the world through rainbow eyes

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The Herd of Gazelles at the Bus Stop

Pi and Phi are 5 now. They attend Kindergarten (two different classes so they can both shine their stars individually as bright as possible). They both insisted that they are old enough to ride the bus to school, and because the bus is actually available to them now that they are in Kinder, I agreed. So they ride the bus to school every school day morning. 

I drop them off and watch them interact at the bus stop with the other kids. They’re the only Kinder kids in our little neighborhood, so mostly the big kids are leaving them alone and letting them run around like animals waiting for the bus. 

Run around they do, too. Every single day, they drop their packs in the bus shelter and then have races from one sign to the other. About 200 feet of a race they do over and over until the bus gets there. Squealing, rambunctious, and overall dorky. Phi runs with his hands clutched high to his sides, a bit like a T-Rex. A smile of pure happiness. His feet hit the ground with the strange, awkward, delicate gait so familiar to other parents who have children on the spectrum. Toes pointed down, still somewhat clompy somehow. Like an elephant doing ballet. So happy.

Pi’s arms are thrown back and her clomping hits whole foot down, her face also has the same smile. So happy. She is a gazelle. 

The other kids are mostly silent while Pi and Phi enact these daily races. Pi and Phi encircle them, run between them, around them, near them. You can see the other kids pull back, stare at them. I want to tell Pi and Phi to chill. Be cool. The kids are judging them. I keep my mouth shut. One kid does a mock tiptoe of Phi to his other friends, and they cover their mouths to smile behind their hands. They know better than to laugh where parents can see them. Phi doesn’t notice, just keeps running. Keeps being happy. 

I want to scream at these kids. You think it’s awesome that you can run better than him? Running is hard for him. He’s a different animal. You are gazelles, and he is an elephant. His squealing trumpet of glee comes from a differently shaped throat than your own. Is it such a point of pride that yours was shaped different? Do you work for hours to make your gazelle throat shape the sounds that all the other gazelles make? 

No he does not have grace. What he has, instead, is hard work. He has perseverance. Thank goodness that’s part of the package with Autism. The same thing that makes him line up puzzles for hours is what makes it possible for him to make words that others understand. He works past the point of wanting to stop. I am furiously proud of his words. 

I remember his testing, and them asking us for a list of his words. For a week we tried to put together even ten words that he said at the age of 18 months. Duck. Ball. … Umm.. Daddy? We struggled to find any words that he had actually said. Now, at age 5, his vocabulary is huge. He inherits the wide breadth of spoken word that his father and I use daily, and it shows. 

But the kids at the bus stop don’t see that he is a hard working elephant stuck in the land of the graceful gazelles. They see that he is not part of their herd. They close ranks. 

So he runs with Pi. Pi who doesn’t care, yet, about gazelles and elephants. All animals are different to her. She takes it in stride. 

I want the other kids at the bus stop to see what she sees. I want them to feel the pure joy that he feels. 

I’m proud of my mismatched animals, and so furious at the herd that closes them both out. I know that in their classes there are other mismatched animals, and they find them and befriend them. The herd at the bus stop is not their whole world of experience, but only a small window onto it. 

I also know that the herd at the bus stop is going to grow. That as they get bigger, it will become more and more evident how different they both are to the herds they encounter. Him for his everything, and her for her acceptance of these things and for her own differences. That the ruthlessness of peers will run their world for the next fifteen some odd years. There is not a thing I can do to change it. 

I know that they are going to spend their lives collecting their own herds of mismatched animals. I hope they do not spend too long trying to assimilate into herds that are not their own and do not accept them. I also feel sad for the limited scope of the herd of gazelles at the bus stop. They have not yet learned the value of the different animals. I hope they learn it someday. 

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We Have Income Redistribution, And It Isn’t Like You Think It Is, Most Likely.

This is a quick and dirty cut and paste from something I wrote up on my Facebook. 
I haven’t linked my citations or anything, but it’s all pretty readily available stuff. So, if you can’t find these numbers, or disagree, feel free to question, and I’ll see if I can go dig the citations back up.

A pretty regular trope I hear is the Welfare Fraudster.
They take in government handouts while dining on steak, wearing $200 sneakers and having under the counter jobs and income that they dodge taxes on.

Most estimates put such government assistance fraud at about 2% of the total received.

Meanwhile US companies are reported to have greater than USD1.7 Trillion in offshore profits. That’s under the counter income, essentially, that is not taxed. These holdings are being kept there by companies who insist that the money will not be repatriated and therefore need not be taxed.
We have a worldwide tax system which means that our corporate rate is 35% for US based companies on money earned around the world. BUT, there are foreign tax credits earned and taxes are deferred until profits are brought home (repatriated). So, a corporation earns money in a low tax country, pays the taxes there, and reinvests there. They earn the credit for paying the taxes, and no taxes are due because the money was reinvested rather than returning.
There’s tricks played with the money, though, naturally. Michigan Senator Carl Levin reports that a subset of 27 companies had 46% of their offshore assets invested in US banks.
Basically, it’s money laundering. Taking money to cheaper countries, putting that stamp on it and using those holdings to do international investments with “foreign” money back in the US.
It’s tricky, but Congress has no interest in changing it. Even without that, though, it’s incentivizing reinvestment overseas. No wonder we’re hemorrhaging money in the US.

These are some of the “loopholes” you’ve been hearing about during the sequester talks.

There’s more, too, with big banks earning a lower borrowing rate to help keep them from failing. This rate has been put at 0.8% by Kenichi Ueda of the International Monetary Fund and Beatrice Weder di Mauro of the University of Mainz. If their figures are correct that puts the 10 largest banks at an essential subsidy of USD83 Billion, or about 3 cents of every dollar in taxes brought in. The top 5 banks account for about USD64 Billion of that. Which is actually sort of horrible, as that’s nearly equal to their stated profits. Which means they’re just breaking even with that subsidy.

In other words, much of the profits they’re reporting to the stockholders are subsidies that you, the taxpayer, and all the rest of us are paying (meanwhile, corporations are dodging these by sending them overseas).

These tax loopholes were lobbied for by the same companies enjoying them. At the same time they’re lobbying for a decrease in the corporate tax rate that they claim would bring income back, but has not ever been shown to.

It’s a straight redistribution of wealth.

Meanwhile, instead of closing these loopholes, we’re cutting WIC, Medicare, free lunch programs that are often the only hot, full meals that our already high number of food insecure children are eating each week, housing subsidies that were keeping people from being homeless, and many other individual assistance programs.

And really, is it any question as to why? These massive conglomerates own the actual media that is slanting the stories you hear. They pay for the elections of politicians who then legislate bills that the company’s lobbies actually wrote. Hell, the legislators themselves are often shareholders and owners of many of these companies. Going all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Meanwhile children who are starving, people who are dying from lack of medical care, and the homeless do not have lobbies.

I don’t even care, be mad at individual assistance programs, but, for fuck’s sake? Be angry about the straight redistribution of the US economy into the hands of the very few who are making the laws that make it possible.

That’s the *actual* Socialism that you all claim to rail against.