Monthly Archives: February 2012

Getting Off a Sinking Ship

The Dorothy Day House at 620 Belmont Ave. is one of our areas best assets. It provides a place for the poor and homeless go get a meal to nourish their bodies and a place to experience some community to nourish their souls. If you’re not poor or homeless you can still get your soul nourished here by volunteering to help with meals, cleaning, washing dishes and donating supplies. I enjoy attending their Roundtable discussions on various social issues. They are held the last Thursday of each month at 7PM. The one for February was actually changed to Ash Wednesday. The speaker was Dr. Joe Mosca a professor at YSU. The topic has the history of poverty and was well attended by over three dozen people.  I learned a lot from Dr. Mosca’s presentation and the questions and dialogue that followed.

One man in attendance said, “I lost my job in the industrial sector a number of years back. I have now got a job working for Goodwill that does not pay a livable wage or give me more than 30 or so hours a week. I was down at the mission and met a man who said, he didn’t care to ever work again in his life. That kind of comment really angers me as that kind of person is taking advantage of the system” The man who didn’t want to work did not anger me but the man complaining about him did anger me.

I responded something to the effect of, “The federal budget for welfare is less than 1% yet it generates a huge amount of complaints from people. By contrasts the budget for defense and military is over 50%. Despite that if a politician so much as wants to freeze increases to the defense he is called someone who is weak on defense who wants to gut our military.” I continued, “I haven’t heard anyone attack the poor since 3:30 today on talk radio while I was driving home. If I call the talk show and say we need to cut corporate welfare I am called a, communist who is jealous of the “job creators” and told I am causing class warfare. As if pointing out the inequity in this country is a horrible thing to do.” I pointed to the man who was angry at the man at the mission. I said, “Like you over a decade ago l lost my job in the industrial sector and am now making half of what I use to in the public sector job I now have. I know that two-thirds of US companies pay no taxes and the Walton family that owns Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club has gotten over a billion dollars over the years in corporate welfare. They are the ones stealing from working Americans that we need to be concerned with not a man at a homeless mission that doesn’t want a job. You are talking about someone who is stealing pennies while ignoring the real villains who are stealing billions. These real thieves want you to pick on the homeless man and not them and you have just fallen for it and done their bidding.” The man replied, “You don’t understand the man did not care to ever work again.” I replied, “No it is you who doesn’t get it.” Maybe some people there thought I was being harsh to the man but the truth is I am fed up with the fact the poor and middle-class are so easily manipulated to point the finger at one another.

If a poor man said to me, “I don’t care to ever have a job again” I would be stimulated to ask why. I’d want to know his work history and if he ever had a job he liked. I’d wonder if he had a job that gave him self-esteem and a sense of worth would he change his mind? I’d talk with him about his interests and see if I couldn’t point him in the right direction to find employment that would make him feel like part of something bigger. To make him feel like he made a difference. I wouldn’t get angry at him because he didn’t want to work without knowing more. The guy complaining about him was not happy to be in a job paying less than he use to make so he wanted someone to hate for his lot and the homeless man fit the bill. The man fit the bill so nicely that the other man did not have the intellectual curiosity to dig any deeper. All of this finger-pointing at those on welfare and the private sector workers vs. the public sector workers is a sales job by the 1%. They have sold us on this failed Titanic economic system where they own all the lifeboats. They are going to leave us fighting over a single life-preserver with a hole in it. Years and years of keeping working people divided has been the way the 1% has preserved their lifestyle and increased their wealth while shrinking ours. It’s high time for the 99% to be on the same page and not be divided. That way we can all set course for a destination that will lift us all.

What kind of ship can’t be sunken by an iceberg? Friendship and Fellowship! Let us 99%ers try and practice those with each other.

Five worst people in the 1%.

Let’s have a 99% dance party with Lefties Soul Collection: Have Love

Get Back

“I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half.” ~ Robber baron Jack Gould


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Underdog in Y-town


by the Elecpencil

In the GOP presidential primary
crowds booed a gay soldier,
they cheered the death of a man
who couldn’t afford health insurance,
they applauded one of the candidates
who ridiculed food stamp recipients.
They cheered one who wanted to
get rid of child labor laws and have
grade school kids be janitors.
One candidate said he could fix the economy
but has filed bankruptcy 4 times.
The debate audiences went wild with glee
at the mention of Governor Rick Perry
of Texas executing 234 inmates.
Ron Paul suggested that there
be an international golden rule;
that we should not do to other nations
what we do not want done to us…
…and was booed by the crowd.
If they knew Paul’s racist writings
they would be his loyal supporters.
One candidate said he
didn’t care about the poor.
These candidates offer more
trickle down economic stupidity
which ignores the fact it never worked.
They don’t care as they disregard history,
and fired the fact checkers years ago.
Conservatives hate the idea of facts.
They prefer to wallow around
in their own stupid fantasies
and self- imposed deceptions.
Such fact haters have drug addicts
Rush and Beck to act as firefighters
and facts are the fires that they
put out and spin against daily.
These candidates ignore science
if it says pollution is dangerous.
They all calculate using fuzzy math
and decide policy based of corporate lobbyists.
These are people who swear that humans
can’t possibly damage the Earth.
I guess they didn’t hear about
Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobyl
and Three Mile Island.
It is troubling enough facing
non man-made disasters
like tsunamis, hurricanes, floods,
tornadoes, volcanoes and famines.
Oddly enough those who don’t believe
in man-made disasters also believe
that the Earth is only 5000 years old.
They call for smaller government
because it’s makes it much easier
for corporations to own and operate.
The GOP candidates don’t care about the citizens
our economy, our health or social welfare.
They care about relentless deregulation
and corporate welfare schemes on behalf
of wealthy global corporate interests
that have no loyalty to the United States.
White-collar criminals like Keating and Milken
were in the past sent to prison to serve time.
Today such criminals instead will get
multi-million dollar retention bonuses.
Corporations are now our court ruled
fellow American citizens.
You won’t see them in a foxhole with you
carrying a rifle and heavy back pack.
You will see them funding a Super Pac
to get a candidate elected that will
start wars to make them a profit.
Which puts you their fellow citizen
in a foxhole dodging bullets.
The US has over a 1,000 military bases
around the world which protect
nod, wink 21st century democracy
or as it is now know global corporate interests.
Speaking of interest if you are poor
or middle-class voting for any of the GOP candidates
is against your best interest plain and simple.
Meanwhile, at suburban shopping centers
people stand in line overnight to pay full retail
for the latest Apple product on the market.
It is always made in far away China
at the largest sweatshop in the world
where over 400,000 people work
as much as up to 32 hours straight.
They are housed in high-rise dormitories
where workers in such despair
go to the roof and jump to their deaths
over their terrible situation.
In the U.S. situation is the nick name
of a lazy drunken man-child
on a popular TV show
called, Jersey Shore.
Weekly the Situation along with
a short bimbo named Snookie
and a cast of other drug addled alcoholics
exist to get tans, go to night clubs
dance, fight and get sloppy drunk
and end up puking or porking a skank.
For this Caligula type behavior
they pick up a pay check from MTV.
On the E Channel a sleazy rich mother
her ex-jock hubby with a bad face lift
and her bunch of trashy daughters
have a show about being slutty and
shopping and sticking their
large posteriors out for the camera.
The American Family Association
a group of religious wack jobs
wants JC Pennys to fire Ellen DeGeneres
from their ads because she is gay.
I guess they forgot that Jesus
hung around with prostitutes.
Why don’t they try to boycott
Sears who sells a clothing line
put out by the trashy Kardashian girls?
Right-wing conservative Christian group
the (FFA) Florida Family Association
got Lowe’s to pull their advertising
on the “All-American Muslim, “TV show.
The FFA was angry that the show featured
a Muslim family that were regular Americans
instead of radical Muslim terrorists.
No plans anywhere for a show about
knee-jerk Neanderthal flat Earth
angry white fundamentalist Christians.
Locally some human monsters
are kidnapping dogs
strangling them to death
or throwing them over bridges.
They chopped off the leg
and part of the tail
of a black lab puppy.
I saw the dog on the local news
standing on its three legs
wagging its chopped off tail
as a man petted him.
One would think that dog
wouldn’t trust another human
and just bite any one it saw.
Yet, here it was
happily wagging.
I’ve just written this acknowledging
all the incompetence, greed,
anger and hate I see daily.
Despite that I am like that puppy
in that I believe there is more good
than there is evil in this world.
If I didn’t really believe that
I wouldn’t have had children
and I wouldn’t get out of bed every day.
Best of luck to you puppy
still standing peacefully
and very proudly
on your strong three legs.

Mutt Romney Blues.

XTrue Naturex: Be the Change

Our Mother

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ~ Gandhi


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Mobs, BerkShares and Lemonade

I have written many times how I believe in supporting local businesses whenever possible. I usually avoid chain restaurants at all cost and would never set foot inside a Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club to save my life. I’ve tried to promote local businesses on this site and I will continue to do so. In that vein I have a Facebook page I want you to check out. It is called, “Youngstown Cash Mob.” The page is the idea of one of our best area poets, Karen Schubert. Karen explains the idea like this, “The idea of a ‘cash mob’ was born in Cleveland. It works like this: members show up to a predetermined local business on a prearranged day and spend some money. This boosts our economy, since money spent on locally owned businesses stays in our community. It also lets us express our appreciation for them and for their hanging on in these challenging times.”

You can get on the site and nominate what area business you think the YCM (I’ll use initials to shorten it and hope Karen doesn’t mind) should patronize. After that places will be voted on and a day set up for those in YCM to go and thank the business by spending cash to support them. I’ve talked about how the Elecpencil is a victim in the War on Poverty. Truth is I have been held hostage in that war for many years now and no one has paid the ransom to deliver me from the poverty dungeon. If even I can make a purchase from some deserved “mom and pop” area businesses I think you can too. In the past Youngstown had the bad stigma of being a mob town, we can move in the right direction now with a new kind of mob, the “Youngstown Cash Mob.” Check out the site here.

I have been an admirer of the work that the TimeBank Mahoning Watershed has been doing to build community in our Mahoning Valley. They are a service exchange network that offers a needed service in these economically struggling times. To see what they are all about click here. The founder of the TimeBank Mahoning Watershed, Tony Budak has been talking for a few years now about the idea of establishing a local currency that could be used exclusively at local run businesses. It is no pie in the sky idea as it goes back to the 1800’s with German credit unions. The Berkshire region of Massachusetts has been issuing such currency called, BerkShares since 2006. Four hundred businesses in the Berksire region have signed on to use the currency. Over 2.7 million BerkShares have been circulated to date. See more about BerkShares here. Who knows the Cash Mob today and Youngshares tomorrow.

I really like people coming together in organizations like YCM, Occupy Youngstown, Occupy Warren or the TimeBank etc. to better the community. The people really do have the power and it is about damn time we get together and use that power. Any time you do something no matter how small to fight back against this greedy economic system you are making a better future for the next generation. I believe each and every small act to fight back is a revolutionary act. If enough people do such small acts it will all add up to a transforming change from the sum of its parts.

I’ve just learned about a way every day people are using the power of the internet to fight back against injustice. It is so easy to do even a fourth grade class can be a David who slays a Goliath! See what I’m talking about here.

My father was in business for himself for about 50 years and recently retired at age 82. I guess that is where I get my love of mom and pop local businesses. My dad’s number one rule was take care of your customers. I am getting tired of the way many corporations have no respect for their customers and think they can pull the wool over our eyes. I tend to drink tea everyday and always have a pitcher of iced tea in the fridge. Lately, I’ve been buying Minute Maid lite lemonade that comes in a half gallon (64 fluid oz.) waxed cardboard container. It is very good lemonade and only 15 calories for an 8oz glass. I like to pour a few ounces of it into my glass of iced tea. The other day while in the grocery store I picked up a carton. I then noticed behind the carton was more of the lemonade in a new container. The container was a plastic carafe now containing only 59 fluid oz. This is something I’m seeing more and more and I call it, same price less product. The Elecpencil’s grocery budget is not just about finances; it’s also about how far the products go. Remember the saying, caveat emptor or let the buyer beware. Stay alert while shopping and read the labels and don’t let this stealth package downsizing get the best of you.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve discovered something that is good for lowering your blood pressure and opening up your arteries. It’s called fighting back and not taking any more bullshit! Check it out and you’ll see I’m right then don’t be divided, add your voice to mine and we will multiply until we are all equilateral.

A recipe for change.

Ron Pope: A Drop in the Ocean

I’m Yours

It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have. ~ James Baldwin


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Good Local Shopping, Eats and Representation!

On my blog I have a section called, “Armchair Activism.” On that link I put a few of the many actions I receive in my e-mail. I hope you will take advantage to see if some of them are issues you want to take action on. I also e-mail and phone politicians on issues that interest me that they will be voting on and I encourage you to do the same.  I recently e-mailed our 32nd District State Senator, Capri Cafaro asking her how she was going to be voting on a recent bill. The next day I got home late from running errands after work. When I checked my home phone I had a call recorded from Sen. Cafaro explaining how she had voted on the bill in question. She left a number for me to call her back but it was late in the evening so I didn’t call. The next day when I walked in the house after work the phone rang and it was, Sen. Cafaro. I thanked her for voting the way I had wanted and we had a pleasant exchange about state politics in Ohio. I had recently had a senior citizen tell me they could always depend on Sen. Cafaro to meet with senior citizen groups promptly and answer their questions and needs. I relayed that info to her and thanked her. She told me senior issues are dear to her heart as she watched her grandfather struggle with Alzheimer’s. I think Capri is doing a great job for our district but I wish she would have beaten Steve LaTourette for his congressional seat. She’s got my support in the future and I hope yours also.

It’s great to live in an area where you can discover new things even if some of the things have been here for a long time. Around Christmas time Mrs. E. and I discovered a place to shop that has been around since, 1965. It’s named, Meander Hill, LLC.  It’s an Early American home furnishings store specializing in furniture, pictures, lighting, candles, rugs, and accessories. It featured some great Christmas displays when we stopped. It is in an old dairy barn in a truly beautiful setting. We loved some of their quality made furniture and Mrs. E. purchased some candles for presents. It sits barely off of Mahoning Ave. at 20 North Turner Road  Austintown, Ohio 44515. This is the kind of place you want to take people who are visiting you from out-of-town.

Yesterday after work Mrs. E and I were just too tired from a long week of work to go home and cook. We decided to go on an adventure and eat somewhere we had never been before. I have a friend who knows how I love to discover dive restaurants that have made a business out of serving a limited menu that they have mastered. Awhile back this friend suggested the next time I want to go to a Friday Fish Fry to check out Patsy’s Bar & Grille at 2212 Wilson Ave. Campbell, Ohio. On the outside it certainly qualifies as a dive and maybe also inside. The bar took up a good bit of the place and every bar stool was taken. The crowd was a friendly Cheers type of middle agers so you didn’t hear cussing like you do in some bar environments. We took a seat at one of about a half-dozen tables. We were soon greeted by a friendly waitress and we ordered two fried jumbo haddock fish dinners. The dinners come with cole slaw and your choice of either Idora park skin on type fries, haluski, mac and cheese or homemade pierogies. Within several minutes we had our meal with the fish so big it hung over the plate. I note that those plates were Mrs. E.’s favorite Ohio made Fiestaware.  The owner was very friendly and came over to see if we liked everything and stopped back to pick up our plates and thank us for coming. The fish was the best we have had in a long time and the diners were just $7.50 each! I saw spaghetti with meatballs and a salad on the menu for $5.25. Where are you going to eat for that kind of Elecpencil friendly dough? Here is part of what is on their menu.

What a great place to live! I’ve discovered a great local store, restaurant and the fact that we have a politicians that represents us!

Since I didn’t get around to talking much about politics check out the following links and see what you think:

Six ways capitalism is Failing Working America: Here.

I keep saying Ron Paul is a racist that the neo-Nazis love. Here is the latest on that.

Mitt Romney has said, he cares about the middle-class and that is what his economic plan will focus on. His plan only takes care of the Thurston Howell III’s like him as seen here.

Cheryl Wheeler: Don’t Forget the Guns

also: Your God

Dubya Dubya

“Authority is supposedly grounded in wisdom, but I could see from a very early age that authority was only a system of control and it didn’t have any inherent wisdom. I quickly realized that you either became a power or you were crushed”

~ Joe Strummer


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