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Stateside With Rosalea: Away With The Fairies

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

Away With The Fairies

::The Weather Fairy::

Having either mistaken my column last week for a lament or in order to punish me for my nyah-nyah, the Weather Fairy delivered the following to the Bay Area on Saturday:

"Snow fell over most hilly areas of the region during the weekend as snow levels dropped to 1000 to 1500 feet. By Saturday evening, two to four inches had been reported on Mt Tamalpais in the North Bay, Mt Diablo in the East Bay, Mt Hamilton in the South Bay, in the Santa Cruz mountains, and on Chews Ridge in the Santa Lucia mountains of Monterey County. Even Pacheco Pass, east of Hollister and only 1300 feet above sea level, had an inch of snow late Saturday."

(From the Weather Channel's Severe Weather Alert, warning of continuing frosts and black ice for the rest of this long weekend. Sigh.)

::The Cartoon Fairy::

Hey, look, it's not MY Cartoon Fairy that's been going around stirring up trouble. Though I must say, I had to grin when I read that Iran--taking a leaf out of the US book regarding "Freedom Fries"--has officially renamed Danish pastries "Roses of Muhammad". Were it not for the resulting strained relations and all the personal tragedy of lives lost surrounding this issue, the hubbub would be worth it for that poetic new name alone.

The image that the Cartoon Fairy left on my pillow this week was of Uncle Sam with his balls in a vice. One side of the vice was Arab Oil and the other side was Jewish Money. As gross and offensive as those generalizations might be--not all the oil in the world is in Arab hands and not all the finance houses in the world are in Jewish hands--the Cartoon Fairy is making a valid point.

Uncle Sam mistakes the pain resulting from being single-commodity-dependent and credit-dependent for the euphoria of being "The World's Only Superpower" and, as a result, this country's economy is going to hell in a handbasket in very short order. Two years ago, when auto sales were driven by "no payments and no interest for two years" it didn't take rocket science to predict the chilling effect that would have on the economy when it came time for people to pony up the money.

Just in time for the credit industry to get buyers' netherparts in a vice-like grip as that two-year period ended, the US Congress passed legislation making it more difficult for consumers to declare bankruptcy and allowing the finance industry to double the percentage of the account it expects debtors to pay each month.

With all this money now siphoned off to wealth-creating instead of job-creating industries, we are headed full tilt for a repeat of the 1930s.

::The Pie Fairy::

I've waited in vain for any commentators to remark on what made this year's State of the Union speech so very, very different from previous years. It was the humble pie crumbs on the president's lapel. Not once did he trot out his favourite phrase: "The World's Only Superpower." The reason being, of course, that at the time of the speech, the US needed the support of both China and Russia to get a resolution dealing with Iran's atomic energy program.

Sadly, it's not at all clear that this US Administration knows the difference between being humble and being humiliated.

::The Pie in the Sky Fairy::

Not that energy independence is a new promise--back in the 70's, State of the Union speeches were promising it--but one of the methods brooked by this year's president to wean the US off foreign oil is about as scary as it gets. Ethanol.

The main source of US ethanol is corn. Corn products are also present in every item on supermarket shelves, in one way or another. Since demand drives price, and given the powers of persuasion of automakers over lawmakers, it's not inconceivable that under the president's new plan food prices will rise astronomically in order to keep ethanol fuel prices down.

In a book coming out in June, Michael Pollan has a section that "focuses on a single plant: Zea mays, the giant tropical grass we call corn, which has become the keystone species of the industrial food chain, and so in turn of the modern diet. This section follows a bushel of commodity corn from the field in Iowa where it grew on its long, strange journey to its ultimate destination in a fast-food meal, eaten in a moving car on a highway in Marin County, California."

You can read an extract from the book at

There is not an item in that fast-food meal he speaks of that isn't already dependent on corn in some way, including the wrappers and the condiments. Now we're going to add the fuel that gets it from Iowa to Marin? And if the corn equivalent of the potato blight that caused the Irish famine hits the cornfields of Iowa, then what? Switching complete dependence from one commodity to complete dependence on a different one is sheer insanity.

::The Kick-Em-In-The-Teeth Fairy::

The caption for the image is "Abraham Sacrificing Isaac" by Laurent de LaHire, 1650

And don't even let me get started on that part of the State of Delusion that focused on higher education. Like Abraham, this Congress has delivered unto the Almighty Dollar every child in the country through its recent changes to the Higher Education Act. Is it a coincidence that the new Republican Leader of the House of Representatives is a friend to both the student loan industry and private learning institutions?

For some insight into what it's like to be a part of Generation Debt go to:,kamenetz,71895,6.html



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