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Soup Is Good Food!

Posted by Karel Minor in Uncategorized

This essay is only peripherally animal related and is born of my increasing frustration with the economic climate facing HSBC.  It’s a wee bit politically pointed, has some R rated links, and like an Oliver Stone movie it’s too long and completely self-indulgent, so if that’s going to irk you, please keeping surfing.  I think that counts as fair warning.

So, anyway.  I’m really tired of this economy.  I don’t mean that flippantly.  I am deeply weary of the “new normal” and the strain it has put on HSBC’s ability to undertake its mission. 

As the person who asks for the money we need, I cringe at having to constantly thank our donors on one hand for coming through better than ever and then on the other hand tell them we need more because of the giving and investment climate which has handed us such a pounding in the last couple years.  I feel sick that the way I have to balance our budget because of the drop off in some income as a result of the recession is to decrease our wage budget through attrition and ask the remaining staff to do more work, while not receiving raises in going on three years and cutting our contribution to their health insurance.

I know we should all be elated for the support we get from our donors, and we are.  I know we should all be grateful for the fact that we have health insurance and that we have jobs at all, and we are.  I know just how grateful we should be because we just had to lay off our first worker to close a very small gap in our budget.  It closed the shortfall but it was the very first strictly financial bloodletting we have had to do and I do not relish ensuring the stability of the rest of the staff on the back of one.  It is simply wearing on us.  I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir since it is only a very few who are doing vastly better right now than they were before and I doubt you are one of them.

It probably doesn’t help my mood that I’ve been listening particularly to one band and a genre lately.  They are The Kinks albums from the late seventies and American punk from the early and mid-eighties.  This music not only resonates today, it might have been precognitively written to suit of current national circumstances.

The Kinks “Low Budget” could just as well be an anthem for most families now.  The title track is about making do with less, wearing bargain clothes that don’t quite fit, and how “circumstance has forced our hands to be cut price people in a low budget land”.   Sounds familiar. A Gallon of Gas is about it being easier to buy drugs than fill your gas tank.  With an unintended consequence of defeating the Taliban being the massive increase of production of opium poppies, this seems right on target, too.  Catch Me Now I’m Falling is about America looking to the rest of the world, who we bailed out in the past, to help us.  And Pressure talks of the never ending pressure piling on everyone, every day.  It all sounds so familiar, despite being 30 years old.  I’m not making any value judgments, I’m just sayin’.

Of course, it also has Misery which is telling someone to stop being such a bummer, so maybe I should take the point all the way.

Too late now.  I’ve also been listing to several punk bands from the US, circa early/mid-eighties.  I’ve especially been listening to the Dead Kennedys, as well as other bands with even less tasteful and more vulgar band and song names.  The times they worked in called for a level of satirical vulgarity.  I’ll venture to say that our current times almost demand it.

Songs which seemed topical then seem prescient now.  DK lead singer Jello Biafra’s rants on big business control of the political system (Stars and Stripes of Corruption), the impact of war on children overseas (Chicken Farm), the shuttering of houses (This Could Be Anywhere), and the efforts by government and big business to balance their budget and make their earnings targets by limiting collective bargaining and discarding employees (Soup is Good Food), are freshly topical today.  And M.T.V. should still get of the air.  Again, I’m not making any value judgments, I’m just sayin’.

But what got me on this little rant of my own was some newly released data that showed the number of animals entering shelters and being euthanized in shelters has declined again.  That’s great news but it is amazing that the trend for animals looks better than the trend for the unemployed.  And it sometimes seems that there is more effort, energy and compassion being directed at pets than there is being directed at the working class in this nation. 

If animals have a sense of irony, I wonder if they’d say to us what Jello wrote in 1985, what we’ve been saying to animals for decades: “We’re sorry but you’re no longer needed or wanted or even cared about here.  How do you feel to be thrown out in the cold like a piece of trash?”  I hope they’d appreciate the irony that they have statistically more hope of being adopted now than a long time unemployed worker has of finding a good job.

In the same way I wonder why we ever have to euthanize a pet when so many people should know better and simply adopt rather than getting one from a pet store or choosing not to sterilize their pet, I wonder why our politicians seem to remain willfully ignore the recent causes of our recession and insist on recasting the problems and solutions in ways which are demonstrably false.  Listening to millionaires (and millionaire politicians) say that cutting their taxes further will create jobs when Warren Buffet already pays a lower rate than his secretary is like asking advice of puppy millers on how to solve the shelter euthanasia problem.  It is absurd.  In this case, I will make a value judgment.  Warren Buffet and hedge fund managers having a lower tax rate than their secretaries is not just wrong, it’s immoral.  Just sayin’.

The political slogans and jingo are about as useful as the simple minded slogans used by no kill dilettantes (who I believe differ from genuine no kill advocates) which sound good but lack real substance or proof.  And the ones who sling the jingo in both cases often seem to secretly be in bed with some mighty skeevie people.

But apparently slogans is all we will get because we all seem to act and vote against our own interests.  We succumb to the jingo and find ourselves in lock step with people who are clearly in it for themselves, not us, and then lambast those who actually trying to make a real, direct difference for us or the animals.  It is frustrating and bizarre behavior in both cases and it is so much less easy to ignore now that only the richest individuals and non-profits seem to be weathering all this unscathed.  And they damn sure aren’t looking out for us.

So, if your former steak and shrimp budget now only supports a sloppy joe and tuna lifestyle so that a Wall Street banker or politician can buy a little extra Kobe tartar and fresh Maine lobster, remember Jello’s advice:  “Soup is good food”.

And if you put an extra can of water in it, you can probably stretch it out for two meals.

Boy, I’ve got to start listening to happier music.


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