Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Water: An Endangered Species?

by Madeleine Kando

I am visiting Kauai, also known as the Garden island, the oldest and most beautiful of the Hawaiian islands. Like a tiny speck of dirt, it sits in the middle of 64 million square miles of ocean, with the closest land mass 2400 miles away. Looking out the window of my rented condo on the cliffs of northern Kauai, it feels like I am on the bow of a ship. In all directions there is only water, water and more water. Read more...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Defining Paul Ryan

by Madeleine Kando

Everyone is trying to define Paul Ryan, the young, ambitious Republican Congressman that Romney chose as his running mate in the 2012 Presidential elections.

Romney himself has portrayed Ryan as ‘a reluctant budget warrior who went to Washington to change the status quo’ (conveniently forgetting that Ryan is the ultimate insider. He never ‘went’ to Washington, he was always there).

Paul Ryan is the Tea Party’s hero. He is one of the ‘Young Guns’ in the Republican Party. He is also the author of the proposed budget plan ’A Roadmap for America’s Future’, a plan that would essentially do away with most of the social welfare programs in this country. He is a true ideologue who believes in Social Darwinism: ‘Reward the rich, penalize the poor, let everyone else fend for themselves. Dog eat dog,’ as Robert Reich so aptly says in his article ‘The Ryan Choice’.

Paul Ryan’s hero is Russian author and philosopher Ayn Rand. She is best known for her novel ‘Atlas Shrugged’, a story about the morality of rational self-interest. Rand was a fervent atheist and she supported rational and ethical egoism, and rejected ethical altruism. She opposed all forms of collectivism and statism, instead supporting laissez-faire capitalism, which she believed was the only social system that protected individual rights.

An excellent article in The New Yorker by Jane Mayer: Ayn Rand Joins the Ticket, describes Rand’s views on the virtues of selfishness: ‘In his début today, Ryan stressed that “We promise equal opportunity—not equal outcomes”—a philosophy that telegraphed a tough message to those who are worst off. Ryan also signalled a Rand-like celebration of the winners, and dismissed complaints from the losers, saying, “We look at one another’s success with pride, not resentment.” Rand’s language was tougher still. She used words such as “refuse” and “parasites” to describe the poor, while celebrating millionaire businessmen as heroes. She abhorred government social programs, such as Social Security, at least until she reached the age of eligibility, and reportedly signed on for both its benefits and those of Medicare.

I would like to add my own definition of Paul Ryan: For those of you out there who have seen ‘Chinatown’, a 1974 Roman Polansky movie, you might remember that it was based on the California Water Wars of the early 1900’s, when Fred Eaton was mayor of Los Angeles. Eaton appointed William Mulholland, a self-taught engineer, as the head of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. He was the guy who built the LA Aqueduct, leaving much of Owens Valley up north without enough water.

When asked if it was fair to divert the water that flowed from the Owens River south, leaving the farmers and ranchers dry in the process, Mulholland is known to have said: ‘If you don’t give them water, they won’t need it’.

That is Paul Ryan for you: a proponent of unfettered capitalism. I can easily hear him think: ‘If you don’t give them social security, health care or food stamps, they won’t need it’. leave comment here Read more...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Breaking Up with God

By Madeleine Kando

Jane received an early morning phone call from God the day after she arrived. She was still jetlagged and barely knew where she was, but she recognized God's voice right away. A jolt went through her and she was transported back into a distant past, a long forgotten time in her life when she was still naïve and full of expectations. Why call her now, after all these years? Was he trying to correct the rotten way he had broken up with her? Not only did he break up, he gave her no warning of any kind. One day he was there, holding her hand, making her feel accepted and safe, the next day he had disappeared, leaving her to wonder if he had just left or dumped her for someone else? Read more...