Tara's Thoughts

Archive for the ‘Nature of Reality’ Category

I published this post six years ago.  It has gotten only more relevant as time passes.  As we reach this year’s Thanksgiving celebration I give thanks for those in public service who actually understand that their jobs exist to serve the public.

George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950)  was a playwright, journalist, public speaker and champion of the working class.  He wrote more than 60 plays in his lifetime and was the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938), for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion (adaptation of his play of the same name).

Many of us may be surprised to learn that he was also a co-founder of the London School of Economics.  No slouch he.

In stark contrast to the attitudes of so many of our currently elected officials, here is his statement about public service:

“This is the true joy of life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live.

Life is no “brief candle” to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

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Today we say goodbye to one of the most unique, beloved figures I have ever had the privilege to know.

Ed Terry (AKA Ed Theriault; AKA Eddie The Spoon Man) has been a fixture in the Southern California acoustic music scene for many years.   His enthusiasm, natural musicality and love of people made him a sought-after guest  in the many bands he played with and a welcome presence everywhere he went.

 

Eddie The Spoon Man photo

Ed Terry – The Spoon Man – Still making music and Joy at age 80

Eddie started playing the spoons as a young boy and never stopped.  Among his accomplishments  are a stint playing with the Horace Heidt Orchestra (circa 1940), a 1st prize win on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour and he has the distinction of being one of the few people to ever appear on The Gong Show and NOT get gonged off!

Eddie was 76 years old when he met John Zipperer and very quickly became part of our band family. He performed with us over a period of years in concert halls, at senior homes, backyard parties, coffee houses and  was a big hit with audiences every time. (He was also a big flirt and always got lots of attention from the ladies!)

Ed Theriault had his share of life challenges but I never saw him without a smile on his face.  And the same goes for his wife of more than 60 years, the wise, wonderful Virginia.  He was a joy to be around and the world is a brighter place because he was with us.

 Rest Easy, Eddie! Your shinning soul, sparkling humor and enthusiasm for life touched many people and we will remember you!

Take a look for yourself:

July 2015 – Ed “The Spoon Man” Terry sits in with John Zipperer & Friends at Julie’s Joint House Concert jammin’ to JZ’s original tune “Here by Me”

The following paragraphs are excerpts of an excellent article written by Anu Partanen in the March 16, 2016 issue of The Atlantic which explains the realities behind “Nordic-style social programs” and how so many Americans, including current political big-wigs, are getting it wrong.   Don’t let the politicos sell you their claptrap!

(All emphases is mine.)

Free Mkt & Socialism

 “Bernie Sanders is hanging on, still pushing his vision of a Nordic-like socialist utopia for America, and his supporters love him for it. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is chalking up victories by sounding more sensible. “We are not Denmark,” she said in the first Democratic debate, pointing instead to America’s strengths as a land of freedom for entrepreneurs and businesses. Commentators repeat endlessly the mantra that Sanders’s Nordic-style policies might sound nice, but they’d never work in the U.S. The upshot is that Sanders, and his supporters, are being treated a bit like children—good-hearted, but hopelessly naive. That’s probably how Nordic people seem to many Americans, too.

 BUT THIS VISION OF HOMOGENOUS, ALTRUISTIC NORDIC LANDS IS MOSTLY A FANTASY. The choices Nordic countries have made have little to do with altruism or kinship. Rather, Nordic people have made their decisions out of self-interest. Nordic nations offer their citizens—all of their citizens, but especially the middle class—high-quality services that save people a lot of money, time, and trouble. This is what Americans fail to understand: My taxes in Finland were used to pay for top-notch services for me.

Here are some of the things I personally got in return for my taxes:

  • nearly a full year of paid parental leave for each child (plus a smaller monthly payment for an additional two years, were I or the father of my child to choose to stay at home with our child longer)
  • affordable high-quality day care for my kids, one of the world’s best public K-12 education systems
  • free college
  • free graduate school
  • nearly free world-class health care delivered through a pretty decent universal network
  • a full year of partially paid disability leave

 As far as I was concerned, it was a great deal. And it was equally beneficial for others. From a Nordic perspective, nothing Bernie Sanders is proposing is the least bit crazy—pretty much all Nordic countries have had policies like these in place for years.

 ….THE TRUTH IS THAT FREE-MARKET CAPITALISM AND UNIVERSAL SOCIAL POLICIES GO WELL TOGETHER—this isn’t about big government, it’s about smart government. I suspect that despite Hillary Clinton’s efforts to distance herself from Sanders, she probably knows this. After all, Clinton is also endorsing policies that sound an awful lot like what the Nordics have done: paid family leave, better public schools, and affordable day care, health care and college for all.

 …supporters of not only Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, but also of Donald Trump, are worried about exactly the kinds of problems that universal social policies can help solve: worsening income inequality, shrinking opportunity, the decline of the middle class, and the survival of the ordinary family in the face of globalization. What America needs right now, desperately, isn’t to keep fighting the socialist bogeymen of the past, but to see the future—at least one presidential candidate should show them that.”

The Atlantic

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/bernie-sanders-nordic-countries/473385/

 

This is an excerpt from Tara’s upcoming book Speaking Truth; Words that Matter written with and about co-author, John Glass. More details can be found at www.SpeakingTruthTheBook.com

 

“A bird may love a fish but where would they build a home together?”

When the question is about life choices there is usually more than one right answer. Case in point: Bird on a spiral fuzzy edges

One of my very favorite Broadway musicals is Fiddler On The Roof.   I have always felt it is one of the better written scripts in the vast Broadway repertoire. Every word of every line of dialogue and every lyric of every song is there for a reason. There is always a nugget of a story to tell or a window into the mind or soul of a character. Or, as is so often the case with Jewish material, there is a lesson to teach.

 That is not to say every point of view in the story is agreeable. When his young daughter falls in love with a man outside of their faith Tevye says to her, “A bird may love a fish but where would they build a home together?” This one line has always stood out to me as slightly disturbing. He is trying to tell her that their differences are too great to overcome. After all, a bird cannot swim (unless it is a duck. See what I mean?). A fish cannot fly (well, OK. There is one species that can. But we’re looking at this particular quote here). A bird cannot live underwater. A fish cannot breathe out of the water. How could they share a life? It seems, on the face of it, to be a practical statement of a physical limitation.

 But when you take a deeper look what you might find is a limitation in thinking and an intolerance for choices that do not mirror your own. Stick to your own kind. Take the easy route. Don’t make the neighbors uncomfortable. It never occurs to Tevye that some form of cohabitation different than his own traditional choice might be a better fit for someone else.

 Yes, most birds live in the trees and fish live underwater. But songbirds come to the pond in my backyard and sit at the water’s edge. They drink, bathe, rest and sometimes seem to be looking into the pond to see what may be under the water’s surface.

 I question even the notion of the bird and the fish being so very different from each other. Look at the photo on this page. Both bird and fish have round bodies, pointed mouths, round eyes and tails. They both spend their day foraging for food. Traveling around their environments and resting in the sun.

 And, perhaps, even their differences are a benefit to our very non-traditional partners. The bird’s song can speak for the mute fish. The fish provides a stable home-base for the adventuring bird to return to.

bird and fish w shadow

 That may not seem like enough to some. Well, then, you’ve made your choice. But to say that no other choice is acceptable, or even possible, is to deny others the right to choose what is best for them.    You may decide that you can’t live without a swimming partner. Others might be content to coexist in the same back yard.

Fiddler On The Roof opened on Broadway in 1964. And yet, more than 50 years later, the analysis of this world view is just as relevant. In the past 50 years we have seen overwhelming amounts of inhumane treatment and intolerance justified by our “differences”. We have seen ever growing amounts of environmental degradation justified by corporate greed and the notion that those “other” people don’t matter. If they knew what was good for them they’d be living like us!

Growing gun violence. Open hate speech. Devaluing of entire groups of people based on race, gender, sexual orientation or economic status. All because we are taught to fear each other’s differences.

And we all breathe the same air.

Wouldn’t it be a nicer world if we all remembered that? After all, flowers come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Some need a full day of sun. Other varieties thrive in the shade. Is a lily really more “correct” than a sunflower?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bernie Sanders free tuition

Higher education is the road to career success. Career success is the path to financial stability. Financial stability makes it possible to look beyond your own immediate survival needs.  Only then can you have the time and resources to notice what the corporate and legislative bigwigs are doing to our society.

NOW you know why the bigwigs are trying to ruin our educational system.  Keep the masses uneducated, uniformed and too busy trying to survive to notice anything outside their own immediate circle and the Bigwigs can pilfer, steal and destroy without any limits. 

Senator Bernie Sanders Introduces a Bill to make College tuition free

WE NEED an educated electorate! GO BERNIE!!

This is a very large, complicated topic. And I am grateful for the chance to air some thoughts.  I have been baffled and frustrated for many years by what I hear people say about Ayn Rand.  She is made out to be the heroine of the Conservative, Right-wing,  Free-market, Libertarian, Trickle-down, Supply-side economics  proponents. But, in fact, I believe, those who profess to be her followers are doing exactly the opposite of what she herself would have wanted.

I started reading Ayn Rand when I was 17. I have read all of her novels; most of them several times.  I am not a Libertarian. In fact I have objections to many Libertarian views. But I have been frustrated for many years by, what I perceive to be, a massive misinterpretation of what Ayn Rand wrote and believed.

As a matter of fact,  she did not call herself a Libertarian. She created her own philosophy that she called Objectivism.  The basis of which is that no one should live their life for the sake of another without regard to their own personal value. A direct push-back against the communist oppression she experienced growing up in Soviet Russia where the State is everything and the individual doesn’t count.

Her writings about enlightened self-interest are often twisted into  accusations of selfishness but are actually more in line with the what they tell you on an airplane: Put your own oxygen mask on first. Then you can help others.  In point of fact, there are many instances in her novels of characters making enormous personal sacrifices for others  in order to live up to the obligations they have committed to.

Ayn Rand grew up in Russia and rebelled against the control of the Soviet government. So It is understandable that she would talk about being free of governmental control.  But the heroes in her novels are quite different from the industrialist and CEOs of our present day reality even though they claim to be aligned with her beliefs.   Ayn Rand was an Atheist, pro-choice and a firm believer in a rational view of reality that permitted no deviation from actual facts.

In Ayn Rand’s novels the heroes are people who create real value – not financial manipulators who just amass more and more money. I see a major difference between her characters and the conservative business owners of today in that her heroes value the contributions of everyone, at every level , who contribute to their success. And her industrialists take care of their employees and their customers, treat them fairly and take full responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

The ethics of her main characters is such that no regulation is necessary because they would never choose to do anything unethical or take advantage of anyone.  No unions are necessary because the employers take such good care of their employees that an outside agency to control wages and working conditions is not needed.  I do not think I am putting words in her mouth when I say that Ayn Rand’s “free market” does  not the take the shape of today’s conservative notion where anyone is free to abuse ethical standards, cheat their customers and employees and destroy the environment in pursuit of wealth and power.

Ayn Rand’s heroes are copper magnates and architects and owners of railroads, yes. But also janitors and gardeners and assembly line workers who do their jobs in an excellent way.  Employer and employee trade value for value and the employer always acknowledges the contribution of the smallest cog in the wheel that allows their businesses to run.

In her novel “Atlas Shrugged” two of the main characters are Dagny Taggart and her brother James Taggart who co-own the railroad.  Dagny is the brains behind the operation and the one who runs the business.  James is the moocher who doesn’t want to put out any effort and wants to live the high life off the company’s  earnings.  James almost gets away with it until, near the end of the story, it is his secretary who finally realizes his true nature and takes him down.  The secretary is one of the novel’s true heroes.

Ayn Rand’s heroes would never play the financial gambling games that have brought us to the brink of economic ruin because – and she is quite clear about this – money is only a tool to be used for the creation of goods and circumstances. She says this over and over: Money is not evil. It is the love of money that is destructive and to be avoided.

The villains of Ayn Rand’s novels are the moochers who think the world owes them whatever they want without any effort of their own.  Her villains try to get away with not doing any of the work themselves and expect others to supply them with whatever  they want.  These moochers believe they are entitled to whatever they want simply because they want  it.  That is very different from the category of people in our country being called “moochers” and “welfare mothers”,  etc.  When your own government has allowed your jobs to be outsourced overseas and Wal-mart has destroyed your cities’ economy to such a degree that there are no jobs to be had in your town it is not “mooching” to accept help from governmental safety-net programs. Our current business model has created a system where no other options are available to help you feed your family. And it is not “mooching” to collect social security after you have spent a lifetime paying a portion of each and every pay check into that system.

The richest, most conservative among us believe that humans are only valuable if they are creating more wealth.  That is why politicians like Mitt Romney, Mitch McConnell,  Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan are so callous about the poor and elderly.  THOSE people, the poor, the elderly and the infirm,  can’t create wealth anymore so, in the view of the wealthy conservatives, they have no value and don’t deserve any respect or consideration.

Rand would not have aligned herself with today’s conservative movement which has chosen  to air only bits and pieces of her philosophy  in order to rationalize their own positions. The following quote is from Jennifer Burns, history professor at Stanford University and author of Goddess of the Market : Ayn Rand and the American Right:

“Libertarians who borrowed her political ideas but didn’t buy her epistemology were “a monstrous, disgusting bunch of people,” “plagiarizers,” and “scum.” Conservatives were far, far worse. “Futile, impotent and culturally dead,” conservatives could only “accelerate this country’s uncontested collapse into despair and dictatorship.” Despite their agreement on capitalism, unlike most conservatives Rand was a forthright atheist who supported abortion rights and opposed the Vietnam War. After her death, her philosophy was liberated from its origins; it was now possible to mix and match bits and pieces of Rand’s ideology to better fit the emerging conservative worldview. “

In the worlds of Ayn Rand’s novels  it is excellence that is valued and rewarded whether that comes in the form of a railroad,  a piece of art or the ability to care for a child.  Everyone’s contribution is valued and the ideals to be aspired to are not limited to financial wizardry.

Another false parallel that is being drawn between Rand’s writings and the actions of today’s conservative power structure is the intention behind, and the consequences of, the growing, gaping separation of uber-wealthy and lower-income populations.  What we see happening in our society is a massive grab by the wealthiest among us for as much wealth, power and as many resources as they can take regardless of the consequences to the rest of the world.  The rich surround themselves with comfort and luxury while allowing the cities around them to suffer.

Again, a reference to Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged” comes into play.  The main character of this novel is John Galt. Galt sees that the true producers and creators of the world are being used by those around them.  People with no talent or desire to achieve have come to believe that they have a claim on those that do and are making victims of the creators without any regard for their rights and needs.  Galt decides to create a civilization apart from the world at large where the producers can be free of the moochers and be properly acknowledged and rewarded for what they produce.  He approaches each person who is being drained and shows them how they are being victimized. He then gives them an alternative: Stop supporting your own destruction.  Quit. Leave the moochers behind and live in Galt’s Gulch, hidden from the world, among only those who will also live honorably as responsible creators.

One by one the “brains of the world” disappear and the outside world falls apart because there is no one left who will take the time and effort to reason out how to fix anything.

That is quite different from the power and resource grab we are witnessing today by the wealthy moochers who believe the world is theirs to drink from without ever refilling the pool.

The notion that Ayn Rand would approve of what today’s conservative, right wing,  corporate CEOs and Industrialist Republicans are doing is just plain wrong.  I believe her views are being twisted and used in ways she never intended.


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As a member of the Americana-Folk/Rock band, John Zipperer & Friends, Tara performs in around Los Angeles, CA (with an occasional out-of-town appearance). Come see for yourself why John Zipperer's CD "Full Circle" has been on the top 25 of the Roots Music Report Album Chart for over a year!

Tara Sitser - Author / Singer/Songwriter

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