DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Tossing Pebbles in the Stream: 02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

LaFollette would be Proud

It is with great interest that I am following the struggle in Wisconsin. The Republican Governor, Scott Walker, has decided to break the Unions and deprive them of their rights to collective bagaining so he can solve the State's economic woes on the back of workers who have organized and won adequate wages and conditions of work over the years. It has turned into a great struggle reminiscent of the labour and feminist struggles against the corporations and robber barons.

This video should get your get your juices flowing. It certainly makes my heart pump harder. Don't you just love old labour and feminist songs.! We need to remember the strength and courage of women in the early struggles for unions. Sing on Woody Guthrie!

It seems progressives, in Wisconsin, at least, have mustered the courage to confront those who would take people's rights away. Perhaps, it will spread across America in the face of the laissez-faire true believers in trickle down economics and the amassing of wealth with the few. Their mantra to all economic concerns is "NO TAXES!" It seems they want a country that "others" should pay for. Two American wars have been fought on credit cards, which was insane from the beginning. If the country was at risk, special taxes should have been raised to defend it. Instead taxes have been lowered for the rich at all levels of government. The United States now has a massive national debt as well as many States and cities unable to meet their financial needs. Unbelieveably we still hear the call for cutting taxes to create jobs. This does not work. The rich just pocket their money. If government really wanted to stimulate the economy they should give everyone who makes less than $20,000 a year a grant of $10,000. They will spend it all at the retail level.

Our Conservative government in Canada which tries to emulate the conservatives in the US at every possible opportunity reduced the sales tax when they came to power, even though their was not great lobby for this.At the time, Canada had had a decade of deficit free government and even a program to gradually reducing the debt, thanks to a Liberal government. If this ideological tax reduction had not happened Canada might have come through the recession without creating the debt we now have accumulated under this government.

Those who oppose taxes at all cost claim to be conservatives. I will never understand why it is not still a conservative principle to "pay your way" in life and not to make other pay for you. You still hear conservatives grumbling about the poor who are getting social assistance without working for it ;and yet, they want, at the same time, to have a country for which they do not have to pay .They expect those on the lower social economic level to pay for it by cutting services that they need. As for liberals, they should willingly , through taxes, pay for programs and services of the government that are essential and important. Taxes pay the bills. We should not count on finding efficiencies in governement to balance the books. It goes without saying government should always be looking to operate efficiently after all they are spending our money and not their own.

"Taxes" is not a dirty word. It is what makes our government and country work for the benefit of all. I was always taught that paying taxes was a privilege we should be proud to fulfill for they pay for us to live in one of the best countries in the World (as a modest Canadian, I would not call Canada, "the best", but I do know by almost all measures it is better than the United States, which lays claim to being the best. This makes one smile at the blind audacity of their claim)

The other principle of taxation is "everyone should pay according to his means." The rich have an obligation to pay more because they have reaped the most benefits from the country and proportionately find it less of a hardship.

The United States, particularly Wisconsin has a proud progressive history, which many seem to have forgotten. One of the great Progressives was Robert M. LaFollette, Sr , from Wisconsin. He was a Republican when to be one was to be a progressive. LaFollette's spirit is alive in the streets of Madison. Americans seem to have forgotten this great tradition along with so much of it's socially progressive history. It is time to renew this tradition and resist all those who think that you can live on a credit card indefinitely or make others do without necessary government services so the very rich can get even richer. This road leads to a disaster, a country built on the backs of many for the benefit of a few. The current struggles in the Middle East are the end result. These countries are facing an economic struggle, a struggle for basic services and rights not a religious stuggle as some would have us believe. They are a warning to all governments.
Serve the People!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

I trust on this special day everyone will know they are loved and have an opportunity to share their love with someone.

Throughout the ages their has been much written on the subject of love. But to really know what it is all about just ask some young children. . . .such wisdom. . .such humour.

When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.
Billy - age 4

Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.
Karl - age 5

Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.
Chrissy - age 6

Love is what makes you smile when you''re tired.
Terri - age 4

Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.
Danny - age 7

Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more.
Emily - age 8

Love is what''s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.
Bobby - age 7

If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.
Nikka - age 6

Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.
Noelle - age 7

Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.
Tommy - age 6

My mommy loves me more than anybody .You don''t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.
Clare - age 6

Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.
Elaine-age 5

Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Brad Pitt.
Chris - age 7

Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.
Mary Ann - age 4

I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.
Lauren - age 4

When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.
Karen - age 7

You really shouldn''t say ''I love you'' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.
Jessica - age 8

For those who need more "mature" wisdom try these final words of a poem by Kahlil Gibran "On Love"

When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, "I am in the heart of God."
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

Kahlil Gibran, On Love

Friday, February 04, 2011

Can't Resist a Test?

I just can't resist taking a test or filling out a questionaire. It sees I just have to prove to myself that I am as knowledgeable of things as I think I might be.

Here are two test I recently took when I came across them in The Christian Science Monitor.
The first is a series of questions from the foreign service exam taken by those who aspire to be in the US diplomatic service.

Hmmmm! Did I have what it takes to be a US diplomat. I remember falling just short of the cut-off point on a US Cooperative Culture Exam, which altered by choice of schooling from Berkeley California to Boston, Massachusettes. (Still a painful memory). For a few more correct answers my life may have been forever altered. It was a humbling experience coming after a rather successful four years of studying philosophy. I must admit I pause that this 20 question sample of the foreign service exam would challenge me, and recall the feelings of falling short in that test so long ago.

With a little trepidation I gave it a try, expecting it to be a test designed for Americans and not an observer of things America from Canada.
The Result: I got 18 out of 20 correct. If my nationalist pride had not influenced me I would have got 19 out of 20.

The second test is a geography test of South America. I never formally studied anything about South America but as a person interested in geography and a politcial news junkie I thought I could meet the challenge. For the last decade, I have been interested in South American politics.
I have even had a Venezuelan email pen friend, with whom I debated about the changes in her country.

This decade has been one of big changes in South America as left wing democratic governments came to power, with an eye to improving the lot of the poor and national improvement for the benefit of more than just the weathy few. During this time the Americans, who traditionally treated the countries of Central and South American as their resource rich back yard, lost their dominance of this continent while being distracted by the Middle East and Central Asia. One of the legacies of the Bush Administration will be the loss of South America.

I thought I had a a good chance to do well on this geography test.
The Result: It got all 16 questions correct. This was a pleasant surprise. It was a disappointingly easy test. It could have been more challenging.

I invite you to take one or both of these tests.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Groundhog Day

Wiarton Willie

Good news! the groundhogs did not see their shadows so we will have an early Spring. For many, Spring cannot come soon enough as it has been a very difficult winter (except where I live for reasons I do not understand.) It is a little disappointing to miss out on the dramatic Winter weather that has been so troublesome for so many.

No wonder the groundhogs (Punxsutawny Phil, Balzac Billy, Gary the Groundhog, Brandon Bob, Shubenacadie Sam, Wiarton Willie) did not see their shadows. Most of them are in the midst of a winter snow storm which might offer a scientific explantion of the "wisdom" of these rodent sages, as cloudy skies made shodow viewing difficult.

The authoritative groundhog in these parts is Wiarton Willie the adorable albino groundhog that has made Wiarton, Ontario famous. (Makes me wish we had a River Valley Rodent) He began as a ruse fifty-five years ago as a woman's white hat in the snow to become an annual local
Winter Festival. I shall always remember in 1999, when unknown to the public Wiarton Willy died two days before Groundhog Day. As was the early tradition a faux stuffed groundhog was passed off on the public as Willy. It seem what began as a ruse continues to be a ruse when necessary for the town fathers who sponsor the Winter Festival.

For all those tired of the stuggles of winter weather, I trust the remarkable rodents are correct.