Keep an eye on the ref

If I had the investment funds I would be moving mucho dinero into anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication stocks.  Too many people are on edge with this drama about the debt ceiling.  The fear is palpable.

Relax.  Don’t rush the pharmacist just yet.   America’s credit line will be raised. Armageddon will be postponed.  First thing to know is that August 2 is an artificial and arbitrary deadline.

I’ve had several recent discussions centred around this ‘crisis’ manufactured by the politicians, and movers and shakers, and delivered by the media.  I’ve even seen a headline, “Don’t get caught holding US dollars when the default arrives”.    Won’t happen.   In all discussions, I’ve looked at the face of nervous people who apparently feel they are looking at a financial apocalypse.  The power of the press.

But if you are really nervous, don’t buy gold, unless you have digestive system that can digest metal.  Like money, gold will end up worthless… unless you have like a thousand plus years to hoard it… and even then.  Buy guns.

What we are looking at is the beginning of the end of the teaparty.  This brinksmanship is a joint effort to rid the society of these pests.   Saw what happened in Norway? A right-winger.  And he had guns, not gold.

The republicans desperately want to lose the teapartyers without seeming to do so.  There will be lots of crocodile tears when they are rendered extinct, but secretly it will be good riddance.

How long can republican leader John Boehner hold the line that there should be no new additional sources of revenue from the rich when it is clear that many corporations while paying little or no taxes are making massive profits?  He can’t, especially when the financial markets are beginning to get nervous… thinking that Boehner might not be able to rein in the divisive teaparty.

Lets get some background on Boehner.  He voted for every budget-busting, high-spending measure proposed by George Bush.  He voted to raise every debt ceiling request under Bush.  So when did he become a fiscal disciple?  November 4, 2008… the day a black democrat was voted president of the United States.

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Boehner and every politician claim to represent the wishes of the American people, but the American people overwhelmingly want higher taxes on the rich rather than massive cuts in public spending.  Yet, the republicans are facing the other way, fighting for a minority of less than 3% of America.  And that number is even lower because many well-off individual Americans are not opposed to extra taxes.  Standout exception of course being major corporations.

While both sides often ignore the people (as I think they should), where it comes to economic welfare, the republicans always defer to the wishes of the elite.   They really do believe that this country belongs only one set of Americans.

Judson Phillips, teaparty nation president said, “The Founding Fathers originally said, they put certain restrictions on who gets the right to vote. It wasn’t you were just a citizen and you got to vote. Some of the restrictions, you know, you obviously would not think about today. But one of those was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you’re a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community. If you’re not a property owner, you know, I’m sorry but property owners have a little bit more of a vested interest in the community than non-property owners”.

This isn’t difficult to understand.   If we were to follow his logic all the way through regarding the founding fathers, only white males would be eligible to vote.  But really what he is saying is that most minorities, youth, students and elderly should not have voting rights.

This has been a central theme of the republicans for several decades, but moreso with the teaparty wagging the dog. Today there are aggressive moves being made by states with republican leadership to block the voting rights of the above groups.

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The tea party and the republicans remind me of this boxing story.  Between rounds, the battered boxer slumps in his corner and the trainer says to hum, “Don’t worry, he ain’t laying a hand on ya”.  To which the boxer replies, “Well, somebody better keep an eye on the ref because someone is sure beating the crap out of me”.

So, Boehner is holding the line as long as possible because he wants the teaparty leaders locked in while still hoping to retain some of their empty-headed massives when the leadership get their heads chopped off.   Don’t fret, enjoy the drama.

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A not so new idea is floating around courtesy of internet emailing, labeled “This is a very good idea”.  And it is. I would go further.  Why is it that politicians have so many advisors paid for by taxpayers when the pols always vote the party line anyway.  The party needs one advisor, paid for by the party.  Cut the rest.  Not original, not practical but something to think about.  Politicians aren’t going to make themselves extinct.  That’s why there is no 3rd party in the USA, or Jamaica for that matter.

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Let me give you an example of the low level of political discourse in this country.  Jack Cafferty, pundit on CNN, posed not for the first time, a kinda face-off between the public sector and the private sector.  And as to be expected, the usual potshots at government workers flew.

Many pundits start with the basically stupid premise that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector.  Really.  Have these people never heard of the oil industry (BP proved efficient I’d say), the banking sector (especially in 2008-09), the airlines, ATT, health insurance companies, even the news media (like Fox, MSNBC and CNN are really efficient truth-telling machines).

Perhaps what the government should be doing to improve efficiency, is ship jobs overseas.  Send park maintainance to Mexico, technology to India and accounting to China.

The truth is, the American worker sucks, like many workers everywhere.  But Americans for the most part have lost the ability to be efficient and productive.  Very few private sector businesses offer decent customer service anymore.

So when people point fingers at the American public sector, they need to target the American workforce… but more correctly to the management of said workforces.  That’s where the low standards start.

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I have often been asked is how to differentiate between ‘good art and bad art’.  I’ve never found a good answer because art is subjective but I will be foolish enough to try to provide some thinking points.

I tend to opine that there is a very narrow margin of ‘bad art’. What we personally like isn’t necessarily good or bad, it’s what appeals to us.  There are many art pieces that I can’t understand, but my lack of comprehension doesn’t define those works… because there are many whom find them appealing.

It might be easier for me then, to define what to me is ‘bad art’ so that you can perhaps understand what I believe is ‘good art’.  My first category of ‘bad art’ is one which doesn’t come from inside the artist.  For example, when someone buys some paint and a canvas and suddenly wants to become a selling ‘artist’, or when an artist produces (not creates) something simply because it is currently trendy.

But I’m sure I’ve been wrong in making those judgements.  That’s because those feelings are not measurable and sometimes inconsistent. Flipping, I’m sure that some works I’ve thought authentic were actually mass-produced for Walmart.

And many of those pieces I would have labeled ‘bad’, have found an audience.  But then who am I to judge authenticity?  I have seen mass produced works from Singapore that  have been bought by ‘collectors’ who don’t know better, while fabulous pieces made by talented artists are summarily dismissed as ‘not interested’.  Is my feelings better tuned than their money?

Bad workmanship should also be qualified as ‘bad art’.  Bad photography, bad sculpture, bad paintings.  Painters whose brush strokes are absolutely sloppy, and not deliberate… they have never been taught to do better.  Photographers who don’t know one end of a camera from another, and who uses the ‘hit or miss’ approach made easier by digital technology but believe that each of their images makes them a great photographer.

But muddying the waters are those who insist that craftsmanship is but a minor factor in the creation of a work of art and that the more craftsmanship is evident, the worse the art is.  Some of these people argue that the end-product, that which we stare at, is less important than the process, which we don’t see.

Pardon me for not expounding on that but that concept is frightening to me.

People inside and outside the art world struggle to define who an artist is and what art is… after many years of art being in existence. Some would argue that experience shapes one into an artist, while others claim that experience is less important than a college degree.

Many artists talents blossom late in life, after 40 years behind a desk.  Who can deny them their place? I have seen copiers, without a scintilla of own imagination, reproduce fantastic paintings from a photograph.

The point is that there is no template for being an artist… we come from diverse times, experiences, backgrounds, learning and talents.  One of the things that clearly define an artist is consistency.  In today’s world, particularly with technology, many people can produce one or two memorable pieces of art.  I have seen the amateur once in a while, produce a really good image.  But producing a few random exciting pieces doesn’t necessarily make that person an artist just as prescribing painkillers doesn’t make me a doctor.

The fact that so many intangibles surround art, and that everyone from diverse backgrounds is likely to approach works of art differently, it is very difficult to define ‘good or bad art’.  Yet ‘bad art’ does exist.

I think that anyone who wants to get into collecting art, needs to immerse themselves into the art world through reading, going to galleries and museums and through discussions with artists.   What you like is a product of a lot of things, mainly your own background.  Still, sometimes it is useful to build a mechanism inside of you to overrule that history and come to new understandings.  And in the end, it is something intangible, that ‘something’ inside you that will tell you to obtain one piece over another.

Anyone who wants to jump in on this subject is free to do so.  I freely admit that there are many areas of uncertainty in myself as to what constitutes a work of art.

Me, well I have some talent, have a message and just love what I do.

 

 

 

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