Friday, June 12, 2015

Snap. Crackle, Pop...There Goes Your Food Budget

Once again, this Evil Science Experiment called "Life" rears its ugly head. Our food stamp allowance has been cut by two-thirds, from roughly $357 to $80, due to a household expense deduction that was erroneously given...whoops, we made a mistake, now it's you who's gotta pay! Heads, you lose, tails you lose.

Of course, considering the opaque language that often characterizes these notices, it's hard to decipher the rationale, so -- like any good citizen -- you contact the agency, and hope that someone can explain it in English. So I guess I should reserve judgment until I hear it. That's the rational response, right?

The other side is a lot tougher to negotiate, obviously, because it means scrambling to fill the gap. On one hand, it's not the end of the world yet, since I can pick up an extra gig or two to paper over the cracks. On the other hand,'s hardly a welcome development, since Squawker and I experienced a couple years -- relatively speaking -- of stability on that front.

For awhile, we could (wonder of wonders) actually plan out a good portion of the month. As any nutritionist knows, you'll eat healthier if you're not always fending off hunger, since you can get the appropriate ingredients, and work out meals around them. That's less likely to happen, however, if slim resources get pushed -- then snapped -- past the breaking point.

I only have to look at our grocery store for further reference: I can count the number of sales on the "better/premium" lunch meat, versus the high-fat, high-salt, high-risk-of-clogged-artery varieties...on which you always see deals, rain or shine. What's my conclusion? Only yuppie careerists, apparently, are entitled to good nutrition. Sound extreme?  Now you know what kind of day I've had.

What's especially galling about this particular shoe drop, of course, is that it comes with little or no warning. The same thing happened last fall, when our apartment complex's management suddenly informed us that we were going to pay a monthly water, sewer and trash bill. At this writing, that means seeing roughly $240 fly out the window every year that we could certainly better spend at the dinner table.

Such arrangements are part and parcel of the way America operates, however. As the above examples illustrate, the relationship is an Occupier-Occupant one. As the Occupant, you're summoned for whatever nonsense that the Occupier -- be it your boss, caseworker, landlord, or political hack -- can't wait to cram down your throat.

Naturally, you have no voice in the matter, although the decision will cause varying degrees of chaos and disruption. Your interests be damned: The Occupier's needs always come first, and that's that. No further discussion required. I
 got the same vibe this week in reading Days Of Rage, a fascinating look at America's largely forgotten history of violent '60s, '70s and '80s-era radicalism. 

I don't want to write a review -- that's better left for another post -- but you can draw striking parallels between today's society and the early '70s turf that much of this book inhabits. 
Then and now, you had a stagnant economy; a growing underclass cast permanently adrift (don't forget that Orwellian term, "benign neglect," coined during this era); electronic snooping that went unacknowledged, until a public outcry forced the issue; and an arrogant, unresponsive government that worked hard to stifle dissent wherever it could.

On a surface level, at least, it looks (and smells) like "deja vu all over again," though I won't have a lot of time to ponder the implications, personally...after all, I've got a crack to paper over. So it goes: wash, rinse, repeat. --The Reckoner

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Humans Need Not Apply

Have you ever wondered why this not being addressed? How there are LESS jobs due to automation?

How do they expect people to BUY what is made when there is no jobs? Very few of the politicians are even paying attention to this. When I was young they used to say technology would bring more leisure and wealth to the average person. We aren't seeing this. A few are growing very rich while more are growing poorer and poorer. My day to day life really isn't any different then it would have been in the 1960s save for my Internet access.

We are just seeing more unemployment and a wide distance between the rich and poor. None of these technological wizards are even asking if they should do what they are doing. Wisdom is thrown out the door.

Some may even computer program themselves out of a job! I don't use self-check cashiers, I'd rather deal with a human.  Life is impersonal enough.

You have to do more of the work with a computer. It's you doing all the bagging of the food and moving it onto the scale.

One thing, it seems all the technology is bringing dystopian nightmares into reality instead of any new human renaissance of thinking and creativity. Have you noticed that?  Why aren't the machines freeing up the humans? They seem to just be enslaving us more.

Since the machines lack souls, it's just making everything regimented. What happens in a world where everything is automated and there is nothing to do? What happens in a world where only a tiny segment of the population has a job? Mankind could blow himself up back into the Dark Ages soon which will make the computers a moot point but there are many in denial about how severe things are getting in the work-world. Very few people are asking if these are technological roads we should even head down? Overall, maybe this is an issue to be addressed if most people are unemployable, what kind of society will that be without major changes?--The Squawker

Hey this is our 150th Post! :-)