Friday, October 14, 2011

Outsourcing the dirty work: Seattle, horsemeat & eye trouble

Just three days before I was supposed to go on a two-week camping trip through the Northwest, my eyes started to burn and hurt. And then my vision started to get blurry. Yikes! So I immediately got all upset and rushed off to the doctor -- but also started comparing my own vision problems with those of America's vision problems as well. I am not alone. America's vision has also gotten pretty blurry recently.

For far too long, we Americans have sat back and placidly allowed just one percent of our number to own 99 percent of our money. And, as a friend of mine in Poland recently wrote me, "Democracy is incompatible with capitalism as long as the three richest people in a 'democracy' have more money than the gross national income of the world's 48 poorest countries."

So I went off to my optometrist, got acupunctured, bought herbal eye remedies, stuck prescription drops in my eyes, packed up my computer and went camping anyway -- hoping that my vision (and my country's vision too) would somehow miraculously clear up.

The first stop on my tour of the Northwest was Seattle and the famous Pike Place Market, where someone had told me that they sold horsemeat. According to traditional Chinese medicine, eating horsemeat is good for one's eyes. But I couldn't find any there. Apparently you have to go to Asia or Europe to find horsemeat to eat. All they sold in Seattle was salmon.

But that's okay. I really didn't want to eat horsemeat anyway. Who the freak would want to eat horsemeat? Horses are our friends!

"Here's the story on horsemeat," said someone I met while drinking coffee in Seattle (everyone drinks lots of coffee in Seattle, BTW). "It is illegal to slaughter horses in the United States -- so they are all rounded up and shipped off to immense slaughterhouses in Canada."

Hey, that sounds like America's foreign policy for the last decade or so. Outsourcing slaughter. The Multi-National Coalition helped the Pentagon slaughter folks in Iraq. Israeli corporatists help American corporatists slaughter women and children in Palestine. UN "peacekeepers" help the Bush-Obama administration slaughter Afghans. And NATO is happily helping American oil companies slaughter civilians in Libya. Plus American corporatists are now keeping their fingers crossed that Israeli corporatists will soon be slaughtering Iranians for them too.

Like America outsources its slaughter of horses, the corporatist "one percent" that now owns Washington also outsources its slaughter of people.

But not all Americans think that the butchery of human beings -- either here or abroad -- is a swell idea. And in the city that gave us Grey's Anatomy and the Space Needle and Starbuck's, "Occupy Seattle" is now in full operation -- right down the street from the historic 1999 WTO protests.

And then the next day I went off to visit "Occupy Spokane" too. Perhaps America is finally getting its vision back after all.

PS: In the misty Cascade mountains lies the small town of Leavenworth -- not Leavenworth, Kansas, home of the famous prison where Bush, Cheney, Obama and half of Wall Street clearly belong, but Leavenworth, Washington -- a cute tourist replica of some small town in Bavaria.

When the railroads no longer stopped in Leavenworth, Washington, and the logging shut down, people there were hurting so they thought of a gimmick to get themselves through the hard times -- and went Bavarian. Now Leavenworth is a regional tourist attraction with an Octoberfest and a Christmas-tree-lighting festival and everything. See? You don't have to make war on strangers in order to survive economically these days.

But I gotta admit that the "Occupy Leavenworth" movement consisted mainly of me. Everyone else was too busy wearing lederhosen and eating bratwurst.


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