and decide not to work. No, we have had millions of people thrown out of work when their employers moved the work to other countries where they could find people who would work cheaper, even though they made profits for decades while paying Americans a living wage.

Now some people would rather start their own small business and some small businesses could use loans so that they can expand.

But the windbags and politicians in their genius have decided not to put through a measure that would make more money available for small business loans through small banks. Hmmmmm...Interesting way to find solutions for problems.

Let's see. What kind of world are we creating if we don't want these solutions? Oh, I see the solution that they are in favor of. Yes, they are whining that it is unfair to expect the people who have more money to pay more taxes. Interesting.

Where is all this leading?

Down the rabbit hole again.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Magic of Magic

Most people are fascinated with magic, and one of the most interesting cards in the tarot deck is the Magician, because no other card has gone through such radical transformations between the original decks and the present time. There is a lot of substance here.

The earliest Magician cards depicted a juggler or a stage magician, in other words, an entertainer. A person who lives by his wits, using his slight of hand skills, tell jokes, dazzle audiences with optical illusions. This person is simply using his skills to make a living, using his wits to get by. Not necessarily a metaphysical or spiritual person. Early French cards were named the Bateleur. As a traveling entertainer, he would have more in common with a troubadour than an alchemist.

The Magician as we most commonly perceive him now dates back to the ceremonial magician popularized in the Rider/Waite/Smith deck, where we see a robed figure holding a wand, with the infinity symbol over his head, and on the table before him are the altar tools including the cup, pentacle and sword in addition to the wand he is holding aloft with one hand, while pointing to the ground with the other. His body language suggests the magical incantation, "As above, so below. As within, so without." The ceremonial magician of this tradition is more a descendant of the medieval alchemist or wizard than the entertainer.

A third depiction becoming more common on the Magician card is one that is a shaman, a primal magician dressed in animal skins, antlers, perhaps holding or playing a drum, perhaps with some herbs in the picture. This third type of magician is one who is an intermediary with the spirit world as well as being a ceremonialist.

In all three cases, the Magician can perform feats beyond his appearances. In all three guises, he can accomplish things that ordinary people cannot do. Of course, we can debate about what is ordinary and what abilities we all have. A person who desires to do so can be trained to be a stage magician or a ceremonial magician. Both require dedication and practice.

That is why one of the key words I always associate with the Magician is will. A magician, in any of these aspects, makes things happen.

The genius of this design is how it works in its radical evolution even though it appears to be so very different. In each case, we seek to connect with the supernatural, the realms beyond what we usually see. We want to be amazed. We want to know that life can be more.

This desire for more of life, our willingness to go to great lengths to affect change, is what makes the Magician such a powerful character. The Magician is one who uses his wits plus everything available to him to be able to travel back and forth between the worlds. Whether it is herbs, drums, masks, costumes, smoke and mirrors, decks of cards, mysterious potions, jeweled wands or bouncing balls, the Magician is the guardian at the gateway, the one with the key.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Reincarnation and Animals

Cats, dogs and other animals who share our lives are there for a reason, same as people are in our lives for a reason. Sometimes they reincarnate with us, and one cat or one dog can be a reincarnation of another we have had in our lives.

Grieving for an animal that dies is the same process as grieving for a person who dies. They share experiences in our life with us, just like people do. And they share love with us, just like people do. Sometimes they are even better at it because they don't really think about what happened last month, last year, yesterday or whatever. They are really great teachers about staying in the moment.

When we lose an animal that we shared part of our life with, there are lessons that have been offered to us, even though they came through a dog or cat, rather than a person.

Some people believe that people get reincarnated as animals, but I have seen animals that remind me to a great degree of other animals I have known.

We may lose an animal suddenly through an accident, or through a long, lingering illness. The grieving is still necessary, and we send our love with it into the next world, however that looks. You never know when you might see them again. Some people may doubt that animals have the possibility of reincarnation, but they have a spirit that animates them too, and the intelligence and the love have to come from somewhere.

I don't know how else to account for the similarities in personality between certain cats and dogs I have known. You may have had a similar experience as well. This is one of those things that we may not be able to prove, but we can feel.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Visual Magic

When performers don outrageous costumes, we see some kind of story being portrayed on stage. In the case of some popular singers, what we may be looking at is so dazzling that we may not even be aware of what they are singing because our visual sense is in overload. No doubt, that is the intention in some cases.

Extend this consciousness to other areas of our life. When we dress in costumes we project a persona. When we wear a suit and tie we project a different persona than if we wear a brightly colored shirt and shorts. What happens?

Our visuals are communicating a message, no matter what we say. When we wear a mask, it is difficult for a person to see our face and our true expressions, so as long as we are looking at that mask, we find ourselves trying to relate to that persona.

So today, Lady Gaga becomes popular for her outrageous costumes, but it is clearly within the tradition of stagecraft. Back when Alice Cooper started dressing in makeup and costumes and using outlandish props in his shows, and then other bands like Kiss made costumes and makeup as noteworthy as the music, it was visually arresting, given that most other bands at the time consisted of guys in T-shirts and jeans standing onstage with their guitars and amplifiers.

Jesters and fools were doing the same things in the Medieval and Renaissance times, using costumes as tools, which could either enhance or disguise messages that they were communicating.

Visuals create a magic of their own. Look at what happens when you put up pictures on a wall to illustrate what you want to manifest in your life. Help you keep focused? Help things happen faster?

Is there anything that you are trying to do that can be helped with a visual component? Try a little visual magic.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Alice in Wonderland Again

Alice in Wonderland time again.

In California one candidate for senator who cut 18,000 jobs when she was a CEO of HP says she is interested in saving jobs. Really?

So does a guy running for senator in Florida who made a billion in derivatives on the collapse of the mortgage market. Oh joy! Do we want to know what his next get rich quick idea is?

A third person active in politics, whose company pled guilty to defrauding Medicare and state health programs and paid $1.7 billion in fines for that, does not want to see any health care reform. Gee, I wonder why?

Still think that George Orwell's 1984 was fiction? Years ago, when we read that novel in school, most people thought that the idea that anyone could rewrite the actual public record and recorded history that radically was simply exaggerating for the sake of writing a dramatic story.

But here we are. People like these will buy enough advertising to convince some people that they really are looking out for our best interests.

Being a fiction writer gets to be a tougher job every day. how can you be more mind boggling than the news?

Of course, it will be hard for anyone to top the quote from the oil exec who said he was tired of talking about the oil spill in the Gulf because "he wants to get his life back." No doubt the families of the people who died on his oil rig, and the fishermen who can't fish, are thinking the same thing.

These characters make Alice in Wonderland seem normal.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

UFOs and Understanding

What if UFOs are simply waiting for us to continue beating each other up in wars and pollution before they swoop down while we are weak? By the time they announce that the are taking over and subdue us with their superior technology, we may feel like the Indians, Africans and aboriginal tribes facing the European armies and armadas. It will be a change so radical that it will be difficult for many of us to attend.

That is one scenario. Perhaps the second one is that we continue our space program and eventually we meet the inhabitants of other planets and make friends with them. Perhaps trade is developed and we become aware of the multitude of other ways of living out there. Our adventure opens our eyes.

Isaac Asimov once said that any technology sufficiently beyond our current capability will appear to be magic. We have a magical world here and now. There are even more out there.

We take time to absorb shocks. Those who grew up when every home did not have their own phone, are now using cell phones. Those who had some of the first black and white TVs with their constantly distorting screens and fuzzy reception now have big flat screens at home as good as the ones in theatres.

People can get as much information out of their laptop as they could out of a reference library. Although this is true, going to the library was an experience. Photo processing places, which were a fixture on our landscape, are now not needed. Video rental stores are getting hollowed out due to the success of online sources of movies. CD sales have been free falling as people download onto digital players. Writing letters used to be an art form, something special when it arrived, put in a drawer for reading again and again at later times. Now we email.

All of this has been radical for us. But what if something like creating a crop circle was done with the flick of a light switch? What if we could understand each other using telepathy, bypassing all language blocks and education deficits?

There is more that I cannot see right now, but these seem to be the two predominant scenarios.

But wait, here is a third. What if we enter a stage of evolution where we all become as gods and goddesses in the great stories?

The war scenario has been dominant because war has always figured heavily in our stories. But what now if new stories arise and become dominant where there is some sort of trade and cultural exchange that melds us?

How would we live through a ginormous change like that? Crop circle photos always prompt me with questions like this, as do photos of Stonehenge, Newgrange, the pyramids of Egypt. People are still trying to retell new versions of the ancient myths as a way of digesting them and reconciling them with what we know and our sense of reality.

What happens when we tell new stories? Do we get closer to understanding?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

When Stars Fell to Earth

It has been wonderful to come home from work and relax in the community garden and patio with my neighbors from time to time. I like all of them and we have fun. We all work in the garden. The other night we all brought out some musical instruments and sang and played for a while. Some nights we grill and drink.

When I was a kid, summer meant lots of baseball, basketball, running through sprinklers and swimming. Bicycling too, although I have more memories of riding my bike to deliver a daily newspaper route than the kinds of riders we see all around us today. If there was one thing I would have done most back then, it was play baseball. Well, softball actually. That was a lot bigger where I lived. Chicago might have been the only city where we used to hit with bats but field the ball barehanded. When I lived other places they always used gloves. They always had this kind of astonished look on their faces when you tell them that you played ball without gloves.

Today, I have a different appreciation for a summertime feel. I do my workouts in the rec center where it is air conditioned and I have no risk of sunburn. I do, however find it very sexy when a woman is sweating a bit and it glistens on her skin. Gym sweat is one kind of aphrodisiac, and droplets that sparkle in the moonlight is another. I like the feel of the cool breeze in the evening, and the rainstorms when we get them.

Kicking back with a drink with some friends and neighbors as we watch the sun go down and the moon come up just has that summertime feel to it. We let go of any thoughts of work or stresses about it, and just talk and joke and get happy.

We tasted the first fresh tomatoes off the vine yesterday. I have been enjoying fresh basil in my lunches for a couple weeks now. I'm going to make a pitcher of cold infusion basil tea with a little citrus zest.

Don't seem to see as many lightning bugs anymore. I like them, and in the summers you could always count on seeing those magical little lights, especially when you have a background of trees and shrubs. There were times when there were so many that it looked like stars that fell to earth, only instead of crashing, they floated in the air around us.

Enjoy the taste of the fullness of summer. It is sweet, isn't it?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dialogues with Spirit Guides

People often wonder how difficult it is to communicate with your spirit guides. In my experience, all it requires is a little bit of quiet time.

Whoever you think your spirit guides are, what they need is a little bit of your undivided attention. If you sit quietly or perhaps even walk quietly, and ask them to speak with you, they will. They need us as much as we need them, and they like to be acknowledged. After, they want to see us succeed. They are looking out for us.

At different times in our life, one spirit guide may be more prominent, while at later in life, perhaps another becomes more prominent.

When we need guidance, we need to ask directly, then listen. Sometimes they will answer right away, sometimes they take a while. The more we cultivate this habit, the more responsive they are.

Spirit guides can take many forms, but their essence is that they are here to help us, and they are looking out for our best interests. Spend a little quiet time engaging with them every day, and you will probably be surprised at how responsive they are, and how much easier it is to do this than you thought it would be.

Monday, July 19, 2010


There are times when we exert our will to get what we want, and there are times when we just surrender. After we have made bold and valiant effort, moments follow when you just thank god and goddess and the world that you have had this life so far and be open to the results you get. Surrender is that delicious moment where you are waiting, expectant and floating.

The time to move again will come soon enough. When we pause for a moment, we can feel the energy moving around us and through us.

Surrender deeply into the night. Let sleep come. Open the gates to the dreamworld and let us see where we go next.

Surrender and refresh yourself before the next wave of action gathers momentum. We will need our energy to go with it.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Coyote as Chupacabra

It turns out that the animal reported to be a chupacabra killed in Texas this week was really a coyote deformed by mites and parasites, not a mythical creature.

However, there is an interesting life lesson to this story.

For one, that animal must have gone through an extreme amount of agony before it was shot. Perhaps it was shunned by other coyotes. Without fur for protection, perhaps even walking around outside in sunlight would have been painful. Perhaps it had to struggle to even scavenge or digest what it ate. It must have had a distorted life as well as a distorted appearance.

If we think about coyotes in general, they are survivors. People in suburbs of Los Angeles and Las Vegas and other cities now routinely site them in their neighborhoods, and these are not animals you normally see in urban areas. But you see, once we extended our neighborhoods out into what had been their neighborhood for eons, they learned to adapt and scavenge.

That survival instinct led them to follow the path of highways east, until now they are thriving in eastern and southern parts of the U.S. where they had never been seen before. They have changed the geography and environment wherever they go. For example, the wolves are natural adversaries of coyotes, so when people have tried to kill all the wolves, what they got in return was more coyotes.

Native lore attributes a dual intensity to the coyote, as both a creator character, and a dangerous destructive character. In the tales he can be both funny and vicious, and in both aspects, an important player in the fabric of life.

I don't know if these are reasons why people who help people cross the border from Mexico are called coyotes, but it would make sense. They are resourceful and cunning, but can also have the reputation for being ruthless. No matter what others think of them, they perform a necessary role in society. They exist as long as there is a demand for their services.

The animal coyotes find a way to survive in the world at all costs. There are elements of this trait all around the world. For example, the character Loki in the Norse mythology contains many of the same elements. They are not exactly equal, but they contain that blend of humor and danger when pushed to the boundaries of the world, at which point the boundary is expanded. Then coyotes, and Loki, are no longer outside, but inside of the boundaries and part of our world that will always be part of our world.

You see, if we did not have these scary characters at the boundaries of our world, we would invent them. Have we invented the chupacabra or Bigfoot? Would the Norse stories be much more pallid without Loki? Can we have a world without something strange at the periphery? Consider this. In both the native coyote stories and the Norse Loki stories, we find humor. What would life be without humor?

If we perceive a sick coyote to be a supernatural monster, what does that say about the way our minds work? And for as much havoc as he wreaks in the stories, the only stories in the Norse myths that contain any humor are the ones where Loki is a central character. Perhaps the inseparable twins of danger and humor are part of the essence of survival strategies.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Our Schedule as a Garden

Sometimes the key to greater success is knowing when to quit something as well as when to start. For example, during this year, I took a careful look at which of the fairs and festivals were producing the best and worst results for me, and that made it easy to decide which events to keep doing and which ones to erase from my schedule.

While I considered the fact that this would leave some openings in my schedule, I decided that I would be comfortable with those open days, using some of the time to investigate other opportunities plus just allowing some downtime for rest and for fun.

I had a feeling that there were other opportunities out there, but sometimes my schedule was just too full to check them out, and sometimes the events that were filling up my time were not productive.

So here I am, half way through the year, and this strategy has produced better results than the previous year.

I am also in the process of cleaning out my email address book and reconnecting with people, and this effort is already bearing fruit, although I still have a long way to go.

Networking and brainstorming with other people has been a valuable part of this process, providing valuable inspiration and ideas.

It is a trap that we can fall into to think that if we are busy all the time that we will get the most results. That is only a partial truth. Being busy is good, but not all things are worth an equal effort.

Managing your schedule like tending a garden. Plant beds need to be weeded (Wait a minute! Not those weeds!) and pruned (trimming off the dead branches) in order to provide more room for new growth, and watered (giving your friends a little nourishment) so that they have material to create with when they draw down the sunlight and weave it into new greenery, flowers and edibles. Yes, it is even easier to find a few spots where we might even add a few more flowers now, and isn't that delightful? Just for the sheer variety of color, texture or fragrance.

It's easier to recognize what needs to be done using this example, isn't it? We can keep our schedule full of the activities we have been doing, and it is not until we stop and consider where our greatest growth has come that we recognize our next best area to focus on.

Our bodies are gardens, our schedules are gardens, our connections are gardens. Tend them and enjoy the beauty that flows and the results you receive.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bodies Find a Rhythm

Since they changed my hours on the day job and I am getting up way earlier now, I am having to go to bed earlier. My body isn't quite used to that, so I am taking sleeping pills to help me get used to sleeping earlier.

It is funny how they work. Sometimes I will feel groggy in a little while, sometimes it seems like they don't take effect for well over an hour. That seems strange to me because I expected that they would work the same way all the time.

Changing sleep patterns is a zombie sort of state. There will be times when I really want to take a nap, but I have to keep working. Then I am at home and slip into that state of beyond tired where I get a second wind. I try and make good use of that time for writing, but it gets to a point where I can't type and everything looks kind of wavy. Last night as I was writing, the screen looked like paper that got wet and then dried and had high and low spots.

Just imagine what it must be like for those people who get their shifts changed around frequently.

Our bodies acclimate to the rhythms of our lives. When we change them like this, there is a dream state that is interrupted by sleep then waking up at different times. Bodies find a rhythm, and we get used to functioning in it. I am mining these changes for every bit of creativity I can scavenge from them.

I can feel sleep making its approach, but not quite ready to take over yet. So I will leave this for now, while I still can find my way around the keyboards. Watch how the dreams shift too. If I find something interesting, you will know about it.

Bodies find their own rhythm at times like this, and your body lets you know what's next. You might have planned something different, but your body may have other plans. Did you ever notice that?


The wonderful thing about the chupacabras, the highly unusual mythical dog found in Texas this week, is that it opens our eyes to all the interesting and unusual creatures that also inhabit our world.

Here is a legend come to life. Will bigfoot be next?

Things that we wrote off as impossible suddenly come to life. What other varieties of life will we discover?

Discoveries like this wake up the mind.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Is It Really Radio?

I was approached recently by one of those companies asking if I would like to have my own Internet radio show. Bottom line is that for a contract fee of only $6,000-$8,000 a year (or something like that) I could have my own show. Lucky me.

Which means that if sponsors don't buy that many ads, then I would pay that much for the pleasure of streaming audio through a website, which is the accurate description of what is happening. It is really a misnomer to call it a radio show or a radio station if you cannot pick it up on a radio receiver.

Radio advertisers always buy ads based on how many people listen to a show. That is the first question they always ask. The follow up questions will be about what kinds of people listen to the show.

Magazine and newspaper advertisers want to know how many people read those publications. TV advertisers want to know how many people watch those shows. Even when people buy ads on a website, they want to know how many people go to that website.

If you were the advertiser, wouldn't you ask the same question? Would you be willing to pay thousands of dollars for an ad without knowing how many people listen to a show?

Ask yourself. How many hours a week do you listen to Internet talk radio shows?

The person selling the concept will tell you that being on an Internet talk radio show is a great idea because the whole world can tune into your show.

Yes, and the whole world can read our blogs and websites, but how many people do?

Success on the web is dependent on two things. Creating a great website is step one. Getting people to come to it is step two.

While being the host of your own radio show certainly appeals to a person's vanity, before shelling out your money, ask the usual questions. How many people listen to this Internet talk radio station? How do you know?

Personally, when I want to listen to the radio, I turn on the radio. When I am researching things on the web, writing emails or writing my blog, I am focused on my task. I do not want some talk show to be broadcast out of my computer while I am doing these other things.

If you really like the idea of having your own talk show, make your own podcasts and make them available on your own website, since you are already promoting your own website and trying to get people to come to it. Even if you have to hire someone to teach you how to make a podcast, it will be far, far less than buying one of those contracts.

And you won't have to try to persuade people to buy ads or listen to you by going to somebody else's website. You can simply invite them to listen to your podcasts and visit your website, which is what you really want them to do anyway.

Just some things for you to consider when you get that call.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Popular Romance

So tonight and tomorrow night, I will be doing tarot readings for people at the Rocky Mountain Romance Convention, a huge get together of romance novelists and their fans.

This should be a good fit, since one of the important questions most people ask about is their love life.

As of this date, I have been reading a lot of mystery, detective, suspense novels, some of which contain a bit of a romantic story in them, but I have not been reading romance novels.

The woman who runs the used bookstore where I trade most often says that she cannot keep enough paranormal romance in stock. There is a huge demand for stories that involve vampires, ghosts and such. Interesting that that category is so hot right now. Then again, those ghost busting shows have never been more popular on TV and mediums who bring messages from the dead have been popular for a number of recent years. So are vampire novels, tarot decks, and TV shows.

It will be interesting to see what all this means live and in person. I am looking forward to it. I think I am about to get another perspective on what puts the pop in popular. I expect that it will be a lot of fun reading for this group.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Pop in Popular

There was a time in my life when I read tons of non-fiction, history, biographies, how to books, self help books and for fun, some mainstream fiction. I knew that millions of other people were busy reading mysteries and romances, but I just never got around to that. There were so many subjects I wanted to know more about that reading for fun usually got squeezed out, except for perennially irresistible writers like Tom Robbins and Kurt Vonnegut. But they were the exception rather than the usual fare.

Then one day several years ago, I felt like it was time to read some popular fiction just for fun. I was wanting to relax with an intriguing story populated with interesting characters.

The change started when I used to have long commutes to and from work and I wanted something else to listen to besides what was on the radio. You can only tolerate so many traffic updates while you are sitting in it, or hearing the same few bits of news and music repeated over and over. I went to the library and the bookstores and started listening to books on tape and CD while I was driving. I enjoy a well told story, and some of the authors who write popular fiction are good storytellers. You are not going to learn a lot of facts from them or get tips on how to improve your life, but you can get a story with interesting characters who make you want to know what happens next.

I liked listening to their stories so much that I started picking up more of the books in print by those authors. When I found an author I liked, I kept reading them, then looked for others who also had a style that appealed to me.

Now I know why some authors are popular. Of course, you can only read so much, so it is natural to gravitate to storytellers who really click with you.

Interesting to observe how we change over time.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Structures from Silence

Often, there is so much noise in the world that it is hard for us to digest the changes that we are encountering. Courage is required for our progress in uncertain times. There are times when we feel compelled to act quickly.

Then there are times when our best next move is to be silent, sense our feelings toward our next choice and let our intuition guide us toward the choice that is best for us.

In that silence we will sense our next best move, our best position, and we gather our strength to take the next step. As we look at each option in our mind's eye, we will be able to feel which one is stronger, and that is the one that is signaling us to come forward.

Quiet contemplation allows our spirit guides to work with us better. If an idea keeps coming back to us, that is one sign. If we keep getting a yes when we hold it in our inner vision, there is a warmth that illuminates our path and ignites our passion.

The silence is the breath that we blow on an ember to coax it to burst into flames and renew our light, our heat, our desire, our vision. Once that fire has warmed us, our next breath is the fuel that sets us in motion.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Immigration and Offshoring

So I got called back to work, starting tomorrow. I had a lovely week off, although without pay. That was due to my job being sent to India. Knowing that my last two jobs with this company have been transfered to India, at some point this one probably will go too. I was thinking about the situation we are in. Where I work, the company continues its plan to send as many jobs as possible overseas, where they can hire people cheaper than they can in the US.

Because of this I have seen more people come and go at work than I can name. Turnover is beyond ridiculous. It used to be a management philosophy that if you can keep reliable employees and train them to do different tasks over time, that would be the road to being profitable long term. But that was before execs started celebrating the joys of finding cheaper labor and showering themselves with money like it was confetti, congratulating themselves on the genius of this strategy.

In the facility where I work, the janitors are all Mexican and many of them have outlasted a great many computer techs and customer service agents, which shows some of the current concerns about immigration from Mexico as misplaced. After all Mexicans have been coming here to work on farms and as laborers for the better part of a hundred years.

Looking at it from where I work, it is not the Mexicans who are causing unemployment. It is the American execs who send wave after wave of jobs overseas, laying off wave after wave of American workers at the plant in Colorado. The Mexicans are doing the same janitorial jobs they have done for years.

So when you add up all the decent paying jobs that American execs have shipped to countries like China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia and so on, there is a far more sinister and devastating effect on us, on the whole economy, than any influx of Mexicans coming here to be farm workers, slaughterhouse workers, janitors, busboys, gardeners, maids and construction laborers.

When these large corporations ship jobs to India, for example, they do not pay any taxes to the US on the money they make over there. So that is one loss of revenue to our economy. The second loss to our economy is that when people lose their jobs to offshoring, many who end up working at some lesser paying job that is not in their field will be paying less in income taxes, so that is a second hit to our economy. Third, offshoring sends ripple effects through the economy. When people have less money to spend, it drives down sales at retail stores, cars, appliances and durable goods, entertainment, contributes to defaults on home loans, car loans and consumer credit cards.

So when you factor all that in, is our economy hurting because Mexicans have come here looking for work? Or is it that executive decisions to "outsource" more has really damaged the American economy?

I think that they Mexicans became a convenient scapegoat. It was easy for corporate spin masters to get their talk radio mouthpieces to gin up the talk about the wave of Mexican immigrants taking our jobs. I don't see that as true. I think it is a classic case of misdirection.

We were sold a bill of goods by the politicians who told these lies about how Chinese people, for example, had all this pent up demand and were eager to buy American goods. But is that what has happened since we signed off on all those free trade agreements?

No, exactly the reverse is true. The Chinese did not have enough income to buy our goods. After our jobs were exported over there, they developed more of a consumer economy, because only after that could they afford to go shopping for more than the bare necessities.

Meanwhile, over here, we have towns and cities that were built around various businesses, and now that those businesses are gone, there are a lot of unemployed people and towns that are having to cut back on basic services people expect from a town, city or county.

So when you are thinking about why our economy is down, and why people have a hard time finding decent paying jobs that utilize their knowledge and skills, don't look at the Mexican janitors as the cause of the problem. Look at the people in the executive suites who are giddy over the fact that they replaced thousands of Americans with thousands of employees in some third world country working for peanuts.

Is the quality of the product or service the same once it is done in some other country? Even the execs will admit that it is not, but they are happy anyway, because the people over there work cheaper, giving them a greater profit margin. I think we could all name some product that we used because it was a good quality and performed well, yet the Americans who made it are now out of work because the product is now made overseas, and we have noticed that the new versions of the product do not last as long or work quite as well. Think about clothing that used to have double stitched seams that now has single stitched seams. Did you ever hear anyone say that they are having a problem with their computer and they would rather speak to someone in India about it?

I don't know if it is possible to get data like this, but consider what it would look like if we could count all the jobs that have been outsourced and offshored and compare that number to the jobs that Mexican immigrants have taken. In that process, we would also have to factor in not just the number of jobs, but the pay ranges of those jobs. So, for example, one janitorial job would not equal in pay one computer tech or programmer job. And certainly, one busboy, gardener or construction laborer job would not equal one machinist job.

So whenever you hear some radio or TV blowhard talking or read some article about how these immigrants are hurting our economy, ask yourself, is this really true? Have Mexican laborers hurt our economy more than corporate execs closing American businesses and sending our jobs overseas?

I think that influxes of immigrants are a far better development than offshoring.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Surprises in a Rose Garden

Just a short walk from where I live, there are a couple of beautiful public parks. One of them has a fabulous rose garden. There is a large variety of different colors and scents. Walking through it, there are constant delights to the senses.

If you simply sit on a bench, the breeze will carry the fragrance to you. Simple pleasures like these make life more enjoyable.

It was good that the city did it this way, as an outdoor garden in a park, rather than inside a conservatory, so that anyone can enjoy it any time, without paying an admissions fee.

Even though I like to garden, I did not know about all of these varieties, and I would guess that there are probably some that people are cultivating that are not included in the park.

Still, if you think you know what roses look and smell like, walking through a garden like this awakens the senses of sight, smell and touch. I found myself discovering that I didn't know that there were varieties of roses that looked and smelled like this.

Getting up late in the morning and then taking a walk to smell the roses seemed like a perfectly fine way to spend a holiday morning.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Little More Independence

On my day job, I am employed as a contractor, and at the present moment I am between contracts. The company's most recent adventure in offshoring did not go as smoothly as the wished, and did not happen on schedule, so as a result I have several days off. I wish it were paid time off, but it is nice to have time off anyway.

I now find myself with time to do some deep cleaning of things that have just been stacking up. And I also have time to go through my inventory of tarot decks very thoroughly, repricing some and getting more familiar with others that I haven't work with much.

So it is nice to have a breather so that I can watch some movies I have not had time to watch, go to the gym at times when I ordinarily would be working.

No alarm is set for the mornings. I like the relaxed schedule. I am celebrating a bit more personal freedom this July 4.