Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Unitarian General Assembly, Day 1

So the day finally arrived. I met Robin outside after work and she dropped me off at the convention center. I rushed inside, and immediately headed for the exhibit hall. I wanted to purchase a Standing on the Side of Love t-shirt. I got one, but of course after getting home found out it did not fit. Ah well, I'll try tomorrow. I know this, I plan to spend some time shopping in there.

Hardly however had I gotten there before it was time for ingathering. I walked up with Kate, as other First Universalist church members began to come together near the Prairie Star room. For readers that don't know, Prairie Star is the conference we are part of. What followed was a bit of a warmup session. Lots of clapping, cheering, getting ready for the main event.

Then it was time to head for the main hall for the first plenary session. So I have one thing to say. It is really such an awesome experience to be in a giant hall like that surrounded by thousands of similar-minded liberal religionists. There were introductions, the parade of banners, music from Ann Reed and Peter Mayer. Ann sang the song commissioned by my congregation for our 150th Anniversary. Then the Plenary, more singing and a generally festive time for all.

I know this. It is exactly what I needed. For someone who has been sick for so long, my strength is really being challenged. But the wonderfully positive energy is healing in it's own right. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Most Remarkable Frijole

Today was so very hard. My friend for almost 11 years had to say goodbye to this world. He was named Frijole, but we also called him the Luv Hawg. Cats each have their own distinct personality. This cat thought he was a dog.

I mean really, he followed me around the house constantly, and loved to play with our rat terrier Lucy the Wonder Dog.

Okay there is more to this story. I'd met a woman at work. She and I had agreed to meet up. So one Friday night in September of '99, she came to visit. She lived north of Houston. I already had plans to play cards with friends, so I asked her if she wanted to go over there. My friends also said they had two cats for me. "Are they tabbies?" My friend worked at a vet and I told her I'd wanted Tabbies.

She laughed, "they're black tabbies." Well we showed up that night, and they were two of the sweetest black kittens you would ever see. I realized it didn't have to be tabbies at all.We took them back to my place. At the time we wondered what we would name them. The female became Miss Emily aka Miss Thang. She would look so proper, and then tag you with a claw when you least expected it. She reminded me of the Emily's of literature. She definitely had a dark side.

The other cat though was just plain silly, jumping around everywhere. "He's like a jumping bean!" So it was that he became Frijole.

Early on, he was top cat, alpha. Then his sister got sick and had to have surgery. After surgery she would not eat. Finally the vet had us give her steroids. Whoa! The demons had been released. She took that alpha position and never gave it back. Never stopped eating either. A week from now she's going on a diet.

Not to worry, he was content to play a bit, and love a lot. Neither cat liked to be held, but they would lie next to you, or if I was lying down he would crawl up on my chest, emitting a purr that would wake the dead. When we got Lucy, he found his playmate. He'd plop down and roll over on his back, meowing in faux distress. Lucy would run in (Lucy's a rat terrier) and pick and nudge and they would wrestle. Then Lucy would get excited and run figure 8's around him. Then he would run away, only to come back, lay down and repeat as needed.

My babies always knew when I was hurting, but especially Frijole would come and lie down beside me, snuggling in close as if to say "it's okay."

He was a healthy cat most of his life. Then one day he began to lose weight. We at first thought it was a phase. But he kept getting skinnier, and we took him to the vet. His Kidneys were going. Soon we were giving him fluids every other day. Frijole craved love all the time, but it was different and we both saw that. He was needy, and he had never been a needy cat before. He didn't like the fluid injections. He didn't fight, but he just let out a mournful cry. Finally he stopped eating all together.

Today, we made that final trip to the vet. The folks at VCA Cedar Animal Clinic were just wonderful. He got his little iv, I held and loved him for awhile. Then Doctor Prince came in and with a final farewell, Frijole AKA Luv Hawg passed over to the other side. There was no struggle. He seemed to understand that it was time to go. Today, lots of tears, and memories for a lifetime. I'll miss you little man. You left this world very much loved.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Memories of a Father

Life with my dad was generally a bit of a roller coaster. It had to be difficult for him. First he was on the road all the time with his job. He would come home, then hear a litany of my sins, upon which I would be (sometimes for the second time) punished. We fought constantly. For a long time I gave him the lion's share of the blame, but that's not true. I was as stubborn and obstinate as he was and that could be a problem

But there was the gentle, loving side to him as well. The side I often refused to see. How he spent hours with me helping with this or that assignment, or teaching me to letter properly on poster board. I once complained that he never hugged us, and Mom exclaimed, "You never let him." There were the videos showing it was indeed the case. Mea culpa Dad. How I wish you were alive today so we could talk about those things. I was too often incredibly selfish and self centered.

The truth is, I was gay and transgender in a world where we barely had names for them and the names were not good. My parents tried to protect me from my true self. My guess is deep inside I was carrying a pretty good resentment over that. I was also scared to death. Yeah I know, I had a good cover act. But fear ruled so much of what I did back then. Heaven knows I tried, but the feelings kept coming up, no matter how hard I tried to quash them.

I remember the cookouts in the back yard. He'd dug a pit, then purchased a new trash can where he cut out the bottom and laid a grill over it. We'd collect the fallen limbs off the trees in our yard, mostly pecan and persimmon and use them as fuel. We'd either cook over the open fire, or alternately do coffee can casseroles, meat and vegetables in a coffee can covered with foil cooked in those hot coals. He'd show us the constellations and sometimes he'd let us kids sleep outside under the stars. He went all out at Christmas time, and under the tree would be toys galore. He rarely bought us things during the year, but at Christmas, well that was his time. Early in the morning, sleepy and bleary, I'd wonder into the living room. Somehow there would come this squeal of delight, and my brother would come in, and they would drag out of bed even though going there just a few hours earlier. Dad's camera would be waiting and the lights ready to be turned on to capture one more Christmas at the Wicks household.

He so wanted me to excel at math, and that was my worst subject. I wonder today if it really was or was I just being stubborn once again? Oh and could he ever tell stories. The man would weave characters and plot, settling back into his chair to weave the latest tale, mostly true, but occasionally with a flourish or point of humor. It was from him I learned to tell stories. Okay, him and mom, because they were both good at it. "I was surveying a line through some of the deepest forest you ever saw," he said. "There was a gully just ahead. Well I had to cross that gully, but just as I leapt, I looked down to see the nastiest rattler you ever saw."

"What happened then?" We were breathless wondering how he would get out of this fix.

"You know how time slows down when it gets really scary? Well time slowed down for me and I sort of floated there till he crawled out of the way."

We'd all laugh and tease about his floating in that gully.

He died too soon, and we were both denied the opportunity to see each other as adults. Though I was 20 when he passed away, I was still his child. Our last time together was a fight. A few days later he called, a man of his time not able to apologize but hoping to make amends. I was being stubborn as usual. A couple days later he died from a heart attack. Years later I would put a chair in front of me and apologize to him and it was heart felt.

During some difficult times, Dad came to me in my dreams. He was a friend and a sage, helping me through some pretty tough times. Perhaps it was all in my head. Whatever it was, it worked, and the words said were words he would've said.

Over the years, I've had a chance to go back, look at the films and photographs, pull up the memories, and re-create a more realistic picture of my Dad. It has been worth the journey to discover a pretty remarkable guy actually. In spite of my best efforts, he molded me to become a person who could survive in this crazy world. He taught me lessons that not only have lasted a life time, but I profit from every day. Oh how I would love to sit around and just talk for hours with him today. Happy Father's Day Dad. Come back and visit me in my dreams anytime. I love you so very much.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

United Corporations of America

"The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too
expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way, and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theatre."
Frank Zappa 1977

This quotation reflects exactly the way I feel today. Still another story of news reporters being banned from beeches, prevented from interviewing cleanup workers, unable to photograph oil soaked birds along our Gulf coast. Some are private cops hired by BP. Others are National Guard troops on behalf of the government.

A moment of prayer on behalf of our dearly departed Freedom of Press.

Public beaches? It seems that public beach is at the whim of a corporate powered federal government. Folks, it is time to take back our country, the sooner the better. President Obama, I supported you. Time after time I'm meeting with disappointment. Your crack down on whistleblowers. Your insistence on keeping those "special internment places." Your love of secrecy. This however is the greatest disappointment of all. Sir, democracy only works with the full light of exposure on it. I blame you because you made it clear you are the one in charge. Before us is unfolding a tragedy of monumental consequence and you guys are playing politics as usual.

Sir, if you persist in using force of power to trump the press, if you persist in hiding facts rather than keeping us informed, if you persist in allowing BP to run this show despite your insistence otherwise, we will rise up against you. If you and others in power really believe corporations and their money trumps the people, get ready for an education in what we REALLY are all about. My rights are guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. It is bigger than Democrat or Republican or President or Congress. I'm a democrat. That is the party that most often reflects my beliefs. But I am an American first. This atrocity must not be allowed to continue.

We want our country back. We the people, not we the corporations.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Our Guest Blogger: Lucy the Wonder Dog on Moms

I would like to introduce our guest blogger and one of my all time favorites. Lucy the Wonder Dog became part of our family back in 2002. She won our hearts from the get go. She saw me blogging about my mom, so she asked if she could do her own. So welcome the cutest dog you'll ever meet...

Hi y'all! I'm Lucy. I'm typing this and keeping my eyes on those two rascally cats at the same time. This girl's job is never done, I'll tell you what. But that is not what I came to talk about.

I had a doggie mom, but I don't remember her all that well. There were so many of us kids and she seemed distracted. I wasn't the smallest, but certainly not the biggest either. Those early days weren't that great. They took me to the vet, and bobbed my tail. Ever had your tail bobbed? Trust me, don't if you can help it.

So we were all yapping and wrestling, when two human moms walked into the kennel. They both looked so friendly, but one in particular. I couldn't take my eyes off of her. She was just so kind, and by the look in her eyes, she must have felt the same way about me. It was of course my mommy Robin. She just walked past the other puppies, and made a beeline right towards me.

Okay, I confess. My little nub that was once a tail twitched as fast as it ever had. I tried to run to her, but sort of stumbled. Hey I was a baby, okay? She reached over and held me close to her chest and just wouldn't let go. I wasn't complaining, no siree! My goodness nothing had EVER been that sweet in my whole six weeks of life. I didn't want it to stop. Neither did she. The other mommy, Jessica, petted and loved on me too and I thought, wow, two mommies who love me this much! Mommy Jessica walked over to the owner of the farm and they talked about something, and then we were on our way.

Okay, I'm a lot older now. I'm not that good at counting, let's see, 2 from 10 is ... okay I'll be 8 years old in July! Did you know Mommy Jessica and I have the same birthdate? Yeah, weird, but in a nice way. They still love me, just like that first day. Mommy Robin still holds me close to her chest the way she did back then. We all cuddle in a puppy pile at night when we sleep. On a really good day the cats can join us too. Most of the time not though. They get their own time.

We go for walks and on vacations and, I'm so very happy. Even if they get mad at me, and I give em plenty of opportunities because, well I'm a rat terrier. Nuff said. They just don't stay mad. They take me to the vet too, but they don't cut off any body parts. Oh oh and they play ball with me! I love my squeaky balls! I've got a yellow one and a red one and a green one and a ball that is lots of colors too. I love to play with my two moms!

Anyway, I love my two mommies so much. I wanted to tell everyone that. I wish all doggies could be so lucky. For you human and doggie readers too, I want to wish you all a very happy Mother's Day.

Love and licks;


Friday, May 7, 2010

Moms and Grandmas It's Mother's Day Again

Here we are again. The time to honor Moms. My mom and grandmothers are all gone now. Same for Robin as well. We have but our memories. Each year I try to share some memories.

We were in the hospital in Houston, and Mom was dying. What a time that was, where we shared everything openly and cleared out old garbage and made our promises and talked about our time together, and the time when she would not be there. The subject came to an envelope in our cedar chest back home. It held the love letters shared between her and Dad during WWII. "Throw them out," she said. "No one will be interested in them."

I argued, "Momma that is not true. Please don't ask me to toss them out." She thought about it a moment and agreed.

Of course when I went home, I went directly to that chest and pulled out the letters. You know, we grow up with the thought of Momma as caretaker, parent. Rarely as that romantic young woman who fell in love with your Dad. But there it was, them talking to each other, making plans for their future, and buried within a code they had worked out to let her know where he was without it being cut out by the censors. She never told me what that code was. But I know it is there.

Momma was a rebel. She was strong and backed down from no man. Self sufficiency was just a part of her. She had to be strong to face off with her two children who seem to have inherited some of that rebelliousness she knew in her life. She could be brutally honest too, cutting through the layers to get to the core of it all.

She worried about my brother and I. More than she ever let on. I guess that is part of the job description. Oh and she made lists. Used to drive me crazy, because I am so not a list person. "Write it down so we don't forget."

"I won't forget."

"Write it down anyway."

"Okay Momma."

She died barely a week after the conversation about those letters. That was 1988. Funny, I can remember it all like it was yesterday.

But you know, there are two grandmas to talk about. One I never knew, dying just before I was born. She was a sweet woman they say, raised into Arkansas farming, and mom to a bunch of kids. She was said to have a most angelic voice, and the family would sit out on the porch on Sundays, playing the guitar and singing their gospel favorites. They were the children of pioneers, and the religion was simple and emotional as was their song. She must have been a saint. Not one of the children, my aunts and uncles, ever had one bad thing to say about her. It was clear they all adored her. I'm only sad I never heard more stories about her. I've only a few photos to give meager clues to the woman she was.

I did know my Grandma Ollie Wicks. She was quite a character really. You'd tell her a story, and she would say, "Well I swan." I heard a wonderful story about her when she was young. My grandpa had lost his inheritance and became a sharecropper. Little huts were built on the land for the sharecroppers to live in. They were told they had to leave at the end of the month since they were going to turn where they lived into cropland. Grandpa left to go find work elsewhere. While he was gone but before the end of the month, crews showed up, telling her to get out because they were going to level the home. She argued but they didn't want to listen. She quietly went back inside, walking out with a big old shotgun in her arms. She pointed towards them and told them they had five minutes to leave their property. "Come back at the end of the month, but if you try now, I will shoot you dead!" They left.

Grandma Ollie could be blunt too. Before she died, she wrote a letter counseling each of her kids, not holding back where she thought they had made a mess of things. Oh and don't you dare call her during her soaps. That was the unpardonable sin. She had a marvelous laugh, beginning as a chuckle, but then like a suppressed guffaw. Her chin would dimple and she would pull her bottom lip in. Funny the things we remember. She and her sister, my Great Aunt Johnnie, used to fight all the time. Some of the kids (she had a big family too) took it way too serious, but Momma and Daddy always said that was just them. I understood because my brother and I fought all the time too.

To all of them, Momma Rachel, Grandma Annie, Grandma Ollie, you all left your mark on me, and I am grateful. I wish your time on earth had not ended as soon as it did, but you must know how much you were loved and cherished. To all moms and grandmas, have a blessed Mother's Day.

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Not So Good Day at the Doctor's

So last week I have an exam. No big deal. One exam each year, and so far so good. She is a new doctor, my former doctor being transferred to a new office. Actually Physician's Assistant. Generally I prefer P.A.'s because they spend more time and don't make assumptions. I really liked her which was a plus.

Then the discussion turned south. When was your last mammogram? It's been a while. Too poor to get them. Well time now. There is something in there that needs to be checked out. Ohhh boy. But then, often such lumps are benign. Think positive Jessica.

Lots of fluid buildup in the legs. Edema. Not good. Got to focus on the diet a bit more. Any chest pains? Sometimes some tightness. Occasional pain. Worse more recently. The other night shoveling snow, I almost passed out, and had to have Robin help me up the stairs. Better get an ekg. Also chest xrays to see if there is fluid or swelling in the chest cavity. The x rays come out okay. But the ekg? Take a deep breath. Every time I take a deep breath it registers on the ekg suggesting something is not right. We need you to get a stress test and see a cardiologist. Any history of heart trouble in your family? Yep. My dad died of a heart attack in '67. Get these tests done right away, okay?

That night, I had to shovel snow again. Got dizzy and disoriented all over again. I'm not always the sharpest knife on the tray, but I get this one. Stop shoveling snow, for now at least. My landlord says he will take care of it. Bless you! A true treasure is a good landlord who understands.

The doctor of course was not finished. We talked about my sleep medication. I've a truly severe sleep disorder and take some pretty high powered meds to deal with it. One is mirapex. It dries your mouth, she says, and as a result you have a fungal infection in your throat. Got something for that.

Then there is that silly colonoscopy. That one's going to wait a bit. I've had a bad feeling about it, a strong inner nudge to not go there right now. I listen to my inner. I still like my P.A. I'm not so happy about what she found.

Next week on Wednesday I go in for mammogram, sonogram, possible biopsy, and stress test. Hopefully we get to the bottom of it all right now and it all works out well. I'm worried about the heart thing most. I continued having chest pains right up to yesterday evening. But for now, I'm going into my mode for one minute at a time. Worry does little good, and though impossible to shut it all out, it is better to keep some control on it for now.

Oh! You know those annual calls for diet and exercise? They got my attention this time!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Some Thoughts and Poem after the Murder of Myra Ical

I'm always disturbed after another senseless murder of a transgender person, and why does it have to happen so often? I realize that but for grace it could be me, or any one of many friends, some transgender and some who might be perceived that way.

These moments remind me of how precarious life really can be. Of that moment in the lower Montrose when I was once surrounded by thugs, and only a spark of humor within that came from nowhere distracted them enough for me to break free and run desperately to a nearby police station. There but for grace. Of others who have died horribly, shot, stabbed, strangled. There but for grace. I imagine how I might feel lying there, my life slipping away for nothing more than being true to self. I am certain I would be asking myself, how can I threaten someone so much?

Every year we gather to hear the list on the Day of Remembrance. The names of those for whom grace was no more. Myra Ical had family in Guatamala, but no one here. People who knew her said she was a hard worker and a loving soul. What was life like for her in Guatamala? Did she come here where she felt she could find her true self? Only to have it end in a bitter but unsuccessful struggle with hate filled souls who could not just let her be? I wonder if we will ever know.

I know this. There was a living thinking loving being a week ago, by all accounts a caring soul. Today she is gone. One more number, one more statistic. Her memory lives in a website and with those who knew her. Her life was celebrated by a community in the Montrose who never knew her.

Some years back, after the senseless murder of two transgender women in Washington D.C., I wrote a poem. It is pertinent because now, as then, such senseless killings remind me of my difference, my separation in a world of either/or. As a post operative woman in this crazy world, that separation will never quite go away. There will be those who hate, and if realized, those who will kill. One clarification for the reader. In that poem I speak of Michfest. That is the Michigan Women's festival, where for a long time a women born women policy existed. It may still. While I defend any business to make their own choices of who they invite, it nevertheless exemplifies the separation to which I was alluding. It's meant to be spoken word, but for here, the written form will have to suffice. Also, I lack the skill to take out the double spacing, which may be just as well.


I am woman. My heart my being my spirit and soul seeing

Screaming from every pore for all to hear… I am woman!

Touch my soul and know the vision which after body revision

Remains the same. Taste my lips a woman’s lips softened by

Tears and years of caring and daring to be the same as that person

Who stares out through these weary eyes… So many sighs.

Tears of joy, and tears from indescribable heart break

Family torn asunder and former friends wonder and the loss

And hurt tearing away at ego but also taking pieces of my self along the way.

Is self truth always this brutal? And is it so dangerous

That we are killed and beaten and thrashed and trashed just for being who we are? Just the other day, two women like me shot over and over in their car.

Is the death of trans- cendental souls one more symbol of the fear of a privileged gender

afraid to surrender even a tiny vestige of it’s power and hold

Over the hearts and minds and possessions of fifty one percent of all of us?

In a world of patriarchy and privilege, I am woman. My state says it is so, my body says it is so.

My breasts, my skin, my vagina all proclaim I am woman.

When my beloved in sensual understanding and lips and hands ever more demanding,

She brings me confirmation, an oh so erotic demonstration of love with a woman.

My essence, my energy, my dreams, loving without bounds baring my soul …

A woman’s soul, complex and multilayered with dreams yet to be dared,

and hopes and loves and fears and scarred with loss untold

And yet still soft and yielding when heart touches heart

And becomes a piece of a larger universal woman centered moon empowered

Stream of conciousness that some call Goddess and others call Womyn’s space

And still others do not name but are empowered just the same.

Yes I am woman and I cry like a woman and my soul feels the sheer exuberance of being just exactly who I am.

But.. oh the sadness and heartbreak and heartache that comes with that word.

But… a conjunctive with repercussions in my soul and psyche that will remain always

A reminder of the price of self truth and the consequence of being.

I turn to my closest friends, those who love me the most where trust has been so freely shared.

My friends assure me.. You are so loved, so special, an energy of woman embodied.

Then the condition, the but in my life, the anguish of the soul, the difference that separates

Creates that chasm beyond which I cannot go.

Because of that abberation of birth, piece of unwanted undesired flesh

I will always be separated. My friends say meaning well I am sure

You are such a special person! I would love you no matter what or who you are!

No matter what or who you are. No matter what or who you are.

The words ring in my ear, a truth accepted but less desired than all other truths combined.

They clamor to explain. You are a woman, only different! I will never know first blood, or any menses for that matter

Never could I as a child bond with my girlfriends in the way they have done.

Until I could repair the wrong that dangled below I was the recipient of privilege… Different you know?

There was no first corsage or the date who never showed

There was no father-daughter dance or first romance… not that way anyhow.

Does it mean I am not a woman? Of course not! Just… DIFFERENT.

In a world where I was born “different” I remain now as then… different.

Oh I love my new life and the joy and love that comes from being this woman

At times makes my senses reel and my heart skip in enthusiastic glee for the woman who is me.

I find the love and strength and renewing spirit of womyn’s space Empowering, exhilarating, comforting, and transforming all at one time.

From one woman to another, we share our lives and our stories and our souls

And we do rituals and honor croning and maidenhood and motherhood as women have done

Throughout the expanse of life’s journey. Our tears and our laughter are offered before the Great Mother

Who smiles at our offerings with a gleam of delight.

But in those moments, those horrible wrenching moments when Difference rears it’s head, when the “But” comes to rule,

The arrow of despair pierces my heart and one more tear is offered from coffers that have no bottom.

My friends are excited! It is time for Michfest, a festival of women celebrating women

And being women and the ultimate in what women’s space is about.

A lover of women’s space and women’s music wishing to revel with my partner in this sacred space

I become different. I am not welcome to this space. And still another tear is shed as offering to Earth Mother.

I would not understand, I could not understand.. At Michigan I am not woman, but OTHER.

So it is in my walk of life. I am woman to most, other to some, non human to still others

Loved, hated, smiled at and reviled. Praised and hated, a source of confusion for many.

I do not understand it, some say. I do not want to understand it say others.

But life goes on and love goes on and hate and fear go on also.

To all who hope that my kind will disappear and those who revel in my difference

What we have not in common rather than what we do, I smile sweetly, and offer this simple reality:

I can only be me and you can only be you and we can be we or never

But my truth will remain, agree or complain, and from my truth you cannot sever

For in truth to self I have found truth in others and the same for love it is clear

To leave behind that which is me would leave me with nothing but fear.

My soul lives, and will beyond death and it is a beautiful soul prepared to love, prepared to live, prepared to dance .

If you dance with me, then we dance together, but if you cannot, I shall dance alone.

Jessica Wicks

Copyright August 26, 2002

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why I can never be a Capitalist

The world's attention is directed towards the devastation and destruction of Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world hit by a horrific earthquake. It's focused not only our attention to the human toll, but the shame for which we in the U.S. share responsibility.

Dating all the way back to President Jefferson, a slave owner, who refused to recognize the newly found government of Haiti after a slave revolt freed them from the French. That by the way is where Pat Robertson says the earthquake stemmed, the so called pact with the devil by slaves daring to want freedom. Pat, the real Satan was a system that literally worked and starved a people to death, treated as property and expendable to corporate profit.

In 1915, the U.S. invaded Haiti, leaving only after getting favored status for American businesses. Ever since then the profits have been pocketed by corporations rather than the people who work in their factories.

Surely that must be better today? Ummm NO.

Disney memorabilia is made there. Anyone bought any Disney stuff? Way overpriced imho. Yet they pay their workers 11 cents per hour, or around 1 dollar a day. Bought a dress at KMart? Some of those dresses are made in Haiti. Again 11 cents per hour. The Rice Corporation of Haiti, a subsidiary of U.S. owned Comet Rice has virtually swallowed all rice farmers in Haiti, taking their property and owning a virtual monopoly on rice production. We hear the altruism of former President Clinton in delivering aid to the Haitians. But take a glance at this report found at

The US – destroyer of the Haitian economy

Food First, a US NGO in a report identified US policies as directly responsible for the destruction of Haiti’s indigenous food production. Moreover, the Clinton administration demanded that the main condition for the removal of the military junta which had deposed Aristide’s government in 1991 was the acceptance of US-imposed conditions which included,

"[The] eliminat[ion] [of] the jobs of half its civil servants, massively privatize public services, dramatically slash tariffs and import restrictions, get rid of price and foreign exchange controls, grant "emergency" aid to the export sector, reinforce an "open foreign investment policy," create special corporate courts where "judges are more aware of the implications of their decisions for economic efficiency," rewrite its corporate laws, limit the scope of state activity and regulation and diminish the power of the executive branch in favor of the traditionally more conservative Parliament."

The Food First article continues,

"In 1994 USAID claimed it was feeding upwards of 70,000 Haitians per day. It insists U.S. food aid is not competing with Haitian production because the food provided is not grown in Haiti. But Haitian and U.S. researchers have concluded what Food First has argued for years-that U.S. food aid is undermining local production. Massive increases in U.S. food aid drove down the prices of Haitian agricultural goods in local markets. Rice production dropped 35 percent in 1991-1992. The U.S. owned Rice Corporation of Haiti's parent company has a virtual monopoly on rice imports to Haiti."

So now the U.N. is about to pay Haitians to rebuild their nation. Well that should help spread some money among the people, right? Indeed they are going to pay them more. A whole $3 per day! $3.00 a day for back breaking construction work.

Trends over the last several years suggest a shrinking middle class in our own country. Clearly corporations are not the friends of people, save the ones at the top who pocket the profits. Now our Supreme Court has ruled that corporations can buy our politicians by drowning out our voices with their ability to purchase available advertising. Haitians are not the only people in the world under attack from big business.

Today the people of Haiti are putting a face on a great tragedy. But that tragedy began over 200 years ago. Look closely. If unbridled capitalism is not controlled, you are looking into the eyes of our own future. For what has happened there, there is enough shame to go around. I know this. Corporate America is no friend of mine. We took back control in this country from their grasp back in the thirties. It's time to do it again. We need to demand fairness, not just for corporations operating in the U.S., but in places like Haiti and Korea and Indonesia and anywhere else they do business. If they register and do business in this country, we should demand no less. We may have to pay more. Just compare our standard of living with people who work virtually as slaves to corporate bosses. We cannot complain. It is our duty to the legitimate American dream.