The Struggle to Let Go of Anger

Spent an hour,  at least, meditating. The troubling memory was from having acted out of the tremendous anger for having been cheated. Have to trust in God and karma. I’m angry all the time. Every little thing brings it out, and I’m cussing under my breath. Don’t want to be an angry person. Don’t want to be hateful. Definitly want justice. What would justice look like? What would it feel like?
Before this meditation, I thought I had gotten over the anger, thought I had moved past it. I really did! Introspection over a troubling memory brought it back. I’m still mired in it. I’ll breathe through that memory with deep belly breaths until it is transformed.


Two Paths

Two paths in the woods:

One beaten down from many steps,

The other, a few patches of worn grass.

One, the way of party-hardy,

The other, healthy and sober. 

Few find the street and narrow way,

But for me, there is no other.

​Hypersensitivity Blues(Standard Blues Progression)

Gotta get over my hypersensitivity.

Gotta get over my hypersensitivity.

When you do your thing, I’m thinkin’ it’s all about me.

I’m thin skinned about every little thing you do.

I’m thin skinned about every little thing you do.

‘Specially when I’m bein’ run over and the driver of the car is you.

If it makes you happy just take my share away.

If it makes you happy just take my share away.

Leave me with nothing, reckon that’ll be okay.

Gotta get over my hypersensitivity.

Gotta get over my hypersensitivity.

I’m thinkin’ you hate me ’cause your knife is stickin’ in me.

You gotta blame someone, I’m your sacrificial goat.

You gotta blame someone, I’m your sacrificial goat.

You put the blame on me and you cut me in the throat.

What’s confusin’ me is the smile that’s on your face.

What’s confusin’ me is the smile that’s on your face.

Pretendin’ to be my friend while you blast me into outer space.

You claim I lost the game while you strike me in the neck.

You claim I lost the game while you strike me in the neck.

What you don’t admit is that you had stacked the deck.

One A.M.

The smell of skunk…

How safe am I in this screen tent?

Can’t sleep…

One A.M.

The smell fades,

Then returns,

Then fades again.

I’m thinking…

Must have dreampt,

Before the smell woke me up,

About another stench.

I’ve distanced myself,

Why can’t I get it out of my nose?

The two faces she and he have:

The carefully hewn “nice-guy” image,

And the desperate greed

That I saw.

People looking on are confused.

Which sister is the unsisterly one?

Why can’t they get along?

Okay, you live in one place…

Then you live in another.

No big deal.

Happens all the time.

The hate and slander

Is what really hurts.

The Future For Esperanto in Global Communication

(Scrollu duonvoje al la fino por la esperanta versio — Scroll half way to the end for the Esperanto version.)

Esperanto is a language that was developed with the goal of it’s becoming an international auxiliary language, that would facilitate communication between speakers of different languages. Since many different languages are being spoken throughout the world, there is a need for one specific language that everyone could learn in order to communicate with everyone else. People would keep their own native languages, and also learn one other language. One global second language still needs to be agreed on by each parliament in the world. It might be a man-made language like Esperanto, or it might be a natural language like English. English is very difficult to learn, Esperanto is phonetic and regular in it’s conjugations, easier to learn than any natural language. However, unless Esperanto is the language agreed upon by the parliaments of the world as the official global second language, few will learn it. They will spend years of their lives learning complex natural languages such as English, Spanish or Chinese, and world communication will not progress very far. However, if more people don’t learn Esperanto, the world’s parliaments will probably not select it as the global auxiliary language. Is there a better second language, for instance, a streamlined version of a natural language? Will there be another invented language that will be learned by more people than Esperanto? Right now there is a group on Facebook that receives posts from people all over the world in Esperanto. Someone posts every few minutes.

To accommodate phonetic spelling, the Esperanto Alphabet consists of the following letters:

A B C Ĉ D E F G Ĝ H Ĥ I J Ĵ K L M N O P R S Ŝ T U Ŭ V Z      

There is no Q, W, X or Y.

V is pronounced somewhere between the English V and W. The Esperanto words for FOUR and FIVE, KVAR and KVIN are difficult with an English V. QUAR and QUEEN would be approximations of the Esperanto pronunciations of those two words. 

The Esperanto J is pronounced like the English Y. The J sound of English is covered in Esperanto with Ĝ or Gx.

The sound of X is designated in Esperanto by KS, thus the X as a single letter is not needed. On systems where the hats over the letters are not available, an x after a letter, such as C, J and S, substitutes for the hat. Either creates another letter with another sound. 

C is pronounced like TS in CENTS. Ĉ or Cx is pronounced like CH in CHURCH. G is pronounced like G in GO. Ĝ or Gx is pronounced like G in GIANT. H is pronounced like H in HOT. Ĥ or Hx is pronounced like CH in BACH. This clearing-the-throat sound does not normally occur in English, and is rare in Esperanto as well. 

J is pronounced like Y in YEAR. Ĵ or Jx is pronounced like S in TREASURE. S is pronounced like S in SO, Ŝ or Sx ìs pronounced like SH is SHUSH. 

The consonants B, D, F, K, L, M, N, P, T and Z are the same in Esperanto as in English. The Esperanto R is rolled similar to the Spanish R. There is no spelling for the English TH, as used in the English words ETHER, EITHER, THOUGHT or THE, sounds that often occur in English.

The Esperanto vowel A is pronounced like AW in AWESOME. There is no Esperanto spelling for the A in APPLE. E is pronounced like E in NET. I (i) is pronounced like I in MACHINE. There is no spelling for the I in IN. O is pronounced like the OA in OAK. U is pronounced like the U in USE. There is no spelling for the U in UP. There are no spellings for the OO in BOOK or the vowel R as occurs in the English words WORD and PURSE. Sounds for which there are no Esperanto spellings are not part of the basic Esperanto vocabulary. 

At first glance Esperanto might appear to be a simplified version of Spanish. A lot of the root words in Esperanto were derived from Latin.

Normally I is used to designate the vowel that might be spelled with EE, EA, I or Y in English, and J is used for the consonant form, when Y begins a word, such as the English word YEAR, JARO in Esperanto, pronounced YARO, ryhmes with MORROW. In Esperanto, the Y sound at the beginning of a word is spelled with J.

There are, however, certain times when a vowel is designated, in Esperanto spelling, with J rather than I. One instance of this is when the plural is formed by adding the vowel form of J, pronounced as a vowel blend, a dipthong, between the O that all singular Esperanto nouns end with, and J, the plural designator. OJ is pronounced like OY as in the English word BOY. In Esperanto, HUNDO is DOG, HUNDOJ is DOGS. The root word, HUND rhymes with the English SPOONED.

The vowel that sounds like EE used in Esperanto dipthongs is spelled with J rather than the I that might be expected.

AJ is used in the Esperanto word KAJ, (AND in English), pronounced like KI in the English word KITE.

EJ is used in the Esperanto word, PLEJ (MOST in English), pronounced like the English word, PLAY.

UJ is used in the Esperanto word TUJ (IMMEDIATELY in English), rhymes with the English word GOOEY.

AŬ or AUx is used in Esperanto in BALDAŬ (SOON in English) pronounced BALD-OW. 

EŬ or EUx is used in the Esperanto word, EŬRO, a unit of European currency, pronounced E as in MEN plus O as in DO. This last dipthong is not used often.

Esperanto has regular, predictible spelling, pronunciationl and verb conjugations. There are a number of prefixes and suffixes that can be added to root words to produce a variety of meanings in a consistent manner. One can be creative in their use and still be readily understood.

BELA means BEAUTIFUL. All Esperanto adjectives end in A. BELE means BEAUTIFULLY. Esperanto adverbs end with E. BELULO means an attractive person. -UL- is a suffix that indicates a person who has the quality designated by the root word it is used with.

BELULINO would specify a beautiful woman as the suffix -IN- indicates the feminine form of the word. BELEJO (pronounced BELAYO) would designate a beauty parlor as -EJ- added to a word indicates the place where the thing is done or developed.

The infinitive forms of all Esperanto verbs end in I. TO LOVE is AMI. AMAS is the verb in the present tense. MI AMAS VIN means I LOVE YOU. LI AMAS MIN means HE LOVES ME. ĈI AMAS ILIN means SHE LOVES THEM. VI AMAS ĈIN means YOU LOVE HER. 

NI AMAS LIN means WE LOVE HIM. MI AMIS LIN means I LOVED HIM. MI AMOS LIN means I WILL LOVE HIM. MI AMUS LIN means I WOULD LOVE HIM. AMU ILIN! means LOVE THEM! VI ESTAS AMATA means YOU ARE LOVED. Other Eseranto verbs are conjugated the same way.

There are several free online Esperanto courses. One is . Another is .

I think that Esperanto should add to it’s alphabet, because if it is to succeed as the official auxiliary language for global communication, it will need to absorb words from other languages in technical fields, particularly English. In order to absorb English words, and thus be enabled to compete with English as the universal language of technology, Esperanto will need to add letters for the sounds that English has that Esperanto does not as yet have. These include 2 TH sounds, a W consonant, the vowels in BAT, BIT, BOOK, BUT, BURT, and the unaccented vowel in the second syllable of WORKMAN. Symbols for these 9 sounds could be made by applying hats to existing letters. The W, already present on most keyboards, could be employed for W. The unused Q could be used for one or both of the THs. (One of the Qs would need to wear a hat — in a phonetic system a word like ETHER would need to be distinguishable from a word like EITHER.) Alternatively, the EITHER TH could be spelled with the ^ over the D and the ETHER TH could be spelled with the ^ over the T. 5 of the vowels lacking in written Esperanto could be spelled with a ^ over each of the 5 existing vowels. Â could be the A in BAT. Ê could be the unaccented vowel, such as in the second syllable of WORKMAN, Î could be I in BIT. Ô could be the OO in BOOK. Û is distinguishable from the U with the valley symbol over it used in Esperanto dipthongs and could signify the U in BUT. The vowel form of R can be designated by R itself. A name like BURT can simply be spelled BRT when absorbed into Esperanto. If this is seen to be problematic, the unaccented vowel could preceed the R as BÊRT.

Although English seems to be winning the race for the global auxiliary language, it comes at a large human cost to the people required to learn it, as it is highly irregular. Do the people colonized by the English enjoy speaking the language of their historic oppressors? If Esperanto could grow into it, it has the potential to become the universal communication tool of the future.

English has more vowels than some other languages, kind of like how an Arabic musician finds more notes on a violin string. Arabic music divides the octave into smaller increments. 

An English speaker enunciates 4 separate vowels with the lips in a smile. With the top and bottom front teeth almost touching and the lips in a smile, the vowel that comes out is I (EAT, TEA, BE etc.). Open the jaws just a little, still smiling, and the vowel that comes out is Π(IT, IS, BIT etc.). Open the jaws wider, smiling, and E (TEN, WHEN, GET etc.) is the vowel that comes out. Open the jaws as wide as you can while keeping the smile, and  (AT, NAP, BACK etc.) comes out. For these vowel sounds the tip of the tongue is below the bottom teeth. Of course it has to move around for the consonants.

With the lips in a more relaxed position and the tongue at the base of the bottom teeth, English speakers produce 2 vowels, Û (UP, WHAT, DUCK etc.), with the jaws partly open, and A (ALL, WALK, HOT etc.) with the jaws wide open. With the mouth relaxed, the jaws part way open, and the tongue curled part way up, the vowel form of R (HER, PURSE, WORK etc.) is produced.

With the lips pursed forward, the jaws mostly closed and the tip of the tongue at the base of the bottom teeth, the vowel U (USE, FOOD, TUBE etc.) is produced. With the lips pursed and the jaws a little more open, Ô (PUT, COULD, BOOK) is produced. With the jaws as open as they can with the lips pursed, the vowel O (HOPE, SHOW, GO etc.) is produced.

I wrote three booklets on the vowels used in English when I was teaching my children to read and write. They are linked below:

Smile Sounds

Waterfall Sounds

Wind Sounds

La estonteco por la esperanta lingva en tutmonda kumunikado

La esperanto estas lingvo evoluigita kun la celo, ke ĝi fariĝos internacia helpa lingvo, kiu ebligus komunikadon inter parolantoj de malsamaj lingvoj. Pro tio ke multaj lingvoj estas parolataj en la tuta mondo, necesas unu specifa lingvo, kiun ĉiuj povus lerni por komuniki kun ĉiuj. Homoj konservus siajn proprajn lingvojn, kaj ankaŭ lernis unu lingvon. Unu tutmonda dua lingvo ankoraŭ devas esti interkonsentita de ĉiu parlamento en la mondo. Ĝi povus esti homfarita lingvo kiel la esperanto, aŭ ĝi povus esti natura lingvo kiel la angla. La angla estas tre malfacile lerni, la esperanto estas fonetika kaj regula en ĝiaj konjugacioj, pli facila por lerni ol iu ajn natura lingvo. Tamen, krom se la esperanto estas la lingvo interkonsentita de la parlamentoj de la mondo kiel la oficiala tutmonda dua lingvo, malmultaj lernos ĝin. Ili pasigos jarojn de siaj vivoj lernante kompleksajn naturajn lingvojn kiel ekzemple angla, hispana aŭ ĉina, kaj monda komunikado ne multe progresos. Tamen, se pli da homoj ne lernas la esperanton, la mondaj parlamentoj verŝajne ne elektos ĝin kiel tutmonda helpa lingvo. Ĉu estas pli bona dua lingvo, ekzemple, simpligita versio de natura lingvo? Ĉu estos alia elpensita lingvo, kiu estos lernata de pli da homoj ol la esperanto? Nuntempe estas grupo en Facebook, kiu ricevas poŝtojn de homoj tra la tuta mondo en la esperanto. Iu afiŝas ĉiun malmultajn minutojn.

Por akomodi fonetikan ortografion, la Esperanta Alfabeto konsistas el jenaj leteroj: A B C Ĉ D E F G Ĝ Ĥ I J Ĵ K L M N O P R S Ŝ T U Ŭ V Z

Ne estas Q, W, X aŭ Y.

V estas prononcata ie inter la angla V kaj W. La vortoj de la esperanto por FOUR kaj FIVE, KVAR kaj KVIN estas malfacilaj kun anglo V. QUAR kaj QUEEN estus alproksimiĝoj de la esperantaj prononcoj de tiuj du vortoj.

La esperanto J estas prononcata kiel la angla Y. La angla sono estas kovrata en la esperanto per Ĝ aŭ Gx.

La sono de X estas nomumata en la esperanto per KS, do la X kiel ununura letero ne estas bezonata.. Sur sistemoj, kie la ĉapeloj super la leteroj ne estas haveblaj, x post la letero, kiel C, J kaj S, anstataŭigas la ĉapelon. Aŭ uno kreas alian leteron kun alia sono.

C estas prononcata kiel TS en CENTS. Ĉ aŭ Cx estas prononcata kiel CH en CHURCH. G estas prononcata kiel G en GO. Ĝ aŭ Gx estas prononcata kiel G en GIANT. H estas prononcata kiel H en HOT. Ĥ aŭ Hx estas prononcata kiel CH en BACH. Ĉi tiu klara-gorĝa sono ne okazas en la angla, kaj estas malofta en la esperanto ankaŭ.

J estas prononcata kiel Y en YEAR. Ĵ aŭ Jx estas prononcata kiel S en TREASURE. S estas prononcata kiel S en SO, Ŝ aŭ Sx-aj prononcata kiel SH en SHUSH.

La konsonantoj B, D, F, K, L, M, N, P, T kaj Z estas samaj en la esperanto kiel en la angla. La esperanto R estas ruliĝata simila al la hispano R. Ne ekzistas literumado por la angla TH, kiel uzata en la anglaj vortoj ETHER, EITHER, THOUGHT aŭ THE, sonoj kiuj ofte okazas en la angla.

La esperanta vokalo A estas prononcata kiel AW en AWESOME. Ne ekzistas esperanto-literumado por la A en APPLE. E estas prononcata kiel E en NET. I (i) estas prononcata kiel I en MACHINE. Ne ekzistas literumado por I en IN. O estas prononcita kiel la OA en OAK. U estas prononcita kiel la U en USE. Ne ekzistas literumado por U en UP. Ne estas ortografioj por la OO en BOOK aŭ la vokalo R kiel ĝi okazas en la anglaj vortoj WORD kaj PURSE. Sonoj, por kiuj ne estas esperanto-literoj, ne estas parto de la baza esperanta vortaro.

Al unua vido, la esperanto ŝajnus esti simpligita versio de la hispana. Multaj radikoj en la esperanto estis derivitaj el la latina.

En esperanto kutime I estas uzata por literumi la vokalon, kiu povus esti skribata per EE, EA, I aŭ Y en la angla,, kaj J estas uzata por la konsonanto, kiam Y komencas vorton, kiel la angla vorto YEAR en la esperanto prononcata YARO, ĝi rimas kun MORROW. En la esperanto, la sono de Y al la komenco de vorto estas literumata kun J.

Tamen de certaj tempoj, vokalo estas difinita, en esperanto-literumado, kun J anstataŭ I. Unu ekzemplo de ĉi tio estas kiam la pluralo estas formata per aldono de J, prononcata kiel diftongo inter la O, ke ĉiuj unuopaj esperantaj substantivoj finiĝas kun, kaj J, la vojo la esperanto indikas pluran. OJ estas prononcata kiel OY kiel en la angla vorto, BOY. En la esperanto, HUNDO estas DOG, HUNDOJ estas DOGS. La radika vorto, HUND rimas kun la angla vorto SPOONED.

La vokalo, kiu sonas kiel EE uzata en esperantaj diftongoj, estas skribita kun J anstataŭ ol I, .

kvankam vokaloj en esperanto, kiuj sonas kiel EE sed ne estas parto de diftongo, estas literitaj per I.

AJ estas uzata en la esperanta vorto KAJ (AND en la angla), prononcata kiel KI en la angla vorto KITE.

EJ estas uzata en la esperanta vorto, PLEJ (MOST en la angla), prononcata kiel la angla vorto, PLAY.

UJ estas uzata en la esperanta vorto TUJ (IMMEDIATELY en la angla). Ĝi rimas kun la angla vorto GOOEY.

EŬ aŭ EUx estas uzata en la esperanta vorto, EŬRO, unuo de eŭropa monero, prononcata E kiel en MEN pli O kiel en DO. Ĉi tiu lasta diftongo ne estas tre ofte uzata.

La esperanto havas regulan ortografion kaj facilan verban konjugacion. Ekzistas multaj prefiksoj kaj sufiksoj, kiuj povas esti aldonitaj al vortoj de radiko por produkti diversajn signifojn en maniero ke povas antaŭdiri. Unu povas esti krea kaj ankoraŭ esti facile komprenata.

BELA signifas BEAUTIFUL. Ĉiuj esperantaj adjektivoj finiĝas en A. BELE signifas BEAUTIFULLY. Esperantaj adverboj finiĝas kun E. BELULO signifas allogan personon. -UL- estas sufikso, kiu indikas personon, kiu havas la kvaliton designitan per la radika vorto, kiun ĝi uzata kun. BELULINO Specifus belan virinon kiel la sufikso -IN- indikas la inan formon de la vorto. BELEJO (prononcita BELAYO) designus belegan ĉambron kiel -EJ- aldonita al vorto indikas la lokon kie la afero estas farita aŭ evoluigita.

La infinitivaj formoj de ĉiuj esperantaj verboj finiĝas en I. TO LOVE estas AMI. AMAS estas la verbo en la nuna tempo. MI AMAS VIN signifas I LOVE YOU. LI AMAS MIN signifas HE LOVES ME. ĈI AMAS ILIN signifas SHE LOVES THEM. VI AMAS ĈIN signifas YOU LOVE HER.


Estas kelkaj senpagaj interretaj Esperanto-kursoj. Unu estas . Alia estas .

Mi pensas, ke la esperanto bezonas aldoni al ĝia alfabeto, ĉar se ĝi estos sukcesi kiel oficiala helpa lingvo por tutmonda komunikado, necesos sorbi vortojn de aliaj lingvoj en teknikaj kampoj, precipe la anglo. Por sorbi anglajn vortojn, kaj tiel esti kapabligita konkurenci kun la anglo kiel la universala lingvo de teknologio, la esperanto devos aldoni literojn por la sonoj, kiujn la anglo havas, ke la esperanto ankoraŭ ne havas.

Ĉi tiuj inkluzivas 2 TH sonojn, W konsonanton, la vokalojn en BAT, BIT, BOOK, BUT, BURT, kaj la unaccented vokalo en la dua silabo de WORKMAN. Simboloj por tiuj 9 sonoj povus esti faritaj per apliki ĉapelojn al ekzistantaj literoj. La W, jam ĉeestanta en plej multaj klavaroj, povus esti uzata. La neuzata Q povus esti uzata por unu aŭ ambaŭ el la THs. (Unu el la Q-aj bezonus porti ĉapelon – en fonetika sistemo vorto kiel ETHER bezonus distingebla de vorto kiel EITHER.) 

Alternative, la EITHER TH povus uzi la ^ super D kaj la ETHER TH povus uzi la ^ super la T.

5 el la vokaloj, kiuj havas skribitan Esperanton, povus esti skribitaj per ĉiuj 5 el la ekzistantaj vokaloj. Â povus esti la A en BAT. Ê povus esti la senkulpa vokalo kiel ekzemple en la dua silabo de WORKMAN. Î povus esti la I en BIT. Ô povus esti la OO en BOOK. Û estas distingebla de la U kun valva simbolo super ĝi uzata en Esperanto-diftongoj, kaj povus signifi la U en BUT.

La vokala formo de R povas esti nomumita per R mem. Nomo kiel BURT simple povas esti literumita BRT kiam absorbita en la esperanton. Se ĉi tio aspektas problema, la senkulpa vokalo povus preterpasi la R kiel BÊRT.

Kvankam la angla ŝajnas esti gajnanta la vetkuron por la tutmonda helpa lingvo, ĝi venas al granda homa kosto al la homoj bezonataj por lerni ĝin, ĉar ĝi estas tre malregula. Ĉu la homoj popolitaj de la angloj ĝuas paroli pri la lingvo de iliaj historiaj opresantoj? Se Esperanto povus kreski en ĝi, ĝi havas la eblecon fariĝi la universala komunikila ilo de la estonteco.

La angla havas pli da vokaloj ol iuj aliaj lingvoj, simila al kiel araba muzikisto trovas pli da notoj sur la ŝnuro de violono. Araba muziko dividas la oktavon en pli malgrandajn pecojn.

Angla parolanto prononcas 4 apartajn vokalojn kun la lipoj en rideto.

Kun la supraj kaj malsupraj frontaj dentoj preskaŭ tuŝantaj kaj la lipoj ridetaj, la vokalo, kiu eliras, estas I (EAT, TEA, BE ktp). Malfermu la makzelojn nur iomete, ankoraŭ ridetante, kaj la vokalo, kiu eliras, estas Î (IT, IS, BIT ktp). Malfermu la makzelojn pli larĝe, ridetante, kaj E (TEN, KIEL, GET ktp) estas la vokalo kiu eliras. Malfermu la makzelojn tiel larĝe kiel vi povas dum la rideto, kaj (AT, NAP, BACK ktp) eliras. Dum ĉi tiuj vokaloj sonas la pinto de la lango estas sub la malsupraj dentoj. Kompreneble ĝi devas moviĝi por la konsonantoj.

Kun la lipoj en pli malstreĉita pozicio kaj la lango ĉe la bazo de la fundaj dentoj, parolantoj de la angla lingvo produktas 2 vokalojn, Û (UP, WHAT, DUCK ktp), kun la makzeloj parte malfermitaj, kaj A (ĈIU, WALK, HOT ktp) kun la makzeloj larĝe malfermitaj. Kun la buŝo malstreĉiĝinta, la makzeloj malfermiĝas, kaj la lango kurbigata supren, la vokala formo de R (HER, PURSE, WORK ktp) estas produktata.

Kun la lipoj antaŭejn kvazaŭ por kisi, la makzeloj plejparte fermitaj kaj la pinto de la lango ĉe la bazo de la fundaj dentoj, la vokalo U (USO, FOOD, TUBE ktp) produktas. Kun la lipoj antaŭejn kaj la makzeloj iom pli malfermitaj, Ô (PUT, COULD, BOOK) estas produktita. Kun la makzeloj tiel malfermitaj kiel ili povas per la lipoj antaŭeniras, la vokalo O (HOPE, SHOW, GO ktp) estas produktata.

Mi skribis tri broŝurojn pri la vokaloj uzataj en la angla kiam mi instruis al miaj infanoj legi kaj skribi. Ili estas ligitaj sube:

Smile Sounds

Waterfall Sounds

Wind Sounds


I was thinking about the government and wondering why some people back policies designed to make the rich richer, when many of the people voicing conservative opinions aren’t particularly rich, and don’t benefit from the policies they defend. That’s a real riddle to me. Are the wealthy such skillful propagandists that people who don’t know better just get scammed, to not only go along with policies that subsidize the wealthy at everyone else’s expense but also, to voiciferously defend them? “Don’t take money from the business tycoons! They worked hard building their businesses making products we all need, and they deserve to wallow in their opulance!” Is there a misplaced indentity in the factory worker, toiling away while listening to hate mongering against the lower classes on her radio, thinking, as oppressed as she is, at least she’s better off than someone else? Or is it like the victim of a kidnapping who comes to take on the opinions of his captors? Is there brain washing going on? I just can’t believe that the 99% are letting the 1% get away with what they’re getting away with! Do we really think that we are just one lucky gamble away from joining the super-rich? We don’t want to destroy that lifestyle, because there’s chance we’ll get there too?

I read, Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer, by Dean Baker. The ebook is available at in a variety of formats for free. I didn’t realize that until after I had bought my copy from Amazon for $1.99. The author explains how a laissez faire economy is impossible because there has to be rules of some kind that will effect the outcome in some way. These rules will benefit one class of people to the detriment of another. The people benefiting don’t want the rules to change, unless they can skew them to benefit themselves even more. They protest any attempt to change the rules for a more agrarian outcome by screaming, “Free market economy!” 

“There is no scenario in which the market works alone. Government policies will affect the level of output in the economy. The only question is whether we want to design these policies explicitly to meet certain goals or if we want to pretend we don’t notice the impact of the policies we have put in place.” Dean Baker, Rigged, 11%.

Baker examines five areas in which policies deliberately set by the government, or left in place by the government, have had the effect of ratcheting up the wealth of a small group of people, while the majority have watched their own standards of living plummet, within the last four decades in the United States. The book implies that a more equal distribution of wealth can be achieved by the adoption, by the government, of different policies in those five areas. I read it twice, taking notes the second time, because I really want to understand this.

 “In the case of macroeconomic policy, the United States and other wealthy countries have explicitly adopted policies that focus on maintaining low rates of inflation. Central banks are quick to raise interest rates at the first sign of rising inflation and sometimes even before. Higher interest rates slow inflation by reducing demand, thereby reducing job growth, and reduced job growth weakens workers’ bargaining power and puts downward pressure on wages. In other words, the commitment to an anti-inflation policy is a commitment by the government, acting through central banks, to keep wages down. It should not be surprising that this policy has the effect of redistributing income upward.” Dean Baker, Rigged, 5%.

According to Baker’s Rigged, there is a cluster of consequences to keeping interest rates high. They include:

  • Low inflation
  • Rise in the value of the dollar relative to other currencies
  • Upward redistribution of wealth 
  • Reduced consumption or demand
  • Slow job growth 
  • High unemployment
  • Downward pressure on wages
  • Weakened worker’s bargaining power
  • Longer hours for those who remain employed (if company provides benefits)
  • High US trade deficit (we are importing goods faster than we are paying for them with either exported goods or money)
  • Manufacturing jobs are lost

Why the government has set these scenarios as priorities has to do with the goals of the people making the decisions. 

The second area in which, according to Basker, wealth is being redistributed upward, is the structure of the financial industry and it’s regulation. Baker compares the financial industry to the trucking industry in that as the trucking industry moves goods from place to place, the financial industry handles capital and securities. The financial industry has undergone a rapid growth in the last few decades, “from 4.5 percent of GDP in 1970 to 7.4 percent in 2015.” (Baker 19%). He points out that all of this growth does not seem to improve the effectiveness of the industry in serving it’s function and, “waste in the financial sector provides income for some of the highest earners in the economy.” Dean Baker, Rigged, 19%.

“Excessive trading is the greatest source of rents in the financial sector, and subjecting it to a financial transactions tax (FTT) would go a long way toward bringing taxation in the financial sector in line with the rest of the economy.” Baker, Rigged, 20%

Government policy has been to guarantee the solvency of huge banks at guarantee the solvency of huge banks at tax payers’ expense, too big to fail (TBTF) insurance. Baker believes that the banks should be asked to downsize themselves, break themselves up to their size of the 1990s or 1980s. (Baker, Rigged 25%)

The third area covered in Rigged to explain why wealth has been redistributed upward, toward the already wealthy, during the last few decades, is patent and copyright protection. Protections for pharmaceutical products are more important to the government than preventing the loss of manufacturing jobs.

“When government officials sit down wth their counterparts from China and other countries, they can negotiate over the currency policies that these countries are pursuing. If negotiators opt to make currency a priority, they can likely get these countries to agree to increase the value of their currencies relative to the dollar… There will be a trade-off for focusing on currency values, meaning that other items will be given lower priority. For example, the United States has pressed China for increased access for the financial industry, the telecommunications industry, and retailers, and it has pressed China and other developing countries to devote more resources toward enforcing U.S. patents and copyrights.” Baker, Rigged, 17% 

“Over the last four decades these protections have been made stronger and longer. In the case of both patent and copyright, the duration of the monopoly period has been extended. In addition, these monopolies have been applied to new areas. Patents can now be applied to life forms, business methods, and software. Copyrights have been extended to cover digitally produced material as well as the Internet. Penalties for infringement have been increased and the United States has vigorously pursued their application in other countries through trade agreements and diplomatic pressure” Dean Baker, Rigged. 5%

So basically we say to China, “We’ll keep our currency high relative to yours so you can have us as a market for your manufactured products. We just ask that you honor our patents on our pharmaceuticals to protect the exorbitant income of our 1%”

The 4th way income has been redistributed upward during the past several decades, according to Dean Baker in Rigged, is the pay of corporate executive officers (CEOs).

“The CEOs who are paid tens of millions a year would like the public to think that the market is simply compensating them for their extraordinary skills. A more realistic story is that a broken corporate governance process gives corporate boards of directors — the people who largely determine CEO pay — little incentive to hold down pay. Directors are more closely tied to top management than to the shareholders they are supposed to represent, and their positions are lucrative, usually paying six figures for very part-time work. Directors are almost never voted out by shareholders for their lack of attention to the job or for incompetence.” Baker, Rigged 5%

The 5th way that that the wealth gap has increased within the last few decades, according to Dean Baker in Rigged, is by protections to the pay of doctors, dentists and lawyers.

“Finally, government policies strongly promote the upward redistribution of income for highly paid professionals by protecting them from competition. To protect physicians and specialists, we restrict the ability of nurse practitioners or physician assistants to perform tasks for which they are entirely competent. We require lawyers for work that paralegals are capable of completing. While trade agreements go far to remove any obstacle that might protect an autoworker in the United States from competition with a low-paid factory worker in Mexico or China, they do little or nothing to reduce the barriers that protect doctors, dentists, and lawyers from the same sort of competition. To practice medicine in the United States, it is still necessary to complete a residency program here, as though there were no other way for a person to become a competent doctor.” Dean Baker, , 5%

“The United States will spend more than $3.3 trillion in 2016 on health care…, more than $10,300 per person and roughly twice the average for other wealthy countries. But for all this extra spending it is not clear that we get better quality health care. By some measures, like life expectancy and infant mortality rates, the United States ranks low among rich countries. While treatment for some conditions is better here, we cannot say that the quality overall is better.” Dean Baker, Rigged 55% 

I had a few skin cancers treated with liquid nitrogen by a dermatologist. Medicare paid for 80%, but this dermatologist did not accept Medi-Cal, which would have covered the other 20%. When I received the bill I realized I could not afford this treatment. I may need to spend a day interviewing dermatologist’s offices by phone until I find one that takes both Medicare and Medi-Cal, or find another alternative.

A promising treatment for me, that came in the mail, was a preparation called Blood Root Paste. This product does not have a huge intellectual property markup, because it is an herbal preparation.  No one has, as of yet, found a way to patent a plant without genetically modifying it. This means that no one, other than perhaps wealthy governments, can run the expensive testing to prove (or disprove) effectiveness and safety of herbal products. The salve, for which I paid something like $12,  which included shipping from Equator, actually removed two skin cancers that the dermatologist had refused to treat with the liquid nitrogen, had biopsied, and recommended that I get surgery. The surgeon she recommended does not accept Medi-Cal either, and there is no way I can afford the 20% of the cost of surgery that Medicare won’t pay.

“The low density of doctors in the United States might … be a factor in the pay gap. The United States has 2.6 physicians per 1,000 people …,  compared with 2.8 in the United Kingdom, 3.3 in France, and 4.0 in Germany. But the relatively low density in the United States is a matter of deliberate policy. In 1997, the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education decided to limit medical school enrollments in the United States, which had previously been growing more or less in step with population growth. Dean Baker, Rigged 57%

I learned the difference between the cost of dental care in the United States and in Mexico when I decided to have my mercury filings replaced with composite, since I live about an hour away from Tijuana. The difference in cost is so substantial that I thought Mexican dentistry must be inferior in some way. I have had dental work done in Mexico and in the United States and I can’t say that it is any better in the United States. Why the difference in cost?

“[T]he average pay of U.S. dentists is almost 40 percent higher than in the next highest country (Japan) and more than twice as high as in the United Kingdom, Italy, or Finland,… [T]he law requires that dentists graduate from an accredited dental school in the United States (an exception for Canada began in 2011). Dentists protect themselves from domestic competition by limiting the scope of practice of dental hygienists, who often have the skills to perform many of the tasks performed by dentists.” Dean Baker, Rigged  58%

I learned a lot from this book. I used to think that boycotting Chinese manufactured goods would do some good. I even tried to do that, but it is next to impossible. A cell phone, DVD player, or almost anything you need, is made in China, Vietnam, Malaysia etc. It is not true that people over there will work for less and accept substandard working conditions. Even if that is part of the truth, it’s not the whole truth. The truth is  the decision makers have decided to protect the pay of CEOs, doctors, dentists, lawyers, Pfizer, Microsoft, Disney and Chase Manhattan, and let the rest of our jobs go overseas.
We should demand that provisions be put in place to limit the pay of CEOs, that the interest rate be lowered, that a system be set up to finance research and development that is less costly and more efficient than patents, that a trading tax be levied on stock exchanges, that the large banks be broken up, that general practitioners, nurses, medical assistants, dental assistants and paralegals be allowed to do work they are educated and qualified for, that limits to the number of doctors and dentists being allowed to practice in this country end, that the tax codes be simplified and loopholes be done away with.

“[M]ost high-end earners are probably not like the counterfeiter who does nothing productive, but insofar as they are paid more than is necessary for their services, their excess pay does come at the expense of the rest of us. This means that if a CEO is paid $30 million, but someone else would do as good a job for one half or one third of the pay, then the rest of us are effectively subsidizing this person’s pay. The channels through which the money goes from the rest of us to the high-end earners may not always be clear, but their good fortune nonetheless imposes a cost on the rest of us.” Dean Baker, Rigged, 8%.

You might also like to check out Dean Baker’s blog.