The View Outside My Window: E.L. Fairchild

(“The View Outside My Window”  is a new feature at  Breathing Is Political.  As our lives in the Delaware River Basin meet the inexorable  forces of  the economy, health issues, resource degradation, etc. I’ve asked people whose perspectives are outside our ordinary to tell us what they see.  Today,  Breathing is  pleased  to present the view outside E. L. Fairchild’s window.  Don’t forget to view    Ms. Fairchild’s  work request at  CottageWorks’ Swaps, Barters & Freebies page as well as  the reference posted on her behalf at  the Refer-A-Worker page. )


I’m not what one might call a ‘News Person.’ I don’t like hearing about the horrible ways people treat each other – it makes me sad about being human. I am aware of the important things and will listen in when the news is on where I happen to be, but I prefer it most in comic forms – The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and mostly Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me on NPR. Therefore, when it comes to The Recession, my experiences are strictly personal.

What exactly is a recession? defines it as: Economics. a period of an economic contraction, sometimes limited in scope or duration. To me it means everyone else is panicking about the cost of living. Living costs. That’s a truth I’ve come to accept and I don’t let it bother me. Why worry if it doesn’t get you anything but worry lines? I know that I am blessed with an abundance of friends and family that are willing to help me when I’m down, but even without such a support network in place, I’ve found that by being nice and offering to help in exchange, there are more than enough people in the world that will extend a helping hand. Moreover, it seems to have doubled or tripled in the current ‘economic crisis.’

The Recession seems to be making a positive impact in the world as far as I am concerned. People are buying less in a society that has thus far been consumer driven. People are becoming more aware of ‘living Green,’ even if it’s just because of the money they save. Because gas prices keep going up, alternative fuels and smaller cars are surfacing, also something that will help the planet. Therefore, I think The Recession has been a good thing for Mother Nature.

I am a live-in nanny and have been for the past 3 years. In my spare time, I like to travel and experience the world, and for a Gypsy like me The Recession has been kind in many ways. The cost of airfare keeps going down. Although the ‘checked bag fees’ are new and quite annoying, most of the time I travel with a carry-on sized backpack, so it doesn’t affect me. It’s also inspiring others to do the same, thus the need for so many things is fading away. Simplicity is the order of the day.

Currently, I am looking for a place to live and a new job. According to the News and the gossip around the world, it’s not a good time for such things. In my experience, I’m finding the opposite. Many people are looking to rent rooms in houses or apartments in order to cut back on expenses. Car-pooling (another wonderfully Green thing) is more and more accessible with web sites like Jobs are most definitely there to be had, you may just need to dig a little deeper than you did before. I’ve found that communities are banding together to help each other out. Things like the Upper Delaware Community Network, a local group ‘bulletin board’ of sorts, are being started via the internet and are wonderful tools to advertise someone looking for help or looking for work. is another tool that I’ve found invaluable in helping to sell unwanted ‘stuff’ and find someone else’s unwanted ‘stuff.’ One person’s trash is another person’s treasure!

One of the few complaints I do have about The Recession is the cost of healthy and organic food. When money is tight, it can be so hard to eat well. The tasty organic plums that are grown locally are now $3.50/lb. The organic milk is sometimes double the price of non-organic milk. When I have less than $40 to feed myself for the week it’s hard justify the cost. And, in the back of my mind I know that I could fill my belly at McDonalds for about $5 (I wouldn’t, but I know I could). Luckily for me I don’t have the bills that most people do (such as rent, car payments and insurance), so I can justify the cost of my organic food, but I see how it is such a problem for so many.

Another issue that is on the tip of everyone’s tongues seems to be healthcare. Fortunately, I was injured in the Army (during Basic Combat Training, so I only served a total of 7 months) and now have free healthcare thru the VA. This issue doesn’t affect me, but it does affect my family, many of whom are self-employed. *Disclaimer* This is something I really don’t have a clue about. When I was in Ireland recently, I was discussing medical coverage with some friends. Every one of them was on ‘the dole’ (our welfare) but everyone had a medical card and free or almost free health care. “Ireland takes care of its people so the people will take care of Ireland,” one person told me. So, why is it so much harder for America? When so many countries have such a system in place, why is coming up with one for the USA so controversial? I haven’t figured it out yet. I’m sure there is any number of excuses out there, but like they told us in grade school, No Excuses – No Exceptions!

That is The Recession as seen through the eyes of a self-proclaimed Gypsy. It is not a complete picture in many ways, but broad enough I think. It gives me hope. I believe everything happens for a reason, and as far as I can tell, The Recession may just save our existence on this planet. So I encourage you all to Cut Back, Live Simply, Buy Locally, and Think Green. And when a Wanderer crosses your path, extend a hand – you may just get more than you give!

[F]unny side of the [Wall] Street: Obamanomics

In the spirit of Jon Stewart, “Let’s just cut out the middle man.” If President Obama is serious about “changing how we do business,” then he needs to roll out something better than his new version of Reaganomics.

Imagine  you’re the on-duty emergency room (ER) nurse in a small country hospital.  Your resources are severely limited by high unemployment and a health insurance crisis.

A healthy snowboarder hobbles in with a broken leg and dislocated shoulder.

You start a prophylactic IV drip of normal saline, pain killers  and antibiotics to protect the snowboarder from dehydration, pain and infection.

In a corner of the emergency room is a bloated near-corpse in systemic organ failure. His liver’s shot.  His heart’s all but stopped.  The smell of his rot and disease are spreading out of the ER, down the corridors and into the rooms of recuperating patients.

Emergency room protocol requires you to infuse the snowboarder’s  IV solution through the bloated near-corpse middle man first, rather than  into the snowboarder’s arm directly.

Proponents of this bassackward policy say that if the gas in the bloated guy explodes, it’ll jeopardize everyone in the hospital so we have to treat him with the best of the drugs and hope enough benefit reaches the snowboarder to prevent her relatively minor injuries from becoming a systemic threat.  If you’re the cynical type, you might think  the nearly-dead guy’s membership on the hospital’s Board of Directors is significant, too.

Whatever the reason for  the policy, the outcome is assured:  the bloated near-corpse will drain  your few precious resources on its way to the morgue and the healthy patient will die of preventable consequences.

In the spirit of Jon Stewart,  “Let’s just cut out the middle man.”  Break with protocol and centuries of obsolete thinking. Infuse the snowboarder directly. She’s going into shock.  Microbes are chewing on her broken, exposed bone. It’s a matter of basic triage:  apply your resources where they will do the most good as you asses each situation  uniquely, dispassionately and quickly.

The snowboarder (like most of our  neighbors) will heal quickly and be ready to continue her education,  develop new products, create new markets  and in general, become the new economic engine.  She’ll be rebuilding our nation while the rotting AIG-Goldman Sachs-Citi-Bank of America-corpse that’s poisoning us all is buried quietly in the background.

Stimulate acutely-ill  borrowers with a direct infusion of debt-cancelling cash that can be paid by them  to their ORIGINATING lenders.   The funds will or won’t trickle UP to the bloated entities who bought and bundled the  stinky credit card and mortgage loans.  Those who are too-big-to-fail will collapse if the funds can’t  find their way through the maze of intermediaries.  But, by  excising the corpse and caring directly for our fundamentally healthy neighbors, we can mitigate the effects of this new shift in focus and purpose.

The “mortgage-crisis” isn’t the root of our problems.  And our continued reliance on a rotting corpse to rescue the future may not be the cause of our problems, but it’s certainly proximate.  If President Obama is serious about “changing how we do business,”  then he needs to roll out something better than his new version of  Reaganomics.

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NEXT:  Tell-tale quotes from this week’s House Financial Services Subcommittee Hearing.

Emissaries For Obama

When the Bush regime gained control of the three branches of the Federal Government, it did so with an ideologic  righteousness that belittled opposing  points of view.  There’s no  evidence  that the outgoing regime enjoyed debates or  evolved through meetings of the mind.

Over the past several weeks, as it became more credible  that  now-President-elect Obama (such a kick to type that!) would be the 44th President of  The United States of America (an even bigger kick to type that!)  the rants of partisans like Bill Maher and Sean Hannity seemed increasingly mean and superficial.  They echoed the hateful tones of a nurse whose blog  vilified destitute refugees from Hurricane Gustav and my equally-hateful response to her.   None of us stopped to imagine the other’s experience but rather, retreated to our comfortable, exclusionary paradigms.

Isn’t intolerance  a fancy way of saying,   “You’re either with us or you’re against us?”  (“You’re either like me or you’re strange.”)   Isn’t it a  swampy place  where we consign  people  and points of view that challenge or threaten us?   If the clerk in the grocery store tells me s/he “voted for  McCain,”  and my response is an aghast,   “Are you nuts?  What the hell were you thinking as a working person?”  will my intolerant ignorance of her life make the clerk feel welcome in the Obama tent?

When Bill  Maher says  religious people are too stupid to vote or too ignorant to have an opinion,  isn’t that just one more way of delineating his  Real America from Another America?

When a foreclosed farmer or an unemployed college professor  is  shadowed by debt  and loss,  where do they turn?  To the familiar.  To the things and ideas that have been traditional sources of comfort.   Mine are my children, family, a few dear friends,  chocolate cake, knitting, Mark Twain, the first three seasons of  Boston Legal,  barbeque chicken and potato chips.    For a vegan,  comfort  might be a bowl of  steamy tofu chili.  Whatever comforts we seek, they’ll be alluring or repugnant to others.  More important than the specific comfort we  seek is the fact that most of us do retreat to familiar cultural  bunkers when we’re threatened.  And you’d better know, I won’t relinquish my comforts to suit you unless you  convince me that my  bunker provides false comfort.  Telling me that  my choice of chicken wings is “stupid and irresponsible”  won’t do it.  Forcing tofu down my throat will just make me throw up.

When The Daily Show and others sneered at “undecideds,”  were those voters encouraged to support Obama?  I know a number of undecided voters who  finally chose in the voting booth.  In the main, they were  social conservatives who disagreed with McCain’s lack of economic vision; or,  they were terrified of  electing an inexperienced President but were equally terrified of Sarah Palin.  They aren’t stupid people and they agonized over their choices until the last possible minute.  One of them wanted so desperately to do what was right, she nearly voted as her deceased grandmother would have.  She knew how proud the life-long Democrat would have been to vote for the young Senator from Illinois.

In the end, I believe  there are remarkable men and women who walk onto the public stage because the historic moment cries out for them  —  great Statespeople who teach us to imagine the minds and lives of our “enemies” and  to walk in their shoes.   I believe that Barack (like Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.) is one of those people.  They teach us that we all  have fears and therefore, prejudices.  As a Populist,  I’m suspicious of anything that divides me from others and mostly, I’m frightened by what happens when we combine fear with ignorance.  Justice and unity  cannot co-exist with intolerance and it doesn’t much matter if the butt of intolerance lives rural or urban,   is  a trades person or  a comedian.

In a pre-election segment of Morning Joe (MSNBC) Willie Geist tried to sell McCain-Palin tee shirts on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.   He found two sympathizers among the crowd flowing past him.  The vast majority, however,  were Obama-philes and their snippiness was instructive:  “I don’t know any McCain people.  I wouldn’t have one for a friend.”

None of us is 100% consistent.  Most of us have squirrelly bits that glare balefully at our better selves. They’re easily-recognizable, though;  they often snarl loudly and pound  their fists.   Sometimes the only way to counter  our irrational parts is to poke around in their origins;  to wonder aloud, “What am I afraid of?  What are you afraid of?”

This is not to say we can stand mute in the face of racism, sexism, religious intolerance,  attacks on intellectual freedoms, homophobia or any other threats to civil society; but as Obama emissaries, we must listen to and understand the fears of others.  How else can we  lay those fears to  rest?  How else can we  open our doors  as far as possible and create an innovative and more civil future?