L in the Southeast

L in the Southeast
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
November 04
Retired PR Director
I am a retired Public Relations professional who now writes purely for fun and catharsis. I covered most of my memoir-type pieces in the first three years here. Lately I have dabbled in politics, current affairs, pop culture and movie reviews. Life is my muse.


L in the Southeast's Links

JUNE 11, 2012 10:34AM

Herding the Skinny Cats

Rate: 20 Flag



Suddenly I was driving a vehicle.  It must have been a mini-van, because of all the people.

As we drove along I noticed the shimmering surface of water in the intersection, which didn’t make sense because the sun was brilliant and the sky cerulean.  Without so much as a lightening of my foot on the accelerator I drove straight into the body of water.

As if by magic, I watched what ensued from a distance that meant I was no longer inside that van.  I stood (or did I sit?) and watched as the van slowly sank and flailing arms beat the surface of the extremely deep pool.  Screams.  They were all screaming for help.  And there I stood, fascinated by the theater and utterly unphased.

I woke slowly.  When I was fully awake I realized I had that feeling I get when I am feeling a strong emotion – rapid pulse, shallow breathing and anxiety. 

It was only after I realized I had been dreaming that I calmed myself and puzzled over what on earth such a dream could mean.

I was the one who drove the vehicle into the standing water.  How could I simply stand and watch as people struggled and drowned?  That is not something I would do.  In fact, I would be screaming my head off for help or diving into the water to attempt to save at least one of the passengers.

No, as is the case with most dreams, it had to have been symbolic. 

It’s no secret that I am extremely concerned about the condition of our country.  I do delve into the politics that others avoid like the plague.  It matters to me that the people of America appear to be falling prey to a relatively small group of people who intend to set the agenda for the future.

It drives me mad to hear people even less well off than I parrot the talking points of fat cat politicians who sleep with the enemy that is Big Business.  I realized the dream represented that concern of mine. 

The driver of the van wasn’t actually me, it was the conservative right.  The passengers in the van were the millions of people who will be driven to the polls in November, where they will cast their votes in direct opposition to their own best interests. 

The driver of the van will stand back and watch them as they work their bodies into disrepair, fall behind on their mortgages, become unable to feed their families and drown in a pool of despair.

Now that I’ve figured it out, I am not surprised I would have such a dream.  It was in line completely with the way I think when I am awake. I take a complex issue and try to reduce it to a sound-bite-sized scenario to help me understand the issue and explain it to someone else before they tire of listening.

The human brain is the most mysterious and wonderful living thing on the planet.


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"It’s no secret that I am extremely concerned about the condition of our country. I do delve into the politics that others avoid like the plague. It matters to me that the people of America appear to be falling prey to a relatively small group of people who intend to set the agenda for the future."

I don't get this, L.

Except for the very poor and uneducated, most people are fine and will continue to be fine.

Are "most" people gainfully-employed? Are "most" people living in a residence that they continue to pay their rent/mortgage on-time? Are "most" people well-fed?

So if you want to champion the situation of a minority, then please state that and by all means, lend your support -- very noble.

But please don't make an umbrella statement about the condition of the nation as if we're all in dire straits.
Good morning, Jois! I used the term "the people" exactly the same way Mitt Romney does on a daily basis. I honestly don't know if MOST people are gainfully employed, but I do know an awful lot of people who aren't. I guess the definition of "fine" is relative, just like "the people."
I share your deep concern, Lezlie. I don't remember any dreams of late that might have similar symbolic significance, but I understand completely.
Dreams are strange things and often reflect what we're worrying about. And I get what you're saying about people casting votes against their best interests; it's a sad commentary on today's political landscape.
I have been having dreams of driving off cliffs lately too. I did hear a reassuring bit on NPR just this AM tho. It said that cities like Cleveland and Detroit are experiencing a revival of their inner cities. The apartments are full and the business and cultural activities are increasing and prospering. Young people like that city living and being within walking distance of good restaurants and entertainment. So there is hope. There is always hope.
Like you, I am amazed and dazzled by what the subconscious can produce. My water dreams are usually peaceful and serene, but towards the end of my marriage, I had a recurring dream I was swimming laps in a beautiful long blue pool when the water would begin to drain, slowly, until there was nothing to swim in.
L --

As far as what Romney & Obama say, I could care less. As we've already discussed, I don't vote in national politics.

Understood on the use of relative terms.

However, "MOST" means the majority. Unemployment "officially" is somewhere between 8-9%. Some fringe progressives claim the figure is closer to 20%. Regardless, that's 80%+ gainfully-employed.

Likewise, the same "MOST" descriptor holds true for tenants and owners who are current with their rents or mortgages.

You might want to think about whether your social circle (be it in real life or here on OS) is a little too homogeneous to be reflective of society in general.

Joisey: I live in one of the most diverse areas of Atlanta one can find. We have very rich people, very poor people, people of every culture imagineable and yes, there are yard signs sprouting here and there that support conservatives.

When you emphasize the word MOST like you are here, it makes me wonder if you care about anyone who is not "fine." I know you do, so why climb all over me for my opinion that there are voters who are voting against their own best interests? You are too smart to be unaware of the fact that the unemployment figures are really a bogus snapshot of reality when it comes to "gainful employment."
Millions are underemployed, having to work multiple jobs to feed their families, still not eligible for health insurance. Hundreds of thousands have given up on finding employment. They are nowhere at all in the employment figures, neither employed nor unemployed officially.

Yes, I'm "fine" if living on a fixed income with minimal savings meets your definition. I'm one of the luckier ones. I assume you are fine, based on your comments. If you can convince me that the country in general is "fine," I'm all ears.
RE: Joisey Shore, "Are 'most' people gainfully-employed? Are 'most' people living in a residence that they continue to pay their rent/mortgage on-time? Are 'most' people well-fed?"

Are "most" people's jobs in jeopardy? Are "most" people within six months or a year before losing their homes and getting evicted? Can "most" people survive on the dollar and change they get from food stamps? Can "most" people dealing with $120,000 in medical bills?
Great metaphor. Grover Norquist said he wanted to get govt small enough to drown in a bathtub, it appears the wretched excesses of Capitalism 3.0 have instead drowned the American Dream.
Your dream, as intriguing as is, does not surprise me, Lezlie. I interpreted as I was reading on a different parallel, but I was close enough. As we say in my culture, "May it bode well".

There were 18 billionaire fatcats that descended on Wisconsin with their bit PAC money. Only one was from Wisconsin. Look for the Koch Bros.weasels and the snakes like Karl Rove to be everywhere at once in the upcoming election(s). The Supreme Court sold this country out and it is a sad time in our nations history!
Since you lobbed the first "IRL" experience to support your position, I'll answer in kind. I make more charitable contributions and volunteer more of my time mentoring at-risk youths than 99% of OSers. So please spare me the BS about me not thinking of those who aren't "fine".

My final comment where I'll use "MOST" for one last item.

Do you think "MOST" (sane, with average+ mental capability) adult U.S. citizens can think for themselves, weigh the options, seek-out reliable information sources, on their own and are rarely-swayed by billboards and yard signs?

My answer is yes. As such, we (as a nation in aggregate) will be fine.

From what I've read of you/your writings over the past 3 years, I would've never pegged you as an old fuddy-duddy pining for "the old daze" (pun intended).
Joisey: What's IRL? Didn't you see the part where I said "I know you do?" I thought we had a deal about name-calling?
IRL = in real life

You're correct about name-calling. I apologize for "old fuddy duddy" phrase, although your POV is repeated by older folks in every generation. (POV = point-of-view)

BTW, I don't really follow national politics, but there's an interesting snippet on MSNBC.com (that's left-leaning media, isn't it?)
"President Obama ... uttered these six words at his news conference (last Friday): 'The private sector is doing fine.' In context, the president was noting that the private sector is doing fine IN COMPARISON with the public sector, and the job numbers back that up."

Interesting use of the President and the word "fine". Sounds familiar.
Joisey: Apology accepted. Yes, the President's use of the word fine is an excellent example of what we are talking about. He should have said what he meant precisely, knowing that the opposition committee would be laying in the weeds ready to pounce.

I won't tell anybody you were watching MSNBC, okay? :D
I'm so worried about the future. This plays right in with my mood right now. ... R.
What a disturbing dream! i have to say, I'm glad it isn't mine to figure out. It's awful, really. I hope it is truly not indicative of where we're headed after the polls.
I'm sorry, L., but I would like to make one more observation that's pertinent to this issue.

It seems that liberals can freely-advocate positions that are contrary to their personal financial standing in society without anyone questioning it. An example would be agreeing to higher property taxes for better education, even among the elderly or childless couples. That type of self-sacrifice is understandable, right?

Yet it seems like the fundamental argument in this blog is that conservatives will promote something that ultimately goes against their own personal financials.

Why is it "understandable" for liberals to promote an issue that is detrimental to their own personal standing (financial) while conservatives are labeled as "idiotic" when they do the same?

Perhaps conservatives believe that promoting a position that may result in their own financial pain is justifiable for the betterment of America as a whole.

Consistency ... let's have consistency.

I think people are more similar than not.
I think your dream expresses a lot of anxiety. Whether it is about te political/economic future, I don't know. I do know a lot of people are suffering and living on the edge of a precipice. Whether it is "only" 8% of our population, isn't one person needlessly suffering one person too many?
Joisey: That's a good point. Liberals make such a choice because they place an emphasis on the greater good of ALL the people, the sharing of wealth or at least an equitable distribution of wealth. For me, that doesn't at all mean that I don't believe in the capitalism upon which our economy is based and I don't in any way begrudge the wealth of individuals who obtain that wealth either via inheritance or plain old hard work without doing harm to the people upon whose backs their wealth is built.

But I don't equate "best interests" with their finances alone. When middle class conservatives whose livelihood is earned in the businesses and corporations that are, since the Supreme Court decision to recognize them as "people" in the conglomerate, seem to be unaware that the more wealth that gets concentrated within the top 1%, the less likely they are to achieve what used to be the American Dream. Even more importantly, are the freedoms they are losing, chip by chip; i.e., reproductive decision-making, union organizing to ensure a liveable wage in liveable conditions, and access to education. Even those who are well-employed will eventually be impacted by lower wages and having to pay for their own health insurance. So, the country they say want to "take back" will come back to them in a condition they won't recognize.

Back in the 50s we were able to do okay as both lower and upper middle class people because the costs associated with living were in line with wages. Now, health care is off the charts in terms of cost; very few people would be able to pay those costs out of pocket beyond routine illnesses and preventive medicine.

You asked in an earlier if I thought MOST people were capable of thinking for themselves, seeking out correct information, etc. In a climate where the corporations are throwing millions of dollars into negative and often untruthful ad campaigns, buying up air time to prevent the opposition from acquiring equal time, and cooking up illegal schemes to disenfranchise whole blocs of voters as the Governor of Florida was/is trying to do, no, I don't think those who are "sane, with average+ mental capability" are capable of making a truly intelligent decision. Yard signs don't do anything but identify which people in one's neighborhood are supporting which party's candidate. I only mentioned that to support the diversity point.
Wow, L. ... just wow.

L. writes "Liberals make such a choice because they place an emphasis on the greater good of ALL the people ... "

Uh huh ... what makes you think that conservatives are using a different standard? Is it the short-term vs. long-term implications/ramifications? If so, are short-term "fixes" always the best?

BTW, I don't disagree with you on some BS conservative platforms like restricting abortion, women's rights, or gay rights. But let's concentrate on the financial aspect of conservatism.

L. writes "When middle class conservatives ... seem to be unaware that the more wealth that gets concentrated within the top 1%, the less likely they are to achieve what used to be the American Dream."

Who is "unaware" of this? Do you consider yourself "middle class"? How do you know about wealth inequality? If you're able to figure this out "1% vs. 99%" how is it that others in the middle-class aren't able to? Are you suggesting that you're smarter than average middle-classers?

What segment of private industry is making the most new jobs and driving the bulk of the economy? Entrepreneurs/small business. That's one definition of the American Dream.

What could be another definition for those less-inclined to equate finances with dreams/success (like the arteeeeeests that monopolize OS)? Perhaps most should be satisfied being employed, well-fed, and living in a residence current with rent/mortgage. Oops, that is "MOST" again.

L. writes "Back in the 50s we were able to do okay ... Now, health care is off the charts in terms of cost ... "

Why don't you ask your Canadian friends (whom many admire) what they pay in taxes, much of which is used to fund the healthcare system. Income taxes are close to 50% of what a Canadian earns. Europeans are used to generation after generation "RENTING" apartments and never owning anything of their own. Maybe the U.S. is just getting in-line with other countries in terms of wages, healthcare insurance premiums (as a surrogate for "taxes"), and living expectations & expenses.

L. writes "You asked in an earlier if I thought MOST people were capable of thinking for themselves, seeking out correct information, etc. ... no, I don't think those (so)."

Hmmmm ... again, you too are being exposed to all kinds of propaganda, yet you are (apparently) somehow able to filter through the BS. How come you don't give others credit to be able to do the same? Are you comfortable admitting that you believe that you're smarter than the average middle-classer.

If so, own it.
I love a good symbolic dream! But you know the key to interpretation is the part you don't interpret. Far be it from me to correct your interpretation or even propose another one. I will just point out the one segment you seem to have left out: As we drove along I noticed the shimmering surface of water in the intersection, which didn’t make sense because the sun was brilliant and the sky cerulean. Without so much as a lightening of my foot on the accelerator I drove straight into the body of water. If there's more left out, only you know.

I'll leave the rest of it up to you. :-)
Joisey: I don't have any problem at all "owning" that I am statistically smarter than the average American. What's the big deal? Aren't you?

nerd cred: I wouldn't mind anyone who knows about dream interpretation offering her analysis. I thought I was covering the segment you excerpted by saying that I was aghast at what I had done, that it is entirely opposite of the way I would react. I am a cautious, safety-conscious person in general and especially in a vehicle. Tell me more??????
Joisey: BTW, if you want to just focus on the financial part of conservatism, that causes me to move considerable toward the center, especially when it comes to fiscal responsibility. I deplore the monumental waste that occurs in our government departments -- and I mean ALL of them. If we were to recoup just that, we might be able to come closer to a viable budget. I don't like taxes any more than you do, I would guess. But to we have to have SOME level of taxation to make the nation run. If we were to recoup the billions we spend on useless wars, how much debt to the Chinese could we retire? I have said it before: I am a social liberal and a fiscal moderate.
As we drove along I noticed the shimmering surface of water in the intersection, which didn’t make sense because the sun was brilliant and the sky cerulean. Ok, this. And with the proviso that I'm not comfortable interpreting someone else's dream ... The water is "shimmering" which leads me to picture it calm and smooth - serenity, happiness. It's a beautiful day - happiness, peace. The water, though calm, is out of place. That could all be put together as less your concern for what's going on around you than as guilt for being happy and serene yourself while others are suffering. Your serenity feelings misplaced either in general or because of the suffering of others.

But the point is not for me to interpret - only you can truly & accurately do that. What I say can work only as hints to you to look at for yourself. There may be other details you even left out of the telling but, as I understand it it's the detail you tell but don't interpret that is most telling.

A long, long time ago I had a very symbolic dream with one uninterpreted detail that seemed like a clear device to force me to bring up with my therapist a subject I had been strenuously avoiding. It was hilarious - not at the time but it is now. Maybe some day I'll tell that story - which I have never done in 25 years.

Or maybe the van was driven into water rather than off a cliff because you needed to pee!
cred: LOL! That last one is likely. I always seem to. :D

So you and I are similar -- fiscally-conservative and socially-progressive. Understood and I applaud you.

Also, good for you "owning" that you're smarter than an average American. However, what are the implications of that in the context of your post and comments?

It appears that you are fearful about the lower-IQ masses who are easily-swayed by media campaigns with an agenda.

O.K., and I think NASCAR and reality TV are the stupidest (so stupid, I'm making-up the word stupidest) things on the face of the earth. But it appears that I may be out of touch with what current society enjoys. My point? -- I'm 52 and I already embrace the fact that the leaders of younger generation(s) are smarter than me and they will be all right in the world where our lives overlap and then alone in their world when I am gone.

Perhaps you should be less-passionate about politics -- certainly continue to give advice and try to make a difference at your local level.

However, absent a voting system where only those with above-average IQ-levels or those truly informed about the issues affecting our nation can cast ballots, it really doesn't make any sense to get all lathered-up about national politics.

Enjoy life.
Good to read how you interpreted this L.
I understand the feelings of watching the folks drown.
I think of the water as the sea of ignorance.
Heads sink under every day.
Never to understand how they got there.
By the chains they put on themselves.
They don't have that freedom they think they do.
For it is only as long as those chains that bind them all.
Jeez Jois, right here on OS there's lots of people who are struggling, unemployed, foreclosed-on. Maybe a minority ... but a large and significant minority, and there are clearly forces at work that undermine the middle class the the working class (such as the outsourcing of manufacture). Do minorities not matter? "I've got mine, Jack..."
ExCUSE me - I live in Canada and I know a little more about the scene here than you do. 50%??! - look at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/fq/txrts-eng.html

Furthermore, I have seen statistics that say that in the end Americans pay more per capita for health care (due to your nutty system that ultimately has to more-or-less look after the indigent) than we do, yet all of us have full coverage that is not attached to jobs and is not at the mercy of employers or INSURANCE COMPANY VAMPIRES...and is not "government-run", only government-paid.

Whatever we pay in taxes, I'M THRILLED AND DELIGHTED to pay them - if I ever have a catastrophic medical scene, I will not have the added worry of bankruptcy or lack of coverage or vultures pestering me about payment in the ER. Furthermore, I'm THRILLED AND DELIGHTED that this applies not just to me, but to my friends, relatives...and all the people I don't know... It makes for a healthier country, both physically and psychically.
Myriad --

How representative do you believe the OS population (minus spammers) is compared to the general population in U.S. or Canada? I say, NOT AT ALL, so who cares? Hell, I honestly believe there's only about 100 non-spammer, unduplicated OSers "active" these days.

And a very big "fuck you!" to your assigning that your ending phrase "I've got mine, Jack..." to me in your comment.

You obviously can't read or selectively-mine my comments out of context. Review the parts where I describe my charitable contributions, both monetary and time.

My point to L is to step-away from being so passionate about national politics -- especially if she believes that most voters are stupid -- and refocus those energies on local/neighborhood charities or elections.

In terms of Canadian taxing, I appreciate the update/link, but my statement is accurate or only slightly-off. I worked in Montreal for 3 years and my colleagues there were complaining about the tax rate.

In reviewing your link(s), Canadian citizens pay 22-26% in FEDERAL income tax and 20-24% in PROVINCIAL/TERRITORIAL income taxes. Last time I checked, 26+24 = 50.

(Oh, forgot to add-in the provincial/territorial income taxes, eh? Next time you want to rant about how much of an expert you are, make sure your information is complete. Living in Canada does not give you unchallenged powers when reciting statistics.)
I should clarify that I worked with technical/professional people in Montreal with average incomes similar the median income in the U.S.

If you are retired and/or living off pensions, Myriad, you are not reflective of the aggregate Canadian tax rate.
I just checked this site - http://lsminsurance.ca/calculators/canada/income-tax
for income of $100,000, and, varying by province, the average rate is between 25 and a little over 30.

Your charity and good works are admirable. But, in the context of the discussion, so what?

So your well-off friends in Montreal complained about taxes. Who doesn't complain about taxes (well, me for one, and I paid a pile this year...still living good and THRILLED AND DELIGHTED to pay for the health-care scene here).

The over-all economic health of the U.S. is declining. Here's an item just this morning from the NYT - http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/12/business/economy/family-net-worth-drops-to-level-of-early-90s-fed-says.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120612

Yeah, you do got yours...and extrapolate from that that the country is doing fine. Many OSers (and why wouldn't OS be a cross-section?) say they're doing awful...and they extrapolate from that that the country is in trouble. No news here - there is a growing gulf between those who are doing fine and those who aren't.

Click through to the FIRST LINK that you sent me. Anyone over $45K will be paying 40%+ in overall taxes in Canada. Do you consider an average income (of $45K) to be "well-off" (especially since their net-after-taxes is $25K)? If so, then we can stop this debate right here, because obviously we have different reference points.

And no, OS is obviously not reflective of the general population. It is overly-skewed in liberal, mentally-ill, un-/under-employed, unstable/failed relationships, older, etc.

And which part of my very first comment in this thread don't you understand? Are "most" people employed, living in a residence they are current in rent/mortgage, and are well-fed? I'm considering the general climate of the country, not the weirdly-skewed profile of the typical OSer.

So yes, the country is fine. Mine and yours.
It is, the mind, wondrous and beautiful and frightening. R.
The brain is still unchartered territory, as you said. Dreams can be so portentous.
This is interesting and I like your interpretation of it. RRRR