Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bailouts, Ducks, Puppies, and Pelicans

Lots of things bug me. I'm just that kind of person. Bristly. I expect to be frustrated, thwarted, annoyed, and pissed off on a daily basis. I don't mind admitting that. I'm no maven of positive thoughts. I'm practically cursing under my breath at all times. But, there are some things that seriously push me over the edge. Hard.

Yeah, it bugs me that we're bailing out the financial market to the tune of $700 billion dollars. It's not that we didn't expect it, we did. Not exactly this unbelievable amount of money, but this bailout was inevitable. It's what Republican administrations do. They talk god, guns, and gays while robbing the coffers and lining their own pockets. They invest and pretend it's not a gamble. Only after they have mucked it as much as it can be mucked, they cry that the market won't survive their thievery unless we give them tax dollars to prop it up. Yep, the same tax dollars that they rant and rail against paying. How do they get away with it every damned time?

But even more than their global venality, what really has been bugging me is how people treat animals.

Before we left Arcata we went downtown looking for a small shop to buy a particular item that only that small shop sells. While we were looking for the store, we heard a duck quacking. Quite clearly. A duck was quacking its head off somewhere downtown. I looked up into the sky, expecting to see a flock passing overhead. But there was nothing. Then the duck quacked again. I looked over and there on the street corner was a young guy with a big backpack and a box. Arcata street corners are always full of young people heading north and south, with backpacks and all manner of baby critters (kittens and puppies) on leashes and strings. But here was a guy with a duck in a box, and the duck was quacking some message of discomfort. So, he literally held the duck's bill closed. It was all I could do to keep from going over there and smashing him, taking his duck to the marsh and setting it free. I should have called animal protection services, but I didn't. I just added the experience to the sum of experiences that remind me why other humans and I don't get along.

I could rant at length about all the puppies and kittens we saw all summer long tethered to people who had absolutely no business caring for their tender likes. One story says it all: On a day when the temperature was pushing a hundred degrees and the pavement was hot as hell, a shirtless young man was walking the highway shoulder. He had his pack on his sweaty back, and on a leash was a puppy so young and small that it obviously was struggling to keep up. That puppy was walking on a blacktop that had to have been searing his little toes. Oh yes, I muttered every profanity I could think of and looked away. Such unbearable thoughtlessness and contempt for other living things must not be stared at for too long. Otherwise, it creeps into your heart and sours you on the whole of humanity. I know.

There is simply no end of cruelty we visit upon defenseless creatures. There are the big stories of how we are poisoning the earth, heating it beyond livability, degrading the very things we all need to survive. Yes, I think these stories merely convey our general duck and puppy disdain writ large upon the earth. Everyday there are smaller stories like this about eleven pelicans with broken wings. Someone actually snapped back the wings of eleven pelicans, and left them to die. Only one survived. What are the pelicans doing hanging out so close to humans that they can be grabbed and brutalized? Well, the warmer ocean temps have driven their food deeper into cooler water, leaving the pelicans hungry at the surface. There's even a hungry juvenile here that hangs out on the wharf looking for handouts from the tourists and locals who have come to fish. We see him everyday, sitting on the railing, waiting for food.

And yes, probably, for every horrible story like these are the stories of good works being done on behalf of these creatures. But the good works come as a response, are therapeutic interventions after the fact of our contempt, like a game of catch up that has no end.

Yeah, it really bugs me.
I think we should let the markets fail.
I should have stolen the duck and the puppy.
I should learn how to rescue this pelican, to make up for all the rest.


Barack has a much better idea:

First, there must be no blank check when American taxpayers are on the hook for this much money.

Second, taxpayers shouldn't be spending a dime to reward CEOs on Wall Street.

Third, taxpayers should be protected and should be able to recoup this investment.

Fourth, this plan has to help homeowners stay in their homes.

Fifth, this is a global crisis, and the United States must insist that other nations join us in helping secure the financial markets.

Sixth, we need to start putting in place the rules of the road I've been calling for for years to prevent this from ever happening again.

And finally, this plan can't just be a plan for Wall Street, it has to be a plan for Main Street.


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